Archive for May, 2011

Report: Quinton Coples subject to investigation

Friday, May 20th, 2011

 

North Carolina entered the 2010 college football season a hot tip for success with a roster rich in NFL talent. Most of those stars never played a snap after a NCAA investigation into improper conduct with agents, benefits and academic misconduct led to a series of suspensions. The likes of Robert Quinn, Marvin Austin and Greg Little wouldn’t play another down of college ball. 

As we prepare for the 2011 season, again we’re looking at a Tarheels roster deep in talent. But once again, we’re also left to wonder if we’ll see one of their stars the field. ESPN’s Joe Schad is reporting that a NCAA investigator interviewed star defensive end Quinton Coples – a potential top-ten pick next year – after he attended a draft party arranged by Quinn and Austin:

“Photographs of Coples with Austin and Quinn that appeared on Facebook and the web site EliteDCMag.com prompted the inquiry. The party is labeled as taking place at “Ultrabar” nightclub. Also seen in photos with players is at least one alleged runner the NCAA has investigated. Before the NFL draft, the NCAA warned some prospective draft choices not to allow any former teammates to accept extra benefits or preferential treatment from anyone such as an agent or a runner. The letter read in part: ‘Please do not jeopardize the NCAA eligibility of your friends or former teammates.’ The NCAA wants to know how Coples paid for his travel to the party, who paid for his admission and his hotel, and if he accepted any free food or drink.”

In total, thirteen North Carolina players missed the season opener and some missed the entire year. While we hope not to be robbed of watching Coples play next season as he prepares for a career in the NFL, it has to be asked – why is this happening again at North Carolina?

To see what we could be missing, here’s Aaron Aloysius’ tape on Coples when UNC faced Tennessee, Florida State and NC State:

The latest on the Carson Palmer situation

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

On April 26th we reported information that a trade between the Seattle Seahawks and the Cincinnati Bengals for quarterback Carson Palmer was in the pipeline. Some people disputed that information on the basis that Bengals owner Mike Brown wouldn’t be prepared to make a deal, an issue I addressed here and here.

One of the journalists sceptical of a potential trade is Joe Reedy from the Cincinnati Enquirer. He reported this week that Palmer had successfully sold his house in Ohio. We’ve been reporting for some time now that regardless of whether a trade was eventually completed, Palmer would be moving to the Pacific North West. Two sources have confirmed that information, with Palmer’s decision believed to be family orientated.

Today a twitter account under the name of ‘Dolphin Blog’ tweeted the following

“Carson Palmer’s twin children seen with their nanny in Issaquah, WA a few miles from the Seahawks training facility. Any news on this?”

The validity of this source is unknown and comes with a degree of scepticism as the Dolphin Blog account only has sixty tweets to it’s name and doesn’t list a URL. While the information may prove to be true, it doesn’t really do anything to confirm what we’ve been reporting on a potential trade. I’ll stress again that Palmer is making the move to the North West regardless of whether he is traded to Seattle or not. Essentially, he will be a Seahawk in 2011 or retired, he is not willing to consider a trade to any other team for geographical purposes. Although many would fairly assume that would further increase the unlikelihood of any potential deal, I understand Cincinnati have ‘played ball’, are willing to avoid any further issues when the lockout ends and want to move on.

Here’s what I wrote on May 2nd:

“Carson Palmer is moving to the pacific north west for family reasons whatever happens. He’s already initiating that move and will do so as a Seattle Seahawk or as a retired Cincinnati Bengal. Palmer has made it quite clear he will only accept a trade to the Seahawksbecause of this situation. Before the CBA expired both teams held talks and put the framework for a deal in place, but it could not be completed because the trade deadline never re-opened and the lockout began. The player is willing to re-negotiate his huge contract because money is of little relevance at this stage in his career. He’s willing to take less than Hasselbeck’s team were demanding before the lockout.”

Palmer’s threats to retire were real, but also made in reaction to Cincinnati’s decision to announce publicly that he’d requested a trade – something he didn’t expect. The quarterback felt a move was best for both parties and wanted it to be an amicable split initiated behind the scenes. The Bengals have since moved on by drafting Andy Dalton who should start as a rookie if the 2011 season ever begins. Although reports elsewhere tout battle lines being drawn, I think both parties are less entrenched than some think and there’s a very real sense that a deal is possible. That’s not to say that things can’t change because while the NFL is mired in litigation, nothing can officially be completed. However, two sources used the words ‘done deal’ to describe Palmer’s potential move to the Seahawks.

