Tag:2012 underclassmen
Posted on: December 15, 2011 5:14 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:48 pm
 

To surprise of no one, USC DE Perry heads to NFL

'Tis the season for underclassmen to leave college early for a chance at the NFL.

While NFL teams will certainly be pleased with the pass-rushing "present" they're set to receive from Southern California, they certaintly won't be surprised by the gift. It has been common knowledge for quite some time that junior defensive end Nick Perry would be parlaying his breakout 2011 season into a shot at NFL millions. 

Last week I had a source tell me that another Trojan, junior left tackle Matt Kalil, was "set to return" to USC. Since, Kalil has told reporters that he hasn't made an official decision. I've had numerous other sources tell me since my initial report that Kalil is almost certainly going to leave school early, as many had originally assumed he would. Kalil, after all, is considered by most to be the elite offensive tackle potentially available for the 2012 draft and thus, a likely top ten pick. Not many players are willing to forfeit such an opportunity. 

Similarly, I've heard that USC quarterback Matt Barkley is also carefully weighing his options. Like his blindside protector, Kalil, Barkley looks the part of a top ten pick. Therefore, some would consider him foolish to even consider returning for his senior season and risking injury or poor play that could send his stock crashing. Barkley and Kalil, however, each seem very happy at USC and may relish the opportunity to help take USC back to bowl game next year, as the university's bowl ban ends after this season. 

It had been well known in scouting circles, however, that Perry had been actively shopping for agents since December 1, when agents abiding by NCAA rules could contact underclassmen. Perry, sources tell me, has signed with the firm Lock, Metz and Malinovic. LMM&P represents Tyron Smith, whom the Dallas Cowboys selected ninth overall in April, a former teammate of Perry's at USC.  

Many believe that the the 6-3, 255 pound Perry is ultimately likely to be rewarded for his decision with a first round draft pick. Perry emerged as a First Team All-Pac-12 player this season, leading the Trojans in sacks (9.5) and tackles for loss (13) as well as leading the team's defensive linemen with 54 stops.  Perry is a good football player but a great athlete. As such, many feel that he is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. Perry's upside, therefore, could lead to a rapid rise up the board. 

Perry is currently the No. 25 player on my Big Board. He's going even higher on my current mock draft, however.


Posted on: December 11, 2011 11:47 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:49 pm
 

Report: Notre Dame ILB Te'o to return for 2012

Many NFL teams needing help at linebacker will wake up Monday morning to discover that one of the few potential first round prospects is passing up his chance at the NFL to return for his senior season.

According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, Notre Dame junior inside linebacker Manti Te'o announced Sunday at the Lott IMPACT Trophy Awards that he'll be playing for Notre Dame in 2012. Brian Hamilton's article also notes that Notre Dame has confirmed the news.

Te'o was rated behind only another junior -- Boston College's Luke Kuechly -- on NFLDraftScout.com's rankings of inside linebackers potentially available for the 2012 draft. Audie Cole from North Carolina State is the highest rated senior at the position but is currently graded as a 3rd round prospect and NFLDraftScout.com's No. 87 rated player. By comparison, Te'o is rated No. 27, overall. 

The 6-2, 255 pound Te'o signed with Notre Dame as one of the highest decorated prep prospects in the country. He proved an immediate difference-maker for the Irish and had steadily improved his stock throughout his career. Te'o was voted a finalist for the Butkus Award this year after leading the Irish in tackles (113), tackles for loss (13) and sacks (4.5). The junior still has the upcoming Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State December 29 to top the career-high 133 tackles he posted last  year -- the highest total from a Notre Dame player since 1983 (Tony Furjanic).

Te'o certainly has the build scouts are looking for at the mike position and he has ucommon speed for his size, as well. While he's not necessarily the thumper his size would lead you to believe, Te'o locates the ball quickly and is a reliable tackler. He has the athleticism and awareness for coverage and has some natural pass rush skills, as well. As such, scouts from 4-3 and 3-4 teams, alike, were intrigued by the Notre Dame linebacker.

One team that could be particularly disappointed to see Te'o return to Notre Dame might be the Buffalo Bills. The Bills' struggles to stop the run this season is one reason I had previously projected Buffalo to select Te'o in my latest first round mock draft.

