An NFL Draft Blog

An NFL Draft Blog
Formerly known as the player rater.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Andrew Luck- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is nothing short of the ideal quarterback prospect. I see no downside in his game whatsoever. I can personally guarantee he will be a franchise quarterback with whatever team he ends up with.

Luck's had outstanding numbers at Stanford. This season he got 3051 passing yards, completing 70.2% of his passes while getting 28 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. He was also sacked a shocking 5 times all season, fewest of any quarterback in the FBS, which not only attributes to the talent of his offensive line, but also his quick delivery and ability to avoid pressure.

Luck has solid physical tools. He has good height, good bulk, and good speed. He has solid throw power as well, putting plenty of zip on a majority of his passes, and showing the arm strength to throw a nice deep ball. He also has been perfectly durable while at Stanford, missing no games due to injury.

Luck showcases a solid delivery. Luck uses solid fundamentals in his delivery, getting the ball out of his arms reasonably quick and staying consistent with his delivery. Luck is also very consistent with his footwork in all of his passes, helping him be very accurate.

Luck is very accurate. He never misses on any of his throws, he uses ideal footwork in all of his throws, and he knows where to put the ball. He is also good at throwing on the run, which he rarely does, because he is so comfortable in a pocket environment.

Luck is an ideal decision maker. He is very smart, showcasing the presence of mind to always look off defenders in coverage, he never forces any throws, he is remarkably comfortable under pressure and in the pocket, he knows when to run with the football, and he makes great reads under pressure.

Luck has ideal intangibles. He works really hard, he is a great leader, and he is one of the toughest players it has ever been my pleasure to scout (that hit in the video was the greatest hit by an offensive player I have ever seen). He also has excellent character, with a high GPA at one of the best universities in the country, and he spends a lot of time studying the game.

Andrew Luck's mobility might be the most underrated aspect of any quarterback's game in the FBS. Luck got 438 rushing yards this season at Stanford (remember, in college football, a sack counts against a quarterback's rushing yard tally, while in the NFL, it doesn't. If sacks aren't counted, the number is around 510), good for 23rd in the FBS among quarterbacks. Seems pretty impressive. But look at the guys in front of him; Darron Thomas, Ricky Dobbs, Cam Newton, Taylor Martinez, Nathan Scheelhaase Joshua Nesbitt, Denard Robinson, Colin Kaepernick... these guys all played in option dominant system offenses! Andrew Luck got all those rushing yards in a pro-style offense. Luck's 438 rushing yards in 12 games would be second of all quarterbacks in the NFL, after they had played 16 games, and Luck even played in a league in which sacks hurt his rushing yard tally. If the sacks are discounted, Luck has about 510 rushing yards, which he got in 12 games. It took Mike Vick a whole 16 game season to get 676 rushing yards. Luck actually got a quarter of rushing yard more than Vick for his team per game all season. That's unbelievable. Andrew Luck got an 8.6 yards per carry in a league where sacks are counted against a quarterback's rushing yard tally in an offense in which he is never designated to run and has to pass a lot. That's insanity. Also, that 8.6 yards per carry is the highest yards per carry of anyone in the FBS, including running backs, with 51 carries or more. Second place among quarterbacks? Colin Kaepernick with a 7.2. And he hardly passed enough to get sacked. Also, Luck somehow pulled off getting sacked only 5 times in his 349 pass attempts? 1 sack per 70 passes? That's sounds made up. Of course, a lot of that is offensive line, but he is excellent at evading pressure and getting the ball out of his hands.

So I have used statistics to prove Andrew Luck was one of the best rushing quarterbacks in the NCAA. So what made him so good? A combination of underrated athleticism, excellent decision making when choosing to roll out, ideal vision with the ball in his hands, a knack for getting the ball out of his hands right before the pocket collapses, a quick delivery, and enough toughness to power through defenders.

I guess the small bit of downside is the fact that Luck rarely has to deal with much pressure. Though Luck played a part in being sacked only 5 times, the Stanford offensive line is still probably the second best in the FBS (behind Wisconsin). Though he makes good decisions under pressure, he still doesn't have to deal with pressure as much as the average FBS quarterback. But Carolina allowed 47 sacks this season, second most in the NFL. He'll have to adjust to that offensive line, which may be a slight issue at first, but he'll be fine after a while.

Here are some highlights of Luck:

Andrew Luck vs. USC in 09'

Andrew Luck vs. Wake Forest in 09'

Andrew Luck 2010

Overall, there is a lot to love about Andrew Luck, who was quietly one the most mobile quarterbacks in the FBS this year. He has a bright future in the NFL, and he should have success with any team he ends up with.

NFL Comparison: Aaron Rodgers. I realize it's not a common comparison, and Rodgers has a tendency to hold on the the ball too long and take a sack more than Luck, but Rodgers' underrated mobility (second among all quarterbacks in rushing yards since 2008) along with his impressive intangibles and accuracy can't help but make me think of Luck.
Grade: 100
Projection: 100

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Raymond Williams- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

A word to the wise: keep a very close eye on Shaw University running back Raymond Williams. Williams is absolutely a no named player; however, he has the physical tools to be an excellent player at the NFL level.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that I couldn't find any game film of Shaw University football. The only game film of Williams that I have seen is this. It's pretty easy to tell he has excellent speed (he runs a 4.39 40), and he isn't just one of those scat-backs who are probably to small to take many hits (he is 6'0 tall). However, he could use a fair amount of bulk. I really don't feel comfortable making assessments of his vision and patience based on a highlight video (a player almost always showcases good vision on any good run), but I will say this: I do feel that he isn't a one dimensional player. A lot of speed backs at the college level produce good numbers solely because they are so much faster than everybody on the opposing team's defense; they can turn the corner and outrun everybody to the end zone. But that doesn't work in the NFL because no player is so fast that the opposing NFL teams will never catch up to him on any run. Every running back has to run the inside a little for success (see: Reggie Bush, and Jahvid Best, who has a 3.2 yards per carry through 15 games, which is the worst in the NFL). At the early part of the video, Williams only runs to the outside, but as the video goes on, he shows the versatility to have some success running to the inside, and I expect more success will come on the inside if he adds 20lbs of bulk.

I haven't been able to find much on Williams' numbers at Shaw. All I have been able to find is this. I couldn't find anything from last year. It makes it even tougher for me to analyze him. Either way, he has been somewhat productive this year, showcasing a strong yards per carry with a decent workload. But he is a pretty poor receiver, even for a DII running back.

Believe it or not, Raymond Williams used to be a big name player. In 2003, he was named Mr. Football in Ohio as the best high school player in the state. He was headed for West Virginia, but he ended up being arrested for a botched robbery attempt in Cleveland. He and 2 other high school football players, Jon Huddleston and Lorenzo Hunter, were trying to rob a known drug dealer named Rodney Roberts with a fake gun. However, Roberts brought out a real gun and he shot and killed Hunter. Williams was charged with involuntary manslaughter for Hunter's death, but a judge gave him a shockingly generous sentence: 5 years probation. The kind sentence was because the judge said that Williams and Huddleston both seemed "extremely remorseful," of the crime. But he was told if he violated the probation, he would got to prison for 3 years (which is actually the minimum sentence for involuntary manslaughter. I don't actually know how the judge was able to give him a sentence lighter than the state minimum). He then enrolled at Toledo, but in 2007 he allegedly tested positive for tested positive marijuana. He tearfully denied his guilt in the court, and there was definitely doubt of the validity of the test, and the article did say he would be tested again. I was not able to find the results of the second test anywhere on the internet, but it appears that nothing came up in his system during the second test. The probation violation was in 2007, and if he had gone to prison for 3 years, then he wouldn't be a senior at Shaw right now. He'd be 6 months out of prison, and not a senior. However, it appears that he was expelled from Toledo because of the alleged violation of his probation, and that's how he ended up at Shaw. His character is a true mystery, but there are some issues with his character.

Overall, Williams is as big a mystery man as any player I have ever looked at. He has one fascinating history, a lot of potential, but it has never been harder for me to find information on a player. A fascinating player, and one to watch. And I guarantee you; if he ever he makes whatever team he tries out for this year, he could be a Vick-esque story of redemption.