Mel Kiper’s 2012 big board & Jerrod Johnson on the UFL

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

ESPN’s Mel Kiper published his first 2012 big board this week. You’ll need an insider account to see the full top-25 with analysis but I thought I’d list the top ten for you below:

#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
#2 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
#3 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
#4 Alshon Jeffery (WR, South Carolina)
#5 Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
#6 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
#7 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
#8 Jerel Worthy (DT, Michigan State)
#9 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
#10 Landry Jones (QB, Oklahoma)

You can see my own top-50 prospect to watch for 2012 by clicking here. I have the same offensive lineman and quarterbacks graded early, although I truly believe there’s very little between Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley and that should give the USC quarterback an edge over guys like Quinton Coples and Alshon Jeffery. Justin Blackmon is a little high in my opinion but has production to back up his claims of a place in the top ten. The same can’t be said for Jerel Worthy and Dre Kirkpatrick who are surely this high on potential only as neither had a major impact last season.

Landry Jones is at #10 on Kiper’s board, while I had him at #13. Certainly I agree with Kiper’s order for the quarterbacks and while Jones does have the potential to take the next step and warrant a high grade, he also need to make improvements with his decision making and consistency this year, as well as finding a way to shine through the ultra-productive Oklahoma system.

One quarterback who may have been graded highly in some places (particularly after an excellent display against Texas late in 2009) is former Texas A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson. He was benched as a senior after inconsistent play, leading to a heartbreaking end to what was actually a solid college career. Although he lacked some of the basic traits needed to progress to the next level, it was difficult to watch Senior night for the Aggies when Johnson was introduced to the crowd fighting back tears.

After going undrafted last month he was then named the #1 overall pick in the UFL draft, taken by the Hartford Colonials. He spoke to ESPN about his hopes for the future including a possible route into the NFL:

Defensive tackle preview: 2012 could be a down year

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

We’ve become accustomed to seeing highly talented defensive tackles drafted early. This year Marcell Dareus went 3rd overall and the year before, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy were early picks at #2 and #3. Indeed 2011 in particular had good depth at the position with the likes of Nick Fairley, Phil Taylor and Corey Liuget ensuring numbers went alongside high quality.

As we preview the players to watch during the 2011 college season, it looks like the 2012 class may break the trend and could be a down year at defensive tackle.

The top ranked DT I had on my 2012 board last week was Fresno State’s Logan Harrell, a senior not many people talk about but someone I believe has the opportunity to significantly raise his stock. He had 10.5 sacks last season and returns to Fresno State hopefully having added an extra 10-15lbs, so it’ll be interesting to see how he performs with extra weight. So far he’s relied on quick feet and great hand placement to get away from blockers and into the backfield. Can he maintain that agility? He’s also lost prolific edge rusher Chris Carter to the NFL, which could lead to more double teams inside. However, he’s the defensive tackle I’m looking forward to watching the most in 2011.

Jerel Worthy looks every bit the NFL prospect at 6-3, 303lbs. When I watched Michigan State’s win over Penn State last season, he caught the eye with five tackles and a sack. However, it was in contrast to non-factor performances against Alabama and Wisconsin – tape of which you can find below. In both games he offered very little threat as a pass rusher and that’s what’ll get him drafted early. He’s got the frame to hold up against the run, but occasionally you see him driven back and that has to be a concern. Worthy has big-time potential if he can take the next step as a junior by contributing 6-8 sacks and continuing to improve against the run. Even so, my position of 20th on the big board may equally look generous in 12 months time.

Jared Crick of Nebraska is equally brilliant and frustrating. Despite losing Ndamukong Suh as his partner in crime for 2010, he actually managed to maintain his sack totals and has 18.5 in total for the last two seasons. You can’t argue with that kind of production. However, in the first half of 2010 he barely registered as he struggled to impact games. He was surprisingly quiet in the blowout over Washington and only seemed to burst into life after the upset defeat to Texas. Maybe a light switched on somewhere, but this is a player capable of explosive pass rushing ability and also a player capable of being easily blocked out of a game entirely. He’s at around 286lbs and his future may like at the five technique in the NFL. Crick should maintain his production in 2011, but probably also the inconsistency and that’s why I have him at #33 on the board.

