Posts Tagged ‘Brandon Holstein’

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.

Size: Measured in at the combine at a stout 6-2 271 lbs. and has been said to have gained 10 lbs. of muscle in preparation for the scouting combine in hopes of staying at the defensive end position in the NFL. Nick Perry has a thick upper and lower half and is a very well proportioned athlete, as it is very evident that he has put in the time, effort and energy in the weight room to develop his athletic looking frame. With that said his frame appears to be nearly maxed out as there is little room on his body to add much more weight. Perry also possesses only average length with 33 inch arms but regularly gets the most out of his body thanks to his explosive athleticism and superb body control.

Nick Perry is a naturally explosive athlete with an impressive first step and strong upper body. Perry's potential to convert speed to power is a rare quality and something that makes him a unique and enticing prospect from a pass rushing perspective.

Pass Rush/Quickness:  Very good first step quickness (1.57 10 yard split). Has active and violent hands capable of slapping away his opponents attempt to corral him. Flexibility is only average and he struggles to get much bend and dip underneath his opponents shoulder pads when running the arc as he shows some stiffness in his torso and ankles. Shows good snap awareness and timing as he routinely coils out of his stance and explodes up-field with nice initial quickness. Understands hand placement and gains inside positioning quickly thanks to impressive array of hand to hand combat techniques making it very hard to sustain blocks for an extended period of time. Nick Perry has great body control and is natural playing with his hand in the dirt while working in confined areas thanks to his impressive short area burst and closing speed. Possesses a scary combination of speed and power and converts the two with relative ease. Needs refinement in this area but the potential he possesses here affords him the opportunity to keep his opponent off balanced and constantly guessing what move Perry will use next. Needs to develop a greater pass rush arsenal but flashes a useful spin move on occasion. Parlaying between his natural explosive speed and power makes him a difficult assignment to contain, game plan and prepare for. Offensive tackles must respect his speed and power and if Perry can do a better job of switching up the two and utilizing more useful pass rush moves like an up and under he could be a force off the edge for quite some time. Constantly collapses the pocket and narrows room/space for quarterback to move and work within. Not an overly sudden player but effective change of direction skills makes it hard to get and keep hands on him for an extended period of time. Does a nice job getting his hands up in passing windows when he can’t get to the quarterback and shows nice ball awareness in passing situations.

Run Defense: Solid upper body strength (35 reps @ 225) with a nice base, core strength and balance to anchor upon contact and hold the point against the run. Needs to do a better job fighting off blocks, especially against double teams as he struggles to disengage and find the football at times. Fires out of stance low and gets good initial push thanks to impressive power and explosion throughout his upper and lower body. First step quickness affords Perry the ability to get into/under his opponents pads quickly, showcasing impressive pop on contact and capable of knocking his opponent on their heels. Powerful and explosive player who does not shy away from contact as he jolts his opposition with a strong punch. Plays with disciplined leverage techniques and takes solid angles to the football and gives nice chase/effort on nearly every play. Mirrors, slides and shuffles his feet well laterally when moving to his left or right to follow the play and keep contain. Needs to learn how to disengage and find the football as he has a tendency to drop his head and miss on opportunities to make a play. Has the tools to get better in this area just needs more time and coaching.

Recognition/Awareness/Instincts:  Generally finds and locates the football adequately but can be a split second late at times to diagnose the play/action happening in front of him. Shows better awareness as a pass rusher at this time as he struggles to locate the football when engaged in the phone booth with his opponent against the run. A naturally instinctive playmaker with the wherewithal to find and locate the football routinely and pin point the passers high shoulder when coming off the edge. Disrupts passing lanes and settles into passing zones nicely while dropping into coverage and has an innate awareness to keep the play in front of him while working against the run or pass. Disciplined player who restrains from crashing down and losing outside contain.

Motor/Toughness: Nick Perry is a very durable and dependable guy who missed very little time during his three seasons at USC due to injury. Doesn’t shy away from contact and likes to mix it up in the trenches with the big uglies. Motor is above average to good but he could show a little better hustle and overall conditioning throughout the course of the game. Doesn’t give up on plays and shows adequate pursuit on the backside, although he could give better overall effort in chase at times. Brings it on nearly every play and goes hard from snap to snap. Wouldn’t consider him relentless in this area but he displays a good enough motor to be effective on every play.

Tackling/Coverage: Not overly affective at changing directions fluidly as he is athletic enough to drop into coverage but displays a good degree of tightness in his hips when asked to turn and move in space. Gets a little narrow and upright when moving his feet and would seem to have some man to man limitations as a 3-4 stand-up linebacker as of right now. Would likely face a pretty steep learning curve if drafted to play the 3-4 outside linebacker position but I could see him making the transition with time due to his impressive athleticism, drive and determination. However, I see Perry as being a better overall player as a 4-3 right defensive end due to his overall skill set and believe not only is that where he wants to play but should play given that he is already in his element and comfortable at that position. Where not only will his skills as a pass rusher transfer nicely but also in a more timely and efficient manner for him to make an impact right now. Not overly explosive as a tackler but has the power and strength to lay the wood on occasion. Wraps up nicely and nearly always finishes when he puts himself in good position to make a play and take down the ball carrier.

Intangibles: Has taken very well to coaching and developed/worked on his craft the past three seasons at USC. Fans, coaches and teammates respect his work ethic and desire as he was named USC’s Defensive Lineman of the Year for his play in 2011. Declared for the draft a year early after his Junior season in which he led the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks on the season and seems to be just scratching the surface of his immense potential. Grew up in inner city Detroit where he led his high school to a state championship in 2007 with an astounding 36 sacks on the season, which was good for a Michigan prep record. Decided to make something out of himself by choosing the game of football over the streets in an area where violence and turmoil was omnipresent. This decision speaks volumes about Nick Perry’s character, persistence and discipline not only as a football player but as a human being, as it would have been easy for him to succumb to the streets and go down the wrong path. Instead Perry chose the game he loves and has been consistently getting better every season thanks to his dedication in the weight and film rooms.

Nick Perry is a superb athlete with a very high ceiling. His combination of explosive power and speed make him a very dangerous weapon coming off the edge and may not be matched by any other single player in this draft. Perry’s explosive first step make him a consistent threat to gain the edge and his ability to utilize his body in space while displaying impressive hand to hand combat techniques is a very crucial skill to possess as a pass rusher. The best fit for Nick Perry in my assessment would be at the right defensive end position in a 4-3 defense and is a perfect fit for a “Wide 9” alignment, like those used by the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions, due to his impressive first step and up-field pass rush ability. Expect to hear Nick Perry’s named called in the first round as he is certainly one of the premier pass rushers in this draft with the ability and potential to crack the top 20.

