Let me explain to any new readers what is about to happen here. This is an annual “feature” in this corner of the Internet and the basis is that I like college football about as much as I like NFL football. Therefore, I watch a lot of college football in the Fall and for the last dozen years or so have kept a notepad next to me while I watch with notes about players who might become interesting players in the NFL. I intended to make a significant change this year from past years. In the past, I have kept the notes from the games and let them “lie fallow” for 4-6 months before I tried to decipher them to write this “draft analysis”; this year, my intention was to transcribe those notes – while I might have a fighting chance to read them – onto a Word-document that I would then use to write this feature. By my calculation, that lasted about 2 weeks into the NCAA season; I am still in the mode of “deciphering handwritten notes”. Moreover, my handwriting was never something for which I received praise when I was in school…
These comments come from my television viewing opportunities. I do not have a network of folks around the country who feed me info on a weekly basis from which I aggregate these pearls of wisdom. I have no contacts with coaching staffs or NFL scouts. The only outside input to this analysis comes from a couple of readers of these things over the years who know I will do one of these in April 2013 and they see someone they think I should know about and send me an e-mail to alert me. When I mention those players, the information is second hand and I make no effort to augment it in any way.
I need to set forth a couple of disclaimers at the beginning.
Since all of this is based on my TV viewing, there is a significant bias toward big schools that are on TV a lot and toward schools in the Eastern Time Zone where I live and where the games are on at reasonable times of the day.
Since all of this is based on my TV viewing, it is entirely possible that I only got to see a team or a player one time during the season and perhaps in that game a significant player did nothing to attract my attention sufficiently that I made a note about him. There are omissions here; I have noted a couple of major examples in the text.
This is not an exhaustive analysis; I do not pretend that it is. This is the view of one football fan who watched plenty of college football on TV and who kept some notes – illegible as some of them night be. Lots of the “top prospects” appear on my list simply because they surely did look like very good players; lots of players who fall in the category of “who the Hell is he?” also show up here because I thought they looked good at the time I was tuned in. That is the backdrop.
However, before we get started, I need to point out that there is a player eligible for the Draft this year named Tyrone Laughinghouse. He is a WR from St. Augustine College and I have not the foggiest idea if he can play NFL football. However, his name did catch my attention because I wondered how long it would take someone doing his genealogy to realize that he came from “Laughingstock…”
Also, if a team drafted Eddie Lacy (RB- Ala), how cool would it be if they took someone named Cagney in the next round? Perhaps a team might like to select a tandem of Kyle Long (G- Ore) and Kawann Short (DT-Purdue). There is also the exacta of Matt Summers-Gavin (G-Cal) and Brian Winters (G- Kent State). Notwithstanding the coolness of any of the pairings above, the best possible trifecta from this draft would have to be for a team to take:
Alvin Bailey (G- Arkansas)
John Simon (DT –Ohio State) and
Theo Riddick (RB- Notre Dame)
Enough nonsense, let us begin the proceedings…
Last year, I was very impressed by Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III and I said that Russell Wilson would be “a value pick in the later rounds”. I also said nice things about Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill. So, last year was a good year for QBs in my opinion and all of those players contributed positively to their NFL teams in their rookie seasons. I think this year represents slim pickings at the QB position:
Matt Barkley (USC): “Big and strong but not very fast” is the best comment I have. Mediocre comments include “strong arm but not very accurate” and “strong arm but no touch on the ball”. Moreover, I think he might be the best of the lot at his position this year…
Geno Smith (W. Va): “The next coming of Steve Young” was my comment in one game. In a later game – having seen the first comment – my notes say, “the embodiment of Ralph Guglielmi” and Ralph is now 80 years old by the way . “Can throw on the run” but I wonder if he can throw a “15-yard out pattern to the long side of the field against an NFL secondary.” He is a “boom or bust pick – nothing in the middle.”
E.J. Manuel (Fla St): “Big and mobile but not real fast” and “not a great arm but may be a good-enough arm” gives you the flavor of my impressions from last Fall.
Tyler Wilson (Arkansas): “Good mobility and a decent arm” is a positive comment; “seems confused by blitzes” is a negative comment.
