Tag:LSU
Posted on: October 10, 2010 10:39 pm
 

Dazzling/dreary weekend for young pass-catchers

Many of the most interesting NFL and NCAA games over the weekend featured spectacular individual efforts from some of today's best and most athletic pass-catchers.

Unfortunately, there were also some tough injuries to good young pass-catchers that ultimately could take some of the polish from their position-mates' great performances.

In the NFL, standout games from the Giants' Hakeem Nicks (12 receptions for 130 yards and two touchdowns against the Texans), the Chargers' Malcolm Floyd (eight catches for 213 yards and a score against the Raiders), the Cowboys' Miles Austin (nine receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown against the Titans) and the Broncos' Brandon Lloyd (five catches for 135 yards and two scores against Baltimore) put an exclamation point to a Saturday full of big plays by some of the nation's best young receiver prospects.

Among the highligths, was South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery catching seven passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns to help the Gamecocks upset Alabama. LSU's Terrance Toliver -- who needed a strong game to save his falling stock -- responded with a six-catch, 111 yard, two touchdown (including the game-winner with six seconds left) to beat the Gators. Eighteen year-old true freshman Robert Woods was even more productive in USC's loss to Stanford, hauling in 12 passes for 224 yards and three scores.

That was the good news. The bad -- and we won't know just how bad we're talking until Monday's MRIs -- could prove just as newsworthy.

For all of the spectacular plays made by pass-catchers over the weekend, there were troubling injuries to some of the NFL's most intriguing breakout stars and college football's best senior prospects.

St. Louis' Mark Bradley, who had developed a quick rapport with rookie Sam Bradley, was carted off the field in Detroit after sustaining a knee injury that is expected to knock him out for the season. Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley, an emerging superstar, went down with what the Packers' official site is characterizing as a "hamstring ligament" injury, but certainly looked bad.  Denver first round pick Demaryius Thomas was sidelined with head and neck injuries after a big hit against Baltimore. Peyton Mannings' newest toy, undrafted free agent Blair White, also suffered neck injuries in the Colts' win over the Chiefs. In each case, the young breakout players never returned to the game after sustaining their injury.

The injury front could prove equally bad if the early reports across the college landscape are correct. Oregon State's James Rodgers and Cecil Shorts III of Mount Union each went down Saturday with injuries. Rodgers, rated by NFLDraftScout.com as a potential 3rd round pick prior to injury, suffered an ugly injury to his left knee as he scored a touchdown against Arizona. Even worse for Beaver fans, Rodgers' score was called back due to a penalty.

Few fans have heard of Shorts III, but scouts certainly know of him. He was viewed by some as the elite "small school" prospect entering the year and caught 100 passes for 1,736 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. Shorts III was held out of the second half of undefeated OAC power Mount Union's 28-14 victory over Marietta after sustaining an injury on  punt return in the second quarter.



 
Posted on: October 8, 2010 7:45 pm
 

5 Senior Prospects I'll be Focusing On Saturday

Each weekend I list the five senior prospects I'll be focusing on. These are players who appear to have challenging matchups that will help determine how well they'll be able to make the transition to the pro game.

A noteworthy performance (either positive or negative) can result in the player being profiled in our upcoming edition of Draft Slant, NFLDraftScout.com's weekly PDF file for premium subscribers.

Last week I profiled Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell, Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray, USC cornerback Shareece Wright, Alabama OT James Carpenter and Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi.

Ponder had a solid, but unspectacular game last weekend against Virginia. Though he has a much tougher opponent this weekend at Miami, I elected to write about him considering that there are very few teams across the country who boast a better pair of cornerbacks than the Cavaliers' duo of senior Ras-I Dowling and junior Chase Minnifield (son of former Cleveland Browns' standout Frank).

That doesn't mean, of course, that I won't be watching him again this weekend. In fact, in terms of his pro grade, Ponder's performance Saturday against the 'Canes is as important as any game he'll play all year long.

