|The Scouting Blog|
A running back will definitely get drafted in the first round of next year's draft. In fact, the 2015 RB class could turn out to be really special. It reminds me of the 2008 class that produced the likes of Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles. Let's take a look at the potential prospects.
1. (JR) Todd Gurley (Georgia)
He is a physical, downhill runner. Gurley has size, power, speed and strength. He punishes defenders and runs over them. He is tough to bring down and breaks a lot of tackles. He has great agility and balance. Gurley gets stronger as the game wears on. Georgia's offense features him in the passing game. He is finally healthy this year and looks to be in the best shape of his career. His upright running style and durability are a concern. He also needs to improve in pass protection. He is still a first round pick and will be the first RB selected in the 2015 draft.
2. (JR) Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin)
Gordon is a big play threat. He is an explosive back with terrific speed and outstanding balance. He is a dangerous outside runner. He accelerates very quickly and shows a second gear to pull away from defenders. He can stop and start on a dime. Gordon is an athletic back with great change of direction skills. He has become a better inside runner. He makes people miss with his elusiveness, but has a tendency to go down too easily at times. Wisconsin also needs to feature him in the passing game more. He is still a first round talent.
3. (JR) Mike Davis (South Carolina)
He is only about 5'9, but he has a great build. He is a powerful, physical runner. He runs over defenders and shows the ability to bounce off tacklers. Davis gains a lot of yards after initial contact. He runs low to the ground. He has nifty feet, good vision, impressive balance and deceptive speed. He is quick through the hole. He is a player that gets stronger in the fourth quarter. He reminds me of Ray Rice.
4. (JR) T.J. Yeldon (Alabama)
He has the size, the build and the speed that you look for in an NFL RB. He has exceptionally quick feet, great cutback ability and good balance. Yeldon finds the smallest creases as an inside runner. He is a physical back that breaks his share of tackles. He is a really good blocker in pass protection which is an underrated part of his game. At times, Yeldon will dance around at the line of scrimmage instead of being decisive and just hitting that hole. There are also concerns about his upright running style and his fumbling issues.
5. (JR) Duke Johnson (Miami, FL)
Johnson has tremendous speed and athleticism. He is very elusive in the open field. He can make people miss in tight quarters. He shows good vision and uses a deadly stiff arm to break tackles. He is patient and waits for his blocks to develop. Johnson can start inside and then bounce it outside without any hesitation. He is a weapon in the passing game. He has soft hands and runs good routes. He is also a dangerous kick returner when he has been asked to handle that duty. However, he is an undersized back with ball security issues and some durability concerns.
6. (JR) Jay Ajayi (Boise State)
He is a big back with a thick lower body and blazing speed. Ajayi has a physical running style. He just bounces off tacklers and is a load to bring down. He can run over defenders or around them. He also displays good balance and always falls forward. He is a dangerous receiver coming out of the backfield. Ajayi needs to improve in short-yardage situations. He also needs to take care of the ball. He has put the ball on the ground on a few occasions.
7. (SR) Ameer Abdullah (Nebraska)
Abdullah is off to a terrific start this year. He already has two 200-yard games. He is a big-play threat. He hits the hole with authority, shows great quickness to the outside and an extra gear in the open field. He is also a tough runner between the tackles. Abdullah runs low to the ground, keeps those feet moving after initial contact, lowers his shoulder and always fights for extra yardage. He is one of the strongest players at his size at the RB position. He is an outstanding cutback runner that has a nose for the endzone.
8. (JR) D.J. Foster (Arizona State)
He is an all-purpose back. Foster is athletic with great quickness. He is shifty and has the ability to make people miss in the open field. He is a home run hitter. He is a patient runner with good vision. He has soft hands and runs precise routes. He is arguably the best receiver at the running back position in the entire nation.
9. (JR) Javorius ''Buck'' Allen (USC)
He has become a workhorse in Steve Sarkisian's offense. He has good size and balance. Allen has displayed outstanding vision. He is a good cutback runner. He also shows a terrific burst through the hole. He is very effective on screen passes as well. Expect this player to rise in the RB rankings as we get closer to the draft.
10 (tie). (SR) Karlos Williams (Florida State)
The converted safety became the lead back this year. He scored the game-winning TD in overtime against Clemson last week. He has great size and speed combination. Williams is a home run threat. He is also hard to tackle due to his physical nature. But he is still raw and is more of an athlete playing the running back position. He has an upright running style. Williams needs to improve his vision and become more decisive as an inside runner.
10 (tie). (SR) Jeremy Langford (Michigan State)
Langford is off to a slow start this season. He hasn't recorded a 100-yard game up to this point. He had eight 100-yard games in 2013. He is a downhill runner with good size, power and speed. He lowers his shoulder and finishes his runs. Langford is a good receiver out of the backfield and is a solid pass protector.
Here are my notes on some of the prospects from week two in college football.
(JR) QB Connor Cook (Michigan State)
He is a quarterback that has improved his game from last year. He deserves to be mentioned with the other top quarterbacks in this draft class like Winston and Mariota. Cook has good size and arm strength. He can make all of the throws at the next level. He anticipated his throws well and went through his progressions. He was able to throw his receivers open before they came out of their breaks. His pocket awareness was also impressive. Cook can buy time in the pocket and extend plays when needed. He did throw two interceptions, and one of those picks was his fault. He forced the ball into coverage and it is something that he will have to improve upon.
(JR) RB D.J. Foster (Arizona State)
Junior RB D.J. Foster has become the featured back in Todd Graham's offense this year after being the primary backup to Marion Grice the last two seasons. He is a shifty back and has the quickness to bounce it outside. He shows the ability to make defenders miss in space. Foster has excellent hands. He has the best pair of hands at the RB position in all of college football.
