Tag:Michigan State
Posted on: January 29, 2012 12:22 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2012 1:15 pm
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WRs steal the thunder, boost stock in Senior Bowl

As usual, the quarterbacks generated most of the hype throughout the week of practice at the Senior Bowl. But during the game Saturday it was their receivers who stole the spotlight as the North defeated the South, 23-13.

Arkansas wide receiver Joe Adams shrugged off a fumble in the first quarter to catch six passes for 116 yards for the South, demonstrating the elusiveness and pure speed that helped him return four punts for touchdowns this season, earning the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year award. For his efforts Adams was named the Senior Bowl's "Outstanding Player" for the South squad.

Arizona's Juron Criner, also of the South, was quiet early in the game but connected with college teammate, quarterback Nick Foles, to the tune of four catches for 50 yards and the South's only touchdown, a 20-yarder with 12:55 left in the game. Criner finished with six catches for 77 yards.

Those receivers managed to stand out despite lackluster play by the quarterbacks. Just as he was throughout the week of practice, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins, for the North, was the most impressive quarterback in the game.

He completed only five of 11 passes overall, with a touchdown and an interception. However, that one touchdown pass, a 41-yarder to Arizona State's Gerrell Robinson with 11:44 left in the third quarter, gave the North a 23-13 lead and enough cushion to hold on for a victory.

MVP honors for the game went to North running back Isaiah Pead, who was also Offensive Player of the Year for Cincinnati in the Big East. In the game, Pead collected 31 on the ground and 98 yards on punt two punt returns, including a 60-yarder that was the highlight of the first half.

Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, the most consistent of the South team's quarterbacks throughout the practice week was the worst of the six passers Saturday, completing nearly as many passes to the defense (two interceptions) as he did to South receivers (five completions) for just 56 yards.

Other Senior Bowl standouts:

--Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina: Undeniably the most talented player in Mobile for the Senior Bowl, Coples continued his dominant week of practice with an MVP-caliber performance in the game. Coples, a shade under 6-6 and 281 pounds, was a consistent threat off the edge and used his long arms and obvious upper body strength to rag-doll pass blockers on his way to the quarterback. Perhaps the most impressive play of the game from Coples, however, came as a run defender. He shook off a block from Iowa State right tackle Kelechi Osemele and with one arm stopped the momentum of running back Isaiah Pead and threw him to the ground for a two-yard loss on 3rd and goal. If Coples played with the same intensity throughout his senior season that he did throughout the week in Mobile, he might have been the easy choice as the top defensive prospect in the 2012 draft.

--Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati: The game's MVP was easily the most explosive running back in this. He demonstrated his unique straight-line speed and agility by accelerating through holes and making defenders miss as a running back and punt returner.  Despite taking on return duties late in his senior season, Pead showed good vision and courage in attacking seams as he averaged 49 yards on the two opportunities. He demonstrated not only athleticism, but also the willingness to cut back inside against the grain and finish his runs.

--Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State: Despite playing with a little less consistency that scouts would like, the 6-7, 323 pound Adams impressed throughout the week of practice with his ability to maintain squarely in front of speed rushers and play with a reliable base against bull rushes. Adams played with much better consistency Saturday, controlling his opponent throughout the contest and distancing himself as the elite offensive line prospect in the Senior Bowl.  Adams surrendered a sack in the 3rd quarter to Alabama's Courtney Upshaw but held up well initially to my top-rated senior prospect and only allowed the coverage sack on Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson after protecting for several seconds.

--Doug Martin, RB, Boise State: While Martin wasn't able to break free for the splashy plays that his North teammate Pead did, it was the former Bronco running back who was the best running back in Mobile throughout the week of practice and he followed that up with an impressive game. Martin showed good burst to and through the hole, as well as the vision and acceleration to gain yardage in chunks as a running back and kick returner. Having impressed scouts with his obvious dedication to the weight room by sporting a chiseled physique during Monday's weigh-in, Martin showcased that his attention to details isn't just limited to lifting weights. He provided excellent effort blocking downfield on a 41-yard touchdown catch by Robinson.

--Bobby Wagner, ILB, Utah State: Like Martin, Wagner initially caught the attention of NFL scouts by showcasing a powerful build on his 6-0, 241 pound frame during Monday's weigh-in. With defenders asked not to take ball-carriers to the ground throughout the week of practice, Wagner wasn't able to wow scouts with what he does best -- tackle -- until the game. He certainly did on Saturday, anticipating and closing quickly on ball-carriers and then wrapping up cleanly to tie with South Carolina safety Antonio Allen to lead the game with seven tackles. Wagner also proved his playmaking ability, recording  a tackle for loss and an interception of Weeden in the first quarter.

For much more Senior Bowl content from NFLDraftScout.com, click here.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 8:21 am
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:58 pm
 

QB, WRs emerge at Monday's North Sr Bowl practice

MOBILE, Ala. -- Making a strong first impression at the Senior Bowl can send a player's stock skyrocketing and boost his rookie contract by millions of dollars.

Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins and California wide receiver Marvin Jones can't start writing checks just yet but if they continue the sparkling efforts turned in Monday during the North Team practices they could prove to be two of the big winners from this year's Senior Bowl.

