Posts by Austin Morris

Taking a Look: Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss

Laquon Treadwell is a third year wide receiver for the Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels will surely “miss” Treadwell when he enters the Draft. He hasn’t officially declared for the 2016 NFL Draft yet, but he is strongly considering entering as an underclassmen. From the players I have scouted so far, at the receiver position,

Laquon Treadwell is a third year wide receiver for the Ole Miss Rebels. The Rebels will surely “miss” Treadwell when he enters the Draft. He hasn’t officially declared for the 2016 NFL Draft yet, but he is strongly considering entering as an underclassmen. From the players I have scouted so far, at the receiver position, Treadwell is the best. He seems to have it all with no weaknesses. He is a 6’2”, 210 lb, big bodied receiver, who is deceptive with his speed. He can do so much and is a freakish athlete. It is incredible to see Treadwell where he is today after suffering a horrific leg and ankle injury against Auburn in 2014. He has bounced back and hasn’t missed a beat, so let’s take a look at first, his statistics from this season:

  • Played in all twelve games this season, and is slated to play in the Sugar Bowl vs Oklahoma State on New Year’s Day
  • 1,082 receiving yards with 76 total receptions this season
  • 8 receiving touchdowns and even 1 passing touchdown
  • 14.2 yards average per catch

Now let’s take a more in depth look at Treadwell:

Games Scouted:

vs Vanderbilt (2015), vs Florida (2015), vs Auburn (2015), and vs Alabama (2014)

When you watch film on Laquon Treadwell, one of the first things that will jump out to you is the way he can create separation against defenders. It doesn’t matter whether the corner lined up against him is in press coverage or zone, Treadwell will find a way to get open. The first thing that jumps out at me is how he dips his shoulder when he takes off on his route. Many times, I have seen him dip his shoulders on a corner, and gain at least two to three yards of separation. He does an excellent job of selling a pass play when the offense is actually running the ball. He will take off like he is running a post route, the corner bites, and he effectively takes one defender out of the play. He is also excellent at getting open and finding holes in zone coverage for his QB to float the ball into.

So he can get open, big deal. Can he catch the ball? In the games I watched him play in, I saw him drop the ball twice. Most of the time, Treadwell is a very reliable receiver who catches the ball with his hands. He seems to also have very strong wrists as he will win a contested ball the majority of the time. He does a great job of adjusting to the ball and has made some very acrobatic catches in his college career. The QB play was not the best this season, and so the ball placement wasn’t the best either. Treadwell didn’t miss a beat as he was able to adjust in the air and make the grab.

So, now that he has the ball in his hands, can he do anything with it? Absolutely. Treadwell does an excellent job of running with the ball after the catch. He is a very physical receiver who doesn’t mind lowering his shoulder for a few extra yards. He can be a slippery receiver who can make you miss in the open field. His physicality comes into play in the run blocking game. I have never seen such a physical blocking receiver. He does an excellent job of driving his legs, staying aggressive, and knocking a defender out of the play. Treadwell knocks one defender out of the play and moves on to the next defender in line.

There wasn’t much I didn’t like about Treadwell’s game, but there were two things that were worth noting. When he run blocks, or faces off against corners on his routes, he can get too careless and become too aggressive. Many times, I have seen flags thrown against him for unnecessary roughness or grabbing too much jersey. Second, I worry about whether his route tree is developed enough. For the first two years at Ole Miss, his primary routes were screen plays and post plays. This year, I saw his route tree develop some as he ran slants, hook routes, and a few in and out routes. He is no Amari Cooper when it comes to route running. From what I could tell, he is a an adequate route runner who seems to be a little tight in the hips, but I feel that is something he can work on and fix once he gets to the pros.

I love Treadwell’s potential. I strongly feel he will be a high first round pick. He has made an incredible bounce back from his horrendous injury last season and has put up some great stats and play on film this year. There are a lot of teams this season who are going to be looking for a future number one receiver, and I feel Treadwell can be that guy. He is an all-around receiver with the size, speed, catching ability, and the ability to make something happen after he gets the ball in his hands. I cannot wait to see what he will do in the pros.

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached atamorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 838 Words

A Mid-Season Look: Derrick Henry

Coming out of the University of Alabama is a huge running back by the name of Derrick Henry. Henry stands at six feet and three inches tall and weighs 245 pounds. On the field, he looks like an absolute monster. Henry is in his junior year with the Tide and is not a guarantee to

Coming out of the University of Alabama is a huge running back by the name of Derrick Henry. Henry stands at six feet and three inches tall and weighs 245 pounds. On the field, he looks like an absolute monster. Henry is in his junior year with the Tide and is not a guarantee to declare for the draft. The only time I scout underclassmen is when I feel there is a very high chance they will declare for the draft. I feel with the past two seasons Henry has had, he will.

Last season, Henry rushed for just under 1,000 yards and had 11 rushing touchdowns. He also had two touchdown receptions on the year, with the most memorable being an 80-yard reception against Ohio State in the College Football Playoff. This season, he has already outdone last year’s statistics, and we are just past the halfway point in the season. As of 10/25, he has over 1,000 yards rushing and 14 rushing touchdowns. Did I mention he also has a rushing average 5.8 yards per carry?

The first thing that stands out when watching film on Henry is his size. He is absolutely huge and is very hard to stop when he gets acceleration. He is a bruiser back who is one of the taller backs the Crimson Tide have seen come through their program. Henry is extremely physical, but I feel because of his height and long legs, he can go down too easily. Too many times, I would see a defender dive at his legs and go down after only one hit. There is not much I feel can be done about this. You cannot make the man shrink, but at times, he could do a better job at lowering his pad level at the first contact.

Second, he can make plays happen on a regular basis. But is he a home run threat? It depends on the situation. If he is not allowed to get some speed early in the play, he will get stuffed at the line of scrimmage. But, if he is allowed to get those long legs going, he is a threat to take it to the house. No, he does not have the instant speed you see in a lot of smaller running backs, but he does have good speed when he is allowed to get into the open field. Then, the speed combined with his physicality makes it even harder to take him down.

Due to Alabama’s offense, he is not the main running back used in the passing game. His partner in crime, Kenyan Drake, is the main pass catcher out of the backfield. However, he can be very useful in the passing game, he just isn’t targeted often. I am not impressed with his pass blocking ability. Surprisingly, for his size, he is asked to cut block often, which he is not good at. When he cut blocks, he lowers his head way too early causing him to completely whiff on the block. Many times, he has done this and the defender he was assigned to went straight to the ball carrier.

Overall, I think Henry will be a player used only in certain situations in the pros. There just aren’t that many running backs in the pros that are as big as he is and are successful. In Henry’s case, he is not quick enough to make cuts and is not elusive enough to juke defenders out of their shoes. True, he will knock people over, but he can only do that when he gets a full head of steam. He is a great open field runner, but his ability to make things happen when there is little to work with leaves much to be desired. As of now, I feel he will go in the 3rd or 4th round of the draft.

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached atamorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 617 Words

An Early Look: Kenneth Dixon, LA Tech

Coming out of Louisiana Tech is a senior running back by the name of Kenneth Dixon. Dixon is a talented running back, but he has a lot of wear and tear. He plays in a pass-first offense. Still, amazingly, he has quite the stat line over the past few years. Here are his careers stats

Coming out of Louisiana Tech is a senior running back by the name of Kenneth Dixon. Dixon is a talented running back, but he has a lot of wear and tear. He plays in a pass-first offense. Still, amazingly, he has quite the stat line over the past few years. Here are his careers stats so far. (as of 10/3/15)

• 699 carries with an average of 5.7 yards per carry
• 3,993 rushing yards and 59 touchdowns
• 69 receptions with 653 receiving yards
• 10 receiving touchdowns

Games scouted: Illinois (2014), Oklahoma (2014), and Western Kentucky (2014)

First, I would like to look at some concerns I have with Kenneth Dixon. Dixon does have a lot mileage on his tires, which is something that could hurt his draft stock. Soon, he will be breaking the barrier of 700 career carries and over 4,000 rushing yards. When you stop and think, that is over 700 hits he has taken in the stretch of only 4 years. I feel it is highly doubtful a team would spend a high draft pick on him because of that alone. Likely, he will not be averaging about 200 carries per year in the NFL, which is something that does stand in his favor.

Second, Dixon has a tendency to run upright, which causes him to take some rather big hits. I can recall several instances of him running down the sideline and getting hit very hard. His running upright not only leads to big hits, but it also decreases his ability to push piles. I feel his inside running is not as effective because he stands a little too tall when he hits a pile. Instead of being able to push a pile forward, he either gets driven back or has no gain.