(JR) WR Nelson Agholor (USC)
QB Cody Kessler looked his way whenever USC's offense needed a big play. Agholor proved to be a reliable target especially on third downs. He has good speed, runs crisp routes and finds soft spots in zone coverage with ease. He will make tough catches in traffic. Agholor also adds value as a returner. However, he loses his concentration at times and needs to cut down on his drops.
(SR) TE Blake Bell (Oklahoma)
He is a former QB that made the switch to tight end during this offseason. He has great size (6'6, 260 pounds) and should be able to develop into a dangerous red-zone target for the Sooners. Bell caught his first career TD against Tulsa. He is raw, but he is a sleeper prospect that I would keep an eye on leading up to the draft.
(JR) OT Andrus Peat (Stanford)
Peat has ideal size with long arms. His athleticism and strength were on full display last Saturday. He was able to get to the second level and sustain his blocks especially in the run game. He has good lateral quickness. However, he was called for a couple of holding penalties on Saturday. He needs to improve his hand placement and become a better knee bender. He didn't have a spectacular performance against USC, but he has terrific upside and should be selected in the top 10.
(SR) DE Henry Anderson (Stanford)
The senior defensive lineman missed seven games with a knee injury last season. Anderson is a versatile player that can play in multiple schemes, but he is best suited as a five technique in a 3-4 defense. He has great size at 6'6, 295 pounds with long arms. Against UCLA, he held his ground and played the run well. He also demonstrated his brute strength. He is an underrated defender because his contributions don't always show up on the stat sheet.
(JR) DE Dadi Nicolas (Virginia Tech)
Nicolas recorded four total tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks against Ohio State. He harassed the QB all game long. He is an exceptional athlete with outstanding speed. He displayed a great burst off the edge. He also has a non-stop motor. He will be a 3-4 OLB at the next level.
Here are my notes on some of the prospects from week one in college football.
(JR) RB Paul James (Rutgers)
He actually led the nation in yardage through the first three weeks of last season before he suffered a leg injury. The redshirt junior missed three games, but still finished with 881 yards on the ground and nine touchdowns. James came up big against Washington State in week one. He is a workhorse with good size and terrific vision. He excels running in between the tackles. He showed a strong lower body and the ability to break tackles. It was difficult for just one defender to bring him down. He is primed for a big year if he stays healthy.
(JR) WR Leonte Carroo (Rutgers)
Carroo showed glimpses of his enormous potential last year. He had 28 receptions for 478 yards and nine TD's in 2013. He is an athletic WR with big play potential. His hands and speed are his two best traits. He demonstrated that on the first play of the game against the Cougars. He beat man-to-man coverage, located the ball downfield and sprinted into the endzone for a 78-yard TD. It is just one game, but I expect Carroo to have a breakout season under the guidance of new offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen. If he performs the way he did on Thursday night, he should be one of the top receivers available in the 2015 NFL Draft.
(JR) TE Jesse James (Penn State)
He is a dangerous pass catcher with ideal size (6'7, 254 pounds) and long arms. James displayed good straight line speed and surprising athleticism. He showed his toughness when he absorbed the hit from the defender after making the 22-yard reception in the middle of the field. He is currently my top rated tight end in next year's draft.
(Redshirt So) CB Jacoby Glenn (UCF)
The redshirt sophomore was a Freshman All-American last year. He looked extremely confident in man coverage. He had tight coverage on the receivers all afternoon. He demonstrated great awareness and good change of direction skills. Glenn came up with an interception at the end of the first quarter. He also came up big in run support while displaying good tackling form.
(SR) DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (UCLA)
He missed the entire 2013 season due to multiple hip surgeries. But he had a great performance in the season opener against the Cavaliers. He is a powerful, muscular defensive end with long arms. Odighizuwa was constantly in the backfield especially in the first half. He was effective using the bull rush. He also diplayed terrific movement skills. He disrupted the timing of the quarterbacks and caused an interception which was returned for a TD.
(SR) S Anthony Harris (Virginia)
He is my top senior safety on the board. He has the size, the speed and the range that NFL teams look for. Harris demonstrated his physical nature against UCLA. He delivered a few big hits on Bruins' receivers. He also showed great awareness and good tackling technique.
(JR) WR Amari Cooper (Alabama)
He is finally healthy after struggling with injuries last year. He led the team with 10 receptions for 130 yards on Saturday. I was impressed with his concentration level because he had a problem with drops in 2013. Cooper was able to defeat press coverage and diplayed a terrific burst after the catch. He is a smooth route runner with outstanding body control. He made it look so effortless out there.
(SR) WR Kevin White (West Virginia)
He was a Juco transfer that caught 35 receptions for 507 yards last season. Watch out for him this year. I was certainly put on notice after witnessing his performance against the Crimson Tide. White has a good size/speed combination. He is well-built. He is a dangerous deep threat. In the first half, he leaped up in the air and outmuscled the cornerback for the ball on a 19-yard TD reception.
(JR) RB Tyreek Hill (Oklahoma State)
During the spring and fall practice, the coaches at Oklahoma State raved about the ability of this Juco transfer. Hill certainly didn't disappoint in his debut on Saturday night against the Seminoles. He is going to be a major weapon in all facets of the game for the Cowboys. He has world class speed. But he is also a tough guy that lowers his shoulder and finishes his runs. He runs low to the ground and is tough to bring down. He is very dangerous as a receiver and as a returner. He finished with 278 all-purpose yards. Hill should have a huge year.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I list the top wide receivers available in the 2015 NFL Draft. I also reveal receivers that are ready for a breakout season, top sophomores and best available freshmen and transfers.
