Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Tag:North Carolina
Posted on: January 29, 2012 12:22 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2012 1:15 pm
 

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 25, 2012 6:29 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:36 pm
 

Arizona WR Criner quieting critics at Senior Bowl

MOBILE, Ala -- Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner saw his stock slip before his senior season even began amid concerns about family and personal health issues. 

While those issues will still need to be investigated fully by NFL teams, the playmaking skills that he demonstrated throughout an record-breaking career with the Wildcats have helped him stand out this week for the South Team at the Senior Bowl.    

Though I still have reservations about Criner's straight-line speed, he's shown enough in that category to eat up the cushion against off-man coverage supplied by a cornerback group for the South that is as strong as any position playing in the 2012 Senior Bowl. Criner runs precise routes and has excellent body control to adjust to the ball while it is in flight. He demonstrated this in beating North Alabama cornerback Janoris Jenkins, my 21st overall rated prospect in the 2012 draft on a deep ball midway through Wednesday's practice.    

Criner's ability to track the ball and make big plays haven't ever been the question. After all, he caught 75 passes for 956 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 12 games as a senior and this was a drop-off from the year before when he earned All-American honors with 82 catches for 1,233 yards and 11 scores. Though he certainly doesn't possess the big play speed of Arkansas' Joe Adams or Houston's Patrick Edwards, he's frankly been a more reliable target this week than either of the other two big possession receivers NFLDraftScout.com currently rates ahead of him -- North Carolina's Dwight Jones and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller.
      
I spoke to a high-ranking team official who recently met with Criner to get a better gauge as to the level of concern he, personally, had with Criner's off-field issues.

"I'm not concerned at all," the official said. "That stuff was overblown by the media. The coaches there [Arizona] say he is a good kid.  He's gone through some tough stuff but I don't know of anything that would cause his stock to be impacted by it."

Posted on: January 23, 2012 2:37 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 1:59 pm
 

Early impressions from Senior Bowl weigh-ins

MOBILE, Ala. -- It might seem silly to think that lasting impressions can be made on scouts when athletes strut on stage for the weigh-ins prior to various all-star games but talent evaluators can take a lot from the height, weight, hand size, arm length, and general build of the athletes. 

Each football position carries with it certain ideal measurements. This, of course, does not mean that players can't be successful in the NFL despite being shorter, heavier or physically less impressive than expected. It does, however, give scouts an idea as to where a prospect might project in the pros, as well as his dedication to the weight-room, etc. 

At no all-star game is this more important, of course, than the Senior Bowl, the most prestigious and talent-filled all-star game in college football. 

The Senior Bowl weigh-in took place this morning and there were some surprises. 

First, there were a few players unable to attend the game. Of the notables is Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright and Penn State defensive tackle Devon Still. Wright suffered an ankle injury and was unable to attend. Still is nursing a sprained big toe. 

Clemson defensive end Andre Branch is scheduled to play in the game but was not yet in Mobile this morning to be measured. There was only one addition to the roster so far, Arkansas State outside linebacker Demario Davis was not yet in Mobile but was announced as a player coming in to participate. Davis is NFLDraftScout.com's No. 23 rated outside linebacker for the 2012 draft.           

Perhaps the most significant element of the weigh-in proceedings is simply comparing the so-called "small school" prospects to the BCS players. Fortunately for Appalachian State wide receiver Brian Quick, Furman cornerback Ryan Steed, Massachusetts H-back/fullback Emil Igwenagu and Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson, their impressive physiques certainly passed the eye-ball test as legitimate pro prospects. 

Quick, in fact, was one of the more physically impressive players on either roster. He measured in at 6-3 (1/2) and a rock-solid 222 pounds. His 33 1/2 inch arms were only slighter shorter than North Carolina's Dwight Jones (33 5/8) and Texas A&M's Jeff Fuller (34 1/8) -- two receivers who have generated a great deal more national attention than Quick. 

