by Tommy Lawlor
* Pitt RB Ray Graham suffered a nasty knee injury last year. He’s back on the field this year and has played pretty well. He made some lateral cuts last week vs Va Tech. I was impressed with that. Unfortunately you can still see he’s not all the way back. It’s less than a year since the injury so he is ahead of schedule. You just never know how ACLs will heal. Some guys get back to 100 percent. Others don’t. Graham is a small, quick runner that needs to be able to make explosive cuts. He’s good enough to get by in college, but will need to get all the way back if he is going to make it in the NFL. Graham was 24-94 vs the Hokies.
* USC got pounded by Stanford, but I did think Safety T.J. McDonald played well for the Trojans. He was in on 9 total tackles and blocked a FG. He spent a lot of time playing in the box. One blitz led to an errant throw. Had another blitz where he hurried a throw. On another play he almost stuffed a RB on a 4th/1 play. Good effort on that. McDonald isn’t afraid to take on OL when he’s in the box. He won’t win those battles, but you like the toughness. Here is a video of his game.
* Ohio State DT Jonathan Hankins is a big guy. The Junior lists at 6-3, 317. The first thing you notice is that he’s agile for such a big guy. He’s not just a fat guy that eats up blocks (and pizzas). He is a talented athlete. OSU lines him up at DE in certain sets. Hankins has a good motor and will pursue plays. There was one drive last week when he made 3 tackles. He got RBs twice and a WR once. Those weren’t plays coming right at him either. He also had a key sack late in the game that all but ended Cal’s chance to come back. Hankins is quick, but he’s not fast. I think he’s best suited to playing in a 2-gap system.
* One of the best defensive players in the nation is Florida State Junior DE Bjoern Werner. He hasn’t faced good competition yet, but has 6.5 sacks and a FF so far. He’s also generally a good run defender. Werner is 6-4. I’ve seen his weight listed at 255 and 272. Either way, that’s a great frame. Reminds me a lot of Jason Babin. Mainly plays LDE and is a sleek speed rusher. Check out a video of him in action vs WFU.
* You always wonder about guys who stay for their Senior year after being stars as a Junior. Did they do the right thing? Wisconsin RB Montee Ball is dealing with new offensive coaches, new QBs (yes that is supposed to be multiple), and some new blockers. The results are terrible. Wisconsin is really struggling and Ball is not doing much better. He should have come out last January.
On the flip side, I think Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o might be helping himself. He’s not substantially better, but I have been more impressed with him this season. I don’t see him being the super high pick that some in the media will make him out to be, but some NFL coach will fall in love with Te’o due to his size, toughness, and character. He does have excellent NFL potential. I think he’d be ideal at ILB in a 3-4.