TOP 10 WIDE RECEIVERS – 2015 NFL DRAFT
(Jr) Amari Cooper (Alabama)
He had a disappointing season in 2013 from a statistical standpoint. But he was also dealing with nagging injuries last year. There is a lot to like about Cooper. He is a tremendous route runner. He knows how to set the defender and get open. He has strong hands and good body control. He is creative after the catch and shows acceleration to pull away from defenders. However, he needs to cut down on his drops.
(Jr) Stefon Diggs (Maryland)
He is coming back from a leg injury that caused him to miss the second half of last season. Diggs is one of the best all-around wide receivers in the nation. The Terps line him up on the outside, in the slot and in the backfield. He is a speedster with good hands and athleticism. He is very quick in and out of his breaks. He is patient, elusive and has excellent vision in the open field which makes him a dangerous kick returner.
(Sr) DeVante Parker (Louisville)
Parker is my top senior WR available for the 2015 NFL Draft. He has good size and has a huge catching radius. He catches the ball strictly with his hands. He is an exceptionally gifted athlete and has great leaping ability. He displays tremendous body control and makes tough catches in the middle of the field. Bobby Petrino will feature him in the passing game, and he should have a big year.
(Jr) Nelson Agholor (USC)
He is ready to follow in the footsteps of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee and emerge as the next great WR at USC. He is a big play threat. He runs precise routes. Agholor can take a short pass and turn it into a long gain. He is dangerous on vertical routes. His return skills are also a big plus.
(Jr) Quinshad Davis (North Carolina)
He is a physical receiver with ideal size. Davis displays reliable hands. He attacks the ball while it is in the air. He will go over the middle and make plays in traffic. He is also a major threat in the red zone. He does a good job on stop and go routes. I have him rated higher than most experts because his upside is really intriguing.
(Sr) Rashad Greene (Florida State)
Greene was Jameis Winston's most reliable target last season. He excels on short/intermediate routes, but he can also stretch the field vertically. He displays soft hands and runs sharp routes. He is very quick in and out of his breaks. He does a great job exploiting zone coverage. However, he needs to get stronger.
(Redshirt Jr) DaVaris Daniels (Notre Dame)
He has been readmitted to Notre Dame after being suspended for the spring semester due to an academic issue. DaVaris is the son of longtime NFL player Phillip Daniels. He is an athletic receiver with good speed. He is a big play threat. He excels at stretching the field vertically.
(Redshirt Jr) Jaelen Strong (Arizona State)
After transferring from a junior college, Strong went on to have a fantastic 2013 season with the Sun Devils. He is a physical receiver with ideal size and long arms. He uses his length effectively to shield defenders away from the ball. He demonstrates good leaping ability. But he does need to eliminate the drops and improve his route running.
(Jr) Deontay Greenberry (Houston)
Greenberry is an underrated player that should receive more hype this upcoming season. He is a former five-star recruit. He is a tall, athletic WR with long arms. He is able to get the ball at the highest point. He is also a target in the red zone. He has to get stronger and has to improve his route running skills.
(Sr) Ty Montgomery (Stanford)
Montgomery is an explosive, shifty, athletic WR with very good speed. He does an excellent job creating yards after the catch and almost always makes the first guy miss. He also does a good job locating the ball on downfield throws. He is a dangerous return man as well. However, he needs to improve his concentration at times.
TOP BREAKOUT PERFORMERS
(So) James Quick (Louisville)
He made limited impact during his freshman season. But Quick had a terrific spring and he will have a chance to catch a lot of passes in Bobby Petrino's high-octane passing offense this year. He is a good route runner with exceptional quickness. He should develop into a legitimate vertical threat for the Cardinals.
(Sr) DeAndre Smelter (Georgia Tech)
Smelter played baseball for Georgia Tech before he joined the football program in the summer of 2013. He is raw, but he is an exceptionally gifted athlete. He is well-built and has good speed. Look for him to establish himself as one of the top senior wide receivers in the nation in 2014.
(Jr) Shaq Roland (South Carolina)
He was very productive in the second half of the 2013 season. He is a deep threat with good speed. He has a knack for making acrobatic catches. Expect him to become the primary target in the passing game. This is the year when Roland should finally live up to his potential.
(So) Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss)
During his freshman season, he caught 72 passes for 608 yards and scored five touchdowns. He has a big frame, good hands and has a knack for getting open. Treadwell excels at making tough catches in traffic. He has a huge upside.
(So) Tyler Boyd (Pittsburgh)
Tyler Boyd had an outstanding freshman campaign by posting 85 receptions for 1,174 yards and seven TD's. He is an explosive WR with tremendous quickness. He has soft hands, excels in the open field and has terrific body control.
(So) Marquez North (Tennessee)
He had 38 receptions for 496 yards and scored his lone TD during his freshman campaign. North actually played his best against top competition. He is very gifted from a physical standpoint. He has ideal size and great hands.
(So) Stacy Coley (Miami, FL)
In 2013, he posted 33 receptions, 591 receiving yards and eight total touchdowns. He became more of a playmaker for the Hurricanes at the end of last season. Coley is a great deep threat with elite speed and athleticism. He is also a very dangerous return man on special teams.
(So) Darreus Rogers (USC)
As a freshman, Rogers appeared in 11 games last season. He had 22 receptions for 257 yards. He is an athletic WR with good hands. Look for him to take on a more expanded role this year opposite of Nelson Agholor.
