In a match-up that, before the last few weeks of the college football regular season, was supposed to be the National Championship game, the well-coached Kansas State Wildcats (Bill Snyder is one of the best coaches all-time) face the likely NFL-bound, Chip Kelly Oregon Ducks and their high powered, devastating offense.
While this game doesn't feature as many high profile players as you might expect for two Top 5 teams, it does feature one of the most intriguing quarterback prospects in Collin Klein, players among the best at their positions in the 2013 draft at inside linebacker and defense end, and plenty of situation, fast-rising talents in the middle rounds.
Scouting Notes by Eric Galko and Alex Brown of Optimum Scouting
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State - #7, 6’5, 226
Though extremely productive in his two-year stint as the starter for Kansas State, Klein’s overall mechanics as a passer will ultimately keep him from being a day one or two-draft choice, likely being selected in the 6th round range. Deliberate with his release and too focused upon facing the target, Klein fails to keep a closed front shoulder upon delivery as he opens his hips too early in his motion. Mechanics aside for the moment, Klein has literally carried this team on his shoulders, as he’s continually tasked with full field progressions, a great deal of responsibility in the presnap phase and the rushing workload of a full-time tailback. There’s not a tougher player in college football and Klein has clear leadership qualities, but his future as a quarterback at the next level is in serious doubt without a strong predraft season (including all star events, the combine and pro day workouts).
Braden Wilson, FB, Kansas State - #37, 6’4, 256
Used almost exclusively as a lead blocker in the run game, Braden Wilson can bring the hammer at the point of attack with great size and upper body strength. Creating a noticeable snap upon initial contact, Wilson more often hits and turns defenders in the hole, being unable to drive consistently due to his hand placement. Wilson has the frame and size to be a versatile, H-Back blocker in an NFL offense, but will need to work on keeping his punches inside on the defender’s chest plate so he can drive his legs through contact. A fringe 7th round draft pick, Braden Wilson’s blocking skills should earn him a roster spot and defined role at the next level.
Chris Harper, WR, Kansas State - #3, 6’1, 234
Coming into his own as a player according to Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, Chris Harper’s body of work as a senior has been impressive, as he’s consistently showcased physical dominance at the catch point. Adept at using his hands to separate at the catch point, box out and attack the ball away from his frame, Harper’s physicality and body use allow him to make catches regardless of the coverage behind him. Built like an absolute rock, Harper’s strength after the catch, in addition to the catch point, make him a potentially dynamic number two target at the next level. A 4 star recruit that signed with Oregon in 2008 as a dual threat quarterback, Harper was the first Oregon player to ever pass, run and receive a touchdown in a single season. Transferring back to his hometown of Kansas after the Oregon Duck football team experienced a coaching staff shakeup, it’ll be interesting to see how Harper performs versus his former team. Potentially a third round pick next April, Harper has this primetime game versus Oregon, in addition to a senior bowl invite to push his draft stock even higher.
Arthur Brown, ILB, Kansas State - #4, 6’1, 231
Highly active and productive, showcasing plus speed and instincts on a per snap basis, Arthur Brown is the prospect to watch on this Kansas State defense. Quick to read and react to run flow, Brown’s elite quickness and closing speed enable him to beat the ball carrier to the hole, penetrate gaps and make tackles for loss appear routine. Improving his gap discipline and block shedding technique, Brown has developed into an excellent Mike linebacker that should be viewed as a solid 2nd round draft pick. Brown’s plus range will be put to the test by this high octane Oregon Ducks offense, but we feel he’ll be up to the task and prepared for the challenge.
Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon - #24, 5’10, 185
The dimunative runner comes from a recently impressive stable of running backs, and Barner has filled in that primary back role well. While he doesn’t have the same devastating open field speed or lateral cutting ability as LaMichael James before him or D’Anthony Thomas now, Barner offers a bit of a different touch to the running game. He stays low to the ground, utilizes choppy and high stepping feet to adjust his direction without losing burst or balance. He’s fairly decisive when working up field, and his consistent pad level allows for him to keep balance through arm tackles in space. He has some hesitation when he’s going through a tighter window and certainly lacks great leg drive to work on the interior consistently, but he flashes the ability to be more than just a speed back on the outside at the next level.
Dion Jordan, DE, Oregon - #96, 6’7, 245
One of the most remarkable defensive athletes in this draft class, there isn’t much that Jordan hasn’t flashed the ability to do. He can set the edge with his length and burst to the corner. He shows stunting ability from a 5-technique and 7-technique set up. He’s even dropped in to nickel coverage as both a linebacker and cornerback (and done well, might I add). He has natural athleticism with elite body control, adjustment, change of direction, and ability to sink and drive as rusher and in pursuit. He doesn’t have inside shoulder pop to set the edge versus the run yet, and could be more aggressive (and polished) with his rush moves in obvious passing situations. But from a talent perspective, he’s arguably the top defensive end in this class.
Kiko Alonso, LB, Oregon - #47, 6’2, 220
The active, versatile Alonso is a treat to watch from an evaluator and fans perspective. The rangy linebacker lacks the bulk, ability to play wide in the hole, or physicality as a tackler to consistently work in the box (though he does show the ability to sink and drive at times). But he’s very active in pursuit, plays with great pad level, hand usage, and aggressiveness as a pass rusher. And in coverage, he’s smooth in his transitions in the curl/flat/screen area, breaking cleanly and adjusting his breaks to the quarterbacks vision. He explodes in pass break-up situations, and can work in mid-field coverage as well as many college safeties when it comes to ball skills. Not necessarily a highly coveted weakside linebacker in the NFL, but he has a place on every NFL teams as a nickel linebacker for sure.
Others to Watch
(JR) John Hubert, RB, Kansas State - #33, 5’7, 191
Travis Tannahill, TE, Kansas State - #80, 6’3, 253
(JR) Cornelius Lucas, OT, Kansas State - #78, 6’9, 324
Meshak Williams, DE, Kansas State - #42, 6’3, 245
Vai Lutui, DT, Kansas State - #92, 6’2, 299J
Justin Tuggle, OLB, Kansas State - #2, 6’3, 237
Nigel Malone, CB, Kansas State - #24, 5’10, 180
Allen Chapman, CB, Kansas State - #3, 5’11, 176
Josh Huff, WR, Oregon - #1, 5’11, 200
Kyle Long, OG, Oregon - #74, 6’7, 300
Michael Clay, OLB, Oregon - #46, 5’11, 220
Jackson Rice, P, Oregon – #49, 6’3, 223