Tag:North Carolina
Posted on: February 13, 2011 3:14 pm
Edited on: February 13, 2011 3:17 pm
 

Interviews most underrated component of Combine

The workouts get all of the attention and savvy NFL draft followers know that the medical grades are actually the most important part of the Combine.

One critical piece of the Combine pie that gets very little exposure is the player interview process.

In the past, the interviews teams get with players have only earned attention when something bizarre occurs -- like last year when the Miami Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland asked then-Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant about his mother's ... uhhh... profession.

In reality, however, this is an integral part of the Combine.

Teams are attempting to learn through a 15 minute interview if the young man sitting opposite them is one of the rare individuals who will actually work harder after signing a multi-million dollar contract.

When I visited Athletes Performance for an article two years ago on the process high-ranking athletes go through in Combine preparation, everyone there was willing to talk about the revolutionary techniques in exercise, nutrition and rehabilitation. Few, however, talk about the significant coaching that players go through to prepare for interviews.

Based on polling various scouts throughout the league, here are 15 high profile players who have as much riding on their interviews with teams as they do the other more hyped components of the Combine.

Players are listed alphabetically.
  • Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina
  • Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
  • Kenrick Ellis, DT, Hampton
  • Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
  • A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
  • Greg Little, WR, North Carolina
  • Jake Locker, QB, Washington
  • Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas
  • Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
  • Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina
  • Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
  • Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
  • Tyron Smith, OT, USC
  • Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
  • Titus Young, WR, Boise State


Posted on: February 2, 2011 1:33 pm
 

NFL releases official Combine list

National Football Scouting, the agency that works with the NFL in the colossal undertaking of organizing the annual Combine, has released the list of the players invited to this year's event.

The full list can be seen here. The list includes underclassmen, as well as several seniors who were given late invitiations based on strong performances during senior all-star games.

Some of the late-invite seniors include cornerback Cortez Allen from The Citadel, Ohio State guard Justin Boren, Appalachian State safety Mark LeGree and North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates, among others.

Senior Analyst Chad Reuter highlighted some of the biggest Combine snubs in this article.
Posted on: January 19, 2011 1:33 pm
 

NFL officially recognizes 56 underclassmen

The NFL just released the names of the 56 underclassmen granted special eligibility to join the senior class in the player pool for the 2011 draft.

Three North Carolina players who were suspended for the entire 2010 season are included on the list. One other player who had not previously been mentioned as having declared early is Oregon defensive back Javes Lewis, a part-time starter for the Ducks who isn't likely to be drafted. 

The list of alphabetized names is provided below.

  • Adams, Darvin, WR,  Auburn
  • Austin, Marvin, DT. North Carolina
  • Ayers, Akeem , OLB, UCLA
  • Baldwin, Jon, WR, Pittsburgh
  • Bowers, Da'Quan, DE, Clemson
  • Brown, DeAndre, WR, Southern Mississippi
  • Burton, Brandon, DB, Utah
  • Casey, Jurrell, DT, Southern California
  • Clay, John, RB, Wisconsin
  • Claytor, Nick, T, Georgia Tech
  • Cobb, Randall, WR, Kentucky
  • Dareus, Marcell, DE, Alabama
  • Doss, Tandon, WR, Indiana
  • Evans, Darren, RB, Virginia Tech
  • Fairley, Nick, DT, Auburn
  • Gabbert, Blaine, QB, Missouri
  • Green, A.J., WR. Georgia
  • Gurley, Tori, WR, South Carolina
  • Guy, Lawrence, DT, Arizona State
  • Hamler, Jamel, WR, Fresno State
  • Harper, Jamie, RB, Clemson
  • Harris, Brandon, DB, Miami  
  • Hill, Will, DB, Florida
  • Houston, Justin, LB, Georgia
  • Hynoski, Henry, RB, Pittsburgh
  • Ingram, Mark, RB, Alabama
  • Jones, Julio, WR, Alabama
  • Keiser, Thomas, LB, Stanford
  • Leshoure, Mikel, RB, Illinois
  • Lewis, Dion, RB, Pittsburgh
  • Lewis, Javes, DB, Oregon
  • Little, Greg, WR, North Carolina
  • Liuget, Corey, DT, Illinois
  • Mallett, Ryan, QB, Arkansas
  • Moore, Rahim, DB, UCLA
  • Newton, Cam, QB, Auburn
  • Parr, Zane, DE, Virginia
  • Peterson, Patrick, DB, Louisiana State
  • Quinn, Robert, DE, North Carolina
  • Ridley, Stevan, RB, Louisiana State
  • Rodgers, Jacquizz, RB, Oregon State
  • Rudolph, Kyle, TE, Notre Dame
  • Sands, Robert, DB, West Virginia
  • Sash, Tyler, DB, Iowa
  • Siliga, Sealver, DT, Utah
  • Smith, Aldon, DE, Missouri
  • Smith, Torrey, WR, Maryland  
  • Smith, Tyron, T, Southern California  
  • Tarrant, Jerrard, DB, Georgia Tech
  • Todman, Jordan, RB, Connecticut
  • Vereen, Shane, RB, California
  • Watt, J.J., DE, Wisconsin
  • Wilkerson, Muhammad, DT, Temple
  • Williams, Aaron, DB, Texas
  • Williams, Ryan, RB, Virginia Tech
  • Wilson, Martez, LB, Illinois
 
