USC, Cal Stars and DT Talk

by Tommy Lawlor¬† –¬†

* I put in the USC/Cal game yesterday to watch DL Cam Jordan go against RT Tyron Smith. I don’t know that Smith dominated Jordan, but he certainly won the battle. Smith had some help. USC paid plenty of attention to Jordan. There was one play where 3 offensive players were focused on getting him blocked while 2 blitzers came off the edge and had a free run at the QB. Still, Smith definitely won the battle when the two guys faced off. Smith is somewhat raw with only 2 years of starting at the college level, but his potential is through the roof. There are times when he looks like a great OT. He is long, lean, and athletic, but deceptively strong and he’s got a physical style of run blocking. This isn’t Derek Sherrod. Smith will really get after guys.

Jordan is very talented. He played great at the Senior Bowl. He looked like a Top 20 pick in Mobile. There are some games where looks more like a 3rd round prospect. USC was one of them. You can still see Cam’s raw ability, but he didn’t make plays and he wasn’t overly disruptive. USC scored 48 points in that game and made it look easy at times. You don’t expect a DL to dominate every week, but his presence should be felt if he’s a top level player. That’s not always the case with Jordan.

Cal’s best defensive player in the game was FS Chris Conte. He played great. Conte has good size at 6-2, 196. He’s athletic. Cal used him in a variety of ways. Sometimes he would line up over the slot receiver and play press coverage. Other times he patrolled the deep middle. Conte came down in the box on some run plays. He looked good at doing everything. Conte showed good range in coverage. He wasn’t credited with a PBU, but his tight coverage prevented completions a couple of times. Conte is a good open field tackler. He has outstanding closing speed. When he locks onto a target and takes off, he’ll get his guy. He takes good angles to the ball, important for a Safety. Conte isn’t an impact hitter, but he will take on bigger players and get their attention. With the NFL rules changing, it is almost better to have a guy that is a wrap-up tackler and not a guy who goes for the killshot every time. Real impressive prospect. Solid mid-round target.

* I watched a few DTs recently. Drake Nevis of LSU had a terrific game vs Florida. Nevis had 7 total tackles, 4.5 were TFLs. He also had a FF in the game. Nevis was quick off the ball and very disruptive. Even when UF blocked him, he seemed to drive their OL nuts. Great effort. He was going to fight until the whistle. He did use a swim move quite a bit. Warren Sapp has said that young guys need to back off that. He says that the rip move is the only way to go in the NFL. Warren is a guy to listen to. Nevis should be a solid 2nd round pick.

* Teammate Lazarius Levingston is interesting. He is 6-4, 286. He plays the NT for LSU. He’s got more of a pass rusher’s build, but played the nose pretty well. He seemed comfortable with doing the dirty work. He ate up blocks and fought through double teams. Levingston showed some ability to beat single blockers. He has good hands. One play he knocked the OL back with a good hand punch. Impressive. Levingston struggled to shed blocks once he was engaged. He had a good workout at his Pro Day and posted solid times. Levingston could be a late round guy or UDFA that carves out a career as a rotational player.

* I watched a couple of Corey Liuget game tapes. He really is a young bull. Real powerful guy. There are times when he pushes blockers around like blocking dummies. I think Corey is still figuring out what he can do and how to play the game. When the light goes on he could be very good. Good athlete. Quick off the ball. Excellent lateral agility. Runs well in pursuit. Pretty smart player. Showed good awareness. Wasn’t just running around at 100mph. I think 3-4 teams could have interest in him as a DE. 4-3 teams will love him. He doesn’t have great upfield explosion so he’s not likely to be a guy that makes a ton of plays, but he’ll make his share and be an above average run defender. He’s not huge, but is strong enough to play in a 2-gap system.

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