Landry Jones (OU): Given his press clippings, I was underwhelmed. “Big enough and maybe accurate enough” is the most positive thing I had to say about him. “Destined for Arena League” is the least positive thing I had to say about him.
Ryan Nassib (Syracuse): “Accurate thrower but not very quick or fast” combined with “not a big arm” makes me think he might be a guy to take in the very last part of the draft.
Collin Klein (K-State): “Lots of press clippings but not going to do much on Sundays” sums up my impression pretty well.
Sean Renfree (Duke): “Purely a drop-back passer” “limited escapability” but with a good arm and good accuracy. “Might be worth a late pick as a development squad player?”…
Ryan Griffin (Tulane): Saw him in one of the myriad All-Star Games and made these notes: “Tall and skinny”, “accurate throws”, “does not panic in the pocket”. Here is another guy who might be a value pick late as a developmental player.
Eddie Lacy (Ala): “A sledgehammer with legs” summarizes his running style. “Good blocker” and “catches the ball well” seems to make him a pick somewhere in the first round of the draft.
LeVeon Bell (Mich St): “Big kid” and “strong runner” made me look more carefully and make this note, “probably 230 lbs”. “Not super fast” but that commient is mitigated by “catches the ball well”. Middle to late rounds of the draft…?
Dennis Johnson (Arkansas): “Fast enough” is one comment combined with “explosive enough” in another comment combined with “catches well enough” leads me to believe he should be a late round pick.
Montee Ball (Wisconsin): “Give him the ball and it goes forward”. A screen graphic said he was 5’ 11” and 215 lbs but “he looks bigger”. “Not great speed but good enough”. Sounds like a 3rd to 5th round pick…
Johnathan Franklin (UCLA): “Tough guy” who “gets the extra yard or two” should get the attention of real NFL scouts. “Good lateral speed” and “able to take inside plays to the outside” might make him a 1st or 2nd round pick.
Stepfan Taylor (Stanford): “Fast/explosive runner” and “catches the ball well” would seem to make him a coveted player. However, I also noted “bad blocker in the pocket and outside the pocket” might devalue him more than a little bit.
Tommy Bohanon (Wake Forest): “Purely a fullback”, he “blocks very well”. In addition, I have a note that says “slow afoot”… If a team is looking for a blocking fullback who will carry the ball 25 times in a season, this might be their guy.
The wildcard among running backs this year is Marcus Lattimore (S. Carolina). He had a knee injury in 2011 and a leg injury in 2012 that had him carted off the field. When he was healthy, he was a certified beast as a running back; he was a top-of-the-first-round talent. Can he come back from his injuries the way Adrian Peterson did from his injuries? If so, this guy would be a stone-cold steal in the late rounds of this draft. If not, he would be a wasted 6th or 7th round pick…
Before beginning here, there are a lot of draft folks talking about Cordarelle Patterson (Tennessee) as we come up to the draft. I must not have seen Tennessee play last year because with all of the talk comparing Patterson to Randy Moss, I would think that I might have noticed his presence on the field if I saw that team play. I have nothing at all on him.
I do have a report in an e-mail from a reader who is a graduate of Marshall University and a resident of Lexington, KY which is not all that far from the Marshall campus. Here is the salient part of his communication regarding Aaron Dobson (WR – Marshall):
“… big receiver with great speed. And if the ball hits his hand, he catches it.”
I saw Dobson in the Senior Bowl and because of this e-,mail I made it a point to watch him play. My notes from the Senior Bowl were “will definitely get drafted” and “good blocker too”.
Tavon Austin (West VA): “Very fast and elusive after he gets the ball” is my only note on him. Some folks say now he may be a Top 10 pick. My note would not support such a high selection…
Stedman Bailey (West VA): This comment summarizes it all, “very quick but small – - too small?”
Keenan Allen (Cal): “Very tall receiver with good speed” and “made two catches high in the air” indicate that he should be of interest to NFL teams. I also noted he is a “good blocker” and that he “could stand to add weight”. Maybe a 2nd round pick…?
Ryan Swope (Texas A&M): “Tall and skinny” is not much of a calling card here but “caught everything that came to him without a bounce” is indeed a calling card. He is “quick but not fast”. Perhaps a 3rd or 4th round pick.
