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Chris Polk will be tested against a tough Nebraska defense

The UW vs. Nebraska games features six players on our latest top 100 2012 NFL Draft prospects board.

Each team boasts three players in the top 100 and we will be paying close attention to the Washington offense vs. Nebraska defense this week.  Nebraska’s defense features CB Alfonzo Dennard, DT Jared Crick, and LB Lavonte David.  They will matchup with RB Chris Polk and WR Jermaine Kearse.  The Washington defense has a mammoth DT in Alameda Ta’amu that is rising up draft boards as a possible 3-4 run stuffer.

Guys to keep an eye on:

Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska #15

There are many that believe Dennard is a superior prospect to former teammate Prince Amukamara.  Amukamara was a first round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.  Dennard excels in man coverage and particularly when he can get his hands on the receiver early and often.  He’s a physical corner that isn’t afraid to stick his nose into the action.  This weekend’s matchup with Jermaine Kearse will be intriguing in that both players seek out contact at the line of scrimmage. 

Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska #94

Crick is a tough grade because he appears to excel more in a complementary role.  He broke out when paired Nmdamukong Suh but hasn’t flashed the same explosive power since that time.  He’s not going to be a playmaker at the DT spot and may be a better fit as a five-technique in the NFL.  His feistyness and ability to pursue the play will intrigue NFL teams which will probably land him in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.   The Washington offensive line has struggled against lesser competition so Crick should have a field day in the UW backfield. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Draft Prospects Preview: Nebraska vs. Washington»

Taureen Poole is someone to watch for the 2012 NFL Draft

This game is probably a preview of the 2013 NFL Draft more than the 2012 NFL Draft.  Both teams have some solid 2013 talent but lack for big name talent for the 2012 NFL Draft. 

We will preview the 2012 prospects along with those to keep an eye out for 2013.  Tennessee features RB Taureen Poole and an intriguing DE prospect in Malik Jackson.  On the Florida side, they have an interesting junior prospect in T Xavier Nixon that we will highlight.

The Tennessee 2013 prospects are QB Tyler Bray, WR Da’Rick Rogers, and WR Justin Hunter.  Florida boasts DT Sharrif Floyd and OLB Jelani Jenkins for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Guys to keep an eye on:

Taureen Poole, RB, Tennessee #28

Poole earned All-SEC honorable mention last season after 1,034 yards and 11 TD’s.  He can catch the ball out of the backfield and blocks fairly well for a RB.  He has great size and enough agility to make defenders miss.  I would expect Poole to be a fourth round prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Malik Jackson, DE, Tennessee #97

Jackson has prototype size for the DE position at 6’5” and 270 pounds.  He finished last season with 11 TFL and 5 sacks.  Jackson has good speed off the edge but won’t blow anyone away with his burst.  He is probably a later round prospect with a fairly high ceiling. 

Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee  #8 (2013)

Tyler Bray may be the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.  He is off to a great season and has all the measurables of an elite QB.  Size, arm strength, and accuracy.  Bray came in as a true freshman and led the Volunteers to a bowl game. 

Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee  #11 (2013)

Hunter is a big receiver (6’4” 200) that has enough speed to stretch the defense.  He has excellent leaping abilities that allow him to make plays that others can’t.  Hunter is off to a nice start to 2011 (16 catches, 302 yards and 2 TD’s) so look for his name atop the 2013 NFL Draft. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Draft Prospects Preview: Florida vs. Tennessee»

2012 NFL Mock Draft – September 14 Update

Posted by Brad On September - 14 - 20111 COMMENT

1.  Cleveland Browns – Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Colt McCoy is the least of the Browns worries at this point but you don’t pass on the best QB prospect since Peyton Manning after a dismal season.  After their week one loss to the Bengals the Browns went from possible surprise team to potential winner of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.  As for Colt McCoy, he is probably given a shot elsewhere because he has shown signs of promise.

