Archive for October, 2009

Scouting College Saturday: USC vs Notre Dame

Friday, October 16th, 2009
Williams could be the first receiver selected in the 2010 NFL Draft

Williams could be the first receiver selected in the 2010 NFL Draft

A fall classic with some real meaning this season as the Trojans travel to South Bend, Indiana to take on Notre Dame.  The home team hopes to knock off the #26 ranked Trojans and keep their BCS hopes alive.  A loss for USC and they will be completely eliminated from the hunt for the national title.  This game has a lot for everyone; big time quarterbacks, game breaking receivers, bone shattering defensive backs and plenty of players on the lines of scrimmage.  It also offers nearly a half-dozen potential first round picks, most coming from the USC side of the ball.

Match-up:  Jimmy Clausen vs Taylor Mays

This is a match-up made in heaven for NFL scouts.  

Jimmy Clausen, the big armed pocket passer of Notre Dame that’s always shown incredible potential against Taylor Mays, a big time free safety and intimidating presence in centerfield for the Trojans.   Both are first round picks.  Each is likely to end up in the first half of the frame.  The pair have a lot to gain in this match-up.

On his behalf Clausen is watching his draft stock rise.  His accuracy is better and his decision making has improved by leaps and bounds this season.  There’s not to much indecision in Clausen’s game as he’s showing terrific poise and leadership commanding the offense for the Irish.  Clausen has had issues competing on the road, something which scouts are cautious about.  Regardless, he has all the makings of a starting NFL quarterback and though not the finished product, some believe he’ll be a top ten choice if he opts for the NFL after this season.

Mays is a combination of many things as the Trojans free safety.  He’s got great size (6′3”/236lbs) with the speed (4.50) to compliment.  Some would argue Mays is too large for the safety spot and would be much better off at outside linebacker.  His playing style seems to dictate he’d be best in a zone system as Mays is aggressive in all aspects of the game but really best up the field and struggles quickly getting to the sidelines.  

The ability of Mays to help out in coverage as Clausen throws fade and corner patterns to Golden Tate will be something to watch out for.  Clausen must show he can adapt to the different looks thrown at him by Pete Carroll and lead his offense against the sixth ranked team in the nation.

Match-up:  Notre Dame’s offensive line vs  Pete Carroll’s scheme

The Irish have three draftable senior prospects on their offensive line. 

Offensive tackle Sam Young has gotten most of the headlines the past few seasons and was rated the highest of the trio coming into the season.  We feel he’s the most overrated.  Young has had a lot of struggles this season and is constantly getting beat.  If he has a future in the NFL it’ll strictly be on the right/strong side.

Paul Duncan is bigger than Young but struggles against athletic opponents and for such a large man, plays soft at times displaying a very disappointing anchor.  He’s got some upside based on his size and will get looks late in the draft.

Guard Eric Olson could be the long term gem of this group.  He’s a hard working blocker that effectively controls opponents at the point of attack and plays with a nasty streak.  If he can improve his run blocking Olson has a future at the next level.

USC has an inexperienced front seven after losing seven players to the NFL last April.

The leading prospect up front is junior Everson Griffen, an athletic defensive end whom the Trojans use at tackle.  Griffen is explosive and fluid.  He string’s plays out to the flanks and offers big time potential.

USC does not have the raw talent to generate a pass rush so Pete Carroll must manufacture one using a lot of blitzes and games up front.  The ability of Notre Dame’s three senior offensive linemen to handle the different looks, as well as quarterback Jimmy Clausen, will be something scouts are focused on.

Match-up:  Safety Kyle McCarthy vs. Damian Williams

Kyle McCarthy is a player on the rise as his stock has shot straight north since September.  A devastating hitter who lays it on the line, McCarthy has made a number of game saving plays this season which has helped secure several of Notre Dame’s four wins.  He’s also a special teams demon and usually one of the first players down the field on coverage units. 

McCarthy has proto-typical safety size at 5′11.5”/211lbs.  His speed of 4.55 is a slight concern and although he’s made strides with his ball skills this season, McCarthy’s coverage skills are still not on an NFL level.

He’ll be challenged Saturday by one of the nation’s top game breaking receivers.

Junior Damian Williams has been a dominant force on the USC defense since transferring from Arkansas.  He possesses home run hitting speed which he uses to stretch the defense vertically at receiver or break games wide open as a return specialist.  Williams torched a good Cal secondary for eight receptions and 101 yards two weeks ago.

He’s very natural in all aspects of the position and has enough size to be a number one wide out for an NFL team.  If Williams enters the draft, a likely possibility, he could be the first receiver selected.

Can McCarthy contain and cover Williams?  Will Williams fearlessly go over the middle knowing he could be cut in two by McCarthy?  It will be fun to watch.

