Had to travel a lot for my job over the past 6 or so weeks, thus haven't been able to watch any tape. Frankly, I wasn't able to record any games after Nov. 3 because I had filled up my DVR and was on the road so I had no access to it for much of the month.
But I'm starting to get back into the flow, hoping to clear a ton of space between now and the bowl games. Started off watching some UNC. Funny that I live in Chapel HIll, and watching these two games were really the first time I had seen them play this year. But watched two games from earlier this year (vs. VA Tech & N.C. State)
They have a number of top prospects, which is no surprise because Butch Davis' cheating ways has brought a ton of talent that program over the years. RB Gio Bernard
stands out the most. His older brother Yvenson
was a solid scat back at Oregon State a couple of years back, and might have been the predecessor to Jacquizz Rodgers
there. Gio reminds me a bit of Quizz, but also with better size (5-10/205) and more of a Trent Richardson. I make that comparison because of Bernard's small compact and powerful build, and that he consistently makes the first defender miss, which was something I was amazed with Richardson by. Bernard is a complete back with good speed, excellent quickness and lateral agility. He's very hard to tackle with a good stiff arm. He's not going to run over guys, but can get YAC especially when going up against poor tackling LBs or DBs. His speed is great. He also works as the punt returner, and took the game-winning punt to the house with less than a minute to go in the 4th qtr. vs. State (He DeSean Jackson
-ed them). He had injured his ankle earlier in the game but still managed to come through and make a big play. His skills as a receiver also stand out and he can pass protect fairly well.
He's NFL ready as just a redshirt sophomore, and might be the Top RB off the board if he comes out. I think he's worth a Top 15 pick definitely, with potential to be one of the premier RBs in the NFL.
Also on offense LG Jonathan Cooper
is a 1st round prospect. Cooper isn't huge (6-3/310), but has similar tools as Ben Grubbs, Mike Pouncey, and Rodney Hudson. He reminds me of all three due to his athleticism, quick hands, and consistent technique. I think like Pouncey and Hudson he might make a pretty good center in the NFL. He's not a road grader, but as a late 1st round pick he would make a good fit in a team that likes to pull their guards and/or runs a lot of zone-blocking because he's very good when blocking on the move.
At DT, Sylvester WIlliams
is a good prospect that I think has 1st round ability. He's a guy that can be an impact defender in either a 3-4 or 4-3. Right now he's probably better suited for a 4-3 as he's very disruptive and quick off the snap for a guy with his size (6-3/320). But his long-term upside might be playing in a 3-4 as a nose tackle because he has that ability to be very disruptive there. Wouldn't surprise me if 5 years from now, he's also considered one of the top DTs in the league.LB Kevin Reddick
plays MLB for UNC, but I think is a better fit as a 3-4 ILB. He also could play WILL in a 4-3 as well. He's very explosive and closes quickly on the ball. He's good attacking upfield, but I don't think he has ideal instincts to play in the middle in a 4-3 scheme. He might work there, but may be a guy that will take some time to grow into that spot. But he's a very good blitzer and downhill run defender due to his burst. Could be a Navorro Bowman
type in a 3-4 though due to his burst, as Bowman was a similar player coming out of Penn State (and one I didn't like that much).
Junior DE Kareem Martin
has some upside. Not sure if he will stay for his senior year, but he has skills to develop into a solid NFL DE. He's 6-5/260, and plays a lot of DT in 4-man fronts and DE in their 3-man fronts, but is at home as a speed rusher on the outside. I don't think he'll be a top pass rusher, but put him on the left side and you could have a guy that consistently gets 6-7 sacks a year with a good speed rush if he develops.
For N.C. State, got another look at Mike Glennon
. He is really a mirror image of Matt Ryan
in terms of how he moves and throws. He's a bit taller (6-6) and has a stronger arm than Ryan, but you can tell Dana Bible
has influenced both. Bible is NC State's offensive coordinator, and was that at Boston College prior to Ryan's final year there. Glennon was really good in this game throwing downfield, despite much of their gameplan centering around checkdowns and short passing. But he was 13 of 24 (54%) for 354 yards (94 after catch) and 5 TDs on throws of 10+ more yards. All 4 of completions of 20+ yards were TDs. He also suffered from multiple drops, with 8 dropped passes in this game I counted. I think Glennon can be a poor man's Matt Ryan in the NFL. I just don't think he has the "clutch" gene like Ryan does. When things get tough, I don't know if you can count on Glennon to step up. So in that way, while I think he can be a good/effective starter, I think you might be looking more at John Skelton
than the next Ryan. Right now, I'd grade him as a early-to-mid 2nd round pick. But would be a reach in Round 1.
I thought LG R.J. Mattes
did a much better job vs. UNC's front than I expected. Mattes is a solid run defender that is powerful in a short-area, but his footwork is poor. He gave up a hit and a pressure, but did a nice job against guys like Martin and Williams. He's probably too athletically limited to be a good starting candidate, but could work as a solid backup in the pros.CB David Amerson
was not challenged much in this game, but did show nice ball skills on 2 of the 3 passes targeted at him (he broke 1 up). He's not a good run defender. On a team that likes to play a lot of off/zone coverage he could be a solid starter. But not sure he's a plus man coverage guy. I think he can be a solid starter, but may not be an elite corner. But as a No. 2 or No. 3 guy, definitely think he can contribute in the pros.SS Earl Wolff
impressed me in this game, as he was one of the few N.C. State that was effective tackling Bernard. He has very good closing burst on the ball and looks instinctual and strong in run support. But in coverage, he's very limited with poor hips and struggles to match up with good TEs and WRs 1 on 1. On a team looking for a good run defending safety, he might make a decent starter. But unless he's playing opposite an Ed Reed
, then he'll be limited as a starter. But I think he's a good enough run defender that some team will start him at some point, but his limitations in coverage will prevent him from sticking long-term there.
UNC K Casey Barth
will be following his older brother (Connor
's) path into the NFL. He has a good leg and accurate FG kicker. His only miss was a 46-yarder where he had a bad snap. But he made 4 FGs from 44, 40, 45, and 34 in these two games. He has a good enoguh leg to work on kickoffs, but he wasn't consistently driving it deep into the endzone. Had a couple of kicks out the back of the endzone, but mostly was only kicking it to the goalline. But I think his FG accuracy is good enough that he's draftable.
I'll comment on the VA Tech prospects in my next post when I watch their game vs. Cincinnati (yes that game from September