2.  Seattle Seahawks – Matt Barkley, QB, USC

Pete Carroll has shown an ability to stay away from former players in the draft (Taylor Mays).  For his sake, I hope he does again but this one makes too much sense.  Barkley is not my favorite QB prospect in the 2012 NFL Draft and number 2 is way too high for him but Seattle needs a franchise signal caller.  Carroll’s familiarity with Barkley lead him to make a bad decision in the 2012 NFL Mock Draft.

3.  Minnesota Vikings – Matt Kalil, T, USC

Minnesota badly needs protection for Chrisitian Ponder and Adrian Peterson.  Cutting ties with Bryant McKinnie appears after one game to be a huge mistake after watching him manhandle Pittsburgh defenders.  Kalil is a franchise LT and he fits a huge need for the Vikings in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft.

D.J. Fluker is looking primed to breakout in 2011

4.  Indianapolis Colts – D.J. Fluker, T, Alabama

Indy is going to struggle without Manning and they will look for insurance for Peyton at some point in the 2012 NFL Draft.  In the meantime, they would be wise to beef their protection for Manning and Co.  Sure they took Castonzo and Ijalana in 2011 but they need more help and Fluker’s a beast.  Fluker can man the LT spot and move Castonzo to RT where he is a better fit.  Fluker is only a rSophomore but has all the abilities to be a franchise LT.

5.  Denver Broncos – Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

I was very tempted to go with Landry Jones and turn the page on Orton, Tebow, and Quinn but I think they go defensive value at 5 in our 2012 NFL Mock Draft.  Coples would pair with Dumervil and Von Miller to form a young core of defensive talent.

6.  Tennessee Titans – Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina

Tennessee has nothing opposite Kenny Britt and they will look to surround Jake Locker with talented pieces to work with.  Jeffery has gotten off to a bit of a slow start but has the physical abilities that teams look for in number one receivers.  Jeffery could team with Britt to give Tennessee the best young receiving corps in the NFL and give Locker a bright future. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Mock Draft – September 14 Update»

RANKNAME POSITIONSCHOOL CLASSPosition Rank
1Andrew LuckQB Stanford Junior1 
2Quinton CoplesDE North CarolinaSenior1 
3Matt Kalil T USC Junior1 
4Alshon JeffreyWR South CarolinaJunior1 
5Vontaze BurfictLB Arizona St.Junior1 
6Trent RichardsonRB Alabama Junior1 
7Jonathan MartinT Stanford Junior2 
8D.J. FlukerT Alabama rSo3 
9Landry JonesQB OklahomaJunior2 
10Justin BlackmonWR Oklahoma St.Junior2 
11Brandon JenkinsDE FSU Junior2 
12Dre KirkpatrickCB Alabama Junior1 
13Donte Paige-MossDE North CarolinaJunior3 
14Stephon GilmoreCB South CarolinaJunior2 
15Matt BarkleyQB USC Junior3 
16Michael FloydWR Notre DameSenior3 
17Jayron HosleyCB Virginia TechJunior3 
18Manti Te’oLB Notre DameJunior2 
19Jared CrickDT Nebraska Senior1 
20Alfonzo DennardCB Nebraska Senior4 
21Brandon ThompsonDT Clemson Senior2 
22Morris ClaiborneCB LSU Junior5 
23Robert LesterS Alabama Junior1 
24Luke KuechlyLB Boston CollegeJunior3 
25Janoris JenkinsCB North AlabamaSenior6 
26Lamar MillerRB Miami rSo2 
27Jeff FullerWR Texas A&MSenior4 
28David DeCastro G Stanford Junior1 
29T.J. McDonaldFS USC Junior2 
30Devin TaylorDE South CarolinaJunior4 
31Ryan LindleyQB San Diego St.Senior4 
32Vinny Curry DE Marshall Senior5 

Chase Minnifield holds strong at 44 in our latest 2012 NFL Draft prospect rankings

Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings – Updated September 13»

What We Learned (So Far) from Week One

Posted by Brad On September - 12 - 20115 COMMENTS

Cam Newton dazzled in his debut against Arizona...in a loss

1.  Cam Newton is special

Cam put on a display in his rookie debut and looked impressive doing it.  There will be two sides to this debate:  Those that say it was against a bad defense and only one game and those that claim that he’s the second coming.  I will say, rookie quarterbacks shouldn’t throw for 400 yards in debut games even against the worst of defenses.  Cam had pinpoint accuracy for much of the day and displayed excellent control of the offense.  Clearly, Cam took the criticism personal and is working on becoming a special player.  I was critical of Cam coming out of college but he’s one of those guys that is just a football player and playmaker and that was on display on Sunday afternoon.

