Monthly Archives: February 2013

2013 NFL Draft: Michael Williams Prospect Profile

Alabama tight end Michael Williams

Alabama tight end Michael Williams

The resume as a three year starter and four year letter winner on the well-oiled BCS Championship winning machine that is Alabama would normally suggest a top flight NFL talent but sometimes you just have to be impressed with Nick Saban’s ability to effectively use a role player. That is Michael Wililams, one of those players who you won’t really notice but does a job and does it well. He’s such a good blocker that if he had just a bit more length and size we may be talking about him as a tackle.

Measurables:

6’ 5″ 269 lbs.

Strengths:

He has been a part of three national championships because of his contributions in the Alabama run game. He is not an elite blocker but consistently can wall off and anchor against defenders for outside runs. On inside runs, He maintains, if he doesn’t kick out, wide rushers trying to stunt to create a crease for runners to cut through. His feet never stop after he makes contact. His hands are grappling and rarely get disengaged when he gets his hands on a defender.

His excellent frame from a height weight and length perspective presents a big target for quarterbacks and he is pretty good at getting to a ball at its highest point. Fairly good shake for a man his side.

Weaknesses:

As a pass protector, he will struggle with the Bruce Irvin types. They don’t allow him to get his feet set and force him to reach, which is when he is at his worst as a blocker (in space). While his hand strength is overwhelming for a tight end, they don’t always get to where they have to be. This will cause holding penalties against the same speed edge rushing types.

I think he will surprise in his ten yard split but offers little to nothing as a field stretcher. Given this limitation in top end speed, he also doesn’t have great suddenness to his breaks and often allows defenders to stay in his back pocket. His after catch ability is relegated to running through a few undersized tacklers in the SEC but nothing to write home to mom about.

Projection:

Williams projects as a 2nd to 3rd tight end on an NFL roster. These players are drafted in the late rounds 5-7. He has just enough ability as a receiver when coupled with his elite size and blocking ability that he could have a very unspectacular but effective role playing journeyman in the NFL.

Prospect Profile completed by:
Justin Fink is DraftInsider’s Head Scout of TE/LB’s
follow Justin on Twitter @jfink9

as always, feel free to comment on the blog.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @DraftInsider

2013 NFL Draft: Zach Ertz Prospect Profile

Stanford tight end Zach Ertz

Stanford tight end Zach Ertz

When Stanford began its transformation into a top flight Division I program, it came with players like Zach Ertz in mind. While most of the NCAA focused on shifty quick players in space, they wanted to go two and three tight ends with size that would present a different kind of match up problem. He was first team PAC-12, John Mackey finalist, and All American Tight End as a junior with an impressive blend of size, strength, and speed. He was overshadowed as a sophomore by Colt’s second round pick Colby Fleener, but may end up being the better pro in the long run.

Measurables:

6’ 6” 249 lbs.

Strengths:

What jumps out on film when watching Ertz is his strong hands that he consistently uses to catch the ball. He was often adjusting his junior year to balls that lacked the proper ball placement he must have been used to when Mr. Luck was the signal caller. This didn’t stop him from producing and in fact he thrived. He was able to do this with solid sudden route running to get separation. His separation was often on display in scramble drill. This is increasingly important in today’s NFL with some many quarterbacks that can extend the play.

Whether it is blocking for RGIII or continuously working to get open for Ben Roethlisberger, this is a trait that I find very appealing. He never gives up on a play that comes back to the ball for his quarterback and catches the ball in traffic. He sells the play action fake that Stanford’s offense thrived on to get open in the second level in front of the safeties but overtop of linebackers consistently.

His football intelligence was often on display with all of the different roles he performed at Stanford. They lined him up all over the field whether it was slot, flanked out, H back or in line tight end.

He was a very good blocking tight end in college. His technique and effort is apparent as he gets good leverage with elite knee bend. He can effectively wall off defenders that can be very effective in a zone blocking scheme.

Weaknesses:

While he was split out wide at times, it is not a strong suit as he is much more comfortable working the middle of the field. He has average top end speed but isn’t going to out run NFL defenders consistently. In traffic catches were adequate but he could’ve been better and he did have some drops that is hard to explain because of his approach.

