Tag:Pac-10
Posted on: December 10, 2010 12:14 pm
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OLB Reed, CB Marsh flying up board

With the FBS regular season coming to a close many scouts are finally getting a break from the road. As such, I've been able to catch up with them and get the names of some of the country's hottest rising prospects.

I have several other contacts that I'll be speaking with this weekend and want to do some film work, myself, before finalizing the article.

Here are two players, however, that numerous scouts have touted highly over just the past 24 hours who, because they play in the West, I'm familiar with already.

I've previously mentioned Arizona pass rusher Brooks Reed as a player rising up draft boards, but after speaking to scouts this week it is clear that I've still been underrating him. Reed's statistics are good (44 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks) but his production would be even gaudier if he operated as a strongside linebacker, as 4-3 teams are projecting him to be at the pro level. Reed, 6-3 and 262 pounds, earned First Team All Pac-10 honors this year lining up as a defensive end for the Wildcats. He's shown the ability to rush the passer from the stand-up position, as well as from the three-point stance.

There are two elements to Reed's game that scouts are particularly intrigued by -- his nonstop motor and surprising fluidity. Many "undersized" collegiate defensive ends lack the flexibility to make the transition to a true outside linebacker role. This is precisely the area where scouts believe Reed will impress, as his agility and short area burst are expected to make him one of most impressive athletes during workouts.

Utah State cornerback Curtis Marsh is another example of a player skyrocketing up draft boards. A former running back, the 6-1, 195 pound Marsh entered the season barely a blip on scouts' radar. He's steadily risen up charts this season, however, finishing second in the WAC with 15 passes broken up and improving game by game.

Marsh was particularly impressive in the season finale against Boise State's Titus Young, a wideout that some scouts believe is the No. 1 senior at the position and certainly among the nation's fastest. Marsh helped limit Young to four receptions for a season-low 34 yards.

Scouts tell me that strong performances from Reed and Marsh in post-season all-star games could ultimately push both into the Top 100.


Posted on: September 17, 2010 5:36 pm
 

Sleeper pass rushers tonight in Cal-Nevada game

Their high power offenses are sure to be the focus of tonight's California-Nevada game (10 pm EST, ESPN2), but NFL scouts will be just as curious to watch two underrated pass rushers also playing in this contest.

I listed California defensive end Cameron Jordan among the top ten senior prospects in the Pac-10 heading into the year and, thus far, he's proving to be every bit worth the early attention.

Jordan was a consideration for Player of the Week honors for his performance last Saturday against highly touted Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder. Jordan, 6-4 and 285 pounds, earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 accolades last year with 43 tackles, eigh tackles for loss and five sacks. His solid game was often overshadowed by Tyson Alualu, who, of course, was the surprise No. 10 overall pick of the draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Jordan, like Alualu, plays defensive end in Cal's 3-4 scheme. While he doesn't possess elite speed off the edge, he uses his hands well and plays with very good power. He projects nicely as a base end in the 4-3, or could simply remain as a five-technique in the 3-4 at the next level.

Nevada's Dontay Moch is the more explosive pass rusher of the two. At 6-2, 236 pounds, he lacks the bulk to remain at defensive end in the NFL, but he proved to scouts the overall athleticism to handle the transition to outside linebacker by clocking in at a verified 4.25 seconds in spring drills.

Moch operated last year opposite Kevin Basped. You might remember Basped as the outside linebacker whose troublesome knees forced the Jets to cut him on an early episode of the HBO series, Hard Knocks.

Basped and Moch working in tandem gave the Wolfpack one of the more ferocious pass rushes in the entire country last year. Moch, in fact, entered his senior year with 42 tackles for loss and 22.5 sacks.

Without Basped, Moch has struggled to make the same impact thus far in 2010. Through the first two games of the season, the reigning WAC Defensive Player of the Year has only five total tackles -- though, not surprisingly, he also has a sack and a forced fumble.

Whether you watch the game for the underrated NFL prospects, or just to see an intriguing inter-conference battle between two western schools, this should be a fun game. If nothing else, it will make for interesting Friday night drama, as California enters the game as the nation's top-rated defense. Nevada is the top-rated offense.
Posted on: August 27, 2010 1:15 pm
 

Allen Bradford losing reps, may not start opener

Some overrated college football and NFL draft analyst recently listed USC senior running back Allen Bradford among the Pac-10's top ten senior prospects for the 2010 draft.

