Senior Bowl Quarterbacks

Without Geno and Barkley, this game really takes a hit.  In the long run, only two or three quarterbacks per draft class end up panning out and I think Geno and Barkley are the 2013 class’ best chances.  Let’s see if any of the six Senior Bowl quarterbacks will make a splash in the NFL.  Here’s how I rank them heading into this week.

#1 Landry Jones, Oklahoma  (SOUTH)

Remember in 2010 when everyone was sky high on Landry Jones and thought he was a sure fire RD 1 pick?  Well, there’s good news and bad news to this statement.  The bad news is that Landry has not progressed as a player since 2010.  His growth has plateaued and he likely ‘is what he is,’ leaving little room for growth in the NFL.  On the other hand, the good news is that Landy Jones in 2012 performed almost identically to Landry Jones in 2010, meaning that he’s still a high performing quarterback, relatively speaking.  Away from his comfy Oklahoma environment, it  will be interesting to see how Landry performs this week.

#2 EJ Manuel  (SOUTH)

The good news about EJ Manuel is that he still appears to be growing as a quarterback.  In virtually every metric his numbers improved from 2011 to 2012, indicating that there’s still upside.  Perhaps with superior NFL coaching, the raw talent that everyone has loved will blossom into a star caliber player.  The frustrating part about EJ is that the production, in the form of high TD passing game performances, isn’t there.  Consider that in 2011 AND 2012 combined, he only had SIX meaningful games with 2+ TD passes.  Compare this with single season performances from guys like Drew Brees (8 in 2000), Tom Brady (7 in 1999), and Andrew Luck (7 in 2011) and it’s clear to see that something is awry.  Manuel is an interesting player, but I’d like to see more.

#3 Ryan Nassib  (NORTH)

In the same way that Landry Jones ‘plateaued’ between 2010 and 2012, the same could be said for Nassib.  He threw touchdowns at a lower rate, interceptions at a higher rate, and overall graded out as a low-ceiling prospect.  He strikes me as a serviceable backup, game-manager type, but others seem to think he’s top 50 material.  Like Ryan Tannehill, he seems to be a hot candidate for 3rd best QB contention, which could send him shooting up draft boards.  I’ll be watching him close this week to see if he ‘flashes’.

#4 Tyler Wilson  (SOUTH)

Wilson is REALLY hard to get a read on.  His performance–and the team– went from outstanding with Bobby Petrino in 2011 to an utter debacle in 2012 under John L Smith.  While his attempts/gm and completion percentage held relatively steady, he threw touchdowns 20% less often and interceptions 300% more often.  Unlike Nassib, Manuel, Jones, and Glennon, Tyler Wilson didn’t play in a bowl game.  With 7 weeks to prep for this game, he needs to impress or risk getting lost in the fray.

#5 Mike Glennon  (NORTH)

Glennon is a curious case.  He threw the ball 18 more times per game in 2012 than in 2011, completing fewer passes but completing them further down field.  This would indicate to me that he was playing catch-up a lot.  To further this theory, his interception rate was the highest of any Senior Bowl quarterback.  As an overall product, he seems to have slightly regressed from his 2011 form; not the direction you want to be heading in when the competition is only going to get tougher.

#6 Zac Dysert  (NORTH)

Dysert is my lowest graded QB in this game.  Despite entering 2012 as a buzzy mid-major prospect, Dysert failed to back up his 2011 performance.  Despite his pass attempts and pass-distance remaining steady, he completed 7 percent fewer passes.  His TD% held steady but his interception% spiked.  Given the disastrous state of the Miami University football program, it will be interesting to see how he fairs in this game.  With an improved supporting cast, will his talent shine through?  Or will the increased level of competition, compared to the MAC, cause him to struggle?

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Who to watch: Vanderbilt v. NC State (Music City Bowl)

Stay tuned for must-see prospects from every game of the bowl season.

Music City Bowl

Monday, December 31, 12:00pm EST

ESPN

The one guy I’ve been dying to watch all bowl season

Vanderbilt

Jordan Matthews, #87, Junior, WR

The best wide receiver prospect in the state of Tennessee isn’t Justin Hunter or Cordarrelle Patterson, it is Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews.  In my November WR rankings, I named Matthews the #2 receiver prospect for the 2013 draft. In fact, JM is one of the best SEC receiver prospects of the last decade.  Check out this production compared to other elite SEC performers:

  • Alshon Jeffery (2010)  6.3 receptions,  108.3 yards,  .64 touchdowns  *played one more season before entering NFL
  • Jordan Matthews  (2012)  7.3 receptions,  105.2 yards,  .58  touchdowns
  • AJ Green  (2010) 6.3 receptions,  94.2 yards,  1 touchdown
  • Julio Jones (2010)  6 receptions,  87.2 yards,  .54 touchowns

In five of Matthews’ eight SEC conference games, he hauled in at least 115 yards and one touchdown, proving his consistency and high-end ability.  #87 is also a big play threat, tallying five receptions of 50+ yards throughout the season.

