Posts Tagged ‘2013 NFL Draft’

OT Luke Joeckel Texas A&M

Blessed with incredibly light feet and great balance/flexibility it is easy to see what makes Joeckel one of the most highly touted LT prospects in all of college football. Joeckel’s athleticism and foot speed allows him to effectively release off the line and get into his stance/drop quickly. Joeckels is also very fundamentally sound, bending at the knees and maintaining leverage by getting good arm extension and inside hand placement. In the run game Joeckels takes very good angles and uses his size, length and footwork to effectively seal off his defender from the play and create running lanes. Joeckel produces just average push as a run blocker but he does a great job of sustaining and latching on once engaged to efficiently neutralize his opponent. Joeckel’s ability to coordinate his feet and re-direct by moving laterally is top notch and allows him to recover if beaten intially our caught out of position. He does a great job sinking his hips and sitting into his stance and his knee flexibility allows him to re-position and ride defenders around the edge and close the door on outside in pass rush moves. One of the biggest areas for growth for Joeckel will come in his ability to absorb the bull rush and anchor. His base and lower/upper body strength needs improvement. Too many times Joeckel got bull rushed into the backfield. Players who were able to convert speed to power gave Joeckel troubles today as he got caught flat footed and guessing at times. More time in the weight room and more repetitions on the practice field should clean this area of his game up and allow him to fully take advantage of his enormous potential as a franchise pass protector at the next level. He has all the tools necessary to be great but just needs seasoning.

OT Jake Matthews Texas A&M

The son of Hall of Fame offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, Jake not only has the bloodlines but also the skill-set and abilities to be a very good player for a long time just like his dad. While not blessed with the same nimble footwork and athleticism as his teammate, Matthews still has plenty going for him as a player. Perhaps the most impressive part of Matthews game for me was the patience he showed in pass protection and also his functional playing strength. Once you are engaged with Matthews it is simply over, his ability to latch on and sustain blocks is very good due to his incredibly strong hands. Matthews also does a very good job of shooting his hands nicely out of the holsters, displaying a nice  punch to jolt his opponent and knock them on their heels. Matthews also plays with a very good wide base and showcases a strong anchor to absorb the bull  rush, simply neutralizing his opponents momentum on contact, thanks to his refined technique and ability to extend his arms and find his”fit” quickly. In his set Matthews is patient and smart, not opening up the inside door by over-commiting and getting caught out of position. His ability to mirror his opponent in the pass game gives him a great edge to react to his defenders movements and beat his main to the point. In the run game Matthews is equally impressive as he works hard to create rushing lanes for his running back. Matthews pre-snap awareness and quickness out his stance are also good and allows him to seal off gaps and beat his man to the punch. Matthews is ideally suited to the right side of the football and will likely be one of the top prospects at his position should he declare early. Texas A&M definitely has two of thse best offensive tackles in the entire NCAA with both Joeckel and Matthews.

RB Christine Michael Texas A&M

A relatively quiet game for Michael overall but he did show good hands out of the backfield and the shifty elusive running style that has caught the attention of scouts. Michael had a few good runs, displaying great vision and feel to find the cut back lane while also displaying the footwork and change of direction ability to make defenders miss in the hole. His burst and acceleration was above average and his slipperiness allowed him to slip defenders and run through arm tackles with solid pad-level and a tailor made spin move. Overall it was just an average game for Michael overall as he received only 13 carries for 33 yards. The key for Michael this season is to prove he can handle a full workload while remaining healthy for the entire season. If he can do that, Michael has the potential to be the first Senior running back off the board next April.

WR Ryan Swope Texas A&M

Another Aggie who had a relatively quiet game in this one, Swope managed just 5 receptions for 16 yards. With that said, Swope proved last season just how effective he can be when he gets the opportunity. Freshman QB Johnny Manziel is more of a run first quarterback at this point but would be wise to take greater advantage of his Senior wide receiver. While not overly ahtletic or explosive, Swope is incredibly intelligent and knows how to work his way open out of the slot position. Swope has sticky consistent hands and is a dependable downfield blocker and all around team player. Swope is your classic over achiever who may slip some in the draft and go behind more highly athletic guys with potential but Swope will surely outperform many of them due to his instincts for the position and effort on every play.

LB Sean Porter Texas A&M

Porter burst onto the scene last season for the Aggies, often drawing comparisons to former stand out and All-Pro Von Miller. Porter however is a different breed from Miller and plays the game a bit differently, with a different set of skills. One of the things that stuck out to me was how aggressive Porter was with his hands, ripping off blocks to disengage and converge on the ball carrier. Porter is a very fluid athlete with plus movement and change of direction skills which allow him to side step and sift through trash to avoid blocks and find the ball carrier. I love how well Porter does this while also keeping his head and eyes up and feeling his way down the line to take the correct angle to the ball. His smaller frame allows him to get engulfed at times and washed out of the play but his agility and ability to knife his way through and around blocks makes incredibly difficult to corral and contain. Porter is also extremely effective in coverage thanks to his superb athleticism which allows him to turn and run with almost any player. A&M trusts Porter in this area so much they have the trust and confidence in him to line up over the slot receiver on a large number of occasions. Although he doesn’t blitz nearly as much as he did last year since he moved to linebacker in A&M’s new 4-3 defense, Porter still has unique pass rush ability. His speed, flexibility, coordination and foot speed make him a nightmare to handle one on one as he has the ability to keep offensive tackles off balanced and constantly guessing. While he may not be as talented as Von Miller, Porter certainly has the skills necessary to transfer to the next level and make him a high pick come next April.