TOP IMPACT FRESHMEN and TRANSFERS
(Redshirt So) Cayleb Jones (Arizona)
In 2012, he appeared in 10 games for the Longhorns before deciding to transfer to the Wildcats. Jones is a fluid athlete with good size and terrific hands. He stood out during the spring and big things are expected out of him in Rich Rodriguez's wide-open spread offense.
(Redshirt Fr) Ricky Seals-Jones (Texas A&M)
He was one of the most highly-touted players in the 2013 Class. He played only in the season-opener last year before injuring his knee. He missed the rest of the season and was granted a redshirt year. He is a big WR with rare ahleticism, huge catching radius and good speed. Even after the arrest this spring, Seals-Jones should develop into the go-to guy for the Aggies after Mike Evans' departure.
(Jr) D'haquille Williams (Auburn)
Williams was a five-star recruit and the No. 1 junior college prospect in the country. He is an explosive and physical receiver with good size. He is a legitimate deep threat with terrific leaping ability. Expect him to have the same type of impact that Cordarrelle Patterson had with the Vols two years ago.
(Fr) Allen Lazard (Iowa State)
According to Rivals.com, he was rated the No. 7 WR recruit in the nation. Many experts were surprised that Lazard committed to Iowa State early and never wavered in his decision. He has outstanding size, soft hands and great leaping ability. The true freshman will be given every opportunity to contribute early for the Cyclones.
After carefully studying the tape, I came away very impressed with the performance of QB Teddy Bridgewater against Miami, FL in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
He completed 35/45 passes, set the career-high with 447 passing yards, three passing TDs and one rushing TD. The passing chart breakdown is the following: 26/30 on short throws, 6/8 on intermediate throws and 3/7 on deep balls.
His accuracy on short and intermediate passes was outstanding. Bridgewater demonstrated good anticipation on his passes and he threw receivers open. He hit receivers in stride and gave them a chance to pick up yards after the catch. He threw well on the run which is an underrated part of his game. He is by far the most accurate quarterback in this draft class.
He showed good velocity in the short/intermediate area. He trusted his arm and fit the ball into a tight window on a couple of slant routes. He was very fundamentally sound with his footwork. He squared his shoulders, was able to reset his feet and step into his throws.
His decision-making was impeccable throughout the game. The only mistake he made was when he got taken down for a safety to start the game. Otherwise, he was confident in his pre-snap and post-snap reads. He went through his progressions and manipulated defenders with his eyes. Teddy Bridgewater didn't force throws. He took what the defense gave him. He was calm and extremely efficient on third downs.
I love his pocket awareness. He is athletic and can keep plays alive. Bridgewater extended plays against Miami's defense by rolling out or stepping up in the pocket. He kept his eyes downfield and completed a few throws with pressure in his face.
He is not a perfect prospect by any means. Teams will critique his good, not great arm strength before the draft. His slight build, small hands, deep ball accuracy and lack of elite competition will come into question. Bridgewater has decided to declare for the 2014 NFL Draft. He is definitely a franchise type of signal caller. I am convinced that he is the best quarterback in this draft. He is also worthy of being the top overall pick.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I have decided to breakdown the performance of the Fresno State senior QB Derek Carr against USC in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Derek Carr completed 30/54 passes for 217 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the Las Vegas Bowl. He was 26 of 35 on short throws, 3 of 10 on intermediate ones and 1 of 9 on deep throws. To be fair, his completion percentage should have been much higher, but his receivers didn't do him any favors. I counted six drops by the group as a whole against USC's defense.
Carr has good size and an incredibly strong arm. He can make all of the necessary throws at the next level. He is an athletic signal caller. He ran a 4.56 forty in the spring before his junior season. He has a very quick release and shows good anticipation on most of his throws.
The opening drive of the game was by far his best one. On the first offensive play, Carr found redshirt sophomore WR Davante Adams on a fade route. The fade route is definitely his best throw in the arsenal. Then he found WR Isaiah Burse on a slant route for a touchdown. He fit the ball into a very tight window on that particular play. Some of the NFL quarterbacks would have a difficult time completing that pass. But it all went downhill after that.
At the end of the first quarter, he got hit and went down with a left shoulder injury. It seemed to bother Carr as he got up, but he stayed in the game and didn't miss any snaps.
Most of his completions came on underneath throws. He completed a lot of short bubble screens to wide receivers like he has all season. His ball placement was shaky throughout the game. Carr misfired on some easy short passes and also overthrew a few deep shots where his receivers were wide open. Those are the types of throws that he has to complete at the next level.
He didn't tend to go through his progressions. Most of the time, he locked on to his primary receiver. If the primary target wasn't open, he dumped the ball off to his RB for an easy completion. Carr seemed confused by the different looks and coverages that USC's defense threw at him.
My biggest concern with Carr is the lack of poise that he showed under pressure during this game. He rushed his throws, and some of his incompletions were a result of him being under duress. He showed happy feet.
His footwork continues to be a work in progress. Many of his passes were thrown off balance. A couple of passes were thrown off his back foot which was a major issue for him last season. He didn't set his feet consistently and didn't step into his throws. He relied too much on his arm instead of being fundamentally sound.
The hype train leading up to this game was getting out of control. Many analysts had Derek Carr as a top 5 or a top 10 pick in their mock drafts. But this game exposed the flaws in his game. Some people will point out that this is just one game, and it won't hurt his draft stock. I tend to disagree. Carr has put up huge numbers against weak competition all season long. This was his chance to shine on the big stage against a fast and aggressive 3-4 defense. USC's defense hasn't been stellar, and their secondary has given up big plays all season long, yet Carr didn't take advantage of the opportunity and struggled mightily. I came away disappointed with his performance after this game. Derek Carr has all of the physical tools that you look for in an NFL QB, but he needs to work on his fundamentals. I project him as a late first/early second round pick in May.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I will be previewing the top linebackers available for the 2014 NFL Draft. Next year's draft has more talent at the position than in the past several years.
