Posts Tagged ‘Von Miller’

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.

Advertisements

Post All-Star/Pre-Combine Mock Draft:

Posted: February 7, 2012 in 2012 NFL Mock Draft
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The official draft order is nearly all but set, and with just over two weeks until the start of the 2012 NFL Combine I have come out with my 2nd mock draft of the season. These projections are based on specific team needs and the value each player presents to the prospective team I have matched them up with. I would love to hear any input or feedback you have about your favorite teams pick as I am constantly searching for ideas on who should go where. Hope you enjoy the content!

1- Indianapolis Colts: QB Andrew Luck

The more we hear about Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts decision to pick up his contract or not, the more I feel like they will choose to let him walk and take the best quarterback prospect to come out since Peyton in Stanford’s Andrew Luck.

2- St. Louis Rams: OT Matt Kalil

The Rams could choose to trade down here but I think it would be wise of them to invest in a franchise left tackle like Kalil. Sam Bradford was abused last season and although they need to add pass catchers, protecting their investment is much more important…not to mention this is a deep draft class for wide receivers and franchise left tackles are much harder to find than #1 wide receivers. Bradford has been sacked over 2.5 times per game in his 26 career starts with the Rams.

*3- Washington Redskins: QB Robert Griffin III

*Projected Trade w/Vikings

Normally I don’t like to include trades within my mock drafts but the Vikings lost out on Kalil and could stand to add draft picks, while teams like the Redskins will be looking to trade up to get in front of the Browns for the opportunity to select dynamic play-maker Robert Griffin III. The Redskins have seen what a player like Michael Vick can bring to the table in the NFC East and will jump at the opportunity to add one of the most exciting players in this draft.

4- Cleveland Browns: RB Trent Richardson

The Browns lose out on RG3 but find a dynamic player themselves in Richardson, who can get the running game going and help out Colt McCoy and the struggling offense. Peyton Hillis has fallen out of favor in Cleveland and Montario Hardesty has shown and done little with the opportunities he has been given to this point. The Browns aren’t quite ready to give up on Colt McCoy before they provide him with some play makers on offense, and adding Richardson’s services will surely help open up the passing game.

5- Tampa Bay Bucanneers: CB Morris Clairborne

In a division against teams like the Saints, Falcons, and Panthers who all have dynamic offenses and key players at the skill positions, the Buccaneers would prove wise to invest in secondary players who can limit these dynamic offenses. Clairborne is a potential shut-down corner who has great length and ball skills. Clairborne can come in and immediately start for a secondary that is becoming somewhat devoid of talent.

*6- Minnesota Vikings: OT Riley Reiff

*Projected trade w/Redskins

The Vikings missed out on Kalil but are able to move back and secure some picks for their future, while nabbing the 2nd best offensive tackle prospect in this draft. Reiff is a mid-western guy who excelled at wrestling at his high school in South Dakota. Reiff can immediately come in and start at right tackle for the Vikings, with the potential to move to the left side as he gains more experience. Justin Blackmon is an enticing option for the Vikings but protecting Christian Ponder is far more important to his development, as they will be able to secure a good wide receiver with later picks and potentially move back up into the first with the picks they would receive from the Redskins if they so choose.

7- Jacksonville Jaguars: DE Quinton Coples

Another tough decision for the Jaguars as Justin Blackmon is still available. However, the Jags choose to go in a different direction as Coples presents the most value. I think Blackmon will fall some after a disappointing showing in the 40 yard dash at the Combine so Coples is the choice here.

*8- Carolina Panthers: DT/DE Michael Brockers

*Picks 8 & 9 determined by coin flip

The offense got a big boost with the addition of Cam Newton and resurgence of Steve Smith at the wide receiver position so management chooses to address the defense this season. Brockers is a tall and big defensive lineman who can play in multiple schemes. He is a bit raw as a pass rusher and needs to develop more consistency, but Brocker’s upside is undeniable. Brockers has Richard Seymour type upside and with experience and coaching could become one of the better run stoppers in the league for a team who struggled to stop the run all season.

