MICHAEL BENNETT/DT/OHIO STATE #63 6’2/290 To be totally honest I do not see how some people have his guy in their First Round Draft projections. He is likely to be pretty scheme limited because of his size, or lack thereof. In the Buckeyes impressive win over Maryland I saw him get lost in the wash as an undersized guy, just as often as I saw him use his speed and quickness to impact a play. He will need to go to a pro system like the SEA HAWKS where speed and quickness are most important at almost all the defensive spots on their roster. In fact, I see him being a very similar pro to his namesake with the SEA HAWKS. If he gets moved around and unleashed most of the time to rush the passer he can be a big-time playmaker at the next level. But even a mediocre Terps OL stymied him at the line-of-scrimmage more times than not especially against the run. For my money he’s 2nd Round material for about less than half the NFL teams, at best.
ANDRE DEBOSE/RS/ATH/FLORIDA #4 6’0/190 I’d still have to admit that it is very unlikely DEBOSE gets drafted next May, but he’s likely to post a sub 4.4/40 at the COMBINE (if invited) or his Pro Day. And that alone will get attention in NFL Personnel Departments. He’s been injured more than he has been healthy in college. He’s also not defined what actual position from scrimmage he might play, but his explosiveness as a return man is elite. He has blazing speed, good field vision and good balance. Sound like a guy named HESTER a bit?! While trying to help the Gators beat LSU without much of a contribution from their Offense, DEBOSE got a crack at 2 Punt returns and took them 62 & 53 yards respectively. The longer one he took to the house for a TD. His speed and elusiveness will make some NFL team want to spend some time trying to find him playing time from scrimmage for him. I’d say that if he stays healthy this entire season and blows up his workouts some NFL team will be highly tempted to take a 7th Round flyer on him. If AL DAVIS were still alive DEBOSE would go in the first 3 Rounds.
TREY FLOWERS/DE/ARKANSAS #86 6’4/267 FLOWERS is a very different player from CHRIS SMITH who went to the JAGUARS this past Draft as a speed pass-rush specialist. FLOWERS does not have the burst into the pocket that SMITH possesses. But he’s a better all-around player. His game situation awareness is highly praised by his coaches. He will try to stand and fight against the run, but needs a SAM-LB supporting him. ARKANSAS almost got the Crimson Tide last weekend and FLOWERS stats give clear indication as to what kind of player he is. For the game he was credited with 8 tackles, including 3 TFL and 1 sack. He also had 1 PBU. He gives his team that kind of effort and productivity week in and week out. For an NFL team that feels he can be a solid fit for their defensive scheme I’d expect him to be a 3rd Rounder. He should also be pretty impressive with his football smarts in interview situations.
DAVID HELTON/LB/DUKE #47 6’4/230 HELTON is typical of a lot of today’s college athletes. They do a lot of good things out on the field of play, and are significantly better than the average player of 10+ years ago. But when you add up the total of their parts it is still unlikely they can count on a pro sports career as being in their future. HELTON is a long framed player who reacts well to the ball. But he’s not an impact guy because he’s a tick too slow and not strong enough to throw people around. But how do you ignore a guy who had 133 tackles in 2013? He was all over the field again in the big road win at GA TECH. He was credited with 4 tackles against Tech, though he was around the ball constantly. Once again however, he had no impact plays. It is his lack of Sacks, TFL, FF & INT that makes him just another guy in the big picture of things. His hustle and smarts could win him a Special Teams job for a while in the pro game.He’s also an academic All-America. I think he goes to an NFL Training Camp next summer (if he wants to), but just don’t see him getting drafted in May.