DE Damontre Moore Texas A&M

Moore caught my eye last year and was virtually all over the field in this game, accounting for numerous sacks and countless hurries. Moore plays the game with great urgency, hustle and effort and fights through the whistle consistently. For a man that stands 6-4 250, Moore has plus movement skills and burst off the football, which allows him to challenge up field and come back underneath. With that said I’m not sure how well he bends as his pad level rises and he struggles with flexibility turning the corner. I would also like to see him become more physical with his hands and use a better pass rush repertoire to fight off and through blocks.  With that said, Moore certainly has a lot of untapped talent and potential and is still adapting and growing as a pass rusher. His strength and technique needs to improve at the point of attack if he is to become more than a situational pass rusher, however his ceiling is very high if developed and coached up correctly. I appreciate how hard he fights through tackles and make plays from sideline to sideline thanks to his great motor and range. Certainly Moore is a player that finds ways to make and impact and is hard to keep contained for long stretches of time. His versatility to play multiple positions along the offensive line, as well as his ability to take correct angles and use his closing speed to chase down ball carriers make him an incredibly intriguing player. Moore seems to impact the play on more ocassions than not and is always involved in the play thanks to his superb awareness and instincts. He needs to do a better job setting the edge and resisting from crashing down and losing contain at times but overall Moore is an extremely dependable player and someone you want to have on the field as much as possible. I’m anxious to see how well Moore adapts to his new position as he is off to a very hot start and is definitely one to watch as the season wears on.

DT Shariff Floyd Florida

Regarded as one of the highest rated prep DT’s in the country, Floyd immediately made an impact for the Gators in his Freshman season while earning All SEC Freshman honors. Last season Floyd was asked to play outside at defensive end due to injuries and depth issues, performing admirably at his new position. Floyd is back inside again this season and certainly impressed me with his natural ability at his more natural position. While Floyd doesn’t possess the burst and quickness off the snap to consistently challenge gaps and make his way to the quarterback, Floyd is more of a technician in the middle whose biggest impact comes against the running game. Floyd has extremely powerful hands and uses his big mitts to effectively disengage and fight his way off blocks. Floyd also plays with very good and consistent pad level and is not afraid of contact. His pure strength and ability to anchor down and hold his position makes it hard not only for offensive lineman to move him off his spot but sustain blocks on him for long periods of time. I also appreciated how well Floyd moved laterally and made his way down the line to make plays against the run. These movement skills allow him to make plays in pursuit and should translate well to the next level. Don’t expect Floyd to cause much stir in terms of sacks and impact plays this season but there is no doubting he is a solid all around player who is a key cog in the middle of the Gators defense.

OT Xavier Nixon Florida

Nixon was hot and cold tonight but overall I didn’t quite see a player that I think will be a starter at the next level. His quickness and pre-snap awareness was off and allowed his opponent to get an early head start on him on more than one occasion. Nixon also played upright and allowed his base to get narrow while executing a poor drop step to gain depth on his kick step. I also question his flexibility and balance at times and also think he lacks a physical demeanor to consistently fight through the whistle. His lateral agility is lacking to a degree and had a bad habit at bending at the waist instead of the knees at times. I don’t mean to completely bash him but Nixon simply played uninspired football, struggling to find and locate blockers at the 2nd level. I did appreciate Nixon’s ability to anchor against the bull rush and recover when caught out of position at times but feel he has a long ways to go if he is going to play at the next level.

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West Virginia QB Geno Smith #12

To say that Geno Smith was in total control this past Saturday would be an understatement. Geno was nearly flawless in every aspect of the game and finished the day 32/36 for a 88.9 completion percentage with 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Smith’s command of the offense was magnificent to watch and his football IQ was on full display as he consistently made changes at the line based on the defensive alignment to put his team in the best position. Geno’s footwork both inside and outside the pocket was top notch and his rhythm and balance as a passer carved up the Ohio secondary from the first offensive whistle. I loved how well Geno moved within the pocket as he side stepped and used subtle shoulder movements to evade the rush and extend the play with his legs. Smith’s improvisational ability to make plays with his feet once the play broke down is what makes Geno such a tough quarterback to defend as he can beat you with his arm or feet but does not look to scramble before letting the play fully develop. Geno is the epitome of a dual threat quarterback but will try and beat you with his arm before his legs by keeping his head and eyes downfield and truly has remarkable field vision to see the whole play develop before making his decision where to go with the ball. Geno Smith added 65 yards and a touchdown on just 8 carries in the game and had a remarkable touchdown run after a broken play tested Geno’s ability to improvise with his feet when the play went awry. His gliding running style was eerily reminiscent of another great running quarterback in Vince Young, the difference being that Geno’s upside as a passer far surpasses that of the legendary Texas quarterback.