*9- Miami Dolphins: DE/OLB Melvin Ingram

*Picks 8 & 9 determined by coin flip

The Dolphins lack a quality pass rusher outside of Cameron Wake so they decide to choose one of the most dynamic and versatile defensive players in this entire draft. Ingram has explosive burst and is an incredible athlete for his size, who has the added capability to line up all over the defensive line and attack the oppositions quarterback from multiple angles. Ingram is an intriguing pawn piece for any defensive coordinator, especially those who are creative.

10- Buffalo Bills: OLB Courtney Upshaw

Perhaps the premier outside linebacker in this draft, Upshaw plays the run and pass very well and shows great understatement of leverage and how to disengage. He is incredibly effective a turning speed into power and although the Bills could use some help on the offensive side of the ball, Upshaw is just too good to pass up at this point.

*11- Kansas City Chiefs: OG David DeCastro

*Picks 11 & 12 determined by coin flip

Just falling out of the top 10, DeCastro is one of the best interior lineman to come out in quite some time. The running game is very important to the Chiefs offensive philosophy and although a Tackle like DeCastro’s team-mate Jonathon Martin could make some sense here; DeCastro is the better player of the two and presents the most value.

*12- Seattle Seahawks: QB Ryan Tannehill

*Picks 11 & 12 determined by coin flip

Pete Carrol has been tap dancing around selecting a franchise quarterback and it’s time he finally pulls the trigger and finds his franchise signal caller. Tannehill has a lot of tools to work with and a ton of upside as a passer, however he does need time and would be best served to sit an learn for a season before taking the reigns. Tannehill only has 19 career starts after playing Wide Receiver for the Aggies his first two seasons at Texas A&M.

13- Arizona Cardinals: OT Jonathon Martin

Although I am not sold on Martin becoming a left tackle in the NFL there is no doubting his run blocking abilities and should be an instant fit/upgrade over incumbent starter Levi Brown.

14- Dallas Cowboys: CB Janoris Jenkins

An almost forgotten man, Jenkins shined during Senior Bowl week and is heading in the right direction. The Cowboys need to address the secondary and upgrade the talent on the back-end. Jenkins has fluid hips and displays sound footwork and balance. If Jenkins can clear his name and get people to forgive and forget his past that lead him to being dismissed from the Florida football team he could wind up in the top 20 selections.

15- Philadelphia Eagles: LB Luke Kuechly

One of the biggest weaknesses of the Eagles defense this season was the play of the linebackers as they were consistently washed out and became liabilities against the run. It’s clear that Casey Matthews isn’t the answer at liddle Linebacker and adding a player with Kuechly’s instincts and recognition skills would be a step in the right direction for a team that struggled to find their defensive identity all season.

16- New York Jets: WR Justin Blackmon

Blackmon’s free fall finally stops with the Jets as he presents great value at this point for a team in need of some pass catchers. Plaxico Burress is unlikely to resign and Holmes criticism of quarterback Mark Sanchez has put him in the doghouse as  locker room disruption. Blackmon is not overly fast or athletic and will disappoint in the 40 yard dash at the Combine at Indy. Nevertheless, Blackmon can become a reliable red-zone target for a team that struggled in the red-zone last season.

17- Cincinnati Bengals (From Raiders): CB Dre Kirkpatrick

A recent drug related arrest in which charges were dropped still has Kirkpatrick’s maturity and character in question. However, teams like the Bengals have generally looked past these off the field issues. Kirkpatrick is long, athletic, and physical and fills a big need for the Bengals after losing Jonathon Joseph to free agency last season and Leon Hall this season to an achilles injury.

18- San Diego Chargers: DE/OLB Whitney Mercilus

The Chargers are in desperate need of a pass rush and former first round pick Larry English has not worked out and has disappointed to this point in his career. Mercilus put up huge numbers this season after accumulating 16 sacks, 9 forced fumbles, and 22.5 tackles for a loss. Mercilus will likely be asked to switch positions and play 3-4 outside linebacker so it will be imperative that he can make the switch, so be sure to pay close attention to this during the upcoming Combine.