As a blocker, you have to give him credit for his technique but he is currently limited because of his lower body strength. He will have to build up his legs to sustain blocks in the NFL but based upon his physical maturation in college, I believe you can only expect him to continue to develop.

Projection:

Ertz is projected to go between picks 20-40. He is more of a second round talent that is being pushed up because he is a plug and play starter day one that has the look of an unspectacular ten year starter. He reminds me a bigger longer framed Owen Daniels.

Prospect Profile completed by:
Justin Fink is DraftInsider’s Head Scout for TE/LBs
follow Justin on Twitter @jfink9

as always, feel free to comment on the blog.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @DraftInsider

2013 NFL Draft: Joseph Fauria Prospect Profile

UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria

UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria

UCLA Red Shirt Senior Joseph Fauria is the best Tight End prospect to hail from Berkeley since Marcedes Lewis. He is a tall, athletic pass catcher, with good bulk and a long wingspan. Being the nephew of former Patriot Tight End Christian Fauria, he was a four star tight end (No. 7 Nationally according to Rivals) who began his collegiate career began at Notre Dame where he had played in three games as a true freshman. He transferred to UCLA after his freshman year. He was a John Mackey semifinalist and All PAC 12 Honorable Mention as a senior. He started 9 games as a senior and participated in 14 collecting 12 receiving touchdowns which are the most at UCLA since JJ Stokes.

Measurables:

6’7″ 257 lbs.

Strengths:

He is a matchup nightmare for linebackers and safeties who was often split out wide in the Bruins offense as a senior. His athleticism flashes as ball carrier where he seems to really turn on the speed and can surprisingly make defenders miss when he has open field. His concentration on tipped balls means a play is never dead and is a nightmare for defenders. This skill is magnified with a superior ability to use his size to box out defenders on slants and in routes. He has very good intelligence and been a impact player for two very different types of offense. His intermediate route running is impressive.

Weaknesses:

The first thing I notice when watching Fauria run is his upright stance/running style. This changes when he has the ball in his hands but when route running it causes him to be knocked off his route much too much for a man his size. Despite blocking quite a bit in college for a H back and his size, he struggles to anchor and never drives his opponent off the ball. There’s no explosion to his hand punch and gets outside the pads at times and gets called for holding. On occasion he can set the edge but not someone you want going up against the NFL’s better run defenders.

Projection:

Fauria is projected to go in the middle rounds (3-5) in April’s Draft who has the potential to be a starter down the line if he develops. However, he hasn’t shown the ability to be anything more than a situational matchup problem for linebackers and safeties, especially in the redzone.

Prospect Profile completed by:
Justin Fink is DraftInsider’s Head Scout of TE/LB’s
follow Justin on Twitter @jfink9

as always, feel free to comment on the blog.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @DraftInsider

2013 NFL Draft: Deandre Hopkins Prospect Profile

Clemson wide receiver Deandre Hopkins

Clemson wide receiver Deandre Hopkins

Prospect: DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson University

Measurables: 6’2” 205 lbs

Strengths: DeAndre Hopkins benefited from stellar quarterback play with Taj Boyd at Clemson. They hooked up to make a pretty good tandem finishing 2012 with 82 catches for 1405 yards and 18 Tds. Hopkins has excellent size and decent speed to be a bona fide no.1 at the next level. He’s physical enough to post up defenders. Nice hands with a long wingspan which allows for a big catch radius. Uses his superb leaping ability to high point the ball as well as his foot quickness to break off the line. Tremendous field vision and awareness to locate boundaries. Has enough straightaway speed to get past any DB. Has room to fill out his frame. Very fluid and crisp route runner. Disguises his movements with precision foot placement. His raw determination will not allow him to fail as he strives to be the best football player on the field and that’s evident in the way he approaches each game.

Weaknesses: Sometimes loses the physical battle with defenders. Will allow himself to get pushed off the route with lazy route running. Needs to be more physical with his hands when pressed at the line. If he loses that battle, the route will turn sloppy. Has a knack for allowing the ball into his body rather than catching it with his hands which will often cause drops. His blocking will sometimes suffer from lapses in his concentration. Needs to flash big-play potential and ability to run the entire route tree at both the scouting combine and his pro day.