Cousins out-shined Wisconsin's Russell Wilson and Boise State's Kellen Moore by attacking all levels of a talented North defense. His experience in a pro-style offense was obvious as he made quick decisions, showed accuracy short, middle and deep and thread the needle through tight spaces. Whereas his teammates struggled to find a rhythm with their new receiving corps, Cousins was hitting on all cylinders, spreading the ball all over the field and hitting his backs, tight ends and receivers on a variety of routes.

Like Cousins, Jones entered the Senior Bowl with significantly less hype that others at his position. Jones, who measured in at a shade under 6-2 and 200 pounds during the morning weigh-ins, was quick off the snap, showed burst out of his breaks to gain separation and the speed to slip past cornerbacks for big plays. He caught everything thrown his way, showing the hand strength to gather in passes thrown slightly off-target as well as the vision to track deep balls over his shoulder.

Jones wasn't the only wideout to make eye-popping plays on the day, though he was the most consistent.

A few uncharacteristic drops from Appalachian State's Brian Quick late in Monday's practice dampened an otherwise strong initial showing from the FCS All-American. Quick, who measured in at a chiseled 6-3 (and a 1/2) and 222 pounds Monday morning was the early star among receivers. Though not sudden off the line of scrimmage, his long-strides help him to quickly eat up the cushion and he showed terrific hand-eye coordination making several impressive catches out of some poor throws. Quick, in fact, arguably made the catch of the day when he snatched a quick out thrown high and wide by Moore. Quick used every bit of his height and long arms to pull the ball down while dragging both feet in bounds to secure the catch.

It took some strong catches from Jones, Quick and a few other North receivers to get Moore on track. The Boise State All-American appeared every bit as un-athletic as scouts feared when he measured in at a touch under 6-0 (5'11 and 3/4) and 191 pounds during the weigh-in. Worse, concerns about his arm strength appeared to be legitimate when he struggled connecting with his receivers on simple quick outs to open practice. As practice went on, however, Moore seemed to settle in and the accuracy and touch he demonstrated in throwing a staggering 142 touchdowns against just 28 interceptions during his record-breaking career with the Broncos were again on display. Moore is especially effective throwing down the seam, showing excellent touch to settle passes in over the linebacker and in front of the safety to slot receivers and tight ends.

Russell Wilson clearly has the arm strength to make NFL throws but was surprisingly tentative in his first Senior Bowl practice. Too often he stood flat-footed in the pocket and surveyed the field looking for easy completions. He attacked holes when he saw them, rifling in passes through tight coverage but also stared down his receivers on occasion and was nearly picked off a few times.

Of the North's receivers, Ohio State's Devier Posey provided the biggest challenge to a talented defensive backfield that included Nebraska's Alfonzo Dennard, graded by some scouts entering the year among the nation's elite senior prospects at any position. Posey's speed allowed him to slip past Dennard as well as Iowa State's Leonard Johnson and Boston College's Donnie Fletcher but too often Posey simply dropped the ball when his quarterbacks didn't place it perfectly. Posey struggled adjusting to passes slightly behind and had a couple of big play opportunities simply bounce to the ground because he allowed passes to get into his pads rather than catching the ball with his hands.

The concern was the exact opposite for his Big Ten rival Marvin McNutt from the Iowa Hawkeyes. McNutt has excellent size (6'2 1/2, 212 pounds), strength, hands and route-running to be a possession receiver in the NFL  but didn't show much in terms of elusiveness or the speed to turn short and intermediate passes into big plays. He is a savvy route-runner, however, who was consistently open despite aggressive coverage from defensive backs.

It wasn't a standout practice for any of the North's defensive backs. Dennard showed his characteristic physicality in challenging big and small receivers, alike, but also proved vulnerable to double-moves, getting beaten over the top by Jones and McNutt, alike.

Oklahoma's Jamell Fleming and Cal Poly's Asa Jackson had their moments, each demonstrating a quick, low backpedal and good burst back to the ball.

Scouts will want to see improvement from Fletcher and Penn State's D'Anton Lynn. Each struggled to keep up with the North's receivers, showing average change of direction and speed. Fletcher was turned around on several occasions early in practice before the North's quarterbacks and receivers turned their attention to Lynn. The former Nittany Lion was victimized by Cousins and Wilson often as practice wore, perhaps an indication of their comfort with his limited playing speed and awareness after having played against him in the Big Ten.

Extra Notes: The Monday morning weigh-in put the spotlight on a couple of under-the-radar prospects scouts will no doubt be keeping an eye on this week. Quick looked every bit the part of a standout NFL receiver with his impressive measurables, as did Utah State inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (6'0, 241), Boise State running back Doug Martin (5'09, 219) and Michigan defensive lineman Mike Martin (6'1, 307). Though the Martins are not related, one wouldn't know it by their compact, heavily muscled builds... Clemson defensive end Andre Branch was among those who may have been caught in the bad weather that kept several from getting into Mobile as planned. NFL officials informed scouts that Branch would be participating this week but that he was not in Mobile for Monday morning's weigh-in... Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead got an opportunity to field punts late in Monday's practice, showing the concentration to catch the ball in traffic as well as the burst, elusiveness and vision you'd expect from the all-conference running back. Pead was rarely used in this capacity while with the Bearcats but turned some heads with his few opportunities Monday... Boise State's Shea McClellin (6-3, 248) lined up at defensive end for the Broncos but practiced at outside linebacker for the Minnesota Vikings' staff Monday. He showed good footwork in the bag drills early...

