by Pigskin Paul Guillemette, Associate Editor/Chief Scout
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    Weekly prospects review

    December 16, 2014

    We are not far at all from the Bowl Season, but lack of college game action this past Saturday made me hungry for more. So I dug into my game recording archives and unused game notes to conjure up a few more 2015 Draft prospect thumbnails for your perusal.

    DAVID ANDREWS/OC/GEORGIA #61 6'2/295 ... It takes more than a big heart and football smarts to play in the NFL. But having those two qualities can often overcome less than ideal athleticism and size. ANDREWS will try to prove that last sentence over the next year. HC/MARK RICHT called ANDREWS the leader of his football team when asked last Fall about the hustling, heady senior. He played as a true freshman and started  full-time the last 3 seasons. He never stops hustling and does have enough quickness to get off of the ball and complete his assignments. He's also the kind of relentless player who drives those he's blocking crazy. Every UGA game I watched this past season featured some important blocks coming from the OC slot. I also saw a guy challenging and encouraging teammates to play harder in tight spots on the sidelines and between snaps. He's going to have some issues against 3-4 schemes where he may be overpowered by a big NT at the next level. But in combo blocks, he'll get the job done. He's as pumped up and big as he can probably get, but he'll get the most out of his body. I'm not even sure if he gets drafted, but once in an NFL training Camp and on a roster he will be hard to cut. Think of guys like SCOTT WELLS & JEFF SATURDAY.

    KENNY BELL/WR/NEBRASKA #80 6'1/185 .. Let's make it clear that KENNY BELL is not a star WR. He catches 3-4 balls per game and some of them are clutch catches for his team. He has better than average speed and decent hands. He will make some acrobatic high-point catches. But on the other hand he'll drop some he should catch and he will miss playing time in short batches with dings and nicks some others might play with. His game in the season ending win over Iowa was pretty typical of what he has brought to the Huskers during his 4 years in Lincoln. He caught 3 balls for 53 yards and 2 TD. For those of you a bit math-challenged that's over 17 yds per catch. In fact as a senior he averaged 17.9 yards per reception overall. He has frustrated me at times with his failure to make some plays, but usually sometime later in the game he will redeem himself. I am surprised that his name has not appeared on an All-Star game roster yet. He has enough talent and playing experience to warrant being drafted any time from Round 5 on. He could make a roster as a No. 3 or 4 NFL receiver.

    TYELER DAVISON/DT/FRESNO STATE #92 6'2/309 ... To say that the 2014 season was a struggle for the Bulldogs, minus DEREK CARR, would be an understatement. But the team rallied in the second half of the season and actually earned a Mountain West Championship date with Boise. DAVISON has struck me as a high motor, high energy player whenever I have watched Fresno State the past two seasons. He's a strong player, with good quickness, but lacks bulk and I seriously doubt he will be adding any significant weight to his frame. Therefore, I am projecting his best NFL fit as a 4-3 DT. He'll be very popular with NFL defensive coaches like ROD MARINELLI in Dallas. He can create havoc in the pocket with his quickness and tenacity. But he does understand his responsibilities and plays under control despite his high motor.  In the WAC Championship game he was credited with only 2 tackles, but 1 was a Sack & the other was a TFL. On the season he had 58 total tackles, including 12.5TFL & 8 Sacks. He created 2 FF and recovered 1. I'm still waiting for this high energy guy's name to appear on an All-Star roster. I remember S/ERIC WEDDLE being a Senior Bowl favorite a few years back because of his energy and enthusiasm, both on and off the field. I watch DAVISON play and am reminded of WEDDLE. Trying to project him into a draft slot is a bit difficult, but I suspect he will put up some solid workout numbers at the Combine and/or his Pro Day. Assuming a large number of underclassmen declarations again this January I could see DAVISON slipping into Round 4 and being quite the bargain for an NFL defense.

    KURTIS DRUMMOND/S/MICHIGAN STATE #27 6'1/200DRUMMOND  has been a productive player throughout his Spartan career. I show him now with 34 career starts. In watching about 7 of the MSU 2014 games I jotted his name down multiple times as a possible profile, but found I did not have many notes on his play at the end of the game. So I went back to make sure he had not regressed as a senior in his play. My analysis right now is that he is still a Top 100 prospect who cut down on his gambling and played a more controlled/refined game this past season. And yet for the season his stats were still very impressive in total. He led the Spartans in total tackles with 65, which seems low until you consider how many quality athletes had to split up those tackle opportunities for Sparty. He still managed to find his way to 4 INT for the season as well as 15 PBU. He's consistently productive as a back-line defender in the secondary. His tackling is solid and to the delight of HC DANTONIO he can be described as assignment sure. He can come up and play effectively in-the-box, but is even more comfortable in a deep zone coverage setting. I don't see him as a swashbuckling ball hawk but a solid all-around leader of the secondary. Mark him down as a MORGAN BURNETT type pro prospect. I am delighted to point out that he too is currently listed as a Senior Bowl participant.

    ELI HAROLD/DE/LB/VIRGINIA #7 6'3/245The CAVS defense played at a high level most of the 2014 season, enough so that the team came very close to being Bowl eligible, despite a fairly anemic offense. I watched the team play 4 times and was very impressed with the individual talent on display in their defense. HAROLD was a serious force in providing pressure on opposing QB from his DE slot. On the season he recorded 54 total tackles which included 14.5TFL/7 sacks. He looks to be a flexible athlete who just may be able to make the transition to standing up as an OLB in a 3-4 NFL scheme. Indeed, they dropped HAROLD into coverage at times and he recorded an INT as well as several PBU. He has good ball awareness and pursues from sideline to sideline. He's a hard tackler who forced 1 fumble and recovered 2 others on the season. He reminds me a bit of MELVIN INGRAM a few years back at South Carolina, in the sense that his athleticism may allow an NFL defense to move him around so that he may be more than just a long down, pass rushing threat. He's got enough going for him to make me think he'll have a chance to be a Friday draftee if his workout numbers look good from the Combine.

    DEZMIN LEWIS/WR/CENTRAL ARKANSAS #5 6'4/210 ... All-Star action is a great opportunity to more closely eyeball some of the nations top small school pro prospects. LEWIS, who is listed as attending the Senior Bowl in January, is a good example of such a player. He has a golden chance to jump up and get League-wide attention in Mobile. In the season opener CENTRAL was supposed to play patsy for TEXAS TECH, but ended up surprising the Red Raiders and only losing by a TD, at 35-42. The tall, rangy, physically impressive LEWIS was a big part of the CAU offense with 7 catches for 105 yards. LEWIS displayed good hands and excellent ball skills. He high pointed several throws and also worked the sideline effectively. He showed good, if not great, speed and the ability to screen defenders off the ball allowing him to make the catch. Like my experience with several other small school wideouts over the years, he also showed a willingness and ability to block effectively, which is an NFL must on most teams. Clearly, I have a very limited body of work to scrutinize right now, but this guy looks like the real deal. He will be a focal point for me in Mobile and looks initially to have early Saturday draft potential. Think ALSHON JEFFERY in style of play.

    MARCUS PETERS/CB/WASHINGTON #21 6'0/200 ... You can bet your bottom dollar that PETERS will officially declare for the 2015 Draft as soon as he can. He has been dismissed from the Huskies program for a series of scuffles with the first year coaching staff of Chris Petersen. The new boss isn't aways the same as the old boss, but this is cause for concern for scouts. PETERS  managed to make it through 8 games of the 12 game season before being sent packing. So of course this sets up the situation where his interview work with teams over the next 4-5 months will be a major factor in his Draft evaluation. On the field he looks like a solid NFL CB prospect. He has good size and appears to have the quickness and body control to play at the pro level. He looks most comfortable in press/man-cover situations, but sees the ball well and reacts in zone coverage as well. He is solid in run support, but picks his spots. In game film of him against HAWAII I saw him playing fairly deep (10-15 yards) zone coverage until he sniffed out a screen pass, at which point he "flew" up to tackle the receiver behind the line of scrimmage. PETERS also shows some potential as a zone blitzer off the edge. He's physical with receivers, but isn't penalty prone. He also shows good hands to fight for possession of the ball. Through his 8 games with the Huskies this past season, he had 30 tackles, 4TFL, 3 INT and 10 PD. He had 5INT during the 2013 season. I've seen him ranked as a potential first rounder and can't say I totally disagree. But his off-the-field issues will raise some serious red flags, at least with some segment of the NFL personnel department community. Let's project him right now as Round 2/3.

    LYNDEN TRAIL/DE/LB/NORFOLK STATE #7 6'6/260 ... The 5th year senior has been getting a reasonable amount of hype recently as a serious small-school prospect. He has already accepted an invite to play in the Senior Bowl this coming January. So I looked up some film of him in this years game with Bethune-Cookman. Quite frankly, I did not see anything to get excited about. I had to blink twice to make sure the tape was not in slow motion on some plays. He has played primarily with his hand down, and clearly that will not work for his prospects as a pro. He is very long, but also very lean. Other than a speed, outside rush he was handled repeatedly at the line of scrimmage by blockers. He looked far from enthusiastic about getting to the ball to make tackles. I would like to tell you that he's in need of some serious pro coaching and this was an off day for him. But I can't say either with any certainly right now. I am hoping that he opens my eyes with his work in Mobile. We can always use another talented prospect to feed the pro game. But right now I'm on record as saying I ddi not see anything against BCU to justify some of the recent buzz about him.

    DEMIEN WILSON/ILB/MINNESOTA #5 6'2/240 ... I have all the respect in the world for HC/JERRY KILL at Minnesota. But folks he isn't winning there simply by confusing opponents with smoke and mirrors. He has some quality players in that program and LB/WILSON is one of those. What I don't understand is the seeming lack of luv that WILSON and his play amongst NFL scouts. I rarely see his name on any prospect lists nor do I hear his name in conversations. Yet in watching multiple Gophers games last Fall his play was hard to miss. The first thing I noticed was that he seemed fast for his size and never stopped running. He looked like a guy who would run 5 miles chasing the ball before the game was over. Some of his hits were ferocious and he did not hesitate to stick his head into any tackling pile. He looked to be a smart player who has a feel for the flow of game. He ended the year 3rd in the Big 10 in total tackles with 111. Included were 10.5 TFL/4 sacks. He proved he could drop into short middle coverage with 1 INT & 3 PBU. He is cousin to Gophers RB DAVID COBB. He looks best suited to play on the Inside in a 3-4 NFL scheme, and looks like a natural for every Special Teams unit on his team. Clearly a Saturday draftee to me and unless he runs incredibly slowly in shorts at his Pro Day I see him in about Round 5/6. Might look good in a PACKERS uniform IMO.

    Protected: NFL Coaching Carousel… Hot Seats/AFC!

    Last week we took a look at the NFC head coaches and where they stand relative to job security. This time around it’s the AFC.

    BALTIMORE: It is hard to imagine that anyone is more secure right now than JOHN HARBAUGH. He possesses his brother’s passion, but is less explosive and combatant. He is also a good soldier to highly acclaimed GM OZZIE NEWSOME. All is good here.

    BUFFALO: New BILLS ownership may be facing some organizational decisions sooner than he might like. DOUG MARRONE is clearly the strongest, most forthright coach the BILLS have had in a long time. His mentality as an ex-O lineman fits the blue collar image of upstate New York. But word has leaked out of some infighting between MARRONE and some longtime BILLS yes men to Ralph Wilson. In my opinion, given the play-off drought in Buffalo some long timers need to go before MARRONE does.

    CINCINNATI: You can’t argue with the stability and overall winning ways MARVIN LEWIS has brought to a once floundering organization over the past decade. But sometime soon he really needs to crank it up and win a game or two in the post-season. He’s safe for now, but something has to change.

    CLEVELAND: MIKE PETTINE looks like a solid match for the BROWNS fan mentality, as represented in the Dog Pound. A little more stability above him in this organization would be helpful, but he has to be safe right now.

    DENVER: JOHN FOX is a solid NFL coach and as long as he has PEYTON running the Offense all is good. But long term, things could get interesting for FOX when PEYTON finally leaves town.

    HOUSTON: Just as expected BILL O’BRIEN looks and talks the part of a fiery leader with lots of football savvy. He comes across as a natural and i think the pressure has shifted in Houston onto the shoulders of GM SMITH if things don’t improve soon. By the way, what are the chances owner BOB McNAIR is whispering to SMITH & O’BRIEN how good RG3 might look in a Houston uniform?

    INDIANAPOLIS: CHUCK PAGANO is a smart leader of men, and has the locker room in Indy. But RYAN GRIGSON/GM has to do a better job of bringing in more solid talent. Lots of bandaids are being applied around the roster. Many assume GRIGSON gets too much help from Jim Irsay, who loves big name guys like TRENT RICHARDSON too much. Things are stable in Indy, and LUCK covers up a lot of flaws with his play.

    JACKSONVILLE: Most of the upper management team is new and that’s a good thing in Jax. GUS BRADLEY is a clone of Pete Carroll with positive vibes and high energy. Progress appears to be under way. The next two drafts are critical, and BRADLEY should be around to work with those players.

    KANSAS CITY: ANDY REID is doing more with less than any coach in the NFL right now. Even if they are taking a step backwards this season the team of DORSEY/REID is secure.

    MIAMI: This is a tough one to call. Most say JOE PHILBIN is a different guy after the INCOGNITO/MARTIN debacle that embarrassed not just Owner Ross, but the Shield as well. Many think that the coaching seat is hotter than you might expect. If the team continues to lose down the stretch, like last year Philbin could be gone.

    NEW ENGLAND: The KRAFT/BELICHICK partnership has been incredibly fruitful. I;d still like to see another strong personnel voice re-introduced into the picture, but BELICHICK will remain as Emperor For Life at least til BRADY retires.

    NEW YORK JETS: A meddling owner, and sudden talk that no one in the organization like GM IDZIK after just two years has raised a smoke screen, but clearly REX RYAN is a Dead Coach Walking. Rex will make a great DC for some NFL team in 2015 or 2016.

    OAKLAND: It’s hard to imagine TONY SPARANO getting the interim title upgraded… just because. But if GM Reggie McKenzie can’t get himself a top name guy he might just sit tight with Tony until he gets more talent on board. It’s not like candidates are knocking his doors down to get the Raiders job anymore.

    PITTSBURGH: I think Mike Tomlin believes strawberry ice cream is an exotic flavor, and coaches that way as well. But in a franchise that prides itself on stability Tomlin has absolute job security for the foreseeable future.

    SAN DIEGO: MIKE McCOY is a boy wonder Head Coach who looks like a long time hire. The Spanos family has bigger issues to deal with in their stadium battles with the City/County of San Diego. The young team of TELESCO/McCOY is golden right now.

    TENNESSEE: I’m still not sold here but the organization certainly owes KEN WHISENHUNT another year or two on the job while they try to upgrade his marginal roster talent. A big concern in Nashville is whether QB Whisperer Whisenhunt has a true NFL caliber QB to whisper sweet nothings to right now. But that’s not Ken’s fault.

    December 10
    SAM  ARNESON/TE/WISCONSIN #49 6'4/250 ... This just in... the Badgers have an NFL TE prospect for the next NFL Draft. Well, that shouldn't be a bulletin in light of names like DANIELS, GRAHAM, KENDRICKS, etc. But it is news of a sort because ARNESON is a true inline, blocking TE, who can catch the ball in his spare time. ARNESON didn't set the world on fire this year statistically with 27 catches for 354 yards and 4 TD, but please consider the QBs delivering the ball. For an NFL team looking for a solid TE in a weak year at the position ARNESON should have real value in the closing rounds of the May Draft. His style of play and overall abilities may compare favorably to Seattle's LUKE WILLSON. I am a bit dismayed to not find his name on an All-STar roster list yet!

    JAMES CASTLEMAN/DT/OKLAHOMA STATE #91 6'2/300 ... In the newest collegiate dictionary it might as well feature a picture of CASTLEMAN right next to the word 'workmanlike'. Just like ARNESON above he's not an elite prospect by any measure. But for an NFL team running a 4-3 defensive scheme that lacks depth and wants a lunch pail toting warrior to add depth to their interior DL rotation CASTLEMAN might just be their man. He was the rock/foundation of the Cowboys D from his DT spot. In 12 games he totaled 42 tackles, including 7 TFL, 2.5 sacks and 3 QBH. He also managed to get an INT and blocked 3 kicks on special teams. He's a vocal leader and high energy guy as well. He goes out and does his job week-in and week-out. It might be hard to vote him as defensive player of the week in any one game, but the body of his work indicates a plugger who will give high effort and get results. I'm eager to see him at the Shrine venue in January.

    SPENCER DRANGO/OT/BAYLOR #58 6'5/315 ... Some folks are a bit wary of Baylor OL because of the pass-happy scheme they are perceived to employ. But they also run he ball a lot, and DRANGO (whose name just cries out to play for a Texas pro team) has the length and footwork to block effectively in any type attack. He may not knock people out of their stance with his hand punch, but he mirrors quite well in pass-pro and can get after it in the running game. He stays on his feet and can get around to pull or downfield for second level blocks. DRANGO also looks to be very aware of the action around him and will leave his assignment block to help out further down field. He's probably the best OL prospect Baylor has produced during the BRILES regime. Medical at Indy will be important because a back injury that cost him time.His overall work was impressive as usual against a tough K-State defense last Saturday. He's a very good athlete with big upside, who excites most scouts. It really helps him to have played in a team that required him to be proficient in both run and pass blocking. Not a whole lot of pass rush pressure comes through the LT spot on QB/PETTY. Looks like a probable 2nd Rounder, with a chance at late Round 1.

    JAKE FISHER/OT/OREGON #75 6'6/295 ... The Ducks, especially MARCUS MARIOTA, really got on a roll when FISHER got back into the starting line-up around mid-season after losing time to injury. The tall, long one is another example of what I consider to be the NFL LT of the present/future. A long, athletic player who weighs a bit over 300 lbs. (which FISHER will after in an NFL training regimen) and who relies more on footwork and quickness than brute strength. Athleticism has become more important than bulk at most OT spots around the League. FISHER reminds me a lot of ANTHONY CASTONZO coming out of BC. He has been a part of the hi-tech Oregon offense since his true freshman season and has been a starter since his sophomore campaign. I have seen his name all over the place on prospect ranking charts, but suspect that he is moving up most charts as we head for the bowl season. Right now he is listed as having accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl, which would be a smart move for him since actual NFL coaches preside over that venue. A good showing in Mobile and some athletic numbers at the Combine could propel FISHER solidly into late Round 1 draft status.

    AUSTIN HILL/WR/ARIZONA #29 6'2/210 ... Back in 2012, when HILL was a soph. he blew things up with 81 catches for 1364 yards and 11 TD. He looked to be a big name star ascending until he blew out a knee (ACL) and was lost for the entire 2013 season. He came back this season and improved physically over time, as was to be expected. He ended the season with 45 catches for 605 yards and 4 TD. He is not a speedster, but has good hands and can really rack up yards after catch with strength and some elusiveness. His biggest test this post season is likely to be how he looks at the Shrine Game and his medical reports in Indy. He's borderline Top 100, and likely to get pushed out when the flood of juniors starts. There wasn't much chance to get a good look at him in the big Loss to Oregon as the Wildcats Offense struggled mightily and even changed their QB mid-game. He caught 3 balls for 19 yards, which reflects a lot more on his team than him personally. He is a player whose off-season numbers will mean a lot to his draft ranking.

    CHRISTION JONES/WR/RS/ALABAMA #22 5'11/190 ... JONES is considered to be one of the top all-around speed threats on the SEC. His speed and quickness combine to make him a weapon as a Punt returner, Kick returner and a Wide Receiver. As a marked man coming off an exceptional 2013 season, his numbers in 2014 as a returner were a step back as teams kicked away from him whenever possible. In 2013 he averaged 14 yds per punt return and  28,7 yds per kick return, in addition to 36 catches. In 2014 BLAKE SIMS only had eyes for AMARI COOPER in the passing game, to the tune of over 100 catches. As a result JONES catch total slipped to 19 and only 1 TD this season. But my guess is he will get some prospect luster back when he puts up some impressive speed and quickness numbers at the Combine and/or his Pro Day. He made some big plays against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game and has perhaps 2 more big games to display his wares. Some pro team could get a late round value in JONES come May.

    JOSUE MATIAS/OG/FLORIDA STATE #70 6'6/330 ... There is very little extra praise to throw around when your entire OL is All-Conference, except for the 5-Star true frosh that you can't keep off the field. But trust me when I say NFL Personnel people are well aware of his ability. Playing in a high powered pro style offense for the Seminoles works to his advantage of course. Has been a starter since his true sophomore season, never red shirting. MATIAS is certainly not the quickest OL in the country, but his length helps him offset some initial quickness off the ball. He can be a real road grader in the run game due to his mental makeup and his bull strength. Although it's a very subjective stat MATIAS is generally acknowledged as the leading pancake blocker on the FSU line. Was recently named second team All-ACC. MATIAS, like most interior OL toils in relative obscurity most of the time but will get 3rd or 4th Round attention next May when the NFL Draft rolls around.

    JOEY MBU/DT/HOUSTON #92 6'3/315 .... Unless you are a real draftnik or college football fan you may not have heard of MBU, who has toiled away in the often ignored American Athletic Conference. But he has been on NFL scouting radar since a solid junior season in 2013. He has an incredibly thick, strong middle body from his knees to his lower chest. He neutralizes the line-of-scrimmage as an immovable object for the Cougars. He can get a bit of push at times, but he looks to be limited somewhat from what appear to be relatively short arms. We'll see when those arms and hands get measured at the Senior Bowl venue which he has indicated he will attend. MBU gives good effort but is limited in his pursuit ability because of girth and short, stout legs. I don't see MBU as a true NT despite his build. For 2014 his personal stats are quite interesting: 12G - 31T - 4.5TFL - 2.5 Sacks - 1 INT - 4 PBU - 1 QBH. His stats confirm that he is well aware of what the QB is doing in the pocket and though not an elite inside pass-rush threat gets his arms/hands up to obscure QB sight/throwing lanes.

    QUAYSHAWN NEALY/LB/GEORGIA TECH #54 6'1/235 ... NEALY has been an every down LB for Tech since his RS Freshman year. He has over 40 starts to his credit. Has improve his tackle totals every season topping out with 90 in 2014. He's always around the ball and can pressure the pocket. This season he was credited with 8 TFL, 4 sacks, 1 INT and 3 forced fumbles. He works hard, but is assignment sure per his coaches. In Tech's big overtime win over Georgia NEALY chipped in with 9 tackles, 1 forced fumble & 1 PBU. He is not an elite pro prospect because he's not special in any specific skill area. But he contributes in so many ways that he should add value to the bottom third of an NFL roster immediately. I have little doubt after watching TECH in action 5 times this year that he can be a Special Teams contributor right away and work into some sub-packages from scrimmage. His size will limit him somewhat in the NFL, but his versatility and accountability should work to his advantage. Look for him around Round 5/6.

    QUINTEN ROLLINS/CB/MIAMI (O) #2 6'0/205 ... It was a real task to watch a MIami (O) football game this year as he team stumbled it's way to another big losing season at 2-10, after going winless in 2013. But it was worth it to watch the senior sensation who decided to play football this season after an illustrious basketball career as a defensive force to be reckoned with. ROLLINS blew things up in his college football debut. Playing at CB through 11 games he had 66 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 FF, 14 PD and 5 INT. To say he was a revelation to NFL personnel people would be an understatement. His ball-hawking ability is not quite as surprising as his willingness to stick his nose into the action in run support. Luckily for all of us he was invited to the Senior Bowl, by popular NFL pro scout demand, and will be on display, under pro coaching in Mobile. He's already not a sleeper any more by any measure, but the chance to see him in practice and game action against the football big boys in Mobile is just what everyone wants to see. The buzz over ROLLINS is tremendous in scouting circles right now. Trying to figure out how high he has to be taken by teams who really want him is now the question that begs scrutiny. Remember this name when Senior Bowl Week rolls around in January.

    DEVIN SMITH/WR/OHIO STATE #9 6'0/200 ... In 2013 a guy named COREY BROWN emerged as the Buckeyes most productive WR. By and large NFL scouts missed on his breakout year and he went undrafted. He made the PANTHERS this fall as an URFA. Meet DEVIN SMITH, who despite the Ohio State QB shuffle this season jumped from 44 catches and 8 TD as second fiddle to BROWN in 2013 to being the team's deadly, big play WR in 2014. His  reception total dropped to 30 catches this season, but he took those catches to an average of 26.6 yards per catch, and 11 TD. His work last Saturday night in the blowout over Wisconsin was typical of his fine season. He caught 4 passes, but for 137 yards and 3 TD. I'm most eager to see his 40-time at the Combine. He may make a great NFL wideout/No. 3 receiver to stretch the field in an NFL offense. I'd also like to see him get a shot as a Kick Returner at the next level as well. He might sneak into Round 3 for the right team, but I'd guess R4/5 would be his most likely draft spot. No matter what, he has the smooth speed to transition easily into an NFL Offense. He helped beat the stuffing out of the Badgers secondary, but PACKERS fans probably wouldn't mind seeing this guy help Aaron Rodgers stretch the field next season in Lambeau. I'm still waiting for an All-Star tilt to sign him up.

    TERRY WILLIAMS/NT/EAST CAROLINA #54 6'0/350 ... I would be the first guy to admit that this bowling ball needs to shed about 20-30 lbs., depending upon what he really weighs currently. But I would also tell you after watching him in 3 ECU games this past Fall, he is a productive/destructive force in the middle of their 3-4 DL. I would also tell you that he is high energy and despite playing over weight, he hustles and finishes plays more often than many of his teammates. He's built low to the ground with a massive base and does not get knocked off of his feet. He plugs the middle and then pushes blockers into the pocket or ball carrier. He can be neutralized, but very seldom pushed off his spot. You might expect him to disappear in the 4th quarter from fatigue, but his play looks the same to me no matter what time in the game you focus on him. WILLIAMS seems to take/get no more blows on the sideline than his line mates. He more than held his own against UCF in the season finale for ECU. It's getting late in the process, but I would still like to see him in action at a post-season All-Star game. I think he's pretty similar to NT/BRANDON WILLIAMS who wowed us at the Senior Bowl in 2013 with his strength and girth,sub-packages and now anchors the DL in Baltimore. If he can find an agent who will send him to a performance camp in January, we might really see something from this young man at around 330 lbs. or so at his Pro Day. Might be draftable in Round 7 for a 3-4 team, more likely an URFA.


    December 4

    We have more than a month to go in the NFL regular season, but if MOCKS are popping up all over the place already why not a projection of the annual Coaching Carousel that will soon be under way around the League?! Here are some quick thumbnails on who is safe, who is not and who's dangling in the wind per Pigskin Paul.


    ARIZONA: Even as the CARDS look to be fading, primarily because of injuries, the BIDWELL family has to recognize they have an almost miracle worker running the team in the trenches in BRUCE ARIANS, and that GM STEVE KEIM is still working on strengthening the overall roster. But things are on the uptick in Arizona and folks are safe.

    ATLANTA: Mike Smith must have his toes dangling off the cliff's edge. His team in 5-7 and currently holds a Play-Off spot, but Owner Arthur Blank sees his team heading in the wrong direction. Both SMITH and GM DIMITROFF will get heavy scrutiny from BLANK the rest of the season. He has a new stadium getting ready to open and NFL Vet executive RICHIE McKAY in tow as an advisor to DIMITROFF. BLANK could blow this thing up, getting rid of SMITH & DIMITROFF, and let McKAY try a quick retool.

    CAROLINA: The team caught a break last season when it seemed RON RIVERA pushed all the right buttons. But new GM DAVE GETTLEMAN gutted his club this past off-season and CAM NEWTON must feel abandoned most of the time. GETTLEMAN is going to need more of Owner JERRY RICHARDSON's money to supplement the talent base this off-season. Whether or not he gets the money RIVERA should be safe, but next season could be rough again.

    CHICAGO: MARC TRESTMAN did not go from genius to idiot in one year. GM PHIL EMERY tried to rebuild his DL this year and it did not work. Now he faces almost an entire defensive rebuild next year. But I think EMERY still wants TRESTMAN around while he shuffles the roster again.

    DALLAS: JASON GARRETT may not quite be the genius GM JERRY JONES think s he is, but he is a solid, steady leader with good assistants. He should be safe for now, although I think it is just a matter of time before he becomes the sacrificial lamb for the bumbling GM, who just happens to write the checks.

    DETROIT: The LIONS have progressed under JIM CALDWELL, and his calm professional manner has the LIONS contending despite some roster holes. GM MAYHEW should be the one in trouble if a head must roll.

    GREEN BAY: Let's move along to the next team, while MIKE McCARTHY counts the years and dollars in his mid-season contract extension.

    MINNESOTA: MIKE ZIMMER has done some nice things in stabilizing his team's play and making things look much more organized from top to bottom. SPIELMAN has given him lots of young talent to work with. Things need to be left in place while the PETERSON soap opera plays out.

    NEW ORLEANS: SEAN PAYTON gets some heat because he has lots of input with GM MICKEY LOOMIS, but they can still win the bad SEC South over the next month. Long term there are storm clouds on the horizon in the bayou, but for now PAYTON is secure.

    NEW YORK GIANTS: More than a few folks think that the MARA/TISCH regime should have walked COUGHLIN out of the building a few seasons ago, but this ownership group is tight and believes in the "Giants Family". But after all this time it sure looks like the message in the locker room and the plan on the field have both gotten stale. COUGHLIN has purged his coaching staff in recent years with no noticeable uptick on the field of play. With all due respect the time has come for a change, but will MARA pull the trigger?!

    PHILADELPHIA: Much to the surprise of many the transition of CHIP KELLY and his coaching designs from college to pro looks just about seamless. Most amazingly of all it doesn't even seem to matter who his QB is from month to month. This guy is a major keeper, and an innovator deluxe. JEFF LURIE might even keep the team.

    ST. LOUIS: JEFF FISHER is as respected as it gets in the NFL. And he keeps  mediocre teams competitive. He and LES SNEAD work well together. We'll see what they do to fix the QB situation next season, but FISHER isn't going anywhere soon, because expectations are minimal... for now.

    SAN FRANCISCO: Whether it's a firing, a trade or a resignation it sure seems like the HARBAUGH days by the bay are numbered. He may be the Billy Martin of football with his overall winning ways but ability to run everyone the wrong way over time, including his bosses.

    SEATTLE: The Seahawks will have to start losing big time for PETE CARROLL to be in trouble because his enthusiasm allows him to make everyone believe in him. But he and SCHNEIDER seem a bit smug at times, and that could bite them eventually. But this is a good team that plays hard & smart most weeks.

    TAMPA BAY: The BUCS knew what they were getting in LOVIE SMITH; a conservative, defense oriented HC who needs lots of talent to succeed. He may not last much longer, but it's too soon to annul this GLAZER/SMITH reunion after only 1 season.

    WASHINGTON: I have questioned the JAY GRUDEN hiring from Day One. He's the wrong GRUDEN. He has JON's sarcastic sense of humor and acerbic tongue, but without the NFL cache'. He'll fire his defensive staff, and juggle the QB situation for another year, but I look for he and BRUCE ALLEN to be gone by the end of 2015. DANIEL SNYDER isn't totally knee jerk, but he doesn't procrastinate either.


    December 2

    KAELIN CLAY/RS/WR/UTAH #8 5'10/190 ... CLAY first caught my eye earlier in the season after Utah had beaten Michigan & UCLA to get my attention as a team. The JC recruit was busting things open with some swerving/curling return work against Oregon State and USC. Most recently, with the season ending injury to DRES ANDERSON, the team's No. 1 receiver, CLAY has gotten reps as a wideout and used his speed and quickness to get open and pile up some yards after catch. Players with his explosiveness are in high demand in today's NFL. His return work and skill set that fits the model of a slot receiver is attractive. He should pop some eyeballs during speed and agility drills at the Combine, or his Pro Day for the UTES. For the season CLAY returned 19 punts for an average of 17.7-ypr and 3 TD. He stepped up big time as a receiver in the finale @ Colorado. He caught 10 balls, for 88 yards and 2 TD. His progress from JC to starting WR and PR man should be enough to have caught the eyes of many personnel people. I have to believe that he now has an excellent chance to be drafted, albeit in a later round.

    SAMMIE COATES/WR/AUBURN #18 6'2/210 ... I watched COATES several times back in September and saw a supremely talented athlete who was trying get by on speed alone. His ability to locate and catch the ball was average, at best. In the past month I have been impressed with the progress he has made as a receiver. He can still take the top end off a defense because of his speed. He's a smooth runner, who has that extra gear. And now he's finding the ball in the air sooner and adjusting to it to make the catch. This has helped increase the target area he presents to his QB tremendously. He burned ALABAMA deep 4 times in the Iron Bowl. He caught 5 balls, for 206 yards. That's a spiffy 41-yards per catch. COATES pulled in two deep balls for TDs of 34 & 68 yards. He just blew past 'Bama defenders in the secondary. It should also be noted that Auburn has several other top receivers for QB/MARSHALL, meaning a few less targets for COATES. He looks and plays bigger than his size numbers and I think he'll post a very fast 40-time for his length at the Combine. I have been converted to a believer in 3 months time. COATES has improved markedly this season. This guy is a potential First Rounder next May and should exit Auburn to go pro.

