Tag:Washington
Posted on: December 25, 2010 1:19 pm
 

Holiday presents - best 5 Bowl 1 on 1 matchups

On this winter holiday for many, I thought I've provide my readers with my own gift, of sorts.

The following are the five individual matchups I'm most looking forward to scouting over the upcoming bowl games.

West Virginia FS Robert Sands vs. NC State QB Russell Wilson: The 6-4, 221 pound Sands is considering leaving WVU after this, his junior season. Sands is allowed to freelance a bit in the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 defense, but is a natural playmaker who can bring the thunder as a hitter. His instincts and coverage skills will be tested against Wilson. A strong game by Sands could push him into the 2011 draft, where he'd rate among the best free safeties in a weak class needing help from the juniors if there are to be many candidates worthy of a top 75 grade.  This game is scheduled for 6:30 pm EST on Tuesday, December 28th.

Washington WR Jermaine Kearse vs. Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara: Many will point to Husky quarterback Jake Locker as the player to watch in this contest and for good reason. His 4 of 20 performance in the team's first matchup in October is considered by some to be the game that sent his stock sliding this year. (Loyal readers know that is not necessarily the case.) The reality is, without sudden and massive improvement by Washington's offensive line, Nebraska's defense should again be too much to provide Locker a chance in this game. If the 6-2, 205 pound Kearse, however, is able to shake free early for some big plays against Amukamara, Locker and the Huskies have a chance. Locker relies on the junior as his favorite target. When Kearse has been shut down, so too (generally) has Locker -- making this one on one battle a key in the most anticipated rematch of the bowl season.  This game is scheduled for 10 pm EST on Thursday, December 30th.

Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd vs. Miami CB Brandon Harris: Both the 6-3, 228 pound Floyd and the 5-11, 195 pound Harris are expected to leave for the NFL following this game. Harris has the agility, speed and physicality to eliminate most receivers, but Floyd's significant size advantage makes this an intriguing test for the Canes' star. Though teams are often hesitant to move around their corners to match up all game long against wide receivers, eliminating the big play Floyd from Notre Dame's arsenal might be the easiest way of crippling Brian Kelly's offense. This game is scheduled for 2 pm EST on Friday, December 31st.

TCU OT Marcus Cannon vs. Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt: Last year it was the one on one matchup between Georgia Tech defensive end Derrick Morgan and Iowa left tackle Bryan Bulaga that in my mind was the elite battle of the bowl season. This year it is Cannon and Watt. Watt is moved all over the Badgers' defensive line and it is this versatility that has been maddening for opponents to protect against and left NFL scouts salivating at his versatility in the pros. Watt, however, will have his hands full when playing against the Horned Frogs' left tackle, a 6-5, 350 pound behemoth with shockingly quick feet. Bulaga shut down Morgan last year, cementing his place in the first round. I have Cannon firmly in the second round, at this point, but if he's able to slow down Watt, arguably the most dominant defensive lineman in the country, he'll skyrocket up draft boards. This game is scheduled for 5 pm EST on Saturday, January 1st.

Auburn QB Cam Newton vs. Oregon ILB Casey Matthews:
Opponents have tried to keep a "spy" in to protect against Cam Newton's running all game long. The strategy has largely failed despite the fact that defenses have often resorted to their most athletic linebackers or physical safeties to do the job. Matthews isn't a spectacular athlete or terribly physical, but he might be the most instinctive linebacker in the country and among the surer tacklers. This one on one battle could dictate how well Newton is able to move the Auburn offense with his legs -- which could wind up as the key to the BCS Championship. This game is scheduled for 8:30 pm EST on Monday, January 10th.


On behalf of the entire NFLDraftScout.com crew of analysts Chad Reuter and Chris Steuber, editors Derek Harper and Jeff Reynolds, website tech expert Brian Hitterman and publisher Frank Cooney I wish you and your loved ones a very safe, happy and (hopefully football-filled) holiday season.


As always for the very best in pro football draft coverage, check out NFLDraftScout.com or simply click here.
Posted on: December 10, 2010 1:35 pm
 

Rare opportunity to scout QB Pat Devlin tonight

Pat Devlin , NFLDraftScout.com's No. 3 rated senior quarterback, gets a rare national television opportunity tonight when he and his Delaware teammates take on New Hampshire in the FCS quarterfinals.