19- Chicago Bears: WR Michael Floyd

The Bears have put off drafting a top talent wide receiver prospect for Jay Cutler for far too long, so now is the time to add a big playmaker. Floyd has great size and can become the big play threat the Bears have been lacking on offense at the position for quite some time. Martz is out and Mike Tice has taken over the reigns and will surely pounce at the opportunity to add a player of Floyd’s caliber.

20- Tennessee Titans: DT Devon Still

The Titans have long been looking for Albert Hayneworth’s replacement, even after rookies Karl Klug and Jurrell Casey have demonstrated some success and ability in their first seasons. Still is a massive man with loads of upside due to his impressive size and strength. Still has powerfully violent hands, can stack and shed, and knows how to knife into the opponent’s backfield. He needs to develop more consistency but has too much upside to pass up.

21- Cincinnati Bengals: RB Doug Martin

Doug Martin enjoyed a very successful trip to the Senior Bowl and has opened up some eyes in the scouting community. Martin is built low to the ground and exhibits a powerful enough lower body to fight through contact and break arm tackles. He is also an effective receiver out of the backfield who would add another wrinkle/dimension to the Bengals suddenly potent offense with the likes of Dalton and Green.

22- Cleveland Browns (From Falcons): WR Kendall Wright

The Browns continue to add playmakers around Colt McCoy with the addition of Wright. Wright has incredible speed and athleticism and is capable of stretching the defense vertically to hit the home run. His ability to make plays all over the field is incredibly enticing and he should shine during his Combine performances. The run on wide receivers is beginning so it wouldn’t be shocking to see a rush on them at this point in the draft, with teams looking to move up to secure their rights.

23- Detroit Lions: OG/OT Cordy Glenn

The Lions have avoided adding offensive lineman and now is the time to invest with a great young player at quarterback and expiring and aging players at key positions on the offensive front (Backus, Raiola). Glenn is a mammoth human being with an incredible wingspan and natural feet and balance. He proved well at the Senior Bowl and looks to be able to play multiple positions along the offensive line which will only add to his value.

24- Pittsburgh Steelers: OT Mike Adams

Mike Adams was probably the biggest beneficiary of the Senior Bowl and is now beginning his ascension up NFL Draft Boards. The Steelers have a great need along the offensive front to help protect their ailing quarterback Ben Roethlesberger and Mike Adams can come in and contribute his rookie season.

25- Denver Broncos: DT Fletcher Cox

The Broncos struck gold with pass rush specialist Von Miller last season but now must get bigger up front and provide more of an inside pass rush. Cox can do this thanks to his superior motor and hustle on every play. He’s a versatile defensive lineman who can line up along a couple positions on the defensive line and would greatly help out a team in need of an inside presence. The Broncos could also consider Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy.

26- Houston Texans: S Mark Barron

The Texans defense flourished under first year defensive coordinator Wade Phillips but can stand to get better yet. Adding a player like Barron would give the secondary another playmaker capable of helping out against both the run and pass. Barron has recently been linked to a double sports hernia that could keep him out into July/August, which could greatly affect his draft stock moving forward.

27- New England Patriots (From New Orleans): WR Alshon Jeffrey

The New England Patriots were exposed in the Super Bowl for a couple different reasons, but a lack of a big time playmaker in the receiving game certainly did not help. Jeffrey is a big bodied receiver who excelled during his Sophomore season at South Carolina but failed to make the same impact this season. Adding a player with Jeffrey’s skill set would add another dimension to this highly explosive offense and give them another reliable red-zone option outside of Rob Gronkowski. Bill Bellicheck loves boom or bust type players and the risk here is relatively low while the rewards could be infinite.

