Mar 262015
 
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Todd Gurley, Georgia Bulldogs (November 23, 2013)

Todd Gurley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Running Backs

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

*Below are my published, abbreviated reports via Ourlads Scouting Services, LLC

CURRENT RBs ON THE NYG ROSTER

Shane Vereen – 25 years old – Signed through 2017

Rashad Jennings – 29 years old – Signed through 2017

Andre Williams – 22 Years old – Signed through 2017

Michael Cox – 26 Years old – Signed through 2016

Orleans Darkwa – 23 Years Old – Signed through 2015

Chris Ogbonnaya – 28 Years Old – Signed through 2015

Henry Hynoski – 26 Years Old – Signed through 2016

Nikita Whitlock – 23 Years Old – Signed through 2016

WHERE THEY STAND

From both numbers and roles perspectives, NYG does not have any need for an additional running back on the roster. Vereen is this year’s “big” free agent signing and I think he will perform well in a pass catching role. He has more talent than any other RB on that list and there is plenty of youth to him. Jennings is likely the every down back that will receive the majority of the carries barring injury. He is solid between the tackles. Williams is another inside bruiser with limited ability in space. He won’t ever be a big time pass catcher. He is an easy guy to like but I can’t say he impressed beyond the preseason in his rookie year. He will get his fair share of carries. Cox has been given more than enough opportunity and he hasn’t capitalized, he won’t be around much longer. Darkwa, Ogonnaya, and Whitlock are guys that are here for training camp purposes and nothing more. Hynoski is an above average fullback but is still limited in what he can offer.

They are in good but not great standing. The committee approach is probably the safest way to go because of the amount of injuries RBs suffer on a yearly basis. If one of these guys goes down, there is enough depth without a huge drop off in talent to still be okay.

TOP 10 GRADES AND ANALYSIS

1 – Todd Gurley – Georgia – 6’1/222 – 83

Pro Upside Comparison: Adrian Peterson/MIN

Strong Points: Elite blend of size, speed, agility, and power. Thick lower body that creates tremendous drive and power. Fires out of a cannon upon contact with the ball. Has that burst from a dead stop position to top end speed. Breaks tackles consistently and is almost always falling forward to pick up the extra few yards. Can drag tacklers with his strength but also makes them miss with late movement. Agile and quick when changing direction. Runs with great lean and a low pad level. Aware of where and when he plants his feet in relation to where the bodies are around him. Quality blocker and receiver out of the backfield, a true three down back.

Weak Points: Coming off a torn ACL. Played through a lot of minor injuries prior to the knee. Drags plays out with his aggressive style and leaves himself prone to extra hits. Pad level is inconsistent, exposes too much of his body and legs to defenders. Inconsistent receiving mechanics, will body catch the ball.

Summary: Junior entry. Bell cow back that doesn’t need to be taken off the field in any situation. Was suspended and injured in 2014, shortening his quest for the Heisman Trophy. Gurley has the size and movement ability to be a dominant three down back in the NFL. He can pick up the tough yards between the tackles but also break free in to open space and run away from defenders. Very smart running back that is aware of the defense and game situations. If he can return to full strength after tearing his ACL, Gurley can be an elite back in the NFL. All the tools are there.

*Gurley would have been a top 4 player in this draft class if it weren’t for the torn ACL. He fits on the NYG roster if he falls to the 2nd round pick. RB may not be a need but I don’t think this kind of player can be passed on if he is there unless there is another guy there at or very near his grade.

2 – Jay Ajayi – Boise State – 6’0/221 – 82

Pro Upside Comparison – Marshawn Lynch/SEA

Strong Points: Relentless runner that consistently breaks tackles and falls forward. Well put-together frame that carries a dense 222 pounds. Has plenty of lower body wiggle and flexibility. Can make the late movement to miss the meat of a hit and finagle his way in to space. Can see the action in front of and around him at the same time, making quick decisions and reactions. Shows elite balance in traffic, constantly able to change his path with a power presence. Excels between the tackles with his blend of movement ability and strength. Willing and able blocker. Will deliver a pop to the defender and mirror him. Reliable pass catcher on the move, natural to see it in and tuck the ball. Three down ability and skills.

Weak Points: Struggles to reach the edge against fast defenses. Will take too long to make decisions. Tries too often to cut his way out of traffic rather than putting his head down and gaining positive yards. Runs sloppy routes of the backfield. Has had issues with ball security after initial contact with defenders.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Has made several All American teams for his dominant performance this season. Finished second in the nation with 28 rushing touchdowns in 2014. Ajayi brings everything to the table that the NFL wants out of a running back. He has size and open field speed to runaway from defenders, but also shows a quick change of direction and smooth agility in traffic. Ajayi can break tackles several ways, consistently gaining extra yards. He is a true three down back that could be starting in the NFL his rookie season if the situation presented itself.

*Even though he has a close grade to the injured Gurley, the urgency to take him if he is there in round 2 isn’t as high. He would add another Jennings/Williams type runner to the backfield. I like this kid a lot though. If you want toughness in your backfield, you want this guy.

3 – Duke Johnson – Miami – 5’9/207 – 82

Pro Upside Comparison: LeSean McCoy/BUF

Strong Points: Complete back with the tools and skill set to play every down. Jitter-bug type quickness in a phone booth. Can be hard for a defender to touch, let alone tackle. Elite burst and acceleration, can go 0-60 in just a few steps. Always has his feet under him, good balance and body control. Can see what’s going on around him in space. Sets defenders up to whiff as they are closing in on him. Easy pass catcher with strong hands. Can make the acrobatic catch. Sees the ball in and can get going right away. Physical blocker that delivers a pop. Takes pride in protecting the quarterback..

Weak Points: Not a big back. Played at over 200 pounds for the first time in 2014. May not have the frame to take a lot of hits in the NFL. Vision in traffic as he approaches the line of scrimmage is delayed. Will try too hard to dance around defenders trying to break off a big run instead of moving north and getting the sure yards. Season ending ankle injury in the 9th game of 2013.

Summary: Junior entry. Former elite high school recruit delivered right away as a freshman on 2012 as a kick returner. His performance as a running back started to take off in 2013 before a season ending ankle injury. Johnson added weight and speed prior to 2014 and it paid huge dividends. He showed that he could handle every down duty with his versatile tools and skill set. He is an elusive ball carrier that can break off the big runs once he gets in to space. Just as important, his ability as a receiver and pass blocker are both NFL-ready from a physical standpoint. If he can continue to add strength while maintaining his ability to move, Johnson can be a back that never needs to come off the field.

*Like I said with Ajayi, Johnson grades out close to the injured Gurley and as much as I like his ability to catch the ball, I’m not sure he can warrant a 2nd round pick. If size concerns bump him down to round 3 however, I bring this kid here in a heartbeat and let him play his way in to the rotation while adding dynamic KR/PR ability.

4 – Melvin Gordon – Wisconsin – 6’1/215 – 81

Pro Upside Comparison – Jamaal Charles/KC

Strong Points: Tight skinned, well developed back that doesn’t need to come off the field in any situation. Top tier vision and instincts. Can see things around him that most backs cannot. Can create something out of nothing. Exceptional when running to the outside. Consistently makes guys miss in space. Will not hesitate to lower his shoulder and force the pile to move north. Can follow blockers through space and sneak through lanes. Has the extra gear in space to runaway from defenders. Can maintain his agility and body control while moving at full speed. High effort blocker that makes an impact. Tries hard and produces when it comes to protecting the quarterback. Easy hands catcher when he had the opportunity.

Weak Points: Will run with a high pad level when approaching the line of scrimmage. Will try to get cute too often rather than getting the sure yards. Lacks the lower body girth that most want out of an every down back. Had a fumbling issue late in 2014.

Summary: Junior entry. Doak Walker Award winner. His 7.79 yards per carry over his career is an all time record. Gordon’s statistical accolades have piled up over his career. His blend of size and speed to go with his instincts and vision have helped mold him in to a top tier talent. He can do everything a team wants out of a running back; rush, receive, and block. In an era where finding true three down backs can be difficult, the demand for Gordon will be high. He is a young kid that loves the game and has shown a tremendous work ethic during offseasons. While his body type and running style may not be ideal, his production and versatile game cannot be overlooked. This is an extremely high ceiling type player.

*This is a back that I would be slightly afraid to draft, but just as afraid to see a division rival draft. I don’t see NFL-type dominance here when it comes to his style of play but his talent cannot be denied. If the toughness is there and he can stay healthy, he has as much upside as any RB in this class.

5 – Tevin Coleman – Indiana – 5’11/206 – 80

Pro Upside Comparison – DeMarco Murray/PHI

Strong Points: Strong between the tackles, fast in the open field. Shows the power and leg drive to push tacklers back, consistently falling forward. Several big runs displaying the ability to run away from defensive backs. Reaches the line of scrimmage quickly, showing the burst to reach top speed with just a few steps. Cutback runner that shows good vision and the explosion to get through the open crease. Quality hands as a receiver with a smooth catching motion. Looks the ball in and tucks it before running upfield.

Weak Points: Upright running style that leaves his legs almost completely exposed. Suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss three games in 2013. Does not have the late wiggle to miss contact from defenders, takes a lot of hits. Can be a better blocker in blitz pickup.

Summary: Junior entry. Finished as the number two overall rusher in 2014 with 2,036 yards, finishing behind only Heisman hopeful Melvin Gordon. Only the 18th player in history to breach the 2,000 yard mark and he did so with very little help around him. His record setting 2014 season includes a 300+ yard game against Rutgers. Coleman has ideal size and speed for the position. At his best in a north/south type running scheme where he can use his downhill speed and power. Some of the finer, more detailed aspects to the position need to be worked on. His routes out of the backfield, pass blocking technique, and ball security are raw around the edges. However when it comes to talent and big play ability, Coleman has the potential to be a star at the next level.

*Coleman wasn’t getting the attention he deserved throughout the season. He is big and physical but also shows elite ability to explode out of a cannon and run away from defenders. He can likely carry more weight on his frame without losing speed. I wish he ran with a more consistent pad level and would show more concentration and awareness. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see him out-shine every other RB in this class.

6 – David Cobb – Minnesota – 5’11/229 – 79

Pro Upside Comparison – Frank Gore/IND

Strong Points: Thick from the bottom up. Carries his weight behind his pads when approaching the action. Has the short area burst and quickness to accelerate through the running lanes with a short shelf life. Decisive and confident in his approach. Quick vision and reaction. Will consistently gain yards after contact, tough ball carrier for a lone defender to bring down. Can make himself low and slippery. Elite balance that can allow him to twist and turn his body on the move without losing much speed.

Weak Points: Lacks the explosive element to his game. Struggles to run away from defenders in the open field. Tight hipped and won’t move with fluidity in space. Doesn’t make defenders miss, will take a lot of contact. Doesn’t have presence or power as a blocker. Limited receiving ability and skills.

Summary: Fourth year senior that was a non-factor until 2013. Led the Gophers in rushing two straight seasons, including his school-record 1,626 yards in 2014. Cobb won’t wow anyone in workouts or on the highlight reel. He doesn’t have the long speed and he doesn’t shake tacklers out of their cleats in space. However Cobb can run between the tackles with quick vision and reaction along with above average power and force. Cobb is quick and efficient in short space. Keep him between the tackles and he can really produce. He isn’t an every down back and he may be limited, but put Cobb in the game when you need tough yards and he will earn them.

*I’ve been higher on Cobb than most of what I see out there. There are things about his game that will turn people off. He isn’t a superb athlete in space and his movement in traffic could be viewed as average. He lacks the “sexy” that a lot of people want out of a RB but plain and simple, I think he’ll be a gamer that can be relied on to get tough yards and keep chains moving. He is smarter and more aware than a lot of backs that have superior physical ability.

7 – David Johnson – 6’1/225 – Northern Iowa – 78

Pro Upside Comparison: Rashad Jennings/NYG

Strong Points: Quick off the snap, can eat up a 10 yard window in a blink. Natural feel with the ball in his hands, runs with good awareness and vision. Shows balance and body control in traffic. Can change direction with ease. Elite ball skills as a receiver. Can reach for the ball away from his body on the move. Has the speed to run away from defenders in space. Aggressive, physical presence as a ball carrier and blocker. Plenty of yards after contact.

Weak Points: Runs with a high pad level. Lacks the lower body thickness to take the amount of hits he will surely encounter with his height and running style. Will take a lot of extra hits. Doesn’t always fall forward, doesn’t drive his legs to move the pile inside.

Summary: Fifth year senior. Rushed for over 1,000 yards three straight seasons and leaves Northern Iowa with almost every school rushing record. He also caught 141 passes. Johnson is an upright runner with good speed and receiving ability. He doesn’t show the quick twitch and reaction between the tackles, but he has a high ceiling considering his tool set and ability to change direction with balance. His future may reside as a third down back and return specialist with the upside to be much more.

*Johnson is one of those guys I wish never got to play at the Senior Bowl because I had him on my radar before then. He performed well there and then all of the sudden everyone was all over him, almost to the point where it’s almost too much. I think he can be a really good third down back if he can learn how to block. An every down guy? Maybe down the road but his top heavy frame isn’t really built for it.

8 – Javorius Allen – USC – 6’0/221 – 77

Pro Upside Comparison: Chris Ivory/NYJ

Strong Points: Complete, every down back. Has the power, size, and running style to perform the role as a shirt yardage back. Can also catch the ball out of the backfield like a receiver and block oncoming pass rushers with consistent success. Strong and well developed lower body. Has the vision in space to create angles and take advantage of potential cutback lanes. Easy runner past the second level, has runaway speed. Equally effective inside and outside. Breaks a lot of tackles and will gain yards after contact on almost every carry. Relentless pursuit of more yards.

Weak Points: Inconsistent pad level when approaching the inside runs. Will leave his lower body susceptible to too much contact, some of which is unnecessary. Vision between the tackles doesn’t match his vision in space. Will be late to see running lanes on the straight ahead runs. Isn’t always as assertive as he should be. Will too often look for the big play rather than sure yards. Balance after cuts is inconsistent.

Summary: Fourth year junior entry. Put together a season and a half of very good, well balanced production. Allen may be one of the top all around backs in this class because his game really doesn’t have a standout weakness. He can run, catch, and block all at a high level. He is a hard nosed runner that will play through the whistle, but also has the finesse and vision of a space back. His frame will allow him to hold up for a lot of touches in the NFL, but even he needs to learn how to economically use his body. If he takes the amount of extra hits with his high pad level in the NFL as he did in college, he will have a hard time staying on the field. With that said, he has the upside to be a productive starter in the league.

*Hard guy not to like. He plays really hard and has a lot of talent, plain and simple. He can be a bruiser between the tackles but he’s one of those backs that can be faster than the guy chasing him. I always have an extra liking for those kind of backs. For where I think you can get him, he may be right up there with Cobb as the best value opportunity at the RB spot.

9 – Mike Davis – South Carolina – 5’9/217 – 76

Pro Upside Comparison – CJ Anderson/DEN

Strong Points: Short and stout with a low pad level. Hard target for the tackler to zero in on. Great quickness prior to contact with defenders. Misses the meat of a tackle and consistently falls forward. Savvy runner. Great vision and cutback ability. Dangerous in traffic and in the open field, can see things before they open up. Can set defenders up and plays a step ahead mentally. Good receiver out of the backfield. Effective in the screen game. Able to hide behind blockers and has the short area burst to accelerate past defenders in a pile. Breaks plenty of tackles several different ways.

Weak Points: Lacks the breakaway speed in the open field. Doesn’t have the extra gear after his initial acceleration. Doesn’t show loose hips to move laterally and miss defenders. Lacks experience as a blocker. Loses track of ball security in the open field.

Summary: Junior entry. Two year starter with proven ability to help both the rushing and passing attacks. Davis is a pure running back that is equally effective inside and outside of the tackles. He is a no-nonsense, very decisive runner that explodes through the hole with aggression and body control. He misses big contact often with his ability to shake and cut prior to meeting the tackler. He breaks tackles and consistently falls forward. He is a versatile offensive weapon that can be counted on to catch the ball and move north right away. A ball carrier with this kind of vision fits in to every system. He is built to handle the physical nature of the NFL. While the athletic upside may be a bit limited, he appears to be one of the most pro ready backs in this class.

*I’m not sure about Davis having the highest of ceilings but part of me is more confident he’ll be a reliable contributor than a lot of the guys above him on this list. He stepped in for Marcus Lattimore at South Carolina and just produced more and more. He may have the most natural hands and vision of all the backs in this class. He is a great mid round value if he drops a bit.