Geno Smith was in complete command of the West Virginia offense Saturday and showed the poise, composure and skills necessary to be an early NFL Draft pick next April

As a passer one of the first things you notice about Geno Smith is his great throwing mechanics. Smith plays with a good natural knee bend, a wide base and always holds the ball high and tight to his chest ready to let it rip at any time. His throwing motion is quick and compact and I love how well Geno does in getting his feet around to square his body to his intended target, especially on the run.  His superb throwing mechanics is one of the reasons why Geno is able to enjoy so much success in the accuracy department to all levels of the field. Although, his deep ball is not quite elite, as the ball comes out a little flat at times, Geno consistently puts his receivers in the best position to make a play on the ball. It is in the short to intermediate routes where Geno’s accuracy truly shines and stands out where he consistently hits receivers in stride and gives them the opportunity to make the run after the catch. Geno Smith’s arm strength is also very good and he displays the type of arm talent to make throws to all levels of the field including from the hash to far sideline. His ball comes out clean and tight with great velocity and RPM’s, especially on stick throws and passes between the numbers. Overall, Geno Smith started his season off remarkably well and his surely put his name towards the top of the early Heisman debate/contention. With that said, I am excited to see how well Geno plays against the more talented defenses of the Big 12 as he faced an Ohio Bobcat team that rarely put pressure in his face and forced him to make a decision with chaos happening around him and a defender bearing down. Surely, Geno will face much tougher defenses that will force him to show the same type of ability when faced with a much tougher defensive pass rush. After his performance this opening weekend I have firmly cemented Geno Smith as a first round pick as I think he has enormous upside, potential and ability to be a unique talent at the next level given his overall skill-set.

West Virginia WR Tavon Austin # 1

Lighting in a bottle, that is the image and phrase that comes to mind when best trying to describe Tavon Austin. Austin’s first step quickness is remarkable as he can accelerate to full speed in the blink of an eye, making him an extremely dangerous player in the open field to contain. Austin is undersized and has a slight frame at just (5-9 175) but his quick feet, agility and suddenness to make people miss should protect his body from taking many direct hits at the next level, pro-longing his shelf life in the NFL. The other thing that will pro-long Austin’s shelf life and enhance his value in the NFL is his ability as a kick returner. Austin has a unbelievable stutter step that makes opponents hold their breath in fear of what he can do when he has some open field to work. Tavon’s explosiveness and ability to change speeds and directions on a dime, and his balance, vision and shiftiness are all qualities that will make him a dangerous weapon in the NFL for a long time to come. On the downside, the NFL’s new kickoff rules will slightly diminish Austin’s value as a returner, however Austin has the hands and ability to work out of the slot to be a mis-match in the passing game as well and should be a 5-10 touch a game player with the ability to take it to the house with his blazing speed and track like quickness at a moments notice.

West Virginia WR Stedman Bailey #3

Stedman Bailey may not receive the same hype as West Virginia stars Geno Smith and Tavon Austin, but make no mistake he is surely an integral cog in the Mountaineer offense and has quality NFL skills to boot as a pass catcher.

Although Austin gets much of the attention and recognition for his game changing ability, it is Bailey who has the more upside as a wide receiver at the next level. Bailey, (5-10 190) has the better size and NFL frame of the two West Virginia receivers and is much more polished player overall. Bailey runs very tight, crisp and efficient routes and uses no wasted steps or movements to alert his defenders of his route or intentions. He also has incredibly strong and soft hands to consistently pluck the ball away from his frame and did a great job with timing his jump, body control and high pointing the football to come down with his first of two touchdown receptions on the day. Bailey and star quarterback Geno Smith have a relationship and connection dating back to high school and surely have developed a deep feel, trust and chemistry for one another’s ability to make plays on the field. This connection took off last season when Bailey accounted for 72 receptions for 1,279 yards and 12 touchdowns for a yards per reception rate of 17.8, which ranked third overall in the entire FBS for receivers with at least 70 receptions on the season. Although Bailey is not as explosive an athlete as his teammate Austin, Bailey still has plenty speed to burn, athleticism and quickness to make yards after catch and make people miss in the open field. On the flip side, Bailey is a much more physical receiver capable of running through arm tackles and matching up with more agressive and competitive defensive backs. The other thing I really appreciated about Bailey was his football IQ as both a a receiver and blocker. Bailey is very active in the running game and looks to put a hat on a hat to seal off his defender and make running room off his backside. In the receiving game, Bailey did a tremendous job of working his way back to the QB when the play broke down and forced Geno Smith to move outside the pocket and find an open receiver. Bailey could be seen working his way back to the football to get open and give his quarterback a target. This shows me that Bailey has the acute awareness, mental intellect and football IQ of a veteran receiver and most surly will be noticed by NFL Scouts who break down his game tape. Look for Bailey to have an even stronger Junior season and potentially declare a year early with his partner and high school teammate Geno Smith, in what could be a very special season for the Mountaineers.

Marshall WR Aaron Dobson #3

Dobson had a mediocre game in my assessment as he seemed to quit on his team and disappear during the 2nd half, and although he did have some nice plays they did little to affirm my belief that he is one of the top wide receivers in college football. Dobson did a nice job of changing up his speeds effectively and using double moves to get behind the defense. West Virginia chose to use single coverage on Dobson a lot throughout the game but surprisingly Dobson did very little with the opportunity. His 4 catches for 72 yards are not terrible but 40 of those yards came on a busted coverage in which Dobson was able to get behind the defense. Other than this one play Dobson appeared slow coming out of his breaks and rounded off his routes, drifting away from the intended path, while also showing very little effort on the backside when the play was designed away from him. This lack of effort and inability to step up and respond to the adversity when his team fell behind will surly leave a lasting negative impression on scouts who were able to take in his performance. I will be watching Dobson closely within the coming weeks to see how he responds to what was overall a very lack luster performance.