DUKE JOHNSON/RB/MIAMI #8 5’9/205 JOHNSON is a special player in a lot of ways. He’s a leader by example and is also not afraid to make his voice heard on the sideline. Most of his noise is from his contention that he’s a difference maker and needs the ball in his hands more. I can’t argue with that. He’s quick in and out of moves and can turn on the jets when he gets out in wide open spaces. When in doubt he will attempt to run through and over defenders. THE DUKE has good balance and runs with low pad level, always driving forward to finish the play. He’ll pound between the tackles but has enough speed to get to the corner. Even though he doesn’t have a lot of catches on his resume’ he is a dependable receiver. Against Cincinnati he carried the ball 10 times for 162 yards and 2 TD. His long run in that stat was an 80-yarder. He also caught 4 balls out of the backfield. He’s a decent blocker in pass pro and should improve under NFL coaching. He’s a Top 100 player in my mind, but he’ll need to go to a team with a coaching staff that can handle his fiery temperament, without it becoming a distraction to his team. He’s going to leave MIami as their all-time total yardage leader because in addition to his running acumen he also has return skills that often get lost at MIami with all of its speedster receivers returning most of the time. I project that he will come out early and get drafted in Round 3, which will just place another big ship on his shoulders.
VINCE MAYLE/WR/WASHINGTON STATE #1 6’3/220 This former Juco player has played a key role in the Leach-led resurgence of Wazoo football. Even if they don’t win many games they are now scaring opponents, especially with their offense. MAYLE is a sure handed, big bodied receiver who doesn’t lose many possession battles with defenders. He has above average speed and dependable hands. I don’t actually see him as the perfect fit for this kind of run & gun Offense. He’s better served for the pro power game ala SAN DIEGO, where he will be targeted more often. He’s not afraid to come across the middle and seems to really track the ball well once it is in the air. Against the tough and physical STANFORD Defense last weekend he tallied 6 catches for 78 yards and 1TD. He’s a really solid athlete with a long, smooth stride to his deep patterns. He can gain some extra yards after the catch because he will break tackles of smaller defenders. Because of those qualities he has more big play potential than his speed might indicate. He also looks like he has some serious potential as a Kick Returner at the next level. Post season play in All-Star venues will help establish his final draft status, but I’m liking this guy as an even more productive pro than collegian.
TYRONE MONTGOMERY/WR/RS/STANFORD #7 6’2/215After watching this talented young athlete perform well again against Washington State I am still trying to project just how well his game is going to translate to the NFL. He’s a jack of all trades and master of most as a collegian. He’s always leading his team in total yards gained. In addition to catching the ball he runs a few reverses and even handles their “wildcat” package at times. He’s also a prolific Kick Returner (30.3 yards per return in 2013) who has added Punt Returns to his workload this season. Against Washington State he caught 7 balls for 72 yards. He returned 3 punts for an average of 21 yards per and added 70 yards more on 3 Kick Returns. He’s got a long. lean body and I am guessing his hands are above average in size watching him hand snatch the ball, especially along the sidelines. And yet I am not sold that he will be an elite pro. He is smooth and glides around with long strides. He also seems to see the whole field and picks his openings well, whether running patterns or on returns. But I don’t see any burst or third gear to his game. He falls somewhere in between TIM BROWN and LARRY FITZGERALD when I watch him in action. His numbers indicate a First Round talent, but something concerns me about that seeming lack of explosion. Somehow my mind is saying a very good No. 2 WR for some NFL team, but not an elite receiver.
ANDRUS PEAT/OT/STANFORD #70 6’67/310 An awful lot of folks have PEAT projected to be a TOP 10 prospect. And in today’s NFL everyone is always looking for elite pass protectors. But I am going to temper my enthusiasm for this big guy just a bit. Round 1; yes. Top 10; not for my taste. He’s long and athletic, with agile footwork and good balance. He needs some serious weight room work at the NFL level. He pushes defenders around with his long arms and quickness, but does not dominate and pancake. He’s good in his back-peddle, but can be susceptible to both strong and fast pass-rushers. He does not dominate the line-of-scrimmage in goal line and short yardage situations. He reminds me greatly of another top Stanford OT named BOB WHITFIELD. As a pro WHITFIELD was sound and functional, but not All-World. That is what PEAT looks like to me right now. He will start for 10-years in the NFL but may not get to many Pro Bowls. This may sound crazy given his size, but he’s more of a finesse player than a dominant presence right now.