NFL Comparison: Chris Ivory. A microscopic school guy, dismissed from a decent size school, ended up in a tiny school (in his case Tiffin), has a lot of physical tools (221 pounds with a 4.49 40 yard dash). A lot of resemblance, and Chris Ivory turned out great for the Saints (5.2 yards per carry, led the team in rushing). Don't be surprised to see something similar from Williams.
Grade: 20
Projection: 10. In fact, if there were 700 picks in the NFL draft, he still might not get drafted. That's how much of a nobody he is.

Updated Scouting Report(s): Patrick Peterson

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The validity in the "yards allowed," statistic for corners.

I have always been pretty back and forth on how valid talking about how many yards guys like Justin Blackmon got on Prince Amukamara in the Nebraska Oklahoma State game this year. Does Blackmon getting 157 yards in that game really mean anything? Or is Amukamara often lining up on one side of the field, and is he not necessarily facing Blackmon? Well, I decided to test the validity of that statistic. I figured that if there is validity in the statistic, then corners who that allow a small amount of yards per game according to the statistic should be drafted higher than corners whom allow a lot of yards per game according to the statistic. I decided to see how many yards per game each corner expected to be drafted allowed to number one receivers, excluding games against FCS teams or games decided by 21 points or more, in which a corner may be subbed out pretty early in the game and his backup used to avoid injury, or the team with the lead stops throwing the ball because their lead is so great. I figured, that if the top corners in the FBS did well in this statistic, then the statistic is valid. Here are my results.

Once you factor in the fact that guys like Johnny Patrick and Brandon Hogan play in the Big East and their stats shouldn't be taken quite as seriously, it's pretty clear that corners that did well in the statistic were projected to be drafted higher than corners who weren't, with only three players that could be considered exceptions: Prince Amukamara, Patrick Peterson, and Darrin Walls.

I am not going to sit here and bash Amukamara. If Amukamara is examined more closely, it's clear that he wasn't as bad as the stat suggested; 42% of his yards allowed came on 3 single catches. The 80 yard pass to Justin Blackmon, for example, was a flea flicker, and it would not have gone for quite as many yards if Amukamara had made the tackle that he missed, Oklahoma State wasn't at its own 20, or if the safety that was fooled by the flea flicker had stayed in position to make the tackle. Though I do think Amukamara is overrated, it's actually because he has mediocre production for a first round prospect, and he doesn't have the jaw-dropping physical tools that can make up for the above average overall production, but still mediocre for a first round pick. He is 6'0 with a 4.49 40 yard dash, which is completely average, but far from the "once in a lifetime," talent a corner should have to be a mid first round pick. Now, if he allowed 35 yards per game I would concede that he was dominant enough to make up for those average physical tools, but he didn't, and he isn't dominant enough to make up for those physical tools.

Peterson frankly doesn't surprise me. I have always said he was extremely overrated, and, to tell the truth, I could have booked him for 81.4 yards allowed per game if I had counted the North Carolina game against him. I couldn't really get an idea whom North Carolina's number one receiver was during that game. Though Dwight Jones ended up leading that team in receiving yards, he only got 104 yards in the first 5 games combined, and didn't appear to be the number one receiver at the time. It was either Jheranie Boyd or Erik Highsmith. Boyd ended up getting one more yard than Highsmith on the season, and if I had counted Boyd's numbers against Peterson in that game, it would have been an extra 221 yards to his tally, and an extra 23.2 yards per game allowed. But I don't think I am going to count the fact the Boyd got one more yard than Highsmith against Peterson. But what's undeniable, it would be pretty tough for Boyd to get 221 yards in a game without being the number one receiver.

And finally, Darrin Walls always seemed really underrated to me. Not only did he master pretty good production during the 2010 season, but he is 6'0 tall and runs a 4.45 40 yard dash. I realize that isn't amazing, but guys like that don't grow on trees, either, and they're hard to find in the 7th round. He has always seemed pretty underrated to me because of that production, solid physical tools, and the fact that Notre Dame plays a pretty tough schedule. I'll get more into him later.

Some doubters will say that I gave Aaron Williams too high a projection by putting him in front of Brandon Harris, Davon House, and even to some extent Donnie Fletcher. Though I think Harris and House are better than Williams, most NFL draft scouts will say Williams has a more cover skills than the two. Much of the reason that Williams will be a late first round prospect instead of an early first round prospect is because of his horrible lack of strength, physicality, and ability to stop the run. He got 31 tackles last year at Texas, by far the worst of any corner that will be drafted this year. His unbelievable ineptitude when it comes to stopping the run and making tackles makes him a late first round prospect, and a little behind Harris and House in draft position.

I realize that people will doubt the validity of the statistic. Don't write me off quite yet. The statistic appears valid according to those results. I know people are going to ignore the statistic, and say that corners too often line up on one side of the field, but try to remember the fact that coaches are going to want a real dominant corner on a real dominant player. For example, if you are Urban Meyer (or, I guess Will Muschamp), and you are facing Georgia, you are going to want a corner as dominant as Janoris Jenkins matched up against A.J. Green as much as possible, and your second corner, sophomore Jeremy Brown, matched up against Green as little as possible. If you watched the Florida Georgia game closely, you would clearly see that Jenkins never leaves Green. He gets and interception off of him and holds him to a mere 42 yards, his worst game of the season. Without watching the game, should I even have to ask my readers if they are going to contest the idea that Jeremy Brown played a large role in stopping Green? I don't think so. It was clear that Jenkins was matched up against Green, and using that game in Jenkins' favor is completely valid. Now, if a coach has two corners that are practically interchangeable, such as Virginia's Ras-I Dowling and Chase Minnifield, then the statistic is invalid. Each corner will match up against the number one receiver at different parts of the game. But let's be honest; take the Alabama LSU game for example. Les Miles would eat grass before he let true sophomore Morris Claiborne line up against Julio Jones when he has Patrick Peterson on the roster (okay, that was a bad example). But still, there is no way he would let Claiborne line up against Jones if he can make Jones line up against Peterson. Julio Jones got 89 yards in the game. For the sake of proving my point, after I wrote this article, I watched the game. I used KC Joyner's sabermetrics of figuring how many yards Peterson allowed and how many yards he gave up per throw, and watched every ball Greg McElroy threw. Julio Jones had 6 of his 9 catches against Peterson (he had 10 catches on the game, but one was while Peterson was on the sideline, taking a one play breather), for 52 yards, and Peterson also allowed a 37 catch to Marquis Maze in the game (Technically, the catch didn't count. Peterson did a blatant pass interference on Maze, pulling his right arm around his back, and the officials ruled he made a one-handed catch, but when the play was reviewed, they ruled it wasn't a catch. Peterson still got a 15 yard pass interference penalty called against him, but at the NFL level, that's a 37 yard penalty. Considering I'm evaluating him for the NFL, I'm considering that a 37 yard catch). So let's add that up; 37 yards for Maze, 52 for Jones... that's 89 yards! Coincidentally, the exact number the stat counted against him. That stat isn't usually going to be that perfect, but I think it is good enough to be considered valid. Miles did try to make sure that Peterson was lined up against Jones as much as possible. Jones still got yards. It was Peterson's fault that he did. Now, are you going to tell me that stat is invalid? Please.

Overall, I think there is enough validity in the statistic for me to feel comfortable about using it to evaluate corners to some extent during the draft process. Clearly corners that did better in the statistic were considered better players by the draft community, and I think it makes the stat reasonably valid.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Rashad Carmichael- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Virginia Tech cornerback Rashad Carmichael is one of the most undervalued, no, criminally ignored players it has ever been my pleasure to scout. I don't understand how people can undervalue him as much as they do, but he is an amazing player.

Carmichael possesses above average physical tools. He possesses decent height, below average bulk, but very good top end speed that allows him to keep up with any player he covers. He also appears to be a somewhat fluid athlete, and he appears to have the athleticism to go up and get the football at its highest point.

Carmichael displays ideal ball skills. He has excellent hands, outstanding athleticism to go and get the ball at its highest point, he has a natural ability to follow the ball through the air, and seems to always be in good position when the football is coming his way.

Carmichael displays excellent fluidity as an athlete. He displays above average change of directions skills, he appears to have pretty lose hips, and he is pretty good at adjusting to passes and finding his way into position on a lot of well thrown passes.

Carmichael displays ideal coverage skills and solid instincts. He is a pretty good run stopper, displaying above average strength and excellent on field intensity, he uses solid tackling fundamentals, he is physical in coverage, and he has ideal route recognition skills. He does, however, often give receivers too much of a cushion off the line of scrimmage.

