Posted on: May 26, 2011 12:51 pm
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Posted on: January 25, 2011 9:10 am
Ohio State wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher and Stanford cornerback Richard Sherman got the call every prospect is hoping for -- a late invitation to the Senior Bowl.
The Buckeye and Cardinal athletes get an opportunity to come into Mobile and significantly boost their stock after injuries to Troy's Jerrel Jernigan and Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh (among others) limited the rosters.
The 5-11, 182 pound Sanzenbacher started all 13 games for the Buckeyes this season, leading the team with 55 catches for 948 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is known as a savvy route-runner with good hands. Scouts want to see if he'll be able to shake free of quality coverage, as there are questions about his straight-line speed.
Sherman, 6-2 and 192 pounds, started 12 of 13 games for Stanford this season. He posted 50 tackles and led The Cardinal with 13 passes broken up, including four interceptions. The lanky Sherman has the height teams are looking for in a press corner, but has struggled, at times, in coverage.
Monday's practices were split with the North practicing at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile and the South practicing in nearby Fairhope.
The rest of the practices will all occur at Ladd-Peebles with the North team starting off this morning and the South this afternoon.
For the very best in NFL draft coverage, including this week at the Senior Bowl, be sure to check out NFLDraftScout.com.
Posted on: January 9, 2011 11:47 pm
If the twitter account registered to a "janoris jenkins" from Gainesville, Fl is, in fact owned by the Gator junior cornerback, then his tweet Sunday afternoon will have Florida fans happy and NFL teams needing help in the secondary disappointed.
The account - @jenkz1 - registered a message at approximately 5:30 pm EST Sunday that simply said "Gator Nation I'm back....."
Since the message, speculation has been rampant that Jenkins was indeed successfully "recruited" back to Florida by new head coach Will Muschamp.
According to an anonymous source quoted by Justin Wells of a Florida Gators website, Swamp247.com , Jenkins made the decision based on several factors, including the torn labrum that kept him out of the Gators' Outback Bowl victory over Penn State and a lower than expected grade from the NFL Advisory Committee.
Wells' source claims that Jenkins received a "2nd/3rd round grade."
I have Jenkins as a first round prospect and have spoken to NFL scouts who graded Jenkins as such, as well.
While Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck's decision was certainly the more impactful move, Jenkins' is the bigger surprise. Having spoken to members close to the Florida program over the past few weeks, Jenkins was widely considered "long gone."
Jenkins played in 13 games for the Gators in 2010, registering 44 tackles, six tackles for loss, eight passes broken up and three interceptions (including 68 return yards and one touchdown) in earning Second Team All-SEC honors by league coaches.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 3:10 pm
Doug Farrar of Football Outsiders, Yahoo, Sports Press Northwest and probably another couple dozen entities since I began this blog posting recently asked me to provide a "paragraph or two" breakdown of Stanford's Andrew Luck and Washington's Jake Locker.
The finished article, which includes play by play details of both Pac-10 quarterbacks' performances in their recent bowl games, is part of Doug's weekly Cover Three piece for Football Outsiders and can be seen here.
Here are my thoughts on Luck. Below are my thoughts on Locker.
Andrew Luck has remarkably advanced technique for a redshirt sophomore. When dropping back, he shows good balance and fluidity, keeping his eyes downfield and quickly identifying the defense. He quickly scans the field and rarely forces the ball into coverage. Luck has an efficient over-the-top release, yet shows the ability to change his throwing slot, as needed. He possesses a strong arm, though it is not a rocket. Besides his ability to quickly decipher coverages, Luck's best attribute is his rare accuracy.
Where most quarterback prospects are content to hit their receivers in stride, Luck shows the remarkable ability to lead his receivers to the opening -- pushing wideouts upfield, turning them around when the safety is closing, placing the ball low or high so that his target has the best chance to make the reception. Like most passers, Luck's accuracy suffers when he's on the move, but he's shown the ability to square his shoulders and fire accurately while on the run. There is only one quarterback I've scouted with Luck's combination of intelligence, accuracy and size -- the previously incomparable Peyton Manning.