Anthony Barr (UCLA)
He is an athletic LB with sideline-to-sideline speed. Barr uses his quick first step to wreak havoc behind the line of scrimmage. He is a hard-worker and has a non-stop motor. He can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense at the next level. He will be the first linebacker off the board.
C.J. Mosley (Alabama)
He is a complete linebacker. He has a nose for the ball. Mosley has great instincts to go along with very good speed. He is the best coverage LB available in the draft. He is also the leader of the defense. He has the versatility to play inside in a 3-4 or outside in a 4-3.
Khalil Mack (Buffalo)
Mack is a relentless pass rusher. He plays with a physical presense. He can win with speed or power. He has also shown good coverage ability. Mack had his best game of the season on opening weekend against Ohio State. In fact, he has played his best football against top competition. He projects best as an OLB in a 3-4 defense.
Kyle Van Noy (BYU)
He has been a big-time playmaker at BYU. Van Noy displays very good instincts and a quick first step. He knows how to use his hands and plays with good leverage. He is extremely disciplined and maintains his gap responsibility. His best fit at the next level would be as an OLB in a 4-3 because of his lack of strength.
Trent Murphy (Stanford)
He has ideal size and strength. Murphy is very strong at the point of attack. He has long arms and does a good job shedding blocks. He is a playmaker with a non-stop motor. Some teams will project him as a traditional defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, but I think that he projects best as a pass rusher in a 3-4.
Trevor Reilly (Utah)
He is a versatile player. Reilly plays with his hand on the ground and as a stand-up LB for the Utes. He is a pass rusher that is relentless in pursuit. He is a much better athlete than he is given credit for. He shows good awareness and looks fluid in coverage. Reilly also has impressive agility. He is a tough and hard-nosed player.
Christian Jones (Florida State)
Jones has the size, the athleticism and great speed. He has displayed the ability to cover tight ends, running backs and even slot receivers. However, his instincts are a bit questionable. He has played better this season since making the switch to defensive end. Jones is versatile and can play multiple positions in a 4-3 defense at the next level.
Lamin Barrow (LSU)
He is an athletic linebacker with good speed. He makes plays all over the field. Barrow displays fluid hips in pass defense and covers a lot of ground. He is also a leader of LSU's defense this year. But he tends to go for the big hit and needs to improve his tackling technique. Weak side LB in a 4-3 defense would be his best position at the next level.
Shayne Skov (Stanford)
Skov has played well this season. He finally looks healthy out there after struggling last year. He is a tough, hard-nosed LB. He excels against the run. He shows great instincts. Skov is an underrated athlete that shows good awareness in coverage. He looks like a 3-4 ILB at the next level.
Max Bullough (Michigan State)
He is a physical, tough and instinctive middle linebacker. Bullough is a very good run defender. He diagnoses plays very quickly. He does a good job shedding blocks. He is the unquestioned leader of the defense and shows a good understanding of the game. He is similar to Paul Posluszny. He is an ideal fit at MLB in a 4-3 scheme.
Avery Williamson (Kentucky)
He is not the biggest or the fastest linebacker in the country, but he just makes plays all over the field. He is a tackling machine. He also displays good instincts. Williamson is a hard-hitting backer with surprising strength. He takes on blockers and knows how to use his hands well. He would be a good fit at ILB in a 3-4 scheme.
Ryan Shazier (Ohio State)
Shazier is one of the fastest linebackers in next year's draft. He has great closing speed. He is also an instinctive LB that shows the ability to deliver the big hit. He is a good open field tackler. He has also become a more effective blitzer this year. He has a non-stop motor. He is strictly a 4-3 OLB at the next level.
Carl Bradford (Arizona State)
He is a very disruptive pass rusher. Bradford has an explosive first step and impressive strength that he uses to wreak havoc in the opponent's backfield. He plays with good leverage and is able to shed blocks. He is also a freakish athlete and shows great closing speed. He is a 3-4 OLB at the next level.
Yawin Smallwood (UConn)
Smallwood is the best inside linebacker in the country. He makes plays all over the field. He is a tough guy with excellent instincts and good speed. He is a good wrap up tackler. He will fight through the trash. Smallwood also displays good awareness in coverage. He is a complete backer. He would make a terrific 3-4 ILB in the pros.
A.J. Johnson (Tennessee)
He has been a productive player for the Vols. He has the size and strength to play immediately. Johnson is a good run defender. However, he has average speed and struggles in changing directions. He has tight hips and is a liability in coverage. He is strictly an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Perryman is an undersized, instinctive LB with terrific speed. He is a very good wrap-up tackler. He takes excellent angles especially in the run game. He displays good awareness in coverage. He plays middle linebacker for Miami, but he projects best as a weak side LB in a 4-3 at the next level.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I look at some underrated players that have caught my eye this season.
Junior QB Sean Mannion (Oregon State)
This is a player that deserves to be mentioned along with the other top tier quarterbacks in the nation. He has been very productive during his junior season after struggling with his accuracy and decision making the last two seasons. Mannion has already thrown for 2,511 yards, 25 TD's and only three INT's during the first six games of this season. He is a classic drop back passer with ideal size and a strong arm. He operates in a pro-style offense and uses playaction fakes effectively. He has shown good field vision this year. Mannion spreads the ball around to tight ends and backs out of the backfield. Most importantly, he shows great poise in the pocket. He needs to continue to trust his reads and make good decisions with the football. He also has to improve his footwork that is still shaky at times.