While Bradford remains a noteworthy NFL prospect, his chances at improving his stock with scouts appear to be dwindling with the apparent news that he's been overtaken by redshirt junior Marc Tyler atop the Trojans' depth chart, at least according to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin wouldn't announce Tyler as the winner of the starting running back position, but did admit he's met with Bradford invididually prior to Tyler earning increased carries in recent practices, according to Arash Markazni of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

"I never put [Bradford] as a No. 1 guy," Kiffin said when asked why Bradford was now receiving less reps, despite entering the year atop the depth chart in USC's preseason media guide. "Maybe other people had him as the No. 1 guy but I said all along the competition was open. I did talk to [Bradford] two days ago because the reps had started to shift a little bit and I wanted him to know that before he came out here so there weren't any surprises. The competition is still open but we're going to give Marc more reps." Even if Tyler wins (and keeps) the starting job, Bradford will remain on the NFL radar. The powerfully built 5-11, 235 pound Bradford has proven to be an effective grinder between the tackles. He earned honorable mention all-conference honors last year with career-highs in rushing yards (668) and rushing touchdowns (8) despite splitting time with speedster Joe McKnight.

As Klein notes in his article, Bradford hasn't had much of an opportunity to impress Kiffin this summer. He's been nursing a sore left knee, which has kept him limited. Furthermore, Bradford's game lies with his physicality. With much of USC's practices held with a "no-tackle policy," Bradford hasn't been able to show off his ability to run through legitimate tackle attempts. 

The no-tackle policy carried over into yesterday's scrimmage. Tyler led the way with five attempts for the Trojans, but only averaged a yard per attempt in doing so. He did, however, score a touchdown (two yards). Bradford, on the other hand, only had two carries, but rushed for 17 yards, according to USC's official blog .

Posted on: August 25, 2010 12:35 pm
 

Locker feature, Pac-10 Preview links

My fellow analysts Chad Reuter and Chris Steuber have already posted articles previewing the top ten players for some of the BCS conferences, as well as feature stories on individual players among those conferences he felt deserved more attention.

For example, Chad's story on Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi is currently the headlining story on NFLDraftScout.com. Chris' story on Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson was previously the top story.

Chad ranks the top ten senior prospects of the Big East right here.

I wrote the SEC preview and a feature on Mississippi defensive tackle Jerrell Powe a few weeks ago. With our scheduling our Top 10 and feature stories to coincide with CBS' College Football schedule, I've been off for a few days and have the chance to amp up my work here on the blog, do some radio work and start up a Twitter account .

Today, however, my preview of the Top 10 Senior Prospects of the Pac-10 went up. So, too, did my feature article on Washington quarterback Jake Locker.

I only mention each of them here as the articles are not currently being featured on NFLDraftScout.com (where you'd normally find my/our work), but as part of CBS' College Football pages.
Posted on: August 5, 2010 4:03 pm
 

Pac-10 film room notes

Over the past few weeks I've posted notes on my impressions of the senior talent in the ACC and SEC. Perenially two of the "power" conferences, I wasn't surprised at all to see that each group boasted a high number of legitimate top 100 senior prospects.

With the exception of Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea, the Pac-10, however, appears relatively weak -- at least in terms of senior NFL prospects.

Here are my preseason thoughts based on watching last year's film on every team in the conference.