2.  Green Bay is who we thought they were

Repeating in the NFL is a tough thing to do but Green Bay appears poised to do so after their week one performance against the NFC powerhouse New Orleans Saints.  Aaron Rodgers was spectacular and the defense actually played well despite getting run up by the Saints.  The Saints boast the second best offense in the NFL…next to the Packers. 

3.  The Detroit Lions are for real

Matthew Stafford was spectacular against a very good Tampa Bay defense and their defense held Josh Freeman and Co. in check all day.  If Stafford stays healthy this statline (305 yards and 3 TD’s) could become the norm on the way into Playoffs. Read the rest of this entry » «What We Learned (So Far) from Week One»

2012 NFL Draft: Rising and Falling Week Two Edition

Posted by Brad On September - 11 - 20111 COMMENT

Week two of the college football season gave us some wild finishes and allowed us some insight into those names that may be called early in the 2012 NFL Draft.  For many top prospects this week also gave a two game sample by which to believe their name may not be called as early as we once thought.  Here’s a look at who’s stock is rising and falling:

RISING

Micheal Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Notre Dame struggling; Michael Floyd is notMichael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

Floyd has put together two very solid weeks in losing performances.  He has consistently been the best player on the field among game opponents. Against Michigan he failed to find the endzone but finished with 13 catches for 159 yards giving him 25 catches and 313 yards on the season.  Floyd looks healthier than ever which has allowed for an explosive burst which we haven’t seen from Floyd in years past.  In previous years, he has relied on his size and leaping ability to make plays but it’s clear he has a tool belt this season which includes speed. Floyd is solidifying his status as a day one pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International

Hilton is a big play waiting to happen with each touch.  He torched Louisville for 7 catches, 201 yards, and 2 TD’s this week after posting a 7 catch, 132 yard, and a TD performance against North Texas in week one.  Hilton’s size has been the issue but his production and surprising strength are outweighing size at this point.  Hilton is looking like a guy would could pull a Randall Cobb and make his way into the second round come next April.

Brandon Boykin, CB, Georgia

Georgia is 0-2 but in no part due to Brandon Boykin.  Boykin has done a little of everything for UGA including seeing significant action on the offensive side of the ball.  The speedster had his first INT  and returned a kick 56 yards against South Carolina.  Boykin did drop an easy pick but his play in every facet of the game made up for it.  Boykin’s versatility is drawing Devin Hester comparisons from many people which can do nothing but help his stock in the 2012 NFL Draft.  Boykin is clearly not a finished product at CB and if just graded on CB play he would find himself in the 3-4 round range but he is helped by the amount of versatility in his game. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Draft: Rising and Falling Week Two Edition»

2012 NFL Draft Needs: NFC West

Posted by Brad On September - 10 - 20111 COMMENT

Micheal Profetta

Arizona Cardinals

Could Donte Paige-Moss be the answer at rush linebacker for the Cards?

1. Outside linebacker   Most fans are wise to the fact that the Cards’ current regime is using the Pittsburgh Steelers organizational blueprint in the desert, including new defensive coordinator Ray Horton’s 3-4 zone-blitz defense. In the Blitzburgh defensive scheme, effective pass-rushers at OLB are crucial. Current Arizona starters Joey Porter and Clark Haggans would be fine in that capacity…if it was 2005. The Steelers have a rich history of mining mid-round DE/OLB ‘tweeners and turning them into Pro Bowlers in their system and, predictably, the Cardinals have tried that same avenue in the last two drafts with fourth-rounders O’Brien Schofield and Sam Acho, but the jury is still out on both. If Arizona wants to secure at least one high-level replacement for the 34-year-old Porter and Haggans, they should look no further than the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft, which should offer good fits for the 3-4 scheme like FSU’s Brandon Jenkins, UNC’s Donte Paige-Moss, Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw and Marshall’s Vinny Curry.

