As the college football season has begun, so has the 2012-2013 NFL Draft scouting season. I had the privilege to attend two games myself (Temple vs. Villanova, Delaware vs. West Chester) on the opening weekend along with watch many more games across the country.
As will be a weekly occurrence on Optimum Scouting (generally on Monday’s once college football schedule is back to normal), the Scouting Notebook will go over the major scouting news and notes from an evaluator to give you the weekly update on scouting around the country.
Breaking News: Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, and Alabama/LSU Are Fantastic
If you didn’t pick up on the sarcasm of the tweet, you should already know how talented the players/teams listed are. But in case you didn’t, here’s a reminder.
Matt Barkley didn’t consistently wow in this game, but his numbers and completeness as a passer still show in his game against Hawaii. He’s able to make a variety of throws/routes from different foot platforms and to different receivers, both outside and tight ends/slots/running backs. That completeness as a passer is what impressed, as he relies on timing and connectivity between he and his receivers to be completely effective. The fact that he’ll get better as the season goes on (as he did last year) is a scary thoughts for opponents and exciting for evaluators.
32 for 36 for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns. Yeah, I’d say Geno Smith had a pretty good day against a fairly adequate Marshall defense. While some feel Smith is unpolished and still raw. But as myself and fellow Optimum Scouting scout Alex Brown have agreed, his ball placement and body control in the pocket allow him to be able to pick apart defenses while also improving on the nuances of his position. This game against Marshall won’t be the last big day for Smith. He’s one of my top three favorites for the Heisman trophy, and he’s our 2nd rated quarterback (behind Barkley).
And finally, LSU’s consistent pounding of North Texas and Alabama’s destruction of the optimistically talented Michigan offense are both surprising and, then again, shouldn’t have been. These two teams have defenses that lost some major pieces, talented yet questionable passing games, and high expectations. But, they made it clear that teams of this caliber don’t rebuild, they just reload and restart. If one of these teams isn’t playing in the natural championship, it’ll be a shock.
Injury Bug Hits in Week 1
A handful of injuries occurred to top NFL Draft prospects in college football’s opening weekend. Some serious, and some just notes to add to the “injury history” section of these players reports, with little concern after.
One player, a top 5 senior defensive end rated by Optimum Scouting, Brandon Jenkins from Florida State, suffered a foot injury in the team’s opening game that will force him to miss the entire 2012 season. This cuts short Jenkins senior season, a season he was hoping to solidify his 1st round draft stock as a speed edge rusher with 3-4 outside linebacker potential. I would imagine he wouldn’t ask for a medical redshirt, but that is still likely an option.
After Jenkins, who seems to be the only major NFL Draft prospect to suffer an injury, a handful of lesser injuries still could limit players for another game or two. Illinois junior QB Nathan Scheelhaase, a quarterback I feel has huge upside and is a more complete passer than given credit for, suffered an ankle injury against Arizona State, and he’s “questionable” in the team’s next game. Also, fellow Big Ten star running back Rex Burkehead has a sprained MCL, and he is also questionable for next week’s game. Having injuries to a knee is always concerning, especially when breakaway speed is already a concern for Burkehead.
And finally, our 2013 Pre-Season NFL Draft Guide cover man Aaron Dobson suffered a minor hip injury (per Rotoworld.com) that caused him to miss the second half. Doesn’t seem serious, and he should be back for next week’s game if everything stays on track. Our top senior receiver, Dobson may be overlooked as the season goes on, but he has legitimate first round talent.
Scouting Notes From Around the Country
-After a first carry fumble, South Carolina running back, Marcus Lattimore showed he was fully recovered from the knee injury, as he displayed incredible balance, explosiveness, and decisiveness in his cuts. Lattimore is well on his way to becoming a top 10 pick, being a blue chip prospect with a 3-down skill set as a runner, receiver, and pass protector. (Alex Brown, Optimum Scouting)
-Safety D.J. Swearinger proved to be an equal impact on the defensive side of things, showcasing the ability to man up with slot receivers, stick to the receiver’s hip pocket, and locate the throw to make a play. Breaking up multiple deep passes on crucial down situations, including a 4th down, Swearinger prevented big plays and came up in the clutch for the South Carolina secondary. (Alex Brown, Optimum Scouting)
-For Vanderbilt, quarterback Jordan Rodgers showed some of the same, but enough improvements to remain hopeful. More decisive in progressing through his targets, Rodgers quickly assessed the coverage and confidently threw to his check down targets when necessary. Still lacking active feet and urgency to his lower half on short, 3-step drop passes, Jordan Rodgers remains a work in progress. (Alex Brown, Optimum Scouting)
-Rodgers’ primary target, Jordan Matthews will be a fast rising senior on NFL Draft boards. Possessing the plus size and plus speed that teams vie for at receiver, Matthews showed off deep speed on a seam pattern, in which he split two defenders and outran ideal pursuit angles. Showcasing soft hands, a wide catching radius, and focus to snatch and grab the football cleanly off his frame, Matthews appears to be the real deal. His ability to accelerate out of route breaks and sharply change directions, also adds intrigue for the very underrated senior prospect. (Alex Brown, Optimum Scouting)
- While Tyler Bray led the way with an impressive gun show of arm talent and junior WR Cordarrelle Patterson exploded onto the national scene with two electrifying scores in the first quarter, two unheralded defensive players stood out for the Volunteers –nose tackle Daniel McCullers and 3-4 outside linebacker (or JACK linebacker) Jacques Smith. (Alex Brown, Optimum Scouting)
-Temple offensive tackle Martin Wallace showed great extension, force, and keeping his hands inside well as a run blocking right tackle and a short area pass blocker. He didn’t show enough to be a high round pick, but the skill set of a future NFL right tackle.
-Zac Dysert of Miami (OH) flashed the three skill sets that make him stand out as a quarterback in his game against Ohio State: Quick and easy release, body control and confidence in and outside the pocket, and the velocity at all levels to be successful. He suffered 5+ drops in the game, but flashed some big time ability against Ohio State.
Top 10…2013 Draft Rushing Leaders After Week 1
It’s been just one weekend in college football, but we’ve already seen five 200+ yard efforts out of senior/junior running backs, including our top ranked senior and among our top ranked junior running backs. Here is the full list of who’s leading the charge after week one
Juniors Indicated by Stars
1. Andre Ellington, Clemson (26 carries, 231 Yards)
2. Cody Getz, Air Force (17 carries, 218 yards)
3. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA (15 carries, 214 yards)
4. Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State (44 carries, 210 yards)*
5. Shawn Southward, Troy (28 carries, 204 yards)*
6. Zurlon Tipton, Central Michigan (17 carries, 180 yards)*
7. John Hubert, Kansas State (12 carries, 152 yards)*
8. Mike Gillislee, Florida (24 carries, 148 yards)
9. Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada (34 carries, 145 yards)*
10. Matt Brown, Temple (19 carries, 145 yards)