Joe Marino’s Talent Watch: Week One

The aforementioned Chuckie Keeton tops the senior quarterback ratings heading into the 2014 season. (Photo: Kelley L. Cox — USA Today Sports)

The aforementioned Chuckie Keeton tops the senior quarterback ratings heading into the 2014 season. (Photo: Kelley L. Cox — USA Today Sports)

Initial 2015 Senior Quarterback Rankings

This is not a good year for senior quarterback prospects and the group as a whole has a lot to prove in 2014. Fortunately for them, they have an entire year to show improvements and prove to NFL decision makers they are worthy investments.

1. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State: Keeton has very good arm strength and the ability to extend plays with his feet. More consistency with his accuracy is needed.

2. Bryce Petty, Baylor: A system quarterback, Petty rarely faces pressure or is asked to manipulate defenses with his eyes. His production is outstanding and has far more success throwing down the field than most “system quarterbacks.”

3. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State: A tough player with good pocket presence, Kelly’s arm strength and accuracy can stand to improve.

4. Sean Mannion, Oregon State: Mannion has flashed arm strength and accuracy but his decision making (46 career interceptions in 35 games) and mechanics are troubling.

5. Devin Gardner, Michigan: Improving as a decision maker with better accuracy are key areas to monitor in Gardner’s development in 2015.

6. Bo Wallace, Mississippi: Wallace has the ability to win with his leg or his arm but he lacks polish as a passer.

7. Cody Fajardo, Nevada: A dual threat quarterback, Fajardo has flashed but needs improvement as a complete passer.

8. Shane Carden, East Carolina: Carden is a productive and efficient quarterback but his footwork is in need of a major overhaul.

9. Anthony Boone, Duke: A David Cutcliffe product, Boone has a sound mental understanding of the passing game but his physical ability is lacking.

10. Hutson Mason, Georgia: A fifth-year senior, Mason is trying to fill the shoes of the highly accomplished Aaron Murray. With a strong supporting cast and same coaching staff/system in place for his entire Georgia tenure, a big season could be in store.

Twitter Hot Takes

I am completely on board with this concept. There is a buzz around Petty and the eye-popping numbers he has put up but he isn’t nearly as talented as his production indicates.

Great point here from Dane Brugler. A bad precedent would have been set if Dorial Green-Beckham, who transferred to Oklahoma after being dismissed from Missouri following a domestic violence investigation, would have been allowed to participate this season.

Ohio State took a major hit last week, losing senior quarterback Braxton Miller to a season-ending shoulder injury. That said, his best shot at making it in the NFL may come by making a positional switch. Miller always appeared to me as an athlete who can throw and shoulder issues will be difficult to overcome as a passer.

Six-Pack of Questions With Kyle Crabbs

NDT HeaderEach week I will interview a fellow NFL Draft analyst with a six-pack of questions. I kick it off with one of the best football minds in the business, NDT Scouting founder Kyle Crabbs. Kyle’s in-depth evaluations of prospects has quickly earned him the respect of fellow evaluators. Be sure to follow Kyle on Twitter @NDTScouting and visit his website NDTScouting.com. If you love the NFL Draft, keeping in touch with Kyle’s work is a must.

What drew you into scouting prospects?

I had the misfortune of a back injury which prevented me from pursuing a college football career in the PSAC. As a result, my passion for football took me into coaching; I spent three seasons coaching defensive line at my high school alma mater (Jaguars QB Chad Henne and former Titans/Giants/Raiders/Panthers QB Kerry Collins’ high school, Wilson, (West Lawn) PA) before the schedule became too overwhelming to continue balancing with college. The natural next step in the progression of pursuing my passion of football was to get into scouting… so I spent a number of years scouting privately own my own and continuing to expand my knowledge of the game before ultimately founding NDT (NFL Draft Tracker) Scouting in fall of 2013!

Which four teams do you predict will be in the NCAA playoffs this year and who will be the national champion?

Final Four prediction: Florida State, Michigan State, Oregon, Alabama
Championship Game: Florida State vs. Oregon
National Champion: Florida State

What was the last concert you attended?

Oh man… last concert I went to see was a Kenny Chesney concert at Lincoln Financial Field, June 2013. Talk about a long day; in the parking lot by 9:30 a.m. and concert didn’t wrap until around 11:30 p.m. Nobody does tailgating quite like Kenny Chesney.

What is your favorite movie of all time?

If I had to settle on just one, I’d probably have to go with ‘Any Given Sunday’. So many legends with cameos/regular castings and such a fun take on professional football. Not to mention hands down the best sports speech of all time by Al Pacino.

Settle it once and for all: Who is the best cornerback in the NFL?