The final prospect I’m going to mention didn’t make the top-50 but Marcus Forston is another name to watch out for at Miami. He missed the 2009 season through injury but returned to play 13-games for the Hurricanes last year, recording three sacks. He’s athletic for the position and certainly moves well on his feet, but too often he’s driven back by mediocre interior lineman and he could be a liability in the run game. Teams looking for a three-technique to play alongside a productive one-technique could show interest in Forston in the middle rounds but given his obvious benefit comes as a pass rusher, three sacks in 2010 isn’t enough to make up for the average run stopping ability. He needs to show more.

Logan Harrell vs Cincinnati (2010)

Jerel Worthy vs Michigan State (2010)

Jared Crick vs Oklahoma (2010)

Marcus Forston vs Ohio State (2010)

Andrew Luck vs Matt Barkley

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

When I published my top-50 prospects for 2012 last week, it was an easy decision on who went #1 and #2. Andrew Luck and Matt Barkley are franchise quarterbacks in the making and only circumstance or injury will stand in their way.

Poise, accuracy, athleticism and ideal mechanics. Neither has the physical qualities of Cam Newton, Jake Locker or Blaine Gabbert, but they make up for it with high grades in all of the other criteria.

I reviewed Barkley in detail ten days ago (click here) and this is another opportunity to watch him at top of his game. Both quarterbacks competed at a high level when Stanford entertained USC last season, a re-match which will be eagerly anticipated later this year.

If Barkley doesn’t declare for the 2012 draft, we could be looking at the next two #1 overall picks. Should he enter the draft next April, he won’t last long after Andrew Luck is taken first overall. At the moment Luck is a more polished quarterback, but only after making major strides throughout the 2010 season (he was actually a little erratic to start the year). I expect Barkley to make the jump to elite college quarterback in 2011, a scary prospect for the rest of the PAC 12. Even now, there’s very little between the two quarterbacks.

Tape courtesy of Draft Breakdown’s JMPasq

Two receivers, two very different challenges in 2011

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame) and Dwight Jones (WR, North Carolina) carried very different expectations heading into their junior seasons. Floyd was the big name remaining on Notre Dame’s offense after Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate made the decision to turn pro. A lot of projections had him down as a potential top-15 pick with incredible physical qualities and decent 2009 production as a true sophomore despite injury problems during the season (795 yards, nine touchdowns). Brian Kelly was the new head coach and his spread system enabled Mardy Gilyard to thrive at Cincinnati with Tony Pike supplying the ammunition.

Jones on the other hand was a very different commodity. He had only five catches during his first two years with the Tar Heels for a grand total of 21 yards and zero touchdowns.

So why, twelve months on, is Jones among my top-50 prospects for 2012? Perhaps more importantly, why is Floyd absent from the list?

Let’s start at Notre Dame.

Generally speaking, Floyd didn’t have a poor 2010 in terms of the numbers. He reached 1025 yards and twelve scores which was an improvement on his first two years with the Fighting Irish. His average yardage per catch however dipped from 18-yards to 13 and the stats were padded somewhat by big performances against Western Michigan (157 yards, three touchdowns) and Tulsa (101 yards, two touchdowns).

Whenever I’ve watched Floyd I’ve always been left wanting more. Nobody can deny his obvious physical talent – he’s 6-3 and 227lbs with decent straight line speed. However, he doesn’t play up to those physical qualities. He’s not an aggressive player who makes the most of his size, his routes are often sloppy with a lack of explosion and he rarely extends his arms to complete a catch. Every now and again he makes a brilliant play that draws you in, such as this tip-toe’s grab against Stanford in 2009:

…But overall it just adds to the frustration of a player who promises so much and rarely delivers. If he really wanted to, Floyd could be great. Yet you see the general lethargy as he gets out of his breaks, the consistency with which he body catches the football and the general lack of explosion. Right now the best you can grade the guy is in the middle rounds as a complimentary possession receiver who generally runs a hitch or slant, but every know and again you can send him deep.

Everyone expected Floyd to declare for the 2011 draft and indeed for the most part it seemed like that would be the case. However, despite suggestions he has chose to return in order to complete his degree, I suspect the decision was largely based on unfavorable feedback on where he would be drafted. It certainly wouldn’t have been as high as perhaps Floyd expected.

Nevertheless, return he did with the task of getting his stock back on track and making the most of his physical gifts. So it was some surprise when it was revealed Floyd had been arrested on a drunk driving charge. He was more than twice over the legal Indiana limit with a blood-alcohol level of 0.19. Not the best way to show the doubters you warrant a higher grade and that 2011 is going to be your year.