Devlin originally signed with Penn State out of high school but transferred to Delaware after being beaten out for the Nittany Lions' starting job by Daryll Clark.

Devlin has starred for the Blue Hens since the transfer, immediately emerging as one of the top quarterbacks in Colonial Athletic Association in 2009 and earning the CAA Offensive Player of the Year award this season despite being hampered by a broken bone in his left (non-throwing) wrist. The injury limited Devlin in several contests and sidelined him against Duquesne.

Devlin's numbers aren't gaudy (2,414 passing yards and 18 TDs) despite the fact that he operates out of a QB-friendly spread attack for the Blue Hens. However, his 67.8% completion rate and only two interceptions this season certainly catch your attention. Scouts like his mobility, smarts and accuracy in the short to intermediate range but know that Delaware's scheme protects him.

Considering the inconsistencies of Washington's Jake Locker and Florida State's Christian Ponder this season, Devlin could make a push up the board with a strong performance in this game and in any all-star games he's invited to.

The all-star games, in fact, will likely make or break Devlin's chances at breaking into the first three rounds of the draft. There, scouts will ask Devlin to operate out of a pro-style offense that will force him to make the multiple reads and throw the deeper passes through tighter windows that he'll face at the NFL level.

Devlin is often compared to Joe Flacco, who preceded him at Delaware. The comparison is a pretty lazy one. Devlin is shorter, slighter and more athletic. He relies on timing and accuracy to complete his throws -- quite the opposite of the Ravens' 6-6, 238 pound strong-armed Flacco.

This game will be televised by ESPN2 and begins at 8:00 pm EST.


Posted on: December 5, 2010 1:44 pm
 

With one pass, Locker's stock steadies

I have been as critictal of Washington quarterback Jake Locker's struggles as anyone. He entered this season as a prohibitive favorite to be the first senior selected in the 2011 draft and now I do not currently project him among the Top 32 in my first round mock draft.

Part of the reason for Locker's downfall has been the expectations placed upon him after what appeared to be a breakout junior season under Steve Sarkisian. Locker made such strides in his first season under Sarkisian that it was natural to believe he'd make similar gains year two.

It hasn't happened. Locker is still too often fooled by coverages and is highly inconsistent with his accuracy. Those two facts, regardless of how athletic a quarterback might be, have historically translated into struggles at the NFL level.

Scouts can't just write off Locker as a project, however.  That's because, as he again demonstrated last night in a thrilling Apple Cup victory over state rival Washington State, Locker has shown the ability to make accurate throws when the pressure is highest.

Now, let's be clear. Locker was bad -- not just bad, abysmal - in home losses this season to Nebraska and Stanford, the two best defenses he faced all season long. Considering the expectations placed on him, one could argue those two games were the ones he faced the most "pressure" and therefore my argument doesn't appear to hold water.

However, anyone who has watched the Huskies play this season knows about the struggles they've had on the offensive line. This isn't an excuse for Locker. Washington has started a staggering six different lineups along the offensive line. Teams with physical defensive lines -- like Nebraska and Stanford -- have so thoroughly dominated UW up front that Locker had no chance.

Rather, by "pressure," I mean that Locker has been able to make accurate throws when the game is on the line. He's demonstrated this ability often after he's been average (or worse) throughout much of the rest of the game. It is a big reason why, as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes, four of Washington's six victories this season have come in the "final minute or in their last possession of the game ."

Locker demonstrated this ability to make legitimate NFL throws in critical moments in Washington's upsets over USC and Cal each of the past two years and the win over Washington State last night. Folks, that may not sound like many games, but when you've been as bad as Washington has been (Duke and Baylor are the only BCS teams with a longer bowl game drought), there haven't been many opportunities to scout Locker in "pressure" situations.

Again, don't get me wrong. Locker was fair from great last night. It was the Huskies' redshirt sophomore running back Chris Polk who won this game. His jaw-dropping 284 rushing yards and two touchdowns made life much easier on Locker and will be a featured component Monday in my Weekly Rewind feature . Locker, in fact, wasn't even the best quarterback on the field last night. The Cougars' sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel was spectacular, providing ample evidence that WSU head coach Paul Wulff is doing an admirable job of turning around WSU's program.