10 – T.J. Yeldon – Alabama – 6’1/226 – 75

Pro Upside Comparison: Arian Foster/HOU

Strong Points: Tall, big, and fast. Quick acceleration out of the backfield and good approach to the line. Shows the patience to allow the action to transpire in front of him. Agile hips and quick feet. Good body control. Anticipates running lanes and has good vision. Will run with a good pad level and lean, allowing him to get the most power out of his strong lower half. Has the last second change of direction to miss the meat of a tackle. Good runaway speed. Good pass catcher with soft hands. High effort blocker that will stifle the blitzing linebacker. Excels as an inside and outside runner. Understands game situations and when to pick up necessary yards, runs with altering styles.

Weak Points: Has a fumbling issue. Does not secure the ball high and tight. Will drag plays out and loosen the ball’s attachment from his body. Will get too indecisive with his approach the point of attack. Hangs out behind the line of scrimmage with the ball in his hands for too long. Will create a high target for defenders. Minor durability issues.

Summary: Junior entry. Productive career that showed the versatility to be an every down back in the NFL early on. Has the physical ability to wear a few hats out of the backfield. Runs hard and fast with the quick burst and open field speed. A weapon as a receiver with a lot of production in the screen game in addition to being a good blocker. Yeldon has all the tools to be a star running back in the NFL, but he will need to shore up his ball security, which has been his Achilles heal all three seasons. High upside, versatile back.

*If you asked me where Yeldon would be drafted last year and/or the year before, I would have said 1st round no question. I wouldn’t say his value dropped but this is such a stacked RB class and Yeldon also failed to really take his game to the next level. I still like his game but there are a couple things like a lack of assertiveness and ball security that bothers me. He is uber-talented though.

NEXT 10

11 – Tyler Varga – Yale – 5’11/222
12 – Ameer Abdullah – Nebraska – 5’9/205
13 – Marcus Murphy – Missouri – 5’9/195
14 – Josh Robinson – Mississippi State – 5’9/215
15 – Cameron Artis-Payne – Auburn – 5’10/210
16 – Jeremy Langford – Michigan State – 6’0/205
17 – Gus Johnson – Stephen F. Austin – 5’10/215
18 – Karlos Williams – Florida State – 6’1/230
19 – Thomas Rawls – Central Michigan – 5’10/217
20 – Malcolm Brown – Texas – 5’11/225

NYG APPROACH

I think the NYG backfield is in good shape, especially after the signing of Vereen. I can’t say I was disappointed in that signing but it did leave a sour taste in that it may force NYG to hold off on a RB in this draft. There simply may not be room on the depth chart to warrant a selection with one of their first 5 picks. Like I said, this is probably the best RB class I’ve seen as a whole since I’ve been doing this and I even think some of my grades are on the conservative side. There are a few guys with legit superstar potential and at least another handful of guys that can be every down starters.

I understand the notion is that RBs can always be “found in the later rounds” but nothing leads me to think that is any more true that other positions. Take some time and look at how many teams have spent a 1st or 2nd rounder on the RB position. It’ probably more than you think. And it proposes this question: Are the current NYG RBs actually good enough to warrant passing on a really good value at RB in this draft if the opportunity presented itself? I lean towards no. If RB is the right value when NYG is on the clock in round 2, I may have to bite.

Mar 252015
 
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Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston, NFL Combine (February 21, 2015)

Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft Preview: Quarterbacks

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

CURRENT NYG QBs ON ROSTER

Eli Manning – 34 years old – Signed through 2015

Ryan Nassib – 25 years old – Signed through 2016

Ricky Stanzi – 27 years old – Signed through 2015

WHERE THEY STAND

Could be it be that the NYG brass is going to let the 11 year starter enter the final year of his contract without an extension? That appears to be the case. I would put the heavy odds on him being here for at least another 3-4 years but even the most faithful of Manning supporters need to admit that the post-Eli plan needs to be thought about. Franchise QBs are incredibly hard to find, I get it. When you have one, you need to hold on tight and pay market value if not more, I get it. Manning had one of his best overall seasons in year one of a new offensive system, I get it. The issue here is a simple case of economics; is Manning worth a $20+ cap number as he enters the final years of his contract? With the amount of holes on this roster, a credible case could be made for either direction. Nassib hasn’t showed enough during preseason games to warrant confidence for down the road. Perhaps he shines during practice and we have no idea. Stanzi is a training camp body. But to say NYG needs a fresh, young QB on the depth chart is far from inappropriate.

TOP 10 GRADES

1 – Jameis Winston – Florida State – 6’4/231 – 80

Upside Pro Comparison – Ben Roethlisberger/PIT

The necessary talent is there. Winston has all the physical tools you want out of a QB. His size, presence, arm strength, accuracy, and mobility to warrant the first round grade. Would I consider him an elite thrower? No. An elite mover? No. However one thing he does have (and NYG fans will understand the importance of this) is the poise he maintains through tight situations. Winston proved he is a winner. He can have a horrid first half but his short memory allows him to come out firing in the fourth quarter and look unstoppable when the team needs him most. His off the field maturity issues are well documented, however. It may even cause some teams to cross him off their board entirely. When I see him play, I think a Big Ben type with less arm power. If his head is on straight, he can be a guy that teammates love, a guy that wins, and a guy that fans will cling to over time. The grade includes a few points off due to his character problems.

2 – Marcus Mariota – Oregon – 6’4/222 – 79

Upside Pro Comparison – Robert Griffin III/WAS

Last fall I viewed Mariota as an elite level (90+) QB prospect that I would want on the NYG roster as soon as round 1. I love his ability to move. He can change the game with his mobility. He is more than just an athlete too. He has some zip on his balls with a quick release and most importantly, his accuracy on the move is spot on. I’ve seen every 2014 game tape of Oregon and I have to admit I jumped the gun on him. He remains uncomfortable in the pocket and the simple throws were routinely missed. His mechanics as a pocket passer are flawed and his experience starting under center is as limited as it gets. There is something about QBs that rely on athletic ability that just screams “No” to me as well. Mariota doesn’t have the Cam Newton body type. I can’t see him taking an extra 10 hits per game and lasting, a la Robert Griffin. He’s a mature kid and he does make plays, but there is more development that needs to occur here thus a larger margin for eventual error. I would still take Mariota on this team but not before round 2, he’ll be long gone by then.

3 – Brett Hundley – UCLA – 6’3/226 – 74

Upside Pro Comparison – Cam Newton/CAR

Another spread formation, shotgun-only signal caller that has the athletic tools to be the guy in this class. Hundley has a thicker body type than Mariota and has just as much ability to make a difference running the ball. His inconsistency is maddening, however. He is a good thrower short and intermediate but his accuracy throwing the ball downfield is poor. He is another guy that needs to sit at least a year. Is there upside here? Sure. But I would put odds on him being the backup type that will bounce around the league but disappoints.

4 – Garrett Grayson – Colorado State – 6’2/213 – 73

Upside Pro Comparison – Matt Moore/MIA

Really good athlete, underrated speed and quickness. Some QBs have that sixth sense in the pocket and have the extra level of quickness within the tackle box. Grayson has that. He can throw deep with power and accuracy. There is a WR from Colorado State that will be draft eligible next year…some are labeling him a top tier prospect. He’s good, but Grayson made him look a lot better. He can throw guys open, throw to a spot…etc. If I have a void at QB when it comes to youth, I think Grayson is the mid-round value I am going after.

5 – Jerry Lovelocke – Prarie View A& M – 71

Loved what I saw out of him at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He has a really smooth, quick, strong, powerful release and arm. A guy this big can be worked with when it comes to a dual threat player. Lovelocke is and always will be a passer first/runner second, but his size and presence makes him a dual threat. He is likely a practice squad guy because of how raw his footwork is and he didn’t play in a complicated system in college, but for where you can get him I like the value.

6 – Sean Mannion – Oregon State – 6’6/229 – 71

Upside Pro Comparison – Mike Glennon/TB

Illustrious career including 45 starts, leaves school as the Pac 12’s all time leading passer with over 13,000 yards and 11 OSU passing records. The 3 time team captain shows all the intangibles you want in a Quarterback. Loves the game and works hard on and off the field to make himself better. The fifth year senior received a 3rd round grade from the Advisory Board last year after his record setting Junior campaign. He took a step back in 2014, playing with less talent around him. This classic pocket passer has the tools and intangibles to be a starter or primary backup at the next level but he is a limited-ceiling type player. The lack of athletic ability is certainly troubling and you know it’s only going to get worse as he gets older. You don’t need to be a superb athlete, but Mannion looks stuck in mud sometimes. That’s tough to accept out of such a young player.

8 – Bryan Bennett – SE Louisiana State – 6’2/211 – 69

Upside Pro Comparison – Tyler Thigpen/CLE

Was at Oregon for awhile but once he figured out that Marcus Mariota was….well Marcus Mariota…he left for SE Louisiana to pursue the NFL dream. He played well there but didn’t dominate the way you want a small school QB to. With that said, Bennett is a very good athlete and has the strongest arm of any QB in this class. He can really spin it. Hits guys on the move. I like how Bennett looked for extra work at the Combine. He was always the guy getting extra throws in. His accuracy on the move and downfield is poor and some guys say that can’t be corrected. I’d take a chance on him in the later rounds.

9 – Bryan Bennett – Baylor – 6’3/230 – 69

Upside Pro Comparison – Rex Grossman/RET

Petty comes from a spread-style offense, always in the shotgun, minimal reads…etc. Every year these guys are becoming more and more common. It’s not a huge deal. But I really didn’t like what I saw out of him at the Senior Bowl and it matched a lot of what I don’t like on tape. He misses a lot of easy throws. He gets overly-trigger happy under pressure. He loses sense of his throwing mechanics. What I do like here is the blend of toughness and leadership, however. Coaches/Players/Support Staff and the scouts I get the opportunity to speak with all rave about his daily approach to the game. I want that out of a young QB. He doesn’t lack talent at all. He can throw, he can move. I just hate that I see the same mistakes over and over again with him. Still worth a late round pick if NYG is looking for a QB and he falls.

10 – Anthony Boone – Duke – 6’0/231 – 67

Upside Pro Comparison – Tarvaris Jackson – SEA

I’ve been wanting to like Boone for over a year now because he shows glimpses. One of the strongest arms in the draft. Has easy arm power, can put that ball on a line for 20+ yards with little effort. Drives the ball downfield, generates a lot of zip from his lower body, fluid throwing motion. Can throw the ball well from unorthodox positions. Good runner, shows the ability to see the action around him and make proper cuts to pick up extra yards. Struggles to make multiple reads. Too quick to tuck the ball and scramble. Accuracy is woefully inconsistent, doesn’t hit his target often enough on the run. He is so inconsistent and its bothersome but man, he has talent that a lot of good QBs simply do not possess.

NYG APPROACH

This draft class has the weakest group of QBs I have seen since I’ve been doing this. There isn’t an elite prospect. There isn’t a lot of depth. And there aren’t any guys in the later rounds that I can say with confidence will far-exceed their draft slot. Drafting QBs in the middle to late rounds is more of a crapshoot than anything, however.

I don’t think NYG is going after a QB with one of their 8 picks. Could they go after an UDFA to have in training camp? Sure. But when it comes to where this team is and where they are heading, unless a great value falls to them they should opt towards using their selections on other positions. Put me in the camp of people that thinks this team should NOT give Manning a blank check. Yes it exposes long-term risk at a position that makes or breaks success in this league, but it is going to happen soon anyway. Ideally Manning signs a 3-4 year deal at the same level he is being paid now, and the replacement project gets put in motion in another year or two.

And if Mariota falls to #9 overall….final answer is no. I’ve been back and forth a few times, but it’s just not worth the risk of passing on guys that are graded higher.

Jan 022015
 
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Brandon Scherff, Iowa State Hawkeyes (January 1, 2014)

Brandon Scherff – © USA TODAY Sports Images

January 2, 2015 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

HOUSTON

#92 – DT – Joey Mbu – 6’3/310

Not a huge stat sheet guy but he is a very good player. Three year starter. Does a lot of the dirty work inside, good at anchoring his spot. Ideal body for the position, huge lower body. He has some good mobility to him, surprising ability to pursue in space. He’ll be playing at the Senior Bowl as well. 4th pr 5th rounder at this point that has a Barry Cofield type potential.

#50 – Efrem Oliphant – 6’1/220

Two year starter. Led the team in tackles each of the past two seasons. I haven’t scouted him yet but I’ve made a couple notes in passing while scouting Mbu. More physical than his size tells you. He can pop a ball carrier pretty good. Gets lost in traffic a lot but he can wiggle his way to the ball carrier. Not sure he can be a steady LB in the NFL but he can be picked up late.

PITTSBURGH

#68 – RT – TJ Clemmings – 6’5/308

Fifth year senior. Was a top tier defensive end recruit out of high school but made the move to RT prior to the 2013 season. He looks like a completely different player right now in contrast to last year. Clemmings is a fluid athlete that brings a power-style to the line. He is at his best as a run blocker, showing the ability to both drive straight ahead and move laterally with a presence. He has plenty of skill work ahead of him as a pass blocker but the ability is there and he has shown flashes of being a dominant overall lineman. High upside prospect that may need some extra time to smooth his rough edges. 2nd or 3rd rounder right now.

#74 – RG – Matt Rotheram – 6’6/335

Has experience at OT and G. Most likely a G in the NFL. Huge body, carries the weight pretty well and he isn’t as stiff as I originally thought. He reacts well to the defense and he has the strength to hold his ground againdt power players. I’ve seen defenders bounce off him, just has a lot of presence inside. Pitt loves to run behind him. Rotheram doesn’t pass the initial eyeball test but if you watch him a lot, there is something there with him. May need to work on footwork and bending at the knee, but he is worth a day three pick.

Other Notables:

#28 – OLB – Anthony Gonzalez – 6’3/230
#9 – S – Ray Vinopal – 5’10/200
#8 – OLB – Todd Thomas – 6’2/230

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IOWA

#68 – LT – Brandon Scherff – 6’5/320

Considered by many to be the top or one of the top players in this entire class. There is a lot of discussion surrounding Scherff and what he will be in the NFL. There is no mistaking his ability to dominate defenders at the point of attack. He is a punishing run blocker with tremendous hand strength and explosive lower body power. Violent player off the snap, big country strong body. He is a better athlete than people give him credit for. Played tennis and basketball in high school, was also a high school QB for a couple years. I’ve watched him a lot this year and I think he can play LT in the league. He played on a bum knee this year and was still a very good performer athletically. He displays consistent pass protection skills, very balanced with good body control. My only gripe is that he wasn’t really challenged much in the Big 10, rarely faced off against NFL caliber opponents. The Senior Bowl will be huge for him. I still think he can be a top 10 pick and I’ll likely have him graded in the top 20.

#78 – RT – Andrew Donnal – 6’6/305

Overlooked because of Scherff. Donnal has a nice body with room for more weight. He plays an athletic style of football, really sound mechanics. He has stretches where he looks like he really knows what he’s doing out there. May not have ideal strength and power yet but I think he is late round prospect worth trying to develop.

#71 – DT – Carl Davis – 6’5/315

Might be by favorite DT in the nation. Huge body, just always looks bigger than everyone else on the field. Carries the weight very well, most of it is in his lower half. He is the anchor of that defense and there may not be a DT in this class better than him at anchoring his position and demanding attention. Davis doesn’t blow up the stat sheet, but that’s not his role. However when he does get after it, he gets off blocks and shows tremendous short area movement. Big time power presence inside that will be a very good NFL defender. 2nd or 3rd rounder I think but I’ll have him graded higher.

#90 – DT – Louis Trinca-Pasat – 6’3/290

The other DT on this Hawkeyes defense. Different style than Davis but I like him a lot too. More active and productive, he shoots the gaps and moves with late quickness and strength. Might be undersized for the 4-3 but there are schemes that he would fit right in to. 4th or 5th rounder at this point but he is someone I’ll keep a close eye on for late value.

#52 – MLB – Quinton Alston – 6’1/232

Little bit of an unknown but he has a solid year in 2014, his first year as a starter. Was buried on the depth chart behind some really good LBs at Iowa the past few years. He is a crafty defender, gets to the ball. Average athlete and I would say below average power to his game. Late rounder with some potential because he has gotten much better as the season’s progressed.

Other Notables:

#45 – RB – Mark Weisman – 6’0/240
#11 – WR – Kevonte Martin-Manley – 6’0/206
#37 – S – John Lowdermilk – 6’1/210

TENNESSEE

#27 – CB – Justin Coleman – 5’10/188

3 year starter with 4 INTs in 2014. Fluid mover that is undersized and not that physical. Gets pushed around a bit. I can’t say I’ve watched Coleman more than 1 or 2 times this year. Will need to get more information on him in the coming months but nobody I’ve talked to has said he is worth anything more than a late rounder.