Which is why he's among my Five Seniors to Watch -- and, as it turns out, the only player on the offenside side of the line of scrimmage: 

ILB Greg Jones, Michigan State: For all of the talk of the talented defensive linemen and cornerbacks of this senior class, for my money there isn't a safer defensive prospect in the country than Jones. A four year starter who has never missed a game in his career, Jones nonetheless will be questioned by scouts as to how a 6-1, 235 pound linebacker is going to be able to handle the physicality of the NFL. Over the first few weeks of the season, Wolverines' star quarterback Denard Robinson has emerged as the Heisman favorite. He hasn't faced an instinctive and speedy linebacker like Jones yet, though. If Jones has the 15+ tackle game I think he will in this game, he could emerge as an early favorite for Player of the Week honors. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT David Carter, UCLA: A rising name due to the fact that at 6-5, 300 pounds he has the bulk and strength to play inside at defensive tackle or move outside to play the five-technique as a 3-4 defensive end, Carter flashed on tape last weekend against the Washington State Cougars, posting three sacks. If he is to emerge as a legitimate draftable prospect, he'll need to continue his breakout senior campaign this week in an interesting Pac-10 showdown with Cal. An interesting side note - Carter is the brother of Fresno State pass rusher Chris Carter. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by regional FOX coverage.

OLB Von Miller, Texas A&M:
Having recorded 17 sacks last season, Miller entered this year as one of the more heavily hyped pass rushers in all of college football. In fact, he was the Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. After four games, however, Miller has yet to record his first sack and is in danger of seeing his draft stock plummet. In all fairness to Miller, he's struggled with a knee sprain all year long and has shown impressive toughness playing through it. It is obvious that he has lacked the explosive first step this year he showed in 2010. Injured or not, scouts want to see some production. He'll have his hands full against a talented Arkansas offensive line, but the relative immobility of 6-6 quarterback Ryan Mallett may help him boost his numbers. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DT Drake Nevis, LSU:
Few players across the country have boosted their stock as significantly as Nevis thus far this season. The 6-1, 292 pounder doesn't possess the elite size that scouts would prefer, but his explosiveness as a pass rusher can't be ignored. Nevis has already twice been recognized as the SEC's Defensive Lineman of the Week and is second in the conference with 3.5 sacks. The Gators are experienced and talented up front so if Nevis is able to make plays in this contest he certainly deserves the early attention he's been receiving. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Christian Ponder, Florida State:
Ponder showed the mobility, high football IQ and accuracy in the short/intermediate levels against Virginia last weekend that NFL teams like about him, but he has not been as productive thus far as hoped.  Ponder will have to play the best game of his season so far if he is to enjoy success against a supremely talented Miami defense.  Ponder enjoyed a bit of a breakout performance last year against the 'Canes with a then-career high 294 passing yards and two touchdowns (against one interception). This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.
Posted on: September 30, 2010 1:40 pm
 

5 Most Disappointing Prospects through September

In this week's issue of Draft Slant, I list a handful of breakout prospects that scouts had graded as either late round or free agents in the preseason, but through the first month of the college season have greatly exceeded expectations and are rising fast.

Without giving away the identities of the players, themselves, I can tell you that the players listed come from a variety of conferences from the SEC to the WAC.

While that article is reserved for our premium subscribers, I thought I'd list a group of five players whose stock is going in the exact opposite direction over the first month of the season.

Players are listed alphabetically.

RB Mario Fannin, Auburn: I touted Fannin as much as anyone heading into the season as a potential breakout star and while I still maintain that he has talent, there is no denying that he's again struggling this year with the issues (injuries, fumbles) that had sidetracked him in the past. Part of a rotation for the Tigers, Fannin had seven touches for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the opener againt Arkansas State. Since, however, the Auburn coaching staff has apparently lost faith in his ability to get the tough yards and hold on to the football, as he has accumulated only eight touches for 28 total yards (and no scores) since.

QB Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M: Despite earning preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year accolades, scouts had plenty of concerns about Johnson's pro prospects before the season have even begun. Now, after an ugly four interception game against the likes of Florida International, scouts are even more concerned that Johnson, while talented, simply lacks the accuracy and football IQ to handle the adjustment to the NFL. Once considered a potential Top 50 prospect, Johnson now appears destined for the 5th or 6th round... at best.

QB Jake Locker, Washington: There are a great many jumping off Jake Locker's bandwagon after a disastrous performance against the Cornhuskers two weeks ago. In reality, Locker was struggling with accuracy and the reading of defenses in the two previous games (BYU, Syracuse, as well). Locker's No. 1 status has always been a projection that would come true IF he made similar gains under Steve Sarkisian that he made in his first year under the former USC quarterback coach. So far, Locker hasn't made those gains. Some scouts, in fact, wonder if he's regressed. Locker remains in the hunt to be the first senior QB off the board (and thus a potential high first round selection), but the time has come to stop making excuses for him. In his second year of this offense and his fourth as a starting quarterback, Locker needs to show better recognition and accuracy if he is going to be successful in the NFL.