    DANTE' FOWLER/DE/OLB/FLORIDA #6 6'3/260 ... FOWLER is what I consider a "flash player". He will be a non-factor for a quarter at a time and then make 2-3 plays in the next quarter. Since his main skill is as a pass rusher that scenario may be acceptable to some NFL teams in their attempt to pressure opposing QB. He did get moved around the defensive formation for the Gators, even standing up at times and dropping into pass coverage. He certainly is not relentless in his play all the time to my eyes. He paces himself a bit more than NFL coaches will like. His best value may come as a situational player who is told to go all out for a few plays them rested. He needs to tighten up his tackling fundamentals. He will get overpowered and neutralized too often on running plays. He certainly had some impact on WINSTON of FSU in the pocket on Saturday, but was not a consistently dominant player. The key with FOWLER will be his willingness to work harder and accept coaching as a pro. NFL teams will likely have to make up their minds on FOWLER in the coming months, because I doubt he goes back to Gainesville for a new coaching regime. A good team that can play him in spots could ratIonalize taking him in Rounds 2/3, but a team looking for full-time starters could be in for frustration with FOWLER. He has potential, but productivity means a lot more in the NFL than potential.

    KEVIN HOGAN/QB/STANFORD #8 6'4/230 ... If you look at game tape and/or stats for HOGAN in the upset win over UCLA you can see why he is considered a solid NFL prospect by many. In a game controlled by the Stanford D and a solid running attack HOGAN was solid in completing 16/19, 84%, 234 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT. That is what HOGAN is capable of when the game is under control and he doesn't have to win it on his own. But what has concerned me the past two years is his inability to win the big one with the pressure on his right arm and head. His 2014 campaign has been his personal best, but the team around him has lost way too many close ones. For the full 12 game 2014 season he was 218/332 - 65.6% - 2603 yds, 17 TD - 8 INT. He is also a decent running option if the pocket breaks down. But watching him from week to week has been very frustrating for me. Barring a QB-whisperer miracle as a pro, at his best HOGAN looks like the next ANDY DALTON. And based on most of DALTON's big game performances that is not a compliment. He has the option to return to school for another year, but I'm not sure what more he can learn under SHAW's coaching staff and that style of play. If a pro career is his next step in life then he might as well come out and get to Mobile to work with a pro coaching staff. I wouldn't be drafting him any sooner than Round 4 though.

    JIMMIE HUNT/WR/MISSOURI #88 6'0/215 ... People have been underestimating the talent on this Mizzou team since they entered the SEC. But if you peruse some NFL rosters you will find the Tigers well represented in the HC/Pinkel years. With some creative wrinkles the PINKEL regime has created an Offense that can throw and run with equal effectiveness. Each year they seem to have multiple prospects at WR & RB, and 2014 is no exception. HUNT appeals to me the most in the current group based on his consistent play and his explosiveness and strength to the ball. In their showdown with resurgent Arkansas, HUNT did his part with 5 catches for 61 yards and a TD. He's a husky looking guy who surprises defenders with his speed and quickness. For the season HUNT averaged 15.6 yds/catch to lead the team. He was banged up for several games, but stayed on the field for the most part and played the decoy role. He is also a solid blocking presence. He will probably need to prove to NFL personnel people that he has sub 4.5-speed in the 40 to get drafted. If he can't do that I suspect he will be an URFA, but will compete had for a roster spot next summer. He is a guy who could greatly benefit from All-Star Game exposure at any venue.

    ARIE KOUANDJIO/OG/ALABAMA #77 6'5/315 ... With his brother graduated and on the BILLS roster, ARIE has become the leader of the 'Bama OL. He played well against Auburn and drew attention and praise from MUSBURGER/PALMER during their telecast of the Iron Bowl. ARIE is huge, but has decent, though limited, mobility for his size. It takes him a while to get that body moving, but he is really hard get past or around for defenders. Some of that is due to very long and strong arms, which he uses effectively without holding his opponents in the trenches. Stays on his feet and is smart in response to stunts and loops by defenders. He can get to second level blocks, if he gets a good jump at the snap. ARIE is experienced enough to keep his head on a swivel and see what is going on around him. He's best in a short area, so OG suits him well. For my taste, this guy is underrated by many and has a good chance to start in the NFL, perhaps right away for a needy team. If he can show some decent movement at the Combine he could crack into Round 3 of the May Draft.

    JEREMY LANGFORD/RB/MICHIGAN STATE #33 6'0/205 ... Say hello to one of college footballs most consistent runners who just isn't flashy enough to grab headlines with guys like Yeldon, Gordon  & Gurley around. The former DB just finished off the 2014 season with his 9th straight 100+ yard rushing game against a gritty Penn State defense. For the season he carried the ball 249 times for 1360 yards and 19 TD. That's a solid 5.5ypc average. He's also a decent receiver though he's seldom used in that role by HC DANTONIO. He's been Mr. Reliable for the Spartans gaining 1422 yards as a junior. But he's not a speedster, nor is he a bulldozer. Those two details concern pro scouts. But he runs with excellent balance and seems to see the whole field enabling him to avoid some tacklers in the open field. LANGFORD has average speed but very good quickness to get through the hole. His jump-cut is impressive and most of the time he has just enough speed to turn the corner. He's a strong runner for his size and will punish DB who try to tackle him. He may not break many 30 yard runs, but he can churn out some 15-20 yarders with regularity. He reminds me of JOE RANDLE from OKlahoma State, who runs as a back-up right now for the Cowboys. If a run on RB (excuse the pun) should occur early in the 2015 Draft, LANGFORD could find himself in the Top 100. If he's faster and more explosive at the Combine than we all think right now he could solidify a Round 3 grade. He's currently committed to the Senior Bowl.

    SHAQUILLE MASON/OG/GERGIA TECH #70 6'1/310 ... MASON is an excellent run blocker, as you might expect at Tech, with better than average athleticism. He fires off the ball and can get to second level blocks in a heart beat. He's built low to the ground and plays there much of the time. With his quickness and strength he rocks defenders with his initial hit. Stays on his feet and gets good leverage because of his low pad level. He will need work on his pass-pro which he seldom uses in Paul Johnson's system. But given his overall ability and smarts it should not take long for him to become adequate at protecting his QB from an inside pass-rush as a pro. I think he will be the exception to the recent trend of Tech OL not working out at the NFL level. As long as he goes to a power running scheme, or as close as there is to that in today's NFL, he should have a chance to win a starting OG position in a couple of seasons. He will be limited to the interior exclusively because of his lack of height & length. That could well mean he only gets a few years to prove himself, because he's not going to be a multiple position game day back-up. I look for him in Round 4-6 n May.

    DAMIAN SWANN/CB/GEORGIA #5 5'11/180 .. SWANN is a smart, experienced DB with decent athleticism and good instincts. He's been a 3-year starter on a talented UGA defensive unit. He showed his value in the OT Loss to Tech on Saturday. He scored a defensive TD against Tech when he scooped up a fumble at his own team's 1 yard line and scampered 99-yards for a TD. At the time it totally flipped the field for his defense which was on its heels. Though recording only 3 INT in 2014 he is around the ball a lot and breaks up a lot of would be catches. SWANN had 8 PBU in 2013. He is also not hesitant to join the fray in run support. This season he ranked 4th overall in tackles for the  Bulldogs with 62. SWANN also looks to have some potential value as a pro in a zone blitz role. In 2014 he racked up 4.5 TFL and 2 sacks. At the least he should have the potential to provide an NFL team with a slot position cover man, as well as other sub packages and Special Teams play. Early in his UGA career he returned punts part time. He is scheduled to play in the SHRINE Game in January. He has a chance to go s early as Round 3, but given the expected glut on underclassmen likely to declare he could end up being an early Saturday selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. I really like this guys attitude and hard/smart play.

    ANTHONY TELFER/TE/SOUTHERN CAL #82 6'4/250 ... In a big year for the TE class TELFER would likely end up as an URFA. But this year anyone needing a good young TE is going to have to dig deep in the prospect depth charts. What makes TELFER interesting is that he is a good athlete, who can and will block in addition to running patterns. I've seen him do some nice receiving work on the sidelines, which isn't normally a strong suit for true inline TE. His day's work in the blowout win against Notre Dame was 3 catches, for 28 yards and a TD. He is a long target with good, not great hands, as a receiver. He is also a willing, effective blocker both in the running game and downfield for the wideouts and runners. What you see on tape is probably what you'll get in Training Camp from this guy. If he can post some solid numbers at the Combine, and play effectively in an All-Star game he might get drafted late next May.

    JAMES VAUGHTERS/DE/OLB/STANFORD #9 6'2/255 ... This superior athlete, with that highly coveted pass rush ability is drawing attention and curiosity as he technically enters the Draft process without an NFL position. He's listed as playing the "RUSH" slot for the Stanford D. He plays at times with his hand down, but most often standing up. But much of the time when standing up he is on the line of scrimmage and ready to penetrate into the backfield. He was a significant player in Stanford's big win over UCLA. He held the edge well on his side of the field and brought some pressure to bear on HUNDLEY on several occasions. Playing part time and in a specific role VAUGHTERS played in all 12 games in 2013 recording 46 tackles, 9 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 1 FF, 3 QBH & 3 PBU. Clearly he has good all around athleticism, but he's too small to play full time as a DE. His best pro slot would appear to be in a 3-4 scheme as a stand-up OLB. So now NFL personnel people must evaluate his ability to play some of his time in reverse. We know what he can do going forward and it is promising. I would expect him to get drafted unless he falls on his face at his Pro Day, but right now I can see him going anywhere between the 4th and 7th Round. It certainly would help to classify him as a pro prospect if he were to get a roster slot at the Shrine venue.

    JAKE WATERS/QB/KANSAS STATE #15 6'1/210 .. Even if JAMEIS WNSTON & MARCUS MARIOTA enter the 2015 Draft the quality QB group for the 2015 Draft is pretty thin. So that has had me scrambling to find some project QB prospects to draft late and compete for back-up spots in NFL Training Camps. The light just went on in my head this past weekend that even though I have touted WATERS for the CFL, he may be able to give the NFL an initial whirl. His size is less than ideal, but there are lots of back-ups in the League who are smaller than him. His arm is at least average, as is his accuracy. A good QB coach might be able to help clean up some of his technique flaws and thus improve his overall throwing. He has good mobility, as evidenced by his 440 yards and 8 TD rushing in 11 games this season. It wasn't his toughest test, but his numbers were quite good against Kansas last weekend, and Kansas has not been a patsy the second half of this season. WATERS passed for 21/27 - 78% - 294 yds - 4 TD - 0 INT. What I like best about WATERS is that he is a fierce Competitor, notice that capitol C. The JC rank graduate is the consummate leader and controls a huddle and locker room.  I think some NFL team with a thin QB group has to take a long look at this guy in Round 6/7 next May. Here's hoping he's at the Shrine or NFLPA venue next month.

    Movember 26

    VICTOR BEASLEY/OLB/CLEMSON #3 6'2/225 .. Like most, I have been watching BEASLEY in action for 3 seasons now. And I am still wondering exactly how he fits into the NFL game. And let's not beat around the bush here, he's too small to play any other way than standing up as a LB. I will bet dollars to doughnuts that when the Combine rolls around he's going to be 6'2 and under 230 lbs., no matter what they do at his performance camp. He spends much of the game in the opponents backfield as evidenced by his 2014 stats thru 11 games: 15.5 TFL, 9.0 sacks. But overall he's 10th on his team with only 24 total tackles. That does not make an elite player in my estimation. He's elite at playing in the opponents backfield, but that does not make him an overall pro prospect. He's known as a high character young man around the Clemson campus and that should count for something in this day and age of high scrutiny for bad actors in athletics. He should make a great passing down rusher and a special teams coverage ace, but I'm not drafting him until Round 2. His best chance for Round 1 is for a good team, in need of more pass rush, to grab him late in the round.

    TEVIN COLEMAN/RB/INDIANA #6 6'0/210 ... If you're not impressed with the work of COLEMAN amid the glamour of new NCAA rushing records every week then you can't see the forest thru the trees. His IU team is down to about their 6th string QB because of injuries and transfers, and it isn't pretty most Saturdays for they're passing attack. So opposing defenses realize they are going to get heavy doses of COLEMAN running the ball. And despite any real element of surprise the best IU RB since ANTHONY THOMPSON is still piling up yardage and moving the sticks for the Hoosiers. Last Saturday, against the hearty Ohio State defense he carried the ball 27 times for 228 yards and 3 TD, as IU gave the Buckeyes a big scare. He's a slashing runner with good burst and excellent balance. He also sees the field well and can cut back for extra yards. Doesn't have GORDON speed, but scored on a 90-yard run against the Buckeyes, so he's clearly not just a grinder. He's now up to 1906 yards rushing at an average of 7.9 ypc. With his final game coming up against Purdue look for him to crack that coveted 2000-yard mark. By the way COLEMAN's 7.9-ypc is not that far behind the speedy Badger MELVIN GORDON who is at 8.3-ypc. Expect COLEMAN to enter the 2015 Draft and be a 2nd Round Pick.

    GARRETT GRAYSON/QB/COLORDAO STATE #18 6'2/220 ... As a senior who has blossomed under the direction of new HC JIM McELWAIN (3rd year), GRAYSON is still an unknown to most fans east of the Mississippi River. But out west he's a polished team leader who has the Rams sitting at 10-1 heading into their finale at Air Force. He led the Rams to a 58-20 pounding of New Mexico Saturday passing for 23/29 - 79.3% - 389 yards - 3 TD - 0 INT. I've watched CSU play 3 times this year and GRAYSON reminds me of a young AARON RODGERS. He has quick feet and can run if needed. He has a quick compact delivery and the ball comes out of his hand quickly. He throws a catchable ball and has touch when needed. He can move the pocket and extend plays with his legs, though not a real scrambler. At times he seems a bit slow to identify blitzes and react to them. He has enough arm to make all the throws and throws an accurate deep ball. Like a RODGERS he'll need a couple of years learning and adapting to the pro game, but the potential and tools are all there. But buyer beware, guys who develop like RODGERS did are few and far between. Because of the value of QBs I would expect him to have a solid chance to go in the Top 100 ala GARRAPOLO last year. Expect to see him in Mobile or St. Pete trying to make that lasting late impression on NFL personnel people to get into a Friday draft slot. I wouldn't take a chance until Round 4 at this point in time.

    ISIAH MYERS/WR/WASHINGTON STATE #88 6'0/185 ... In the Mike Leach system of Offense you can never have too many good receivers. If a player has natural receiving talent his system and the coaches will bring out the best in a WR. MYERS is a good example of that as he has emerged, since LEACH took over the program and installed his offensive scheme, as a legit pro prospect with his development and steady play for the Cougars. He showed some flashes of talent in 2013, but this season he has really emerged. He's a quick guy who runs good, sharp patterns. He shows dependable hands and is able to run consistently for yardage after the catch. With a game to go - the Cougars play Wasington to conclude the season this coming weekend - MYERS has 82 catches for 1017 yards and 13 TD. He caught my eye a while ago when I watched the Cougars play in an attempt to get a read on their other top receiver VINCE MAYLE. MYERS looks like the real deal and could be a very valuable Saturday draftee.

    CAMERON ERVING/T/C/FLORIDA STATE #75 6'6/305 ... It speaks high volume of a pre-season All-American, in his senior year, who is willing to change positions 3/4 way through the season for the betterment of the team. That was what FLEMING did when he switched this November from the NFL prestigious LT slot to OC because of injuries at OC and the emergence of Frosh OT Roderick Johnson. I don't think most scouts will be looking at him as a potential NFL OC so let's hope he finds his way to Mobile for Senior Bowl action to clarify his position status in front of NFL personnel and under pro level coaching. He's doing just fine at his new position with a few  hiccups of course. He's a long athlete who's game is more finesse than brute strength. He moves his feet well and is adept at pass pro especially. I have notes from early in the year that I did not see him as an elite LT prospect and might expect him to find his first pro home at RT. His work will bear watching in the post season. I currently have him as a 2nd Rounder, mid to late.

    NICK PERRY/S/ALABAMA #27 6'1/210 ... Almost every week while watching college game action I am pleasantly surprised by the play of someone who wasn't on my watch list for that game. The big showdown between 'BAMA & MISS STATE opened my eyes, again, to PERRY. He went into 2013 as a starter, got hurt in September, and was gone for the remainder of the year. As often happens at BAMA, Nick Saban plugged in another 5-Star recruit and on they went. Well, PERRY  came back with a vengeance and has been holding down his old job admirably this season. I think he had a better all-around game than COLLINS in the showdown with State. He has nice size and above average athleticism. He also plays smart with a high energy level. He's very aggressive in his run support and has solid cover skills. Best of all he seems to see he entire field quite well. He helped the Crimson Tide get off to a solid start with a first quarter INT of PRESCOTT. PERRY is 4th on the Bama D in tackles through 11 games with 58. He seems to play like a guy with FBI, which is what all NFL teams want in their deep spots in the secondary. Hopefully, everyone is watching him and we a get a good look at him at an All-Star venue. This guy looks draftable to me with his current level of play. Nice comeback from injury Mr. PERRY.

    DENZEL PERRYMAN/LB/MIAMI #52 6'0/230 ... Without question PERRYMAN is the best LB prospect at 'The U' since RAY LEWIS played there almost 2 decades ago. People worry about his size, but that was also a concern with LEWIS coming out of college a bit short and lightweight for many folks' taste. He's a smart player, who still makes a ton of tackles, but is much more assignment sure today than he was 3 years ago. He delivers the big blow and can intimidate lesser opponents. I've watched Miami play 5 times this season and can honestly say that if the entire DL played with his attitude and effort DENZEL would have bigger numbers and Miami a couple more W's for the season. In the disappointing loss to Virginia last Saturday PERRYMAN did all he could to propel his team to victory. He notched 15 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 FF, and I think he clearly forced a second fumble early in the game that HC AL GOLDEN failed to throw the appeal flag on. He goes into the final game of the season needing only 4 tackles to hit 100 again for this year. Clearly, his lack of ideal size seems to be keeping from being touted as a First Rounder for next May. But he's got to be a Top 100 guy for a team that needs a tackling machine, with a high rev motor... well, like RAY LEWIS. There I have said it. See you in  Mobile come January DENZEL.

    DAK PRESCOTT/QB/MISSISSIPPI STATE #15 6'2/230 ... Just as with DAK's idol TIM TEBOW some years back, I am not here to denigrate his accomplishments on the college football field, but to project what I think he can/will do at the pro level. DAK please stay in school and see if DAN MULLENS and his staff can refine your mechanics and your decision making a bit next season! In the big showdown game with Alabama two weeks ago we got a good view of some of the challenges PRESCOTT will face adapting to the NFL game. He has a good, not great arm, and good not great running ability. He's a team leader, but clearly needs to improve in reading defenses and seeing the entire field. Right now much of Prescott's game revolves around making plays in the middle of the field. He throws a lot over the middle and runs between the tackles much of the time. Neither of those things is highly desirable in the NFL with bigger, faster bodies running around every game trying to hurt the QB. Many of DAK's teammates were over matched against the Crimson Tide leaving him with more than ever to do on his own. But the stats don't lie and though he did enough to keep his team competitive until the end he left a bit to be desired overall. For the game PRESCOTT passed for 27/48 - 56% - 290 yards - 2 TD - 3 INT. He also carried 22 times for another 82 yards. I do not see him as an elite pro prospect right now, and wouldn't draft him until Round 3, at best. His style of play is not going to fit the NFL game and his athleticism is not elite. He's a cross between TEBOW and GENO SMITH right now.

    JAKE RYAN/LB/MICHIGAN #47 6'3/235 ... RYAN has been a star for the Wolverines defense since HC HOKE arrived in Ann Arbor. He was plugged in as a starter as a redshirt frosh. He's been a smart player and a tackling machine ever since. He lost half of the 2013 season to an ACL tear to his left knee. He is still wearing a sizable brace on that knee, but it looks like with every passing week that he's past that injury. We're still waiting for the Wolverines to have a big W on the year, but RYAN'S body of work speaks for itself. Through 11 games he has recorded 104 tackles, 13 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 INT, 3 FF & 3 PBU. RYAN fits that old LB cliche' of being mobile and hostile. He runs that Michigan D. The biggest question about him now is likely to be his best positional and scheme fit as a pro. In a 4-3 scheme he's got to play outside, and probably on the strong side since he's not a big pass-rush threat. In a 3-4 he's likely to fit best inside if he has a beefy partner in there to work with ala ex-Wolverine LARRY FOOTE. He's already accepted an invite to play in the Shrine Game where coaches will work him at multiple spots in practice. His medical check and performance numbers at the Combine will be critical to his Draft status. If he checks out well, he should go late in the 3rd Round.

    SHAQUILLE RIDDICK/DE/WEST VIRGINIA #4 6'6/245 ... This player who left small school Gardner Webb under the NCAA graduate student transfer rule looks to have made a solid decision to show his wares for a year at the top level of college football. I can't wait to see his arm and hand measurements in Mobile in January. His main talent is using that long lean body and natural pas-rush ability to pressure and sack QBs. And as we all know that is a highly sought after quality in today's NFL. Now the bad news, relatively speaking, I'm not convinced he'll ever be able to add much weight and I fear he's too long to stand up at OLB and function on a regular basis. So that probably leaves us with the likely option of a situational pass rusher and possible kick blocker on Special Teams. Through 11 games in D1 his numbers clearly indicate his potential, but also his challenge to step it up a level. In 11 games he has 24 tackles, 9 TFL & 6 sacks. I think he's really been hindered at WVU because he's basically playing DE in a 3-4 DL set up. That puts him in a vulnerable spot trying to play the run game. His best bet is likely to come in a base 4-3 scheme with a big strong DT beside him. RIDDICK may be very similar in style and potential to WILLIE YOUNG/DE, now with DA BEARS. He's a Day 3 guy that some NFL team will have to be patient and work very hard with before they see any tangible results out on the field.

    BRANDON SCHERFF/OT/G/IOWA #68 6'5/320 ... Please read what I write next carefully, because it is neither meant as a slight to SCHERFF or a knock of HC KIRK FERENTZ. What you see today of an Iowa senior prospect is what you will get next year in Training Camp. Just like DBs for Saban at Alabama, FERENTZ specialty is coaching up his OL in the NFL style of play. And based on that I say that SCHERFF is a First Rounder, but not Top 10, and is just as likely to start at the pro level as an OG as an OT. He is very large framed and carries his weight well. He's stronger right now that BULAGA was coming out a few years ago. I also think he's legit in his size and strength compared to GALLERY who was pumped up way back when. He has decent feet and stays off the ground most of he time. He probably makes a solid RT, like BULAGA, but might make a dominant OG at the NFL level. His hand punch is strong, but I want to see his arm length at the Combine. He moves his feet well, but is clearly better going ahead than backwards. In essence what I am saying is in drafting him some team gets an instant starter, but not likely an elite OT. I should also say I like his mental and physical toughness. I saw him limp off the field several times this season, only to return a possession or two later. Mark him down as Round 1 from my viewing, but not an elite athlete/player. Hope to see him up close in Mobile in January.

    WESTLEE TONGA/TE/UTAH #80 6'4/250 ... As UTAH emerged as a solid team this fall TONGA also came through as a top all-around senior TE prospect. He's a big, long target with natural strength and dependable hands. He can get downfield and make some grabs. He also will run through tackles after the catch. He's a solid, willing inline blocker who can stay on the field for 3 downs. In the UTES loss to Arizona TONGA had a day not unlike most of his solid season. He caught 4 balls, for 68 yards and 1 TD. He plays the game smart and hard, and could also help out on special teams as needed, particularly as a return team blocker. He has just enough athleticism to go with his size to make a solid 2nd/3rd string NFL TE. Plus NFL teams will really like his energy and high effort style of play. I look for him to get drafted around the 5th or 6th Round.

    TRAE WAYNES/CB/MICHIGAN STATE #15 6'1/185 ... I decided to go back to the Ohio State loss, in which the Buckeyes seemed to pretty much score at will against the vaunted Spartan Defense, to eyeball WAYNES. It was hard to some degree to get a read on WAYNES because the Buckeyes kept so far away from him that he was out of camera range much of the night. But I kept watching, especially other views from replay and will report the following to you... WAYNES is ultra-confident in his ability to lock down his man. He was in the receivers face within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage almost every play. He has that long limbed, flexible Spider Man body with extra long arms. He isn't afraid to tackle, but at his size he wisely picks his spots and isn't going to jump in a pile for effect. I doubt that his man was targeted more three times all night. Any time the Spartans coaches moved him to the other side of the field the Buckeyes took the play the other way Most of his numbers for this season are modest, but I'm telling you it's because opponents just stay away from him. 11 games played, 34 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 2 INT & 6 PBU. I think he's a  better NFL press-cover Corner than DENNARD last year. A team that plays mostly zone will be wasting a lot of talent if they draft him. If he comes out I do not see how he gets out of Round 1. He could also blow up the Combine with his arm and hand measurements and his speed and leg explosion. DEION SANDERS has to be in luv with this guy of he's watched him play much.

    Movember 21

    During Training Camps/Pre-season I compiled some numbers on how teams had acquired the collective talent on their rosters. It primarily focussed on roster composition indicating how many players on each roster were still with the team that signed them out of college whether it be as Draftees or URFA. Now its time to look at regular season rosters and check the numbers again. I printed up 32 team rosters effective November 16, 2014. THen I traced the original NFL teams of each player. In addition to the 53 an active rosters I also included all players on the NFL's myriad of reserve lists. I did not include Practice Squads. On the chart below you will see teams listed, with their current records, the total number of players native to that team, total number on their roster & reserve lists, and the percentage/% of "home acquired" talent. If a player was originally signed by a team, went to another team and then came back I counted them as home grown.  Because I am a Draftnik I always assume growing your own is a good thing. Please also keep in mind that home grown means URFA signings as well as Draft Picks. With only about 8 draftees per year you just can't build your roster with just them. So here goes, as listed by highest percentage first.

    PACKERS (7-3)     61/49     80.3%
    STEELERS (7-4)    56/40     71.4%
    49'ERS  (6-4)          69/48     69.6%
    BENGALS (6-3-1)   61/42     68.8%
    VIKINGS (4-6)        60/41     68.3%
    JETS (2-8)              59/40      67.8%
    FALCONS (4-6)      63/42      66.7%
    RAVENS (6-5)        63/42      66.7%
    TEXANS (5-5)        61/40       65.6%
    RAMS (4-6)             61/40      65.6%
    BRONCOS (7-3)      58/38      65.6%
    SEAHAWKS (6-4)    69/45     65.2%
    COWBOYS  (7-3)     63/41     65.1%
    DOLPHINS (6-4)      64/40     62.5%
    SAINTS (4-6)           62/38      61.3%
    PATRIOTS (8-2)      61/37      60.6%
    CHARGERS (6-4)     63/37      58.7%
    EAGLES (7-3)           58/33     56.9%
    LIONS (7-3)              62/35      56.4%
    JAGUARS (1-9)         65/36      55.4%
    BILLS  (5-5)              61/33      54.1%
    CHIEFS (7-3)            63/34       54.0%
    PANTHERS (3-7-1)   62/33       53.2%
    WASHINGTON (3-7) 61/32      52.5%
    RAIDERS (0-10)         63/32      51.6%
    CARDS (9-1)              62/32      51.6%
    TITANS (2-8)             61/31      50.8%
    GIANTS (3-7)             69/34      49.3%
    BROWNS (6-4)           61/29      47.5%
    BEARS (4-6)               57/27      47.4%
    COLTS (6-4)               65/28      43.1%
    BUCS  (2-8)                59/25      42.4%

    In general the premise that growing your own talent works best seems to hold up here. The teams fighting for the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft right now are all pretty much bottom feeders with the exception of the JAGUARS. But the JAGS have 19 Rookies on their roster right now and could be headed upward if/when Blake Bortles develops into a solid starting QB. The COLTS are near the bottom of the list despite being a Play-Off contender, but I would say the wild card in that scenario is having ANDREW LUCK as their QB. The biggest exception of all may be the 9-1 CARDINALS who rank above only 6 other teams in this evaluation. Their wild card is clearly HC BRUCE ARIANS and his coaching staff. The ultimate practitioner of getting your guys and keeping them, TED THOMPSON, logically sits at the top of this list by a healthy margin, and his team currently sits with a healthy 7-3 record. There are multiple teams here who are run by fairly new GMs, and I expect their reliance on home grown talent to rise in the coming years. Guys like PHIL EMERY in Chicago, REGGIE McKENZIE in Oakland would be examples of those type of top guys. If I were to pick a number to shoot for as an NFL General Manager I think the 67% number strikes me as about right as a target. But you still have to draft the right players from a talent and locker room perspective. And you must have a coaching staff that will play and work at developing young guys.

    Notes from last weekend in college football
    Movember 20:

    NELSON AGHOLOR/WR/SOUTHERN CAL #15 6'0/185 ... AGHOLOR emerged last season as he grabbed the top receiver spot on the team because of multiple injuries to Marqise Lee. He's stepped it up another notch this season, and most folks feel he'll go pro at the end of this, his junior year. The Trojans knew last week that they would need offensive production to beat CAL. AGHOLOR, helped CODY KESSLER get the team off to a fast start with 8 catches, for 120 yards and a TD, in the first quarter. He finished the day with 16 catches for 216 yards and 2 TD. He is also a dangerous threat as a Punt Returner, and teams now try to kick away from him even if it costs them yardage on their punting averages. In 2013 he averaged 19.1-yards per punt return. His end of year numbers are going to be big and I would expect him to enter the 2015 NFL Draft. Because he's not huge or a speed burner I expect Round 2 to be his home. But he should become a highly productive No. 2 receiver fro some team in the League. And don't forget those punt return skills.

    MICHAEL BENNETT/WR/GEORGIA #82 6'3/205 ...  This long, lean receiver is leading the Bulldogs in receptions in 2014. And he's been about the only receiver to stay healthy so far this season for the team. He's a solid route runner with reliable hands who can outstretch most defenders for high and/or wide throws. His length should make him a solid option once his team gets into the red zone. In games where the UGA running game is clicking passing the ball is an afterthought so 2014 receiving stats are down given the work this year of CHUBB & GURLEY. In that running attack he is a willing and effective blocker which the NFL demands of its wideouts. I would expect it to be nip and tuck whether he gets drafted or not once 100 underclassmen declare. But he should put up a solid fight for an NFL roster sot in a Training Camp. Finding some spots for him on Special Teams will be huge.

    LANDON COLLINS/FS/ALABAMA #26 6'1/215 ... On a team full of 5-star recruits COLLINS has been getting mucho attention for the Crimson Tide since he burst onto the scene as a true freshman. He's your prototype in-the-box, dish out the punishment tackling machine. He has adequate coverage ability, but that is not his forte. He pursues the ball and dishes out tackling punishment on a regular basis. His NFL key to greatness will lie in his ability to accept pro coaching and improve in his cover skills, especially down the field. That's likely to happen because he is a superior athlete and highly coachable per the 'Bama staff. He seems to have a nose for the ball and comes flying out of nowhere on some of his hits. He reminds of former OKlahoma All-America Safety ROY WILLIAMS, who had a solid NFL career, but never quite picked up his game in coverage. He should be the first S taken in the 2015 NFL Draft assuming he comes out early. He's more of an impact player than former teammate HA HA CLINTON-DIX, but doesn't bring Ha Ha's cover skills to the field of play. He is a definite first rounder.

    ERECK FLOWERS/OT/MIAMI #74 6'6/320 ... May be the most aggressive, physical OT I have watched this fall. He has a mean streak and is tough as nails. Is back playing only two weeks after a surgical procedure. He will play hurt, and make defenders wish he didn't. He's good in pass-pro and just buries people on running plays. You'll see him running way downfield looking for a second or third level block. He spent a lot of the night against FSU stoning MARIO EDWARDS at the line of scrimmage, and that is man's work. There is some serious question as to whether FLOWERS is coming out or not, but my sense is that I'm not the only person who sees him as a First Rounder already. Why stick around for a more serious injury to bite him during another year at the U. I think there will be multiple first round OL taken again next May, but I can't think of any who are better all-around players than FLOWERS. His rare combination of size and athleticism is very hard to find at such an important position as LOT.