But the good outweighs the bad. First, you have to look at the production. It is clear that, in his college career, Dixon has put up some great numbers. Has he faced the best of the best defenses on a consistent basis? No, but when has that played a factor in how great backs are in the NFL? It didn’t matter in the case of Doug Martin, Lesean McCoy, or Matt Forte, who all played for schools that played less than stellar teams on a consistent basis. If Dixon has the skill level mixed with the desire to win, the level of competition will not matter.

Dixon has great athletic ability to play the running back position. He will not be a power back, but will be used likely as a scat back. He is a very slippery runner who lives and breathes on runs off the tackle. He is extremely dangerous when he is allowed to cut the corner. Often, it will be a first down run or longer when he is allowed to do so. He can make quick cuts in the open field to make defenders miss and he can also make some crazy moves showcasing his agility and elusiveness.

I like how he is active in the passing game. He has shown on film that he can make catches and get yards after the catch without dropping passes or making errors. I even saw him line up in the slot some in the Louisiana Tech offense. This could add some draft stock to him as a lot of running backs are rarely involved in the passing game and are not three down backs. As of now, as we are reaching the start of conference play in the NCAA, I have Dixon listed as a third to fourth round pick in next year’s draft.

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached atamorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 562 Words

Life for the Pittsburgh Panthers…without James Conner

Going into this season, I was really looking forward to watch the running back for the Pittsburgh Panthers, James Conner. Conner was on his way to what looked like a great season against Youngstown State. To my surprise, the worst happened. In the middle of the game, he went down with a knee injury. At

Going into this season, I was really looking forward to watch the running back for the Pittsburgh Panthers, James Conner. Conner was on his way to what looked like a great season against Youngstown State. To my surprise, the worst happened. In the middle of the game, he went down with a knee injury. At first, reports stated it “wasn’t serious”, until it was examined further, and Conner heard the two words no athlete wants to hear, “MCL tear”. So what is next for the Panthers as they have to handle life without Conner?

It will not be easy for Pitt to replace the former ACC Player of the Year. That kind of production is hard to duplicate. However, I feel Pitt should still be okay. The Panthers are a very run-oriented offense, which showed in the 2014 season when Conner ran for 1,765 yards (5.9 YPC) and 26 rushing touchdowns. I expect them to continue running the ball because they have sufficient replacements.

First, there is freshman RB Qadree Ollison. Ollison had a very impressive debut in his first ever football game last week, rushing for over 200 yards and a score. It helps that Ollison has a similar body type to Conner, standing at 6’2”, 231 lbs. He also plays with the same style of play Conner does; a bruising, downhill runner that you don’t want to tackle unless you absolutely have to. On the lighter side, they have someone to help split carries, Chris James. James is a little bit of a smaller back that will have some needed quickness to add to the Pittsburgh running game.

The passing game for the offense will still be sketchy as usual. The Panthers are still unsure about which QB to start, either freshman Nathan Peterman or junior Chad Voytik. Both QBs had mediocre play against Youngstown State last week. Both threw their fair share of good and bad passes, so there is still a lot of uncertainty. One thing remains certain, and that is they have a future NFL receiver in their midst. Barring any unforeseen circumstance the Panthers will have their WR Tyler Boyd for the rest of the season. My preseason expectations for the Panthers haven’t changed because their run game still has talented backs, and they still have good targets in the pass game.

From a scouts’ perspective, I do hate that Conner got injured. I considered Conner one of the best bruiser backs who could possibly have declared for the draft this season. He also would likely have been surrounded with many other great running backs that are draft eligible this season. Conner’s brutal, physical game is nearly impossible to stop. I now am looking forward to Conner’s senior season at Pittsburgh, and I expect him to come back even stronger (after all, most beasts do).

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached atamorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 441 Words

NCAAF headlines and observations from Saturday

The first week of college football play was one of the more intriguing opening weeks that I can remember. Usually, the beginning of the college football season is full of blowout wins, and one of the rare times backups play in the season. Though that did happen, there were some interesting moments as well.

FCS can

The first week of college football play was one of the more intriguing opening weeks that I can remember. Usually, the beginning of the college football season is full of blowout wins, and one of the rare times backups play in the season. Though that did happen, there were some interesting moments as well.

FCS can play, too

Two FCS teams made statements in the opening week of college football. The first action took place in Kansas. The Jayhawks of Kansas took on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Granted the Jayhawks team is so rank it would make a fly cry, but they are an FBS team and are expected to beat an FCS opponent. Heading into the game, Kansas was a 3-point favorite. Much to the Jayhawks’ surprise (but likely not to the Jayhawks fans’ surprise) the Jackrabbits would end up defeating Kansas 41-38. A second FCS team had a major upset on a heavily favored team. Washington State was a 31 point favorite over Portland State. According to ESPN’s FBI ratings, Portland State was given around a 2% chance of winning the game. To everyone’s shock, the 2% chance came through as Portland State came through with the upset beating WSU 24-17. Just goes to show, wins against FCS opponents are not always guaranteed.

Penn State gets a stone to the Temple

Going into Saturday, I was looking forward to seeing Penn State take on the Temple Owls. I was anxious to see how DT Anthony Zettel performed and how much QB Christian Hackenberg would live up to his hype. Let’s just say I was highly disappointed. Anthony Zettel was the highlight of a defense that had the run game shoved down their throats all the way to their socks. And Christian Hackenberg did not look like a “future #1 pick” as many analysts referred to him. Hackenberg went 11/25, 103 yards passing, no touchdowns, and an interception which eventually turned into a touchdown for Temple. Granted, all the blame cannot be placed on the QB in this game. The offensive line was hideous, allowing 10 sacks and never giving Hackenberg enough time to throw, the receivers dropped easy passes, and I feel the play calling did not really give Hackenberg a chance to showcase any sort of talent. The game was ugly for Penn State Football, and they can only hope to rebound against Buffalo next week. Meanwhile, Temple is celebrating their first victory over Penn State since 1941; talk about ending a drought.

The Rosen One

The UCLA Bruins seem to have found their answer to losing Brett Hundley in the Draft. Freshman QB Josh Rosen had an extremely impressive game against the Virginia Cavaliers, going 28/35 on his passes, throwing for 351 yards, and three passing touchdowns with no interceptions. He did an excellent job of spreading the ball around to a variety of receivers and looked like he was ready to be the leader of this offense for seasons to come. Is it beginners luck? Only time will tell.

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 472 Words

An Early Look: Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh

The number one guy catching passes for the Pittsburgh Panthers this fall is redshirt junior Tyler Boyd. Boyd stands at 6’2” and 200 lbs. This is Boyd’s third year starting for the Panthers, and he is considered to be one of the best receivers that could possibly declare for the 2016 NFL Draft. He will

The number one guy catching passes for the Pittsburgh Panthers this fall is redshirt junior Tyler Boyd. Boyd stands at 6’2” and 200 lbs. This is Boyd’s third year starting for the Panthers, and he is considered to be one of the best receivers that could possibly declare for the 2016 NFL Draft. He will miss the first week of the regular season due to being suspended for a DUI in the offseason. Here are the 2014 season stats for Boyd:

  • 1,261 receiving yards off of 78 receptions
  • 16.2 yards per catch
  • 8 receiving touchdowns
  • 16 kick returns for 442 yards
  • 27.6 return average

Games scouted:

Georgia Tech (2014), Miami (2014), Duke (2014), UNC (2014), Virginia Tech (2014), vs Houston (2014)

Strengths:

Boyd is a four-star recruit out of Clairton High School in Clairton, Pennsylvania. He is the best receiver to play at Pitt since the days of Larry Fitzgerald. He has a nice build for an NFL receiver, is tall enough, but could add on some more weight. He is a very proficient route runner and was asked to run multiple types of routes at Pitt. He runs crisp, smooth routes and does not take any unnecessary steps. He can make very quick moves to leave a defender standing in one spot, while he runs uncovered down the field. Boyd plays very loose, and the receiver position seems natural. He is a very good pass catcher, and for the most part, he catches the ball with his hands; it usually depends on where the ball is thrown. He is a receiver who can go up for the 50/50 ball and come down with it. Multiple times saw him beat double coverage and win the battle. he does well against zone coverage and can easily find the holes so his QB can get the ball to him. He does equally well against man coverage and can beat anybody one-on-one. He has faced some press coverage and does not seem to have a problem separating from it. He has some experience as a punt/kick returner. He is a very patient return man and waits for his lane to develop before going full speed. He is a durable receiver, has taken a beating in many games, and has endured it.

