Archive for January, 2012

I know this is a day late but like they say, “better late than never”…let’s get into who/what caught my attention.

-Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden is the best quarterback down in Mobile this week and he has improved his stock greatly for his play. I have been impressed how well he has adapted to the pro-style offense as his footwork on his 3 and 5 foot drops look pretty crisp, and he is showing nice timing with his receivers. He’s not looking uncomfortable or overwhelmed at all, which was something that had potentially concerned me with leading up to the week. Weeden’s arm strength isn’t elite but it is good enough and he is showing good torque to drive the ball into tight windows. His balance when he drops back has also been impressive and he is proving to clear up many of the concerns I had with him leading into the week, including anticipation. Weeden still has questions to answer because of his age and whether he can come in and compete right away or needs further development and time, but this week has been a good step in the right direction for him.

Louisiana Tech RB Lennon Creer was a late add to the Senior Bowl after enjoying a successful week at the East-West Shrine Game. Creer has continued that momentum and parlayed that into another solid showing here this week. A former Tennessee Volunteer, Creer has always possessed a unique blend of talent to garner division one interest but he ultimately left and transferred to Louisiana Tech. Creer has pressed the line of scrimmage well and is showing some natural burst and lateral movement skills. I am excited to see how well he does in the game Saturday, but there is no doubt he has turned some heads and caught the attention of coach’s and scouts with his play the past two weeks.

-Florida WR/RB Chris Rainey has proved to be a very dynamic and versatile player all week. He has taken a lot of reps at Wide Receiver and while his routes have been a bit raw, his pure speed and quickness has been overwhelming for some Cornerbacks to keep up with. Speed kills in the NFL and Rainey definitely has it, which could get him drafted in the Top 100 because he is such a weapon in the return and passing game. The Dexter McCluster comparison definitely fits and Rainey is more of a luxury player who if you can get him his touches he could be a very viable and valuable weapon.

-Arkansas WR Joe Adams may not be as fast as Chris Rainey but he is a better Wide Receiver overall and is displaying some impressive traits. His foot speed and short area quickness are two of the things that make him such a nightmare to defend for an extended period of time and make him one of the best returners in this entire draft. He has also done a good job adjusting to the football and I really appreciate/like his overall skill-set as I think he can be a bit like an Antonio Brown or Randall Cobb in your offense and special teams unit.

-Arizona WR Juron Criner has opened up a lot of eyes this week with his play. Criner has displayed very solid hands even coming down with what had to be the catch of the week so far during Tuesday’s practice session. While he is not overly sudden or necessarily explosive in and out of his breaks he does a great job with body control and spacial awareness, which allows him to come down with the catch even in tight coverage. Criner is one of those interesting players I am excited to go do more film work on because of his performance.

-Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller has been extremely disappointing this week and looks like a shell of his former self. His lack of physicality has been exposed and he has a very tough time creating much of any sort of separation due to his lack of any quality burst or speed in and out of his routes. Fuller has also struggled to get his head around quickly enough to locate the ball and his concentration and hand-eye coordination has been lacking overall as he has failed to haul in some passes this week. Fuller reminds me of a poor man’s Roy Williams which isn’t saying a lot for him…his draft stock has dropped more than any other player from this year to last.

-North Carolina WR Dwight Jones has not impressed me this week. He struggled mightily with press coverage and failed to show the type of foot quickness and agility to create separation. He also got a bit upright and failed to drop his pad level when re-directed. I haven’t liked his level of physicality nor his attitude to compete at this point and while I admit he has loads of upside, he just hasn’t showed me enough to consider him in the 1st round as some have mentioned him in. Jones is more of a 2nd-3rd round WR for me at this point.

-Illinois OT Jeff Allen was a late replacement as well and has done a good job competing on short notice. A tackle for Illinois, Jeff Allen alternated between both the right and left side all season for the fighting Illini. His versatility had also been key for him here this week as he took snaps at guard and held his own for the most part. He is not overly athletic or long like some of the other highly touted offensive lineman prospects but don’t get it twisted Allen can play in the NFL. Allen plays with solid leverage and technique overall and can handle the bull rush by playing with a nice wide base and good inside hand positioning. His anchoring skills make him a soid fit to play at right tackle or guard in the NFL and I like him as a mid-round steal.

-Baylor C Phillip Blake has also caught my attention this week. Playing with players like RG3 and Kendall Wright it is very hard to notice a player like Blake on the line but he has held his own very well in 1 on 1’s. Blake is a thickly built player who neutralizes the bull rush and knows how to re-direct when beaten initially. He has quietly enjoyed a great week and will be getting extra looks on film from me and I am sure a handful of other scouts.

-Georgia OT/OG Cordy Glenn…or the “Dancing Bear: as I like to call him was the most impressive player for me today on either squad. He has nimble feet and displays nice quickness to get into his sets off the snap. His movement skills for a man who nearly weighs 350 lbs. is extremely rare and had me smiling and shaking my head at one point during team drills. On a toss sweep to the left Glenn pulled and fired out of his stance, getting out in front to pick up an attacking linebacker with great tenacity and aggressiveness. I was astonished at how well he moved and quickly he got up to speed to hit a moving target in space. Glenn also matched up very well with some of the best pass-rushers in Mobile this week in Upshaw, Coples, and Ingram and consistently held his own against these caliber players. Glenn is a long, strong, and surprisingly athletic big man who will be a very good offensive lineman in the NFL, who can start immediately. I was so impressed I haven’t ruled out the possibility of him staying at Left Tackle quite yet, but if that doesn’t work out he should be versatile enough to play Right Tackle or kick inside to Guard. I can’t wait to disect more film on this fine player, he is a real riser this week for me.

-Florida State OT Zebrie Sanders on the other hand struggled all week and really unimpressed me. He was consistently off-balance, dropping his head and bending at the waist, giving up ground to defenders all week. Granted he was lining up with some of the best defensive lineman in Mobile all week, he will face that caliber of competition on a week to week basis in the NFL. He lunged and got over-extended regularly and consistently failed to find his fit inside his man’s numbers. This was a big opportunity and week for Sanders to show what he is capable of but he failed to impress on a multitude of levels. I no longer see him as a potential first round pick and could fall out of the Top 50 overall completely with his poor showing.

-North Carolina DL Quinton Coples once again flashed his powerful and explosive nature by disengaging with relative ease on a consistent basis. As has been noted his get-off is nowhere near elite but he is just simply a sound and solid football player. I don’t think he warrants Top 10 talent but I would be shocked to see him fall out of the Top 15 overall at this point.

-South Carolina DL Melvin Ingram is probably the third best player on the South’s impressive defensive line after Upshaw and Coples. However, what makes Ingram special is his incredible quickness and athleticism as he does a great job of setting up his man and keeping them off-balance. His quick-twitch athleticism allows him to strike at a moment’s notice and his movements are extremely sudden and hard to mirror for opponents. Ingram is still developing in the handwork department and could do a better job turning his power to speed, but this a solid and versatile player who can make an impact immediately from multiple angles and positions along the defensive front….I like to call him the “Flying Torpedo”

-Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw has been the most impressive player in Mobile this week and while his lack of great height and sheer get-off may not be elite, Upshaw is a very fine player who has Top 10 talent in my opinion. No one player here can mix up his pass rush moves with speed and power better than Upshaw. He has extremely strong hands and plays with great leverage by consistently locking out and extending his elbows, being able to shed through contact. I really like Upshaw as a prospect and will be moving him up on my Big Board because of his consistent performances…I expect a big game from him Saturday.

-LB Zach Brown North Carolina has been flying around all over this entire week displaying his incredible range and athleticism..there’s a chance he could run as high as 4.4 in the 40 at the Combine. However, this doesn’t dis-warrant my notion that Brown is a better athlete than football at this point. I just don’t see his ability to make much of an impact in the run game and think he will be a liability in this area because of his average instincts and lack of physicality, as I’m not sure he enjoys contact. Brown will get over-drafted because of his great athleticism and while that is great because it makes him a great coverage player, I do not think he is a 3-down linebacker yet and prefer Lavonte David to him if I was an NFL Executive.

-Miami LB Sean Spence is another player turning heads and opening up eyes here this week. His physical demeanor and incredible instincts and ability to fly to the football is incredibly enticing despite his size (5-11 228 lbs.). Spence is another guy who was just a few inches taller we would be talking about a first round pick. Spence is one of my favorite linebackers in this draft despite his size…you just can’t teach attitude and physicality as it is something you have or don’t have, which Spence definitely does. 2nd-3rd round pick for me and solid player.

-Louisianna-Lafayette DB Dwight Bentley has intrigued me and others plenty with his play this week. Coming into the week I had heard he was a potential sleeper but never was I expecting him to be this good. He competed early and often and showed the ability to mirror his opponents and stay in their hip pockets with great consistency. His footwork and balance was good and he showed the ability to click and close on the football with good acceleration to a point rather than his man. I need to do more film work if I can find any on Bentley but he is the small schooler who got me most excited this week.

-Georgia DB Brandon Boykin has also been very impressive. His lack of height (5-9) and size (183 lbs.) will likely limit him a little, however this is one of the better slot/nickel corners available in this year’s draft. His footwork and short area quickness is very good and he competed hard on every rep from what I was able to see. The South squad has a lot of talented players in the secondary and Boykin is one of many who impressed this week. I’m giving him a solid 2nd round grade because of his coverage ability and for the fact that he can help you out in the return game.

-DB Casey Hayward Vanderbilt had an up and down week but was solid overall. His coverage was tight although he did struggle with foot speed at times. His punch/jam at the line is very good but I need to see him be a little less physical down the field as he got a little grabby well into the receiver’s routes..these things will draw P.I’s in the NFL. Nevertheless he seems to have very good ball skills evidenced by his 15 career interceptions and always seems to be around the football. I like him in the late 2nd early 3rd round range and think his best fit lies in a Cover 2 scheme.

-Last but certainly not least was North Alabama DB Janoris Jenkins who impressed greatly this week and showcased the skills that made him so effective against top SEC talent at Florida last year. He flips his hips so quickly and efficiently and can turn and run with receivers. He tends to gamble a little here and there by squatting on routes and stopping his feet, but overall he has been plenty impressive…just trying to make the big play instead of relying on his technique. He reminds me a lot of Asante Samuel and could be making a claim to be the 2nd CB taken after Morris Clairborne.

-Thanks for reading…sorry I was unable to get it out sooner.-

-Brandon

Gonna do this a bit different today since I am a bit crammed on time, so I will just give a brief synopsis on things I noticed and caught my attention/eye. These are straight from my notes and I am sorry they are not as organized as usual.

– NC State LB Audie Cole impressed and surprised me a little today with his ability to turn and run with RB Doug Martin on a wheel route down the sidelines. I haven’t watched much film on Cole but one of the first things I remember noting was his lack of athleticism, which made me wonder if he had the ability to play sideline to sideline. Never did I think he had that much range so it seems I now need to go back and do additional work…I have been hearing good things about him all week.

– As I noted yesterday and have said repeatedly, I don’t care if LB Lavonte David (Nebraska) is undersized or not…kid can flat out play football. Early on he did give up inside positioning on 1 on 1 routes against the RB’s but overall I love his range and athleticism. David’s a kid who can play sideline to sideline and can cover a lot of ground while showing the added ability to make plays inside or outside the hash marks. This versatility to make plays against both the run and pass is extremely valuable and one of the reasons why he is my top weakside linebacker prospect. He also did a great job coming up and scrapping the edge in team, while also showing more strength and power at the point of attack than you would think given his lack of ideal size. David is a player on the rise and I am so happy to see him doing so well for himself down in Mobile because this kid really does have a chance to be a special player in the NFL, who can help you out in many ways.

– Bobby Wagner (Utah State) is said to also be having a solid week overall and creating some buzz. He has looked very good in blitz and coverage drills, putting his athletic ability on full display for scouts. He absolutely shut down Chris Polk during 1 on 1 passing drills and definitely looked the part, displaying fluidity and aggressiveness in coverage. One issue I did have when evaluating Wagner however was his ability to read and react (instincts). He seemed one step late and didn’t really trust his eyes and attack downhill like I prefer, so this is something I will be looking for in the game. There is no doubting this kid has talent and is helping himself down here this week however and I am excited to watch more of him.

– The other guy who has flashed for me all week and during film study is Virginia’s DE/LB Cam Johnson. I’m not quite sure where I like him quite yet…4-3 rush end or 3-4 OLB but I am hoping more film study will answer this question, there is a possibility he could appeal to both and that would certainly increase he stock tremendously. Johnson has been so quick off the ball and in his pass rush movements that offensive lineman have struggled to even get a hand on him at times. He absolutely ran right past big OT Mike Adams and burned Keleche Osemele yesterday with a great up and under move and these are two of the players with the biggest wingspans down in Mobile! His ability to change directions seamlessly is something that will give him a big edge to set up his man and keep them off balanced. He definitely has pass rush tools and skills, now I just need to figure out if he can defend against the run. Johnson is a player to watch, could be a big time sleeper.

RB Doug Martin (Boise State) was extremely impressive again today. He looked so natural catching balls out of the backfield and showcased the same burst and acceleration through the hole that makes him so good. He is also a balanced runner whose versatility will make him a weapon in his 1st year. I really like Martin and am particularly high on him…moreso than other draft analysts are and he may even crack my Top 3 with the kind of week he has had.

-Cincinnati’s RB Issiah Pead looked very natural out of the backfield and is proving to be an elusive runner. His lack of size and bulk for the position concerns me but he is a player who can make an impact as a solid third down back in his rookie season.

-Dan Herron is showing a nice overall skill set and his burst and athleticism isn’t great but it isn’t bad either. Herron is proving to be a jack of all trades kind of back who won’t wow you but can be productive and effective. More of a mid-round player at this point.

-Washington RB Chris Polk’s lack of burst has been a big concern all week but I feel he will have a much better showing in the game on Saturday when he is allowed to show off his aggressive running style. Polk’s upside is limited but he is a solid back overall. He probably won’t go in the 1st round at this point but can be a good rotational back for a team who can wear down the defense slowly over the course of the game….he’s more suited to a running back by committee type team.

-Wisconsin QB Russel Wilson has something special about him. He has a calming, confidence, presence, and aurora about him that inspires and focuses his team in the huddle…he appears to have that “It” factor we’re all looking for. Wilson struggled a little with snaps under center but that has been a recurring theme on the North squad all week and something that needs to be cleaned up before Saturday. He needs to stay in there and take the snap…got a little ahead of himself at times today. However he threw the ball pretty well and displayed patience and good decision-making skills overall. One of his throws was from outside the pocket where he displayed good velocity and ability to drive the ball between defenders into a tight window. I can’t wait to see how he handles the pressure coming up front from the South’s talented defensive line with players like Coples, Ingram, and Upshaw.

-Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins also flashed for me a little bit today. He has top-notch intangibles and displayed the same cool/calm demeanor in the huddle that is so encouraging to see from a young signal caller. Cousins did a great job squaring and getting his body into position using his feet to make throws to his left or right with accuracy. In team he flashed great pocket precesnce by stepping up to avoid the rush, before delivering a nice touch pass to Marvin Mcnutt over the top of a linebacker. Cousins is having a good week overall and he and Wilson are competing very closely…it will be interesting to see who gets the start for the North squad on Saturday.

– Kellen Moore (Boise State) continues to struggle this week. He seems to be aiming the football and does not look comfortable what so ever. Moore seems to be trying to process too much information all at once and seems to be a bit overwhelmed to be perfectly honest. He also struggled squaring his body when rolling out to the left or right and his accuracy suffered because of it. Moore is having a difficult week and is looking like a late round pick (6th/7th round) at this point.

-TJ Graham (NC State) struggled a little bit in the stalk blocking drill and may have a hard time sustaining blocks out on the boundry. Overall the North squad receivers were shown up today by the North corners as Leonard Johnson, Asa Jackson, Alfonzo Dennard, Donnie Fletcher, and Jamell Flemming all were fiery and aggressive showing the ability to get off blocks and disengage.

-Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard has been criticized for his lack of true speed and his inability to flip his hips and run for much of the Senior Bowl so far. I think he has done a good job responding to this with his play the last two days. Dennard made an excellent play on a deep ball thrown by Russell Wilson by locating it and timing his jump perfectly to deflect the pass away. He was also in his WR’s hip pocket all day and mirrored/shadowed his man very well. Dennard has his flaws but they can be covered up by putting him in a position to succeed. His skill set makes him a good fit for a Cover 2 type defense and while he may not be a 1st round corner anymore, there is no reason for him to fall out of the 2nd in my opinion…he’s too fundamentally sound to slip that far. Dennard was injured in practice today and will no longer be participating so we will have to wait until the Combine to get another look at him.

– OT/G Keleche Osemele impressed me a little today and played with a solid base/solid handwork. His technique was the best I have seen all week from him today and while I still see him inside at guard I can definitely see the intrigue with him.

DT/DE Derek Wolfe once again stole the show in my opinnion. He isn’t overly athletic but has a knack for exposing weaknesses because he is so fundamentally sound. I also love Wolfe’s versatility, and while I like him more as a 5 technique player, he can definitely play 3 tech. as well. He displayed nice bend by dropping his pad level and dipping his shoulder around the edge which should entice 3-4 teams. Wolfe is another player with a relentless motor who consistently gives his best effort and hustles. I have him solidly pegged in the 3rd round and while his lack of elite athleticism limits and will drop him some, this is a solid football player who will produce and be effective at the next level…one of my favorite players in the draft.

-Ohio State C Mike Brewster once again left me feeling disappointed. His lack of lower body strength and tendency to get blown back by quicker/more powerful defensive lineman is a huge concern for me. He lacks athleticism and while he has a big name coming from a big school I’m not a big fan of his play and think he is over-rated.

