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Tag:Andrew Luck
Posted on: January 4, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Mallett vs. Buckeye secondary intriguing matchup

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: January 4, 2011 12:14 am
 

Luck proves well worth the hype

Andrew Luck proved every bit worth all of his hype with a dazzling performance in a 40-12 win over Virginia Tech Monday night in the Orange Bowl.

Luck completed 18 of 23 passes for 287 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

In this day of gaudy statistics, Luck's performance might appear hardly the stuff of legend, I know.

But if you didn't watch him last night... well, then, you missed out.

Because Luck's statistics in this game simply don't do him justice.

Now to be fair, Stanford is far from a one-man show. The Cardinal dominated a proud Hokie defense on the ground, rushing for a staggering 247 yards and two scores. In doing so, Virginia Tech was unquestionably more vulnerable to Luck's passing. The Stanford defense was just as impressive holding the Hokies to only one touchdown in the game and that was on a remarkable individual play by Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor (who played well in a losing effort).

At times, the Monday Night Football announcing crew of Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and Ron Jaworski bordered on hyperbole when describing Luck. He wasn't perfect on the night, despite their words describing his play. His second touchdown, for example, Luck threw a deep ball down the middle that floated, forcing wideout Coby Fleener to pause before catching the ball and crossing the goal line. It was enough to beat the Hokies deep on one play, but may very well have been intercepted against a quality NFL defense. Luck was, nonetheless, lauded for his great throw by the MNF crew.

On Luck's interception, he led receiver Ryan Whalen a step too far, allowing for Hokie cornerback Jayron Hosley to accelerate past Whalen and make an impressive pick. Luck made another questionable throw in the third quarter, attempting to dumping off a short pass amid pressure that was nearly intercepted.

Luck, however - as he's done in virtually every game the past two years - was simply staggering with his accuracy throughout much of this game. He fired the slant, threw with touch down the seam and made arguably his two most impressive throws while rolling to his right and attacking the sideline. He was at his best in the second half, completing 9 of his 10 attempts.

In a previous article for NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com I pointed out that Luck was the best prospect I'd ever graded - at any position .

For those that read my material last year, you might recall how high I was on Ndamukong Suh. If you missed Luck tonight, but happened to see Suh destroy Colt McCoy and the Longhorns to the tune of 12 tackles, 7 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in the Big 12 Championship game, that should give you an idea as to how well Luck played tonight against the Hokies.

He was a man amongst boys, at times, proving every bit worth the hype and the No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 draft should he choose to be.
Posted on: December 27, 2010 12:24 pm
 

Carolina officially on the clock

Upset victories by the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos yesterday assured that the Carolina Panthers will finish the 2010 season with the worst record in the NFL and therefore will be awarded the first pick of the 2011 draft.

Despite the fact that the team invested in Jimmy Clausen with their first pick last April, it is a virtual certainty that the team will select Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck should the redshirt sophomore elect to leave school early.

With Luck now knowing precisely where he'd begin his NFL career, his decision is made easier.

His decision could furthermore be made easier if recent speculation is correct and Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh is likely to leave The Cardinal after this season for another coaching position.
Many league insiders feel that if Harbaugh leaves, Luck will leave Stanford too.

Throughout the year there had been plenty of bold talk out of Stanford that Harbaugh would return. In fact, Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby had been quoted as saying that "Jim has indicated he plans to accept" a multi-year extension rumored to be in the neighborhood of three million dollars per season. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News asked Harbaugh if he had signed the deal (he hasn't) and what Harbaugh thought of his Bowlsby's proclamation that Harbaugh would soon sign the deal. Harbaugh's short reply only added fuel to the fire that he is looking at other options. Harbaugh, according to Wilner, said "Maybe he [Bowlsby] misspoke."

We now know Carolina has the first pick. One can read between the lines to see that Harbaugh is considering his options. There is a belief throughout the league that Harbaugh will consider an NFL position, but would rather take over for Rich Rodriguez at Michigan, Harbaugh's alma mater.

The only question now is whether Luck wants to play in Carolina.
 
Current Panthers' head coach John Fox is on his way out. Carolina general manager Marty Hurney may want to consider head coaches that would entice Luck to leave school early.
Posted on: December 13, 2010 1:31 pm
 

Clausen OK, but Carolina has to hope its "Luck"y

NFLDraftScout.com analyst Chris Steuber highlights the "race" to have the first pick of the 2011 NFL draft with a breakdown of the Panthers, Bills and Bengals are facing.

The Panthers, at 1-11, are the favorite to finish with the worst record, as they could find it difficult to win another game this season. Their home matchup this weekend against the 4-9 Arizona Cardinals could decide things, as the Panthers face the Steelers and Falcons to close out the year.

It would be unfair to rookie Jimmy Clausen for the Panthers to invest another high round selection at quarterback this soon. Statistically, he's been terrible this season (51.3 completion percentage, 1 TD/7 INTs), but there have been flashes of the arm strength, toughness, accuracy and leadership necessary to be a successful starting quarterback in the NFL.

Again, giving up on their 2010 second round pick after only 10 starts (assuming he starts the final three games this season) it would be unfair to Clausen. However, the Panthers can't be focused on what is fair for any individual player. They have to do what is best for their franchise - and that would be drafting Luck, should the redshirt sophomore elect to leave Stanford with two years of collegiate eligibility remaining.