Weaknesses:

He will be suspended one game this season because of a DUI conviction. He is a very poor run blocker. On about 95% of run plays, the guy he was assigned to block ended up making the tackle. He doesn’t square up and block, instead almost lunging at the defender. He doesn’t put up a fight and is a pushover on run plays. It wouldn’t hurt for him to beef up a little bit more. He muffed two punts last season against UNC and Virginia Tech. He has some slight awareness issues, has had false start calls on him and holding calls in the blocking game.

The Bottom Line:

Boyd is one of the best receivers heading into next year’s draft. His route running, hands, and ability to go up and make a tough catch are excellent. However, his one off the field issue is a concern to me. If he can move past this, play good ball, and keep his nose clean, it won’t be as big of an issue on Draft day. Given the recent need for high quality receivers on NFL teams, Boyd is an easy first rounder. Granted, he may not have the explosiveness of Kevin White or the size of Breshad Perriman, but he is a consistent player who does not take plays off. I am extremely interested to see how he does this season against the very competitive ACC. This year, he will face off against some tough competition like Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Notre Dame. With a new head coach, a more experienced QB, and some decent competition, I can see Boyd having another 1,000 yard season and about 10 receiving touchdowns. Pitt’s offense will likely continue to run the ball first and pass second, but I still see a great season for Boyd.

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 641 Words

An Early Look: Devontae Booker, Utah

Carrying the rock for the Utah Utes for the second season is an intriguing running back by the name of Devontae Booker. Standing 5’11” and 212 lbs, Booker is a Redshirt Senior, heading into his second year of being a starting back for the Utes. Booker is coming off an impressive season last year; here

Carrying the rock for the Utah Utes for the second season is an intriguing running back by the name of Devontae Booker. Standing 5’11” and 212 lbs, Booker is a Redshirt Senior, heading into his second year of being a starting back for the Utes. Booker is coming off an impressive season last year; here are his stats from 2014:

  • 1,512 rushing yards off of 292 rushing attempts
  • 2 yards per carry average
  • 10 rushing touchdowns
  • 43 receptions for 306 receiving yards
  • 2 receiving touchdowns

Here are the games I scouted for Devontae Booker:

Washington State (2014), vs. Oregon State (2014), and vs. UCLA (2014)

Note: The GIFs are of plays that caught my eye

Strengths:

He was a three star recruit out of American River College (JC). Booker has the perfect body type for an NFL running back. He has great size and the perfect build to play professionally. He doesn’t have a great deal of mileage on him since he only has played one full season. Booker can make quick cuts to make defenders tackling air. He has unbelievable balance and is extremely hard take down by trying to take his legs away. Has crazy strength and explosion, will blow through a simple arm tackle. He can easily gain extra yardage by simply lowering his shoulder and taking defenders with him. He is an excellent inside the tackle runner; can move piles to gain a few yards on a third and short situation or find a small hole to burst off a big gain. When running outside, he is hard to stop when allowed to cut the corner. Booker is a very instinctive runner; he seems to naturally find the holes in the defense and knows where to run. He has great vision and finds seemingly small holes and is able to make something out of them. When in the open field, he has nice long strides to separate from defenders and makes him hard to catch. He does not have fumble issues at all and is a very reliable runner. He usually tries to help his QB out when running pass routes, sees his man in trouble, and tries to get open.

Weaknesses:

He needs a better spin move; it is rather slow and could be sped up some. On occasion, he can go to upright when running up the middle. That is not a big problem. He just needs to work on consistency. He takes some time to get up to speed, so his initial quickness is a little lacking. Due to not being able to get up to speed, his outside run game struggles some. Often, he gets slowed up in the backfield and is unable to get positive yardage. He doesn’t run very many pass routes and mainly catches passes in the flat or on screen plays. His pass blocking is absolutely hideous. Half of the time, he gives a half effort it seems. Often, he gets destroyed and pass rushers can make him look stupid.

The Bottom Line:

Devontae Booker is one of the top running backs heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. His power and explosiveness will make him a great asset to any team. One thing does concern me about his gameplay; he didn’t face the toughest of defenses last season. He faced Stanford last season and struggled against their top ten rushing defense. The majority of the defenses he ran against were ranked 40th or worse defending the run. Plus, he was not the starting back through the first three games of the season. This year, he will be the main workhorse and will get to face teams like Michigan, Oregon, UCLA, and Arizona. All of those teams have a chance to have some outstanding defensive play this year. If Booker can prove himself with another 1,000+ yard rushing season, and can continue to prove he is a reliable pass catcher, there is no doubt in my mind that he should be the “filet mignon” of the 2016 running back class.

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 632 Words

2015 College Football Preview: Miami Hurricanes

The 2014 season went great for the Miami Hurricanes until the last four games. They started off the season with wins against soft teams followed by losses to Nebraska and Georgia Tech. They went on a three game roll beating Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. Then, they played the dominant FSU Seminoles and it

The 2014 season went great for the Miami Hurricanes until the last four games. They started off the season with wins against soft teams followed by losses to Nebraska and Georgia Tech. They went on a three game roll beating Cincinnati, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. Then, they played the dominant FSU Seminoles and it went downhill from there. They closed out the season losing four straight games to FSU, Virginia, Pitt, and South Carolina. This year, the Canes are hoping to bounce back and be more consistent.

2015 Schedule:

  1. Sept. 5th—Bethune-Cookman
  2. Sept. 12th—at Florida Atlantic
  3. Sept. 19th—Nebraska
  4. BYE
  5. Oct. 1st—at Cincinnati (Thursday)
  6. Oct. 10th—at Florida State
  7. Oct. 17th—Virginia Tech
  8. Oct. 24th—Clemson
  9. Oct. 31st—at Duke
  10. Nov. 7th—Virginia
  11. Nov.14th—North Carolina
  12. Nov. 21st—Georgia Tech
  13. Nov. 27th—at Pittsburgh (Friday)

Offense:

The offense for the Hurricanes will have a hard time replacing the offense threat they had last season in RB Duke Johnson. Johnson was a very valuable cog in the rushing attack for the Hurricanes. He provided over 1,500 rushing yards and 13 total touchdowns. Replacing him will be tough but they do have two up and coming backs that should do a decent job. Gus Edwards and Joe Yearby were both great backups last season and will hope to develop themselves into key parts of this offense. On the passing side of the ball things are looking very positive. They have QB Brad Kaaya, a promising prospect for the 2017 Draft in two years. Kaaya blew people’s minds last season. As a freshman, he threw for over 3,000 yards, threw 26 touchdowns and had 12 interceptions. Although the Canes lost both WR Phillip Dorsett and TE Clive Walford, the receiving staff still looks like they will be in great shape. The offensive line for Miami looks very weak heading into this season, seeing as they have only one returning starter. They also lost the leader for the line, Ereck Flowers, to the Draft last year. They do have some linemen who are coming off of injuries from last season such as OT Sunny Odogwu who stands at 6’8” and 322 lbs.

Defense:

The defensive side of the ball for the Hurricanes does not look as promising as the offensive side. Last year the Canes were ranked 30th in the nation in rushing defense. This year will likely be a different story. Miami lost four starters from their front seven in the draft. The most missed piece will be LB Denzel Perryman his hard hitting play style. This year there is a lot of young talent who needs some polish. The biggest one to keep an eye on will be DT Jelani Hamilton. The leader of the LB core would be Jermaine Grace. Grace is the only returning LB for the Hurricanes. He will have to be the glue that holds this defense together. The Canes have a lot of experience returning to their secondary this year, three starters to be exact. Last year they allowed only 192.5 passing yards per game, which ranked 20th in the nation. With a more experienced staff, they are hoping to have one of the best pass defenses in the nation.

2015 Outlook: 8 out of 10

The Miami Hurricanes have an extremely tough schedule to overcome this year, and I am struggling with whether they can do it or not. Don’t get me wrong, the Canes have a great team this season, but in many instances, the teams they are facing will be stronger than them. It is a very rough road schedule. They face Florida State, Cincinnati (who has a brand new stadium), Duke, and Pittsburgh (in November) all on the road. Anyone who follows the ACC knows that in-conference road games are extremely difficult. Even their home schedule is hard, with matchups against Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Georgia Tech, all of which have a very good chance of beating them. I say to not expect more than eight wins out of the Canes this season. The schedule just does not favor them.