-One of the biggest winners from today had to be Michigan DT Mike Martin. Martin was explosive off the snap and showed powerful hands to disengage. Pair this with his relentless motor and effort and Martin is an extremely difficult player to sustain blocks on for an extended period of time. He does a great job shooting gaps and was disruptive and got into the backfield consistently today. His stock is on the rise and scouts are taking notice of his ability to penetrate.

-Sorry this was more dis-organized than usual, I hope you enjoyed nonetheless!-

-Brandon

North Squad

Quarterbacks:

Russell Wilson (Wisconsin) was seen once again getting mental reps when not behind center and Wisconsin’s head coach Bret Billema had some very nice things to say about his work ethic. Noting that he is a quick study and a fast learner. Wilson is sort of the wildcard in this group but something about him has always intrigued me so I am interested to see him compete the rest of the week leading into the game Saturday. I didn’t get to see him throw too much today but on the one play I did see he showed read the  coverage and understood where to go with the football. Wilson kept his eyes on the high safety and saw the will linebacker move to the middle of the field before finding his open man to the left. These shows me he has some mental alertness and awareness with the football. Wilson strikes me as a player who does all the little things right.

– Kirk Cousins (Michigan State) was sort of an up and down day for Cousins as he made a great touch throw on a post corner at one point during practice. However, later during team he fell away from his throw and was late with the ball resulting in an interception by George Iloka of Boise State. I love Cousins intangibles and appreciate him as a quarterback but I need to see more of him. The competition between Russel in Kirk is heating up and I have to think it will only get better tomorrow, both these young guys have some things you like in a quarterback.

-Kellen Moore (Boise State) struggled again today with a fumbled snap (small hands) and showed very little in the arm strength department. He is going to have an extremely difficult time driving the ball into tight windows at the next level, which will limit his ability to be effective at the next level. His ball comes out with very little velocity and tends to float, making it easy for defensive backs to close on the football.

Running Backs

Doug Martin (Boise State) was the most impressive back today and gained some ground on his counterpart Chris Polk. Martin showed nice burst and explosion and did a good job pressing the line while running with a forward lean. His ability to change directions in an instant is extremely encouraging and one of the things that make him one of my favorite prospects in Mobile this week.

Chris Polk (Washington) struggled in one on one pass protection drills as he was essentially bulled-over by a smaller sized linebacker in Lavonte David. This was extremely discouraging considering many considered he would hold up well in pass protection. I am also starting to question Polk’s burst and acceleration through the hole as he doesn’t seem to possess much explosion to his game. I also noticed that Polk seemed to be going through the motions some as he didn’t finish his runs like he should. Today wasn’t the best day for one of the top backs in the draft, I’m excited to see how he responds tomorrow.

I didn’t get to see much of Pead or Herron running the football but both struggled in pass protection as well as they both were beaten and knocked off balanced with their poor technique.

Wide Receivers

T.J. Graham (NC State) didn’t have as impressive of a day as yesterday but was solid overall. He struggled a little bit with press coverage and had a double catch at one point, but overall he was solid and showed up for the 2nd day in a row which is encouraging. His routes still looked crisp and he also showed a lot of confidence in his hands. Graham’s stock should be on the rise after this week and I am interested to see how the coach’s use his talents in the game saturday.

Marvin Jones (California) once again had a good day as he showed natural burst and acceleration. He absolutely blew by coverage at one point and simply out ran the coverage. This deep speed is good to see and I will be watching him closer the rest of the week.

Brian Quick (Appalachian State) once again struggled for the 2nd day in a row. He had a couple dropped passes again today and was seen body catching more often than he had during film or yesterday at practice. There is no denying he has physical raw talent and potential with his size and length but he needs some refinement and work. His lack of explosiveness off the line is making him easy to turn and run with as he has created little separation all week. He looks stiff in and out of his breaks and is struggling to make much of an impact at this point in the week.

Gerrel Robinson (Arizona State) is a player who has caught my eye and intrigued me a little here and there. He has shown flashes of greatness by consistently catching the ball away from his frame. His long strides eat up cushions quickly and he is very quick to get on his man. His route running needs work but he is a smooth strider who covers a lot of ground and has been impressing me some this week. He’s a player on my radar that I will be watching closer in the coming days.

Tight Ends

Michael Egnew (Missouri) showed some potential as an in-line blocker yesterday but the same could not be said today. He struggled sustaining blocks and seems to lack strength at the point of attack. His routes were not as clean today and he showed less athleticism and ability to threaten the seam/stretch the field as well. I like Egnew but he needs to come out with a better showing on Wednesday and Thursday.

Offensive Tackles

Mike Adams (Ohio State) had a much more quiet day today than he did on monday. I liked the patience he showed setting into pass pro as he looked very strong and balanced. His play was quiet today and didn’t stand out on any good or bad levels, tomorrow I will watch closer.

Mike Brewster (Ohio State) is a player that has me frustrated. His battles in 1 on 1’s with Michigan’s Mike Martin are extremely chippy and fun to watch, especially considering the rich rivalry between their schools. However, his play has been too inconsistent to this point for my liking. One play he will get bull-rushed and knocked back into the quarterback and the next he will show good technique and movement skills to beat his man for positioning. Brewster has never really wowed me athletically and I am not that high on him as of right now.

Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin) made some snaps from the center position today but looked a little uncomfortable and out of his element. He looked confused and out-of-place and his most natural place is inside at guard. I absolutely love his lunch pail type attitude as he is an absolute mauler and road grader up front. His technique is solid although he does struggle to reposition and sync together his feet and hips to recover on counter moves at times. Zeitler is very solid overall however and has helped himself this week, I have a solid 2nd round grade on him as of right now.

 Defensive Lineman

Vinny Curry (Marshall) has shown flashes but has yet to put it all together at this point. He is showing solid effort trying to bend the edge and run the arc but he is struggling with balance. He seems to be playing a bit stiff and bending at the waist, which is severely limiting his ability to turn the corner without being knocked off-balance around the corner. His pad level is nice but his ankle and hip flexibility seems to be lacking a bit. I wish I had the opportunity to see Curry run the figure eight drill to test this and see for myself firsthand, but I will just have to go with what I am seeing from him in 1 on 1 drills for now. Curry intrigues me and I am excited to watch more of him in the coming days of practice.

Mike Martin (Michigan) has been battling with Ohio State C Mike Brewster during 1 on 1’s for the last couple days and boy has it been fun to watch! Martin is built like a brick shit house and I got to meet him this summer during my internship with the Detroit Lions. I came away impressed with his attitude as he seemed to be a very well-spoken young man. He is squatty but thick, especially in the upper body where he has plenty of bulk. He is a relentless pass rusher that is very strong and powerful at the point of attack who wears you down with his persistent attitude as a rusher. Martin has improved his draft stock so far and scouts love his effort and motor on every play….he will find a way to make an impact in the NFL somehow , someway I can guarantee you that.

Kendall Reyes (Connecticut) has flashed all week and is one of the players I am going to go do more work on, based on the effort and film he has put out so far. He looks very quick and explosive off the line and is displaying nice handwork. His violent hands and impressive array of counter moves has gotten him noticed…he has been a riser and welcome surprise for many, including myself this week.

Alameda Ta’amu (Washington) responded well to a poor showing on monday. He showed nice quickness and explosion off the ball and gets a good push to collapse the pocket. We already know he lacks much to be desired in the pass rush department but his effort and tenacity on every play make him a good fit for a nose tackle role in the NFL.

Derek Wolfe (Cincinnati) didn’t stand out too much today but overall I liked what I saw from him. Wolfe plays with great pad level and gets a good push to collapse the pocket consistently. He struggles to get much arm extension to create space between he and his man, but did a wonderful job disengaging and finding the football. His versatility to play 3 technique in a 4-3 or 5 technique in a 3-4 is something that makes him very marketable to many teams and I expect his value to rise following his performance this week.

Linebackers

Lavonte David (Nebraska) has always been one of my favorite players in this draft and is being under-valued in my opinion. He absolutely bull-dozed Chris Polk during one on ones and is a much more stronger/powerful player than he is given credit for. It was also noted by the broadcast crew that he excelled on special teams. David is lacking in size some but I currently have him rated higher than more highly touted weakside linebacker prospect Zach Brown because of his ability to defend against the run.

Cam Johnson (Virginia) is another player who has flashed plenty all week. His quickness and athleticism has been extremely impressive as he was able to beat Mike Adams soundly with an up and under move. He also sealed the edge well and attacked with the proper shoulder by keeping his outside shoulder and arm free on the edge. He has been one of the more impressive players so far this week for me and I am excited to watch more film on him based on his performance.

Bobby Wagner (Utah State) had an impressive day overall. He was very good in coverage and displayed above average pass rushing ability in 1 on 1’s. Wagner is a bit on the shorter side but he is quietly putting together a strong showing.

Defensive Backs

Alfonzo Dennard (Nebraska) was exposed for his lack of foot speed and inability to turn and run with receivers yesterday. I thought he responded well today after being allowed to play up at the line in press coverage where he is most comfortable. One of my favorite things about Dennard is his ability to recognize routes and reads his wide receivers movements and body language. This allows Dennard to stay in his man’s hip pocket very well and I thought he played very disciplined overall. He also excelled on special teams today which was good to hear given the criticism he has received to this point.

Jamell Flemming (Oklahoma) was one of the more impressive corners today in my opinion. He displayed loose hips and quick feet to turn and run with his man. His ball skills and ability to locate the football was also a very good thing to see. I am excited to see him play the rest of the week to get a better understanding of his overall skill level.

Donnie Fletcher (Boston College) had a very rough first day but bounced back nicely today. He looked much more comfortable pressing at the line as he was able to get a hand on his receiver and re-route/control him from the get go. I liked the way he responded, as he seemed much more patient and didn’t seem to be guessing and sitting on routes as much today.

Georg Iloka (Boise State) is creating all sorts of buzz this week, as many are very intrigued with his combination of size and athleticism. At 6-3 225 lbs, Iloka looks more like a linebacker than defensive back but his length and physical ability is hard not to notice. He has great range and length and made a fine interception on QB Kirk Cousins today. He does a nice job staying in his man’s hip pocket and was rewarded by his effort on the football field today. Iloka is generating some buzz this week and scouts are excited to see what he has to offer.

Biggest Winners:

1. RB Doug Martin Boise State

2. DL Kendall Reyes Connecticut

3. LB Lavonte David (Nebraska)

Biggest Losers:

1. RB Chris Polk Washington

2. TE Michael Egnew Missouri

3. C Mike Brewster Ohio State

South Squad

Quarterbacks

Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State) has to be one of the biggest risers from today. He looked very balanced when asked to drop back and did a great job with ball placement, putting the ball over the correct shoulder on a deep touch throw to Joe Adams. His maturity is noticeable as well as he looks poised and confident as well as cool, calm, and collected. His accuracy and ball speed on the run was also a very promising thing to see as he also displayed solid footwork to get his body around into his throw. Weeden is easily the best quarterback on the South roster and is putting on a fantastic performance at this point. The game will be a better indicator but for now I have to say I am eating crow for having doubted his skill…just mentally biased because of his age, but if a team can look past that they could be getting a very fine quarterback capable of starting early.

Nick Foles (Arizona) has not been as impressive unfortunately. He looked like a wide-eyed rookie at moments today as he was less than commanding in the huddle or under center. He also looked slow going through his motions to execute the play and overall just looked out of his element and uncomfortable. Foles isn’t showing me the type of intangibles needed to become a starting franchise quarterback at this point.

I didn’t get much information on Ryan Lindley today but will try again tomorrow.

 Running Backs

Chris Rainey (Florida) was really the only player I got to take many detailed notes on today. He was used as a receiver today and although his routes were extremely raw, he flashed potential and unbelievable quickness and speed. A true track star Rainey absolutely blew by his former team-mate Janoris Jenkins at one point and seemed to be almost gliding down the field. Rainey may be one of the most versatile players in this game and I am excited to see how Mike Shanahan and the Redskins use his speed and skill in the game Saturday.

Wide Receivers

Joe Adams (Arkansas) had another impressive day. His suddenness and quickness allowed him to beat the press and he has proved to be a very hard player to keep covered for very long. He gained inside positioning with his footwork and will have extra value because of his return ability..Adams has helped himself so far this week.

Juron Criner (Arizona) was the star from practice today after making an excellent one handed stab on a comeback route near the sidelines. The catch showcased Criner’s superb athleticism, concentration, and hand-eye coordination skills. He also looked fast and fluid showcasing a solid double move to create separation. Criner is creating some buzz this week and is looking to move up the draft rankings.

Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M) has been less than stellar and the analyst brought up a point/concern about Fuller that I have also noted in the past. For being so big, Fuller is just way too soft and needs to be much more physical to get the most out of his impressive frame/size. He showed little burst and his ability to accelerate was modest at best. His routes seemed to be leggy and slow developing for me and I am concerned with his ability to separate at the next level.

Tight Ends

Ladarius Green (Louisianna-Lafayette) didn’t look as sudden or explosive as I would have liked, however he used his length very well and showed effortless hands to snag passes away from his long frame. I need to see much more from Green in the coming days and will be paying closer attention.

Another player who is starting to generate some buzz and caught my eye today was LSU TE Deangelo Peterson who has NFL size and athletic ability. Keep an eye on Peterson, as he could be one of those rare players who has a better pro than college career.

Offensive Lineman

James Brown (Troy) is a player Mike Mayock has mentioned as a potential sleeper and player he is intrigued by and I saw a little bit why today. He gets good inside hand placement and shows nice ability to re-set and close door back inside on counter moves. His patience is also nice and the only thing I noticed was that he played a little upright at times but this flaw is correctable. Brown is a player to watch in the coming days as he is faced up with some very talented defensive lineman on the South squad.

Cordy Glenn (Georgia) gets good pop and is quick off the snap. He also keeps his elbows in for the most part and did a nice job re-anchoring and recovering with solid footwork. He got beat with a spin move when he failed to keep his feet moving but overall I like his ability to reset his feet if beaten initially. Glenn has a better chance of staying outside at tackle than Keleche Osemele in my opinion.

Ben Jones (Georgia) is never going to look to great in 1 on 1’s and he struggled a bit today. He exposes his chest and lets players into his body far too easily, but Jones just seems to get the job done consistently. This is why I currently have Jones ranked higher than Ohio State’s Mike Brewster.

Matt McCants (UAB) is a player I see some potential in. He got matched up with some great players today in Upshaw and Ingram but did well for the most part. I loved his discipline to not flinch or jump when Upshaw twice tried to time the snap and twitched to try to draw a false start from McCants. However, Matt stood in there strong and didn’t get flustered or uncomposed. This shows me some mental alertness and concentration, all while standing across from the most feared pass rusher in the entire Senior Bowl. He bent at the waist a little and got a little straight legged, leaving him unbalanced and susceptible which Upshaw took good advantage of by knocking him to the ground. McCants is raw but there is definitely potential here, keep an eye on him.

Zebrie Sanders (Florida State) was a bit inconsistent today as he showed both some good and some bad things. I love his ability to anchor and neutralize the bull-rush as he also re-set his hands and feet well. However, he dropped his head and bent at the waist when lined up with Ingram, which is more a testament to Ingram’s athletic ability than anything in my opinion. Sander’s was one of my potential break-out players heading into the week but that has yet to culminate as he has struggled against Coples and Ingram to this point.

Defensive Lineman

Quinton Coples (North Carolina) has very stong and powerful hands that allow him to disengage with relative ease. I don’t believe he has a very good get-off, as his quickness is lacking but I never thought of him as a dominant pass rusher coming in. His burst and athleticism is good relative to his size and he is a player that can help vs. the pass and run…he has been solid so far, but is probably not worth a Top 10 pick at this point.

Jaye Howard (Florida) flashed a bit today during 1 on 1’s. His spin move had Cordy Glenn rendered off balanced and he looked pretty disruptive inside during team, shooting gaps and showing his quickness/explosion off the ball. Howard caught some people’s attention today and will be getting a much closer look in the coming days of practice.

Melvin Ingram (South Carolina) played like a man possessed today. His athleticism was on full display and his versatility to play with his hand in the dirt or standing up has defensive coordinators chomping at the bit. Ingram flashed very good explosion and quickness as he was able to beat his man with both and inside swim and deceptive swim move. Ingram is definitely catching people’s attention today and is one of the high risers of the week so far…he is creating plenty of buzz.

Courtney Upshaw (Alabama) was the big winner of the day, flashing very agile and fluid movements. Upshaw can change directions suddenly and uses very little wasted movements to do so. His quick twitch athleticism and burst allows him to mix up his speed and power moves with the best of them, as he completely knocked OT Matt McCants to the ground with a fantastic push-pull technique. His arm extension and handwork is very good and allows him to disengage suddenly, making him an absolute nightmare to defend one on one. Upshaw is the best player in Mobile in my opinion and is slowly staking claim to a Top 10 pick…he could have a Von Miller type impact if put into the right situation.

Linebackers

I really didn’t get too great look at the linebackers from the South squad today. However, both Zach Brown and Keenan Robinson impressed me in coverage. Robinson used his length very well and Brown looks very natural/comfortable in man to man, making him a good weakside linebacker candidate. I still think Brown is a liability in run defense however and question his overall instincts, but I am excited to see him compete in the game and see how he fares in this area.

 Defensive Backs

Antonio Allen (South Carolina) was/is a player I am extremely excited to see and watch in the coming days of practice. I didn’t get to see much today but did see him get physical and use his long arms and length well in coverage. Allen is a player I am higher on than most.

Dwight Bentley (Louisianna-Lafayette) definitely caught my eye today. He is light at 173 lbs. but I like his ability to read and recognize routes. He made a great break on the ball and did a great job at closing to a point rather than his man, almost coming up with the interception. He doesn’t seem to be backing down or shying away from the big stage and has come here to compete this week, which is something I really like and appreciate from a small school player.