As always, for the best in NFL draft coverage, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com
Posted on: January 16, 2011 1:51 pm
 

All-Stars with everything on the line - DT Austin

While much of the football-loving world is focusing on the NFL playoffs, scouts are preparing today for the first of a three week grind of all-star games that will have a huge impact on where (or if) dozens of players are ultimately drafted.

Over the next five days I'm going to highlight a player I believe could stand out and therefore significantly boost their stock. These players could come from the East-West Shrine Game (whose practices begin Monday), the Senior Bowl (whose practices begin Monday, January 24) and the NFLPA Game (whose practices begin Monday, January 31). The games themselves will be on succeeding Saturdays over the next three weeks. The NFLPA Game had previously been known as the Texas vs. Nation game.

One player who obviously has a great deal riding on his all-star performance is former North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin , invited to play in the Shrine Game.

Austin was, of course, suspended for the entire 2010 season after the NCAA discovered that he'd accepted inappropriate benefits from an agent.

Prior to the controversy, however, Austin rated among the elite senior prospects in the country. He was, according to published reports, given a high first round grade entering the year by National Scouting.

Austin, 6-3, 310 pounds has the quick first step, agility and strength teams operating out of the 4-3 alignment are looking for. One of the knocks on him has been an inconsistent motor. Having not played all season long, scouts will expect Austin to be fresh and firing on all cylinders all week long. Any sign of taking snaps off from Austin this week will only reinforce previous concerns - which could have disastrous results on his draft grade.

I've pointed out previously that this is a good looking Shrine roster , but one area that it may prove lacking is with the interior offensive linemen. NFLDraftScout.com currently ranks only one of the six interior offensive linemen Austin is expected to face in practice (East Team) higher than a 7th round pick.

Currently, the East team features Syracuse's Ryan Bartholomew and Texas A&M's JC Brignone at center and Missouri State's David Arkin, Ohio State's Bryant Browning, Illinois' Randall Hunt and Connecticut's Zachary Hurd at guard. Hurd is our highest rated of the bunch. NFLDraftScout.com currently has Hurd as a 5th-6th round value.

If Austin wants to re-emerge as the 50 prospect he'd previously been universally ranked as, he'll need to enjoy a dominant week.

For the entire Shrine Game roster, click here.

Or, for the best in NFL draft coverage, click here for NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 6:24 pm
 

Five seniors to focus on this weekend

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.

One of the players prominently featured in last week's "Who to Watch..." was Nebraska wideout Niles Paul . Last week in the loss to Texas, Paul demonstrated the athleticism and size combination that has led scouts to get excited about his game, but also the terribly inconsistent hands that has plagued him throughout his career. Twice, in fact, Paul dropped potential touchdowns against the Longhorns.

Scouting isn't just about touting players who play well on the big stage. It is about acknowledging those players who struggled under the bright lights. Perhaps Paul (and others) will improve once they get another opportunity. Perhaps not. Either way, how they perform in this critical situations goes a long way in determining their final grade.

