MALCOM BUNCHE/OT/UCLA #78 6’6/320 The MIami-grad/transfer was originally slated to play LG for the Bruins, but he showed the coaching staff that he was capable of anchoring that OL at LT. The big guy was never a full-time starter for the Hurricanes in South Florida, but has emerged immediately as the main body guard for HUNDLEY’s blind side. He’s a well conditioned player who carries his 320 lbs. well on his long frame. He moves his feet well whether sliding around in pass-pro or getting to second level blocks in the running game. In the two games that I have watched him so far this season I saw him remain on the field til the end, even fighting through an ankle issue in the Texas game. His maturity and athleticism have been a god-send for both the UCLA coaching staff as well as MR. HUNDLEY. He’s gone from a curiosity to a solid draftable prospect with his play so far this season.
LA’EL COLLINS/OT/LSU #70 6’5/310 For as many players as LES MILES has put into the NFL during his tenure at LSU, guys at the OL positions have not fared as well at the next level as say RB/WR/DB/DL… well to be honest almost every position but QB. COLLINS may be the next exception to that trend. COLLINS wisely came back for his senior season and has been elite in his overall play thus far this season. Although some still consider him a better prospect at OG, I don’t see why. When I have watched him against UW & MS. ST. he has looked very proficient on the outside in both the run game and in pass pro. His large frame and long arms allow him to keep defenders off his body. For his size, he shuffles his feet well. COLLINS leaves his feet more than I would like to see when he is run blocking to cut defenders. Getting his pad level low is of course a challenge for him and may explain this habit. But he is long enough and agile enough to complete most of those run blocks while upright, thus allowing him to make another clean-up block if the play gets further upfield. Better hand/arm use would aid in that scenario. He may not be an immediate NFL starter, but he has a chance, and should develop further with ongoing coaching at the NFL level. He’s on the cusp of being a first rounder next May.
COREY CRAWFORD/DE/CLEMSON #93 6’5/270 If you took a picture of this guy out on the field, in uniform, in his stance waiting for the snap most would look at the shot and say, ‘superior athletic specimen, elite player’. Sad to say that hasn’t happened yet for CRAWFORD. He is not appreciably better than he was playing in all 14 games as a true freshman. To my eyes much of that is due to what appears to be a non-flexible body. Most of the time he springs straight up at the snap and runs stiffly after the ball. He often fails to set the edge on his side of the field if the ball comes back at him. His quickness is minimal, and he only gains speed if he can run in a straight line. He can penetrate straight ahead and get into the backfield so if the ball comes his way he may make a play. At times he uses his arms/hands to move blockers away from his body, but he also dances way too much with blockers. I also don’t think he acts like an all-out effort warrior. He’s a better athlete than line-mate JARRETT, but his motor (and productivity) cannot compare. His physical appearance will likely cause some NFL team to draft him, but it will be Day 3 and at best they may be getting a 4-3 DL rotation player, who comes out on passing downs to make way for a more effective pass-rusher.
AMARLO HERRERA/ILB/GEORGIA #52 6’2/240 He was second on the Bulldogs 2013 defense in total tackles with 112. He reportedly came back to school for his senior year at a trimmed down 240 lbs. And he does look even quicker than in the past. He’s surprisingly adept in pass coverage over the middle of the field. He can keep up with TE/RB in that first 10 yard area. He’s a complete backer who uses his solid body to plug the middle of the field against the run. Often, when AMARLO meets the ball carrier the pad pop is explosive. Despite more pub for his inside mate RAMIK WILSON, it is HERRERA who stayed out on the field for all three downs. In fact I started the UGA/TENN game watching and taking notes on WILSON. By the end of the first quarter it was clear I might not been watching the more complete, productive player, at least on this day. WILSON may have more athletic upside, but by Draft Saturday some NFL team will take this productive player, who also has Special Teams Ace written all over his style of play.
SEAN MANNION/QB/OREGON STATE #4 6’5/220 An awful lot of folks have MANNION as a potential high round Draft selection for next May. His size, above average arm and experience have great appeal. But I am not among his fans, and his play against USC was an example of why I am skeptical of his pro potential. Purely and simply put, he wilts under pressure. Take a look at his final stats in the resounding loss to theTrojans. He was 15/32-123 yards -0 TD- 2 INT. As the Trojans got ahead and turned up the pass pressure MANNION’s body and facial language was that of a deer in the headlights; frozen with fear. He piles up his impressive stats against over-matched opponents then comes up small in the big boy games. HC MIKE RILEY has him coached up as best he can, but when the pocket starts to collapse MANNION falls to pieces, like a CARSON PALMER. He’ll probably pad his stats this coming week against Colorado, but will fade down the stretch against defenses like STANFORD, OREGON & WASHINGTON. I’ve watched his pattern of play for 3 years and it has not changed. There is no way this player should be drafted before Day 3.
