|The Scouting Blog|
In this edition of the scouting blog, I will be previewing the top linebackers available for the 2014 NFL Draft. Next year's draft has more talent at the position than in the past several years.
Anthony Barr (UCLA)
He is an athletic LB with sideline-to-sideline speed. Barr uses his quick first step to wreak havoc behind the line of scrimmage. He is a hard-worker and has a non-stop motor. He can play in a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense at the next level. He will be the first linebacker off the board.
C.J. Mosley (Alabama)
He is a complete linebacker. He has a nose for the ball. Mosley has great instincts to go along with very good speed. He is the best coverage LB available in the draft. He is also the leader of the defense. He has the versatility to play inside in a 3-4 or outside in a 4-3.
Khalil Mack (Buffalo)
Mack is a relentless pass rusher. He plays with a physical presense. He can win with speed or power. He has also shown good coverage ability. Mack had his best game of the season on opening weekend against Ohio State. In fact, he has played his best football against top competition. He projects best as an OLB in a 3-4 defense.
Kyle Van Noy (BYU)
He has been a big-time playmaker at BYU. Van Noy displays very good instincts and a quick first step. He knows how to use his hands and plays with good leverage. He is extremely disciplined and maintains his gap responsibility. His best fit at the next level would be as an OLB in a 4-3 because of his lack of strength.
Trent Murphy (Stanford)
He has ideal size and strength. Murphy is very strong at the point of attack. He has long arms and does a good job shedding blocks. He is a playmaker with a non-stop motor. Some teams will project him as a traditional defensive end in a 4-3 scheme, but I think that he projects best as a pass rusher in a 3-4.
Trevor Reilly (Utah)
He is a versatile player. Reilly plays with his hand on the ground and as a stand-up LB for the Utes. He is a pass rusher that is relentless in pursuit. He is a much better athlete than he is given credit for. He shows good awareness and looks fluid in coverage. Reilly also has impressive agility. He is a tough and hard-nosed player.
Christian Jones (Florida State)
Jones has the size, the athleticism and great speed. He has displayed the ability to cover tight ends, running backs and even slot receivers. However, his instincts are a bit questionable. He has played better this season since making the switch to defensive end. Jones is versatile and can play multiple positions in a 4-3 defense at the next level.
Lamin Barrow (LSU)
He is an athletic linebacker with good speed. He makes plays all over the field. Barrow displays fluid hips in pass defense and covers a lot of ground. He is also a leader of LSU's defense this year. But he tends to go for the big hit and needs to improve his tackling technique. Weak side LB in a 4-3 defense would be his best position at the next level.
Shayne Skov (Stanford)
Skov has played well this season. He finally looks healthy out there after struggling last year. He is a tough, hard-nosed LB. He excels against the run. He shows great instincts. Skov is an underrated athlete that shows good awareness in coverage. He looks like a 3-4 ILB at the next level.
Max Bullough (Michigan State)
He is a physical, tough and instinctive middle linebacker. Bullough is a very good run defender. He diagnoses plays very quickly. He does a good job shedding blocks. He is the unquestioned leader of the defense and shows a good understanding of the game. He is similar to Paul Posluszny. He is an ideal fit at MLB in a 4-3 scheme.
Avery Williamson (Kentucky)
He is not the biggest or the fastest linebacker in the country, but he just makes plays all over the field. He is a tackling machine. He also displays good instincts. Williamson is a hard-hitting backer with surprising strength. He takes on blockers and knows how to use his hands well. He would be a good fit at ILB in a 3-4 scheme.
Ryan Shazier (Ohio State)
Shazier is one of the fastest linebackers in next year's draft. He has great closing speed. He is also an instinctive LB that shows the ability to deliver the big hit. He is a good open field tackler. He has also become a more effective blitzer this year. He has a non-stop motor. He is strictly a 4-3 OLB at the next level.
Carl Bradford (Arizona State)
He is a very disruptive pass rusher. Bradford has an explosive first step and impressive strength that he uses to wreak havoc in the opponent's backfield. He plays with good leverage and is able to shed blocks. He is also a freakish athlete and shows great closing speed. He is a 3-4 OLB at the next level.
Yawin Smallwood (UConn)
Smallwood is the best inside linebacker in the country. He makes plays all over the field. He is a tough guy with excellent instincts and good speed. He is a good wrap up tackler. He will fight through the trash. Smallwood also displays good awareness in coverage. He is a complete backer. He would make a terrific 3-4 ILB in the pros.
