OT Luke Joeckel Texas A&M
Blessed with incredibly light feet and great balance/flexibility it is easy to see what makes Joeckel one of the most highly touted LT prospects in all of college football. Joeckel’s athleticism and foot speed allows him to effectively release off the line and get into his stance/drop quickly. Joeckels is also very fundamentally sound, bending at the knees and maintaining leverage by getting good arm extension and inside hand placement. In the run game Joeckels takes very good angles and uses his size, length and footwork to effectively seal off his defender from the play and create running lanes. Joeckel produces just average push as a run blocker but he does a great job of sustaining and latching on once engaged to efficiently neutralize his opponent. Joeckel’s ability to coordinate his feet and re-direct by moving laterally is top notch and allows him to recover if beaten intially our caught out of position. He does a great job sinking his hips and sitting into his stance and his knee flexibility allows him to re-position and ride defenders around the edge and close the door on outside in pass rush moves. One of the biggest areas for growth for Joeckel will come in his ability to absorb the bull rush and anchor. His base and lower/upper body strength needs improvement. Too many times Joeckel got bull rushed into the backfield. Players who were able to convert speed to power gave Joeckel troubles today as he got caught flat footed and guessing at times. More time in the weight room and more repetitions on the practice field should clean this area of his game up and allow him to fully take advantage of his enormous potential as a franchise pass protector at the next level. He has all the tools necessary to be great but just needs seasoning.
OT Jake Matthews Texas A&M
The son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, Jake not only has the bloodlines but also the skill-set and abilities to be a very good player for a long time just like his dad. While not blessed with the same nimble footwork and athleticism as his teammate, Matthews still has plenty going for him as a player. Perhaps the most impressive part of Matthews game for me was the patience he showed in pass protection and also his functional playing strength. Once you are engaged with Matthews it is simply over, his ability to latch on and sustain blocks is very good due to his incredibly strong hands. Matthews also does a very good job of shooting his hands nicely out of the holsters, displaying a nice punch to jolt his opponent and knock them on their heels. Matthews also plays with a very good wide base and showcases a strong anchor to absorb the bull rush, simply neutralizing his opponents momentum on contact, thanks to his refined technique and ability to extend his arms and find his”fit” quickly. In his set Matthews is patient and smart, not opening up the inside door by over-commiting and getting caught out of position. His ability to mirror his opponent in the pass game gives him a great edge to react to his defenders movements and beat his main to the point. In the run game Matthews is equally impressive as he works hard to create rushing lanes for his running back. Matthews pre-snap awareness and quickness out his stance are also good and allows him to seal off gaps and beat his man to the punch. Matthews is ideally suited to the right side of the football and will likely be one of the top prospects at his position should he declare early. Texas A&M definitely has two of thse best offensive tackles in the entire NCAA with both Joeckel and Matthews.
RB Christine Michael Texas A&M
A relatively quiet game for Michael overall but he did show good hands out of the backfield and the shifty elusive running style that has caught the attention of scouts. Michael had a few good runs, displaying great vision and feel to find the cut back lane while also displaying the footwork and change of direction ability to make defenders miss in the hole. His burst and acceleration was above average and his slipperiness allowed him to slip defenders and run through arm tackles with solid pad-level and a tailor made spin move. Overall it was just an average game for Michael overall as he received only 13 carries for 33 yards. The key for Michael this season is to prove he can handle a full workload while remaining healthy for the entire season. If he can do that, Michael has the potential to be the first Senior running back off the board next April.
WR Ryan Swope Texas A&M
Another Aggie who had a relatively quiet game in this one, Swope managed just 5 receptions for 16 yards. With that said, Swope proved last season just how effective he can be when he gets the opportunity. Freshman QB Johnny Manziel is more of a run first quarterback at this point but would be wise to take greater advantage of his Senior wide receiver. While not overly ahtletic or explosive, Swope is incredibly intelligent and knows how to work his way open out of the slot position. Swope has sticky consistent hands and is a dependable downfield blocker and all around team player. Swope is your classic over achiever who may slip some in the draft and go behind more highly athletic guys with potential but Swope will surely outperform many of them due to his instincts for the position and effort on every play.