Carmichael has excellent intangibles. He overcame the death of his father, Bernard, who died of a heart attack at the age of 40, and he seems like a very hard worker on and off the field.

In 2009, Carmichael produced one of the most outstanding (and underrated) seasons a corner has ever had. Only one team's #1 receiver can say they were able to get over 46 yards on Virginia Tech (Duke's Donovan Varner, who got 87), which has to be at least partially attributed to Rashad Carmichael. I will admit that statistic is slightly flawed, for, depending on the formation of the team a corner played against, Carmichael might not have always been matched up against a number one receiver, but if there was any validity in talking about how Darrelle Revis shut down Randy Moss in 09' there is validity in what Carmichael did too. So it has been established that he allowed virtually no yards. But on top of that, he somehow managed to get 6 interceptions on the season, 3rd in the FBS among cornerbacks! Are you kidding me? He was dominant enough for quarterbacks never to get any yards on him, but, despite the small quantity of balls thrown in his directions, he still amassed 6 interceptions (and 55 tackles)? Are you kidding me? There is absolutely no way that is possible. I swore, when I scouted him, I always got the feeling he was catching more balls than the receivers he was covering. That domination may never be matched. Now, in 2010, he hasn't been quite as dominant due to a series of nagging injuries. He has missed multiple games this year due to an ankle injury and his production has suffered (2 number #1's have gotten 80 yards on him), but, without the injuries, he would have been just as dominant this year as he was last year.

Overall, when I think of Carmichael and his 2009 season, I think of it as one of the best and undervalued in recent memory. His unbelievable coverage skills and physical tools will be a force to be reckoned with at the NFL level.

NFL Comparison: Champ Bailey, with a little bit more ball skills, but a little bit less speed.
Grade: 94
Projection: 81

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shareece Wright- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

USC corner Shareece Wright is a really overrated prospect. 2011 is one of the strongest corner classes in recent memory. Among the best cornerback classes of all time. But Shareece Wright just isn't a good player.

Wright has average physical tools. He has decent athleticism, solid fluidity and change of direction skills, and enough height to succeed at the NFL level. However, he definitely needs to add a fair amount of bulk to his frame, and he doesn't have much recovery speed, for he seems to take a while to reach top end speed..

Wright has a fair amount of character issues. He was academically ineligible for all but one game last season and he doesn't put a whole lot of effort onto the field. He also isn't a very tough tackler and he isn't very physical in coverage.

Wright is probably the worst run stopper of any corner in this year's class. His instincts are terrible, he lacks strength, he takes awful angles to the football, he isn't a physical tackler, and he can't use his hands to shed a block to save his life. He also uses horrible tackling fundamentals. This lack of versatility is a real downside to his game.

Wright lacks coverage skills. He is very poor at anticipating breaks in routes, he lack route recognition skills, and he will take many false steps in coverage and get caught out of position. Though he doesn't put much effort onto the field as a run stopper, he is an overaggressive pass defender, frequently diving for balls out of his reach and going for my interceptions than he should.

Wright has poor hands. In two years of starting, Wright has pulled of one measly interception at USC.  his lack of ball skills will really hurt him at the NFL level.

Overall, I think of Wright as the beneficiary of a poor team with a track record of NFL talent. USC has just about as many draft prospects as any school in the nation. Yet they have lost 3 games this season and look really bad in comparison to most years. Considering how good a team with 14 draft prospects (probably this year usually or last year) usually is, USC has been astonishingly underwhelming.  And if a team with that much talent is playing poorly, than maybe they aren't as talented as people think they are. And that's what I think of Wright.

NFL Comparison: A short Antoine Cason
Grade: 35
Projection: 49

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Matthew Szczur- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Villanova Wide Receiver/Running back/Quarterback/Kick Returner/Punt Returner/Outfielder/2nd Baseman/Shortstop/Catcher (let's just call him a Do Everything Man) Matthew Szczur (pronounced: cezar; he's Polish) has got to be the most interesting player it has ever been my pleasure to scout. He could be one amazing force at the NFL level.

Let's start off with Szczur's physical tools. Szczur is a pretty short guy who could afford to add a little bit of bulk, but he has pretty good speed for his size. Szczur's lack of size really hurts his strength, hindering his production as a blocker at the FCS level, though.

Szczur has excellent numbers. As a running back, he has always been able to keep a great yards per carry at Villanova, though he never carries much of a workload because of all his time spent at receiver. As a receiver, his numbers are impressive considering how limited he is played at the position. He is also listed as the team's second string quarterback, so he can't really play one position ling enough to dominate it statistically (see: Dexter McCluster, especially in 08', acting as Ole Miss' wildcat threat).

Szczur just might have the best intangibles in american sports history. There is only one guy who probably rivals Szczur when it comes to intangibles (all Florida, well, all college football fans should know this). I am pretty conflicted. Who has the better character; the guy that preaches to prisoners and does missionary work in the East Asia/Australia area, or the guy who donates bone marrow to Leukemia patients all over the country? If you chose the bone marrow guy, you think Szczur has the better intangibles; if you chose the religious guy, you think Tebow has the better intangibles. Aside from that, Szczur plays with ridiculous on field intensity, he is a tough runner, he works ridiculously hard, and he is more than a willing blocker.

When it comes to versatility, Szczur might also be the best in american sports history. He is pretty adept at all those positions in football, but here is the most amazing thing about Szczur's versatility; it's not like he just plays on the Villanova baseball team on the side; he is a legit good baseball player. Most MLB draft experts said he was a third round talent had he not been so strongly committed to playing football, but he still went in the fifth round to Chicago Cubs too. And he was pretty good with the Cubs as well. That versatility comes around once in a lifetime, and it makes Szczur an even better player.

Most people consider Szczur a wide receiver; however, I like him as a running back a lot more than most people do, and I am on the fence of what position I will call him. So I'll kind of write a scouting report on both positions.

Szczur as a receiver is a solid route runner with good quickness in and out of breaks. He displays a natural ability to find holes in the defense, and get himself into positions on the field with a lot of open space for him to run. He also displays a pretty quick first step off the line of scrimmage, he accelerates quickly, and he knows how to use some deceptive head fakes and footwork in his routes.

Szczur has mediocre hands. He frequently traps balls against his frame, he drops some passes, and he doesn't display great athletic ability to catch the ball at its highest point. He also seems to lack body control in the air. But I have definitely seen worse.

Though Szczur puts up a ridiculous effort onto the field as a blocker, his lack of height really hurts his production as a blocker. He does possess excellent strength for his size, but he is probably too small to ever be a dominant blocker at the NFL level.

As a running back, Szczur displays excellent vision that allows him to have a lot of success at the position. He does a good job of following his blocks and bursting through the seam of the line. He also isn't a one dimensional, inside run only or outside run only back that doesn't have the balance to succeed at the NFL level.

Szczur has enough toughness to be a good inside runner. Despite his size, he can be a powerful back that will run over some defenders by using all of his limited power. Despite his reckless style of play, he has been completely durable during his entire career at Villanova, which makes his tough running plausible at the NFL level without excessive injuries..

Szczur has excellent shiftiness and quickness that allows him to be a good outside runner. His speed and change of direction skills makes him tough to tackle in the open field, making him an explosive big play threat. Obviously, this could come in handy at receiver as well.

Here are some highlight videos of Szczur:

Matt Szczur

Matt Szczur Postseason highlights

Overall, I am excited about what I have seen from Szczur. It's not easy to find the most versatile athlete in the country as well as the one with the best intangibles in the same school. For it to be one person is quite simply, unthinkable. That versatility, combined with his intangibles, could make him one special player down the road. And lastly, because of the whole blocking issue and the height, I think I will call him a running back.

NFL Comparison: As I said before, he is unique, but I think I will go with Danny Woodhead with some height.
Grade: 85
Projection: 66

Robert Quinn- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

North Carolina defensive end Robert Quinn really scares me right now. From what I have seen, I don't think he is going to do anything in the NFL. It has been pretty tough to scout him.

Robert Quinn is a physical monster with all the tools to succeed in the NFL. He has excellent height, good bulk (268), and excellent speed (4.64 40 yard dash), that could allow him to be a monster in the NFL. But he really lacks strength, and he appears to have short arms for his size, making it difficult for him to use his hands well to get to the quarterback.

Quinn has pretty good quickness off the ball and uses pretty effective fundamentals with the speed rush. However, from what I have seen, he has pretty poor instincts and is often caught out of position on misdirections and on play actions.