Brandon Boykin (Georgia) was another cornerback on the South squad who impressed me today. Boykin displayed a certain physicality and scrapiness to his play today and is really competing and fighting to finish drills on a consistent basis. The effort and passion is definitley evident and his athletic ability is starting to turn some heads. He does a great job mirroring or shadowing his man and does a great job sticking in their hip pocket down the field. Boykin is a player who can contribute on special teams instantly and line up over the slot in a nickel back type role. He is starting to win me over and has impressed me so far this week.

Casey Hayward (Vanderbilt) was another impressive corner. On film, Heyward always seems to be around the football. I really appreciate his mirroring skills as well, as he reads his receivers movements and has a great feel for when his man is about to break into his route. Hayward did get a little over-aggressive however as he got a little grabby downfield after 5 yards, which will not fly in the NFL. I will be watching this closely over the next couple days.

Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) was burned by former team-mate Chris Rainey early but responded well on his very next rep by squatting on the route and taking away inside positioning. This showed me that Jenkins is a competitor who is also very savvy in figuring out how to best defend his man by not allowing to get beat twice by the same move. Jenkins has had a good week and I am excited to hear more on how he has interviewed with teams.

Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State) is a very fluid athlete with nice footwork. His quickness and acceleration allowed him to undercut a route and nearly make an interception during team. One of the questions on Martin coming in was his ability in coverage so this was a very positive thing to see from him. If Martin can continue to look good in coverage he could secure his spot in the 2nd round.

Ryan Steed (Furman) has been unimpressive and overmatched in my opinion. He’s not physical enough and is struggling to break down and change directions. I am not too big of a fan of his from what I have seen. However, when the lights go on Saturday you never know what can happen…he will need to do a lot however to change my stance on him.

Biggest Winners:

1. LB Courtney Upshaw Alabama

2. QB Brandon Weeden Oklahoma State

3. WR Juron Criner Arizona

Biggest Losers:

1. QB Nick Foles Arizona

2. WR Jeff Fuller Texas A&M

3. CB Ryan Steed Furman

Sorry this posting was so late…had to work and didn’t get around to starting this until later, hope you enjoyed nonetheless!

-Brandon

Quarterbacks:

From the little I was able to see and take away from practice today it appeared that Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins were the ones competing for top quarterback on the roster. Overall it was pretty close as both had their moments but I will go over both individually. Russel Wilson (Wisconsin) showed good enough arm strength and I really appreciated his ability to snap his head around quickly to scan the field after coming out of a play action. He showed good timing and proved his ability to keep his eyes downfield when moving inside and outside the pocket. There were a few occasions where he was off target and threw behind some of his receivers but I imagine this had to do more with his unfamiliarity with his new receivers than anything. It was also noted during the NFL Network’s broadcast that while Cousins was running the play on the field, Wilson was off to the side going through the motions to test his knowledge and make sure he was on the right page. This shows something about his work ethic and commitment, even if it is just a small detail its worth noting. Kirk Cousins (Michigan State) on the other hand had more zip on his passes than I thought he would and his arm strength appeared to be the best of the group from what I was able to see. He made quick decisions and got the ball out fast, showing good anticipation, timing, and accuracy. It was also noted that Cousins has been the leader in team meeting, which should come as little surprise. Kellen Moore (Boise State) on the other hand was lacking in some important areas. His arm strength is below average and his ball comes out with very little zip. He is also on the shorter side (5-11) and has an elongated throwing motion. All these things will severely limit Moore not only this week but over the course of his entire career. We all know he has excellent ball placement and anticipation skills are very good but these things will only take Moore so far. I imagine he will have a difficult week ahead of him. It will be interesting battle between Wilson and Cousins all week to see who wins and steps up to become the leader of the North squad as both have top-notch intangibles and leadership qualities.

 Running Backs:

Being that the players are in shells today it is very hard to take much of anything from practice today for the running back group. However, both Chris Polk (Washington) and Doug Martin (Boise State) showed nice burst and acceleration from the little I was able to see of them today. Surely this will be a solid battle as well this week as I have both rated pretty closely and their performance this week will go a long way in separating themselves from one another in the minds of talent evaluators. Both players came in very strong with Martin showing up at a strong 5-9 219 lbs., while Polk came in at a sturdy 5-10 224 lbs. Both have the look of potential feature backs in the NFL with the capability to produce for whichever team chooses to draft them. Issiah Pead (Cincinatti) however did not look the part and I was disappointed to see him weigh in at a slight 5-9 193 lbs. I didn’t get to see much of any of Ohio State’s Daniel “Boom” Herron however and will have more on him in the coming days.

Wide Receivers:

The biggest winner from this group today had to be T.J. Graham (NC State) who showed plus burst and suddenness in and out of his breaks to create separation consistently. His hands were also very good as I did not see him drop a pass today. Graham is one of the faster players in this game and could time as well as 4.3 in next month’s NFL Combine. It will be interesting to see whether Graham has just track speed or if he is really a complete football player, as he certainly looked like the former in today’s practice. Graham has built some solid momentum going into Tuesday. One player who I had highlighted as a potential small school sleeper was Appalachian State’s Brian Quick. Quick had at least 3 drops on the day and seemed a tad bit intimidated by the big stage. His routes were sloppy and he really showed little burst and acceleration in and out of his cuts. Quick tended to round off his routes and was not nearly as crisp as you would like to see as he had trouble dropping his weight to generate momentum into his breaks. Today was a disappointing practice for the small school star but it will be interesting to see how he responds to what was a lackluster and disappointing day overall. I didn’t get a very good look at the rest of the wide receiver’s but Cal’s Marvin Jones is one player who was said to have a pretty good day as he beat Dennard on a vertical route in one on ones. Ohio State’s Devier Posey had an okay practice as he showed nice route running skills in 1 on 1’s but struggled hauling and looking in passes from what I was able to gather.

Tight Ends:

One of the more impressive players of the day for me was Missouri’s Michael Egnew who measured in at a solid 6-5 251 lbs., which is more than some expected coming in. Egnew looked good running his routes and seemed to be right where he needed and was expected to be at all times. Egnew also caught the ball very well, secured the catch and immediately turned his body up field. He also showed more aggressiveness and tenacity in the running game and it was nice to see him work as an in-line blocker as that was one of the bigger questions surrounding him leading up into this week. I’m glad the Vikings staff is giving him looks inside and getting him out of his element a bit to see where his blocking ability stands.

Offensive Lineman:

The player who generated the most buzz today was easily OT Mike Adams. First, Adams measured in at a strong and very stout 6-7 323 lbs. while displaying a massive 82.5 inch wingspan. This is the type of frame NFL personnel people crave from the position as it gives the player a very good blocking radius to work with to keep defenders at bay. In practice Adams showed up strong again, displaying natural athleticism and power as he showed very good quickness of the snap as well. He was sound with his hand placement and showed nice ability to anchor when bull-rushed. Adams also displayed natural knee bend throughout much of the practice but does tend to get a little upright at times, making it easy for defenders to get up under his pads like Marshall’s Vinny Curry was able to do on one occasion. All in all Adams had one of the better days overall and got a lot of praise from everyone in the scouting community. If he can continue like this the rest of the week he should become a sure-fire 1st round draft pick. Iowa State’s Keleche Osemele struggled at right tackle from what I was able to see. His lack of quality foot speed and quickness was very apparent and he played with poor pad level for much of the practice. I have always believed Osemele’s only fit would be inside due to his tendency to get stuck in the mud and struggle to change directions and keep with quicker defensive lineman. As Mike Mayock said on the broadcast his future lies inside where his massive size and strength can be best utilized as he is more of a phone booth type player. Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin) had a solid practice overall, showing great technique by always keeping his elbows inside and staying square to his opponent. The leverage he is able to create comes from extremely good coaching and discipline, which all Wisconsin lineman seem to possess. Zeitler may not have the upside of a Cordy Glenn or Keleche Osemele but this is a very good football player who should start early in his career and have an instant impact in the running game. The last player I want to talk about is Ohio State’s Mike Brewster who had an up and down day in my opinion. He started out slow but seemed to gather himself and get more comfortable as the practice went on. Early he was overwhelmed and knocked back on his behind as he struggled with quickness and power showing little ability to anchor. However, as practice went on he displayed the nimble footwork that allows him to gain inside positioning on his opponent to create running lanes off his backside. Brewer is a player who seems to have loads of upside but never shows much consistency from week to week or snap to snap even. I’ll be watching this issue closely over the course of the next few days.

Defensive Lineman:

One player who received a late invite is a player I have hyped up quite a bit early on in the scouting process. Cincinnati’s Derek Wolfe was a menace today showcasing great pass rush moves, as his relentless motor was evident to everyone in attendance. He certainly looked like he had something to prove as he consistently plays with solid leverage and pad level. Wolfe is a player I think will be one of the biggest risers from this week when it’s all said and done and I am excited to see more from him during the week. A player who dissapointed today was Washington’s DT Alameda Ta’amu who struggled to create any sort of pass rush in individual drills. His lack of a pass rush repertoire is extremely concerning and his inability to answer back with any sort of counter move could limit him to becoming strictly a two-down player in the NFL.

Linebackers:

I really didn’t get to see much of the linebacker work today but one player did stand out as a pass rusher. Virginia’s Cam Johnson showcased very good quickness with his pass rush moves and absolutely burned Keleche Osemele with an up and under move, where Osemele wasn’t even able to get a hand on Johnson. This quickness, burst, and suddenness was extremely impressive and I will be watching Johnson much closer for the rest of this week because of it.

Cornerbacks:

The big loser of the day seemed to be Nebraska’s Alfonzo Dennard who struggled transitioning from his back pedal to running with receivers downfield. This is a concern because some had already questioned Dennard’s ability to turn his hips smoothly and run with receivers as he was burned by Marvin McNutt, who doesn’t possess too much straight line speed himself. Dennard looks more comfortable up at the line in press coverage and will surely have to be protected by over the top coverage, where he has a safety to pass his man along to. Dennard also looks much more comfortable when the play is in front of him, as he shows nice ability to click and close on his target. Dennard is a player that doesn’t fit all schemes but he is still an extremely efficient player who excels in other categories… it just so happened that today’s drill work exposed many of the main weaknesses Denard possesses as a prospect. I am expecting a better showing in the coming days and think he will do much better in the game on Saturday where the coach’s will play to his strengths and allow him to play in a scheme his is most comfortable in. None of the other corners were too impressive, especially Boston College’s Donnie Fletcher who got high in his back pedal and showed a lot of tightness in his hips as well. I am excited to see how this group responds to what I considered a lackluster day from all involved.

Biggest Winners from Day One: North Squad

1. Ohio State OT Mike Adams

2. NC State WR T.J. Graham

3. Cincinatti DT Derek Wolfe

 

Biggest Losers From Day One: North Squad

1. Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard

2. Washington DT Alameda Ta’amu

3. Boise State QB Kellen Moore

 

Thanks for your attention, I hope you enjoyed the insight and analysis. Be sure to come back tomorrow for more content and coverage!

-Brandon

The next line of future NFL stars have made their way to the Senior Bowl, looking to convince team's and NFL Personnel men they have what it takes play at the next level. Some will be exposed and some will flourish under the bright lights of Ladd-Pebbles Stadium. Either way it should be a great week of football and opportunity of a lifetime for these young men.

Draft season is upon us and the next line of future NFL stars are waiting to make their names known. Every year the top Senior college football player’s  in the country summon to Mobile, Alabama for a week of practices, where they are put through drills and mental tests to get a better measure of who they are and what they are capable of as individual players. coach’s and scouts get an up close view of each prospects strengths and weaknesses and evaluators are here to see whether it matches up with the film, otherwise more homework could be in the works. Surely there is a lot to gain by participating but there is also a lot to lose as the Senior Bowl is the premier scouting event outside of the Scouting Combine in February and nearly nothing goes unnoticed under the watchful eye of the NFL’s best talent evaluators. Individual positional battles await, as well as the opportunity for some of the nation’s best small school players to finally strut their stuff on the national stage and become known names by avid fans and NFL Draft followers. Players from around the country are gathering to put their individual talents on full display in hopes of getting noticed and catching someone’s eye. The Senior Bowl is about setting yourself apart from the competition and is in large part the beginning of a lengthy job interview process for these players. The resume’s are in but there is still much work to be done. Interviews, eye-ball tests, and first impressions will be imperative to collecting more information on these players and you can be sure team’s will have their talent evaluators out in full force to analyze and decipher any and all information readily available to them. Here are the things to watch this week, leading up to the game next Saturday at historic Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

Quarterbacks

We all know that Luck and RG3 are the top quarterbacks in this draft and that probably won’t change but there is a second group looking to establish themselves at their respective positions playing in this game.  Ryan Tannehill, who most consider the top Senior quarterback prospect will not be participating because of a broken foot. That leaves the door open for a couple of players in Mobile to settle themselves into the initial two rounds.

Most to prove:

First is Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden (6-4 218 lbs.) who has a chance to really prove his doubters wrong with a solid week. The biggest issue with Weeden is his age (28), but many have said that he would be a no doubt 1st round pick if it weren’t for this one bias against him. However, Weeden has some things he needs to show me before I can move him up from my current ranking for him. First he needs to show he can make the post snap reads and go through his progressions accordingly. Weeden played in a spread-type offense at Oklahoma State, which severely limited the amount of information he had to diagnose and process after the fact, so I am excited to see him to work under center rather than out of the gun like he did in college. I also want to see him make some anticipation type throws. Too many times I felt he was waiting for his man to come open before he started his throwing motion and got the ball out. If he is to start right away he needs to prove he can do this or else it will severely limit his upside, as he is already behind the curve because of his age. Otherwise Weeden has plenty going for him, he has a live arm capable of making nearly all the throws, while also displaying uncanny touch and accuracy to all levels of the field. Weeden’s play this week will go a long way in telling us how NFL ready he really is.

Potential Breakout:

Arizona QB Nick Foles (6-5 240) has great NFL size and measurables however he too has played in what some consider a dink and dunk offense in college. Many NFL Draft pundits have clamored that Foles could make a huge jump in the rankings with a good week down in Mobile. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to watch too much film on Foles as of yet but I can tell you a few things evaluators will be watching closely. Like Weeden scouts will want to see Foles execute out of NFL type offense, showing the capability to make both pre and post snap reads and adjustments. Foles has somewhat flown under the radar because of his pedestrian career record as a starter (15-18), including a disappointing 4-8 record this year his Senior season. So scouts will want to see the type of intangibles and leadership ability Foles possesses. There is no doubting Foles has an NFL arm but there is much he has to prove and show before he can make his accension up the NFL Draft ranks. If he can show some of these things the scouts are looking for his stock could sky-rocket.

Small School Spotlight:

San Diego State QB Ryan Lindley (6-3 240 lbs) is a player scouts will have a close eye on all week. Lindley has been the starter for the Aztecs since his Freshman season and has shown nice improvement from season to season. Lindley has a live arm and shows above average pocket presence, however his accuracy has always been his biggest issue. Surely scouts will be watching Lindley’s footwork as he seems to struggle re-setting his feet when pressured and forced to move in the pocket. Lindley is a player that has played in a pro style offense and possesses pro type ability, but his lack of accuracy is troublesome. Nevertheless if Ryan Lindley is able to hang with the big boys and not get rattled under the pressure of the big lights and leap in competition/speed he could be a player who stands out this week.

Best of the Rest:

Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson (5-11 210 lbs) is a player I am higher on than others. The biggest thing for him will be his height and I am very interested in seeing how he measures up on Monday morning, including the size of his hands. I don’t think Wilson will make 6 foot but if he does that would certainly help him out. The things I love most about Wilson is how well he protects the football and the type of leader he became in such a short time at Wisconsin. His TD/Interception ratio was one of the best in the nation and he led a Badger team to the Rose Bowl after transferring from NC State only a month or so before the season began. Wilson also possesses a nice arm and overall accuracy, and his ability to extend the play and make plays with his feet outside the pocket is something that can’t be taught. Passing lanes and lack of height will always be a concern with Wilson but if he can show the ability to stand tall in the pocket and scan the entire field he could make an accension, as he is an easy player and person to fall in love with based on his overall game and intangibles. Another undersized quarterback is Kellen Moore (6-0 191 lbs.) Boise State. I’m not too high on Moore as he is definitely behind the curve coming from a spread type offense and having such a limited frame. I do like his deep ball accuracy, timing and anticipation but those things can only take you so far. Moore will have a severe learning curve to over come once he reaches the NFL, but I’m not saying he doesn’t have the opportunity to became a back up at the next level..I just don’t seem him being capable of developing into a future starter. Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins (6-3 205 lbs) is a player I appreciate very much. He doesn’t have the liveliest of arms but his is very accurate and does a great job of placing the ball where only his man can get it. Cousins also has top-notch intangibles and is a bright young man with tons of personality and spunk, making him an easy player to fall in love with off the football field. This is a kid with a head on his shoulders who is experienced and that should get him looks and noticed, as I like his potential to become a very solid backup with an outside chance of developing into a starter later in his career.

Running Backs

The running back class is proving to be top-heavy with a number of notable underclassmen declaring, including players like Trent Richardson, Lamar Miller, David Wilson, LaMichael James, and Bernard Pierce. Unfortunately none of those players will be able to make an appearance this week but there are two Senior runningbacks vying to become the top back of their class in Washington’s Chris Polk and Boise State’s RB Doug Martin.

Most to prove:

Ohio State RB Daniel “Boom” Herron has many questions to answer regarding his involvement in “Tattoo Gate” which ultimately lead to coach Tressel’s firing and his own personal 5 game suspension. Herron has always been a quality player and team leader for the Buckeyes who possesses quick feet and nice inside running ability. He will likely be a situational back in the NFL but this will be a good chance for him to clear his name some and get back in good graces with the people making the decisions.