-Thanks for reading my scouting report on USC DE/OLB Nick Perry, please feel free to comment below-

  -Brandon-

Andre Branch has the speed, strength, and length to be an effective pass rush threat in the NFL. With more coaching and technique work in the areas of hand placement and pad level, Branch could present excellent value for a team looking to upgrade its pass rush.

Size: Tall athletic build for the defensive end position with long arms and defined mid section and upper body with enough room to continue to add to his frame without sacrificing much speed or explosion. Will likely need to add some muscle to become an every down defender as a 4-3 defensive end but has the type of frame to do so.

Pass Rush/Quickness: Good enough but far from elite first step and lacks true explosiveness to to threaten the edge consistently. Initial quickness is good and has the straight line speed to be a factor but has an inconsistent get-off and doesn’t always time the snap count as well as he should. Has some natural flexibility and dip and bend ability to avoid the reach of an offensive lineman and does a great job using his body to create leverage and push the pocket from the outside in. Long angular frame allows him to keep defender off his body as he works the edge and collapses the pocket while keeping his opponent at bay with his long arms (34 inches). Balanced and coordinated athlete with plus range and good motor to pursue on the backside. Hand placement is inconsistent and he could do a better job using this tool to create space and separation for him to work. Relies on upfield rush and lacks a quality counter at this point to be effective when initial momentum is neutralized. Pass rush arsenal is lacking at this point although he shows an effective club move and a degree of violence  when he is on his game. Upper body strength is good and has a lot of raw potential and upside as a pass rusher but is still learning and developing, especially in terms of turning speed into power. Would like to see him fight more through contact as he seems to want to go around rather than through his opponent at this point, however this can be learned and taught with better technique. Comes out of the three-point higher than he should and raises his pad level out of his stance at times. Pretty good movement skills and changes directions efficiently, making him a good candidate to move to outside linebacker in the NFL as a pass rushing 3-4 backer. Still raw and developing and has yet to put it all together and take full advantage of his god given abilities; good upside if motivated and coached up right.

Run Defense:Exceptional upper body strength but struggles in the phone booth a bit at the point of attack and cannot yet stand up to double teams. Effective at setting the edge on occasion and rarely loses contain or crashes down recklessly. Needs to do a better job protecting his lower body, however he shows the balance and mental alertness to stay on his feet and make his way to the ball carrier. Does a good job keeping play in front of him while mirroring action by sliding and shuffling his feet, using his lateral agility to stay involved in the play. Active in pursuit and gives good chase and effort downfield. Could take better angles to the football at times but takes tight angles around the edge and shows the ability to flatten and use his plus closing speed and acceleration to chase down the ball carrier. Still learning how to stack and shed and cannot yet be trusted to disengage consistently and slip blocks by using solid technique; needs to be coached up in this area. Will likely need to add at least ten pounds to hold up as a pass rush defensive end in a 4-3 system as he struggles to hold his ground in short yardage situations.

Recognition/Awareness/Instincts:Locates the football well and shows a good degree of discipline and integrity. Sets the edge, keeps contain and doesn’t over-commit. Well coached up layer who recognizes the play and trusts his eyes. Very rarely is caught out of position and shows the mental awareness to keep the play in front of him and honor his assignments. Cerebral enough to know that when he does not reach the passer he can still effect the outcome of the play by getting his long arms up to disrupt passing lanes. Snap awareness and timing needs to be improved but that will come with more experience and coaching.

Motor/Toughness:Has a consistent motor and will consistently give good effort in chase or pursuit. Doesn’t give up on the play and will work through the whistle. Flashes a mean streak but would like to see him fight through contact with more urgency and tenacity. Has the ability within himself, just needs to bring it on every play with greater frequency. Doesn’t play soft and usually will use his violent hands and physicality to wear down his opponent and keep them honest to respect his natural abilities.

Tackling/Coverage: Has natural movement skills and does  a good job getting his body into position to make the tackle. Shoots the arms through contact but doesn’t always wrap up as well as he should and has a tendency to drop his head prematurely. High points the shoulder of the quarterback coming off the edge and shows adequate ball awareness to force fumbles on occasion from the quarterbacks blind side. Has some tightness in his hips but has above average agility and change of directions skills to make plays in space and use his long frame to keep players contained and within his striking range. Good candidate to make the switch to 3-4 rushing outside linebacker because of his ability to drop into coverage and play well in space while identifying players that enter his area. Played the “Bandit” position at Clemson and while his main attraction to NFL teams will be his pass rush ability, Branch also has a good amount of upside as a player capable of playing in space and dropping into coverage.

Intangibles: Played behind former Clemson defensive end Daquan Bowers for much of his career but got consistently better every year while learning the game and working on fixing some of his weaknesses. Has blossomed into a good player with a solid Senior season in which he led the Tigers with 10.5 sacks. Has also took on a leadership role and seems to be a player others can aspire to, thanks to his work ethic and passion for the game. Consistent motor and gives good hustle on every play. No off the field issues that I could find or have any concern with.

High upside player who has yet to reach his full potential and take advantage of his natural skill set. Needs to improve his pad level and hand placement and will struggle to hold up in the run game until he adds weight and plays with greater technique. Natural ability as a pass rusher and has many tools working in his favor to become a consistent pass rush threat. Versatility to play in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme and is a good candidate to mold and develop. If motivated and proves to be a coachable player, Branch has the ability to become a very good pro. Reminds me some of former Purdue defensive End and current Detroit Lion Cliff Avirl who also had great upside coming out of college as a pass rusher but had some raw areas to his game, while also showing the versatility to fit in both a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. Will likely need some coaching and technique work but has the ability to make an impact as early as his first year if brought into the right scheme and system with a coach who knows how to mold the skills he possesses. I see Andre Branch going in the late 1st to early 2nd round and would be a good fit for a team like the Packers (28), Patriots (27, 31) or Dolphins (42) in the 2012 NFL Draft.

-Thanks for reading my scouting report on Clemson DE/OLB Andre Brach, please comment below with your thoughts or insights on this player.