28- Green Bay Packers: OLB/DE Nick Perry

The Packers have nearly everything they need outside of a big time Running Back on offense, but could use another pass rusher to take some of the pressure and attention off of Clay Matthews. Perry played 4-3 defensive end at USC but looks to have the agility and athleticism to make the move to 3-4 Outside Linebacker in the NFL. Perry is extremely quick off the snap and shows natural burst as a pass rusher off the edge. Perry needs work playing against the run but he is more than capable of giving the Packers another pass rush specialist outside of the “Claymaker”.

29- Baltimore Ravens: LB Vontaze Burfict

Everyone is aware of Burfict’s on field antics that have gotten him in trouble and lead to his attitude and character becoming in question. Burfict needs structure and support by a veteran based group of players that can lead him down the right road so to speak. A player of Ray Lewis’s caliber can do this for the young and somewhat immature Burfict, as there is little doubting his physical abilities to become a special player…he just needs leadership and guidance which the Ravens organization can definitely offer.

30- San Francisco 49er’s: WR Mohamed Sanu

One of the biggest surprises this season was the performance of the 49er’s under first year head coach Jim Harbaugh, who came up one win shy of playing in the Super Bowl. Adding a player like Sanu to help out the 49er’s inept passing game is a must this off-season, whether it be through the draft or free agency. Sanu brings a physical precense to the position and is a very reliable target with sure hands. His toughness and downfield blocking ability is something Harbabugh will appreciate as it fits the mold the 49er’s are trying to establish.

31- New England Patriots: DE/DT Jared Crick

The Patriots have struggled to find a replacement on the defensive line who can make the sort of impact Richard Seymour had during his time in New England. Crick would have went higher but a season ending injury has set him back some, making him available for the Patriots here. Crick is a big bodied player who has the versatility to play inside or out and fit multiple schemes. Crick appears to be the type of player Bellichick tends to fall in love with as he has loads of upside if he can overcome his past injury issues.

32- New York Giants: TE Dwayne Allen

The defending Super Bowl champions have other needs such as ILB, CB, and OT but Tight End becomes an even greater need after critical knee injuries to both Jake Ballard and Tony Beckum in the Super Bowl. Allen is considered the most complete Tight End because of his ability to line up on as an in-line blocker, while also showing the versatility and athleticism to stretch the seam and become a reliable down field target. The Giants could also consider LB Dont’a Hightower with their first pick.

-Hope you enjoyed this post-

-Brandon

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

Introduction:

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

Grading Scale:

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

Size/Measurables:

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

Grade: 2.5

Instincts/Recognition:

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

Grade: 4

Pursuit/Range:

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

Grade: 3.75

Tackling:

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

Grade: 3.5

Coverage:

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

Grade: 3

Point of Attack:

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

Grade: 4.5

Blitzing/Pass Rush:

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

Grade: 4.25

Intangibles:

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

Grade: 3

Overall Grade:

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

Projection:

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

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

Brandon

Virginia Tech RB David Wilson-

David Wilson's incredible blend of speed, balance, and burst make him a supremely gifted and talented athlete. However, he still has some holes in his game that will need to be cleaned up before I can proclaim him as a future 1st round draft pick.

David Wilson has had a very solid Junior season in Blacksburg with 1627 yds. on 266 carries with 9 td’s (10 overall). Although he has yet to declare for the 2012 NFL Draft like other ACC standout RB Lamar Miller already has, Wilson will have a very tough decision to make considering his increasing draft stock. In past games I have watched of Wilson he has displayed an excellent blend of balance, speed, and burst. His ability to finish runs and continue to make yards after contact make him a very special weapon as well. In this game Wilson showed the same type of burst and top-end speed that makes him a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball. However, he still struggles to try and bounce things outside far too often and really believes in his speed too much at times. Playing against a defense like North Carolina really put this issue on full display as Wilson tried to force things outside against a defense that was just too fast and too disciplined to allow Wilson any running room inside or out throughout the game. This to me is the biggest difference to me between Wilson and Miller as Miller consistently takes what the defense gives him and gets up field in a hurry. I would like to see Wilson attack the line of scrimmage with more authority instead of bouncing it outside, trying to create something that isn’t there. It should also be noted that Wilson had done much of his damage against inferior competition in playing early season games against teams like Appalachian State, East Carolina, and Marshall. In this game he faced a legitimate defense with speed and talent and struggled to make an impact, which could be a concern depending on your vantage point. Wilson also showed a lack of blitz pick-up by more or less letting LB Zach Brown get to the QB, resulting in an errant and dangerous throw. I need to see him be much more physical and take on defenders to protect his QB before writing him off as a complete player and potential first round prospect. Wilson also had some ball-security issues in this game, coughing it up twice although one was not called a fumble and the other was luckily recovered by Virginia Tech. The skill is there for Wilson, but is obvious he is not yet there as a prospect as he is not as talented as former Virgina Tech RB Ryan Williams who went on to become a 2nd round pick last year.