#54 – DT – Jordan Williams – 6’5/284

Shot in the dark here but Williams jumped off the screen a couple times against quality opponents. Love the body and he has some good speed to him. Late rounder that hasn’t done much from a production point of view but I think he can be a player.

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KANSAS STATE

#16 – WR – Tyler Lockett – 5’11/175

Some consider him to be the top WR in the Big 12, which is some pretty good praise because there are some quality players there in that conference. Explosive, 0-60 in a couple steps type WR. He is also one of the top return specialists in the country. He could be drafted for special teams alone but he is a legit WR prospect. Elite movement ability, pretty good skill set as well. I’d say he is a 4th or 5th rounder but could bump himself up if he runs a sub 4.4 forty.

#66 – C – CJ Finney – 6’3/303

Four year starter, started off as a walk on. Has been 1st Team All Big 12 for three years in a row. Highly regarded by some people but I haven’t been as impressed. He got man-handled against Auburn, constantly getting pushed back. I’m not sure he can handle DTs by himself. Pretty good foot and hip quickness though, may be a fit for some schemes. 5th or 6th rounder at best.

#85 – TE – Zach Trujillo – 6’5/256

In the games I saw, he didn’t impact the offense too much. But when I see a guy this big with over 20 yards per catch, it gets my attention. I wanna see him more in the coming months. He is a pretty good blocker with wiry strength. Has the frame and length to be an NFL TE. Look for him tonight, he might be a diamond in the rough type.

#21 – MLB – Jonathan Truman – 5’11/219

Will be fighting an uphill battle because of the size issue, but he is a really good player. Reads the action and is always around the ball. Have to like guys that play like him. Late rounder that may make an impact as a special teamer.

Other Notables:

#15 – QB – Jake Waters – 6’1/210
#44 – DE – Ryan Mueller – 6’1/248
#15 – CB – Randall Evans – 6’0/194

UCLA

*#17 – Brett Hundley – 6’3/222

Redshirt junior, hasn’t declared yet but many expect him to. He could have come out last year but made the right decision to go back. He has another year of eligibility and I think he should use it. Still has the same issues he did a year ago. Woefully inconsistent as a passer but has the tools. He has the frame to take hits as a running QB unlike Mariota. He is a great kid off the field unlike Winston. He has a stronger arm than both and at his best, I think he is better than both those guys. He just has Geno Smith-type bad days. Most likealy a top 45 pick if he comes out, don’t rule him out as a potential top 10 guy.

#94 – DE – Owamagbe Odighizuwa – 6’3/270

Led the DL in sacks this year. The 4-3 teams looking for a DE will like this kid a lot. He is tools-rich and I think his upside is a bit untapped much like I thought about Tank Carradine a couple years ago. He came back from a hip injury that forced him to miss all of 2013. Really looks the part. Has a quick first step, plays low and strong. High upside here. 3rd or 4th round.

#6 – MLB – Eric Kendricks – 6’0/230

Has led the Bruins in tackles for 3 years in a row, and was second his freshman year. He is a guy that is constantly in the right position, whether against the run or pass. Lacks some physical talent but he has wiry strength. Reliable tackler. May be restricted to a 3-4 scheme in the NFL but still a 3rd or 4th rounder.

Other Notables:

#23 – S – Anthony Jefferson – 6’1/185

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WASHINGTON

*#7 – OLB – Shaq Thompson – 6’2/225

Hasn’t declared yet but many expect him to. Thompson is viewed as the top 4-3 OLB prospect in the nation by a pretty side margin. Elite athlete and playmaker. Former top tier HS recruit that fulfilled expectations to say the least. Played a lot of RB this year as well, averaging almost 8 yards per carry. Scored 4 defensive TDs this year. There really isn’t much Thompson can’t do to be honest. He is a very good all around player, might be the top overall athlete in this class. Now the question is, can he hang with the power and strength of the NFL? He is undersized for LB, and he isn’t very stout at the point of attack. He is a pursuit-based LB. That’s fine but I question his play to play impact. His style of play and weaknesses can be exposed pretty easily. I think he is a good player but I won’t have an elite grade on him like some do.

#71 – NT – Danny Shelton – 6’2/339

Very unique player here, may be as unique as you will ever find. Initially he looks fat, slow, and out of shape. Watch a few plays and you’ll notice he may be one of the most disruptive defensive linemen in the nation. He broke out in a huge way this year with 16..5 TFL and an amazing 9 sacks. Shelton is a consistent hustler that actually shows sideline type range. He is constantly around the action. Very stout at the point of attack, good power from his legs, active hands. I think he is a 1st rounder if he checks out OK off the field, which I am hearing is questionable.

#8 – Hau’oli Kikaha – 6’3/256

Interesting player here. Made an immediate impact in 2010 but then he tore the same ACL twice, missing half of 2011 and all of 2012. Came back strong in 2013 with 15.5 TFL, 13 sacks and had a monster 2014 with a second best in the nation 24 TFL and second best in the nation 18 sacks. Ultra productive edge rusher here. He has the first step quickness, and dip/bend well, and has really violent hands. He is one of those hyper defenders that OL hate to deal with. The switch is always on for him. Can he play in a 4-3? I’m not sure yet. I think his best fit is in a 3-4 but he could end up being a solid Jason Babin type DE. 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#10 – MLB – John Timu – 6’1/235

Thompson may be the superstar of the defense, but Timu is Mr. Reliable. Four year starter and two time team captain. Might be a little light in the pants but he is a pretty instinctive athlete. He moves well in a phone booth, wiggles his way to the ball. His issue is strength and power. When an OL gets to him, its over. That bothers me when I look at LBs. 5th or 6th rounder I think that has some value to him.

Other Notables:
#72 – LT – Micah Hatchie – 6’5/306
#78 – C – Mike Criste – 6’6/316

OKLAHOMA STATE

*#1 – CB – Kevin Peterson – 5’11/185

Hasn’t declared yet, I think it is 50/50 whether or not he does. I’ve seen him a few times and I really like him. I think he has 1st round potential. Explosive mover, really gets in and out of breaks fast. Can turn and run with anyone. There were times last year where I thought he outplayed Justin Gilbert. I didn’t see him press guys at the line though, so he is still a bit of an unknown to me.

#91 – James Castleman – 6’2/296

Productive player. Plays a couple of roles inside. Gets off the ball well and can play a violent game. Strong hands and active feet. Doesn’t stand out but he doesn’t get beat by lone blockers that often. Late rounder.

#26 – RB – Dennis Roland – 6’2/210

Looks the part. Led the team in rushing the past two years, although that isn’t a huge thing to brag about. In between the tackles runner. Little tight-hipped but he can move downhill with speed and power. I like him as a short yardage back, I think he has more upside than what we see out of him here.

Other Notables:

#58 – LT – Daniel Koenig – 6’6/310
#89 – DE – Sam Wren – 6’2/255

Jan 012015
 
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Amari Cooper, Alabama Crimson Tide (November 8, 2014)

Amari Cooper – © USA TODAY Sports Images

January 1, 2015 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch (Late Games)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

OREGON

*#8 – QB – Marcus Mariota – 6’4/215

Fourth year junior. Heisman winner. Is probably the favorite to be the #1 overall pick at this point but far from a sure thing. He doesn’t fot the mold of what everyone wants at QB. Better athlete than thrower. Has blazing, Kaepernick-type speed in the open field. He is a quick decision maker, has a really quick release. Very good accuracy from the pocket and on the move. You can do a lot with Mariota. He is developing in to a fine passer but there is still plenty of work to be done. Top tier intangibles. Really hard worker, passionate about the game. I question his durability in the NFL. Guys with his body type can’t take hits as a runner in the NFL for very long. He needs to change his game a little. Do I want to get in to another NYG quarterback debate? Not really. But if Mariota is there at #9 somehow…I have to think hard about it.

#55 – C – Hroniss Grasu – 6’3/300

Fifth year senior with a ton of experience. Has been the top OL on that team for a few years now, might be the top C in this class. Superb athlete for the position. Can pull out laterally and lead block, often found 30 yards downfield throwing blocks. I really like his game. You won’t find a better athlete at C in this draft, but Grasu has added some strength and power to his game as well. 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#75 – LT – Jake Fisher – 6’6/299

Thought very highly of by his coaching staff and teammates. Oregon had some major issues earlier in the year when he was hurt, but when he returned things really stabilized. He isn’t a real wide guy but he plays pretty strong and tough. Known for putting defenders through the ground. He has experience at guard, then to RT, then made the move to LT when Johnstone got hurt. He has some upside if he can pack on some more weight. 3rd or 4th round I think.

#54 – LG – Hamani Stevens – 6’3/312

I didn’t give him any attention until I saw him take Grasu’s spot at C when he got injured. He is a pretty good player that can backup all the interior spots. Has more power to his game that Grasu, but a pretty heavy footed guy. Late rounder that has value.

*#9 – DE – Arik Armstead – 6’7/296

I gotta think he returns to school, but he is worth discussing. He has legit upside. Tools-rich and has plenty of football skill. Started off playing basketball at Oregon, so there is some really good foot speed and agility here. Violent player, can knock the crap out of linemen. He plays low despite his height. I’ve seen flashes where he looks like a Mario Williams type prospect. He fought a nasty ankle injury all year and didn’t produce the way he could have. He can be a top 5 pick in 2016 if he returns to school. Now? Probably a 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#14 – CB – Ifo Ekpre-Olomu – 5’10/185

Almost came out last year. Could have been a 1st rounder if he did. 4 year starter with elite movement ability. Has a physical style of play but lacks a presence. He can tackle well, hits hard. Actually struggled a bit in 2014, couldn’t really put a finger on why. He just seemed a step behind mentally in the 4 games I watched this year. I still think he is a top 45 overall talent, I think he goes somewhere in round 2.

#4 – S – Erick Dargan – 5’11/210

Broke out in a big way this year. 6 INTs. Physical run defender that lays the lumber. Quick reaction and good speed when running with WRs. Under the radar a little bit, I think he can sneak in to the 2nd or 3rd round.

#91 – OLB – Tony Washington – 6’3/250

Good NFL body here, has experience in a few different roles. Good edge rusher, can play with the presence to mix it up with the OL. But also has shown he can play in space with wide receivers. He is a good reaction type athlete. May not be that fast or agile, but he is rarely fooled. Consistently around the action. 4th or 5th rounder that can fit in to any scheme.

#13 – CB – Troy Hill – 5’11/175

Elite mover and ball skill guy. He can sneak up boards in the coming months with a few good workout times. Not the physical corner I like but he can still play. 4th or 5th rounder right now.

#22 – OLB – Derrick Malone – 6’2/222

I need to see some more of him, but he was pretty productive late in the year when I saw him. Fast and rangy. Good cover LB. Lacks presence and strength but he knows how to play around it a little. Late rounder.

FLORIDA STATE

#5 – QB – Jameis Winston – 6’4/230

Has never lost a game as the starting QB heading in to the playoffs. A true winner that brings the best out of himself when the game is on the line. Deeply respected and loved by his teammates. Gets the most out of other players. Winston’s struggles off the field have been documented and it will cause some teams to cross him off their board. With that said, his talent and ability to lead an offense cannot be overlooked.. He is a big, physical player that can handle the speed of the NFL game. If he can get rid of his early game blunders and play like he does in the second half of games, he can be a star at the next level. His first order of business needs to be an upgrade in maturity off the field, however. Has a shot at being a top 3 pick if he comes out.

#70 – LG – Josue Matias – 6’6/325

One of my favorite guards in the class. Will be the first Dominican Republic native to ever play in the NFL. Was brought to the United States when he was 6 years old. Three year starter who has never missed a game. Matias has raw tools and a developing skill set that can fit in to most NFL blocking schemes. His wingspan and girth are about as good as it gets. His footwork needs to be improved; however the athleticism and ability to move are there. He can be a dominant guard at the next level once he fine-tunes those small but vital aspects of the position.

#75 – C – Cameron Erving – 6’6/308

Erving redshirted his first season at FSU because of a back injury. In 2012 he was one of the team’s primary run stuffing defensive tackles until he made the move to left tackle prior to the 2012 season. He’s been locked in as a starter ever since and has made several All-American teams. His performance as a pass blocker held him back from the elite grade. He struggled against some of his toughest competition, allowing too much pressure to the outside speed rush and double moves inside. His pad level and road-grading style was always best suited inside. He showed his versatility in 2014, moving to center and playing at a very high level. Best suited at center or guard where his weakness as a lateral mover in pass protection can be hidden. His raw strength and power is NFL ready and versatile linemen like this are always in high demand. 2nd rounder I think.

#80 – WR – Rashad Greene – 5’11/180

Leaves FSU as one of the all time leading receivers in school history. Led the Seminoles in receptions and receiving yards all four years of his career. Smooth mover and pass catcher that is very QB-friendly. Consistently runs himself open and will catch passes all over the route tree. High effort player that makes good decisions with and without the ball. His combination of speed, agility, and ball skills will fit the NFL game very well. Only his lack of size and physicality will hurt his final grade. He is a dependable receiver no matter where he lines up. While he lacks star power, he is sure bet to be a productive player at the next level. 2nd or 3rdrounder.

#35 – TE – Nick O’Leary – 6’3/247

My favorite TE prospect in the nation. The former high school #1 tight end recruit and grandson of Jack Nicklaus is favored to with the Mackey Award. An old school football player that shows a complete and versatile style. O’Leary is an all-out hustler that does all of the little things well. His less-than-ideal size and speed rarely show up on tape. He has elite ball skills and might be the most dependable blocker of any tight end in the class. A gritty gamer with the ability to fit in to any scheme right away as a starter. 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#54 – RG – Tre Jackson – 6’4/330

Three year starter at Right Guard that has never missed a game since earning that spot. Received a 3rd round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Board in the winter of 2014. Jackson may be the top RG in the nation after displaying his ability to produce equally as a run and pass blocker. He can handle the power game of the NFL right away, but may struggle with the speed/quickness/complexity of blitzing and stunting fronts. Jackson is not a fit for every scheme because he appears uncomfortable in space and on the move. In a power scheme however, Jackson can be a day one starter at the next level.

#50 – RT – Bobby Hart – 6’4/320

Three year starter. Will be 20 years old when drafted. May have been out of position at right tackle. He has the ideal frame and style for a guard but was likely moved outside because of the amount of talent they already had inside. Hart was a quality wrestler and basketball player in high school and that kind of athleticism shows up on tape. His issues as a blocker are more technique based than anything. Has the tools to be a quality backup and eventual starter in the NFL. Just needs to shore up his feet and hands and may have to make a move to the inside. 5th or 6th rounder.

#9 – RB – Karlos Williams – 6’1/225

Williams was a top tier recruit out of high school at the safety position. He played two years on the defensive side of the ball prior to being moved to running back after the first two games of the 2013 season. He has the physical tools that can create a quality running back. Size and speed are there but he doesn’t show the skill set out of a top tier running back prospect. 2014 was a down year after a solid 2013. He doesn’t have a natural feel for the position or what to do with the ball inhis hands. He is a powerful downhill force that could be a short yardage contributor. But his running style and lack of vision and reaction will hold him back at the next level when considering him as an every down back. 6th or 7th rounder.

*#15 – DE – Mario Edwards – 6’3/294

The former 5 star recruit has been used in a wide variety of ways. He can play with his hand in the dirt outside the tackle or across from the guard. He can play standing up. He has shown ability in coverage against tight ends. He has been used a lead blocker near the goal line and even been given the ball on fake punts. Athletes like this are rare to come by and if a coach can be creative with him, Edwards will be a difference maker. He isn’t a clear cut fit for the vanilla defensive schemes but a creative coach can give him multiple roles based on packages. The power he shows on the field is top tier. Very functional strength and surprising ability to cover ground in a short space.

*#90 – DT – Eddie Goldman – 6’4/314

Former top tier HS recruit. Injured in the ACC Championship but should be in pads tonight. Some view him as a top 15 pick but I’m not there yet with him. He has all the talent. Moves well, strong hands. He can beat blockers a few different ways. Goldman doesn’t produces the power I want from his legs though. Not saying he is weak, but he doesn’t anchor well, gets pushed back too often. An elite DT prospect shouldn’t get pushed around the way he does. He should go back for another year but I am sure someone spends a top 45 pick on him if he comes out.