 

Posted on: January 5, 2012 3:40 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:34 pm
 

Michigan State loses DT Worthy to NFL

Michigan State junior defensive tackle Jerel Worthy is forgoing his senior season and heading to the NFL.

Worthy, rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 4 defensive tackle and No. 19 prospect overall, is viewed as a run-stuffing presence with enough quickness to collapse the pocket as a pass rusher. The talented defensive tackle is featured in both Rob Rang and Dane Brugler's current first round projections. Worthy ranks behind just Penn State's Devon Still, North Carolina's Quinton Coples and Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox. Unlike Coples and Cox, who played a great deal of defensive end throughout their collegiate careers, Worthy is a pure defensive tackle -- though his bulk and long arms make him an intriguing candidate to play the edge in a 3-4 alignment.

Despite the lofty ranking Worthy's decision didn't come easy to him. According to Detroit Free Press sportswriter George Sipple, Worthy acknowledged the impact his family's health and well-being had in his decision to leave East Lansing early.

In a prepared statement Worthy said, “After a lot of deliberation with my family, a lot of sleepless nights, I decided, for the benefit of myself as well as my family and my future, I would forgo my senior year.”

He later referred to his father, who suffered a stroke before the start of the 2010 season.

“I set out to help win the 2010 Big Ten championship in his name, and I feel strongly that I have a responsibility to provide financial support for my family.”

Though he only registered 30 tackles (including 10.5 tackles for loss, three sacks) in 2011, Worthy was a key contributor to Michigan State's stellar defense. His unit, which led the Big Ten in total defense and run defense, gave him the notoriety to earn AP first team All-American honors -- the first Spartan to be honored by the Associated Press since the legendary Bubba Smith was recognized in 1966.

Worthy leaves Michigan State having accumulated 107 tackles, 27.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks in 40 career games.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:24 am
 

Six New Year's Day* matchups to watch

Due to New Year's Day falling on a Sunday this year all of the traditional bowl games played on this day were moved to Monday. For football enthusiasts it just means an extension of an already dramatic college football season.

Whether you are a hardcore fan preparing yourself to watch every second you can of the six games on tap today or just want to have a handy Who-To-Watch guide for the few minutes you get to sneak away from your job to check the game, I've got you covered with one head to head matchup NFL scouts will be watching.

Here they are:

TicketCity Bowl

Penn State DT Devon Still vs. Houston C Chris Thompson: The 6-4, 310 pound Still currently ranks No. 8 on NFLDraftScout.com's 2012 board for all prospects. Opposing him is Houston's Thompson, a 6-2, 285 pound technician who we rank as a likely free agent (rated No. 38 amongst centers). Don't think that the Cougars won't have a plan for Still and the rest of a talented Penn State defensive line. The beauty of Houston's spread offense is that it gets the ball out of Case Keenum's hands so quickly that often bigger, more athletic pass rushers are limited in what role they can have. Couple that with the fact that Thompson is a wily veteran who earned his second consecutive All-Conference USA honors this season (last year he won it playing guard) and we have an interesting matchup to start off the day.

Capital One Bowl

Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard vs. South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery: Scouts circled this one in red ink, and Jeffery should do the same. He's against the clock to prove he's not overhyped in an offense that caters to his natural skills. Jeffery, a junior, has a 6-inch and nearly 25-pound advantage on the Nebraska senior cornerback. Dennard's late-season push to work back into first-round conversation would get an exclamation point if he muzzles the gifted but undisciplined Jeffery.

Outback Bowl

Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy vs. Georgia C Ben Jones: There may not be a defensive tackle in the country blessed with a more impressive combination of burst off the snap and strength than Michigan State's junior defensive tackle. Playing in the SEC, however, has prepared Jones for just this type of matchup. While the All-SEC center may lack Worthy's power and athleticism, the senior is tough-minded, technically sound and a legitimate top 75 pro prospect, in his own right. If nothing makes you happier during the holidays than a good old fashioned battle in the trenches, this is the showdown to watch.

Gator Bowl

Florida DT Jaye Howard vs. Ohio State C Mike Brewster: Just like in the Outback Bowl, I expect the television analysts to focus on matchups between the skill position players in the Gator Bowl but winner of the Gator Bowl will likely be the team that gets more from their senior in the middle. Howard is quietly among the better, all-around senior defensive tackles and is being viewed by some 3-4 clubs as a possible conversion to defensive end. Brewster isn't flashy but is a tough guy who always competes and is starting his 49th consecutive game. Each is listed by NFLDraftScout.com as potential mid round picks.

Rose Bowl

Wisconsin FS Aaron Henry vs. Oregon RB LaMichael James: The key to stopping the "Quack Attack" is the same as it is with most offenses: take away the running game. Without a dominant front line, the Badgers will have to demonstrate extraordinary discipline in the back half of their defense. Fortunately, they boast a terrific all-around defender in Henry, a former cornerback who has earned all-conference honors after each of his two seasons at free safety. Scouts, of course are even more familiar with James as he's led the country in rushing yards the past two years. If James is to leave Oregon after this season as those close to the program expect, notching yet another 20-plus carry game (he has seven this year) against a traditionally stout defense could help convince scouts the 5-9, 195-pound back has the toughness to be successful in the NFL.