    MELVIN GORDON/RB/WISCONSIN #25 6'1/215 ... I've been watching game tape on GORDON for the past few weeks  getting ready to do a thumb nail in this space. And then in the Big 10 West showdown game with Nebraska he blows things up with an effort for the ages. He broke TOMLINSON's single game rushing total with 408 yards and 4 TD, on only 25 carries. He sat out the entire 4th Quarter as the Badgers buried the Huskers. Most impressive to me was his average of 16.32 yards per carry, which is also a new NCAA single game record. He has speed, quickness, burst and incredible field vision to find openings. And once he finds an open space to run to he is not going to be caught from behind! What should also impress NFL scouts is the fact that he has worked his butt off in the weight room and with conditioning work, to go from a skinny speedster, to a ripped runner who breaks tackles and drives the pile forward on most carries. Badger coaches gush about his positive attitude and work ethic. He should finish the season with around 2500 yards assuming a Big 10 Championship game and major BOWL for the Badgers. He looks to me like  he'll be the most likely RB in the 2015 NFL Draft to end the two year drought of no First Round RB draftees. Sorry Badgers fans, he has to go pro after his work this season. It is his destiny.

    JARVIS HARRISON/G/T/TEXAS A&M #51 6'4/325 ... It has been an up and down ride this season for the Aggies in the post-Manziel era. They got off to a quick start, then stumbled badly, and recently look to have regained their momentum. HARRISON  has been a surprising factor in their recent rebound. Injuries & performance have caused them to shakeup their OL, which included a shift of top prospect CEDRIC OGBUEHI from LT back to his RT slot. To replace him HARRISON was moved outside from LG to LT, and the result has been a significant upgrade of the overall OL unit. HARRISON was a late 3rd Day Draft prospect inside at OG. But his solid play at the critical LT slot is causing NFL personnel people to stand up and take notice. He moves his feet well and displays good hand use. He's plenty strong and has been surprisingly effective in pass pro. He's not a Top 100 guy, but given his current play and apparent versatility I think he's pushed himself solidly into middle round consideration. It would be nice to see him work in an All-Star venue in January. The Combine will also be an important showcase for him. His stock is clearly rising and his timing is excellent.

    ROB HAVENSTEIN/OT/WISCONSIN #78 6'8/327 ... There has been a discernible pattern established over the past 20 years that UW is one of the great running teams in D1 football. Having great RB, patience with the run game, and having less than stellar QB for the most art all contribute greatly to that trend. But let's not forget the guys along the OL who are opening holes for all these runners. The Badgers have a huge OL group again this year but no elite prospects. But if you watch game film carefully you will see several players capable of playing at the next level for a small number of NFL teams that still feature the power running game, like San DIego, Baltimore, Washington, Buffalo. Meet someone's next RT in Mr. HAVENSTEIN. He's a huge, towering man with decent footwork and a great work ethic. He's also a smart looking football player when you watch him on tape. He looks like the next in line of a recent group of Badgers who are not elite but can play at the NFL level (CARIMI/WAGNER/KONZ). HAVENSTEIN also shows flashes of leadership in his play and attitude, always helping up his runners after the tackle and being in the celebration group after a score. He's not going to blow up the Combine, but in an All-Star venue he'll impress with his hard work and FBI, IMO. At last count ROB was up to 38 career starts for the Badgers. He was selected 2nd Team All-Big 10 last year. He looks like a solid pick for the right NFL team in Rounds 4/5.

    BRETT HUNDLEY/QB/UCLA #17 6'3/227 ... Early this season the UCLA Offense struggled mightily to move the ball and score with any consistency. But watching the tape from their week 11 game against Washington I saw an offense that was clicking on all cylinders and the biggest contributor was HUNDLEY. I think some of the change is that the young players around HUNDLEY have improved over the course of the season. But HUNDLEY himself looks much more confident and efficient now than back in September. He's a solid passer with an above average arm and he delivers a highly catchable ball. He has the ability to put touch on his throws when needed, as opposed to a lot of young guys who break receivers fingers on 10 yard fastball throws. He also looks like a QB who now has enough confidence in his OL to work through his progressions and spread the ball around the field. He seems to be reading defenses well right now. He still poses a serious running threat because of his athleticism, but is looking to throw the ball first instead of just taking off. He's made major progress this season and I highly endorse his early entry into the NFL Draft. I'm not convinced he's an elite Pick, but I don't see how he escapes Round 1 in May. His numbers for the Washington game in a big UCLA road win: 29/36 - 80.5% - 302 yards- 2 TD - 0 INT, and he ran for 2 more TD. By the way he is completing over 70% of his throws on the season.
    ERIC LEFELD/OT/CINCINNATI #71 6'6/310 ... The Bearcats Offense continues to be explosive this year under HC TOMMY TUBERVILLE with an explosive passing attack, in addition to a solid running game. And much of that success starts with the senior anchor of that OL, ERIC LEFED. The tall, long LEFELD is the most experienced and versatile performer in that unit. He demonstrates excellent footwork and excels in pass pro. He uses his long arms well to punch and hold off pass rushers. LEFELD displays good balance and stays on his feet. He doesn't bury defenders in the run game, but does control them well with his hand/arm work. It might also help if he could bend that long frame a bit more to bring down his pad level. Natural knee bender in pass-pro.He could use a bit more sand in his pants to drive defenders in the run game, but he is effective and gets to second level blocks well. He's been a starter since his freshman year and has been an All-Conference performer each of the past two seasons, Big East in 2012, AAC in 2013. I would expect him to make it 3 years in a row in 2013. He played very effectively in the big home win over East Carolina in which his offense scored 54 points to win. And mark my words the ECU Defense has some serious pro prospects. I expect LEFELD to be an early Saturday draftee, with a chance to start in the NFL in a couple years.

    STEVEN NELSON/CB/OREGON STATE #2 5'10/195 ... This JC transfer has stepped in from the get-go for the Beavers and been one of the most dependable defenders in the Pac 12. He has good quickness and solid ball awareness. He also falls into that category of being relatively small, but not afraid at all to provide run support from his CB slot. He had 8 PBU and 6 INT last season. He's been even better in his second season as a starter. Last week in the big win over Arizona State he was credited with 10 tackles and 3 PBU. My hunch is that he will slide right into an NFL secondary as a sub-package defender as a Rookie and will win a starting job soon thereafter. NELSON has only 2 INT this season, but that is due in part because opponents find it easier to pick on other Beaver DB and leave NELSON alone. It should also be noted that he has still chipped in with 55 tackles through 10 games this year. Based on what I have seen of him he's knocking on the door as a Top 100 prospect.

    LOUIS TRINCA-PASAT/DT/IOWA #90 6'3/290 vs. Northwestern ... What you see is what you get in most Iowa products of the FERENTZ coaching regime. TRINCA-PASAT has saved his best work for last in his Hawkeye career. He is more noticeable and making more plays as a senior. The Northwestern game marked his 33rd straight start at Iowa. He's basically a stout short area guy who plays with good functional strength and mobility. This year he has shown more penetration as a senior. He looks to me like a guy who could play effectively inside in a 4-3 scheme, or at DE in a 3-4 set. The Chicago native raised his play another notch against his hometown Northwestern team. He had 5 tackles against the Wildcats and 3 of them were sacks. He was chosen as the Week 10 Senior Bowl senior of the week on defense for that game effort. And he just accepted an invite to play in that game. He's been a great sidekick for CARL DAVIS/DT, who I profiled earlier in the season, and who also will be in Mobile in January. TRINCA-PASAT has elevated his status this season from URFA to late round draftee in my opinion.

    BROOKS WILLIAMS/OLB/EAST CAROLINA #48 6'1/230 ... Got another sleeper for you here in a guy who had only started 2 games coming into his senior season. He's made his way from invited walk-on to a starter. He's been a star on Special Teams the past two seasons. His combination of strength and speed is uncanny. The coaching staff feels he's one of their most productive players right now. That's saying a lot on a very talented and competitive team. He brings some pass-rush from multiple slots and is improving greatly in his pass coverage responsibilities. I'm not sure if he's going to get much action in the post-season or not. I could see him deserving a spot in the NFLPA Game. He may not be at the Combine, but he could post some impressive numbers at his Pro Day. He's very active and chases the ball without losing track of his assignments within the defensive scheme. Despite all the scoring in the game with Cincinnati there was some defense being played and one of the most noticeable guys was indeed Mr. Williams.


    Movember 13: We are headed down the home stretch of the 2013 College Football season. I have fallen hopelessly behind on my weekly game watching, so from this point forward the thumbnails we present here may be based on games from a bit earlier in the season, as I catch up. I will mention the specific games that my observations are based on for each prospect in he write-ups.

    BRETT BOYKO/OT/UNLV #69 6'7/310 vs. Utah State ... Guys with his size, who seem to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time have a tendency to get more than a passing glance from NFL personnel people. BOYKO indeed looks the part of an NFL prospect. And at times he plays like one. He is long in every sense of the word, which is good for an OT. And he shows good balance and decent feet. He looks a bit awkward and unsure at back pedaling into pass-pro, but that is likely fixable with NFL level coaching and training. In fact work on conditioning and strengthening his body core might also be a project to undertake at he next level. Right now he looks soft and flabby in his gut. He was often matched up against UTAH STATE DE/LARSEN, who is also a decent prospect, and overall played him to a draw. He tends to stand up straight at the snap, but that's pretty common with guys his height. I like the fact that he stayed on his feet and got to some second level blocks against the Aggies. BOYKO has a solid chance to be drafted, but I doubt it will be much before Round 6/7. I would also project that he may need a year on a Practice Squad before sticking on an actual NFL roster. But that could be difficult to do without another team putting in a claim for him. We really need to see tis guy at an All-Star venue, likely NFLPA or Shrine.

    ALVIN "BUD" DUPREE/OLB/KENTUCKY #2 6'4/267 vs. Miss State ... The first problem associated with my watching DUPREE, was the fact that I had heard & read a bit of hype about him earlier. I confess he did not live up to expectations in my notes. First off, he still looks skinny to me, and I cannot imagine how he could possibly weigh the 265-or so number he's currently listed at. I also see no chance at all for him to play with his hand down, other than 3rd and very long. He is fluid in his movement and gets around from sideline to sideline. But much to my chagrin, I felt I saw a guy who had no taste for contact. He tended to circle the action. I also saw him attempt multiple "arm tackles" that the RB just tore through. He looked to want no part of JOSH ROBINSON. They moved him around the defensive formation and a couple of times he used his speed/quickness to break into the backfield to create pass rush pressure. Overall, I was not terribly impressed with his play. On the team's website they show him with 53 tackles, 8.5 TFL and 5.5 sacks through 10 games. From what I saw vs. Miss State he must have put up most of those stats against the lesser teams on their schedule. For me he is going to need to show up in Mobile and really play hard and tough for me to get excited about him as a prospect. I also want to see his real height/weight numbers at the Combine. I don't see him as a Top 100 player right now, never mind "creeping" into Round One.

    B.J. LARSEN/DE/UTAH STATE #99 6'5/275 vs. UNLV ... LARSEN plays predominantly in a 3-4 scheme for the Aggies, and that suits his size and talents well. I would imagine he could add another 10-15 lbs. in an NFL training regimen. He uses his long arms well to shed blockers and obstruct throwing lanes for opposing QB. I watched him two weeks in a row against Colorado State and UNLV. He looked equally effective against two of the best LT in the COnference in SAMBRAILO & BOYKO. He can cover some ground and lays with good balance. He has some shock to his initial push and I would imagine he could improve that aspect of his game at the pro level. Though not a speed/edge pass rusher if his secondary gets good initial coverage downfield he ends up in the QB's face fairly often. His numbers on he season are quite good for a 3-4 DE. In 10 games he has 26 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks & 1 INT. He has a solid chance to be drafted and earn himself a spot on an NFL roster in a DL rotation.

    NICK O'LEARY/TE/FLORIDA STATE #35 6'3/245 vs. Louisville ... O'LEARY  plays a position that is not of a huge part of the FSU passing attack. But NICK has forced the coaching staff to find ways to get him the ball with a degree of regularity. He's a sure handed receiver and a very smart football player. He often breaks off the called patterns to provide relief when QB/WINSTON is scrambling in a collapsing pocket. His work in the big game inLouisville was a good example of his value to his team. He pulled down 6 catches for 76 yards and 1 TD. He's a willing, effective blocker but does not have the size to play inline a lot at the pro level. Though not a speedster he has enough speed and route running skill to get separation from LB and some S. I would expect his best pro fit to come primarily in an H-Back role, ala AARON HERNANDEZ. I would expect another onslaught of underclassmen to declare for the 2015 NFL Draft, which will likely push O'LEARY out of the Top 100. But look for JACK NICKLAUS' grandson to be a very popular pick come Round 4.

    BRYCE PETTY/QB/BAYLOR #14 6'3/230 vs. Oklahoma .... Since the first time I saw this hulking all-american boy I've been stuck on the image of L'IL ABNER from Dog Patch, USA. That has nothing to do with his QBing ability and pro potential, which has very large upside I believe. Remember that he's been playing since week two of the season with two cracked vertebrae in his back. That's no small deal my friends. But he's worked his way into a comfort zone and his game is pretty much back to normal. His stats are off and part of that has his willingness to throw balls away rather than force them into coverage or scramble around, which he does quite well when fully healthy. He certainly came up huge last weekend in the thumping given to OKlahoma in Norman. He was masterful at taking what the normally tough Sooners Defense gave him, which was big cushion on his wideouts, thus allowing him to throw a lot of short/quick passes and let receivers run after the catch. He finished the day 32/42, 76%, 387 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT. He has an NFL arm and good mobility when healthy. He has some mechanics to clean up, but most QB do coming out of college. I think he has starting potential in the NFL and should be drafted by Round 2 next May. Initially, he needs to sit and learn for a year or two. Then you have an NFL ready starter in my estimation. Are you paying attention JONES BOYS?!

    PRESTON SMITH/DE/MISSISSIPPI STATE #91 6'6/267 vs. Kentucky ... SMITH has been a solid performer and quiet team leader for several years now. Because his school has gone undefeated this year so far, he is now getting some serious notice. He's a long player, with good mobility. He has average strength and reasonable speed. He's not a huge pass rush presence, but he's steady and productive. He moves around a bit in the Bulldogs Defense and even drops into pass coverage with some regularity. In that role he has 2 INT & 3 PBU. And he does not look lost out in space. His best spot in the NFL would seem to be at LDE in a 4-3 scheme. He should be able to produce matched up against most of the League's RT. If he could get a bit stronger and throw off blockers more often he could be a fulltime starter as a pro. There's a lot of defensive talent for State to use on game day, and DC GEOFF COLLINS substitutes freely, so no one is getting 100 tackles on this defensive unit. But if you look at SMITH thru 9 games you get the picture of how versatile he is. He has 32 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 14 QB hurries, 2 forced fumbles. Just for good measure he has used his agility and length to block 2 kicks this year. Glamorous he is not, but he gets results and leads by example. My guess is NFL types would like to see him pump up to about 280 lbs. He may never make a Pro Bowl, but could be a solid starter for some NFL team in a couple of years. Mark him down as Round 2 if he shows well at the Senior Bowl and Combine. No matter what he should be Top 100 timber.

    NICK VIGIL/OLB/RB/UTAH STATE #41 6'2/230 vs. Colorado State ... I''m not really convinced VIGIL is a draftable prospect, but every time I watch Utah State play he makes a favorable impression on me. He has average size and average athleticism, but clearly an oversized heart and maximum desire. He is now in he position of starting on both sides of the ball for the Aggies. His primary position is OLB, with a minor in Special Teams, but he is now the starting RB as well. He's the older VIGIL brother on the team. He is truly a do it all guy as evidenced by his stats thru the 9 games he's played in. On Defense he has recorded 78 tackles, 11 TFL, 5.5 sacks with 1 INT. On Offense he has carried the ball 33 times for 118 yards and 2 TD. He's a tough hombre and a versatile, talented player. He plays tough and smart on every down. As per NFL Coach Speak a guy with his attitude and ability/willingness to fill multiple roles can really improve the bottom third of a roster, and provide valuable game day depth. It may be late, but some team with a handful of 7th Round Compensatory Picks would be crazy not to draft him and then risk the heavy competition that is likely to come if he's an URFA.

    MARK WEISMAN/FB/IOWA #45   6'0/240  vs. Northwestern ... This former Air Force Academy frosh has served the old fashioned Big 10/NFL featured FB running game well. For those of you young ones, back in the day the NFL was ruled by FB who carried the ball more than the HB; JIM BROWN, JIM TAYLOR, JOE PERRY, RICK CASARES, LARRY CSONKA were all FB who led their teams and the League in rushing. Obviously in today's NFL the FB is a dying breed in wide open offenses. But for a team looking for a good blocking FB, who can run a bit, catch a ball or two and excel on Special Teams please watch tape of WEISMAN in action. Against Northwestern WEISMAN rushed for 94 yards and  3 TD. For his Iowa career WEISMAN now has over 2300 rushing yards and has scored 30 rushing TD. I'd hazard a guess that he will not be drafted, but some NFL team that truly understands the value of a hard nosed FB, especially in the red zone should be burning up the phone lines after the Draft looking to add him to their Training Camp roster.

    LEONARD WILLIAMS/DT/SOUTHERN CAL #94 6'5/290 vs. Utah ... WILLIAMS is a monster talent, in a monster body. He looks even bigger than his listed size as he plies his wares at the collegiate level. Although he possesses quickness and speed for his size he's not an edge pass rusher. His value is holding the line-of-scrimmage and generating inside pocket pressure. He plays DE in a 3-4 scheme right now for USC, but I could also see him at DT in a 4-3 scheme as a pro. He uses his long arms to push and pull opponents around. There are times when I felt he pushed into the pocket so quickly and aggressively that he failed to keep track of the ball and ran right past the ball carrier, but to some degree that's nit-picking. He might be well served to work a bit on strengthening his initial hand punch a bit, to keep blockers off his body a bit more. His foot quickness is good in a short area for his size. He's not a quick twitch athlete like a JJ WATT, so teams should not be expecting that from him. He also has a tendency to end up on the ground too often, most likely because he gets off-balance from playing so fast and out of control. But the long and short of it is that he was built to play pro football and should be an impactful interior DL. His functional strength and quickness to the ball remind me of some of MERLIN OLSEN. He is clearly an elite, First Round talent if he comes out early for the 2015 Draft. Expect him to do so!

    GABE WRIGHT/DT/AUBURN #90 6'3/290 vs. Texas A&M ... A few years ago I remember seeing this young buck named WRIGHT running around the field for the Tigers, who looked like he could develop into an impact presence on the interior of their defensive line. Now I watch WRIGHT and he looks like a decent rotation system DT with nothing special to his game. He's neither gotten bigger nor stronger over time. He flashes some athleticism, but not on a regular basis. He's basically become just another guy. Through nine games, in a successful 7-2 season, WRIGHT has totaled only 16 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 Sack & 8 QBH. He's not even n the Auburn top 10 for tackles. He's not a super quick athlete, and his size/strength is average at best. That's not a winning combination especially for a potential pro career. He seems to work hard, but the results just don't come at a level that cries out of pro potential. It is clear to me that WRIGHT is going to need a good All-Star outing and then a Combine that at least puts his numbers in the middle of the DT group if he is to be drafted. He'll be in an NFL Training Camp next summer but at this pace it could be as an URFA. By the way I have watched 4 Auburn games this fall and he looked about the same in each one... nothing to write home about.

    Movember 11


    The College Football season has marched past Week 11, with teams having played either 9 or 10 of their 12 game schedules. It seems to me that we are past the point of being unable to root out Heisman pretenders from Heisman contenders. So I am going to give you my final six. Please note that I see nothing in the Heisman guidelines that says a player must be part of a championship team to win the trophy as the nation's top collegiate player. So in my selection process an outstanding player on a poor or mediocre team has a chance to win. The list is purely alphabetical at this point in time, since we have 2-4 games left for most of these guys.

    JOEY BOSA/DE/OHIO STATE 6'5/285; Sophomore ... Certainly the long shot, since he does not play a glamour stats position, but this guy is outstanding beyond he age and years of college ball. He's already what J.J. WATT was as a senior, at time in his college career when WATT was still a TE at Central Michigan. He is dominant and force to be game planned around for most opponents. ON a talented team, he stands head and shoulders above his teammates when measuring impact on a game. Through 9 games, which includes the big Win over Michigan State BOSA has been credited with 31 total tackles, 14.5 TFL, 10 sacks, 3 QB hurries, and 3 forced fumbles. He's a monster of a player and deserves consideration. By the way, if that last name sounds familiar it may because you remember his dad JOHN BOSA, who was an NFL first rounder coming out of Boston College back in the day.

    TREVONE BOYKIN/QB/TCU 6'2/215; Junior ... TCU is now 8-1 after their big win over Kansas State and has been an offensive machine under the leadership of BOYKIN, who has been playing lately with a bad left wrist/hand. His development as a QB is just blooming after playing multiple positions and roles for the Horned Frogs in previous years. He can do it with his arm or his legs, usually combining the two to totally disrupt opposing defenses. He has the TCU Offense ranked as one of the most explosive units in college football. For future reference please remember this is his first season as the full-time starting QB. He should only get better and has been called a larger RUSSELL WILSON, relative to pro potential. Here are his passing and running stats through 9 games. Passing: 203 of 350, 58%, 2691 yards, 23 TD, 4 INTRushing: 111 carries, 546 yards, 4.92 ypc, 7 TD

    AMARI COOPER/WR/ALABAMA 6'1/210; Junior ... COOPER has to be the best and most dangerous all-around WR in college football right now. 'BAMA is more of a running team than ever this season with average QB play, at best. But COOPER has hauled in 79 balls through 9 games. The next closest Crimson Tide player doesn't even have 30 catches yet. He has breakaway speed and can run through and/or around defenders. Despite dropping two balls against LSU, overall he is a good hands receiver. His ability to track the deep throw over his head and catch it almost effortlessly is just amazing. He wracks up a lot of yards after the catch by breaking tackles and running past people. He's blossomed into this years SAMMY WATKINS. And he does it all with a big target on his back to opposing teams Defensive Coordinators. Stats thru 9 games: 79 catches - 1215 yards - 10 TD

    MELVIN GORDON/RB/WISCONSIN 6'1/210; Junior ... The speedy, hard working GORDON is upholding the UW tradition of running the ball until the opponent is pounded into submission. In all honesty, GORDON 's task is made all the tougher this season, because the Badgers don't even have a mediocre QB leading the way. The only game plan needed by opposing defenses is finding a way to stop the Badgers running game, most specifically GORDON. Clearly, that is easier said than done as evidenced by the fact that he has averaged 167 yards per game, while scoring 19 TD. Primarily because of his efforts a team without a legit D1 starting QB is positioned at 7-2 in the Big Ten. He's an explosive runner with excellent balance and long smooth strides. He also has excellent field vision which allows him to make cuts that leave defenders flat footed. Barring injury he looks like  sure thing to top 2,000 rushing yards this season. He's topped 200 yards in a game 3 times this season.Rushing: 198 carries - 1501 yards - 7.6 ypc - 19 TD

    MARCUS MARIOTA/QB/OREGON 6'4/220; Junior ... And then there is my personal favorite in MARIOTA. For some reason he goes under-appreciated by far too many. Genius HC CHIP KELLY leaves town amidst wails of gloom & doom and under MARIOTA's leadership the team is 20-3 without KELLY. And before the cries of supporting cast begin, go ahead and take a sharp look at who he's had to work with at the Offensive skill positions. Only De'Anthony Thomas & Josh Huff are currently in the NFL as Rookies. And you won't find any current Oregon WR/TE/RB in the 2015 Draft Prospects lists. This young man is only about 1 tick below ANDREW LUCK in overall ability, and how did that guy never win a Heisman by the way? Here are MARIOTA's numbers for his team's 9-1 record this season.Passing: 186 of 277 - 67% - 2780 yards - 29 TD - 2 INTRushing: 89 rushes - 524 yards - 5.89 ypc - 8 TD

    DAK PRESCOTT/QB/MISSISSIPPI STATE 6'3/230; Junior ... Prescott is the undisputed leader of the unbeaten (9-0) Cinderella team in college football this Fall. He uses his arm and legs to propel his team's offense to score whatever is needed to pull out victories. He's a winner like his idol TIM TEBOW. But he is a bit quicker than TEBOW and has better throwing mechanics and accuracy. When in doubt it is up to PRESCOTT to make enough plays for the Bulldogs to win most weekends. Truth be told though, he has a very good set of offensive weapons to work with. Mississippi State is such a CInderella story this year, that if they run the table in the SEC it will bring a flood of Heisman votes his way. Passing: 146 of 239 - 61.1% - 2231 yards - 18 TD - 7 INTRushing: 143 carries - 779 yards - 5.4 ypc - 11 TD

    Realistically, it seems to me the race for the HEISMAN TROPHY will come down to MARIOTA & PRESCOTT. Assuming neither young man implodes in the remaining 3-4 games I think PRESCOTT wins if his team runs the table. If I were voting today my ballot would go to MARIOTA.

    Happy Heisman watching college football fans.


    It always gets a bit disconcerting when I get to that point of he season when the week count hits double digits, and here we are in Week 10 of College Scouting thumbnails. It's a true sign that for another football season that started, seemingly like yesterday, we are now in the stretch run of the regular season. Even the NFL has reached the halfway point of its season. Scary to think that in 3 months we will be past the All-Star portion of the scouting process and missing football action again. But let's get after it while we still have games to watch and scout.

    Whether a professional scout, or an amateur, like myself, it's important to always be on the lookout for late blossoming talent. BALDWIN appears to be just that for the Buckeyes. He came into the program as a DT back at the end of the Tressel era. He red-shirted, then played for a season as a back-up DT. He spent the past two years converting to OT under the MEYER regime at LT. He now finds himself ensconced at RT as the starter for his final year as a Buckeye. The first thing you notice is that he passes the eye test as a full sized, in-shape player, who shows some athleticism. He appears to have long arms and uses them fairly well for a relative newcomer at OT. Against Penn State, he demonstrated mobile feet and the ability to get off the snap quickly. He also did well getting to second level blocks. He stays on the man he is blocking until the end of the play. The weak spot in his game will be pass pro, but that can be improved in a couple of years by a veteran OL Coach at the pro level. I doubt I'd be looking at drafting him unless I really needed an OT project to develop and had a couple of Supplemental 7th Round picks in my pocket. This is he kind of guy the SEA HAWKS bring in for OL COACH TOM CABLE to develop. I would hazard a guess that he could be a priority URFA, with multiple suitors, the day after the Draft concludes.

    MALCOLM BROWN/DT/TEXAS* #90 6'4/320
    This big underclassman shows more than enough talent to warrant late First Round Draft attention. His initial quickness, at his size, is well suited for 4-3 NFL scheme. He is NOT necessarily suited for the Nose in a 3-4 scheme. He comes off the snap quickly, but can stand up too straight, too quickly at times. He clearly showed more energy and better results in the first half against K-State, but that was to be expected. There is not a lot of quality depth along the DL for the Longhorns right now, so the good big guys played a lot of snaps. Combine that with a pretty inept Texas Offense that wasn't on the field a whole lot and it makes for a tiring scenario for al the big uglies in the Texas D. IMO, big guys need a few possessions off if they are expected to chase all game. I do not think he's out of shape. He also shows good strength in holding his own against inside run plays. He pursues well, but isn't catching anyone along the sideline unless the DB delay things on the corner. I'd like to see him develop more of a shock hand punch rather than getting tied up dancing with the OL, which I felt he did a bit too often. I would expect him to come out early as the transition to a Charlie Strong roster hits high gear in 2015.

    CLARK could have great appeal starting about Round 3 of the DRAFT, for a team that uses multiple defensive schemes (most of today's NFL) and is looking for a player who can disrupt the pocket. He had a very solid game against Michigan State last Saturday. He's getting lost in the shuffle somewhat of the poor season that the Wolverines find themselves struggling through because of a pathetic and ineffective Offense. But his effort, productivity and ability to pressure the QB all fit today's NFL priority list. In 2013 he had 4.5 Sacks, 7.5 TFL & 7 QB hurries. Against the Spartans last weekend he was one of the Wolverines standout players who helped harass CONNOR COOK/QB into a relatively mediocre performance. CLARK may not be stout enough to hold up full-time at DE in the NFL, and not quite fast enough to stand up in a 3-4 scheme all the time. But he has a chance to be a multi-purpose defender, ala ex-Wolverine BRANDON GRAHAM, who though not a full time player, fills multiple roles for the NFL Eagles. This guy would be really interesting to watch under NFL coaching for Senior Bowl week. Depending upon how many elite underclassmen declare for the 2015 NFL Draft CLARK could rank near the bottom of my Top 100 prospect list.

    COOK is a potential First Round QB prospect, but not if he comes out after this season. He still needs work on his mechanics and his reading of defenses. He has an above average arm and good mobility. He can extend plays with his footwork  and gain yards when things break down. But he needs another year to improve his overall play ala KIRK COUSINS not that long ago. He is in fact, more athletic than COUSINS from what I have seen of him. He had a typically solid game against arch rival MIchigan last Saturday passing for 12/22 - 227 yards - 1 TD - 0 INT. It was not a performance that cried out for being a first round draftee, however. His stats suffer a bit from being in a run first, ball control Offense for HC DANTONIO, and that will not change if he returns to school. Right now he plays fast enough to look good against Big 10 competition, but is not close to what he'll need to do against NFL defenses. Hopefully, we will get to scout him again next season in Spartan green. Stay in school CONNOR... for your own sake.

    QUANDRE DIGGS/CB/TEXAS #6 5'10/205
    This 3-year starter for the Longhorns makes a most interesting prospect for the NFL. He has good ball instincts and is normally a sure tackler, though I saw him whiff a couple of times against Kansas State out in space. But he's not incredibly fast or quick, which causes him to lose contact with some receivers fairly early on deep routes. He loves to play in the box and is very productive in helping to stop the run. DIGGS plays hard and tough. He finds the ball, if the play is in front of him, and will pick off a few throws each season.  Because of his speed limitations he likes to get a bump on receivers early. I think his NFL future might eventually be as a S, not a corner. His compact size and tackling ability could make him a slower version of another ex-Longhorn EARL THOMAS. He should make a solid Special Teamer and at least a sub-package defender from the get-go. Because of his coverage limitations I do not see him as a Top 100 prospect once underclassmen enter into the mix.

    Like most guys on the K-State roster EVANS is not what I would consider an elite athlete. He's also not going to be a ball-hawking INT machine in the NFL. But he's a good sized, press cover guy who likes to bump at the line and knock receivers off their patterns. In today's NFL game of QB/receiver offensive timing, legal disruption is a very useful tool. EVANS is also a very aggressive tackler, who can take people down out in the open field. He's a savvy vet, who can locate the ball and react to it in he air. His lack of super speed and/or quickness keep him from being an elite CB prospect, but he has enough speed to press-cover and then recover to continue coverage downfield. He is also used effectively in some zone blitz situations for the Wildcats. He was credited with 1 sack, 2 TFL, 2 INT and 12 PBU in 2013 in 11 starts. He's lost some playing time to a talented Juco this season, which may allow him to sneak under the radar to some astute pro personnel department. As a 3rd Day draftee he certainly looks to have enough ability and want-to, to work his way into sub-packages, handle multiple Special Teams roles and start a few games in injury situations. He looks like a very solid potential invitee to Shrine action in January.

    Seeing that I have a lot of URFA prospects mentioned in this week's feature I thought I'd best give you a thumbnail on one of the elite prospects for the 2015 DRAFT. He will still have a year of eligibility beyond 2014, but I will be shocked if he does not throw his hat/helmet into the 2015 Draft ring. GREGORY is an elite pass-rush specialist. In fact he reminds me a lot of ALDON SMITH/MIzzou who's a 49'ers pass-rushing star when he's not suspended. I will not speak to the off-field issues in that equation, but I think out on the grass it's a legit comparison. Against Rutgers he was clearly schemed for in blocking assignments. On some obvious passing downs he was combo blocked by the LT, TE & FB. But at times Rutgers LT KEITH LUMPKIN more than held his own in man-on-man blocking. GREGORY had a decent game with 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 QBH and he used his huge wingspan to block a Field Goal attempt. He was moved around a bit from side to side in the Huskers formation, and played some downs standing up somewhat like a 3-4 ILB. I am a bit concerned that GREGORY almost looks skinny right now compared to last season. I don't know if he has lost weight to be quicker,especially standing up, but at the point of attack right now he's almost a non-factor. I'd like to know what he weighs, and why. But right now I am a bit concerned that he's sacrificed too much strength to gain added quickness. He'll want a combo of both to play at the pro level and be a constant factor. But he has that length and quickness, which includes some natural pass-rush moves, that could make him a difference maker in the NFL. He is Top 10 Draft material.

    After watching the Buckeyes in 4 games this season I feel confident in saying HUERMAN is another player whose numbers are a circumstance of the system he plays in. The TE is not featured a whole lot right now at Ohio State and he is sharing snaps with a quality underclassman, who was a MEYER recruit. But watching him in action I think he may the best all-around TE that they have had in a while athletically in Columbus. He doesn't look quite as big as his listed numbers, but he is a solid blocker both inline and especially on the move, or downfield. Against Penn State I think he was only targeted 4 times, catching 3 of them for a paltry 19 yards and 1 TD. He makes a great safety valve option for BARRETT as he grows as a QB. He looks to have dependable hands and moves fluidly. I don't see a Top 100 spot for him as a prospect, but he should be draftable as long as he tests out in the middle of the TE class at the Combine. May make a better pro than a college player overall.