#26 – CB – PJ Williams – 6’0/196

2nd Team All ACC and 2014 National Championship game MVP. Williams has the physical goods to play cornerback at a high level in the NFL. He has the size, strength, and physical style of play to handle any role thrown his way. His ability to beat up a receiver at the line of scrimmage as well as stay in their hip pocket all over the field is heavily sought after. In addition, he can defend with a presence against the outside run. His aggression and ability to move with balance and precision is the exact combination the NFL looks for in cornerbacks. Top 45 pick, maybe a top 20 guy.

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ALABAMA

*#9 – WR – Amari Cooper – 6’1/202

All American. Record setting WR that was NFL ready last year. Top tier ball skills and route running. Has 4.4 speed and is really tough after the catch. Cooper does everything at a really high level. I wouldn’t call him a rare prospect but he is going to be a very good player in the NFL. His game translates well. Larry Fitzgerald type receiver. He gets nicked up a lot, that is my biggest concern with him. Still a first rounder and will end up in the top 12 on my board at least.

*#4 – RB – TJ Yeldon – 6’2/218

Junior that hasn’t declared yet but I think he will. He has been very involved in that offense since his freshman year. He looked like an NFL back two years ago. Big, thick, and really athletic. Patient runner that may be a bit too patient. He really trusts his last second quickness and agility. Yeldon hasn’t been the star I thought he would be, but he can be a very good NFL back. There are some ball security issues here and he tends to be too slow to react to the action in front of him. Might be a 3rd rounder but I like him.

#77 – LG – Arie Kouandijo – 6’5/318

Might be by favorite G prospect in the country. Really turned it on in the second half of the year and we started to see that dominant potential be fulfilled. He has a huge frame, really long arms and strong upper body. Little weak on the lower half. Had a nasty injury history early on in his career at Alabama, almost ended before it started. That knee needs to check out but has been starting since week 1 of 2013 and hasn’t looked back. If the knee looks clean, he can be a 2nd rounder.

#2 – WR DeAndrew White – 6’0/190

I’ve always liked White but he was under the shadow of some of the other elite players on this offense. I like his short area explosion and he has some solid ball skills downfield. Tracks the deep ball well. Good after the catch. Underrated WR that can be had on day 3.

#45 – FB – Jalston Fowler – 6’1/248

Yes he is a fullback but I’ve always thought some teams will see him as a RB. Fowler has some solid RB traits. Vision, short area quickness. Body lean, pad level. I thoink if he went somewhere else, he’d be a 3rd or 4th round prospect. I think he gets taken in the 5th or 6th.

#79 – RT – Austin Shepherd – 6’5/316

Two year starter. Has good body control and a strong upper body. Lacks the movement ability, bends at the waist a lot. He has an NFL frame and good power, I think someone will give him a look as a backup type. Late rounder.

*#26 – S – Landon Collins – 6’0/215

Widely considered the top safety in the class, might be a top 10 caliber player. I like Collins a lot but I’m not sure he fits in to the elite tier. He is at his best near the line of scrimmage. Really physical and a sound tackler. He is a reliable last level of a defense type guy. Is he elite in coverage? I don’t think so. He can shadow receivers but he doesn’t have the reaction and awareness in zone coverage that I look for. Top 32 talent? Yes. Top 10? I don’t think so.

#33 – ILB – Trey DePriest – 6’1/245

Classic 3-4 thumper. 3 year starter that needs to be between the tackles. Not a good athlete when he gets outside. Physical guy that blitzes well, but only fits in to a few schemes.

Other Notables:

#22 – WR – Christian Jones – 5’11/187
#72 – RG – Leon Brown – 6’6/320
#84 – TE – Brian Vogler – 6’7/265
#6 – QB – Blake Sims – 6’0/208
#27 – S – Nick Perry – 6’1/212

OHIO STATE

#63 – DT – Michael Bennett – 6’2/288

Viewed as one of the top pass rushing DTs in the country. 13.5 sacks over the past two years. Explosive out of his stance, constantly in the backfield. Really quick and active hands, can get off blocks. Swallows a 5-10 yard gap when he’s in space like a DE. Can he anchor against the run? Probably not but he won’t need to if he gets drafted in to the right scheme. Not a fit for everyone but some will view him as a top 45 overall guy.

#12 – CB – Doran Grant – 5’11/191

I don’t have much on Grant yet. I haven’t scouted him yet. Two year starter with marginal production. Did have 5 INTs in 2014. Looking forward to his matchup for him.

#14 – MLB – Curtis Grant – 6’2/243

Former top tier recruit, hasn’t lived up to the hype. Looks the part but he is a better athlete than he is a football player, a combination that usually doesn’t work outwell for LBs. Doesn’t read the players in front of him, but will chase guys down and packs a punch. Could be a solid special teamer and backup LB. Late rounder.

#5 – TE – Jeff Heuerman – 6’5/255

Some say he is the top TE in the class when it comes to being a balanced tool/skill set guy. He can block well, runs the seam. Soft and reliable hands. There is some ability in space with the ball in his hands as well. He wasn’t used much in this offense but there is still a lot to like. 4th or 5th rounder maybe.

#9 – WR – Devin Smith – 6’1/199

One of the fastest WRs in the country, might run a sub 4.3 forty. OSU is undefeated when he scores a TD (over 20 wins). He averaged over 26 yards per catch in 2014. He can run by anyone, and I mean anyone. Good ball skills and has some good route running ability underneath. He more than just a speed guy. He may be a guy I look in to more in the coming weeks.

Other Notables:

#6 – WR – Evan Spencer – 6’1/212

Jan 012015
 
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Shane Ray, Missouri Tigers (September 27, 2014)

Shane Ray – © USA TODAY Sports Images

January 1, 2015 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch (Early Games)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

AUBURN

*#18 – WR – Sammie Coates – 6’2/201

Junior that has already declared for the draft. Big time speed and can get downfield behind a defense about as fast as anyone. Has the size and strength as well to be a factor in traffic. Averaged over 22 yards per catch over the past two seasons. I always get weary of giving high grades to guys that appear to be better athletes than football players, but I might make an exception for Coates. He could have been a more productive player in a different scheme. This guy has all the tools but he can really catch the ball as well. Couple minor injuries to look at but he could be another Torrey Smith or Nate Washington type. 2nd or 3rd round.

#50 – C – Reese Dismukes – 6’3/296

Will end his career with 50 starts. Highly recruited out of HS. Could have been the top C in the 2014 Draft. Dismukes has the typical squatty frame that fits well inside. Really good presence as a run blocker. Quick lower half, strong upper body. Always in control, always sticking to his man. Quietly, he just doesn’t get beat. I don’t see any dominant traits to his game but he will be a good starter in the NFL. 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#44 – RB – Cameron Artis-Payne – 5’10/210

Came in to the year as part of a RB duo, but he absolutely took off. Led the SEC in rushing this season. Numbers are a little inflated because of the favorable scheme to RBs but he is still a solid prospect. Good inside runner, patient but quick reaction type. He can miss contact in a phone booth and explode for 5-10 yards. May not have great top end speed but he doesn’t need it. Quality rusher, may lack some receiving and blocking ability. 4th-5th rounder.

#81 – TE – CJ Uzomah – 6’4/264

Upside type guy that has never really produced the way he could have. Maybe it is a scheme thing. He carries 260+ pounds with ease and he moves really well. Even takes some snaps at WR. He’s made a couple catches where you just have to raise your eyebrows and wonder. Late round project.

*#8 – MLB – Cassanova McKinzy – 6’3/249

Junior that hasn’t declared yet. Only scouted him once but I’ve seen him in passing a couple times. Very good athlete with range to get to the sidelines. I like his game speed and aggression. Can tackle with presence. Enforcer inside. Not much of a pass defender, loses a lot of his foot quickness there. Might be a 3-4 type but I’ll need to see more. Has a shot at being a 2nd rounder.

#9 – S – Jermaine Whitehead – 5’11/193

Under the radar safety with a lot of starting experience and good ball skills. Reads and flows really well. I want to see him another 1 or 2 times to get a better read on his ability to tackle and play physical though. Not sure where to peg him yet.

#90 – DT – Gabe Wright – 6’2/285

Has dropped weight for 2014 because he plays outside a lot. I think he projects as a 3-4 DE or 4-3 DT in certain schemes. Has a solid but unspectacular speed/power to his game. Nothing special, late rounder that I know some guys like.

Other Notables:

#14 – QB – Nick Marshall – 6’1/210
#62 – RG – Chad Slade – 6’5/313
#20 – RB – Corey Grant – 5’10/205
#6 – CB – Jonathan Mincy – 5’10/192

WISCONSIN

#25 – RB – Melvin Gordon – 6’1/207

Already declared. Very well known and some consider him the best RB in this class. Very explosive and has more size than people think. Wiry strength. His game is built on the ability to get out in space, make guys miss, and runaway. But he added some strength to his game. He shows great vision, and I mean GREAT vision. He sees things in space that other good backs simply don’t, kind of like McCoy. Good blocker, average pass catcher. I question if he can be an every down back, if he can hold up. Little thin on the lower half but some scouts see a top 10 guy here. Not sure about that but I think he’ll be a first rounder. I’m still trying to figure him out.

*#61 – LT – Tyler Marz – 6’5/321

Junior that hasn’t declared and I think he is leaning towards going back to school but I wanted to discuss him. Marz is a smooth player with plenty of violence and size to his game. Not saying he is Joe Thomas but he does have an awfully similar style. Bose, the outstanding DE from Ohio State, said Marz was the best he faced all year. I saw him in September and labeled him a top tier OT nationally. He did, however, take a couple step backs when I saw him twice in November. Curious to see what he decides, he could be a sleeper top 15 guy if he comes out.

#78 – RT – Rob Havenstein – 6’7/327

Over 40 career starts after this game. He isn’t much of a space guy but he is pretty consistent and reliable. Gets the job done. Isn’t pretty and he is probably a limited pass blocker, but he can play. He knows how to use his size and length. Maybe a 5th or 6th rounder that projects as a backup initially.

#45 – DT – Warren Herring – 6’2/294

Was a career backup heading in to 2014, didn’t give him a lot of attention early on. But I liked what I saw in November and watched a couple hames from October. This guy can play. Not a scheme fit everywhere but he is consistently disruptive. Really good hand work and leverage. Gets off the ball well, constantly forcing his man to react. I like guys like this. Very poor man’s Aaron Donald. Late rounder but I guarantee a few teams will like him a lot.

Other Notables:

#49 – TE – Sam Arneson – 6’4/244
#73 – LG – Dallas Lewallen – 6’5/322
#54 – RG – Kyle Costigan – 6’4/315
#91 – DT – Konrad Zagzebski – 6’3/285
#30 – MLB – Derek Landisch – 5’11/230

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MICHIGAN STATE

*#15 – CB – Trae Waynes – 6’1/185

Fourth year junior. Widely considered to be one of the top three corners in this draft class if he comes out. He always stood out to me last year when I was scouting Drummond, the 2014 first rounder by Cincinnati. He moves better and has a longer frame. Fits the mold of the new mold of tall, long cover corners that the deep speed and physical nature that the NFL loves. He can stick to a WR all over the field. Love the agility and deep speed. Good test for him today. Top 45 pick, maybe a 1st rounder.

#89 – DE – Shilique Calhoun – 6’5/256

Fourth year junior, hasn’t declared yet. Some thought he could have come out last year and been a top 45 pick. I haven’t seen that side of him yet. He doesn’t have that short area explosion that I want out of a 1st round DE. He is tough and physical though, certainly has the body for it. Can be a strong DE that plays the run and pass equally well. 2nd or 3rd rounder, I tend to think he is more of a 3rd rounder.

#27 – S – Kurtis Drummond – 6’1/200

First team All American. Actually a guy I need to scout more. I haven’t been able to get the looks at him to make a real judgment. He is a well balanced player, a guy that can play in the box or in deep coverage on any given play. Led the team in tackles, led the conference in passes defended. Drummond is not a superior athlete and I’ve seen hin out run a few times already, but I think he can get by with heady play and good reaction times. I still need to see more but some label him a 2nd/3rd round pick.

#34 – MLB – Taiwan Jones – 6’3/250

Solid but unspectacular 2+ year starter for the Spartans. Leader of the front seven that makes all the checks and audibles. Coach on the field type. He looks like he has the goods but he doesn’t react the way you want a MLB to. He can be drafted late but I wouldn’t expect more than a backup/special teamer down the road here.

#33 – RB – Jeremy Langford – 5’11/206

Every year there are senior running backs like this. Not overly athletic, nothing stands out about their size. But he was consistently productive and a big senior season. Solid between the tackles, breaks off defenders. Smart runner, very aware of the defense and game situations. He can be a quality back in the NFL, at least a backup. 5th or 6th rounder.

#14 – WR – Tony Lippett – 6’2/191

Interesting player here. He started off as a CB, but ended up moving to WR and led the team the past two years by a wide margin. Was a big play threat in 2014, opened a lot of eyes. However in addition to being a solid WR prospect, Lippett played plenty of CB in 2014 as well and actually looked really good. Rare two way prospect and I actually think his long term upside is higher on defense. 5th or 6th rounder that could shoot up draft boards.

Other Notables:

#44 – DE – Marcus Rush – 6’2/245
#63 – LG – Travis Jackson – 6’3/286
#25 – WR – Keith Mumphrey – 6’1/211

BAYLOR

#14 – QB – Bryce Petty – 6’2/214

QB friendly spread attack, has inflated numbers. Tools wise Petty is average. He can make all the throws, decent athlete. I like his toughness. He stands tall in the pocket and will take all the hits and he won’t get rattled. Smart guy as well. Petty has these weired stretches throughout games though where he can’t hit the side of a barn if it was 10 yards in front of him. Very inconsistent accuracy. I like what he has going on between the ears but I don’t think he is a starter in the NFL. 3rd or 4th rounder.

#5 – WR – Antwan Goodley – 5’10/225

Saw him last year thinking there was a shot he would come out early after a team leading 71 catch/1,339 yard season. Fifth year senior that has a weird body type for the position, looks more like a RB. Unique player. There is more deep speed to his game than you think. Really explosive in a short space. Plays the game hard and does a lot of little things right. Might be a Golden Tate type player in the NFL. 3rd rounder I would say that could bump up a lot if he runs fast.

#42 – WR – Levi Norwood – 6’1/195

More traditional WR than Goodley but wasn’t as productive. Easy mover and really fluid in and out of breaks. Good route runner, good hands. Some teams may actually prefer him to Goodley. He has some decent return ability as well. I think he is a day 3 guy.

#44 – MLB – Bryce Hager – 6’2/235

Leading tackler in 2014 and 2012. Heady linebacker that plays within the tackle box really well. Limited athlete though, gets exposed on space. 3-4 ILB prospect I think that could be drafted day 3.

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MISSOURI

*#56 – DE – Shane Ray – 6’3/245

Junior that hasn’t declared yet but I would be surprised he he didn’t. Could be the top edge rusher in this class. I don’t think there is anyone that is as explosive as him in this class. He gets out of his stance and turns the corner as well, if not better, than anyone. He is a little light in the pants, may not have the power presence to play DE in a 4-3. I’ve seen him a lot this year and I think he could do it down the road. Right away he offers elite-caliber edge rushing ability.

#33 – DE – Markus Golden – 6’2/255

One of my favorite DE prospects in the nation. Has a thicker build and stronger game than Ray, but may not have the height and length some teams want. Golden plays as hard as any defender in the country. Always running to the action. Has talent though as well, good explosion out of his stance and a variety of rush moves. Plays low and fast. He is plenty big enough for me, I think he is a 1st round caliber guy that you can get in round 2.

#65 – LT – Mitch Morse – 6’5/305

Another one of my favorites. Morse is a very good LT prospect that shows elite footwork and body control. I talked up Justin Britt this time last year while everyone had him labeled as a late rounder. Britt went on to start at RT for #1 seed Seattle this year. I think Morse is just as good as Britt, may be even better. If NYG needs to wait on bringing in a LT, Morse should be the target starting in round 4. I really like him.

#21 – WR – Bud Sasser – 6’2/210

Overlooked WR prospect here. Didn’t do much until 2013, Was the team’s leading receiver in 2014. Really smooth hands catcher with body control. Stronger than your typical college WR. He is an underneath threat but showed some ability to get behind a defense. Reliable 3rd down guy with some untapped upside. 5th or 6th rounder.

#32 – RB – Marcus Murphy – 5’9/195

Might be the top KR prospect in the country. I don’t say this often, but I think he has Devin Hester-type potential. Goes from 0-60 in a few steps. Changes direction at full speed, good vision. Consistently out-ran angles that defenders had on him. A decent RB prospect as well but he is a special teams guy before anything. Late rounder I wouldn’t mind spending a pick on to see if he can be that next elite KR.