Jake Locker is the most frustrating quarterback prospect I've scouted in more than 10 years in the profession. Physically, he has the skills to warrant a Top 10 selection. Locker is experienced in the pro-style offense, demonstrating the quick feet and balance necessary in dropping back from center. He has a over-the-top release and a very strong arm. Locker's accuracy is maddeningly inconsistent, however. He's developed some bad habits running for cover behind a porous Washington offensive line, panicking when his first reads are covered and throwing off his back foot. Surprisingly for a four-year starter, Locker doesn't read defenses as well as scouts would like, , too often putting the ball up for grabs.
For all of his faults, however, Locker has made some of his most impressive throws in critical situations, coming through with clutch passes in upsets over USC, Cal, and most recently against Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Throws like those have forced scouts to wonder how successful he might be if surrounded by more talent. Of course, Locker's most impressive physical attributes are his speed and power as a runner. Besides his rare running ability, Locker's toughness and leadership are the kind NFL decision-makers fall in love with during interviews. He reminds me of Donovan McNabb.
Posted on: January 4, 2011 6:37 pm
Playing the day after Stanford's Andrew Luck torched a supremely talented Virginia Tech secondary for 287 yards and four touchdowns, Arkansas junior Ryan Mallett may have his hands full matching that type of production against the Buckeyes.
Mallett has actually been even more statistically impressive in 2010 than Luck -- throwing for more yards and touchdowns during the regular season -- a function of his own talents as well as those of his head coach Bobby Petrino.
Petrino's high octane power spread offense has taken the SEC by storm, ranking second behind only Auburn in scoring offense (scoring an average of 37.3 points per game) and leading the conference with 338.4 passing yards per game -- a 64.2 yard advantage over Kentucky.
Those outside of Big Ten country may be surprised to learn that the Buckeyes' success this season has every bit as much to do with their defense as it does with Terrelle Pryor and their highly publicized offense.
Ohio State, in fact, is allowing only 156.25 passing yards a game and has recorded 2.5 times as many interceptions (18) as touchdowns through the air (seven).
Ultimately, scouts don't care how many yards (or touchdowns, for that matter) Mallett throws against Ohio State. Scouts recall the production that Brian Brohm and Stefan LeFors enjoyed at the University of Louisville under Petrino's tutelage.
Rather, scouts will be looking for ball placement -- a skill in which Mallett has proven talented, but not extraordinarily so. Mallett's accuracy is generally good when he's comfortable in the pocket, but scouts want to see if it nosedives when he's forced to move his feet as it did earlier in the year against Alabama.
Luck's accuracy -- in the pocket and on the move -- was his most impressive feat last night against the Hokies.
If Mallett can match Luck's success, he could join him as an elite prospect.
If he continues to struggle in this area, however, scouts may have no choice but to question if today's ultra-aggressive defenses won't further expose him in the NFL.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 10:25 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2010 11:23 am
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton enters Saturday's Heisman Ceremony as the prohibitive favorite to take home the award, but he's hardly the only one of the four finalists with a bright NFL future.
In fact, some scouts believe Newton, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck , Oregon running back LaMichael James and Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore – all underclassmen – all have a chance at NFL success, reversing a recent trend of Heisman candidates whose games simply didn't translate to the pros.
Newton, who led the country with 49 touchdowns and has carried Auburn to its first BCS Championship Game, is the most polarizing NFL prospect of the group.
There is no denying Newton possesses first-round tools. In joining 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow as the only players in FCS history to have scored 20 touchdowns passing and rushing in the same season, Newton has dazzled scouts with his athleticism and strong arm.
Scouts remain split, however, on how well the junior will be able to make the transition from Gus Malzahn's spread option offense to a pro-style scheme. After all, his success has come in an offense that emphasizes his athletic strengths and simplifies his reads. For as dominant as he's played, Newton has only this season's 13 starts at the FCS level, quite a small sample set for scouts to determine his pro readiness.