#21 South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore

Coming off a knee injury last fall, Lattimore showed little ill effects displaying great agility, athleticism and instincts to find and hit the hole with great consistency. Lattimore has all the makings of a true number one running back.

Lattimore got off to a rough start Thursday evening when his first carry led to a turnover, after fumbling on his first attempt following knee surgery last year. However, Lattimore quickly redeemed himself by finding the endzone twice and conjuring up his 9th career 100 yard game in route to South Carolina’s 17-13 win over the Commodores. Lattimore’s fumble likely had more to do with rust and inexperience with contact than actual ball security issues, however it is still something to watch moving forward. While it is apparent that Lattimore may have  lost some burst and explosion as a runner since his knee injury last fall, Lattimore was extremely impressive in all assets of his game. Marcus was decisive and displayed excellent footwork and vision to feel and hit the hole, getting up to the 2nd level very seamlessly. I also appreciated how well Lattimore converted from runner to receiver or blocker as he made a few key blocks to open things up for Connor Shaw and also found clean releases to become a check down option out of the backfield. His ability to stay on the field on all downs is what makes Lattimore a true work horse back. Perhaps what was most impressive was how agile and athletic Marcus Lattimore is for not only a big back (6-0 218) but especially for one coming off a major knee injury. His ability to change directions and elude/side-step would be tacklers without losing much momentum or speed is extremely rare and something NFL Scouts will certainly notice and covet come draft time. Add on to this the fact that Lattimore runs with very good pad level upon contact and through arm tackles regularly and you have all the makings of a true number one running back who can stay on the field for all three downs. With Lattimore you get a solid and dependable back who refuses to leave yards on the field and consistently picks out and finds the correct hole or cut-back lane. He most certainly showed a lot following his injury to scouts and assuming he can stay healthy for the entire season, we could be talking about the first running back taken next April, should he choose to declare a year early.

#98 South Carolina DE Devin Taylor

Blessed with incredible length, size and athleticism (6-8 265 lbs), Taylor is an ultra tall and linear defensive lineman with great upside as a pass rusher. With that said I didn’t always see a player who has put it all together and lived up to his immense upside and potential quite to this point. With Taylor you get flashes but not much consistency as he displays good burst and explosion off the line but the dis-interest to be physical and play with urgency that is incredibly frustrating to watch. Too many times Taylor is the one absorbing the contact rather than delivering the blow and he must improve his technique and strength at the point of attack to effectively disengage and slip blocks with greater frequency . Taylor’s high cut frame also makes it difficult for him to dip and run the arc to the quarterback as his pad level and flexibility to turn the corner is just not quite there to this point. Taylor also lost contain on more than one occasion by choosing the wrong gap and giving up outside positioning. On the bright side, Taylor is a player with a good get-off for his size as he shows the burst and acceleration to challenge upfield, showcasing great movement and change of direction skills for a man of his stature. I also appreciated the hustle and effort I saw from Taylor as he could be seen chasing and pursuing the play from sideline to sideline and as far as 20+ yards down the field to get involved. Overall, I get the feeling that Taylor is seemingly not getting the most out of his frame and ability as he seems to lack much physicality and aggressiveness, playing softer than a player with his size and ability should.  Predicted by many to have a break out year opposite star rusher Jadevon Clowner, Taylor must play more like his counterpart and teammate if he is to reach the lofty goals and expectations that have been placed upon him this season.

#7  South Carolina DE Jadevon Clowney

Clowney’s talent was on full force, although he was typically fazed out by the play calling by Vanderbility. He displayed outstanding recognition and change of direction skills to get after the quarterback with reckless abandon. Although not yet draft eligible, Clowney has all the makings of a future first round pick.

Jadevon Clowney is a bad man. Clowney was extremely physical and agressive, while displaying a nice get-off. Couple this with his very good change of direction and overall movement skills and you have a defensive end that is extremely disruptive and difficult to contain. This is why Vanderbilt generally ran and executed plays to the opposite side of Clowney, while also using a running back ore extra tight end to chip or help out with the extremely talented defensive end for the Gamecocks. Clowney is a balanced athlete who displays excellent closing speed and range to make plays all over the field and in space. The biggest difference between Clowney and his teammate Devin Taylor is the functional strength and leverage he plays with as compared to his counterpart. Clowney gets good pop and contact and is extremely strong and physical at the point of attack, blowing up blocks to free up others and knocking his opponent on their heels with a very good jolt. I would like to see Clowney use his hands a bit more often as he has a tendency to lean and throw his shoulder into his opponent, rather than use his hands to stack and shed a block. However, Clowney was still extremely effective thanks to his pad level and the fact that opponents must respect both his speed/quickness and also his power. Overall, I was very impressed and pleased with Clowney and believe he is a sure-fire future first round pick, especially in a league where pass rushers have become and extremely valuable commodity  in today’s pass happy NFL.