TERRANCE PLUMMER/ILB/UCF #41 6’1/240 With the departure of BLAKE BORTLES/QB to the NFL, the UCF Offense has wilted this season. Consequently, more and more has been asked of the Knight’s defense to win ball games. The team is a bit talent deprived in its front seven, with the big exception of PLUMMER. He led the team in tackles in 2013 with 110. His demonically possessed style of play this year may allow him to eclipse that mark by season’s end. This past Thursday night UCF held off BYU for a 31-24 OT home victory. And the Tasmanian Devil leading the D was PLUMMER, who had to leave the game in OT with cramping in the still 80-degree plus Florida night. PLUMMER filled up the stats sheet and notebooks of scouts watching the contest. His game total were as follows: 17 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 pass break-up. The rumor that he sold popcorn at halftime is urban legend. He will likely test out in the middle of the pack in a Combine setting, but he gets a lot done on-the-grass in games. Count on him to earn his keep on Special Teams alone at least for the start of his pro career. He should be draftable Rounds 5-7 and should really help improve the bottom dozen on some NFL roster going forward.
CODY PREWITT/S/OLE MISS #25 6’2/215 Now that the Rebels are proving to be the real deal with wins over ‘Bama & A&M, the accolades are rolling in for some of their leading players. As an NFL prospect for 2015 PREWITT is probably their No.1 guy. He appears to have the size and athleticism to fight for an NFL starting job. He’s also showing some savvy and maturity this season. In the big road win in College Station his 1st-half 75-yard pick-6 seemed to be the play that convinced his teammates that they could control the game and not get caught up in an offensive shootout with the Aggies. Typical of the all-around steady work he’s been doing he was also credited with 7 tackles for his evening’s work. His lack of elite speed keeps him from being a top prospect, but his size and ability to tackle in space give him a solid shot to be an early Special Teams standout and sub-package contributor. I think his Combine numbers will determine whether he’s a 3rd or 4th Rounder come May.
JAXON SHIPLEY/WR/RS/TEXAS #8 6’1/195 Clearly, anything JAXON does will be compared to his older brother Jordan, who was productive as a Longhorn, and had a decent turn on NFL depth charts. But from watching him play, I believe that JAXON has better speed and quickness than his brother and a better chance to be a productive receiver in the NFL. He has not been blessed with an exceptional QB at Texas because of injury issues to DAVID ASH, primarily concussions. But he runs his patterns sharply and gets open regularly, based on a nice combination of quickness and good route running. As the LONGHORNS gave Oklahoma all they could handle last Saturday JAXON caught 9 balls for 115 yards, though failing to make it into the end zone. He also returned 2 punts for an average of 22.5 yards. He might want to gain another 10 lbs. for the pro game, but that should not adversely affect his decent, not great, speed greatly. He works the entire field and has very dependable hands. The sidelines are among his best friends on game day. He won’t make many Top 100 prospect lists, but I see a guy who could go in Round 4 and in a couple of seasons be a No. 3/4 NFL WR and steady Special Teams contributor.
LAKEN TOMLINSON/OG/DUKE #77 6’3/320 Sometimes it’s hard to break a mental stereotype of what kind of prospects come out of certain colleges. It hasn’t been often in my 50+ years of watching college football that a really good big guy comes out of the Duke football program. Watching TOMLINSON forces me to adjust that perception. Has a chance to start over 50 games as a Blue Devil. Was first team All-ACC in 20134. He has the wide base and natural knee bend that NFL OL coaches are looking for. He’s not an elite athlete, but he’s not just another big guy either. He moves well whether backing into pass pro or firing out to pull and/or get a second level block. Were he a bit taller and longer he has he feet to give it a try at OT, but why mess with a good thing?! TOMLINSON plays smart and hard. He also does a nice job of staying on his feet and off the ground most of the time. Maybe you could wish for a little bit more aggressive player, but he’s certainly not a softie. Most NFL teams will find it appealing that he played in an offense that required both run blocking and NFL style pass pro. He’s currently working on getting himself into a Friday Draft slot next May.