Other Notables:

#88 – WR – Jimmie Hunt – 6’0/215
#9 – SS – Braylon Webb – 5’11/207
#89 – DT – Matt Hoch – 6’5/295

MINNESOTA

*#88 – TE – Maxx Williams – 6’4/250

Redshirt sophomore, has already declared for the draft. May be the top TE prospect in this class. Didn’t exactly have a dominant season and I was surprised to see him come out, but he does have talent. Really good athlete in space, carries that weight well. Can be a traditional TE that blocks, not just a receiver. I’ll need to do some more work on him in the coming weeks but he is top 45 caliber from what I have seen to this point.

#27 – RB – David Cobb – 5’11/220

Caught the nation off guard with is 2014 season. Rarely gets talked about but he rushed for 1,548 yards this year. He can run between and outside the tackles. Almost never goes down on initial contact, breaks a lot of tackles and that is what I look for the most in backs. He can get the job done. Might be a limited athlete but I can see him being a 4tth or 5th round pick.

#2 – S – Cedric Thompson – 6’2/208

Love the game speed here. He is all over the field, constantly around the action. I want this top of guy at safety. Aggressive and strong, tackles well, not a liability in coverage. May not be a great awareness guy in deep zone coverage, but he can run with WRs. Day three guy.

#5 – LB – Damien Wilson – 6’2/240

Superior athlete, can run laterally as fast as any LB I’ve seen this year. Loves to pursue and catch plays from behind. Doesn’t read the action though, struggles when the action is in front of him. Won’t fill the lanes, take on blocks. He can be a great special teams LB that a team will try to develop in to a quality LB down the road. Day 3 guy.

Other Notables:

#52 – LG – Zac Epping – 6’2/318
#58 – C – Tommy Olson – 6’4/308
#48 – DT – Cameron Botticelli – 6’4/286

Dec 302014
 
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Andrus Peat, Stanford Cardinal (October 18, 2014)

Andrus Peat – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 30, 2014 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

NOTRE DAME

*#78 – LT – Ronnie Stanley – 6’5/315

Two year starter. One year at RT, one year at LT. Similar situation to Greg Robinson last year, an underclassman that has not been talked up much by the main talking heads this year but also a guy that scouts have been raving about. Stanley, if he comes out, has a legit shot at being the first OT taken in this draft. Potential top 3 overall grade here. He is a great run blocker with a powerful first few steps. Looks unbeatable at times when you consider the strength and movement skills. Gets sloppy with his footwork and hand placement but his weaknesses are little things that can be corrected. He is an elite prospect if he comes out.

#18 – TE – Ben Koyack – 6’4/261

Was primarily a blocking TE over his first three years. Used as a TE, FB, H-Back. I like his ability to be a complete TE in the NFL. The physical side is there. Really good effort blocker with plenty of strength to his game. Shows soft hands, long arms, toughness as a receiver. Limited upside and he isn’t the prospect that Niklas was last year but he can stick in the NFL for sure. 4th or 5th rounder that can be depended on to fill a role.

#74 – RT – Christian Lombard – 6’5/315

Has played plenty of RT, RG, even a little bit of LT over his career. Had an injury shortened 2013 (back). Came back strong in 2014 and cemented himself as a classic ND offensive line prospect. Quality run blocker that shows limited athletcism as a pass blocker. I think his future is inside, the foot quickness just isn’t there for him to play OT. The issue with him inside however is a lack of quality knee bend. He does’t play a low game. I don’t like his potential but we can get drafted late.

*#91 – DT – Sheldon Day – 6’2/285

Junior that hasn’t declared. I expect him to return, he had a rough 2014. He played DE in the old 3-4 scheme, made gthe switch to 4-3 DT this year. Many thought he would break out in to a pass rush machine but it didn’t happen. He gets overwhelmed and controlled at the point of attack too easily. He is an interesting player, can show signs of being a guy that OL have a hard time blocking with his quickness and low center of gravity but he is a one trick pony at this point. He sprained his MCL in November as well. Overall a disappointing year for him and I can’t imagine his grade being anything better than a 4th rounder.

#2 – CB – Cody Riggs – 5’9/185

Undersized and lack of presence in man coverage. Has some good movement ablilty. Light feet and can change direction well with the action in front of him. Limited cover man when he has to turn his backs, a little too tight-hipped for a player his size. Late rounder that has been unspectacular his whole career.

Other Notables:

#33 – RB – Cam McDaniel – 5’9/194
#77 – C – Matt Hegarty – 6’4/300

LSU

#70 LT – La’el Collins – 6’5/315

One of my favorite OL prospects in the nation. Could have come out last year and I would have had a top 20 grade on him. Former LG, made move to LT prior to 2013 season. He is a punishing, controlling OL. He looks a lot leaner this year and moves a lot better, but still has the road grader mentality. He can beat defenders multiple ways. Really adjusts well, good reaction. He is a true leader, looks out for teammates and takes a lot of pride in being the enforcer. I love guys like that and he has all the ability. He may finish in my top 10 overall. Should be a top 20 pick when all is said and done at worst.

*#59 – DE – Jermauria Rasco – 6’3/247

Disruptive two year starter. Was constantly around the action in the two games I saw. Would like to see more of this kid. Reminds me of the other edeg rushers we’ve seen out of LSU over the past few years that have been OK at best in the NFL. May not have the frame for a 4-3 DE. The first step quickness is there but he doesn’t do much afterward to beat a blocker consistently. I like the hustle though. 5th or 6th rounder.

#26 – S – Ronald Martin – 6’2/220

Physical, versatile safety. Can fly in to the box and make the tackle. But also a much better cover safety than you would think. Showed the range to play in deep coverage. Fast reaction and makes plays on the ball. Little under the radar safety here that I think could work his way in to the first 5 or 6 rounds.

Other Notables:

#18 – RB – Terrence Magee – 5’9/217
#27 – RB – Kenny Hilliard – 6’0/232
#43 – FB – Connor Neighbors – 5’11/229

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GEORGIA

#51 – ILB – Ramik Wilson – 6’2/232

One of my favorite MLB prospects in the nation. 235 tackles, 17 TFL, 5 sacks over past two years. He isn’t a compiler by any means. Wilson is all over the field and I think he may be one of the best athletes in this LB class. He shows a big time presence as tackler, consistently delivers a violent pop to the ball carrier. Shows a lot of range to the sidelines, he can run with anyone. He does struggle in coverage, not the same athlete when dropping back as he is when playing the run. But for a 4-3 LB prospect, Wilson is a good one. Possible 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#5 – CB – Damian Swann – 5’11/178

2 year starter, has a knack for being involved in big plays. 11 INT, 10 FF, 5 FR over past three seasons. Play to play, Swann is an average CB prospect. He moves well but doesn’t do some of the smaller but important things. High and sloppy backpedal, gambles too much, won’t read the action. Still an interesting prospect that can likely be had on day three. There is something about him that I like. Defenders that are constantly around the action can end up being good players in the league. Swann fits in to that discussion.

#52 – ILB – Amario Herrera – 6’2/231

Four year contributor, solid inside linebacker. Limited range though and he just seems to be a step behind anything outside of the tackle box. Could be a very good 3-4 ILB prospect but I think he is limited otherwise. Sound tackler, led UGA in 2014 with 112. Not a 3 down guy. Late rounder.

#31 – WR – Chris Conley – 6’2/206

Leading receiver in 2014. Not a special athlete by any means but it’s hard not to appreciate how smooth he is. Very reliable hands, good body control. Excels near the sidelines and in the end zone. Has some sneaky speed to him too. Comparible to a WR I really liked in the 2014 Class that flew under the radar, Kevin Norwood, whom is making his way up the depth chart in Seattle right now. Conley is a guy that gets it, quality football player and really good kid off the field.

#82 – Michael Bennett – 6’3/202

Another less than stellar athlete that is a smart enough receiver to make an impact. Led UGA in receptions in 2014. Tough as nails over the middle. Struggles to separate but he has a good chance of coming down with the ball in traffic. Physical guy that will out-perform guys drafted ahead of him. Late rounder but a guy that can be reliable to find a role for himself and perform it well.

#61 – C – David Andrews – 6’2/295

Third year starter, leader of the OL. Makes all the line calls. Smart and a hard worker. Talent wise I don’t see anything here to warrant much. The coaches rave about him and his quiet but vital impact on their running game. I have failed a few years in a row with a few centers that were a lot better than where I had them graded, so I want to put him in here. Andrews Can swing his hips in to the hole well, always appears balanced and strong. But there aren’t any overly impressive traits to his game.

Other Notables:

#61 – DE – Ray Drew – 6’4/276
#14 – QB – Hutson Mason – 6’3/202

LOUISVILLE

#9 – WR – DeVante Parker – 6’3/209

The best player in this game. First round caliber WR, some say he should be a top 15 guy. I don’t have him in the same breath as Strong/Cooper/White but he’s a quality prospect. Missed 6 games in 2014 but still finished as the team’s leading receiver with 35 catches for 735 yards. Had a couple dominant performances. Big play threat. Long and lean but strong upper body.

#70 – LG – John Miller – 6’2/325

Over 40 career starts. Team captain. Thumper that is at his best as a straight ahead run blocker. Miller has the typical body of a guard, bowling ball type that packs a lot of power. Shows signs of dominance here and there. Doesn’t move to his left very well. He can react well but the foot quickness isn’t always there. 4th-5th rounder at best.

#79 – LT – Jamon Brown – 6’5/326

Mammoth left tackle that has played some at RT as well. Lost weight prior to the 2014 season and it certainly made a difference as a pass blocker. He appears to be more fluid moving to the outside, he can move pretty well. The power presence is there, strong hands and a long reach. Brown is a guy that looks worse the longer the play goes but he is good right off the snap. I think he is a RT in the pros but he can be a good one, starting caliber eventually. 4th or 5th rounder.

#18 – TE – Gerald Christian – 6’3/242

Started off at Florida, played for Lousiville in 2013 for the first time. Has some really explosive traits to his game, can be a big play threat from the TE spot. Aggressive blocker, may need more strength. I think he can be an important piece to a passing game in the league. A lot of talent but some quality football skills as well. Late rounder worth going after for sure.

#10 – RB – Dominique Brown – 6’2/216

One of my favorite under the radar RBs in the nation. Really explosive downhill speed. Missed 2012 with a knee, came back strong in 2013. He has tools to work wth and a nice skill set that looks pretty far developed when it comes to pad level, lean, and ball security. Maybe doesn’t have the vision/awareness yet. Late rounder I would gamble on.

#94 – OLB – Lorenzo Mauldin – 6’4/244

Was a 4-3 DE prior to the 2014 season. Team made a switch to the 3-4 and he is now at OLB, a better spot for him in the NFL. He can change direction with ease, really athletic lower body from a flexibility and quickness perspective. He has a high ceiling and I think he has an outside shot at being a 1st rounder. May not be as strong as some teams want but he can rush the edge. High potential here, I’ll have him graded out in the top 50 overall.

*#8 – S – Gerod Holliman – 6’2/213

Nation’s leader in INTs with a stunning 14 in just 12 games. Some will look at the stats and say he is up there with Landon Collins as the top S in this class. I don’t think he’s that good. We see several prospects over the years with big INT numbers that simply aren’t that good. He obviously has the ball skills and he can play to his size in coverage. But he isn’t a physical guy and his tackling is poor in every game I watch. He may be a 1st rounder but hell be a 3rd rounder on my board. Still a solid prospect, just not elite at all.

*#3 – CB – Charles Gaines – 5’11/174

Hasn’t declared yet. Haven’t heard anything but I think he is worth talking about. One of the best movers of the CB class. Looks like he plays on ice skates. Really easy change of direction guy with the deep speed as well. There is a physical style to him but teams will question if he is strong enough, and rightfully so. I like Gaines but will need to see more before I label him a 1st rounder.

Other Notables:

#26 – RB – Michael Dyer – 5’9/215
#53 – RG – Jake Smith – 6’3/305
#6 – WR – Eli Rogers – 5’10/182
#11 – DE – BJ Dubose – 6’5/263
#48 – OLB – Deiontre Mount – 6’5/243

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MARYLAND

#97 – DT – Darius Kilgo – 6’2/310

3-4 Nose Tackle type. Has some sneaky short area quickness to him, can be an anchor. Limited player though, 5th or 6th rounder for specific schemes.

#6 Deon Long – WR – 6’0/195

Hidden weapon here that has good movement. Can run himself open and catch the tough passes. Circuitious route to where he is now but there is some hidden talent here.

Other Notables:

#40 – OLB – Matt Robinson – 6’2/240
#47 – ILB – Cole Farrand – 6’3/245
#14 – CB – Jeremiah Johnson – 5’11/195

STANFORD

*#70 – LT – Andrus Peat – 6’6/312

My favorite LT prospect in the nation. Hasn’t declared yet Has true “Blue Goose” potential Dominant physical guy but has the feet to skate his way to the edge. He can block anyone the league throws at him.

#7 – WR – Ty Montgomery – 6’2/220

Versatile player with a tool set that scouts drool over. Great speed and quickness. Has elite yard after the catch potential, good return man. Underwhelming 2014 season will knock his grade down. Inconsistent hands. Could be one of the bargains of the 2015 class if he can be had in round 3.

#58 – NT – David Parry – 6’2/303

Noticed him early in the year and is one my favorite DT prospects in the nation. Wrestler-type with his low center of gravity and easy quickness. Tough guy to block that can make a big impact in any scheme. Might be a late rounder be he may make my top 75 overall.

#9 – OLB – James Vaughters – 6’2/258

May be resticted to the 3-4. Power player with a long frame, a lot of muscle. Smart player that can move quick in a phone booth. Could be an impact guy in the NFL.

Other Notables:

#91 – DE – Henry Anderson – 6’5/295
#8 – S – Jordan Richards – 5’11/210
#2 – CB – Wayne Lyons – 6’1/196
#17 – ILB – AJ Tarpley – 6’1/238

Dec 292014
 
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Kevin White, West Virginia Mountaineers (November 29, 2014)

Kevin White – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 29, 2014 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

TEXAS A& M

#70 – RT – Cedric Ogbuehi – 6’5/305

The next Aggie left tackle that will end up in the first round, making it three in a row for the program. Has played RG, RT, and LT. Surprisingly, he showed the biggest signs of struggle this year at LT. Because of injuries to the OL, they moved him back to his more natural position, RT a few weeks ago. He struggled with a couple vital components to the position, mainly being body control and hand strength. He isn’t the top 5 prospect that many thought he would be prior to the season, but we are still talking about a top 25 guy. Teams still draft right tackles in the first round and rightfully so. All said and done I still think he’ll be called at some point in round 1 and play a Michael Oher type RT.

#51 – LT – Jarvis Harrison – 6’4/325

Interesting story here. Has been moved to LT from his guard spot. Coaches say it was because of injuries elsewhere on the OL but Harrison appears to be a better LT than Ogbuehi. He is a very good athlete, better than Ogbuehi. May not be that tall but he has length. All said and done I think he plays LG in the NFL but wouldn’t surprised if a few teams like him at LT. I only saw him in the beginning of the year and at the end. He was night and day different because his offseason was hampered by calf/shoulder issues. I just think he was out of shape when I first saw him. He looked great late in the year and I look forward to a tough matchup for him here.

#84 – WR – Malcome Kennedy – 6’0/205

Slot receiver, didn’t have the 2014 that many were hoping for. I don’t see the high upside here althought a lot of guys think he’ll be drafted somewhere in the top 150 overall. He is a quick twitch athlete that catches the ball in traffic. Gets open quickly. I just don’t see the route running ability. Better athlete than football player type. Had it easy in that offensive scheme. Maybe a top 250 overall guy on my board.

#85 – TE – Cameron Clear – 6’6/270

Quite the opposite of Kennedy. I think he has the potential to be a much better NFL player than college player. He was mainly a blocker in their scheme and a very good one at that. Problem for him is that the A& M offense is sp spread-heavy that his role wasn’t used a lot. But when he is on the field. Clear played at a high level. There are some ball skills and movement ability to his game that is hidden. I think he can be a player. Late rounder worth taking a shot on because at the very least, he will be a good blocking TE.

#29 – CB – Deshazor Everett – 6’0/193
Under the radar cover corner, three year starter. Has the height/length/speed that teams love to gamble on at the position. Has a lot of experience in man coverage, can hang with anyone downfield. Tighter hips than you would think for such a good athlete. Needs work on skill aspects of the position but the top tier athleticism is there. He is the kind of guy that will workout well and boost his stock a couple rounds. Still more of a 4th/5th round type at best but there is a lot of upside there.