Quinn has awful character. When I read about him becoming permanently ineligible, I got pretty ticked off about the story. It's one thing to do these bad things, which is of pretty low morale and kind of stupid, but it became a lot worse when I read that what got him permanently ineligible was his constant denial of the crimes. Apparently, the NCAA had overwhelming evidence against him and they gave him many chances to admit his guilt, but he just wouldn't do it, and the constant lying made the NCAA do the permanent suspension. But he battled back from brain surgery in high that doctors said could end his career, and he plays with decent on field intensity.

Quinn is a pretty effective tackler. He wraps up, he uses excellent tackling fundamentals in the open field, and he has good lower body strength at the point of attack. He also displays a strong initial punch off the line.

Quinn isn't very adept with any pass rush moves at all. All I see from him is speed rush after speed rush after speed rush. He will need to learn how to use his hands better if he wants to have success in the NFL.

My main issue with Quinn is his stats. At first glance, his stats appear to be great; 52 tackles, 11 sacks Sophomore year. But let's take a closer look. Let's divide the stats from all of the North Carolina games last year based on the strength of the teams Quinn played against. Against The Citadel, East Carolina, Virginia, Georgia Southern, Duke, Boston College, and North Carolina State (7 games), he got ALL of his 11 sacks and 33 of his tackles; against Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Miami, Connecticut, and Georgia Tech (6 games), he got a mere 19 tackles and 0 sacks! That is a staggering dispersion of stats between teams he played! He made absolutely no impact in games against good teams, yet he dominated against bad teams.

Here are some highlights of Quinn

Robert Quinn vs. Virginia

Robert Quinn vs. Boston College

Overall, I am not very high on Quinn because of his lack of success against the decent FBS teams. The fact is, North Carolina had a pretty easy out of conference schedule last year, and he played in the ACC to boot. If he played in the SEC or the Big Ten, I don't think he would be generating much buzz at all for next year's draft, and he would be a mid first rounder at best. Maybe, if I had seen one of those unimportant games against easy teams, I might have a higher opinion of Quinn, but from what I have seen from Quinn, he makes no impact on game by game basis.

NFL Comparison: Vernon Gholston. They have similar skills sets, and Gholston took over the Big Ten in one of its worst years. The Big Ten has improved, and now Quinn is dominating a pretty bad ACC conference. The outlook doesn't seem promising.
Grade: 90
Projection: 96

Sunday, September 12, 2010

DeVier Posey- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

I'll admit it. I have been a Buckeye fan since I was 5. And I really hope there isn't any Ohio State bias involved anywhere in this article.

Ohio State receiver DeVier Posey is in that unbelievable class of 2012 wide receivers. Probably the best receiver class of all time. I am probably going to give 7 guys from that receiver class first round grades. Posey is no exception.

Posey has solid physical tools. He really is a jack of all trades but the master of none type player; good, but not great speed (4.47 40 yard dash), good, but not great height (6'2), and good, but not great bulk (200lbs). But he does have good football speed, and he is a well rounded player physically.

Posey is among the best route runners of all the big receivers in the FBS. He has outstanding quickness in and out of breaks for his size, he is among the best at finding holes in the zone and getting open on option routes, and he uses deceptive head fakes in his routes to get open. His route running is pretty impressive considering his age, and it suggests he has a very strong work ethic off the field.

Posey plays with outstanding on field intensity. He has Anquan Boldin like physicality in his routes, he is an outstanding run blocker, and he is really tough trying to power through defenders after the catch. But he does attract a fair amount of holding penalties for a wide receiver, and he could definitely afford to improve his upper body strength.

At first glance, Posey has below average numbers (last year he got 60 catches, 828 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns, with a 13.8 yards per catch). But remember; regardless of whether or not people think Terrelle Pryor was good last year (which, for the most part, he wasn't), what's undeniable is he almost never passed the ball. He only passed for 2094 yards last year, an awful number. The fact that Posey got 40% of Pryor's pass yards is pretty impressive. Plus he has gotten off to a strong start in 2010, so Posey has achieved pretty well statistically.

Posey isn't much of a yards after the catch threat. He has below average vision with the ball in his hands, he lacks the shiftiness to make defenders miss in the open field, and he doesn't have the breakaway speed to outrun some corner and safeties.

Posey's main issue is mediocre hands. He traps a lot of balls against his frame, and he drops a fair amount of passes. But he is pretty good at catching the ball at its highest point, he is very good at adjusting to the football, he can get really high in the air, and he displays impressive body control when going for the poorly thrown pass.

Here are a couple looks of Posey in action:

DeVier Posey Highlights

DeVier Posey Highlights

DeVier Posey Highlights

DeVier Posey vs. Oregon

Overall, I think DeVier Posey is a really good player, and I think that the strength of the 2012 wide receiver class shouldn't count against him. I think he would be a first round pick in any other wide receiver class and the strength of 2012's shouldn't be counted against him. Whoever grabs him, probably in the early second round, is still getting a great value.

NFL Comparison: Dwayne Bowe, except Posey plays with great on field intensity.
Grade: 94
Projection: 89

Updated Scouting Report(s): I didn't change most of the scouting reports, but I changed the grades and projections of a lot of players. Aldon Smith got 10 tackles and 2 sacks to open the season. There is no Sophomore slump. If he plays FBS football for 4 years, at the rate he is going at, he will be the most productive defender in the history of college football (I also found highlights of him). Terrance Toliver is really struggling in 2010, getting a mere 6 catches for 47 yards through 2 games. Allen Bailey looked pretty good against Ohio State, but I think that may be because he puts up a good effort on the national stage. Patrick Peterson can return a kick like nobody's business. I decided I gave Jerrod Johnson too generous a projection, but he has been really good in 2010 and I changed his grade. I changed Julio Jones' projection. With the emergence of Wisconsin's J.J. Watt, Christian Ballard is deeply buried among the 3-4 ends of 2011 and he is losing popularity. Jake Locker struggled against BYU. A.J. Green's got suspended for doing something that came across as dumb, not immoral. I changed the projection, but I still think he has good character. See: Dez Bryant's suspension. I also found highlights of Nate Solder and Adrian Clayborn (Yes. Highlights of an offensive lineman from Colorado. That AloAloysius guy is just great.).

Friday, September 3, 2010

Prince Amukamara- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Prince Amukamara is one of the many overrated corners of this year's draft class. But I have to give some of these guys credit; all of the second round cornerback prospects of the 2011 draft look pretty good.

Amukamara has average physical tools. Amukamara has pretty nice size, and solid speed, but he lacks a lot of athleticism. He doesn't provide the leaping ability to go up and deflect passes over his head, and his change of direction skills are mediocre as well as fluidity as an athlete. He also has pretty tight hips. He doesn't provide much strength, either.

Amukamara has excellent ball skills. He never drops passes, he can get into good position on the deep ball, he gets a lot of interceptions, and he deflects a lot of passes. He can catch balls its highest point pretty well, and his hands are very consistent.

Amukamara has actually rushed the passer pretty well in his career, getting 3 sacks. He has solid quickness and he has excellent closing speed. It's a nice bit of versatility factored into his game.

Amukamara has good character. He works hard on and off the field, he has excellent on field toughness, and he plays hard. His character is one of the better assets to his game.

Amukamara is a mediocre run stopper. He lacks strength, he could use a lot of bulk, he isn't very good at shedding off blocks, and his instincts are mediocre. But he doesn't miss many tackles, his tackling fundamentals are solid, and he is typically in good position. He isn't aggressive at all on run plays, but he is aggressive on pass plays.

Amukamara some cover skills. He has solid route recognition skills, but can be out of position in coverage, and he also frequently gives receivers too much of a cushion. But he is pretty physical in coverage, though he will bite some on double moves and on hitches, causing him to be out of position.

I am sure some of my readers have read the validity in yards allowed article I wrote last year. Amukamara, according to that statistic, had average production for a corner during the 2010 season (which I agree with). That isn't my issue with Amukamara. My issue is that if he is going to be picked in the first round with average production for a first rounder, he better have off the charts physical tools. But Amukamara is 6'0 tall and he runs a 4.49 40 yard dash. That's not terrible, but guys like that grow on trees. If Amukamara is going to be a first round pick with average first round production, he ought to have off the charts physical tools, which I don't see.