The most impressive builds of the day were sported by Utah State inside linebacker Bobby Wagner (6-0 and a 1/4, 241 pounds), Boise State running back Doug Martin (5-09, 219), Michigan defensive tacke Mike Martin (6-1 and a 1/2, 307 pounds) and Florida State linebacker Nigel Bradham (6-1 and 5/8, 237 pounds). 

Of the offensive linemen, hand size and arm length are of extreme importance. Due to this fact, Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele (10 3/8" inch hands, 35 1/4" arms), Georgia's Cordy Glenn (10, 35 1/8), Florida State's Zebrie Sanders (11, 34 5/8), Ohio State's Mike Adams (11, 33 3/4) showed the big hands and long arms to help convince scouts that they should remain outside at offensive tackle rather than move inside to guard.  

With some prospects impressing with their athletic frames, there will naturally be some disappointments. It is worth repeating that the NFL is full of prospects who appeared too small, too heavy or too thin in shorts only to prove Pro-Bowlers on the field. Still, the relatively soft builds for Washington running back Chris Polk, Alabama center William Vlachos, Boise State defensive lineman Billy Winn and Marshall defensive end Vinny Curry were a bit surprising. So too was the fact that North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples, NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated prospect in Mobile for this game, measured in lighter than expected at 281 pounds. Coples measured in at just under 6-6 (6-5, 3/4") and had been listed by the Tar Heels at 285 pounds and some expected him to measure closer to 295. Clearly, Coples is attempting to prove he's lean and athletic enough to remain at defensive end rather than move back inside to defensive tackle.

Following the player weigh-ins is the first practice of the week. On every day of the week the North and South teams will alternate practicing at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile per day. Today, however, the North team will practice at Ladd-Peebles whereas the South team will be practicing simultaneously in nearby Fairhope.  

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 3, 2012 9:13 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:41 pm
 

UNC DE Paige-Moss leaves for NFL despite torn ACL

Heading into the 2011 season many regarded North Carolina junior defensive Donte Paige-Moss as every bit the first round candidate as his more celebrated teammate Quinton Coples.

Estimated to be 6-4, 260 pounds, Paige-Moss recorded 49 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks as a sophomore, including a dazzling all-around performance (six tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, blocked kick) in North Carolina's Music City Bowl win over Tennessee that seemed to establish him as a young star on the rise.

Unfortunately, like a lot of the UNC Tar Heels, it seemed as though Paige-Moss entered the 2011 season caught up in his own hype. The explosiveness and relentlessness that had been evident in his game earlier in his career wasn't as apparent as the 2011 season began. Though Paige-Moss saw action in all 13 games in 2011, he was passed up on the depth chart by sophomore Keenan Martin and didn't start a game.

The frustration of seeing his playing time and statistics cut (29 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks in 2011) had pushed Paige-Moss to explore leaving UNC for a shot at the NFL. Paige-Moss was active early against Missouri in the Independence Bowl, recording three tackles and again demonstrating the combination of athleticism and size that had led talent evaluators from 4-3 and 3-4 teams, alike, to value him. Unfortunately, Paige-Moss suffered a torn ACL in his right knee against the Tigers, putting at least the beginning of next season in doubt.

Rather than consider redshirting next season and recovering from the injury, Paige-Moss informed UNC officials Monday that he is leaving early for the NFL.

Though it had been known that Paige-Moss was considering making the jump, once news of his injury spread I, for one, presumed he'd return. The Tar Heels may have been surprised, as well, as they officially announced the junior's decision via their Twitter feed rather than offer up the press conference and/or statement traditionally associated with news of this magnitude.

Scouts can't help but acknowledge Paige-Moss' athletic gifts. However, considering his play regressed this season, his injury and the fact that Paige-Moss has had run-ins with authorities in the past, the junior pass rusher is going to have a hard time convincing teams to spend anything more than a late round pick on his services this April.

