BBD Writer Tony Wiltshire
My second day at the Texas vs The Nation game was much more interesting than the first. Instead of watching from the primary area of the press box, I moved over to an individual room where there was more action. Although the wind was horrific, it turned out to be a beautiful day for some football. While I watched, I had several interesting conversations with NFL scouts.
The nastiest kid at the game is Kent State OG Josh Kline. He loses his balance too often, but he never stops battling. The scout really enjoyed watching him “throw an elbow” to a defenders ribs on a combo block. Cal (PA) Safety Rontez Miles is another player noted as playing with a nasty streak. In addition to speed, intelligence, and character, being “nasty” is an essential component in players they want on their team.
North Carolina OT Travis Bond is a player that shouldn’t be at the game. He’s been “smoked” inside and out all week, and his only chance at the NFL level will be inside. The scout said some team will take him as a backup, but he’ll eventually drive his coaches nuts when, at some point, he inevitably is forced into the lineup for one reason or another. In his opinion, he isn’t worth a pick.
A scout noted that Richmond FB Kendall Gaskins has “showed out” through the first two days of practice. Even though he’s physical and fast, he’s not sure if he’ll be able to shake the perception that he’s a “lazy player.” He doesn’t think he’s a “team first” type of prospect.
Youngstown State RB Jamaine Cook and OG Lamar Mady are two guys another scout singled out as taking advantage of their opportunity. Even though he loses his balance on occasion, Cook “runs extremely hard and makes decisive cuts.” He currently carries a PFA grade, but he could sneak into the seventh. After thinking Mady weighed in the 290 range, he was pleased when he tipped the scales at 315. His performance in practice has been just as impressive, and “he has a legitimate shot to be selected in the middle rounds.”
East Central DE Armonty Bryant has been the most impressive player on both rosters. He’s a raw prospect, but he can “shed blocks with ease” and potentially factor in both the run and pass game at the next level. It was surprising to hear, but two different scouts said Bryant carried a 3rd round grade.
One scout has been impressed with the play of Kentucky DE Collins Ukwu. He described him as a “high cut guy who could grab his wallet over his shoulder……can tie his shoes standing up.”
LA-Lafayette DE Emeka Onyenekwu is another player that has caught the attention of the same scout. He comes off the ball extremely well, and he possesses the length he looks for. He went on to note that Onyenekwu “smoked” OG Travis Bond on several occasions using a variety of moves.
Another scout wasn’t as kind to Ohio DE Tremayne Scott. Even though he plays with a nasty streak, he doesn’t think he’s a very good player and described him as “all gut & no butt.”
UCF RB Latavius Murray is a player that offers a lot of intrigue. Despite his height (6’3”), he has “good feet even though he’s not fast” and “terrific hands” as a receiver. He’ll appeal primarily to teams that run a zone scheme, and one scout suggested a potential position switch to linebacker.
The most impressive receivers on The Nation roster were Lehigh WR Ryan Spadola and Missouri’s WR T.J. Moe. Even though both are limited athletically and will never be consistent threats on the outside, they “know how to find soft spots in the defense and work themselves open.”
One scout was impressed with the natural athleticism of Cincinnati WR Kenbrell Thompkins, but currently had him graded as a “reject” due to character concerns. He had a rough time growing up in Miami before turning his life around and transferring to the Bearcats from the JUCO ranks. When I asked for an opinion on Kentucky WR Roddy King, Utah WR DeVonte Christopher and Syracuse WR Marcus Sales, the only response I got was “they can’t run.” One scout noted that Christopher was “as slow as dirt.”
It’s not secret that the QB’s on both teams have struggled. Several scouts expressed their disappointment in not being able to do a proper evaluation on any of them. They were all referred to as “Captain Checkdown” or “Mr. Double Clutch,” and there were pleas throughout the day for the QB’s to let it rip. Tulane QB Ryan Griffin was the most consistent and did show some nice anticipation on some deep crossing patterns. The arm strength of Illinois State QB Matt Brown impressed one scout, and he went on to say he currently grades him as a 7th rounder. Another scout wanted to see Minnesota TE MarQueis Gray take some snaps, and despite throwing nothing but fastballs, he felt he’d be better than the other guys.
Faulkner Safety Ray Ray Armstrong is firmly on the radar of scouts. Several mentioned that he’s a “great looking player” with good hips and excellent movement skills. Even though he lacks instincts in coverage, one scout went so far to compare him to Richard Sherman. I missed the end of his comment but he mentioned Armstrong and “press man” in the same sentence. Another felt he’d run a 4.50 at the combine.
Northwestern LB David Nwabuisi will “never make it to an NFL camp. He has no instincts.”
New Hampshire DT Jared Smith can’t disengage from blocks today. He didn’t come to play after starting the week strong.
If Montana FB Dan Moore doesn’t make it in the NFL, he’ll be an option for MTV’s Jersey Shore.
Texas A&M WR Uzoma Nwachukwu can fly. He’s “dusted” CB’s all week.
Wisconsin CB Devin Smith can’t run, but he has terrific instincts and has a future inside.
TCU WR Skye Dawson is extremely quick. He’s a hands catcher, creates a lot of separation, and he’s “killed it” all week.
USC Safety Jawanza Starling is flat-footed.
Arkansas DT Dequinta Jones has flashed some potential.
Even though he’s not at the event, several scouts mentioned North Carolina RB Gio Bernard as an early Round 2 prospect. He has “nasty vision, he’s elusive and he has the potential to carry the load.” He was referred to as an “undersized every-down back in the mold of Brian Westbrook.” Another scout mentioned how impressed he is of South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore’s character and work ethic, and finished by saying he’s been slotted to come off the board in the 4th round.
One scout said his team evaluates guys for potential, not for what they are. He also said the scouts that work for their team will have approximately 600 players with draftable grades at the end of the process. That was something that was very intriguing for me to hear.
Three scouts agreed that that Texas vs The Nation game was a better set up than the Senior Bowl. I’ve never been to Mobile, but I can’t imagine it being better than this.