Virginia Tech WR Jarrett Boykin-

Boykin is an intriguing prospect with size and speed. He shows the natural ability to make the tough catch look easy and seems to do the small things that make all the difference for his team.

Boykin is a player who has caught my eye on multiple occasions in the past and he continued to impress in this game. Boykin has an impressive frame standing 6-2 215 lbs. In this game Boykin really displayed his field awareness and natural hands as he routinely plucked the ball away from his frame and showed the uncanny ability to make the tough catch look easy. At times he has a tendency to let the ball get into his pads, but he seems to have above average mits for a WR at the next level. I love how he always knows where he is on the field at all times and comes down in bounds no matter where his body is in space. To me this is a skill that cannot be taught and shows just how much work he has put in to work on his superior concentration and receiving skills. Boykin also shows the ability to make plays both on the short and long routes, speaking largely about his ability to become a legitimate weapon at the next level. Boykin has already become Tech’s all-time leading receiver and his future sure seems bright as I see him becoming a solid #3 WR at the next level. Boykin is a player who does all the small things right, including working to make blocks downfield to spring his team-mates for a few extra yards. I have also noticed that Boykin has above average to good top-end speed to separate from defenders and his ability to create after the catch is also a plus in his book. Overall I like Boykin and think he will find a way to contribute at the next level in what is already a deep WR class. Somebody very well could be getting a steal with a player like Boykin in the 4th round or later.

Virginia Tech CB Jayron Hosley-

Hosley plays with a chip on his shoulder and shows a lot of heart, however his size might limit his effectiveness and ability to become a starter at the next level.

Hosley had a strong game overall and seemed to really be competing and bringing his A-game against one of the better receivers in the nation in North Carolina WR Dwight Jones. Hosley has a slight frame at 5-10 170 lbs., but seemed to be playing with a chip on his shoulder as he would not back down from anyone tonight. Hosley routinely came up in run support and did an above average job in taking down the ball-carrier, although he did miss on one occasion. He seems to be a reliable open field tackler who knows that the low man usually wins, as he consistently attacks his opponents by cutting their legs out from under them. On one pass down the sideline to Jones, Hosley failed to turn his head and locate the ball, although it was later concluded that Jones had actually pushed off to gain separation and offensive pass interference was called. Despite this I would still like to see Hosley get his head around much quicker, even if he was interfered with. Hosley seems to be most comfortable playing off coverage in a zone coverage scheme where he can mask some of his size deficiencies and convert on his skills to make a play on the football. On ca couple of occasions in this game Hosley did an exceptional job in playing the football and breaking up the pass. He shows above average awareness and ball skills to consistently bat balls away without drawing contact or costly pass interference calls. I have always had somewhat of a soft spot for undersized players who play with a lot of toughness and heart and that is exactly the type of player Hosley showed me he is with his play tonight. However, it will be difficult for Hosley to match up with taller more physical receivers due to his lack of great size or length. I love his toughness and attitude I’m just not sure he can match up with these type of players in the NFL on a consistent basis quite yet….more tape and information is needed before I can make this claim/assumption.