Paige-Moss has been listed as high as 3rd on NFLDraftScout.com's ratings for defensive ends in the 2013 class.



Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:52 pm
 

UNC WR Dwight Jones cleared to play in bowl game

After being suspended by his team Tuesday, North Carolina wide receiver Dwight Jones was reinstated this morning by the NCAA and will be allowed to participate in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl December 26 against Missouri, according to Tar Heels' head coach Everett Whithers.

The Tar Heels suspended Jones, the ACC's leading receiver, yesterday after a flyer surfaced online advertising a New Year's Eve birthday party honoring Jones were discovered. The flyer, shown below, identifies Jones by name and uses a picture of him in his North Carolina uniform. The NCAA prohibits athletes from using their name and likeness as part of a for-profit venture.

Upon discovering the flyer, UNC officials decided to suspend Jones and ask the NCAA to considering reinstating him after investigating the matter further.

 1st Annual Dwight Jones New Years Birthday Celebration

Jones, upon hearing of his suspension, apologized. 

"I apologize to my teammates, the coaching staff, and the university for the poor decision I made to allow my likeness to be used in the promotion of a party given by a family member while still a part of the Carolina football team," Jones said in a prepared statement. "I should have asked the coaching staff or administration before allowing this to happen."

From an NFL draft perspective, the suspension and subsequent reinstatement isn't likely to mean much. Jones was never accused of any criminal acts. Had he advertised the party in the days after his final game rather than before, this wouldn't be a story. Jones, after all, as a senior has no eligibility remaining.

Jones led the ACC in both receptions (79) and receiving touchdowns (11) this season. He finished third in receiving yardage (1,119) and has emerged as one of the more intriguing senior receiver prospects in the country. Blessed with surprising speed and after-the-catch skills for a receiver of his size (6-4, 225 pounds), Jones is currently rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the No. 5 senior receiver in the draft.
Posted on: November 5, 2011 11:43 am
 

Mano-a-mano, Week Ten

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. LSU Back Seven at Alabama RB *Trent Richardson (#3/5-11/224/4.52)
8:00 pm, CBS

If the talented Alabama offensive line and LSU defensive line negate each other in the run game on Saturday night, this year's "Game of the Millenium" could be determined by whether Heisman hopeful Richardson can defeat Tigers' linebackers at the second level. Thick weak side 'backer Ryan Baker (#22/6-0/236/4.77), fast Sam LB Stefoin Francois (#23/6-1/223/4.58), and inside guys former strong safety Karnell Hatcher (#37/6-1/223/4.64) and solid sophomore Kevin Minter, must keep their feet and wrap securely if they want to bring down Richardson before he turns a three-yard plow into a 10 or 20-yard gain. But let's face it -- few college defenders can chop down Richardson on first contact because of his thick frame, natural aggression and constantly-churning legs. That means the Tigers must swarm to the ball, with strong safety Brandon Taylor (#18/5-11/195/4.57), sophomores nickel corner Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu and leading tackler free safety Eric Reid helping out the linebackers to stop the Alabama run game.

2. North Carolina Defensive Ends Quinton Coples (#90/6-6/285/4.76)/*Donte Paige-Moss (#98/6-4/260/4.67) at North Carolina State OT *R.J. Mattes (#79/6-6/305/5.19)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

North Carolina's defensive line is among the deepest -- and hyped -- in the country. Coples has the size/length to start on three or four-man fronts in the NFL, while Paige-Moss has the size and athleticism that made former Tar Heels DE Robert Quinn a top 15 pick last April. They've combined for just 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in nine games (7.5, 4.5 for Coples), however, after putting up 29 and 17 (15.5, 10 for Coples) last season. Facing an All-ACC candidate in Mattes is not an easy way to increase that production; the redshirt junior left tackle is looking to prove his overall athleticism to scouts after showing strength and tenacity while starting at right guard and right tackle in his first two seasons on the field (though a torn ACL cost him the last four games of 2009).