Potential Breakout:

Boise State RB Doug Martin (5-9 215 lbs.) is one of my favorite players in this entire draft. He has a compact build and runs with a low center of gravity that makes him incredibly hard to bring to the ground. Martin is also a very balanced and quick runner with the long speed to make the big play and hit the home-run from time to time. His ability as a receiver out of the backfield as well as his return skills should get him second looks and make him that more marketable to his future team. On a team that was known for its aerial attack at Boise State Martin displayed fantastic running skills and scouts have taken notice in his ability. Martin has the capability to make a huge impact in the NFL and I currently have him rated ahead of Chris Polk but it is close. Martin should excel this week and really open eyes as he reminds me some of Ray Rice and Ahmad Bradshaw. His biggest obstacle will be his pass blocking, as his smaller size limits him some, but from what I have seen he isn’t afraid to step up and take on a blocker or a hit to protect his quarterback.

Washington RB Chris Polk (5-11 222 lbs.)

Polk is an extremely physical and tough running back to bring down. His size allows him to wear down the opposing defense and he shows nice ability in becoming a three down back because of his catching and pass blocking ability. Polk also has deceptive speed but is not a burner as he lacks the elite burst and quickness to run away from the pack. With that said he is very rarely caught from behind and is solid in all areas but not as flashy as some would prefer. However, Polk has been extremely effective during his time with the Huskies and has an under-rated skill set that should make him very enticing come April. Polk will be battling Doug Martin all week to try to separate himself from the pack…no pun intended.

Wide Receivers

Coming into the week many including I were looking forward to seeing Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd and Baylor’s Kendall Wright battle to become the top Senior prospect at the position, but that no longer looks to be the case. Floyd has decided to forgo the Senior Bowl and has elected to not participate, while Wright is dealing with what looks like a foot issue that has been rumored to be a broken foot. Nevertheless the show must go on and there is plenty of star power and opportunity to step-up and steal the show now that the two top prospects going in are no longer in the picture.

Most to prove:

Perhaps no player on the Ohio State program was affected more by the tatoo/memorabilia scandal than WR Devier Posey (6-2 210 lbs.) He has seen his draft stock plummet after once being considered one of the top players at his position. He too must answer questions about his character and maturity as well as show up and compete at a high level this week. Posey certainly possesses a very good skill-set for the position but we will learn a lot about the type of player Devier Posey is this entire week. If he shows up in shape and competes at the level he is capable of he could reclaim some of his affected draft status. However, if he doesn’t he will likely have wasted a very good opportunity to prove his doubters wrong…this is a big week for him.

Potential Breakout:

The player who should benefit most from the absence of both Wright and Floyd is North Carolina WR Dwight Jones (6-4 225 lbs.) Jones has always been a player who has flashed and presented some big time skills for the position as he shows great height, build, and speed for the position. However, he has never been able to fully put it together and it is his hands that have been most concerning and troublesome for me. Jones has a bad habit of letting the ball get into his pads and he doesn’t always seem to trust them. This is perhaps the only thing that is preventing Jones from being mentioned from the elite at his position. If Jones can show strong hands capable of plucking the ball away from his frame consistently this week his stock could rise upwards into the first round range, but for now he is a mid to late 2nd round pick for me. He must also display more assertiveness in blocking downfield as he comes up somewhat lazy in this area of his game.

Small School Spotlight:

Appalachian State WR Brian Quick (6-5 220 lbs.) is one of the players I am most excited to watch this week leading up to the game Saturday. He has great size and I have seen and heard many great things about him as a prospect. As with any small school player I need to see him first compete with NFL caliber players here at the Senior Bowl. There is no denying that Quick fits the description of small school sleeper with his incredible length and size for the position as well has his production, but if you want to be the best you have beat the best. This will be the biggest test for Quick this week and if he can pass this exam he could climb into the 2nd round range with a good showing.

Best of the Rest:

The wide receiver class is very deep and there are plenty other notable players at the position who could shine and climb with a good week of practice. Iowa’s Marvin McNutt (6-4 215) is one of those players as he possesses excellent size for the position in the NFL. He possesses long arms with a wide catching radius and does an excellent job using his body to box out defenders. I am excited to see how well he is able to create separation with his route running and overall speed, quickness, and agility. Arizona’s Juron Criner (6-4 215 lbs.) is another receiver with good size for the position and scouts love his soft hands. However, he was never really asked to run a full route tree at Arizona so scouts will be watching how well he runs his routes and how sudden he is in and out of his breaks. Criner was another player I considered for being a potential breakout this week. Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller (6-4 220 lbs.) was a player many were considering to be a potential first round pick after his dominant Junior campaign. However, he had a lack luster year overall and had some noticeable drops which has scouts questioning his concentration and awareness skills. Evaluators have always appreciated Fuller’s size and athleticism as he does a very good job using his length and frame to climb the ladder and go get the ball. Fuller has been rumored to have dealt with a series of nagging injuries this season, however his play has left a lot to be desired this season. Hopefully he can turn it around with a solid showing this week.

Tight Ends

This tight end class has seen an influx of young talent with notable underclassmen like Clemson’s Dwayne Allen, Georgia’s Orson Charles, and Stanford’s Coby Fleener all declaring a year early. In this game we will see two players who have plenty of upside but will go lower than the aforementioned list of underclassmen tight ends. Missouri’s Michael Egnew and Louisianna-Lafayette’s Ladarius Green are two players expected to see plenty of attention this coming week as both present excellent size and length for the position and could benefit from the stellar play and transformation of the position in the NFL.

Potential Breakout:

Missouri’s Michael Egnew (6-6 245 lbs.) is a very interesting player who could surprise at the next level and is being somewhat under-valued in my opinion. His size and athleticism as well as basketball background make him an intriguing option and potential under the radar player to keep a close eye on. I absolutely love the strong hands and physical demeanor after the catch that Egnew shows as he is not afraid to lower his head to pick up extra yards. Egnew enjoyed a dominant Junior campaign when paired up with 1st round pick from a year ago Blaine Gabbert, but struggled to make the same sort of impact this past season without him. Nevertheless, Egnew’s size and skill set make him a valuable target downfield capable of creating mis-matches in the NFL and consistently picking up first downs. The area of Egnew’s game that needs work and somewhat limits him is his blocking ability. Here Egnew struggles with leverage, due to his lack of strength and overall technique, most notably his hand placement. I’m excited to see how well he does in this area this week. Overall Egnew is one of my under the radar type players I will be keeping a close eye on as I believe he has the ability to make a solid impact in the NFL as a slot type tight end.

Small School Spotlight:

Louisianna-Lafayette TE Ladarius Green (6-6 235) is a player that has been on scout’s radar for quite some time now. He is a long rangy athlete with a tweener type body for a wide receiver or tight end. These types of players are on the rise now and in high demand after the success of players like Jimmy Graham, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, and Jermichael Finley. Players with the ability to stretch the field as well as the size and length to go up and challenge the ball at its highest point is something that many believe Ladarius Green could do in the NFL. Surely man eyes will be on Green this week to get a better understanding of his overall skill-set, but this is exactly the type of player many teams in the NFL are looking for to add another dimension to their offense.

Offensive Tackles

The Offensive Tackle class is littered with quality underclassmen who are held in high regard by NFL evaluator everywhere. Names like Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff, and Jonathon Martin dominate the top half of the first round, but it is players like Mike Adams and Zebrie Sanders who have the most to prove, gain, and potentially lose with their individual showings this week.

Most to Prove:

Again we go back to Ohio State to look at the player with the most to prove this week, this time it’s OT Mike Adams (6-8 320 lbs.) Adams has a past history of instances as he was arrested in 2009 on drug paraphernalia charges and just this past season with Ohio State’s Tatoo and memorabilia scandal. There is no doubting he has NFL size, length, and athleticism but his off-field incidents are very concerning and something he will have to own up to and answer truthfully. Surely scouts will dig deep as Adams has 1st round potential and some even believe he may have the ability to stay on the left side in the NFL. Overall I was pretty impressed with Mike Adams as he shows above average awareness and a powerful punch move to jolt his defender. The issues I did have had to due with his tendency to stop his feet upon contact and develop somewhat of a lean in the run game. I also would like to see him lower his pad level a bit as well as play with better hand placement. However, most of these issues are correctable and Adams certainly fits the mold of and NFL Tackle. This will be a big week for Adams as he can either clear his name a little and get back into 1st round discussion or succumb to the accusations and fail to unseat his biggest competitor this week in Florida Stat’s Zebrie Sanders.

Potential Breakout:

Florida State OT Zebrie Sanders (6-6 305 lbs.) enjoyed an incredible Senior season after incumbent starter Andrew Datko went down with a season ending shoulder injury. Sanders didn’t miss a beat and stepped in admirably for his fallen team-mate by making a seamless transition to the left side after having started on the right for the majority of his career. Sanders is a four-year starter who made an incredible 50 career starts for the Seminoles. Sanders is said to have very good but not elite quickness to stick with speed rushers around the edge. However, his combination of size, power, athleticism, and starting experience are very hard traits to find as he is said to also have top-notch character and intangibles as well. There is little doubting Sanders ability to start in the NFL it is just a question of which side of the line. This week will give us a better impression of how good Zebrie Sanders really can be, and if he passes the test and grades out his stock could rise substantially.

Small School Spotlight:

UAB OT Matt McCants (6-6 295 lbs) is a Mobile, Alabama native who will be making the trip home to play in the same stadium he played his high school football in. McCants has said that the opportunity is a “dream come true” and “something he has always dreamed of” as I am sure it will be special for him to play his final collegiate game in front of family and friends. McCants has not been playing football long as he only played one year of high school football before enrolling at UAB. This, along with his nice size, athleticism, and overall footwork has gotten McCants noticed by NFL scouts who have enjoyed watching him develop over the past couple of seasons. McCants is said to struggle with his kick slide at times as he has a bad habit/tendency to cross his legs, which is an absolute no-no for Tackles. The other area of his game that needs improving from what I have read has to do with his tendency to bend at the waist and come out of his stance a little high. Nevertheless, these things are correctable and could come with extra coaching and reps where he can perfect his craft. There’s no denying the talent is there it’s just a matter of molding him and developing him into the player he is capable of becoming.

Best of the Rest:

One my player I want to mention is Oklahoma State’s Levy Adcock (6-6 320 lbs.) While I see him moving inside to guard at the next level due to his lack of overall athleticism I really appreciate his footwork as he shows the natural ability to re-set and re-direct. Adcock has a lot of tools to work with and could even earn spot duty at Right Tackle if given the opportunity. Adcock needs to work on his hand placement and technique as he allows defenders to get into his body at times, but overall this is a correctable flaw. Adcock also has an above average to good punch move and displays natural strength that allows him to get away with flaws in his technique at times, but this is player who could be pretty good if put into the right blocking scheme (zone). I hope we get to see him get reps at the guard position this week, because that seems like his most natural fit to me.

Guards

David DeCastro of Stanford has the top spot pretty much sewn up and sealed away as he grades out higher than any other guard prospect in this draft by a wide margin. The two players who will battle it out to be considered the 2nd best Guard prospect in this draft are Georgia’s Cordy Glenn and Iowa State’s Keleche Osemele.

Most to Prove:

Keleche Osemele (6-6 350 lbs.) is large man with an impressive wingspan and blocking radius. One of the things I appreciated most when watching Osemele was his great hand to hand combat skills. His quick handwork and violent strike/punch allow him gain positioning and simply over power his man from the get go. The same can not be said of Osemele’s feet however as he seems to get stuck in sand and lacks quality movement and footwork skills to play any where other than inside in the NFL.  There is also a lack of football IQ and overall awareness that scouts have come to question based on his late reactions to delayed blitzes and stunts/twists. He must also display a mean streak this week as some have questioned his overall attitude as he tends to fail to finish on occasion. On top of this there are also concerns about his football conditioning and commitment to the game. Surely there are things to like about Osemele but there are also a lot of questions too and Osemele will have to have a very good week to answer them all.

Potential Breakout:

Wisconsin G Kevin Zeitler (6-4 315 lbs.) was a big reason for the Badgers success running the football this season. His prowess in the run game and lunch pail type attitude makes him extremely effective in short yardage or goal line situations. Coach’s and scouts will love his attitude in the run game and his ability to anchor and re-set his hands to create distance between he and his man in pass protection are two admirable qualities Zeitler possesses. Kevin should have a good week and do very well in one on one drills where his disciplined/well taught skills will be on full display.

Small School Spotlight:

Midwestern State G Almini Silatolu (6-3 320 lbs.) has plenty to prove to NFL scouts but unfortunately he will not be participating in the game or practices this week because of a hamstring injury. Scouts want to see just how much football IQ Silatolu possesses after playing at the Junior College and Division II ranks. They will also need to see how well he handles the increase in speed, power, and quickness off the snap as he was not challenged too often by this while playing at a lower level. Having played Left Tackle for Midwestern State, Silatolu needs to show the ability to come out of a three-point, rather than a two point stance with enough authority and quickness to match NFL caliber talent. There is a lot to prove for Silatolu and he is missing out on a good opportunity to prove himself this week at the Senior Bowl, hopefully we will get a good look at him during the Scouting Combine.

Georgia G Cordy Glenn (6-5 350 lbs.):

Cordy Glenn is a massive human being who was asked to kick outside to Left Tackle this season for the Bulldogs. Glenn is gigantic man, making it very hard for players to get around him or even through him as his impressive arm length and natural anchoring ability. The thing I really like about Glenn and what sets him apart from Osemele is his nimble feet as he shows an air of lightness to his game even though he is a mountain of a man. This is one of the reasons why Glenn has been so versatile for the Bulldogs, having played multiple positions along the offensive front in his career. I also like Glenn’s ability to slide and mirror opponents and his impressive push and leg drive in the run game is powerful and capable of consistently knocking defenders off their mark. Glenn however can get lazy with his fundamentals at times and fire out of his stance slow and high, and needs to show me more consistency in this area. When watching Glenn this season I got the impression that his heart lies inside where he takes great pride in being physical and using his natural strength and size to knock defenders off the ball. If he plays anything like he did in his Junior campaign he could see his stock increase back into the early 20’s to late first round area.

Centers

Another position with an underclassmen who more or less has his position locked down for the top spot is at Center, where Peter Konz of Wisconsin could be a rare 1st round pick. However, there is plenty of talent at this position throughout the draft and it is deeper than normal with players well worth Top 100 picks. Two of those players who will be jockeying for positioning this week are Georgia’s Ben Jones and Ohio State’s Michael Brewster.

Most to Prove:

For me the Center with the most to prove this week is Ohio State’s Mike Brewster (6-5 315 lbs.) Brewster came to Ohio State from Florida where he was a Parade All-American and one of the top offensive line recruits in the country. The thing Brewster is extremely good at is using his quickness and nimble feet off the snap to gain inside position and wall/seal off defenders from the football, creating lanes off his backside. Brewster is also extremely well seasoned having started in 49 consecutive games for the Buckeyes and is said to be one of the leaders of the program in his Senior Season. The area I have a problem with comes from his lack of aggressiveness and tenacity. Many times Brewster seems satisfied executing his first assignment and doesn’t keep working to seek out and sustain a second block. It’s a nit-picky thing but is something that I have noticed and bothered me, as I like to see a nastier attitude from my offensive lineman but that’s just me. Brewster also struggled with snaps at times this season and I will be watching closely to see how accurately and clean he delivers the ball out of the shotgun formation.

Potential Breakout:

Georgia’s Ben Jones (6-3 315 lbs.) possesses nice size and build for the position in the NFL. His initial quickness off the snap and recognition skills give him great advantage in both the run and pass game. The thing that really sticks out to me is the amount of experience Jones has in the dominant SEC with 49 career starts as well as the nastiness and attitude to finish blocks you like to see out of your offensive lineman. To me this is the thing that sets Jones apart from Brewster, although the two are pretty close in overall skill-set. Jones flashes a mean streak and shows the ability to take on bull rushers and absorb contact and anchor. He has issues with balance at times and needs to do a better job staying on his feet and stop from lunging, but overall he is a very capable Center who should find a starting job in the NFL relatively early on in his career.

-As always thank you for reading my report, I hope you enjoyed the content!-

-Brandon

Lavonte David faces an uphill battle to prove his worth in the NFL due to his lack of ideal size for the position, however it's nothing he hasn't faced before as he has continually had to prove himself. His instincts, intangibles, and ability as a blitzer and in coverage is undeniable. Lavonte David will probably go a round later than he should and produce like a 1st round draft pick if put into the right scheme/system. Whichever lucky team decides to draft him and can look past his lack of ideal measurables and see that he is simply a football player could be getting one of the better steal/values of the draft.

Introduction:

Lavonte David is one of those rare players that found his way to a big time program like Nebraska after spending his first two seasons at Fort Scott Community College in 2008 and 2009. David is originally from Miami, Florida where he played for nationally renowned high school football powerhouse Northwestern High School. David won two state titles in 2006 and 2007 before enrolling at Fort Scott Community College where he would become one of the top JUCO prospects in the nation. His team lost to Binn Junior College in the 2009 National Championship Game when 2011 #1 NFL Draft pick Cam Newton (Panthers) was leading the team at quarterback before his Heisman and National Championship season with the Auburn Tigers in 2010. David enjoyed a successful tenure at Fort Scott where he was named the Defensive MVP in the game his team narrowly lost to Binn. David enrolled at Nebraska in 2010 and was thrust into the starting line-up after injuries to its linebackers corps. David excelled and never looked back while earning numerous honors as Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and All Big 12 First-Team All American. His 10.9 tackles per game ranked 11th nationally and his 152 total tackles were good enough for the Cornhuskers single-season record, passing former Nebraska standout linebacker Barret Rudd who had 149 in 2003. This season Lavonte David continued his assault, but this time on a new conference in the Big 10. David finished with 123 total tackles while also collecting 5.5 sacks and 2 interceptions on the season. For his play in 2011 David was unanimously chosen to the First-Team All Big 10 team. Lavonte David ranks 5th in school history for tackles (274), even though he only played two seasons for Nebraska.

