Defending National Runner-Up Oregon will look to defend their Pac-10 crown in the new look Pac-12. They return a ton of talent but must rely on two new faces to step up into big time roles this season. Meanwhile teams like Arizona State, and Cal are hoping their new QB’s can step in and sync up with their star WR’s quickly so that they might challenge the Ducks.
6’5, 206 lbs.
3 Star WR-Rivals
With Oregon’s top two receivers from last year gone, all eyes will turn to Lavasier Tuinei to take over the pass catching duties for the Ducks. Tuinei led the ducks in the National Title game in receiving and will be counted on this season to keep defenses honest and prevent them from the loading the box trying to stop Darron Thomas and LaMichael James. Tuinei has terrific size and isn’t afraid to work the middle of the field. He flashes a good target for Thomas to hit and has reliable hands. His deep speed is a question mark though and he will possibly be relegated to a slot role in the NFL because of it.
CB Anthony Gildon-Oregon
6’1, 185 lbs.
3 Star CB-Scout
This may be a player even some Oregon fans don’t know about, that’s how much time Gildon has seen for the Ducks in recent years. Now is his time to shine and he needs to step up in a big way. Gildon has good size, and awareness for the CB position. He can play both man and zone coverage but is a much better fit in off zone coverage where he can use his instincts to anticipate what is going to happen. He’s not a very physical corner despite his size and his toughness in the past has been questioned. Gildon needs to overcome that and commit himself to becoming a better tackler in order to secure a starting spot with Oregon this season.
CB Quinton Richardson-Washington
6’0, 200 lbs.
3 Star CB-Scout
A very athletic and natural looking CB, Richardson is going to see plenty of action this fall opposite Junior Desmond Trufant. Richardson has good height and bulk for a CB, and he uses it well when asked to press. He’s more than willing to give the WR a good pop on his chest plate and he uses his weight to really bear down on smaller WR. His transition from his backpedal to his sprint is sloppy and we feel like it’s a footwork issue that he can clean up with coaching. His instincts aren’t there in terms of playmaking and he may be a guy who is potentially moved to S in the NFL due to that.
WR Marvin Jones-Cal
6’2, 200 lbs.
4 Star WR-Rivals
A physically gifted and mature WR, Jones is one of the premier WR’s in the Pac 12. He will be heavily relied upon this season with Cal breaking in a new QB. Jones displays very good hands, and is able to reach out away from his body to make a grab. He runs solid routes, and shows the ability to beat press coverage consistently. Jones is a little stiff in the hips, and does not offer a whole lot after the catch. His deep speed is average but he’s not going to pull away from anybody. We would also like to see him dedicate himself a little more to blocking, the effort is there but his technique needs some fundamental work.
OT Mitchell Schwartz-Cal
6’5, 325 lbs.
3 Star OG-Scout
Schwartz has ideal OT size and we currently see him as an ideal RT prospect projecting forward. Some will say due his athleticism, that he should kick inside to OG and be used more as a pulling guard, however we think his strength and ability to seal off the end of the line are some of his best qualities. He needs to work on his technique, he has a tendency to allow the defensive end to get under him which gets him beat. He also seems to struggle with speed rushers. His athleticism in getting to the 2nd level does not seem to carry over when talking about his lateral agility.
WR Mike Willie-Arizona State
6’4, 215 lbs.
3 Star WR-Scout
A favorite target of former Arizona State QB Steven Threet, Willie will have to adjust to new QB Brock Osweilier this season. It shouldn’t be a big adjustment for Willie as the reason Threet liked him so much was because of his reliability. He has some of most reliable hands in the Pac 12, he runs very crisp routes and he has terrific size. If Willie were just a shade faster we’d be talking about him along with the other top WR’s in this draft. Despite Willie’s size we don’t know if he is currently strong enough to handle the press coverage he’ll see in the NFL. He seems to struggle with physically aggressive CB’s and that is something he will have to work on.
OT John Cullen-Utah
6’5, 295 lbs.
4 Star OT-Rivals
Cullen was considered a premier OT coming into Utah and thus far has not disappointed. He is very quick off the snap and when run blocking does a good job initiating contact and getting into the defender. He does a good job controlling his man once engaged and shows enough athleticism to get into the 2nd level and make a block. The thing we love about Cullen is the way he finishes his blocks. He has that border line crazy mentality that you love in your offensive lineman. We do worry about Cullen’s lack of flexibility, too often on tape we saw him bending at the waist and even though he has the ability to get to the 2nd level he was often lunging at targets. These are correctable issues but will affect his stock if he doesn’t start to change them.
LB Derek Earls-Arizona
6’3, 240 lbs.
3 Star CB-Scout
Last year was the year to be on the Arizona Wildcats defense line, they sent 3 players into NFL and now Derek Earls will look to continue that trend from the LB spot. An agile LB who does a good job moving from side to side, Earls has good range and is very tough to turn the corner on. He is very good when asked to drop into coverage and that is something you’d expect from a former cornerback. We can still tell on tape that he’s not fully adjusted to being a LB yet, he often bites on play-action fakes and can be a second slow to react on running plays. He needs trust his instincts more and use his natural ability to get to the ball carrier.
Also be sure to check out the top prospects in the Pac 12 over at NEPD!
Check back later this week as look at the Big 12!