In another addition of the Scouting Notebook, we'll take a look at some Heisman contenders that are both sleepers for the award as well as intriguing to discuss and consider for the 2013 (or the 2014) NFL Draft. Also, we'll look at the new FBS programs (UMass, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State, and South Alabama) and the prospects you should get to know on them.
Finally, we'll look at the Top 10 pass catchers (both receivers and tight ends) statisically, and see how their contracts stack up, mostly to compare the Rob Gronkowski contract.
Heisman Contenders Battling for Award AND Draft Position
If the past three years are any indication, we'll have another surprising, unpredictable winner and more than a few surprise candidates. While Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, Tyler Wilson, Marcus Lattimore, Geno Smith, and Logan Thomas all have NFL futures and are likely first round picks, there are a few prospects who are both sleepers for the award as well as to be solid NFL prospects.
Aaron Murray of Georgia and Tyler Bray of Tennessee both have the talent and the receivers around them to have a successful junior campaign, but are widely different in their NFL ceilings. Bray is a potential 1st overall pick, either this year or next, and needs to simply stay healthy and have more composure under pressure to utilize his big time arm. Murray on the other hand isn't viewed as safe as Bray for the NFL, but his quickness in and out of the pocket, accuracy on the move, and more consistency as a passer has Optimum Scouting considering him as a first rounder if he plays well this year.
Tajh Boyd of Clemson and Collin Klien of Kansas State are two quarterbacks I don't anticipate being highly viewed coming into the draft, but could have NFL ability with time. Boyd, only a junior, has flashed pocket presence and touch down field to go along with his athleticism. (See more about him here). As for Klien, he's drawn comparisons to Tim Tebow because of his physical running ability and build, but he has shown similar passing numbers with a far better release and mechanics.
The last major "contender" to note is Tyrann Matthieu after a fantastic sophomore season. Only a junior, I'd hope he doesn't declare for the draft, but with defensive players, it's more about having a big season and taking advantage of it. Matthieu is undersized and his lack of great hips was greatly exposed in the National Championship game. However, his ball skills, vision, finishing of plays when he's in position, and physicality makes me believe he can improve technique-wise to hide his fluidity limitations. Plus, at worst, he's a fantastically rangy safety that can play both strong, free, and nickel/dime cornerback. ---------------------------
New FBS Program Prospects to Learn
Four new teams arrive onto the FBS scene, with one in the MAC, two in the C-USA, and one in the Sun Belt. As these teams and prospects move from "small school" to on the FBS radar, here are the prospects you should learn.
Perry McIntyre, MLB - With a depleted offense, McIntyre and the front seven will need to make up for the loss of All-CAA perfomer Tyler Holmes, who graduated. McIntyre has a far better NFL build and is more aggressive and physical in getting to the backfield. We'll see if he can continue to take chances in his aggressive style without Holmes there to aid him as well.
Darren Thellen, FS - Long centerfielder with range and fantastic vision, Thellen attacks the ball as well as any safety in the MAC. Not a dynamically fluid athlete, he can finish tackles in run support and make fantastic plays on ball to make him at worst an NFL situational player, and a guy the Minutemen will be depending on to win field position battles.
Darryl Morris, CB - One of the few senior leaders on a Texas State team with surprisingly solid talent across the board, Morris could be a major part of this team's first year success. A physical cornerback who plays well in the short area, he sets the tone for a secondary that is both young and the strength of this team.
Marlon Smith, DE - Long, 6'6, but only 225, Smith was productive last year, with 8 sacks in just 9 games after being suspended for a game. His length and ability to seal the edge could intrigue some at the NFL level. He'' have the first four games to warm up against non or first year FBS programs, but we'll see if he can play well later in the season
Jake Johnson, MLB - The heart of the defense in the middle, Johnson is a former Virginia Tech transferred who flies to the ball and can finish tackles in the backfield. He doesn't have great range laterally, but as an in the box safety with some balance/redirection to get through blocks, Johnson may have an NFL future.
Top 10 WR/TEs in the NFL with Contracts
In light of the new Rob Gronkowski deal, one I find to be very unfortunate for Gronkowski to have for the next 4-6-8 years, I thought it'd be relevant to see just where his deal measures up with the best pass catchers in the NFL.
This list goes by the top receiving yard numbers among all players last year, with their contracts alongside them for the next four years, excluding players that either don't have a contract now or are in a contract year. (Thanks to Rotoworld.com)
1. Calvin Johnson - 8 years, 150.5 million dollars, 60 million guaranteed
2. Larry Fitzgerald - 2nd year of 8 year, 128.5 million dollars, 50 million guaranteed
3. Steve Smith - 4 years, 37.75 million dollars, 16.8 million guaranteed
4. Rob Gronkowski - 4 year, 18.23 million dollars, 13.17 million guaranteed (2016-2019 team options for Patriots with 4.9.5 million, 5.055 million, 8 million, and 9 million respectively)
5. Jimmy Graham - 3rd year of 4 year, 2.455 million (Rookie contract, will get new deal in off-season)
6. Roddy White - 3rd year in 6 year, 48 million dollars, 18.6 million guaranteed
7. Jordan Nelson - 2nd year in 4 year, 13.989 million, 5 million guaranteed
8. Brandon Marshall - 3rd year in 5 year, 47.3 million dollars, 24 million guaranteed
9. Hakeem Nicks - 3rd year of 5 year, 12.54 million dollars (looking for new deal this off-season, dealt with injuries)
10. Marques Colston - 5 year, 36.3 million, 17.7 million guaranteed. 3.7 million available through incentives