2016 NFL Draft Prospects:

#2 DB, Deon Bush, Senior—6’1”, 198 lbs

#5 LB, Jermaine Grace, Junior—6’1”, 210 lbs

#15 QB, Brad Kaaya, Sophomore—6’4”, 218 lbs

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 662 Words

2015 College Football Preview: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Last season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs were a captivating team to watch. Week after week, they seemed to pull off impressive win after impressive win until, eventually, they became the #1 ranked team in the nation. With a perfect 9-0 record, the inevitable came, and they had to face Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Mississippi State lost 20-25

Last season, the Mississippi State Bulldogs were a captivating team to watch. Week after week, they seemed to pull off impressive win after impressive win until, eventually, they became the #1 ranked team in the nation. With a perfect 9-0 record, the inevitable came, and they had to face Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Mississippi State lost 20-25 in a close defeat. The Bulldogs were never the same after ‘Bama and they would go on to lose at Ole Miss two weeks later, ruining their chances of being in the College Football Playoff. It didn’t get any better as they would then lose to Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Let’s see how the season is looking for the Bulldogs in 2015.

2015 Schedule:

  1. Sept. 5th—at Southern Mississippi
  2. Sept. 12th—LSU
  3. Sept. 19th—Northwestern State
  4. Sept. 26th—at Auburn
  5. Oct. 3rd—at Texas A&M
  6. Oct. 10th—Troy
  7. Oct. 17th—Louisiana Tech
  8. Oct. 24th—Kentucky
  9. BYE
  10. Nov. 5th—at Missouri (Thursday Night)
  11. Nov. 14th—Alabama
  12. Nov. 21st—at Arkansas
  13. Nov. 28th—Ole Miss

Offense:

Last season, the Bulldogs had a great rushing attack in RB Josh Robinson. Sadly, he left early for the NFL, but he did not leave MSSU high and dry. The duo of juniors Brandon Holloway and Ashton Shumpert will look to continue to keep their strong rushing game together. Surprisingly, the QB Dak Prescott was one of the top rushers for the offense last season. His productivity dropped near the end of the season due to an ankle injury. He will look to be a consistent runner this season as well and stay healthy. The passing game is also very strong for the Bulldogs, and it strives because of the success of such a strong run game. Dak Prescott is a great passer for this team and has really improved over the years. He is surrounded by a very talented receiving staff this season. Junior WR De’Runnya Wilson leads the receivers; he is coming back from a knee injury last season and will look to be stronger than ever. Junior receiver Fred Ross will be a great #2 receiver and will help make a tough duo for opposing teams to stop. The offensive line for the Bulldogs is not looking good for this season. They lost their three starting offensive linemen from last season and their top three options for the starting spot at center.

Defense:

The rushing defense for the Bulldogs ranked 44th in the nation by averaging 151.5 rushing yards per game. The defense will be without two of their stars this year, DE Preston Smith and LB Benardrick McKinney. Both were solid contributors to the defense and will be sorely missed. The anchor for the LB core will be junior Beniquez Brown. He will have to be the leader of a very young LB core this season. The pass rush will miss Preston Smith and his 9 sacks a great deal this season. Left to fill the void will be Ryan Brown and A.J. Jefferson. Both are not sack masters by any means, but they will hope to try and cause some pressure on the opposing QB. The pass defense struggled last season giving up 272.8 yards per game, which ranked 117th in the NCAA. This year the secondary still looks a little bleak but there is more experience on the squad which should help out some.

2015 Season Outlook:

Last year, the Bulldogs had a roller coaster ride, struggling against teams they shouldn’t have struggled against. They had some tough road games against Alabama, LSU, Kentucky, and Ole Miss. This year, they should not have as tough of a schedule, this year the Bulldogs face LSU, Bama, and Ole Miss at home this year. While all three will be tough SEC battles, Mississippi State will have the home field advantage. The only truly tough road games they will have to go on will be Auburn and Texas A&M at Kyle Field. Due to a weaker defense, and a QB who went on a decline towards the end of last season, I am questioning whether the Bulldogs can pull off another great season like last year. I can see another strong season from MSSU, but they will not be headed to the College Football Playoff this year.

2016 NFL Draft Prospects:

#15 QB, Dak Prescott, Senior—6’2”, 230 lbs

#81 WR, De’Runnya Wilson, Junior—6’5”, 225 lbs

#45 LB, Zach Johnson, Senior—6’2”, 210 lbs

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 706 Words

2015 College Football Preview: Oklahoma Sooners

Last season, the Oklahoma Sooners had an above average season, as they finished 8-5 (5-4 conference record) on the season. Oklahoma started off the season 4-0 with a decent non-conference schedule. They were able to keep up with TCU in week five but still lost. They suffered a bad loss to Baylor later in the

Last season, the Oklahoma Sooners had an above average season, as they finished 8-5 (5-4 conference record) on the season. Oklahoma started off the season 4-0 with a decent non-conference schedule. They were able to keep up with TCU in week five but still lost. They suffered a bad loss to Baylor later in the season. Also, the Sooners had very close losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma State, and ended their season on a bad note by getting blown out by Clemson. The Sooners had a lot of big wins and painful losses in 2014. How does the season look for them this year?

2015 Schedule:

  1. Sept. 5th—Akron
  2. Sept. 12th—at Tennessee
  3. Sept. 19th—Tulsa
  4. BYE
  5. Oct. 3rd—West Virginia
  6. Oct. 10th—vs Texas (Held in Dallas)
  7. Oct. 17th—at Kansas State
  8. Oct. 24th—Texas Tech
  9. Oct. 31st—at Kansas
  10. Nov. 7th—Iowa State
  11. Nov. 14th—at Baylor
  12. Nov. 21st—TCU
  13. Nov. 28th—at Oklahoma State

Offense:

Last season, the rushing offense for the Sooners was one of the best in the nation and the best in the Big 12, with an average of 261.2 rush yards per game. The running back responsible for such a great attack is none other than Samaje Perine. Perine is heading into his sophomore year and rushed for over 1,500 yards last season with 21 rushing touchdowns in his freshman season. He also set a NCAA record last season against Kansas with 427 rushing yards in a single game. The Sooners are very deep at the RB position with a strong junior, Alex Ross. Once again, the Sooners should have one of the top ground games in the nation. The passing game for the Sooners was a little disappointing this season but things are looking up. The new offensive coordinator, Lincoln Riley, will be introducing his Air Raid offense he had at ECU, which was fantastic. There is some competition at the QB position between Trevor Knight and Baker Mayfield. Both have worn a Sooner uniform and helped win games. So far, in the preseason, it is looking like Mayfield will be the week one starter but it is not set in stone. The offensive line took a hit during the offseason by losing three starters. They will hope to use their two returning seniors to help establish a great rush attack and pass protecting game.

Defense:

The rushing defense for the Sooners was outstanding last season. They were ranked eighth in the nation, and they allowed on average only 3.2 yards per carry. This year, they are bringing back a very experienced front seven, which will be led by senior LB Eric Striker and junior Dominique Alexander. The pass rush does need some help seeing as no linemen had more than four sacks last season. In a pass heavy conference like the Big 12, a consistent and dominant pass rush is needed. The pass defense for the Sooners was hideous last season. They gave up, on average, 276.2 passing yards per game, which ranked in the Bottom 10 in the NCAA. The biggest issue the secondary has is guys who take too many risks, which end up biting them in the rear. The corners are very talented; they just need to stop committing so many errors. The last line of defense for the Sooners is somewhat inexperienced, but they will hope to rebound from a poor 2014 Season.

2015 Season Outlook:

Strength of Schedule: 3 out of 10

Looking at Oklahoma’s schedule, they don’t have a very difficult game until week ten when they face Iowa State. I gave them a three due to an easy home and road schedule for the most part. Their hardest road game will be at Baylor this year, whose defense will be very hard to beat. Their toughest game of the season will be week twelve when they face off against the TCU Horned Frogs. The Frogs are one of the toughest teams in the NCAA and will be a tough game for the Sooners. Thankfully, Oklahoma will have the home turf advantage against TCU. I expect the Sooners to have a great season with possibly ten or eleven wins. They have a great team this year and should be a force to be reckoned with. Expect Oklahoma to finish the season in the Top 15.