These concerns don't extend to the redshirt sophomore Luck, whose recognition of defenses and pinpoint accuracy have made him the favorite to be the first pick of the 2011 draft should he declare early. The Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year broke John Elway's Cardinal record with 28 touchdown passes this season.
Newton and Luck will hear their names called in the first round should they leave for the pros following this season.
James is also highly regarded by pro scouts, though at 5-feet-9 and 185 pounds, he lacks the bulk to hold up as a full-time starter in the NFL. James' production for the Ducks has been staggering. He broke the Pac-10 freshman rushing record last year with 1,546 yards and promptly broke the sophomore record this season with 1,682 yards, which led the FCS. While James offers dynamic playmaking skills due to his agility and speed, teams will have a hard time justifying a pick earlier than the third round on a situational back.
At first glance, Moore lacks the size to be considered an elite pro prospect. The Broncos list their record-breaking passer at 6-feet, 191 pounds. Perhaps not surprisingly, scouts question if Moore has the arm strength to compete in the NFL, as well.
Moore has shown remarkable accuracy throughout his career, however, and is a virtual coach on the field. He reads defenses quickly and shows great anticipation, completing 71 percent of his passes for 3,506 yards and an eye-popping 33 touchdowns against only five interceptions this season.
Moore doesn't possess the measureables to warrant high-round consideration, so he may be the most likely of this group to return in 2011.
Should he do so - and enjoy similar success with senior receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis moving on to the NFL - Moore could force scouts to look past his physical shortcomings and instead focus on his moxie and ball placement; traits that could earn him at least a late round selection.
For complete draft coverage from NFLDraftScout.com click here: http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft
Posted on: November 5, 2010 9:59 pm
Each week I list the five prospects that I'll be focusing on. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL.
Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks.
Those interested in scouting "alongside" me can follow me on Twitter @RobRang.
Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.
WR Julio Jones, Alabama : For some, the one on one showdown between Randy Moss and Darrelle Revis was the best wide receiver-cornerback battle of the year. For me, this is the matchup I've been waiting to see. Jones and Peterson each played well in their matchup last year. Jones may have had the more impressive statistics (four catches for 102 yards, including a 73 yard touchdown), but none of these grabs came against Peterson, who finished with three tackles and three passes broken up despite battling cramps. The fact that I have Peterson going No. 2 overall in my first round mock draft (higher than any cornerback has ever gone) gives you an ideal as to how high the LSU corner ranks on my board. That said, I'm higher than most on Jones, as well. He isn't as polished as some of the other highly touted wideouts due to Alabama's reliance on the running game, but I've seen improvements in his route-running this season and I love the size, strength and toughness he brings to the position. The toughest adjustment most collegiate receivers have to make when going to the NFL is handling the added physicality of the pro grame. I characterized Hakeen Nicks (over the more highly touted Crabtree, Maclin, Harvin, etc.) as the rookie wideout likeliest to have the greatest immediate impact two years ago due to his physicality and body control. I see a similiar skill set in Jones. This game will be televised by CBS and will begin at 3:30 pm EST.
QB Andy Dalton, TCU : The fact that No. 3 TCU is heading to No. 5 Utah for a game with legitimate BCS implications and yet only minimal television coverage is precisely what is wrong with the inequity of today's college football system. If this were a showdown among two undefeated teams in an automatic qualifier conference like the Big Ten, ACC or SEC this would unquestionably be the biggest game of the weekend. Instead, only those of us fortunate enough to have CBS' College Sports channel will get to watch what could be an instant classic. TCU has based a great deal of their success over the years on their defense, but if they are to win this game, Dalton will have to play well. He didn't last year in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State. This game is particularly interesting for Dalton due to the fact that his favorite receiver, senior Jeremy Kerley will often be covered by Utah junior cornerback Brandon Burton -- one of the best, if underrated young corners in the country. This game will be televised by CBS College Sports and will begin at 3:30 pm EST.