3. Texas A&M CBs Coryell Judie (#5/5-11/190/4.48)/Terrence Frederick (#7/5-10/187/4.52) at Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles (#85/5-10/188/4.52)Texas A&M WRs Jeff Fuller (#8/6-3/220/4.52)/*Uzoma Nwachukwu (#7/6-0/195/4.42) at Oklahoma CBs Jamell Fleming (#32/5-11/192/4.54)/*Demontre Hurst (#6/5-9/182/4.46)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

This week's version of "Luck vs. Barkley" is A&M's athletic and strong-armed QB Ryan Tannehill (#17/6-4/222/4.65) against Oklahoma's junior pocket passer QB Landry Jones (#12/6-4/230/4.74). Scouts for teams needing a quarterback could use this game as a tie-breaker of sorts for the second or third spot in their rankings.

But NFL teams with a young passer already on the roster will be checking out this game, as well,since both Big 12 squads have legitimate NFL prospects at cornerback and receiver. Judie's hamstring has been a problem this year, and he'll need to be healthy to handle Broyles' crisp routes and elusiveness after the catch. The NCAA's all-time leader in receptions will also face stiff competition from Frederick, an ascending talent who gives no quarter to receivers of any size. When Tannehill is leading A&M's offense, he'll look for Fuller to use his size advantage and Nwachukwu his speed against Sooners corners Fleming and Hurst -- both of whom can take advantage of sideline and comeback throws Tannehill leaves too far inside.

4. South Carolina CB *Stephon Gilmore (#5/6-1/193/4.52) at Arkansas Receivers
7:15 pm, ESPN

Gilmore will be able to show NFL teams all of his skills no matter which of the Razorbacks' gaggle of receivers he may be facing Saturday night. He has the size and attitude to handle big receivers junior Cobi Hamilton (#11/6-3/209/4.57) and Greg Childs (#85/6-3/217/4.56) -- who has struggled coming back from last season's knee injury -- at the line of scrimmage or down the sideline. But scouts will be more interested to see if Gilmore can also handle the straight-line speed and quickness Jarius Wright (#4/5-10/180/4.34) and Joe Adams (#3/5-11/190/4.38) if in trail coverage or trying to chase them down after the catch in zone.

5. Missouri Defensive Tackle at Baylor C Philip Blake (#74/6-2/320/5.26)
7:00 pm, FSN

Danny Watkins took a circuitous route to NFL first round draft status, growing up in Canada, playing his first football in junior college before starting at left tackle for Baylor. Blake won't be selected that high and has played football for some time, but was also born in Canada and is advanced in age for a future rookie (Watkins turns 27 years old Sunday, Blake turns 26 later this month). He'll need to use his wide body and long arms to handle Missouri's trio of pro DT prospects: long and strong Dominique Hamilton (#90/6-5/305/5.24), athletic junior Sheldon Richardson (#34/6-3/290/4.86) and active DT Terrell Resonno (#93/6-3/295/5.08). The Bears have another big body up front, RG Robert T. Griffin (#79/6-6/330/5.38), who protects the team's athletic playmaking quarterback Robert Griffin III (who was actually born in Japan, where his father served for the U.S. Military). And no, that's not a typo -- the mammoth guard and unrelated 6-2, 220 pound quarterback have the same name.

6. Oregon Cornerbacks at Washington WR Jermaine Kearse (#15/6-1/208/4.50)
10:30 pm, FSN

The Huskies are one of college football's best stories that doesn't get talked about nearly enough. Washington fans can tell you that Kearse isn't the most consistent receiver in terms of his hands or physicality, but is a threat down the sideline to elude defenders after the catch when his game is on. Oregon's secondary has scoured by scouts for prospects over the years, but the 2011 group is a bit different. Three of the top four cornerbacks on the depth chart for this game are freshmen, and senior CB Anthony Gildon (#18/6-0/182/4.57) is erratic in his discipline outside. The wild card is junior CB Cliff Harris (#13/5-11/168/4.49), who packs a punch in press coverage that belies his wiry build, and also has the ball skills to knock away or intercept passes and had four punt returns for TDs in 2010. He may not play in this game, however, if unable to get out of head coach Chip Kelly's dog house because of an excessive speeding citation this summer and another traffic stop two weeks ago.

