The college football regular season is over, but there’s barely a break in the action before Bowl Season kicks off on Saturday, December 15th. Despite the fact that there are 35 different bowl games, and 70 bowl teams – including 6-7 Georgia Tech, and 12 other 6-6 teams – there are still 54 teams left out of the party. On those teams are a host of talented players who have played their final games as collegians, All-Star Game appearances notwithstanding. I have listed 25 of those players, including departing seniors and underclassmen who have declared themselves eligible for the 2013 NFL Draft, and compiled scouting notes on each based on tape from the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Below are the 11 offensive prospects I examined, with 14 defensive prospects to follow shortly. Underclassmen are designated with an asterisk…
Tyler Wilson Arkansas QB 6’2 218 – Wilson has an easy delivery and can change his arm angle to make throws around the defender. He displays good mobility and is comfortable rolling out and throwing on the run. Wilson can buy some time with his feet but he’s not a fast runner by any stretch. When he doesn’t set to throw, he is in danger of underthrowing the ball and getting intercepted. He has been criticized for checking down this season, but several good examples exist on tape of him going through all his different progressions before hitting a check down. Wilson possesses good arm strength and confidence – enough so that he trusts himself to try to rifle a throw between three defenders. His release point looks generally good, but he does not compensate for lack of ideal height. The ball comes out pretty consistently from about ear level. Wilson can shorten his release to get the ball out more quickly if he needs to do so. On occasion his deep ball comes out a little flat, and when that happens he can overshoot his target. Wilson makes a lot of short throws but his ball placement is very good. He routinely hits his guys in stride so that they can get yards after the catch. Wilson is not afraid to hang in the pocket and keep his eyes downfield, but he must be careful not to hold the ball too long and take unnecessary hits. As noted above, he is adept at throwing from a variety of angles – a trait that will help in the NFL where he’ll rarely have a clean pocket. It’s an unappreciated skill, but Wilson knows how to slide at the end of a scramble. Barring unforeseen circumstances, Wilson is one of the top two quarterbacks available in the draft. He’s likely to be selected within the top 10-15 picks. He has been invited to the Senior Bowl, so he will have an opportunity to impress NFL scouts in late January in Mobile, Alabama. For more on Wilson, check out Benjamin Allbright’s scouting report from last summer.
Zac Dysert Miami (OH) QB 6’3 228 – Dysert’s most impressive trait is probably his downfield throwing ability. He steps into his throws and his touch on deep passes is as good as any quarterback in this year’s draft class. Dysert keeps his eyes downfield, rarely underthrows his receivers and he doesn’t miss the open man. He has an over the top delivery and a good release point. Dysert has excellent arm strength and can zip the ball with an easy delivery. He has supreme confidence to try and fit the ball into tight windows. At times he is getting passes down the field between two and three defenders, and placing the ball where his receivers can get yards after the catch. Dysert is able to buy time with his feet, roll out to either side, and deliver the ball on the run without sacrificing much accuracy. He stands tall under pressure, has good movement skills and is hard for defenders to wrap up. He often keeps plays alive when it looks like he’s in trouble, though he has to be careful not to try to do too much and get careless with the ball. When Dysert misses, he often misses high. This could lead to interceptions in certain areas of the field. Still, his arm strength will make difficult throws possible at the next level. Dysert hasn’t received a lot of national attention. Perhaps it was because he was playing in relative obscurity in the MAC. Perhaps it was due to playing with one of the worst receiving corps in the FBS ranks. Most likely it was a combination of things. But Dysert has the physical tools and mentality to be a riser during draft season. In fact, with his skill set it would not be surprising to see him become one of the top three quarterbacks chosen this year. Dysert was one of the “Under the Radar” offensive prospects we looked at prior to the season.
Dennis Johnson Arkansas RB 5’8 212 – Like Wilson, Johnson spent his senior season saddled on a Razorbacks team left in Head Coaching limbo by the ouster of Bobby Petrino. For detailed notes on Johnson, he was covered earlier this season in our “Running Back Roundup.”
Keenan Allen* Cal WR 6’3 210 – Allen is not a burner but he is a smooth runner with good open field ability. He runs good routes and excelled for the Golden Bears despite spotty quarterback play. In fact, perhaps no high-end receiver prospect suffered more from poor passing than Allen did. He is able to get separation without having track speed because he runs sharp routes and uses nice head and body fakes to free himself. Allen shows very good concentration and a wide catch radius. He uses subtle veteran push off moves to give himself a little extra room to operate. He can line up outside or in the slot and be dangerous in either role. Cal tried to get Allen the ball in a variety of ways – on end arounds, screens, and even handoffs to go with his downfield routes. Allen has announced that he will enter the 2013 draft and forgo his final year of eligibility. He seems destined to be one of the first, if not the first, receiver off the board come April. For more on Allen, check out Tom Melton’s scouting report from earlier this season.