#2 Vanderbilt RB Zac Stacy

Coming off a career year in which he rushed for nearly 1200 yards and 14 touchdowns, Stacy was generally held in check for most of the night, as he accounted for only 48 yards on 13 carries. With that said, Stacy seemed to be battling either cramps or some sort of lower leg injury throughout much of the game. Stacy did have a couple nice runs where he displayed quick feet and a good burst to find the hole and get up into the 2nd level of the defense. Being that Stacy is a smaller back (5-9 210) he isn’t one to break tackles and move a pile with his strength but his ability to make you miss and change directions in space is what can make him so effective. I am excited to watch more of Stacy this coming year and although this wasn’t his best game I know from watching him last year that he has plenty to offer in the running game for the Commodore offense and should build on his excellent Junior campaign from last season.

#11 Vanderbilt QB Jordan Rodgers

The younger brother of star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jordan certainly has the ability to become a nice quarterback prospect of his own with a strong Senior season.

The younger brother of Superbowl winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jordan has a tough mark to live up to but showed well in last nights game against a very talented Gamecock defense. Rodgers was confident and made quick decisions and although I believe the ball could come out quicker at times, I thought Rodgers was efficient with both his ball placement and accuracy, especially between the hashes. His ability to extend and make plays outside the pocket with his feet makes him a tough quarterback to contain. This mobility and dual threat ability is what makes Rodgers an intriguing prospect. If he can become a more efficient passer this season, Rodgers has the type of ability that can be intriguing to NFL teams, especially those operating a west coast type of offense. Although he seemed more poised in the pocket from this season to last, I still need to see him keep his eyes downfield and let the play develop before looking to escape. His internal clock is good but needs some fine tuning to learn and trust his arm just as much as he trusts his legs. Rodgers looked much more confident and comfortable in the pocket and seemed to be in good command of the offense and I generally liked his footwork and balance within the pocket as well as his throwing mechanics and anticipation to make the correct throw. Rodgers seems to have upside as a passer and it should be fun to watch him operate this under-rated Vanderbilt team in what is most likely the most talented conference in all of college football.

#87 Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews

Matthews has excellent size at 6-2 205 lbs and his frame allows him to snare catches away from his body with relative ease. His stat line of 8 receptions for 147 yards and a long touchdown was impressive and Matthews is certainly a smooth athlete but I get the feeling that he is more of a one speed, one gear athlete that lacks much burst and acceleration to consistently gain separation. I still need to see more of Matthews, however nothing about his game really stood out to me that would make me think he can be a special receiver at the next level.

Michigan State RB Le’Veon Bell #24

Le’Veon Bell was literally the “Bell Cow” (pun intended)  for the Michigan State Spartans offense last night. Bell toted the rock an astounding 44 times for 210 yards and 2 touchdowns, while hauling in 6 receptions for 55 yards as well. Bell’s 265 total yards from scrimmage in the game last night out performed the entire Boise State offense by nearly 50 yards. Bell is a big strong runner (6-2 245 lbs.) who lacks elite burst, explosion and top-end speed but is a chains mover who can get the tough yards inside. One of the most impressive aspects of Bell’s game last night was his ability to slip blocks, as he showed some elusiveness in the open field as well as natural and nimble footwork to side-step would be tacklers. Watching Bell reminded me of a more complete LeGarette Blount, especially considering this impressive leap over a defender in the 1st quarter last night.

Le’Veon Bell showed impressive agility, power and vision while torching the Boise State defense for 250+ yards from scrimmage in last night’s season opener

However, Bell isn’t simply just a bruiser who can grind inside and wear down a defense, as he also showcased impressive ability in blitz pickup and becoming a receiver out of the backfield. Showcasing the ability to be a complete back is what separates Bell from a player like Blount. Perhaps the greatest improvement from this year to last from Bell was his ability to feel out and find the cut back lane, showing the vision, patience and power to consistently pick up positive yardage, as he consistently fell forward and displayed the leg drive to churn out yards after contact. Bell also changed gears effectively and has the start stop ability to keep the defense honest and respect his overall skill-set. I would like to see Bell become more of a downhill runner as he doesn’t  always attack the line of scrimmage and show the burst and acceleration to get up to the 2nd level of the defense. Overall, Bell was extremely impressive last night and is well on his way to an All-American type season, assuming he avoids injuries from his high number of carries. If State is to challenge for the Rose Bowl this season their pass game will have to improve as it will be hard for Bell to carry the offense, especially once conference games begin.

Michigan State TE Dion Sims #80

Sims was a consistent target over the middle and in the flats for the Spartans offense last night and for first-year starter Andrew Maxwell. Sims nabbed 7 receptions for 65 yards to lead all Spartan receivers and displayed soft hands and good hand-eye coordination to consistently pluck the ball away from his body and extend his arms on passes over his head. Sims size (6-5 285) is NFL quality and while his athleticism and quickness is impressive for a man of his stature, I am not quite sold on his ability to stretch the defense to this point but need to see more film of him. He is a big target and safety blanket type player who can also present some matchup problems being split out wide, while matched up with a linebacker.