-Brandon-

Photo Courtesy of John Posey (Urban Sports News)

Prairie View DE/OLB in an interesting prospect who absolutely dominated the Southwestern Athletic Conference this past season, accounting for a record-breaking 20.5 sacks, breaking the record formerly set by Robert Mathis, who has now went on to become a pro bowl player with the Indianapolis Colts. The thing that is most intriguing about Hamilton is that before enrolling at Prairie View A&M he was a highly coveted high school prospect coming out of well-known Dallas Carter High School, where he played alongside 49er’s WR Michael Crabtree. After initially enrolling at Oklahoma State out of high school, Hamilton was asked to grey shirt on account of the coaching staff handing out too many of their allotted 25 scholarships. Forced to make a decision, Hamilton chose to move on from Oklahoma State and walk on at Texas Tech to play alongside his former high school teammate Michael Crabtree, and under then head coach Mike Leach.

Hamilton played sparingly during his first season with the Red Raiders in 2008, however academics and a lack of finances forced Hamilton to drop out of school and once again give up his dream of playing for a major division one college football program. From Lubbock, Hamilton hit the books and worked hard to get his academics back into priority to re-establish his football eligibility while at Dallas Community College. Looking for just one more opportunity to show he belonged, Hamilton got his chance when Prairie View A&M Head Coach Gabe Northern, who was a former 2nd round pick by the Buffalo Bills in the 1996 NFL Draft took in Adrian Hamilton, giving him a full scholarship and chance to compete in the game he loves so much.

With two years of eligibility remaining, Hamilton found it hard to find the field in 2010, where he was trapped behind a pair of talented defensive ends in Quinton Spears and Jarvis Wilson. Nonetheless, despite very little playing time Hamilton was still able to create some splash plays and make an impact by accounting for 5.5 sacks, 8 tackles for a loss and a blocked punt return for a touchdown. However, it was in 2011 where Hamilton finally made his name known, while getting him back on the radars of NFL scouts and personnel men, with a performance that we haven’t seen out of a defensive player in the SWAC since the legendary Robert Mathis. In 2011, Hamilton was able to earn Defensive Player of the Year honors where he continuously wreaked havoc in the backfield and made enough noise to get his name back into the mix. Every journey is different and unique, but Hamilton has overcome quite a bit of adversity to become the player he is today and this perseverance and never give up kind of attitude is the type of thing that endures you to an athlete and person. Here is what I saw when I broke down multiple games of Adrian Hamilton from his performances in the midst of his record-breaking season.

Size: Adrian Hamilton participated in the HBCU Bowl in early December where he measured in at 6-2 246 lbs. His hands were an impressive 10 1/8′, while his arms measured out 32 1/2′ with a 77 3/4′ wingspan. Hamilton possesses just average length for the position in the NFL and will likely be forced to move to outside linebacker in the NFL due to his less than ideal frame and size to stick at defensive end. Hamilton would be best served to add 5-10 lbs. to his frame in the NFL, without sacrificing too much of his timed speed (4.76, HBCU Bowl).

Pass Rush/Quickness: Adrian Hamilton possesses an above average first step but is likely to just be average at best in the NFL. He also has some dip and bend ability, showing adequate flexibility to drop his pad level around the corner without sacrificing the ability to stay on his feet and get knocked off-balance. Hamilton’s foot speed and change of direction ability is good and it allows him to consistently beat the heavy footed offensive lineman he faced at the collegiate level on a normal basis, as he executes a pretty effective up and under move thanks to his superior athleticism. This outside-in pass rush move is one of his favorites as he times that up with an equally effective spin move that is quick and sudden, leaving offensive lineman off-balance and unable to recover. Despite all this, Hamilton seems to be lacking in the pass rush department at this point and I can’t help but think he will struggle at the next level where NFL caliber offensive lineman will be able to match his athleticism and strength. The number of sacks Hamilton was able to put up this season were impressive but film analysis shows that many of these sacks came on missed assignments and simply poor foot speed/technique by his competition. In the NFL, Hamilton will likely struggle with longer-limbed offensive lineman who can match his foot speed and change of direction ability. Hamilton seemed to get by on sheer athleticism by simply running the arc, which will not translate to the NFL in my opinion. The reason I say this is because Hamilton routinely struggles with hand placement and doesn’t use his arms well enough to create space/separation and room to work for himself. Hamilton shows good to great upper body strength and has some bull rush ability but nothing stands out that makes me think he can become a premier pass rushing terror off the edge to this point. Hamilton also lacks many counter moves that can keep him in the play after his initial up field rush has been neutralized.

Run Defense: As I said before, Hamilton would seem to have exceptional upper body strength as he simply over-powered and practically bench pressed a player off of his body at one point in my film study. This type of upper body strength is extremely important and a nice tool for Hamilton as he is able to set the edge and use his big hands to control his man at the point of attack. However, Hamilton must work on his hand placement as he consistently fails to get inside positioning with his hands and will struggle in the phone booth and thus be washed out of plays on more occasions than you would like to see. His inability to stack and shed is concerning as he is unable to slip blocks with great frequency to find the ball carrier. At times Hamilton will simply fly up field and underwhelms with his hand to hand combat skills, exposing his chest and doing a poor job to create space and room to operate/disengage. Hamilton has some natural ability and tools to work with as he is also an absolutely ferocious and violent hitter who knows how to find the football and dislodge it from his target (6 FF in 2011). However, he also has a lot to work on, especially in terms of his hand placement and overall technique to disengage from offensive lineman who are easily able to latch on to his body and take control from the word “go”.

Recognition/Awareness/Instincts: Probably one of Hamilton’s best physical traits is his ball awareness skills as he always seems to know where the football is and work his way back into the play. His six forced fumbles last season are a testament to his ability to find the football and punch it out when he has an opportunity. This is an extremely effective skill to possess as it shows he understands the importance of turnovers and how to create them by going for the football. Adrian Hamilton also shows a good amount of discipline as he rarely crashes down and plays out of control, leaving the backside un-contained and open. Instead, Hamilton shows football smarts and trusts his eyes, as well as displaying the ability to break down in space and pursue to the ball even if he is simply in chase or pursuit.

Motor/Toughness: Just as persistent as he is off the field, Hamilton also shows a good amount of persistency while giving chase on the backside in pursuit. With that said, I do think Hamilton could be more physical at times and I am not sure if he gives his best effort from snap to snap. Hamilton’s motor is good, but I personally like to see smaller school players leave it all out on the field and having an unquestioned/great motor is something that either flashes or doesn’t; and in this case I didn’t see it from Hamilton consistently enough to catch my attention. Hamilton has the tools to be good but he needs to flash that mean, nasty, violent temperament that makes prospects stand out from the competition, especially if it is at a lower level. I also think this mean streak and relentless attitude would do wonders in terms of his ability to disengage and fight his way off blocks as he lacks that violent punch to jolt his defender.