Chris Harper (K-State): Summarizing my notes, he is “big, not super fast, good hands, possession receiver in the NFL”. Probably worth a 5th round pick.
Robert Woods (USC): “Good hands” and “will get YAC” (yards after catch). “Not a speed receiver, works to get open” says he might be devalued by some NFL teams. I said he was “probably a 1st round pick” but he might slip a bit from there.
Desmond Scott (Duke): “Too small to be that slow” indicates that I do not think he should be drafted at all. As the NCAA loves to tell us, he will be “going pro in something other than sports”.
Marcus Davis ( Va Tech): “Big”, “not fast”, “tough blocker” and “LATE rounds” summarizes my opinion here.
Keenan Davis (Iowa): Big guy/possession receiver with good hands” and “way too slow to be a deep threat” tells me he will be a late round pick or an undrafted free agent.
Once again, let me begin with a note from an e-mailer who has been a reader here for a while. He sent this note before the season began regarding Zack Sudfeld (Nevada):
“He is a beast of a blocker. If a team had too many tight ends, they could make him into an offensive tackle and he would be good at that too.”
For the record, I never saw Nevada play last year.
Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame): Draft folks seem to think this guy is the next coming of Tony Gonzalez; I liked him as evidenced by these remarks but did not think he was a “franchise player”. My notes say, “finds ways to get open and then catches ball with soft hands” and “good blocker inside and outside”. If the current reports are correct, Eifert will go in the first 15 picks. Good for him…
Zach Ertz (Stanford): “Good hands” and “gets yards after catch” are positive comments. “Not a great blocker” is a less than positive comment. Perhaps in the 3rd round?
Travis Kelce (Cincy): His older brother, Jason Kelce, is a center for the Eagles. Travis has “good enough speed” and “blocks well on run plays”. Perhaps in the 3rd round?
I do not try to distinguish one line position from another since pro teams move folks about in those positions the way chessmasters move pieces around. I just lump all these guys together in one category like “The Big Uglies” as Keith Jackson used to call them.
I have to note here that loads of draft experts say that Eric Fisher (OL – Cent Michigan) will be one of the first offensive linemen taken and may go in the Top 10 of the draft. I did not see Central Michigan play and have nothing to say about Eric Fisher. I did see the Senior Bowl and he did play in the Senior Bowl but I have no notes to present here. Sorry about that…
DJ Fluker (Ala): He is a “HUGE man” who “can provide shade for a family reunion picnic”. He is a “good blocker but not fast”. I would estimate he is a 1st or 2nd round pick.
Chance Warmack (Ala): “Excellent drive blocker” and “good pass blocker” are good comment to begin with but when merged with “fast enough to get ahead of runners on sweep plays”, you get the idea this guy should go in the 1st round.
Barrett Jones (Ala): “Good run blocker and even better pass blocker” as a center is a big plus. The announcers for one of the games I saw said he was playing with a foot injury which led me to make this note, “imagine what he might be if his foot ever heals.”
Kyle Long (Oregon): He is the son of Howie Long and the brother of Chris Long; he has football DNA. Summarizing my notes here, he is a “big man who can play on Sundays”.
Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M): He is an “excellent pass blocker” and he “can get outside to block on run plays”. My notes said “1st round pick”; now some folks are saying he might be the first pick in the entire draft. Wow!
Orday Aboushi (UVa): “Good run blocker – needs to develop better pass blocking”. That sounds like a later round development squad pick to me…
Reid Fragel (Ohio State): “Very tall [screen graphic said 6’ 8”] and a “good run blocker” but “nothing more than OK as a pass blocker”. Late round pick?
Braxston Cave (Notre Dame): The announcers were raving about him but my notes were “slightly above average college lineman – went to Lake Woebegone HS?” What am I missing here other than lots of Notre Dame players are often over-hyped?
Chris Jacobsen (Pitt): “Not a really big OL but hustles every play” and “never fails to hit the guy in front of him” tells me this guy should be a mid-to-late round pick.
Lots of defensive ends in college are too small to play that position regularly in the NFL. Therefore, I try here to list the guys I think can play defensive end in the pros and list a few “college defensive ends” under the heading of “outside linebacker”.
