Okay, watched quite a bit of football since I last posted.
Florida State-Boston College
TCU-San Diego State
Where do I begin with a million prospects to touch on. I guess I should go position-by-position.
Saw more of Ryan Lindley, and I wasn't that impressed. He flashes what you want to see in NFL passer with a good, strong arm that reminds me a lot of Aaron Rodgers. He has nice accuracy, anticipation, and touch on some throws, but makes some questionable decisions and don't have those things on others. I think he's a player that could be good if he's allowed to sit the bench for a couple of years and grow into an offense. But if anybody drafts him and expects him to help them out his first 2 or so years, they are probably going to be mistaken.
NIU's Chandler Harnish could be developed as a Josh McCown-like backup. He has good mobility and athleticism with a nice arm. His accuracy, anticipation, and field vision aren't anything special, but nothing where you don't think he can be developed as a competent No. 2 down the road.
First chance to really break down Trent Richardson, and I have to say I was very impressed in both games, the Tennessee game moreso than LSU. But what I really like about Richardson is that he consistently is able to make the first defender miss. His balance is excellent and while his power and pad level aren't quite as good as Mark Ingram's, Richardson's balance and inability to go down on first contact allows him to break tackles. I think because he has better speed, burst, and ability to hit the homerun, Richardson's upside is higher than Ingram's. I don't think it's crazy to draw comparisons to Adrian Peterson. I don't think he's quite on that level, but I do think he's the type of RB that can potentially be a 300-carry, 1500-yard back in the pros.
For Tennessee, Tauren Poole impressed in this game with his quickness and ability to bounce plays outside. I would draw a comparison to Tashard Choice, and I think he has the potential to be a starter at the next level, but is probably a guy that you'd probably want to split reps with. But he's my currently highest rated senior running back.
Temple's Bernard Pierce did not wow me vs. Ohio. Despite his size (6-0/220), he's a guy that I think tries to bounce plays outside a bit too much. He has nice power, but is not a guy that is going to break a ton of tackles. I think he can be a good starter, but I don't think he's an ideal choice to really carry the load at the next level. I think he has potential, and he might be one of those players that 2-3 years from now can really emerge as a force at the next level.
A sleeper candidate is Syracuse's Antwon Bailey, who has a short, thick frame (5-6/200). He's got quick feet and runs hard for his size. What will hurt his draft stock is that he doesn't have great speed, but he has the similar sort of toughness as Maurice Jones-Drew, and I think his value will be as a third down back potentially.
Watched App State's Bran Quick who reminds me of Michael Jenkins because they have similar size (6-4/215) and similar high-cut frame that makes it hard for them to generate burst and separate from defenders. But Jenkins is probably a step or two faster in terms of his long speed than Quick, who I would be surprised if he ran faster than a 4.55-4.6 range. But Quick has better hands, ball skills, and body control. And I think he has the potential to be a solid chain-moving No. 2 complementary guy much like Jenkins.
I like Marquis Maze out of Alabama. He's undersized (5-8/190), but has very good burst and although he's not a really polished route-runner today, if he does improve there I think he can be an effective slot receiver in the same fashion as someone like Randall Cobb.
While my DVR only recorded the first half of the Arizona-UCLA game, I did get to see some of UCLA junior Joseph Fauria in that game. His uncle is ex-Pats/Seahawks TE Christian Fauria. What I like about Fauria is his size (6-7/250) and has good hands. I'm not sure if he's going to be a dynamic starter, but he'll be potent in the redzone due to that. The key for him might be his blocking which is just OK right now, but if he can improve there, then I think he can be a comparable starting TE to a ]Kevin Boss.
Alabama's sophomore RT D.J. Fluker is an interesting prospect because of his immense potential. At 6-6/335, he's massive with excellent strength, and has the potential to be a dominant run blocker. The problem is that his pop, hand use aren't consistent enough to effectively utilize his strength and power. In pass protection, he's so big that he's difficult t get around, but his technique and footwork are just pretty average, and he really struggled facing LSU d-end Barkevious Mingo who is an excellent speed rusher but is only 6-5/240. Mingo was able to push and knock him back with his bull rush.