  • Considering the sanctions levied by the NCAA and the relatively weak senior talent, Lane Kiffin is going to have his hands full at USC attempting to replace Pete Carroll. Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley looks like a future first round prospect and, of course, quarterback is the game's most critical position. The difference in talent between USC's second string and some of the other top schools in the Pac-10 (Oregon, for example) had always been an underrated component in the Trojans' success. Sure, USC boasted first round talent at nearly every position on the field at one time or another, but it was their depth at every position that really stood out. When USC sent a Reggie Bush or Sedrick Ellis to the NFL, they had a Joe McKnight or Fili Moala there to pick up the slack. That, however, doesn't appear to be the case this year. One of the more intriguing USC athletes this season who could break out is senior outside linebacker Michael Morgan, a 6-4, 230 pounder with obvious athleticism. Playing time has been tough to come by considering the talent USC had at linebacker, but Morgan, like many of USC's highly rated young talent, flashes on film, but appears to be a better athlete than football player. Let me put it this way -- I'm being asked to write a Pac-10 preview soon. In the article I'll feature the top ten senior prospects in the conference. USC has more of those players than any other school -- but I wouldn't rate any of them (RBs Allen Bradford, CJ Gable, WR Ronald Johnson, C Kristopher O'Dowd, Morgan) as a top 50 prospect. Cornerback Shareece Wright may end up the highest drafted senior Trojan -- as he's a talented player -- but he's missed virtually the past two years due to injury and academic suspension. Stanley Havili is my top-rated fullback in the country, but where has USC gone if their top-rated prospect plays fullback...?
  • The face of the conference -- and perhaps the Heisman race -- is clearly Locker. Possessing a combination of arm strength, running ability and guts that have led to comparisons to John Elway, Locker simply needs to continue to develop the intricacies of the position to earn his place as NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior prospect. Locker isn't there yet, but he is capable of making the "wow" play that can't be coached. I don't actually expect Locker to win the Heisman. He's got too many things working against him -- not the least of which is a porous offensive line that will be sorely tested against Nebraska in September. But Locker is the conference's best player. And folks, it ain't even close.
  • One of the more underrated prospects in the Pac-10 is California defensive end Cameron Jordan. With Cal playing in the 3-4, Jordan (6-4, 285) didn't rack up the numbers last year (43 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 5 sacks) to warrant a great deal of national acclaim -- especially considering the attention that his teammate Tyson Alualu earned. Jordan, however, is a good athlete and possesses good strength at the point of attack, which makes him an ideal fit for this scheme. If Jordan played in the Big 12 or SEC, he'd be earning a great deal more attention. In fact, I'd rate Jordan as a very similar prospect to South Carolina's Cliff Matthews, who is earning some All-American hype.
  • There is bound to be a great deal of attention this season on Oregon linebacker Casey Matthews, considering the success of his older brother Clay Jr. with the Green Bay Packers and, of course, the earlier success of father (Clay) and uncle (Bruce Mathews). Unless Casey is able to duplicate the remarkable one-year turnaround of his older brother (who came to USC as a walk-on and turned himself into a first round pick), the lack of attention -- at least from NFL scouts -- may be surprising. Voted a Second-team All-Pac-10 choice last year with 81 tackles, Matthews breaks down well in space, but doesn't fight through blocks well enough yet to play inside and lacks the straight-line speed to beat backs to the edge. Oregon, which has often historically relied on athleticism rather than size and strength on the defensive line, is surprisingly stout up front. Senior defensive lineman Brandon Bair flashed some intriguing pass rush ability given his size (6-6, 268) and the fact that Oregon often lined him up inside, but he's older than most prospects given the fact that he took two years off for an LDS mission prior to playing for the Ducks. 
  • I typically reserve judgement on players until they are at least entering their senior season. However, with all of the attention surrounding the underclassmen quarterbacks I posted some thoughts on Arkansas' Ryan Mallett and thus, here are my thoughts after having time to scout Stanford's Andrew Luck. Some of the areas in which concerned me about Mallett (footwork, ability to read defenses) I found Luck to be surprisingly effective given his lack of experience. He certainly has the arm-strength and accuracy scouts are looking for and he has a terrific coach in Jim Harbaugh. If Luck is able to string together another season like 2009, he is a definite first round prospect and quite possibly competes with Locker, Ponder and Mallett (among others) to be the first passer selected. That said, Luck had the great fortune of playing second fiddle to Toby Gerhart last year. He's an extremely talented player, but don't count me among the shocked if there is a bit of a sophomore slump this season as defenses focus more on stopping the passing game. 
Posted on: August 1, 2010 11:36 pm
 

WR Mike Williams turning heads in Tampa Bay

The Tampa Bay Bucs surprised many with the decision to fortify the defensive tackle and wide receiver positions in April with multiple picks in the first four rounds. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, the third overall pick of the draft, of course, received most of the attention. His linemate, Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year Brian Price, received plenty, as well.

Of the wideouts, second round pick Arrelious Benn, not surprisingly garnered more media hype than fourth round pick Mike Williams. It is Williams, who, according to Tampa head coach Raheem Morris, is the rookie creating the most buzz among the Bucs' staff.

In fact, according to this article from the Bucs' official website , Williams is currently the team's starting X receiver.

Morris, of course, was quick to point out that the depth chart could change before Tampa opens the regular season September 12 hosting the Cleveland Browns, but he gushed about his rookie wideout to reporters following practice Sunday.
"He's been working at the X position with the ones. He's been out there a lot of the time. You also see Sammie Stroughter out there at the X position. Mike Williams had a dynamic offseason. He's come in and done everything we've asked. He's been one of the guys that's caught the ball. He's stood out. He's been standing out since he's been here."
Morris further explained Williams' impressive start.

"He's a big, tall, fast guy that can go out there and make plays," said Morris. "Right now, he's running with the ones. He'll have an opportunity to go out there and prove himself in the preseason. Final depth charts and all that stuff don't come out until we go play Cleveland, but right now he's running with the ones, he's getting some one reps and he's having a ball. And his teammates are having a ball with him.
Williams impressing on the field shouldn't come as a surprise. NFLDraftScout.com rated Williams as a potential first round talent entering the 2009 season. His off-field actions that led to an academic suspension in 2008 and ultimately his abrupt departure from the Orange November 2nd of last year were the reasons why the former Big East star fell to the 101st pick of the draft. Previous to the suspension, Williams was enjoying a fantastic season for Syracuse (49 receptions for 746 yards and six touchdowns), earning recognition as a Biletnikof Award semi-finalist as the nation's top receiver. Only the ten most deserving receivers in the country (at least in the eyes of the Biletnikof committee) are recognized as semi-finalists.