Instead it appears that Notre Dame's Brian Kelly will be the coach boasting this difference-making linebacker next season.

Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:34 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:50 pm
 

Cowboys' Blackmon: 'It's that time to go' to NFL

Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon is NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated receiver for the 2012 NFL Draft, and he indicated he's ready to move on to the next level after the Cowboys play Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.

"I'm pretty sure that it will be (my last game)," Blackmon told ESPN.com.

A finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, Blackmon has 113 catches for 1,337 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.

"I think it's just time," he said when asked why he's ready to turn pro. "It's that time to go. I came back last year to win a Big 12 championship, set us up for a BCS bowl and I think we did that."

Rob Rang has Blackmon going No. 2 overall to St. Louis in his current mock draft, but he'll have to put together solid on-field workouts and off-field interviews between now and the draft.

Blackmon has good size at 6-1, 212 pounds, is physical and has as strong a pair of hands as and receiver in the country. But he lacks great top-end speed, has a DUI arrest in 2010 and is fighting the history of former stud OSU receivers such as Adarius Bowman and Rashaun Woods who flamed out in the NFL. 

Blackmon could find early success in the NFL using his physicality out of the slot on slants and crossing patterns, and he's a strong runner who can make defenders miss in the open field.

--Derek Harper, NFLDraftScout.com Executive Editor
Posted on: December 6, 2011 1:49 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:50 pm
 

Luck says he's 'absolutely' ready for the NFL

Stanford junior quarterback Andrew Luck said he's "absolutely" prepared to go to the NFL after the Cardinal finish their season in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma State on Jan. 2.
  
"I think I'm going to hopefully play professional football if a team will have me," Luck told ESPN on Monday night, per NFL.com.
   
That might be the understatement of the year.
  
Projected as the top prospect available in the 2012 draft by NFLDraftScout.com since the end of last April's draft, Luck is one of five finalists for the Heisman Trophy to be announced Saturday.
  
Luck likely would have been the top overall pick last year, but returned to Stanford for his redshirt junior season to pursue his architectural design degree and believed it was understood he'd go to the NFL after this season.
  
"I thought it was pretty formal or understood when I came back for my final year, so I have no clue if I'll make a formal announcement or not," Luck said.
  
Many NFL scouts have touted Luck as the best quarterback prospect entering the NFL in the past two decades. And he could well end up in Indianapolis, where the 0-12 Colts have been without injured Peyton Manning all season.
  
The Vikings and Rams are the next closest teams to the top pick, but each have two wins with four games to play.
  
"It will work itself out," Peyton's father, Archie Manning, told Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson of CBS' Eye on Football Tuesday afternoon when asked about the Colts' quarterback situation.
  
Luck has thrown for 3,170 yards with 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season.


Posted on: December 5, 2011 6:42 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:51 pm
 

'Canes WR Streeter takes leap of NFL faith

Miami Hurricanes defensive tackle Marcus Forston declaring for the NFL Draft didn't cause big ripples. The surprise was that wide receiver Tommy Streeter decided to join him and sign with agent Drew Rosenhaus, according to CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman.

Streeter will start off as a projected third-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com. But at 6-feet-5 and 215 pounds, he has the potential to be a workout warrior. Right now, his rating is based almost solely on potential.

Entering his junior season, Streeter had only five career catches. But he exploded for 46-811-8 in 2011 as he became high school teammate Jacory Harris' favorite target. The big key for Streeter will be his workouts - he doesn't have a verified 40-yard dash time yet and this year's receiver class has the potential to be quite deep. If Streeter doesn't run in the 4.4-second range and otherwise work out extremely well, he could easily slide into mid-round status.

For perspective, the late-bloomer wasn't rated among NFLDraftScout.com's top 20 junior wide receivers all year.

Forston leaving a year early was pretty much expected. While he has been dominating at times, he has also finished two of the past three seasons injured. He is currently projected as a third- or fourth-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com, but easily to vault into second-round consideration if he can prove he's fully recovered from the knee injury that ended his season in October.

Forston was one of eight players who was suspended for Miami's opening game at Maryland because of taking extra benefits from a former booster.

The Hurricanes are still waiting on decisions from redshirt sophomore running back Lamar Miller and safety Ray Ray Armstrong, who could be potential first-round picks if they leave school early.

