Next week officially marks the start of the Draft Season on every NFL Draft Analysts calendar. Right now scouts all over the country are continuing to review tapes, beginning to assemble boards, and getting ready to not sleep for about 5 months straight. One of the greatest parts about the kick-off the draft season is the both the bowl games that we will all enjoy and the all-star games that all fit neatly into one jam packed schedule.
The first game on our schedule happens to be in our hometown of Atlanta, Georgia and that’s the HBCU Bowl. The HBCU Bowl brings together the top talents from the SWAC, MEAC, CIAA, and SIAC conferences in an effort to put the best of the best on the field and have them face off. Its a week long event that will start Monday night with an official weigh-in, and a full week of practices, a combine, and finally the game on Sunday the 18th of December.
We are fortunate enough to have been granted a credential for this week of events and have our Scouting Director Matthew Elder there to personally watch and note all the players who are making noise over the course of the week. He has promised to live tweet as much of the events as possible so make sure you follow him on twitter @Matthewcelder and we will also be bringing you daily practice reports, hopefully a few interviews, and of course a full scouting write-up from the game on Sunday. In other words, its on.
In order to get you ready for this week long set of events we are going to be previewing both the East and the West rosters with a few of the guys we will be watching closely. The players below aren’t the only prospects there but these are players we know have been talked about should be on your radars.
QB Stanley Jennings-Albany State
Weight: 235 lbs.
We saw Jennings last year at the Fountain City Classic and we hope to see him again next weekend at the inaugural SIAC Championship. He is big QB who is still quite raw but has a live arm and a good athletic feel. He’s a pass first QB who is improving with his reads and will get better with time and teaching. His delivery is a little wonky and will need to be cleaned up but its small stuff.
2011 Stats: 169 of 344 (49.1%), 2,662 yards, 24 TD, 13 INT
QB Casey Therriault-Jackson State
Weight: 215 lbs.
Therriault is a very interesting story and its one that you can read all about here. The same red flags in that story that prevented him from attending a FBS school are going to cause some NFL teams to take a longer look. On the field Casey may be the best QB at any HBCU school. He has a big arm, delivers a very accurate football, and he has the athleticism to get outside the pocket and make plays. Look for him to contend for player of the game honors.
2011 Stats: 272 of 453 (60%), 3,808 yards, 27 TD, 15 INT, 94 carries, 103 yards, 3 TD
FB/TE Tony Davis-Fort Valley State
Weight: 235 lbs.
Davis has been hurt for much of the 2011 year so his numbers are way down but kudos to the HBCU Bowl committee for still giving Davis his due shot. His 2010 was phenomenal and his ability to hurt you in a variety of ways is what makes him an interesting prospect. He will have to get better at blocking and you can be sure plenty of NFL scouts will be watching him run drills during the week of practice.
2010 Stats: 50 receptions, 611 yards, 2 TD
WR Derrick Hector-Morehouse
Weight: 220 lbs.
Hector will be the biggest WR at this all-star game and that alone with garner him plenty of attention. At 6’6, 220 he has the makings of a NFL body and based on his film he has many of skills scouts desire in taller WR’s. He does a good job high pointing the ball and tracking it over his shoulder. The question for him like with other tall WR’s will be how fast will he run? A quick time and a good week could skyrocket Hector’s stock.
2011 Stats: 46 receptions, 648 yards, 4 TD
WR Marcellos Wilder-Jackson State
Weight: 200 lbs.
Wilder will have the unique opportunity of being able to play with his college QB in an all-star event. That alone should give both Therriault and Wilder an advantage when in front of scouts because their timing and knowledge of each other will already be down. Look for Wilder to potentially turn some heads at this event he has more speed than he’s given credit and against a strong East secondary he could make some plays and a name for himself.
2011 Stats: 55 catches, 719 yards, 6 TD
TE/FB Renty Rollins-Jackson State
Weight: 255 lbs.
Rollins like Wilder has the extra advantage of playing with his regular QB. That’s a good thing for since many teams are going to question if Rollins is more of true in-line TE or an H-Back type who will be better as a pass catcher than a blocker. Rollins needs to show teams he has the ability to work the seam route as well as be effective when asked to block and chip.
2011 Stats: 36 catches, 562 yards, 5 TD
OL Jarvis Canty-Morehouse
Weight: 335 lbs.
If anybody remembers small school prospect Ramon Harewood from a few years back Canty comes from the same school. Canty is a massive OT prospect whose likely going to get looks both inside and outside. He uses his frame incredibly well and Ive heard some compare him to David Mims from last year’s draft class. Canty was a big part of the reason that RB David Carter (a likely target for next year’s game) has been able to put up such huge numbers the past few years.
2011 Stats: 15th Ranked Rushing Offense 230 ypg, 58th Ranked Sacks Allowed (team) 1.70
DL Adrian Hamilton-Prairie View A&M/Texas Tech
Weight: 255 lbs.