7. Michigan DEs *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)/Ryan Van Bergen (#53/6-6/288/4.84) at Iowa OTs *Riley Reiff (#77/6-6/300/4.94)/Markus Zusevics (#56/6-5/300/5.08)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Even though the Hawkeyes are coming off a brutal loss to Minnesota and the Maize-and-Blue is on top of the Legends Division of the Big Ten, Iowa still has games against the three teams tied atop the division in the Wolverines, Michigan State and Nebraska. To win any of those games, including Saturday's match-up, the team's two tackles must protect junior QB James Vanderberg. Reiff will face Roh (pronounced Row) on the weak side of the line on most plays; the more athletic pair should have good battles as Reiff tries to cut off Roh trying to use his length to turn the corner and anchors against the junior's relentless aggression. Van Bergen won't test the lateral movement of Zusevics (ZOOZ-uh-vicks) as much as the two-year starter's ability to hold his ground as the high-motor end attempts to push him into the pocket  a part of the somewhat lean right tackle's game in which he does not always excel. Both tackles will also have to seal their men inside or outside in order for bruising sophomore RB Marcus Coker (252 yards vs. Minnesota last week) to move the ball against an improved Michigan defense (ranks 35th in the FBS in total defense, ranked 110th after the 2010 season).

8. Purdue DT *Kawann Short (#93/6-3/310/5.22) at Wisconsin Interior Offensive Line
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Short was the Big 10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week against Illinois two weeks ago (3.5 TFL, 2 sacks), and played well in a loss to Michigan going up against senior center David Molk. This weekend, however, he really gets a chance to show NFL scouts he is a legitimate top 75 pick by taking on future pro starters junior C Peter Konz (#66/6-5/315/5.16), RG Kevin Zeitler (#70/6-4/318/5.26) and redshirt sophomore LG Travis Frederick (#72/6-4/330/5.27). Michigan State's Jerel Worthy found a bit of success against this group a couple of weeks ago, but was also redirected out of plays when unable to use his hands to disengage. Short will have to be more consistently quick off the snap to pressure QB Russell Wilson and agile/strong enough to maintain his gap discipline against the Wisconsin running game to be considered an elite prospect this year or next.

9. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (#3/6-3/224/4.54) at Wake Forest CB *Kenny Okoro (#6/6-0/190/4.49)
8:00 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Floyd's talents are well-known, as he's used his NFL size and strong hands to rank in the top 20 nationally in receptions and receiving yards per game. The Irish have not always fed him as often as they should, as Pittsburgh and USC kept him under 30 yards on four catches. Okoro's an under-the-radar talent at corner with good size, speed and aggressiveness for the position. A big game against Floyd could draw the notice of scouts looking forward to the 2013 draft.

10. Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54) at Michigan State CB *Johnny Adams (#5/5-11/175/4.42)- Junior
12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

McKnight has been an underappreciated talent playing for a lowly Gophers squad, but last week's big win over Iowa gave him and junior QB MarQueis Gray (#5/6-4/240/4.56) a bit of a boost with scouts. Adams' competitive nature allows him to test McKnight's ability to get off press coverage and separate from/make plays against NFL-caliber corners downfield. In a deep senior receiver class, Minnesota's leading pass-catcher needs to have a big game against a good corner like Adams to get drafted come April.