Fiesta Bowl

Oklahoma State FS Markelle Martin vs. Stanford TE Coby Fleener: If there is a safety in the country with as many responsibilities looming as Wisconsin's Henry, it is Martin. At 6-1, 198 pounds Martin doesn't have the bulk scouts generally prefer, but his coverage skills and penchant for the big play have made him NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior at the position. It will be those coverage skills that are put to the test against Andrew Luck and his favorite target, the 6-6, 245-pound Fleener. With little speed on the flanks, Stanford's passing game attacks the field down the middle. As such, the winner of this one on one battle could very well determine the Fiesta Bowl champion.



Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:54 am
 

Five Prospects to Watch -- Championship Weekend

Each weekend 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. 

Sometimes it also 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 breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. 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 Case Keenum, Houston: Considering that the Houston Cougars are the only other FBS team other than No. 1 ranked LSU to have finished the regular season undefeated, I understand the pressure to rank them highly. That said, there are a host of teams currently ranked inside the top 20 that I'd pick to beat Houston, currently ranked No. 6. The biggest reason for Houston's success this season has been the stellar play of Keenum and this explosive offense. At 6-1, 210 pounds Keenum lacks prototypical size for the NFL and scouts question whether his arm strength and accuracy is exaggerated in an offense that relies so much on timing and short to intermediate routes. Keenum has faced one defense this season that ranks in the top 50 in stopping the pass, so his NCAA-leading 4,726 yards may be a mirage -- at least when it comes to the NFL. Still, his production and toughness are undeniable. A strong performance against an athletic and physical Southern Miss defense could help Keenum get an opportunity in a big-time all-star game. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ABC.

QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor*:  The fact that RGIII has shot up to No. 15 in my latest Big Board tells you that I am on board with his projection to the NFL. That said, Griffin will be facing a tough test against the Longhorns, who boast the top pass defense in the Big 12. Texas put a damper on Texas A&M Ryan Tannehill's stock last week. Can they do the same to Griffin this time? The matchup is especially interesting considering that Griffin may still be feeling some of the lingering effects of a concussion suffered last week against Texas Tech. A big game here could vault Griffin even higher up scouts' draft boards and make him an obvious finalist for the Heisman Trophy. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be broadcast by ABC.

TE Orson Charles, Georgia*: At 6-3, 242 pounds Charles doesn't possess the traditional size scouts are looking for at tight end. However, his agility, speed and reliable hands make him one of the country's most dangerous receivers at the position and he's a much stouter blocker than you might expect. I've ranked him as the top tight end in the country for much of the season, though strong play by Stanford senior Coby Fleener and a couple of other underclassmen make the position one of the year's most competitive. LSU is in the position they are largely due to their extraordinary collection of talent in their defensive backfield. They haven't faced many combinations of quarterback (Aaron Murray) and receiver talent as what Georgia brings. If Georgia is to pull off the upset, Charles will have to have a strong game. This game begins at 4:00 pm ET and will be televised by CBS. 

DE Andre Branch, Clemson: At 6-4, 270 pounds Branch has the size to remain at defensive end in the NFL, but what could really boost his stock is the fact that he appears to have the athleticism to translate to 3-4 outside linebacker, as well. Branch's teammate, defensive tackle Brandon Thompson, has generated most of the hype this season, but it is Branch who has enjoyed the better year. Branch leads the ACC in both tackles for loss (16) and sacks (10.5). He'll be facing an exciting young quarterback in Logan Thomas, who at 6-6, 254 pounds is nearly as big as Branch and also athletic enough to avoid him. A strong game by Branch in this game and I'll have a tough time continuing to keep him out of my top 32. This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN. 

DT Jerel Worthy, Michigan State*:  Due to Michigan State's improbable comeback Hail Mary victory against Wisconsin earlier in the year, this game is one of the most intriguing of Championship Weekend. Despite the fact that Worthy enjoyed a solid performance in Round One (three tackles, including a tackle for loss), he wasn't dominant. Two factors may make him considerably more so in the rematch. For one, Worthy will be fortified by the return of sophomore defensive end William Gholston, who was suspended for the first game against Wisconsin. Secondly, Worthy likely won't have to play against Peter Konz, the Badgers' center who isn't expected to play due to an ankle injury. Worthy has first round talent, but his inconsistency troubles me. If he isn't a factor throughout this game, the junior could slip out of my top 32 prospects. This game begins at 8:17 pm ET and will be televised by FOX.


Posted on: December 3, 2011 11:35 am
 

Mano-a-Mano, Conference Championship Week

This weekend's slate of college football games brings more quality than quantity, as conference championship games limit the number of potential match-ups for the final edition of "Mano-a-Mano."