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Scouting College Saturday: Florida vs. LSU

Friday, October 9th, 2009

LafelllgOnce again the yearly battle between LSU and Florida will impact both the winner and loser in a major way.  The victor will go down the stretch of the ‘09 campaign a step ahead in the chase for the national title besides being the favorite to win the conference championship.  The loser will likely have to avenge their loss in the SEC Championship game for an opportunity at a BCS bowl berth.  One year ago Florida hammered LSU 51-21, then went on to be crowned National Champions. NFL scouts and league decision makers will be scouring this game as there are almost a dozen draft eligible players with top 60 potential. There are several great match-ups in this contest and Tony Pauline of TFYDRaft.com breaks it down for you.

Match-up: LSU’s defensive tackles vs the Pouncey twins

Charles Alexander turned down a chance to enter last April’s NFL draft after he was given another year of eligibility by the NCAA.  In fact prior to his decision Alexander had received an invitation to the combine.  Al Woods is a fourth year senior that’s been a consistent performer on the college level.  Both are nice prospects with size and growth potential.  

They have their work cut out for them as they face-off against the best brother-brother team in college football.

Center Maurkice Pouncey is turning into a dominant blocker on the pivot.  In fact we’d go as far as saying the junior is the number one center prospect in the nation at this point.  Maurkice is big, powerful yet also athletic and displays good movement skills.  He can turn defenders off the line and create large running lanes in the middle of the field, or get out to the second level and annihilate linebackers.  He has all the makings of a first round pick when he enters the draft.

Brother Michael Pouncey plays next to Maurkice at guard and is also a dominant blocker with a bright future at the next level.

This is an opportunity for Alexander and/or Woods to really impress scouts and elevate their draft stock.  Productive performances against the impressive pair of blockers on the Gators line will leave a lasting impression.

Match-up: Brandon LaFell vs the UF secondary

Brandon LaFell is universally considered the top senior receiver available in next April’s draft.  He gave serious consideration to entering the ‘09 draft and there were reports of family members pressuring him to leave for the NFL.  He’s a big, smooth pass catcher with a gliding style and very natural in all aspects of the position.  LaFell constantly extends to make the reception away from his frame and displays both strong and soft hands.  He offers potential as a number one at the next level and how early LaFell is selected in the first round will depend on how fast he runs prior to April and which underclassmen from the position enter the draft.

He goes up against a very tough Gator secondary on Saturday night.

Joe Haden is one of the brightest cornerback prospects from the junior class.  There’s been much speculation as to whether or not he’ll enter April’s draft. Haden is physical and shows a lot of skill facing the action.  Junior Ahmad Black is one of the most physical safeties in the nation.  Black presently leads the Gators in tackles and is very effective up the field but does struggle with his ball skills. Safety Major Wright, another junior, is an underrated player who struggles to get playing time due to the depth of the Gators secondary.  Wright is an adequately sized prospect with a complete game.  He’s tough against the run and also displays solid skill in coverage.  

LaFell’s courage will be tested as will his pass catching skills against the Gators dynamic secondary.

Match-up: LSU’s offensive tackles vs. Florida’s defensive ends

The breakdown of this match-up can be summed up by stating it features two of the most overrated players in the nation and a pair of underrated prospects.

When LSU tackle Ciron Black was a sophomore many anointed him as a first round pick.  We never agreed with that opinion.  Black is a well sized blocker and a better than average athlete.  He also lacks balance, footwork and the strength to finish blocks.  Now a senior, we presently grade Black as a late round pick and feel it may be necessary to move him inside to guard.  

One the other hand his junior line-mate Joseph Barksdale is a legit mid-to-early round prospect.  Barksdale is a big strong lineman with the ability to drive defenders off the ball run blocking.  He plays with solid fundamentals and just needs to brush off the details of his game.  He has a bright NFL future.

Florida has a pair of defensive ends, one who gets lots of hype and the other that gets the most from his ability.

Junior Carlos Dunlop passes the eyeball test and is an intimidating presence on the field.  He flashes the ability to over-power opponents, bull rushing them off the line and creating a lot of pressure up the field.  Dunlop is also a good athlete with the ability to string plays laterally out to the flanks.  The problem for Dunlop is he does not make enough plays and his game is plagued with inconsistency.  At his best Dunlop has top ten possibilities and can be used as a base end that lines up opposite right tackle or as a two-gap end.  Right now he looks and plays like a boom or bust prospect.

Jermaine Cunningham does not have the size or the natural skills of his teammate yet gets a lot from his ability.  Cunningham plays faster than his estimated 4.7 forty speed and bigger than his 248 pounds.  He’s likely to be used as a 3-4 rush linebacker at the next level but may also get looks as a one-gap end.

The match-ups between these four players will be exceptional to watch and may go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.

Match-up: Brandon Spikes vs. Richard Dickson and Charles Scott

Brandon Spikes is the most dominant middle linebacker in the nation.  He forces the action up the field, is stout defending the run and can be a nightmare on the blitz.  Spikes plays with aggression, violence and his motor is always going full throttle.  

He’s effective in the box and can chase down ball carriers to the sidelines.  That said the middle linebacker struggles making plays in reverse and is not efficient in coverage. 

