Tag:NFLDrafTscout.com
Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:24 am
 

Six New Year's Day* matchups to watch

Due to New Year's Day falling on a Sunday this year all of the traditional bowl games played on this day were moved to Monday. For football enthusiasts it just means an extension of an already dramatic college football season.

Whether you are a hardcore fan preparing yourself to watch every second you can of the six games on tap today or just want to have a handy Who-To-Watch guide for the few minutes you get to sneak away from your job to check the game, I've got you covered with one head to head matchup NFL scouts will be watching.

Here they are:

TicketCity Bowl

Penn State DT Devon Still vs. Houston C Chris Thompson: The 6-4, 310 pound Still currently ranks No. 8 on NFLDraftScout.com's 2012 board for all prospects. Opposing him is Houston's Thompson, a 6-2, 285 pound technician who we rank as a likely free agent (rated No. 38 amongst centers). Don't think that the Cougars won't have a plan for Still and the rest of a talented Penn State defensive line. The beauty of Houston's spread offense is that it gets the ball out of Case Keenum's hands so quickly that often bigger, more athletic pass rushers are limited in what role they can have. Couple that with the fact that Thompson is a wily veteran who earned his second consecutive All-Conference USA honors this season (last year he won it playing guard) and we have an interesting matchup to start off the day.

Capital One Bowl

Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard vs. South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery: Scouts circled this one in red ink, and Jeffery should do the same. He's against the clock to prove he's not overhyped in an offense that caters to his natural skills. Jeffery, a junior, has a 6-inch and nearly 25-pound advantage on the Nebraska senior cornerback. Dennard's late-season push to work back into first-round conversation would get an exclamation point if he muzzles the gifted but undisciplined Jeffery.

Outback Bowl

Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy vs. Georgia C Ben Jones: There may not be a defensive tackle in the country blessed with a more impressive combination of burst off the snap and strength than Michigan State's junior defensive tackle. Playing in the SEC, however, has prepared Jones for just this type of matchup. While the All-SEC center may lack Worthy's power and athleticism, the senior is tough-minded, technically sound and a legitimate top 75 pro prospect, in his own right. If nothing makes you happier during the holidays than a good old fashioned battle in the trenches, this is the showdown to watch.

Gator Bowl

Florida DT Jaye Howard vs. Ohio State C Mike Brewster: Just like in the Outback Bowl, I expect the television analysts to focus on matchups between the skill position players in the Gator Bowl but winner of the Gator Bowl will likely be the team that gets more from their senior in the middle. Howard is quietly among the better, all-around senior defensive tackles and is being viewed by some 3-4 clubs as a possible conversion to defensive end. Brewster isn't flashy but is a tough guy who always competes and is starting his 49th consecutive game. Each is listed by NFLDraftScout.com as potential mid round picks.

Rose Bowl

Wisconsin FS Aaron Henry vs. Oregon RB LaMichael James: The key to stopping the "Quack Attack" is the same as it is with most offenses: take away the running game. Without a dominant front line, the Badgers will have to demonstrate extraordinary discipline in the back half of their defense. Fortunately, they boast a terrific all-around defender in Henry, a former cornerback who has earned all-conference honors after each of his two seasons at free safety. Scouts, of course are even more familiar with James as he's led the country in rushing yards the past two years. If James is to leave Oregon after this season as those close to the program expect, notching yet another 20-plus carry game (he has seven this year) against a traditionally stout defense could help convince scouts the 5-9, 195-pound back has the toughness to be successful in the NFL.

Fiesta Bowl

Oklahoma State FS Markelle Martin vs. Stanford TE Coby Fleener: If there is a safety in the country with as many responsibilities looming as Wisconsin's Henry, it is Martin. At 6-1, 198 pounds Martin doesn't have the bulk scouts generally prefer, but his coverage skills and penchant for the big play have made him NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior at the position. It will be those coverage skills that are put to the test against Andrew Luck and his favorite target, the 6-6, 245-pound Fleener. With little speed on the flanks, Stanford's passing game attacks the field down the middle. As such, the winner of this one on one battle could very well determine the Fiesta Bowl champion.



Posted on: January 2, 2012 7:59 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Update: RG3 hasn't made his NFL decision yet

In a rare contradictory move made over a holiday, a Baylor University spokesperson contacted ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben via text message to announce that a previous ESPN report that Heisman quarterback Robert Griffin III was heading to the NFL is incorrect.

"Robert Griffin III -- the son, the player -- has NOT made a decision regarding eligibility," BU spokesman Heath Nielsen said via text statement, according to Ubbben. "[Griffin] will seek input from coaches later this month, then make his decision."

