BCS Prospects and More Underclassmen Talk

by Tommy Lawlor  –  http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com

Let’s talk about some BCS games.  First up was the Rose Bowl.  Great game and a good showcase of some talented prospects.  Wisconsin LT Gabe Carimi had a good game.  He didn’t show much that we didn’t already know.  Believe it or not, I don’t think he was the highest rated player in the game.

Fellow Badger JJ Watt declared for the draft.  UW lists the Junior DE at 6’6, 292.  He’s big, but also a natural athlete.  He played both RDE and LDE, but looked more natural to me on the left side.  He used a real good swim move to beat a block from LDE.  He uses his hands well to shed blocks.  He’s nimble and agile for a big guy.  He used a spin move in the game.  He avoided a cut block by moving his feet and then using his hands to fend off the blocker.  Most big guys struggle with that stuff.  Watt played the option very well a few times.  Talented, athletic big DE.  Teams will be all over him.  I think he goes Top 15.     TCU’s LT Marcus Cannon had an up and down day.  He was called for holding when Watt beat him to the inside with a spin move.  Cannon didn’t show the kind of footwork you want in a LT.  He’s more G or RT.  He does fire off the ball well on run plays.  Big dude.

DE Wayne Daniels didn’t get much of a chance to show his pass rushing acumen, but I was impressed with his run defense.  He might remind you of Eagles LDE Juqua Parker with his 6’2, 250 build.  Daniels might be moved to LB, but he looks to me like a DE despite the lack of ideal size.  Daniels showed good effort vs the run.  He played with good positioning and leverage.  He created a TFL for Tank Carder when he drove the TE backward and bottled up the RB.

The Fiesta Bowl might not have had a single 1st rounder for this year.  Oklahoma has some good players, but found out that stud LB Travis Lewis and star WR Ryan Broyles are coming back for 2011.  RB DeMarco Murray had a good game.  WR Cameron Kenney continued his late season hot streak and has at least played his way into someone’s training camp.

UConn has no top prospects.  LB Lawrence Wilson had a good game (8 tackles).  FB Anthony Sherman made some plays.  Junior RB Jordan Todman ran for 121 yards on 32 carries.  He’s talented, but I’m afraid he might not go as early as he’d like.  Todman isn’t all that big or overly athletic.  Real good college RB, but the NFL is a whole other story.

The Orange Bowl was a very intriguing matchup, but Stanford destroyed Va Tech.  Stanford was solid in the 1st half, but absolutely dominant after halftime.  QB Andrew Luck had a very good game and looked the part of a #1 overall QB, but shocked us all by staying in school.  I’ll add some additional thoughts on him in a later post.  FB Owen Marecic had a good game.  He played both FB and ILB.  He ran for a short TD.  Showed good power and effort on that play.  He blocked well in the game.  I think his future is at FB so there’s not much point in discussing his LB play at length.  He did have 6 tackles and a sack.

Hokies QB Tyrod Taylor showed great ability and athleticism with a 1st half TD pass to David Wilson.  The play only covered 11 yards, but Taylor eluded defenders and then threw a strike as he was right on the sideline.  Words don’t do the play justice.  That was one of the plays of the year and one of the best I’ve seen in recent memory.  Taylor also showed his QB limitations.  He was 16-31-222.  Taylor took a beating, but never gave up.  He was VT’s best player.  The problem is that he’s not a gifted passer who can deliver consistently.  He’s athletic enough that NFL teams have to consider him, but I don’t think he’ll be a QB.

The next night we got the Sugar Bowl, with Ohio State and Arkansas.  Let’s start with the Buckeyes.  We got the good version of Cameron Heyward.  He was awesome.  Heyward had 3.5 TFLs (1 sack) and was a disruptive force all game long.  They played him at DT and at both DE spots.  This wasn’t a case of Heyward beating one guy.  He beat every blocker Arkansas tried on him.  On his good days Heyward looks like an elite prospect.  The problem is that there are too many games where he doesn’t play to that potential (only 2.5 sacks this year).

LB Ross Homan led the Buckeyes with 9 total tackles (6 solo).  He also broke up a pass.  LB Brian Rolle had 6 tackles and 1.5 TFLs.  He did miss one tackle of a WR in space that helped a Razorback scoring drive.  CB Chimdi Chekwa hurt his wrist/arm and had to leave the game.  Other DBs played well, but it was hard to judge them since Heyward was so dominant.  There were an awful lot of dump-off throws.

The man making those throws was QB Ryan Mallett.  The Arkansas Junior has already declared for the draft.  A great showing vs OSU would have really helped him, but that was the opposite of what we saw.  Mallett didn’t have a good game and played up to the negative parts of his reputation.  He was overly emotional and didn’t seem focused.  He didn’t come across as a veteran leader.  He didn’t handle pressure well at all.  Mallett struggled when he had to step up in the pocket and throw to a checkdown receiver.  He put the ball low and off target over and over.  Very disappointing game.

In his defense, Mallett didn’t get much help.  His O-line had a rough game.  OT DeMarcus Love handled Heyward the best, but that wasn’t saying much.  Love is a very good run blocker and okay pass blocker.  Mallett was really hurt by drops.  He had several players drop passes on him.  Some of those drops would have been critical plays.

Seeing his receivers drop balls had to affect Ryan’s confidence, but that’s part of the equation.  That happens in the NFL too.  You can’t get down.  You have to keep firing.  Mallett and Arkansas got a tremendous break late in the game when they blocked a punt and were in position to win the game.  All Mallett had to do was lead them the final 20 or so yards to a TD.  Instead, he threw an INT on a well-executed zone blitz.  His pass went right to the DE who dropped into coverage.  Ugh.

You came out of this game knowing what you did when you went in…Mallett is incredibly gifted, but still has issues.  He won’t fit every system.  He can turn into a very good NFL QB if he gets on the right team.  I don’t think Mallett goes in the Top 10, but he should be a 1st rounder.

Arkansas LB Anthony Leon played the game of his life.  He had 7 tackles, 2 TFLs, and broke up a pass.  He seemed to be around the ball on every snap.  I was very impressed with that clutch performance.

UNDERCLASSMEN

Reports say that ‘Bama stars Marcell Dareus, Mark Ingram, and Julio Jones are coming out.  No surprise on any of those guys.  Elite players.  ILB Donta Hightower is leaning toward staying.  We’ll see about Safety Mark Barron.

Mizzou DE Aldon Smith is reportedly coming out.  He’s only a RS Soph.  I didn’t think of him as likely to come out this year so I haven’t watched him closely.  He did catch my eye a few times.  Good pass rusher.  He had 16 sacks over the last couple of years.

Florida CB Janoris Jenkins will be going pro.  He had a great year.  The only real concern with him is size.  They list him at 5’11, but he doesn’t look that tall.  Should be a 1st rounder.

UCLA Safety Rahim Moore is coming out.  He had 10 INTs in 2009, but only 1 this year.  He is a ball hawk and real good DB.  He finished his career with 14 INTs, 15 PDs, and 6 TFLs.  Playmaker.

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