by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
* Let’s start by talking about a couple of Boston College players. We’re all happy to have LB Mark Herzlich back on the football field after he missed the 2009 season while battling cancer. Mark has been worked back into action. He plays a bit more each week. Mark played his best game of the year against Va Tech on Saturday. He had 5 solo tackles, half a TFL, and picked off a pass. I wish I could tell you Mark was back to his previous level of play, but that’s not the case. You see hints of his old game. He’s still relentless. There was one play where he fought off a cut block and grabbed a RB by the feet as he tried to run by Mark. He still has good instincts. The INT showed his awareness and good hands. He grabbed a tipped ball that I don’t think most LBs are able to catch. I don’t see Herzlich as the same athlete that he was in 2008. He was a real difference maker, play in and play out. I hope that he keeps shaking off rust and is able to get back to that level, but he’s not there yet.
I was disappointed in LT Anthony Castonzo. He was my favorite OT prospect coming into the season. I watched him in an earlier game and he looked sloppy. I hoped Anthony was just getting off to a slow start. He was very up and down against VT. Anthony is a good athlete. His run blocking has been very suspect this year. He fails to get the kind of push a guy his size should. And I’m not talking about him going up against huge DEs. His pass blocking can be very good, but wasn’t last week. He gave up a sack and FF on one play with a poor block. He was beaten on another play and his rusher almost forced an INT by hitting the QB.
* Safety Jaiquawn Jarrett is the leading tackler for the Temple Owls. Jarrett is a good player and pro prospect. He has good size at 6’2, 202. Jarrett is a physical run defender and outstanding tackler. He’s got 28 tackles this year (16 solo). He hasn’t made any coverage plays this season, but has 7 career picks and 16 PDs. I think he would be best suited as a SS in the NFL.
* I’ll be putting up a specific post on Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett. He was up and down vs ‘Bama, but played well enough that NFL teams will be impressed overall.
* Last year SMU had a great WR in Emmanuel Sanders. He was a mid-round pick. This year they have another outstanding WR prospect, Aldrick Robinson. He doesn’t put up gaudy reception totals like some spread receivers. Last year Aldrick had 47 catches. He’s got 16 so far this year, about the same pace. He does average 17 yards per reception. Robinson runs good routes. He has enough speed to eat up the cushion when CBs play off. He uses good moves to get by CBs who try to press him. Robinson sells fakes well and knows how to get open. He had a TD catch vs TCU. The ball was deflected. Robinson showed good concentration on the play. He snagged the ball as it came upon him, despite being off target due to the deflection, and then ran through an arm tackle for the score.
* UNC Linebacker Bruce Carter came up big in a must-win game at Rutgers. Carter only had 1 solo tackle, but it was a TFL. He picked off a pass and returned it 55 yards. He also blocked a punt. Carter was active the whole game, having 6 tackle assists. Carter is at his best as a playmaker. He is an outstanding athlete and really seems to be one of those guys who just has a knack for making things happen. In his 3+ years at UNC Carter has 3 INTs, 6 blocked kicks, 7 sacks, and 21.5 TFLs. I think he can be a terrific WLB in the NFL. Some teams could use him at SAM to take advantage of his cover skills, although he lacks ideal size for that spot in some schemes.
* Sticking to that region, NC State MLB Nate Irving had a monster day vs Ga Tech. Irving was involved in a serious car accident in the summer of 2009 and missed the whole season. He’s playing a lot this year, but still looks a bit off. Against GT, Irving had 16 total tackles (9 solo). He had 4.5 TFLs (2 sacks). Irving is a physical player and has good instincts. If his leg gets better and his athleticism improves, Irving’s value should go up quite a bit. At this point we just don’t know if his leg will get back to where it was early enough to help his draft status.
* I was impressed with Auburn LG Mike Berry. He is a 3-year starter. Berry has good size at 6’3, 316. He’s athletic enough to pull and block well on the move. He’s also big and strong enough to anchor well in pass pro and get some push on run plays. Good player.
* Oklahoma Safety Jonathan Nelson only started 3 games in his first 3 years as a Sooner. He’s starting now and playing lights out. Nelson had a good game vs Cincinnati this week. He was in on 6 tackles, picked off a pass, and had a FF. Against Air Force Nelson had 10 tackles and a TFL. Against Florida State he broke up 2 passes. He’s listed as a Senior, but might be able to get an extra year because of the time he missed due to injury.