Indeed it’s still unclear what his future will be. Floyd remains suspended by coach Brian Kelly, although he has worked through similar issues with Mardy Gilyard in the past. It seems likely that Floyd will return to the team eventually but he’s probably going into be in last chance saloon.

Teams love to draft receivers with size who can get down the field. Jonathan Baldwin maintained a place at the bottom of round one despite a lot of negative publicity leading up to the draft because he had size, made spectacular catches that negated the times when he switched off and of course he could run for a big guy. Floyd has a lot of work to do to have any hopes of going as early as Baldwin.

For highlights on his performance in the Sun Bowl against Miami, see the bottom of this piece. This was an odd game all round, I didn’t understand Miami’s coverage which often left Floyd in space or unchallenged. For two touchdown passes defensive backs tripped up or got in each other’s way. Floyd attempts an ill-advised one handed catch (and fails) which would’ve provided a third score.

In contrast, I graded Dwight Jones at #41 on my top-50 prospects for 2012 list.

His career at North Carolina was almost over before it began. He didn’t have the necessary academic credits and originally appeared destined to join little-known Valdosta State in Georgia. A bureaucratic error was eventually rectified and he was allowed to join the Tar Heels programme at the last minute. He didn’t feature at all as a freshman and some character concerns surfaced during his first year in the NCAA. Jones’ sophomore season also showed little promise, catching just five passes.

However, with several key UNC players missing through suspension in 2010, Jones had his opportunity. The team’s star receiver, Greg Little, didn’t play a single snap and his replacement took full advantage – recording 946 yards and four touchdowns.

It hinted towards the light finally switching on. Like Floyd, Jones is a physical specimen at 6-4, 220lbs but he has much greater deep speed and does a better job of creating separation. The thing that impresses me most about Jones is the way he adjusts to the ball, you don’t need to throw the perfect pass. There were times last year, such as the performance we see in the video below against Florida State, where Jones dominated and looked every part the high draft pick. He made the big plays, showed excellent hands and was explosive in a 223 yards, eight catch display. He also had 198 yards in a big win over Virginia. Consistency issues reigned supreme though and such dymanic displays were offset by one-catch peformances against Virginia Tech and Clemson.

He’s admitted consistency will be the key in 2011. You get the impression that while Floyd has to bounce back, Jones has momentum on his side. He’s already put the wheels in motion for improvement, he’s kept his head down and focused on the task in hand during spring camp.

The contrast between the pair goes beyond just that. Floyd is the storied five-star recruit who has warranted attention since year one at Notre Dame. He started his career with high expectations with the perfect introduction at a big school, but now he has to fight to justify the hype. Jones couldn’t have had a more different start to his college career, but right now his stock is on the rise. He needs to capitalise on that and keep improving.

This is potentially a very deep receiver group and depending on how things go this season, it may be one of the best we’ve seen in years. Mike Williams-clone Alshon Jeffery heads the class but it’s complimented by Jeff Fuller, Juron Criner, Justin Blackmon and Mohamed Sanu. The likes of Floyd, Jones and Arkansas’ Greg Childs will look to further enhance the depth on offer. At the moment, it’s Jones I’d back to claim that place as the #6 receiver on the board.

LEO’s in preview: Jenkins, Massaqoui and Upshaw

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Yesterday we had a look at one of my top-rated prospects for 2012 – West Virginia’s big-play defensive end Bruce Irvin. I’m going to continue looking at potential LEO pass rushers today by previewing Brandon Jenkins (Florida State), Jonathan Massaquoi (Troy) and Courtney Upshaw (Alabama).

Brandon Jenkins – ranked #17 in my top-50 prospects for 2012

He recorded 14 sacks last year as the star of FSU’s developing defense. Has a great first step and the necessary edge speed to consistently trouble college offensive lineman. The tape shows strong performances against Orlando Franklin (Miami) and Anthony Castonzo (Boston College) – both high draft picks this year. Explodes off the snap instantly putting lineman in a defensive position.

On the negative side he’s a bit of a one trick pony, not dissimilar to Robert Quinn and Justin Houston last year. Unlike Bruce Irvin he doesn’t mix things up as much by cutting inside and it becomes a bit predictable rushing off the edge over and over again. Spin move needs some serious work and is often poorly executed. Could also be stronger at the point of attack, doesn’t have great hands and no real evidence of a strong bull rush. Nobody can complain about Jenkins’ edge speed and it could be enough alone to warrant high draft stock, but it’s difficult to watch a freak of nature like Irvin and not pick faults with the guys on offer today. Even so, Jenkins production should continue and he has a shot at the top-15 next year.