NG Jerrell Powe, Mississippi: As proof of what a roller coaster ride scouting can be, Powe would have made my list of the "safer" prospects heading into this season. He was a standout, even dominant performer, at times times last year. This season, however, Powe has struggled mightily. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Ole Miss rotates their defensive linemen. Some also may be due to the fact that he's playing this season as much as 60 pounds lighter than he's played in the past. Either way, the explosive power and consistency Powe had shown last year simply hasn't been there in the Rebels' first four games.

WR Terrance Toliver, LSU: Toliver was viewed by many as the top senior receiving prospect in the country heading into the season. He certainly was touted as a potential future high round pick as a prep star. Unfortunately, Toliver and the LSU offense, as a whole, has struggled this season. Toliver has only 11 catches through the first four games for 96 yards. The 6-4, 206 pounder with reported 4.4 speed has yet to catch a touchdown this season.


One could make the argument that the host of players suspended or injured so far this season should also be included on this list. I have too much respect for our readers to take the easy way out and list the likes of North Carolina's DT Marvin Austin, FS Deunta Williams, WR Greg Little, South Carolina TE Wesley Saunders, West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan (all suspended for one or more games) or injured players like Houston QB Case Keenum, etc. and the like among this list. With serious off-field or health questions, they are certainly falling -- or at least on the cusp of falling -- in the eyes of scouts. However, the players I listed above are falling because they simply aren't producing on the field to the level scouts expected heading into the 2010 season.
Posted on: September 13, 2010 8:33 pm
 

Player of the Week -- Miss. St. OT Derek Sherrod

Earlier in the week I listed five senior prospects I was going to be focusing on for the opening weekend of college football action. Sherrod was not among those players, as they each played on Saturday. Sherrod and his Mississippi State teammates lost a 17-14 nail-biter to the Auburn Tigers in a rare Thursday night SEC showdown.

Some will argue that "Player of the Week" is a misnomer. I don't pretend that I've already scouted every prospect throughout the country and that my choice (Sherrod, in this case) was unquestionably the best. It isn't that Sherrod was so dominant that he deserves attention over, say, LSU defensive tackle Drake Nevis (who posted 5 tackles, including 2.5 sacks against Vanderbilt) or Troy wideout Jerrel Jernigan (who finished with 277 all-purpose yards and TDs via kick return and receiving in a close loss to Oklahoma State). However, part of the coverage that we, at NFLDraftScout.com, have provided to our readers as part of our Draft Slant feature, is a Player of the Week. In picking one out each week, I tend to focus on Top 50 senior prospects for this honor and adhere to certain guidelines in terms of the level of competition the player faced.

Sherrod was very impressive against a talented Auburn defense. So impressive that after reviewing dozens of candidates the rest of the weekend, I couldn't find a player that I thought was more deserving of attention.

Player of the Week, along with The Diamond in the Rough (small school prospect), used to be features of Draft Slant . This PDF file can be purchased as an individual issue or one can purchase the entire year (16 issues). Or, if you just want to see an example, you can download this free sample of Week One here .

We thought that the Player of the Week and Diamond in the Rough deserved more acknowledgement, however, and thus, every Monday, I'll post my picks for each award.

Player of the Week - September 9, 2010
OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State 6-5 / 305 / 5.22 -- opponent: Auburn

The Bulldogs lost their conference opener to the Tigers, giving up a great deal of pressure up front (three sacks and numerous pressures), but Sherrod wasn't to blame. Manning the left tackle position, Sherrod consistently stoned his opponent in pass protection and was just as effective in the running game, often providing an initial pop to the defensive end before releasing to the second level. Sherrod was a step slow off the snap, at times, against the Tigers, but is a fluid athlete who generates good depth out of his stance. He has long arms and good upper body strength to jolt the defender. Sherrod plays on the balls of his feet and has good lateral agility and balance to mirror pass-rushers, including linebackers coming on the blitz. He plays with leverage and has the impressive core strength to handle the bull-rush. As a run-blocker, Sherrod relies more on positioning and athleticism than pure strength. While he can knock the defender back with his initial surge, Sherrod doesn't currently possess the elite power to drive his opponent downfield. I'd like to see him play with a little more nastiness, as well. Too often Sherrod seemed content with pushing his opponent initially, but not dominating as consistently as his size, power and technique advantage would make seem possible. Sherrod's athleticism, however, does make him a quality zone-blocking candidate. He is often asked to pull in this scheme, showing good agility and straight-line speed in getting to the second level. The Bulldogs haven't had a player drafted in the first round since 1994. In Sherrod, they have an excellent chance at breaking that streak.
Posted on: September 4, 2010 11:15 am
 

Five seniors I'll be scouting closely today

With three DVD burners running around the clock, I'll be recording nearly every televised college football game throughout the year. There is only so much time in the day, so I have to put some careful thought into picking the games (and more specifically, the prospects) each Saturday in which to scout live.

