I should have had more notes than this, but my Direct TV router box wasn't working properly, and we spent most of the day Saturday diagnosing the problem until we finally determined the problem and fixed it. I didn't get a whole lot of time watching SC vs. UT and Michigan/Illinios. The Cincy/Syracuse game and the USF/WV game were pixilating to varying degrees. If I missed something, I apologize and please let me know what I missed.
South Carolina vs. Tennessee
The only player I saw enough from to really talk about is Dan Williams (UT). Played like a monster early on. Penetrated into the backfield easily and overpowered the Gamecock interior lineman. Ate up single blocks in the pass game, and held his ground against double teams well. Shows good movement in pursuit. Really raw and basically just a big strong DT. Not on the same level as Suh, McCoy, Austin, Cody, or Jones, but big DT’s that can play are hard to find. Could be a 3-5 round type of pick that contributes in a rotation while he learns the finer points of the game.
Michigan vs. Illinois
Again, I was really didn’t get a good look at the game. I concentrated on Brandon Graham (MICH) most of the time. Being asked to play out of position but doing a good job anyway. Essentially playing a 5DE in Michigan’s 3-3-5, Graham is lining up even against OT’s and sometimes in the B gap against the guard. He’s shorter (listed at 6-2 but probably shorter) but is really thickly built. Plays a power game and plays tough, which helps him get by. Does everything pretty well: good hand use, shows power and speed (running around an ILL OT’s like a taller edge rusher). Like LaMarr Woodley and Everette Brown, his height likely means he won’t get graded in the first round unless he runs fast. Could line up as a 40 front DE in the NFL, but needs to show that he can drop into coverage if he’s going to be considered as an OLB in a 30 front.
A lot of focus was paid to Mikel LeShoure, rightly so. I was impressed with Illinois TE/WR Jeff Cumberland. He’s listed at 6-5/255, which is probably exaggerated. It doesn’t matter though, as he moves like a WR and has WR hands. Lined up in tight, like a flexed TE, and as a WR, and looked comfortable at all positions. Not a great blocker, but could be functional in time. Runs great routes. Gets deep like a WR and could be a terror stretching the seam at the next level. A Dustin Keller type TE that could be had later in the draft.
Cincinnati vs. Syracuse
Zach Collaros (CIN) looked very good in the face of a stout Syracuse pass rush. Very mobile QB who can run well and also shuffles well in pocket, keeping plays alive. The fake FG throw was fairly easy since Collaros had two open receivers in the same area as his throw. Sidestepping the rush to get to a spot to set his feet and throw was the great part of the play. Decent arm but doesn’t really get a chance to gun the football a lot in Cincinati’s offense. Short (6-1) and probably has a better baseball future, but has shown poise and talent. If he commits to football, Collaros could be a pro prospect in the future: Cincinnati runs a pro style offense in terms of reads, and if Collaros works at learning his trade, it could negate his height disadvantage.
Everyone knows about Mardy Gilyard. The other receiver, Armon Binns, is a playmaker as well. Similar to Gilyard (good hands, good route runner, and good body control) but Binns is four inches taller. Would be best served staying at Cincinnati for his senior year and showing that he can carry the passing game with Collaros.
There is no way that Arthur Jones (SU) is 291 pounds as he’s listed. He’s a true widebody: I’d guess that he’s 315. And he looks like he can get bigger. Really big in his lower body and should have no issues anchoring at the next level: Cincinnati could get no push at all against him, even when doubled. Hand use is great: shows a great rips move and generally keeps blockers off his body. Not quick footed like Suh, McCoy or Austin, but has a burst for big man. Got little movement against a double team on his initial pass rush, but keeps his feet moving and kept working to get to QB’s. Has a powerful and shocking punch that the Cincy blockers could not handle. Got to Collaros a lot, either for sacks or pressure, including chasing him to the sideline. Against the run, Cincy had little success running at Jones unless they doubled him. If Cincy ran wide, Jones pursuit was excellent and he made a couple plays on the sideline. Reminds me of Pat Williams with his stout play and lateral pursuit. I see Jones going in the last thrid of the first round at this point.
Mikhail Marinovich (SU) is one of my favorite players to watch. A ball of energy that just keeps coming off the edge. Never stops even when his initial move doesn’t work. Still raw but showed a couple inside counter moves that worked. Mostly relies on speed. Tall with long arms. Really thin in his upper body and needs to spend a couple years in the SU gym. Going to be dangerous once he gets stronger. His relentlessness is similar to Eric Norwood’s.