    MIKE HULL/ILB/PENN STATE #43 6'0/230
    You see HULL's name on the Penn Sate roster and you think legacy player and a nice collegian. Then you wonder what he's going to do for his real life's work. But, if you actually watch him play, like in the Ohio State game, you see this year's Big 10 version of CHRIS BORLAND. Well, he's not as strong or athletic as BORLAND, but the point is all he does is compete and make lots of tackles. He recorded 19 tackles against Ohio State, including 2.5 TFL, and also picked off a pass that set up the Nittany Lions for a score. Hull plays with his head and his heart, and the results are impressive. Remember an undersized LB names LARRY IZZO, who played a long time in the League mostly on Special Teams, but surprisingly well in some starting assignments while taking over for injured starters? After watching HULL against he Buckeyes I see the same kind of player/competitor as IZZO. He finds a way to succeed. Like several other players in this week's thumbnails I'm not projecting him to be drafted next May. But I will add that once into an NFL Training Camp he will be a tough player to cut. He could easily improve the bottom 10 of more than a few NFL rosters immediately. Was named Senior Bowl defensive player of the week for his effort against Ohio State.

    J.J. WORTON/WR/PR/UCF #9 6'2/210
    The bottom line first, is that WORTON is not real likely to be drafted next May. He's a good, not elite athlete without any superior skills. But he looks to me like an excellent URFA for Training Camp with some team that has a battle brewing for a No. 5 WR and versatile Special Teams performer. He does a lot of the little things well and actually has made some very big plays for UCF the past couple of years. He's an excellent Punt catcher, who can weave his way through traffic and improve a team's field position with his return. He has shown excellent hands as a receiver. They are still showing highlight films that include is catch last season of the acrobatic, game saving TD catch against UCONN. Last Saturday he had a typical day at work with his lunch pail. He played on just about every Special Teams unit and had 4 catches, for 42 yards and 1 TD against Temple. He was also very conspicuous with his downfield blocking for his fellow receivers and runners. I am hoping he's a local invite to the Shrine Game so he can show his versatility in All-Star action.


    Lots of heavy action, sprinkled with more upsets highlighted Week 8 of College Football. Here's a look at s

    ome prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft that got my attention.

    JAY AJAYI/RB/BOISE STATE #27 6'0/215  You can't get a clear read on his talent just by looking at the stat sheet. BOISE has a history of alternating their RB so the cupboard is never bare from one season to the next. It is highly likely though that he will post numbers this year to match his outstanding 2013 season, when he gained 1425 yards rushing, including 18 TD. Through 7 games this year he's already at 867 yards and 8 TD. In the Fresno game the D was keying on him from the start. He patiently loosened them up by catching 4 passes and blocking well in pass pro. As the game progressed he wore down the entire defense finishing the night with 30 carries for 158 yards and 2 TD. He's a power runner who breaks tackles and will move the chains on 3rd and short, but he also shows speed when a big opening appears. He looks to me to have excellent pro potential and at 250 carries a year he needs to give serious thought to 2015 Draft entry before the tread gets worn down too far and he ends up injured his senior year in school. NFL teams will particularly love his nose for the end zone. A definite Top 100 prospect on my list.

    TREY DePRIEST/ILB/ALABAMA #33 6'2/250  For some reason DePRIEST isn't impressing most scouts and I don't get it. He's certainly no better than a 3rd Rounder, but he looks the part to me of a 3-4 scheme ILB. He's savvy and finds the ball well. He can shock & shed blockers with his strong hands. He has solid tackling technique and takes good angles to the ball most of the time. Given his size and functional strength, he is a punishing tackler who takes a toll on his opponents. He was 'Bama's 3rd leading tackler in 2013. I also happen to think he's better than adequate at dropping into pass coverage over he middle for his size. The game with A&M marked his 46th career game played at 'BAMA. That's the most for any defender on their current roster. TREY is also strong in pursuit of the ball, ranging all the way to the boundary. Right now I consider him to be under-appreciated for his hard work and results, much like a guy named HAWK who plays inside in the PACKERS defense. If he's not TOP 100 then he surely becomes a Day 3 priority pick.

    ANTWAN GOODLEY/WR/BAYLOR #5 5'11/225  I've been waiting over a month for this guy to get his quad healthy and jump back into the Baylor receiving rotation. He's back now and looking strong. He's a unique body type for a wideout. But his thickness does not preventing him from running good patterns and getting in and out of his breaks quickly. He's a solid hands catcher. He has good long speed and is a solid deep ball threat, not just a possession catch guy. In the upset Loss to WVU he was PETTY's most dependable receiver with 9 catches for 132 yards and a TD. There were too many  dropped balls on PETTY passes, but not by GOODLEY. I was not impressed however, with some of the 4th quarter barking GOODLEY aimed at PETTY. He seemed oblivious to the pocket pressure being exerted on PETTY and was clearly bitching about lack of balls thrown his way, and seeming misreads on his patterns. He needs to be more supportive of his QB in those situations. At times, with his size and catching ability he reminds me of ANQUAN BOLDIN. If he finishes the season strong he has a solid chance to go by Round 3 next May.

    GENEO GRISSOM/OLB/E/OKLAHOMA #85 6'4/255/   The Sooners went down to defeat for the second time this season due to mistakes on both sides of he ball. But their PK was the true goat this weekend. That being said GRISSOM was part of an athletic but underachieving Defense that displays a lack of big play ability and intensity. GRISSOM is a prime example of that syndrome. He's a great looking physical specimen, who plays standing up most of he time, but he puts his hand on the ground and slides inside on 3rd and long. He's usually around the action, but unless executing an outside pass-rush I don't see any sense of urgency to his play. I also don't think he wants to throw his body around to get to the ball. He plays in spurts and gets caught up in the traffic way too much. He had 2 consecutive sacks to end the first half, but then just ran around the rest of the game. Given his physical numbers he just doesn't seem to make many plays. He should shine in his shorts at the Combine, but he's going to have to get tougher and more consistent to the ball on the field. He should be a Top 100 prospect based on his look, but his overall play doesn't deliver the goods.

    ANTHONY HARRIS/FS/VIRGINIA #8 6'1/190  Virginia has been one of the biggest surprises in the country this year. Expected to be a bottom feeder in the ACC, again, the team is 4-3 (with a tough schedule), which doubles its win total from 2013.The surge has primarily been led by stout defensive work. And the best player on that D is HARRIS. He led the nation with 8 INT last season, while racking up 80 tackles. His INT count is only at 1 so far, but through 7 games he's already been credited with 65 total tackles. He flew all over the field in the tight loss to DUKE, recording 14 tackles for the game, as well as 1 PBU and 1 QBH. Despite being under 200 lbs. he gives receivers and runners cause for pause with his violent hits. He even dings himself at times with the speed and violence of his tackles. He has great field vision and ball awareness. His energy and effort are relentless. His size and style of play remind me of... wait for it... ED REED. He may not be a First Rounder next May, but he should be. He would upgrade half the secondaries in the NFL the first time he walked out onto the field. I luv me some ANTHONY HARRIS and look forward to watching him up close and personal in Mobile next January.

    MARCUS MURPHY/RB/RS/MISSOURI #6 5'9/195  Now that I have freed up my mind from its "little guy" complex I present another short guy who is dynamite in a bottle. Get the ball into his hands 15 times a game, or more, and he will be a difference maker for your team. And after watching him 4 times this season I don't even care what he runs for a 40-time at the COMBINE. His work this past weekend against Florida in the Swamp was the perfect example of how this explosive playmaker can change a game for his team. MURPHY began the game by taking the opening kick-off 96 yards for a TD. He rushed the ball only 8 times for a paltry 23 yards, but did score another TD. THen he capped off his days work with an 82-yard Punt Return for a TD. The Mizzou Offense was almost as bad as the Gators, but MURPHY's work made it look like a landslide offensive performance. I have very little doubt that MURPHY will be just as effective as a pro with his multi-dimensional skill work. Any solid NFL team looking for a playmaker would be silly not to draft this guy. The only question is how early in the DRAFT?

    CODY RIGGS/CB/PR/NOTRE DAME #2 5'9/185  This feisty, athletic little CB has been a big part of the fine start to the Domers' season. His number one asset is his change of direction ability, which is key for a Corner, especially in the pro game. His speed is good, his quickness exceptional. He's also pretty aggressive in support of the run defense for his size. RIGGS had his moments at FSU, and held up well overall. He shows some nice shake and bake in the Punt Return game, and is dependable at fielding punts. I don't see a guy who strikes me as an NFL starting CB. But I do think he will make a good Nickel Back and play a serious role on Special Teams. With those return skills and his tackling ability he should be able to play on all Special Teams units. Mark him down as a late Round PIck, 5-7.

    DERRON SMITH/FS/FRESNO STATE #13 5'11/200   This hard hitting, ball hawking FS is considered to be among the top S prospects for 2015. His 2103 season cemented him as such. He's not putting up the numbers, especially in Picks this year, but as many talent evaluators like to say most INT are as much luck as skill. His all-around skills are what attract scouts. He is just as happy to play in the box against the run as he is to drop into coverage. He's a solid tackler who displays good form and energy. Against Boise I thought he took some poor angles to the ball and missed a few tackles. But no one is perfect. He runs sideline to sideline and shows good ability to find the ball and pursue. In a tight game he made a big 3rd down TFL late in the 2nd Quarter to keep Boise from tacking on a late score. EVerything about his play is better than average and when you roll that into a neat package it makes him a potential NFL starter, with solid Special Teams potential.

    P.J. WILLIAMS/CB/FLORIDA STATE #26 6'0/200  An awful lot of folks have this guy marked down as an elite NFL CB prospect. I am not sold yet. He is a supremely talented athlete with the size and speed you look for. And overall he had solid coverage on Notre Dame receivers Saturday night. He has super confidence in his own ability which is critical in the make-up of a shut down Corner. He also demonstrated to my eyes that he will make tackles downfield. My biggest criticism of his play against ND was his propensity to get rubbed off of his man on crossing plays, at which point he stopped hard pursuit and watched the play from 10-20 yards away. Big gains resulted several times when he failed to fight his way through the picks and pursue in an attempt to catch up with his man. That won't fly at the next level. His desire needs to catch up with his physical skills. I began noticing RONALD DARBY out on the field with his more aggressive style of play in the second half, and less of PJ. He might be best served to return for his senior season and work on his toughness and desire to finish every play even when beaten. Especially if he fancies himself as a First Rounder.

    T.J. YELDON/RB/ALABAMA #4 6'1/220   After relatively disappointing NFL results for 'Bama RB like INGRAM & RICHARDSON this century the football world seems almost indifferent to the exploits of YELDON. Yet after watching him closely this year in 4 games,  he looks like the brightest RB prospect since  a guy named ALEXANDER left the Crimson Tide for a strong NFL career. And YELDON is clearly faster than ALEXANDER. My notes indicate that his patience and vision in picking his holes is exceptional. I also believe that he has excellent balance and shakes free of anything but a full contact tackle attempt. He is strong enough to move the pile at the end of runs if needed. Although not a pure speedster, he is a long striding, smooth runner with little wasted motion. EVen though he shares carries in the 'Bama backfield he gets max results in his limited touches. As Alabama absolutely dominated TEXAS A&M this past Saturday YELDON romped for 114 yards and 1 TD on only 13 touches. They don't throw much to him, but he seems to have soft hands and moves naturally out in space. For his size I am surprised at his jump-cut and explosion ability. Assuming he comes out for the 2015 DRAFT I see him in a small group of elite backs that will be hard to pass on for the entire first round.


    Ocrober 15: Here's a look at Draft eligible guys who caught my eye this past week in college football, though, not all of them in a positive manner.

    MICHAEL BENNETT/DT/OHIO STATE #63 6'2/290   To be totally honest I do not see how some people have his guy in their First Round Draft projections. He is likely to be pretty scheme limited because of his size, or lack thereof. In the Buckeyes impressive win over Maryland I saw him get lost in the wash as an undersized guy, just as often as I saw him use his speed and quickness to impact a play. He will need to go to a pro system like the SEA HAWKS where speed and quickness are most important at almost all the defensive spots on their roster. In fact, I see him being a very similar pro to his namesake with the SEA HAWKS. If he gets moved around and unleashed most of the time to rush the passer he can be a big-time playmaker at the next level. But even a mediocre Terps OL stymied him at the line-of-scrimmage more times than not especially against the run. For my money he's 2nd Round material for about less than half the NFL teams, at best.

    ANDRE DEBOSE/RS/ATH/FLORIDA #4 6'0/190  I'd still have to admit that it is very unlikely DEBOSE gets drafted next May, but he's likely to post a sub 4.4/40 at the COMBINE (if invited) or his Pro Day. And that alone will get attention in NFL Personnel Departments. He's been injured more than he has been healthy in college. He's also not defined what actual position from scrimmage he might play, but his explosiveness as a return man is elite. He has blazing speed, good field vision and good balance. Sound like a guy named HESTER a bit?! While trying to help the Gators beat LSU without much of a contribution from their Offense, DEBOSE got a crack at 2 Punt returns and took them 62 & 53 yards respectively. The longer one he took to the house for a TD. His speed and elusiveness will make some NFL team want to spend some time trying to find him playing time from scrimmage for him. I'd say that if he stays healthy this entire season and blows up his workouts some NFL team will be highly tempted to take a 7th Round flyer on him. If AL DAVIS were still alive DEBOSE would go in the first 3 Rounds.

    TREY FLOWERS/DE/ARKANSAS #86 6'4/267  FLOWERS is a very different player from CHRIS SMITH who went to the JAGUARS this past Draft as a speed pass-rush specialist. FLOWERS does not have the burst into the pocket that SMITH possesses. But he's a better all-around player. His game situation awareness is highly praised by his coaches. He will try to stand and fight against the run, but needs a SAM-LB supporting him. ARKANSAS almost got the Crimson Tide last weekend and FLOWERS stats give clear indication as to what kind of player he is. For the game he was credited with 8 tackles, including 3 TFL and 1 sack. He also had 1 PBU. He gives his team that kind of effort and productivity week in and week out. For an NFL team that feels he can be a solid fit for their defensive scheme I'd expect him to be a 3rd Rounder. He should also be pretty impressive with his football smarts in interview situations.

    DAVID HELTON/LB/DUKE #47 6'4/230  HELTON is typical of a lot of today's college athletes. They do a lot of good things out on the field of play, and are significantly better than the average player of 10+ years ago. But when you add up the total of their parts it is still unlikely they can count on a pro sports career as being in their future. HELTON is a long framed player who reacts well to the ball. But he's not an impact guy because he's a tick too slow and not strong enough to throw people around. But how do you ignore a guy who had 133 tackles in 2013? He was all over the field again in the big road win at GA TECH. He was credited with 4 tackles against Tech, though he was around the ball constantly. Once again however, he had no impact plays. It is his lack of Sacks, TFL, FF & INT that makes him just another guy in the big picture of things. His hustle and smarts could win him a Special Teams job for a while in the pro game.He's also an academic All-America. I think he goes to an NFL Training Camp next summer (if he wants to), but just don't see him getting drafted in May.  

    DUKE JOHNSON/RB/MIAMI #8 5'9/205   JOHNSON is a special player in a lot of ways. He's a leader by example and is also not afraid to make his voice heard on the sideline. Most of his noise is from his contention that he's a difference maker and needs the ball in his hands more. I can't argue with that. He's quick in and out of moves and can turn on the jets when he gets out in wide open spaces. When in doubt he will attempt to run through and over defenders. THE DUKE has good balance and runs with low pad level, always driving forward to finish the play. He'll pound between the tackles but has enough speed to get to the corner. Even though he doesn't have a lot of catches on his resume' he is a dependable receiver. Against Cincinnati he carried the ball 10 times for 162 yards and 2 TD. His long run in that stat was an 80-yarder. He also caught 4 balls out of the backfield. He's a decent blocker in pass pro and should improve under NFL coaching. He's a Top 100 player in my mind, but he'll need to go to a team with a coaching staff that can handle his fiery temperament, without it becoming a distraction to his team. He's going to leave MIami as their all-time total yardage leader because in addition to his running acumen he also has return skills that often get lost at MIami with all of its speedster receivers returning most of the time. I project that he will come out early and get drafted in Round 3, which will just place another big ship on his shoulders.

    VINCE MAYLE/WR/WASHINGTON STATE #1 6'3/220  This former Juco player has played a key role in the Leach-led resurgence of Wazoo football. Even if they don't win many games they are now scaring opponents, especially with their offense. MAYLE is a sure handed, big bodied receiver who doesn't lose many possession battles with defenders. He has above average speed and dependable hands. I don't actually see him as the perfect fit for this kind of run & gun Offense. He's better served for the pro power game ala SAN DIEGO, where he will be targeted more often. He's not afraid to come across the middle and seems to really track the ball well once it is in the air. Against the tough and physical STANFORD Defense last weekend he tallied 6 catches for 78 yards and 1TD. He's a really solid athlete with a long, smooth stride to his deep patterns. He can gain some extra yards after the catch because he will break tackles of smaller defenders. Because of those qualities he has more big play potential than his speed might indicate. He also looks like he has some serious potential as a Kick Returner at the next level. Post season play in All-Star venues will help establish his final draft status, but I'm liking this guy as an even more productive pro than collegian.

    TYRONE MONTGOMERY/WR/RS/STANFORD   #7 6'2/215After watching this talented young athlete perform well again against Washington State I am still trying to project just how well his game is going to translate to the NFL. He's a jack of all trades and master of most as a collegian. He's always leading his team in total yards gained. In addition to catching the ball he runs a few reverses and even handles their "wildcat" package at times. He's also a prolific Kick Returner (30.3 yards per return in 2013) who has added Punt Returns to his workload this season. Against Washington State he caught 7 balls for 72 yards. He returned 3 punts for an average of 21 yards per and added 70 yards more on 3 Kick Returns. He's got a long. lean body and I am guessing his hands are above average in size watching him hand snatch the ball, especially along the sidelines. And yet I am not sold that he will be an elite pro. He is smooth and glides around with long strides. He also seems to see the whole field and picks his openings well, whether running patterns or on returns. But I don't see any burst or third gear to his game. He falls somewhere in between TIM BROWN and LARRY FITZGERALD when I watch him in action. His numbers indicate a First Round talent, but something concerns me about that seeming lack of explosion. Somehow my mind is saying a very good No. 2 WR for some NFL team, but not an elite receiver.

    ANDRUS PEAT/OT/STANFORD #70 6'67/310  An awful lot of folks have PEAT projected to be a TOP 10 prospect. And in today's NFL everyone is always looking for elite pass protectors. But I am going to temper my enthusiasm for this big guy just a bit. Round 1; yes. Top 10; not for my taste. He's long and athletic, with agile footwork and good balance. He needs some serious weight room work at the NFL level. He pushes defenders around with his long arms and quickness, but does not dominate and pancake. He's good in his back-peddle, but can be susceptible to both strong and fast pass-rushers. He does not dominate the line-of-scrimmage in goal line and short yardage situations. He reminds me greatly of another top Stanford OT named BOB WHITFIELD. As a pro WHITFIELD was sound and functional, but not All-World. That is what PEAT looks like to me right now. He will start for 10-years in the NFL but may not get to many Pro Bowls. This may sound crazy given his size, but he's more of a finesse player than a dominant presence right now.

    TERRANCE PLUMMER/ILB/UCF #41 6'1/240  With the departure of BLAKE BORTLES/QB to the NFL, the UCF Offense has wilted this season. Consequently, more and more has been asked of the Knight's defense to win ball games. The team is a bit talent deprived in its front seven, with the big exception of PLUMMER. He led the team in tackles in 2013 with 110. His demonically possessed style of play this year may allow him to eclipse that mark by season's end. This past Thursday night UCF held off BYU for a 31-24 OT home victory. And the Tasmanian Devil leading the D was PLUMMER, who had to leave the game in OT with cramping in the still 80-degree plus Florida night. PLUMMER filled up the stats sheet and notebooks of scouts watching the contest. His game total were as follows: 17 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 pass break-up. The rumor that he sold popcorn at halftime is urban legend. He will likely test out in the middle of the pack in a Combine setting, but he gets a lot done on-the-grass in games. Count on him to earn his keep on Special Teams alone at least for the start of his pro career. He should be draftable Rounds 5-7 and should really help improve the bottom dozen on some NFL roster going forward.

    CODY PREWITT/S/OLE MISS #25 6'2/215  Now that the Rebels are proving to be the real deal with wins over 'Bama & A&M, the accolades are rolling in for some of their leading players. As an NFL prospect for 2015 PREWITT is probably their No.1 guy. He appears to have the size and athleticism to fight for an NFL starting job. He's also showing some savvy and maturity this season. In the big road win in College Station his 1st-half 75-yard pick-6 seemed to be the play that convinced his teammates that they could control the game and not get caught up in an offensive shootout with the Aggies. Typical of the all-around steady work he's been doing he was also credited with 7 tackles for his evening's work. His lack of elite speed keeps him from being a top prospect, but his size and ability to tackle in space give him a solid shot to be an early Special Teams standout and sub-package contributor. I think his Combine numbers will determine whether he's a 3rd or 4th Rounder come May.

    JAXON SHIPLEY/WR/RS/TEXAS #8 6'1/195   Clearly, anything JAXON does will be compared to his older brother Jordan, who was productive as a Longhorn, and had a decent turn on NFL depth charts. But from watching him play, I believe that JAXON has better speed and quickness than his brother and a better chance to be a productive receiver in the NFL. He has not been blessed with an exceptional QB at Texas because of injury issues to DAVID ASH, primarily concussions. But he runs his patterns sharply and gets open regularly, based on a nice combination of quickness and good route running. As the LONGHORNS gave Oklahoma all they could handle last Saturday JAXON caught 9 balls for 115 yards, though failing to make it into the end zone. He also returned 2 punts for an average of 22.5 yards. He might want to gain another 10 lbs. for the pro game, but that should not adversely affect his decent, not great, speed greatly. He works the entire field and has very dependable hands. The sidelines are among his best friends on game day. He won't make many Top 100 prospect lists, but I see a guy who could go in Round 4 and in a couple of seasons be a No. 3/4 NFL WR and steady Special Teams contributor.

    LAKEN TOMLINSON/OG/DUKE #77 6'3/320   Sometimes it's hard to break a mental stereotype of what kind of prospects come out of certain colleges. It hasn't been often in my 50+ years of watching college football that a really good big guy comes out of the Duke football program. Watching TOMLINSON forces me to adjust that perception. Has a chance to start over 50 games as a Blue Devil. Was first team All-ACC in 20134. He has the wide base and natural knee bend that NFL OL coaches are looking for. He's not an elite athlete, but he's not just another big guy either. He moves well whether backing into pass pro or firing out to pull and/or get a second level block. Were he a bit taller and longer he has he feet to give it a try at OT, but why mess with a good thing?! TOMLINSON plays smart and hard. He also does a nice job of staying on his feet and off the ground most of the time. Maybe you could wish for a little bit more aggressive player, but he's certainly not a softie. Most NFL teams will find it appealing that he played in an offense that required both run blocking and NFL style pass pro. He's currently working on getting himself into a Friday Draft slot next May.

    October 8
    MALCOM BUNCHE/OT/UCLA #78 6'6/320 The MIami-grad/transfer was originally slated to play LG for the Bruins, but he showed the coaching staff that he was capable of anchoring that OL at LT. The big guy was never a full-time starter for the Hurricanes in South Florida, but has emerged immediately as the main body guard for HUNDLEY's blind side. He's a well conditioned player who carries his 320 lbs. well on his long frame. He moves his feet well whether sliding around in pass-pro or getting to second level blocks in the running game. In the two games that I have watched him so far this season I saw him remain on the field til the end, even fighting through an ankle issue in the Texas game. His maturity and athleticism have been a god-send for both the UCLA coaching staff as well as MR. HUNDLEY. He's gone from a curiosity to a solid draftable prospect with his play so far this season.

    LA'EL COLLINS/OT/LSU #70 6'5/310 For as many players as LES MILES has put into the NFL during his tenure at LSU, guys at the OL positions have not fared as well at the next level as say RB/WR/DB/DL... well to be honest almost every position but QB. COLLINS may be the next exception to that trend. COLLINS wisely came back for his senior season and has been elite in his overall play thus far this season. Although some still consider him a better prospect at OG, I don't see why. When I have watched him against UW & MS. ST. he has looked very proficient on the outside in both the run game and in pass pro. His large frame and long arms allow him to keep defenders off his body. For his size, he shuffles his feet well. COLLINS leaves his feet more than I would like to see when he is run blocking to cut defenders. Getting his pad level low is of course a challenge for him and may explain this habit. But he is long enough and agile enough to complete most of those run blocks while upright, thus allowing him to make another clean-up block if the play gets further upfield. Better hand/arm use would aid in that scenario. He may not be an immediate NFL starter, but he has a chance, and should develop further with ongoing coaching at the NFL level. He's on the cusp of being a first rounder next May.

    COREY CRAWFORD/DE/CLEMSON #93 6'5/270 If you took a picture of this guy out on the field, in uniform, in his stance waiting for the snap most would look at the shot and say, 'superior athletic specimen, elite player'. Sad to say that hasn't happened yet for CRAWFORD. He is not appreciably better than he was playing in all 14 games as a true freshman. To my eyes much of that is due to what appears to be a non-flexible body. Most of the time he springs straight up at the snap and runs stiffly after the ball. He often fails to set the edge on his side of the field if the ball comes back at him. His quickness is minimal, and he only gains speed if he can run in a straight line. He can penetrate straight ahead and get into the backfield so if the ball comes his way he may make a play. At times he uses his arms/hands to move blockers away from his body, but he also dances way too much with blockers. I also don't think he acts like an all-out effort warrior. He's a better athlete than line-mate JARRETT, but his motor  (and productivity) cannot compare. His physical appearance will likely cause some NFL team to draft him, but it will be Day 3 and at best they may be getting a 4-3 DL rotation player, who comes out on passing downs to make way for a more effective pass-rusher.

    AMARLO HERRERA/ILB/GEORGIA #52 6'2/240 He was second on the Bulldogs 2013 defense in total tackles with 112. He reportedly came back to school for his senior year at a trimmed down 240 lbs. And he does look even quicker than in the past. He's surprisingly adept in pass coverage over the middle of the field. He can keep up with TE/RB in that first 10 yard area. He's a complete backer who uses his solid body to plug the middle of the field against the run. Often, when AMARLO meets the ball carrier the pad pop is explosive. Despite more pub for his inside mate RAMIK WILSON, it is HERRERA who stayed out on the field for all three downs. In fact I started the UGA/TENN game watching and taking notes on WILSON. By the end of the first quarter it was clear I might not been watching the more complete, productive player, at least on this day. WILSON may have more athletic upside, but by Draft Saturday some NFL team will take this productive player, who also has Special Teams Ace written all over his style of play.

    SEAN MANNION/QB/OREGON STATE #4 6'5/220 An awful lot of folks have MANNION as a potential high round Draft selection for next May. His size, above average arm and experience have great appeal. But I am not among his fans, and his play against USC was an example of why I am skeptical of his pro potential. Purely and simply put, he wilts under pressure. Take a look at his final stats in the resounding loss to theTrojans.  He was 15/32-123 yards -0 TD- 2 INT. As the Trojans got ahead and turned up the pass pressure MANNION's body and facial language was that of a deer in the headlights; frozen with fear. He piles up his impressive stats against over-matched opponents then comes up small in the big boy games. HC MIKE RILEY has him coached up as best he can, but when the pocket starts to collapse MANNION falls to pieces, like a CARSON PALMER. He'll probably pad his stats this coming week against Colorado, but will fade down the stretch against defenses like STANFORD, OREGON & WASHINGTON. I've watched his pattern of play for 3 years and it has not changed. There is no way this player should be drafted before Day 3.

    HOWARD MATTHEWS/S/TEXAS A&M #31 6'2/215 Task one for KEVIN SUMLIN at A&M this season was to toughen up an athletic but over matched defense from 2013. They may not be dominant yet, but there are signs of improvement. One of the leaders by example for the AGGIES D is MATTHEWS who has been a solid starter for the team during his career in College Station. He has 20 career starts coming into 2014. He's a solid in-the-box guy who piled up 90 tackles for the AGGIES in 2013. He also can play the pass as evidenced by his 9 PBU and 3 INT last season. He was key in the win over Arkansas, cleaning up downfield on the many occasions when RB got through the A&M DL. He's a solid leader who sets an example with his play and attitude for his younger teammates. He had a key PBU late in the game on an attempted 3rd down pass to Arkansas' star TE/HENRY. I would also project him as a solid Special Teams candidate at the pro level. Mark him down as draftable, Day 3.

    DESMOND ROLAND/RB/OKLAHOMA STATE #26 6'2/210 There is something to be said for a college RB who will run between the tackles, block in pass pro and pretty much do whatever the caching staff asks him to. That is ROLAND in a nutshell. But he lacks the speed and/or quickness IMO to play at the next level. He's just not fast or quick enough to get around defenders. He's also not stout enough to move that line-of-scrimmage. He's even a tad slower than JOE RANDLE who preceded him at Okie State as the primary RB option, and who is struggling to remain as the 3rd string RB in Dallas right now. Against TX TECH ROLAND ran for 23- 86- 1TD, while sharing RB duties. He's a slid collegian, who I just don't see having anything special enough to make him draftable.

    MARTELL SPEIGHT/OLB/ARKANSAS #47 6'0/228 Even just a few years ago a guy with SPEIGHT's size and skill set would only rate a Training Camp invite as an URFA, with a slight chance to play a couple of years as a Special Teamer in the League. But in today's pass-happy NFL a slightly undersized guy with speed and quickness can also help out on passing downs. SPEIGHTS could turn out to be such a guy. He's a JUCO transfer who played a little last season as a junior, but really came to life this past Spring Practice session for the Razorbacks. Now he's a starter and is flying all over the field making tackles for them. He had double-digit tackles against A&M and was all over the field this past weekend. His speed disrupted several play calls. He's also an incredibly vicious, though clean, tackler for his size. He's like a heat seeking missile, with a nose for the ball. Should make a dynamic Special Teams player, especially on coverage units. Based on his overall play this season so far, he looks like a draftable player in the later rounds.

    JAELEN STRONG/WR/ARIZONA STATE #21 6'4/215 STRONG looks to me like a man among boys right now, ala a guy named ALSHON currently playing with DA BEARS. He looks even bigger than his listed size, but his body remains very flexible and he's already quite adept at locating and catching back-shoulder throws. He uses the sideline to his advantage with his leaping ability and big frame allowing him to screen defenders off the ball. He's also good at locating the ball in the air. A strong runner after the catch, he works the middle of the field fearlessly. He took quite a licking at times from the Trojans secondary last Thursday night, but kept coming back for more, finishing the game with 12 grabs, for 146 yards. That is with the back-up QB starting. The Sun Devils also featured him on dump-off screens to the wide side of the field, where he used his size and straight line speed to good advantage wracking up yardage ala STERLING SHARPE. He's also the team's go-to guy for 3rd down catches. He led the team with 75 catches in 2013 and could be a candidate for 100 catches this year. If he stays healthy I see no reason for him NOT to enter the 2015 Draft. He looks to me to be a Top 5 WR prospect and ready to move on. His job at ASU is just about done.

    JUSTIN WORLEY/QB/TENNESSEE #14 6'4/225 BUTCH JONES is off to a flying start rebuilding the VOLS football program to SEC prominence. As he recruits in all areas to rebuild roster talent, a very pleasant surprise has been the QB play of senior WORLEY. WORLEY finally got a shot at serious playing time last season and looked OK. But his play behind a completely new OL this season is off to a rousing start after 4 games. His gritty play in the near upset of GEORGIA, on the road was inspiring to his young teammates. Under heavy pressure all day WORLEY hung in there, even returning to play after injuring his throwing arm elbow. His final stats don't even tell the whole story of his effort, but they are indeed impressive. WORLEY was 23/35 (67%), 264-yards, 3 TD, 0 INT. Compare those numbers with MANNION's above. The big guy can spin the ball and make every kind of throw. He stands tall in the pocket to make his reads and throws. Though not a runner, he moves around a bit. He shows the kind of guts and determination that a pro QB must have to be successful. He is coming on fast and I believe is looking late draftable. I'd luv to see this guy down at the Shrine venue come January.