Intangibles: Look, I really want to believe in Hamilton and he is certainly an intriguing player, but he has some issues he needs to clean up first. Hamilton deserves a chance and his story and remarkable perseverance and determination to make it this far despite the adversities he has faced is inspiring and something that will surely be a positive quality scouts will take note of. Having listened to Hamilton speak and talk while participating in radio interviews makes me believe he is a well spoken and grounded young man who is also humble and appreciative. The fact that he is making the effort to participate in many draft related events is a positive sign and shows me he is serious about getting his name out there in hopes of catching someone’s attention. I can’t wait to follow this young man’s journey, as it has already been one of many ups and downs, but this is the type of guy we all want to root for as he exudes the type of determination, drive, and attitude we are all seeking to find. Hamilton’s an inspiring young man who I could see going in the 7th round, but will likely be a priority free agent type player. He is a worthy, low risk player, whose greatest impact and chance to stick on a roster could lie in his ability to make an impact on special teams due to his violent hitting style and nice athleticism. I can see Hamilton being a practice squad player who could continue to develop while making his impact in the special teams’ game to begin with. Very rarely did Hamilton drop into coverage so it is hard to get a feel for how well he operates in space and how tight his hips are to stick with receivers coming into his area. This position change, along with his poor handwork are two of the biggest obstacles Hamilton will need to overcome to become a player at the next level. However, if his past is any indication, I wouldn’t bet against this kid somehow making a roster down the road.

-Thanks for reading my report-

-Brandon-

Defensive Tackles

Most to gain:

 One player who has already impressed in the measurables department is LSU DT/DE Michael Brockers who came in at an impressive 6’5 322 lbs. Brockers also checked in with impressive 35 inch arms which will help him disengage and keep defenders off his thick body at the next level. Physically speaking Brockers is “cut from the cloth” and looks the part of a dominant interior player with the added versatility to play five technique in a 3-4 defense; which is where I like him most at personally. Brockers is a little bit on the raw side from a technical standpoint, which is to be expected for someone who declared after only their red shirt Sophomore season of college. With that said, Brockers should shine in drills and show plus movement skills, while also showing power and explosion in tests that measure his sheer strength throughout his well proportioned and athletic-looking frame. When it’s all said and done and the lights come down on the Scouting Combine in Indy I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Brockers stand out from the crowd and eventually gain the Top 10 consideration he most likely deserves due to his incredible upside and scheme diversity. Another defensive tackle sure to make his mark on the 2012 NFL Combine is Mississippi DT/DE Fletcher Cox who also possesses the ability to play in multiple fronts at the next level. Cox is a somewhat lesser-known player to the general public at this point but that should all change come Monday afternoon. Cox is an incredible athlete who displays an impressive motor and incredible effort from snap to snap. He’s not as physically imposing as a player like Michael Brockers at 6’4 298 lbs, but he is much more technically refined and battle tested. Cox was even named SEC Defensive Player of the Week an astounding four times this past season, which is very impressive in the highly competitive South Eastern Conference. Fletcher Cox is a player who should test well and show his versatility/athleticism to play in multiple fronts. Expect his name to be one of the players on the rise after a very successful and impressive performance at the combine. The last player I want to mention quickly is Memphis DT Dontari Poe who has great athleticism for a man standing 6’4 346 lbs. Now, I haven’t gotten the opportunity to watch much film on Poe myself but he is said to have great movement skills, while also displaying impressive power and strength. He’s raw but flashes the potential to be the premier nose tackle prospect in this draft which could send his stock through the roof with so many teams searching for a big/physical guy who can eat up blocks and free up other players in the middle. Poe’s performance will tell us a lot about him and what he has to offer, as it will be the first time many of us have seen him live and on t.v. since he played at a smaller school at Memphis. Nonetheless, I fully expect Poe to put on a note-worthy performance and generate some buzz and excitement about his potential. He already put up a very stout 44 bench press reps at 225 lbs, although his arm length is a little shorter at 32′ inches,which definitely helps him throw up that weight with greater frequency but it’s an impressive start to say the least.

Most to prove/lose:

Theres a few players in Indy this week who will have some tough questions to answer, however all three have immense potential and could come out of the combine with much higher accreditation to their names with good performances. The first player is probably the one with the least to worry about and the most upside, but still has questions to answer is Penn State’s DT Devon Still. Still is a player I am relatively high on and like but there are some questions floating around about not only his work ethic and desire to be great, but also his durability as he has battle injuries throughout his career and recently missed the Senior Bowl because of another physical aliment. From what I have seen, read, and heard to this point in the combine, Still seems to be doing a commendable job answering questions about his character, choosing to answer the questions delivered to him head on and with obvious thought and deliverance. Still checked in at a stout 6’5 303 lbs. with nice 33 1/4′ inch arms. One of my favorite things about Still as a prospect is his violent/heavy hands. Still has an incredible grip and seems to understand stack and shed techniques to quickly disengage and find the football. He needs to improve his pad level and may have some stamina issues as he tends to wear down over the course of a game, playing with sloppier technique and slower get-off. However, when fresh and rested there may not be a player more physically gifted and talented than Still, as he is also very effective at penetrating the pocket by getting skinny through the hole and shooting gaps off the snap, which also allows players around him to make plays. Still probably won’t wow us in drills and tests tomorrow, other than his solid punch in bag drills but he is a pretty fluid athlete, but is not on the same physical level as some of the players mentioned above. However, when the lights come and pads come on he might be the best of the bunch. Another player who plays the same position as Still and played in the same conference is Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy. Worthy is an incredibly frustrating prospect to evaluate as he looks like a sure-fire 1st round pick one week, but a completely less stellar prospect the next. And it doesn’t just stop there with Worthy as he also tends to disappear for long stretches of time and plays with inconsistent effort from snap to snap. With that said, when Worthy is on his game and playing up to his ability he can be nearly unstoppable because of his absolutely over-powering strength and extraordinary burst/get-off to quickly shoot gaps and penetrate the backfield. Worthy flashes nearly every game but it is his inconsistency that is most troublesome with him, as well as his tendency to get nicked up and show less than adequate stamina to stay in the game for an extended period of time. Worthy has drawn comparisons to former Texas DT Shaun Rogers because of this and could completely fall out of the 1st round just as Rogers did in the 2001 NFL Draft before he was taken by the Detroit Lions with the 61st pick overall. It will be interesting to see where Worthy falls as he has Top 20 talent but hardly ever plays up to his ability for an extended period of time. Teams will have to figure out whether they can motivate him to get in better shape and play up to his ability before spending a 1st round pick on a talented player when he wants to be. Interviews and team meetings will be key for Worthy but look for him to shine in explosion drills as well and put up some solid numbers overall. One more player to mention is Washington DT Alameda Ta’amu. Ta’amu is a player many scouts are also split on as he possesses solid upside but enjoyed relatively moderate success this season despite his physical talents. Standing 6’3 348 lbs. with 32′ inch arms, Ta’amu is another candidate to play nose tackle in the NFL however I think he is much better served to play the one technique shaded over the nose guard or as a one gap three technique tackle in a 4-3. When scouting Ta’amu I found that he tended to pop-up off the snap and had little to offer in terms of his hand work and disengagement ability. He’s a little bit of a leaner and his short arms do not allow him to create much space between he and his defender. I like Ta’amu’s get-off but he is far too inconsistent with his pad level and hand placement for me to give him a high grade at this point. Ta’amu will have questions to answer regarding his lack of production this season while at Washington.