The LSU offense will offer the power running of Charles Scott and tight end Richard Dickson, an efficient, overachieving tight end that produces as a pass catcher and blocker.

Scott has been slightly disappointing this season and NFL scouts are concerned he has not elevated his game.  He showed signs of life last week against Georgia and a solid performance against the stout UF defense, and a tough run defender like Spikes, will get him back in the good graces of NFL scouts.

Dickson is a reliable pass catcher that comes through in the clutch.  He’s by no means a true downfield threat but gets the job done when called upon.  The few times Spikes is required to cover Dickson will be telling for the linebacker.

www.TFYDraft.com is solely dedicated to the NFL Draft twelve months a year.  For rankings, reports and first hand breaking news, check them out every day! Follow us on Twitter

Scouting College Saturday: Miami vs. Oklahoma

Saturday, October 3rd, 2009

 

The Sooners Trent Williams received the highest grade of any offensive tackle in the nation from NFL scouts.

The Sooners Trent Williams received the highest grade of any offensive tackle in the nation from NFL scouts.

Oklahoma and Miami both enjoyed early season rankings yet each team has already lost a game during the first month of the ‘09 campaign. They still remain in the hunt for a BCS birth at least until this weekend. Oklahoma offers as many as five first round players but will be missing their two highest rated NFL prospects as quarterback Sam Bradford will join tight end Jermaine Gresham on the sideline. Lost in the preparation for this weeks game was the news that Gresham, who was injured before the season began, will not seek another year of eligibility and will definitely enter next April’s draft. Miami offers several solid prospects from the senior class and many more emerging underclassmen. This is the type of game that could help re-establish Miami as a dominant program and would be the type of victory they have not enjoyed in many seasons.  Brent Foshee of TFY Draft Preview looks at the top match-ups for Saturday’s feature game.

Key Match Up:  Miami tackle Jason Fox vs. Oklahoma defensive end Auston English

 Auston English is an athletic and hard working defensive end that uses his speed and effort to make plays up field or in pursuit. English is more adept at rushing the passer than defending the run and tends to find most of his success with outside rushing techniques where he can use his superior speed. English is also effective pursuing from the backside and always hustles until the whistle blows. He fits only certain schemes yet is expected to be a first day selection in April. 

 
Miami tackle Jason Fox is a highly underrated prospect at this time. A blocker with solid footwork and balance, Fox has the ability to protect the quarterback’s blind side. He could use some more strength but possesses all the skills needed to be a successful pro tackle. 
 
Showing well against top competition like English will improve his standing in the eyes of scouts. 
 
Key Match Up:  Miami running backs Graig Cooper and Javarris James against the Oklahoma front seven
 
Graig Cooper is a terrific back who appears ready to play in the NFL right now. Comfortable catching passes out of the backfield or running between the tackles, Cooper will face his biggest challenge of the year this week against OU. 
 
 The Hurricanes other ball carrier, Javarris James, is a talented back that has battled injuries for most of his career. James must show consistency over the rest of his tenure as a Hurricane to have any chance of being a late rounder. Meanwhile Cooper could rise into the draft’s first round should he demonstrate that he can put up solid numbers against top competition. 
 
The Sooner defensive front seven is built around tackle Gerald McCoy. An explosive force in the middle, McCoy is among the highest rated players in the nation and will be a top 10 selection if he enters the draft. Linemate Demarcus Granger could join him in the first round of next years draft should he be able to play injury free. Another explosive front line defender, Granger hustles and can frequently be seen making plays near the sidelines or downfield. Oklahoma has very little depth at linebacker, as was evident last season when Ryan Reynolds went down. Reynolds is back this year, playing as aggressive as ever and the Sooners defense is among the best in the nation.  Keenan Clayton is an athletic linebacker that makes plays all over the field. Standing out in pass coverage, he looks like a prototypical strong side linebacker in a 4-3 defense and is a solid middle round prospect. The Sooners youngest linebacker is also potentially their best. Physical and nasty are the two words that describe Travis Lewis, an underclassmen with first round potential.
 
Key Match Up: Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams vs. Miami defensive end Eric Moncur
 
Yet another top tier NFL prospect on the Sooners roster, Trent Williams is a dominating college lineman that has the potential to develop into either a left tackle or a right tackle in the NFL. A massive lineman with good footwork and a wide wingspan, Williams gets his hands on defenders easily and pushes them around. Susceptible to players that are fast and relentless, Williams could have his hands full on Saturday if he is not careful. 
 
 Eric Moncur is an over aged player that will have to quickly make an impression if he is to have any chance of getting drafted.   Quick to the outside, Moncur can be disruptive off the edge yet is also easily handled at the point of attack by larger blockers.  Moncur played just three games last season before being sent to the sidelines with an injury.  He’s still struggling to get back to full health and has only played in two games this season.  Having a good showing against Williams could be just what the doctor ordered for Moncur.

www.TFYDraft.com is solely dedicated to the NFL Draft twelve months a year.  For rankings, reports and first hand breaking news, check them out every day!