    AMEER ABDULLAH/RB/NEBRASKA #8 5'9/200 ... For the past two years I have been ignoring the exploits of ABDULLAH, because somehow I got it in my disjointed brain that he was too small for full-time NFL wars. Then a light went on and I thought of DARREN SPROLES & ANDRE ELLINGTON. So I decided it was time to watch him with a scout's eye and what better game to pick than against the always physical Hurricanes. The quickness and tenacity of this young man took my breath away. My notes on his play in this game were a full page long. He's tough as nails, getting most of his yardage running between the Tackles. His forward lean is constant, thereby maximizing his gains. He's an explosive jump-cut runner who seldom goes down on first contact. His lean-style puts him even closer to the ground and makes him a tough target to find and hit. He can squat in excess of 550 lbs. to give you an idea of his lower body strength. He ripped around and through the 'CANES Defense for 229 yards on 35 carries. He also displayed explosive return skills. In this game he passed JOHNNY RODGERS as the Nebraska all-time yardage leader. He's the real deal and has to be a Top 100 prospect. I can think of 20 NFL teams for which he could be their No.1 RB. Think RAY RICE with considerably more speed and explosion. Wait past Round 2 and he's already off Draft Boards next May.

    STEPHONE ANTHONY/LB/CLEMSON #42 6'2/235 ... The Clemson defense had a chance to come up big against the Seminoles with WINSTON suspended and ANTHONY led the way. Most of the night DC BRENT VENABLES unleashed the hounds, chief amongst them being ANTHONY. ANTHONY used his strength and quickness to full advantage and spent a great deal of time in the FSU backfield. He was used effectively on multiple blitzes and was very aggressive at shooting gaps to grab RB in the backfield. He also displayed his ability to drop into pass coverage whether it was covering RB out in the flat for dump offs or locking onto TE over the middle of the field. In the 4th Quarter he was the guy who tipped a pass intended for NICK O'LEARY that resulted in an INT and the Tigers final TD drive of the night. He's probably best suited for a 3-4 scheme as a pro, but I have a feeling he'll post some very impressive numbers at the COMBINE that will fit almost all schemes. He has good size and excellent athleticism. Could be best suited outside in a 4-3 scheme as a pro. He's a true top 100 guy who came up big on the biggest stage of all last Saturday.

    THURSTON ARMBRISTER/OLB/MIAMI #34 6'3/235 ... It's not a scouting note, but yes he was named after the THURSTON HOWELL, the 3rd, character on Gilligan's Island. He has really made his mark as a senior earning a starting OLB job. He is a big hitter, like many Hurricane defenders, and has good ball instincts. He is very strong against the run, but can also run with receivers in space. He can indeed be called upon for an occasional blitz with his speed. ARMBRISTER was a part time starter in 2013 and is well on his way to eclipsing his 33 tackles from last year. He plays like a man who should get to show his stuff in the post-season. I like his look a lot as an under the radar senior prospect. Look for him to be at the SHRINE venue, and post some solid numbers at the COMBINE.

    AMARI COOPER/WR/ALABAMA #9 6'1/205 ... Clearly, COOPER is the best WR in this year's prospect list. He's just a notch below SAMMY WATKINS from last year, because he does not possess the explosiveness of SAMMY. He came too 'Bama as a five star recruit at 5'11/85 lbs. Much to the delight of NFL personnel people he continues to grow physically as he refines his receiving skills. We didn't quite see the elite match-up we hoped for with Florida's premier CB/HARGREAVES who was in and out of the lineup with dings & nicks much of the day. But it didn't seem to matter how the Gators tried to defend him COOPER  got open. His first big play of the day was a 79-yard TD catch in the first quarter. By day's end AMARI had 10 catches, for 201 yards and 3 TD. He's a "hands-catcher" who can go long, but is also willing to work the middle of he field as well. He picks throws out of the air, tucks the ball away and runs past people. No doubt in my mind that he is the best all-around receiver for the 2015 Draft and deserves Top 10 selection like WATKINS last year.

    MARIO EDWARDS/DE/FLORIDA STATE #15 6'3/295 ... We only got to watch EDWARDS for a half against Clemson, because he suffered a concussion on a group tackle late in the second quarter. But it was not hard to see what his game is all about, and how it likely translates to an NFL career. He looks even bigger than his listed size, and people just bounce off of his solid frame when he gets a solid hitting angle. Stout, would be my best shot at describing this man/child. He has  decent range for his size, but is a bit tight. He looks best suited for a 3-4 DE slot as a pro. He is not much of a pass-rusher because quickness is not his game. He also looks to have average arm length. Despite his NFL pedigree genes, I don't see him as an elite athlete or prospect. Again, a guy who would be a solid 2nd Rounder. He also looks to be a good fit for a team like Green Bay, which uses a 2-man DL a significant amount of the time.

    B.J. FINNEY/OC/KANSAS STATE #66 6'4/305 ... I always like to find those OL who are grinders and fundamentally sound. They often do better as a pro than some of the more athletic players, especially on the interior. FINNEY is as solid as they come. He calls the line play assignments and was very effective getting out to second level blocks against a very deep and athletic Auburn defensive front. He can be bullied at times by massive NT types, as was evidenced in the Wildcats TD drive. The actual TD run went outside but FINNEY was simply knocked backwards, and on his ass, in the center of the formation. He's clearly pumped up and as weight-room strong as he is likely to get. He may also be a bit slow afoot for a precision-passing Offense, but I could see him fighting for an NFL job on a power running team like either San Diego or Kansas City. RIght now he reminds me of a NICK HARDWICK over achiever. He has played OG so might have serious NFL value as an Interior OL back-up. I like his play and attitude, but can't see him in my Top 100 list.

    TRE' JACKSON/OG/FLORIDA STATE #54 6'4/340 ... The past couple of years have provided some seriously good, monstrous OG for the NFL. I'm thinking of LARRY WARFORD/LIONS, CHANCE WARMACK/TITANS & GABE JACKSON/RAIDERS. Here comes your next jumbo sized, surprisingly athletic OG. I saw JACKSON running downfield 20+ yards on multiple occasions Saturday night looking for 3rd level blocking opportunities. I also noticed that the Clemson blitz action went away from JACKSON's area. On almost every play TRE' had his man locked up and stoned at the line-of-scrimmage. I will go so far as to say that if every member of the FSU OL had played as effectively as JACKSON did, there would have been more of a running game established, and much less pressure by Clemson on stand-in QB/MAGUIRE. I did not check official game stats, but I do not recall #54 being called for any of the multiple OL penalties in this game against FSU. He was the most effective of the 5 FSU senior OL Saturday night. He's in my Top 50 right now.

    TYLER LOCKETT/WR/RS/KANSAS STATE #16 5'11/175 ... It wasn't a great performance by LOCKETT against AUBURN, but it was a solid opportunity to watch him work against a very talented Defense, that was clearly focussed on minimizing his impact on the game. He was double-teamed all night long, which in part allowed teammate SEXTON to lead the Wildcats in receptions. LOCKETT dropped 2 balls in my notes, including a bullet throw in the end zone that got through his hands and bounced off his chest, and the resultant deflection resulted in an INT. Elite receivers cannot let that happen. But overall he made some nice catches amongst his 6 balls for 45 yards. He showed very well as a Punt Returner, and got to display his jitter bug, multi-move running style. He's quick enough to break open and fast enough to run long. He looks like a TD waiting to happen on almost every return that gets past the first 5 yards. He showed his acrobatic moves on some jump balls against multiple defenders. The lack of a running game by K-State allowed AUBURN to concentrate on shutting him down all night long. In an NFL Offense, with a strong armed QB, I see LOCKETT as being the same explosive kind of threat as DeSEAN JACKSON, now in Washington. If this is his weakest effort, against an elite team, geared to shut him down, then he's still a top WR prospect in my book. 

    NICK MARSHALL/QB/ATH/AUBURN #10 6'1/210 .. He's not RG3, but I'm not prepared to close the book on MARSHALL as an NFL Athlete and 3rd string QB option. When he got in a groove in the second half against K-State he was slicing up their defense with some excellent throws both short and long. He finished the night, against a solid though not great Wildcat defense, with 17/31- 231 yards- 2 TD- 1 INT. He also ran 10 times for 46 yards. He's a good all around athlete with quick feet and a head for the game. If he can display some strong athleticism at the COMBINE and impress teams at the white board he could become a late Draft Pick. Being that he plays for AUBURN I wold expect he will get an audition for the NFL during Senior Bowl Week. It could be quite interesting. He looks like a bigger bodied, better armed DENARD ROBINSON to me.

    CLIVE WARFORD/TE/MIAMI #46 6'4/260 ... Purely and simply, in two games I have watched Miami play this season against Louisville and Oklahoma, WARFORD grades out as the best all-around TE prospect I have seen this month. He has ideal size and above average athleticism. Against Nebraska he caught 7 balls for 80 yards and a TD. And he's not just a dump-off target. I saw him 15+ yards down the field on 3 different occasions. He's a solid blocker right now, but pro scouts will be looking for improvement in that area as the season wears on. He displays dependable hands and better than average body control and flexibility for a man his size. He can run a bit after the catch and will make DB pay for tackling him low. A good, not great, player who has a chance to move up Draft Boards in this mediocre draft eligible group at the TE position. As his Freshman QB improves WARFORD could be a serious beneficiary of more targetting in the Hurricanes passing attack.


    CARDEN is the "sleeper" in the 2015 QB DRAFT group in my opinion. He runs the show for a mid-level program and does it quite well. He came out like gang busters against VA TECH, then leveled off as the coaches got a bit predictable and TECH's Defense got after him. But after TECH tied up the game late it was CARDEN who pretty much ran the whole show engineering the winning TD drive. He has an above average arm and decent mobility in the pocket. He's a step too slow to be a real running threat. He can put touch on the ball, and I really like his quick release. He makes mistakes in his reads too often and forces the ball into coverage. Accuracy can be an issue in streaks. His final game stats are good, but his completion percentage was way too low. He went 23/47-427 yards and 3 TD passes, 0 INT. Some of his issues came from working against a defense which was athletically superior to most of his offensive mates, especially the OL. I say he's a great candidate as a 3rd Round PIck next May going to a team with a QB guru on the coaching staff, and a vet QB starter in his early to mid 30's. Given a couple of years to be nurtured by NFL coaching his talent could translate into an NFL starting job in 2-3 years. Overall, he is the real deal, who has room for improvement in a more sophisticated system.

    DAVID COBB/RB/MINNESOTA #27 5'11/225
    This was a tough game to grade COBB on since the team speed of TCU was so much better than Minnesota that the Offense was stymied all day long. But in that tough setting COBB showed enough to make me think he's a late draftable prospect. He is quicker than fast, but made some very nice cuts to and through the hole, when there was one to find. He also showed nice hands and movement with the ball after the catch. They did seem to use him less when they were counting on the RB to block I pass pro, but that's not for lack of effort on his part. My most important note on the day was that he looked shifty and quick for his weight. If presented with a decent hole to run through he looks like a back who will bounce and cut his way to 5-15 yards with some regularity. In essence he will get what's blocked. I'd rate him as a solid NFL candidate for a 3-man RB rotation for teams like WASHINGTON and the CHARGERS. He's going to have some big number days in the Big 10 schedule. A decent Day 3 Draft candidate.

    SEAN HICKEY/OT/SYRACUSE  #60 6'5/295
    It is almost too easy, and certainly dangerous, to get carried away comparing players to guys from their school who played the same position, but in some cases it is too obvious to avoid. HICKEY looks and plays for all the world like JUSTIN PUGH, who preceded him at The CUSE at the same LT slot. He's a trim athletic tackle who uses his hands/arms well to control his opponents, and moves his feet like a jumbo ballerina. He's not overpowering in the running game, but he uses his length and athleticism to move defenders in the direction he wants, to direct them away from the running hole. You might not want to run at his side in a goal line situation when the jumbo DL is on the field. Don't dismiss this performance because it was against a MAC team in Central Michigan. The DL for the Chippewas is deep and has some quality players this year. I'm not convinced he's a first rounder, but just like PUGH, certain teams in the League may grade him very highly and take him late on Day One of the DRAFT. Any precision passing offense would be a good fit for him.

    CHUCKY HUNTER/DT/TCU #96 6'1/300
    The good news is that this guy is clearly a team leader and well respected by his teammates. He works hard and never gives up on a play. But it was also pretty clear to my eyes that he's just another guy when it comes to having NFL potential. He's a space eater of sorts, but does not make very many plays. He lacks the quickness to shoot gaps and gets caught up in the wash much of the time. It looks as if his arms are fairly short, which is another strike against him. He's going to be part of a DL rotation at best, and near the bottom of a 53-man roster. Having said all that he did force a fumble and actually dropped into shallow pass coverage effectively a couple of times. I doubt he'll rank as draftable on my ist at season's end, but I would certainly consider bringing him into an NFL Training Camp if my team played a base 4-3 scheme.  

    A.J. JOHNSON/ILB/TENNESSEE #45 6'2/245
    JOHNSON has been a star for the VOLS since his freshman season. He was 1st Team SEC last season and came back for his senior season. That may have been a wise decision since he has had several disciplinary situations while in Knoxville. But to his credit he keeps earning his way back onto the roster and is the leader of a very young defensive unit this season. He had 324 career tackles coming into this season. He's a smart player with elite level athleticism. He looked out of place at times against Oklahoma, but it appeared to me some of that was a result of trying too hard to be in he right place for the tackle on every play. He's a solid tackler and can cover TE/RB over the middle of the field. I think he's best suited to play on the inside in a 3-4 scheme. Leading an overmatched team against OKlahoma must have left him exhausted at the end of the day. But he acquitted himself well overall. ILB aren't usually First Rounders, but JOHNSON looks to me like he has a chance come May. But he may have some 'splainin' to do in team interviews about his off-field issues as a VOL come COMBINE time.

    I had no inkling about ROSE as a prospect before watching the game with VA TECH on Saturday. But clearly, he's a big bodied DE designed to play n a 3-4 NFL scheme. He can move around a bit and knows how to set the edge against the run. He also did a nice job generating some push and getting his long arms up into the sight and throwing lanes of TECH QB/BREWER. Like most 3-4 DE he does not have pass rush quicks or moves. He could stand to work on his hand usage to control and move blockers. He quite often slid inside to play head-up over the OC in a 2-man DL alignment on long yardage downs. That reminded a great deal of how the PACKERS have slipped into a 2-man DL formation on passing downs during the CAPERS era in Green Bay. In fact he reminds me a bit of former ECU Pirate CJ WILSON who was drafted late by Green Bay and currently is in his 5th year in the NFL with the RAIDERS. ROSE pursues the ball well on half of the field. He also keeps his head up and uses his eyes and legs to pursue the ball. GIven his size and skill set he could find himself in late round draft consideration if he plays more games in the manner he did against VA TECH.

    THOMAS TEAL/DT/N.C. STATE #69 6'1/305
    I'm really surprised that TEAL gets so little luv and attention for his play along the Wolfpack DL. His game is very similar to that of GENO ATKINS when he was at GEORGIA. TEAL has excellent quickness for his size and generates good pressure up the middle. He used a very quick and very effective inside spin move to collapse the passing packet on multiple occasions against USF. He is functionally strong, while at the same time showing good pressure and pursuit speed. Though he only recorded 40 tackles last season, they included 3 sacks, 8 TFL and 4 QB hurries. He looks to be primed for even more impressive numbers this year. He is not even on the initial SENIOR BOWL prospect watch list right now, which I find surprising. People could be sleeping on this guy, who might have a very bright pro future. I expect him to be highly visible during the ACC Conference schedule. To my eyes he has Top 100 prospect potential written all over him.

    Those of you who follow Pigskin Paul realize that I am a sucker for prospects who fit the "Big Ugly" classification. Take a look at WALTON's size and you know why I am featuring him. He's playing DT, not the nose, on a deep DL rotation at CMU this season. He shows flashes of disruptive ability at times, but overall looks a bit stiff. He does not use his long arms well at all keeping blockers off his body. He spent way too much time content to lock up and dance with the Syracuse OC & OG. He needs to be taught to deliver a shock blow and push them aside with his long arms. He keeps his feet well and can run a bit. I think he would benefit from being left out on the field longer to get more reps. He also has an annoying habit of ducking his head and looking at the ground while trying to push through blockers. This of course makes him lose track of the ball entirely at  times. If anything the word for WALTON is potential with a capital P. THis is one player I would luv to see working out at the SHRINE venue come January.

    Despite the crack down by NFL officiating crews on DB who manhandle receivers, full sized CB who can handle man-cover responsibilities are still all the craze around the League. WILSON has been a standout performer early this season for the Sooners. He played the Nickel spot last season, but now has a full-time CB job and is handling it very well. His deflection INT, which he returned for 90+ yard TD against Tennessee, was a clear indicator of his talent and NFL potential. He's the most exciting senior pro prospect CB I have seen this early season. He's fearless in man-cover, which makes sense given his athleticism. He looks like a guy who could blow up the COMBINE with his speed numbers come the post-season. And by the way he has been a fearless, aggressive tackler. He clearly is aware of his ability and is supremely confident in his ability. Playing for a top ranked team will only help push up his ranking. Mark me down as projecting him to have serious 1st Round potential for next May.


    September 11: Youth will be served ....

    The fine art of turning over NFL rosters features multiple approaches from different General Managers and Personnel Departments. I always find it interesting to see how much turnover has taken place on team rosters around the League. I'm especially curious as to how much change is from Rookies and how much is from veteran acquisitions, such as trades, Vet Free Agency, CFL signings, etc. Listed below are all NFL teams with info on how many Rookies made the teams and how many players overall are new to the rosters. The rosters I looked at were on September 4 & 5. More changes have taken place since then, with many more to follow. I have also indicated with an asterisk (*) teams that might have a new player on IR/Scheduled For Return. Each team may designate one such player at any time during the year. In my numbers refugees from the CFL do not count as Rookies. Remember it is a snapshot in time, because NFL rosters are a very fluid thing, what with multiple reserve lists, commissioner suspensions and Practice Squads to raid for perceived needs as the season progresses.

    TEAM                             Rookies            FA vets             Total

    CARDINALS                         8                     11                  19
    FALCONS                             7                     12                  19
    RAVENS                               9                       6                  15
    BILLS                                   7                     10                  17
    PANTHERS                          7                     10                  17
    BEARS                                10                     14                  24
    BENGALS                             7                       3                 10
    BROWNS                            11                     13                  24
    COWBOYS                           9*                   10                  19
    BRONCOS                            7                       7                  14
    LIONS                                   9*                     9                 18 
    PACKERS                             9                       2                 11
    TEXANS                             10                     11                  21
    COLTS                                 7                     11                  18
    JAGUARS                           11                       9                  20
    CHIEFS                                9                       9                  18
    DOLPHINS                         13                       9                  22
    VIKINGS                              9                       8                  17
    PATRIOTS                           7                       8                  15
    SAINTS                                7*                     5                  12
    GIANTS                               8                      13*                21
    JETS                                    7                        7                  14
    RAIDERS                             8                      15                  23
    EAGLES                               8                       7                  15
    STEELERS                           6*                     7                  13
    RAMS                                 10                       5                  15
    CHARGERS                         9                        7                  15
    49'ers                                   9                        7                  16
    SEAHAWKS                        7                        4                  11
    BUCCANEERS                    6*                     16                  22
    TITANS                               6                      12                  18
    REDSKINS                          6                        6                  12

    Some random observations... 
    There were an average of just over 17 new players per team across the NFL; assuming that's relatively normal number, it suggests that NFL teams turn over their roster just about every three years on average!
    DA BEARS with 24 new players on a 53-man roster for a team that just missed the Play-Offs.
    PACKERS with less than double-digit Rookies, although they did stash 2 more on IR.
    I found it curious that in a year when most felt the Draft Class was strong only 6 teams kept double digit Rookies.
    At the same time 13 teams added double digit new vets.
    I don't have the exact average, but it feels like fewer new players per team than in recent years.
    No surprise to me that with LOVIE SMITH in charge the BUCS kept only 6 Rookies, but added 16 new vets, most in the League.
    BROWNS led with 24 new players, though DA BEARS  tied them.
    No surprise that PACKERS had fewest new vets on their roster with 2, or that BENGALS were next with 3. They both grow their own.
    I was a little surprised that a mediocre COWBOYS team only found help from 19 new players.
    Lots of second/third year guys made rosters after spending Practice Squad time with teams. But that's another story for another day perhaps.

    September 10: Prospects who stood in college football this week

    There was a mixed bag of games and prospects to watch in Week 2 of the College Football season this past weekend. I avoid giving any evaluation of a team or players based on cup-cake games, of which there were many. Thus you won't find any SEC players featured this week. So let's move along to players who saw action in real, competitive match-ups.

    BLAKE BELL/TE/OKLAHOMA #10 6'6/260
    Instead of pouting and/or transferring when he lost his job as starting QB for the Sooners BELL took seriously the move to the TE position. And he looked good in that role against TULSA last Saturday. His natural size and athleticism are hard to ignore. He also looks to have big, soft hands and a large target/catching radius. He pulled in two passes in the game, one of them for a TD. The Sooners admit his inline blocking leaves  room for much improvement, but his attitude and size are both positives in that process. Certainly not draftable right now, but let's review this project in December. I liked what I saw and he's young enough to make this position change.

    CARL DAVIS/DT/IOWA #71 6'5/315
    DAVIS in not an elite prospect, but with his natural size and strength he's well above average as a pro prospect. He has a nice combination of decent size along with functional strength. BALL STATE double team blocked him much of the day and still could not move him off the line of scrimmage. He penetrated on multiple occasions, but did occasionally lose track of the ball with his push effort. I liked the fact that he left the field hurt in the early 4th quarter, but came back in to help his team stop the Ball State and get the ball back into the hands of the IOWA Offense. He's not a first rounder IMO, but certainly deserves a Top 100 draft spot from a 4-3 scheme NFL team next May. AS with most Hawkeye players he is fundamentally sound. But buyer beware to some degree, because like many players from IOWA his upside is probably limited. FERENTZ and his staff coach up most of their guys to their max ability during their college careers.

    IFO EKPRE-OLOMU/CB/OREGON #14 5'10/195
    Despite not fitting the new template for bigger CB in the NFL this young man clearly has what it takes to be a success at the pro level. He's fast, quick and tough. He is not intimidated by bigger receivers and relishes tackling in run support. He also has excellent hand/eye coordination and ball skills. As Oregon was trying to put away the Spartans in the 4th quarter IFO made a diving INT off a deflected pass to end a drive. He also was elusive and explosive as a Punt Returner. He's just a titch bigger, but I think he can have the kind of effect for a defense that the BEARS & COLTS have gotten from TIM JENNINGS during his fine NFL career. Despite his relative lack of size, he's looking like a strong candidate for Round 1 Draft status next May.

    If there was a bright spot for MICHIGAN fans in their shutout loss to NOTRE DAME, it had to be the work of FUNCHESS as he makes his conversion from TE to WR. Despite not having elite WR speed he gets open and uses that big body to screen off defenders from the ball. He has very soft hands and is a natural at snatching the ball out of the air. He reminded me of KELVIN BENJAMIN, who had the breakout year at FSU in 2013. Against a solid NOTRE DAME secondary he caught 9 balls for 107 yards. And just when the game announcers were questioning his downfield ability he pulled in a 33-yarder down the sideline. Needless to say his experience as a TE also makes him an effective downfield blocker for the running game. He should clearly be the go-to guy for his team and should amass some big numbers by season's end. At this pace he's a potential late First Rounder.

    One of the most dependable receivers in the 2015 Draft class, he showed his skills off in the road game against the Gamecocks. He's developed a great chemistry with his QB sidekick SHANE CARDEN and it shows in the frequency he is targeted by CARDEN. Against the Gamecocks HARDY caught 11 balls, for 133 yards. He works the middle of the field fearlessly, coming out of the slot on most plays. He is a solid hands catcher. He also has some shake-and-bake after he catches the ball. Not a speed burner/long ball threat, but he is a very solid route runner, who is dependable for his QB. He looks to me to have the skill set and savvy to head into the NFL like former MAC star GREG JENNINGS. He's a Top 100 player with a chance for Round 2 ala JARVIS LANDRY this year.

    The first bit of good news is that MARIOTA was moving around like his old self on in this one. I liked the fact that he ran sparingly but effectively. He is impressively accurate most of the time when rolling the pocket. Against one of the toughest Defenses in the country he went 17/28, 318 yards & 3 TD, with 0 INT. He also gained 42 yards on 9 runs. I will also point out that his young, inexperienced receivers dropped multiple catchable balls. He also performed under a lot of pocket pressure for most of the game, until Spartan defenders ran out of gas in the 4th quarter on a very hot day in Oregon. He also looked to make some nice throwing adjustments as STATE blitzed from all over, all day long. He can throw long or short, and has pro level mobility, arm strength and game awareness. He's my top NFL QB prospect and don't see how he doesn't come out for the 2015 NFL DRAFT. He should put up some huge numbers again this season against most PAC 12 defenses.

    As I was quick-scanning a few games late in the afternoon Saturday this young man caught my eye. That can be hard to do when the second string QB is trying to run the offense at this level of play. I'd like to see a certified scale weight on this guy, cause he sure looks a lot slighter than his program weight. But I liked what I saw of this long, tall target as he appeared to find holes in the zone regularly to be running open downfield. He has long arms and seemingly large hands. He showed good straight line speed on a couple of occasions when he caught the ball with some room to run, and even ran through a couple of tackles. He finished the day against Maryland with 4 catches for 55 yards. I'm going to want to see more of him n action, but for a guy who's name I didn't see on any prospect watch lists he stood out to me in this one, against good competition.

    I'm still trying to figure out how IOWA snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against BALL STATE last Saturday. But I can tell you not to blame this young man, who was the leader of the CARDINALS defense. He is not a ball hawking INT guy, but does everything else you can ask of a defender. He finished the almost-upset with 9 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL and 2 pass break-ups. He's all over the field and is fearless in pursuit of the football. His lack of INT numbers for his career will hurt him, but he certainly looks like he could play in sub-packages at the pro level and should have solid Special Teams potential. If he continues to play well all season his numbers at the COMBINE will have a lot to say as to whether he gets drafted next May or not.

    ADAM SHEAD/OG/OKLAHOMA #74 6'4/320
    I tuned into the SOONERS game determined to write about one of their two massive OT, either WILLIAMS or THOMPSON, but it only took about 10 minutes for SHEAD to catch my eye in a major way. He looked more mobile and athletic than either of the OT, and he absolutely mauled the defenders he blocked. Some of the best yardage gained on the ground was through holes he opened. He looked aggressive, but very much under control. He got to second level blocks and stoned his man in pass blocking. Finding interior OL who are both strong and athletic is the challenge for NFL scouts. This guy looked to fit that bill to my eyes in this game. He bears some further close scrutiny as the season progresses. His performance is exactly what I hope to discover on college game days, as it literally caught my eye from a scouting perspective.

    September 3: Prospects who stood in week one of the college schedule

    September has just begun and we have already completed a dynamic and surprising Week One of the 2014 College Football season. As I watch the game action every weekend I am also poised, with pen in hand, to jot down notes on players who caught my eye as potential NFL players. Mostly good, and occasionally bad, I will give you weekly thumbnail sketch of players Who, literally, Caught My Eye.

    TONY CHICKILLO/DE/MIAMI  #71 6'4/277 ... He's not quite the athlete some thought he would be coming out of high school, but he's been a tough productive player for the 'Canes. He played his usual hustling game in the loss at Louisville. His work included a sack and forced fumble early in the 2nd quarter that seemed to temporarily give MIAMI game momentum. He's best suited for a pro 4-3 scheme due to his size. His hard work and moves get him into the backfield constantly. He is also adept at flashing into QB sight lanes. I felt he almost tipped two passes Monday night. In general he finds ways to wreak havoc on opposing Offenses. He's a 100% effort guy, who should work his way into a Round 4 selection spot.

    GERALD CHRISTIAN/TE/LOUISVILLE #10 6'3/245 ... CHRISTIAN is a player who sometimes flies under the radar because he's not a physical specimen or much of a 'flash' guy. But he does a bit of everything and helps his team win. He's not a blazer, but he finds holes in the defense and shows nice hands. He caught 6 balls, for 69 yards and 1 TD in the win over MIAMI. He also blocks fiercely downfield and on the edge. As an inline blocker he lacks the size and strength to really move defenders off the line. He was an essential offensive component in the big opening win for LOUISVILLE. He's well suited for today's back-up TE in an NFL precision passing attack. He's looking like a guy who could make himself draftable by season's end.

    RASHAD GREENE/WR/FLORIDA STATE #80 6'0/180 ... This will-of-the-wisp wideout is going to hold a ton on FSU receiving records when this season ends. In all the glitz & glamour of the Seminoles national championship it was almost a lost footnote when he announced he would return to school for the 2014 season. Despite not having ideal size, by NFL standards, in a thin WR class for the 2015 Draft, GREENE could be so productive he's hard to bypass in late Round 1. He is a smooth route runner, with good speed. He runs precise patterns and has shake and bake after the catch. He quietly wore Okie State out with an 11 catch, 203 yards, 1 TD receiving night. A great start, against a quality opponent, for GREENE. Just ask Mr. WINSTON how happy he is to have GREENE back in the fold.

    TODD GURLEY/RB/GEORGIA #3 6'1/228 ... Nothing that GURLEY does can be considered a surprise, but in an offense that rotates 2-4 RB every week putting up numbers like he did against a tough/veteran CLEMSON defense was epic. GURLEY rushed a mere 15 times, for 198 yards, and 3 TD. He also returned a kick-off 100-yards for a TD. He's down about 7-10 lbs. from last season and looks more explosive than ever. He's quick to the hole and explosive through it. He seems to make cuts without slowing down. Wait for it... he looks to me like a better pro-prospect than former Bulldogs straight-line star HERSCHEL WALKER. If he keeps this pace up, and stays healthy, I believe the 2 year draught of no NFL Draft 1st Round RB is about to end as he comes out early.

    GRADY JARRETT/DT/CLEMSON #50 6'1/290 ... UGA ran Clemson into the ground to open the season, but don't blame JARRETT. The productive, high effort DT was his usual self in trying to hold the line for the Tigers who as expected had to rely on their D, given their inexperience on the Offensive side of the ball. JARRETT wore down, like the entire defense, because of too much time on the field and a bigger, deeper UGA O.  Not to mention the dynamic GURLEY. JARRETT has solid NFL potential as long as he can play in a DL rotation, with a bigger DT next to him. He's not an elite player, and lacks the explosion off the snap of a GENO ATKINS, but he showed again in this game that his heart is bigger than his body and he will make plays given talent around him. He looks draftable to me, but not in the Top 100.

    ERIC KENDRICKS/ILB/UCLA #6 6'0/230 ... While the UCLA Offense stumbled in their opener @ VIRGINiA, HC JIM MORA and his staff had to count on their Defense to save the day. They delivered as a group and as usual their 2013 100+ tackling machine led the way. KENDRICKS is a bit undersized by NFL standards, but he is a natural at finding the ball and making plays. His all-around ability reminds me of CHRIS BORLAND who led the BADGERS stout Defense last season. In his all over the field performance KENDRICKS most impactful play of the day was probably his Pick-Six adding another 6 points to the scoreboard for the offensively challenged Bruins. KENDRICKS won't be listed as elite for the 2015 DRAFT, but his productivity should make it hard for some team to not take him in the Top 100 Picks.

    SHAWN OAKMAN/DE/BAYLOR #2 6'9/280 ... Yes, you read those size numbers correctly. The PENN STATE transfer is one of the more intriguing players in college ball. He's so long he still looks skinny at 280 lbs. Can't wait to see some official numbers on this arm length and hand size. He's playing in a two deep DL rotation, but as the schedule toughens I expect him to get more playing time, especially against passing teams. He looks to have natural outside pass rush ability and teams are gong to have to scheme just to contain him. SMU had no clue how to neutralize him. Count on OAKMAN to have some highlight reel plays ala CLOWNEY before the year is over. He's only a junior, and pretty raw, but if he flashes some more big games against Top 25 teams it may be hard to keep him in Waco for another season.

    CEDRIC OGBUEHI/OT/TEXAS A&M #70 6'5/300 ... I did not see anything in OGBUEHI's play against South Carolina to indicate that he won't be the 3rd straight AGGIE OT to go in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft come May, 2015. His body type and style of play reminds me a lot more of LUKE JOECKEL than RYAN MATTHEWS. I'm not sure he'll ever be able to beef up that body of his. THat means his best shot as a pro would likely be a precision passing Offense like Green Bay or New Orleans. He shows the length and foot speed to keep pass rushing defenders in front of him. And he can easily get to second level blocking assignments in the running game. He's a savvy, polished player who is likely to be considered elite as a prospect and instant Rookie starter as a pro.

    STEPHON SANDERS/DE/OLB/SMU #23 6'3/250 ... It was tough to assign a draft grade to SANDERS based on this game, where SMU was completely outmanned to take on BAYLOR. But he is an interesting long range, developmental project. He plays with his hand down, as an edge rusher most of the time. But he's undersized for that role, and isn't super quick off the edge. He did show some ability to drop back into coverage, but also looked lost in space more often than not. He also looked a bit soft to me both mentally and physically. I think he needs to lose about 10 lbs., tone up in the weight room and get some serious coaching as a potential 3-4 D, OLB at the pro level. Let's call him developmental project player.