North Carolina DE Quinton Coples-

Quinton Coples displays an impressive combination of size, length, and strength. While he may not be a true edge rusher, Coples is one of the most complete players in this draft and should come off the board early.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Coples is his frame standing a strong 6-6 285 lbs. Coples numbers are down this year but that can largely be attributed to the double and even triple teams he has experienced at times this season. Teams are also doing a good job of using their RB’s to help chip before releasing out into their routes on Coples. Despite all this Coples numbers aren’t down that much and he has really starting to come on as of late. In this game Coples was in complete control and it was very easy to see his natural ability to effect the play on any down. One thing you notice when watching Coples is that he doesn’t exactly display the type of elite burst or get-off the line of scrimmage you would expect from an elite pass-rusher. You also notice that Coples tends to fire out of his stance a little high and his upright style can get him in trouble from time to time. This is not to say that Coples doesn’t display great athleticism and speed for his size, just that his burst and explosion off the line of scrimmage is not enough for tackles to be truely concerned with his speed around the corner. The area Coples excels at is utilizing his body and hands to create space between he and his defender to continually work the edge and force the QB up into the pocket. Coples is extremely effective at using his body lean and tight footwork/ankle flexibility to get below his opponent’s shoulder pads. He shows that he is very balanced, coordinated, and flexible and knows how to get after the QB despite his lack of true speed. In the run game Coples is your classic stack and shed player who knows how to hold the point and use his hands and leverage to routinely disengage from his defender and track down the ball carrier. Coples also did a nice job wrapping up and punching towards the football as he was able to jar the ball loose from RB David Wilson on more than one occasion in this game. Scouts have questioned Coples motor as he sometimes will stop pursuing and doesn’t show the type of consistent effort you would like from a top 10 player. However, in this game I saw a bit of both as Coples slowed up at times and at others kept pursuing to the football laying a vicious hit on an unexpecting RB on one occasion. It was also nice to see Coples get his hands up and deflect a pass when he knew he wasn’t going to make it to the QB. This was a game in which Virginia Tech left Coples in one on one situation more times than not and we saw exactly how impactful this big man can be when given these types of opportunities. There is no doubting Coples physical abilities and overall skills as he has the talent to become an impact player at the next level. While Coples may never be that true edge rusher in the NFL who puts up huge sack numbers, he has solid skills and size that will make him a very good pro. His ability to make an impact in both the run and pass game make him a complete player who can play all three downs as well. While he may not be the top 10 pick many projected him to be, this is still a very solid football player who should be the first player drafted at his position and come off the board within the top 15 picks if not sooner.

North Carolina LB Zach Brown-

There is little doubting Zach Brown's coverage and blitzing ability as he shows impressive burst and closing speed to get after the QB. However, his slight frame and inability to make much of an impact against the run has to concern most scouts and teams.

The “Zach Brown Band” as I like to call him displays incredible athleticism, however his size is a meer 6-2 230 lbs. One of things you have to appreciate about Brown is his coverage ability as he seems to feel very natural and comfortable settling into coverage. Brown has safety speed and cover skills to pick up backs coming out of the backfield and shows the ability to turn and run with players vertically when asked to. Brown is also an effective blitzer whose closing speed and acceleration/burst to get after the QB is second to none in this linebacker class and has even drawn comparisons to potential Defensive Rookie of the Year Von Miller now with the Denver Broncos. Brown’s knack for getting in the backfield and disrupting timing and passing lanes is something that cannot be taught and comes very natural to him. I would like to see him be utilized more in this capacity at UNC as I don’t believe his 5.5 sacks on the year do him any justice in this department and his skill-set could be used better by the Tarheel’s coaching staff. The questions I have in regards to Brown come in his ability to make any sort of impact in the run game. His smallish frame makes him an easy target for downfield blockers and most of his tackles happen down the field. He needs to become more aggressive and show me the type of instincts to consistently make plays in the backfield and disrupt plays before they happen. I will say that Brown is a pretty slippery player who knows how to avoid blocks and escape oncoming defenders, however I would like to see him stick his head in the play more often and show the type of aggressiveness and willingness to make an impact in the running game. Right now I am up in the air on Brown as I feel he has a very unique skill-set with his ability as a blitzer and player in coverage, but his ineffectiveness in the running game concerns me to a degree. Brown natural fit is at weak side linebacker in a 4-3 scheme and it will be imperative that whoever drafts him has the players up front to keep him clean and best utilize his skills in the areas of blitzing and coverage.