SS Shiloh Keo, Idaho: Some questioned our sanity when NFLDraftScout.com rated former Vandal guard Mike Iupati as a potential first round pick before last season even began. Their safety, Shiloh Keo also popped off the tape and began this year among our top five prospects at the position. Like many of you, I haven't seen much of Keo thus far this season. That is because I've been waiting to see him in coverage against a dynamic offense. With Colin Kaepernick and the No. 3 nationally rated Nevada offense coming to town, Keo will have the opportunity to answer questions about his coverage skills. This game won't get mentioned by many, but in terms of a player's stock, few games will be bigger than this one is for Keo. This game will be televised by televised by ESPN and will begin at 5:00 pm EST.
OLB Akeem Ayers, UCLA: At 6-4, 254 pounds, Bruins' junior outside linebacker Akeem Ayers is as gifted an outside linebacker prospect as there is in the entire country. The Bruins have struggled with consistency this season, but Ayers has been one of the few bright spots. His numbers (45 tackles, seven tackles for loss, three sacks) aren't eye-popping, but scouts love his versatility and upside. I'm very interested to see how Ayers performs against Oregon State this weekend. The Beavers may lack the big play offense of their arch rival Ducks, but their pro-style offense and the excellent running of junior back Jacquizz Rodgers will be a truer test of Ayers' talents. This game will be televised by Versus and will begin at 7:00 pm EST.
QB Nick Foles, Arizona: Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck will get all of the hype leading up to this contest and for good reason. However, I've spoken to NFL scouts that are very intrigued with Foles, as well. Foles, a junior, was leading the Pac-10 in passing yards per game before sustaining the knee injury that kept him sidelined for the past two weeks. Like most quarterbacks operating out of the spread offense, most of Foles' passes are in the short to intermediate range -- precisely the areas that Stanford's 3-4 defense is designed to counter. If Arizona is going to beat Stanford this week, Foles will have to play well and he may have to attack downfield. How he performs in that test may determine if he is a legitimate top 50 prospect or just another product of the spread offense. This game will be televised by ABC/ESPN and will begin at 8:00 pm EST.
Posted on: November 4, 2010 2:09 pm
As I mentioned in my last post, my typical Saturday is spent scouting prospects via numerous television feeds. Last weekend, however, I scouted the Stanford-UW game and am just now catching up with the rest of the games and their prospects.
Two senior prospects who didn't make the cut in this week's issue of Draft Slant deserve recognition for their strong performances in close conference losses.
I just wrote up Tennessee wideout Denarius Moore, who torched a talented South Carolina secondary for 228 yards and a touchdown.
Miami inside linebacker Colin McCarthy wasn't quite as statistically dominant, but has flashed whenever I've watched the Canes this season. With quarterback Jacory Harris going down to injury early, the Miami defense was put in the unenviable position of having to make big plays to remain in this contest. That fact made it a great opportunity to scout McCarthy and rest of this talented Miami defensive unit.
The University of Miami may not have the reputation of Ohio State or Penn State for producing NFL linebackers, but with seven of them drafted within the Top 100 since 2000, scouts certainly recognize the program's assembly line of talent at the position.
That fact assures that despite Miami's humbling 24-19 loss at the hands of Virginia, scouts were certain to note the stellar play of senior inside linebacker Colin McCarthy.
Wearing the same No. 44 that the legendary Dan Morgan played with while earning the Butkus, Nagurski and Bednarik awards (the first player to ever do so) in 2000, McCarthy did his best impression of the former Carolina Panther linebacker by racking up an eye-popping 18 tackles, two tackles for loss and one interception against the Cavaliers.
On a day when little went right for the 'Canes, McCarthy was almost capable of willing a victory for the team. He was seemingly in on every tackle, scraping down the line of scrimmage to make tackles on the edge, hustling downfield to make tackles on receivers and showing good athleticism and instincts on his interception - his first of the season.
The 18 tackles are the most by a Miami defender this season.