    KEVIN WHITE/WR/WEST VIRGINIA  #11 6'3/210 ... WHITE may be a real developmental prospect to watch this season. NFL teams will be searching far and wide to find enough WR prospects to keep the pass-happy league content after last season's mother lode of NFL prospects. KEVIN is a physical specimen who just did not develop as quickly as hoped/expected in the WVU offensive scheme last year as a JC recruit. He caught only 35 balls in an Offense that completed under 55% of it's throws in year one, post-GENO. But if one game can be a valid indicator, the light may be going on for WHITE right now. Against an athletic Alabama Defense WHITE played his way to 9 catches, for 143 yards and 1 TD. His size and speed could lead to lots of catches since QB/TRICKETT looks more comfortable at the helm this year.


    It's always a dangerous game to predict who is making an NFL roster and who is getting cut. There are always some significant moves and then some head-scratching minor ones. So even as the process continues here is my short list of 25 guys I saw enough of in pre-season games to make me think they deserve spots on 53-man rosters.
    ASON ANKRAH/DE/LB/#65/TEXANS He has really adapted quickly to the 3-4 scheme of the TEXANS and DC ROMEO CRENNEL. He has shown a high motor and some pass rush ability. Why not one more Rookie on a rebuilding team... assuming they admit to rebuilding.

    COREY BROWN/WR/RS/#16/PANTHERS He was the best all-around receiver for the Buckeyes last year, and is showing ability in all phases as a rookie in pANTHERS camp. The tie-breaker is that he also shows well as a return guy.

    MALCOLM BUTLER/CB/#29/PATRIOTS Watching him in pre-season play you'd think he was watching REVIS very carefully. He has the speed and quickness to stay with receivers and shows a basic ability to keep track of his man as well as locating the flight of the ball. He's looked really solid to me.

    CHANDLER CATANZARO/K/#7/CARDS As I projected after game 2 of the pre-season, the temptation to replace an old leg with a stronger, cheaper young one was just toot tempting for CARDS. The only thing keeping him from being drafted late was lack of a long resume'. CLEMSON scored TDs, not many FG needed.

    DEANDRE COLEMAN/DT/#75/JAGUARS Talent and size were never in question while he was at CAL. HIs desire and fire were in doubt. He has been dominant at times in the pre-season and best of all has been his constant effort.

    BROCK COYLE/ILB/#45/SEAHAWKS  He's gotten a lot of reps filling in for injured vets and has made the most of the extra playing time. He has nice size and strength, but best of all his range has been a pleasant surprise. Also the kind of intense player Coach PETE likes.

    ROY FINCH/RB/RS/#29/PATRIOTS The guy os tiny but his speed and quickness is world class. This team always keeps some guys because of "special" skill sets. His touches need to be limited so he's not broken in half, but his big-play potential is frightening for opponents.

    JON HARRISON/OC/#72/COLTS He's not a special athlete, and has to combine guile and smarts to make up for some physical short comings, but since KHALED HOLMES went down he has hustled his way to success snapping the ball to MR. LUCK.

    RYAN HEWITT/FB/H-B/#89/BENGALS Ever since BENGALS decided to not keep a traditional FB they have struggled to run in short yardage and goal line situations.  HEWITTT is changing that and he also shows good hands as a receiving threat. Versatility and athleticism should earn him a roster spot.

    ALLEN HURNS/WR/#88/JAGUARS LEE has been inconsistent, and ROBINSON can't get healthy. Enter HURNS who has been catching everything in sight, especially from the QB of the future BORTLES. He's a starter right now IMO.

    JAMES HURST/OT/#74/RAVENS HURST has been playing up a storm when I have watched RAVENS games. He's athletic and technically sound. I could see him taking over at LT fairly soon allowing MONROE to slide over to RT. But for his Bowl game leg injury he'd have been drafted in Top 100.

    CHRISTIAN JONES/LB/#96/BEARS This may be my biggest projection, but this long/lean athlete has so many physical tools and such mobility that he would seem to have starting potential with solid NFL mentoring/coaching. BEARS are rebuilding their defense and his potential is high.

    HOWARD JONES/LB/#47/STEELERS JONES wowed everyone at the COMBINE and he's carrying forward by putting that athleticism to good use in pre-season. If he shows enough on Special Teams to stick, he's a great long range project.

    ZACH KERR/DT/#64/COLTS Oe of my faves at SHRINE Week KERR has gotten more and more playing time with injuries to others and is showing he can move that big body. Energy level is outstanding for a big guy, and he inspires teammates.

    BRANDEN OLIVER/RB/RS/#43/CHARGERS the team already has Mighty Mouse WOODHEAD on their squad, but he's 30ish. OLIVER has been powerful and explosive at times. If he can refine his receiving skills they may have to find a place for two midget RB on the roster.

    TYLER PATMON/CB/#35/COWBOYS In a secondary that needs improving this guy has emerged as a pleasant surprise while some high priced vets nurse injuries in Big D. He battles hard for his size and has definite ball skills with his quickness. He also looks to have some return ability as well.

    SOLOMON PATTON/WR/RS/#86 The kid who really came on as a senior at Florida seems to have won the return jobs in Tampa. He may also see the field for some reverses and screens as well. He blazes at times and is also quick.

    MIKE PENNEL/DT/#64/PACKERS No one ever questioned his size/talent and he appears to be controlling himself off the field. With the RAJI injury the door is wide open and this big guy appears to be holding up quite well while running with the first team D.

    LOUCHIEZ PURIFOY/CB/PR/#7/COLTS He was highly regarded until he ran into some legal issues in college and then did not run well at the COMBINE. But he's been fast enough n Camp to provide some coverage help and earn more tries as a returner.

    JACQUES SMITH/DE/LB/#45/FALCONS      He came on real strong from the start in Camp. Has leveled off recently, but his physical skills attract and he seems to get it. If he improves on coverage units he could grab a roster spot and develop.

    DANIEL SORENSON/S/#49/CHIEFS Looked solid at Shrine Week and then put up better than expected numbers at the COMBINE. Came into Camp and showed smarts and willingness to try anything coaches asked of him. Attitude can help a lot earning a roster spot.

    JUWAN THOMPSON/RB/#40/BRONCOS Denver needs to replace the depth in their RB corps and this guy has been tough and productive for them in he pre-season. CUTCLIFFE isn't winning with mirrors at Duke. THOMPSON is a solid athlete and very competitive.

    COREY WASHINGTON/WR/#6/GIANTS This tall guy (6'4/210) from a small school has been a difference maker playing with back-ups in the pre-season. He uses his size to win ball competition with defenders and gets open. He could sneak onto this roster if they keep 6 wideouts.

    DAMIEN WILLIAMS/RB/#5/DOLPHINS This hard charging runner couldn't get along with his coaches at Oklahoma. But his talent was never in question. He also has good speed for his size. He's beating out THOMAS & GILLISLEE right now.

    Now I'll just hope that not too many of these guys get cut in the next 5 days. If some do, then hope your favorite team grabs a couple of them. They really look like keepers to me. Day 4 of the Draft can be very fruitful for teams that work it!

    August 25: Pre-season GBN College Football Rankings

    4 OREGON
    5 UCLA
    6 AUBURN
    8 BAYLOR
    11 GEORGIA
    12 LSU
    13 CLEMSON
    14 TEXAS
    17 OLE MISS
    20 MIAMI
    22 DUKE
    23 UCF

    July 28: Most Important New Faces for each NFC Team

    CARDINALS The OL has been a sore spot for this team seemingly forever. They gain last year's Round 1 Pick JON COOPER/C/G back from injury, but he doesn't count here. The big news is the VFA signing of JARED VELDHEER/OT who was an emerging player for the RAIDERS until injured last year. He is 27-years old and could be a solid starter at LT for them most of the remainder of this decade. Mark this down as a potential huge upgrade. This could really help the nervous-in-the-pocket CARSON PALMER.

    FALCONS Lots of comings and goings in Atlanta this off-season. But clearly their first pick in the 2014 Draft of OT/JAKE MATTHEWS has to be the most significant roster addition. This is a team with a Franchise QB that needs better protection. MATT RYAN was sacked 44 times last season. MATTHEWS has great bloodlines and is as savvy and talented as it gets. He's an instant starter with Pro Bowls in his future.

    PANTHERS Carolina has one of the emerging young talents at QB in the NFL in 25-year old CAM NEWTON. But amazingly the team allowed his top 3 WR (SMITH/LaFELL/GINN) to leave town, leaving a huge void much like BRADY faced in New England last year. IMO that automatically makes First Round WR/KELVIN BENJAMIN the most critical new player in PANTHERS camp. The limited experience underclassman needs to beat the NFL rookie receiver learning curve and become a major weapon for CAM right now. No pressure young man!

    BEARS PHIL EMERY's big task this off-season was to retool DA BEARS DL, much like he did with the OL in 2013. He has brought in 6 VFA and spent his 2nd & 3rd Round Draft PIcks to bolster said DL. Without a doubt the most immediate impact should come from JARED ALLEN/DE, who the VIKINGS bid adieu to as they rebuild their entire roster. ALLEN had his typical double-digit sack numbers last season, but even more importantly he brings the kind of energy and fire to the field and locker room that DA BEARS lost when URLACHER retired. I guarantee you that JAY CUTLER s glad to have him on board as a teammate.

    COWBOYS The COWBOYS need a lot of help to be serious Play-Off contenders, especially on Defense. A healthy VFA/HENRY MELTON/DT is just what the doctor ordered for newly appointed DC ROD MARINELLI. MELTON was establishing himself as an elite inside pass rush specialist who was also solid against the run before being injured last season. It should be noted that MELTON had blossomed under the tutelage of MARINELLI during the LOVIE SMITH regime in the Windy City.

    LIONS The biggest addition in Detroit is starting the Camp off on the PUP list. And it may seem strange to some of you that I think a VFA WR/GOLDEN TATE is a big help in the wide open STAFFORD Offense in Detroit. But it might surprise many of you to learn that after MEGATRON the next highest catch total for a WR in Detroit last season was 39 by the since departed NATE BURLESON. TATE was the bell-cow receiver in Seattle last year with 64 regular season catches. STAFFORD's high flying offense is the main asset for the LIONS on most Sundays. Play to your strength, as they say.

    PACKERS No I am not going to anoint a VFA named PEPPERS here. I am going with First Round Draft Pick HA HA CLINTON-DIX. The PACKERS ranked 24th on Defense against the pass in 2013. And the entire S group contributed 0 INT to that disappointing effort. If HA HA can play smart and athletic S like he did in college it will be a major upgrade for the entire Defense, which will be under the microscope this season. The unusual VFA signings of PEPPERS & GUION by TED THOMPSON would seem to indicate that the team is all-in for a 2014 season Super Bowl run. CLINTON-DIX needs to be an impact Rookie.

    VIKINGS This team is clearly rebuilding to position itself for a Play-Off contending roster by the time their new stadium opens in 2016. Any major progress in attaining that goal has to start with a new NFL franchise caliber QB. MATT CASSEL may be number one right now, and may even start the season at the helm, but I expect TEDDY BRIDGEWATER/QB/Rookie to take over that job sometime during the 2014 season. BRIDGEWATER doesn't have to star immediately,  but getting established as THE MAN at the QB position by season's end is crucial to this team.

    SAINTS The SAINTS clearly see their Super Bowl window starting to close, whether they admit it publicly or not. Their crafty field general DREW BREES is 35-years old and not getting any taller or quicker. They have also taken some major personnel hits because of injury and Salary Cap issues. Their best immediate prospects for a deep Play-Off run clearly lie with continued progress on Defense, which clearly began last season under new DC ROB RYAN. The team was a dead even 0 in turnover/takeaway ratio, and a big part of that mediocrity was a paltry 12 INT as a team. Expect VFA/S/JAIRUS BYRD to add significantly to that total. BYRD is a serious ball hawk who will be counted on to spur that secondary on to bigger turnover numbers, thus setting up the O for even more BREES-led fireworks and scoring.

    GIANTS The usually staid GIANTS were quite busy shuffling players on and off their roster after a disappointing non-Play-Off 2013 campaign. The team needs a big bounce back from ELI MANNING. You just don't expect a guy like ELI to throw almost twice as many INT and TD passes. The running game needs to get better, the pass protection needs a major upgrade, defense needs more QB pressure and takeaways. But the biggest single addition could be First Round Pick WR/ODELL BECKHAM. BECKHAM has rare speed to get open deep for the big armed ELI and he may get a chance to add a boost in the return game. If he can replace the production of a good year by NICKS, ELI may have a big bounce back season.

    EAGLES DeSEAN JACKSON was waived, and LeSEAN McCOY was clearly worked too hard last season. That's why I really like the acquisition of DARREN SPROLES/RB/RS from the Saints. In a CHIP KELLY scheme the versatility of a SPROLES primarily as a receiver and in the return game should really shine. SPROLES caught 71 balls in the Big Easy last season, which would have placed him second on the EAGLES team. McCOY caught 52 balls in addition to rushing it another 314 times. 20 touches per game for McCoy would be ideal. SPROLES taking some of his catches away would be a good thing. SPROLES is past his prime, but he still looks more than capable of a couple more productive years in Chip Kelly's schemes. He might also upgrade their Punt Return efforts.

    RAMS Lots of good young talent being added to this team with a solid 11-man Draft Class. Despite the good work of ZAC STACY in 2013, it seems to me that TRE MASON/RB/R might be a major contributor to the 2014 RAMS running attack. He has burst and speed that STACY can only dream about. STACY averaged less than 4 ypc in 2013. MASON should be able to exceed that number. They'll both get their share of carries, but MASON should provide the team with more of a long ball threat. MASON may be short, at 5'9, but he weighs in at over 205 lbs.

    49'ers There really isn't a lot of room for Rookies to jump right into this team's lineup. But it may surprise you when I say that the Niners passing attack ranked 30th in the League in 2013. More than KAEPERNICK the issue may have been some injury and productivity issues with the receiver group. CRABTREE missed much time to injury, but still ranked 4th overall in catches with only 19 for the year. Leading receiver ANQUAN BOLDIN will be 34-years old in October, and BRUCE MILLER/FB was the third most productive receiver last year with 25. OK, enough of what's not quite right and let me get to the chase in proclaiming recent trade acquisition STEVIE JOHNSON/WR as their most significant newcomer in the city by the bay. JOHNSON is 28 and should be in his pro prime. JOHNSON in an off year (for him) had 52 catches in Buffalo last season. If he can get along better with HC HARBAUGH than he did with HC MARRONE he could give the team a solid Big 3 and allow KAEPERNICK to move the passing game up several notches.

    SEAHAWKS It is always a crap shoot to figure out how new players are likely to fare in PETE CARROLL's competition based atmosphere. The most intriguing new player could be the team's first pick of the 2014 Draft: PAUL RICHARDSON/WR. He has that blazing, smooth speed that can take the top off of most defenses. He'll get NFL hardened in Camp going against the physical Seattle secondary group. He could also prove valuable in the return game. It would seem that PERCY HARVIN will need to be spelled regularly to conserve his health. That could get RICHARDSON on the field more than many might expect.

    BUCCANEERS Another team with a ton of new faces in Camp to provide an upgrade for this 4-12 team. Clearly in a LOVIE SMITH scheme of things the passing game will play third fiddle to Defense and the running game. But for a team that ranked 32nd (dead last) in the passing game R/MIKE EVANS/WR could have a huge immediate impact in resurrecting some semblance of a passing attack for this team. After all, proclaimed starting QB/VFA/JOSH McCOWN thrived last season in Chicago working with big wideouts in MARSHALL & JEFFERY. Why can't he duplicate that with the jumbo combo of VNCENT JACKSON & MIKE EAVNS?

    REDSKINS It should only take about 3 seconds to figure out who I am picking for this team. His name is DeSEAN JACKSON/WR, the unexpected/belated Christmas present for RG3, who the EAGLES decided was addition by subtraction. The boys in Old D.C. already had a good receiving corps before JACKSON. Now they have the proven, big play guy to compliment PIEERE GARCON, who led the NFL with 113 catches in 2013. Who wouldn't luv to bring in a guy coming off an 82 catch, 1332-yard, 9 TD season? By the way JACKSON wont turn 28 until December.
    July 24: Most Important New Faces for each AFC Team

    Breathing new blood into NFL teams is the name of the biggest game for team Personnel Departments, especially in this day and age of Veteran Free Agency where every team loses players when new contracts must be hammered out, all the while watching the Salary Cap bottom line. Here is my breakdown of the most important, immediate acquisition for each A.F.C. team as Training Camps open.

    RAVENS First team up and I am about to cop-out with a tie here between new OC GARY KUBIAK and WR/STEVE SMITH. The RAVENS O fell apart last season ranking 29th in Total Offense in the League. They were also 25th ranked in scoring. Part of the value of both of these new guys is bringing in some new attitude and confidence. SMITH has likely seen his best days on the field, but his hard-ass, workmanlike attitude will set the kind of tone for the offense that RAY LEWIS used to bring on D. SMITH still caught 64 balls last season which would have been second on the RAVENS behind TORRY SMITH's 65. KUBIAK was the OC in Denver before moving to the TEXANS as HC. His biggest job is to rebuild the confidence of JOE FLACCO who threw more INT than TD in 2013.

    BILLS Not too much pressure to go along with being a Rookie for SAMMY WATKINS/WR. Trading up to take him at Pick 4 overall cost the BILLS their Round 1 Pick in 2015. They also felt free to trade their top wideout this decade STEVIE JOHNSON to the 49'ers. WATKINS will be expected to exceed JOHNSON's 52 catches and 3 TD... by a lot. And he will have to do it with second year QB/E.J. MANUEL who started 10 games as a Rookie and is coming back from 2 procedures on his left knee.

    BENGALS The Law Firm has been a steady/heady RB for the BENGALS, but his 3.4 ypc tells you he lacks the explosiveness to break the big one. GIO BERNARD looked good as a Rookie, but is best out in space catching the ball and doing selected return work. Second Round PIck  JEREMY HILL/RB is a power back who can break big runs and should be dynamite in the Red Zone. He could be the best big back this team has had since COREY DILLON, and put DALTON in better down-and-distance situations than he had last year. I look for him to gain carries as the season progresses.

    BROWNS Remember now this is for 2014, not down the road. So forget MANZIEL, please. VFA BEN TATE/RB may help the BROWNS the most this season. The BROWNS leading runner in 2013 was WILLIS McGAHEE who averaged 2.7 ypc. TATE played on an equally bad Houston team and rushed for 771 yards at a 4.3 ypc clip. He's 26-years old and gets his chance to emerge as "the man" in a running game behind a decent OL. The BROWNS ranked 27th in rushing offense last season. TATE should help improve that and take some pressure off of HOYER or MANZIEL. There, I got back to MANZIEL for you

    BRONCOS  This team certainly doesn't need a whole lot of help on Offense with MR. PEYTON back, but it would be nice if the O didn't need to score 37 points every week, in part because of a shaky Defense that ranked 19th overall in 2013. The team had 41 sacks last year, which ranked 13th in the NFL. But they lost 2 of their 3 top sack-men in PHILLIPS (10) & AYERS (5.5). A healthy, and not suspended VON MILLER will help a lot in 2014, but the big addition is DEMARCUS WARE/DE, who had an injury plagued 2013 and wanted out of Big D. The COWBOYS let him go and the BRONCOS  expect/hope for double digit sack production out of WARE this season.

    TEXANS   This team was so bad in 2013 help could come from anywhere and they'd be grateful. I don't see significant immediate help at QB for them, so the impact on defense by No. 1 Pick JADEVEON CLOWNEY/LB/E needs to be huge. CLOWNEY & the return of BRIAN CUSHING/LB should help a guy named WATT be even more productive than his 10.5 sacks of 2013. Both on and off the field CLOWNEY needs to be the next WATT and help improve on the 29th ranked sack total of 32 from 2013.

    COLTS Even though I am a believer that REGGIE WAYNE will be back, the man is 36-years old. HAKEEM NICKS/WR needed a change of pace from the GIANTS. Now he needs to bounce back to his hand-snatching self. His slump year of 56 catches with the G-Men would have been 2nd on the COLTS receiving list last season. He needs to bounce back and give the COLTS that needed 3rd impact receiver that ANDREW LUCK deserves. If fully healthy the 26-year old could be a good long range contributor as well.

    JAGUARS There is no doubt that the biggest impact, long-term, needs to come from draftee QB/BLAKE BORTLES, but this team is still so weak that they need to be patient on that front. I see MARQISE LEE/WR/RS being the player who needs to emerge right away. Remember both BLACKMON & ACE SANDERS start the season on suspended lists. Given that the JAGS 2013 offense ranked 31st overall, 31st in rushing & 22nd in passing someone has to emerge to jump start that O. The explosive LEE looks to me to be the best equipped new guy to come in and stretch the field a bit.

    CHIEFS  The team lost far more than it gained on the personnel front this past off-season. We won't even talk yet about the potential CHARLES contract holdout. Of what little the team could afford to add It seems to me that the ability of 4th Rounder De'ANTHONY THOMAS/RB/RS to provide yardage and big plays on multiple fronts would put him in a spot to replace the versatile DEXTER  McCLUSTER who moved on to Tennessee. THOMAS, like DEXTER, may not fit as a defined position player, because of diminutive size, but his speed and elusiveness make him a threat with the ball any way you can get him touches.

    DOLPHINS So many new faces, so many holes to fill. But when your young franchise QB gets sacked a league high 58 times the OL takes precedence for improvement. And new LT/BRANDEN ALBERT is the key component in protecting a righty throwing QB. He comes to South Florida after 83 starts in 6 years in K.C. His new contract contains $25-million guaranteed. He must perform like a Pro-Bowler right away and lead the youngsters who will likely join him in that huddle.

    PATRIOTS This one may really surprise most of you, but I think the ability of BRYAN STORK/R/OC to win the starting position from RYAN WENDELL is key for the running game and the health of TOM BRADY. WENDELL is a try-hard, solid technician who is a bulked up 300 lbs, soaking wet. He gets overpowered too often especially when the team faces 3-4 defensive fronts. STORK is a bigger man, and a tough guy as well. He could help prevent that up-the-middle pressure that  got to BRADY too often in 2013. That would also free up WENDELL to be a valuable interior back-up at all 3 spots.

    JETS Lots of new faces on the 2014 JETS roster, but given how poor the JETS Offense was in 2103, when they ranked 25th in total offense & 29th in scoring VFA ERIC DECKER/WR needs to show that he can a No. 1 WR in the Big Apple. The leading JETS wideout had 43 catches in 2013, while DECKER was hauling in 87 throws for MR. PEYTON in Denver. Whether it's the development of GENO SMITH or the resurgence of MIKE VICK, DECKER needs to be front and center as the team's leading receiver this season.

    RAIDERS The hoopla, if there is any in the Bay Area, is about MATT SCHAUB & DEREK CARR being the new QB tandem for the RAIDERS. That is fine, but the biggest factor immediately in either's success may lie, in great part, in the hands, literally, of WR/JAMES JONES/VFA. JONES has had some nice years in Green Bay, including a 59 catch 2013 season, without A-RODGE for half the year. But his talent, experience, size & contract says he's another guy who has to become his new team's No.1 WR . JONES needs to play big and help a young group of receivers develop their game in 2014.

    STEELERS Don't be yawning at this selection, but given MIKE TOMLIN's aversion to Rookie mistakes, I am thinking VFA/NT/CAM THOMAS may have the biggest immediate impact for this STEELERS' team. THOMAS will give the 3-4 scheme a true stopper in the middle ala CASEY HAMPTON. It's not glamorous, but the 330 lb. THOMAS will hold the line of scrimmage and help the STEELERS D improve their ranking of 21st against the run in 2013.

    CHARGERS It's not that CB/JASON VERRETT didn't deserve to be a 1st Round PIck, but the CHARGERS had to something to help their CB position this off-season. The biggest move of immediate help for the CHARGERS may have been the signing of VFA/CB/BRANDON FLOWERS who became a Cap/contract casualty in K.C. The CHARGERS, who squeaked into the Play-Offs, did so despite a 29th ranked Pass Defense, which only mustered 11 INT the entire 2013 season. And don't think FLOWERS won't really rise to the occasion when he plays against the CHIEFS twice in 2014.

    TITANS Lots of things are changing in Nashville with this team, and a big move was sending RB/CHRIS JOHNSON packing. That left oft-injured SHONN GREENE, he of 295 yards & 3.8 ypc in 2013, as the top returning RB. But the TITANS were able to draft RB/BISHOP SANKEY in Round 2 of the Draft and expect big things from him. He's not a straight line speedster, but he's quick, tough and catches well out of the backfield. I look for he and GREENE to split duties early and then for him to gradually get the majority of the carries.


    July 11: Prelude to Training Camps: QB Competitions

        Once Training Camps open in about 2 weeks any new issues and questions will arise. But for now, here are some thoughts about what we already think we know scrolling around the League.

        Don't anticipate a large number of starting QB battles to be taking place unless injuries crop up early to starters. Here are a few of the seemingly legit competitions to watch:

    JAGUARS    The word since the DRAFT is that CHAD HENNE is the team's starting QB and BLAKE BORTLES will be groomed to eventually take over the job. That is probably true, but if BORTLES impresses in Camp and pre-season game action the team will be looking for an excuse to pull the plug and get on with the future ASAP. Best case scenario would be a mid-season QB change, but desperate times call for desperate measures and it will be hard to hold off on BORTLES if the team is 2-8 at their very late BYE week. Remember the last time the JAGS took a young QB early in the Draft and stuck him in as their starting QB early in his Rookie year?

    VIKINGS    Ditto the above pretty much where MATT CASSEL is about the same quality as HENNE, which means he's a decent veteran backup, not a starter. Once again the team's BYE Week is pretty late, after 9 games, so they may be tempted to put TEDDY BRIDGEWATER in sooner if they are struggling, which I fully expect they will be. Good thing TEDDY likes to throw with a glove on because Minnesota is pretty cold by November when he may get the call to action.

    JETS    This may be the closest we can come to a good old-fashioned Training Camp QB competition. GENO SMITH showed just enough last season to indicate he might become a decent NFL starting QB in time, but patience is not likely to be a luxury for REX RYAN, with WOODY JOHNSON as his owner. MICHAEL VICK is not in town to carry a clip board and cheer on SMITH. He will get a full shot to win the starting job in Camp. THen SMITH can come back and finish the season after VICK gets hurt in a couple of months.

        That's all folks! Really! There are some other teams with a changing of the QB guard a possibility, but I do not believe it will come down to Training Camp competition.

    BILLS     A healthy E. J.  MANUEL is the QB of choice in Buffalo and if anyone else on their current roster comes out of Camp as the starter watch for the BILLS to challenge the 0-16 futility record of the LIONS.

    BROWNS    BRIAN HOYER is the man for now. Most of Training Camp with MANZIEL will likely revolve around how to fit him into the offensive system in place and vice versa. Then they will also have the task of keeping him off twitter pages.

    TEXANS    TOM SAVAGE may be the future, but he played so little in college between his transfers that BILL O'BRIEN, Head Coach, will develop him and count on RYAN FITZPATRICK in a struggling retooling year for the team.

    RAIDERS    DAREK CARR is the future, but the eggs for this year's RAIDERS are in the MATT SCHAUB basket, for better or worse. SCHAUB needs all the reps in Camp to rebuild his shattered QB ego and learn the RAIDERS system.

    BUCCANEERS        Even though MIKE GLENNON had a decent Rookie showing in 2013 HC/LOVIE SMITH & GM/JASON LICHT see 34-year old JOSH McCOWN as the answer at the helm of a rebuilding team. Trust me, there is no way GLENNON is competing for the starting QB position.

        Barring injuries, and there will be injuries, the rest of the NF teams (that would be 24 in number) are dialed in with their current starters and at most are looking to sort through a few Camp guys to find their back-up QB. Heck, I'd be willing to bet almost half the teams in the League will start the regular season with only 2 QB on their rosters.


    NFL training camps start to ramp up in less than a month, but for now all is relatively quiet around the league. And thathad me looking at the NFL record book and thinking of the soem of the milestones that are within reach in the next season or so for some of the NFL's enduring stars. Of course, compared to baseball and basketball football is much less of an individual  "stats" game by nature. But with the advent of Fantasy Football and video games the emphasis on football skill position stats has ramped up big time in the past decade. Even though I'm not big into either of those football avenues I always take a peek at record chasing in the NFL as each season approaches. And as PEYTON MANNING and TOM BRADY approach the end of their careers their n "numbers" begin to come into clear focus. Overall, there will be more than a few statistical milestones to watch for in the 2014 season from them and a few other players around the League. After a mind-bending 55 TD pass season in 2013, MR. PEYTON has just pulled out into the passing lane when it comes to chasing down BRETT FAVRE's career TD pass record of 508. PEYTON only needs to toss 18 TD passes this year to take over the leadership spot in this important passing category. BRADY & BREES are well back at 359 & 363 respectively, but clearly are closing in on DAN MARINO's mark of 420. MANNING will have to have at least two more big seasons in the areas of completions and passing yardage to eclipse FAVRE's totals there. FAVRE ended his career (we think) with 71,838 passing yards, with MR. PEYTON currently sitting on 64,964 yards. FAVRE also holds the lead in completions at 6,300, while MANNING has 5,532. Those gaps look fairly significant at first blush, but remember the numbers he put up in today's NFL in 2013: 450 completions & 5477 yards. Two more years at that pace and the records are his. Some have speculated that MR. PEYTON might hang up his spikes after the 2014 season if the BRONCOS can win the Super Bowl in Glendale, AZ next February. I say perhaps, but if he's still feeling healthy don't think for a minute that PEYTON would not come back to chase those two records. I think he is acutely aware of his stats, and those of FAVRE, and wants to go out on top in all 3 statistical categories if possible.
    It's a long way from the kind of numbers listed above, but current PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS is only 12 TD passes shy of 200 for his career. A seemingly modest 25 TD passes this would jump him up past TERRY BRADSHAW, amongst others.  Back to BRADY & BREES... who are both primed to pass JOHN ELWAY for career yards at 51,475. Average career years by either or both would move them past ELWAY. It does seem that both these esteemed QB are chasing DAN MARINO's career numbers before they retire, but neither is likely to hit the rarified air of FAVRE/MANNING numbers.

    Meanwhile, Minnesota RB ADRIAN PETERSON appears to be about two good seasons away from breaking into the Top 10 career marks for rushing yards and TD. He needs 9 TD this year to hit triple digits of 100.

    REGGIE WAYNE/WR/COLTS is set to move up the receiving records list big time if he can return to the field in good health in 2013. The 35-year old WAYNE ranks No.11 all-time with 13,566 receiving yards. That puts him within striking distance of the No. 7 name on that list, another ex-COLT MARVIN HARRISON. WAYNE already ranks No. 8 all-time in receptions with 1,006. He's 96 catches behind HARRISON on that list.  Nothing is imminent quite yet for ANDRE JOHNSON or LARRY FITZGERALD, but both could be eyeing some HOF numbers by the time we look at their totals again next year at this time.

    A statistical milestone of note is certainly within striking distance for the RAVENS pass-rushing ace TERRELL SUGGS this season. SUGGS needs 7 sacks to move past 100 for his career. He would join only 30 other players with triple digit sacks if/when he does so. He's only be about half way to career sack leader BRUCE SMITH's mark of 200, however. JARED ALLEN, currently at 128.5 sacks, could push up into the Top 10 all-time with his typical double digit total this season. DA BEARS will certainly be providing him with every opportunity they can to do so.

    Let's break away from the stats chase for a little bit and touch on a couple of other tidbits of moderate interest as we are about a month before the start of NFL Training Camps.  It's a fact that every season several of the previous years Play-Off teams will not return to post-season play the following season. Mark these two teams down as my early "favorites" to take a major step backward this season:

    CHIEFS GM JOHN DORSEY and head coach ANDY REID took this team from the outhouse (2-14) almost to the penthouse (11-5) in 2013. I look for them to fall back to about a .500 record, at best, in 2014. The off-season VFA losses were heavy and there was little to no money to bring in much new talent. And of course the old cliche tat they won't sneak up on anyone this time around does apply.

    PANTHERS An awful lot of things went right for the PANTHERS last season as they went 12-4. But their roster was all but gutted by retirement and VFA. CAM NEWTON must proceed with 3 of his top 4 receivers from last season no longer on his roster. The retirement of mainstay LT JORDAN GROSS is a huge blow to a young, mediocre OL. CAM  may spend much of this year running for his life. Their D is young and solid up front but their secondary was also depleted by the loss of MITCHELL/S & MUNNERLYN/CB. Could be a long, frustrating year in Carolina.
    On the other side of the coin my early picks to move up to replace these two teams in thePlay-Off picture are:

    FALCONS Injuries, and a lack of depth, plunged the FALCONS down to a 4-12 mark in 2013. After getting rid of a few older, more expensive players GM THOMAS DIMITROFF, at the behest of Owner ARTHUR BLANK, set out to make the team bigger and tougher and deeper. Resisting the temptation to trade up for CLOWNEY some VFA additions and a solid draft have the roster looking much better. The biggest challenge will be replacing TONY GONZALEZ/TE, but this team should bounce back in 2014.