Her are some highlights of Amukamara:

Prince Amukamara vs. Baylor

Prince Amukamara vs. Texas

Overall, Amukamara's lack of cover skills consistently hamper his production in coverage. I have always really valued cover skills in a corner, and I believe that Amukamara's lack of cover skills will make him a disappointing player at the NFL level.

NFL Comparison: Leigh Bodden
Grade: 94
Projection: 97

Updated Scouting Report(s): DeAndre Brown is officially the Greg Oden of college football, with the hamstring injury that hampered his production against South Carolina.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Adrian Clayborn- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Iowa Senior defensive end Adrian Clayborn is the most complete player of all of the 3-4 defensive ends from this year's draft class. As I said before, 2011 will be the greatest class of 3-4 defensive ends in the history in the draft (mostly because the 3-4 defense is so new), and I'd say Adrian Clayborn will be the grand prize of the group.

Clayborn has natural physical tools. Clayborn has excellent height, good bulk, and above average athleticism for his size. He also possesses long arms, and above average upper body and lower body strength. He also possesses excellent quickness, and good change of direction skills.

Clayborn's numbers are outstanding. Last year, he got 63 tackles and 11 sacks, emerging as a pass rusher last year after 50 tackles and 2 sacks during Sophomore year. He also has deflected an above average 6 passes in his career. He has been a pretty consistent player throughout his career at Iowa in a game-by-game basis as well as a play-by-play basis.

Clayborn has natural quickness and reaction ability. He has solid anticipation of the snap, he has good quickness off the ball, he has good change of direction skills, and he has excellent suddenness and arm quickness when using pass rush moves.

Clayborn has solid instincts. He typically doesn't over commit on misdirections or screen passes, but I occasionally see him out of position on play actions. He also can read and react to plays quickly, and he takes excellent angles to opposing ball carriers in pursuit.

Clayborn provides a solid array of pass rush moves. He has a good swim move, and he has some development in his rip move on run plays. He also uses his hands extremely well, he possesses excellent form on his speed and bull rush, and he provides excellent suddenness in defensive line stunts.

Clayborn is an excellent tackler. His tackling fundamentals are outstanding, he possesses the arm strength to make improbable arm tackles, and his overall fundamentals are excellent. He is also an extremely hard hitter that can force fumbles.

Clayborn's main concern are character issues. He was arrested on assault charges in 2009 after punching a cab driver, and a woman was arrested for stalking him later in the year. But overall, I think his character concerns are a little overrated; he is clearly a hard worker that puts a lot of effort onto the field, contributing to his production. He seems to be dedicated to football and he has a strong work ethic. I really don't think his character concerns are that big of a deal.

Here are some highlights of Clayborn:

Adrian Clayborn vs. Georgia Tech

Overall, Clayborn is a player with natural talent and outstanding on field intensity. I think he would be a pretty safe pick, because of his combination of talent and excellent football fundamentals. A very good player, who will succeed at the NFL level.

NFL Comparison: Julius Peppers, with less height but a little bit more on field intensity.
Grade: 95
Projection: 95

Updated Scouting Report(s): Patrick Peterson. I decided it just wasn't fair to analyze corners by the yards the opposing team's number one receiver gets. Corners usually cover one side of the field, not one receiver. I still know that Peterson is horribly overrated, but the validity in my original measure for success isn't perfect, so I changed it. I also added a paragraph about his character.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Speed Receivers vs Big Receivers

An everlasting debate among NFL draft circles is taking the speed receiver over the tall receiver or visa-versa. Personally, I have always favored the speed receiver, but I decided to test which receivers get more yards; The Speed Receiver or the Big Receiver.

I decided to measure how many yards all the receivers in the NFL got based on their height. I want to start out by saying that I didn't count five receivers in my study; Miles Austin, Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, Vincent Jackson, and Calvin Johnson. These 5 receivers are all 6'3 or taller and run a 40 yard dash in 4.40 seconds or less. Let's be honest; Calvin Johnson is 6'5, and he runs a 4.35 40 yard dash. Is he a big receiver, or is he a speed receiver? Well, there is no right answer. He is both. It wouldn't be fair to count any of those guys for either group.

I decided to see of the top 50 receivers in the NFL last season, in terms of yards gained, how many of them were 6'2 or taller (big), and how many of them were 6'1 or shorter (to be that short and in the top 50, by definition they almost have to be fast). So what were the results? 34 receivers were 6'1 or shorter, 16 were 6'2 or larger. Even if some of my readers thought that discounting players in the previous paragraph was a little unfair, the numbers are still completely staggering. So, now the question is, why?

The common conception among big receivers and little receivers is that the little guys are quick and often big play threats with the ball in their hands with the ball, but the big guys are bigger targets to hid with the football. But there is one factor that people have never really accounted for when evaluating the differences of these two types of players.

Let's compare two, imaginary players: Player A is 6'4 and runs a 4.47 40 yard dash; Player B is 5'10 and runs 4.47 40 yard dash. I think everyone should concede that being taller than Player B, Player A is a much longer strider than Player B; but Player B's feet move at quicker rate than player A's; for in order to go at the same speed that Player A is going at, his feet have to be quick for his strides are shorter. Not a lot of people realize this, but having quick, short strides can be an advantage in route running. See, having quick feet means that a player can reach top speed a little bit more quickly off the line of scrimmage and not lose much speed when changing directions. Quick feet also can change directions with a little bit more suddenness, for their legs have a natural ability to move faster. To explain why, suppose it takes two strides for both player A and player B to change directions at a 90 degree angle. Because player B has slightly quicker strides, two strides for him will take less time than the strides of player A. Even though it will only be about a quarter-second difference, with speed of the NFL game, that quarter-second can be vital in a player's route running ability. I am not saying height is a bad thing, but that speed is much more important; for there is no consequence for having good speed, but there is a small consequence for having height instead of speed.

Overall, lack of height in a receiver has a decent advantage in route running capabilities that being tall doesn't have. Just remember; height isn't a bad thing, but their is a small consequence in a receiver's skill when they are tall, yet there is no disadvantage to being fast.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Charlie Gantt- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

I am very high on Michigan State tight end Charlie Gantt. It's not that I think he will be a great player; but I think he can be a valuable role player on any team.

Next year's tight end class is awful. I'll keep it simple: I don't see myself giving one tight end of next year's class a first or second round grade, unless Kyle Rudolph goes out for the draft. That being said, I really like Gantt.

Gantt's physical ability is truly the only thing that holds him back. Gantt has good height (6'6), solid bulk (260lbs), but horrific speed (4.87 40 yard dash). He also lacks quickness of any kind, he isn't athletic at all when trying to go up and catch footballs, and he lacks lateral mobility. But he does possess above average strength, a nice, wide frame, and a big body with long arms.

Gantt has above average hands. He doesn't drop too many passes, but he does trap a fair amount of passes against his frame. Gantt's lack of physical tools stop him from being able to get high in the air, catch the ball at it's highest point, or really stretch the field as a receiver, but he is still functional as a pass catcher.

Gantt has some route running ability. Gantt really lacks quickness or deceptiveness in his routes, but he has showcased an ability to read coverage schemes and make excellent decisions when running option routes, which will help him in the NFL.

Gantt is a brilliant blocker. He blocks with unbelievable tenacity, he has good strength, and he uses his hands well to make all defenders succumb to his tremendous power. He also understands how to take perfect angles to opposing defenders in zone blocking schemes, and he gets a great initial punch on opposing linemen.

The reason why I like Gantt is that I feel Gantt could be the perfect goal line tight end in two tight end formations. Gantt will probably never be much of a starter in the NFL, but in two tight end formations and in goal line formations, the tight ends are usually required to block, which is vital in outside runs in these formations. Gantt is a great blocker. But, not only that, when a tight end has to be a receiver in those formations, they usually need to find some open space in the back of the end zone and use their height to make sure only they can get the ball. Gantt possesses the height and the ability to read opponents coverage schemes to be outstanding at that. Just perfect in that role. Honestly, could a team ask for anything else in that role?

Overall, Gantt may never be a great player, but he can be perfect in a backup tight end's role. Just brilliant. And let's be honest; one of the best backup, goal line tight ends in the history of the NFL, which Gantt could very well be, is pretty good value in the 4th round.

NFL Comparison: Steve Heiden. The resemblance is, quite simply, uncanny.
Grade: 75
Projection: 66

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Julio Jones- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Right now, I think Alabama receiver Julio Jones is going to run away with the title of most overrated prospect of the draft. A.J. Green is so much better than Jones, no matter what any analyst says.