Tape courtesy of the impecable Aaron Aloysius:

Jonathan Massaquoi – ranked #18 in my top-50 prospects for 2012

Lacks the same kind of explosive burst that Jenkins has but he’s a fluid strider with good lean and clearly has major athletic potential. Reminds me a bit of Jason Pierre-Paul. Almost identical size (6-2, 250lbs) to Jenkins but looks bigger on tape. Hands let him down, almost no punch at the point of attack and when he can’t beat his man round the edge he’s often flushed out with basic engagement. Better force against the run despite that lack of power in the pass rush and is comfortable cutting inside to offer protection up the middle.

Incredible balance which enables him to round tackles when they can’t get their hands on him. If he can get stronger and work on hand placement there’s no reason why he can’t line up in a front four. Jenkins is more of a LEO or OLB prospect but I like Massaquoi’s run defense, he just needs to do a better job when taking on lineman, getting leverage and finding any kind of bull rush. Also had fourteen sacks last season and that’s something that should be maintained in 2011. You expect improvements over spring and with the athletic potential on offer, there’s no reason at all why Massaquoi can’t continue to develop.

Courtney Upshaw – ranked #31 in my top-50 prospects for 2012

Upshaw ended the year strongly to offer some hope he could have a break out season in 2011. For the most part he was largely ineffective in 2010 and the tape below will offer some evidence of that. He played off the edge for Alabama but he’s significantly slower than Jenkins and Massaquoi and has an extra 10lbs on both. Although I’ve listed him as a LEO prospect here, he may not have the necessary edge speed or height for the position. In fact, his future may lie moving to inside linebacker or working in a 4-3 strong side position. To combine the lack of explosive edge speed, he’s also not got great hands or punch and often gets caught up by average offensive lineman.

Upshaw really benefited playing on the same line as Marcell Dareus, as we see with his sack on the tape below. Dareus eats up a pair of blocks easily, allowing Upshaw an unchallenged route to the quarterback. Even so, occasionally he offers a burst of athleticism or playmaking quality that makes you take notice. In the Florida game below, it’s two instinctive tipped passes. He does a good job holding the point against the run even if he doesn’t have elite strength. If he can find a bit more explosion next season and continue to record sacks, he could get a boost up the board.

Tomorrow we’ll take a further look at USC quarterback Matt Barkley and break down his performance against Stanford.

Bruce Irvin is ready to crash the 2012 NFL Draft

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

*Warning – language used in video above not suitable for minors*

When I scan through the various early 2012 mock drafts and big boards, one name is unusually absent.

Tony Pauline doesn’t list him among 40 prospects to watch this year. He isn’t part of Walter Cherepinsky or Rob Rang’s 2012 mocks. He isn’t part of Chris Steuber’s big board. In fact the only place I’ve seen this guy register is in Chad Reuter’s early projection – as the 32nd overall pick.

Yet in my opinion, he’s right up there at the top end. Ultimate star potential, a defensive prospect who may be the best overall in college football. This is one player who will help define his team as they mount what I believe is a realistic shot at making a BCS Bowl, maybe even the big one. On his highlight’s tape, they borrow the name ‘Beast Mode’, but if Marshawn Lynch watches this guy play I’m sure he won’t complain.

The best pass rusher in college football is Bruce Irvin of the West Virginia Mountaineers. He was part of my top-50 prospects for 2012, published yesterdayCheck it out by clicking here.

He enters the 2011 season as a second year JUCO transfer. He never registered in the 2011 draft talk as it became obvious he wouldn’t declare, but Irvin could well be the best player in next year’s draft not named Andrew Luck.

When you see him lined up on the field, he doesn’t strike you as a player capable of complete dominance. He’s 6-2 and about 235lbs, so he’s not Da’Quan Bowers. However, he plays the game like a 280lbs defensive end with a bull rush that’s a thing of beauty. See the video above, where he drives back a much bigger offensive tackle then with one arm dumps the quarterback on his back. The other arm is used to bring a similar fate to the lineman.

He’s lightning quick as you’d expect given the size but unlike Von Miller who relied completely on speed, Irvin is more than willing to engage a tackle, drive him into the quarterback or beat him with stunning hand placement. I’ve never see a guy with this size paddle away an offensive lineman before.