South Florida vs. West Virginia
Selvish Capers (WV) played well at RT. When he was lined up against Jason Pierre-Paul (USF) he generally moved his feet well, held his ground, and won the match-up. He did get beat cleanly by JP2 on a counter move that almost got Jarrett Brown killed. Jr. DE David Bedford gave him fits, though, with straight speed rushes. My guess on that is that USF ends seem to use a lot of power rush moves, and Bedford was kind of a change up. Capers was moving his feet well against Bedford but couldn’t keep up. I came away thinking that Capers’ stock went up with some good play against JP2 and that Bedford is another raw, athletically gifted end for USF.
Interestingly, JP2 was moved to 3DT on most passing downs (which is a lot of the time against WV’s spread). He didn’t look out of place and made more plays from that position that from his natural end position. He used his bull rush most of the time but it was effective, and the WV interior linemen couldn’t keep him out of the backfield. Enhanced himself a lot, IMO, by showing versatility and could be used similar to Justin Tuck.
Carlton Mitchell (USF) was awesome on the deep routes. He’s a big target who’s very hard to cover with his height and long arms. Long strider who picks up speed as he goes. Isn’t slow but can lull defenders to sleep with his longer strides: he just doesn’t seem to be running fast.
USF Freshman QB BJ Daniels looked much better in this game than he did against Cincinnati. Great arm. Throws a picture perfect deep ball. Can run or scramble to keep plays alive. Poised and didn’t look rattled at all. His biggest knock is his height. He’s listed at 6-1 but could be shorter than that. Someone to keep tabs on for the future.
North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech
Big clash between Sergio Render (VT) and Marvin Austin (VT). Virginia Tech doubled Austin almost all night, with some exceptions when he was matched up on Render. Austin did hold up pretty well and allowed his teammates to make plays. It was telling, though, when Render was left alone on Austin that Austin did not make many plays. Austin could not anchor against Render and got pushed down field on a couple run plays. Render displayed a devastating punch off the line, which seemed like it stunned Austin a few times. When Render matched up against Austin on pass plays, he had help and contained Austin.
Austin wasn’t able to make many plays in the backfield, but he did display good ability to pursuit plays down the line of scrimmage. He did loaf on more than a few plays, as he knew the double team was coming and looked as if he gave in a bit, satisfied with allowing his teammates to make the play. Austin’s inability to anchor effectively against Render and his movement skills really cemented his potential use as a 3DT more so than a 1NT in a 40 front, IMO.
EJ Wilson, Robert Quinn and Cam Thomas (all UNC) looked pretty good and really took advantage of the double teams that Austin was eating. Wilson isn’t going to be a pass rushing maven, but he displayed ability to hold the edge and could be a later round find as a 5DE. Cam Thomas plays the NT for UNC, and shows ability to control the middle of the field. Widebody who could be another later round contributor in a rotation for a team that plays a 30 front. Robert Quinn looks like a someone to watch in 2010. Tall and lanky with a good first step. Doesn’t really have many moves- just a sophomore that tries to run around defenders. But he can do that pretty well. Can’t hold the edge and VT had success running right at him. If he learns to use his hands better and improves his overall strength, he could be really good.
Deunta Williams (UNC) was moved to SS for the game and looked much better. He seemed much more comfortable than the FSU game. He was more aggressive and looked good in run support. He’s still shoulder block-tackling, but his awareness and positioning were better. He’s lanky for the SS position. If that’s his future home as a position, he needs to bulk up a bit.
Greg Little (UNC) could be really special. Big and fast with great hands. Not a great route runner. More talented than refined but has a ton of talent. VT had a hard time covering him, and Little made plays in a big game that special players make: see his last touchdown on the corner route. UNC produced three NFL receivers last year: Little could be another in that line either this year but, hopefully next year.
Count me as unimpressed with Jason Worilds (VT). VT ends light up CFB and then don’t do so well, or well at all, in the NFL. That’s the sensing I came away with looking at Worilds. Lined up almost all night against Jr. UNC RT Mike Ingersoll, who handled him. Worilds is not tall nor is he thickly built, and had a hard time getting around Ingersoll. Worilds did not have the upper body strength to counter inside against Ingersoll. On run plays, Ingersoll buried Worilds, with a couple pancake blocks. The plays that Worilds made came when lined up away from his natural RDE position. Worilds needs to stay in school, get his degree, get stronger, and try the NFL on 2011 as an OLB prospect.
Tyrod Taylor (VT) has a lot of physical gifts but I don’t see him translating his talent to the NFL well. When his reads are kept simple and the VT run game is cranking, he looks great, displaying a great arm. When those two conditions are not present, Taylor struggles to find the open receiver, and often just takes off running when his initial progression isn’t open. Will have to try and make it as another college QB-ATH transitioning to WR/RB/returner.