Projection: Hopkins projects to be a late first or early second round prospect.

Prospect Profile completed by:
Marc Lucoff is DraftInsider’s Head Scout of WR/DB’s
follow Marc on Twitter @Ryans46D

as always, feel free to comment on the blog.
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2013 NFL Draft: Keenan Allen Prospect Profile

California wide receiver Keenan Allen

California wide receiver Keenan Allen

Prospect: Keenan Allen, WR, University of California

Measurables: 6’3”, 210 lbs

Strengths: Allen is a big-bodied, physical, possession-type receiver that offenses covet. While he’s not the No. 1 to stretch the field a la Julio Jones, a better comparison may be to Dez Bryant. Allen finished the 2012 season with 61 catches for 737 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s projected as a top 10 prospect and the number one wideout in a class that doesn’t have a clear-cut leader. A more than adequate run blocker, runs good, crisp routes and has decent hands with a pretty big catch radius. Not afraid to go up and high point the ball and out-position defenders. Think Alshon Jeffery here. He has excellent run after the catch ability and is physical enough to run through tackles. A classic No. 2, Allen can run the short and intermediate routes; perfect against cover one. Arguably had his most complete game against the Buckeyes back in September at the Horseshoe.

Weaknesses: Allen missed the last three games of his junior year and certainly didn’t benefit from sub-standard quarterback play at Cal which many believed inhibited his production as a junior. Needs to maintain better body awareness when looking in passes and occasionally has the case of the dropsies particularly in coverage. Since young receivers typically have a big adjustment to the NFL level, particularly against press coverage and achieving separation, he’s going to need all the off-season conditioning he can get. Isn’t the greatest leaper but still can use his big body to out physical defenders. Doesn’t have the blazing fast speed and needs to improve on his run blocking particularly if he’s drafted by a team that utilizes the zone/read option offense that seems to be the hot trend in the league right now.

Projection: Allen is projected to be a mid to late first round pick in April’s Draft.

Prospect Profile completed by:
Marc Lucoff is DraftInsider’s Head Scout of WR/DB’s
follow Marc on Twitter @Ryans46D

as always, feel free to comment on the blog.
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2013 NFL Draft: Tyler Eifert Prospect Profile

Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert

Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert

Notre Dame Senior TE Tyler Eifert – a 2011 and 2012 Mackey Award finalist – was the only tight end on the 2012 Maxwell Award Watch List, an award that goes to college football’s player of the year. He was also on the watch list for the Lombardi award, and was the consensus preseason first-team All-American tight end. He ranks number one all time in catches and yards for a tight end. Given Notre Dame’s historical pedigree at the position (John Carlson, Anthony Fasano, and Kyle Rudolph), that is a very distinguishable accomplishment.

Measurables
6’6” 255 lbs

Strengths:

The first thing I always look at when evaluating a prospect is growth and muscle development during college. When you look at Eifert, he is the epitome of this character defining trait. It is true some player will naturally get bigger but in my opinion it is hard work in the weight room that led to an additional 30+ pounds in college.

What causes Eifert to stand out and be the No. 1 Tight End prospect on some boards is his elite abilities as a receiver. He was clearly the best receiver on Notre Dame, often being split out as a flanker. He has excellent body control in the air and along the sideline. He goes up and gets the ball at its highest point. Notre Dame played to this strength often, targeting even when he was going against the best corner in this draft in Dee Millner. When you watch film on him, its hard to determine whether catching the ball or route running comes more effortlessly as both are silky smooth. When the ball is in his hands, he knows what to do with it. He runs tough after the catch, with no hesitation to run past a defender or through him.

His blocking has improved year after year that made him a good run blocker by his senior year. What you love to see is that even though it isn’t his best attribute, he works as hard as a blocker as a receiver going 110% every play.

Weaknesses:

He has a big body wide receiver build that he will have to continue to improve upon in the NFL. He can allow the body to get inside his body when the ball is thrown in tight coverage on intermediate routes but I feel this is generally overcome by his body shielding from a defender trying to rip it out.

