By Greg Doyle, Patriots Daily Staff
This is our last regular season week of College Scout, though we hope to be back with a special Bowl Edition or two in a few weeks. Thanks for reading, I hope it proved useful for watching some games and perhaps later checking back on at draft time. Once again, it was enjoyable bringing it to you.
East Carolina vs. Houston (Noon ESPN2)
This is the Conference USA Championship Game with the winner slated to go to the Liberty Bowl. East Carolina has been playing very well of late, but slowing down the Houston offense is a very tall task for them. Should be a fun game.
DT Linval Joseph (#97):
Joseph is a very big man who was born in the US Virgin Islands. He checks in at 6’6″ 322 lbs. and has been dominant along the interior of the Pirates defensive line this year. For the season he has 54 tackles, and 3 sacks. He’s not a great pass rusher, but can occasionally chip in there. Run stopping would be Joseph’s forte and he is quite a large, physical and strong presence in the middle of the line. While only a junior, there is some thought Joseph will enter the draft this year and could be as high as a second round pick with the possibility of moving up. He’d appear to be a fit with the Patriots given his size, strength and production as an interior lineman who’d fit in the 3-4. At one time Joseph weight as much as 371 lbs. and he has lost anywhere between 50 and 60 lbs. since 2007. He does play with high effort, something the Patriots will appreciate.
DE C.J. Wilson (#95):
Wilson is Joseph’s teammate on the end of the Pirates defensive line and for the season has racked up 53 tackles and 5.5 sacks. That brings his total to 27 sacks for his career. He has been a starter for ECU since midway thru his freshman year and has always been a very productive player. Was first team Conference USA last year as a junior. Checks in at 6’4 278 lbs. Perhaps that is too small for the Patriots, but if he can bulk up a bit they may consider him.Wilson is a natural pass rusher who holds his own against the run and also gets involved in special teams and has had several blocked kicks in his career. Right now he looks to be about a mid-round choice.
QB Case Keenum (#7):
Keenum is another junior that could come out this year and be a very high draft pick after what can only be looked at as one of the better seasons for a quarterback in NCAA history. Though a junior football-wise, he did have a redshirt year so is on-track academically and that is another clue he may come out this year. Really there isn’t much left for him to prove at the college level. He’s completing over 70% of his passes. He’s thrown 38 touchdowns versus only 6 interceptions and over 4,900 yards this season. While he could probably stand to put on a little weight at the NFL level, he does have decent size, can move around the pocket and throw on the run and has a very good and accurate arm. If he comes out, there is a decent chance he’ll be a first round pick. Keenum is the son of a football coach. While its unlikely the Patriots would spend a high draft pick on a quarterback, they would like Keenum if they had the need in that direction. Some team will be lucky to get him, though he may take a year to adjust to an NFL offense.
CB Brandon Brinkley (#21):
Brinkley is a slim cornerback with good ball skills but who needs to shore up his run support abilities. His strength comes as a cover man, which he excels at. He came into the season with 7 career interceptions and has added 4 more this year. Brinkley has good times speed and a nice frame, but probably could add a few lbs. to make him more a fit for the mold of an NFL corner. Right now he probably projects as around a 5th round choice.
California at Washington (6:30 PM EST FoxSports Networks)
Washington is out of bowl contention but hoping to end on a two-game winning streak. California still has a chance for a 10 win season if they win this game and their bowl game. There really is no pressure here for anything, so it should be an entertaining game in which both teams let it all hang out, Washington hoping to go into next year on a positive, Cal hoping to head into their bowl game the same way.
WR Nyan Boateng (#8):
Boateng is an extremely gifted receiver with very good size at 6’2″ 211 lbs. A physical receiver, he can also very good speed. He was born in Ghana and came to the USA when he was 8 years old. Boateng started his college career at Florida and had some success there as a freshman, but got into some personal difficulties that led to him transferring to California after that season. After sitting out 2007, he returned for the Golden Bears last year and had a very solid season for a run-based team with 29 catches for 439 yards and 5 touchdowns. This year Boateng broke his foot and missed some time, so only has 10 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown. Despite his modest college production, Boateng has a ton of talent and has reportedly matured a lot since his days at Florida. It was unfortunate he broke his foot this year, which has really held down his production. Perhaps a big bowl game will help his draft standing. But the talent is there and some team could get a late round steal if they take a flyer on him.
CB Syd’Quan Thompson (#5):
Thompson is one of the best cornerbacks in the country and a possible first round pick next year in the NFL draft. Some draft analysts have Thompson in the top 15 players in the entire draft and the top cornerback, though a lot of that is subject to change as there are all-star games, workouts and combines still to take place. Slightly undersized height-wise, Thompson is solidly built at 191 lbs. and very athletic. He is a dangerous punt returner for the Golden Bears. Has 7 career interceptions despite teams avoiding him this season. Thompson is reportedly a very high character guy, a team leader and extremely productive. If he falls towards the end of the first round or into the second, perhaps this is a direction the Patriots would look to go in.
LB Donald Butler (#9):
A smart, 6’1″ 235 lb. inside linebacker who is a very good college player, but may be a fringe NFL player. Butler is having a very solid season this year, leading the Huskies in tackles with 88 and also showing good coverage ability. This will be one plus in his favor in getting into the NFL. While Butler probably doesn’t fit with the Patriots, he could possibly fit somewhere else and get himself onto another team that runs a different type system. The issue will be proving his speed and athletic ability in the post-season.
DE Daniel Te’O-Nesheim (#66):
This guy is as relentless a football player as you’ll ever see. He just keep playing and playing and playing and harasses quarterbacks all day long. He is a 6’4″ 263 attacking type defensive end who came into the season with 19 sacks which he got thru a combination of speed, power, determination and just pure never giving up on a play. He’s added 7.5 more sacks this season and forced 3 fumbles. Te’O Nesheim not only has one of the more intriguing names in college football, he is also a very interesting prospect. It seems doubtful he could convert to linebacker for the Patriots and will likely have to play down in the NFL. While he lacks great athletic ability, he makes up for it in hustle and effort. It is likely he’ll only be a mid-round choice as he will test average at the combine, but some team could get a steal and a player who eventually terrorizes NFL quarterbacks in the right scheme.