Here are this week's Five to Watch:

QB Ricky Stanzi, Iowa: I mentioned in a previous blog post that NFL teams looking for help at quarterback might be forced to turn towards underclassmen as many of the senior passers have struggled so far this season. Stanzi is one of the few exceptions. The 6-4, 230 pound Stanzi has struggled with consistency in years past, but has thrown 13 touchdowns against only two interceptions while operating out of a pro style offense. He's always shown the tools to intrigue NFL scouts and could be on the verge of a monster jump up boards if he's able to continue what so far has been a magical senior campaign. That said, in unbeaten Wisconsin, Stanzi has one of the tougher, more technically sound defenses he'll see all year long. This game could prove critical in how Stanzi is viewed by scouts the rest of the year. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DE Cameron Jordan, Cal: A nationally underrated prospect, Jordan has been as impressive this year as any senior defensive lineman I've scouted. His numbers aren't necessarily eye-popping. Through six games this season, he's posted 24 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three sacks, but remember that Cal operates out of a 3-4 alignment, which doesn't put the defensive ends in position very often to make plays. Many were surprised last year when former Cal defensive end Tyson Alualu was the 10th overall pick of the draft. Jordan doesn't have that kind of upside, but he is sneaking up on scouts a bit. If he were playing in the SEC or Big 12, most college football fans would know his name by now. It will be interesting to see how Jordan performs in this game, considering the versatility and young talent on this ASU offense. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by Fox regional coverage. 

RB Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State:
The fifth leading rusher in the FBS, Hunter has rushed for an eye-popping 830 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on the ground over the first six weeks of the season. He'll be facing a much stouter run defense Saturday against the Cornhuskers, however. Like many smallish backs the 5-8, 197 pound Hunter is often characterized as a speedy, change of pace prospect only. If he is to have a chance at shedding that label, he could use a strong performance at home against Nebraska. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

ILB Kelvin Sheppard, LSU: I've characterized LSU junior cornerback Patrick Peterson as the best defensive player in the country on multiple occasions and acknowledged defensive tackle Drake Nevis as a former Prospect of the Week. Somehow, linebacker Kelvin Sheppard rarely seems to get the credit he deserves. He leads the top-rated SEC defense against Auburn's dynamic offense Saturday in what is the biggest game of the weekend. Sheppard has the speed to beat the Auburn backs (and quarterback Cam Newton) to the sideline. How he handles coverage and pass rush responsibilities could prove critical in this one. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

DL Allen Bailey, Miami: Bailey entered the season as highly touted as any defensive lineman in the country. One look at him and it is easy to see why, as the 6-4, 285 pounder owns more of the more imposing physiques you'll ever seen on a defensive lineman. That said, through the first six games of the year Bailey has only accumulated 21 tackles and five tackles for loss. Last week, against Duke, Bailey only registered two tackles, including just his second sack of the year. Voted a team captain, Bailey may have to turn it up a notch Saturday against North Carolina to get his teammates on track. The 'Canes, after all, have lost three straight to the Tar Heels. This game begins at 7:30 pm EST and will be televised on ESPN2.


Posted on: October 6, 2010 1:54 pm
 

Viks, 'Hawks win now, but Pats, Bills better off

In our rush to judge the "winners" and "losers" in the trading of former Pro Bowlers Randy Moss and Marshawn Lynch, it is important to realize the impact they'd had so far for the Vikings and Bills, respectively.

Through four games with the Patriots, Randy Moss had continued the big play ways that will one day send him to the Hall of Fame, catching three touchdowns, but those scores came amidst shockingly poor numbers, overall: nine catches for 139 yards.

Through four games with the Bills, Marshawn Lynch had rushed for 164 yards on 34 attempts and caught one pass for seven yards. He had one fumble and zero touchdowns.

This isn't to suggest that Moss and Lynch won't make immediate impacts for their new clubs. There is no denying that the pieces are in place for Moss and Lynch to each make immediate impacts for the Vikings and Seahawks.

However, give the Patriots and Bills credit for recognizing that these two players were not significantly impacting their win totals this season and were not part of either teams' long-term plans. Rather than allow the situation to spiral out of control (like the Chargers have done with WR Vincent Jackson or the 49ers did with S Michael Lewis), each team got valuable draft picks in return.

Some will argue that the Patriots must be looking to the future by trading such a valuable deep threat as Randy Moss. Clearly the team doesn't expect to win now. I'd argue that with slot receivers Wes Welker and Julian Edelman and rookie tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski controlling the middle, Tom Brady at the helm and the big play potential of Brandon Tate outside, the Patriots' passing offense will be just fine this season.