2016 NFL Draft Prospects:

#3 WR, Sterling Shepard, Senior—5’10”, 195 lbs

#19 OLB, Eric Striker, Senior—6’0”, 221 lbs

#1 ILB, Dominique Alexander—6’2”, 216 lbs

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 698 Words

2015 College Football Preview: NC State Wolfpack

Last year, the Wolfpack had an excellent start, going 4-0 to open their season. Then, the reality of conference play set in, and they went on a four game losing skid, all to ACC opponents. They did finish the season strong, winning four out of their last five games. The proudest moment of the season

Last year, the Wolfpack had an excellent start, going 4-0 to open their season. Then, the reality of conference play set in, and they went on a four game losing skid, all to ACC opponents. They did finish the season strong, winning four out of their last five games. The proudest moment of the season was their victory against UNC at Chapel Hill. Ask any NC State fan, and they will tell you it doesn’t matter how poorly they play the whole season, as long as they beat UNC, they are happy. Last year was a great year for NC State; let’s see how 2015 is shaping up for them.

2015 Schedule:

  1. Sept. 5th—Troy
  2. Sept.12th—Eastern Kentucky
  3. Sept. 19th—at Old Dominion
  4. Sept. 26th—at South Alabama
  5. Oct. 3rd—Louisville
  6. Oct. 9th—at Virginia Tech (Friday)
  7. BYE
  8. Oct. 24th—at Wake Forest
  9. Oct. 31st—Clemson
  10. Nov. 7th—at Boston College
  11. Nov. 14th—at Florida State
  12. Nov. 21st—Syracuse
  13. Nov. 28th—North Carolina

Offense:

The offense for the Wolfpack is led by QB Jacoby Brissett. Brissett was a transfer player from Florida. In his junior year, Brissett did excellent work throwing for over 2,500 yards, 23 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. The only bad part for Brissett is that his two top receivers transferred at the end of the season. The departure of two great pass catchers leaves the Wolfpack receiving corps looking rather thin heading into 2015. The rushing game for NC State was rather impressive last season with the Pack averaging 204.5 rushing yards per game. The running back that was responsible for the majority of those yards was Shadrach Thornton. Thornton rushed for almost a thousand yards last season and rushed for 9 TDs. Having such a great ground game kept their turnovers down to only 15 the whole season. Thornton is heading into his senior season this year and is looking to increase his draft stock. This season, the O-line is bringing back three starters who will hope to open plenty of holes. The line will also hope to protect their QB a lot better, seeing as they allowed over thirty sacks.

Defense:

The rushing defense for the Wolfpack last season was average at best, allowing around 168 rush yards per game. The last five games of the season, the run protection became stouter by not allowing more than 85 yards in four out of five games. Sadly, for NC State, they lost three starters on their defensive line. This will be hard to replace, but there is some young talent to fill their shoes. The anchor of the line will likely be DT B.J. Hill, who had 40 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss last season. The pass defense for the Pack did an excellent job last season of preventing a lot of air travel. They allowed, on average, 204.7 pass yards per game, which ranked 30th in the nation. The secondary still has all of its members on the team and are looking to fly under a lot of their opponents radars and surprise them.

2015 Outlook:

Strength of Schedule: 5 out of 10

The schedule for the Wolfpack is extremely soft through the first four non-conference games (Troy, East Kentucky, Old Dominion, and South Alabama). However, it soon gets harder for them as they have to face Virginia Tech, Florida State, and an up and coming Boston College team, all on the road. The schedule does swing in their favor some as they do have Clemson and Louisville at home. The biggest highlight of the season for NC State will be their home finale, when their rivals, the UNC Tar Heels, come to Raleigh. I feel the offense for NC State is pretty set up, besides the receiving situation. The defense is full of guys who are young and underrated who hope to step up and make a difference this year. I expect the Wolfpack to be able to make it to their fifth bowl game in the past six years.

2016 NFL Draft Prospects:

#12 Jacoby Brissett, QB, Senior—6’4”, 231 lbs

#10 Shadrach Thornton, RB, Senior—6’1”, 206 lbs

#20 Hakim Jones, FS, Senior—6’2”, 205 lbs

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’sIntroduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached atamorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 646 Words

2015 College Football Preview: Penn State Nittany Lions

Coming out of the Big Ten conference is a team that is trying to return back to their former glory, the Penn State Nittany Lions. Last season was an excellent year for the Lions as they went to their first bowl game since the end of their post-season ban. They also had a respectable 7-6

Coming out of the Big Ten conference is a team that is trying to return back to their former glory, the Penn State Nittany Lions. Last season was an excellent year for the Lions as they went to their first bowl game since the end of their post-season ban. They also had a respectable 7-6 season but a disappointing 2-6 conference record. Let’s take a look at the outlook for their 2015 season:

2015 Schedule:

  1. Sept. 5th—at Temple
  2. Sept. 12th—Buffalo
  3. Sept. 19th—Rutgers
  4. Sept. 26th—San Diego State
  5. Oct. 3rd—Army
  6. Oct. 10th—Indiana
  7. Oct. 17th—at Ohio State
  8. Oct. 24th—Maryland (played in Baltimore)
  9. Oct. 31st—Illinois
  10. Nov. 7th—at Northwestern
  11. BYE
  12. Nov. 21st—Michigan
  13. Nov. 28th—at Michigan State

Offense:

The offense for the Nittany Lions last season was hard to watch to say the least. First, let’s look at their rushing game. Last season, only one running back was able to rush for over 100 yards in a game, and that was junior back, Akeel Lynch. The number one spot is unquestionably his, but the number two spot is still up for grabs between sophomores Mark Allen, Nick Scott, and Jonathan Thomas. The passing game has a rising star in its midst, a junior QB named Christian Hackenburg. Hackenburg is NFL material. He just has to be more of a consistent passer and make better decisions. Last season was rough for him as he threw for just under 3,000 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. The main target for Hackenburg will be DaeSean Hamilton. Thankfully, they have a deep WR staff this year to take the pressure off of Hamilton and reduce heavy coverage. The offensive line will also look to improve from an underwhelming season seeing as they gave up, on average, three sacks per game. The O-line does have a lot more experience and should be much better than last season.

Defense:

On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions did an excellent job. Their run defense was one of the best at slowing down the rushing attack by allowing on average only 100.5 rushing yards per game (3rd in the nation) and 2.95 yards per carry (2nd in the nation). Senior Defensive Tackle and top draft prospect Anthony Zettel hopes to remain the anchor for this defense and keep those low run totals down. He will have some help on the interior from junior lineman Austin Johnson. Both of these guys are great inside and will be important to the pass rush and run defense for the Lions. The hardest part of heading into this new season will be replacing LB Mike Hull and his 140 tackles from last season. When you have a player that productive, he is hard to replace. The pass defense for Penn State was, likewise, great last season. They allowed on average only 178.2 passing yards per game. Their secondary is stacked, led by senior safety Jordan Lucas. Also, their corners have great depth and are tough for receivers to deal with. Expect the defense for the Lions to be suffocating once again this year.

2015 Outlook:

Strength of Schedule: 5 out of 10

Penn State has a fairly soft schedule this season. They play a lot of low par teams this season at home (Buffalo, Rutgers, San Diego State, Army, and Indiana). Also, they avoid top conference foes such as Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Iowa. The only reason I don’t give them a 4 out of 10 is because they do face Ohio State and Michigan State, both on the road. While both should be great games, the odds are not in their favor, and the Lions will likely lose those two matchups. On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions are set to have a suffocating defense, but with not knowing what to expect from the offense, this season is up in the air. I do expect Penn State to best last year’s 7 wins and go to a decent bowl game this year, but there is no chance of them winning the Big 10.

Three 2016 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch:

#14 QB, Christian Hackenberg, Junior—6’4”, 234 lbs

#98 DL, Anthony Zettel, Senior—6’4”, 274 lbs

#9 SS, Jordan Lucas, Senior—6’0”, 198 lbs

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 662 Words

2015 College Football Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels

Throughout the remaining months until the start of the college football season, I will be highlighting teams that have caught my eye and give my outlook on how I feel they will do this upcoming season. I will be starting off with the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Every year, the Tar Heels are predicted to

Throughout the remaining months until the start of the college football season, I will be highlighting teams that have caught my eye and give my outlook on how I feel they will do this upcoming season. I will be starting off with the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Every year, the Tar Heels are predicted to be the winner of the ACC, and every year, it seems they fall well short. Last season, UNC finished the season with a 6-7 record (4-4 in conference). They then were defeated quite soundly by Rutgers in the Quick Lane Bowl. The humiliation continued as not a single player from their team was at the NFL Combine, nor were any of their players drafted. Let’s see how this team is shaping entering the 2015 season.