Sims is still improving in the run game as a blocker and shows good effort and seems to do just enough to get by, but is in no way a talented in-line blocker to this point. Sims needs technique work as he seemed to struggle sustaining blocks, bending at the waist rather than the knees and dropping his head and falling off blocks. Staying square to his target and developing more upper body strength is needed for Sims to be a more effective blocker in the run game. Sims was good not great in his first game but I certainly appreciated his ability to make key catches and pick up crucial first downs by finding the first down marker, sitting down, squaring to his quarterback and giving Maxwell a big target to throw to. Sims will certainly be a big part of the Spartans offense this season, on a team that lost many key starters in the receiving game.

Michigan State DT Anthony Rashad White #98

White has the challenging task of replacing former Spartan Jerel Worthy who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 2nd round of last years draft. A native of Battle Creek, Michigan White is best known for his key field goal block in overtime of last years bowl game against Georgia to seal the win for the Spartans. Coming into the season White has had limited starting experience and production. However, White has the size (6-2 330 lbs.) to become one of the better NT prospects in this draft with a big senior year. With that said, I didn’t always like what I saw from White last night. He appeared to lack the initial quickness off the line or the lateral agility to make plays along the line of scrimmage. The most troubling part was seeing White struggle to hold his ground in the run game with much consistency or slip blocks to make plays away from his body. While White did command attention and double teams at times his simply lacked proper technique and the motor to fight through contact when his initial move was neutralized. White has to show much better overall awareness and ability to shed blocks/disengage before earning a better grade from me.

Michigan State DE William Gholston #2

William Gholston has an intriguing blend of size and athleticism but his burst and explosion off the line is far from elite or consistent.

William Gholston has a unique blend of size (6-7 280 lbs.) and athleticism but his game was lacking something to be desired last night. Gholston’s burst and acceleration off the blocks was just average and I thought his pad-level off the snap could have been better. Gholston was disruptive at moments but his lack in variety in the pass rush department was troubling. He needs to work on his handwork and becoming a better leverage player to make a difference in both the run and pass game. Gholston’s flexibility was also just average as he struggled to dip his long frame underneath the tackles shoulder pads to get the edge, as tackles simply rode him around the corner and past the quarterback on multiple occasions last night. The good news for Gholston is that he looks to have the body type and frame to add even more weight and become a quality 5 technique prospect at the next level, however he also got off to a rough start and will need to show me more in the following weeks to earn the first round grade many have given him.

Michigan State MLB Max Bullough #40

Bullough was impressive last night as he proved to be very instinctual and smart, always lining up the defense and putting his team in the best position to make the play. I appreciated how well Bullough flowed to the football and moved to his left and right while keeping his head and eyes up to sift through traffic and defeat blocks. While not overly athletic or dynamic, Bullough appeared to have plenty of range to make plays not only between the hashes but also outside on the edge. You can tell he really trusts his eyes and reads his keys well and while he may have taken a false step from time to time, he consistently made the correct decisions to beat blocks and find the football to disrupt the play. In coverage Bullough tended to get a little flat-footed and upright and may not have the foot speed to keep with faster backs coming out of the backfield but I need to see more of him in this department before putting that in concrete. Overall Bullough has a lot of qualities you look for in a quality linebacker and caught my eye and attention with his play last night.

Michigan State CB Johnny Adams #5

Adams (5-11 177 lbs.) has a thin frame especially in his lower half but is a quick twitch athlete who did a nice job defeating blocks and coming off his man to make tackles in the open field. Adams is both quick and fast and moves smoothly changing directions, while showing an agressive and competitive attitude in coverage. Adams did let his man get behind him for a big play once last night and while his recovery speed was decent, it wasn’t enough to make up for his inability to jam his receiver at the line. Adams struggled on more than one occasion re-directing his man at the line, much less getting a hand on his receiver to not give up inside positioning on an easy pass a catch for a first down late in the game. I liked Adams physicality in the running game but his inability to press in man to man was discouraging and I will look to see how he performs in that area within the coming weeks.

Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard #31

Dennard led the Spartans with 3 passes defensed and showed solid coverage skills, awareness and physicality to match up on the outside

Dennard was the more impressive of the two Michigan State corners in my estimation last night. Dennard was agressive, flippedhis hips and broke on the football nicely. His change of direction ability and physicality at the catch point led to 3 passes defensed as he was able to stay in his receiver hip pocket and play tight coverage, not allowing much separation. Has good footwork and can turn and run with just about any receiver thanks to his impressive speed and athleticism. Dennard did gamble at times last night and was over agressive at times, appearing to guess and let his man get behind him while also struggling to find and locate the football in the air which led to a flag. However, Dennard responded well to his bad plays and followed them up with good showings while the ball was in the air, displaying a short memory which you love to see in a defensive back. His ball skills, discipline and awareness were all sound for the most part and he was rarely caught out of position except on a couple occasions.

North Carolina WR Dwight Jones-

Jones has a solid blend of height, weight, and speed for a #1 WR in the NFL but his inconsistent hands are a huge disappointment and liability.