Senior RB Senorise Perry (Lousiville)
Perry tore his ACL and missed the final three games of the 2012 season. But he came back to full strength before the opening game against Ohio this year. He displays good vision. He is a patient runner and waits for his blocks to develop. Perry has quick feet and has the speed to bounce it outside consistently. He is also a good receiver out of the backfield. He is an underrated back that has always caught my eye.
Senior WR L'Damian Washington (Missouri)
He is having a breakout senior campaign. He is finally living up to his measurables. Washington has ideal size and blazing speed. He is a dangerous vertical threat. He is also a physical receiver that shows the willingness to go over the middle. He has strong hands, displays good concentration and is an underrated blocker. Washington's draft stock will be on the rise in the postseason.
Senior ILB Avery Williamson (Kentucky)
Williamson is a tackling machine. He is a terrific run defender. He is an extremely instinctive linebacker and a good wrap up tackler. He gets good depth on his drops in coverage. He is also the leader of the defense. Williamson is not the biggest or the fastest player, but he makes plays all over the field. I currently have a third round grade on him.
Senior CB Jemea Thomas (Georgia Tech)
An undersized, versatile defensive back that has played corner and safety during his career. Thomas is a feisty, physical player that is always around the ball. He has natural ball skills and good speed. He is also reliable against the run and will deliver the big hit from time to time. Thomas is a good blitzer. He would make an excellent slot corner at the next level.
Senior Safety Sean Parker (Washington)
Parker is one of the better senior safety prospects in the nation. He is a playmaker. He is a ball-hawking safety with good range. He shows good awareness in coverage. He is also a punisher hitter. However, he is undersized and he also needs to improve his open field tackling. This will hold him back from being drafted in the first two rounds.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I focus on the redshirt sophomore prospects that can greatly affect the 2014 Draft if they decide to declare early.
QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
Manziel is an incredible playmaker. He has very good speed and is elusive in the open field. He makes spectacular plays on a regular basis. He has improved his accuracy this year. But he still needs to work on his decision making. I will be extremely surprised if Manziel didn't enter the 2014 Draft.
QB Brett Hundley (UCLA)
Aside from Bridgewater, Hundley is the most talented QB available in next year's draft. He is a dual threat. He has very good arm strength. Hundley shows good anticipation on his throws. He is a leader. Pocket awareness remains a weakness for him.
QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon)
He is an athletic, dual threat QB with good size. He spreads the ball around to different receivers. Mariota also uses tight ends and his backs out of the backfield. He makes good decisions with the football. He is also very calm under pressure. However, he needs to improve his footwork. His accuracy has also been shaky early this season.
RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin)
Gordon is one of the top backs in the nation. He has a good combination of size and speed. He is a big play threat. He shows the ability to bounce it outside. Gordon also runs the ball with power. He displays good strength and runs over defenders. It is very difficult for just one defender to bring him down. He has never been featured in the passing game and he also needs to work on his pass protection.
WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)
He is a big, physical WR with huge hands. He had a big time performance against Alabama in week three. Evans is a former basketball player that has very good leaping ability. He consistently makes spectacular catches look easy. He is not going to run a fast forty time, but he plays much faster than that on the field. He is one of the top receivers available in next year's draft.
WR DaVaris Daniels (Notre Dame)
He has been a breakout star for the Irish this season. He is the son of former
NFL defensive lineman Phillip Daniels. He has a good combination of size and speed. He has made big plays this season. Daniels is a vertical threat. He also shows the ability to get the ball at the highest point. However, he needs to continue to refine his route running.
WR Davante Adams (Fresno State)
He has recorded at least one TD in 11 straight games. He is an athletic receiver with a good build and great leaping ability. Adams has strong hands and he wins most jump balls in the endzone. He also will create yards after the catch. He does have a tendency to drop passes. I also have questions about his speed.
DE Aaron Lynch (South Florida)
Lynch was a freshman All-American for Notre Dame in 2011. Next season, he transferred to South Florida in order to be closer to home. He redshirted in 2012. He hasn't had the same impact this season. Lynch still hasn't recorded a single sack for the Bulls. He has ideal size and a quick first step. He has good strength and knows how to use his long arms to fight off blockers. I am expecting for him to pick up his play in the second half of the season.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I decided to focus on this year's wide receiver class. There are some very talented underclassmen receivers that are eligible for the 2014 Draft.
Watkins seems to have regained his freshman form. He is a versatile player. Clemson's offense uses him outside, in the slot, lines him up in the backfield and uses him on reverses. He is an athletic receiver with very good speed and he is extremely dangerous after the catch. Watkins can also stretch the field vertically.
He had an incredible sophomore campaign. Lee had 118 receptions for 1,721 receiving yards and 14 TD's. But I put him at number two on this list because of the uncertainty at the quarterback position at USC. He also had three drops against Hawaii in week one. Lee is very quick in and out of his cuts. He runs precise routes. He has reliable hands. He is terrific in the open field and is a threat to score any time he touches the ball.
He set school records for receptions and receiving yards (82 passes for 1,105 yards) as a freshman in 2012. Evans also added five receiving touchdowns. He is a physical receiver with ideal size. He is a former basketball star in high school who knows how to use his big body to his advantage and shield defenders away. He makes spectacular catches on a weekly basis, but needs to refine his route running skills.