  1. Sept. 3rd–South Carolina (Neutral game at Charlotte)
  2. Sept. 12th–North Carolina A&T
  3. Sept. 19th–Illinois
  4. Sept. 26th–Delaware
  5. Oct. 3rd–at Georgia Tech
  6. BYE
  7. Oct. 17th–Wake Forest
  8. Oct. 24th–Virginia
  9. Oct. 29th–at Pittsburgh (Thursday)
  10. Nov. 7th–Duke
  11. Nov. 14th–Miami (FL)
  12. Nov. 21st–at Virginia Tech
  13. Nov. 28th–at NC State

Offense:

Last season, the rushing game for the Tar Heels wasn’t exactly the best. Senior QB Marquise Williams led the team in rushing with 783 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. As of now it looks as if RB T.J. Logan will be the main back for UNC this season. He had a below average season with close to 600 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. In the passing game, Marquise Williams had a great season throwing for over 3,000 yards and a low TD/ INT ratio. The best news for Williams is that WRs Ryan Switzer and Mack Hollins are going to be there to catch passes. The junior receiver Switzer is a consistent pass catcher who is going to be someone to watch heading into next year’s draft. The offensive line is returning with eight players who have experience, and they will, without a doubt, hope to open some better running lanes up and reduce the high sack total they allowed last season (26 sacks). The best news about the O-Line squad is that pretty much all of them have experience on the line, which provides great depth for UNC. It must be a comfortable situation for the Heels, knowing that if one of their big guys goes down, they can replace him and not skip a beat.

Defense:

The defense for the Heels struggled greatly last season, giving up on average 497.8 yards per game (which ranked 9th worst in the NCAA) and also allowing around 39 points per game. The front seven are going through some changes in the off-season, as DC Gene Chizik is switching from a 4-2-5 defense to a 4-3. This change is causing some position changes for players. Something has to be done to slow down the rushing attack, as UNC gave up on average 240.5 rushing yards per game last year (ranked 120th in the NCAA). In order to get this high average down, they will be relying heavily on a sophomore D-Tackle named Nazair Jones to keep the holes plugged up. Two senior linebackers, Shakeel Rashad and Jeff Schoettmer, also will be providing some great leadership to this defense. The pass protection for UNC was rough the first part of the season, but they improved throughout the season. In their final seven games, they were able to hold each opponent to under 300 yards passing. This season, they have an even more experienced squad and should be more consistent through the whole entire year.

2015 Outlook:

Strength of Schedule Rating: 4 out of 10

Schedule wise for the Heels, it is a fairly soft schedule. They avoid the major powerhouses like Clemson, Louisville, and Florida State. The only truly tough games on the schedule are a neutral site game against South Carolina, which will be held in Charlotte, NC, and a road game against Georgia Tech. To me, there are no excuses for a bad season from the Heels. The schedule seems to be pointing in their favor, and their roster has matured greatly from last season. However, I don’t feel they will be conference champs or even the ACC Coastal Division Champs. The Coastal Division is very competitive and there are better teams than UNC. A bowl game should definitely be in their future, and they should probably finish the season with a winning record.

Three 2016 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch:

#12 QB, Marquise Williams, Senior—6’2”, 220 lbs

#3 WR, Ryan Switzer, Junior—5’10”, 180 lbs

#10 LB, Jeff Schoettmer, Senior-6’2”, 235 lbs

Read More 684 Words

An Early Look: Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

Coming out of Michigan State University is an interesting prospect by the name of Shilique Calhoun. Calhoun is a Redshirt Senior standing at 6’5” and 250 lbs. In 2013 Calhoun put up some rather average numbers on the defensive end. The 2014 season showed improvement from Calhoun, although it was not by a great deal.

Coming out of Michigan State University is an interesting prospect by the name of Shilique Calhoun. Calhoun is a Redshirt Senior standing at 6’5” and 250 lbs. In 2013 Calhoun put up some rather average numbers on the defensive end. The 2014 season showed improvement from Calhoun, although it was not by a great deal. Here are his stats from last season:

  • 39 total tackles (28 solo, 11 assisted)
  • 12.5 tackles for loss
  • 8.0 sacks
  • 1 Forced Fumble

Here is my preseason scouting report on Shilique Calhoun:

Games Scouted: vs. Stanford (2013), vs. Iowa (2013), vs. Ohio St. (2013), vs. Michigan (2013), vs. Nebraska (2014), and vs. Baylor (2015–Cotton Bowl)

Note: The GIFs are of plays that caught my eye

Strengths:
Calhoun was a 3 Star Recruit out of Middletown High School in Middletown, New Jersey. His size was meant for the NFL, and he has had no trouble growing into his frame. I was extremely impressed with his ability to pick up on read plays, whether it is the option or pass plays. He has the athleticism to not bite on the read option play until the QB makes his decision, and he does not get caught with his pants around his ankles so to speak. He does an excellent job of pursuing the ball carrier and is a very instinctive tackler. He does not take bad angles on his tackles, is an excellent run defender, and seems to easily be able to know where the runner is going and meets him there. He has great strength in both his upper and lower body. He has great mental awareness and rarely makes stupid mistakes. He does have great speed and explosion to get a quick jump on the opposing lineman but needs to be more consistent. Although he doesn’t have a high sack total, he does pressure the QB and hurry throws. He has faced off against some of the best linemen in college football (Andrus Peat, Taylor Lewan, and Brandon Scherff).

Weaknesses:
He is very raw at the End position, playing as both a D-Lineman and a Tight End throughout college. If he wants to be a pass rusher at the pro level, he will need more consistency in getting through to the pocket. He needs a better arsenal of moves to get past pass rushers with. He is extremely raw but he has a very high upside. He has some trouble in changing direction on a dime, like effective pass rushers can do. He needs to learn how to more effectively hand fight. He stands too upright on his pass rush, which causes him to lose many battles.

Calhoun was expected to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, but decided not to. Clearly he would like to increase his production and prove he is a better defender. From a technique standpoint he improved greatly from the 2013 season to the 2014 season. The stats may not show it, but the film does. I feel he should be used as a run defender instead of an every down pass rusher. As of now, I see Calhoun being picked somewhere in the late second round. With a solid season, I can easily see him moving up to the early part of the second round.

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 510 Words

An Early Look: Shawn Oakman, Baylor

Coming out of Baylor University is a defensive end by the name of Shawn Oakman. Oakman is an absolute freak of nature, standing at 6’9” and 280 lbs. Yes, ladies and gentlemen you read that right, 6 feet and 9 inches. Oakman is heading into his senior season and his hoping to cement himself as

Coming out of Baylor University is a defensive end by the name of Shawn Oakman. Oakman is an absolute freak of nature, standing at 6’9” and 280 lbs. Yes, ladies and gentlemen you read that right, 6 feet and 9 inches. Oakman is heading into his senior season and his hoping to cement himself as a top draft pick. Here are his stats from the 2013 season:

  • 51 total tackles (38 solo, 13 assisted)
  • 5 tackles for loss
  • 11 total sacks
  • 3 Forced Fumbles

Here is my preseason scouting report of Oakman:

Games scouted: Oklahoma (’13), SMU (’14), Buffalo (’14), Oklahoma St. (’14), and Michigan St. (‘15—Cotton Bowl)

Defensive scheme: 4-2-5

Note: The GIFs below are specific plays that caught my eye

Strengths:

Oakman is a 4-star recruit out of Lansdowne, Pennsylvania and Penn Wood High School. He has superior size and strength compared to the other college players and is a man playing against kids almost. He is already built for the NFL. He also has great upper body strength, which he can use to knock defenders back. When he is pass rushing, he has great speed to gain the advantage on other linemen. he has the ability to drop back into pass coverage when he is asked. Oakman played on the Punt Block team for Baylor. When he realizes he is not going to get to the QB, he jumps in the air to try and block the pass. He has a “mean” factor to his game and fights on every play. He does pursue the ball carrier if the runner is within reasonable distance. He has instinctive play on where the ball is and takes good angles when pursuing.

Weaknesses:

Originally, he was at Penn State, but transferred after off the field issues in 2012. He has poor balance, which could be related to being so tall. Defenders dive to take his legs out, and he is stopped in his tracks. He has trouble changing direction, cannot stop and cross a defender’s face. Often, he goes too fast when pass rushing. He has trouble rounding the corner to get to the QB. He seems to lack some lower body mass; his calves look a little skinny. He doesn’t seem to use leverage to help win battles and, often, comes in too high on linemen, which allows them to take control of the situation. Oakman is often taken out of run plays and needs to anchor himself better. He has rather average hand usage. He often has trouble separating from linemen on run plays. He needs a better barrage of moves other than a slap-swim move. He has some tackling issues, has had many clean shots on QBs, and has missed the easy sack. He dominates the poorer competition, but struggles a little bit more with top tier teams.

