I’d highly recommend making Tony Pauline’s ‘Draft Insider’ blog a regular feature of your daily reading. Not only does Tony provide accurate grades and opinions, he also has a lot of contacts offering insider info on what players, scouts and teams are thinking. This week he had a particularly interesting blog post which seems to suggest a possible exodus at USC at the end of the year:
“The west coast scouts have been incredibly impressed with USC tackle Matt Kalil thus far. He’s been completely dominant in all aspects and the teams that have watched him say he’s a big time left tackle prospect. In fact one of the best in recent years. If he enters the draft, and early word is Kallil will make the move to the NFL, scouts say he’s a much better prospect than Tyron Smith and will be drafted earlier than his former teammate, who was chosen with the 10th selection by the Dallas Cowboys last April.”
There’s a good chance many of Kallil’s underclassmen teammates will join him and make the leap to the next level in 2012. Several sources have told us there’s tension in the USC locker room and the players are just not having a good time. Many of the top junior prospects have already begun the process of looking towards the 2012 NFL Draft. In fact sources told us the players are having family and friends lay the foundation and do the research necessary. In conversations over the past week with numerous insiders we’ve heard that quarterback Matt Barkley, safety T.J. McDonald, defensive end/outside linebacker Nick Perry and Devon Kennard are all seriously considering opting for the draft after the season. We hear both Barclay and McDonald will leave if they receive first round grades in post season evaluations.”
For a long time during the summer I was working under the assumption that Matt Barkley would not declare, there’s enough noise at the moment suggesting the opposite is a greater possibility. USC is Barkley’s team right now and staying for a fourth year would almost certainly come with legendary status at the school, particularly during a difficult few years. However, it’s almost like he’s been groomed from the start to become a NFL quarterback and provided with the opportunity to turn pro with a high grade, that could be just too tempting. This is what Pauline had to say about the Trojan’s quarterback, “Accurate quarterback prospect that has the ability to make most of the passes. Lacks classic pocket passer size but has enough ability to start the next level.” He was given a first round grade.
Pauline has been critical of another big name college quarterback – Oklahoma’s Landry Jones. I didn’t agree with the fourth round grade offered, but certainly I’ve said many times that based on 2010 tape I didn’t see a high first round pick. Even so, things can change and I’m looking forward to watching Jones for the first time this year against Florida State. In a league where Christian Ponder goes 12th overall, there’s every chance Jones will equally go higher than perhaps he should. Here’s what Pauline had to say in his latest post:
“We’ve taken heat from different sources for our initial evaluation on Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, and that’s fine. Insiders we’ve spoken with say that while they rate him slightly higher than us, they concur Jones has done nothing yet to prove he’s the first round choice many have anointed him to be. Surprisingly, or I should say surprising to us anyway, scouts are very high on Oklahoma State signal caller Brandon Weeden, though his age (28 years old next month) is a concern. We liked what we saw from Weeden in spurts last year but were not as impressed after breaking down his game film.”
On Weeden, I generally agree. He’s got a level of maturity and execution that you’d expect from someone who has already played pro-sports and is approaching his 30’s. He’s a lot older and more experienced than most of the players he’s competing with and that has given him an edge. He’s not a spectacular prospect physically and he’s worked within a productive system that has made life easy for other quarterbacks in the past. It’s hard to imagine any team investing too much stock in a player who turns 29 during his rookie season and if Weeden was hearing the right kind of NFL noises in January, considering his age I don’t see why he would’ve returned to OKSU. Nevertheless, he’s still a fun player to watch and he may still get a shot at the next level.
Pauline has a more positive impression on Ryan Lindley, giving him a third round grade. When I saw him again TCU last year physically there were some pro’s, but he lacked polish and there were several technique issues. I graded him in the round 5-7 range.