Should Luck not come out, the Panthers would find themselves with a much tougher decision. Carolina is a team with plenty of holes, so the Panthers would be wise to investigate trade the pick. As well all know by now, however, the financial obligations of the No. 1 overall pick make it very difficult to trade out of the top spot. 

Unfortunately for the Panthers, should they have to go in another direction because Luck returns to school, their holes in personnel don't necessarily match up well with talent likely to be available. The Panthers would love to find an elite defensive lineman in this draft -- and there are some good ones -- but none as sure as Ndamukong Suh last year. The team could use some reinforcements along the offensive line -- but many scouts believe that there won't be an offensive tackle worthy of a Top 15 pick in this draft, much less No. 1. Besides, left tackle Jordan Gross is among the better all-around left tackles in the league. He's not Carolina's problem.

The two best players (other than Luck) could be fellow underclassmen Patrick Peterson and A.J. Green. Peterson is as good of a cornerback prospect as I've ever seen, but plays at one of the few positions where Carolina already has some talent. Green is a future Pro Bowl regular, but the team has already invested heavily at the position and likely will find the idea of giving another young receiver No. 1 overall type money unpalatable.

Carolina fans have had little to celebrate this season. Perhaps if they and their team gets "Luck"y, there will be a silver lining around this dark cloud.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 10:25 pm
Edited on: December 11, 2010 11:23 am
 

Heisman Favorites a Menagerie of Pro Prospects

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 18, 2010 11:34 pm
 

Washington wins, but Locker again disappointing


In four seasons as the Washington Huskies starting quarterback, Jake Locker had led his team to victory on multiple occasions. Very rarely did the team win when Locker or the Husky offense, in general, didn't lead the way. Washington's defense -- the team's strength during its heyday -- had been that bad. 

On Thursday night, however, the Husky defense was the unit that played well and earned Washington the victory. The offense, particularly, Locker, struggled mightily.
With a run defense that entered the game ranked 118th out of 120 in the FBS, the Huskies did a great job of shutting down a UCLA Bruin offense that had averaged just under 195 rushing yards per game in a 24-7 victory.

For as good as the Washington defense played, Locker again demonstrated the struggles with reading defenses and hitting downfield targets that is raising concerns among NFL scouts.

On three occasions in the first half, Locker threw "blind" -- releasing passes without reading the defense. All three of the passes could have been intercepted. His interception came with Locker rolling left and firing the ball behind his target.

Locker completed only 10 of 21 passes on the night for 68 yards and the interception. He also ran four times for nine yards and a three yard touchdown.

I'm the first to point out that statistics mean little. Locker was victimized with a few drops, as has often been the case this season. Entirely too often Locker simply missed wide open targets. The concern, however, is that even among Locker's completions, very few of his passes gave his receivers an opportunity to make plays after the catch. This is in direct contrast to Stanford's Andrew Luck who, time after time, has helped his Cardinal teammates gain extra yardage because his passes "push" them away from contact and into the open field.

Locker remains a spectacular talent and one who I feel very easily could earn a first round selection despite his struggles. His upside and intangibles are as impressive any quarterback I've ever scouted.

However, I believe the single most important characteristic towards quarterback success in the NFL is accuracy. Even in Locker's best statistical game this year (against Syracuse on Sept. 11), I noted here that he wasn't as impressive as his 22 of 33 passing for 289 yards and a 4 TDs/0 INTs might first appear. 

Scouts have been waiting -- increasingly impatiently -- to see Locker prove pro caliber accuracy in any game this season.

With only two regular season games remaining in his senior season, they're still waiting to see it.

Posted on: November 18, 2010 1:44 pm
 

For Locker, it may be tonight (vs. UCLA) or never

Part of the reason why there has been so much attention heaped upon underclassmen quarterbacks Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Ryan Mallett (among others) has been the disappointing play of senior NFL passing prospects Jake Locker and Christian Ponder.

Locker's play has been particularly troubling this season due to the expectations that he make similar gains in Year Two under Steve Sarkisian as he'd made last season.

Locker has struggled with consistency in reading defenses and with his downfield accuracy.

After missing Washington's last game -- a blowout loss on the road to No. 1 Oregon -- Locker is running out of time to turn around his senior season.

Tonight, in a home showdown with former Washington head coach Rick Neuheisel and the UCLA Bruins, he'll get a significant test.

For as bad as the Bruins (4-5, 2-4 in the Pac-10) have been this season, they feature some legitimate NFL talent on the defensive side of the ball, including potential high round prospects Akeem Ayers (OLB) and Rahim Moore (FS).

Ayers' athleticism makes for a particularly interesting matchup for Locker. UCLA has enough speed on defense that Locker may not be able to simply run for first downs -- he'll have to throw for them -- giving pro scouts an opportunity to see how he'll fare in a pressure situation.

The Huskies (3-6, 2-4 in conference) need to win their final three games to assure an invitation to a bowl game. Washington has not been to a bowl game during Locker's career.

Each Friday, I highlight five prospects I'll be focusing on during Saturday's games. Locker, however, would certainly rank among those I'll be scouting closely this week.

Many football fans will elect to watch the pro game tonight (Chicago vs. Miami on NFL Network). I, and more importantly, many NFL scouts will instead be focusing on UCLA vs. Washington.

This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised on ESPN.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 9:59 pm
 

Five Prospects I'll Be Focusing On Saturday

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.


 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com