A.J. Johnson (Tennessee)
He has been a productive player for the Vols. He has the size and strength to play immediately. Johnson is a good run defender. However, he has average speed and struggles in changing directions. He has tight hips and is a liability in coverage. He is strictly an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense.
Perryman is an undersized, instinctive LB with terrific speed. He is a very good wrap-up tackler. He takes excellent angles especially in the run game. He displays good awareness in coverage. He plays middle linebacker for Miami, but he projects best as a weak side LB in a 4-3 at the next level.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I look at some underrated players that have caught my eye this season.
Junior QB Sean Mannion (Oregon State)
This is a player that deserves to be mentioned along with the other top tier quarterbacks in the nation. He has been very productive during his junior season after struggling with his accuracy and decision making the last two seasons. Mannion has already thrown for 2,511 yards, 25 TD's and only three INT's during the first six games of this season. He is a classic drop back passer with ideal size and a strong arm. He operates in a pro-style offense and uses playaction fakes effectively. He has shown good field vision this year. Mannion spreads the ball around to tight ends and backs out of the backfield. Most importantly, he shows great poise in the pocket. He needs to continue to trust his reads and make good decisions with the football. He also has to improve his footwork that is still shaky at times.
Senior RB Senorise Perry (Lousiville)
Perry tore his ACL and missed the final three games of the 2012 season. But he came back to full strength before the opening game against Ohio this year. He displays good vision. He is a patient runner and waits for his blocks to develop. Perry has quick feet and has the speed to bounce it outside consistently. He is also a good receiver out of the backfield. He is an underrated back that has always caught my eye.
Senior WR L'Damian Washington (Missouri)
He is having a breakout senior campaign. He is finally living up to his measurables. Washington has ideal size and blazing speed. He is a dangerous vertical threat. He is also a physical receiver that shows the willingness to go over the middle. He has strong hands, displays good concentration and is an underrated blocker. Washington's draft stock will be on the rise in the postseason.
Senior ILB Avery Williamson (Kentucky)
Williamson is a tackling machine. He is a terrific run defender. He is an extremely instinctive linebacker and a good wrap up tackler. He gets good depth on his drops in coverage. He is also the leader of the defense. Williamson is not the biggest or the fastest player, but he makes plays all over the field. I currently have a third round grade on him.
Senior CB Jemea Thomas (Georgia Tech)
An undersized, versatile defensive back that has played corner and safety during his career. Thomas is a feisty, physical player that is always around the ball. He has natural ball skills and good speed. He is also reliable against the run and will deliver the big hit from time to time. Thomas is a good blitzer. He would make an excellent slot corner at the next level.
Senior Safety Sean Parker (Washington)
Parker is one of the better senior safety prospects in the nation. He is a playmaker. He is a ball-hawking safety with good range. He shows good awareness in coverage. He is also a punisher hitter. However, he is undersized and he also needs to improve his open field tackling. This will hold him back from being drafted in the first two rounds.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I focus on the redshirt sophomore prospects that can greatly affect the 2014 Draft if they decide to declare early.
QB Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M)
Manziel is an incredible playmaker. He has very good speed and is elusive in the open field. He makes spectacular plays on a regular basis. He has improved his accuracy this year. But he still needs to work on his decision making. I will be extremely surprised if Manziel didn't enter the 2014 Draft.
QB Brett Hundley (UCLA)
Aside from Bridgewater, Hundley is the most talented QB available in next year's draft. He is a dual threat. He has very good arm strength. Hundley shows good anticipation on his throws. He is a leader. Pocket awareness remains a weakness for him.
QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon)
He is an athletic, dual threat QB with good size. He spreads the ball around to different receivers. Mariota also uses tight ends and his backs out of the backfield. He makes good decisions with the football. He is also very calm under pressure. However, he needs to improve his footwork. His accuracy has also been shaky early this season.
RB Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin)
Gordon is one of the top backs in the nation. He has a good combination of size and speed. He is a big play threat. He shows the ability to bounce it outside. Gordon also runs the ball with power. He displays good strength and runs over defenders. It is very difficult for just one defender to bring him down. He has never been featured in the passing game and he also needs to work on his pass protection.
WR Mike Evans (Texas A&M)
He is a big, physical WR with huge hands. He had a big time performance against Alabama in week three. Evans is a former basketball player that has very good leaping ability. He consistently makes spectacular catches look easy. He is not going to run a fast forty time, but he plays much faster than that on the field. He is one of the top receivers available in next year's draft.