The text was sent in response to a report initially made by Chris Mortensen on Saturday evening that Griffin was wrapping up meeting with agents and would be informing Baylor of his decision soon. Mortensen has since quoted Griffin's father, Robert Griffin II, as saying, "I met with my son (Friday) and his schedule is pretty much he will attend the Sugar Bowl here in New Orleans, then next weekend he will meet with five agents and select the right agent to represent him and plan a good pre-draft process," Griffin II said. "After that he will sit down with three of his coaches at Baylor on Wednesday or Thursday (Jan. 11 or 12) and make it official."

I picked up on the story yesterday, offering my two cents as to what could be in store for Griffin, assuming that he does eventually make himself eligible for the 2012 draft.

Griffin, like all underclassmen, have until January 15 to decide whether they would like to return for another season of college play or give up their remaining eligibility to pursue their NFL dreams.



Posted on: January 2, 2012 7:59 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Update: RG3 hasn't made his NFL decision yet

In a rare contradictory move made over a holiday, a Baylor University spokesperson contacted ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben via text message to announce that a previous ESPN report that Heisman quarterback Robert Griffin III was heading to the NFL is incorrect.

"Robert Griffin III -- the son, the player -- has NOT made a decision regarding eligibility," BU spokesman Heath Nielsen said via text statement, according to Ubbben. "[Griffin] will seek input from coaches later this month, then make his decision."

The text was sent in response to a report initially made by Chris Mortensen on Saturday evening that Griffin was wrapping up meeting with agents and would be informing Baylor of his decision soon. Mortensen has since quoted Griffin's father, Robert Griffin II, as saying, "I met with my son (Friday) and his schedule is pretty much he will attend the Sugar Bowl here in New Orleans, then next weekend he will meet with five agents and select the right agent to represent him and plan a good pre-draft process," Griffin II said. "After that he will sit down with three of his coaches at Baylor on Wednesday or Thursday (Jan. 11 or 12) and make it official."

I picked up on the story yesterday, offering my two cents as to what could be in store for Griffin, assuming that he does eventually make himself eligible for the 2012 draft.

Griffin, like all underclassmen, have until January 15 to decide whether they would like to return for another season of college play or give up their remaining eligibility to pursue their NFL dreams.



Posted on: January 1, 2012 6:34 pm
 

Baylor QB Griffin heading to the NFL

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III described his Heisman moment as "unbelievably believable."

That moment was extended Sunday with multiple reports that RG3 is foregoing his senior season and entering the 2012 NFL draft.

Rated behind Stanford's Andrew Luck by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 2 quarterback in the 2012 draft and No. 3 overall player, Griffin completed 72.3% of his passes as a junior for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns against only six interceptions. Griffin, who qualified for the Olympic trials in high school, is just as dangerous on the ground, rushing for 699 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2011.

Griffin led Baylor to a 10-3 record, their first victory over the Oklahoma Sooners in team history and first bowl win since 1992.

While at 6-2, 220 pounds he does not possess the size and experience in a pro-style offense that Luck boasts, Griffin's electric combination of mobility and accuracy does give him a rarer skill-set and more upside than the Stanford star.

It makes for a fascinating decision for the Indianapolis Colts, who by virtue of their loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, clinched the first pick of the draft.

The Colts can hope for the success recovery of future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, but don't expect team president Bill Polian to waste his chance at securing a franchise quarterback of the future simply out of respect for their current star.

A significant portion of Luck's appeal to NFL teams is his pro-readiness. Should the Colts determine that they cannot rely on Manning returning to his previous All-Pro form, Polian is expected to make the traditional choice with Luck.

If the Colts feel secure that Manning can return in 2012, drafting Griffin and allowing him a season or two to acclimate from Baylor's relatively simple spread offense to the Colts' complicated attack is another strategy that will be heavily debated inside the Colts' headquarters.

If Griffin isn't able to leap Luck, he won't have to wait long before his "unbelievably believable" moment continues.

With Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley already announcing that he's returning for his senior season, Griffin may have gained enough value that the St. Louis  Rams with the No. 2 pick and Minnesota Vikings, picking third, may be prepared to auction off their pick to the highest bidder, as well.

The Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins are other potential landing spots for Griffin inside the top ten.
    


Posted on: January 1, 2012 2:10 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:43 pm
 

Underrated Wake Forest WR Givens off to NFL

There is one common denominator between most of the high profile receivers -- Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, Notre Dame's Michael Floyd, South Carolina's Alshon Jeffery, Rutgers' Mohammed Sanu -- they are all big split end prospects.

Some NFL teams are, of course, looking for these types of receivers.

Others teams -- eyeing the success the Pittsburgh Steelers are enjoying with Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders -- are shifting their focus to smaller, quicker receivers capable of lining up at flanker or in the slot.