Grading Scale:

  1. Poor
  2. Average
  3. Above Average
  4. Very Good
  5. Elite

Size/Measurables:

This is undoubtedly Lavonte David’s biggest area of concern and the one reason why he isn’t a sure-fire first round pick in my estimation. Lavonte David stands 6-1 225 lbs and appears to be pretty small by NFL standards, which could take him completely off some teams’ NFL draft boards entirely. David did add 10 extra pounds to his frame in preparation for Nebraska’s switch to the more run oriented Big 10 conference. Some have estimated that David could be a good candidate to make the switch to safety where his speed, instincts, and coverage skills could still be utilized. There is no doubting there will be major concerns with David and whether his slight frame for the positon of linebacker can handle the constant beating between the tackles in the NFL. However, I personally am not too concerned about David’s long-term durability. David remained relatively injury-free and healthy for the Cornhuskers during his two seasons and his physical aggressive style of play is a testament to his durability and ability to handle a beating on a weekly basis. This will always be an issue and a concern for David but I think if anyone can see beyond this and look at his potential and overall skill as a defender, somebody will be getting one heck of a steal and great overall football player.

Grade: 1.5

Instincts/Recognition:

Lavonte David has incredible instincts and his feel for the game is as good as any in this draft. David reads his keys very quickly and he shows the ability to sniff out the play, especially on screens and toss sweep type plays where he consistently diagnoses and blows up the play before they can develop. David also does a tremendous job trusting his eyes and reacting to the play happening in front of him. His discipline is very good and it’s obvious he gets the concept of team defense as he continually sets the edge and allows others to make plays by attacking blockers with the proper shoulder and keeping outside contain. In coverage Lavonte David is just as instinctual as he is quick to pick up players entering his zone, as well as turn and run/trail opponents streaking across the field or coming out of the backfield. Very rarely does David bite or get fooled by mis-direction or play action type plays as his discipline is unquestioned, whether it be in coverage or against the run.

Grade: 4.5

Pursuit/Range:

Lavonte David is an extremely fast and quick defender. His speed is very good and he can accelerate and close to the football very efficiently with great overall grace, balance, and fluidity. His athleticism allows him to make plays sideline to sideline and he show’s an innate ability to stay clean when sifting through traffic to get to the ball-carrier. David takes solid overall angles to the football and consistently takes the most desired path to get after the ball-carrier. David will at times over-pursue the play, however his change of direction skills are top-notch and allow him to recover if caught out of position momentarily. David shows little to no hesitation to his game and his ability to keep his head up and flow to the football is a testament to his lateral agility and overall feel for the game and blocks coming his way. You would think a player his size would have a hard time sifting through traffic and getting caught up in the wash but this simply is not the case with Lavonte David. He has incredible spacial awareness and knows how to knife into the backfield through the smallest of creases/gaps to make a play.

Grade: 4

Tackling:

Lavonte David is not a physically imposing tackler who will scare you with his sheer power and strength, however he is a fundamentally sound and efficient tackler capable of taking the ball-carrier down consistently. David also shows the added ability to punch the ball out from time to time and is aware/smart enough to go for the ball and cause fumbles when he knows the ball-carrier is wrapped up. He breaks down in space nicely and keeps his pad level low before striking his opponent at the thighs and shooting his arms up to wrap up the ball-carrier. His tackling technique is lower than normal and there is some concern with his ability to consistently take down bigger defenders capable of running through arm tackles. He must also do a better job tackling in the open field as he fails to break down at times and instead goes for a quick leg sweep or diving attempt at his opponent’s legs. However, David is very consistent and reliable in this area overall and I have little concern with it going forward.

Grade: 3.5

Coverage:

We have already touched somewhat on this area as David possesses more than enough speed and coverage ability to keep up and defend opponents all over the field, whether it be in man to man or zone. His awareness in coverage is very good and he does a nice job knowing his assignments and responsibilities, consistently picking up receivers entering his zone or area. His overall athleticism is very special, affording him the ability to play and line up on players all over the field and even in the slot in a cornerback type role. He has loose hips and his ability to change directions and overall agility makes him very difficult to create much separation on. There is a concern on whether or not David can defend bigger tight ends because of his lack of size and possible tendency to be out-boxed for positioning by players with a bigger frame than his. While this could be the case I really like and trust Lavonte David in coverage. He is smart and instinctual, showing great overall awareness, and his ability to read the quarterbacks eyes is also above average and promising. This is one reason why some project Lavonte David to the Safety position in the NFL, which could be the case if it doesn’t work out for him at linebacker in the NFL. However, his size and coverage ability make him a very good fit in a 4-3 scheme at weakside linebacker and I believe his best fit is to stay at his current position.

Grade: 4

Point of Attack:

This is one of the other bigger concerns with David as he will struggle once engaged with a defender. His tendency to get caught up in the wash and taken out by bigger defenders due to his small frame is a concern and one of the reasons some are calling for a position switch by David. However, David does a superb job of using his athleticism and awareness to stay clean and away from trouble. He is incredibly hard to lock on to, due to his agility and will consistently flash the ability to slip blocks and find his way to the football. Lavonte David is also extremely physical and is not afraid to fill the hole and stick his head in a pile. He is a menacing force at the point of attack in this regard, despite his size and flashes the ability to come down hill and attack the ball-carrier with reckless abandon and little hesitation. I absolutely love how he fills and flies to the football and his ability to set the edge and take on blockers head on shows his willingness to sacrifice his own body for another to make a play. This area will never be Lavonte David’s strongest suit, however he does a lot of little things to make you a believer and gain your trust in his ability to not become a liability against the run.

Grade: 3.5

Pass Rush/Blitzing:

This is another area of David’s game where he can make a positive impact for your defense. Although he wasn’t used as a blitzer too often at Nebraska, David is able to register sacks by chasing down quarterbacks who are trying to escape the pocket. His closing speed, burst, and acceleration to the football are all very evident when he chooses to pursue to the quarterback and make a big play for his defense. He does a great job slipping through creases and getting after the quarterback and can be a weapon capable of making plays behind the line of scrimmage when/if given the opportunity. His 6 sacks in 2010 and 5.5 this season are a testament to this skill. As I have said, David will struggle once engaged and he could stand to use his hands and better combination of pass rush moves to become even more efficient and scary in this area. However, this is something that could come with time and more coaching, which could set David over the top as an NFL prospect and make him that much better.

Grade: 4

Intangibles:

Everything I can gather and see points to Lavonte David having very solid character and work ethic. The fact that he made it to Nebraska out of the Junior ranks is a testament to his drive and determination as well as his passion to develop for his love of the game. He came out of Northwestern High School as a two-star recruit and was largely over-shadowed and over-looked by some of his team-mates like Marcus Forston and Sean Spence who went on to star at the University of Miami. Many times you can see/find David clapping after the play as he seems to always display a positive attitude. I even saw him instantly go to his team-mate and offer words of encouragement after dropping an easy interception that could have easily turned into a pick six. David is also a team leader on defense that is asked to make the calls and line up his defenders and get them into place. You can tell that David is an extremely cerebral and intelligent football player by the way he lines up his defense and always seems to know what the offense is trying to do, based on their alignment. This understanding comes from natural instincts, but I would be hard-pressed to find that David didn’t spend a lot of time in the film room figuring out what his opponents like to do on offense so he is prepared. Lavonte David also shows good overall hustle and effort as he never gives up on a play and will keep pursuing until the play has been blown dead. Bo Pelini has even been quoted as saying David is a “coach’s dream” and that “he wouldn’t trade him for any other linebacker in the country”. That is pretty strong praise from your head coach and if I had to guess it I would say his future is bright.

Grade: 4.5

Overall Grade: 29.5/8 = 3.6875  (Above Average-Very Good)

Projection:

Even though David may grade out higher than the top-notch linebackers like Luke Kuechly and Courtney Upshaw on my scale I highly doubt he will go as high as them, let alone the 1st round. The fact is if David was even an inch or two taller he would be a sure-fire first round pick and guy we would be talking about a hell of a lot more often. He has top-notch intangibles, great production, supreme athleticism, unique instincts…but he lacks proto-typical NFL size which will undoubtedly hurt his bottom dollar and overall draft position. However, this does not mean he cannot or is not a good football player, he is in fact a great football player who will get drafted later than he otherwise should because of the league’s infatuation with bigger, faster, stronger. While I can understand this, it completely wipes players like Lavonte David under the rug who possess the ability to work past their limitations and make an impact. This kid is simply a football player who WILL stick on and NFL roster and WILL start and contribute. All I know is whoever picks him up in the 2nd round will be getting a steal with a player who can play like a 1st round draft pick if put into the right situation to succeed, which I deem to be at the weakside linebacker position in a 4-3 system.

-Thanks for reading my report as always, I hope you enjoyed the insight and analysis

– Brandon

Courtney Upshaw should be and is the premier 3-4 OLB prospect in this draft. His pass rush skills and incredibly quick and violent hands, as well as his burst and closing speed make him a nightmare to defend off the edge.

Introduction:

Courtney Upshaw has enjoyed a wonderful Senior season and overall career at Alabama, winning two National Championships during his time with the Tide. However, it has never been very easy for Upshaw who has had to work to get to be where he is now. Upshaw came to Alabama as a highly rated recruit and was regulated to special teams during his first season with Alabama. Here Upshaw flashed potential by leading the kickoff coverage team in tackles, while also seeing time as a reserve linebacker. In 2009 Upshaw ran into trouble off the field after being arrested for domestic assault charges on campus with his girlfriend, although charges were later dropped. During the 2009 season Upshaw finally cracked the starting lineup against Kentucky where he had 15 total tackles, four quarterback hurries, and returned a fumble for a key touchdown. From here on Upshaw never looked back and went on to enjoy a similarly successful game in what had to be considered the game of his life in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, registering one sack and recovering a fumble to seal the game. The 2010 season would prove to be Upshaw’s coming out party in which he lead the team in both tackles for a loss (14.5) and sacks (7) even after missing a couple of games due to an early season ankle injury. Against rival Auburn, who would go on to win the National Championship under Cam Newton, Upshaw was able to account for 10 total tackles, 3 sacks, and two forced fumbles. In the Capital One Bowl Game later that season against Michigan State, Upshaw once again brought everything he had and ended the day with 5 tackles, 3  for a loss, two sacks, and a forced fumble, in a game in which Alabama held the Spartans to -48 yards rushing. This season Upshaw returned to the Crimson Tide and delivered his most memorable season to date. Upshaw registered 9.5 sacks, 52 tackles and even collected an interception against Florida in which he returned for a touchdown. Upshaw would once again deliver on the big stage, in which he registered 12 total tackles and two sacks against a LSU team they would face in a #1 vs. #2 showdown during the regular season and once again in the BCS National Championship Game. For his performance in the National Title Game Upshaw went on to become the Defensive Player of the Game, as part of a Crimson Tide defense that allowed the LSU offense to cross the 50 yard line only once in the entire game. There is little doubting just how much Courtney Upshaw has meant to Nick Saban and the Alabama team during his collegiate career as he was able to produce in some of the biggest games of his life to date. Let’s take a closer look to see what sets Courtney Upshaw apart from the other players at his position.

Grading Scale:

  1. Poor
  2. Average
  3. Above Average
  4. Very Good
  5. Elite

Size/Measurables:

Courtney Upshaw stands 6-2 265 lbs and appears to have filled out his frame for the most part. He is a little on the short side to play at defensive end in a 4-3 but has good size and overall girth to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. Upshaw has some length but appears to have a stockier more compact build to his body. He has a pretty thick upper body with good size, and his lower half appears to be equally as balanced as he fills out his frame nicely, showing nice size and overall bulk to man the position of 3-4 outside linebacker at the next level. Some have questioned Courtney Upshaw’s official listing so it will be something to keep an eye on once we do get official measurements at the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl.

Grade: 2.5

Instincts/Recognition:

Courtney Upshaw shows very good discipline and is a smart player who know’s his assignments. He shows good patience and trusts his eyes and reads his keys very well. One of the things he does better than most is setting the edge and forcing the play back into the teeth of the defense. He does a nice job of keeping outside contain by engaging his man with the proper shoulder to help turn the play back inside and dis-allow players to get around him on the edge. In pursuit Upshaw does a great job of hustling and working on the backside to take away cut-back lanes, showing the discipline and motor he possesses as a player. Instinctually Upshaw is very good at trusting his eyes as he shows the ability to sniff out screens, counters, and quarterback draw type plays while very rarely crashing down and breaking contain on quarterback reads or options.

Grade: 4

Pursuit/Range:

While not overly fast Upshaw has very good quickness and he shows an impressive ability to accelerate and use his closing speed to get after the quarterback or chase ball-carriers down from behind. His short area quickness is special and he works very well in confined areas. Courtney Upshaw also possesses active feet and shows good overall coordination and fluidity as he seems to play balanced and in control at all times. Upshaw’s change of directions skills are only above average and he does a good job of breaking down and moving laterally to get after the ball-carrier and pursue/flow to the football. I really enjoy how well Upshaw uses his eyes and how he always keeps his head and eyes up to find the football. Very rarely will Upshaw take mis-steps and he takes pretty solid angles to the ball.

Grade: 3.75

Tackling:

Courtney Upshaw is a very intimidating defender who can deliver violent hits capable of jarring the ball loose and leaving opponents wondering what area code they are in. His hits can be heavy and he carries a big stick when he has the opportunity to make a big hit on a ball-carrier. This power and strength as a tackler is very evident, however I would like to see Upshaw wrap up more often as well as refrain from leaving his feet and launching. These type of hits and lack of form will get him in trouble at times in the NFL as he has a tendency to throw his shoulder into his man instead of wrapping up. When Upshaw does leave his feet he usually only does so when he knows he has a stationary target and his man is more or less a sitting duck. Despite this I would like to see him form tackle more often, although he usually does a good job breaking down and taking his man to the ground, but this is definitely an area he can improve.

Grade: 3.5

Coverage:

Due to his versatility the Crimson Tide liked to use Upshaw near the line of scrimmage very often and very rarely was he asked to drop back into coverage and read the quarterbacks eyes. Upshaw does show some ability in this area however as he was able to collect an interception this season in which he returned for a score. I have little doubt that Upshaw can be successful in this area as he has flashed ability and seems to possess the type of awareness and instincts to make the transition. However, the film is a bit incomplete and although I believe he can do it, this will definitely be something to pay close attention to during Senior Bowl practices and NFL Scouting Combine drills. If he can prove to be an adequate player capable of dropping back into coverage his stock will only continue to rise, which I would envisioning happening unless I am missing something.

Grade: 3

Point of Attack:

This is an area of Upshaw’s game that makes him incredibly effective and tough to keep contained. We have already discussed how well a job Upshaw does at setting the edge and keeping outside contain by attacking and engaging with the correct shoulder, however there are other things that make Upshaw special in this category. Upshaw will struggle when he allows opponents to engage him and get to his body, but this has proved to be much easier said than done. Courtney Upshaw has incredibly active, fast, and violent hands capable of shedding and slapping away defenders who try to get their hands on him. These superior hand to hand combat skills make Upshaw a very difficult player to contain. Upshaw is also very strong at the point of attack and is able to hold his position and control his man by playing with great leverage and superior hand placement. This skill allows him to set the edge with relative ease while other players can effectively flow to the football and make plays for the defense. I have also enjoyed watching Courtney Upshaw keep defenders at bay when they try to cut or chop block him. Here Upshaw does a nice job of using proper hand placement to dis-engage from the block and keep himself clean and alive to make a play. The other thing Upshaw does an incredibly good job at is locking out his elbows and getting good arm extension once engaged to keep defenders from getting to his body and creating space between him and his man to work. This skill is important because it makes it easier for Upshaw to dis-engage from his man whenever he needs or wants to. Overall this may be Upshaw’s most effective area as he shows a combination of skills that make him incredibly hard to get a hand on. This skill will undoubtedly get him noticed and shouldn’t be overlooked as he shows great ability in this particular area.

Grade: 4.5

Blitzing/Pass Rush:

This is another area of Upshaw’s game that he has proven to be extremely effective at. Although he doesn’t possess an elite first step Upshaw does show some impressive burst and explosion off the edge. Upshaw is also pretty good at contorting his body and dipping underneath his opponents shoulder before turning a tight angle around the corner. Here, Upshaw’s short stature helps him to a degree as he is able to keep his pad level low and bend the edge by playing with good overall balance and nice ankle flexibility. Once around the corner, Upshaw has very good closing speed and can accelerate to the football supremely efficiently. Courtney Upshaw also times up the snap well and gets a good enough jump off the line to threaten the edge. One of the moves Upshaw is most effective at is known as the up and under. Here Upshaw initially attacks the tackle or ends outside shoulder with his speed before coming back under with a powerful rip move to knock his man off balanced and beat him inside. He is allowed to do this not only because of his impressive hand work but also because of his nice combination of speed and power. Upshaw is incredibly effective at keeping his man off balanced and does a very nice job of setting his opponent up for his pass rush moves. Upshaw has also shown some ability to turn speed to power  and will flash the ability to collapse the pocket from time to time and get a good push up field. These skills all make Upshaw in incredibly scary player to defend and should make him a staple for whichever team drafts him as a pass rush specialist, who can become a three down linebacker with coaching and experience dropping into coverage.