In the Music City bowl it will be fascinating to watch Matthews face NC State CB David Amerson, who many considered to be the #1CB prospect in the country coming into the 2012 season.  Let’s hope that the poor field conditions don’t spoil this.

If he were to enter the NFL Draft and forego his senior season, he would easily grade in my top four wideouts, and possibly even grade as my #1 receiver in the draft.  Vanderbilt Coach James Franklin said: “The funny thing, and the scary thing, is I think he can get a lot better.  Probably the most powerful trait he has is he thinks he is the best wide receiver in the country. He behaves like that, he acts like that and he practices like that every day.”  I too think he might be the best wide receiver in the country.

Check the highlights vs Georgia…

North Carolina State

Mike Glennon, #8, Senior, QB

The National  Football Post’s Russ Lande just named Mike Glennon his #1 quarterback prospect for the 2013 draft.  I have some other thoughts on Glennon.

In the five games when the lights shone brightest on Glennon, there’s one word to describe him: quantity.  In relevant games, Glennon threw 49.6 passes per game, up from 32.6 in 2011, a  52% increase in attempts.  In these games, the Wolfpack went 1-4, and presumably Glennon was throwing to play catch up.  This theory is further supported by the fact that his yards/completion jumped from 11.3 (in 2011) to 14 (in 2012) while his completion percentage dropped by nearly 7%.

I’d attribute those numbers mostly to the environment in which he played… so, let’s look at what he could control.  He threw touchdowns 5% more frequently compared to 2011, but also threw interceptions 5% more often compared to 2011.  This advances my theory of quantity: he threw more, he threw more touchdowns, he threw more interceptions.

Overall, his grade in my system fell slightly from 90.4 in 2011, to 87.5 in 2012, neither of which puts him above the “potentially elite” hurdle of 95.  Watch the Music City Bowl and see what you think, but I think he’s far from the #1 quarterback prospect in the draft.

Watch him against NC State’s big rival…

What to Watch- 15 September 2012

Keenan Allen (#21) Junior WR, California

12:00PM at Ohio State. ABC/ESPN.

Keenan Allen is the most dominant WR that Jeff Tedford has coached at Cal.  His 2011 season was more dominant than any Desean Jackson recorded and certainly more dominant than other NFL receivers Lavelle Hawkins and Marvin Jones.  Allen’s productivity score of 77 is the best Cal WR season I have in my database.  And get this, he did it as a sophomore.  Now in his Junior season, Keenan Allen is widely considered to be the best WR prospect in the 2014 class.  At noon on Saturday you get to see why.

In 2011 he had 75+ receiving yards in 11 of Cal’s 13 games.  Over the course of the season, his average stat line was  7.5 catches 103 yards and .46 Touchdowns per game.  Pretty impressive.  But get this, when the competition was at its toughest, Allen put together his best games:

@ Washington: 10-197-1TD

@ Oregon: 9-170-1TD

USC: 13-160-0TD

@ Stanford: 6-97-1TD

His averages in those four games against the Pac-12’s best: 9.5 catches, 156 yards,  .75 touchdowns.  Any questions?  While I fully expect the Cal Bears to get annihilated at The ‘Shoe on Saturday, that will provide Keenan Allen with plenty of opportunities to catch passes as his team is playing catch up.

Casey Pachall (#4) Junior QB, TCU

12:00PM at Kansas.  FX.

In 2010 TCU went 13-0 and capped their season with a Rose Bowl win over B1G Ten power Wisconsin.  They were led by Senior QB Andy Dalton who had a phenomenal season and went on to be a RD2 pick of the Cincinnati Bengals and successful rookie starter.  In steps then-Sophomore QB Casey Pachall and what does he do?  Nearly match Dalton’s outstanding season.

Pachall’s 2011 graded as a 107.7 in my system (anything above 95 indicates a potentially elite NFL prospect).  For comparison, Dalton’s 2010 graded as a 115.5, one of the highest grades in my database.  Pachall is my #2 rated QB in America (behind #1 Geno Smith).  He has the size, the arm strength, and the upside to become a Sunday signal caller.  So why should you care about a stinkin’ game against Kansas?  The knock on TCU has been their weak conference.  Well, this week Pachall gets his first shot as a quarterback in the Big12 conference.  Feast your eyes on #4 and see what the buzz is about.  If TCU is to make an immediate splash in their new conference, Pachall will be the key.

(pardon the first 35 seconds, he goes nuts after that)

Bryn Renner (#2), Junior QB, North Carolina

330PM @ Louisville.  ABC/ESPN2.

In 2011 Renner got his opportunity as a Sophomore and excelled.  His 15 touchdown passes in ACC play ranked him third in the conference despite having thrown 70+ fewer passes than #1 Boyd and #2 Glennon.  Overall, his 2011 season graded at 97.3  (anything above 95 indicates a potentially elite prospect).  Not only was he good, but he was consistently good, throwing for at least 2 TDs in ~70% of his games.  As of now, I have Renner as my #6 QB prospect in College Football.