    STEELERS I like a lot of the roster moves that the team made this off-season. But a big question mark is still whether or not MIKE TOMLIN will play his rookies instead of red shirting them. Mistakes or not the team needs the young talent infusion of a very athletic/fast group of draftees and second year players. New talent and a healthy OL group hold the key, but the path is there to take the AFC North title back from the BENGALS.



    I printed up a copy of the Green Bay Packers roster last Saturday, the 14th of June. After looking through the 90-man list I came up with a few information odds and ends that might interest their die-hard fans who don't want to comb through and spend their time accumulating such mundane numbers. I confess I am a detail geek, which is part of having an anal personality. SO let's get on with it.

    Did you realize: The current roster contains only 6 players who are 30 or older. A few more will turn 30 between now and the end of the season, but not many my friends. There are only 2 players with double digit years of playing experience on the roster. JULIUS PEPPERS, who you will get used to as DR PEPPERS in my writings, is entering his 13th NFL season, and AARON RODGERS who is about to start season 10. My how the time does fly. I certainly realized RODGERS sat some seasons while getting ready to replace FAVRE, but a 10-year vet already?! No wonder I feel old most days. As another aside it should be noted that RODGERS is still only 30, turning 31 late in the upcoming season.

    In keeping with the age/experience theme I will also note that of the 90 current roster members, 27 are Rookies and 26 are entering their second NFL seasons. I should point out that I consider these 1-year vet listings as second year guys, because that's how long most have been out of college. That means that 53 out of 90 players (59%) have been in the League less than 2 years.

    Most of the above numbers are far from the NFL average for age and experience, especially on a perennial Play-Off team like the PACKERS. During the TED THOMPSON regime the roster has been one of the 5 youngest teams around every season, once the SHERMAN era roster purge was completed. They have ranked youngest overall on multiple occasions.

    As any good PACKERS fan realizes, the team also prides itself on acquiring and keeping their own players. No change in that regard this year. I count 71 of the 90 players on the present roster as having been originally signed or drafted by the PACK. MATT FLYNN/QB was their draft pick, went away and came back, so he counts. And a few current players like AARON ADAMS/OT, CHRIS BANJO/S, JARRETT BOYKIN/WR and others never played a down for another team, but did originally sign elsewhere. They aren't even included in this count.

    So as always, it means the pressure to succeed in each year's Draft process is critical to sustaining the success of the football team in Green Bay. Accordingly, the development of this year's Rookie class of 27 is critical for the team to keep building its talent base. I certainly don't claim to be the know-it-all talent evaluator, but since I am writing this piece I will give you my player rankings of PACKERS Rookies as we headed into the 2014 DRAFT. I only ranked the Top 300 prospects, so their other Rookies who weren't on my list will not be included in the list below. But I am sure some of them will make the team and contribute, since I have no doubt the collective talent IQ of the Green Bay scouting group exceeds mine, at least by a little bit.

    PP Rank 19 HASEAN CLINTON-DIX/S  Draft Pick R1/21
    PP Rank 53 DAVANTE ADAMS/WR Draft Pick R2/53
    PP Rank 81 ADRIAN HUBBARD/DE Draft Pick URFA
    PP Rank 122 CARL BRADFORD/LB Draft Pick R4/121
    PP Rank 139 JARED ABBREDERIS/WR Draft Pick R5/176
    PP Rank 207 KHYRI THORNTON/DL Draft Pick R3/85
    PP Rank 233 JEFF JANIS/WR Draft Pick R7/236
    PP Rank 236 RICHARD RODGERS/TE Draft Pick R3/98
    PP Rank 248 DIMITRI GOODSON/CB Draft Pick R6/197
    PP Rank 285 RAIJON NEAL/RB Draft Pick URFA
    PP Rank 292 MIKE PENNEL/DT Draft Pick URFA
    PP Rank 300a  COLT LYERLA/TE Draft Pick URFA I had LYERLA off my Draft Board because of off-field issues, thus the 300a.

    Having only 47 players n the current roster with only 1 year in the League or being Rookies would make a lot of NFL fans nervous about their team's prospects. But most PACKERS fans have gotten used to the THOMPSON school of roster building (and Salary Cap control) due to winning season after winning season during his regime. Here's betting that when the Training Camp dust settles and the final roster is announced the PACKERS will once again have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL.

    June 15: Chicago Bears

    Things have changed under the guidance of GM PHIL EMERY, and Drafts in Chicago are getting more productive and useful.

    Round 1 Pick 14 KYLE FULLER/CB/VIRGINIA TECH 5116 190 4.46/40    A/32.875" H/9.375"    V/38.5" He may not be the 14th best prospect in the Draft, but he's really good and just what the doctor ordered for a team with 2 really good CB, who both happen to be on he wrong side of 30. FULLER started all 4 years at TECH. He's a solid cover corner who also plays the run fiercely. He's a solid tackler and athletic enough to match up with any NFL receiver. If he doesn't beat out either TILLMAN or JENNINGS he'll surely be the 3rd CB in sub-packages right away. Lost some playing time as a senior to a groin muscle injury. This pick makes more sense than some fans think.PP Rank #24

    Round 2 Pick 51 EGO FERGUSON/DT/LSU 6027 315 5.00/40 A/32.5" H/10.750" BP/24 Not a flashy guy, but a good all-around player who will push the pocket on occasion, and hold the point of attack as well. He provides a nice combo of size and athleticism to a team that is retooling it's DL. VFA provided lots of help for this team at DE, and the Draft needed to bring in some interior help. Is an aggressive and good energy player. In a DT rotation he could be a real force late in games with his energy. Like FULLER in Round 1 this is a solid pick of a good athlete, who brings help at a position of need.PP Rank # 60

    Round 3 Pick 82 WILL SUTTON/DT/ARIZONA STATE 6004 303 5.36/40 A/31.250" H/10" BP/24 Two years ago when he weighed a tad over 280 he was as highly regarded as AARON DONALD. He got it in his head that he had to be heavier to get ready for the NFL. He topped out at about 315 as a senior, and was pretty much just a slow, fat guy. He's been losing weight again for about 4 months and that's the guy DA BEARS drafted. If he regains his quickness with his weight loss he'll be a superior compliment to FERGUSON. Has been a spirited player and team leader kind of guy at ASU. In 2012 he had 64 tackles, 23.5 TFL & 13 sacks. That's the player PHIL EMERY was drafting here.PP Rank 107

    Round 4 Pick 117 KADEEM CAREY/RB/ARIZONA 5093 207 4.69/40 A/31" H/9.125" He could be a very sound back-up RB for this team. He was incredibly productive in college rushing for 4239 yards and 48 TD. But here's the down side to that... he touched the football 743 times as a runner, and 77 more catching passes. Is he used up, or close to it? Logic would say yes. He's a strong inside runner with churning legs and good balance. He'll take over from Michael Bush when FORTE needs a break. He may remind a bit of a guy named PAYTON in style, but he's likely a solid back-up player for a 3-5 year stretch. Not likely to break anything long with his speed, or lack thereof.PP Rank 133

    Round 4 Pick 131 BROCK VEREEN/DB/MINNESOTA 5115 199 4.46/40  A/30" H/8.25" V/34" Excellent athlete who has played CB and certainly should be able to do so in sub-packages as a pro. More athletic than any S currently on DA BEARS roster. Shot up Draft Boards quickly after testing out as the top S at the COMBINE, from a workout numbers standpoint. 3-year stater with savvy and a high FBI (football IQ). Another strong pick at this position in the Draft. I could see him as a starter for them sooner rather than later.PP Rank # 138

    Round 6 Pick 183 DAVID FALES/QB/SAN JOSE STATE 6015 212    4.99/40 A/31.750" H/9.25" Reminds me a lot of AARON RODGERS coming out of college, with his size and style of play. But we clearly know that he does not have RODGERS arm strength or overall athleticism. Could play as a pro in a precision passing Offensive scheme, which isn't CUTLER's style, but TRESTMAN can certainly coach that scheme. Seems like a solid career back-up type who can be a caretaker QB for short stretches of games. He has good field vision, high football IQ and a quick release.  Registered a 53 mph throw velocity which is borderline NFL speed. I feel this is a solid value pick for a team that lost McCOWN and has an injury prone QB in CUTLER.PP Rank # 195

    Round 6 Pick 191 PAT O'DONNELL/P/MIAMI 6040 220 4.70/40 Solid athlete with a long, strong leg. Will need to refine his directional punting to succeed as a pro. Has athleticism to make some big plays on fake punts if the defense does not pressure him. This looks like a big picture pick designed to save money now as well as provide a long range answer at the position. The job appears to be his to lose since the expensive vet PODLESH is on another roster now.PP Rank # 252

    Round 7 PIck 246 CHARLES LENO/G/T/BOISE STATE 6037 303 5.10/40   A/34.375" H/10.125" Played mostly OT for Boise, starting 3 years, but may be best suited inside as a pro. He has the size and athleticism to at the least make him attractive as a 3-4 position backup. That's always a desirable attribute for a game day roster in the NFL. I had him ranked considerably higher, so of course I see this as a great value in Round 7. His arm/hand strength is one of his best attributes. He could indeed battle for a starting position in a year or so.PP Rank # 171

    I continue to be impressed with the overall value and drafting philosophy of GM PHIL EMERY. Every pick in this group was a productive college player who appears to have enough athleticism to transition to the NFL and at the least strengthen a roster, whether starting or not. I also like how EMERY fills needs without reaching. Value at the PIck is a recurring these days in Chicago. BEARS fans should be encouraged at the EMERY style of roster building.

    June 13: New England Patriots

    I always wonder what surprises LITTLE BILL has in store for us as the DRAFT begins. One thing is for sure... when the DRAFT ends you'll always find me staring at the PATRIOTS selections and scratching my head a bit.  It was the usual mixed bag this year, but in the end I liked the results.

    Round 1 Pick 29 DOMINIQUE EASLEY/DL/FLORIDA 6016 288  4.89/40    Arms/32.875" Hands/9.75" BP/26
    A couple months ago I had EASLEY as a firm first rounder. But as I kept thinking about a guy who tore both ACLs during his college career and was still rehabbing the latest one leading up to the Draft, I just had to move him down my Board. Clearly the PATS were less concerned than I. He's a special athlete when/if healthy. He is truly explosive off the snap and can shed blockers on his way into the backfield. He also displays an incredibly low center of gravity to duck under blockers. No doubt the PATS can find multiple ways to use him. If he gets/stays healthy he helps upgrade the New England defense talent level big time. If he's limited by the knees, then he was an arrogant, in-your-face pick by BELICHICK. PP Rank # 70

    Round 2 Pick 62         JIMMY GAROPPOLO/QB/EASTERN ILLINOIS 6022 225 4.97/40 A/31" H/9.250" V/30.5"
    The small school kid knocked them dead with his post-season talent auditions. He was Shrine Game MVP/O, looked good in Mobile and tested well at the COMBINE. Strong arm, with an incredibly quick release which is key in today's NFL. His ball velocity was measured at 56 mph, which is well above average. He'll have lots to learn, but TOM TERRIFIC says he's playing until he's 40, so there is time to learn & mature. You want a guy playing at a lower level of competition to dominate, so how about over 5,000 passing yards, 53 TD & 9 INT in 2013. Unless he flops, it looks to me like the PATS will be trying to deal RYAN MALLETT before he hits Free Agency in 2015. PP Rank # 43

    Round 4 Pick 105 BRYAN STORK/OC/FLORIDA STATE 6037 315 5.00/40  A/34" H/10" BP/23
    A very solid, smart football player, who started 3 years for the Seminoles. Not pretty, but very functional. Can move his feet and uses his big hands to latch onto and/or shed defenders. Better football player than athlete. Better size and strength than the PATS have had at OC in a while. It would surprise me if he does not win the starting OC job before BRADY leaves town. This is good value at the Pick and in an area of considerable need for the team. PP Rank # 130

    Round 4 Pick 130 JAMES WHITE/RB/WISCONSIN 5091 205    4.57/40 A/29.25" H/8.25 BP/23
    Solid all-around player who happens to be a bit short by NFL standards. He runs hard and shows elusiveness in the open field. Like most Wisconsin RB he reads his blockers very well and shows good patience. He is a solid blocker in pass-pro which will earn him points with this team. Could handle some return work perhaps. Could he become their replacement for WOODHEAD? I ranked him lower overall, but for their scheme this is good value. PP Rank # 210

    Round 4 Pick 140 CAMERON FLEMING/OT/STANFORD 6047 323 5.28/40 A/34" H/9.875" BP/26
    A young mountain of a man who started 3 years at RT for the Cardinal. I see him on that side of the line being groomed for a year or two while they prepare for back/Cap issues with VOLMER. With some better technique in pass-pro he could be an above average NFL OT. Can get stronger in an NFL weight room. Is smart & tough. This is a very good upside pick at the end of Round 4. PP Rank # 114

    Round 6 Pick 179 JON HALAPIO/OG/FLORIDA 6034 323 5.34/40 A/33.625" H/10.25"
    A team Captain and a 3-year starter in college. I thought he had a disappointing year as a senior, until I found out he played through a pectoral muscle tear all season because the team had no OL depth due to other injuries. Taking that into consideration he showed heart and brains to get by and be a decent player. He's a mauler and a brawler more so than an athlete, but that will be OK with the PATS. His bullish strength and tenacity should make him a fan favorite in New England. Has a wide base and solid lower body strength. PP Rank # 186

    Round 6 Pick 198 ZACH MOORE/DE/CONCORDIA 6054 270 4.79/40 A/33.750" H/9.625"
    This guy is a small school athlete along the lines of CHANDLER JONES. It will be up to the PATS staff to develop him and scheme ways to utilize his length and athleticism. His upside could be huge. He might even be able to play some standing up at OLB when they play their 3-4 sets. Great potential value in this guy. A 3-year starter in college. PP Rank # 147

    Round 6 Pick 206 JEMEA THOMAS/DB/GEORGIA TECH 5092 192 4.52/40 A/30.675" H/10"
    If he were 3 inches taller he'd have gone in Round 3. He'll be a Special Teams ace and can play either CB or S in some sub-packages. Has good ball skills and those large mitts will help him greatly. This guy should stick around a while and be a very valuable back-up right away. I would not be shocked if he doesn't find a home somewhere in their secondary and stick around for a good long time. PP Rank # 203

    Round 7 PIck 244 JEREMY GALLON/WR/RS/MICHIGAN 5074 185      4.48/40 A/29.5" H/9.375"
    Large hands for his height. Is a solid hands catcher and elusive after the catch. Looks and acts like a RB in his style of play. He's not afraid of contact at all. Could be a solid PR candidate. His size and quickness clearly earmark him for a slot receiver position. Could he be the next TROY BROWN? PATRIOT fans would certainly luv to see that development.PP Rank #223
    As the Friday night Draft action ended, I had this funny feeling that BELICHICK was blowing off this Draft and was going to make bizarre picks all the way through. Silly me. LITTLE BILL really got to work on Saturday and picked up a lot of serviceable talent. Yes, I was surprised that there wasn't a WR taken until Round 7 and no one for a TE slot, but this is a solid effort overall with some serious young talent about to don pads in Foxboro this Fall.

    June 9: Cleveland Browns draft review

    The long suffering BROWNS fans watched their team go into the Draft with double-digit Picks; trade around; pass on MANZIEL; then get MANZIEL. Then they find out their top WR had failed another drug test and is facing suspension for all of 2014. Then spent 2 days watch their team refuse to draft a WR for the balance of the proceedings. It was a crazy ride, but something fans in Cleveland should be getting used to.

    Round 1 Pick 8 JUSTIN GILBERT/CB/OKLAHOMA STATE 6001 202 4.36/40 A/33.152" H/8.675" A 3-year starter, with 7 INT as a senior. Clearly the best all-around CB in this Draft. He has also been a Special Teams ace in college both on coverage teams and as a Return Man. Has a record 6 kick-off returns for TD in his COWBOYS career. Has extreme confidence, bordering on cockiness. His demeanor reminds me of Prime Time. Matched up with JOE HADEN, it should provide the BROWNS with the best CB duo in the NFL. Also helps the secondary by freeing them to move SKRINE to cover the slot where he is best suited to play. This pick was a bit of a surprise and word is new GM RAY FARMER was on notice that this is the guy the Owner wanted. Sounds like another franchise a bit to the south of Ohio. But fans were deeply disappointed at no JOHNNY FOOTBALL.   PP Rank #11

    Round 1 Pick 22 JOHNNY MANZIEL/QB/TEXAS A&M 5116 207 4.66/40 A/31.275" H/9.875" For most BROWNS fans all is forgiven because MANZIEL is now in the house. The little dynamo will have a lot to learn about pocket-presence and QB security (slide baby slide), but the most exciting college QB in the past decade will have a chance to help resurrect this franchise. Now it is time to find out how flexible and creative KYLE SHANAHAN really is without his dad looking over his shoulder. The team needs to make the MANZIEL era begin soon and work to everyone's advantage. MANZIEL was on pace to complete 70% of his 2013 throws, until his late season thumb injury. He still completed 69.9% of his throws for  37 TD, with 13 INT. For those thinking he's too short I say his height rounds up to 6' in my books. I would also point out that some film geek has determined that of his 864 collegiate passes attempted, only 12 were tipped a, or behind, the line of scrimmage,  Expect HOYER to start the season, but when his first injury crops up around mid-season MANZIEL may take over for good. PP Rank # 7

    Round 2 Pick 47 JOEL BITONIO/G/T/NEVADA 6042 302 4.95/40 A/33.875" H/9.675" This young man moved up Draft Boards tremendously during the post-season. He was above average at everything he did at the Senior Bowl venue and impressed at the COMBINE. Check out that 40-time. He's right on the cusp of being big enough and long enough to play OT like he did in college, but he looks to have an immediate job opportunity with the BROWNS replacing OG/SHAUN LAUVAO, who went to D.C. in VFA. Plug him inside and he's an upgrade overall. If an OT slot opens in the future he could probably jump out there and produce. This may not have been a glamour pick, but I am marking him down as the second immediate starter of this Draft for the BROWNIES.PP Rank # 47

    Round 3 Pick 71 CHRISTIAN KIRKSEY/OLB/IOWA 6016 233 4.65/40   A/32.375" H/9.375" Might be a bit high for my taste, but he is a solid, productive player who will be accountable when he hits the field. He should be a Special Teams leader with better all-around skills than some of their pass-rush style OLB currently on the depth chart. With the massive size the BROWNS have on the DL he might get enough protection to play inside if needed. Don't look for an immediate starter here, but a versatile athletic addition to a LB corps that has a lot of 4-3 DE on it's depth chart at OLB.PP Rank #143

    Round 3 Pick 94 TERRANCE WEST/RB/TOWSON 5092 225    4.54/40 A/31" H/9.125" I'm not going to beat around the bush. What we have here is a small school, later pick who is the same style runner as TRENT RICHARDSON. Except that he comes a lot cheaper and with less pressure and expectations. WEST is a between the tackles runner who will get the tough yards on third down. He won't break a lot of TD runs, but will get the yards that are blocked for him. I would expect him to back-up BEN TATE, but come close to matching his carries total by the end of the year. Will need some time to learn pass-pro, which was not on his plate much in college. THis is another solid, value pick, though not flashy.PP Rank #90

    Round 4 Pick 127 PIERRE DESIR/CB/LINDENWOOD    6010 198 4.56/40 A/33" H/9.675" V/35" No one in their right mind expects this guy to step in and play a lot other than in sub-packages, but eventually he could see lots of playing time because he's a good athlete and fits that mold of full-sized CB. Note those 33" long arms. He started the post-season at the SHRINE venue and got better as the week progressed. He got invited to the Senior Bowl and looked better, and more confident, as the week went on there. Has long range potential to be a solid press-cover Corner which is what he looks to prefer to do. For now he needs to devote himself to hustle and hard work learning how to be a Special Teamer and gain playing time, with confidence from his coaches. Big upside Pick, and a good value in Round 4.PP Rank #89

    Say good night to the BROWNS after Round 4. The team wheeled and dealed, working the Draft. At times they made me roll my eyes, but when the dust settled they had 2 Top 12 players, an extra Round 1 PIck for 2015, and then went on an URFA signing binge. I think it was disappointing that they traded away so many picks that they did not have a chance to draft a WR or two on Saturday. If none of their URFA WR pan out that strategy is going to haunt them with GORDAN gone for the season. But it was a good effort overall, with significant young help added to the roster. I was critical of their effort immediately following the Draft, but have changed my mind a bit since then. I'd better express some luv for this effort since 5 of the 6 players they drafted were ranked in my TOP 100!


    June 6: Oakland Raiders draft review

    REGGIE McKENZIE has taken 2 years to get the team out of Salary Cap Hell, and now he is beginning to have enough Draft Pick ammunition to make an impact on his roster with some quality Rookies. Here is his latest group of young talent.

    Round 1 Pick 5 KHALIL MACK/OLB/BUFFALO 6025 150 4.59/40 A/33.250" H/10.250" True to his RON WOLF/TED THOMPSON roots McKENZIE stuck to picking the best available player available. By the time the Draft rolled around MACK was on just about everyone's Top 5 list. He might not have fit their biggest need, but he's a blue chipper. He's an exceptional athlete as you can see from his measurables and he is a hard working player on the field. His stats for 2013 speak for themselves: 100 tackles, 19 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 3 INT. And that was for a defense with not a ton of talent around him, which allowed opponents to scheme to avoid him. He's an every down player and has to be an impact Rookie in 2013. He has excellent hand use, whether for shedding blockers, stripping the ball or catching errant passes. Excellent value here for the RAIDERS.

    PP Rank # 4

    Round 2 Pick 36 DEREK CARR/QB/FRESNO STATE 6023 215 4.69/40 A/31.5" H/9.125" V/34.5" It was no secret that the RAIDERS liked CARR. The pleasant surprise was when he was still there for them in Round 2. Count me in as one who felt he was a first round talent. I think he suffered guilt by association because his brother DAVID was not a star in the NFL after being the first overall pick in the Draft. He is a much better athlete that many give him credit for. Not his 40-time and Vertical from the COMBINE. He has an above average arm and can make all the throws required of an NFL QB. He needs some work on pocket presence and throwing under pressure. If MATT SCHAUB can hold down the QB job for a couple of seasons, the RAIDERS coaching staff can develop CARR on the sidelines like the PACK did with RODGERS. 2013 stats of note: 68.9% completion rate, 50 TD, 8 INT. Could become the RAIDERS best QB since RICH GANNON.

    PP Rank #20

    Round 3 Pick #81 GABE JACKSON/OG/MISSISSIPPI STATE 6032 335 5.51/40 A/33.750" H/10" BP/30 Plug him in and run the ball right up his butt. He's a big, naturally strong guy who is surprisingly agile (in a short area) for his mass. He'll be adequate in pass pro with room for growth under pro coaching. I do not see any significant difference between JACKSON and CHANCE WARMACK last draft, other than the fact that WARMACK played for a championship team with a lot more talent around him than JACKSON had at STATE. Based on that comparison I see this pick as a potential steal of serious magnitude. He should upgrade the interior OL of the RAIDERS significantly.

    PP Rank #49

    Round 4 Pick 107 JUSTIN ELLIS/DT/LOUISIANA TECH 6014 335 5.27/40 A/33" H/10.125" There may have been no player who improved their Draft stock more than "JELLY"  with his play at the All-Star venues last January. He got everyone's attention at the SHRINE Classic even though he looked raw and drew lots of coaching attention. He got a call-up the week after to perform in Mobile and again more than held his own against better known competition. He's a space eater who can also penetrate a bit against smaller OL. He can either be a 1-technique or a true NOSE depending upon the scheme the RAIDERS go with. He may not "start" as a Rookie but I would expect him to be part of a DT rotation for a team with a lot of DE masquerading as DT. Good pro potential in ELLIS.

    PP Rank 106

    Round 4 Pick 116 KEITH McGILL/CB/UTAH 6033 211    4.51/40 A/33.120" H/10.250" McGILL had a solid career in college, but may have benefitted greatly from the sudden big CB luv affair around the NFL. He started 40 games in his college career, and is best in press-cover where he can use his size to bang around receivers ala BRANDON BROWNER. He has good ball skills and reacts well to the ball in the air. His speed is adequate for Corner primarily because of his size. Do not be surprised if he gets a strong look at the S position in Training Camp. The RAIDERS are pretty thin on the back end and he could provide a serious talent upgrade on the deep end. If you look at some of his measurables form a S position perspective they would be quite impressive.

    PP Rank # 100

    Round 7 Pick 219 TRAVIS CARRIE/DB/OHIO 6000  212 4.49/40 A/31.875" H/7.750" Another good athlete who may have a better shot in the NFL as a S. His speed would be very good playing deep or in the box. He also has good cover skills and is an above average tackler. A little bit of hip tightness, makes me question his pro level CB potential. Has a tough guy attitude and should be a very solid member of the Special Teams units. For his career at Ohio he averaged over 10-yards per punt return. EVen though I did not have him ranked in my Top 160 I was well aware of him and have no issue with him being a quality Round 7 pick. Good value here for this team.

    PP Rank NR

    Round 7 Pick 235 SHELBY  HARRIS/DL/ILLINOIS STATE 6'2 288 I am not going to pretend that he was on any of my scouting lists. But over the past decade (since the JERRY KILL days) this school in central Illinois has been a happy hunting ground for NFL scouts. The PACKERS have been partial to this program in recent years. The word is that HARRIS has good quickness and natural penetration skills at the line of scrimmage. I had seen his name deep down on some other lists and clearly he made an impression on someone in the RAIDERS scouting force. This pick has all the earmarks of REGGIE listening to the pleas of somebody in their personnel room who stood on the table to plead for this player. Sometimes it works out.

    PP Rank NR

    Round 7 Pick 247 JONATHAN DOWLING/S/WESTERN KENTUCKY 6026 190 4.52/40  A/33.125" H/9.250" A very good athlete who has some ego issues and needs to find a way to put some meat on his bones. His numbers give you an idea of how the Florida transfer stands out as an athlete. He is also a very aggressive tackler for his body frame. But many NFL folks think he'll be broken in pieces trying to play as an active S at the NFL level. In his collegiate travels their have also been questions about how coachable he is. The RAIDERS have never been shy about trying to work with "bad boys" so the spirit of AL DAVIS to some degree lives on in REGGIE McKENZIE.

    PP Rank 259

    This is a solid Draft effort for a team trying to pull itself out of a veritable Black Hole. CARR could be their QB of the not too distant future and MACK, JACKSON, McGILL could earn starting jobs in the present tense. I like the work here and think it's an above average effort.They also did a nice job signing some URFA who I thought were draftable. Young competition should abound in RAIDERS Training Camp this summer. That has not been the case for far too long with this franchise.


    June 5: More draft reviews: Pittsburgh

    Pittsburgh always seems to pile up quality picks every year, but when looking at their roster the need for some quality/quantity infusion of youth is badly needed right now. At first glance this group looks solid.

    Round 1 Pick 29     RYAN SHAZIER/LB/OHIO STATE

    6011              237         4.43/40     A/32.375”     H/10”

    There is no question about this guy’s athleticism or production. He amasses 144 tackles in 2013, including 23.5 TFL, 7 sacks & 4FF. The big question is whether he’s best suited for an Inside or Outside position. I see a slightly undersized, pursuit ILB who thrives if next to a big-bodied partner. He runs sideline to sideline, and stays upright. He could remind fans of JAMES FARRIOR with his range and penetration ability. Is also sound in pass drops.

    PP Rank # 29

    Round 2 Pick 46     STEPHON TUITT/DE/NOTRE DAME

    6054              304         4.95/40          A/34.750”             H/10”

    Ideal 5-technique athlete. Injuries slowed him down last season. Reminds me some of Richard Seymour. Can penetrate, as reflected in his 2013 stats of 9TFL, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF, 13 QB Hurries. Given loss of AARON SMITH/BRETT KEISEL/ZIGGY HOOD over the past 3 seasons it was about time to bring in a stud DE. TUITT should be just that. On my Draft Board this gives STEELERS 2 first round talents.

    PP Rank # 22

    Round 3 Pick 97     DRI ARCHER/RB/RS/KENT STATE

    5076              173         4.26/40          A/31”      H/8.875”

    This is not your normal STEELERS pick. But his big play potential is an exciting prospect for OC TODD HALEY. In fact, I’m thinking that HALEY may have come to HC TOMLIN with a list of ways to use ARCHER to attack opposing defenses. They may have to fight the temptation to have ARCHER on the field too much. Designing a weekly game plan to get ARCHER his most effective 15 touches should tickle HALEY’s fancy. I like this out-of-the-box pick for them.

    PP Rank # 111


    6036              211         4.42/40   A/32.675”       H/9.5”   V/39”

    Once again not your typical STEELERS draftee. He’s long on potential and a bit short on productivity in college. Don’t expect to see him on the field much early in the season, as he learns how to play WR in the NFL. But athletically he reminds me a lot of vet receiver named PLAXCO. He could be a nice long term compliment to ANTONIO BROWN, but fans may need to be patient.

    PP Rank #93


    6001              195         4.43/40     A/31”   H/9.25”    V/38.5”

    A good-sized, athletic Corner who was rising up the charts after a bit of an under the radar career for the Sun Devils. He has solid ball skills and will tackle on the edge. 3-year college starter. If he responds to pro coaching we could be finally be looking at the replacement for IKE TAYLOR.

    PP Rank # 174


    6053              300         5.11/40          A/33.125”           H/10.250

    A 4-year starter in a resurgent Vanderbilt program. But he’s light in the pants and not a great athlete. But his stock came up with his display of versatility in the post-season. He moved inside to OG at the Senior Bowl, and made some snaps at the COMBINE. Now he’s looked at as a potential quality 5 position back-up, who might compete for some starting time. This is a solid value in Round 5.

    PP Rank # 193

    R6 Pick 192     JORDAN ZUMWALT/LB/CAL

    6045              235         4.71/40          A/31.250”             H/8.75”

    A solid, smart football player. Better football player than athlete. Should earn his spurs on Special Teams initially, but could work himself into a LB rotation with time. Plays with his hair on fire, but understands his job. He drove offensive players crazy with his 100 mph, all-out play during Senior Bowl practices. The kind of player who fits the old time STEELERS mold.

    PP Rank # 161


    6066              352         5.45/40          A/36.625”             H/11”

    A monstrous specimen in a big man’s game. Running is a labor for him and he takes a long time to build up momentum. But his strength and wingspan eat up a lot of space. My biggest concern on the Nose is that chop blocks on those long legs could exact a heavy price. He was surely worth a risk in Round 6. May be a short time contributor.

    PP Rank # 102

    Round 7 Pick 230    ROB BLANCHFLOWER/TE/UMASS

    6041              256         4.80/40          A/33.750”             H/9.625

    Good hands catcher with a large receiving radius. Uses his body well to screen off LB in coverage. Team Captain. Was drafted here for a reason. His injury history is concerning, but he’s too good when healthy to overlook. Is a solid blocker both inline and as a move H-B. If he stays healthy hew could make his mark for both his receiving and blocking ability. Very good value with high upside.

    PP Rank  NR  medical concerns

    This appears to be a very solid draft class with a high level of talent. It is also clear that these players display traits that fit the image of STEELERS football. Well above average effort. In fact this is one of my favorite draft groups of 2014. It would not be hard to envision all 9 players making the fall roster. This effort should help turning over of the roster in the direction of more youth and athleticism.


    June 2: Draft Reviews:

    With the 2014 draft now almost a month past, I've had some time to reflect on some of the things that several teams were able to accomplish with their picks, or not. So over the course of the next few weeks, I'll be reviewing the drafts of some of the key teams from around the league, starting with a couple of NFC East heavyweights.