Dwight Jones started off this game hot and made an instant impact by coming down with a very nice catch for the first score of the game. On this play Jones demonstrated his natural receiving skills by going up over the defender and out positioning him for the football. This catch showed that Jones has pretty good concentration skills, although he did somewhat mis-time his jump. Jones has proved that he can be a reliable red-zone threat, but I would not consider him to be elite in this area of the field by any means. The big issue I have and many others do as well is Jones inability to catch the ball with his hands. Far too often Jones lets the ball get into his body, resulting in drops and even turnovers at times. In this game for instance his quarterback Bryce Renner fired a pass down the left sideline to squeeze it in between the cornerback underneath and safety closing in from over top. The ball got to Jones in perfect stride, however Dwight was unable to secure the pass and bobbled it some, leading to an interception after the ball was dis-lodged from his body. Here I would have liked to see Jones secure the catch with his hands instead of letting it get to his body, giving the safety that extra split second to dis-lodge the pass. Jones needs to show much more confidence in his hands if he is ever to be relied upon as a #1 wide receiver at the next level. Overall I have come away unimpressed by Dwight Jones this season despite his solid statistics. I just don’t see the type of player who can be considered your go-to-guy when you need a reception or big play. I like his combination of speed and size but he is lacking in one, if not the most important areas of wide receiver play in consistently making the catch with his hands and not his body. Jones should not be considered a potential 1st round pick and is much closer to the 3rd round than the former in my opinion.

North Carolina G Jonathon Cooper-

Jonathon Cooper has very good movement skills for a big man and all the tools necessary to become a starting guard at the next level. He should come back to school his Senior year and continue to refine his game in hopes of becoming one of the top overall prospect at his position for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Jonathon Cooper was a player who caught my eye in the game I watched between North Carolina and Virgina Tech. Only a Junior it would be wise for Cooper to by-pass the NFL this season and come back for his Senior season in my opinion. I say this because if he can continue to play at the level he has been playing this season next year, he should find himself towards the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft as one of the premier interior line prospects available. The 2012 NFL Draft will be top heavy with very talented OG prospects such as David DeCastro, Cordy Glenn, Keleche Osemele, and Kevin Zeitler that would likely push Cooper out of the initial two rounds and maybe even Day 2 altogether. The thing I love about Cooper is his superior movement skills for a man his size at 6-3 310 lbs. He is very agile and light on his feet and his quick release off the line of scrimmage gives him initial leverage and advantage in gaining positioning on his opponent. Due to Cooper’s athleticism he is capable of getting to the 2nd level almost effortlessly, making him a natural pulling guard capable of getting out in front on screens and other plays designed to the outside. At times Cooper can however be a little indecisive and could show more awareness when asked to get out in front and block for the ball carrier. On one designed screen in this game Cooper was hesitant and didn’t keep his eyes up field, allowing a defender to take down the ball carrier. With that said Cooper displays very good awareness in pass protection when working with team-mates and executing combination blocks. Cooper shows the awareness necessary to pick up stunting or twisting defensive tackles or delayed blitzes from linebackers. His athleticism and nimble feet allow him to re-direct and re-set quickly enough to pick up these oncoming defenders who threaten his zone. Another area I think Cooper could stand to work on is learning how to stick his foot in the ground and anchor. At times he was easily pushed back but held his own for the most part. Cooper has areas of his game to work on but the future will be bright for him if he can continue to develop his technique and work on his strength. Should Cooper declare he may fall behind other highly notable players at his position, but he will present one of the better values in the draft due to his upside as he continues to develop.

North Carolina DE Quinton Coples-

Coples may never become a feared pass rusher in the NFL but he has more than enough skills and ability to find a way to impact the game on a weekly basis.

Quinton Coples is a player who was projected by some to be a Top 5 overall type player entering this season. However, after a somewhat disappointing Senior season in which he drew extra attention and protection to his side of the field, Coples struggled to make much of an impact as he saw double and even triple teams on a weekly basis. Coples came on late this season and while he didn’t replicate or exceed the numbers he put up last year, he was still pretty effective given the circumstances he was facing. Many are projecting Coples to be a better fit in a 3-4 system, but he also has some value as a 4-3 DE in my opinion.  Coples does a good job using his hands to disengage from his opponent and force pressure on the quarterback or finding his way to the ball carrier. Coples shows natural strength and his impressive frame allows him to easily control his man at the point of attack before making his way to the ball carrier. Coples doesn’t show elite awareness as a read and react defensive end but he seems to understand containment and gap responsibility/discipline. North Carolina’s defense was gashed in this game but most of that came up the middle where the interior line was consistently moving defenders off the football and opening up huge holes to run through. While Coples isn’t necessarily to blame for this, he also made his share of mistakes that led to extra yardage as Missouri continually handed it to the North Carolina defense which is jam-packed with what some consider future NFL starters. Questions have arisen about Coples motor as it seems to run a little hot and cold at times, but for the most part I was generally pleased with the amount of effort he gave in pursuing to the football. Coples showed a lot of hustle in chasing down ball-carriers and seemed to be one of the only players on the UNC defense who was consistently giving their best effort.  Coples doesn’t possess elite quickness and speed to turn the corner but his combination of length, power, and athleticism make him a menace for opposing tackles responsible for containing him. Many times Coples is just one step away from getting to the quarterback but is just a second or step to late. In this game Coples was at the forefront of a forced turnover in which he disrupted the quarterbacks throwing motion leading to a mis-throw and one interception. I really appreciate how Coples always seems to pin-point the quarterbacks high shoulder and football when coming around the edge. The know with all to understand how to force fumbles and mental alertness to go after the football is an encouraging sign and something I think he will be very good at the next level. Coples may never be a 10 plus sack a season type player but he finds ways to make an impact and is a very solid player overall, who seems to  have a knack for forcing turnovers. While he may not have lived up to the Top 5 billing he was garnished with at the beginning of the season this is still a very solid player who shouldn’t fall out of the Top 15 picks overall in the 2012 NFL Draft.

