Tag:Mississippi
Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:19 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 11:34 am
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Under radar underclassmen set to light up combine

With the NFL Scouting Combine kicking off Wednesday, nearly every where you look you'll find another analyst with a list of athletes who could put up astonishing workout numbers. 

Dane Brugler and I collaborated on a that identified ten players with questions to answer in Indianapolis. Our colleague, Bruce Feldman, identified ten "athletic freaks" who should put forth some of the best numbers of any players invited to the combine this year.    

The simple reality of the combine season is that only occasionally are scouts surprised by the athleticism shown by prospects. At least among the senior prospects, scouts have been looking at them all year long and know what to expect. Prospects who don't perform well despite having a month (or more) typically to prepare for the very specific drills tested serve as more of a red flag to most talent evaluators than a surprisingly strong workout usually helps a prospect. 

The story is very different for underclassmen, however. 

Teams haven't had nearly as much time to prepare for these athletes and considering that the 2012 draft will feature a record 65 underclassmen, no year in history has as much potential for under the radar underclassmen to emphatically put their names on the map than this one. 

Rather than wait to see which underclassmen will surprise, I thought I'd take a chance at predicting five I believe could light up the combine and see a significant boost to their draft stock, as a result. 

CB Cliff Harris, Oregon: Harris has been a bit of a forgotten man since multiple run-ins with authorities led to his ultimately being kicked off the team by head coach Chip Kelly. While he'll certainly need to answer scouts' questions, once Harris is allowed to show off his athletic gifts, I believe he'll quickly force NFL teams to recognize his upside. After playing at less than 170 pounds throughout much of his career with the Ducks, scouts will be just as interested in how Harris physically measures up as well as how fast he runs, etc.

WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech: Hill reminds me a lot of former Georgia Tech standout Demaryius Thomas for his size, straight-line speed and big play ability. NFLDraftScout.com is currently estimating Hill as being able to run the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds. I think he'll shave a tenth off that time, as well as impress in leaping drills. He's undeniably raw but don't be surprised if a strong showing in Indianapolis pushes Hill into the second round.

OT Bobby Massie, Mississippi:
Massie signed with Ole Miss as one of the elite prep talents in the country but partially due to the anonymous nature of the right tackle position and to Ole Miss' relative struggles, Massie isn't getting much attention in the mainstream media. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if he shows very impressive athleticism, balance and power in drills based on his tape. The "big three" junior tackles -- USC's Matt Kalil, Iowa's Riley Reiff and Stanford's Jonathan Martin -- get the bulk of the attention but with the position essentially wide open after them, don't be surprised if Massie gives Ohio State's Mike Adams a run for his money as the 4th tackle off the board.

QB Brock Osweiler, Arizona State: Osweiler is currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 4-rated quarterback and No. 45-rated prospect, overall, so he hardly qualifies as under the radar. However, considering the amount of hype being generated around Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and even Ryan Tannehill, the lanky Osweiler hasn't received the national attention his talent warrants. If Osweiler can calm concerns about his mobility at a estimated 6-7, 240 pounds, scouts won't be able to resist admiring his strong, accurate arm.

CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida: Robinson is one of three relatively "unknown" cornerbacks that I am significantly higher on than most (the other two are seniors Ryan Steed from Furman and Trumaine Johnson from Montana). Robinson's speed, agility and leaping ability jump off tape. If he works out as well as I think he will based on the athleticism I've seen on the field, scouts may have a hard time justifying Robinson not winding up a top 100 pick.        
Posted on: January 7, 2012 2:10 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 2:18 pm
 

Report: Ole Miss loses RT Massie to NFL

A few weeks ago I noted that NFL teams in need of help at offensive tackle were hoping for a significant influx of talent from underclassmen to save a weak 2012 crop of seniors.

As expected, Southern Cal's Matt Kalil, Iowa's Riley Reiff and Stanford's Jonathan Martin all accepted the challenge. On Friday, another junior offensive tackle decided that he too would be making the jump and attempting to take advantage of the talent vacuum at the position this year.

According to a report from the Clarion-Ledger, Mississippi right tackle Bobby Massie is heading to the NFL.