But, on the 4th quarter drive to earn a bowl game or end his collegiate career, Locker threw a perfect 27-yard fade to Jermaine Kearse with 44 seconds left to win it. Peyton Manning doesn't throw that pass with better touch, timing or placement than Locker did on that critical play. Here is the link to watch the throw.

And that, in a nutshell, is why Jake Locker is the most frustrating quarterback I've ever scouted. He made some of the same errors in this game that he's made throughout his career. In calling for eight consecutive running plays (six by Polk, two by Locker) on that final drive, scouts are left to wonder whether Sarkisian simply trusted his running game or didn't trust Locker's passing to put the Huskies in position to kick the game-winning field goal.

But, when the play was called to go for the throat, Locker delivered. As Football Outsiders and Sports Press Northwest's writer Doug Farrar noted on Twitter , "That's the throw they're going to show through the entire pre-draft process when everyone's debating Locker's NFL QB ability."

With that one throw, Locker again proved that he can make accurate throws in critical moments. I, like A LOT of scouts I speak to, am not convinced that Locker will ever get past his struggles reading coverage or inconsistent ball placement and be a successful NFL quarterback.

But throws like that one - in moments like that one - provide the evidence that perhaps he can.
Posted on: November 26, 2010 1:03 pm
 

Five Prospects I'll be Focusing on This Weekend

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL.

Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks.

Because I'm scouting them in real time these players make an early impression, often leading to consideration as my Prospect of the Week or Diamond in the Rough.

Even more often, however, it leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter and I break down six more players in Filmroom Notes, update our Top 32 prospects overall, Top 10 per position, Risers/Fallers for multiple games and offer extensive previews of the next week's action. I boast about our product for a simple reason: Having seen everything else out there - it is the most complete weekly NFL draft guide on the planet. 

Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here.

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

QB Cam Newton, Auburn : Newton has been dazzling this season and could lock up the Heisman Trophy with a strong performance against Alabama. More importantly to those of us eager to see how well he'll translate his game to the NFL is how well Newton is able to decipher the exotic blitz and coverage schemes Nick Saban and his staff have devised. In terms of Newton's pro stock, this is the most important regular season game of his life. This game begins at 2:30 pm EST Friday and will be televised by CBS.

CB Jimmy Smith, Colorado : The Buffs don't get a lot of national exposure considering their struggles recently, but this important Big 12 showdown against Nebraska will pit Smith, one of the top senior cornerbacks, against a receiver in Nebraska's Niles Paul every bit his match in terms of size and athleticism. The Cornhuskers, of course, rely mostly on their running game and should be able to do so again Friday to beat an overmatched Colorado team. How Smith is able to keep up with the multi-talented Paul, however, should give scouts a good idea as to how the 6-2, 205 pound Smith will be acclimate to the speed of the NFL. I've spoken to scouts who have compared Smith to former Pro Bowler Chris McAlister. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST Friday and will be televised by ABC/ESPN.

DE/OLB Dontay Moch, Nevada: The pre-game hype will focus on the offense, but it could be whatever defense shows up in the Boise State-Nevada showdown that gives their team the victory. Moch enters this game as the country's active career leader with 60.5 tackles for loss. The 6-1, 242 pound Moch lines up as a defensive end for the Wolfpack, but projects best as a standup pass rushing OLB in the NFL. Moch wowed scouts in the spring by clocking in at 4.25 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but there are concerns that Moch is overly reliant on his speed. While fast in a straight-line, scouts are more interested to see how well he changes directions. Moch won the WAC Defensive Player of the Year as a junior (61 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks) and is on pace to exceed those totals this season (52 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks). This game begins at 10:15 pm EST Friday and will be televised by ESPN.

QB Jake Locker, Washington: The Huskies have struggled with teams that are more physical on the offensive and defensive lines than they are and that is precisely what awaits them Saturday against Cal. Washington and California are each fighting for their bowl lives and the Golden Bears have revenge on their side after the Huskies trounced them 42-10 last season in Seattle. Locker entered the year rated by most (including me) as the No. 1 prospect in the country based largely on how he played down the stretch last season. His best game was his last one -- againt California -- in which he completed 19 of 23 passes for 248 yards and three TDs (0 INTs) and ran for another 77 yards and two scores. A performance like that would almost surely result in a win for the Huskies and spot back in my first round projection. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST Saturday and will be televised regionally by Fox Sports.