There are still plenty of individual battles for scouts to watch -- they're just all occurring in a few contests. That's why the ACC, SEC, Big 10 championship games, as well as the de facto Big 12 CG in Stillwater Saturday night, dominate this week's list.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman

1. Oklahoma CB *Demontre Hurst (#6/5-9/182/4.46)/Jamell Fleming (#32/5-11/192/4.54) at Oklahoma State WR *Justin Blackmon (#81/6-1/215/4.54)
8:00 pm, ABC

The Sooners' pass defense needs to live up to its potential against the Cowboys' wide-open attack led by Blackmon and senior QB Brandon Weeden (#3/6-4/218/4.92). Hurst and Fleming are willing to challenge receivers like Blackmon at the line of scrimmage, but they will probably play off more often than not to try and stay with him on deep routes. They'll also need to close on crosses when in man, though, which is easier said than done. Look for Weeden to make a quick throw if his All-American receiver gets a lot of cushion, and for the 28 year-old signal caller to test the Sooners' corners ability to play the jump ball against the taller Blackmon in the end zone. Weeden need only ask Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill, who threw three interceptions and had five passes broken up by the Sooners' secondary four weeks ago, about Hurst and Fleming's ability to take away receivers on the outside.

2. Georgia CB Brandon Boykin (#2/5-10/183/4.44)/*Branden Smith (#1/5-11/176/4.39) vs. LSU WR *Rueben Randle (#2/6-3/208/4.57)
4:00 pm, CBS

The top-ranked Tigers are far down the list among FBS schools in passing offense (#100), but that doesn't mean they are bereft of receiver talent. Randle has had four 100-yard games this season, including his nine catch, 134-yard effort against Arkansas last weekend. He wouldn't beat Boykin or Smith in a foot race, but his crisp routes and superior size could allow him to separate downfield if the corners get too aggressive jumping short patterns. Georgia's small but tough defenders could make plays, however, if LSU QB Jordan Jefferson stares down Randle or fellow junior Russell Shepard as his first read. The time they've been given on offense (Boykin at WR, Smith RB) and Boykin's return ability also shows they can break off big runs (or score) after the interception.

3. Wisconsin RG Kevin Zeitler (#70/6-4/318/5.26)/C *Peter Konz (#66/6-5/315/5.16) vs. Michigan DT *Jerel Worthy (#99/6-3/310/5.04)
8:00 pm, FOX

Worthy started off the teams' October matchup hot, penetrating through graps to blow up plays, but wasn't much of a factor as the game wore on as the strong top 75 value Zeitler, potential first round pick Konz and stout future pro redshirt sophomore LG Travis Frederick kept him under control. If Konz can't go because of his high ankle sprain, then Frederick slides to center again and another redshirt sophomore, Ryan Groy, steps in to take on Worthy. The junior defensive tackle flashes great talent, but if he is unable to make plays in the backfield due to average flexibility and lacks the stamina to chase ball-carriers in the fourth quarter, teams will not grade him as a first-round prospect.

4. Clemson CB Coty Sensabaugh (#15/6-0/185/4.56) vs. Virginia Tech WR Jarrett Boykin (#81/6-2/218/4.64)/Danny Coale (#19/6-0/200/4.43)
8:00 pm, ESPN

Tech mostly relies on ACC Player of the Year RB David Wilson (a probable top 50 pick if he declares as a junior) but 6-foot-6 athletic redshirt sophomore Logan Thomas has the arm to move the ball through the air to Boykin, Coale, and other young receivers. Sensabaugh is another lean, tough Clemson corner in the mold of Crezdon Butler; he'll challenge the bigger Boykin while they run down the sideline and is a secure enough tackler to bring down Coale in the intermediate zone.

5. Georgia OLB *Jarvis Jones (#29/6-2/247/4.74) vs. LSU *Chris Faulk (#76/6-6/325)/*Alex Hurst (#72/6-6/340/5.22)
4:00 pm, CBS

The SEC title game doesn't necessarily have a ton of senior prospects like the other conference battles on Saturday night, but a few underclassmen will enter this year's draft or their performance in this game will influence teams' thoughts about them going into next season. Jones is a USC transfer who is displaying the playmaking chops (ranks in the top ten nationally with 19.5 TFL, 13.5 sacks) to earn top 40 grades as a redshirt sophomore. Both LSU tackles also have pro aspirations, however, with Faulk and Hurst both mountain-men on the edges but sometimes lacking the lateral agility and recovery speed to handle elite rushers like Jones -- who will likely line up on both sides of the line in this game to use his closing speed and hustle to chase QB Jordan Jefferson. If Jones proves himself able to get off blocks to stop runs outside, scouts will like his skill set even more.

6. Wisconsin WR Nick Toon (#1/6-2/220/4.52) vs. Michigan State CB *Johnny Adams (#5/5-11/175/4.42)/FS Trenton Robinson (#39/5-10/195/4.46)
8:00 pm, Fox

Adams and Robinson, along with sophomore Isaiah Lewis, shut down Toon fairly well in the teams' first game. The son of 1985 first round pick Al Toon only connected with Russell Wilson twice for 58 yards in East Lansing, and Robinson intercepted a pass that went over the senior receiver's head down the middle because he hadn't turned his head to see Wilson's throw. Adams' aggressive nature makes him susceptible to the big play, however, and Toon capable of getting inside his man to take the skinny or post for a touchdown -- so Robinson will need to use his corner-like speed and ball skills again to ensure Wilson-to-Toon isn't a deadly combination.