Add that to quite simply unmatched balance and an ability to explode off the snap, get to the edge with unbelievable lean and finish consistently. The guy is a machine with unnatural qualities. Perhaps the only thing he lacks is a great spin move, but with those glorious hands, incredible power for the size and elite edge speed you’re talking about a first class talent.

One of the issues I had with Robert Quinn, Justin Houston et al last year is that while they were great edge rushers, there was no range and they didn’t mix things up enough. Irvin doesn’t shy away from attacking inside, he doesn’t just rely on pure speed off the edge.

Von Miller went second overall as a 4-3 linebacker convert. Irvin can add 10lbs of muscle and for me, play in a four man front. The strength is there, he will stand up against the run and set the edge.

He’s the best kept secret in college football. Last season he recorded 14 sacks and yet received virtually no hype. West Virginia pulled off a masterstroke appointing Dana Holgorsen as their offensive coordinator and future head coach. He was the mastermind behind Oklahoma State’s free-scoring offense which consistently churned out talent at running back and wide receiver. The Mountaineers will have a productive offense next season and with Irvin leading the way on defense they’re an outside pick to go unbeaten next year. That’ll help to put this guy firmly on the map.

Make no mistake this is the most devestating, dominating and exciting player you’ll watch during the 2011 college season. I’d recommend reading this piece from Geoff Coyle on Irvin’s background and route to WVU. More importantly, take a look at the schedule and make sure you grab the opportunity to watch him in action.

Top 50 prospects for 2012

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Is Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas one to watch?

I’ve decided to take a break from the tape (it’ll be back tomorrow with a heavy schedule of defensive talent) to preview some of the players I’ll be focusing on during the 2011 college season. There’s a strong possibility other names will come forward in the same way Cam Newton, Nick Fairley and JJ Watt managed last year. Twelve months ago I probably would’ve ranked Jeremy Beal (DE, Oklahoma) in the top-30, he went in round seven to Denver last month – so things can change. However, despite the obvious premature nature of this projection, these are the 50 players I’d recommend keeping an eye on. Remember, this is as much about highlighting certain players of interest rather than seriously attempting to project ‘the best 50′ in May.       

#1 Andrew Luck (QB, Stanford)
Decorated quarterback who appears destined to be the #1 overall pick in 2012. Would’ve been the top choice this year had he declared.       

#2 Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
May remain at Southern Cal for his senior year but close to Luck in terms of franchise potential. Deserves greater attention.       

#3 Matt Kalil (OT, USC)
Brother of Carolina Panthers lineman Ryan, elite blindside potential and kept Tyron Smith at RT before he was drafted in the top ten.       

#4 Jonathan Martin (OT, Stanford)
Part of a group which ranks as probably the best offensive line in college football. Ideal size, equally adept in pass protection or in the run game.       

#5 Jayron Hosley (CB, Virginia Tech)
Playmaking corner who had nine interceptions last season. Lacks ideal size, but reminds me a little of Brandon Flowers. Kick return specialist.       

#6 Quinton Coples (DE, North Carolina)
Perhaps best described as a more productive Cameron Jordan, Coples had 10 sacks last year and has definite top-ten potential.       

#7 Knile Davis (RB, Arkansas)
Breakaway speed on a 6-0, 225lbs frame, Davis became an explosive part of Arkansas offense last year averaging 6.5 yards per carry.       

#8 Bruce Irvin (DE, West Virginia)
Former JUCO prospect who recorded 14 sacks last year. This is a name you’ll hear a lot in 2011 for a WVU team that could really challenge.       

#9 Trent Richardson (RB, Alabama)
He’ll get more work in 2011 with Mark Ingram now in the NFL. Similar combination of size/speed to Arkansas’ Davis.       

#10 Alshon Jeffery (WR, South Carolina)
Mike Williams clone and even wears the same number for the Gamecocks. Quarterback problems could hurt his stock this year.       

#11 Janoris Jenkins (CB, North Alabama)
Despite everything, nobody can deny Jenkins’ elite skills as a cover corner. Talent warrants this rating, even despite off-field concerns.       

#12 Jeff Fuller (WR, Texas A&M)
One of the few to shine despite being shadowed by LSU’s Patrick Peterson. If he becomes more consistent, he can be a top-15 pick.       

#13 Landry Jones (QB, Oklahoma)
Physical potential but needs to work on his consistency and decision making. Has a great opportunity to work his way into the top-ten.       