Honorable Mention:

Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward (#19/5-11/188/4.53) at Florida WR Deonte Thompson (#6/5-11/200/4.44)
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

Virginia WR Kris Burd (#18/6-0/200/4.53) at Maryland CB Cameron Chism (#22/5-10/190/4.52)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Wyoming CB Tashuan Gipson (#4/6-0/203/4.57) at TCU WRs Antoine Hicks (#13/6-2/212/4.57)/*Josh Boyce (5-11/203/4.54)
2:00 pm, MTN

Northwestern LT Al Netter (#75/6-4/310/5.26) at Nebraska DE *Cameron Meredith (#34/6-4/260/4.79)- Junior
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Cincinnati WR WR D.J. Woods (#3/6-0/182/4.49) at Pittsburgh CB Antwuan Reed (#22/5-10/190/4.54)
Cincinnati LT Alex Hoffman (#59/6-6/298/5.28) at Pittsburgh DE Brandon Lindsey (#7/6-2/250/4.68)
7:00 pm, ESPNU

Houston OLB Sammy Brown (#8/6-2/240/4.67) at UAB LT Matt McCants (#71/6-6/295/5.26)
7:00 pm, CBS Sports Network

Arizona State DE Jamaar Jarrett (#92/6-5/262/4.90) at UCLA RT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32)
Arizona State WRs Gerell Robinson (#8/6-3/222/4.58)/Mike Willie (#1/6-2/212/4.59) at UCLA CB *Aaron Hester (#21/6-1/206/4.49)
7:30 pm, Versus

Kansas State CB David Garrett (#27/5-8/175/4.58) at Oklahoma State WR *Justin Blackmon (#81/6-1/215/4.54)
8:00 pm, ABC/ESPN2

LSU CB *Morris Claiborne (#17/6-0/185/4.45) at Alabama WR Marquis Maze (#4/5-8/184/4.49)
LSU WR *Rueben Randle (#2/6-3/208/4.57) at Alabama CB *Dre Kirkpatrick (#21/6-2/192/4.49)
LSU RT *Alex Hurst (#72/6-6/340/5.22) at Alabama DE/OLB *Dont'a Hightower (#30/6-4/260/4.74)
8:00 pm, CBS

Louisiana Tech CB Terry Carter (#28/5-10/190/4.43) at Fresno State WR Devon Wylie (#7/5-10/185/4.38)
10:30 pm, ESPNU

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

Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Eight

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. Wisconsin Interior OL at Michigan State DT *Jerel Worthy
8:00 pm, ESPN

It is not surprising that a Big Ten conference battle features some of the top offensive line prospects in the country. Worthy (#99/6-3/310/5.04) has the initial quickness and power to earn first round grades should be enter the draft early, but he'll have a tough time beating Badgers' mobile but strong junior center Peter Konz (#66/6-5/315/5.16), tough RG Kevin Zeitler (#70/6-4/318/5.26), and stout redshirt sophomore LG Travis Frederick (6-4/330/5.27). If he manages to get through that near half-ton wall of future NFL linemen off the snap with consistent hand usage, and proves capable of chasing down Wisconsin QB Russell Wilson or junior RB Montee Ball outside the box, his draft stock will spike.

2. Wisconsin WR Nick Toon at Michigan State CB *Johnny Adams
8:00 pm, ESPN

This prime-time affair also features some very good match-ups on the outside, with a potential first round pick in Toon (#1/6-2/220/4.52) taking on Adams (#5/5-11/175/4.42) when the Badgers have the ball. Toon missed last week's blowout of Indiana with a foot injury, but is expected to be healthy enough to run by and shield Adams from the ball on vertical routes. Adams is not contact-shy, so look for him to challenge Toon on jump balls and 50/50 situations. He can't peek into the backfield, though, because of Wilson's ability to find Toon downfield on bootlegs off stretch plays to the left.