Other Notables:

#31 – S – Howard Matthews – 6’1/215
#5 – S – Floyd Raven – 6’2/200

WEST VIRGINIA

#11 – WR – Kevin White – 6’3/211

If I had to pick one prospect that boosted his stock the most via level of play this season, it’s this guy. He has height, length, and ridiculous hand size. He is one of those guys that you watch over the course of a few weeks and find it really difficult to pinpoint an actual weakness in his game. White is every part of an elite WR prospect and should be taken in the top 15 overall, if not top 10. He had a pretty indirect path to where he stands now but if anything, it may help his draft outlook across the league. His size as I noted is near a top tier grade. But White shows tremendous ball skills and ability after the catch as well. May not have the elite speed, but he always seems to play faster than the defense, including Alabama week 1. White is one of my favorite WRs in this class and still has a shot at finishing at the top.

#5 – WR – Mario Alford – 5’9/177

The other half of the WR duo. Not the prospect that White is obviously, but Alford is a very good player himself. Undersized but very fast and explosive. Some are comparing him to Stedman Bailey but he isn’t as polished. Needs to run better routes and catch the ball better. I actually think he compares more to Tavon Austin with his movement ability. Not a first rounder but still a guy that can do a lot for an offense based purely on his speed/quickness/agility. 4th or 5th rounder.

#67 – LG – Quinton Spain – 6’5/335

Under the radar OL that I’ve been talking up since the beginning of the season. Fifth year senior. Huge frame. Has plenty of experience at LT and LG. I think his NFL future will be inside where he just seems more comfortable. His weaknesses are exposed in space. Classic road grader that can make a lengthy highlight film full of knockdown blocks. Drives guys through the ground. Really good at getting his paws inside and locking on. He is a quick decision maker, reacts well to the blitz and stunt games. His biggest issues derive from being out of shape, which is a bg concern for me. He needs to be lighter. He is rotated in and out of the game a lot. He also gets top heavy and will get lazy with his technique. Still a guy that may be worth a gamble late in the draft. He can be a good one.

#4 – DE – Shaquille Riddick – 6’6/242

Potential diamond in the rough here. Played his whole career at Gardner-Webb until 2014. Had 6 sacks and 9 TFL. Nothing dominant by any means but he is tools-rich and plays the game hard. He can bend well and cut the corner, plays with strong hands. Good tackler, good pursuit. His issue is body related. He has gained 75 pounds since high school but there is still more that he needs to put on. He has wide receiver legs, definitely needs more girth there. Can his frame handle another 20+ pounds. Interesting edge athlete here that I would think should be taken in the top 200 picks.

Other Notables:

#64 – RG – Mark Glowinski – 6’5/305
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OKLAHOMA

*#3 – WR – Sterling Shepard – 5’10/195

Junior that has not yet declared. Someone told me is going, someone told me he is staying. I trust both guys so I really have no idea. He is worth talking about though. Really explosive route runner with good top end speed. Will remind Giants fans of Victor Cruz. He is a shorter guy but there is some thickness to him. Big play threat that can get behind a defense and compete for the ball. Love his ability to get open. Really quick mover and fearless in traffic. If he comes out he has a shot to be a 2nd or 3rd rounder.

#79 – RT – Daryl Williams – 6’5/325

Huge frame. One of my favorite RT prospects in the nation. I think he is made for the NFL. Big and tough, a lot of functional power to his game. He can get low enough and really drive block. Defenders are tossed around by Williams when the body control and balance are there. Effective against linebackers in space. His wide-ness certainly helps. Sure he struggles with some speed to the outside but nothing that should kill his grade. I like him a lot…similar to Phil Loadholt who I loved years back. I’ll have him graded higher than most, somewhere in the top 60-90 overall.

#71 – LT – Tyrus Thompson – 6’5/320

Most like Thompson more than Williams, calling him a potential rise between now and the draft. I’m not huge on him. He does have the size/length/foot speed to play LT. Very athletically gifted. I just don’t like the lack of power and strength to his game. Too often I saw him driven back by bigger defenders. Really thin lower half that I think limits his potential power output. I would label him a 6th or 7th rounder at this point. Not sure what I am not seeing that others do.

#10 – TE – Blake Bell – 6’5/252

You may remember Bell as a rushing QB for the Sooners. Very popular with the fans. He was a short yardage back that could throw a little. He switched over to TE to help the team out and may have carved himself a spot in the NFL. Good power and functional strength. Doesn’t offer much speed wise but he does a lot of little things well. If he gets drafted it will be late. Late rounder with limited upside but a lot of teams, including NYG, like guys that made a position change late in their career.

*#19 Eric Striker – OLB – 6’0/221

Junior that hasn’t declared yet. He gets a lot of national hype but when you really sit down and grade him, he’s not much of an NFL prospect. He blew on to the national scene against Alabama last year in the bowl game where he abused Kouandijo for 3 sacks and more QB hurries. I think that was simply a tough matchup for Kouandijo more than anything. You don’t see edge rushers in the NFL playing at 220 pounds. Striker is an OK prospect and I think he can contribute, but he isn’t nearly the star that some make him out to be. If he comes out I think he is looking at a mid-round slot. Just not sure teams would know what to do with him.

#98 – DE – Chuka Ndulue – 6’3/289

Steady contributor over the years with over 30 starts. Not a big guy but does a lot of the dirty work really well. Most likely a 3-4 DE prospect but could possibly slip inside the 4-3 scheme. He is really quick in short spaces. Really strong, low center of gravity. These guys are a headache for blockers. Ndulue won’t ever be an elite guy but he can be a contributor to a good NFL defense is the scheme is right. 6th or 7th rounder that I like a lot for some teams.

Other Notables:

#48 – FB – Aaron Ripkowski – 6’1/257
#74 – LG – Adam Shead – 6’4/339
#77 – RG – Dionte Savage – 6’4/335
#10 – SS – Quentin Hayes – 6’0/193

CLEMSON

#3 – OLB – Vic Beasley – 6’2/235

Fifth year senior. One of the top defensive players in the country. Has a legit shot at being a top 10 pick. Incredible first step and ability to bend and turn the corner. 41.5 TFL over the past two years. Almost always gets the initial advantage off the snap because of the explosion and underrated strength. Beasley needs to add more weight and by the look of his frame, he may be close to maxing out. We’ll see though. Not a fit for every scheme and he might be a situational player in the NFL. Not sure he can play all three downs. That said, his pass rush potential is really high and in this league, he’ll get taken early because of that. 1st rounder for sure, maybe top 10 but I will have him somewhere in the 20-25 range I think.

#50 – DT – Grady Jarrett – 6’1/295

This 1st Team All ACC defender won’t get the attention while walking off the bus because of his lack of size and length. Jarrett may stand close to under 6 feet tall with short arms but has been a consistently productive player for three years in a row. He is a bowling ball inside that can be a horror to deal with for linemen throughout a game. His low center of gravity and good usage of knee bend and power from his base can be a handful for blockers to deal with. His best fit is in a scheme where he can penetrate the inside gaps with minimal anchor responsibilities. 4th or 5th round.

#43 – MLB – Stephone Anthony – 6’2/245

1st Team All ACC defender that builds his game off of awareness, strength, and tackling ability. Anthony is a quality inside run defender with quick, powerful downhill ability. While he is athletic enough to play in the NFL, he may not be considered a 3 down linebacker. This brand of NFL defense has taken a slight step backward but he can still carve a nice niche for himself at the next level. Smart defenders with strength, power, and downhill ability will always be in demand. Possible starter for some schemes but most likely a special teamer and situational defender. Guys like this are usually taken in the 5th or 6th round.

#26 – CB – Garry Peters – 6’0/190

Had a strong 2012 season and created some hype, but injury riddled 2013 set him back. 2014 treated him well, earning 1st Team All ACC over the likes of PJ Wlliams (FSU) and Kevin Johnson (Wake Forest). Peters is as smooth as it gets. Really good awareness and reaction time. Has the length and height to factor. My question is speed and physicality. Can be match up one on one in man coverage? I think he may be a zone-only corner but I’ll be curious to see how well he runs. 5th or 6th rounder that could get in to day 2 with a few good workouts.

#93 – DE – Corey Crawford

More traditional DE prospect than Beasley, but doesn’t have half the potential. Height/length/strength are all there but he isn’t explosive off the snap. He doesn’t play the game with any sort of skill set. Kind of slow reacting, unaware. He does get his fair share of QB pressures though and he can anchor his position against the run. Not a bad prospect but I don’t see the upside. 6th or 7th rounder.

Other Notables:

#67 – RT – Kalon Davis – 6’5/340
#68 – LG – David Beasley – 6’4/329
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ARKANSAS

#86 – DE – Trey Flowers – 6’4/268

A coach-favorite type guy. Really clean off the field, team captain type. Gets a decent amount of attention nationally but lacks the superstar ability. He doesn’t have the quick pop out of his stance, struggles to reach the corner and get by a good OT. Flowers does play the game low and strong with good mechanics though. He is really consistent and reliable. One of the better run defending DEs that I’ve seen this year, something that is still really important to NFL coaches. Flowers won’t be a star but I guarantee he out-performs a few DL that get drafted ahead of him. Most likely a top 100 guy, maybe a little lower but not much.

#47 – MLB – Martrell Spaight – 6’0/228

Every year I get sort of attached to a LB prospect before his name gets out there. This year, it’s been Spaight, the SEC’s leader in tackles. He was a JUCO All American in 2011 and 2012, and spent most of 2013 as a backup and rotational LB. He broke in 2014 and I still think people overlook him. Not that tall, not that fast, not that big. But Spaight plays the game with his eyes as good as any LB in the country. He is always moving in the right direction with balance and power. He consistently finds his way to the action. Spaight is a limited athlete that shows weakness in coverage but I’ve noticed an improvement from September to now. He is a football player, plain and simple. He may go 5 rounds without hearing his name called but I’ll have him in the top 100 overall, maybe top 65.

#23 – CB – Tevin Mitchel – 6’0/188

Has been in and out of the starting lineup for a few years, but emerged as their top CB in 2013 and some things have clicked for him. He moves well with the action in front of him. Quick reaction, good eyes. Doesn’t have the deep speed to hang with the fast WRs. Limited scheme wise but he can play. Late rounder.

#74 – RT – Brey Cook – 6’7/328

Mammoth right tackle with almost 30 career starts. Already has the NFL body from head to toe. Really strong hands. Sound technique and skill set. His feet are made for the RT spot only but they move well enough. He has such a long reach and good balance, he can get away with being on the slow side. He delivers a powerful punch and his hips are quick as a run blocker. I like him more than most. He’ll go somewhere day 3, might finish top 150 on my board.

#11 – TE – AJ Derby – 6’5/245

One of my favorite darkhorse, diamond in the rough prospects. Former QB at Iowa and JUCO. Started 1 game at QB for Arkansas in 2013. Made the move to TE in 2014 and his athletic ability caught my eye. Showed some big time speed and accleration on a TD against Alabama that stands out. He can play strong when blocking but is obviously still rough around the edges. Late round project that I think will pay off for someone.

Other Notables:

#34 – OLB – Braylon Mitchell – 6’3/231
#27 – S – Alan Turner – 6’0/205

TEXAS

*#90 – DT – Malcom Brown – 6’3/320

Junior that hasn’t declared yet. Many expect him to. He is married with 2 kids. Might be the top prospect in this game. Brown shows dominant traits to his game. Really powerful and explosive off the ball and he can toss guys aside with ease at times. Plays a little hot and cold but his upside can’t be denied. All around DT that can fit in to any scheme.

#3 – OLB – Jordan Hicks – 6’1/234

Finally Hicks tapped in to his sky high potential in 2014. Has always been a source of excitement and disappointment for the Longhorns. Physically gifted, former top tier HS recruit. Showed all the football skills you want out of a LB with Strong calling the shots. He can do everything. Pursue the run, blitz, pass rush, cover. A true 3 down LB. Struggles a bit with the action coming right at him but he played his way to a top 100 pick, maybe even top 75.

#6 – DB – Quandre Diggs – 5’10/195

I had high hopes for Diggs in 2013 as he was replacing Kenny Vaccaro after showing gamebreaking ability in 2012. He hasn’t gotten to the level I thought he would but I still think be an impact guy. He is a really quick mover that plays zone and man equally well. Really aggressive player. Diggs doesn’t tackle well and he is constantly guessing/gambling. Easily fooled. I’m not sure where he plays in the NFL but he’ll be drafted somewhere day 3.

#88 – DE – Cedric Reed – 6’5/272

Quality edge rusher, has had a productive career. Lacks the quick twitch you want and there isn’t a lot of staying power to his game. He is crafty with refined rush moves but there isn’t anything about him that stands out. Most likely drafted but late.
#9 – WR – John Harris – 6’2/218

This will be my first time scouting Harris. Led Texas with 64 catches/1,015 yards. Size and long speed are both there. Had a couple games where he took over.

#28 – RB – Malcolm Brown – 5’11/225

Part of the Texas loaded backfield. Hasn’t lived up to the hype but he always showes glimpses. He has all the ability as a rusher. Big, strong, fast. Runs high and doesn’t see the running lanes well though. He’ll get drafted late but needs to show he can do more than run the inside gaps if he wants anything in the first 5 rounds.

Other Notables:

#8 – WR – Jaxon Shipley – 6’0/190
#80 – TE – Geoff Swaim – 6’4/250
#33 – LB – Steve Edmond – 6’2/258

Dec 272014
 
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Jaelen Strong, Arizona State Sun Sun Devils (November 28, 2014)

Jaelen Strong – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 27, 2014 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

CINCINNATI

#71 – LT – Eric Lefeld – 6’5/309

Long time starter and underrated player. Has been 1st Team All conference three years in a row. Lefeld is an average athlete in pass protection, but does a good job of staying square to the defender. Gets his hands on you quick. Can stick to a guy. Nice frame for the position. All around solid player that should be drafted day 3.

#1 – MLB – Jeff Luc – 6’1/253

1st Team All AAC. Really thick, physical run defender that can make his presence known every week. He is really quick between the tackles and can actually do a nice job of making himself small to blockers and sneak in to running lanes. Physically he can lay the lumber every play. He is the kind of guy that backs look out for and that linemen can get beat up by. Strictly a run defender though, as he has trouble performing well in space, especially coverage. Limited player but one that could be worked with in a blitz heavy scheme. 6th/7th rounder.

Other Notables:

#93 – DT – Brad Harrah – 6’3/260
#43 – LB – Nick Temple – 5’10/218

VIRGINIA TECH

#34 – S – Kyshoen Jarrett – 5’11/192

Versatile defensive back, almost entered the 2014 Draft. Plays all over the field. If he were just a little bigger he could have been a top 45 overall prospect. I love the game speed here. He has the quickness to cover slot receivers man to man, the rangy speed to play a CF role in deep coverage, and the explosion to fly in to the box and defend the run. I see him as a 3rd or 4th rounder that every team will be interested in. He can do so many different things.

#8 – S – Detrick Bonner – 6’0/194

The other safety on this defense. Some actually view him as a better prospect than Jarrett, but not me. He has more size and more straight line speed, but he doesn’t move with instincts directing the way. He doesn’t react the way I wan a safety to. Poor tackler in space, doesn’t cover well at all. All he has is superb straight line speed. Maybe he gets drafted late because of it.

*#90 – DE – Dadi Nicolas – 6’4/231

Fourth year junior that has not yet declared. Workout warrior that has run a 4.4 40 and set records for vertical jump and broad jump. Broke out in a big way this year with 17 TFL. Has 10 TFL since Oct 23 (5 games). I watch him and see a guy that needs another year of college. He needs to fill out if he is going to play any pass rushing role at the next level. More of an athlete than a football player…a trend I’ve seen with Virginia Tech players.

Other Notables:

#63 – LT – Laurence Gibson – 6’6/297
#79 – RG – Caleb Farris – 6’3/307
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ARIZONA STATE

#21 – WR – Jaelen Strong – 6’4/212

The best prospect of the day if you ask me. Consider me in the small group of people that think Strong has a shot at the top 10 overall. Of the top WRs in this class, Strong has the best size factor. He is tall and long with big hands. I see some Brandon Marshall in him. He can dominate underneath with his strength, getting off the ohysical corners and putting himself between them and the ball. Really good at positioning his body and getting to the ball first. He can also get behind a defense and burn them for a long TD. Very reliable 3rd down and red zone target. I think he is still very much in the learning phase of the game and if/when he figures it out, he can be a star in the NFL. 1st rounder for sure, maybe top 10 if he runs well.

#74 – LT – Jamil Douglas – 6’4/300

Versatile lineman that has a ton of experience. He played LT for all of 2014 but I think his future is inside at guard. He struggles to maintain speed and balance when he is out in space. However he can drive straight ahead really well. Has the combination of foot quickness and hand power to mix it up with bigger defenders. I always think Oniel Cousins when I watch him. A solid backup that could play a few spots in a pinch and not kill an OL. 4th/5th rounder.