The game I was most excited about initially -- North Carolina at LSU -- won't feature nearly the individual talent that we originally thought due to the NCAA suspending 13 Tar Heels for this game. Of course, I'll still check out this showdown, but due to the odd circumstances surrounding the game, I'll wait to do most my scouting of Tar Heel and Tiger players until later games.

Each Friday night/Saturday morning throughout the rest of the season I'll put up a similar post as this one. Should you like to scout "alongside" me, follow me on Twitter @ RobRang

These are the five I'll be watching closely:

OL Mike Pouncey, Florida: There was talk that Pouncey might be switched outside to tackle due to injury concerns, but Urban Meyer put an end to that thinking with the announcement that his senior would remain inside, taking over for his twin brother. Miami of Ohio is hardly the greatest test Pouncey will get this year, but I'm curious to see how he makes the transition, himself, as well as protects new QB John Brantley.

DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue: Kerrigan is one of the better defensive linemen in all of college football. Despite posting 13 sacks last year, however, the 6-4, 263 pass rusher doesn't have elite speed off the edge. He'll get plenty of opportunities to rush the passer against Brian Kelly's wide open offense at Notre Dame, but if the Irish offense is operating efficiently, he won't have much time to get home. It will be interesting to see how often Kerrigan is able to make plays in a game in which the tempo is specifically designed to eliminate (at least some of) the pass rush.

S Duke Ihenacho, San Jose State: The Spartans are understandably a 38 point underdog to Alabama, but I want to see how the playmaking Ihenacho reacts to the speed and physicality of the national champs. Ihenacho, a rare 3-time All-WAC performer already, has feasted on his conference opponents. Unless he's invited to the Senior Bowl, he may never get another opportunity against better competition at the collegiate level than today. 

WR James Rodgers, Oregon State: This is another example of a talented player who has starred against his conference foes, but I'm curious to see how he does against a physical and fast TCU group that finished No. 1 overall last year in total defense. James' "little" brother, running back Jacquizz, gets most of the national acclaim, but it was James who broke OSU's single-season all-purpose record last year with 2,328 yards. In what has become, in my opinion, the biggest game of the day (considering the suspensions marring the UNC-LSU game), I'm very curious to see how Rodgers performs in what will be a bit of a homecoming for he and his brother. The Rodgers were recruited out of Texas.

QB Jake Locker, Washington: Admittedly, I can put Locker on this list every week -- and I certainly will two weeks from now when Nebraska rolls into Seattle. But for all of the hype surrounding Locker and the Washington program, as a whole, a poor performance in the opener against a proud (and I believe underrated) Cougar team could put a quick end to the Heisman and bowl game chatter. Washington has greater skill position talent than BYU, but I don't know that they are as physical up front. Vegas thinks this one will be close (BYU a 1.5 point favorite) and I agree. If the Huskies are going to win, it might come down to a Locker making a big play late in the 4th quarter.
Posted on: August 9, 2010 8:24 pm
 

DT Powe "very excited" Masoli coming to Ole Miss

NFLDraftScout.com will soon be continuing our series of articles previewing the top ten prospects for each of the major conferences. My fellow Senior Analyst Chad Reuter began the process by listing the top ten prospects of non-BCS conferences in an article here.

I drew the SEC among my four conference previews. As part of the previews, we decided to do a feature article on one senior prospect from each conference that we felt were not only potentially top prospects for the 2011 NFL draft, but interesting stories, as well. Chad featured Troy wideout Jernell Jernigan , a quality slot receiver prospect with verified 4.3 speed, for the non-BCS story.

The supremely talented SEC is always fertile grounds for quality prospects. I considered LSU linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, as well as offensive tackles Demarcus Love (Arkansas) and Derrek Sherrod (Mississippi State), but instead elected to go with the player I felt was the most physically dominant prospect in the conference -- Mississippi defensive tackle Jerrell Powe.