#14 Juron Criner (WR, Arizona)
Production will be high with Nick Foles returning and Criner has the complete package – size (6-4, 210lbs), speed and hands.       

#15 Logan Harrell (DT, Fresno State)
Penetrating three-technique nobody talks about. Had 10.5 sacks in 2010 and if he can maintain quicks with an extra 10lbs, watch out.       

#16 Mohamed Sanu (WR/RB, Rutgers)
The ultimate playmaker who suffers due to a chaotic quarterback situation at Rutgers. Hines Ward as a blocker and a point scorer with the ball in his hands.       

#17 Brandon Jenkins (DE, Florida State)
Spin move needs some work, but showed flashes of a repertoire in a 13.5 sack 2010 season. LEO candidate for Seattle.       

#18 Jonathan Massaquoi (DE, Troy)
Another LEO candidate with pass rushing qualities, like Jenkins he recorded 13.5 sacks last year.       

#19 Justin Blackmon (WR, Oklahoma State)
Production shouldn’t suffer despite the loss of top offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. Not ideal size/speed, but incredible production.       

#20 Jerell Worthy (DT, Michigan State)
Needs to become more consistent and hasn’t played up to his full potential yet. 2011 is a big year for Worthy.       

#21 Peter Konz (C, Wisconsin)
The true star of Wisconsin’s dominating offensive line last year. Stood out in a big way whenever I watched the Badgers.       

#22 Logan Thomas (QB, Virginia Tech)
Sleeper pick in that he’s 6-6, 245lbs and incredibly gifted. Red-shirt sophomore only, but has the talent to excel for the Hokies.       

#23 Vinny Curry (DE, Marshall)
A third LEO prospect, Curry enjoyed a 12-sack season last year including an eye catching display against Ohio State.       

#24 Mike Brewster (C, Ohio State)
Would enter the league capable of playing three spots on the offensive line. Could’ve been a high pick in 2011.       

#25 Alfonzo Dennard (CB, Nebraska) 
I had this guy ranked higher than Prince Amukamara. He could be the top senior corner.   

#26 Dre Kirkpatrick (CB, Alabama)
Tall corner but looks stiff and gambles in coverage too often. If he improves and lives up to top billing, he can move up the board.       

#27 Robert Lester (S, Alabama)
Eight interceptions last year and a sack for a player who can line up at cornerback or safety at 6-2, 206lbs.       

#28 Riley Reiff (OT, Iowa)
Junior tackle who was arrested as an incoming freshman after leading police on a 20-minute foot chase. At least we know he’s agile.     

#29 Stephon Gimore (CB, South Carolina)
Didn’t look good in the SEC title game against Auburn, but otherwise had a solid year and is one of a number of talent players at South Carolina.       

#30 Kirk Cousins (QB, Michigan State)
Lacks physical tools like a big arm or agility, but if Christian Ponder can go 12th overall, Cousins can easily shoot up draft boards.       

#31 Courtney Upshaw (DE, Alabama)
Ended the year strongly but the rest of the season wasn’t all that. Needs to prove he can be a consistent edge threat.       

#32 Ryan Lindley (QB, San Diego State)
Owns the big arm but doesn’t always drive passes with great velocity. Can he take the next step to put his team, and his stock, on the map?       

#33 Jared Crick (DT, Nebraska)
A player who makes you think top-15 prospect one play and late round pick the next. Having said that, nobody can argue with 18.5 sacks the last two years.       

#34 Austin Davis (QB, Southern Miss)
Caught the eye in the bowl game against Louisville. Passes the eye test, even if physical qualities are not elite.       

#35 Vontaze Burflict (LB, Arizona State)
Orthodox linebacker who is solid, but doesn’t make many game-changing plays.       

#36 Cliff Harris (CB, Oregon)
Best value may be as a stunning return specialist, but six interceptions last year warrant attention as a junior in 2011.       

#37 LaMichael James (RB, Oregon)
Hasn’t got the size and Oregon’s offense makes him difficult to judge, but it’s hard to watch James and not imagine someone taking a shot early.       

#38 Ray Ray Armstrong (S, Miami)
The best player in Miami’s secondary last year, including Brandon Harris.       

#39 Chris Polk (RB, Washington)
Under rated running back with 1415 yards last season. Could easily be a high draft pick in 2012.       

#40 Travis Lewis (LB, Oklahoma)
Solid linebacker and immediate starter in the NFL. The heartbeat of the Oklahoma defense.       

