by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
* I watched some tape of RB Jacquizz Rodgers yesterday. Tough, tough player to evaluate. We all know that he’s tiny for a RB. He’s also incredibly productive. He ran for 3,877 yards and 46 TDs in 3 years. He also caught 151 passes. That’s an offensive workhorse. The problem is style/size. Rodgers isn’t a jitterbug runner. He isn’t fast. He didn’t have a great workout at the Combine. He’s more of an effort and toughness guy. One of the most impressive things about Rodgers is that he runs bigger than he is. Put on a game tape and you’ll see him knocking defenders back.
Being a short, thick power runner can work. Just look at Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice. The difference is that both guys were more athletic than Rodgers. They were faster, quicker, more agile, and had better lower body explosion.
Rodgers is a small guy with quickness, balance, body control, good instincts, and a huge competitive streak. I’m interested in that player, but not necessarily real early. Rodgers ability as a receiver does help him. He can be a 3rd down back. It would benefit him to have experience as a KOR or PR, but he’s got neither on the collegiate level.
I think Rodgers will probably go in the 4th or 5th round. I like him and hope he succeeds, but don’t feel strongly enough that I’d be willing to argue strongly for him. His Combine workout was disappointing and his limited athleticism shows up on tape. There is part of you that can’t help but wonder if he’s not just a smaller, more charismatic version of Ken Simonton.
* Now let’s talk about Arizona DE Brooks Reed. If you go by the numbers, you’ll think he’s okay, but nothing special. For the year he had 26 solo tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 1 FF. Those are pedestrian numbers. Put on the 1st half of the Oregon State game and you’ll swear Clay Matthews is back in college. Reed dominated when he was single-blocked. I actually started to feel bad for the OSU LT. He got beat outside and inside. Then Reed did the ultimate humiliation. He exploded off the ball and went right into the LT and threw him to the ground like a rag doll. Reed pounded the QB just as the ball left his hand. Reed only had 2 tackles and 1 sack in the game, but his impact was tremendous. He hit the OSU QB over and over. OSU had to start doubling him and then rolling the QB to the other side. I watched parts of a few other games (UCLA, Iowa). Reed wasn’t as good, which tells you the OSU blocking was part of the problem. Reed still played at a high level in those games and impacted them. He is a really impressive prospect and a lot of fun to watch. He showed up big time at the Senior Bowl, which boosts his value.
Reed can explode off the ball. He uses a great shoulder dip to get low and around blockers. He has excellent body control. He’s got good feet. I think he projects to 3-4 OLB. Reed dropped into coverage on some zone blitzes and looked natural in space. He’s smart. He has a good motor. There is a lot to like about him. He can absolutely play RDE in a 4-3 scheme. You wouldn’t want him on the left side, having to set the edge on run plays headed right at him.
I now think Reed will go in the 1st round. It won’t shock me to see him go above Akeem Ayers or Justin Houston. The success of Clay Matthews will really benefit Reed. Teams will see a very similar guy and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. I don’t know that Reed will be that good in the NFL, but he can thrive in the right situation. Really good player.
* Arizona has a pair of Senior DEs beside Reed. Ricky Elmore started at LDE. He’s the biggest of the bunch at 6’5, 255. Elmore also was the most productive, notching 11 sacks this year and 25.5 for his career. Elmore has the tools to be a good pro. He is quick off the ball. He has good COD. Sometimes he will execute a pass rush move perfectly. While there is a lot to like, he just doesn’t have “it”. Elmore doesn’t always play up to his size. He needs to be more physical. He needs to use his hands better. I also wonder about his lower body strength. He should be a mid-to-late round pick. Definite potential.
D’Aundre Reed is the non-starter. He is 6’4, 261 and a legit prospect. He went to the Combine and had a solid workout. Put on the game tape and you see an effort player with some size and athleticism. He does use his hands well. Reed isn’t explosive, but is quick and shows pretty good agility. He only had a pair of sacks, but did have an impressive 32 solo tackles. That shows you he’s got a motor and is an active player. I wouldn’t be surprised for a couple of teams to like him more than Elmore.
DT Lolomana Mikaele is also a prospect (late rounder at best). Mikaele goes 6’2, 305. He is the classic 4-3 NT. He’ll do the dirty work of eating up blocks and battling double teams. He is athletic enough to get some push on pass plays. He pursues well. His idol should be Matt Toeaina, who started a lot at DT for the Bears this year. Similar build and skill set.