Miller is projected as the No. 2 running back eligible for the 2012 draft behind Alabama's Trent Richardson. Armstrong is the No. 2-rated strong safety behind the Crimson Tide's Mark Barron.

--Derek Harper, Executive Editor, NFLDraftScout.com.   


Posted on: November 28, 2011 3:33 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:51 pm
 

Bowl bans may push USC/Miami youngsters to NFL

With many of the FBS teams finishing up their seasons last weekend, the march to the NFL draft in April is taking a turn onto a new road -- the early pathway to the pros.

Each year there are dozens of underclassmen who petition the NFL Advisory Committee for the grades that will help them determine whether they should leave school early for a chance at NFL riches or return to school for another year.

Generally speaking, most underclassmen wait until after the bowl games to make these requests.

Bowl bans for USC and Miami, however, mean that their underclassmen could be all the more vulnerable to the pressures placed by family, friends and prospective agents. While players all over the country are busy preparing for their final game or anxiously waiting to hear what bowl their team has been invited to play in, the likes of Matt Barkley, Matt Kalil and Lamar Miller (among others) may get convinced that the extra time could give them an advantage in preparation time for the Combine and other workouts.

Typically, once a few prospects begin to declare themselves eligible for the NFL draft, the floodgates open. Usually some of the first names to make it official are players who announce their thoughts immediately following a bowl game.

This year, some of the biggest names potentially available in 2012 could have made their intentions known long before the first bowl game kicks off.

Posted on: November 23, 2011 10:55 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:52 pm
 

Report: Luck is indeed leaving Stanford early


   It'll be a happy Thanksgiving for a few general managers likely to be perched at the top of next year's NFL draft.

   Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck plans to enter the 2012 NFL Draft according to a Yahoo Sports report, which cites two sources in saying Luck won't be back for a fourth and final college season.

   The redshirt junior, considered the No. 1 overall prospect since the start of the 2010 season, surprised most when he decided after the Cardinal won the Orange Bowl to return for his redshirt junior season in 2011 to finalize his degree in architectural engineering. The Charlotte Observer reported in January that Luck, not Cam Newton of Auburn, was the Panthers' top-ranked prospect. When Luck returned, Newton was the No. 1 overall pick and has put up gaudy statistics starting since Week 1.

   Luck has started since his freshman season and given head coach Jim Harbaugh, who recruited him to Palo Alto, moved on to the 49ers, some saw Luck as a sure bet to follow him to the pros.

   Harbaugh said Luck is the anti-franchise quarterback in that he doesn't follow any "social expectations in his life." As one example, Harbaugh said some of Luck's closest ties outside of the Stanford locker room were with intellectual professors.

     On the field, Luck has been portrayed as the total package at a position considered the most important to winning in the NFL.  He's expected to be a Heisman Trophy finalist and will leave Stanford with a number of passing records and marks for wins, including many that previously belonged to Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway.

   NFLDraftScout.com projects Luck as one of three or possibly four quarterbacks who will be first-round picks in 2012
, assuming multiple juniors, including Luck and Southern California's Matt Barkley, opt to leave school early.

   He's been scouted heavily by the Indianapolis Colts, who at 0-10 are the most likely team to hold the No. 1 overall pick. All other NFL teams have at least two victories.

   The Colts' situation could be interesting from many angles. Luck received direct counsel from injured All-Pro Peyton Manning, who played all four years of his eligibility at Tennessee, when weighing his draft-vs.-Stanford decision in January. Manning wants to return to the Colts next season. But he's had three neck surgeries and his health status is very much unknown.

   Indianapolis, which signed Manning to a five-year, $90 million contract in July, can release Manning in March and avoid the final four years of his contract. That would clear the path for luck, a player management and owner Jim Irsay said has to be considered if indeed Indianapolis drafts at the top spot in April.

   Vice chairman Bill Polian, who built his previous teams around quarterbacks -- Jim Kelly in Buffalo, Kerry Collins in Carolina and Manning with the Colts -- has scouted Luck on multiple occasions in person. Polian and Manning said they've discussed the scenario, but have not shared what factors will dictate the direction the team takes in March and April.

Jeff Reynolds,
NFLDraftScout.com



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