Jones has solid physical tools. He has good height, solid bulk, and average speed. But Jones doesn't really possess those same long arms that Green has, he clearly lacks athletic ability to go up and get the ball, and on film it's totally obvious that he is way slower than Green.

Jones seems to put up a good effort onto the field, With the ball in his hands, he shows excellent toughness and he plays with good intensity, and he is a solid run blocker. I definitely have seen better run blockers, but Jones definitely is in the upper tier.

Jones definitely doesn't possess the same athletic ability that Green has, but he has enticing upper body strength. Jones doesn't usually make defenders miss in the open field or outrun them, but one thing Jones does well is power through safeties like a tight end, probably because of his excellent bulk. It also gives him solid chances to improve his production as a run blocker.

Jones has some of the worst hands I have ever seen. He consistently drops pass after pass after pass. He frequently traps balls against his frame. He also struggles to catch the ball at it's highest point with outstretched arms, and he doesn't possess the athletic ability to goo up and get the football like Green does (just look at the highlights. You just don't see that natural quality that is pretty easily seen in Green's highlights).

Jones is a poor route runner. That's pretty much expected from a guy his age, but I don't think he has natural change of direction skills that will allow him to ever become an amazing route runner. Of course, being quick in and out of breaks isn't all there is to route running, but it's about half the battle, and vital against corners that have natural route recognition skills. Jones may eventually learn how to incorporate head fakes into his routes and read coverage schemes, but I don't think he'll ever provide true quickness.

Jones had very underwhelming numbers sophomore year. 43 catches, 596 yards, 4 touchdowns. I have always been high on players who produce statistically, and Jones wasn't been able to produce last season simply because of his lack of separation skills and horrific hands. Those are big drawbacks in his game.

Here are a couple of good looks of Jones in action:

Julio Jones: Freshman Year

Julio Jones: Sophomore Year

Overall, I really think Jones is overrated. I know I just used this analogy with Patrick Peterson, but why would anyone draft a wide receiver who can't catch a football to save his life. I don't care if he is 6'4 and he runs a 4.49 40 yard dash. It's not a good idea to draft wide receiver who can't catch (see: comparison)

NFL Comparison: Braylon Edwards with less athletic ability
Grade: 92
Projection: 96

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Patrick Peterson- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Next year, 4 or 5 corners have a shot at being a first round pick. I actually haven't got any game film on Virginia's Ras-I-Dowling, but all of the others are really overrated. LSU corner Patrick Peterson just might be the most overrated player at any position in this year's draft class.

Peterson is one of the most physically gifted corners I have ever seen. He is really tall (6'1), he has a whole lot of bulk (maybe even too much at 212lbs), and he is extremely fast (4.42 40 yard dash). He is an extremely fluid athlete, and he possesses natural change of direction skills that allow him to cover even the best of route runners. He also is has extremely long arms that allow him to deflect a lot of passes. He also is a very good tackler and solid run stopper.

Peterson has natural ball skills. He has excellent hands, long arms and unbelievable athleticism that allows him to tip almost any pass that comes in his direction. He also possesses good upper body strength for ripping passes out of receivers hands.

In 2010, Peterson has done a great job of returning kicks and punts. It looks like, as a kick and punt returner he is near Josh Cribbs' level: 165 yards on 10 punt returns for an astounding 16.5 yards per return (3rd in the FBS of guys with 7 returns), and 151 yards on 5 returns for a great 30.2 yards per return (6th in the FBS of guys with 5 returns). It's a nice bit of versatility to his game.

Peterson plays with above average on field intensity. He is a somewhat physical tackler, he has solid strength, and he has decent mental toughness. But oddly, he showed up at LSU's spring practice this offseason at 222lbs. That is probably a little too much weight for a corner.

Peterson's main issue is a complete lack of cover skills. He possesses pretty bad route recognition skills. He is very bad at anticipating slants routes, and he frequently loses focus on his man. He often gives receivers too much of a cushion and he is very susceptible to being fooled by head fakes and breaks in routes.

I am sure many of my readers read the validity in "yards allowed," article I wrote in mid-December. If you are reading this and you haven't read that article, don't write me off quite yet. Read the article. The statistic appears valid, and it really makes Patrick Peterson look bad. I know people are going to doubt the statistic, and say that corners too often line up on one side of the field, but try to remember the fact that coaches are going to want a real dominant corner on a real dominant player.  For example, if you are Urban Meyer (or, I guess Will Muschamp), and you are facing Georgia, you are going to want a corner as dominant as Janoris Jenkins matched up against A.J. Green as much as possible, and your second corner, sophomore Jeremy Brown, matched up against Green as little as possible. If you watched the Florida Georgia game closely, you would clearly see that Jenkins never leaves Green. He gets and interception off of him and holds him to a mere 42 yards, his worst game of the season. Without watching the game, should I even have to ask my readers if they are going to contest the idea that Jeremy Brown played a large role in stopping Green? I don't think so. It was clear that Jenkins was matched up against Green, and using that game in Jenkins' favor is completely valid. Now, if a coach has two corners that are practically interchangeable, such as Virginia's Ras-I Dowling and Chase Minnifield, then the statistic is invalid. Each corner will match up against the number one receiver at different parts of the game. But let's be honest; take the Alabama LSU game for example. Les Miles would eat grass before he let true sophomore Morris Claiborne line up against Julio Jones when he has Patrick Peterson on the roster (okay, that was a bad example). But still, there is no way he would let Claiborne line up against Jones if he can make Jones line up against Peterson. Julio Jones got 89 yards in the game. For the sake of proving my point, after I wrote this article, I watched the game. I used KC Joyner's sabermetrics of figuring how many yards Peterson allowed and how many yards he gave up per throw, and watched every ball Greg McElroy threw. Julio Jones had 6 of his 9 catches against Peterson (he had 10 catches on the game, but one was while Peterson was on the sideline, taking a one play breather), for 52 yards, and Peterson also allowed a 37 catch to Marquis Maze in the game (Technically, the catch didn't count. Peterson did a blatant pass interference on Maze, pulling his right arm around his back, and the officials ruled he made a one-handed catch, but when the play was reviewed, they ruled it wasn't a catch. Peterson still got a 15 yard pass interference penalty called against him, but at the NFL level, that's a 37 yard penalty. Considering I'm evaluating him for the NFL, I'm considering that a 37 yard catch). So let's add that up; 37 yards for Maze, 52 for Jones... that's 89 yards! Coincidentally, the exact number the stat counted against him. That stat isn't usually going to be that perfect, but I think it is good enough to be considered valid. Not only did he allow 89 yards, but McElroy also completed 7/9 passes he threw toward Peterson for those 89 yards (and one of the misses was a pretty bad throw to Jones). Peterson allowed 9.9 yards per ball thrown toward him. Greg McElroy got 9.35 yards per ball he threw on the season. His quarterback rating against Peterson? 144.9. His quarterback rating during the season? 114.2. Not good for Peterson. Miles did try to make sure that Peterson was lined up against Jones as much as possible. Jones still got yards. It was Peterson's fault that he did.

Peterson is consistently out of position in coverage. He lacks instincts, and sometimes it seems like he just doesn't know plays. He is usually overaggressive in coverage and he struggles to commit to his zone in pass plays and play actions. He also commits a whole lot of pass interference penalties after he gets beat.

Overall, when I think of Peterson, I think of a corner who can't cover. He really has a lot of flaws in his coverage skills that will hinder his production in the NFL. I really don't care how physically gifted he is; if he doesn't produce, he's worthless.

NFL Comparison: Carlos Rogers
Grade: 92
Projection: 98

Updated Scouting Report(s): Terrance Toliver

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Aldon Smith- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Here is a shocking statistic: in 2009, 6 BCS players got at least 60 tackles and 11 sacks: Ndamukong Suh, Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, Wisconsin end O'Brien Schoefield, Purdue end Ryan Kerrigan, Oklahoma end Jeremy Beal, and ... Missouri Redshirt Freshman end Aldon Smith? Yep, it's true. Aldon Smith was the most productive Freshman in the NCAA last season, and I think the most underrated player in the FBS (though not the most underrated draft prospect).

Immediately after seeing his stats, I decided that I needed to scout Smith. I know that this year he is just a Redshirt Sophomore, but if he improves his play this year at all, I am talking 67 tackles and 13 sacks, he quite simply has nothing left to prove at the FBS level and should leave for the draft.

