Intro by Scott Benson
If you tuned in yesterday, you know that we’re taking a look back at a few NFL Draft prospect profiles that first appeared on this page last fall. Greg Doyle’s College Scout reviewed the big games every weekend, and focused on the players to watch from a draft perspecive. In Friday’s installment, we reviewed the defensive prospects; today, here’s a few of the top offensive stars.
A reminder: you can find more by clicking this link to the entire CS archive. Thanks to Greg for all his work last season.
Boston College QB Matt Ryan (#12): If you follow football at all, you’ve heard about Ryan. It appears now most NFL draft observers have him rated as the first or second QB in next year’s draft. He could go as high as a top 5 pic, according to some. He is big and has a great arm and can even buy time in the pocket. Does a good job searching the field, but on occasion seems to lock on and miss the location of defenders, particularly on short middle routes. Does not get rattled by pressure but at times forces balls trying to do too much. Take the sack or throw it away Matt. Still, a very good prospect for the NFL. 12/26/07.
Michigan QB Chad Henne (#7): Has been a starter since appearing at Michigan as a true freshman. He didn’t get his senior year off to a soaring start with a very pedestrian game last week. He has all the tools, he’s the proverbial tall with a strong arm pocket quarterback. But still, there has been something mildly disappointing about his play since he has been at Michigan. His stats are good, but with the talent around him that isn’t surprising. Henne certainly has the potential to be one of the top quarterbacks in the draft next year, but he won’t do it playing like last week. The Patriots could have some interest, as they have had a bit of luck with Michigan quarterbacks, but he will likely be high enough in the draft they won’t take a quarterback at that point. 9/8/07.
LSU Quarterback Matt Flynn (#15): Flynn is a smart, game manager who showed his character by not transferring and staying for a fifth year after years of sitting behind last year’s number one pick in the NFL, JeMarcus Russell. Flynn does have some experience. He started for an injured Russell in the 2006 Sugar Bowl and led LSU to a 40-3 win over Miami and was named MVP. This is a true team player with a 10-2 TD-INT ratio for his career who has nice size, decent mobility and a good arm and should draw some NFL interest. Can move himself up to a mid-round pick with a solid year and is someone the Patriots might consider as a backup as Matt Cassel moves toward contract expiration. 9/30/07.
Arkansas RB Darren McFadden (#5): Although only a junior, he deserves to be talked about and will likely enter next year’s draft. A dominant, break-away runner with great speed and size. Can bowl you over or run around you. One of the best running backs to come out in the last few years, he is simply electrifying. Watch this guy, you’ll enjoy it. Put up over 1,600 yards rushing last year. 9/15/07.
Oregon RB Jonathan Stewart (#28): I talked about this player last week. Only a junior, but still worth watching. He has phenomenal skills, a rare combination of speed, power and size (230 lbs). But for some reason has always platooned and that was the case last week. He did run for 72 yards, but that was only third on the team for the game. Put up nearly 1,000 yards last year and does return kicks. He should be highly sought after in next year’s draft given his talent. Still, his lack of dominance continues to be puzzling. 9/8/07.
Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall (#5): A junior, he is having such a good year he may consider coming out. Only 210 lbs, but never seems to go down on first contact. Has some good vision and cutting ability as well. Good around the end zone, he has had one of the better years of any running back in the country. Can catch the ball as well with 21 catches thru 7 games. 10/20/07.
California WR DeSean Jackson (#1): A game-breaking receiver who has a knack of getting way behind coverage downfield, this speedster will be lining up in a big game against Arizona State today (6:30 PM ESPN). Tall enough at 6 feet, but a bit undersized at only 172 lbs. Also an electrifying punt returner who returned 4 for touchdowns last year and has 1 this year as well. His yards per catch as a receiver is way down this year and that is a bit of a concern. Jackson is a speedy guy with good hands who has beaten college corners purely on speed. It remains to be seen if he can beat press coverage and be physical enough in the NFL. His awesome punt return ability, however, makes him a unique talent that will be closely scrutinized if he decides to come out for this draft. 11/3/07.
Oklahoma WR Malcolm Kelly (#4): He is only a junior, but one of the most talented receivers in college football so he could end up in the draft. He has it all, size (6’4″ 217), good speed and great hands. Incredibly dangerous around the end zone where he knows how to use his size to get the ball. Had 10 touchdowns last year and already has 7 in 17 catches this year. That surely will interest the Patriots. College Scout, 9/29/07.
Notre Dame TE John Carlson (#89): Carlson is really an excellent all-around tight end and given the Patriots traditional interest in tight ends and ties to Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis, he could be a target for them. He is big and tall, but can get down the field and catch passes. Has 60 career catches, including 47 last year when he became a starter. Solid blocker as well. Definitely worth watching. 9/1/07.
Michigan T Jake Long (#77): Protects Henne’s backside and one of the best offensive linemen in next year’s draft. A team captain, first team All-American as a junior and one of the leading candidates to be the Outland Trophy winner as the best college lineman this year. Could be a franchise left tackle and definite candidate as a top 5 pick next year. The Patriots would probably love a guy like this, tough, strong, hard worker, team captain. But its doubtful they’ll be high enough in the draft to ever get near him. 9/8/07.
Boise State OT Ryan Clady (#79): Only a junior, but a dominant left tackle who already projects as a first round choice, so he very likely will come out early for the 2008 draft. Has dominant strength and size, but combines it with amazing athletic ability. Could be a franchise left tackle for a decade or more. May interest the Patriots even though their line is pretty set. He is that good and could eventually move Pro Bowler Matt Light to right tackle if the Patriots looked in this direction. 12/20/07.
USC T Sam Baker (#79): Perhaps the best lineman in the country, Baker is a solid rock at left tackle and is headed for his third straight 1st Team All-American placement. Surprisingly athletic for his size, he’ll anchor the left side of someone’s line in the NFL for years to come. 10/27/07.
Boston College T Gosder Cherilus (#77): Another possible first-rounder for BC, Cherilus is local to the Boston area and has had a fine career. Big, strong and athletic, he could play either left or right tackle. Has nice size and can use his arms to keep defenders at bay effectively. Dominated some good players at times. The Patriots would like a player like this because he is versatile. He has good strength, but also the ability to move and get out on screens and be athletic. That is what the Patriots look for in their lineman, not just the big guys who beat defenders up on running plays. They want some of both. Cherilus is that. 12/26/07.