His pass protection leaves a lot to be desired as edge rushers abuse him. This is a result of getting over extended with his hand placement and tentativeness. As a run blocker, he gets some push but most of this comes against inferior talents and players smaller than him. In the NFL, he will have to get stronger to deal with powerful edge setters and more consistent with his foot placement when dealing with edge rushers.

Projection:

Eifert will be a top 20-40 overall selection in the NFL draft. He could be taken in the teens because of the evolution the tight end position has taken over the past decade. Ultimately, I believe he is a less explosive Jermaine Gresham without the injury concerns.

Prospect Profile completed by:
Justin Fink is DraftInsider’s Head Scout of TE/LBs
follow Justin on Twitter @jfink9

as always, feel free to comment on the blog.
Be sure to follow us on twitter @DraftInsider

2013 NFL Draft: Ace Sanders Prospect Profile

South Carolina wide receiver/punt returner Ace Sanders

South Carolina wide receiver/punt returner Ace Sanders

Prospect: Ace Sanders , WR, University of South Carolina

Measurables: 5’8” 175 lbs

Strengths: Looks a lot like Wes Welker in pads. Although not the most physically imposing of receivers, Ace Sanders does bring speed to the game. He has the ability to make defenders miss at the point of contact. Deceptively quick and elusive. He can get off the line pretty quickly leaving DBs in the dust. Has good field awareness and vision. Pretty crisp route runner with not a lot of sloppiness. Natural pass-catcher with decent hands. Will need a pretty accurate quarterback as his catch radius is not very big. Sanders is a dangerous return man and that is most likely where Sanders will earn is game check on Sundays. His speed, quickness, and elusiveness more than make up for his lack of size. When he does lineup it will be as a slot guy.

Weaknesses: His lack of size will could be a hindrance at the next level as his ability to separate and get off press coverage will be looked at. Not the most physical of receivers and will be challenged by both coaches and opponents. He’s seen as fearless and that trait could get him into trouble when trying to get that extra yard or go over the middle in traffic.

Projection: Even with his quickness and his ability to run fluid routes, Sanders projects to be a mid to late round draft prospect.

Prospect Profile completed by:

Marc Lucoff is DraftInsider’s Head Scout of WR/DB
follow Marc on Twitter @Ryans46D

as always, feel free to comment on the blog.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter @DraftInsider

2013 NFL Draft: Cordarrelle Patterson Prospect Profile

Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson

Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson

Prospect: Cordarrelle Patterson , WR, University of Tennessee

Measurables: 6’3”, 205 lbs

Strengths: Dominating the SEC with 1858 all-purpose yards to go along with 10 TDs in 2012. That’s what WR Cordarrelle Patterson brings to the table. Speedy, tall, and physical. Adjectives that fit Patterson to a tee. He can get by press coverage with little effort. Not afraid to go into traffic to make the grab. Still has room to grow to fit his frame. He can pack on another 10-15 lbs with no negative impact to his game. He has good leaping ability and can snatch the ball out of the air at its highest point. Excellent field awareness and vision. Can see holes before they open. Patterson will always try to get the extra yard by making defenders miss. He simply plants his foot in the ground in one direction, flips his hips and the defender is left grabbing at smoke as he’s racing off to the end zone. Will line up in the backfield for reverses or sweeps. Very dangerous return man with explosive play-making ability to succeed at the next level.

Weaknesses: He’s not the crispest route runner as he tends to round off at the top of the route stem. His willingness and desire to get that extra yard can cause him to dance a bit. He can be a bit lazy and tends to give up on downfield passes. Not the best blocker and will need to improve on that facet of his game at the next level. Some might call his mental toughness into question as he sometimes takes plays off. Randy Moss anyone? The scouting combine and his pro day at Tennessee will be very telling as excellent showings at both should dramatically improve his draft stock. The perfect way to describe Patterson would be “very raw but very talented”.

Projection: Patterson is projected to go in the early to mid first round in April’s Draft.

