Player Notes – Week 11

* So let’s start with QB Brandon Weeden, someone I’ve not mentioned much at all this year. Weeden is the star QB for Oklahoma State. He threw for 423 yards and about that many TDs vs Texas Tech and their non-existent defense. Weeden and the Cowboys are putting up great numbers.

Weeden isn’t a special player. He’s the maestro that makes the offense work, but watch OSU’s highlights from Saturday and you’ll see that he’s got some wide open targets. Weeden is a talented QB. He has pretty good accuracy. Arm strength is okay. Good size. He’s able to find the open (wide open) receiver and get him the ball. Puts good touch on short passes. Threw a fade pass for TD vs Tech. Weeden is good on slants. Hit Justin Blackmon in stride and that led to another TD vs Tech (see what I mean about 423 TD passes?).

The primary downside with Weeden is age. He’s 423 years old, give or take. Actually he’s 28 (10-28-83), making him about 6 weeks younger than Aaron Rodgers. The other downside is that he comes from the spread offense, but as we’re seeing with Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, that’s no longer the killer label that it once was.

Weeden is solid mechanically. His footwork needs some help, but that’s true of most young QBs. His play-action fakes are inconsistent. Some he sells very well. Others he rushes because he wants to start looking for his receivers. Playing under Center will be an adjustment, but more and more NFL snaps are coming out of the shotgun so that’s not a huge factor.

There is a lot to like with Weeden, but how do you value a guy who will turn 29 before his rookie season is even halfway over? Very tricky situation. Weeden is too good to go real late, but can you really spend an early pick on him? QBs can play into their 30s so a team could hope to get 5 to 7 good years out of him, but that age will hurt his value. I’m just not sure how much.

* I haven’t said much about Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard this year. I watched him last year and this season and haven’t been all that impressed…until Saturday. He had a good game vs Penn State. Dennard had 4 tackles and broke up 2 passes. One of the PBUs was in the endzone and the other came on a 3rd down play, so they were critical passes. Dennard gets an excellent break on the ball. He’s very quick. I also like the fact he’s got good body control and is able to go for the ball without making contact with the WR.

Injuries slowed Dennard earlier in the year. He still doesn’t have any INTs. He had 4 last year. He now has 5 PBUs on the season. I’m not sure what his value is. Dennard won’t be ideal for all NFL systems, but teams that let him play off and then break on the ball will like him quite a bit.

* Another star Senior defender from the NEB/PSU game is DT Devon Still. The stat sheet was misleading for him. They show still with 4 solo stops, a TFL, and FF. I had him with 2 TFLs early on. He was involved in a couple of others, but it looked like other players made the initial contact. Still sheds blocks well. He uses his hands and is able to keep blockers off him. I like the fact he can explode off the ball and be disruptive or play strong and fight with blockers. Real impressive player. Best Senior DT I’ve seen and probably the best DT overall. 6th in the nation in TFLs (16.5). Has good size at 6’5, 305.

* More defense. Virginia CB Chase Minnifeld had a good game vs Duke. He picked off a pass and ran it back 54 yards for a TD. He was beaten on the next series for a long gain. Minnifield then picked off another pass, but had that wiped out by a highly questionable penalty. He finished with 4 solo tackles, an INT, and 2 pass breakups. Minnifield has good size, skills, and athletic ability. He is the son of former NFL star CB Frank Minnifield.

* I was highly disappointed in Boise State QB Kellen Moore and how he handled the final drive of the Broncos loss to TCU. Moore had enough time to lead Boise to the winning score. He normally is great at drives late in the half or at the end of the game. On Saturday Moore seemed more rushed than usual. He was throwing downfield for chunks of yards instead of just trying to move the chains. Boise got a generous defensive holding penalty that helped them move into FG range, but the kicker missed and they lost.

Normally Moore is very poised in tough situations. He drops back, reads the defense, and then gets the ball out. He looked rushed vs TCU. I know people have serious doubts about Moore’s ability to play in the NFL. I don’t see him as a starter, but think he could be a backup.

* Let’s talk about a couple of Florida State defenders. First up is Senior LB Nigel Bradham. He played very well vs Miami. Bradham is 6’3, 240 and plays MLB. He is a good tackler and plays well when he’s kept clean. He isn’t at his best when shedding blocks and fighting off OL. Bradham had 10 tackles, 1/2 a TFL, a PBU, a FF, and FR. Busy day. He was the subject of a terrible call. Late in the game Bradham was downfield as a pass defender. The QB threw the ball to a receiver crossing the field. Bradham lead with his shoulder and hit the receiver below the shoulder. Bradham kept one foot on the ground, meaning he didn’t launch himself into the receiver. Yet, he was flagged for a personal foul and even ejected. The ACC has said the ejection was wrong. The penalty was too from what I saw. Great hit. That’s exactly what you want LBs to do on short drops. Punish receivers over the middle. The Miami receiver laid on the ground for a while, but just had the wind knocked out of him. Frustrating play for FSU and Noles fans.

Greg Reid is a Junior CB and RS for FSU. I’m not sure how much I like him as a CB, but he is an explosive returner. Miami has good team speed, but Reid made them look like they were running in quicksand. Reid averaged 35 yards per PR and ran one back for a TD. He also had a 34-yard KOR. His speed really stood out on the returns. Very impressive.

* Miami LB Sean Spence is a player I continue to be fascinated with. He had a quiet game by his standards (6 tackles, 1 TFL). I really would love to know what his real size is. He lists at 6’0, 226. Is he 215, 225, or 230? Is he really 6’0? I think he can be a very good WLB. Spence has the skill set of a MLB, but I’m not sure he’s got the build of a MLB, no matter what he weighs. Really hope he plays in the Senior Bowl.

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