by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
I re-watched the MSU/UF game recently to get a better feel for some players. Let’s start with the Gators. Mike Pouncey played G in the past, but moved to Center as a Senior. He did have problems with shotgun snaps throughout the year. That was the worst thing you could say about him. He handled the move to the middle very well overall. He had a good year and showed that he can play G or C in the NFL.
While Pouncey is good, he’s not on the same level as his brother Maurkice, who went in the mid-1st round last year. There isn’t a tremendous difference in the two, but Maurkice was simply better. Mike could go in the late 1st, but is more likely to be a 2nd round pick. He has good size at 6’4, 310. He is athletic. Mike can pull and block out in space. He’s agile and has good feet. He is quick off the ball and can get to the 2nd level in a hurry. He does a good job on LBs. I’d like to see him get better with his hands so he can sustain blocks longer.
The Gators had several Seniors on the OL. Marcus Gilbert is huge at 6’6 1/2, 329. He played LT this season, but projects to the right side in the NFL. He isn’t a natural pass blocker. Gilbert is more adept at run blocking. He comes off the ball well and has the size/strength to move defenders off the ball. While Gilbert doesn’t have great footwork, he’s not a big, stiff guy either. He will bend his knees and play with good leverage. Lots of potential.
Maurice Hurt split time between RG and RT. He is interesting. They list him at 6’3, 309, but he sure looks more like 325 or so. Thick build. Strong, physical player. Classic phone booth guy. Put him in tight quarters and he’s fine. Hurt will maul some defenders. There was one play where he down blocked on the DT and drove the guy wide of the LT. Very impressive. Make him move around and he’s not nearly as effective. He had several OTGs (on the ground) in the game I watched. You don’t want blockers on the ground. That shows poor footwork and/or balance.
The Gators have a pair of intriguing DBs. Senior SS Ahmad Black is a player that Mike Mayock loves. Put on the tape and you can see why. He is small at 5’9, 183. However, Black plays bigger than his size. He is a very good tackler. He can be a physical hitter as well. He is good in coverage. Black picked off 13 passes in his career. His final play was a pick-6 in the bowl win over Penn State this year. Black has good instincts. He is very aware and has excellent hands. He can make tough catches. He anticipates routes and will jump them.
In the MSU game Black was in on 10 tackles. He stripped the ball away from the QB on a run, but his knee had just touched and replay wiped out the fumble. He jumped a pass play in that game, but didn’t get a hand on the ball. Very active run defender. Black moves around the field quickly. He’s not the type to sit and watch. The downside is his size. Tackling college guys is one thing, but what about Brandon Jacobs in the open field? That question will scare off some teams. I think Black can start and be a good player in the NFL. His draft value will be affected by his Combine workout. A slow 40 time could really drop him. A good workout could ease some concerns and help him to be a Top 100 pick.
Junior Will Hill is big, strong, and athletic. He saw regular playing time all 3 years at UF, but never emerged as a good starter. He was always the guy with unfulfilled potential. He made a mistake by coming out early. Nothing says to NFL teams that “I’m a mature young man that makes wise decisions” more than declaring for the draft after a so-so season (34 solo tackles, 2 INTs, 1 PD, 1 FF). That’s the kind of year a guy should want to build off as a Senior. Stats aside, the tape isn’t anything great. You can see Hill is talented, but Safety is a position that requires instincts. He never showed them when I watched him play. I do wonder if some team could try and make him a big CB. He goes about 6’0, 205. If he tests well in Indy, you never know.
As for MSU, I want to focus on defense. MLB Chris White is 6’3, 245. He led the Bulldogs in tackles, sacks, and TFLs. It wasn’t that he had a great season, White just was the most productive player. He’s an odd player. White has real good feet. There are times when he’ll be dropping into coverage and it looks like he’s doing a drill at the Combine. White looks sorta stiff on other plays. He lacks top speed. White was a very good fit at MLB in MSU’s blitz heavy scheme. He has good instincts and attacks well. I can see some coach really liking him, but others not being impressed. Like I said, odd guy. At the least, could be a real good STer.
K.J. Wright is interesting. He is 6’3, 246. For almost half the UF game Wright had done little to impress me. Then he seemed to come alive at some point. He ended up with 8 total tackles. Wright can shed blocks. He uses his hands well to fend off blockers. He moves well laterally. Some guys have to turn and run along the LOS. He can just flow to the ball and stay square, which helps him to tackle. He made a couple of strong tackles in the game. He pushed Pouncey to the ground on one run and then tackled the RB. That was real impressive. Wright also lines up at times at DE. He’s athletic enough to get after the QB, but isn’t what I’d call a gifted pass rusher. Wright has the size and strength to play between the tackles, but is also athletic enough to be good in space. I’m not sure if 3-4 teams would prefer him at OLB or ILB. I think that would depend on each team. He’s got the frame to play SAM in the 4-3, but might be best suited for WLB.