Who Caught My Eye Bowl Edition

January 8, 2016

The best all-around defender on the UCONN roster proved his worth again in their Bowl loss as he more than held up his end of the defensive effort. I saw him miss badly on one open field tackle in the 2nd half, but that might be considered nit-picking for a guy who was credited as being in on 14 tackles for the game. I should also note that not long after the whiff, he got into the backfield to take down a RB for a TFL. His size may not indicate it but he is a very aggressive in-the-box defender, who has some cover skills, as evidenced by 3 INT in the 2015 season. He also topped the magical 100 tackles mark with 103 in 13 games. In addition to his 3 INT ADAMS also had 6 PD, which adds to the perception that he is a solid S prospect who should go early on Day 3 of the 2016 Draft. His aggression and tackling acumen would also indicate he has a pro future on Special Teams units. In a relatively weak S class (barring CB to S switches) he could be a nice “get” in the 4th/5th Round range.

Welcome to the mystery man that is TEVIN CARTER. CARTER has been on again, off again within the Utes football program because of academic issues. The good news is that he managed to play in 12 games for the Utes this year. He is an excellent athlete who has been described as a S, with CB speed. But I would have to label him as a super-flash player from what I have seen, and/or not seen in his play. One can see his versatility and athleticism just by looking at his 2015 stats: 12G- 56T- 5.5TFL- 2INT-5PD-1QBH- 1FR. Not an exceptional resume, but one that reflects his overall ability out on the field of play. But watching his play in the Las Vegas Bowl against BYU sent up some red flags about his overall play. In the explosive 1st Quarter for the UTES that gave them an insurmountable lead (just barely), CARTER was the defensive star. He recorded 2 INT, one of which he returned for a TD, before the game was 15 minutes old. But at the end of the contest that was all he had to show on his stat sheet. He failed to record even 1 tackle on the day. He is currently scheduled to play at the Shrine Game and will no doubt be at the Combine. His effort under All-Star coaching, workout numbers and interviews will all have to be given heavy consideration in his final draft grade. Right now his total college career raises just as many questions for me as it does providing answers. I can’t honestly say I’d give him a draftable grade at this time.

CORREA was a hot prospect to watch coming off of a highly productive 2014 season in which he recorded 12 sacks and 7TFL. But the team asked him to modify his role in 2015 and moved him around, especially in pass coverage. But he was still an impact player whether making plays himself, or forcing offenses into running the ball away from him. Watching him play one gets the sense that he really has a knack for getting after the ball and is athletic enough to run things down. I firmly believe that CORREA’s role in the romp over NIU is indicative of what he can bring to an NFL Defense. He was credited with 4 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks & 1 FF. He has good tackling fundamentals and though not speedy can move well to the ball. He did a lot of shallow coverage work in this game. He struck me as being a very good candidate to stand up as a 3-4 OLB and be used in blitz situations. He showed well in the Bowl win on delayed blitzes which kept the inexperienced NIU QB off balance. Seems to work his way through blockers well and get to the ball. For the season his numbers were still quite good for the hybrid role he played: 13G- 39T- 11TFL- 7S- 3FF. I see him coming off the board in Round 3.

DIXON has been hampered the second half of the 2015 season with ankle issues. The issues have eaten into his playing time and clearly affected his speed and cutting ability. Therefore, the medical at Indy will be critical to his draft status. Having said that, let me add the following; If he looks this good and productive at less than 100% healthy, he is going to be a stud pro RB when he heals up 100%. DIXON really put on a show in the New Orleans Bowl. DIXON was engaged in an end of career battle with NAVY’s KEENAN REYNOLDS/QB, so getting to the end zone was a game time priority, right after a win. With assistance of several ankle re-tapes, and a new Jersey with #1 in the 4th Quarter DIXON rushed 21 times for 102 yards and 2 TD. He also caught 6 balls for 113 yards and 2 more TD. His running style is a nice combination of power, balance and speed. He’s not blazing fast, but can outrun lots of folks. His bonus selling point is the fact that he is an excellent blocker in pass pro. Inability to block has left a lot of college star RB on the bench in the NFL. He also has the nose and toughness to find the end zone. Fighting through the ankle woes he still rushed for 1070 yards on the season, including 19 trips into the end zone. He is also accomplished as a receiver, adding 34 catches for 7 TD to his resume’ during the regular season. He’s touched the ball a lot during his college career, which combined with his ankle issues this past season will be in red ink in some scouting files. But overall he will be hard to pass on once we get to Round 3 of the Draft come April.