WR Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State*: With the three top-rated teams in the country playing on Friday, there hasn't yet been a great deal of focus on this year's Bedlam rivalry outside of the state of Oklahoma, but it's coming -- after all, the Big 12 South division title is riding on this game. This game features two of the elite young receiver prospects in the country in Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles and Blackmon -- the favorite to win the Biletnikof Award as the nation's best at the position. Blackmon has been spectacular this season, catching an eye-popping 94 passes for 1,560 yards and 17 touchdowns. It is his consistency that has been perhaps most impressive. Blackmon has caught at least five passes for at least 125 yards and one touchdown in every game he's played this season (he missed the Kansas State game). A redshirt sophomore, Blackmon is eligible to leave OSU early for the NFL. He hasn't faced a secondary as talented as Oklahoma's yet this season, so this game provides scouts an excellent opportunity to see him matched up against quality athletes and a sound defensive scheme.  This game begins at 8:00 pm EST Saturday and will be televised by ABC/ESPN. 


Posted on: November 4, 2010 2:09 pm
 

Weekend Review -- Miami ILB Colin McCarthy

As I mentioned in my last post, my typical Saturday is spent scouting prospects via numerous television feeds. Last weekend, however, I scouted the Stanford-UW game and am just now catching up with the rest of the games and their prospects. 

Two senior prospects who didn't make the cut in this week's issue of Draft Slant deserve recognition for their strong performances in close conference losses.

I just wrote up Tennessee wideout Denarius Moore, who torched a talented South Carolina secondary for 228 yards and a touchdown.

Miami inside linebacker Colin McCarthy wasn't quite as statistically dominant, but has flashed whenever I've watched the Canes this season. With quarterback Jacory Harris going down to injury early, the Miami defense was put in the unenviable position of having to make big plays to remain in this contest. That fact made it a great opportunity to scout McCarthy and rest of this talented Miami defensive unit.

The University of Miami may not have the reputation of Ohio State or Penn State for producing NFL linebackers, but with seven of them drafted within the Top 100 since 2000, scouts certainly recognize the program's assembly line of talent at the position.

That fact assures that despite Miami's humbling 24-19 loss at the hands of Virginia, scouts were certain to note the stellar play of senior inside linebacker Colin McCarthy.

Wearing the same No. 44 that the legendary Dan Morgan played with while earning the Butkus, Nagurski and Bednarik awards (the first player to ever do so) in 2000, McCarthy did his best impression of the former Carolina Panther linebacker by racking up an eye-popping 18 tackles, two tackles for loss and one interception against the Cavaliers.

On a day when little went right for the 'Canes, McCarthy was almost capable of willing a victory for the team. He was seemingly in on every tackle, scraping down the line of scrimmage to make tackles on the edge, hustling downfield to make tackles on receivers and showing good athleticism and instincts on his interception - his first of the season.
 
The 18 tackles are the most by a Miami defender this season.
Posted on: November 4, 2010 1:59 pm
 

Weekend Review -- Tennessee WR Denarius Moore

My typical Saturday is spent glued to the three television screens in my home doing as much scouting of collegiate football prospects as possible.

This past Saturday, however, I decided to scout the Stanford-Washington game in person. Thus, it has taken me a few days to review all of this past weekend's big games.

Two senior prospects who didn't make the cut in this week's issue of Draft Slant deserve recognition for their strong performances in close conference losses.

The first is Tennessee wideout Denarius Moore . The other, who deserves his own blog post, is Miami inside linebacker Colin McCarthy.

Breakout senior seasons made former Tennessee Volunteers Dan Williams (defensive tackle) and Montario Hardesty (running back) first and second round picks in the 2010 NFL draft. This year it is senior wideout Moore whose spectacular play has his stock skyrocketing.

Moore entered Saturday's contest against South Carolina with relatively pedestrian numbers through the first seven games of the season.

He'd caught 18 passes for 257 yards and run for another 76 yards on five rushing attempts. Despite the limited opportunities, savvy scouts recognized that the 6-1, 195 pounder was making them count - scoring six touchdowns on those 23 touches.
Scouts, however, wanted to see more consistency from Moore. Against South Carolina and their talented secondary, they got it.