Others to watch:

A couple other players to watch who deserve to be mentioned are Cincinnati’s DT/DE Derek Wolfe, UConn DT Kendall Reyes, and Michigan DT Mike Martin. Wolfe is a personal favorite of mine because of his scheme diversity and ability to play  DT in a 4-3 or DE in a 3-4. I’m not quite sure where I like him more at this point but I tend to lean towards five technique because he has some pass rush ability (9.5 sacks in 2011) and ability to be a reliable run stopping defender and make plays behind the line of scrimmage (19.5 TFL). Wolfe came in at a stout 6-5 295 lbs. while possessing 33 1/4′ arms and has effectively gained weight since the Senior Bowl to appeal to both 4-3 and 3-4 teams at the DE or DT positions. Wolfe plays with solid leverage and knows how to disengage by winning at the point of attack by establishing effective hand placement and inside positioning. Look for Wolfe to garner some attention in the 3rd-4th round area. Kendall Reyes is a player who flashed at the Senior Bowls last month winning many one on one battles during individual drills. At the Senior Bowl Reyes showcased active hands capable of keeping the defender off his body as well as above average explosion off the snap. Reyes is a player who could also warrant some consideration at five technique and I am excited to see his movement skills in the drills on Monday to get a better feel for him as a prospect. Lastly, Mike Martin is a player with less versatility, but is an effective player in his own right who deserves consideration in the 3rd-4th round range as well. Martin is a relentless work horse, measuring in at 6’1 306 lbs. with 32 1/4′ arms. Martin is a player who won’t beat you consistently because he is not that type of athlete but slowly can wear you down over the course of a game. He’s extremely hard to sustain blocks on because of his rounded frame and thick upper body; and his persistent attitude and work ethic make him a menace to deal with from snap to snap. Martin is a classic over-achiever type athlete who should make his mark on the NFL as a solid rotational type defensive lineman early on in his career with the ability to become a starter later on down the road.

Combine Star(s): LSU DT/DE Michael Brockers, Mississippi St DT/DE Fletcher Cox, and Memphis DT Dontari Poe

Defensive Ends

Most to gain:

One of the players I am most excited to see in Indy this week is USC DE/OLB Nick Perry. Perry has bulked up and checked in to the combine at 6-3 271 lbs. with 33′ inch arms. It would seem to me that Perry wants to stay at defensive end in the NFL and has put on the extra weight to show his desire to stay at the position he played in college. With that said, Perry will still most certainly get looks at 3-4 OLB thanks to his impressive movement skills, and I actually think he has the versatility to be effective at both. I really appreciate Perry’s first step quickness up field and think he does a good job keeping defenders off of his body by displaying active and quick hands to slap away grabby offensive lineman. Watching Perry’s movements skills and ability to turn the corner and display some ankle and hip flexibility to dip his shoulder and turn the corner will tell us a lot about his upside as a pass rusher. In a class that lacks many quality pass rushers, Perry could be a real riser this week with a good performance…especially if he shows the ability to play in multiple schemes. Clemson DE/OLB Andre Branch Cliff Avril who was also a little raw and one-dimensional coming into the NFL but has since went on to become a pro-bowl level player. If Branch can showcase the bend, flexibility, and overall combination of pass-rushing skills he could sneak his way into the 1st round as an upside type player. The other pass rusher who is carrying some steam into the combine after a good performance at the Senior Bowl is Marshall DE Vinny Curry. Curry is a player who absolutely dominated at a lower-level school in Marshall setting numerous conference and team records for sacks for a career. Now, with his eyes set on the NFL, Curry must also demonstrate the ability to bend and get around the corner. Curry showed well at the Senior Bowl against some very good offensive lineman and could be one of the better steals/values if he makes it to the 2nd round. Expect Curry to start garnering first round consideration with a solid showing.

Most to prove/lose:

Nebraska DT/DE Jared Crick has not played football for months and it has been a while since we’ve seen him perform after suffering a season-ending torn pectoral muscle early on in the season. Before his injury Crick was seen as a future 1st round pick who had a good amount of potential. However, the injury he suffered put his future on hold for a little while but you can be sure Crick is ready to put the past behind him and showcase the type of skill-set that made him so highly regarded in the minds of nfl scouts at one time. Having checked in at 6-4 279 lbs, Crick will likely be a little small to play three technique but should be a good fit as a five technique player who has drawn comparisons to all-pro San Francisco 49er’s DE   If Crick checks out medically and looks the part in drills and tests he could re-establish his first round status prior to his season ending injury and sneak into the bottom half of the initial round. Another Big Ten defensive lineman who is in need of a solid performance at the combine is Illinois DE Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus is a very risky player, seeing as he only had one productive season at Illinois as he boost onto the scene with an astounding 16 sacks and 9 forced fumbles on the year. Many of these sacks however were not of the impressive variety as he seemed to accumulate many “garbage” sacks after his team-mates had done the dirty work by collapsing the pocket and forcing the quarterback to his area. When watching film of Mercilus it occurred to me that Mercilus lacked a quality burst/first-step while also lacking much of any variety in his pass rush arsenal. He lacked a quality counter and seemed to struggle finding the football as he didn’t always seem to show the type of ball awareness I like in an impact defensive end. With that said, he definitely deserves a long hard look as that type of production doesn’t completely happen by coincidence and there are many things to like about the way Mercilus plays. However, he will be up against it trying to justify that he isn’t a one-year wonder type player to scouts who seem to be unimpressed by him for the most part. The last player player that has a lot to prove this week is UNC DE Donte Paige-Moss who was once considered a high upside type player thanks to his impressive athleticism. However, this athleticism never seemed to culminate as Paige-Moss was actually benched in favor of a younger player because of his lack luster play this season. Paige-Moss will likely look pretty good in drills as well as showcase the type of athleticism that once made him a highly thought of prospect in the minds of scouts because of his immense upside. Paige-Moss will also need to qualm and make good on some of the post game comments he made after North Carolina’s season had ended, in which he essentially called out the coaching staff and threw his fellow team-mates under the bus. Paige-Moss has a long road ahead of him to once again become a draftable prospect in my mind.