The Clarion-Ledger report does not quote Massie nor any members of the Ole Miss program. Instead, they cite Massie's Facebook account, which reads, "2012 season I will be playing on Sundays. It was fun Ole Miss."

If Massie is indeed leaving school early for the draft, it isn't a surprise. It was well known that Massie was considering making the jump. He and fellow Rebel offensive lineman A.J. Hawkins each petitioned the NFL Advisory Committee for a grade.

The actual grades given by the committee are rarely leaked (which is why this story is interesting)

NFLDraftScout.com had projected the 6-6, 325 pound Massie as a possible 2nd round pick to begin the 2011 season. A disappointing year for the Rebels caused his stock to slip a bit as the year went on but a top 75 remains a possibility due to Massie's rare blend of size, strength and durability.

An extremely highly touted prep prospect who originally signed with Virginia Tech and was heavily recruited by Alabama and others, Massie played an extra year at the prep level for Hargrave Military Academy before seeing action with the Rebels. Once on the field for Ole Miss, however, Massie quickly established himself as a standout. The long-armed, surprisingly nimble Massie started the final 29 games of his career at right tackle for the Rebels.

Though he never earned post-season honors while at Ole Miss, the Rebels' struggles at quarterback played a role. Mississippi rotated three quarterbacks in 2011 and their differing styles contributed to a talented offensive line that had been counted on as a team strength struggling. The Rebels, in fact, gave up 34 sacks last year which was just one behind Kentucky for the worst in all of the SEC.

When scouts break down Massie on tape they will see a fundamentally flawed prospect but one with a great deal of natural talent. Considering the concerns scouts have about the senior class of tackles available in the 2012 draft, Massie could prove one of the more intriguing raw speciments at the position.

Massie currently ranks fifth among NFLDraftScout.com's 2013 tackle prospects.

Posted on: September 9, 2011 4:19 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

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.

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.
RB Vick Ballard, Mississippi State: Ballard served notice immediately against Memphis last week (career-high 166 yards and three TDs) that his first season for the Bulldogs (994 yards, 19 TDs) was no fluke after transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. The sledding will be tougher Saturday against the defending champion Auburn Tigers, which survived a scare last week from Utah State. Ballard has good size (5-11, 220) and power, but still has to answer concerns about his speed. This game begins at 12:20 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN3 and The SEC Network.

DT Devon Still, Penn State:  At 6-4, 310 pounds, Still has the size scouts are looking for and he's shown flashes of dominant ability throughout his career. Still hasn't yet shown the consistency, however, to warrant the hype he's received, however. A strong performance against Alabama Saturday and their potential All-SEC center William Vlachos, himself a late round NFL possibility, would go a long way in boosting Still's stock. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by ABC.

OT/OG Cordy Glenn, Georgia: A dominant guard throughout much of his career with the Bulldogs, Glenn was asked to move outside to left tackle against an experienced and athletic Boise State defensive front last week and not surprisingly struggled. At 6-5, 345 pounds, Glenn may simply lack the quick feet and balance to remain outside. As I pointed out in my "Big Board," however, I am not willing to move him out of my Top 32 after one poor performance. As good as the Boise front four was, Glenn and the Bulldogs are in for an even tougher test tomorrow against South Carolina's pass rushers. The Gamecocks boast two of the better rushers in the conference in senior Melvin Ingram and rising junior Devin Taylor, who also has a place on my Top 32. I'm looking forward to all of this weekend's games, but from a scouting standpoint, this is the one to focus on. This game begins at 4:30 ET and will be televised by ESPN.

DE Alex Okafor, Texas: Like Still for the Nittany Lions, Okafor has generated more press than production early in his career. It is important to note that unlike Still, Okafor is only a junior and he was miscast last season as a defensive tackle. This season, the 6-4, 260 pounder is back outside rushing the passer. Okafor only registered two tackles last week against Rice, though one of them was a tackle for loss. Okafor will have plenty of opportunities to rush the quarterback against BYU Saturday. The Cougars could give Okafor and the Longhorns more than they bargained for, however, as they are coming off an impressive win last week at Mississippi. This game begins at 7 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.