I’ll say this; it’s not the guy getting the most money! I have to go with (Seattle Seahawks cornerback) Richard Sherman. Sherman has such awesome physicality, he’s got exceptional ball skills and route/field awareness, and he’s SO long that he’s nearly impossible to drop a ball over the top of from the trail position.

Who are the three most intriguing prospects heading into the 2015 college football season?

NDT Scouting's Kyle Crabbs identifies Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman as a prospect to watch in 2014. (Photo: Andrew Weber — USA Today Sports)

NDT Scouting’s Kyle Crabbs identifies Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman as a prospect to watch in 2014. (Photo: Andrew Weber — USA Today Sports)

I’m going to limit this to strictly seniors; no shortage of intriguing options:

1. Gabe Wright, DT, Auburn - Wright is a one-gap penetrating defensive tackle from the SEC. The Florida Gators have pumped out two defenders in that mold over the past two seasons (Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley) but Wright is just as violent as either one of them. Wright is explosive off the snap and is relentless with his hands in an effort to keep himself clean. He shows absolutely wonderful polish in the fundamentals of trench play; it’s a thing of beauty watching him execute textbook hand work. I want to see a little bit more lateral movement along the line of scrimmage from Wright in 2014, but as is he’s about as disruptive as any interior defensive lineman in the country that I’ve seen.

2. Alvin Dupree, DE/OLB, Kentucky – Dupree is what Vic Beasley is, only 30 pounds heavier (as of the end of last season anyway). He’s got an explosive first step and is a legitimate threat from the “Wide 9″ alignment where he can get out in space and bend the edge. Dupree has nice instincts in space as well, he is disciplined without bodies in front of him and plays along the line of scrimmage. He (also like Beasley) needs to work in 2014 on his counter moves and keeping himself clean of opposing blockers’ hands. If he shows that progression, he’s going to be a bonafide STUD in next year’s draft process.

3. Ohio State TE Jeff Heuerman - Heuerman didn’t get the kind of looks/touches in 2013 that would suggest he’s a huge talent, but with Carlos Hyde and Philly Brown out of that offense, Heuerman’s experience and athleticism will make him a valuable safety net for injured quarterback Braxton Miller’s replacement, JT Barrett. Heuerman has some freaky athleticism (rumored to have 33 reps of 225 and 36.5″ vertical this summer on top of an estimated 4.68-second 40-yard dash at 6’5, 255 lbs) and is a legitimate threat up the seam. I want to see him get more targets because I think he can push his name to the top of the 2015 TE class if he gets them.

Prediction Center

Each week, I will take the top five marquee matchups in college football and take a shot at predicting the winners as well as forecasting one upset. Week 1 not only features intriguing matchups for some of the nation’s top players, but a great slate of games to start the season.

Texas A&M at South Carolina: South Carolina’s talented offensive line and superstar running back Mike Davis should be able to control the game and secure the home victory over the Manziel-less Aggies. South Carolina 31, Texas A&M 20

Clemson at Georgia: Both teams should be much improved defensively but the home crowd and Todd Gurley will be the difference in this contest. Georgia 28, Clemson 21

Florida State vs. Oklahoma State: The Seminoles are the most talented team in college football and a bona fide national title contender. They should start the season with a victory over the Cowboys. Florida State 41, Oklahoma State 21

Wisconsin vs. LSU: This promises to be a physical contest featuring talented running games. Both teams feature many new faces but LSU keeps grinding out top recruiting classes. The experience on the Tigers offensive line and overall team speed will be enough to edge the Badgers. LSU 20, Wisconsin 13

Miami at Louisville: Gone is Teddy Bridgewater but returning is former head coach Bobby Petrino for Louisville. Despite featuring a new starting quarterback, Miami has a talented defense and strong running game, enough to make me take the road team. Miami 24, Louisville 14

Upset Alert: Rice over Notre Dame. I’m kicking things off with a bold prediction by having the Owls entering South Bend and defeating the 17th-ranked Irish. Rice can run the football well and Notre Dame lost a plethora of key contributors. With a difficult schedule ahead of them, Week 1 could be a great opportunity for Rice to steal a win. Rice 23, Notre Dame 17

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Tags: A.J. Cann, A.J. Johnson, Alvin Dupree, Anthony Boone, Bo Wallace, Bryce Petty, Cedric Ogbuehi, Chuckie Keeton, Clemson, Cody Fajardo, Corey Robinson, Derron Smith, Devin Gardner, Fresno State, Gabe Wright, Georgia, Hutson Mason, Jeff Heuerman, Kyler Fackrell, La'el Collins, LSU, Melvin Gordon, Sean Mannion, Shane Carden, South Carolina, Talent Watch, Taylor Kelly, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Todd Gurley, Utah State, Vic Beasley, Wisconsin

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