IFEDI is the latest in a stellar line of OT coming out of TEXAS A&M since MIKE SHERMAN took over the coaching reigns there almost a decade ago. Guys named JOECKEL, MATTHEWS & OGBUEHI have all been high NFL Draft Picks out of this program. Surprisingly he is also the latest of these star players who have spent their college careers primarily as RT, not at the glamour LT slot. But once again, IFEDI will be drawing a lot of attention between now and the Draft because of his natural ability and potential. He is already a good player who though not an excellent athlete has enough size and mobility to eventually start in the NFL. He has shown he can handle run blocking as well as pass protection effectively. The highest compliment paid to IFEDI was a tactic employed by Louisville in the Music City Bowl. IN the first quarter of that game the Cards top edge rusher DEVONTE FIELDS was lined up at LDE matched up against IFEDI. After a couple of unproductive possessions FIELDS was moved away from IFEDI to RDE for most of the remainder of the game. THat move in and of itself should tell you how effective IFEDI is. He has decent foot movement, but lacks explosiveness or speed at the snap of the ball. He was able to get to his second level assignments most of the game. Has good hand usage in jarring and keeping defenders off balance. Might be a bit grabby with his hand usage. He’s not elite, but looks like he can get better under pro coaching. I expect him to be taken in Round 2 unless he flops in workouts over the next couple of months.

DEION JONES/LB/LSU 6’0/220 #45
This versatile tackling machine only lacks NFL preferred height. IF he were 6’2/240 lbs. he’d be a second rounder, at the very least. He has a high FBI and the motor to go with it. In the LSU Bowl win he recorded 8 tackles which included 2 TFL, 1 sack & 1 FF. He has the quickness to play in reverse and stay on the field for passing downs. In his 12 game season he posted 100 Tackles, 13.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 6 QBH, 1 FF and 2 INT. His sideline to sideline pursuit does not come at the expense of fulfilling his responsibilities to the overall defense. He looks to me to be assignment sure. It is a testament to his speed, quickness and determination. He should star immediately as a special teamer. Hs size will not show up in the “ideal” range for an NFL LB, but I will comment that he’s pretty much the same size and style of player as former teammate KWON ALEXANDER, who had a standout Rookie season in Tampa Bay. The COMBINE will have major importance for JONES as it will provide him with a platform to display his athleticism. JONES will likely last into the 4th Round and that may make him a Draft steal IMO.

Purely and simply put, MORTELL is one of the top 2-3 Punters in the country and will be very tempting for a Punter hungry team to draft come April. He’s a physically impressive athlete who displays good form and consistency in his punting duties. He gets good hang time and can directional punt, which is coming back into vogue in the League. He helped the Gophers win the field position battle in the Quick Lane Bowl averaging 46 ypp and placing two punts inside the 20. It could be said that he flipped the field several times. Over his career he has placed 1/3 of his punts inside the 20. Here are his numbers for the 2015 season: 74 punts- 2 TB-30 inside 20- 17 fair caught. His overall average was 43.4 ypp. on the season. He has no problem getting his punts off under rush pressure. He can manipulate distance, direction & spin on his punts. It will be late but I see this man getting drafted in a late round. I will also state that I am extremely disappointed he will not be at the Senior Bowl later this month.

This guy has jumped out at me in game action several times this past season. IMO, his athleticism is off the charts, and his size and length make him a very intriguing prospect. But his frame does not fit the mold for a true TE, and he’s not fast/quick enough to slide into a WR job. He also displays soft hands, though he doesn’t always get himself into the best receiving position for thrown balls. In the Huskies bowl win over Southern Miss he caught 3 balls for 69 yards. For the mathematically challenged that’s a whopping 23 yards per reception. In his 12 game season, PERKINS caught 36 balls for 539 yards and 3 TD. In this day and age of souped-up passing offenses I could easily see some NFL teams being interested in this versatile athlete as a sub-package receiving option, ranging from TE/H-B/WR. But to be totally frank, I think he has a slight chance to be drafted in Round 7, more likely an URFA, and his ability to find some niches on Special Teams will determine whether he has any chance to make an NFL roster. Over time he could become a valuable member of a receiving corps.