ILB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame: Some believe Te'o will prove to be the first Notre Dame defender to be drafted in the first round since Renaldo Wynn (1997). What is very clear is that Te'o is an instinctive, physical defender very capable of dictating the action in the middle. Against an athletic and versatile Michigan offense, however, Te'o speed to the flanks will be tested. Considering that he finished with 133 tackles last year -- the most from any Irish defender since 1983 -- it wasn't surprising that Te'o led Notre Dame last week against South Florida with nine stops. He'll have to be even better this week if Brian Kelly's group is to get into the win column. This game begins at 8:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN. 
Posted on: September 6, 2011 8:41 am
 

WR Kearse, RB Bolden escape major injuries

The University of Washington and University of Mississippi football programs are breathing collective big sighs of relief after what appeared to be potentially serious leg injuries suffered by two of their stars was ruled to be relatively minor.

Huskies wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, a 2010 Second Team All Pac-10 selection and currently NFLDraftScout.com's No. 8 rated wideout for the 2012 NFL Draft, was diagnosed with just a sprained ankle, Monday. Kearse's injury was feared to be much serious when he left the field Saturday in the Huskies' season-opening win against Eastern Washington. Kearse caught only one pass for eight yards in the opener before injuring his ankle.

Kearse apparently wanted to return to the field Saturday, but head coach Steve Sarkisian wouldn't let him. Kearse has already returned to the practice field in anticipation of the Huskies' next game, this Saturday against Hawaii.

The news wasn't quite as good for Ole Miss and their star running back Brandon Bolden, but still quite a relief considering how bad the injury first appeared.

According to Rebels' head coach Houston Nutt, Bolden suffered a "slight" fracture to his left ankle and is expected to miss a few weeks. He is in a walking boot, but could return to the field in September.

The 5-11, 221 pound Bolden is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 14 rated running back for 2012. He currently ranks second in the Ole Miss record books for most touchdowns scored (28), as well as most rushing touchdowns (23).

The Rebels clearly missed Bolden in their opener, losing at home to BYU 14-13. Bolden, voted the team's Most Outstanding Offensive Player at the conclusion of spring drills, only rushed four times for four times for 21 yards before going down with the injury.
Posted on: March 9, 2011 2:08 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 5:11 pm
 

Texas A&M OLB Von Miller wows scouts with 4.49

A well respected talent evaluator once offered to me a comparison of Texas A&M pass rusher Von Miller to 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis. Each, he said, played with uncanny balance and open field tackling ability.

Miller proved similar to the San Francisco star in another way Wednesday -- by wowing onlookers with breath-taking speed rare for his position.

Miller and Willis were each recorded at 4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash at their respective Combine workouts. While Miller was unable to match the eye-popping 4.37 second time Willis had at his Pro Day at Ole Miss in 2007, he did wow onlookers with a 4.49 second showing this morning at Texas A&M's Pro Day, according to a source on the scene.

Like Willis, Miller didn't need to run after a strong overall performance at the Combine but did anyway, impressing scouts on hand with his straight-line speed and his trademark agility in positional drills.

Among the notable coaches in attendance today were a pair of talented coaches, former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Billy Davis and Mike Zimmer for the Cincinnati Bengals.

Miller, the Butkus Award winner last season, recorded 27.5 sacks and 39 tackles for loss over the past two seasons. His ability to wreak havoc off the edge, highly competitive nature and maturity (he turned down NFL millions last year to return for his senior season) are all reasons why I rate Miller among the four elite prospects of the 2011 draft and currently project him fifth overall to Davis' Cardinals.



Posted on: December 4, 2010 5:29 pm
 

Ole Miss NG Jerrell Powe coming out

Mississippi nose guard Jerrell Powe surprised many with his announcement a few weeks ago that he was considering returning for another season of college football.

Apparently he's reconsidered, as the 6-2, 320 pounder is indeed going to make himself eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft, as the University of Mississippi's official athletic website is reporting .

