Every year scouts and GM’s across the league spend countless hours grinding film and trying desperately to identify the next big time prospect. Despite going through this intensive evaluation some prospects still manage to slip through the cracks.
Somehow players like Captain Munnerlyn (2008-R7), Jarrett Johnson (2003-R4), Arian Foster (Undrafted), and Dhani Jones (2000-R6) manage to fall in the draft year after year.
This preseason series of articles is designed to try and find those players before we have single snap in 2011. I will break down every conference in the FBS looking for Seniors who are not currently on the radar but should be come next April.
I won’t get all of the players who we don’t know today but should tomorrow, and some of the ones I name will become nothing more than marginal backups this season. This scouting series is designed to help you the reader know more about the players on the teams you’ll be watching with your friends on Saturdays this fall. So when you hear them talking about some obscure DE from Ole Miss whose blowing up the SEC, you can respond with “Oh, you mean….”
LT Albert McCullough-Alabama
6’2, 311 lbs.
4 Star DT-Rivals.com
Not many players coming out of a school like Alabama fly under the radar, however if last years Senior Bowl proved anything to us, its that maybe we all need to take a second look at the Crimson Tide offensive line. If you do that you may just find James Carpenter’s projected replacement to be an interesting prospect heading into 2012. McCullough possesses quick hands off the snap which he uses to deliver an effective punch, and he has solid footwork which allows him to set up with a balanced base. He needs to work on his strength some more, and questions will linger about his arm length, and his lack of starting experience (4 career starts at RT). The biggest question though for McCullough is can he continue to hold off other talented lineman at Alabama who are also waiting for their shot.
DE Kendrick Adams-LSU
6’5, 255 lbs.
3 Star JUCO TE/DE-Scout.com
2010 Stats: 27 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 1 FF
LSU has quite the name for itself when it comes to producing DT’s, guys like Booger McFarland, Glenn Dorsey, Claude Wroten, and most recently Drake Nevis have all been feared by opponents as they enter the Bayou. However their history in producing DE’s hasn’t been quite as successful. The athletic Kendrick Adams is hoping to change all of that this coming fall for the Tigers. Blessed with great size, and good athleticism the Tigers are going to be looking for Adams to become a constant pest off the edge. Adams has enough strength to play the strong side DE position and manages to use his size effectively in the battle for leverage. He’s not as fluid laterally as one would expect from a former two-way player but he has a solid motor and will give great effort in pursuit.
FS Tramaine Thomas-Arkansas
6’0, 198 lbs.
2010 Stats: 83 tackles, 5 for loss, .5 sacks, 4 INT, 5 PD, 4 FF, 1 Blocked Kick
3 Star Athlete-Rivals.com
The athletic safety has been a stalwart in the Arkansas defensive backfield for two years now, though he has gone relatively unnoticed by many in the draft community. He’s shown off plenty of playmaking ability over the course of the last two years hauling in 7 INT’s, and forcing 5 fumbles. His range in the defensive backfield is very good, and he’s a willing participant in run defense. He shows sound fundamentals in the way he breaks down to tackle. His size however is a concern, and some are already speculating he may be a better fit at CB than at S in the NFL.
QB Chris Relf-Mississippi State
6’4, 245 lbs.
2010 Stats: 129-220 (58.6%), 1784 yards, 13 TD, 6 INT, 194 carries, 713 yards, 5 TD
2 Star QB-Rivals
Lowly ranked coming out of HS, Relf has come a long way in just four years to be heading into the 2011 season as the starter. Many have issues with his inconsistent play from week to week while others take issue with the 8 fumbles he had last year. However if you look at Relf over the last three games of last season, you start to see a QB who may finally be getting it. Mississippi State played Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Michigan to close out last year and Relf was quite possibly the best he had been all season throwing for 793 yards, with a 69.8% completion percentage (51-73), along with 6 TD’s to just 2 INT’s. Relf has the size and speed that scouts dool over at the next level and when you combine that with his arm strength, you begin to see how much potential Relf has, if he can only tap into it.
RB Vick Ballard-Mississippi State
5’11, 215 lbs.