Grade: 4.25

Intangibles:

Courtney Upshaw did have one off the field altercation during his collegiate career but from everything I have found he seems to be a pretty good kid. He set up a fund in 2011 to help with aid for those affected by the tornado that tore through Tuscaloosa and left many devastated and/or homeless. Nick Saban speaks highly of Upshaw as an athlete and person and it is easy to see he has taken to coaching to continue and develop his overall game. He is considered by many to be the leader of the Alabama defense and is obviously a team player by the way he plays the game and stays disciplined. I also enjoyed his speech after he was rewarded with Defensive MVP after their 21-0 drubbing of LSU in the National Championship Game. This speech showed me that Courtney Upshaw is a pretty well-spoken and passionate dude who showed some humbleness in proclaiming that the Defensive MVP trophy belonged to the entire defense not just him. As with most prospects out there, Upshaw will have to clear up some off field concerns and will need to answer some things that happened in his past. However, if people can look past this one instance and see how much he has grown and matured, then he should do just fine in interviews and gain the trust of people making the final decisions.

Grade: 3

Overall Grade:

28.5/8 = 3.5625 (Above Average-Very Good)

Projection:

Courtney Upshaw should see his stock continue to rise as we make our way through the draft process/season. He is the premier 3-4 outside linebacker prospect in this draft which will make him a highly valued man come draft day. His skills as a rusher and against the run are very good and while he is still developing his coverage skills I think he will make a pretty seamless transition when it’s all said and done. With the recent success of players like Clay Matthews, Brooks Reed, and Von Miller, Courtney Upshaw should be a player in particularly high demand. His performances on the big stage and in big games is an incredibly good and positive thing to see and I’m sure they won’t go unnoticed by NFL personnel men. For this reason I project his stock will continue to climb and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him go in the Top 10.

-Thanks for reading my report, I hope you enjoyed it-

Brandon

Luke Kuechly is an incredibly instinctual defender who has an extraordinary feel for the game. These skills more than make up for his lack of elite size and athleticism. For this reason Kuechly deserves to be mentioned with the 2012 NFL Draft's elite and could go as high as the Top 10 once it's all said and done.

Introduction:

Luke Kuechly is a three-year starter who immediately took over the reigns after Mark Herzlich (New York Giants) had informed his team and general public that he had been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. Kuechly went on to become the ACC Rookie of the Year for his play in 2009. In 2010 Kuechly moved inside and set school records for tackles in a season and was named a 1st team All-American, which was the first in Boston College History since 1998. This season Kuechly once again blew up the stat sheet by accounting for an astounding 191 tackles, which was good enough for most in the nation. For his career Kuechly accounted for an amazing 532 tackles breaking his school and conference records set by Stephen Boyd, who made 524 career stops in his illustrious career. Luke Kuechly also went on to receive numerous awards at the culmination of the 2011 season including The Butkus Award, Lombardi Award, LOTT Impact Trophy and Bronco Nagurski Trophy. Luke Kuechly has decided to skip his final year of eligibility to enter the 2012 NFL Draft where he is considered by many to be the best linebacker available. Let’s take a look at what makes Luke Kuechly so special.

Grading Scale:

  1. Poor
  2. Average
  3. Above Average
  4. Very Good
  5. Elite

 

Size/Measurables:

Luke Kuechly possesses good but not great measurables for the position at 6-3 235 lbs. While his size is not ideal it is definitely not a huge concern as he shows a compact/nice build for the position in the NFL. Many are considering Kuechly to man the position of inside linebacker at the next level and while his body size might be more suited to an outside linebacker, I believe Kuechly’s most natural fit in the NFL will be at the Mike position. Kuechly looks capable of adding 5-10 lbs. of muscle to his frame. By showing up a few pounds heavier than his college playing weight Kuechly would help hinder some of the flack he has received about his size. Due to his current size limitations Kuechly would be best served to play behind a bigger defensive line and preferably in a 4-3 system where he can stay clean and be allowed to roam and flow to the football with a little more ease and comfortability.

Grade: 2

Instincts/Recognition:

Here is the area of Kuechly game that sets him apart and is more advanced than any other linebacker prospect in the draft. Kuechly does an absolutely great job of diagnosing plays and information by reading his keys. Kuechly’s overall feel for the game is very good as he trusts his eyes and seems to always be around the football. Very rarely does Kuechly take false or mis-steps and he puts himself in great positions to make a play. Kuechly also displays very good discipline and is rarely fooled by play actions or mis-direction type plays. I absolutely love how smart and instinctual Kuechly is, as you can see from his play that he understands and see’s the entire field and play happening in front of him at an alarmingly fast rate. The game comes easy to him and his natural-born instincts are on full display when you watch him play. This one skill is perhaps the most important skill for linebackers to possess as it can make up for a lack of athleticism, which some have to come to question about Kuechly.

Grade: 4.5

Pursuit/Range:

There has been a lot of talk about not only Kuechly’s lack of ideal size for the position but also his ability to make plays sideline to sideline. There is no doubt that Kuechly may not possess very good burst or overall athleticism and quickness but there are things Kuechly does that make up for this. We have already discussed just how quickly Kuechly reads and diagnoses plays, as well as the fact that he doesn’t take too many miss or false steps. All of these things work in Kuechly’s favor as he is able to make up ground by sheer mental intellect and awareness. When watching Luke Kuechly you can see that he possesses a 2nd gear and can accelerate to the football. His top-end speed is nothing special but he does a great job of staying clean and flowing to the football by taking proper angles. There is very little to no hesitation in Kuechly’s game and once he deciphers a play, his read and react skills are fantastic and put him in a postion to make a play. Luke Kuechly’s change of direction and closing speed are just average, however he does an impeccable job of planting and driving to the football taking the most desired path to the ball-carrier. Again this skill appears to be second nature to Kuechly and more than makes up for his inability to wow you with his pure athleticism and range. Kuechly is a player that shows up and plays faster on tape than he will test at the NFL Combine and Pro-day. However, Kuechly is simply a football player who understands the game and has discovered the secret to playing faster than you really are.

Grade: 3.5

Tackling:

Luke Kuechly has made a name for himself with his ability to tackle. His production has been unmatched and he shows the ability to finish the job on a consistent basis. He is not overly powerful and he’s not the type of player to lay the wood or stick players and stop them dead in their tracks. Kuechly does a great job of breaking down in space, playing with good pad level and overall form. Staying square to his target Kuechly keeps his head up and does a good job of shooting his arms up through contact. This allows Kuechly to consistently wrap up his ball-carrier and bring them to the turf. Very rarely will you see Kuechly fail to make a tackle. He is a sure as they come and while they might not be the most flashy hits in the world they are effective and even capable of jarring the ball loose from time to time.

Grade: 4

Coverage:

Luke Kuechly is outstanding in zone coverage. He gets adequate depth on his drops and is very aware of receivers entering his area. Kuechly is very active in coverage and is a reliable defender. He does a nice job settling into his zone and reading the quarterbacks eyes and his reads, showing the innate ability to feel the play developing and pick up any players that cross his face. Once a player does cross Kuechly’s face he does a great job of planting and driving to the football, using his 2nd gear and acceleration to come up and make a tackle. Kuechly does have some man to man limitations due to his lack of elite range and somewhat slow change of direction and lateral agility. However, Kuechly doesn’t appear to have stiff hips, nor does he tend to get flat-footed when quarterbacks execute pump fakes or manipulate defenders using their eyes and shoulders. Kuechly is a disciplined player that is smart and reliable and is a very good fit for a Cover 2 type defense.

Grade: 3.5

Point of Attack:

Being that Luke Kuechly is a smaller player he has a tendency to get caught up in the wash sometimes when offensive lineman are able to pick him up and get on his body at the 2nd level. One of the reasons I really love Luke Kuechly as a player is because you can tell he understands team defense and what his gap assignments or responsibilities are. Kuechly does a nice job filling his gap and taking on blockers with the correct shoulder to maintain his gap integrity and discipline. When engaged he has above average to good strength at the point of attack but could play with better pad level at times. He does a nice job of using leverage to his advantage and shows the ability to stack and shed or disengage from his opponent, although this isn’t particularly his strong suit. What Kuechly is very good at is keeping defenders off his body entirely. He shows a degree of slipperiness and knows how to slip by blocks and avoid the defenders trying to get a body on him to make his way to the football.

Grade: 3.5

Pass Rush/Blitzing:

This is an area of Kuechly’s game that is hard to grade not because he can’t blitz but just because he wasn’t asked to do this all too often at Boston College. Kuechly does lack some athleticism and his closing burst is just average at this point. However, Kuechly does do a good job of making plays behind the line of scrimmage and knows how to shoot gaps. It will be interesting to see how or if Kuechly will be used as a pass rusher, which my guess would be not. His main strengths include helping out in the run and pass game, however he is a much better coverage player than true threat to get after the quarterback. Kuechly probably wont make too many sacks in his career but he shows above average awareness, instincts, and hustle which should allow him to make some splash plays behind the line of scrimmage from time to time.

Grade: 2.5

Intangibles:

Luke Kuechly is a player who has been identified as having a strong work ethic and sound character attributes. His team looks to him for leadership and the passion, hustle, and motor he shows on the football field is enduring and inspiring to his defensive team-mates. Kuechly has proved to be a team player and his mental IQ and football intelligence is something that speaks to his off the field work in the film room. Luke Kuechly is extremely disciplined and his instincts and awareness are two of the best attributes he has going for him. His production at the collegiate level is unquestioned, although many do consider tackle totals to be mis-leading and not a true measure of how good a player is or will be. Kuechly has also shown good durability during his career and has missed very little if any time at all due to injury. Luke is probably never going to wow anyone with his overall athleticism and will likely take a backseat with his on field measurables at his pro-day and NFL Combine performances. However, it will be in team meetings and interviews where NFL personnel men and scouts fall in love with Kuechly as he is truly a student of the game with a high football IQ.

Grade: 4.5

Overall Grade:

 28/8 = 3.5 (Above Average-Very Good)

Projection:

I’m putting my money on Luke Kuechly. He deservedly warrants first round consideration due to his incredible instincts and overall feel for the game. In my book he is the top linebacker in this entire draft and has an outside chance at cracking the Top 10 overall, despite his lack of very good measurables for the position. When it’s all said and done Luke Kuechly will likely find his way into the Top 10 on my personal Big Board. His football intelligence and overall ability is just too much and greatly outweighs the few negatives Kuechly has going for him. He may not fly to the football like some would prefer but his read and react skills are second to none and do a good job of masking his lack of elite playing speed. Kuechly should enjoy a long-playing career and will likely eclipse the 100+ tackle mark season after season. Luke Kuechly is a player you can feel safe about choosing because you know what you’re getting and you know what you’re not.  He’s not an elite physical specimen but he’s simply a football player that understands the game and produces. The team that winds up drafting Kuechly will be getting a solid player capable of producing a good number of Pro-Bowl worthy seasons, while becoming an excellent starter for years to come.

Thanks for reading my report-

-Brandon

Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden-

Brandon Weeden has a live arm and is extremely accurate with the football. However, his age and discomfort in the face of pressure is a big concern. Weeden would be best served to go to a team like the New York Jets where he can compete for a starting job immediately on a team that has many good pieces in place already.

Brandon Weeden is one of the more talked about players in this NFL Draft not only because of the position he plays on offense, but because of his rare background and older age as a passer and player. Weeden is 28 years old and will be nearly 29 by the time NFL training camps open up next season. This is one of the bigger knocks against Weeden, and rightfully so as many believe we would be talking about a potential first round pick if it wasn’t for this one issue. After a failed baseball career in which Weeden was selected in the 2nd round by the New York Yankees Weeden turned his attention to football where he has succeeded, leading Oklahoma State to a Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford and likely #1 overall pick Andrew Luck. With the age issue comes both positives and negatives in my opinion. On the positive side he is likely much more mature both on and off the football field as he has had experience as a professional player and knows how to handle everything that comes with being a high draft pick. On the other hand his ceiling is extremely limited as he will likely only be able to play 6-8 seasons and maybe even less as a starter. Here are some of the things I noticed about Weeden in this football game.

Brandon Weeden has a pretty live arm capable of making many NFL throws. I would grade his arm at being good but I would not say it is elite and capable of making all the throws, although he is close. The other thing I really appreciate about Weeden is his superb accuracy and ball placement, especially when defenders are around. This ability to fit the ball in tight windows is extremely nice to see as he shows an uncanny ability to make touch throws and drop the ball over the top of coverage and between defenders with relative ease. Not only is this a good quality to have for a passer but it shows his confidence in his arm and ability to deliver the ball into tight coverage. In the pocket Weeden shows good balance and overall footwork and seems to have a nice bounce and pop to drive the football down the field on intermediate to long routes. Weeden also shows great poise and composure in the pocket and in leading his team down the field, showing light feet that can get his body into position to make all the throws that are asked of him. Weeden’s ability to escape the pocket is just average however and he isn’t much of a threat to beat you with his legs, although he is competent enough in this area to be effective from time to time. Another thing I noticed about Weeden is that he is extremely quick in finding the laces and getting his grip on the football. This allows Weeden to get the ball out quickly on designed wide receiver screens that Oklahoma State likes to use often. When Weeden does escape the pocket and is asked to throw on the run he shows very good accuracy down the field. However, I did notice that Weeden drops the ball to his waist area before winding up and also shows a uneccessary ball pat that slows his release time. You can tell that Weeden has an extremely good feel for the Oklahoma State offense as he always seems to know where his check down receiver is. However, I have been saying for a while now that Oklahoma State utilizes an offense that doesn’t ask it’s quarterback to make many special throws or reads and it doesn’t hurt playing with a wide receiver like Justin Blackmon. This does not mean that Brandon Weeden cannot do these things but I do have my reservations and these are the reasons why.

First of all it concerns me that Weeden seems to make poor pre-snap reads and seems to have his mind made up before the play even happens. Many times he will stare down one receiver and fail to go through his progressions. Multiple times I have seen him diagnose his passes by locking onto his primary before the play has even taken place. This shows a degree of laziness and poor understanding of coverages, which is very concerning to someone who you would prefer to see ahead of the curve due to his current age. Too often he looks for Blackmon to bail him out and seems to think he can get away with sloppy quarterback play because of the talent Blackmon possesses. I do think that not only has the Oklahoma State offense helped limit this weakness of Weeden’s, but also that playing with a receiver like Justin Blackmon has padded his stats and make him seem better than he actually is…he may not have this type of luxury once he gets to the NFL. Other issues I have with Weeden include the decisions he makes when faced with pressure. I understand that many quarterbacks struggle in the face of pressure but Weeden routinely throws off his back foot and seems to alter his throwing motion entirely just to avoid contact and being hit. Weeden appears to be a sitting duck back there and although he shows great ability when given a clean pocket, his inability to improvise and stand tall in the pocket before delivering the football in the face of pressure is a big concern for me. I have also said that Weeden may not process information all too quickly. It seems that he will wait for his target to come open before making a throw and doesn’t show much anticipation in feeling these receivers coming open before they really are. Not only is this a big indication of a simplified offense but it also shows a lack of understanding and overall feel for the game by Weeden.

Look, I want to be a fan of Weeden and do think he possesses some quality traits that could make him a very good quarterback and potential starter down the road. However, being that he is already 28 years old and is still struggling in some very important areas of quarterback play (decision-making, anticipation, progressions) he cannot be considered in the first round in my opinion. I do think Weeden would be a good fit in New York with the Jets, where current starter Mark Sanchez has fallen off the horse some/out of favor and could possibly use some competition to spark his competitive fire and get him motivated to earn and keep his job. This is the type of situation Weeden should go into as the Jets are already a pretty good team and have the pieces in place to compete right now. Brandon Weeden needs to arrive in a spot where he can succeed early in his career and potentially start, but also earn his reps while in a quarterback competition. To me this would be the most ideal situation for a player with limited time before he begins to age and regress from a physical standpoint. Hopefully, if this does happen he has more success in the big city than his first stint as a high draft choice by a New York sports team.

Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon-

Justin Blackmon is a supremely gifted and physical wide receiver capable of making big time catches in key situations. His speed limits his potential some but he is a solid NFL prospect that belongs in the top 6-8 players overall in this draft.

Wide receiver Justin Blackmon has sometimes been given the term “diva wide receiver” for his play and antics on the field. However, I have been told and seen for myself that Blackmon simply is a competitor who wants the ball in key/clutch situations. Although he sometimes comes across as a player who is playing the game for himself and his own stats, that could be very far from the truth. Blackmon comes from a military background and upbringing from his father and I have been told that he couldn’t be a more down to earth player off the football field. Watching more film on Blackmon I have noticed that these accusations could be unwarranted to a degree as Blackmon proved in this game to be a reliable team-mate who is a more effective blocker on the outside than he is given credit for. Blackmon did a good job positioning his body to seal off and keep his defender at bay and away from the ball-carrier. I liked to see this effort from Blackmon as some have questioned his effort in this area, especially when he isn’t the focus of the play. Justin Blackmon also has big strong hands and is a natural hands plucker. I love the big frame he has, as he squares his body to his quarterback, creating  a big target for his quarterback to get him the football. Blackmon’s catching radius is also very impressive and has been reported to be as large as a two car garage by ESPN’s Sport Science…the same they measured for All-Pro NFL wide receiver Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions.  On top of this Justin Blackmon shows incredible ability while the football is in the air. This was never more evident than when Blackmon timed his jump absolutely perfectly and made an adjustment to the football while in the air. This play led to a TD for Blackmon and Oklahoma State and spoke to Blackmon’s unique and extremely gifted ability to use his body in space as his spacial/kinesthetic awareness skills have alwasy been very good. I also enjoyed watching Blackmon compete after the catch showing good running ability and physicality as he routinely fought for extra yards instead of simply heading for the sidelines. This speaks to the type of competitor and player Justin Blackmon is and I have very little doubt that he is the most gifted receiver in the 2012 NFL Draft. I wouldn’t say that Blackmon is elite and worthy of a Top 5 pick, just because his top end speed and ability to stretch the defense isn’t on par with other game changing receivers that have went high in past drafts, but Blackmon is a top 6-8 prospect in my mind. He struggled a bit with the physical play of Iowa State cornerback Leonard Johnson but was able to hold his own for the most part finishing with 10 receptions for 99 yards and a TD.