Physically, Smith isn't going to wow anyone. He possesses excellent height, but he could afford to add 10lbs of bulk, but he has solid athleticism (in football pads, but he runs a mediocre 40). Because he is so young, he still needs to mature out physically, but by the end of the year or so I expect he will bring good athleticism to the table. I am yet to see Smith really use the bull rush (the only Missouri game I've gotten to see this offseason was last year's Border Showdown against Kansas,) so I doubt he has much strength.

What makes Smith so special and so productive is his swim move. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Smith uses his swim move more effectively than every defender in the FBS. He does it with outstanding quickness and suddenness, he has long arms that help him separate from lineman, and he always uses the move with excellent form. Also, in general, he uses his hands brilliantly to separate from lineman. It's his use of his hands that makes him so special.

Smith attempts to use that swim move on just about every other play. The issue with using the swim move too often is that it will become predictable; lineman will eventually the start hitting the defender in the rib cage and start driving him off the ball. Smith can get away with it simply because he has been utilized brilliantly by the Missouri coaching staff. Missouri has a tendency to line Smith up at all areas of the line and use countless defensive line stunts with Smith. That doesn't work with ends that use the speed rush; for it is impossible to use the speed rush on the interior of the line. But it is exactly how a coach should use an end that relies on pass rush moves. If Smith lines up against every lineman on the opposing team, it will take more time for each individual lineman to catch on and see how heavily he relies on that swim move. Plus, coaches will be able to see what lineman defend his swim move the best and what lineman struggle against it the most. Missouri's use of Smith allows him to stay effective throughout the game, instead of just one quarter per game.

As I said before, I have only seen Smith play in one game. Kansas only ran the ball 11 times in the game. I honestly couldn't get a read on how good his instincts are, but he did seem like an effective tackler who plays with excellent intensity. He doesn't have much quickness off the ball, but I suspect that he has solid instincts though because of his excellent tackle numbers.

Here are some highlights of Smith:

Aldon Smith vs. Colorado (By the way: you see that swim move I was talking about on that last sack, and it's pretty easy to notice that he lines up all over the line throughout the game.)

Overall, I am amazed with Smith's use of the swim move and how well Missouri's coaching staff rotates him throughout the line. Smith has been so productive at the college level that he might leave for the draft; especially considering how staying in school if you are a polished defensive end doesn't tend to pan out very well (see: George Selvie). Smith is a great player, and I think he will be very successful at the NFL level.

NFL Comparison: Kyle Vanden Bosch, with less bulk.
Grade: 97
Projection: 94

Friday, July 23, 2010

A.J. Green- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Right now, Georgia receiver A.J. Green is the front runner to be my number one overall NFL draft prospect. Scouts all over the country are debating between Julio Jones and Green for the best underclassman receiver prospect, and I heavily favor Green. He is much more complete player. But onto the scouting report:

Green is a physically gifted player. At 6'4, he has great size to go up and get the football, and he also provides excellent speed. He always comes across as faster on film than he is in shorts, which is a big plus for me. With the ball in his hands, he simply showcases natural change of direction skills, making him very shifty and tough to tackle. Many people say that he isn't spectacular in the weight room, but I have seen good strength from him in football pads, as he seems to be an effective blocker, and he can rip the ball out of a defenders hands (see: catch on Chris Hawkins at the 5 min 10 sec mark of the video below). He also possesses solid bulk and unbelievable body control when going up for the football.

Green also has really good hands. He tends to avoid trapping balls against his frame, which is valued highly in the NFL, and he almost never drops passes. He also probably is the best in all of college at catching the ball at its highest point. His ability to get high in the air and catch the ball in his fingertips with his incredibly long arms is shocking and he does it with unbelievable consistency. It will be a major asset to his game in the NFL.

Green has been pretty successful statistically. He missed 4 games last season due to a shoulder injury, but he still was able to get 808 receiving yards last season. Had he not missed those games, he was on pace to get 1167 yards last season, an excellent total, especially considering Georgia attempted 346 passes, 85th in the FBS (out of 120 teams). Considering the fact he was a true Sophomore, he had an excellent season last year.

Green possesses outstanding intensity when run blocking, which is a major asset to his team. He uses his size very well to drive defenders off the ball, he shows excellent toughness going over the middle for the football, and he shows that he has power to run over defenders with the football in his hands. His toughness suggests a good work ethic on and off the field.

Green is a natural big play threat with the football in his hands. He has simply outstanding speed and shiftiness that allows to score a touchdown on any play that he touches the ball. He does a good job of using head fakes and natural change of direction skills to get past defenders with the ball in his hands. He uses his size well to make catches in the end zone and he possesses excellent awareness of the sideline. He also uses his size well to power through smaller defenders and create even more yards after the catch.

Green showcases any ability to read coverage schemes well and get in good position on option routes. That skill is impressive considering his age. That skill helps him get open when running slant routes and get yards after the catch. He also has a quick first step off the line of scrimmage.

I must emphasize that Green will be a top five pick in next year's draft. Top five picks don't exactly have many weaknesses. His main weakness is a lack of quickness in and out of breaks and poor footwork when route running. I think this concern is a little overrated. As I mentioned before, Green spending time to learn opponents coverage schemes and his on field toughness suggests that he has a strong work ethic. As I also mentioned before, Green does a good job of using head fakes and his change of direction skills to create yards after the catch. I know it is a bizarre comparison, but a receiver trying to lose his man when running a route is similar to a receiver trying to evade a man trying to tackle that receiver in the open field. In each situation, the receiver uses deceptive head fakes and natural change of direction skills to try to evade an opposing defender. Green simply hasn't used these skills when route running; it just hasn't been incorporated into his game. I think it is likely that Green will improve his route running because of his work ethic, but what's undeniably is that Green has unlimited route running potential. And that's the only thing that is stopping him from being a complete player. And in 2010, I did end up seeing a major progression in his route running, making him one of the most complete players in the NCAA.

Here is a good look of Green in action:

A.J. Green's Sophomore Highlights

Overall, Green possesses a whole lot of physical upside, but I think that he also has the talent and work ethic to fix the small flaws in his game. Green's more well rounded game and better stats make him a much better player then Julio Jones, and I think we'll see more of Green in the NFL. He is a great prospect. Maybe even the best in all of next year's class.

NFL Comparison: There aren't a lot players that are similar to Green, but I will say he's Larry Fitzgerald with a little bit more speed.
Grade: 99
Projection: 97

Updated Scouting Report(s): Jerel Worthy

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gabe Carimi- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

The 2011 tackle class is pretty bad. I'd be surprised if more than 2 tackles got drafted next year in the first round. Wisconsin tackle Gabe Carimi is going to be one of them, but I don't think that he really deserves it. He isn't really much of an all-around player.

Physically, Carimi is a pretty talented player. Carimi has outstanding height, solid bulk, and above average athleticism. He also brings solid to above average strength to his game, helping him drive defenders off the ball when run blocking. He also creates a wide base in pass protection. But, for a 6'7 tackle, Carimi has some really short arms, which hinders his ability to ride defenders along the edge in pass protection.

Carimi plays with nice toughness and intensity, which helps him use his strength well to drive defenders off the ball when run blocking. His mean streak and work ethic makes him a pretty coachable player at the NFL level. It's among the greatest assets to his game.

Carimi has some awful instincts and awareness as a blocker. He takes poor angles to defenders while run blocking, he struggles to get into good position and have good pad level in zone blocking plays, and he struggles to stay low in pass protection. He also makes pretty poor blocking decisions. He needs to learn to keep his head on a swivel and get in good position on the move if he wants any NFL success.

Carimi has terrible balance. He will fall down after hardly being touched because of poor footwork and mediocre lower body strength. This greatly hinders his production as a run blocker.

One major issue that I have with Carimi is his lack of ability too handle different types of penetration moves. Carimi has been a pretty productive player against athletes like Allen Bailey, but I have seen polished defenders penetrate Carimi with ease by using the swim move and the spin move against him. The perfect example of the 2009 Purdue game; in which he was matched up against Ryan Kerrigan. Kerrigan is probably the most unathletic pure overachiever of any player in this year's draft class; but he has good polish. Kerrigan got 9 tackles and a sack in the game (which is somewhat good for his standards), but it's worth noting that it ended up being a 37 to 0 game. Kerrigan got subbed out the the 3rd quarter. If Kerrigan had played the entire game, he would have dominated Carimi even more than he did by using the spin and swim moves to great effectiveness. Carimi needs to learn how to use his hands better and handle pass rush moves more easily.