Last year this game was a slugfest, with the Tarheels winning 14-7 over the Cards.  Renner was sacked four times and completed 12-18 for 178 yards and 1TD/0INT.  Expect this year’s game to be a little higher scoring as both Renner and Louisville QB Bridgewater have more experience than they did  last year as first year starters.  Tune in and catch a glimpse at one of the best (and most under the radar) Quarterback prospects in America.

(Notice how well he moves and stays with the play.  Shows off some arm strength in the first 60 seconds too!  Focus on the player, not the competition)

Donte Moncrief (#12), Sophomore WR, Ole Miss

9:00PM vs Texas.  ESPN.

You would probably agree with me that the SEC is the best conference in college football.  Further, you would probably agree with me that teams in the SEC play the best defense in the country.  On the same page?  K, good.  Well if both of those are the case, then you should consider Ole Miss Sophomore WR Donte Moncrief as one of the emerging stud wide receivers in the country.  If we isolated conference games played during the 2011 season, here are the results for SEC wide receivers who hauled in the most touchdown receptions against SEC defenses:

  • Jarius Wright- 6 TD (2012 NFL Draft, Rd 4 pick, Minnesota Vikings)
  • Alshon Jeffery- 5 TD (2012 NFL Draft, Rd 2 pick, Chicago Bears)
  • Rueben Randle- 5 TD (2012 NFL Draft, Rd 2 pick, NY Giants
  • Donte Moncrief- 4TD
  • Jordan Matthews- 4 TD  (one of the best JR Wide Receivers in America)
  • Tavarres King- 4 TD  (one of the top SR Wide Receivers)

Pretty impressive list, right?  Let’s continue.  Within the context of Ole Miss’ anemic 2011 passing offense, Moncrief put up a productivity score of 69, which ranks second of any Rebel WR in the past decade and surpasses any productivity grade that Mike Wallace posted during his college days. With a new head coach, Hugh Freeze, the Rebels are speeding up and spreading out their offense.  Through his first two games, Moncrief has tallied stat lines of 8-104-1TD and 3-72-1TD.  With the Rebels expected to play from behind against Texas, expect Donte Moncrief to have plenty of opportunities to catch passes on Saturday night.

Check out this quick ESPN video of a nice Moncrief catch from 2011!

What to watch- 31 August 2012

Night 2 of the 2012 season.

North Carolina State vs Tennessee (in Atlanta) ESPNU 7:30 EST

Tonight’s game will be a first look at two solid QB prospects.  Based on my 2011 passing ratings, I have them ranked similarly in my QB prospect grades for the 2013 NFL draft.  Tyler Bray, JR, (Tennessee) is ranked 8th.  Mike Glennon, SR, (NC State) is ranked 9th.  Now let’s get into the analysis.

Tyler Bray-   Bray took over the starting QB job about halfway through his freshman season in 2010.  In his first ten games after assuming the starting gig from Matt Simms, (November 2010-October 2011) Bray averaged 312 yards per game, 3 TDs, .9 INts, while completing passes at a 61.1%.  At that point–October 2011– he was injured and played in only 2 of UT’s final 7 games.  Tyler’s performance over this time earned his a score of 91.4 in my evaluation system (a score above 95 indicates an elite NFL prospect).  His numbers compare favorably to Matt Ryan’s final season at Boston College and his 6′ 4” frame will further that comparison.

The following video highlights his play from his last game prior to the 2011 injury.

Mike Glennon-  Glennon came to NCSU as a top high school recruit, but  Russell Wilson’s rise to stardom kept Glennon on the bench for two seasons.  In 2011 he started for the first time as a Junior and led the Wolfpack to an 8-5 record including a bowl win.  In my passer ratings his 2011 season grades a tick above Christian Ponder’s senior season, grading out with a 90.4 (a score above 95 indicates an elite NFL prospect).  As we look ahead to his senior season, Glennon has the potential to become a hot NFL prospect.  He has a young WR corp to work with, but behind a veteran offensive line, a quarterback of his stature should bring out the best in his receivers.  Tonight it will be interesting to see how Glennon fairs in his first game against an SEC defense.

The following video highlight is from his game against Clemson in 2011, arguably the best team he faced.

Boise St @ Michigan St, ESPN 8pm EST

Over the years there have consistently been two things that impress me about Boise.  First, is how physical they are compared to the common misconception of them being a finesse team from a weak conference.  Exhibit A: Defeated Georgia in 2011.  Exhibit B: Defeated Virginia Tech in 2010.  Second, I am always impressed by how prepared and efficient they are.  This team executes every time they take the field.  Now, the question tonight will be whether or not they can be physical and prepared with 15 new starters on the field after being hit hard by graduation.

For Michigan State, this is a program on the rise with increasing expectations and little resemblance to the mentally weak teams of the John L. Smith era.  Here’s what I am looking for tonight; how will their new QB handle the reigns he has inherited?  Can the defense, which is supposed to be a strength, overcome any mistakes or tough situations created by the offense.  MSU is a team ready to win a B1G 10 championship.  The balance of trusting their QB and relying on their defense will be interesting to watch.