Brandon Tate isn't just guy who is good at returning kicks. Remember, this is the receiver who started over Hakeem Nicks and Greg Little (who I believe is the most physically gifted senior WR in the country) at North Carolina.

And with the third round pick they got from the Vikings, the Patriots now have two picks in the first, second, third and fourth rounds of the 2011 draft. Doesn't it seem like New England has multiple Top 100 picks every year? And, as such, they're always reloading and never rebuilding? Exactly.

And the Bills, having used their 2010 first round pick on C.J. Spiller, clearly have other concerns than running back. Considering that they might be the least talented football team in the NFL, acquiring extra picks makes sense -- especially if they scratch out a few wins and have to potentially package them in order to move up to draft their quarterback of the future.

I expect the Vikings and Seahawks to enjoy the spoils of their trades early on. But the NFL isn't just about winning now. It is about winning long term. The Patriots have done that better than any team in the league. The Bills are wise to begin practicing some of the same strategies.




Posted on: September 18, 2010 12:05 pm
 

Five seniors I'll be scouting closely today

Each Saturday I list here five seniors I'll be scouting closely. Prospects in the past I've listed include Washington quarterback Jake Locker, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, San Jose State safety Duke Ihenacho, Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan and NFLDraftScout.com's current lead story , Florida center Mike Pouncey, among others.

Players I'm focusing on aren't necessarily the elite prospects, but those who have legitimate NFL hopes, are playing in an intriguing matchup and, of course, are being televised.

For those that would like to scout alongside me today, you can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.

These are the five seniors I'll be keying in on tday (and a brief explanation as to why)...

CB Prince Amukamara, Nebraska : In the game I certainly believe to be the biggest matchup of the weekend, Amukamara has the task of controlling Washington quarterback Jake Locker's favorite target, junior wideout Jermaine Kearse. Kearse, the reigning Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Week after catching nine passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns last week in a win over Syracuse. If Amukamara, who entered the year rated by NFL scouts as the elite senior prospect in the entire country , can force Locker to look elsewhere, the Huskers will have a great shot at defeating the Huskies in Seattle.

OT DeMarcus Love, Arkansas: Razorback quarterback Ryan Mallett has already generated plenty of Heisman and early NFL draft talk. If he is to continue to earn rave reviews, he'll need a strong effort from his blindside protector, Love, in Arkansas' SEC opener against Georgia, today. The contest is a particularly intriguing one as Georgia enters this game needing a win following last week's loss to South Carolina and presents Arkansas with matchup dilemmas, considering they now use a 3-4 alignment. How Love handles Georgia's speed off the edge will go a long way in scouts eyes of determining whether the second-year starting LT has the athleticism and recognition to remain here in the NFL.

ILB Quan Sturdivant, North Carolina: For all of the negativity going on around the North Carolina program right now, some might be surprised to learn that they're actually still playing football. The Tar Heels host Georgia Tech in one of the key conference matchups of the weekend. While his athletically superior Bruce Carter gets most of the headlines, Sturdivant is among the more instinctive linebackers in the country. How he reacts to Georgia Tech's triple option offense will go a long way in determining who wins this ACC showdown.

OT Jonathan Barksdale, LSU: Though the Bulldogs enter this game 1-1, I've been more impressed with them so far in the early season than I have the 2-0 and hosting Tigers. Barksdale will be in charge of protecting LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson against Pernell McPhee, an immediate impact (and all-conference) performer last year for Mississippi State. Barksdale, 6-6 and 320 pounds, played well at right tackle in the past, but with four-year starter Ciron Black attempting to find a niche in the NFL, it will be up to Barksdale to control the left tackle position this year.  

CB Johnny Patrick, Louisville: Patrick doesn't get a lot of recognition outside of Conference USA, but he boasts an underrated combination of size (5-11, 190), quick feet and speed (4.47). Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers gets most of the attention, but his older brother, wideout James, broke the school record last year with 2,328 all-purpose yards. Patrick is the Cardinals' most talented and experienced defensive back. He got nicked up last week against Eastern Kentucky, but is expected to play. This should make for an intriguing and nationally underrated showdown between two very good athletes. 
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.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com