I have another e-mail communication regarding a defensive end that I never saw play, Mike Catapano (DE – Princeton). Here is what my correspondent said:
“Princeton is not exactly a ‘football factory’ and you won’t see them play on TV, but this guy can make it in the NFL. He is 6’4” and 275 and he is very fast. If he can go to Princeton, he has to be smart enough to pick up any defensive ‘scheme’ that an NFL coordinator might throw at him.”
There are not a lot of Princeton grads in the NFL – indeed, there are not a lot of Ivy League grads to be sure. Maybe if the Cowboys take him, he and Jason Garrett can chat about which eating club they were in…
Sam Montgomery (LSU): “Would have to add weight to play DE and to add speed to play OLB in the NFL.” “Lots of hustle and a sure tackler but does he have a position for the NFL?” This is a boom-or-bust pick waiting to happen…
Lavar Edwards (LSU): I was very concise with this player. “Big, strong, agile – 2nd or 3rd round.”
Ezekiel Ansah (BYU): He is “very big and still very quick” and “throws blockers off him nonchalantly”. The announcer said that he only started playing football in 2011. Wow! “Could go in 2nd round”.
William Gholston (Mich St): “Big tall and rangy with little technique” he makes plays by “overpowering his man”. “Not likely to be able to do that routinely in the NFL” and “not quick off the ball” so “maybe worth a shot in 5th or 6th round.”
Tank Carradine (Fla St): I was impressed by him as “strong, agile and fast enough for a defensive lineman.” However, he had to be “helped off field” in the game I saw with “looks like a leg injury”. An NFL team’s medical staff would need to have a loud voice in the choir here…
Sharrif Floyd (Fla): He is a “big interior tackle who hustles all the time” and “gets good pass pressure inside in addition to playing the run”. “Should be a 1st round pick…”
John Jenkins (UGa): “A 350 lb anchor in the middle”. “Does not generate pass rush” so probably “late round pick” based on his size.
Kwame Geathers (UGa): He is a “huge specimen” with “good athletic skills.” He would “probably be worth a middle round pick.
Jesse Williams (Ala): Announcers said he played high school basketball in Australia which would be a surprise for someone that big. The screen graphic said he weighed 320 lbs but that had to be before lunch. My notes say “tough on run plays”, “good interior pass pressure” and “decent speed”. That might indicate a 1st or 2nd round pick…
Johnathan Hankins (Ohio St): He is a big body inside who “stops the run but does not rush the passer”. He is “not real fast”. Perhaps a 3rd or 4th round pick?
Bennie Logan (LSU): “A DT who is actually a good tackler and not someone who just leans on a runner and then falls on top of him”. That sounds good but then I also noted “not much of a pass rusher at all”. Maybe a late round pick…
Montori Hughes (Tennessee-Martin): I saw him in the Senior Bowl as a “big strong run-stopper” and someone who is “not real fast or real athletic but who clogs the line of scrimmage”. Could be a late round pick.
AJ Francis (Md): He is a big guy who was a “run-stopper for a middling team”. He “hustles every play” so he “may be a value pick in the late rounds”.
Barkevious Mingo (LSU): He has a great name and he is a pretty good player too. “Very fast off the ball” and “puts pressure on the QB quickly” he is “fast enough to learn pass coverages he will need in the NFL.” He is “too small to be a full time DE.” This is a 1st round pick.
Alec Ogeltree (UGa): “Very fast” and “big hitter” are two important components of an NFL OLB. Announcers said he “started his career as a safety” so he probably knows something about pass coverage. He did overrun a couple of plays; he seems to rely on speed and athleticism to get his job done; “will need to learn discipline to play in the NFL”.
Jarvis Jones (UGa): “Big and strong” and “very sure tackler” says that he has the basics to make it in the NFL. I read reports that say he has spinal stenosis; if so, teams need to have their medical staff examine this guy thoroughly. That is the condition that ended the careers of Chris Samuels and Michael Irvin.
Arthur Brown (K-State): “Built like a fireplug/hits like a sledgehammer”. He “always hustles”. “Only question is he fast enough to play OLB?”