7. Clemson DEs Andre Branch (#40/6-4/260/4.77)/*Malliciah Goodman (#97/6-4/278/4.67) vs. Virginia Tech LT Andrew Lanier (#72/6-5/306/4.87)/RT Blake DeChristopher (#62/6-4/312/5.10)
8:00 pm, ESPN

DeChristopher earned the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy for his work on the right side this season. The four-year starter joins Lanier in facing NFL-caliber defensive ends including Branch and Goodman. Branch does not turn the corner as fluidly as scouts would like, but he anchors against the run to keep David Wilson from getting the sideline -- something Goodman will also have to do consistently to funnel plays to the Hokies' linebackers and prevent DeChristopher from sealing the edge for his junior running back. Branch may also work in space a bit, as well as rush QB Logan Thomas from a stand-up position; he's shown enough of these things in recent weeks to intrigue scouts looking at him as 3-4 linebacker.

8. Georgia LT Cordy Glenn (#71/6-5/348/5.28) vs. LSU DE Kendrick Adams (#94/6-5/255/4.87)
4:00 pm, CBS

Glenn moved from left guard to left tackle for this season and after a slow start has settled into the position. His bend and lateral movement have been questioned by scouts, however, and those aspects of his game will be challenged by Adams and the Tigers' sophomore studs Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery -- both of whom have eight sacks this season. Adams does not have the elite speed of Mingo and is not as athletic as Montgomery, but could earn respect from NFL teams by beating Glenn and senior RT Justin Anderson (#79/6-5/342/5.36) off the edge with his workmanlike effort.

9. Clemson DT Brandon Thompson (#98/6-2/310/5.04)/Rennie Moore (#94/6-3/268/4.83) vs. Virginia Tech RG Jaymes Brooks (#68/6-2/308/5.05)/LG Greg Nosal (#75/6-5/298/5.27)
8:00 pm, ESPN

Clemson not only presents problems for offensive lines on the edge with Branch and Goodman, but also inside with Thompson and Moore. Thompson is a wide-body nose guard with active hands and quick feet for his size. He doesn't make plays in the backfield as regularly as the kniving Moore, whose relatively slight frame belies his toughness inside. But the stout Brooks and athletic Nosal match up well vs. Thompson and Moore. Brooks also has nice mobility to go along with his squat build, giving him the versatility to earn high grades from NFL teams using different types of blocking schemes.

10. Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus (#26/5-8/190/4.49)/*Marcus Cromartie (#14/6-0/182/4.52) vs. Michigan State WR Keshawn Martin (#82/5-10/190/4.44)/B.J. Cunningham (#3/6-2/216/4.59)
8:00 pm, Fox

Fenelus and Cromartie limited the elusive Martin to just 41 yards on five receptions in their first match-up, as both have the speed and tackling ability to wrestle him down or take him out of bounds before he gets a head of steam. Cunningham caught six balls for 107 yards and a score in October, with a 35-yard score that he actually caught among linebackers inside before turning on the jets to run the last 25 yards into the end zone. And Martin's biggest play was actually a 34-yard touchdown run on a double-reverse. So not only will Fenelus and Cromartie need to play well to contain these two receivers, but all 11 Wisconsin defenders.

Honorable mention

Iowa State WR Darius Reynolds (#7/6-1/208/4.54) at Kansas State CB David Garrett (#27/5-8/175/4.58)
12:30 pm, FSN

Wyoming DE Gabe Knapton (#52/6-3/252/4.79) at Colorado State OT Paul Madsen (#76/6-4/310/5.26)
2:00 pm, Mountain

UNLV WR Phillip Payne (#4/6-3/205/4.62) at TCU CB Greg McCoy (#7/5-10/182/4.43)
2:30 pm, Versus

Texas LG David Snow (#78/6-4/295/5.28) at Baylor DT Nicolas Jean-Baptiste (#90/6-2/335/5.06)
3:30 pm, ABC

Wisconsin DT Patrick Butrym (#95/6-3/285/5.14) vs. Michigan State LG Joel Foreman (#67/6-4/315/5.43)
8:00 pm, Fox

Fresno State WR Devon Wylie (#7/5-10/185/4.38) at San Diego State CB Larry Parker (#29/5-11/170)
Fresno State OT Bryce Harris (#70/6-6/300/5.27) at San Diego State OLB Miles Burris (#9/6-2/235/4.73)
8:00 pm, CBS Sports Network


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter   Follow him on Twitter @ChadReuter  

Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:45 am
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week 11

Mano-a-Mano, Week Eleven

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman.

1. Alabama LG *Chance Warmack (#65/6-3/320/5.32) at Mississippi State DT *Fletcher Cox (#94/6-4/295/4.96)
7:45 pm, ESPN

Cox is this year's junior defensive tackle from the SEC climbing up draft boards with a break-out season (nine tackles for loss, four sacks). Though not as big or dominant as Nick Fairley or other elite tackles coming out of the conference, Cox has the length, athleticism, and power to be a top 40 pick -- especially if he performs well against Warmack, a thick, strong but mobile guard who will be an early-round pick whether he leaves school after this season or sticks around Tuscaloosa one more year.

2. Miami LT *Brandon Washington (#72/6-4/320/5.36) at Florida State DE *Brandon Jenkins (#49/6-3/265/4.69)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Jenkins had a big sophomore season in 2010 (21.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks) but hasn't matched those numbers in 2011 (6.5, 3.5). He still has the quickness off the snap and long arms to beat tackles in obvious pass rush situations, however, so the lateral movement and stamina of Washington will be tested. Jenkins will also need to hold his ground vs. Miami's widebody tackle (who may move back to guard in the NFL) in the run game to prevent redshirt sophomore Lamar Miller and junior Mike James from giving the Hurricanes balance.

3. Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard (#15/5-10/205/4.49) at Penn State WR Derek Moye (#6/6-4/210/4.54)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Once the pre-game discussion about Penn State's Sandusky Scandal dies down with the opening kickoff, two teams will try to win what seems like an unimportant game. When healthy, Moye is a big help to a Penn State offense needing both playmakers and balance (55th-ranked run game in FBS, 88th-ranked passing attack). Moye missed two games in October with a left foot injury, but came back vs. Illinois (2 catches, 29 yards) and had a bye week to heal heading into this highly-anticipated matchup for scouts. His 6-4 frame puts him a head above Dennard downfield, but the Huskers' corner has proven again and again his ability to negate receivers at the line of scrimmage with strong press coverage and climb the ladder to knock away sideline passes headed for a taller target.

4. Texas DE *Alex Okafor (#80/6-4/260/4.62) at Missouri RT Dan Hoch (#77/6-6/320/5.43)
12:00 pm, FX

Hoch is a sturdy three-year starter at right tackle who earned second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2010 and is a big part of why the Tigers rank tenth in the FBS in total offense. The big-bodied lineman faces a strong foe in Okafor, who has really come on during conference play using his strength and length on the edge to rack up seven tackles for loss and five sacks in the past five games. Showing he can turn the corner and take advantage of the inside lanes against the wide splits of the Missouri offensive line would be a nice feather in his cap.

5. Michigan State WR B.J. Cunningham (#3/6-2/216/4.59)/Keshawn Martin (#82/5-10/190/4.44) at Iowa CB Shaun Prater (#28/5-10/185/4.49)/*Micah Hyde (#18/6-1/185/4.53)
12:00 pm, ESPN2

Despite Iowa's inconsistencies, they put themselves in great spot to win the Legends division of the Big Ten with a win over an equally maddening Spartans team. Cunningham's play is a microcosm of Sparty's offense, following up a zero-catch performance against Nebraska with a three-reception, 104-yard game against Minnesota last Saturday. His thick build and downfield playmaking ability complements the underneath routes and quick screens that senior quarterback Kirk Cousins (who also fights his own battle against up-and-down play) throws to Martin. Neither of Iowa's corners are physically intimidating, but both can make plays using their length and tenacity if Cousins is late on his throws or Cunningham/Martin can't separate during the route.

6. Alabama-Birmingham LT Matt McCants (#71/6-6/295/5.26) at Memphis DT *Dontari Poe (#74/6-5/350/5.36)
4:15 pm, Comcast Sports South

Though McCants plays left tackle and Poe is listed at nose tackle on the Tigers' depth chart, scouts won't be surprised if these two of Conference USA's three potential top 100 picks (with Marshall DE Vinny Curry) meet up a few times Saturday afternoon. Memphis Co-DC Mike DuBose likes to move Poe around in three and four-man fronts, using him even outside either tackle at 6-5, 350 pounds because of his surprising agility and capability turning the corner at that size. The lean McCants would help his draft stock if he could anchor against the mammoth defender whether helping his guard inside or preventing Poe from reaching sophomore quarterback Jonathan Perry.

7. Alabama DE/OLB Courtney Upshaw (#41/6-2/265/4.76) at Mississippi State LT James Carmon (#77/6-7/330/5.43)
7:45 pm, ESPN

Mississippi State has a mammoth left tackle in Carmon, who is still learning the position after playing defensive line in 2010 and for two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (under DL coach and former MSU DT Dorsett Davis). He'll need to study up quick when Upshaw is lined up across from him, as Bama's top pass rusher threatens Carmon's somewhat stilted kick-slide with explosiveness and strong hands. NFL scouts love big linemen with good feet, and Carmon has similar athleticism to his past defensive linemen who switched to the other side of the ball. But he'll need to show more bend and be on top of his technique to keep Upshaw from chasing quarterback tandem senior Chris Relf and redshirt sophomore Tyler Russell.

8. Oregon LT Darrion Weems (#74/6-5/302/5.40) at Stanford DE/OLB *Chase Thomas (#44/6-4/240/4.76
8:00 pm, ABC

Weems leads an offensive line overshadowed by the Ducks' great talent at running back (juniors LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner, freshman De'Anthony Thomas, as if you didn't know). This group of athletic positional blockers must be physical against a Stanford front line that plays with attitude and intelligence. Thomas' bull rush and relentless hustle towards the quarterback gives scouts a chance to see if Weems is strong and fluid enough an athlete to handle NFL defensive ends.

9. Wake Forest LG Joe Looney (#78/6-3/320/5.02)/RG Michael Hoag (#75/6-6/305) at Clemson DTs Brandon Thompson (#98/6-2/310/5.04)/Rennie Moore (#94/6-3/268/4.83)
12:00 pm, ESPNU

Looney is an under-the-radar guard prospect with enough size and athleticism to earn starter grades from NFL teams, but for the second time in three weeks he and Hoag faces a very strong interior defensive line (North Carolina's *Sylvester Williams, Tydreke Powell on October 29th). Thompson has a strong, wide build to push Looney into quarterback Tanner Price and the strong hands and active feet to rip off blocks to chase down plays outside the box. Moore's lack of size isn't troubling to the Tigers' defensive staff because he can handle his gap responsibilities as well as penetrate into the backfield to disrupt plays.