WR DaVaris Daniels (Notre Dame)
He has been a breakout star for the Irish this season. He is the son of former
NFL defensive lineman Phillip Daniels. He has a good combination of size and speed. He has made big plays this season. Daniels is a vertical threat. He also shows the ability to get the ball at the highest point. However, he needs to continue to refine his route running.
WR Davante Adams (Fresno State)
He has recorded at least one TD in 11 straight games. He is an athletic receiver with a good build and great leaping ability. Adams has strong hands and he wins most jump balls in the endzone. He also will create yards after the catch. He does have a tendency to drop passes. I also have questions about his speed.
DE Aaron Lynch (South Florida)
Lynch was a freshman All-American for Notre Dame in 2011. Next season, he transferred to South Florida in order to be closer to home. He redshirted in 2012. He hasn't had the same impact this season. Lynch still hasn't recorded a single sack for the Bulls. He has ideal size and a quick first step. He has good strength and knows how to use his long arms to fight off blockers. I am expecting for him to pick up his play in the second half of the season.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I decided to focus on this year's wide receiver class. There are some very talented underclassmen receivers that are eligible for the 2014 Draft.
Watkins seems to have regained his freshman form. He is a versatile player. Clemson's offense uses him outside, in the slot, lines him up in the backfield and uses him on reverses. He is an athletic receiver with very good speed and he is extremely dangerous after the catch. Watkins can also stretch the field vertically.
He had an incredible sophomore campaign. Lee had 118 receptions for 1,721 receiving yards and 14 TD's. But I put him at number two on this list because of the uncertainty at the quarterback position at USC. He also had three drops against Hawaii in week one. Lee is very quick in and out of his cuts. He runs precise routes. He has reliable hands. He is terrific in the open field and is a threat to score any time he touches the ball.
He set school records for receptions and receiving yards (82 passes for 1,105 yards) as a freshman in 2012. Evans also added five receiving touchdowns. He is a physical receiver with ideal size. He is a former basketball star in high school who knows how to use his big body to his advantage and shield defenders away. He makes spectacular catches on a weekly basis, but needs to refine his route running skills.
4. Junior Allen Robinson (Penn State)
Robinson is off to a great start this season. He has 14 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns. If he continues to produce at this pace, he will be a first round pick in May. He has ideal size. Robinson makes tough catches look routine. He also shows tremendous balance and displays excellent vision after the catch almost like a running back. He does however have a tendency to drop the easy passes.
5. Junior Brandon Coleman (Rutgers)
He has a big 6'6 frame. He is a legitimate downfield threat. Coleman runs good routes. But he needs to improve his concentration at times. Coleman has loads of potential, but needs to become a more consistent receiver.
Jordan Matthews is Jerry Rice's cousin. He has good size, long arms and makes tough catches in the middle of the field. He can also stretch the field vertically. He answered questions about his speed when he caught a quick screen pass and turned into a 55-yard touchdown. He ran away from Ole Miss' defenders on that play. He has had a problem with drops on underneath routes in the past and does struggle creating separation at times.
He has become Teddy Bridgewater's favorite target. He is an athletic WR with very good size. He uses his top end speed to stretch the field vertically. Parker has great leaping ability and does a good job adjusting to underthrown passes. He needs to become a more precise route runner. He takes too many false steps when he is coming out of his breaks.
Moncrief had 66 grabs for 979 passing yards and 10 TD's in 2012. But he didn't have a good performance in week one against Vanderbilt. He is a big play threat. He has good size and speed. He runs the hitch and go routes to perfection. Moncrief does a very good job adjusting to balls thrown downfield. But he struggles to separate from the defenders at times.
He is an explosive playmaker. Odell Beckham Jr. is a deep threat who can score any time he touches the ball. He has great speed. He makes spectacular grabs look easy. He is also a terrific kick returner. However, he has had some big drops in key games and he needs to improve his concentration level.
Richardson transferred to Colorado from UCLA. Then he missed the entire 2012 season after he tore his ACL. Now he looks to be at full strength. He has posted 21 receptions for 417 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games of this season. He is an explosive playmaker with 4.4 speed. He also has terrific hands. He does need to bulk up and get stronger.
In this edition of the scouting blog, I decided to focus on the performance of the quarterbacks from week one action.
Senior QB Tajh Boyd (Clemson)
He threw for 270 passing yards, three passing TDs and two rushing TDs against Georgia. Boyd showed a strong arm and good ball placement. He avoided pressure and picked up significant yards with his feet. He was very effective on playaction passes. He was the leader and the star of the game against Georgia.