Tennessee junior LT Dallas Thomas definitely has the athleticism to play on the left side in the pros, but he's not all that big or strong (6-5/300), but he struggles with his balance and ability to deliver a punch on the edge, which is essential for him to play the left side in the pros. I think he's a player that should stay for another year to try and get better there. But if he was to come out, I think he would be a good option for a team that doesn't plan to play him in his first year. But 2-3 years from now, he could be a solid option as a starting LT if he can develop. He reminds me a bit of Derek Sherrod in terms of his build and playing style, although Sherrod's hands were way better when he came out last year.
Alabama's LT Barrett Jones played guard last year and I think ultimately he'll return there in the pros. He just doesn't have the feet or athleticism you want in a tackle. He was a player I liked last year as a guard, but this year he didn't really wow me. There is nothing really about him that stands out, he is a nice straight-ahead run blocker because he has decent pop and can get position. He might be a good guard at the next level, but nothing special.
Chance Warmack I like a little more because he has very good strength and power. He is a guy that potentially can move the pile as a run blocker. In pass protection, he needs work because his footwork is average, but because of his size (6-3/320) and strength, he can make up for it, and if he improves there he can be one of the better guards in the league.
Miami of Ohio's Brandon Brooks is massive at 6-4/345 and is effective mostly due to that size. He's probably too heavy and plays with too inconsistent technique and balance to really like his chances immediately. I think because of his size, and if he can develop down the road, he might make a poor man's Deuce Lutui.
Alabama center William Vlachos is a decent blocker, but he's undersized and struggled against the powerful DTs of LSU like Michael Brockers. He has pretty quick hands and nice mean streak, but he can't get much push as a run blocker and is not very fluid in space. And his squat build (6-1/300) isn't helped by his tendency to bend his waist rather than his knees. If he can be more of a knee-bender, I think he can be a decent starting center. But he doesn't seem to have the upside to be a top center, just will be an average to above average starter.
Josh Chapman is a very good run plugger for Bama. He is nearly impossible to move off the ball, and the epitome of a "space eater." But he has very little range and won't offer you anything as a pass rusher, because he doesn't have good enough burst to get upfield nor does he use his hands very well. He's a guy that I think can be a solid starting NT in a 3-4 scheme, but because he's not the type of guy that can dominate, he might be a better fit on a team that he splits reps with.
I mentioned Michael Brockers before, and he's a solid run defender for a sophomore. Brockers will flash some quickness upfield on occasion as a pass rusher, but he's primarily a run stuffer that can be disruptive, plays with good leverage and can make impact plays there. He has good potential at the next level, although I'd love to see him stay in school to get more development.
I liked what I saw from Devon Still, who has decent quickness to play on passing downs, but his best skill is his bull rush. He can anchor somewhat against the run. My biggest beef with Still is his motor, which ran hot and cold vs. Northwestern. He reminds me a bit of Albert Haynesworth, at least a poor man's version of him. I think he'll make a nice complementary starting DT that can play in a 4-3 or 3-4.
I really liked FSU's Brandon Jenkins. He reminds me a bit of Trent Cole. Not the biggest guy (6-3/255), but he has a good first step, is dangerous edge rusher when he lines up in a wide technique, and what I like the most is that he'll use his hands and has counter moves when he can't win off the snap, and will set up the end. He has potential. He might be able to play OLB in a 3-4 as well, but he's not natural playing in space quite yet, and I think you'd be wasting his talent if you weren't asking him to rush the passer every single snap.
Tennessee's Malik Jackson had some nice plays. He plays inside for them, but the few times he lined up outside and went against Fluker, he gave him fits. What I like the most about Jackson is that he has very good hands, and knows how to keep blockers from getting their hands on him. What I don't like is that he can get pushed around vs. the run because he doesn't do a good job getting initial leverage off the snap, and his burst upfield is pretty average. But at 6-5/270, he's a player that I think can be developed into a good stack and shed player at DE in a 3-4 scheme if he can add a bit more bulk.
Syracuse junior DE Chandler Jones has a good frame (6-5/265) and looks the part as a 4-3 DE. But his first step and burst upfield weren't anything special. He has a good motor and has some potential as a bull rusher. But I think he might have to be a left end in a 4-3 scheme because he doesn't have the ideal edge speed to be a rush end.