In 31 games for the Orange Williams caught 133 passes for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns. He caught touchdowns in a school record nine consecutive games in 2008.

Williams certainly has the physical components to surprise as a rookie. His rare combination of size, speed, body control and sticky hands jumped off on film. I thought Williams was the single-most impressive wideout during receiver drills at the Combine -- which I and a handful of other media members the league and National Football Scouting allowed to attend. I characterized Williams as "routinely [making] the eye-popping reception look easy" in this post-workout report.

With fantasy football enthusiasts all champing at the bit to find the newest sleeper, you can expect a fair amount of talk about Dez Bryant and Golden Tate's fits with the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks, respectively. Don't discount Williams, however. He and quarterback Josh Freeman may be too inexperienced for Williams to truly standout as a rookie, but watch out for the former 'Cuse star to some day be considered one of the true steals of the 2010 draft should be and Freeman develop rapport. 


Posted on: December 7, 2009 6:22 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2009 6:25 pm
 

No surprise -- Clausen, Tate, Briscoe leave early

The news that Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and wide receiver Golden Tate and Kansas wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe have elected to come out after their junior seasons and head to the NFL is not at all surprising. Each is gifted enough athletically to warrant at least second round consideration and, more importantly, none have a head coach in place to try to convince them to return for their senior season.

In fact, as I pointed out in last week's issue of Draft Slant , you can expect more -- perhaps a record-breaking number -- of underclassmen to come out early. There are several reasons to expect such a large exodus.
  • If no new agreement is made in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, as is widely expected, we can expect that the new one will contain a rookie cap. NFL owners have long grumbled (publicly and privately) that too much money is being spent on unproven rookies. Agents are telling underclassmen that if they want the big rookie contract they'll need to leave now -- and in some examples, they're right.
  • As has been widely reported, the NFL has had an ongoing battle with many of college football's BCS conferences and companies XOS Technologies and DVSports, two companies that digitalize the teams' game film from these conferences. The SEC, Big 12 and Pac-10 are among the conferences that have not yet provided NFL scouts with film. Underclassmen have until mid January to decide if they want to leave school early. Unless an agreement is made soon, NFL scouts simply won't have enough time to grade junior (and redshirt sophomore) film. Therefore, the NFL Advisory Committee, as we've come to know it, may not be able to exist properly. Players with marginal pro grades, but inflated media hype, may come out soon only to fall stunningly far on draft day.
  • Finally, the high profile injuries of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and Jermaine Greshman is certain to push out some players. Some, for example, will make the argument that a player like Cal junior running back Jahvid Best should go for the "guaranteed" money now, rather than return for his senior season. One more concussion, some would argue, could ruin his chances for a Top 100 grade.
Expect to see as strong an influx of underclassmen entering the 2010 NFL Draft as we've ever seen... an influx that should make this a uniquely talented class.



Posted on: November 16, 2009 12:46 pm
 

Even at #14, Stanford remains underrated

Many outside of the Pac-10 might have been surprised by Stanford's back to back wins over Oregon and USC. Those who have been paying attention to Jim Harbaugh's ascending program, however, weren't surprised at all.

Jim Harbaugh has characterized his redshirt freshman quarterback, Andrew Luck, as "the best quarterback in the country" and Luck's performance against the Ducks and Trojans (5 combined TDs, zero turnovers) serve as some evidence that Harbaugh's claim isn't as far off as one might think. The 6-4, 235 pound Luck, in fact, looks every bit the part of a future first round choice.

Unlike many of the past Pac-10 offenses, however, this offense isn't built around the passing game. This is an offense built around a punishing downhill rushing attack forged by Toby Gerhart and a stout offensive line. It is an offense that has scored a combined 106 points against the Ducks and Trojans, not because of gimmick or trickery, but fundmantally sound play up front and a brand of physicality most wouldn't associate with Stanford.

The defense, though rarely given much credit for Stanford's success, has been the very definition of a bend, but don't break unit. The senior-laden unit is stout at the point of attack, protecting a lack of elite athleticism throughout much of the back seven.

At 7-3, the Cardinals remain a game behind Oregon in the Pac-10 standings. They face explosive offenses in their final two games (California, Notre Dame), but with tough games also on the docket for Oregon, Oregon State and Arizona (the other teams contending for the Pac-10 crown), Stanford remains in the Rose Bowl hunt... and I believe this team, on a neutral field, would beat Ohio State.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com