2. Offensive tackle   Arizona hasn’t drafted an O-lineman in the last two years and it shows. The unit struggled to open up holes in the running game and allowed 50 sacks last season, so it’s obviously time to stop assuming that Russ Grimm can coach up late-round projects like RT Brandon Keith and start upgrading the talent-level. LT Levi Brown is a monster run-blocker, but struggles in pass protection and should really be back on the right side, where Beanie Wells found little room to run in 2010. If the Cardinals disappoint this season and find themselves drafting in the #11-15 range of the 2012 NFL Draft, they shouldn’t pass up Stanford’s Jonathan Martin if he slips that far. A linear, athletic LT prospect like OSU’s Mike Adams or Florida’s Xavier Nixon could blossom under Grimm’s tutelage. Both are potential bargains in the late-first round if Arizona wins the NFC West this season.

3. Cornerback   The Cardinals are hoping that they found their Revis/Asomugha-type chess piece with the #5 pick of the 2011 NFL Draft, Patrick Peterson, but questions abound on the CB depth chart after him. Richard Marshall’s physicality makes him a nice fit as the #2 corner in this scheme, but he’s due for free agency in 2012, as is nickel back Greg Toler (who’s out for the year with a torn ACL). The Cardinals will probably look to extend Marshall’s contract if he performs as expected, but there’s little depth beyond the starters. Iowa’s Shaun Prater and BC’s Donnie Fletcher could be third-round options in the 2012 NFL Draft.

4. Strong safety   That Adrian Wilson is attempting to play through a torn biceps tendon in 2011 shows why he’s the heart and soul of this defense. Still, he’s going into his 12th season in 2012 and considering how important the SS position is to Horton’s scheme, the Cardinals may look for Wilson’s heir in the ’12 NFL Draft. Alabama’s Mark Barron, Stanford’s Delano Howell and UCLA’s Tony Dye could be third round options. Kentucky’s Winston Guy is a hard-hitting OLB/SS hybrid who could be an intriguing choice in the fourth or fifth round.      Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Draft Needs: NFC West»

2012 NFL Draft Prospect Justin Blackmon Impresses

Posted by Brad On September - 9 - 20111 COMMENT

Justin Blackmon adds 12 catches, 128 yards and 2 TD's to an already impressive 2011 season

Ok, I’m man enough to admit it…I was wrong on Justin Blackmon.  I’m willing to throw in the towel on my premature assessment of Blackmon’s game two games into the 2011 season. 

Last season, Justin Blackmon didn’t impress me with his sloppy route running and subpar speed.  Leading me to make statements like “Jeff Fuller is a better overall receiver than Blackmon,” “too slow to stretch the defense and would best fit in the slot.”  I’m more than willing to retract all those statements after two games where Blackmon has looked like the best receiver eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft. 

Blackmon doesn’t have impressive straight-line speed (if he’s lucky he breaks the 4.5’s) but he’s as explosive in short areas than anyone in this draft.  Listed at 6’1” 215 pounds, Blackmon has an NFL body combined with second to none run after the catch abilities.  My biggest knock against Blackmon was his route running but he appears to have worked on that area of his game.  Against Arizona he ran crisp routes and got in and out of breaks with ease.  In addition, he was highlighted several times during the telecast for his blocking skills which allowed OSU runners to break off big chunks of yards.

Blackmon has already hauled in 20 passes for 272 yards and 2 TD’s on the season.  With Alshon Jeffery anointed the number one receiver in this class, will it be possible for Blackmon to challenge Jeffery?  Blackmon’s numbers will be through the roof this season but he plays in a better system with a better quarterback.  Jeffery had a solid showing in week one but he looks like he didn’t touch a weight in the offseason.  Jeffery has a huge matchup this weekend against Georgia where he will have to show a more complete game than in week one. 