Courtney Upshaw is an impressive edge pass rusher with a good first step that I think can be a good 3-4 OLB. Upshaw I think is helped by his height (6-2) because it allows him to get under blockers and turn the corner. I don't think Upshaw has great instincts vs. the run, but he's a good tackler and has good speed and comfortable playing in space. Don'ta Hightower is a physical run defender, but he might be hurt similarly to Brandon Spikes because he has very average speed. But I think in a 3-4 scheme that asks Hightower to play a James Farrior-like role in the middle, he can be a very good starter.
FSU's Nigel Bradham looks a prototype Tampa-2 OLB due to his speed and range.
Luke Kuechly is a very sound MLB, that is a solid tackler, has good instincts, and while he doesn't have great speed/range, it's definitely good. If there is one negative about Kuechly is that he's not a great physical specimen. He's not a guy that is going to blow up ballcarriers and be a feared entity on defense. If he was, then I would compare him to Brian Urlacher in terms of his potential as a MLB/ILB.
Ryan Baker for LSU isn't very big (6-0/230), but he's got blazing speed, and his ability to close on the ball means that he's an effective tackler. He's a player that I think is best fit as a WILL in a 4-3 that will allow him to be a run and hit defender, he might also be able to bulk up and play inside in a 3-4 a bit.
Morris Claiborne has excellent size and is a very good press corner with excellent ball skills. My only concerns about Claiborne are that he's a supbar run defender and his technique is sloppy. But like Asante Samuel, people aren't going to care too much about the run defense if he's picking off 6-8 passes a year, which he's capable of doing. And he is able to get away with sloppy technique because of excellent athleticism.
I wasn't wowed by Dre Kirkpatrick in either Bama game, although he was avoided in both. Only was targeted 3 times in total in both games. He was flagged for holding, and didn't do a lot of good things vs. the run despite him too having great size (6-3/190). But he's a top athlete. I need to see more.
I like FSU's undersized corner Greg Reid. There is a bit of Brent Grimes with him. He's only 5-8/185, but I like his technique and he's rarely out of position. He'll struggle matching up at the next level, but like Grimes I think he's a guy that will find a way to overcome his lack of size. I don't see him being a starter at the next level, but I think he could potentially become a competent nickel corner. More than likely, he'll be able to add depth and also be an effective returner as well.
Got the chance to really watch San Diego State corner Larry Parker, who is one of the national leaders in picks (6). He's thin (5-11/170) and it shows in run support, and he's not a guy that is a great matchup in man coverage. I like his footwork and ball skills, but he'll probably just be a backup. But as is often the case with corners, a couple of guys manage to put in the work (like Grimes) and get better at the next level. So it would not be a complete surprise if a couple of years from now he's a decent No. 2 corner. But more than likely, he's just depth that will struggle to match up with starting WRs.
Mark Barron and Robert Lester are a nice pair of safeties. They aren't the biggest run defenders, although I think Barron is better. Lester has good closing burst and will deliver a hit, but he's not a sound tackler. Barron isn't the soundest tackler either, but he is physical and does a nice job wrapping up. I think Lester is better in coverage because of his speed and range to make plays in centerfield. Barron also has decent ability, but I don't think he's going to be a playmaker there.
I think Lester's potential is higher because he's a guy that potentially could be a ballhawking centerfielder in the mold of an Ed Reed, although I'm not going to pretend that I think he'll be as good as Reed. Barron on the other hand, is solid across the board, but I don't think stands out in any way to make me think he's going to be anything more than a good starter, but nothing special.
LSU safety Brandon Taylor is a guy I like because of his excellent straight-line speed and closing burst. The problem is that it's all straight-line speed. He's not the biggest guy either (5-11/200) and it shows when he's tackling. He's effective because his speed and burst allows him to cut guys legs and stuff. But he's a guy that I think will have a hard time sticking in most schemes. He'll probalby have to bulk up some and play in a Cover-2 heavy scheme, and he might wind up just being a good backup but overmatched starter.
Florida State P Shawn Powell has a huge leg, but his hangtime is poor. He has Lechler-like potential in terms of his leg strength, but needs to work on his ability to kick directionally and get hangtime. He's a guy that you love to have when you're backed up in your own territory because he can kick you out of trouble, but unless he's trying to boom a 60-yard kick, he doesn't bring much to the table. But his leg obviously will get him opportunities in the pros, and like players like Mat McBriar and Andy Lee that were big-legged kickers, he might take a couple of years to develop.