North Carolina WR Dwight Jones-

Dwight Jones had a lack-luster game overall and his effort in this game left a lot to be desired. I will be watching closely to see how he responds in his bowl game against Missouri on December 26th.

If there is one thing this draft has a ton of talent and size at it is at the WR position where Jones is one of many who displays great body size at 6-4 225 lbs. Lets just say this wasn’t one of Jones better games, although he was able to eclipse the 100 yard mark for the 5th time this season. One thing that has concerned me in the past about Jones is his tendency to let the ball get into his body and trap the ball against his shoulder pads. Jones did this again on a couple of occasions in this game resulting in one drop and a bobbled ball which he was able to haul in just before heading out-of-bounds. This shows me he doesn’t always trust his hands despite his impressive hand size. I need to see Jones pluck the ball away from his frame and show the natural hands that many other WR’s in this draft possess. I also came away unimpressed in Jones effort blocking downfield to help spring his team-mates. His angles and commitment seemed lack luster and truthfully half-ass and as if he was simply going through the motions at times. This definitely needs to change if he is going to get a complete grade from me as I need/want to see more effort to become an all around WR who helps out on plays he isn’t the necessarily the focus of the defense on. At one point Jones did make a nice catch in traffic along the sidelines but was subsequently called for an offensive pass interference for pushing off his defender to create separation. I’m not quite sold on Jones deep speed or acceleration/burst just yet, but that will come with more film work, when I can get a better feel for him overall as an NFL prospect. This was not the type of game I expected from Jones who is considered one of the better WR prospects in this draft. I will be watching closely to see how he follows up this performance against Missouri in the Independence Bowl December 26th, 2011.

North Carolina G Jonathon Cooper-

North Carolina Guard Jonathon Cooper plays with very good technique and his quick feet/athleticism are a strength that give him an advantage in both the run and pass game.

Jonathon Cooper was a player who caught my eye in this game and for very good reason. The area Cooper excels in is his ability to shuffle and move his feet as he shows the type of nimbleness and lateral agility to consistently get him in great position to execute his block. Cooper is extremely light on his feet and always keeps his feet moving and shuffling, allowing him to re-direct and re-set quickly. He also plays with good overall technique, always maintaining a wide base and active hands, although he could stand to drop his butt more as he is somewhat of a waist bender. The other area that was impressive to me was Cooper’s ability to fire low out of his stance and gain initial leverage and position on his opponent, allowing him to consistently seal off his player from the ball. Jonathon’s ability to keep his pad level low and keep chopping his feet allowed him to consistently move his defender off the ball and create room to run for his back. In the pass game Cooper displays good patience and gets good arm extension to wall-off his defender from his body. I wouldn’t say that Cooper displays a powerful punch or over-powering strength, but his sound technique and active/good hand placement allows him to control his defender on a relatively consistent basis. Cooper also did some pulling in this game and was extremely effective at getting out in front and locking onto the first defender. He did a nice job breaking down while hitting a moving target, although he was somewhat over-anxious on occasion to pre-maturely release to the 2nd level and was thus called for an ineligible player down the field penalty. The other thing I liked was how he always seemed to play with his head on a swivel, actively searching for and picking up players who threaten his zone on combination blocks. Cooper is definitely a player you can trust to use out in space and get out in front of his runner on screens, due to his supreme athleticism and quick feet. Cooper is a player I am excited to watch more film on as he shows a very good skill set that translates nicely to the pro game. Right now Cooper is a better run blocker that pass blocker at this point, but shows good enough ability in the passing game to be effective. Watch out for Cooper if he declares to be a player who might move into the top 100 selections before it’s all said and done and surprise some people who unaware about this big man’s pro potential.