    Round 1 Pick 12    ODELL BECKHAM/WR/LSU
    5’112    198        4.38/40    32.75” ARMS    10” Hands
    With all due respect to HAKEEM NICKS this is an explosive upgrade at WR for a team who’s QB is historically a deadly deep passer. I say historically, because ELI had a bad year throwing deep in 2013. But most feel that was because of a poor running game, bad protection and no speedster in the receiver corps. BECKHAM should fix some of that as soon as he learns the playbook and develops chemistry with his QB. BECKHAM can also provide a serious boost in the return game. This might be a little higher than most thought, but his draft stock was rising after a late LSU Pro Day, and it fills a big need for the team.
    PP Rank # 17

    6’033    298        5.08/40    33.375” Arms   9.250 Hands
    Anther player who rose up draft boards starting with a solid week in Mobile, a steady Combine & a good Pro Day. Was a Team Captain. Has a maxed out body and could be overwhelmed by elite/big NT. But there are no such guys in the NFC East. Has decent all-around athleticism and long arms for an OC. Natural knee bender. A round too high for my taste, but fits another big need. He reminds me a lot of SHAUN O’HARA and most GIANTS fans will see that as a compliment.
    PP Rank # 91

    Round 3 Pick 74    JAY BROMLEY/DT/SYRACUSE
    6’301    306       5.06/40    33.5” Arms   9.25” Hands
    Another player who really helped his draft stock as a senior and in the post season. I had him as a Top 100 prospect until my final rankings. Team Captain. Not a special athlete, but a productive player who saved his best for last. He’ll fit well into a revamped DT rotation for the GMEN. Was very productive & explosive as a senior at The ‘Cuse totaling 13.5 TFL, 9 sacks & 3 FF. Could develop into a CULLEN JENKINS clone and his eventual replacement.
    PP Rank # 124

    Round 4 Pick 113    ANDRE WILLIAMS/RB/B.C.
    5’113    230        4.56/40    33.5” Arms  9” Hands
    Prototypical straight-line, downhill, power runner who should mesh well with VFA/JENNINGS & speedster DAVID WILSON. Will gain the tough yards. Will get yards after initial contact if going North/South. Gives you nothing as a receiver, and needs to improve his pass-pro. Solid addition for a traditional Offense that struggled to run the ball last season.
    PP Rank #96

    Round 5 Pick 152    NAT BERHE/S/SAN DIEGO STATE
    5’10       190    4.56/40     30.675” Arms   8.5” Hands
    Played a hybrid LB/S ball hawk for the Aztecs. Will need work on intricacies of NFL S play. LB trapped in a DB body, ala a guy named BOB SANDERS. Should be a Special Teams ace, who they hope can be coached up as a Safety. Team Captain. Should fit in some sub-package defensive roles.
    PP Rank # Not ranked in my Top 260.

    Round 5 Pick 174    DEVON KENNARD/LB/USC
    6’030    249      4.69/40       33.375” Arms   9.375” Hands
    Son of former NFL OL DEREK KENNARD. Team Captain. Moved around a bit as a Trojan and was nicked up too much. But he is athletic and shows some natural pass-rush both standing up and with his hand on the ground. Can drop into short coverage and roams sideline to sideline. Looked smooth and football smart at the SHRINE venue. Could provide some needed pass rush if moved around a bit to confuse blocking schemes. Very solid value for this team, at this Pick, IMO.
    PP Rank # 218

    Round 6 Pick 187     BENNETT JACKSON/CB/NOTRE DAME
    5’117    195        4.48/40     31.375 Arms   9.25” Hands
    Better all-around athlete than his overall college play would indicate. Team Captain. Will support against the run and shows smarts in coverage. Good locker room presence and dependable. Should contribute on Special Teams and make a solid sub-package boundary Corner.  May never start in the NFL, but should be able do enough well to stay in the top 2/3 of the roster. Good value in Round 6.
    PP Rank # 217

    Summary: Once we get past BECKHAM there isn’t a lot of sizzle in this Draft group. But there a few potential starters, and a lot of guys that be role players and upgrade the young talent component of the roster. IMO a key to this draft is RICHBURG being able to plug & play at a high level to solidify the OL that is in transition, and must come together right away to make ELI a viable star QB again. He has not been that the past two seasons.

    Even though they seemed to ignore the OL, the GIANTS also did some nice work signing URFA types. They signed QUARLES/T, MANUMALEUNA/T & WYNN/E along the DL and I would bet at least 1 of those guys makes the roster. I also like C.J. BARNETT/S and XAVIER GRIMBLE, at a serious position of need, TE.


    As has been noted on more than one again in the past, we traditionalists don’t necessarily see the COWBOYS as being America’s Team, but P.T.BARNUM/JONES has sold that image so hard an awful lot of America buys into it. So, without any further ado, here’s how I view their Draft effort last month.

    Round 1 Pick 16    ZACH MARTIN/OL/NOTRE DAME
    6042        308      5.00/40        A/32.785”        H/9.5”
    One of the most sound and effective OL I have watched in the past 5-10 years. He is athletically below the norm, but more than compensates with his smarts, toughness and effort. Assignment sure. A 4-year starter for ND and a Team Captain. May move inside to OG, but will start somewhere right away. More picks like this one and the COWBOYS might be almost as good as JERRY JONES thinks they are.
    PP Rank #12

    After such a smart pick in Round 1 the team traded up to get LAWRENCE. Yes, they need pass-rush help and he does that well (10.5 sacks in 2013), but he’d have been a better fit back when they played a 3-4 scheme, for my taste. I doubt he will hold up against the run with his hand down. DC ROD MARINELLI is going to have to scheme and move him around to get max impact from the Pick. This is a reach that cost them Picks they could not afford to give up. He ain’t no DeMARCUS WARE folks.
    PP Rank # 64

    Round 4    Pick 119    ANTHONY HITCHENS/LB/IOWA
    6003        241        4.72/40    A/32.250”      H/9.25”   23 Reps
    A very productive player at Iowa, who led the team in tackles the past 3 years. But he’s not a great athlete and isn’t starting material unless he can plug in the middle to replace SEAN LEE. Will be a Special Teams ace and will work his butt off to do whatever they want him to. His work ethic and attitude are exemplary. He’ll contribute, but this was too soon IMO.
    PP Rank # 241

    Round 5    Pick 145    DEVIN STREET/WR/PITT
    6027        198        4.55/40    A/33.375      H/9.25”  37”/Vert
    A very productive college player, who provides a large catching radius for his QB to target. He’s not fast but covers a lot of ground with long strides. Can go up for high throws. He needs work, but could develop into a capable replacement for the departed MILES AUSTIN in the near future. Size says he’ll be a big help in the Red Zone. Good value at this spot.
    PP Rank # 146

    Round 7 Pick 231    BEN GARDNER/DE/STANFORD
    6040        275        4.97/40   
    A solid, hard working undersized DE who lost the last third of his senior year to a knee injury. It also prevented him from participating in All-Star Games and Combine work. An overachiever and Team Captain. If healthy, MARINELLI will love him as rotational DL hustler. Hard guy to cut. He plays hard & smart. Good upside at this Pick if healthy.
    PP Rank #246

    6020        231
    An out of nowhere pick of a kid who surfaced in the 2013 season for TECH. Go find him on anyone’s Draft Board. Jumped up to record 120 tackles as a senior in 2013. Might have appeal as a Special Team candidate, but if he makes the team it will surprise me greatly. Maybe I missed on him and they have found a real sleeper. Clearly they think he is a late bloomer.
    PP Rank   NR

    Round 7  Pick 248    AHMAD DIXON/S/BAYLOR
    6000        212        4.62/40        A/32.250”        H/9.875”
    I high profile player who most of us felt would drop because of a lack of cover skills, and undisciplined play. But this far? This is a great value for Round 7. An aggressive in-the-box player who should excel on Special Teams. With self-discipline and good coaching DIXON should certainly be able to work his way into some sub-package roles.
    PP Rank # 158

    Round 7  Pick 251    KEN BISHOP/DT/N. ILLINOIS
    6010        308        5.10/40
    A run stopping, fire-plug defender. He anchored the Huskies DL for the past 2 years totaling over 100 tackles. He might need some weight room time to increase his strength for the NFL. Has a chance to compete for a back-up role in Big D.
    PP Rank   NR

    Round 7  Pick 254    TERRANCE MITCHELL/CB/OREGON
    5111        192        4.61/40        A/33”    H/9.675”
    I’m scratching my head that this guy was almost undrafted. Not elite and clearly lacks CB speed, but he had a productive college career and has a nose for the ball. He had 5 INT in 2013. I’m not aware of a medical problem or off-field issue of note. This should be a steal of a selection this late.
    PP Rank # 121

    Summary:  This is a mixed bag of Picks in my opinion. And I think it leaves itself open for debate as to whether the team really helped its roster a whole lot or not. I give JONES credit for not yielding to temptation and drafting MANZIEL in Round 1, but have major questions about some of their other picks. The Cowboys also signed a ton of URFA, which usually leads to at least a couple of pleasant surprises, which their roster could use badly.

    Bottom line is that this was a below average Draft for a team that really needed a major talent infusion, whether their fans realize it or choose to swallow the company propaganda again.


    May 27: Thinking Out Loud: 
    Random thoughts on the passing NFL scene

    ROGER GOODELL clearly has his work cut out for him in the coming months before Training Camps open. He has two serious offenders of the NFL’s personal code of  conduct. And what will make this adjudication complex and tricky for the Commish is the fact that one offender, JIM IRSAY, is a team owner, the other RAY RICE is a player and NFLPA member. GOODELL has been firm and fast in this discipline relative to player transgressions during his tenure as The Boss. Now the world of NFL players will be watching intently as it is time for GOODELL to practice his discipline on someone whose discretion he serves under. This is a defining moment for the GOODELL regime, which is already viewed as being “heavy handed” in his dealings with the hired help. Now how about the Boss?! 

    For the many fans wondering why BILL BELICHICK chose a QB in Round 2 of the 2014 NFL Draft, I would contend that the move was quite easy to understand. TOM TERRIFIC will be 37 years old when the NFL season starts. His only back-up is 26-year old RYAN MALLETT who the PATS intend to be sitting out his final year of NFL apprenticeship behind BRADY. Barring a change of heart, or catastrophic injury BRADY has said he intends to play until he’s 40. Expect MALLETT to be traded in the next 12 months and GAROPPOLO to be groomed as the QB in waiting who gets the distinct honor of trying to replace BRADY in about 3 seasons. Good front offices are always playing the game like a chess match and trying to think multiple moves ahead. That is what the Pick of GAROPPOLO is all about.

    The CAROLINA PANTHERS, in this day and age of pass-happy Offenses in the NFL, still over-stock their roster at the RB position and have a deep and talented crew in DeANGELO WILLIAMS, JAMES STEWART & MIKE TOLBERT. One could make a strong argument that an inordinate number of Cap dollars are tied up at the position accordingly. That goes a long way in explaining the drafting of TYLER GAFFNEY/RB/STANFORD in Round 6 of the recent Draft. He only lasted that long because he is a talented baseball player and NFL teams have long been shy of committing to athletes who can use another sport as leverage when contracts come up. But GAFFNEY has expressed his desire to play in the NFL. At just under 6’ tall and weighing 220 lbs., he ran for 1709 yards & 21 TD last season at STANFORD. He’s a faster version of former Stanford standout TOBY GERHARDT. Did I forget to mention that he ran a 4.49/40 at that size at the COMBINE?!  IF he looks good in Training Camp look for the PANTHERS to dump some salary at RB to make room for the inexpensive GAFFNEY.

    Do you still wonder why SEATTLE is such a popular landing spot for veterans around the NFL? The latest example of the organization’s benevolent treatment of its players was on display this past week. When GARRETT SCOTT/OT/Round 6 came to Seattle for the first Rookie mini-camp team doctors red flagged a serious heart condition that will prohibit him from playing pro football. The team, led by CARROLL & SCHNEIDER, signed SCOTT to a standard Rookie contract, despite the exam results and them waived him with a medical issue the next day. The net result is that SCOTT will walk away from Seattle with more than a half-million dollars to start his life over in another career pursuit. Classy, classy move by the SEA HWAKS.

    Speaking of dollars and cents here are some numbers for you to consider when watching your team’s roster being shuffled over the next 3 months in preparation for the 2014 NFL regular season. Per the current CBA, the following salary figures are guaranteed:

    Rookie minimum salary        $420,000

    4-6 year vets                           $730,000

    10+ years service                   $955,000

    That may help you understand some of the roster moves that will take place on all teams. Teams just luv those Rookie contracts. That’s why Special Teams aces, in general, have to be very special to hang around for those purposes only after being in the League for a while. The cost makes some of these guys too expensive to keep around.

    I also want you to consider the following numbers and put them into proper perspective. Like all pro sports traveling team players get daily meal allowances. Again, per the current CBA here are the 2014 season levels of meal allowances:

    Breakfast   $22

    Lunch          $32

    Dinner         $50

    Sounds pretty good until you consider that because of travel, meetings and practices most of the players’ unprovided meals will end up being from a hotel room service menu. Since teams stay at 4-5 star hotels in major cities I can guarantee you that a breakfast of juice, milk, cold cereal and toast will easily eat up that $22 breakfast allowance. And let’s not forget how much these big guys   need to eat to sustain their playing weights. They are not getting rich off meal money, like say baseball players who arrive at the stadium for a game and find buffet tables set up, as they pocket their lunch money of $32. 

    Based on TV ratings it seems clear to most of us that waiting for the NFL Draft to move back to April is a pipe dream of major proportions. Just so you know the rules Mr. Goodell is operating under, the current CBA sets the time window for the DRAFT. That window stretches from February 14th until June 2nd. Get the picture folks?!

    I am most anxious to watch proceedings in the STEELERS Training Camp this Summer as the overall roster must clearly continue to get younger. It’s a good season for trimming down the veteran percentage of the team’s roster because of the talented volume of Rookies that will be showing up in Latrobe. But to keep more Rookies around MIKE TOMLN must be more willing to play his rookies as opposed to red shirting them, which he has done a lot of in the past, in this man’s opinion. Rookies can make more mistakes than good vets, but talent must win out in today’s NFL. That $133million Cap number sounds like a lot until you start to divide it up into about 55-60 pieces. And Rookies are by far a team’s least expensive option to fill roster spots. One of the biggest questions is going to be how TOMLIN/HALEY determine the work load, in touches, for diminutive speedster DRI ARCHER. He is a game breaker, but at 5’076, 173 lbs.,  not having him get broken into little pieces by big angry defenders is a huge challenge in game plan design. Remember this guy ran a Combine best 4.26/40 in Indy. He can do more than just return kicks & punts, but exposure restraint will need to practiced.


    The final in-pads/with helmet venue during the NFL Draft process is the January playing of collegiate All-Star Games. There are currently 3 legit such games that still take place. IN order of seniority they are the East-West SHRINE Game, SENIOR BOWL & NFLPA game. Over the past decade or so multiple game venues have come and gone. There are many reasons for failure but the reality of numbers goes a long way in explaining the demise of many games. There are only so many players to go around.

    This is especially true since the NFL continues to put the kiss of death on inclusion of declared Underclassmen in game participation. Even though I have yet to run across an underclassman that claims to have left school early to play in any of these games, the NFL clings to its stance that the All-Star venues should in no way whatsoever serve as an inducement to players to leave college early. That rationale strikes me as a convoluted logical progression concocted in combination by some of the greater minds at the NCAA & League offices. But for now let’s just run some quick numbers up the football flagpole. Each of those 3 games have roster of slightly over 100 players. There is some player double-dipping so let’s just say 300 players are involved Now let’s roll in another 100 (more or less) Underclassmen who cannot participate. Then add in another 50 players who are rehabbing, and/or being held out of the games by their agents, usually because “they have nothing left to prove”.

    In fairness to the agents’ rationale let us not forget that a Top 100 prospect by the name of AARON COLVIN/CB blew out his knee at a Senior Bowl practice. COLVIN was drafted in Round 4, but that is clearly later than had he been healthy throughout the pre-Draft process. However, back to the basic math, and we are now up to 450 players, give or take, for a Draft of 256 players max each year. Less than 350 players are invited to the NFLCOMBINE each year. So in reality who the heck would be left to play in any additional games that would be worth watching anyway? And in great part because of the diluted talent pool of players, fan interest even from an active, but limited core of Draftniks, is not likely to support additional games in locales around the country. Ask the SHRINERS, who have moved their game to multiple different cities since leaving their seemingly permanent home in Palo Alto, CA, about putting fannies in the seats. Even the Senior Bowl failed to sell out this year after local boys MOSLEY & McCARRON turned their backs on their hometown game. Combine that with general disinterest from the Sacred Cow of television in airing these games, and yours truly is of the strong opinion that adding more games to the current list is financial suicide. In fact the bigger question may indeed be if all three of the above can prosper and make money.
    The biggest challenge in the coming years (and I do mean now) will be coming up with a realistic formula that allows Declared Underclassmen to participate if they so choose. If the NFLPA is serious about its game then expect them to prompt agents into litigation with the NFL to pressure this point forward.

    Whoa now, Pigskin Paul got sidetracked on a little tangent there. Let’s get back to what these games produced for the May 2014 NFL DRAFT:

    SENIOR BOWL    Hail to the King, long live the King!

    Once again the contest really wasn’t much of a horse race here. The game whose biggest advantage is a loyal local football fan base, and the fact that the NFL dispatches current coaching staffs to the game pounded its competitors into submission. The game claims 84 draftees, but I am only giving them 83 because even though AARON MURRAY/QB hung around he was rehabbing a knee and never put on pads. It should also be noted that 7 first rounders came from this game. That is a solid number given that 15 players in Round 1 were Underclassmen and therefore not eligible to attend the proceedings in Mobile. But less than 10 means failure to meet the SCOTT WRIGHT Rule, that at least 1o players from he Senior Bowl rosters will be drafted in Round 1 each year. For Scott’s sake I hope we get an Underclassmen inclusion rule of some kind sooner rather than later. My number of 3 still comes very close to meaning hat 33% of the 2014 Draft Class participated in Senior Bowl Week.

    EAST-WEST SHRINE CLASSIC    Not close & no cigar!

    This venue is beginning to bounce back from a Draft quality standpoint. I counted 31 draftees from this week’s event. The highest draftee was JIMMY GAROPPOLO/QB who went @ Pick 62, Round 2. IT should be noted that GARAPPOLO was one of 7 players who earned promotions to the Senior Bowl the following week as players left that venue with injuries and other complications. The game has now been in St. Petersburg playing at the TROP and has recouped after two years in Orlando drawing crowds of less than 10.000 per game in the Citrus Bowl. One can only hope for the day that this games sells out each year since it supports Shiners’ Hospitals for Children. “Strong legs run, so that weak legs may walk”!

    NFLPA Game      Can We Buy Our Way In?

    Year three was a marked improvement for visibility of this venue, although it clearly looked and felt like the NFLPA was tossing around a lot of money in Southern California to attract attention and court media favor. In essence this game is taking the place of the failed TEXAS vs. NATION Game, which never lived up to its own Texas-style hype, IMO. But the stands were pretty much empty for this game and the quality on the field was URFA level pretty much. 14 players were drafted from this game with KHYRI THORNTON/DT being the highest Pick at No. 85 by the PACKERS. Because it’s the players union this game can compete if it is willing to court the agents and spend big bucks. But that is still a slippery slope, and I’d bet dollars to donuts that the key here is taking the Underclassmen battle directly to the NFL. They tried that approach on a limited basis in 2013, but when the NFL forbade it’s teams from attending the practices or games because of underclassmen being included the NFLPA backed down this year. By the way guys how about you show a little PC and fine a new date for your game, perhaps after the Senior Bowl. I found it not a flattering look at all to take your game into direct competition with the oldest All-Star venue, which just happens to put it’s profits into children’s’ hospitals. Really D SMITH, is it the Shriners you want to take dollars away from.  Wake up man and show some heart.

    So in essence not much really changes in the All-Star game market for the time being. And from this man’s viewpoint that is not bad at all. The SENIOR BOWL runs a first class operation and works hard to include their community, NFL teams and the media. They deserve to be the Top Dog of All-Star action.

    May 17: DRAFT Notes … Part 2  

    I began to question the leadership style of new BROWNS GM RAY FARMER when he steadfastly refused to pay any heed to prospect Pro Days. I’m not a fan of them, but any chance to see or hear something from a prospect should be worth a plane ticket or two. But I really began to wonder whether he “gets it” after seeing what the BROWNS did during the 2014 NFL Draft. As far as I can see he only progress they made was picking up an extra 1st Rounder next May.  But by the time FARMER was done “working the Draft” a team going in with 10 picks ended up with 5 players to show for their efforts. And please don’t tell me the Picks that got away didn’t matter because they were all Round 5 or later. Last time I looked the BROWNS were still a double-digit Loss team in 2013, with plenty of holes to fill on their roster.  What exactly was the wisdom of not keeping a few of those picks to draft a couple of WR to bolster a crew that looks to be without JOSH GORDAN for the entire 2014 season? Is FARMER really running the show, or is he just a front man for hands-on owner JIMMY HASLEM? Sorry BROWNS fans I think something smells in Cleveland right now and it isn’t Lake Erie any more.

    Nice touch by ERIC EBORN to propose to his lady friend at the Empire State building on Draft Day. Wise move by a young man, about to make millions, and who probably doesn’t want to live alone in Detroit. Downright romantic if you ask me!

    In my soul I really do like RICH EISEN, but can’t he do a little bit better than talk about QB every time there is a one second pause from the other guys at the NFLN head table. Give me a break Rich, teams have other needs. I was to the point of nausea by the time MANZIEL was finally taken and that was only 22 Picks into the process. Then RICH moved on to his list of other QB to harp on.

    It seemed for all the world to me like BILL BELICHICK was fooling around and blowing off the 2014 Draft with his strange work on Thursday & Friday. DOMINIQUE EASLEY is a talented football player, when he’s not injured. But at this point he has been injured as often as he is healthy. Taking him in Round 1 is more than a bit questionable. For all the trading out of Round 1 that BELICHICK does I think he could have moved back to mid-Round 2 & still gotten his man. Then I was surprised to see them grab  QB JIMMY GAROPPOLO, especially when they did not/were not able to trade RYAN MALLETT for a Pick or two. But I do like the long range potential of JIMMY G. At this point I see him as more of a long-range option to replace BRADY then MALLETTT. But on Draft Saturday Little Bill and the PATS really swung into action. Every one of their 6 Day 3 picks I had ranked higher than where they were able to select them. All of them fit need areas on the current PATS roster and several should even have long term starting potential. I would also note that their initial list of URFA looks promising as well.

    It is still early in the process, but I think it is worth revisiting the Draft Day 2012 trade that allowed the REDSKINS to draft RG3. GRIFFIN still looks like a long term star QB to me, so the REDSKINS fans should have no complaints overall. But let’s take a quick peek at the 5 players that the RAMS have parlayed with the picks acquired from the REDSKINS to secure RG3.  From 2012 the RAMS got DT/MICHAEL BROCKERS & CB/JANORIS JENKINS. In 2013 the team used acquired Picks to draft LB/ALEC OGLETREE & RB/ZAC STACY. In this Draft they selected GREG ROBINSON/OT with the final of 3 No. 1 Picks. That’s pretty much 5 starters to rebuild their roster with. Barring injury the RAMS could have had the most lucrative haul since the COWBOYS traded HERSCHEL WALKER to the VIKINGS way back when.

    I will now confess a little case of not being able to see the forest through the trees syndrome during this year’s Draft process. I spent a lot of time searching for a player comparison for JADEVEON CLOWNEY. At first I thought of ED JONES, but CLOWNEY is clearly not towering enough to measure up to TOO TALL.  Then I thought MARIO WILLIAMS, but I still believe that CLOWNEY is more athletic than SUPER MARIO. But NFL Network has sold me on the concept that CLOWNEY is very reminiscent of WILLIE McGINEST in his build, athleticism & skill set. WEST COAST WILLIE was undervalued by many as a pro, but teams that had to play against those PATS teams schemed a lot to avoid WILLIE & RICHARD SEYMOUR. What a coincidence that the guy who schemed to wreck offenses with SEYMOUR & McGINEST, is the same ROMEO CRENNEL who can devise nightmares for opponents with CLOWNEY & J.J. WATT now in his tool box. How could we have ever doubted that the TEXANS would take CLOWNEY in that top spot?!

    I found the frank honesty and straight forward nature of JEFF FISHER to be refreshing, when he paraded out SAM BRADFORD the week of the Draft and said how this was his QB going forward, not JOHNNY MANZIEL. You have to know FISHER a bit to understand that it was no smoke screen or misinformation. AS he stated clearly, one of the big reasons he took the RAMS job in the first place was because of the presence of a young franchise QB like BRADFORD. I think he and LES SNEAD were also front and center in the MICHAEL SAM discussions after SAM was taken in Round 7. I’m not sold that FISHER is a game day tactical genius, but I do believe he is the quiet, self-confident leader that is attractive and successful in a locker room of professional athletes. IMO, the RAMS had one of the most fruitful drafts of any team in the League. The NFC West is truly the most dominant division in the NFL, at least on paper.

    RYAN SHAZIER/LB/STEELERS struck me in his facial resemblance to the NBA’s RAY ALLEN. He looks just like RAY would have had ALLEN shaved his head early in his career.

    Crazy, but humorous (at least to me) quote from CARDINALS GM STEVE KEIM talking about AARON HERNANDEZ, COLT LYERLA and other troubled off-field footballers. He stated that ‘NFL personnel departments, if enamored with physical talents of HANNIBAL LECTER, would have made a note in their scouting reports that he might have an eating disorder’. Made me roll on the floor for a moment or two.



    In case you’ve had trouble finding some Draft detail, like I did, here’s some info and opinions to consider.

    Pick count by position:

    QB    14
    RB    23
    WR    32
    TE    9
    OL    46
    DL    42
    LB    34
    DB    53
    ST    3

    ... So let’s see here…
    We have 53 DB chosen to cover 41 receivers (WR/TE).
    Despite the fact that a RB was not selected until Pick 54 in Round 2, a record for such a thing, by the time the Draft was over 23 were taken, though that includes 3 FB.

    Despite the overall disdain for the RB slot in today’s NFL the 49’ers double dipped into that well for both a RB (Carlos Hyde) and a FB (Trey Millard). They have drafted a RB in 7 of the last 8 Drafts.

    14 QB is almost enough for half the teams in the NFL. 5 were taken in the first 3 Rounds, then the rest on Saturday.

    TE was an interesting and low number. 7 were gone by the end of Round 3, then only 2 more were selected in all 4 Rounds on Saturday.

    As expected, it was feast or famine for players from Aggieland. 3 were gone by Pick 22, and then there were none drafted the rest of the proceedings.

    32 WR was a good indication of both the importance, and talent level of this year’s draft group.
    12 WR in the first 2 rounds is a new Draft record.

    PACKERS fans probably already know this but when TED THOMPSON selected JARED ABBREDERIS /WR in Round 5, it was his first BADGERS draftee in 9 years back in Green Bay.

    All you Undrafted Rookie Free Agents buck up. There are already 15 URFA in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Some things just don’t change with the SEC having 11 players selected out of the 32 first rounders.

    Almost mystic that JOHNNY MANZIEL was the 3rd straight QB that the BROWNS have drafted at Pick 22 of Round 1. And all three of those Picks were acquired through trades.

    According to the ever-diligent ESPN stats guys, MANZIEL was the first QB to be drafted in Round 1 of an NFL Draft, who measured under 6’ tall since TED MARCHIBRODA in 1953. Most of you will remember TED from his years as an NFL coach not as a player.

    Going back even further in time, the last time the TEXAS Longhorns did not have at least a single player drafted was 1937.

    I will curious to see how many draftees recorded as DE will end up playing most of their time in the NFL at a LB position. The DL/LB numbers of 42/34 above are based on how positions were announced during the selection process.

    Nine DB in Round 1 was typical of the pass-happy NFL in recent Drafts. But what was surprising to this NFL observer was the fact that 4 of them were at the S position. Just goes to show that no matter how good your Corners are your deep guys have to be good too.

    Quite a coincidence, I would assume, that of the 3 Special Teamers selected the Punter went ahead of the PK.

    National Champ FLORIDA STATE Seminoles had players taken in each of the first 5 Rounds of the Draft. Then the well went dry until URFA time.

    TV ratings were high all the way around. Though some of that can be attributed to the JOHNNY FOOTBALL phenomenon, it could certainly be assumed that the April Draft is history for the foreseeable future… right Mr.GOODELL?!

    May 9: Quick Hits & Random Thoughts from Round 1 of the 2014 draft

    Looks like JOHNNY MANZIEL may be sporting a shaved head ala JEFFGARCIA/TRENT DILFER very early in his NFL career. Watching him in Green Room the hairline is falling back on sides as well as top. Could be good look for the kid.

     Astute observation this week by TODD McSHAY that he has cooled on DEREK CARR/QB luv, because on tape CARR’s mechanics break down under pocket pressure. TODD says he failed to pick up on that back when he was touting BLAINE GABBERT.

    Could have sworn I hear DEION SANDERS, late in pre-Draft show, say he had just been “conversating” with CLOWNEY.  But maybe I misheard and he’s not creating new words again.

    Speaking of Prime and his friends, I thought I heard this week that JORDAN MATTHEWS/WR/Vandy is a distant cousin of JERRY RICECAKES.

    CLOWNEY & ROBINSON go 1-2 in Draft, just as expected before all the smoke screen activity during the 2-week Draft season extension.

    BLAKE BORTLES/QB to JAX kind of came out of nowhere. They need a Franchise QB and he is sort of a local boy, central Florida. I would be willing to bet though that MANZIEL would have created more fan excitement in Jacksonville. So would TEBOW, to this day, to be honest about it.

    Nice job, IMO, by ATLANTA and DEMITROF of holding their water and not giving up another Draft to move up for the big name player in CLOWNEY as had been speculated. And as a result of their pick of JAKE MATTHEWS/OT I would expect that THOMAS got a call and a big thank you from MATT RYAN last night.

    Speaking of a grateful QB, I wonder if ELI (in private) would have preferred a ZACH MARTIN pick to protect him over the WR selection of BECKHAM to help spread the secondary for him. Either one is a Giant improvement over 2013.

    I sure smelled JERRY JONES folding to his inner-self and grabbing MANZIEL even though it made little or no sense. Good job by someone keeping him off that phone. Saw tweet from AARON RODGERS, when COWBOYS went on the clock, that ‘the next 10 minutes (of their Pick time) should be very interesting TV’.

    Wow, what a reach by the DOLPHINS, who clearly think that their OL situation is desperate. JU’WUAN JONES/OT is a solid prospect, and should help upgrade that OL, but the team clearly used some imaginative grading to rank him even near the 17th best player in this Draft. This pick reminds me of when DA BEARS took SHEA McCLELLAN in Round 1 a few years ago.

    Sometimes patience is rewarded. It truly seems that TED THOMPSON and the PACKERS got their man in HASEAN CLINTON-DIX at Pick 21. Another very good example of drafting a player of value who also happens to fill a glaring team need.

    I’ll figure out the Draft pick count before Round 2 kicks off, but I think the BROWNS did the right thing moving back moving back up a bit to grab JOHNNY MANZIEL.
    Let’s hope the third time is the charm for the Brownies. The BROWENS have used the 22nd slot twice before this century to draft what they hoped was their franchise QB. Two other QB prospects, named BRADY QUINN & BRANDON WEEDEN were picked by the BROWNS at lucky number 22 just like MANZIEL. And in both of those cases the team traded up to make the selections. Sounds like Déjà Vu all over again for this franchise.

    Bill Belichick makes the second baffling pick of Round 1 with the selection of DOMINIQUE EASLEY/DL/Florida. He is an elite talent, but I wonder who is doing the PATS medical work. He’s had surgery on both knees during his college career. Elite talents can’t help you when they can’t stay on the field.

    The VIKINGS did the right thing, IMO, trading back into Round 1 and grabbing TEDDY BRIDGEWATER as their QB of the future. His resume says he’s worthy of the late Pick and this team certainly needs to admit the mistake of CHRISTIAN PONDER and move on. MATT CASSEL can start in 2014 if TEDDY isn’t quite ready for the NFL at this stage of his development.

    So why is it the TEXANS can’t draft DEREK CARR to start Round 2 just because his brother didn’t pan out 10 years ago for them?  Watch for them to try to auction of Pick No. 33 today. They just need to be less greedy if they really want to move back. My gut is telling me BILL O’BRIEN is looking for the right Pick to grab either TOM SAVAGE or ZACH METTENBERGER.

    So, are you enjoying your May Draft experience? Based on the overnight ratings you may need to reconcile the reality of May being Draft month. ESPN had a record overnight rating of 6.8 Thursday night. Last year they had only a 4.6. That’s the kind of number that sells more commercials, at higher prices. The cash register is a big driving force in ROGER GOODELL’s thinking & planning. His owners like inflated revenue streams.
    IN my mind the big jump is due more to the JOHNNY FOOTBALL story, along with guys like CLOWNEY, WATKINS, EBRON, etc. compared to ERIC FISHER last year.

    Speaking of ratings the NFL Network limped in with a 1.87. That number is really reflective of the poor job the NFL has done getting its network onto cable & satellite programming packages. The life of the network has been a series of battles between the NFL and communications companies. After a decade NFLN should be on more television sets across the nation… period.

    I counted 17 seniors and 15 underclassmen in the 32 Round 1 Picks.
    9 DB        4 S/5 CB
    5 LB
    4 DL
    5 OL
    1 TE
    5 WR
    3 QB
    0 RB for the second year in a row. Get used to it!

    Now the task is to survive the afternoon programming passing out grades to teams and telling us all how much 32 guys are going to improve 32 teams. If I see any Draft grades I will puke. Don’t even ask me rankings kind of questions until Round 3 is over at Pick 100. At the soonest!

    Pigskin Paul's final Top 200 for the 2014 draft ...

    May 8