HOWARD MATTHEWS/S/TEXAS A&M #31 6’2/215 Task one for KEVIN SUMLIN at A&M this season was to toughen up an athletic but over matched defense from 2013. They may not be dominant yet, but there are signs of improvement. One of the leaders by example for the AGGIES D is MATTHEWS who has been a solid starter for the team during his career in College Station. He has 20 career starts coming into 2014. He’s a solid in-the-box guy who piled up 90 tackles for the AGGIES in 2013. He also can play the pass as evidenced by his 9 PBU and 3 INT last season. He was key in the win over Arkansas, cleaning up downfield on the many occasions when RB got through the A&M DL. He’s a solid leader who sets an example with his play and attitude for his younger teammates. He had a key PBU late in the game on an attempted 3rd down pass to Arkansas’ star TE/HENRY. I would also project him as a solid Special Teams candidate at the pro level. Mark him down as draftable, Day 3.
DESMOND ROLAND/RB/OKLAHOMA STATE #26 6’2/210 There is something to be said for a college RB who will run between the tackles, block in pass pro and pretty much do whatever the caching staff asks him to. That is ROLAND in a nutshell. But he lacks the speed and/or quickness IMO to play at the next level. He’s just not fast or quick enough to get around defenders. He’s also not stout enough to move that line-of-scrimmage. He’s even a tad slower than JOE RANDLE who preceded him at Okie State as the primary RB option, and who is struggling to remain as the 3rd string RB in Dallas right now. Against TX TECH ROLAND ran for 23- 86- 1TD, while sharing RB duties. He’s a slid collegian, who I just don’t see having anything special enough to make him draftable.
MARTELL SPEIGHT/OLB/ARKANSAS #47 6’0/228 Even just a few years ago a guy with SPEIGHT’s size and skill set would only rate a Training Camp invite as an URFA, with a slight chance to play a couple of years as a Special Teamer in the League. But in today’s pass-happy NFL a slightly undersized guy with speed and quickness can also help out on passing downs. SPEIGHTS could turn out to be such a guy. He’s a JUCO transfer who played a little last season as a junior, but really came to life this past Spring Practice session for the Razorbacks. Now he’s a starter and is flying all over the field making tackles for them. He had double-digit tackles against A&M and was all over the field this past weekend. His speed disrupted several play calls. He’s also an incredibly vicious, though clean, tackler for his size. He’s like a heat seeking missile, with a nose for the ball. Should make a dynamic Special Teams player, especially on coverage units. Based on his overall play this season so far, he looks like a draftable player in the later rounds.
JAELEN STRONG/WR/ARIZONA STATE #21 6’4/215 STRONG looks to me like a man among boys right now, ala a guy named ALSHON currently playing with DA BEARS. He looks even bigger than his listed size, but his body remains very flexible and he’s already quite adept at locating and catching back-shoulder throws. He uses the sideline to his advantage with his leaping ability and big frame allowing him to screen defenders off the ball. He’s also good at locating the ball in the air. A strong runner after the catch, he works the middle of the field fearlessly. He took quite a licking at times from the Trojans secondary last Thursday night, but kept coming back for more, finishing the game with 12 grabs, for 146 yards. That is with the back-up QB starting. The Sun Devils also featured him on dump-off screens to the wide side of the field, where he used his size and straight line speed to good advantage wracking up yardage ala STERLING SHARPE. He’s also the team’s go-to guy for 3rd down catches. He led the team with 75 catches in 2013 and could be a candidate for 100 catches this year. If he stays healthy I see no reason for him NOT to enter the 2015 Draft. He looks to me to be a Top 5 WR prospect and ready to move on. His job at ASU is just about done.
JUSTIN WORLEY/QB/TENNESSEE #14 6’4/225 BUTCH JONES is off to a flying start rebuilding the VOLS football program to SEC prominence. As he recruits in all areas to rebuild roster talent, a very pleasant surprise has been the QB play of senior WORLEY. WORLEY finally got a shot at serious playing time last season and looked OK. But his play behind a completely new OL this season is off to a rousing start after 4 games. His gritty play in the near upset of GEORGIA, on the road was inspiring to his young teammates. Under heavy pressure all day WORLEY hung in there, even returning to play after injuring his throwing arm elbow. His final stats don’t even tell the whole story of his effort, but they are indeed impressive. WORLEY was 23/35 (67%), 264-yards, 3 TD, 0 INT. Compare those numbers with MANNION’s above. The big guy can spin the ball and make every kind of throw. He stands tall in the pocket to make his reads and throws. Though not a runner, he moves around a bit. He shows the kind of guts and determination that a pro QB must have to be successful. He is coming on fast and I believe is looking late draftable. I’d luv to see this guy down at the Shrine venue come January.