The nations sack leader will come into this game with all eyes on him. At his build he could project into any NFL defense and if he can show the same level of burst and rush ability that he has this year in the SWAC he can probably expect even more post season invitations and film requests. Hamilton is an older prospect, and like almost any other transfer down the idea that he was at one time considered good enough to play in the FBS will intrigue many scouts.
2011 Stats: 81 tackles, 26.5 TFL, 20.5 sacks, 5 QBH, 6 FF, 2 QBH
DL Donovan Robinson-Jackson State
Weight: 255 lbs.
Robinson isn’t far behind Hamilton is almost every major statistical category this season. He will have the chance at this game and in practice though to show why he should be considered the bigger prospect. Robinson will measure almost identical to Hamilton though we haven’t seen that same burst off the edge from him. He may be more of a 43 DE in the NFL, but still had a great chance to impress some teams.
2011 Stats: 55 tackles, 22.5 TFL, 14 sacks, 7 QBH, 4 FF, 4 PBU, 1 blocked kick
DL Chigbo Annunoby-Morehouse
Weight: 305 lbs.
The big man who will got plenty of looks in the middle has been an under the radar menace this season. He has very intriguing size because he could easily play the NT or UT spot in a 43, he could potentially slide outside to the DE spot in a 34 or bulk up and play NT in the 34. With that kind of potential versatility look for Annunoby to get plenty of looks and reps during practices.
2011 Stats :49 tackles,14 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 QBH, 3 FF, 1 blocked kick
DL Donte’e Nicholls-Tennessee State/South Carolina
Weight: 312 lbs.
One of two pure 34 NT prospects in this game, Nicholls is a space eater who knows how to plug holes and eat up blockers. His numbers aren’t going to pop off the box score but just ask fellow HBCU Bowl attendee Rico Council what he thinks about Nicholls ability. Nicholls will be evaluated based on his ability to generate pressure up the middle. Teams always put a premium on 34 NT options and this is Nicholls shot.
2011 Stats: 29 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU, 1 QBH, 1 blocked kick
DL Corey Hart-Alabama A&M/Marshall
Weight: 245 lbs.
Imagine for a moment that Hart never left Marshall, right now he would be able to combine with Vinny Curry to complete one of fiercest pass rush duo we may ever see. However Hart is not at Marshall which is a good thing for this game and this West squad as they have a DE rotation that is so deep I fear slightly for the East squads QB’s. Hart is probably the most explosive of the three big DE’s and uses a nifty inside spin move to keep OT’s honest. Hart may not have the size of Hamilton or Robinson but he’ll make plenty of plays.
2011 Stats: 55 tackles, 27 TFL, 14 sacks, 12 QBH, 2 FF
LB Rico Council-Tennessee State
Weight: 255 lbs.
One of the most active LB’s in all of college football, Council has a nose for the football and always seems to be around it. He flows extremely well does a good job avoiding traffic. He’s well builty for a slightly undersize prospect. Will likely get plenty of looks inside at 34 ILB where his size will be less of an issue. Wouldn’t surprise us if he leaves scouts and media members talking about how loudly he makes the pads pop after practices.
2011 Stats: 81 tackles, 8 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 1 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FF
LB/DB Jamarkus Gaskins-Albany State
Weight: 225 lbs.
We saw Gaskins play in last year’s Fountain City Classic and we were impressed with his ability to tackle and move. We saw him as more of a DB prospect at the time but his blitzing ability this year from the LB spot has begin to make us wondered. He’s a bit undersized for a LB and would be asked to add more bulk. If he was able to do that then a 34 ILB spot in an aggressive scheme could serve his skill set very well.
2011 Stats: 73 tackles, 17.5 TFL, 10 sacks, 2 QBH, 5 PBU, 1 FF
DB Moses Ellis-Prairie View A&M
Weight: 190 lbs.
Ellis has had a bit of an up and down year. The Prairie View roster saw a lot of turnover this past offseason and the team has fought hard. Ellis is one of their most talented defensive backs and because of that QB’s have tried to avoid him. He’s got very good closing speed, and does a good job reading the QB’s eyes in coverage and breaking on the ball.
2011 Stats: 36 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 INT, 3 PBU,1 FF
DB Ricky Johnson-Fort Valley State
Weight: 200 lbs.
An aggressive in the box defender who has seen time at multiple positions while in college taking on the role of DB, and LB. Johnson projects forward as a rover style DB who will need to work on his coverage skills in order to make it at the next level. He’s got good athleticism runs well and knows how to hit, but we need to see that his hips are smooth enough in transition and that he can cover players one on one.
2011 Stats: 90 tackles, 8 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 PBU, 2 FF, 1 INT, 1 blocked kick
DB Joseph Wylie-Tennessee State/Univ. of Miami
Weight: 215 lbs.
Just imagine what that already loaded Miami defensive backfield could have looked like had Wylie stayed. The talented Wylie has phenomenal size for the position and he moves pretty well. We saw stiffness in his hips on tape but we want to see more of him in practice and drills. He’s a talented DB who knows how to tackle in space and be the last line of defense.
2011 Stats: 66 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 QBH, 2 PBU, 1 INT, 1 FF
Make sure you check back tomorrow for the breakdown of the East Roster!