“I have struggled for a long time about this decision, but in the end, it’s time for me to move on,” Powe said. “I really appreciate everything Ole Miss has done for me. I plan on coming back and supporting my school and my team for the rest of my life. I am in my prime right now and I feel it is in my best interest to start using my ability to earn a living for me and my family.

“I am very thankful to the Ole Miss family, the coaching staff and my teammates for the support I have been shown these past few years.”

Quite frankly, Powe would have been better served coming out after last season. Powe earned second team All-SEC honors in 2009, racking up 34 tackles, including 12 tackles for loss.

This season, with opponents focusing their blocking schemes on stopping him, Powe has seen his numbers drop. While he again earned Second Team All-SEC honors, he only posted 27 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks this year.

More important than his statistics, the explosive power and quickness that Powe had demonstrated in 2009 was only seen in flashes this year.

Powe's ability to clog up running lanes as a prototypical 3-4 nose guard makes him a very valuable commodity. Despite his hype , he is no lock to make the first round. A strong performance at the Senior Bowl, however, could turn around his stock quickly.

Posted on: November 19, 2010 9:51 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2010 9:55 pm
 

The five prospects I'll be scouting 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.

DE/OLB Chis Carter, Fresno State: Fresno State ranked second to last in entire country last season with only nine combined sacks. This season, they rank sixth with 27 sacks through nine games. A big part of that is the play of 6-2, 240 pound pass rusher Chris Carter, who has nine sacks, himself this season. Carter will be going up against Boise State junior left tackle Nate Potter, a legitimate NFL prospect. The winner of this individual battle could go a long way in determining whether Pat Hill's bunch is able to throw a scare into the No. 4 team in the country. This game begins at 9:30 pm EST tonight and will be televised by ESPN.

WR Jerrel Jernigan, Troy: Draft enthusiasts certainly know Jernigan's name by now, but they'll get an opportunity to see NFLDraftScout.com's No. 2 rated senior WR against an SEC defense Saturday morning when the Trojans travel to meet Steve Spurrier's No. 17 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. Jernigan is only 5-09, but he can fly. He'll see time as a receiver, returner and potentially even in some Wildcat formations. The Gamecocks feature a superstar receiver of their own in sophomore Alshon Jeffery, but don't be surprised if Jernigan is statistically up to the challenge. This game begins at 12:21 pm EST Saturday and will be televised by ESPN.

DT Jerrell Powe, Mississippi:
Entering the season Powe was viewed as a potential Top 10 prospect. Now, his disappointing season has him fighting to remain in the top two rounds. Powe reminded the media this week that he could return for another year. An academic non-qualifier previously, Powe is on pace to earn his Criminal Justice degree and thereby trigger an NCAA rule that would grant him another season if he wanted to put off an NFL career. It has been a disappointing season for Powe and for the 4-6 Rebels (1-5 in the SEC), in general, but a strong performance Saturday against LSU could be just the breakout each needs. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by CBS.

DT Christian Ballard, Iowa: Everyone knows that this game pitts two of the top senior defensive ends in the country in Ohio State's Cameron Heyward and Iowa's Adrian Clayborn. Ballard rarely gets the media attention, but I assure you, scouts know him well. In fact, I've had some tell me they believe Ballard could prove to be a first round pick based on his athletic upside. The 6-4, 298 pounder has experience inside and out, making him one of the more verastile defensive linemen in the draft and one potentially capable of playing effectively in the 3-4 and 4-3. Ballard has had his moments in previous games I've scouted, but hasn't dominated. His play could prove critical in this game. If Iowa is able to contain Terrelle Pryor with just their front four, they could pull off the upset at home. This game begins at 3:30 pm EST and will be televised by ABC.

QB Ryan Mallett, Arkansas : Though I'm not nearly as high on Mallett as some, I certainly do recognize that he has a first round arm. His poise and feet will be tested Saturday night against a physical and aggressive Mississippi State team playing at home. I don't care what Mallett's statistics are at the end of the game. Bobby Petrino's offense leads to big numbers. Remember Brian Brohm and Stefan LeFors under Petrino at Louisville?  I want to see how Mallett's accuracy is affected if the Bulldogs are able get him moving throughout the pocket. This has been a concern of mine throughout Mallett's career and it was the reason why the SEC star collapsed late against Alabama. If Mallett has improved in this area, it could lead to a significant jump up draft boards -- especially with the continued struggles of the senior quarterbacks.  This game begins at 7:00 pm EST and will be televised by ESPN.