Quinton Patton Louisiana Tech WR 6’2 195 – Patton is a receiver, but it’s his terrific downfield blocking that stands out immediately. During one game in particular, he stayed with his man on a run block a good 40 yards down the field. He is a maximum effort player on each and every play. Patton is not a burner, but has adequate speed and is a good open field runner. He gets open by running precise routes and using subtle push off moves to gain separation. He has reliable hands and can take a hit. Patton possesses good leaping ability and body control that allow him to get to contested balls and make catches in traffic. He has excellent concentration and is able to turn and locate, and track the ball in the air. Patton was one of the “Under the Radar” offensive players we looked at prior to the season, and has a chance to be chosen on one of the first two days of the draft after a stellar senior season. He is expected to be in attendance at the Senior Bowl in January.
Aaron Dobson Marshall WR 6’2 204 – Dobson had a somewhat disappointing senior season, and was bothered by a knee injury late in the year. He shows pretty good speed to get open deep. Because of that he can sell a go route, break it off and find himself wide open. Dobson shows excellent concentration to track the ball and bring it in with his hands even in tight coverage. He has an occasional lapse in awareness, and doesn’t have the most natural hands. On a few occasions he wound up double catching the ball, or letting it get into his body. Still, Dobson has a lot of talent and is a gifted receiver. He’ll get his chance to work with NFL coaches next month at the Senior Bowl.
Chris Gragg Arkansas TE 6’3 236 – Gragg battled injuries throughout the year, and like every Razorback endured a difficult 2012 season. When healthy, he is a willing and effective blocker who plays bigger than his listed size. He looks a bit heavy-footed despite relatively good estimated 40 times. But he is a strong runner who is able to break tackles and get yards after contact. Gragg has good receiving ability, he just has to be mindful to catch the ball with his hands and not to let it get into his pads. For more on Gragg, take a look at Matthew Mochal’s scouting report from last summer.
Dallas Thomas Tennessee OT/G 6’5 310 – After playing left tackle last season, Thomas spent most of 2012 playing left guard. He’s capable of playing both spots but guard may be his best spot early on. It appears as though he might struggle at left tackle versus NFL speed rushers, and he is not the type of mauler teams prefer at right tackle. On run plays, Thomas does a nice job locating the linebacker at the second level. He is a good athlete who looks lean and moves well. This is particularly evident when he is pulling. This part of his game would be lost if he lined up at tackle. Thomas does a good job of sealing off running lanes. He looks comfortable in pass protection at both guard and tackle. He is athletic enough to recover if he misses a block the first time. Thomas is agile, gets good leverage and anchors well – he doesn’t get caught off balance very often, if at all. He is not a road grader, so he may be best suited for a zone blocking scheme where his athleticism would be a valuable asset. Thomas is smart and disciplined, and stays with the play until the whistle blows. He has the look of a Day Two draft prospect. Thomas is expected to suit up for the Senior Bowl where he will no doubt work out at guard and tackle.
Oday Aboushi Virginia OT 6’6 310 – Aboushi is a towering man with long arms. He shows excellent power on a run plays, and a good first step in pass protection. Aboushi looks to have a good feel for what his opponent is about to do. He doesn’t typically miss his man on a pass rush, and does well to hold his position. Stamina and conditioning may be an issue, as he appears to be tiring late in some games. When this occurs he can be beaten around the edge or get pushed off balance on power rushes. Aboushi has a lot of promise and will have his chance to impress NFL personnel at the Senior Bowl.
Jonathan Cooper North Carolina G 6’3 310 – Cooper does a terrific job pulling and clearing the hole on running plays. He looks for a man to hit and attacks, demonstrating a “nasty Streak” that NFL teams love. However, he does get a little bit lost at times. Sometimes he’s lunging or getting in front and failing to find a body to block. At times he throws a block and disengages a tad too early. Cooper is quick to get out to the second level and pick up a linebacker when called upon to do so. He shows good power and leverage with a strong anchor to hold his ground. Cooper is not the biggest guy, but has a road grader-type body. Considering his build and his trouble locating defenders in space, he looks suited for a power running game rather than a zone blocking scheme – though he could probably handle either. Cooper is capable of walling off his man to the inside on off tackle and outside running plays. He is generally able to recognize when he needs to take his man one on one versus when he needs to help out one of his teammates. Cooper is an excellent pass protecting offensive lineman. He is not a finished product, but when he is decisive and puts a hat on a hat he can be one of the best guards in the class.
Larry Warford Kentucky G 6’3 343 – Warford is a huge guy but doesn’t have a sloppy build. He gets out to the second level quickly for a man his size, and has awareness to peel back for a block if necessary. Warford has immense power to allow him to gain leverage and anchor. He does a nice job sealing off the inside on off tackle runs. Warford is a good athlete considering his massive frame. His strength and mobility are evident when he tosses aside one defender and moves on to the next one very quickly. Warford lacks some of the lateral agility to pull, and that’s what sets him back from a player like Cooper, or Chance Warmack of Alabama. But his power and body-type allow him to take on one defender and help on another almost simultaneously. He holds his ground in pass protection and looks to have some long arms, but he can get a little high in his stance at times. He’ll need some technique work there. Still, Warford has positioned himself as a solid Day Two draft prospect, and will get a chance to impress scouts further at the Senior Bowl.