The bottom line here is that Oakman is a freak of nature who has great potential in my book. He reminds me very much of Arik Armstead from Oregon who was drafted this year to San Francisco. Unlike Armstead, Oakman is much nastier and has a lot more production to show for himself. Oakman does have some things to work on, such as his run defense. He occasionally makes a good play on the run, but it is not often. Pass rushing is definitely his game and should remain his main focus, as he has no trouble getting to the QB; he just simply needs to complete the play. I saw, in multiple games, instances where he had several clean blindside hits on the quarterback, and he found a way to miss. If not for the missed tackles, he would have crazy sack numbers each year if he just simply wrapped up.

I don’t personally feel Oakman belongs in a 4-3 defense. I feel his size and athleticism would better suit him as a D-Lineman in a 3-4 defense. Typical pro 4-3 linemen are quicker and can change direction a lot faster than Oakman can, which is why I feel if he is put in a 3-4 defense he will succeed. As of now, I feel it is a safe bet for Oakman to go somewhere in the mid to late first round in next year’s draft.

Austin Morris is the creator of The Scouting Lab. He is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 669 Words

The Difficulties of Scouting High School Players

Scouting college football players is difficult enough, but scouting high school players is a whole different ballgame. When you grade college seniors heading into the Draft, their bodies are almost fully developed, and their skills are just beginning to receive polish. Ninety-nine percent are still rough around the edges, but you can see their potential a

Scouting college football players is difficult enough, but scouting high school players is a whole different ballgame. When you grade college seniors heading into the Draft, their bodies are almost fully developed, and their skills are just beginning to receive polish. Ninety-nine percent are still rough around the edges, but you can see their potential a lot more. High school players, however, are a different story entirely.

The age of high school players is a factor in how difficult it can be to scout them. You are grading seventeen to eighteen year olds whose bodies are not fully developed. They need to add weight and muscle mass, and in some cases they haven’t reached their full height yet. Their maturity level is still rather low as they are technically still “kids”. It’s hard to predict someone’s full potential when they’re so young.

Players at the high school level are extremely rough around the edges. In most cases they do not have the best of coaches, and they develop plenty of bad habits. It then takes coaches like Nick Saban, Les Miles, and Urban Meyer to clean them up when they reach the college level. I can guarantee you a quarterback coming out of high school has not faced some of the best man coverages possible. The pass rushers have not faced some of the best college offensive linemen. It’s high school; the competition is a lower level of difficulty, thus the stats and play can look better than it really is. So let’s look, briefly, at how some high school rankings have gotten it wrong.

Marcus Mariota is first on my list. In 2011, Mariota was a 6’3”, 183 pound, 2-star recruit who only received five offers (from Oregon, Utah, Memphis, Hawaii, and Washington). Now he’s 6’4” and 222 lbs and was drafted second overall by the Tennessee Titans. He may not be the best example to use considering he has not proven himself in the pros yet, but he did an excellent job at the college level. He won a Heisman Trophy and he helped lead his team to multiple BCS Bowl wins. Not every QB coming out of college can say they have done that. Mariota handled the step up from high school to college well, and I’m interested to see how he handles the jump from college to pro.

Next on my list is running back Beanie Wells. In high school, Wells was a 5-star recruit at Garfield High School in Akron. Wells signed with Ohio State, had a very average career there, and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals. He had two good seasons in the pros, but he fought off injuries throughout his career, eventually having to retire after only three seasons. Anyone who scouted him in college would have likely said he would be a top NFL running back with a great future. Who would have thought a former 5-star recruit would be in retirement at such an early age?

Simply stated, don’t put too much stock in high school player rankings. It is just too early to try and give these guys accurate grades. It is also way too early to start projecting how well they will do at the professional level. You can’t predict how they will handle the transition from high school to college, the learning curve and the tougher competition, or how durable they will be in the long run.

Austin Morris is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 541 Words

An Early Look: Dak Prescott, Mississippi State

Coming out of Mississippi State University is a QB who was in the Heisman race last season, but fell off at the end of the year; Redshirt Senior Dak Prescott is a very well built prospect standing at 6’2” and 230 lbs. Athletically, Prescott is the whole package, but as a QB, he leaves much to

Coming out of Mississippi State University is a QB who was in the Heisman race last season, but fell off at the end of the year; Redshirt Senior Dak Prescott is a very well built prospect standing at 6’2” and 230 lbs. Athletically, Prescott is the whole package, but as a QB, he leaves much to be desired. Here are his stats from last season:

  • 3,449 passing yards
  • 27 touchdowns and 11 interceptions
  • 986 rushing yards with a 4.7 rushing average
  • 14 rushing touchdowns

Here are my preseason notes on Prescott:

Strengths:

Prescott placed eighth in Heisman voting last season. He throws with an over the top delivery. He keeps his feet moving in the pocket. He doesn’t really have a favorite receiver and spreads the ball around pretty evenly. Usually, he tries to go through his reads before scrambling out of the pocket. He can suck defenses in when he fakes the run, has decent arm mechanics, is usually a smart runner, and makes good decisions on where to run with the ball. He is a serious goal line threat can either run or pass. He can make the goal line fade throw or a quick slant in the end zone.

Weaknesses:

His production decreased the deeper he got into the season. He does not throw a consistently tight spiral and does not have a great deal of ball speed and power on his passes, which causes him trouble on deeper throws. He can, at times, get too much air under his passes and overthrow his receivers. Prescott needs to have a better point of release. He has average ball placement and makes a good effort to throw to where only his guys can get to it. Prescott does not do well in the face of pressure. He needs to learn how to throw the ball away and tries to do too much with his feet, which leads to sacks. He has some ball security issues. He does not have much quickness or agility when running and is more of a “run you over” guy. In several games, he threw the ball while getting hit, which led to interceptions and many close calls.

Info charted from games in 2014 (Texas A&M, UT Martin, Kentucky, Auburn)

Realistic Completion Percentage:

  • Behind Line of Scrimmage to Line of Scrimmage-96% completion on 26 attempts
  • Line of Scrimmage to 10 yds-59% completion on 41 attempts
  • 11 yds to 25 yards-42% on 43 attempts
  • 25 yds or greater-19% on 13 attempts

Completion Percentages on Man vs. Zone Coverages

  • 46% Completion Percentage vs. Man Coverage
  • 64% Completion Percentage vs. Zone Coverage

The bottom line is, I don’t see Prescott fitting in the NFL. Prescott reminds me way too much of Tim Tebow due to the type of offense he came out of, his better running ability than throwing ability, and his body size. I feel that Prescott is a much better runner than he is a passer, and he should consider choosing one or the other to work on. As of now, I see Prescott going in the 6th Round. I don’t see enough instinctive talent as a QB to see him lasting in the league because athletic talent will only last you so long.

Austin Morris is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 489 Words

3 Rookies Everyone Should Be Excited to See

Now that the OTAs are in full swing, teams are starting to get a look at how their rookies play. By no means does this compare to what an actual game will be like, but it does give them a taste of what they can expect from their long-term investments. There are several rookies in

Now that the OTAs are in full swing, teams are starting to get a look at how their rookies play. By no means does this compare to what an actual game will be like, but it does give them a taste of what they can expect from their long-term investments. There are several rookies in this year’s draft class that everyone who is in love with football, should be anxious to see.

Shane Ray, EDGE, Denver Broncos

Shane Ray made the headlines prior to the NFL Draft after being busted for possession of pot, plus there was some concern for a turf toe injury he suffered late last season which took longer than expected to heal. Ray was never really liked by most draft-niks because of his smaller build. When scouting Ray, I was never concerned with his size, because I felt he played bigger than what his measurements said. Ray is an extremely quick and powerful edge rusher; I was consistently impressed with his play game after game. If you need a sack on third down, he is going to be the one who you can expect a sack to come from. The only issue I have with Ray is his poor run defense; that is where the smaller size bites him in the butt. It is hard for him to penetrate through the inside of the O-Line and get to the ball carrier. I like the group that Ray is surrounded with at Denver. He will be trained and helped along by one of the best EDGE/D-Linemen to play the game, Demarcus Ware, and a talented pass rusher by the name of Von Miller. In Denver, Ray is set up for success and I can see him being the eventual replacement for the aging Ware.

Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers

Melvin Gordon is one of the most accomplished RBs to come out of Wisconsin University. Setting records last season, he was arguably one of the best backs to go in the Draft. I loved watching Gordon in my time scouting him. He was very quick and he had the home run potential on every single handoff. The main downgrade I gave him was I didn’t feel, in college, that he caught the ball enough. So that is something he will need to get used to in his transition to the pros. I feel Gordon will do very well in his rookie season. He is set up with some veteran help. Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown have both been in the league for some time now and can give him some help. He also has a decent O-Line blocking for him and some guy named Philip Rivers, a five time Pro-Bowler, leading the offense. I have to wonder with Gordon coming from a team known for using their running backs a great deal, if he is a short term answer to a problem in San Diego.

Phillip Dorsett, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Until the Combine, no one had really heard of a guy named Phillip Dorsett out of Miami (FL). Then, he ran the 40 yard dash and his Draft stock started rising. Dorsett was a very fast player at Miami who was known for out-running defenses on the deep ball and getting excellent yards after the catch, particularly on screen plays. There is some issue with his size, seeing as he is only 5”9” (5’10” if you round up) and 185 pounds, and there are problems with too many dropped passes. As of right now, it seems that Dorsett will not be a starting WR the first week. Instead, it looks as if his main role will be the number one punt return and kickoff return man. It is a smart move by the Colts to give him some time to develop until there is a spot for him as backup receiver. As of now, Andre Johnson, T.Y. Hilton, and Donte Moncrief are the main receivers for the Colts and will be for several more seasons. In the meantime, Dorsett will have a chance to learn from veterans Johnson and Hilton (who is slowly turning into a top notch receiver himself). To me, nothing is more exciting than watching a game where an extremely fast return man is about to work his magic. Seeing guys like Devin Hester, Patrick Peterson, and Tavon Austin do their stuff is a thrill to watch and they bring excitement back into the usually boring and drab Special Teams. I expect to see a few returns by Dorsett to be on the highlight reels on Sunday and Monday nights.

Austin Morris is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. He can be reached at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 731 Words

An Early Look: Braxton Miller, Ohio State

Coming out of THE Ohio State University is a QB whose name has been heard by many who follow the college football scene, Braxton Miller. Miller, a 6’2”, 215 pound, Redshirt Senior is coming off of a torn labrum he suffered prior to the start of last season. Miller has made a name for himself

Coming out of THE Ohio State University is a QB whose name has been heard by many who follow the college football scene, Braxton Miller. Miller, a 6’2”, 215 pound, Redshirt Senior is coming off of a torn labrum he suffered prior to the start of last season. Miller has made a name for himself at OSU having quite a lot of production in his time at the school; here are his career stats so far:

  • 5,292 passing yards
  • 52 passing touchdowns and 17 interceptions
  • 3,054 rushing yards and 5.5 rushing average
  • 32 rushing touchdowns

Miller’s mechanics were absolutely hideous in 2011 and 2012, so he took the time prior to the 2013 season to focus on improving. The change was quite noticeable as his TD/INT ratio greatly dropped and he played more consistent football. There is no rock solid guarantee that Miller will be starting this season. Coach Urban Meyer has quite a decision to make on who he will start at the QB position. Will he start Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett, or Miller? Any one of these guys could start and help OSU win another National Championship. Regardless of what the final depth chart will look like, here are some pre-season notes on Braxton Miller:

Strengths:

He throws a tight spiral, which is surprising considering he wears gloves on both hands during most games. The gloves are present usually during rain, snow, or colder weather. He does a good job of spreading the ball evenly to his receivers. On deeper throws, he does a nice job of stepping up in the pocket to avoid the edge rush. He does an adequate job of throwing against zone coverage. He seems to be aware of the down and distance set in front of him. He does a nice job reading the defensive end on read option plays. He usually tries to go through at least two reads before he scrambles. He is an extremely fast QB who can change directions on a dime. He has experience playing in unfavorable weather conditions. Throughout his college career, he has faced some of the best defenses in the nation.

Weaknesses:

Miller suffered a torn labrum prior to the 2014 season. He rarely throws the ball down the middle of the field and mostly throws to the right and the left sides. Miller struggles greatly when throwing against man coverage. His ball placement is absolutely atrocious; he does not allow his receivers to do much after the catch. He has a little bit of a windup on his throws that should be shortened some. He has spent most of his career in the Shotgun formation, with not much experience under center. Miller has some serious ball control issues (10 fumbles in 2013). He would rather run than throw the ball away. Miller rarely completes his deep throws.

Info from charted games (2013 vs Iowa, Michigan State, Penn State, and Illinois)

Realistic Completion Percentage

  • Behind Line of Scrimmage to Line of Scrimmage-82% completion rate on 31 attempts
  • Line of Scrimmage to 10 yds-62% completion rate on 32 attempts
  • 11 yards to 25 yards-53% completion rate on 20 attempts
  • 25 yards or greater-24% completion rate on 18 attempts

Completion Percentage on Man and Zone coverages

  • 48% Completion Percentage vs. 38 Man Defense Plays
  • 68% Completion Percentage vs. 62 Zone Defense Plays

Preseason Prediction:

Overall, I feel Braxton Miller has a chance at having a Heisman like season and could possibly have one of National Championship caliber. Even with a great year, I don’t see Miller becoming a successful pro QB due to his poor ball placement and inability to throw successfully beyond the Line of Scrimmage. Also, I feel his type of play will not translate to the NFL. Prior QBs before him at Ohio State are perfect examples. Troy Smith and Terelle Pryor both were excellent quarterbacks for the Buckeyes, but their athletic talent only got them so far. NFL history also dictates that unless they are put in the right offense, run n’ gun QBs do not do well. I currently believe Miller will be drafted in the 5th Round, and it will take a great deal of improvement in the 2015 season to change my mind.

Austin is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. Reach him by e-mail at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 643 Words

An Early Look: Connor Cook, Michigan State

Even though the NFL Draft was almost a month ago, it is never too early to start taking a look at the prospects for next year’s draft and get a head start on the NCAA Football Season.

In this article, we will be taking an early look at QB Connor Cook. Cook is a 6'2",

Even though the NFL Draft was almost a month ago, it is never too early to start taking a look at the prospects for next year’s draft and get a head start on the NCAA Football Season.

In this article, we will be taking an early look at QB Connor Cook. Cook is a 6’2″, 220 pound, Redshirt Senior at Michigan State. I felt like it was a good idea for Cook to not enter the Draft last year because, at the time, he still had some issues to work on to help improve his craft. I watched a few games of Cook in 2013 and in all honesty, it was hard to watch. He was a very raw and inexperienced quarterback who made mistakes. Fast forward to the 2014 season, and he had greatly improved, but still had some parts of his game he needed to work on. The law of averages tells me that by the end of his senior season, Cook will have developed even more. Here are my preseason notes on Connor Cook:

Strengths

He has great athletic ability to get out of the pocket and avoid being sacked. He has greatly improved his mechanics from his first year of starting. He’s not afraid to stand in the pocket and make a throw. He spreads the ball around very evenly to his receivers and different spots on the field. He has the rare ability to go through his reads and progressions, sees the whole field, and has a decent enough arm to make all necessary throws. He puts nice touch on the ball to where only his guys can get to it. He is very accurate on deep throws and doesn’t often miss.

Weaknesses

He does have some hesitation issues. He seems to have trouble figuring out where he wants to go with the ball. He tries to complete passes while he is getting hit, which often leads to interceptions. He doesn’t really have a tight spiral on his passes, so the wind catches the ball (this makes me curious about hand size). His footwork is still a little sloppy but is much better than when he first started. He tries to force the ball into places it shouldn’t go. He could have better pocket awareness to know when to get out of Dodge. He needs to know when to throw the ball away or take a sack. He needs to get more air under the ball. Too many passes are batted down at the line of scrimmage, and too many balls end up in the dirt.

I charted several of Cook’s games and found an interesting piece of information. Cook does not seem to have a favorite receiver; he spreads the ball around to every player a couple of times a game. Watch Manning or Rodgers toss the pigskin and you will notice they do the same thing – distribute the ball evenly to everyone.

Keep in mind this is a preseason report, so the point of scouting now is to get an idea of how the players play the game and what they should be improving on from the previous year. Cook still has a lot to work on heading into 2015, but I feel he will greatly improve from 2014. As of now I have Cook listed as a 3rd Rounder. If he can have a great season and improve his mechanics, I can see him easily moving to the 2nd Round.

Austin is a graduate of National Football Post’s Introduction to Scouting and Scouting Boot Camp. Reach him by e-mail at amorris3585@scc.stanly.edu

Read More 539 Words