4. Junior Allen Robinson (Penn State)
Robinson is off to a great start this season. He has 14 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns. If he continues to produce at this pace, he will be a first round pick in May. He has ideal size. Robinson makes tough catches look routine. He also shows tremendous balance and displays excellent vision after the catch almost like a running back. He does however have a tendency to drop the easy passes.
5. Junior Brandon Coleman (Rutgers)
He has a big 6'6 frame. He is a legitimate downfield threat. Coleman runs good routes. But he needs to improve his concentration at times. Coleman has loads of potential, but needs to become a more consistent receiver.
Jordan Matthews is Jerry Rice's cousin. He has good size, long arms and makes tough catches in the middle of the field. He can also stretch the field vertically. He answered questions about his speed when he caught a quick screen pass and turned into a 55-yard touchdown. He ran away from Ole Miss' defenders on that play. He has had a problem with drops on underneath routes in the past and does struggle creating separation at times.
He has become Teddy Bridgewater's favorite target. He is an athletic WR with very good size. He uses his top end speed to stretch the field vertically. Parker has great leaping ability and does a good job adjusting to underthrown passes. He needs to become a more precise route runner. He takes too many false steps when he is coming out of his breaks.
Moncrief had 66 grabs for 979 passing yards and 10 TD's in 2012. But he didn't have a good performance in week one against Vanderbilt. He is a big play threat. He has good size and speed. He runs the hitch and go routes to perfection. Moncrief does a very good job adjusting to balls thrown downfield. But he struggles to separate from the defenders at times.
He is an explosive playmaker. Odell Beckham Jr. is a deep threat who can score any time he touches the ball. He has great speed. He makes spectacular grabs look easy. He is also a terrific kick returner. However, he has had some big drops in key games and he needs to improve his concentration level.
Richardson transferred to Colorado from UCLA. Then he missed the entire 2012 season after he tore his ACL. Now he looks to be at full strength. He has posted 21 receptions for 417 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games of this season. He is an explosive playmaker with 4.4 speed. He also has terrific hands. He does need to bulk up and get stronger.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I decided to focus on the performance of the quarterbacks from week one action.
Senior QB Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
He threw for 270 passing yards, three passing TDs and two rushing TDs against Georgia. Boyd showed a strong arm and good ball placement. He avoided pressure and picked up significant yards with his feet. He was very effective on playaction passes. He was the leader and the star of the game against Georgia.
Senior QB Keith Price (Washington)
It seems that Price has put his disappointing junior campaign behind him. He completed 23/31 passes for 324 yards and two TDs. He now has 56 total touchdowns which is a new career record at Washington. Price was efficient and made good decisions with the football after he threw the pick on the first play of the game. He threw well on the run and showed great anticipation on his passes. He is undersized and doesn't have a big arm which will hurt him on draft day. But a strong senior season by Price would warrant a middle round grade.
Senior Bryn Renner (North Carolina)
He started off very slow in the first half. He operated out of the shotgun and completed a lot of short passes. Then Renner showed great anticipation and touch on a few intermediate throws in the second half. He stepped up in the pocket and avoided pressure on numerous occasions. Renner showed above average arm. He is an interesting prospect to keep an eye on.
Junior QB Braxton
Miller (Ohio State)
Miller is a dangerous runner. He is extremely elusive in the open field. But in week one, he looked more decisive throwing the football. He displayed better accuracy and ball placement on short and intermediate passes. Miller still doesn't throw an accurate deep ball. He underthrew a couple of deep balls against Buffalo.
Senior QB Zach Mettenberger (LSU)
He looked very comfortable in Cam Cameron's offense especially as the game went on. He showed off his strong arm by being able to fit the ball into some tight windows. He struggled against pressure. Mettenberger still throws the ball to his primary target without going through his progressions. His field vision is very limited.
Senior QB Stephen Morris (Miami, FL)
A lot of draft experts are high on Stephen Morris, but I am not one of them. He turned in a very average performance against Florida Atlantic although his receivers had a few drops. Morris has a big time arm. He has one of the strongest arms in the 2014 draft. He did a very good job throwing on the run in this game. He showed great ball placement on a couple of intermediate passes. But he does have a tendency to trust his arm too much. He did force some passes downfield and threw off his back foot on a few occasions.
Senior QB Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech)
Despite a new offensive coordinator, Thomas did not look any better in week one than he did a year ago. He has the size and the strong arm. But his accuracy problems continue to haunt him. His mechanics are still a work in progress. He drops his shoulder and his footwork is inconsistent. Thomas struggled when he faced pressure. At this point, I don't see a legitimate NFL QB prospect.
Seniors QB A.J. McCarron (Alabama) and QB Aaron Murray (Georgia)
McCarron completed only 10/23 passes for 110 yards with a pick. He didn't look sharp in the first game of the season. Maybe the ingrown toenail did bother him. Aaron Murray lost another big game. He had two costly turnovers against Clemson.
Small School Prospect
Senior QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
Jeff Mathews is my favorite small school prospect out of Cornell. I will focus on him in my future blog as the season progresses. But this week, I decided to focus on another intriguing small school QB Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois. He was terrific in a win against San Diego State in week 1. He displayed a strong arm. Garoppolo attacked the defense with downfield throws. He was able to show his athleticism. As long as he takes care of the football and cuts down on the turnovers which have haunted him in the past, he should rise in the rankings this season.
These transfers should make an immediate impact in 2013.