Others to watch:

There are a plethora of players to keep an eye on tomorrow at this position but we will just focus on a few that I will have my personal eye on. First up is one of my favorite players in this draft and player I feel is flying a bit under the radar to this point. Tennessee DE Malik Jackson is a player who transferred to Tennessee from USC after the scandal involving Reggie Bush. At Tennessee Jackson played out of position at defensive tackle and is much better suited outside as a pass rusher standing ath 6’5 284 lbs. with 33 3/4′ inch arms. Jackson plays with solid technique and leverage overall and he has flashed as a pass rusher capable of reaching the corner when given the opportunity. Being a highly recruited athlete and player with immense potential due to his impressive physical stature, Jackson is a player many are currently sleeping on but he should open up some eyes tomorrow based on his skill-set so keep a close eye on him. The next two players are two guys looking to make the transition to outside linebacker in the NFL after having played defensive end throughout their college careers. Arkansas’s DE/OLB Jake Bequette is one of those players looking to make the transition after mainly playing with his hand in the dirt in college. Bequette has always been a player who has caught my attention and he really came on hot during the end of the Razorback season when he was able to collect eight of his ten sacks on the season in his last five games. Bequette doesn’t wow you with speed or athleticism but possesses a plus motor and is a relentless player who get’s after the quarterback and can force him to escape the pocket. Bequette will face a learning curve for his new position, so it could take some time but he is a good middle round prospect with upside. Another tweener type prospect is Virginia DE/OLB Cam Johnson who did well at last months Senior Bowl in the individual one on one drill sessions, showcasing very good quickness and ability to change directions effortlessly. Having measured in at 6’3 268 lbs. with 33 1/2′ inch arms, Johnson seems to be a player to consider at both defensive end and outside linebacker. His pass rushing skills entice me and I am excited to see how comfortable he is standing up and dropping back into coverage because I know he can get after the quarterback and cause havoc off the edge. One last player to keep your eye on is Syracuse DE Chandler Jones who has really picked up a head of steam after ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay has been touting him as a potential first round prospect and excellent value in the draft. I however do not personally see the same type of upside as McShay but do admit he does have a nice frame on which to build upon. Jones measured in at 6’5 266 lbs with 35′ 1/2 inch arms. A lot has been made about the lineage following Jones as he is the brother of UFC fighter and light heavy weight champion Jonny “Bones” Jones, while his other brother, Arthur Jones currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens as a 5th round pick from the 2010 NFL Draft. Having blood lines is great but I currently don’t see what all the infatuation is about to be perfectly honest. I see a player who is pretty raw and lacks much explosiveness to his overall game. His upside is nice but I wouldn’t currently touch him before the 3rd round personally, maybe tomorrow he will show me something I haven’t yet seen.

Combine Star(s): USC DE/OLB Nick Perry, Clemson DE/OLB Andre Branch, and Tennessee DE Malik Jackson

Outside Linebackers

Most to gain:

The player who may completely melt the track in Indy tomorrow with his performance in the 40 yard dash is North Carolina LB Zach Brown who has said he wants to run as fast as 4.3sin tomorrow’s marquee test. In fact, Brown is a player that should absolutely dazzle and leave mouths hanging in the annual “underwear olympics” that has become the NFL Combine. Fortunately for Brown, he is a player with incredible athleticism that will surely get some general managers in attendance enamored with his potential, however the tape tells a different story. Having done extensive film analysis of Brown I can tell you that he without out a doubt is a liability against the run and lacks the quality instincts to routinely get the most out of his physical talents. Right now, Brown is a much better athlete than football player and I wouldn’t personally touch him until the 2nd round because he plays so soft and seems to dis-like contact. This is not to say Brown cannot become a good football player as he definitely has the skills to be an effective blitzer and cover man, but he is currently not a three down linebacker. One would have hoped that Brown would have been able to adapt and learn the game by now but he seems to still be getting by on his athleticism which surely will not fly in the NFL. To me, Brown is a luxury pick that a team will undoubtedly jump on way too early based on his measurables and upside. From a height/weight/speed ration, Brown should excel in the NFL but my better judgement tells me he will vastly disappoint in the NFL. Perhaps my favorite player in this draft, who possesses quality instincts and recognition skills to make plays all over the field is Nebraska LB Lavonte David. David’s biggest knock has to do with his lack of ideal size, standing 6’1 233 lbs. However, David has put on 8-10 pounds since the Senior Bowl so it will be interesting to see how that affects his speed and athletic ability because he certainly has plenty to make plays all over the field, showcasing incredible range on film. David is quite simply is a gamer who ended up at Nebraska after spending his first two collegiate seasons at the junior college level before going on to set school records in just two seasons at a powerhouse program with great history and lineage at the linebacker position. David is incredibly smart and showcases very good football IQ and awareness to consistently find the football and unlike Zach Brown, he is much more physical and willing to get dirty and stick his nose in the trash and take on blocks/fill holes. David should impress in drills and will probably be a player that will shine in interviews as he is a bright kid he understands the game at an extremely high level. I have little doubt Lavonte David will be one of the bigger steals in this draft when he goes nearly a round later than he probably should, simply because he is a couple of inches too short and a few pounds too light….please! Another player who should wow scouts and general managers alike with his athleticism tomorrow is South Carolina DE/LB Melvin Ingram. Ingram enjoyed a great senior season for the Gamecocks this season while demonstrating his versatility to blitz the quarterback from multiple positions and angles. Ingram was highly impressive at the Senior Bowl last month as well, putting his explosion and athleticism on full display for those in attendance. Ingram is an interesting player because he is shorter than most would prefer at 6’1 264 lbs with just 31 1/2′ arms. Ingram has trimmed down about ten pounds since the Senior Bowl, likely because he wants to run a blazing 40 time so that might not be his actually playing weight in the NFL. Versatility will be key for Ingram in the NFL and I think he makes for an interesting pawn piece for a creative defensive coordinator who can line him up from all over the place and keep him rolling in waves from multiple angles/positions. Ingram will shine tomorrow and will almost assure you he will be a riser coming out of Indy. One last player to keep an eye on is Miami LB Sean Spence who is also undersized for the position at 5’11 231 lbs and is likely limited to weak side linebacker in a 4-3. With that said, I like Spence and think he will have a productive career in the NFL due to many of the same qualities I mentioned with Lavonte David. Spence is a reliable tackler who is an absolute missile, playing much bigger than his smallish frame would indicate. He comes downhill hard and can actually hit with a ferocious like mentality with good form and solid technique. He is also very quick and can cover a lot of ground while dropping into coverage. I will be watching closely to see what kind of ball skills both he and David have as they both seem to be comfortable in coverage.