2010 Stats: 186 carries, 968 yards, 5.2 ypc, 19 TD’s, 10 receptions, 106 yards, 1 TD
3 Star JUCO RB-Rivals.com
Mississippi State had been looking for a replacement to Anthony Dixon heading into last year and I think its safe to say they found it in Ballard. A back with a good size to speed ratio, who shows off a good burst in getting through the hole. Ballard runs hard and is tough to bring down with just one man. He has excellent ball security, fumbling only one time last year. My main issue with Ballard though is can he take yet another year of near 200 carries? Over the last two years Ballard has carried the ball 484 times, which may not seem like a lot, but with RB’s having such short shelf life, how many teams are going to pick a player high who has over 700 collegiate carries?
Ballard is currently listed as our #9 Senior Runningback
LT James Carmon-Mississippi State
6’7, 330 lbs.
4 Star JUCO DT-Rivals.com
Yet another DT to LT switch coming in the SEC West though this time Carmon does not have anywhere near the size limitations that may plague McCullough at Bama. Carmon came to Starkville originally at around 370 lbs and has since dropped roughly 40 lbs in his effort to see the field and get into better condition. This player is intriguing because aside from his gifted size and ideal long arms, he he is very athletic even at his height and weight. The thing to remember about Dan Mullen’s offense is that he utilized quick and athletic lineman who can get to the second level and block somebody. Carmon would not be in this spot if he couldnt fit that description. That being said a player who has never seen a snap on the OL in college, suddenly starting at LT and is going to be asked to pick up for Derek Sherrod? This decision is either going to go boom or bust.
CB Johnthan Banks-Mississippi State
6’2, 185 lbs.
2010 Stats: 54 tackles, 1.5 for loss, 1 sack, 3 INT, 7 PD, 1 FF
3 Star ATH-Rivals.com
Alright I know what you’re thinking…another Mississippi State guy? Yes, and if you follow me on Twitter you now know part of the reason that I am so high on this team for the coming fall. Back to the prospect though Banks has ideal height to play CB, at 6’2 he’s not going to be dwarfed by many WR’s and his athletic ability allows him to make plays on jump balls that smaller defensive backs at times struggle with. He has smooth hips that allow him easy transitions from his back pedal to his sprint and he’s able to display terrific closing speed. The big question for Banks right now is can he get bigger and maintain the same athletic ability? He is very thin for his height and has struggled with the physical side of playing CB while in Starkville.
DE Wayne Dorsey-Ole Miss
6’6, 262 lbs.
2010 Stats: 12 tackles, 4 for loss, 1 sack
4 Star JUCO DE-Rivals.com
When Wayne Dorsey committed to Ole Miss back in 2009 many hailed it as coup by Houston Nutt and his staff. Having kept Dorsey in state despite big time out of state offers from programs like UNC and FSU. People expected Dorsey to come on campus and become the next Greg Hardy, however that didnt quite happen in 2010. There is a lot though still to like about Dorsey who will line up opposite Kentrell Lockett this coming season which should help him get plenty of one on one situations. Dorsey has more then enough size to excel as a DE and has natural athleticism that at times really popped off tape. However the one thing he needs to work on is his technique. He plays way too high, and allows OL to get under his pads. He needs to learn how to stay low through the line and use his size to shed blocks and blow past smaller, slower players.
FS Damien Jackson-Ole Miss
6’2, 210 lbs.
Stats: 68 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 4 PD, 1 FF, 1 QBH
4 Star JUCO S-Rivals.com
In his first year in Oxford, Jackson wasn’t able to do much in terms of grabbing interceptions or causing fumbles, he was however a stable and consistent player in the back making sound tackles and helping to prevent big plays from happening. He has ideal size to be a S in the NFL, and showed a very good understanding of the game, as he was able to break down what was happening on the field and keep almost all of it in front of him. Where Jackson struggles though is in his hips, he’s just does not posesses the ideal fluidity that we like to see in defensive backs heading to the next level. He’s able to move pretty well laterally but when asked to change direction or turn and burn he can give up some seperation.
What are your thoughts? Who did I miss? Who am I way off on? Please leave a comment below or follow us on Twitter @BillsDraft
Also make sure you check back later in the week when we look at the SEC East.