Don't change the channel when likely top 75 pick MSU QB Kirk Cousins is throwing the ball around, either. He'll look for thick WR B.J. Cunningham (#3/6-2/216/4.59) and quick, elusive Keshawn Martin (#82/5-10/190/4.44) and try to avoid Wisconsin's diminutive-but feisty Antonio Fenelus (#26/5-8/190/4.49) and junior Marcus Cromartie (#14/6-0/182/4.52). Cunningham and Martin troubles holding onto the ball in the wind last week vs. Michigan, so they'll need to do better to beat the Badgers.

3. Oklahoma State LT Levy Adcock at Missouri DE *Brad Madison
12:00 pm, FX

Adcock (#73/6-5/322/5.23) has successfully switched from right to left tackle, though his body type and movement will probably keep him on the strong side of the formation in the NFL. He faces yet another tough test, however, in Madison (#57/6-4/265/4.76), a junior pass rusher who plays with power but needs to impress scouts with hustle after his initial movement because Adcock is strong enough to withstand his bullish moves. OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden generally gets rid of the ball quickly but is not very mobile so Madison may have a chance to reach him if he uses his hands to disengage from Adcock.

4. Texas A&M Outside Linebackers vs. Iowa State LT Kelechi Osemele
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Massive Cylcones left tackle Osemele (#72/6-5/347/5.40) has the wide body and strong hands to take care of the Aggies' big five-techniques, but bigger challenges may come when needing to stop quick pass rushers in junior Sean Porter (#10/6-2/230/4.62) and budding star sophomore Damontre Moore coming off the edge. If Osemele (pronounced oh-sem-AH-lee) can latch onto Porter and Moore and escort them around the pocket, as well as sustain the block so they don't bring down quarterback Steele Jantz on secondary rushes, scouts may be forced to admit that he possesses more athleticism than they previously believed.

5. North Carolina DTs *Sylvester Williams/Tydreke Powell at Clemson RG Antoine McClain
12:00 pm, ESPN

The Tars' Heels talented defensive ends received most of the pub heading into the season, but Williams (#92/6-3/320/5.19) and Powell (#91/6-3/310/5.22) are trying to make their own names with their play. Williams is the more intriguing prospect, with his combination of size and agility sometimes stunning scouts. Powell was a highly-recruited prospect, but hasn't found the ball often enough to be a big playmaker. Both tackles will challenge the agility of McClain (#74/6-5/335/5.34), who can control defenders with long arms and strong hands but also overextend off the snap and be out-quicked in pass protection.

6. Utah OTs John Cullen/Tony Bergstrom at California DEs Ernest Owusu/Trevor Guyton
7:00 pm, Comcast Sports - Bay Area 

Utah's tackles aren't big names in the national college football consciousness, but scouts believe they will both contribute at the next level. Cullen (#77/6-4/300/5.23) mans the left side of the line and Bergstrom (#70/6-5/315/5.29) the right. Cal's two starting five-technique ends aren't as hyped as past first-round picks Tyson Alualu and Cameron Jordan, but Guyton (#92/6-3/280/4.86) packs a punch for Bergstrom to handle on the strong side while Owusu (#95/6-4/270/4.87) provides more of a combination of strength and quickness for which Cullen must prepare.

7. Cincinnati DT Derek Wolfe vs. South Florida LG Jeremiah Warren
12:00 pm, SNY/MASN/ESPN3.com

Wolfe (#95/6-5/300/5.16) has been using his length and agility to swim past guards and centers with enough regularity to rank in the top ten in tackles for loss (12.5) and the top 20 in sacks (five). Warren (#55/6-3/330/5.34) may be his toughest opponent yet this year, however, because he is trying to prove to NFL folks that he is difficult to move yet still has enough athleticism to redirect Wolfe away from quarterback B.J. Daniels. Wolfe's challenge will be to hold his ground when Warren comes off the ball hard in the run game, as the team wants to ride junior Colorado transfer running back Darrell Scott as often as possible.

8. Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller at Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Neither Fuller (#8/6-3/220/4.52) nor Johnson (#23/5-10/202/4.49) has made as many plays as scouts expected they would when reviewing their junior tape over the summer. But Johnson has 20 tackles over the past two weeks and Fuller appeared a bit healthier (five catches for 71 yards) in the Aggies' win over Baylor last Saturday. Even though Johnson gives up height to Fuller on the outside, he can prove to scouts he can fight for 50/50 balls and wrestle down larger receivers after the catch. Fuller, on the other hand, must not only shed Johnson and show more agility and acceleration with the ball in his hands to be considered a second-round prospect.

9. Utah DE Derrick Shelby at California LT Mitchell Schwartz
7:00 pm, Comcast Sports - Bay Area

Shelby (#90/6-3/271/4.86) was the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week after making seven tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks and a fourth-quarter interception that he returned 21 yards for the game-clinching touchdown against Pitt last week. Schwartz (#72/6-5/318/5.36), however, is one of the most underappreciated tackles in this year's class due to his agility, length, and strength as a pass protector on the left side (whether left-handed junior Zach Maynard or righty sophomore Allan Bridgford is the quarterback).

10. Tulsa LT Tyler Holmes at Rice DE Scott Solomon
7:00 pm, FSN

Before the higher-profile USC-Notre Dame and Wisconsin-Michigan State games begin Saturday night, check out Rice's high-motor Solomon (#35/6-3/270/4.79) against All-Conference USA left tackle Holmes (#78/6-4/302/5.29). Neither has the size or athleticism to hear their names called in the first five rounds of the draft, but impressive performances in a game shown across the country could earn them an invitation to a January all-star game -- which gives them a chance to show their stuff in front of NFL scouts.

Honorable Mention 

Oklahoma State C Grant Garner (#74/6-2/292/5.36) at Missouri DT Dominique Hamilton (#90/6-5/305/5.24)
12:00 pm, FX

Arkansas DE Jake Bequette (#91/6-5/271/4.62) at Ole Miss RT *Bobby Massie (#79/6-6/325/5.17
12:21 pm, SEC Network

Wake Forest CB *Kenny Okoro (#6/6-0/190/4.49) at Duke WRs Donovan Varner (#26/5-8/175/4.53), *Conner Vernon (#2/6-1/195/4.53)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

North Carolina State WR T.J. Graham (#6/5-11/180/4.36) at Virginia CB Chase Minnifield (#13/6-0/185/4.49)
3:30 pm, ESPNU

Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard (#15/5-10/205/4.49) at Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Auburn OT A.J. Greene (#77/6-5/298/5.18)/ OT Brandon Mosley (#75/6-5/305/5.22) at LSU DE Kendrick Adams (#94/6-5/255/4.87)
3:30 pm, CBS

Texas A&M CBs Coryell Judie (#5/5-11/190/4.48), Terrence Frederick (#7/5-10/187/4.52) at Iowa State WR Darius Reynolds (#7/6-1/208/4.54)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Penn State DE Jack Crawford (#81/6-5/273/4.79) at Northwestern LT Al Netter (#75/6-4/310/5.26)
7:00 pm, Big Ten Network

Tennessee DE/DT Malik Jackson (#97/6-5/270/4.82) at Alabama C William Vlachos (#73/6-1/295/5.25)
7:15 pm, ESPN2

USC DTs DaJohn Harris (#98/6-4/310/5.16) and Christian Tupou (#44/6-2/300/5.06) at Notre Dame RG Trevor Robinson (#78/6-5/312/5.27)
7:30 pm, NBC

Washington CB *Desmond Trufant (#6/6-0/185/4.49) at Stanford WR Chris Owusu (#81/6-0/200/4.48)/ WR Griff Whalen (#17/6-0/187)
8:00 pm, ABC

 

--Contributed by Senior Analyst Chad Reuter  Follow him on Twitter at @ChadReuter
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com