Most to prove/lose:

One of the players that will be under close eye is West Virginia LB Bruce Irvin. Irvin is a player who had a very productive Junior season in which he accounted for 14 sacks, however he was completely out-of-place in the Moutaineers 3-3-5 defense in which Irvin was asked to play with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end. Although he registered 8.5 sacks this season, Irvin didn’t show much in terms of a pass rushing repertoire as he tends to rely greatly on his up field speed and ability to just simply run past college offensive tackles. This however will not fly/work in the NFL and Bruce Irvin seems to be a situational type pass rusher who can come in a certain passing plays and get after the quarterback. Right now he is more of a “one trick pony” type pass rusher who needs to show more than sheer athleticism if he is to get drafted in the Top 100 of this years draft. Irvin is a player that comes from a rough background but has sworn to have moved on and learned from his past mistakes. Tomorrow is a big day for him and while I expect him to shine in drills and test, I don’t know how well it will translate at the next level. Another player with something to prove to scouts and general managers is Oklahoma LB Ronnell Lewis who has had off-field troubles and academic struggles that led to him being benched just this past season despite his explosive edge rushing ability and bone jarring hits. Maturity questions and medical issues regarding his recurring back problems are all issues that need to be addressed and cleared before taking a player like Lewis within the initial 50 selections of this draft. I love Lewis’s short area quickness and closing speed to get after the quarterback but this is a very risky player with plenty of red flags. If Lewis can dispel some of these things scouts will most certainly question, while performing well in drills and tests he should be a player on the rise leaving the combine.

Others to watch:

One player that has me particularly excited as far as upside and mid-late round sleeper type material is San Diego State LB Miles Burris. Burris is a player who I recently came across and found myself relatively impressed with his ability to read and react to plays while showcasing the type of athleticism, closing speed, and hustle/motor to be a special teams demon and potential starter down the road. Burris checked in at a strong 6’2 246 lbs. while also putting up 31 reps in the bench press. He is strong with a good head on his shoulders as he comes across as a very mature young man with big dreams of making it in the NFL. If I’m a general Manager this is the type of player I’m targeting in the 5th round range to come on my team and compete for a starting job as a developmental type linebacker with fantastic upside. The next list of players all have something to prove as they will likely play a different position in the NFL than they did in college and must show the type of ability to play in space and drop into coverage. These tweener type players include Pittsburgh’s DE/LB Brandon Lindsey, Troy’s Jonathon Massoquai, and Boise State DT/LB Shea Mclellin. All three of these players will be asked to work out of their element and move in space. If they can showcase fluid coordinated movement with good awareness skills it will greatly increase their stock and versatility to rush the quarterback and play in coverage which could do wonders for their appeal and draft stock. Oregon LB Josh Kaddu is a player some have labeled as a possible under-rated athlete capable of becoming a strong side linebacker thanks to his size and ability to match up with tight ends in coverage so pay close attention to him as well. Arkansas State LB Demario Davis is another under-rated athlete to keep an eye on as he is said to have the athleticism and measurables to look very good and test very well. Can’t say I have seen too much film on him personally but I know a few people who like him better than most as a potentially under the radar player.

Combine Star(s): UNC LB Zach Brown, South Carolina DE/LB Melvin Ingram, and West Virginia LB Bruce Irvin

Inside Linebackers

Most to gain:

In my view the entire inside linebacker crop is very week in general but there are a couple of players worth pointing out. The first is Boston College LB Luke Kuechly who probably isn’t a favorite to run or test all that well but he is most likely one of the safer picks in this draft. Kuechly will gain notoriety not only for his tape in which he shows great instincts and wonderful diagnosing ability, but for his mental intellect and football IQ in interviews with teams and coaches. There is probably not on other player who has a better understanding or feel for the game than Kuechly and while he may not wow you with his athleticism he more than makes up with it in how fast he is able to read his keys, process information, and diagnose the play. Kuechly is no slouch either and he truly has under-rated speed and range as he shows adequate but good enough burst and closing speed to make plays towards the sidelines. Kuechly is also an extremely gifted coverage player who shows the natural ability to read the quarterbacks eyes and make a play on the football. Kuechly is one of my favorite players in this entire draft and he should do well for himself and cement himself as a mid first round pick. The other linebacker I am excited to see at the combine tomorrow is Alabama LB Dont’a Hightower.

Most to lose/prove:

This honor most definitely has to go to the player with possibly the most questions regarding his talent, attitude, maturity and character than any other player in this entire draft. Vontaze Burfict is one of the most physically imposing players who will take the field in Indy but with him comes a barrage of red flags and character question marks. Burfict plays out of control and his aggressive nature has gotten him in trouble with both the referees and his out coaches. There is no doubting his physical skill-set but despite this I still see a player that really isn’t as much as a menacing force as he is made out to be. Sure he makes an occassional big hit but overall I question his ability to get off blocks, find the football (ball awareness) and break down in space and tackle as he tends to over-pursue and play out of control looking for the bone-jarring highlight reel hit instead of wrapping up. Burfict is the type of player that needs to go into the right situation with a veteran leader/locker room and a coaching staff that will hold him accountable for his actions, as he can and probably will get called for many penalties and fouls resulting in fines and possible suspensions. Burfict has many questions to answer and I already don’t like how he chose to answer a question presented to him regarding this past season where he more or less blamed it on the coaching staff and pointed the finger. To me that is a sign of immaturity and what was once a very promising player with a bright future looks to be a player on the decline with a lot to lose if he doesn’t get his act together and own up to everything like a man and shift all the blame on himself. USC LB Chris Galippo was once a heavily rated high school recruit with tons of potential before signing with the Trojans. However, injuries derailed Galippo’s development and he struggled to get/stay on the football field throughout his career, ultimately being replaced by a red shirt Freshman on the depth chart this past season. Despite this Galippo never once clamored for attention or blamed the coaching staff, but simply went about his work and contributed on special teams. He will now have to convince and answer to teams why this happened and how he thinks it made him a better football player, who deserves to be drafted in the later rounds. If Galippo can impress in interviews and show some of the athleticism he once possessed he could be the type of player who serves a special teams role and becomes a good depth/character guy.