#1 – DE – Marcus Hardison – 6’4/300

Really interesting player here. Was a JUCO transfer prior to 2013, was heavily sought after. Plays mostly DE but will shift inside from time to time. Has a different body type, really short and stocky torso but thinner legs than you think. He is a legit 300 pound athlete that runs a 4.7, which is pretty rare. He is a hustler that likes tp pursue across the field. Can pack a punch. He had a strong finish to his season and in the 4 games I saw, he always did something that raised my eyebrows. I think a 3-4 or hybrid defensive front scheme could do wonders with this kid. Hard to project, but could see him going as early as round 2 if he works out well.

Other Notables:

#10 – QB – Taylor Kelly – 6’2/211
#3 – S – Damarious Randall – 6’0/189

DUKE

*#16 – S – Jeremy Cash – 6’2/203

Junior that hasn’t declared, been in school 4 years though. Transfer from Ohio State in 2012, led Duke in tackles last season. I only scouted him once in 2014 because I didn’t really notice his production until halfway through the year. Cash is a S/LB hybrid for Duke, hence all the TFL and Sack numbers. He uses his speed and quickness to beat the OL in space. Good tackler and pretty smart with quick reaction. But I want to see what he can do in coverage. He can’t play LB in the NFL at that size. Sounds like he will return to school but he is seeking a grade from the Advisory Board. Maybe a top 100 guy if he comes out.

#77 – RG – Laken Tomlinson – 6’3/320

One of my favorite guard prospects in the nation. Has the body and power presence I want. Bends pretty well. Has over 50 career starts. Because he is on Duke, he won’t get the media attention that the guys from FSU get, but Tomlinson is just as good as them. He is strong from head to toe and his feet are really active. I’ll have him graded somewhere in the top 75 overall.

#3 – WR – Jamison Crowder – 5’9/175

Record setting WR. Obviously there is a size deficiency here but Crowder is one of the few slot guys that I think can really make it at the next level. Every year we see ultra-productive WRs come out that are under 5’10 and end up fading out in the NFL. I think Crowder sticks. He is one of the best route runners you’ll find. Sets defenders up and explodes by them. Will catch anything within arms distance. Strong and tough with the ball in his hands. There is some top tier return ability here as well and it will only enhance his grade. I think he has a good shot at being a top 100 overall player.

#17 – WR – Issac Blakeney – 6’6/225

High upside prospect here that hasn’t made a ton of plays at Duke over his career. But a WR with this size and speed will always get attention from scouts. He moves in and out of breaks better than you would think, and can probably run his 40 in the 4.5-4.6 range. There are a lot of raw/rough edges to his skill game though. Late rounder if he gets drafted at all.

Other Notables:

#7 – QB – Anthony Boone – 6’0/225
#73 – LT – Takoby Cofield – 6’4/310
#47 – MLB – David Helton – 6’4/240
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MIAMI

#52 – LB – Denzel Perryman – 5’11/242

Ultra productive weak side/middle linebacker. Will likely finish as my top graded LB (3-4 OLBs excluded) in this class. Might be shorter than the ideal prospect but he is a pure football player. Very smart and good instincts. Gets himself in to the right position after the snap to make plays. Incredible power as a tackler between the tackles and in space. Really send a violent jolt to the ball carrier. Gets lost in traffic though and has had stretches where he couldn’t make even a small impact on the game. I like Perryman, he can fit in to any scheme and give you 100+ tackles every year. Is he a guy that leads the NFL in tackles every year? Probably not. But he can be a very good 2nd or 3rd round pick.

#37 – CB – LaDarius Gunter – 6’2/198

One of the more underrated corners in the nation. Gunter is a tall and long with really good movement. He can turn and run with the fastest receivers, but also showed a physical side in 2014. He can beat guys up at the line of scrimmage. Not a very good tackler and will struggle to make reads. But ask him to sit on an island and cover a WR man to man, he can do it. 3rd rounder right now that could sneak his way in to the top 45.

#34 – OLB – Thurston Armbister – 6’3/241

Solid LB prospect that probably doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Good measurables, the height/speed/agility are all there. Might be a better athlete than football player at the moment but he offers some high upside. Had a few nice games in 2014.

#91 – Olsen Pierre – DT – 6’5/305

There isn’t a lot of production here but Pierre has some tools that the NFL scouts love. He is really long. Holds 300+ pounds really well. Has the quick twitch, sudden-ness to his game. He can be a versatile guy that wears a couple hats for a DL. Late rounder.

#71 – DE – Anthony Chickillo – 6’4/282

Fourth year senior, was a top tier recruit out of high school. Played right away, has a ton of experience. Didn’t have the career that most thought he would, but was still a solid player. Versatile, can fit in to multiple schemes. He is a relentless hustler, motor is always on. I think he is a limited athlete though, that popped off the screen multiple times. He is pretty strong though, could be a guy that adds some weight and stars as a 3-4 DE. 5th-6th round.

*#8 – RB – Duke Johnson – 5’9/206

Junior that hasn’t made the declaration yet. I’ve given a lot of extra attention to Johnson over the past month. He will finish as one of the top backs on my board, right up there with Gurley and Coleman. He is incredibly explosive and agile. Such a good change of direction mover, shows you signs of McCoy really. He put 10 punds on from last year which was a good move for him, backs need to be 200+ in the NFL. Johnson can be a starter at the next level, no question. He is a great ball carrier, great pass catcher, great blocker. I think the 2nd or 3rd round here.

*#74 – LT – Ereck Flowers – 6’6/334

Junior, hasn’t made a decision yet. Interesting prospect here. A lot of people think he could be a top 15 overall pick if he comes out. Tore his meniscus in October (nothing serious) but came back and played really well. Mammoth OT that has experience on both sides. Flowers needs another year in college I think. He has a lot of sloppy parts to his game that simply need seasoning. Loses his center of gravity/balance too often. Doesn’t get his hands inside. Crosses his feet when moving laterally. Everything can be coached up so there will still be plenty of teams with a high grade on him. There is a big time power presence and he plays a mean style. The upside is big, this I could see him being a top 45 pick if he comes out. I just won’t have him graded up there.

#4 – WR – Phillip Dorsett – 5’10/195

Might be the fastest player at the combine this year. Rumor has it he may run in the 4.2 5 range. He plays fast too, he isn’t just track star. I can remember watching him play in 2013, thinking he was a definite early declaration guy. He then tore up his knee. Came back strong in 2014, led Miami in receiving yards. Had an amazing 26+ yards per catch. He has legit deep speed but also a good change of direction guy. He may not make the play to play impact, but that speed is a weapon. Decent ball skills, has some return ability. Could be a 4th/5th rounder but watch out if he actually does run a 4.25 forty.

Other Notables:

#62 – C – Shane McDermott – 6’4/300

SOUTH CAROLINA

#50 – LG – AJ Cann – 6’3/318

Fifth year senior. All American. Hs started 50 of 51 games since his redshirt season in 2010. Will likely finish as one of my top 2 or 3 guards in this class. Classic road grader with big power and short area explosion. SC loved to run behind him the past two years. Very rarely do you see his man make a tackle. There are a couple holes in his game s a pass blocker, but most college guards are that way. He’ll be a starter in the NFL. Top 45 pick, good shot at being the first guard taken.

*#28 – RB – Mike Davis – 5’9/220

Junior that has said he plans to declare for the draft. Some view him as a big time back that could land somewhere in the top 45 overall. He had a huge 2013, finally being out of the Lattimore shadow. Davis is a little like Ed Lacy. He is built low to the ground, has a power approach to the game but can be sneaky fast. I see him as a grinder like Lacy. Just a guy that continues to pick up positive yards, pushes the pike forward. But when you don’t expect it, he’ll break off a big run. I’ve felt a few times that he could benefit from losing some weight and adding more quickness to his game. Most likely a 2nd or 3rd round pick.

#53 – LT – Corey Robinson – 6’7/348

Mammoth three year starter that started of his career bouncing back and forth between the OL/DL. Robinson moves a lot like a RT prospect. He can swallow up a lot of space but his feet and knee bend are sub-par for the position. He is a powerful kid though that excels as a run blocker. He has the ability to start in the NFL but will need to be coached up on his technique. I could see him being a top 100 overall guy at best.

#81 – TE Rory Anderson – 6’5/232

Athletic pass catcher that will remind some of former Gamecock Jared Cook. He is really athletic when going after the ball in traffic. He can turn his body and reach the ball at the apex of his leap. Really good ball skills. There isn’t much of a power presence here but he loves to hit. He is a physical guy. Anderson never really got to the level that some thought he could but he fought some injuries and poor QB play. Late rounder that could get his name called in the 4th/5th round he if works out well.

#97 – DT – JT Surratt – 6’2/305

One of the more consistent DTs I have seen this year. Not a star and won’t be one in the NFL, but he can be a reliable, Barry Cofield type guy for a 4-3 defense. Very emotional/passionate player that delivers a punch at the point of attack. Violent hands, strong tree trunk legs. He can swallow up space and blockers but will hustle to the sidelines. Limited upside but again, he’ll be a reliable player. 4th-5th round.

Other Notables:

#17 – QB – Dylan Thompson – 6’3/218
#12 – SS – Brison Williams – 5’11/208
#3 – WR – Nick Jones – 5’6/168
_______________________________________________________________________

BOSTON COLLEGE

#59 – C – Andy Gallik – 6’3/299

Has a shot at being the first center taken. Will finish as one of my top 2 guys at the position I think. 4 year starter. Technically sound, uses his feet and hips really well. Really good bender, can produce a lot of power from a low position. Gallik is one of those super-centers that pulls out in to space and leads the running back outside of the tight ends. Really good athlete. Overall a very good player here that teams will look to towards the back end of round 2.

#75 – RT – Ian Silberman – 6’5/293

Former Florida Gator. Played just one year at BC after a backup-duty career at Florida. I liked Silberman every time I watched BC play. He has a nice frame. A little undersized girth wise but he has the height and length. I like how he moves. Quick feet, can explode out of his stance. Really well balanced. There is a power deficit here as you would probably expect. He cant lock on to guys. The better DL he faced off against got off his blocks with ease. Late round project with more upside that people think.

#25 – OLB – Josh Keyes – 6’2/223

Every year I have a grade on a few guys that is much higher than what we see out there. Keyes will be one of those guys this season. He was a backup until this season. He was put in to an edge rushing role and thrived. He finished with 11.5 TFL and 4 sacks. Nothing eye popping but I watched his game against USC where he had 5.5 TFL. I loved how easily he changed direction. He is technically sound, finishes tackles. There is a size/strength issue and it will likely keep him as a late day three prospect, but he is a guy I would take a flyer on. There is some hidden talent here.

Other Notables:

#2 – QB – Tyler Murphy – 6’2/214
#67 – LT – Seth Betancourt – 6’5/300
#99 – DE – Brian Mihalik – 6’9/288

PENN STATE

#65 – LG – Miles Deiffenbach – 6’3/303

3 year starter. Nothing special about his game but he gets the job done. He isn’t a pretty prospect, but he can be reliable interior guy. Could likely play some center as well. Not sure he has the quick twitch to start in the NFL, but could be a backup type for most schemes. Late rounder.

#1 – RB – Bill Belton – 5’10/205

Won’t jump off the stat sheet and I really don’t know if he will even get drafted. But I liked him every time I saw PSU play. He is really good change of direction ball carrier. Plays pretty tough, bigger than his frame would indicate. Good receiver good blocker. For where you can get him, I think Belton can be one of the better values at RB in this class.

#43 – MLB – Josh Hull – 6’0/227

Another season, another PSU linebacker in the conversation. 4th year senior with some big tackle numbers. I saw him a few times, but I was so impressed with her performance against Ohio State (19 tack/2.5 TFL/1 INT). He is an average athlete to the outside but he can be explosive between the tackles. Closes a gap real fast. He is one of those LBs that appear slippery to blockers. Really good movement after the snap and gets himself in position. Strong and powerful tackler that can really stone a ball carrier. May not be on the same level as some of the other PSU linebackers in the NFL but he can get drafted in the round 4-6 area.

#86 – DE – CJ Olaniyan – 6’3/244

Second year starter. Has long limbs and a frame that hand handle more weight. Average movement in space but he shows some pop out of his stance. Really good at playing with his hands. Shows some pass rushing potential from both a tools and skills perspective. PSU likes to move him around a little. Late rounder at best.

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NEBRASKA

#8 – RB – Ameer Abdullah -5’9/200

One of the more underrated players overall in this draft class. Ultra-productive back that showed the ability to do it all. Will be viewed as an undersized back but Abdullah spent the past two years putting on some quality weight. He is a lot stronger and tougher than you think. He can run with a violent style when he needs to. Hard guy for a lone tackler to being down. He runs with such a low pad level and his late movement is top tier. Showed plenty of ability to block and catch the ball over the past two years. I see a Pierre Thomas type player here. I view him as a top 45 guy, but may last until the 3rd round.

#68 – LG – Jake Cotton – 6’6/305

One of my favorite under the radar OL in the nation. Excellent athlete, moves like a tight end. He can deliver plenty of pop on the move, could be a perfect fit for teams that have some zone blocking schemes. There is some strength needed though. He doesn’t lock on to guys, won’t control bigger defenders. The athleticism is something to watch though. Late rounder with a lot of upside if he can get stronger.

#80 – WR – Kenny Bell – 6’1/185

One of the top WRs in Nebraska history. 4 year starter. Led the Cornhuskers in either catches or yards every year of his career. Run-heavy program though. Bell is a little bit of a compiler and may not be the best NFL receiver prospect. He has decent speed and acceleration, OK route runner. His ball skills are the best part of his game. He has strong, big hands. I question his toughness in traffic over the middle. His game may be limited downfield. Seems like the kind of guy that is good enough at everything to be a factor on college, but doesn’t have the ability to translate the success to the NFL. Day three guy.

*#4 – DE – Randy Gregory – 6’5/245

Widely considered the top edge talent in this class. Gregory has all tools that every scout looks for. He’s long and lean with explosive movement and functional strength. He bends so well, it is almost freaky, and it allows him to get under the blocker’s pads and win the leverage battle. He had a rough 2014 injury wise, they really piled up (knee, foot, toe, concussion). But many of the scouts that have seen him play label him the top edge guy by a wide margin. I am a little hesitant because of his body type. Like Barkevious Mingo a few years back, I question his strength and power presence. I don’t care how fast you are, you need to have a power element to your game. I’m not sure Gregory can anchor a spot or do anything with his inside shoulder. I’ll have him in the top 20 overall just not sure about top 5.

#13 – OLB – Zaire Anderson – 5’11/220

Leading tackler. Squatty frame that delivers a violent pop to ball carriers and blockers. Very strong. Good instincts, gets in to position. He has a natural flow to the ball and that is the top thing I look for in linebackers. Probably a limited athlete in space and may be too small for some schemes. But I like this guy a lot. Late rounder that could end up working his way up to a starting spot down the road a la Chase Blackburn.

Other Notables:

#74 – RT – Mike Moudy – 6’5/305
#6 – S – Corey Cooper – 6’0/216

USC

*#94 – DT – Leonard Williams – 6’4/290

The top prospect in this game. Might be the top overall prospect in the nation. Freak of nature type guy when you consider his size/strength/speed. Has some football skills too, not just an athlete. All American that could probably play 4-3 DT or DE. Played a 3-4 DE type role at USC but he was moved around a lot. Started 2014 off with an ankle injury that hampered him quite a bit. Finished with a few strong performances. He has elite power from his legs and hands. He really is a matchup nightmare for any kind of blocker. Williams can beat you in so many ways. I have a hard time finding a comparison for him, but I could see a Mario Williams or JJ Watt type. Top 5 pick I think.

#10 – MLB – Hayes Pullard – 6’1/235

Fifth year senior. Really productive career. Has been the leading or 2nd leading tackler all four years. Can be a MLB or WLB prospect for 4-3 teams. Really good speed from sideline to sideline but also explosive downhill in to traffic. He can lay the lumber. He is a quick thinker, plays the game with his eyes, beats blockers to a spot. He can really be swallowed up by OL though. When a blocker reaches him, he can’t get off without running out of position. Not a dominant LB by any means but he can play in the NFL. Maybe similar to Jonathan Casillas, a guy I’ve always liked as a rotational LB. 4th or 5th round.