And that is music to the ears of speedy receivers like Baylor's Kendall Wright and Wake Forest junior Chris Givens, a 6-0, 195 All-ACC wideout who has led the Demon Deacons in all-purpose yardage for three consecutive seasons.

It had been well known that Givens had petitioned the NFL for his grade. Shortly after catching nine passes for 54 yards in a 24-17 Music City Bowl loss to Mississippi State, Givens informed the media that he'd been given a third round grade by the NFL Advisory Committee and that he was heading to the pros.

"Next year, I'll be forgoing my senior year and going to the NFL Draft," Givens said.

Givens is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 11 rated receiver for the 2013 draft. He has a chance to move up in our 2012 rankings due to his speed and playmaking skills.

Wake Forest rarely sends underclassmen to the NFL. Their last one, in fact, was inside linebacker Jon Abbate, who left school early to not get drafted at all in 2007. Jim Grobe, who coached both Givens and Abbate, drew some interesting distinctions between his two former pupils when Givens informed the media that he would be petinioning the league for an early entry grade.
"He's a real-deal guy, there's no question about it," Grobe said. "And Jon Abbate was a real good player. There was no doubt Jon could play. But Jon just wasn't very tall.

"In Chris' case, you know they would probably want him to be a little taller, I'm sure, if the truth is known. They would probably want him to be a little bit more physical as a blocker and did some things without the ball in his hands than he does.

"But he does some really good things — good speed, good routes, good work ethic, catches the ball good. He's got the real, real good foot speed.

"He's a good player. He's a really good player."


Givens ends his career ranked third in Wake Forest history with 21 all-purpose touchdowns on 163 catches for 2,473 yards. 



Posted on: December 31, 2011 1:11 pm
 

QB Jones, OT Reiff fizzle in possible swan songs

Much has been made of the fact that the Insight Bowl Friday night may have been the last collegiate games for Oklahoma junior quarterback Landry Jones and Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, also a junior. Each is listed as potential first round draft pick by NFLDraftScout.com.

Though highly regarded, neither enjoyed the type of dominating game last night to make their decision an easy one.

Jones completed 16 of 25 passes for 161 yards for one touchdown and one interception. He showed some toughness in taking a wicked hit from Iowa and demonstrated the live arm that scouts can't help but admire. However, the same discomfort once the pocket collapses around him that has caused me to rank Jones outside of my Top 32 prospects, was again apparent in this game. Jones had to endure more pressure in this game than he's used to. He was sacked twice (both by Iowa DT Mike Daniels) and pressured often, which contributed to numerous high and wide throws. Two sacks doesn't sound like a lot. But the spread offense Oklahoma runs helps keep Jones upright. Oklahoma had allowed just nine sacks all season long.

On the interception, Jones extended the ball out in play-action before attempting to lob a pass (into double coverage) to Kenny Stills into the back of the endzone. Defensive lineman Broderick Binns deflected the pass and caught it at his own six yard line to extend Jones' string of troubling play since losing All-American receiver Ryan Broyles to a torn ACL. Prior to throwing a three-yard touchdown to senior tight end Trent Ratterree on the next drive, Jones had thrown for zero touchdowns and six interceptions since Broyles' injury November 5.

Like Jones, Reiff has the physical characteristics scouts are looking for. At 6-6, 300 pounds he is very light on his feet, handled numerous exotic blitzes from the Sooners and is technically refined. Also like Jones, however, Reiff showed that another season of college play could go a long way in helping his game. Reiff has a relatively slight upper body and the lack of power was evident against Oklahoma's Frank Alexander (and more troubling) other OU defenders, as well. He has been my second-rated offensive tackle in the country behind Southern Cal's Matt Kalil (ahead of Stanford's Jonathan Martin) all year long and I stand behind that grade. However, after this performance I'd place more distance between Kalil, who I see as a top five pick, and either Reiff or Martin, both of whom I feel are better values outside of the top 10 (or perhaps even top 15) picks.

Though Jones and Reiff entered the game with much of the hype, quite frankly Alexander, OU cornerback Jamell Fleming and Iowa's Daniels were the best three players on the field Friday night -- at least among legitimate NFL prospects.


Posted on: December 29, 2011 2:28 pm
 

Wright vs Trufant worthy Alamo Bowl undercard

A suspect University of Washington defense will attempt to slow down Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III tonight in the Alamo Bowl.

One of the best defenses the Huskies have to limit Griffin is to keep him on the sideline. As such, expect UW to attempt to control the clock by handing the ball off again and again to their own superstar junior, First Team All Pac-12 running back Chris Polk.

With these two stars earning much of the pregame hype, an intriguing one on one matchup hasn't gained the attention it deserves.