Senior QB Keith Price (Washington)
It seems that Price has put his disappointing junior campaign behind him. He completed 23/31 passes for 324 yards and two TDs. He now has 56 total touchdowns which is a new career record at Washington. Price was efficient and made good decisions with the football after he threw the pick on the first play of the game. He threw well on the run and showed great anticipation on his passes. He is undersized and doesn't have a big arm which will hurt him on draft day. But a strong senior season by Price would warrant a middle round grade.
Senior Bryn Renner (North Carolina)
He started off very slow in the first half. He operated out of the shotgun and completed a lot of short passes. Then Renner showed great anticipation and touch on a few intermediate throws in the second half. He stepped up in the pocket and avoided pressure on numerous occasions. Renner showed above average arm. He is an interesting prospect to keep an eye on.
Junior QB Braxton
Miller (Ohio State)
Miller is a dangerous runner. He is extremely elusive in the open field. But in week one, he looked more decisive throwing the football. He displayed better accuracy and ball placement on short and intermediate passes. Miller still doesn't throw an accurate deep ball. He underthrew a couple of deep balls against Buffalo.
Senior QB Zach Mettenberger (LSU)
He looked very comfortable in Cam Cameron's offense especially as the game went on. He showed off his strong arm by being able to fit the ball into some tight windows. He struggled against pressure. Mettenberger still throws the ball to his primary target without going through his progressions. His field vision is very limited.
Senior QB Stephen Morris (Miami, FL)
A lot of draft experts are high on Stephen Morris, but I am not one of them. He turned in a very average performance against Florida Atlantic although his receivers had a few drops. Morris has a big time arm. He has one of the strongest arms in the 2014 draft. He did a very good job throwing on the run in this game. He showed great ball placement on a couple of intermediate passes. But he does have a tendency to trust his arm too much. He did force some passes downfield and threw off his back foot on a few occasions.
Senior QB Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech)
Despite a new offensive coordinator, Thomas did not look any better in week one than he did a year ago. He has the size and the strong arm. But his accuracy problems continue to haunt him. His mechanics are still a work in progress. He drops his shoulder and his footwork is inconsistent. Thomas struggled when he faced pressure. At this point, I don't see a legitimate NFL QB prospect.
Seniors QB A.J. McCarron (Alabama) and QB Aaron Murray (Georgia)
McCarron completed only 10/23 passes for 110 yards with a pick. He didn't look sharp in the first game of the season. Maybe the ingrown toenail did bother him. Aaron Murray lost another big game. He had two costly turnovers against Clemson.
Small School Prospect
Senior QB Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois)
Jeff Mathews is my favorite small school prospect out of Cornell. I will focus on him in my future blog as the season progresses. But this week, I decided to focus on another intriguing small school QB Jimmy Garoppolo out of Eastern Illinois. He was terrific in a win against San Diego State in week 1. He displayed a strong arm. Garoppolo attacked the defense with downfield throws. He was able to show his athleticism. As long as he takes care of the football and cuts down on the turnovers which have haunted him in the past, he should rise in the rankings this season.
These transfers should make an immediate impact in 2013.
1. DE Aaron Lynch, South Florida (from Notre Dame)
In 2011, Aaron Lynch was one of the top freshmen defensive linemen in the nation. He recorded 14 quarterback hurries and 5.5 sacks at Notre Dame. He was an absolute playmaker for the Irish. He transferred to South Florida in order to be closer to home. Lynch has a terrific combination of size, athleticism and strength. He should be a force on the defensive line for the new head coach Willie Taggart. He is a redshirt sophomore and is eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
2. RB Charles Sims, West Virginia (from Houston)
Sims graduated from Houston this spring and therefore is eligible to play at West Virginia right away this season. He rushed for 2,370 yards and 29 TDs during his three years for the Cougars.He has good size and shows great balance as a runner. Sims lacks top end speed, but is a good runner in the open field. He is also a terrific receiver coming out of the backfield.
3. RB Brandon Williams, Texas A&M (from Oklahoma)
The Texas native was one of the nation's top recruits in 2011. He chose the Sooners coming out of high school. Williams played sparingly as a true freshman. He transferred to the Aggies after his freshman campaign. He sat out the 2012 season. Williams possesses a terrific combination of size and speed. He has the ability to be a home run threat. Ben Malena is the entrenched starter, but Williams should make a major contribution to the ground game this season.