North Carolina LB Zach Brown-

Zach Brown's inconsistencies in tackling and below average read and react skills make him a risky player to be drafted in the 1st round despite his athleticism.

North Carolina linebacker Zach Brown is one of the most physically gifted and athletic players eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft. He has shown elite burst and closing speed to get after the quarterback and many times he looks more like a secondary player than linebacker when asked to drop back into coverage. However, this was a very poor showing by Brown in this game as he accounted for multiple missed tackles and never truly wrapped up, which was something that had concerned me in his previous game I scouted. Brown was able to lay a big hit early in this game on a pass out in the flats on an unexpecting running back, but even on this play he simply dropped his head and threw his shoulder into the player rather than wrapping up. Brown was also able to make an acrobatic/athletic interception on a pass intended for a wide receiver 20 yards down the field. This speaks to the type of range Brown has as a player as he is able to cover a vast amount of ground. His interception showcased the impressive coverage, concentration, and ball skill ability he has as a player, which should entice many teams. However, this does not tell the whole story with Brown. Early on in the game he was caught out of position on a mis-direction play that subsequently went for six as Brown tried to recover but was too late in his recognition. On another play he was in pretty good position working the left sidelines in a zone coverage before he allowed Missouri Tight End Michael Egnew to sneak and sit down along the sideline behind him and secure the catch. On this play Brown got a little flat-footed and off-balance when the ball was in the air and seemed a little lost in coverage, allowing Egnew to make the play behind him. The biggest thing that concerns me about Brown is his lack of an impact in the run game. His instincts are only average at best and due to his slight size he tends to get caught up in the wash on many occasions. In fact it has been very rare to see Brown make many plays from behind the line of scrimmage as many of his tackles happen down the field. His lack of size has always been concerning but when you pair this with questionable instincts, recognition, and awareness you have a player that may in fact be a tad over-rated. Look, there is no doubting Zach Brown’s potential but the fact is he has many holes in his game and red-flags that do not make him a complete player. I would not feel comfortable drafting a player like Zach Brown in the 1st round and his stock will take a dip due to his performance in this game, where many of his weaknesses were polarized on a national stage.

North Carolina LB Kevin Reddick-

Kevin Reddick offers good size and tackling ability but has failed to make many impact plays and stand out for me much this season.

I’ll be the first to admit I haven’t  given Reddick the type of attention when scouting games that I should. However, I do feel like I have somewhat of a read on him as a player after watching some games he has played in this season. Todd McShay is a huge Reddick supporter and I can see why he would be. Reddick possesses good size for an NFL linebacker at 6-3 240 lbs. Reddick’s overall range and athleticism has been questioned by some but while he may not have elite quickness I do believe he has enough to make an impact and be effective at the next level. Reddick seems to have better overall instincts than team-mate Zach Brown and most definitely is the more reliable tackler of the two. Reddick also offers pretty good coverage skills as he is rarely caught out of position. I will agree that Reddick probably is a bit under-rated in comparison to his team-mate and fellow linebacker Zach Brown, but it should also be known that Brown may be one of the more over-rated players in this entire draft. Reddick failed to fill many holes and blow up plays before they happened in this game and is as much to blame for the struggles the UNC defense had in defending the run in this game as his fellow team-mates, including Zach Brown. Reddick failed to fill holes and make plays for a defense that struggled all night and never really made any impact plays the entire season, judging by his lack of a statistical output in the sack or interception/turnover categories. I still need to do more film work on Reddick but I would have to say the fact that he hasn’t really jumped off the film once to me when scouting other players on the UNC defense this season is a bit concerning for a player that many consider a Top 50 player.

Missouri TE Michael Egnew-

Egnew's combination of size, speed, and athleticism will entice team's looking for a player who can create the type of mis-match current NFL Tight Ends Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski present for NFL defenses everywhere.

Micahael Egnew is a player I have highlighted as being one of the more under-rated players at his position in this draft. Egnew offers great size and pretty impressive athleticism for a player of his stature. As I highlighted last time I spoke about Egnew here; Egnew is a player whose production has dropped off some this season, mostly as a result of losing star quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Egnew has always displayed strong hands and the unique ability to make the tough catch in traffic. His strong hands and physical demeanor after the catch are two of the things that most excite me about a player like Michael Egnew. Missouri likes to use Egnew lined up in the slot and off the line of scrimmage and he is very rarely asked to come down inside and become an in-line blocker. This is the biggest question mark with Egnew as he is definitely far from refined in this particular category and will need to work on his hand usage, strength, and technique to become a player who can make a positive contribution on running plays. However, Egnew is playing in the perfect era for his nearly perfect combination of size and physical skill-set as the Tight End position has changed from a more blocking based position to a position that values the ability to create mismatches and make a bigger impact in the passing game. Egnew looks to have just enough speed to stretch the defense vertically and find holes down the middle of the field (seams). It will be fun to watch what type of impact Egnew will have and how quickly teams pounce on a player that represents this type of value after seeing what players like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Jermichael Finley have done for their respective offenses.

Thanks again for reading my post, I hope you enjoyed and come back for more!

– Brandon