In preparation for the 2013 NFL Draft, NFLDraftScout.com will profile the top draft-eligible prospects from FBS-level programs. This summer series will run until the start of the college football season.
TCU HORNED FROGS
NFL Draft picks the last five years: 15
2012 NFL Draft picks: 2 - ILB Tank Carder (5th round, 147th overall), DB Greg McCoy (7th round, 220th overall).
For years TCU has annually been one of the favorites to play the role of "BCS buster." This wasn't just a case of head coach Gary Patterson's team feasting on the relatively weak talent in the Mountain West (or previously in Conference USA and the WAC). TCU is 16-4 against BCS schools over the past three seasons and have won bowl games in four of their past five seasons, including over Wisconsin in the 2010 Rose Bowl.
While not generating the five-star prospects that others with similar success would have, TCU has done as fine a job of recruiting to their scheme and developing athletes via the weight room as any program in the country. Throughout much of Patterson's tenure, the Horned Frogs have been simply faster and stronger than many of their conference opponents. That, of course, will change this year as TCU heads to the Big 12.
This year's Horned Frogs may lack the stout defense that has so often characterized TCU football under Patterson. They do, however, possess an exciting blend of talent to take advantage of the notoriously leaky Big 12 secondaries.
Top-five prospects for the 2013 NFL Draft
1. QB Casey Pachall (6-4, 216)*
Considering the success of Robert Griffin III, Brandon Weeden and Landry Jones (among others) in the Big 12 a season ago it was easy for fans across the country to lose sight of the impressive campaign turned in by Pachall (pictured above), who broke several of Andy Dalton's single-season records in his first season as TCU's starting quarterback. While the offense in which he operates is the same spread scheme in which Dalton starred, Pachall (pronounced Paw-hall) couldn't be more different than his predecessor. Whereas the crew-cut, straight-laced Dalton demonstrated his leadership with steadfast determination and poise, the long-haired, heavily tattood Pachall is aggressive and, when necessary, confrontational. Scouts like his gun-slinger mentality, as well as the fact that he possesses the size and arm strength to adjust from TCU's quick-hitting offense to the more complicated and vertical concepts used by most NFL teams. Pachall finished 12th in the country in pass efficiency in 2011, completing a school-record 66.5% of his passes for 2,921 yards -- another TCU record. He thew for 25 touchdowns (against seven interceptions); just two scores less than the 27 Dalton threw in his magical Rose Bowl-winning campaign in 2010. Five of those touchdowns and a gaudy 473 passing yards came in a gutsy performance in which Pachall helped lead TCU to a 36-35 upset victory at Boise State. Pachall was able to sneak up on teams a season ago as the Horned Frogs' defense suffered through an uncharacteristically poor season and TCU had to be aggressive on the offensive side of the ball to remain competitive. He'll be challenged against some talented secondaries in the Big 12 this season but with a strong receiver corps around him, Pachall could be poised for the type of big junior campaign that forces NFL scouts to take notice.
2. WR Josh Boyce (5-11, 203)*
Because of the value of the quarterback position Pachall gets the nod over Boyce as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated TCU prospect at this time, but the playmaking receiver was the Horned Frogs best player last season. Boyce caught 61 passes a season ago for 998 yards and nine touchdowns. He was especially productive in the upset victory over Boise State, gathering a career-high 163 yards and three touchdowns against the Broncos, including the go-ahead two point conversion with just 1:05 remaining. Boyce lines up outside in the Horned Frogs' scheme but projects nicely as a slot receiver in the NFL due to his build, competitiveness and savviness as a route-runner. Entering his junior season, Boyce has already caught 15 touchdown passes at TCU, needing only three more to tie the school record. The combination of Pachall and Boyce could be a special one in 2012.
3. DE/OLB Stansly Maponga (6-2, 265)*
Under Patterson and defensive coordinator Dick Bumpas, the Horned Frogs have consistently ranked among the country's stoutest units. Much of that stems from their consistent ability to create pressure on the quarterback, which is Maponga's specialty. While perhaps too short to remain at defensive end for some clubs at the next level, Maponga has shown natural pass rush skills. The native of Zimbabwe racked up 55 tackles, including 13.5 for loss, as well as nine sacks and five forced fumbles -- the most from a TCU defender since former first round pick Jerry Hughes led the country with six in 2008. Maponga has a quick burst upfield, the lateral agility to evade slower-footed offensive linemen and the quick hands necessary to slap away their attempts to block him, as well as knock the ball free from unsuspecting quarterbacks. Having already earned all-conference honors after each of his two starting seasons with the Horned Frogs since redshirting in 2010, Maponga could be on the verge of All-American consideration should he continue to develop as a redshirt junior.
4. WR Skye Dawson (5-10, 176)
There is no doubt that the star of the TCU receiving corps is Boyce, but Dawson offers one element that pro scouts can't get enough off -- pure speed. He's been estimated by some in the scouting community as possessing 4.3 speed and has proven to be a playmaker for the Horned Frogs as both a receiver and returner. Despite starting just five games for TCU this past season, Dawson finished second on the team in catches (45), receiving yards (500) and touchdown receptions (five). While obviously undersized, Dawson's big play potential is intriguing as is the fact that he ended last season on a positive note, earning Offensive MVP honors with four catches for 85 yards and the game-winning score to help TCU beat Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl. If he shows greater consistency in 2012, Dawson could earn middle round consideration next April.
5. OG Blaize Foltz (6-4, 310)
Expected to be a steadying force along the offensive line for the Horned Frogs since playing in all 12 games and starting two as a redshirt freshman in 2009, Foltz suffered a torn ACL midway through the 2010 season and didn't emerge as a standout until last year. Starting all 12 games at right guard, Foltz earned First Team All-Mountain West honors and was recognized by our own Bruce Feldman as one of this year's "Freak" athletes due to his incredible weight-room strength. Foltz is credited with a bench press of 580 pounds, an 800 pound squat, an incline bench of 530 pounds and a 430 pound clean and jerk. "Honestly, we've gotten to a point where we stop him now for safety sake," TCU offensive line coach Eddie Williamson told Feldman. "He could probably do even more than what those numbers indicate if we didn't. Foltz wasn't the dominator in 2011 that his all-conference accolades and weight-room strength would indicate but should have greater flexibility with another year removed from the injury, potentially earning middle to late round consideration in April.
LB/DB Kenny Cain (6-1, 212)
OC James Fry (6-3, 290)
RB Matthew Tucker (6-1, 218)
OT James Dunbar (6-6, 305)*
DE Ross Forrest (6-4, 265)
For all of NFLDraftScout.com's team by team previews of the top prospects to watch in the 2012 season in preparation for the 2013 NFL draft, click here.
Photo credit: US Presswire