A.J. Green wasn’t expected to be challenged for the number one WR spot in 2011 but Julio Jones blew up the Combine and many were left asking if he wasn’t the better overall player.  Could we see another Green vs. Jones in the form of Jeffery vs. Blackmon in 2012?

The Georgia vs. South Carolina features a ton of top talent in the 2012 NFL Draft

Georgia was decimated by Boise St. in week one and won’t have an easy matchup in week two of the college football season.

Last week I hyped Georgia’s offensive line but they were miserable causing many to question their lineup and Mark Richt overall.  The lone bright spots for UGA were TE Orson Charles and CB/KR Brandon Boykin.  South Carolina is solid in 2011 and has some top 2012 NFL Draft prospects.  They are led by Alshon Jeffery on offense combined with true sophomore RB Marcus Lattimore.  On defense they feature DE Devin Taylor who is as good a pass rusher as anyone in the country and CB Stephon Gilmore.

Guys to keep an eye on:

Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia #71

Glenn will be moved to LT this season but will make his living at guard in the NFL.  He’s a massive human being at 6’5” and 345 pounds.  He has surprising feet for a guy that size that will be better suited on the inside in the NFL.  Glenn looked terrible in week one at tackle and may need moved inside sooner rather than later.

Ben Jones, C, Georgia #60

Ben Jones is one of the top center prospects in a loaded center class for 2012.  Jones has prototypical size for an NFL center at 6’3” 318 pounds.  He’s a solid technician that is likely a day one starter in the NFL.  He could be had in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft but is capable of finding himself a spot on day one.  He was one of the bright spots on the UGA offensive line in week one and showed why he’s considered amongst the top 2012 center prospects.

Orson Charles, TE, Georgia #7

Orson Charles is the ultimate upside guy.  He cannot block but is a flat out elite athlete at 6’3” and 240 pounds.  In 2010, as a sophomore, Charles posted 26 catches for 422 yards and 2 TD’s after a strong freshman season in 2009.  If Charles declares he has the potential to be the first TE off the board in the 2012 NFL Draft.  Charles caught 6 passes for 109 yards and a TD in the loss to Boise. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Draft Prospects Preview: Georgia vs. South Carolina»

Manti Te'o is the most athletic of the very good ILB class in the 2012 NFL Draft

This rivalry is not what it once was but should feature some solid NFL prospects.

Notre Dame possibly has two first round picks in the 2012 NFL Draft in Manti Te’o and Michael Floyd.  Te’o is a surefire first rounder if he decides to declare for the draft and Floyd is undergoing a reputation revival that is off to a good start after week one.  The cupboards were fairly bare at Michigan before Brady Hoke took over but he is off to a strong start for the 2012 recruiting class.  Michigan features one of the top center prospects in David Molk but don’t have much at the skill positions.  On defense they have a high motor DT in Mike Martin and DE Craig Roh who is one to watch in 2011

Guys to keep an eye on:

Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame #5

Te’o is one of the best, most athletic linebackers you will see in college football.  He rarely is out of position and is always around the ball.  His athleticism is second to none for a man that size and closes on ball carriers with pop.  He excels in coverage and would be ideal in a cover-2 scheme in the NFL.  I don’t find much that I don’t like about Te’o and should be selected in the first 15 picks of the 2012 NFL Draft.

Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame #3

Floyd’s off-the-field indiscretions have been well documented and in week one he did everything possible to focus everyone on his on-field play.  He has phenomenal body control and leaping abilities that will make him an immediate red zone threat in the NFL.  He doesn’t have the top end speed most teams look for in a number one receiver but makes up for it by using his 6’3” 225 pound frame.  In week one against South Florida Floyd posted 12 catches for 154 yards and 2 TD’s, earning him a spot on our rising list. Read the rest of this entry » «2012 NFL Draft Prospects Preview: Notre Dame vs. Michigan»