What one must always keep in mind when evaluating NFL Prospects is that on occasion the back-up on a team may have better pro potential than the starter. That may indeed be the case for the top 2 RB coming out of San DIego State. Junior DONNEL PUMPHREY is the star of the show for the Aztecs offensively and is replacing MARSHALL FAULK in the Aztecs rushing record books. But PUMPHREY is a whopping 175 lbs., soaking wet. That makes him a highly suspect NFL RB prospect. On the other hand PRICE, who has played second fiddle to PUMPHREY, is short, but hefty at 200 lbs. He runs with good explosion and quickness. He used his carries in the Bowl win over Cincy to boost his rushing total to 1000 yards for the 2015 season. PRICE had 13 carries for 68 yards. He also caught 2 passes for another 22 yards. He looked like a natural hands catcher. He’s a tough “little” guy to get off his feet and if he can adapt to a Special Teams role or three could just end up at the bottom of an NFL roster. In a nutshell, I would describe him as a powerful, low slung, elusive target. I would doubt that there is anything he can do between now and the Draft to significantly raise his stock, but I do believe he could be a very popular URFA, with a chance to make an NFL roster, or practice squad, next summer.

SWAIN will have limited NFL interest for two reasons. The first is that he owes the US Navy about 5 years of service. Secondly, we have reached a stage where almost half the NFL doesn’t have a legit FB on their roster. But for the remainder of teams there should be plenty of long term interest in SWAIN, who is a throwback to the day when NFL rushing records were set by FB with the HB doing more of the blocking. SWAIN is a battering ram, with balance and some burst. He has good hands and can catch out of the backfield. He is also an accomplished blocker who won’t require a lot of time to adapt to pass-pro for his QB. But his running dimension is indeed fascinating for the right NFL Offensive Coordinator. In 2015 he rushed for 1023 yards and 10 TD. He averaged 4.81 yards per rush while playing second fiddle to his QB. He should make an all purpose Special Teamer as well. Once again, I will say for an NFL team with patience, he could be a very valuable player in 3-4 years.

If you watched TAPPER closely in the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson then you should have a pretty clear picture of his pro potential. He is not a big flash player, but is smart and dependable, with above average athleticism. He’s not an edge rusher, but should make a nice 3 down DL in a 4-3 scheme. He has also been moved inside to DT by the Sooner coaching staff to get some pocket pressure up the middle. He can and will collapse the pocket on a regular basis. His frame looks to me like be could get up to 290 lbs. and still show good pursuit as a pro. He looks to have a long frame. For the 2015 season he recorded 50T- 10TFL- 7S- 3QBH- 4FF. There might be some interest in TAPPER by Round 3, but I would expect he’s more likely to hear his name called in Round 4. He strikes me as not a special player, but a useful one who can help a DL rotation in the NFL.

When DONTE MONCRIEF was in his final season at Ole MIss this guy showed up and stole throws away from MONCRIEF. Though not an NFL star we all know MONCRIEF has been a solid No. 3 wideout for the COLTS to date. Unfortunately, in 2014 TREADWELL was on his way to a stellar year when he broke his leg in the Auburn game. He busted his butt this past off-season rehabbing from the gruesome injury. He started the 2015 season a bit slow, but came on strong to lead the SEC in receptions. He showed what he can do in the Sugar Bowl catching 6 balls, for 71 yards and 3TD. He also went 1/1 in the passing game with a long 2nd Quarter completion on a reverse and throw. He made some scintillating over the head catches in the Bowl win. He showed once again that he is an elite all-around athlete. NFL Scouts love the fact that he was such a hard worker in his rehab program. They also like what they hear about his locker room leadership. He is a confident player but not a loud mouth braggart type. He also came back 10 lbs. lighter and does indeed look just a twitch quicker than pre-injury. The COMBINE will be a huge event for him. His medical will of course be critical, but I do not think I am alone in wondering what his 40-time will be. I see him as a very good NFL prospect, capable of being a No.1 wideout for some team. But I am still not convinced whether he is elite or just good. His Combine numbers could well clarify whether he’s a Top 10 talent, and the first WR drafted, or a mid-First Rounder.