LB Sean Porter Texas A&M
Porter burst onto the scene last season for the Aggies, often drawing comparisons to former stand out and All-Pro Von Miller. Porter however is a different breed from Miller and plays the game a bit differently, with a different set of skills. One of the things that stuck out to me was how aggressive Porter was with his hands, ripping off blocks to disengage and converge on the ball carrier. Porter is a very fluid athlete with plus movement and change of direction skills which allow him to side step and sift through trash to avoid blocks and find the ball carrier. I love how well Porter does this while also keeping his head and eyes up and feeling his way down the line to take the correct angle to the ball. His smaller frame allows him to get engulfed at times and washed out of the play but his agility and ability to knife his way through and around blocks makes incredibly difficult to corral and contain. Porter is also extremely effective in coverage thanks to his superb athleticism which allows him to turn and run with almost any player. A&M trusts Porter in this area so much they have the trust and confidence in him to line up over the slot receiver on a large number of occasions. Although he doesn’t blitz nearly as much as he did last year since he moved to linebacker in A&M’s new 4-3 defense, Porter still has unique pass rush ability. His speed, flexibility, coordination and foot speed make him a nightmare to handle one on one as he has the ability to keep offensive tackles off balanced and constantly guessing. While he may not be as talented as Von Miller, Porter certainly has the skills necessary to transfer to the next level and make him a high pick come next April.
DE Damontre Moore Texas A&M
Moore caught my eye last year and was virtually all over the field in this game, accounting for numerous sacks and countless hurries. Moore plays the game with great urgency, hustle and effort and fights through the whistle consistently. For a man that stands 6-4 250, Moore has plus movement skills and burst off the football, which allows him to challenge up field and come back underneath. With that said I’m not sure how well he bends as his pad level rises and he struggles with flexibility turning the corner. I would also like to see him become more physical with his hands and use a better pass rush repertoire to fight off and through blocks. With that said, Moore certainly has a lot of untapped talent and potential and is still adapting and growing as a pass rusher. His strength and technique needs to improve at the point of attack if he is to become more than a situational pass rusher, however his ceiling is very high if developed and coached up correctly. I appreciate how hard he fights through tackles and make plays from sideline to sideline thanks to his great motor and range. Certainly Moore is a player that finds ways to make and impact and is hard to keep contained for long stretches of time. His versatility to play multiple positions along the offensive line, as well as his ability to take correct angles and use his closing speed to chase down ball carriers make him an incredibly intriguing player. Moore seems to impact the play on more ocassions than not and is always involved in the play thanks to his superb awareness and instincts. He needs to do a better job setting the edge and resisting from crashing down and losing contain at times but overall Moore is an extremely dependable player and someone you want to have on the field as much as possible. I’m anxious to see how well Moore adapts to his new position as he is off to a very hot start and is definitely one to watch as the season wears on.
DT Shariff Floyd Florida
Regarded as one of the highest rated prep DT’s in the country, Floyd immediately made an impact for the Gators in his Freshman season while earning All SEC Freshman honors. Last season Floyd was asked to play outside at defensive end due to injuries and depth issues, performing admirably at his new position. Floyd is back inside again this season and certainly impressed me with his natural ability at his more natural position. While Floyd doesn’t possess the burst and quickness off the snap to consistently challenge gaps and make his way to the quarterback, Floyd is more of a technician in the middle whose biggest impact comes against the running game. Floyd has extremely powerful hands and uses his big mitts to effectively disengage and fight his way off blocks. Floyd also plays with very good and consistent pad level and is not afraid of contact. His pure strength and ability to anchor down and hold his position makes it hard not only for offensive lineman to move him off his spot but sustain blocks on him for long periods of time. I also appreciated how well Floyd moved laterally and made his way down the line to make plays against the run. These movement skills allow him to make plays in pursuit and should translate well to the next level. Don’t expect Floyd to cause much stir in terms of sacks and impact plays this season but there is no doubting he is a solid all around player who is a key cog in the middle of the Gators defense.
OT Xavier Nixon Florida
Nixon was hot and cold tonight but overall I didn’t quite see a player that I think will be a starter at the next level. His quickness and pre-snap awareness was off and allowed his opponent to get an early head start on him on more than one occasion. Nixon also played upright and allowed his base to get narrow while executing a poor drop step to gain depth on his kick step. I also question his flexibility and balance at times and also think he lacks a physical demeanor to consistently fight through the whistle. His lateral agility is lacking to a degree and had a bad habit at bending at the waist instead of the knees at times. I don’t mean to completely bash him but Nixon simply played uninspired football, struggling to find and locate blockers at the 2nd level. I did appreciate Nixon’s ability to anchor against the bull rush and recover when caught out of position at times but feel he has a long ways to go if he is going to play at the next level.