There are some players really out there impressing for the 2013 NFL Draft right now and it’s time to take some time to talk about them. I figure if I’m going to start it off, I’ll be bias and go with one of my old guys.
Björn Werner, DE Florida State – I don’t care how everyone else spells his name now, this is how it’s been spelled since I met him as a sophomore at Salisbury Prep in Connecticut. For those who don’t know Werner actually went back to his homeland and actually considered not coming back to the States – joining the club team Berlin Adler in Germany – eventually coming back to Coach Chris Adamson at Salisbury. Good move buddy.
I watch him now and see the same things I did when he was 15 years old. Björn is a freakish athlete for his size, possesses a great combination of strength and burst and his knack is getting to the quarterback. He’s was also forced to play all over the field in Germany and that translates to his skill set in Tallahassee as you’ll see him breaking up passes and showing some coverage skill in the flats. I have two concerns watching the old boy play. One, he does play wildly out of control at times. Secondly, he’s had his most productive games against the Seminole’s weakest opponents at the beginning of seasons. Scouts will want to see that change this year if he wants to enter the draft. Werner has been engaged since he was 17 and his wife came with him from Berlin, so I’d imagine the NFL is a goal.
Manti Te’o, MLB Notre Dame – Don’t get me wrong, I liked Manti last year too but this is a different version of him. If he’s Tony Stark – he traded in the Mark 2 suit for the Mark 3 in 2012 shedding 10 pounds and working on his footwork in the passing game.
Te’o has forced four turnovers in an illustrious career at Notre Dame (three interceptions, one fumble) and they’ve all come in the first five games of this season. The Hawaiian Hitman is much better moving from sideline to sideline and also dropping back. It’s not luck, this is proper footwork that he spent time on. Props to Bob Diaco and the rest of the Notre Dame coaching staff.
In the past Manti has been a very good to dominant player in 75-percent of Notre Dame’s games and has disappeared in the rest. That’s not happening this year. He’s a man on a mission and doing it while overcoming the death of his grandmother and girlfriend at the same time. I’ve talked to Tommy about him and he has concerns about his instincts on the field. It’s a valid point as Te’o does miss some reads at times. Knowing how Bob Diaco uses Te’o, I wonder how much of that is pre-snap assignment on some plays, but even if he does lack outstanding instincts – an NFL team will still snag him in the 1st round and he can thrive.
Another Seminole jumped out to me in Chris Thompson when I flipped over to watch Tajh Boyd play a few weeks back. I saw this ridiculous burst, but if you want honesty I was there to see what James Wilder was doing because I still can’t believe the kid isn’t playing linebacker. Having worked in the recruiting business I remember Thompson as he was highly recruited in the same class as Tavon Austin at the same position, but I hadn’t heard a word about him since.
Well, I just watched the North Carolina State game and I’m in shock on how fast this kid is. I’m honestly trying to think of a running back with a better burst than Thompson that I’ve seen scouting since we started this site. He has hands, cuts on a dime and can flat out fly. He’s undersized, but I don’t get why he hasn’t played. A Google search provided me with the answer – two broken vertebrae last season. I’m in love if he stays healthy.
Mizzou linebacker Zaviar Gooden isn’t going to be a 1st round pick. I really don’t care though. Flipped on the Georgia game from earlier in the year and he looked really good. Unfortunately he got injured in that game and his playing time has been scarce since.
This is a kid who looks to have plus speed, is agile and can really get back in coverage and goes 6-foot-2, 230 pounds. I watched him drop back in zone coverage on a receiver and stay step for step with him 30 yards downfield to get in on a double team with a corner and then later cover a slot receiver on a seam 40-plus yards. Impressive stuff.
At the same time, he’s a good open field tackler and can be physical and fill gaps. Georgia TE Artie Lynch threw himself into Gooden on the edge on a stretch play and not only got put on his butt, but Zaviar also put a licking on a back. Nice play. Soon to be Freshman All-American Keith Marshall tried to put the wiggle on Gooden in the hole – no dice – stick, wrap, down you go kid. Welcome to college football. He’s just so versatile.
Speaking of Georgia, Jarvis Jones is a pretty good player. Hopefully your sarcasm meter is on as it’s Monday morning. His first half performance against Missouri wasn’t quite Reggie Bush vs. Fresno State, but it was getting ugly for the Tigers.
Jones lined up all over the field. He was most effective as a pure pass rusher at 3-4 OLB, but showcased his skill set. Watching him line up at RDE in a four man front and bull rush Missouri’s LT into the QB was really impressive. I’m not sure he was expecting that power out of Jones. He lined up at ILB and came through the middle with some effectiveness. When he came off the edge, no one stopped him. Jones has a truly plus burst and levels off really well. He’s excellent in pursuit.
Had a forced fumble that got overturned. On the play he came from the left side and chased Mizzou’s QB to the opposite side of the field to rip the ball out of his hand as it was coming forward. Jones also dropped back at ILB and had a 21-yard INT return to the 1-yard line. He was wrapping up on tackles, laying out some vicious hits and was all over the place. The box score gave him credit for 6 solo tackles and three assists in the game. I’m conservative and think I may have given him 10 assists.
One drawback with Jones – he comes out of control and I actually question his awareness at times. He’ll fall for good ball handling and also bite on fakes. However, I’m nitpicking on a Top 10 pick.
One guy to keep an eye on isn’t necessarily a player I like, but is one I could see a lot of people overlooking right now and scouts liking.
Michael Cox, RB Massachusetts
Mike is another one of my former HS kids. Good player out of New England in high school that went to Michigan and just didn’t see the field. Transferred to UMASS for his final year.
Two reasons I’d give him a look if you can.
I’m not in love with him as a prospect, but he’s playing well for the Minutemen right now. You’ve got a I-AA offensive line and Cox put up 8o yards on 20 carries against Ohio. He also put up 188 yards and two scores on 30 carries Miami(Ohio). He posted 76 yards against Michigan in the first half until UMASS was out of the game.
In other words, he’s producing right now when his team is staying in the game.
Second, this kid is a physical specimen. Cox goes 6-foot-2.5, 220 pounds and reportedly runs a sub 4.4 40-yard dash. He’s ripped up and looks like an NFL player.
If he can learn to run forward at all times and trust his blocks this season instead of trying to be Barry Sanders, he could really help himself.