Those interested in scouting "alongside" me Friday night and throughout Saturday's action can follow me on Twitter @RobRang .



Posted on: September 30, 2010 1:40 pm
 

5 Most Disappointing Prospects through September

In this week's issue of Draft Slant, I list a handful of breakout prospects that scouts had graded as either late round or free agents in the preseason, but through the first month of the college season have greatly exceeded expectations and are rising fast.

Without giving away the identities of the players, themselves, I can tell you that the players listed come from a variety of conferences from the SEC to the WAC.

While that article is reserved for our premium subscribers, I thought I'd list a group of five players whose stock is going in the exact opposite direction over the first month of the season.

Players are listed alphabetically.

RB Mario Fannin, Auburn: I touted Fannin as much as anyone heading into the season as a potential breakout star and while I still maintain that he has talent, there is no denying that he's again struggling this year with the issues (injuries, fumbles) that had sidetracked him in the past. Part of a rotation for the Tigers, Fannin had seven touches for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the opener againt Arkansas State. Since, however, the Auburn coaching staff has apparently lost faith in his ability to get the tough yards and hold on to the football, as he has accumulated only eight touches for 28 total yards (and no scores) since.

QB Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M: Despite earning preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year accolades, scouts had plenty of concerns about Johnson's pro prospects before the season have even begun. Now, after an ugly four interception game against the likes of Florida International, scouts are even more concerned that Johnson, while talented, simply lacks the accuracy and football IQ to handle the adjustment to the NFL. Once considered a potential Top 50 prospect, Johnson now appears destined for the 5th or 6th round... at best.

QB Jake Locker, Washington: There are a great many jumping off Jake Locker's bandwagon after a disastrous performance against the Cornhuskers two weeks ago. In reality, Locker was struggling with accuracy and the reading of defenses in the two previous games (BYU, Syracuse, as well). Locker's No. 1 status has always been a projection that would come true IF he made similar gains under Steve Sarkisian that he made in his first year under the former USC quarterback coach. So far, Locker hasn't made those gains. Some scouts, in fact, wonder if he's regressed. Locker remains in the hunt to be the first senior QB off the board (and thus a potential high first round selection), but the time has come to stop making excuses for him. In his second year of this offense and his fourth as a starting quarterback, Locker needs to show better recognition and accuracy if he is going to be successful in the NFL.

NG Jerrell Powe, Mississippi: As proof of what a roller coaster ride scouting can be, Powe would have made my list of the "safer" prospects heading into this season. He was a standout, even dominant performer, at times times last year. This season, however, Powe has struggled mightily. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Ole Miss rotates their defensive linemen. Some also may be due to the fact that he's playing this season as much as 60 pounds lighter than he's played in the past. Either way, the explosive power and consistency Powe had shown last year simply hasn't been there in the Rebels' first four games.

WR Terrance Toliver, LSU: Toliver was viewed by many as the top senior receiving prospect in the country heading into the season. He certainly was touted as a potential future high round pick as a prep star. Unfortunately, Toliver and the LSU offense, as a whole, has struggled this season. Toliver has only 11 catches through the first four games for 96 yards. The 6-4, 206 pounder with reported 4.4 speed has yet to catch a touchdown this season.


One could make the argument that the host of players suspended or injured so far this season should also be included on this list. I have too much respect for our readers to take the easy way out and list the likes of North Carolina's DT Marvin Austin, FS Deunta Williams, WR Greg Little, South Carolina TE Wesley Saunders, West Virginia cornerback Brandon Hogan (all suspended for one or more games) or injured players like Houston QB Case Keenum, etc. and the like among this list. With serious off-field or health questions, they are certainly falling -- or at least on the cusp of falling -- in the eyes of scouts. However, the players I listed above are falling because they simply aren't producing on the field to the level scouts expected heading into the 2010 season.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com