4. QB Tom Savage, Pittsburgh (from Rutgers)
He led Rutgers to a 9-4 overall record during his freshman season. He passed for 2,211 yards, 14 TDs and only seven INTs in 2009. He looked like a very promising young signal caller in the nation. The following year, he was sidelined by a hand injury and lost his starting job. Savage transferred to Arizona, but never played a down there. He has ideal size and arm strength. He has one year left of eligibility and he should be the starting QB for the Panthers opening day.
5. QB Jake Heaps, Kansas (from BYU)
As a true freshman, Jake Heaps threw for 2,316 yards, 15 TDs and nine INTs. He was named New Mexico Bowl's MVP. During his sophomore season, he was in and out of the starting lineup. At the end of the year, he made the decision to transfer to Kansas. He is an undersized QB with a very accurate arm. Heaps should definitely solidify the QB position for Charlie Weis.
6. LB Jeff Luc, Cincinnati (from Florida State)
Luc was one of the top LB recruits in the nation in the 2010 class. He failed to break into the starting lineup with the Seminoles. Many top schools showed interest in him when he decided to transfer, but he chose the University of Cincinnati. He is a good run defender and is known as a big hitter. He should start for the Bearcats in 2013.
7. OG Max Garcia, Florida (from Maryland)
Garcia is a former three-star tackle out of Georgia. In 2011, he started all 12 games at left tackle for Maryland as a sophomore.He is an athletic offensive lineman who can get to the second level. He is a good pass protector as well. Garcia will be the starter at left guard for the Gators in 2013.
8. TE Gerald Christian, Louisville (from Florida)
He was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. Christian was one of the top tight ends in the nation in 2010. He is an athletic tight end with reliable hands. Christian should be able to develop into another valuable receiving threat for QB Teddy Bridgewater.
9. LB Mike Orakpo, Texas State (from Colorado State)
His older brother Brian Orakpo plays LB for the Washington Redskins. Mike is also a talented player in his own right. He put together two good seasons at Colorado State. He left the program because of some off-the-field issues. He is an athletic LB with terrific speed. He is also a physical hitter. Mike Orakpo should establish himself as one of the top players in the Sun Belt Conference.
10. QB Jameill Showers, UTEP (from Texas A&M)
Showers wasn't going to get any playing time with Johnny Manziel being the clear cut No.1 guy for the Aggies. He hasn't started any games during his career, but he is a talented player in his own right. Showers is a dual threat with a very strong arm. He should be the starter at UTEP from opening day.
Impact JUCO Transfers
These JUCO transfers should make an immediate impact in 2013.
DT Lavon Hooks (Ole Miss) – He was rated as the No.1 JUCO player in the country by a few recruiting services. Hooks played at Northeast Mississippi Community College last year. He is an athletic DT that wreaks havoc in the backfield. He figures to play a prominent role at a position of need for the Rebels.
WR Deon Long (Maryland) – Long has been a well-traveled player. He had a brief stint with West Virginia and played at New Mexico for one year. He transferred from Iowa Western Community College to Maryland where he was reunited with his former head coach Mike Locksley. Long has good speed and should develop into a big play threat for the Terrapins. He should form a dangerous duo with Stefon Diggs in the ACC this year.
CB Justin Cox (Mississippi State) – The Bulldogs lost their two starting corners in Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay to the NFL. They are looking for help in their depleted secondary. CB Justin Cox is a player to keep an eye on. He played two seasons at East Mississippi Community College. He has good speed and terrific size at 6'2,190 pounds. Cox is a playmaker with great ball skills.
DT Marquel Combs (Kansas) – Combs earned a four-star rating from Rivals.com. He played at Pierce Community College in California. He is 6'3, 305 pounds. He is naturally strong. Combs should be able to improve Jayhawks' terrible run defense from last season.
DE Za'Darius Smith (Kentucky) – He was regarded as one of the top junior college defensive ends in the nation. He played at East Mississippi Community College. Smith has great size at 6'5 and 257 pounds. He is an athletic end with a quick first step. He should start opposite of Alvin Dupree for the new head coach Mark Stoops.
LB Tommy Sanders (Texas A&M) – He played at Butler Community College in Kansas. Sanders is an all-around player. He is an athletic LB with sideline-to-sideline speed. He also shows the ability to rush the passer. Sanders is currently penciled in as the starter at strongside LB this season.
RB Traylon Shead (SMU) – He spent two seasons at Texas before he decided to transfer. Then he wound up at Navarro Community College where he earned the All-American honors. With Zach Line graduating, the running back will be a position of need for SMU in 2013. Shead is a power back with underrated speed. He is at his best running in between the tackles.
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