Others to watch:

Two guys grab my attention who deserve to be mentioned here. First is NC State LB Audie Cole who despite not having awesome athleticism and range to make plays sideline to sidelines, he is a very disciplined player who understands how to read his keys and decipher plays. Cole is a nicely built player at 6’4 246 lbs. with what I like to call sneaky athleticism, as he actually shows some burst and closing speed to rush the passer and force them out of the pocket. Cole is a developmental guy I like and is a natural fit in a 3-4 defense where his size will allow him to take on blocks and shed on contact. Solid depth player and guy I consider anywhere after the 3rd round in this draft. The next guy I like is California’s LB Mychal Kendricks who is on the short side measuring in under six feet tall. Kendricks however has a stocky build and has some aspects of his game that remind you of another under-sized middle linebacker who went on to enjoy a very successful NFL career in London Fletcher. While that is likely the ceiling for Kendricks, this is a player that has a lot going for him and probably will make it in the NFL as a back-up spot-starter type player. He’s a downhill defender who is aggressive and takes sound angles to the football. He makes his reads quickly and understands how to hit and wrap-up upon contact. Kendricks does get engulfed by bigger blockers and he’s not the type of guy who can win in the phone booth but he can and will always give his best effort and it’s hard not to cheer for guys like that. Keep an eye on Kendricks as a guy who can also provide good depth with the small chance to become a starter later on down the road.

Combine Star(s): Boston College LB Luke Kuechly & Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict

-Thanks for reading, I will be adding a secondary preview to this write-up tomorrow…hope you enjoyed!

-Brandon-

These rankings include players that fit both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. This is a preliminary ranking and players could move up or down based on off-season performances and both on and off-field characteristics that may come to light between now and draft day. Rankings currently reflect the Top 25 but I hope to add to this list as we go through the NFL Draft process. For now this is where I currently rank each player, enjoy!

Rank Position Player Name School Height Weight Year Projected Round
1 DE Quinton Coples North Carolina 6’5 281 Senior Top 12 Overall
2 DE Michael Brockers LSU 6’5 305 Sophomore Round 1
3 DE Fletcher Cox Mississippi State 6’4 295 Junior Round 1
4 DE Melvin Ingram South Carolina 6’1 276 Senior Round 1
5 DE Courtney Upshaw Alabama 6’1 273 Senior Round 1
6 DE Nick Perry USC 6’3 250 Junior Round 1-2
7 DE Andre Branch Clemson 6’4 260 Senior Round 1-2
8 DE Vinny Curry Marshall 6’3 265 Senior Round 2
9 DE Jared Crick Nebraska 6’4 285 Senior Round 2
10 DE Malik Jackson Tennessee 6’4 285 Senior Round 2
11 DE Whitney Mercilus Illinois 6’4 265 Junior Round 2
12 DE Devon Still Penn State 6’4 310 Senior Round 2-3
13 DE Cam Johnson Virginia 6’3 270 Senior Round 3
14 DE Derek Wolfe Cincinnati 6’5 286 Senior Round 3
15 DE Chandler Jones Syracuse 6’4 265 Junior Round 3
16 DE Billy Winn Boise State 6’3 295 Senior Round 3
17 DE Kendall Reyes Connecticut 6’3 300 Senior Round 3
18 DE Trevor Guyton Arizona State 6’2 280 Senior Round 3-4
19 DE Shea McClellin Boise State 6’3 248 Senior Round 4
20 DE Jake Bequette Arkansas 6’4 264 Senior Round 4
21 DE Tyrone Crawford Boise State 6’4 285 Senior Round 4
22 DE Brett Roy Nevada 6’3 275 Senior Round 4-5
23 DE Jack Crawford Penn State 6’4 268 Senior Round 5
24 DE Frank Alexander Oklahoma 6’3 255 Senior Round 5
25 DE Logan Harrell Fresno State 6’2 276 Senior Round 5-6

 

-Thanks for reading my post, hope you enjoyed!-

– Brandon

These rankings include players that fit both a 3-4 and 4-3 defense. This is a preliminary ranking and players could move up or down based on off-season performances and both on and off-field characteristics that may come to light between now and draft day. Rankings currently reflect the Top 25 but I hope to add to this list as we go through the NFL Draft process. For now this is where I currently rank each player, enjoy!

Rank Position Player Name School Height Weight Year Projected Round
1 LB Courtney Upshaw Alabama 6’1 273 Senior Top 12 Overall
2 LB Nick Perry USC 6’3 250 Junior Round 1
3 LB Melvin Ingram South Carolina 6’1 276 Senior Round 1
4 LB Lavonte David Nebraska 6’0 225 Senior Round 1-2
5 LB Ronnell Lewis Oklahoma 6’2 244 Junior Round 2
6 LB Andre Branch Clemson 6’4 260 Senior Round 2
7 LB Cam Johnson Virginia 6’3 270 Senior Round 2
8 LB Bobby Wagner Utah State 6’0 241 Senior Round 2
9 LB Zach Brown North Carolina 6’1 236 Senior Round 2
10 LB Sean Spence Miami 5’11 228 Senior Round 2-3
11 LB Whitney Mercilus Illinois 6’4 265 Junior Round 2-3
12 LB Shea McClellin Boise State 6’3 248 Senior Round 3
13 LB Bruce Irvin West Virginia 6’2 245 Senior Round 3
14 LB Travis Lewis Oklahoma 6’2 228 Senior Round 3
15 LB Terrell Manning NC State 6’2 225 Junior Round 3-4
16 LB Jonathon Massoquai Troy 6’2 250 Junior Round 3-4
17 LB Nigel Bradham Florida State 6’1 237 Senior Round 3-4
18 LB Josh Kaddu Oregon 6’3 236 Senior Round 3-4
19 LB Jake Bequette Arkansas 6’4 264 Senior Round 3-4
20 LB Brandon Lindsey Pittsburgh 6’2 255 Senior Round 4
21 LB Keenan Robinson Texas 6’3 240 Senior Round 4
22 LB Kyle Wilbur Wake Forest 6’4 245 Senior Round 4-5
23 LB Emmanuel Acho Texas 6’1 235 Senior Round 5
24 LB Tyler Nielson Iowa 6’3 235 Senior Round 5-6
25 LB Adrian Robinson Temple 6’2 250 Senior Round 6

 

-Hope you enjoyed this post, thanks for reading!-

– Brandon