Oklahoma State OT/G Levy Adcock-

Levy Adcock shows surprisingly nimble feet that allow him to re-set and re-position himself quickly. I feel his more natural fit will be inside at guard where he can use his solid footwork and strength to his advantage.

Levy Adcock is a player I feel projects much better inside at the guard position than his current position of offensive tackle for Oklahoma State. Adcock shows good mirroring skills and patience while also displaying surprisingly nimble feet. Adcock’s feet allows him to shuffle and re-set well, allowing him the ability to recover if beaten initially. This agility is also one of the reasons that Adcock shows nice ability in riding out his defenders past the pocket and away from the quarterback. The other thing I really appreciate about Adcock is his awareness as he is quick to help out his team-mate inside with chip blocks if his zone is clean and clear of threats. The thing that makes me feel he will be a better fit at guard is his anchoring ability and overall athleticism as he is quick and agile enough to move left or right and re-set and is a very difficult man to disengage from due to his functional strength. Once locked on and engaged Adcock looks to be a very hard object to get around let alone move. This is due to his nice wide base and solid leverage, although I did notice a few times that he got more jersey and could have been flagged for holding but wasn’t. Adcock excels in pass protection and I have little doubt that this will be his strongest suit at the next level, whether he sticks outside at right tackle or not. Run blocking is another question as he is not used in this capacity all too often, however I have liked what I have seen when he is asked to block in the running game. I have been told by Oklahoma State fans that followed the team closely that Adcock was the offensive lines best run blocker so that is a good sign as well. Nonetheless, this will be something to keep an eye on during the Senior Bowl and leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft. One area Adcock could improve on happens when he drops his head upon contact. This makes him susceptible to defensive lineman who can execute push-pull moves to disengage from Adcock’s firm grip. Overall I am a fan of Levy Adcock and think he will make for an above average guard in the NFL once he learns the positions and adapts. Adcock could also prove to be a spot-starter at right tackle in the NFL from time to time, which should increase his value as well and make him a solid 2nd day pick.

Oklahoma State S Markelle Martin-

Markelle Martin once again struggled with his tackling technique. His coverage skills were more impressive overall but I need to see more consistency from him overall.

Markelle Martin’s tackling ability is something I had questioned before and once again proved to be an issue in this game. Too many times Martin will dive at ball-carriers legs and drop his head far too early, resulting in missed tackles and big gains for the other team. Markelle missed an open field tackle down the right sideline by trying to lunge at the ball-carriers lower body and feet when he could have simply used the sidelines to his advantage to get the player out-of-bounds. One thing I will say is that Markelle times his hits very well and shows the ability to make the big hit from time to time, although he will simply throw a shoulder instead of wrap-up, which is also an issue and indicative of his poor tackling technique overall. Later in the game Markelle struggled to get off a chop block and work his way around his man, leaving the entire sideline wide open for an easy score. Usually Martin has proved to take good angles to the football but this inability to dis-engage was semi-concerning for me, although I would say his man-made a better block on him than he was maybe expecting. Martin was also less active around the line of scrimmage in this game but looked better overall in coverage as well. He did a good job sticking with his man and tacking away inside position while reading the QB’s eyes. These coverage and anticipation skills on the back-end were good to see, however I need to see more consistency from him in this area. There is no doubting Martin has a beautiful combination of size and athleticism but he isn’t standing out in any one category from the film I have watched so far. Upside and intrigue will get him drafted in the initial two rounds more than likely, but the team that takes him will have to understand how to develop an athlete that is still learning the game and has some holes/liabilities.

Oklahoma State CB Broderick Brown-

Size will always be a limiting factor with Brown but it's hard to measure, hustle, heart, and effort which Brown has plenty of.

I have raved about the type of competitor Broderick Brown is as a player but the fact remains his lack of size for the position will be an issue his entire career, hindering his potential and ability to rise up draft boards. Standing 5-8 185 lbs, Brown is extremely small for the position and lacks the height necessary to go up and challenge bigger wide receivers for the football. Due to his slight frame, Brown struggles to out-position his man for the football, although he does show above average to good ball skills as he continually fights for the ball and positioning with his man. Brown routinely puts himself in a good position to make a play but many times is simply over-matched by players that are bigger than him. This makes me believe Brown will have to play over the slot in a Nickel-type role where his size deficiencies can best be masked. I really like Brown’s open field tackling ability as he shows a lot of heart, effort, and desire in this area. Brown is also extremely gifted at reading the quarterbacks eyes and breaking on the football as he is most comfortable playing off his man in a zone based cover scheme. Size will always be a limiting factor for Brown and I’m not sure how much higher he can increase his draft stock by coming back for another season, which it looks like he might do. Nevertheless, Brown is a competitor who shows above average ball skills and awareness in coverage that should find a way to contribute on whichever team chooses to draft him.

Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson-

Leonard Johnson stepped up in this game and really brough his A-game all night against Justin Blackmon. I like Johnson's competitive attitude and believe he is a player to watch and keep an eye on leading up to the draft.

Leonard Johnson came to play in this game and brought the best he had to offer against one of the best wide receivers in the game in Justin Blackmon. Standing 5-10 200 lbs. Johnson possesses a solid but not spectacular build for the position as his length isn’t anything to get too excited about but it’s good enough to get the job done. Leonard proved to be a physical/aggressive type corner who didn’t back down from the superior Justin Blackmon. Johnson did a good job pressing and re-directing Blackmon at the line of scrimmage and did a nice job of using the sidelines as an extra defender all night. He showed the ability to turn and run with Blackmon down the sidelines, although he could have done a better job getting his head around on a throw in which he was in perfect position but Blackmon simply adjusted to the underthrown ball and walked into the end zone. Johnson stays low in his back pedal/stance and displays above average to good footwork overall. Johnson also shows natural plant and drive ability, displaying loose hips and ability to change directions with relative ease. An issue I had with Johnson came when he was working against Blackmon on quick slants where he had a tendency to hook his man and get into his body before the ball had arrived, resulting in a pass interference penalty. Here Johnson has to play with more discipline, although I would say his coverage was pretty good overall and he was going against one of the best slant route runners in all of college football. Leonard Johnson was responsible for two turnovers in this game and you could tell he was very well prepared and studied, showing great hustle and effort overall. On the fumble recovery Johnson was simply in the right place at the right time, but this showed a keen awareness to never give up on the play and fight to the whistle in which he was rewarded. The other came on an interception late in the game in which he was playing off Blackmon before jumping and out positioning Blackmon for the football on a simple hitch route that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. This play showed a lot of desire as he simply out-flanked Blackmon for the ball and wanted more than the other player. As a talent evaluator I love to see this from a prospect and it definitely caught my attention in what was a huge game for Leonard Johnson to show he could hang with the best of the best. Right now I am giving Leonard Johnson an early 3rd round grade, which could improve with his performances at Combine and at all-star games leading up to the draft…he’s a player to watch.

Iowa State OT/G Keleche Osemele-

Although it was only one game Osemele struggled and looked off in tonight's game. His lack of agility and mobility are concerning which is why he is a much better fit inside where he can use his sheer size and nice hand to hand combat skills to neutralize his opponent.

Keleche Osemele is a massive player standing a stout 6-5 350 lbs. making him a homogeneously large object to get around. The first thing you notice about Osemele is his incredibly quick hands as he shows the natural ability to strike and deliver a violent punch move that stuns and knocks his opponent off-balance. Osemele’s hand to hand combat skills are very good as he is able to re-position his hands and get good hand placement on his opponent. The issue that will keep Osemele from sticking outside in the NFL is his lack of mobility and overall athleticism. His lateral agility and ability to plant and pivot is lacking and his feet seem a little heavy as if they’re stuck in the sand sometimes. This inability to re-direct, leaves him susceptible to getting beat inside as his movement skills are below average. I also noticed that Osemele doesn’t show the best awareness or look necessarily that comfortable on the outside where he made some mental mistakes in this game. On one occasion Osemele abandoned his zone and chased a defensive lineman that was stunting to the inside. By leaving his zone he completely left his area unoccupied and open to a blitz, where his quarterback had to scramble for his life to escape the rush. On another play later in the game the defense was showing an over-load blitz to Osemele’s side when he failed to pick up any of the three players that were attacking his zone. These two examples make me believe Osemele might be lacking in overall awareness and blitz pick-up where he seems to get overwhelmed or play undisciplined in some instances. Keleche Osemele also does not fire out of his stance to quickly and his lack of overall athleticism and mobility concerns me to a certain degree with players who can beat him to the inside with their sheer quickness and explosion off the snap. On the few occurrences when Osemele was allowed to run block he did a nice job firing out of his stance and seemed to show much more passion and enthusiasm for getting his hands on someone and driving them off the football. Osemele does need to stay more balanced as tends to stand up and get a little upright in his stance, allowing defenders to get around him with relative ease and missing his assignments. Here Osemele needs to stay more in control and be more balanced as he tends to get off his feet from time to time. Osemele’s inability to change directions very efficiently/quickly are concerning to me and I worry that he has a lot to work on from a technique standpoint overall. His upside and ceiling is high but he is a pretty raw prospect overall that needs some work. Osemele will be a player to watch closely leading up the draft at the various events that prospects are invited to participate in.

Other players who caught my eye include Iowa State WR Darius Reynolds and Iowa State LB A.J. Kline. Thanks again for reading, hope you enjoyed this post!

– Brandon

Stanford QB Andrew Luck-

Andrew Luck's game is ready for the next level and it has been for some time. Colts fans should be rejoicing and celebrating in the streets, they just landed the next Peyton Manning if their smart enough to pull the trigger and do the wise thing.

Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way right now…Luck is the best overall prospect in this draft and is hand’s down the best quarterback prospect to come out since Peyton Manning and the Colts would be foolish not to draft him, period! He is nowhere near lacking NFL arm strength and for those who say they don’t see many “NFL caliber” throws, y’all need to go get your eyes checked or actually watch some film. There…that felt good to get out, now I can sleep at night and feel good about myself but not really because Luck is as close to a can’t miss quarterback prospect as your ever going to find and these are the reasons (facts) why. Andrew Luck is incredibly efficient and smart with the football, his football IQ is undeniably brilliant as he is more or less a coach on the field. He consistently puts his team in good situations by making pre/post snap reads, adjustments, and audibles to give his team a numbers/competitive advantage. Luck is so incredibly cerebral as a player his coaches actually allow him to make the calls…hell they barely need an offensive coordinator, Luck’s got it covered. When I talk about the type of player Andrew Luck is I like to say that his greatest strength or skill is his conceptual awareness as a passer. By this I mean he has an uncanny ability to take abstract and complex situations and break them down into individual pieces and make meaning out of them to solve the problem at hand. Luck’s ability to see how the pieces around him inter-relate with one another is very uncommon and something uniquely special to his ability as a football player. This speaks to his ability to process information quickly and make the correct decision consistently. He see’s the game in a different way and on a completely different level…if there were a test on being a great quarterback Andrew Luck would be the teacher. Off to a good start? Well that’s just one aspect of Luck’s overall game, we still got two more to go!

First he beats you with his smarts now he beats you with his…you guessed it, his legs. Watching Andrew Luck it is very easy to see that he possesses very good pocket presence and awareness. His internal clock of when the football needs to be delivered or when he needs to escape the pocket is almost second nature. His athleticism is undeniable and was on full display here. Look, I understand this highlight has almost nothing to do with his running ability but come on, that’s a great catch and a Heisman worthy moment if you ask me. If anything it speaks to just how athletic and coordinated Andrew Luck is and if he can do that I’m sure he can make plays outside the pocket to extend the play, plus his accuracy and ability to throw on the run is a thing of beauty. When outside the pocket Luck displays the ability to square his body to his target and deliver a clean and accurate pass with velocity. Luck is able to do this because of his extremely good footwork where he is able to get his body into position by squaring to his intended target. Ever heard the phrase…”it all starts from the ground up”? Well that is what Luck does better than anyone at his position. His footwork is incredibly smooth and he is able to navigate his way in and outside the pocket because of his feet. I’m not saying that Luck is the next Michael Vick or anything, he doesn’t possess that type of speed and athleticism but he has more than enough to pick up as many yards as possible when he can’t find a viable option down the field.

So now that’s two things Andrew Luck is extremely efficient at, now let’s look at what puts him on an entirely different level completely…his physical ability as a passer. Andrew Luck possesses a live arm capable of making all the throws to all levels of the field. He makes quick decisions and gets the ball out in a hurry, showing nice anticipation and timing on his throws. Luck can drop the ball in a bucket where he shows the ability to drop the pass over the top of the corner and before the safety was able to come over the top and jump the route or blow up his receiver. This throw takes an incredible amount of touch and timing and his deep ball is as good I have ever seen from a collegiate quarterback. What makes this so remarkable is that he makes this look so incredibly easy and that’s because it is to him, he was born to play quarterback. Luck also does a remarkable job of throwing his receivers open and allowing his receivers the ability to pick up extra yards by throwing away from defenders and coverage. His ball placement/location is superb and is one of the things that allows him to make everybody around him better, which is what a great quarterback can do. Andrew Luck is also a great leader who always seems to respond to adversity, showing poise and methodical execution. I have seen Andrew Luck time and time again put his team into position to win by executing the two-minute drill to perfection. Smart decisions and not trying to do too much while being in total control at all times is what Andrew Luck is all about. He’s not afraid of the big stage or moment and seems to thrive in clutch situations when his team needs him most. The fact is if it weren’t for a missed field goal at the end of regulation Andrew Luck would be being celebrated as a Fiesta Bowl champion and the best field/clock manager we have maybe ever seen at the collegiate level.

Look..I don’t like to normally crown a player before the fact unless I know and am confident that player is uniquely special and elite, which Andrew Luck is. His game is so incredibly balanced/polished he is ready to suit up right now and compete on a high level. There aren’t enough good things to say about the type of player Andrew Luck is and I could go on and on but that would be a waste. His game is as close to compete as it possibly can be and the whole “Suck for Luck” motto/phrase is completely true and warranted. Congratulations Indianapolis Colts, you just ensured your team the ability to compete for the next 10-15 years, just don’t screw it up by getting cute!

Stanford TE Coby Fleener-

Coby Fleener's size and versatility is an enticing option for team's looking to add another wrinkle to their offense and create mis-matches all over the field.

Coby Fleener possesses great height and overall size for the tight end position and has consistently been a threat to stretch the field vertically, evidenced by his astounding 19.6 yards per reception this season. Fleener had what would be considered a quiet day and had to leave the game early because of a leg injury, finishing the game with just two catches for 19 yards. What I really appreciate about Fleener is that he is essentially a wide receiver in a tight end body. The Cardinals love to use Fleener split out wide as another wide receiver. This ability gives his offense another added dimension and all sorts of versatility to create-mis matches in the pass game. The NFL is quickly becoming a passing league and player’s with Fleener’s skill-set and ability  is in high demand, which should make him a premier target in the 2nd round for a team looking to add another dimension/wrinkle to their aerial attack. While Fleener isn’t the most physically gifted blocker, capable of sustaining blocks for a long period of time and over-powering his opponent he has steadily shown improvement in this department. Fleener shows enough strength to hold up at the point of attack and gets good arm extension upon contact, although I would like to see him fire out of his stance with a little more authority. Nevertheless, Fleener has proven capable of executing seal blocks and took a very good angle and put his body in position to set the edge and create a massive running lane for his running back in this game. I really love Fleener’s ability to create separation as he shows the ability to get into and out of his breaks cleanly and efficiently using nice body control/positioning. Fleener isn’t extremely physical, capable of out-muscling defenders for the ball like a Rob Gronkrowski or Jimmy Graham but he isn’t afraid to mix it up and use his body to create space for himself to work. Fleener also does a nice job of squaring himself to the football, getting his head around quickly and giving his quarterback a nice target to throw the football. Coby Fleener strikes me as the type of player who can open up your offense because of his ability to stretch the field vertically and open up holes underneath the coverage. He may never be an elite tight end or even good one for that matter but his versatility gives your offense another added dimension to open up your playbook and create opportunities for other players to make a play. His skill-set and ability reminds me some of current Detroit Lions tight end Tony Sheffler, whose ability to work/stretch the seam allows players like Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson to work the underneath routes and is a big reason why the Lions have enjoyed such a balanced offensive attack this season.

Stanford OT Jonathon Martin-

Jonathon Martin has a lot to offer in the run game and should be an above average right tackle in the NFL. I just don't see him becoming a franchise Left Tackle because of my concern for him to handle speed rushers at the next level.