Overall, I think that Carimi is the benefiter of a weak tackle class. Personally, I believe in drafting for value rather than need as early in the first round Carimi is expected to be picked. Most people give Carimi a top ten grade, but Carimi isn't really a top ten talent. I would criticize any team for drafting Carimi that high. Say he gets drafted in the top ten. I just don't get why a team that is bad enough to have a top ten pick wouldn't draft a better player and fill a different need instead of drafting Carimi. I say that mostly because a team with a top ten pick isn't just a tackle away from the playoffs. So why not wait till next year and draft a better tackle than Carimi near the same pick of the following year's draft

NFL Comparison: Jeremy Trueblood
Grade: 89
Projection: 93

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Christian Ballard- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

I really like Iowa defensive tackle Christian Ballard. This year, I'd think it would be fair to say that Iowa has the best defensive line in the country. Adrian Clayborn gets all the credit, but I know that Ballard is an extremely good player in his own right.

Ballard doesn't really have a reputation as a 3-4 defensive end prospect, but I think he could do very well at that position. Ballard possesses ideal height and good bulk bulk for the position: at 6'5, 298lbs and excellent pass rushing ability for a defensive tackle, he is a great match for the position. Ballard also possesses the necessary speed and athleticism for the position, well documented by his outstanding 4.86 40 yard dash.

Ballard is among the best statistical achievers of all the defensive ends in this years draft class: 50 tackles and 5 sacks last season make him among the most productive linemen in this year's draft class.  This season, he did a step back though. He is an unbelievable run stopper due to his tackling ability and instincts; he has a wide variety of pass rush moves that make him great at getting to the quarterback.

Ballard possesses above average instincts for the position; showcasing excellent discipline on play-actions and misdirections and reacting quickly to the play. He also takes solid angles to opposing ball carriers, making him a very effective run stopper.

Ballard is a solid tackler who uses great fundamentals to wrap up any man coming at him. He also can be a volatile hitter causing many fumbles. But he isn't very good at making tackles in heavy traffic.

One thing that really jumps out at me is Ballard's quickness off the football. He frequently overwhelms linemen by getting into position extremely quickly and doing an excellent job of using his hands. Ballard's quickness are among the greatest assets to his game.

Ballard possesses solid polish in the different pass rush moves; he has shown pretty good development and polish in the swim move and spin move as well as doing an excellent job of using his hands in the bull rush. I have not seen him incorporate the rip move in his game, though.

Ballard seems to have excellent intangibles; he plays the game with a mean streak and I can tell that he was worked hard to keep himself in shape and make sure that he has an extremely large arsenal of skills to make him a productive player.

Ballard's only big weakness for me is his lack of strength in both the upper body and lower body. Ballard doesn't have the strength to get to the quarterback using the bull rush nor does he have the strength to make improbable arm tackles in deep traffic. If Ballard can improve his strength, he will go in the late second round, and he'll be a great player.

Overall, I think Ballard is an extremely underrated prospect who's name is lost in this year's bevy of 3-4 defensive ends. Considering how many 3-4 ends are in this year's draft class, Ballard might be drafted in the late second round, but he has the talent of a player in the late first round. And I prefer to give grades on talent, and not consider the depth at the position the player plays.

NFL Comparison: A more athletic version of Tyson Alualu
Grade: 88
Projection: 85

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Player Rankings

I really want to start out by saying that I am only making the rankings so early just so all readers have access to all of my scouting reports. It's just kind of easy, but for now, these rankings have no reflection of what the rankings will look like in the future. Of course, I am not done writing scouting reports, so a majority of players aren't on the player rankings yet.

1. A.J. Green
Grade: 99
Projection: 97

2. Cameron Newton
Redshirt Junior
Grade: 97
Projection: 94

3. Aldon Smith
Redshirt Sophomore
4-3 DE
Grade: 97
Projection: 94

4. Nate Solder
Grade: 96
Projection: 93

5. Adrian Clayborn
Redshirt Senior
3-4 DE
Grade: 95
Projection: 95

6. Prince Amukamara
Grade: 94
Projection: 97
Grade: 93
Projection: 94

8. Robert Quinn
4-3 DE
North Carolina
Grade: 93
Projection: 99
Grade: 92
Projection: 98

10. Gabe Carimi
Redshirt Senior
Grade: 89
Projection: 93

11. Christian Ballard
Grade: 88
Projection: 85

Grade: 88
Projection: 93

13. Matt Szczur
Grade: 85
Projection: 76

Grade: 84
Projection: 87

15. Rashad Carmichael
Redshirt Senior
Grade: 84
Projection: 66

16. Charlie Gantt
Redshirt Senior
Michigan State
Grade: 75
Projection: 66

Grade: 65
Projection: 45

Grade: 50
Projection: 37

Grade: 42
Projection: 51

Redshirt Senior
Grade: 35
Projection: 49

21. Raymond Williams
Redshirt Senior
Grade: 20
Projection: 10

Allen Bailey- 2011 Draft Scouting Report

Because of the rise of the 3-4 at the NFL level in recent years, 2011 has become the draft of the 3-4 end. Right now, if Juniors Marcell Dareus and DaQuan Bowers leave for the draft, were looking at about 4 to 5 3-4 defensive end prospects being drafted in the first round of next year's draft (Adrian Clayborn, Bowers, Cameron Heyward, Dareus, and Bailey, in order of personal preference. Also, though it is considered unlikely right now, I am also pretty high on Iowa defensive tackle Christian Ballard, I think that he is well suited for the 3-4, and I think his stock may rise into first round consideration by the end of the year). It could result in a major change in the way the draft works for years to come. But onto the scouting report:

Miami defensive end Allen Bailey has been and always will be blessed with physical tools. His body bears lots of resemblance to Bears defensive end Julius Peppers; good height, ideal bulk for the 3-4 end position, outstanding athleticism and strength.  That Peppers comparison is exciting. Among all of the ends mentioned in the previous paragraph, Bailey probably is second only to Bowers in terms of pure physical ability.

Bailey's weaknesses outnumber his strengths. Bailey has never been able to put up 5th round quality stats in his career at Miami; though he is a solid pass rusher statistically, I didn't think that I had ever scouted a single defensive lineman who couldn't accumulate over 32 tackles during last season without having some kind of injury. I decided to check that out, so I looked at all the linemen I scouted last year; 1 player had fewer tackles (Terrence Cody, with 28) and two others each accumulated 32 tackles (Geno Atkins and Gerald McCoy. That's why I always said McCoy was overrated). To have all of those physical gifts and be that horrible statistically is inexcusable. And  I'd say it strongly suggests a lot about Bailey. However, in 2010, he actually had a moderately impressive season, getting 46 tackles and seven sacks, and I stopped worrying about his numbers.

Bailey has a bit of a hot and cold motor. At times, he will use his strength to drive linemen back like a bear. And at other times he'll get manhandled badly. His on field intensity is mediocre, and he puts up a greater effort in bigger games than he does in smaller games. But I have definitely seen worse.

Bailey definitely isn't a very instinctive lineman. He regularly overcommits on play actions, misdirections, and screen passes, which is part of the reason his tackle production is so awful. But he does takes solid angles to the ball carrier, and he is pretty patient for ball carriers to come his way.

Bailey is pretty good at deflecting passes, but he has very poor quickness of the ball, and he struggles to keep his pads low on all plays. Bailey's lack of anticipation of the snap puts him in poor positions to start every play, which really hinders his production.

Bailey does not provide a wide array of pass rush moves. He only uses the bull rush; he doesn't really use the speed rush effectively, and he has very little development in the swim move, rip move, and spin move. His strength is so staggering that he can get by with just the bull rush at the college level, but I don't see him being successful as a pass rusher at the NFL level without some use of the swim and rip moves.

Here are some highlights of Bailey

Allen Bailey vs. Wake Forest

Allen Bailey vs. Florida State

Allen Bailey vs. Georgia Tech

Overall, I think that Bailey is an overrated prospect because of his average of production and mediocre effort. It seems like a lot of players who have character concerns always slide down farther in the draft than expected. I wouldn't be surprised if it happened to Bailey.

NFL Comparison: Jamaal Anderson (the defensive end, not the running back) of the Falcons. I know he definitely isn't a big named guy, but there is a whole lot of physical and statistical resemblance.

Grade: 84
Projection: 87