NEWS AND INFORMATION ON THE NFL DRAFT
(Note: The following are players who are flying just a little below the draft radar heading into the upcoming season, but have the potential to be breakthrough prospects for the 2012 draft.)
3. Wisconsin C Peter Konz and LT Ricky Wagner … The early returns on the 2012 draft suggest that for the second year in a row there may not necessarily be any true elite offensive linemen available. At the same time, though, it appears that there may be a relatively large number of good prospects up front and two of the best could be Wisconsin juniors Konz and Wagner. Konz, who already has 20 career starts to date, has good size - he’s listed at 6-4, 315 - and surprising quickness for a big man with a projected 40 time in the 5.15 second range. Konz has an impressive first step and does a nice job walling off defenders and creating running lanes; he also has good balance and agility and can get to the second level. Konz, though, is still more a finesse run blocker than a mauler and isn’t necessarily that physical at the point of attack as he tends to lean at times. At the same time, Konz is a solid pass blocker who can handle most DTs one-on-one; he moves his feet well and gets good arm extension, while he also shows pretty good awareness and does a job sliding around the pocket picking off blitzers. Meanwhile, Wagner is the latest in what seems like a never-ending line of big, physical Badger LTs. In fact, Wagner was originally recruited as a TE, but has grown into a hulking 6-5, 325-pound offensive lineman. Wagner, though, is still surprising nimble for someone that size and has the ability to change direction and bend at the knees. Wagner also has a long wingspan as well as a nice slide step and can cut off the corner, although like former Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi, the 29th player selected overall at the 2011 draft, he‘s not necessarily a great athlete and may be considered more of a RT prospect at the next level. Indeed, Wagner is a physical drive blocker with good strength and explosion off the snap; he can also get to the second level at times, but isn‘t all that natural pulling and blocking on the move.
2. CB Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt, 5-11, 190, 4.53, SR … Very physical corner who has started the past 24 straight games and led the SEC with 6 interceptions and 11 other pass breakups last year. Hayward is a good athlete who was a solid option QB in high school. He's also played some FS in his SEC career and is a good wrap-up tackler with some pop who has over 120 tackles the past couple of seasons, although he could do a better job getting off blocks. Hayward also lacks prototype sprinter speed with a projected 40 time in the low 4.5 range, but is a fundamentally sound cover corner with the fluid hips to turn and run with receivers, plus he's very smooth into and out of his backpedal and has a nice burst when breaking on the ball. Hayward also reads routes well and does a nice job tracking the ball; and as the 6 picks last fall would be attest, Hayward has very good ball skills. He has also has enough size and strength to be effective jamming receivers and can hold his own with bigger receivers downfield, although he is probably best suited to a cover-2 zone scheme at the next level. For good measure, Hayward also has good intangibles; he's a smart player who works overtime in the film room and plays with a lot of confidence. Bottom line is Hayward is the kind of instinctive, physical defensive back that pro scouts tend to really like and has the chance to possibly get some late first round consideration this coming April if he can run better than 4.5 in pre-draft testing.
1. DE/OLB Bruce Irvin, West Virginia, 6-3, 235, 4.55, SR … Irvin is still hardly a household name even among many serious college football fans, but is potentially one of the most intriguing prospects in the entire 2012 draft. Irvin is a returning All-American who was second in all of D1A football with 14 sacks last fall despite not starting. He's a freakish athlete who played WR in high school and was originally recruited by all the national powers as a safety, but ended up going the JC route because of poor grades. Irvin, though, continued to grow into his frame and has bulked up to close to 235 pounds, but still runs the 40 in the low-to-mid 4.5 range. Irvin also has an explosive first-step and outstanding closing speed; he's also more than a one-trick pony when rushing the passer as he has good balance and can change direction on the fly. However, while he gotten bigger, Irvin could still stand to get a stronger, but he has quick hands and has the punch to knock big OTs off balance. To date, he's seldom been asked to play the run, but has natural instincts and the speed to track down plays from behind. Irvin comes from a tough background and the fact he de-committed from both Tennessee and Arizona State before ending up in Morgantown will get a lot of be scrutiny, but scouts say he comes across as a grounded, focused kid with a solid work ethic. Irvin appears to currently be graded as a late first round prospect, but will play full-time this fall and will have a chance to really shoot up draft boards around the league this fall particularly as a 3-4 rush OLB.
The GREAT BLUE NORTH DRAFT REPORT is a division of SQUITERLAND ENTERPRISES, Ottawa, Ontario,Canadal