#41 Dwight Jones (WR, North Carolina)
6-4, 220lbs receiver with 946 yards and four touchdowns as a junior. Can he continue to progress?       

#42 Chase Minnifield (CB, Virginia)
Another cornerback who had big production last year (six interceptions).       

#43 Cyrus Gray (RB, Texas A&M)
Ended last season with seven straight 100+ yard games and ten touchdowns. Vital cog in the Texas A&M offense next year alongside receiver Jeff Fuller.   

#44 Robert Griffin (QB, Baylor)
Can he become more than just an athletic quarterback? Natural born leader, good size, faultless character, mechanics aren’t poor but system makes it a tough judgement.   

#45 Evan Harris (LB, Miami, OH)
Game changing linebacker who makes big plays – including six interceptions and two sacks in 2010.       

#46 Andre Branch (DE, Clemson)
Has to live without two key defensive lineman (Bowers, Jenkins) and may see production take a hit.       

#47 Donte Paige-Moss (DE, North Carolina)
Benefits from playing across from Quinton Coples. An outside linebacker or LEO prospect at the next level who never blew me away in 2010.      

#48 John Brantley (QB, Florida)
Charlie Weis’ arrival in Florida will benefit Brantley and don’t rule out a bounce-back year for Tim Tebow’s successor. Simplified Weis passing game is a huge bonus.   

#49 Devin Taylor (DE, South Carolina)
Lean defensive end who could do with adding weight to increase his strength.       

#50 Brandon Lindsey (DE, Pittsburgh)
Outside linebacker or LEO prospect, had ten sacks last year but must feature without Jabaal Sheard.   

Just missed: Greg Childs (WR, Arkansas), Tyler Wilson (QB, Arkansas), Marcus Forston (DT, Miami), Manti Te’0 (LB, Notre Dame), Mike Adams (OT, Ohio State), Michael Floyd (WR, Notre Dame)

Janoris Jenkins transfers, will it save his career?

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Throughout the 2010 college football season I wrote positive reviews about cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He stood out on a transitioning Florida Gators team, performing against the most talented receivers college football had to offer. In November I highlighted his ‘three strikes’ against Alabama’s Julio Jones, Georgia’s AJ Green and South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffery. All three had their least productive games in 2010 when covered by Jenkins.

Unfortunately it looks like a different ‘strike three’ has put Jenkins’ career in serious jeopardy.

I graded him in the top-15 and fully expected him to declare for the 2011 draft. It was some surprise that he chose not to, but perhaps the reasoning is now clearer. He recently had his third arrest during his time in Florida, two of those arrests are marijuana-related and all on misdemeanour charges. Tom Fornelli reported the following for CBS:

“Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins has once again been busted by Gainesville police for marijuana possession. Barely more than a month after Jenkins appeared in a courtroom to deal with an arrest for marijuana possession, Jenkins was caught with a joint in his car early Saturday morning. According to the St. Petersburg Times, Jenkins had been smoking a cigar in a car parked in a parking lot. When Jenkins saw the police, he put the cigar down, got out of the car and walked away. The police then found the cigar in the center console of the car and found that it was not filled with tobacco. According to the Gainesville police department, Jenkins was given a notice to appear in court for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.”

New Gators coach Will Muschamp wasted little time kicking him off the team in the most modern of ways – announcing the decision on Twitter.

Jenkins could’ve entered the 2011 supplemental draft but I understand no team would’ve taken him. It’s since been revealed he’ll transfer to Division II outfit North Alabama. If the 22-year-old can get his head down and stay out of trouble, he should dominate at that level of football. I’m not convinced there’s any way he can get back into first round contention due to the off-field concerns, but he’s still a player with amazing talent.

He’s very much a competitive playmaker with eight career interceptions. Despite not being the biggest or most physical cornerback (5-11, 190lbs) he plays above those limitations as witnessed against the likes of Jones, Green and Jeffery. In terms of coverage, he’s as good as it gets and has fluid hips, excellent recovery speed, a competitive streak to challenge for the ball and instinct. He could return kicks at North Alabama and put points on the board regularly.

Matthew Elder has highlighted some of the key matchups Jenkins will face next year in this excellent piece for the Examiner. Elder suggests games against Central Oklahoma, Abilene Christian and Delta State will be crucial in his attempts to get back into draft contention.

One more off the field incident and it could be game over. If Janoris Jenkins can use his departure from Florida as a major wake up call and get his head into football, there’s still no reason why he can’t get into the NFL and make a name for himself.