10. Maryland CB Cameron Chism (#22/5-10/190/4.52) at Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (#3/6-3/224/4.54)
7:30 pm, NBC

Chism and his Terrapins teammates started with a bang when they took down Miami; his six tackles, forced fumble, and pick-six were a major factor in the team's 32-24 win. Since then, however, Maryland is 1-7, with the win coming over FCS in-state foe Towson. Chism has two other interceptions since the opener, including another score vs. Clemson, and hopes he can once again come up big in a quasi-home game at Washington D.C.'s FedEx Field when the nation tunes in on NBC Saturday night. He possesses the determined attitude on the outside to handle a big-bodied, strong-handed short, intermediate, and deep ball threat like Floyd. Notre Dame's leading receiver hasn't always been great, either, this season; USC limited him to 28 yards three weeks ago and he only managed 44 yards on five receptions against Wake Forest last weekend. But he's shown scouts over the past four years he can step up his game when Irish quarterbacks consistently deliver the ball his way.

 

Honorable Mention 

Nebraska LT Jermarcus Hardrick (#50/6-7/320/5.32)/RT Marcel Jones (#78/6-6/320/5.29) at Penn State DEs Jack Crawford (#81/6-5/273/4.79)/ Eric Latimore (#56/6-5/277/4.86)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Rice DE Scott Solomon (#35/6-3/270/4.79) at Northwestern LT Al Netter (#75/6-4/310/5.26)
12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

Texas DT Kheeston Randall (#91/6-5/305/5.07) at Missouri C Jayson Palmgren (#71/6-2/305/5.30)
Texas LG David Snow (#78/6-4/295/5.28) at Missouri DTs Dominique Hamilton (#90/6-5/305/5.24)/*Sheldon Richardson (#34/6-3/290/4.86)/Terrell Resonno (#93/6-3/295/5.08)
12:00 pm, FX

Ohio State C Michael Brewster (#50/6-4/305/5.17) at Purdue DT *Kawann Short (#93/6-3/310/5.22)
12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

West Virginia CB Keith Tandy (#8/5-10/199/4.54) at Cincinnati WR D.J. Woods (#3/6-0/182/4.49)
12:00 pm, ABC

Michigan State LG Joel Foreman (#67/6-4/315/5.43) at Iowa DT Mike Daniels (#93/6-0/280/4.84)
12:00 pm, ESPN2

North Carolina State WR T.J. Graham (#6/5-11/180/4.36) at Boston College CB Donnie Fletcher (#4/6-1/195/4.53)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Duke LT Kyle Hill (#79/6-6/292/5.21) at Virginia DE/OLB Cam Johnson (#56/6-3/270/4.76)
Duke WR Donovan Varner (#26/5-8/175/4.53)/*Conner Vernon (#2/6-1/195/4.53) at Virginia Tech CB Chase Minnifield (#13/6-0/185/4.49)
3:00 pm, FSN

Michigan DE *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)/Ryan Van Bergen (#53/6-6/288/4.84) at Illinois OT Jeff Allen (#71/6-4/315/5.26)
Michigan WR Junior Hemingway (#21/6-1/222/4.54) at Illinois CB Tavon Wilson (#3/6-0/205/4.54)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Auburn LT A.J. Greene (#77/6-5/298/5.18)/RT Brandon Mosley (#75/6-5/305/5.22) at Georgia DT DeAngelo Tyson (#94/6-2/306/5.02)
3:30 pm, CBS

Washington DT Alameda Ta'amu (#74/6-3/337/5.22) at Southern Cal C *Khaled Holmes (#78/6-3/310/5.17)
3:30 pm, FX

Miami DE Marcus Robinson (#56/6-1/255/4.63) at Florida State OT Zebrie Sanders (#77/6-5/307/5.25)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Texas A&M WRs Jeff Fuller (#8/6-3/220/4.52)/*Uzoma Nwachukwu (#7/6-0/195/4.42)/*Ryan Swope (#25/6-0/206/4.53) at Kansas State CB David Garrett (#27/5-8/175/4.58)
3:30 pm, ABC

Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus (#26/5-8/190/4.49) at Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54)
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

UCLA CB *Aaron Hester (#21/6-1/206/4.49) at Utah WR *DeVonte Christopher (#10/6-1/200/4.62)
6:30 pm, FCSC

Alabama WR Marquis Maze (#4/5-8/184/4.49) at Mississippi State CB *Johnthan Banks (#13/6-1/185/4.52)
7:45 pm, ESPN

Louisiana Tech DE Matt Broha (#91/6-4/255/4.87) at Ole Miss RT *Bobby Massie (#79/6-6/325/5.17)
7:30 pm, Comcast/ESPN3.com

Oregon CBs Anthony Gildon (#18/6-0/182/4.57)/*Cliff Harris (#13/5-11/168/4.49/if not suspended) at Stanford WR Griff Whalen (#17/6-0/187)
8:00 pm, ABC

Hawaii WR Royce Pollard (#81/6-0/175/4.62) at Nevada CB Isaiah Frey (#28/5-11/190/4.52)
10:15 pm, ESPNU


--Contributed by Senior Analyst Chad Reuter    Follow him on Twitter  @ChadReuter  

Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:45 am
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