The 6-2, 313 pound (weighed yesterday) Powe was an entertaining interview. His enthusiasm for improving his own game and that of the Ole Miss football team, as a whole, was obvious and clearly heart-felt.

I can't give away all of the details of the story here. His past academic and weight struggles, relationships with former Ole Miss stars Michael Oher, Peria Jerry and Jamarca Sanford and why he elected to come back for his senior season are all covered in the story.

Perhaps the most interesting element of the interview, however, came when I asked him about former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli signing with Ole Miss. Some have questioned Houston Nutt's decision to add Masoli. Some believe Masoli's checkered past will be just another distraction for a team that struggled last year amid big expectations.

Powe, however, could hardly contain his excitement.

"I'm excited. Very excited," he told me in a phone interview this morning prior to practice. "We just got done with a team run and some of the other guys on the team had been on Twitter and Facebook and all that mess and they were saying that Jeremiah Masoli was going to be coming here. I got a chance last year a couple of times to watch him play and I've never seen anyone run the zone-read the way he runs it. So me and some of the other seniors, went to the coaches like, 'Hey, we've got to go get this guy.'"

The articles -- my SEC preview and the feature on Powe -- are currently scheduled to run on NFLDraftScout.com Thursday.
Posted on: July 12, 2010 12:40 pm
 

Luck, Kaepernick, others wow at Manning QB Camp

Each year the Mannings (Archie and sons Petyon, Eli and Cooper) hold their Manning Passing Academy for high school and collegiate "skill position" football players. Though running backs, wide receivers and tight ends are also invited to the camp, the quarterbacks always receive the most attention.

For the fifth consecutive year this year's camp was held on the Nicholls State University campus; the former home of the New Orleans Saints' training camp. This is the 14th year the Mannings have been holding their camp.

This year the collegiate quarterbacks invited read like a Who's Who of the game. Washington's Jake Locker was invited, but couldn't attend. Miami's Jacory Harris, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor were other high profile passers also unable to participate.

Among the more high profile players who did participate, however, included:

Jordan Jefferson - LSU
Jerrod Johnson - Texas A&M
Colin Kaepernick - Nevada
Case Keenum - Houston
Andrew Luck - Stanford
Greg McElroy - Alabama
Kellen Moore - Boise State
Christian Ponder - Florida State
Taylor Potts - Texas Tech
Matt Simms - Tennessee
Nathan Stanley - Mississippi
Brandon Weeden - Oklahoma State
Tyler Wolfe - Northwestern State (La.)
T.J. Yates - North Carolina

Much of the clinic is open to the public. According to sources in attendance, Stanford redshirt sophomore Andrew Luck is clearly the most gifted of the group. He showed a strong NFL-caliber arm and the accuracy to attack all levels of the field. Luck recently went on the record stating that he planned to graduate from Stanford before pursuing professional football.

Another young talent, Tennessee's Matt Simms (son of Phil, brother of Chris) also impressed, I'm told.

Kaepernick surprised some with his velocity. The 6-6, 220 pound Wolfpack quarterback is well known for his production (20 TDs/6 INTs, as well as 1,183 rushing yards, 16 TDs last year), but is viewed by many scouts as a product of coach Chris Ault's "pistol" offense.

FSU's Christian Ponder, who tied with Locker for the highest QB grade given by National scouts, was characterized as being good, but not spectacular. In Ponder's defense, he underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season and may have been still working out some of the kinks.


Posted on: April 26, 2010 11:50 pm
 

My all undrafted lineup -- offense

Each year there are players who slip through the cracks into undrafted free agency that, quite frankly, I'm stunned aren't drafted.

Here is my list of players who were undrafted but I feel could find a roster spot in the NFL.

Today I'm highlighting the offensive players (as well as their NFL franchise). Tomorrow I'll list the defensive players.

QB: Jarrett Brown, West Virginia (signed with San Francisco)
RB: Keiland Williams, LSU (signed with Washington)
FB: Rashawn Jackson, Virginia (signed with Carolina)
TE: Colin Peek, Alabama (signed with Atlanta)
WR: Blair White, Michigan State (signed with Indianapolis)
WR: Seyi Ajirotutu, Fresno State (signed with San Diego)
OT: Casey Knips, South Dakota State (signed with Arizona)
OG: Ciron Black, LSU (signed with Pittsburgh)
C: Kenny Alfred, Washington State (signed with Tennessee)
OG: Jeff Byers, USC (signed with Seattle)
OT: Levi Horn, Montana (signed with Chicago)
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com