Prospect Profile completed by:

Marc Lucoff is DraftInsider’s Head Scout of WR/DB
follow marc on Twitter @Ryans46D

as always, feel free to comment on the blog.
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2013 NFL Draft: Tavon Austin Prospect Profile

West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin

West Virginia wide receiver Tavon Austin

Prospect: Tavon Austin , WR, West Virginia

Measurables: 5’9” 176lbs

Strengths: Nobody is comparing Tavon Austin to Carolina’s Steve Smith, yet, except in physical stature. Steve Smith ran a sub 4.5 in the 40 yard dash. Next month’s scouting combine should prove most interesting for Austin. He can change direction at the drop of a dime making defenders grab at air on most occasions. Not afraid to play the slot or catch passes in traffic. Has the potential to be the downfield threat most teams are looking for. Austin is a mismatch for any defense. Think Percy Harvin for the Vikings. When healthy Harvin is a nightmare for any opposing defender. Austin fits the mold to a tee. Back in November, he absolutely decimated the Oklahoma defense, along with breaking a few ankles, with 344 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Austin along with quarterback Geno Smith, were the centerpieces of Dana Holgorsen’s pass-happy offense. In this offense, Austin is most dangerous when getting the feed from Geno and just flat-out beating the defense to the end zone. Why should the next level be any different?

Weaknesses: There’s not a whole of negatives to point out in Austin’s game except perhaps his height and weight. Let’s be honest here, at 5’9” and 176 lbs, he isn’t going to out-physical any defender in the NFL. But that shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance as teams are looking to create mismatches against their opponents and Austin does exactly that. The one thing coaches need to be aware of is his ability to get off the line after being jammed at the point of contact. Can he recover versus press-man? If he’s given a free release he’ll take the ball to the house. He’s that dangerous. He also needs to improve his route-running. He tends to round off while hitting the stem of the route. Needs to be crisper.

Projection: Austin projects to be a late first round to early second round prospect

 

Prospect Profile completed by:

Marc Lucoff is DraftInsider’s Head Scout of WR/DB’s

Follow Marc on Twitter @Ryans46d

 

As always, feel free to comment on the blog.

 

 

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2013 NFL Draft: Dallas Thomas Prospect Profile

Tennessee offensive lineman Dallas Thomas

Tennessee offensive lineman Dallas Thomas

Tennessee Offensive Tackle Dallas Thomas heads into the 2013 NFL Draft as one of Draft Insider’s top Offensive Tackle prospects to watch. Thomas is a Guard prospect as well after playing the entire season at Left Guard for the Volunteers. He posses great technique in his pass blocking and has good feet. Which ever team pulls the trigger on this smart football player should have them selves a player for years to come. Below is our detailed scouting report on Dallas Thomas.

Measurables:
– 6’5″ 310 lbs

Strengths:

First of all, I must say Dallas Thomas has one of the most beautiful pass sets I have ever seen in a live game. It looks exactly how coaches teach it on the field and on film. Dallas Thomas is flexible and shows good bend in his knees and hips. Thomas is a lean 310 pounds which is shown when he is out in the open and getting to the second level. And because he is lean he could be able to keep up with the speed rushers on the edge in the NFL. Thomas replaces his hands well while pass blocking and can defend the bull rush. He is a smart football player and understands that communication is a key factor in an offensive lines success. He is seen on film communicating pre snap with the other members of the line, making sure they have all their calls correct and have an ID on the Mike. Thomas would fit into a zone blocking scheme as he is not a premier drive blocker in the run game. He is versatile and can play both guard and tackle at a high level. Thomas played really well at Left Tackle against 2012 second round draft pick Courtney Upshaw in their 2011 match-up.

Weaknesses:

Although Thomas is flexible and has good bend in his hips, he doesn’t explode through them when firing out to run block. He is not a drive blocker, so he wouldn’t really fit into a power blocking scheme, especially if he played Guard. To be a difference maker on an NFL roster he would need to work and improve his lower body in the running game (feet, hips, and leg drive). Thomas struggles to sustain blocks, falling off late and allowing his defender to get in on the tackle or clog up the running lane and force the runner outside. He also has poor technique when he pulls. He turns his shoulders and has high pad level. Rather than having his shoulders squared up ready to take on any defender in case he doesn’t make it to his assigned man and staying low for more force on contact.

Projection:

Thomas is projected to be a 2nd-3rd round pick in April’s Draft.

 

Prospect Profile completed by:

Zack Spears is Draft Insider’s Head Offensive and Defensive Line Scout.

Be sure to follow Zack on Twitter @Zacklopedia

 

 

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