Tennessee LS Nick Guess is one of the more accurate snappers I've seen since I've been scouting snappers. But his velocity is pretty average, but that's something that should improve with experience at the next level. But his consistency as a snapper makes me think that unlike most snapping prospects, he can come in right away and win a job in the pros.
* indicates underclassman
1st - RB Trent Richardson, Alabama*
1st - ILB Luke Kuechly, Boston College*
1st - DE Brandon Jenkins, Florida State*
1st - CB Morris Claiborne, LSU*
1st - OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama*
1st - OLB/DE Barkevious Mingo, LSU*
1st/2nd - OLB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
1st/2nd - ILB Don'ta Hightower, Alabama*
1st/2nd - CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama*
2nd - OG Chance Warmack, Alabama*
2nd - FS Robert Lester, Alabama*
2nd - SS Mark Barron, Alabama
2nd - DT Devon Still, Penn State
2nd/3rd - DT Michael Brockers, LSU
2nd/3rd - OLB Nigel Bradham, Florida State
2nd/3rd - OT Dallas Thomas, Tennessee*
2nd/3rd - NT Josh Chapman, Alabama
2nd/3rd - TE DeAngelo Peterson, LSU
3rd - OLB Nico Johnson, Alabama*
3rd - WR Rueben Randle, LSU*
3rd - OG/OT Barrett Jones, Alabama*
3rd - RB Tauren Poole, Tennessee
3rd - SS Prentiss Wagner, Tennessee*
3rd - OT Zebrie Sanders, Florida State
3rd - DE Chandler Jones, Syracuse*
3rd - ILB Tank Carder, TCU
3rd/4th - CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State*
3rd/4th - QB Ryan Lindley, San Diego St.
3rd/4th - RB Ed Wesley, TCU*
3rd/4th - OLB Bruce Irvin, West Virginia
4th - DE Malik Jackson, Tennessee
4th - RB Bernard Pierce, Temple*
4th - OC William Vlachos, Alabama
4th - WR Marquis Maze, Alabama
4th - WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech*
4th - ILB Ryan Baker, LSU
4th - QB E.J. Manuel, Florida State*
4th - OLB Gerald Hodges, Penn State*
4th/5th - OG Johnnie Troutman, Penn State
5th - OLB Adrian Robinson, Temple
5th - SS Brandon Taylor, LSU
5th - CB Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech*
5th - QB Geno Smith, West Virginia
5th - WR Eric Page, Toledo*
5th - TE Nick Provo, Syracuse
5th/6th - TE Evan Rodriguez, Temple
6th - QB Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois
6th - CB Greg Reid, Florida State
6th/7th - WR LaVon Brazill, Ohio
7th - DE Jack Crawford, Penn State
7th - WR Bert Reed, Florida State
7th - RB Davin Meggett, Maryland
7th - OG Alfred McCullough, Alabama
7th - OLB Nate Stupar, Penn State
7th - CB Keith Tandy, West Virginia
7th - RB Antwon Bailey, Syracuse
7th/FA - P Shawn Powell, Florida State
7th/FA - LS Nick Guess, Tennessee
7th/FA - CB Greg McCoy, TCU
7th/FA - OG Brandon Brooks, Miami OH
7th/FA - CB Larry Parker, San Diego St.
7th/FA - CB Josh Robinson, Central Florida
7th/FA - CB/S D'Anthony Lynn, Penn State
7th/FA - RB Jermaine Thomas, Florida State
FA - OT Don Barclay, West Virginia
FA - OLB Tahir Whitehead, Temple
FA - OT Trevor Olson, Northern Illinois
FA - OG Derrick Dennis, Temple
FA - OLB Miles Burris, San Diego St.
FA - DT Jerome Long, San Diego St.
FA - RB Adonis Thomas, Toledo
FA - DE Julian Miller, West Virginia
FA - TE Adam Nissley, Central Florida
FA - OC Scott Wedige, Northern Illinois
FA - DE Morkeith Brown, Temple
FA - QB G.J. Kinne, Tulsa
FA - QB Jarrett Lee, LSU
FA - P Anson Kelton, TCU
FA - P Brian Stahovich, San Diego St.
FA - QB Matt Simms, Tennessee
FA - K Abel Perez, San Diego St.
FA - OT Tyler Holmes, Tulsa
FA - LS Charley Hughlett, Central Florida
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.