Moore almost matched his previous season totals against the Gamecocks with 228 receiving yards on six catches. Per his big play reputation, Moore caught one touchdown, a 30-yarder in the 3rd quarter that put the 2-6 Volunteers within striking distance of South Carolina (6-2) at 24-17. His next reception went for 62 yards and put the Volunteers on the two-yard line. They scored on the next play, tying the game early in the 4th quarter.

What made Moore's game all the more impressive was the variety of routes he ran and the talent against which he was successful.

Throughout much of the game Moore was the responsibility of 2010 First-Team All-SEC defender Chris Culliver, himself a potential top 75 selection in the 2011 draft.

Posted on: October 16, 2010 5:44 pm
 

With Sr QBs struggling, NFL hoping it's Luck(y)

Entering the 2010 season there were high hopes from scouts that senior quarterbacks Jake Locker (Washington) and Christian Ponder (Florida State) would emerge as legitimate No. 1 overall candidates.

The two tied for the highest grade given by NFL scouts entering the season and have shown flashes of the ability to warrant their Heisman and NFL hype.

Neither to this point in the season, however, has shown the type of consistency scouts are looking for.

Locker's struggles against Nebraska (and other teams) have been well documented. It isn't just the inconsistent numbers that have scouts concerned, however. Locker hasn't yet shown the ability to read defenses or consistently hit open receivers. In his most impressive performance -- a victory over USC two weeks ago -- Locker had his reads limited by head coach Steve Sarkisian. Locker had only one or two reads to make, rather than scanning the entire field, before having the green light to run.

Ponder has likewise struggled, with his worst performance of the season (thus far) coming today against Boston College. Ponder completed 19 of 31 passes for 170 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also lost a fumble.

Stanford's Andrew Luck, only a redshirt sophomore, has already announced his intentions to return. But, with the pickins' slim among seniors, NFL teams looking for a franchise quarterback in the upcoming draft are being left to hope that he and other underclassmen will boost the class.
Posted on: October 4, 2010 1:10 pm
 

Locker bests WR, DE for Player of the Week

There were several noteworthy performances on Saturday that deserved recognition. In fact, I changed my mind on this award three times over the course of the day of scouting.

Miami wideout Leonard Hankerson deserves acknowledgement. The 6-3, 215 pound senior caught seven passes for a career-high 145 yards and tied the school record with three touchdown receptions against Clemson. Hankerson beat a tough Tiger defense deep on long scores twice, showing off better vertical speed than some have credited him with in the past. He also used his big body and much-improved hands to snatch a quick slant for his third touchdown. Perhaps the catch that was most important, was a 10-yard reception on third down that allowed the 'Canes to kick an easy field goal midway through the fourth quarter. That score, which extended Miami's lead to nine points, was critical as the Tigers were building momentum. As I noted on Twitter , Leonard Hankerson was a favorite to earn Player of the Week following his performance.

Two other performances later in the day, however, overtook him.

Adrian Clayborn provided the production against the Nittany Lions we've been expecting to see all season long, notching a game-high ten tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack in a key Big Ten showdown. The effort, which earned Clayborn Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades, was a resounding bounceback for Clayborn as his numbers previous to this game have been rather pedestrian (15 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss). Most opponents have elected to double-team Clayborn. Penn State did, as well, on multiple occasions. When they didn't -- and often when they did -- he made them pay.

Following Clayborn's effort, I was convinced he'd be my choice as Player of the Week. A "legendary" performance, however, changed my mind.

Considering the horrific game he'd had against Nebraska two weeks ago, Washington quarterback Jake Locker needed a strong performance against USC to right the ship. Locker certainly delivered, leading the Huskies to a comeback win that was eerily similar to the one he engineered last year to upset the Trojans in Seattle. Locker wasn't perfect on the night. He lost a fumble that went through the back of the end zone for a USC touchback and, again, missed some wide open receivers. However, he completed 24 of 40 passes for 310 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another 110 yards in the game and made the big plays when the Huskies desperately needed them. His best play made have been an 18-yard completion to WR D'Andre Goodwin on 4th and 10 in the closing seconds that put UW in position to kick the winning field goal. On the play, Locker stepped up in the pocket, considered scrambling for, saw Goodwin clear the defender and fired a strike. It is this type of poise and accuracy in the clutch that scouts have been waiting to see from Locker. Husky coach Steve Sarkisian, in fact, characterized Locker's effort Saturday night as "legendary."


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