Dion Lewis (Oregon): “Very quick and athletic” was one note. “Reminds me of Ted Hendricks” was my other note. That would mean I would want to draft him given the chance but now some folks say he could go in the Top Five of this draft. I do not have anything in my notes that is so laudatory…
Manti Te’o (Notre Dame): “Makes lots of tackles” and “plays instinctively” but “is he big enough and fast enough for the NFL?” I think he is a gamble as a first round pick – and my assessment came before any of the news of his non-existent girlfriend broke.
Kevin Minter (LSU): “Always around the ball” and “ hustles every play” are his assets. The liability is “he seems small to play ILB in the NFL.” Maybe a 3rd round pick?
Nico Johnson (Ala): “Man, can he hit people” but he “looks a tad too slow to cover NFL TEs”. I also noted that “he looks as if he enjoys taking on the lead blocker on running plays”. Worth a shot in the 4th or 5th round.
Overlaying all of the prospects who played this position in NCAA football last year is Tyrann Mathieu from LSU who did not play because he was suspended from the team after failing at least 10 drug tests there. In 2011 he showed cornerback skills and return team skills. I have no idea how NFL draft mavens will balance all that out. He might go in the first round or he might be around in the fifth round…
Dee Milliner (Ala): “Good size” and “really good coverage skills” are repeated notes on him from more than one game. Folks say he is a 1st round pick; I would not disagree.
Xavier Rhodes (Fla St): “Big guy who plays run and pass very well”. That sounds like what NFL scouts should be looking for. Perhaps a 1st round pick?
Sanders Commings (UGa): “Big CB but may be too slow for NFL”. “Convert him to safety?” If he needs a position change, he may not go until the late rounds…
Marcus Cromartie (Wisc): “Late round pick”, “good against the run”. Maybe an NFL team will develop his coverage game?
Nigel Malone (K-St): “Not very big” and “not very fast” are not good remarks but then there is this one, “seems to be around the ball all the time”. Here is another asset, “he will definitely hit people”. He is worth a shot in the late rounds.
Nickell Robey (USC): “Covers well” but is “awfully small”. A screen graphic said he was 5’ 8” and 175 lbs. If that is even close to accurate, what is he going to do with a WR like Larry Fitzgerald?
I have one final e-mail addition to include here. It comes from a friend who lives a tad south of Pittsburgh. Here is the pertinent part of his e-mail:
“You will never see California University (of PA) on TV in the DC area so you will never see Rontez Miles. … [Miles] is a safety who hits very hard but his most important contribution to the team is that he cleans up anyone’s mistakes from sideline to sideline.
“He won’t have any national recognition but he will be drafted because a few scouts from the NFL will hear about him and come to see him hit people. If you are in the area, let me know and we can go see a game together.”
Needless to say, I did not get to see California University of Pennsylvania play football last season. Therefore, I present this player assessment here without comment.
Eric Reid (LSU): He has “good coverage skills” and is a “big hitter”. In addition, he is a “good open field tackler and not a head-hunter”. He will likely go in the early rounds.
Bacarri Rambo (UGa): “Big and strong” is the good news; “not very fast” is the not so good news. Maybe 3rd or 4th round?
DJ Swearinger (S. Carolina): “Could hit a runaway bus and stop its momentum”. He also has “reasonable cover skills”. 2nd round seems about right here.
Jarred Holley (Pitt): He is “always near the ball” but he “looks awfully small to play in the NFL”. I would definitely have him on speed-dial if he is an undrafted free agent.
Zeke Motta (Notre Dame): He is a “big hitter” and a “sure tackler” but I also have a note asking, “can he cover NFL receivers?” He is worth a late round pick.
I do not have a single note about a punter from all of last season. I saw lots of games and therefore saw lots of punts – but I was never moved to pick up my pen and apply it to my notepad. Hi ho!
I have exactly one placekicker on my notepad from all of last year. Hmmm… I wonder if for some reason I had a bad feeling about special teams players in 2012. I shall have to ask my therapist about that…
Anthony Cantele (K-State): “Good distance and accuracy but nothing special”. “Take if you need a kicker in the late rounds”. That is not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it?
So, there it is; the distillation of hours of watching college football games. What I find interesting is to see where some of these players are actually taken in the draft and how that placement corresponds to my wild-assed guesses. I am sure you have heard about many of the players included here but I am also sure there are a few you do not recognize at all. Just for the halibut, check to see where these guys go later this week – if they are drafted at all.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………