1. DE Aaron Lynch, South Florida (from Notre Dame)
In 2011, Aaron Lynch was one of the top freshmen defensive linemen in the nation. He recorded 14 quarterback hurries and 5.5 sacks at Notre Dame. He was an absolute playmaker for the Irish. He transferred to South Florida in order to be closer to home. Lynch has a terrific combination of size, athleticism and strength. He should be a force on the defensive line for the new head coach Willie Taggart. He is a redshirt sophomore and is eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
2. RB Charles Sims, West Virginia (from Houston)
Sims graduated from Houston this spring and therefore is eligible to play at West Virginia right away this season. He rushed for 2,370 yards and 29 TDs during his three years for the Cougars.He has good size and shows great balance as a runner. Sims lacks top end speed, but is a good runner in the open field. He is also a terrific receiver coming out of the backfield.
3. RB Brandon Williams, Texas A&M (from Oklahoma)
The Texas native was one of the nation's top recruits in 2011. He chose the Sooners coming out of high school. Williams played sparingly as a true freshman. He transferred to the Aggies after his freshman campaign. He sat out the 2012 season. Williams possesses a terrific combination of size and speed. He has the ability to be a home run threat. Ben Malena is the entrenched starter, but Williams should make a major contribution to the ground game this season.
4. QB Tom Savage, Pittsburgh (from Rutgers)
He led Rutgers to a 9-4 overall record during his freshman season. He passed for 2,211 yards, 14 TDs and only seven INTs in 2009. He looked like a very promising young signal caller in the nation. The following year, he was sidelined by a hand injury and lost his starting job. Savage transferred to Arizona, but never played a down there. He has ideal size and arm strength. He has one year left of eligibility and he should be the starting QB for the Panthers opening day.
5. QB Jake Heaps, Kansas (from BYU)
As a true freshman, Jake Heaps threw for 2,316 yards, 15 TDs and nine INTs. He was named New Mexico Bowl's MVP. During his sophomore season, he was in and out of the starting lineup. At the end of the year, he made the decision to transfer to Kansas. He is an undersized QB with a very accurate arm. Heaps should definitely solidify the QB position for Charlie Weis.
6. LB Jeff Luc, Cincinnati (from Florida State)
Luc was one of the top LB recruits in the nation in the 2010 class. He failed to break into the starting lineup with the Seminoles. Many top schools showed interest in him when he decided to transfer, but he chose the University of Cincinnati. He is a good run defender and is known as a big hitter. He should start for the Bearcats in 2013.
7. OG Max Garcia, Florida (from Maryland)
Garcia is a former three-star tackle out of Georgia. In 2011, he started all 12 games at left tackle for Maryland as a sophomore.He is an athletic offensive lineman who can get to the second level. He is a good pass protector as well. Garcia will be the starter at left guard for the Gators in 2013.
8. TE Gerald Christian, Louisville (from Florida)
He was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. Christian was one of the top tight ends in the nation in 2010. He is an athletic tight end with reliable hands. Christian should be able to develop into another valuable receiving threat for QB Teddy Bridgewater.
9. LB Mike Orakpo, Texas State (from Colorado State)
His older brother Brian Orakpo plays LB for the Washington Redskins. Mike is also a talented player in his own right. He put together two good seasons at Colorado State. He left the program because of some off-the-field issues. He is an athletic LB with terrific speed. He is also a physical hitter. Mike Orakpo should establish himself as one of the top players in the Sun Belt Conference.
10. QB Jameill Showers, UTEP (from Texas A&M)
Showers wasn't going to get any playing time with Johnny Manziel being the clear cut No.1 guy for the Aggies. He hasn't started any games during his career, but he is a talented player in his own right. Showers is a dual threat with a very strong arm. He should be the starter at UTEP from opening day.
Impact JUCO Transfers
These JUCO transfers should make an immediate impact in 2013.
DT Lavon Hooks (Ole Miss) – He was rated as the No.1 JUCO player in the country by a few recruiting services. Hooks played at Northeast Mississippi Community College last year. He is an athletic DT that wreaks havoc in the backfield. He figures to play a prominent role at a position of need for the Rebels.
WR Deon Long (Maryland) – Long has been a well-traveled player. He had a brief stint with West Virginia and played at New Mexico for one year. He transferred from Iowa Western Community College to Maryland where he was reunited with his former head coach Mike Locksley. Long has good speed and should develop into a big play threat for the Terrapins. He should form a dangerous duo with Stefon Diggs in the ACC this year.
CB Justin Cox (Mississippi State) – The Bulldogs lost their two starting corners in Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay to the NFL. They are looking for help in their depleted secondary. CB Justin Cox is a player to keep an eye on. He played two seasons at East Mississippi Community College. He has good speed and terrific size at 6'2,190 pounds. Cox is a playmaker with great ball skills.
DT Marquel Combs (Kansas) – Combs earned a four-star rating from Rivals.com. He played at Pierce Community College in California. He is 6'3, 305 pounds. He is naturally strong. Combs should be able to improve Jayhawks' terrible run defense from last season.
DE Za'Darius Smith (Kentucky) – He was regarded as one of the top junior college defensive ends in the nation. He played at East Mississippi Community College. Smith has great size at 6'5 and 257 pounds. He is an athletic end with a quick first step. He should start opposite of Alvin Dupree for the new head coach Mark Stoops.
LB Tommy Sanders (Texas A&M) – He played at Butler Community College in Kansas. Sanders is an all-around player. He is an athletic LB with sideline-to-sideline speed. He also shows the ability to rush the passer. Sanders is currently penciled in as the starter at strongside LB this season.
RB Traylon Shead (SMU) – He spent two seasons at Texas before he decided to transfer. Then he wound up at Navarro Community College where he earned the All-American honors. With Zach Line graduating, the running back will be a position of need for SMU in 2013. Shead is a power back with underrated speed. He is at his best running in between the tackles.
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