Throughout much of the night you can expect to see Baylor senior wide receiver Kendall Wright being covered by Washington junior cornerback Desmond Trufant. It is a matchup that I believe is quietly among the ten best one on one battles of the bowl season.

In catching 101 passes for 1,572 yards and 13 touchdowns this season, Wright emerged from his quarterback's shadow as a bona fide first round prospect, himself. I've had scouts compare the 5-10, 190 pound Wright to Carolina Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith due to their similar straight-line speed and playmaking skills.

Trufant, the younger brother of the Seattle Seahawks' Marcus and New York Jets' Isaiah, has the athleticism to join his brothers playing cornerback in the NFL. He's earned Honorable Mention honors after two of his three starting seasons with the Huskies and appeared poised to gain even better accolades this year when he helped secure victories over Eastern Washington and Hawaii in Washington's first two games. Listed at 6-0, 184 pounds, Trufant finished the regular season with 61 tackles and tied for second in the Pac-12 with 15 passes defended. He's currently graded by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 8 junior cornerback in the country.

Trufant, in fact, played well enough early in the year to do some preliminary exploring of his draft stock, I've been told. Those close to the situation believe he's planning to return for his senior season, however.

In a game pitting Griffin vs. Polk as two "heavyweight" prospects, don't forget to keep an eye on the undercard matchup on the outside. It not only will give a good barometer of each player's ability to handle legitimate NFL competition, the winner of the battle could play a critical role in determing which team emerges tonight from San Antonio victorious.

Posted on: December 28, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Three of top five 2011 picks voted to Pro Bowl

If there was any questions about the talent and immediate impact ability of the 2011 draft class they may have been answered yesterday when it was announced that three rookies were voted Pro Bowl starters.

The rookies, who incidentally were selected with the second, fourth and fifth picks overall were Denver pass rusher Von Miller, Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green and Arizona cornerback/returner Patrick Peterson.

Miller, NFLDraftScout.com's highest rated senior prospect last year, currently has 64 tackles and 11.5 sacks for the Broncos. While Tim Tebow and the Broncos' dominant run game has garnered most of the hype this year, it has been Miller and the Denver defense that has been just as critical in turning the Broncos from one of the league's worst teams into the possible AFC West champions. Miller's success comes as no surprise as his speed off the edge, when coupled with that of Elvis Dumervil's, gave me reason to predict in August that the former Texas A&M Aggie would win this year's Defensive Rookie of the Year.

As impressive as Miller was making plays on the defensive side of the ball, it isn't difficult to understand why NFLDraftScout.com rated A.J. Green as the best offensive pro prospect in the draft. Green leads the Bengals with 63 catches, 1,031 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Though Calvin Johnson might beg to differ, statistically speaking Green has been the best big play wideout in the NFL this season, havihttp://rob-rang.blogs.cbssports
.com/mcc/blogs/edit-entry/13682485n
g caught 11 passes for 35  yards or more, thus far.

Peterson, who I ranked as the top overall prospect in the 2011 draft, proved to be every bit the playmaker on special teams that his fellow rookies were on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Peterson tied an NFL record with four punt returns for touchdowns this season. He's struggled at times in coverage for the Cardinals, but has gotten better as the season has gone on, recording 60 tackles, 13 passes defensed and two interceptions. Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic asked star wideout Larry Fitzgerald about Peterson and his selection to the Pro Bowl. Fitzgerald's response is sure to make Cardinals' fans excited about Peterson's future.

"I remember in the draft everybody was talking about Von Miller this, Von Miller that -- and he's a fantastic player, a Pro Bowler as well -- but what Patrick has done us for this year, I think, has been the best in the league of anybody, except for maybe Cam Newton."

Fitzgerald was asked if he thought Peterson would make the Pro Bowl as a cornerback one day:

"I think he's right there. He's tremendously talented. I don't he even knows how talented he is. Talking to (Bengals receiver) A.J. Green after the game a little bit, and he's telling me Patrick was by far the best cornerback he's gone against. I feel the same way. When I compete against him, there are not many guys around the league that I play on Sundays who can match up with his physical tools. And then you talk about his ball skills, the way he's able to go attack the football at its highest point, tackle. I mean, the only thing he needs is experience, and I think playing every single game this year gave him that. His confidence you see is just continuing to rise week in and week out."


It should be noted that as good as these three were, one could make the argument that several other top ten picks from the 2011 draft could have been honored with a trip to Hawaii. Quarterback Cam Newton, who of course was drafted No. 1 overall by Carolina, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus (Buffalo, No. 3 overall), wide receiver Julio Jones (Atlanta, No. 6 overall) and pass rusher Aldon Smith (San Francisco, No. 7 overall) each made huge impacts for their respective clubs as rookies.


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