Prospect Notes – Week 11

by Tommy Lawlor  –

* Let’s start by talking about a couple of Junior QBs.  I haven’t said much about Cam Newton so far this year.  With all the rumors about him right now you have to think he’ll lean toward coming out early.  Newton is easily the best player in college football right now.  Every time I want to question just how good he is Newton raises his game a notch.

Let’s start with him as a runner.  Newton is big and strong and tough to tackle.  He’s special because he’s so nimble.  He’s able to cut well and make quick moves.  He has good vision.  He reads blocks better than any QB runner I’ve ever seen.  If you don’t watch Newton much you’ll wonder what the heck he’s doing at times.  Newton isn’t being indecisive.  He’s letting his blockers do their thing.  Once Newton gets going he eats up ground.  He’s a long strider with good speed.  His numbers are freakish.  Newton has run for 1,297 yards so far.  He went for 217 vs LSU.  LSU?  He’s got 17 TDs.

As a passer, he shows NFL ability.  Newton is okay mechanically.  He does need some work, but isn’t so unorthodox that it looks like a major problem (Tebow).  Newton has a very strong arm.  He made a couple of terrific throws against Georgia.  He plays in a spread scheme that won’t necessarily translate well to the NFL, but you can’t ignore his success in the system.  Newton has 2,038 yards passing with 21 TDs and only 6 INTs.  That’s impressive stuff in the SEC.  He’s completing 68 percent of his passes and is 2nd in the nation in passing efficiency.  One interesting stat is that Newton hasn’t thrown an incompletion this year on the opening drive of a game.

I think Newton will be a high pick if he does come out.  I don’t think he’s NFL-ready right now, but his upside is huge.  There are some character questions that teams would have to address.  There are a ton of rumors going around right now so finding out what is true and what isn’t will take good investigators.  NFL teams have ex-law enforcement members on their payroll for just such a reason.  If the character issues aren’t that serious, Newton should be a very high pick.    

* Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor announced he’s planning on coming back to school. Wise move, if he sticks with it. There is no question he’s got the raw, natural ability to be an NFL QB. Does he have the football skills?  Not right now.  Pryor isn’t a polished passer.  He doesn’t throw with his lower body.  Pryor uses his arm/wrist.  That’s fine for the Big Ten, but isn’t ideal for the NFL.  Pryor has numbers that are eerily similar to Newton’s, but the eyeball test is vastly different.  Terrelle doesn’t look like NFL material right now.  I hope he does stay for 2011 so he can hone his game.

* Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan had a great game last week.  He sacked Michigan QBs 4 times.  Kerrigan also had 10 solo tackles and 2 FFs.  He now leads the nation in TFLs and is 2nd in sacks.  The Big Ten Network flashed an interesting graphic about Kerrigan.  His numbers are at their best in the 4th Qtr.  Most speed rushers tend to wear down.  Not him.  Kerrigan gets better as the game goes along.  Outstanding player.  I love watching him fly up the field and wreak havoc.

* I’ve mentioned NC State MLB Nate Irving a few times this year.  He had a monster game vs Wake Forest.  Irving had 8 TFLs.  He was in on 13 total stops.  Nate isn’t back to 100%, but he’s playing pretty well.  He is a very physical tackler in the middle.  He loves to attack upfield when he can.

* I prefer talking about Junior and Senior players, but I can’t ignore Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon.  Every week he puts up huge numbers.  He leads the nation with 1,430 receiving yards despite missing a game.  Blackmon is only a RS Soph.  He doesn’t just put up big numbers (84-1430-16) because of the system.  You watch the games and he makes special plays on a regular basis.  Blackmon is big and strong.  He has good hands.  He locates the ball well and makes good adjustments.  He made a really impressive over the shoulder catch last week and turned that into a long TD.  Blackmon is a good athlete and has good RAC ability.  I don’t know if he’ll come out this year, but he is a very good NFL prospect.

* Too often we ignore FBs.  I want to mention South Carolina’s Patrick DiMarco for his effort in the win over Florida.  He made some good blocks for star RB Marcus Lattimore.  DiMarco is a FB/TE/H-back that does a bit of everything for the Gamecocks.  He blocked DEs on a few plays last week.  South Carolina doesn’t run as well (and win the game) without DiMarco’s blocking.  The NFL loves versatile blockers like him.

* Ohio State CB Chimdi Chekwa had a good game against Penn State.  He had 4 solo tackles and 3 PBUs.  Chekwa had tight coverage on a downfield throw that ended up incomplete.  One of his breakups was on a slant pass.  Chekwa is having a solid year.  He’s got 3 INTs, 8 PDs, and 2 FFs.  He’s not as good as some recent OSU cover guys, but should be an NFL player.

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