#58 – OLB – JR Tavai – 6’2/250

Rush LB with plenty of versatility and experience. Hyper player, gets by on constant effort and a non stop motor. Led the team with 7 sacks. Will drop in to coverage and play the run well. Solid all around player. Most likely a 3-4 guy. Few injuries to ankles/feet but nothing too serious. Most likely a 6th or 7th rounder.

*#15 – WR – Nelson Agholor – 6’0/185

Junior that has not yet declared. Was one of my favorite WRs coming in to 2014. When Marquis Lee was hampered with injuries in 2013, it was Agholor that stepped up and showed glimpses of domination. Agholor is a god athlete, but his best feature is between the ears. Really good at reading the defense and wiggling his way open. Really good after the catch. Has the late quickness and agility to miss tacklers. He has elite skills and above average tools. Might not run that fast or measure that tall/long, but he is a player. I might have him in my top 5 WR, but he will most likely be drafted somewhere around #75 overall.

*#6 – QB – Cody Kessler – 6’1/215

I talked about Kessler in November as a guy that people should watch for as a potential QB that shoots up the board in the coming months. There are questions with Winston and Mariota, serious ones. After them, the QB class is pretty bad. Kessler could swoop in and sneak in to the 1st round. He lacks the height that most want but you know what, I really see some Drew Brees type throwing ability here. Tough as nails. Really accurate no matter where he is or where he is throwing the ball. Quick decisions, quick release. Kessler played in an NFL type offense, threw almost 40 TDs with just 4 INTs while completing 70+% of his passes. If I had to guess, I say he goes back to school but he is a guy you should watch out for.

*#37 – RB – Javarious Allen – 6’1/220

I have to be honest. Even though I’ve seen USC plenty this year, I only scouted Allen once. It wasn’t a very good game for him. I don’t have a good feel for him yet other than what some guys have told me. A lot of people like Allen as much as Coleman and Yeldon. He is a junior that may not declare though, so we’ll see. He is a physical back with surprising speed on the open field. He can run away from a defense. I noticed tight hips and lack of ability to miss contact. Runs a little too high. Really good pass catcher though with good skills. Some say he could be a 1st rounder, but I would peg him somewhere in the 3rd.

Dec 202014
 
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Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State Rams (October 11, 2014)

Ty Sambrailo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

December 20, 2014 Bowl Games: 2015 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Sy’56

NEVADA

#17 – QB – Cody Fajardo – 6’2/215

Fifth year senior that has been starting since his redshirt freshman season. Dual threat type with a really strong arm. Led the team in rushing. Runs the ball a lot. A very cheap version of Kaepernick. Only saw him once and that was against Arizona. He played really well in that game, showing some toughness/grit/comeback ability. Projects to be a late rounder but he should get drafted. He is a runner because the scheme called him to be, but there is legit arm talent there. Not just a gimmick guy.

#53 – DE – Brock Hekking – 6’4/255

Probably mostly know because of his WWF type hair style. Not the prospect that some labeled him to be earlier in the year. Lacks some of the more important tools that you look for in a 4-3 DE. Had a down year in 2014 after leading this team in sacks and TFL in 2012 and 2013. His game is based purely on energy/hustle/aggression. Saw some tape against Colorado State’s 1st round caliber OT. His lack of physical talent was apparent but he brings it every play. Doesn’t stop until that whistle blows and can make plays based on effort alone every game. Late round prospect at best but he will be in demand. Coaches like this kind of guy.

#24 – DB – Charles Garrett – 5’11/205

Versatile DB that has a lot of experience split between S and CB. May be too thick for the CB spot in the NFL, lacks that quick twitch and reaction. I actually have some intrigue here with Garrett, I want to see more of him. He plays a fast and aggressive game, physical player. Wore a fee hats for this team and performed well across the board. Does he have the movement ability? There is some trouble off the field that needs to be looked in to as well.

#2 – WR – Richy Turner – 5’11/180

Slot receiver prospect with good quickness in and out of his breaks. Really smooth catcher and route runner. Unspectacular prospect but does enough of the little things well to get a late round look. He will likely test out well athletically. Would have liked to see more production but he can play. Limited player but a lot of good slot WRs in the NFL looked like this guy in college.

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE

#8 – QB – Terrance Broadway – 6’2/221

Only saw Broadway once in 2014, wasn’t really impressed. Another dual threat QB that has some arm talent to him. Strong player that can run with some power but wouldn’t call him a guy that keeps opposing coaches up at night. Inaccurate on simple throws. Sloppy mechanics. Will leave school near or at the top of many all time passing records. Not really interested in him but will put an eyeball on him tonight.

#67 – RT – Daniel Quave – 6’3/324

Fifth year senior that has started every game of his career. Has played RG and RT. Projects to be a G at the next level. Only have one look at him on my sheet so I need to see more. Typical squatty guard that packs a punch but struggles to move with faster defenders at a lower level of college football. Really strong upper body. Could project to be a late day three guy.

#46 – RB – Alonzo Harris – 6’1/238

In between the tackles runner that needs to be a downhill guy in the NFL. Can’t be an outside runner. Most likely limited to short yardage/goal line duty. Will struggle to make it at the next level, just doesn’t have that quick twitch and vision to make things happen. Pretty basic player and athlete that lost carries to a talented sophomore they have. Doesn’t catch a lot of balls. Unspectacular guy that will likely get a look late in the draft or in free agency from a team that wants a power back.

#6 – DT – Justin Hamilton – 6’2/310

First team all Sun Belt. Probably the highest upside player in this game. Hamilton carries 300+ pounds with ease. Athletic mover in space but also plays a violent game. Angry player that beats guys up, plain and simple. I think he could be a solid 3-4 DE and/or 4-3 DT. The hybrid defensive schemes will love him.

#7 – CB – Corey Trim – 5’11/192

Again, I have not gotten a lot of looks at Trim. He is a good sized corner that was avoided for the most part in the game I saw. Looking forward to seeing if he has a physical side to him because he isn’t much of a speed guy.

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UTAH STATE

#74 – OT – Kevin Whimpey – 6’5/295

Fifth year senior. Wide-shouldered team captain with a lot of strength. Needs to gain mass. Has the feet to play in the NFL but lacks the technique. His feet get stuck too often and his hand placement is too high. Late rounder at best here but I think he gets a look from someone based on his frame and experience.

#52 – LB – Zach Vigil – 6’/240

Probably the top prospect in this game. Productive and experienced leader. Fun guy to watch because he’ll do anything. Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year (19.5 TFL and 9.5 sacks) He shows ability to run with tight ends down the seam that are more athletic than him. But he can also blitz inside/out and push linemen through the pocket. Just a quality football guy that teams like to have on their team. I think he has an outside shot at being a top 100 pick if he can grade out well in workouts.

#99 – DE – BJ Larsen – 6’5/275

Another guy I like based on frame/speed alone. Larsen is a strong presence outside with a violent style. He shows some intriguing athletic ability as well. Reads and flows towards the action. Demands a lot of attention from the opposition but still makes an impact. Guys at this size with his movement ability almost always get drafted. I think he could be a 5th rounder.

UTEP

#14 – WR – Ian Hamilton – 6’5/229

Team’s leading receiver in 2014. Upside guy that will draw the attention of scouts based purely on long term upside. He has the tools. Big, tall, and long with some speed. Averaged over 20 yards per catch in 2014. I want to get another look at him, looking forward to looking at more position-specific traits here.

*******************************************

UTAH

#8 – DE – Nate Orchard – 6’4/255

All American. Led the nation in sacks per game, finished with a total of 17.5. Not just a pass risher though, he has a complete game to him. Initially came to Utah as a WR, has added 60 pounds since high school. He won’t test out in the top tier athletically, but he is a football player. Does so many things really well. Gravitates towards the action better than most pass rushers. Functionally strong. Uses his long arms and strong hands well. He could be a sneaky 4-3 DE prospect. He was considered a raw guy with upside heading in to 2014 and then he blew up. Tough matchup against the Colorado State LT, huge game for his draft grade. Could be a 3rd rounder.

#18 – DB – Eric Rowe – 6’1/201

4 year starter. Over 45 career starts on his resume, most of them at FS. Played CB this year and I think it really increased his draft grade. He has the height/length that the NFL looks for, but also legit sub 4.4 speed. Ball skills are there, as are the reaction times and instincts. Get involved often. Active player with a lot of aggression. Not sure he has the functional speed downfield, he’ll be tested by an All American WR in this game. Probably a round 3 or 4 guy.

#80 – TE – Westlee Tonga – 6’4/244

Will be an old rookie (27). Has a laundry list of injuries over his college career. Missed all of 2013 with a knee. He was a question mark for 2014 but he played really well. I saw him against USC and he was able to get open against their athletic LBs. Quick twitch guy in fort and intermediate routes that catches the ball when it’s near him. Physical guy with a lot of effort to his game. Works hard as a blocker, can control guys and at the very least stay between them and the ball carrier. Late round prospect that would be drafted if it weren’t for his age.

COLORADO STATE

#51 – OT – Ty Sambrailo – 6’5/315

The top prospect in this game. Big matchup for him being against Orchard for most of the game. Sambrallo has 1st round tools, traits, and skills but he isn’t mentioned with the top guys. I can remember seeing him whole scouting Richburg last year and thinking he had 1st round ability. His game is all about consistent body control and technique. He isn’t a power guy, but he is powerfull/strong enough. Easy mover that always looks balanced. You see some left tackles that lack body control when going after a blocker, not this guy. Sambrailo has the size and movement to be a 1st rounder. Just a consistent, no-nonsense kind of blocker that you rarely see make mistakes. NYG should be giving him a hard look.

#18 – QB – Garrett Grayson – 6’2/220

One of the day 2 or 3 QBs that could shoot up the draft boards in the coming months. Mountain West Conference Player of the Year. Very strong arm, good decision maker and can make all the throws. Footwork and throwing mechanics are all there. Would love to see what he can do at the Senior Bowl. I think he is just as talented as Ryan Nassib but with more upside.

#37 – LB – Aaron Davis – 6’1/221

A lot of guys like Davis, but I haven’t seen a good game yet. He is a poor tackler that doesn’t have a major physical impact on the game. There is a lack of size and power here and he doesn’t exactly have superb athletic ability. At best I see him as a late rounder.

#23 – CB – Bernard Blake – 6’0/185

Average corner with some height and length. Gets thrown at a lot, hence why he has some quality pass break up numbers. He isn’t a guy that strikes fear in to the opposing offense. Just another guy that could be drafted somewhere on day 3.

Nov 262014
 
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Amari Cooper, Alabama Crimson Tide (November 8, 2014)

Amari Cooper – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 2015 NFL Draft – November 26, 2014 Report

By Colin Lindsay (Great Blue North Draft Report)

After posting some draft comments last weekend, a couple of erstwhile, not to mention discerning, BigBlueInteractive.com regulars asked if I would consider posting some draft thoughts based on where the Giants stood regarding the 2015 draft between now and the end of the season given there isn’t much else to really get excited about in Big Blue land. Along the way, I’d also hope that at least when it comes to the draft that folks really try and think like a pro rather than carry on like a pampered frat house sophomore or a drunk hollering in a bar.

First off, people just have to stop talking about Jerry Reese’s draft picks. JERRY REESE DOESN’T MAKE THE PICKS! Neither does Marc Ross for that matter. The fact is that the Giants invest literally millions of dollars and hundred of man hours putting a grade on every draft eligible player out there and then coalescing as a collective around the guys they like.

Second, if guys are going to talk about the draft, it would be nice if they understood how it really works. In particular, when people say the it’s a lottery or a crapshoot what they mean is that the draft IS a lottery or a crapshoot. It is like flipping coins. George Young probably said it best when he said that when it comes to the draft you gather as much information as you can get, make the best picks you can, and then you cross your fingers. Hit a bunch of heads and they call you a genius; hit too many tails and they start calling your 4th round picks – that only had a 25% or so probability of ever working out in the first place – that don’t work out BLUNDERS!

Thirdly, folks could really humor this old draft guy by not posting who they’d take. Trust me, nobody cares! Fact is nobody should care who I’d take. Folks might care a tad, though, who I think the Giants might be looking because I have a pretty good track record of dissecting and predicting what they might be thinking, although nobody’s perfect!

Where we stand … If the draft were held this week the Giants would have the 7th pick in the opening round, the same as last week as each of the team’s just ahead of the Giants also lost. Of course, the lay of the land could change for the Giants as the next couple of weeks as they head into what can only be described as the ‘easy’ part of the schedule. Indeed, the Giants next four opponents have a combined record of 10-34, whereas during the current 6-game losing streak the opponents combined W-L record was 45-21. In fact, if its any small consolation to Giants’ fans, the 8 losses so far this year came against teams with a combined winning % of almost 70%; indeed, even throw out the wins against the Giants and they are still 53-27 or 66% against the rest of the league.

The good news for the Giants is that even if they are able to win the majority of their remaining games, although that’s hardly a given, they won’t lose all that many draft spots as there are just aren’t a whole lot of teams within striking distance ahead of them in the standings. In fact, even were the Giants able to run the table the rest of the year, they aren’t likely to draft much higher than the 13-14 range.

The less good news for the Giants if indeed their 2015 first round pick is to be in the #7 range is, at least how looks right now (although of course a whole bunch is going to change between now and April 30), that it appears that there is a major drop-off after the top 4-5  players in this year’s draft which right now look to be QBs Mariota and Winston (assuming he doesn’t get red-flagged), DEs Williams and Gregory and WR Cooper. Of that group, Alabama WR Amari Cooper is the most likely to somehow slip down to the 7th spot – and it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise that if the Giants had their druthers they would love to add a big-play receiver like Cooper to pair with Beckham and hopefully Cruz, but it could very well take a trade up to guarantee getting the Tide star.

At the same time, again at least at this point in time, it does not appear as if there would be a particularly neat match between the top players available and the Giants’ draft priorities. The next best guys, at least on a consensus NFL board, for example, look like Alabama SS Landon Collins and OTs Brandon Scherff of Iowa and A&M’s Cedric Ogbuehi. Each would fill a need, but none is the kind of real impact player that a team like the Giants would likely like to add if they were to get a top 10 pick this year. Collins, for example, is more an in-the-box type SS and the Giants would almost certainly prefer a rangy FS type. Of course, the Giants would be very intrigued by a so-called Blue Goose-can’t miss OT, but I am not sure there is such an animal in this year’s draft. Scherff, who has been described as this year’s Zach Martin, might be the most interesting OL option if it came to that. He’s not that athletic, but is a big, really tough, physical guy who you could start out at OG, but ultimately move to either OT if the need arose.

That said, I don’t see the Giants entering the draft with the OL the #1 priority. The one real gap they have is RG and there other ways to address that than use the highest pick you have had in almost two decades. My best guess is that heading into the 2015 draft the Giants top priorities will be a) upgrading the pass rush; b) adding some more weapons on offense including another WR and RB; and c) adding some speed and athleticism to the defensive back 7, along with the OL. Obviously, they likely won’t be able to accomplish everything with just three premium picks, but obviously some of those issues can be addressed just as well in free agency.

In fact, in the end, if the Giants were ultimately to pick around #7, there is a very good chance that the player they take isn’t rated quite in that area at this time as there are a bunch of players hovering just outside the top 10-15 right now with the upside to go higher. That group includes WRs Kevin White of West Virginia, Michigan tweener Devin Funchess, Davante Parker of Louisville, Jaelen Strong of Arizona State, along with enigmatic 6-5 Dorial Green-Beckham of Oklahoma, 6-9 Baylor DE Shawn Oakman, and dynamic Washington OLB Shaq Thompson. Time will tell.

Of course, the draft runs more than one round and if the draft were held this week the Giants would also have the 38th and 71st picks. And if there is some good 2015 draft news for the Giants its that it appears there will be excellent depth at several positions of interest including RB, WR, and safety, while there should also be some decent depth at positions like OG, OT and MLB. There could also be a couple or three DE prospects available in the second round, including Nate Orchard of Utah, Kentucky’s Bud Dupree and LSU junior Danielle Hunter; however, DE does not look like it will be particularly strong at the 2015 draft and any team that wants to upgrade at the position won‘t want to dawdle.

Meanwhile, the list of other players that could be on the Giants’ radar in the second round include RBs Tevin Coleman of Indiana, Miami’s Duke Johnson and Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska; WRs Sammie Coates of Auburn and Stanford’s Ty Montgomery, South Carolina OG A.J. Cann; and safeties Gerod Hollimon of Lousiville, Cody Prewitt of Ole Miss and Derron Smith of Fresno State. For the record, there could also be a number of very good OT candidates in the 2nd round including Tyrus Thompson of Oklahoma, Ty Sambrailo of Colorado State, Ereck Flowers of Miami, and Spencer Drango of Baylor.