Jonathon Martin has enjoyed a very solid season and recently announced his intentions to enter the 2012 NFL Draft. Martin stands a solid 6-6 305 lbs. and has always been highlighted as being one of the better run blocking tackles in the entire country. Jonathon Martin is a very agile athlete with good overall footwork, allowing him to seek out and destroy blockers at the 2nd level. Watching Martin run block it is very easy to see that he understands the importance of playing with leverage as well as the low man principles, especially in short yardage situations. Here Martin shows solid technique in getting good pop off the line of scrimmage while keeping his pad level low and driving his feet upon contact. This allows Martin to consistently win his individual battles and knock his man off the ball to create running room for his back. Jonathon Martin also shows very good movement skills for a man his size and makes a seamless transition at getting to the 2nd level and executing blocks on moving targets. This ability to make combination blocks and find defenders to pick up speaks to his ability to make a solid impact in the running game and make big time blocks at the 2nd level to spring his back for the big gain. In pass protection Martin does a very good job of staying balanced and playing with sound technique. Martin’s mirroring skills are good as he follows and reads his opponent’s movements very soundly, knocking his man down to the ground on multiple ocassions after waiting for his opportunity to strike while he had his man off balanced and beat. Jonathon is also very patient and shows good to great hand to hand combat skills. Martin does an excellent job of keeping his elbows in close to his body before delivering a punch move to jolt his defender and knock them off-balance and keep his defender away/off his body. The biggest issue I have with Martin comes with his ability to handle players that possess a combination of power and quickness. I worry about his ability to ride speed rushers around the edge due to his shorter than ideal arms (assumption) from what I have noticed when watching film. It seems Martin could do a better job getting better arm extension and playing with greater leverage to ride these defenders behind the quarterback to give his man a clean pocket to work with. Part of this has to do with his inability to gain much depth on his initial kick out when setting into pass pro. I have noticed that he tends to take shorter more choppy drop steps, allowing defenders that possess speed and quickness off the line to gain an initial advantage on the edge. Never was this more apparent when Oklahoma State lined up a standing linebacker to blitz on third down. Knowing a blitz was coming and his kick out would not be enough to cover the jump his man would get off the line, Martin began to slowly lean back out of his stance before the snap. Although he got away with what should have been a false start this spoke to Martin’s confidence in his ability to hang with speed rushers who can threaten the edge with their initial quickness off the line. From what I have gathered I could see Martin struggling not only with these type of players, but also players who possess the ability to turn speed into power as I am not quite sold on Martin’s ability to anchor quite yet either. Players like Brooks Reed exposed this weakness in Martin’s game last year and is the biggest reason I don’t see him playing Left Tackle in the NFL, at least initially if ever. For this reason it’s hard for me to give Jonathon Martin a Top 10 grade like many other NFL Draft pundits have. I can see him becoming a solid Right Tackle, however it’s hard for me to justify a Top 10 pick on a player I do not see becoming a team’s future franchise Left Tackle. There’s no doubting Jonathon Martin is talented and will go high but in my opinion he should not be a Top 10 pick because of this inability to handle elite speed rushers.

Stanford OG David DeCastro-

David DeCastro is an extremely gifted run blocker who possesses elite quickness, hand placement, and leg drive which should put him in high demand come April

David DeCastro has absolutely flown up NFL Draft Boards everywhere due to his stellar play and impressive ability as a run blocker. DeCastro (6-5 310 lbs.) possesses NFL measurables for the position and absolutely flies out of his stance, giving him a natural advantage to gain inside position and control his man from the on-set. DeCastro plays with great pad level and his leg drive is what allows him to consistently move his opponent off the football. Pair this with the fact that David DeCastro gets very good hand placement when engaging his man at the point of attack and it is easy to see why he enjoys so much success. DeCastro also shows natural athleticism and overall fluidity in pulling and picking up the first defender while showing the ability to hit moving targets consistently. This natural athleticism allows DeCastro to attack the 2nd level very effortlessly as he is very gifted in moving in space while showing the agility to move to his left or right to get up into the hole and make a block. Stanford loves to get DeCastro out in front by pulling him and allowing him to execute reach or kick out blocks, which he has proved to be extremely effective at doing while at Stanford. In pass protection DeCastro shows above average to good skills overall, however I would like to see him play a little more balanced and sink his butt by bending more at the knees to gain leverage and hold up against the bull rush better. Nevertheless, DeCastro shows more than enough ability to hold up in the pass game and should do just fine at the next level in this area. DeCastro is very aware at picking up delayed blitzes/stunts/twists and seems to play with his head on a swivel at all times. David DeCastro is the ideal guard to line up and run behind in short yardage/goal-line situations due to his impressive run blocking ability and quickness off the snap. DeCastro will be the first player to come off the board from his position in the 2012 NFL Draft and could go potentially as high as the Top 15 overall, he’s that gifted and good at what he does and should be in high demand come April.

Stanford LB Chase Thomas-

Chase Thomas offers some pass rush ability and shows great effort and hustle on nearly every play. However, he could refine his tackling technique and continue to develop making it a wise decision for him to return next season.

Stanford Linebacker Chase Thomas enjoyed a successful season in Palo Alto finishing fourth on the team with 51 tackles, while going on to register 8.5 sacks. Thomas has good size at 6-4 240 lbs and projects nicely as a 3-4 OLB.  Stanford likes to use Chase Thomas all over as a blitzing linebacker or defensive end with his hand in the dirt. Thomas is a high motor player who shows great effort in pursuing to the football even when the play is occurring away from his current position. His effort on the backside to pursue to the football is a very encouraging sign and something that will earn him extra points when scouts and personnel men break down his film. Thomas shows above average athleticism and his ability to change directions is also pretty good. Thomas also offers some pass rush ability and executed a nice swim move to beat an offensive tackle outside and nearly make a sack. His overall speed and quickness is nothing to get too excited about but it is his hustle and effort that allow him to make so many impact type plays. Thomas needs to improve on his tackling as he was largely absent from this game and struggled to wrap up on a couple of occasions. I believe it would be a wise move for Thomas to come back for his Senior season to better his overall game and work on his tackling technique/pass rush moves.

Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden-

Brandon Weeden's age is a huge concern for me as is his inability to go through his reads and progressions. His tendency to stare down his receivers and get happy feet in the face of pressure makes Weeden a player that I cannot and will not give a high grade.

Brandon Weeden has enjoyed one of the better season’s we have ever seen from the quarterback position at Oklahoma State. Weeden possesses NFL measurables for the position at 6-4 220 lbs. but that is not quite the issue with Weeden. The biggest knock against Weeden is that he will be nearly 29 years old by the time training camp opens up next season, making him a very old rookie. This will likely leave 6-8 years at best for him to be a starting quarterback in the NFL and that will all depend on how advanced he is and how quickly he can pick up a new playbook and system. To me this has to be a big concern for everyone and is something that should knock him down come draft time in April. Putting the age issue aside here are my instant impressions from the Fiesta Bowl on Weeden. We will start with arm strength where Weeden appears to have enough zip on the ball and would seem to be above average to good in this particular area, although I would say it’s closer to just above average at this point. Weeden’s accuracy is also pretty good and I love his ability to hit on seam routes with proper touch and accuracy. Dropping the ball over top of the linebacker and underneath the safety is something that Brandon Weeden is extremely good at, which speaks volumes about his ability as a touch thrower who can place the ball in a basket down the middle of the field. Weeden also shows pretty good poise and comfortability in the pocket and stands tall before delivering a catchable pass. When the play breaks down, Weeden shows enough escapability as a thrower but I would not say this is his strong suit as he isn’t the  most fleet of foot. Due to this Weeden can be chased down with relative ease, although he does keep his eyes downfield when escaping the pocket and shows the ability to extend the play to a certain degree…I would say he’s just good enough but not really a threat with his feet.

The issues I have with Weeden come somewhat from the offense he plays in but also his decision-making and inability to go through his progressions that well. On the first play of this game Weeden dropped back to pass and immediately stared down his extremely gifted wide receiver Justin Blackmon who was running a corner route trying to settle between his corner and a dropping linebacker. Weeden was telegraphing this throw from the get go and seemed to be making his decision pre-snap about where he was going with the football. This lead to an extremely easy interception for the dropping linebacker, who simply read Weeden’s eyes and body language and settled underneath the coverage, creating instant momentum for Stanford. One of the other big issues I have with Weeden is his tendency to wait for his man to come open before delivering a pass. This lack of anticipation is a concern because it displays a lack of processing information at a high level and I am not sold on Weeden’s ability to improvise when his first read is covered and he has to create on his own. Playing with Justin Blackmon these past two years have done wonders for Weeden’s overall stats but his game is just not that refined, especially for a older than average college quarterback. The system he plays in at Oklahoma State and under coach Mike Gundy doesn’t require or ask him to make many reads and his throws seem to be on the easier side. Weeden did make some nice pre-snap reads seeing Blackmon singled up on the outside without inside help, resulting in an easy slant route that went for a first down and big gain. However, all three of Weeden’s TD’s on the night were relatively easy throws to make. Another issue I have with Weeden comes with his tendency to fall away from his throws when faced with pressure. On a couple of occasions Weeden seemed to be bracing himself for the hit and even flinched, resulting in errant throws and noticeably affecting his throwing motion and accuracy. Weeden also displays a bad habit of patting the ball before he makes a throw, which could possibly be a habit he has acquired from his day’s playing baseball all those years. While this is correctable it is an issue that needs to be fixed because not only does it slow down his throwing motion but it gives defenders a read or hint that Weeden is about to turn it loose. All in all it is hard for me to give Weeden that high of a grade because he plays in such a simple offense while playing with one of the best college receivers in the past decade. Weeden is not a complete quarterback and while I admit he has some tools to work with, his age and inability to make reads and go through progressions to this point in his career is a huge concern for me. Right now I am giving Weeden a late 2nd to early 3rd round grade for now. I simply believe there are better options because they have time on their side to develop while Weeden does not have this luxury. It should also be noted that he was competing against Andrew Luck in this game, who can make nearly any quarterback prospect seem inferior and incompetent. Also, Weeden does now possess a 6-0 record against some of the top quarterback prospects in college football by beating the likes of Luck, Barkley, and Robert Griffin. Nonetheless I consider this to be a better tell-tale sign of the football team and Mike Gundy’s offensive system, rather than Weeden’s skill as a passer.

Oklahoma WR Justin Blackmon-

The two-time Biletnikoff award winner has unbelievable spacial and body awareness. His lack of true speed is concerning but Blackmon is extremely effective at creating separtion in other ways and should enjoy a very productive NFL career.

Justin Blackmon has been terrorizing college secondaries and frustrating and keeping defensive coordinators up at night with his solid play the past two seasons at Oklahoma State. A two-time Biletnikoff winner, Justin Blackmon has been the epitome of consistency and success the past couple years. Blackmon stands a solid 6-1 215 lbs. and shows good size and girth for the position with the capability to hold up to repeated hits/blows he will receive in the NFL.  Justin Blackmon is not a burner at all and his top-end speed is nothing special. However, Blackmon does an incredible job creating separation due to his superb ability to use his body in space. Blackmon’s body positioning is one of his greatest strengths and he is extremely effective at using this skill to create separation and keep defenders away from the football. Blackmon shows great spacial and kinesthetic awareness, always knowing where his body is in relation to the space he has around him as well as any defenders in the area. This gives Blackmon a natural advantage as a receiver and is a big reason for his ability to make big plays despite his lack of speed and quickness on the field. Justin Blackmon is a fluid athlete and route runner showing the natural ability to create space and separation from his defender. This was extremely apparent in this game when Blackmon was able to manipulate his defender and get him to rise up from his stance for just a quick second on an inside slant. This allowed Blackmon to attack the defenders inside shoulder and gain position on his man. This ability to read a corners movements and attack them when they’re most vulnerable and out of position demonstrates a natural feel for running routes and is another reason Justin Blackmon is such a great weapon. The area that Blackmon really excels at is running underneath routes like drags and slants, where he uses his ability to get into and out of his breaks quickly extremely well and efficiently. Blackmon has also proved to be a very good red-zone threat/option due to his ability to use his body extremely well in confined areas. Justin Blackmon has good jump ball skills and should become an effective player who can climb the ladder or defeat his man on corner fades on a consistent basis. Blackmon does have lapses in concentration and will drop some balls he should catch, however he has proved to be a sure-handed receiver with strong hands capable of making catches in traffic in his career as well. I also do not like Blackmon’s effort on running plays or plays in which he is a decoy or know’s he will not be getting the ball. I get that he wants the ball and is confident in his ability to make big pays but that type of diva attitude will get him in trouble with the coaching staff at the next level and is something that needs to be improved/taken care of immediately. Many people will compare Justin Blackmon with former Oklahoma wide receiver and current Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant, but the two are two pretty different players. Bryan’ts upside is undeniable and he can be as good as he wants to be. I would say Bryant’s overall skill-set is a little better than Blackmon’s but the two aren’t that far apart talent wise, it’s just they do different things than each other well. Blackmon will and should go Top 10 in the upcoming draft and has the ability to be a number one receiver at the next level.

Oklahoma State OT Levy Adcock-

I believe Levy Adcock's most natural fit at the next level will be inside at the guard position where his lack of athleticism and natural strength can be best utilized.

Levy Adcock possesses extremely good size at 6-5 320 lbs. and took over the starting Left Tackle position after predominately playing Right Tackle his entire career at Oklahoma State. If there is one thing you notice almost instantaneously with Adcock is that he doesn’t possess the type of athleticism to stick at Left Tackle in the NFL. His quickness getting out of his stance is only average and he doesn’t fire out of his stance and get into his sets with much very much authority. The thing that makes me believe that Adcock future will not lie outside at tackle but inside at a guard position is his above average feet, as he shows natural ability to re-direct and re-set his feet to get into position and neutralize his opponent. This allows Adcock the ability to recover when beaten initially and moving him inside turns what was a weakness for him on the outside to become a strength on the inside where overall athleticism isn’t extremely important. Adcock also proved to have solid overall awareness for twisting and stunting defensive lineman by recognizing and picking up players that threaten his zone. I would like to see Adcock use better overall hand usage as he allows his opponents to get into his body too easily at times but feel he will improve in this area with proper coaching. Adcock also sometimes has a bad habit of dropping his head at the point of attack and will need to develop more from a technique standpoint rather than simply over-powering and controlling his man with his strength. Adcock’s strength gives him an advantage and he possesses an above average to good punch move to knock his defenders off-balance. Overall I like Adcock as a prospect but feel he has areas of his game to work on and improve. His most natural fit will be inside at guard but he may also be able to play Right Tackle in the NFL. This versatility should get Adckock drafted somewhere in the 3rd round.

Oklahoma State S Markelle Martin-

Markelle Martin is a long rangy athlete capable of covering a lot of ground and coming up in the box to help out against the run. However, I still have questions about his awareness in coverage and overall tackling ability but the physical skills are definitely there.

Markelle Martin is a long-bodied rangy type player at 6-1 200 lbs. and displays the type of athleticism and burst to cover a lot of ground. Martin’s game is predicated around the line of scrimmage as an in the box type safety where his instincts and awareness almost make him another linebacker for his defense. Martin flows to the football very efficiently and shows the natural ability to sift through traffic and take proper angles to the football. Markelle Martin is a smooth athlete who possesses the ability to make plays all over the field and I am a big fan of how well he reads his keys and trusts his eyes when flowing to the football. On a play early in the game Martin laid out a receiver coming across the middle putting the crown of his helmet right in the receivers ear hole. This is a play that showed the type of burst, explosion, and closing speed that Markelle has as a player as well as his ability to read the quarterbacks eyes and make a play on the football. However hits like this will normally result in fines and penalties in the NFL from Roger Goodell. I need to see Markelle tackle with better overall form more consistently as he tended to make a good tackle and follow it up with a missed one. It seemed to me that Markelle could do a little better job lowering his pad level and breaking down upon contact while shooting his arms up through his man to wrap up. I still need to see more of Markelle in this area but that was my instant impression from the instances I saw of him making a tackle in this game. Markelle Martin proved to be a downhill type defender who makes many of his plays in or around the line of scrimmage but I would to see better overall awareness and skills in coverage from him. At one point lined up with a wide receiver, Markelle chose to play off his man giving him a good 10 yard cushion. Playing and getting a bit high in his back pedal, Martin slipped when trying to change directions and left his wide receiver wide open for an easy TD. This lack of awareness and discipline in coverage was very evident not only on this play but on other occasions in this game as well. There is no doubting that Martin has the physical tools I just need to see him become a more rounded player before I can give him a higher grade.

Oklahoma State CB Broderick Brown-

Broderick Brown is a small corner (5-8 185) but displays good ball skills. He took some gambles and got beat/exposed in this game but he should come back next year and build on a solid year overall.

Broderick Brown is remembered largely in part because of this incredible play he made last season when defending a pass by Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. This plays shows the great athleticism and awareness Brown possesses and speaks volumes about his effort and hustle to never give up on a play. The problem with Brown is that he possesses less than adequate size at a listed 5-8 185 lbs. although he plays a lot bigger than his size would indicate. The impression I got from Brown in this game is that he is an extremely competitive player who isn’t afraid of contact and is more than willing to sacrifice his body to make a play. This was evidenced by a big collision at the goal-line when Brown threw his body into the ball carrier to knock him out of the end zone and keep six off the board. This is good to see however Brown did get fooled and exposed multiple times in this game. Andrew Luck had his way with Brown using pump fakes and play actions to pick on the feisty risk-taking corner that Brown has proven to be. This aggressiveness is something that Brown needs to control as he puts his team and especially his fellow members of the secondary in tough situations. On the play actions and pump fakes that Brown fell for he would stop his feet and get caught with his eyes in the backfield. Broderick Brown will need to prove that he can play more within himself and the defensive system to shake the risk-taking label he has earned this season. Now this is not to say that Brown isn’t a talented player capable of making big plays as he was able to tally 5 interceptions on the season, but he has to learn to control this impulse to gamble. Brown is a player that has flashed for me a couple of instances this season and it was fun to watch him go against one of the best quarterbacks we have seen in college football in Andrew Luck. I would tend to believe Brown’s mental mistakes were more a product of just how good a quarterback Andrew Luck is rather than how bad a player Broderick Brown is…he simply got exposed by one of the games best. It’s too bad that Broderick Brown wasn’t a little bit bigger but he should be able to build on a good year by coming back next season and continuing to learn and develop while increasing his draft stock.

Other players who caught my attention include Stanford TE Zach Ertz, Oklahoma State LB Jamie Blatnick, Oklahoma State S Daytawion Lowe, Stanford WR Ty Montgomery, Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor. As always, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the post.

– Brandon