Casey Pachall, QB, TCU: Pachall had a solid game, but was definitely not spectacular. He’s got an impressive combination of size, athletic ability and arm strength but his ball placement was very inconsistent tonight. He wasn’t throwing terrible balls, but he struggled to put the ball where the receiver needed it to make the catch much more than I would have liked to see. He’s got plenty of upside, and he’s got some leadership capability and toughness that make it easy for his teammates to rally around him. For example on a crucial 3rd down that, if converted, would essentially win the game for TCU Pachall kept the ball on a zone read and lowered his shoulder to gain the necessary yardage for the 1st down and ultimately the win. You love to see that from a talent evaluation perspective. He’s got plenty of upside, but he needs to spend this offseason drilling his mechanics to try and improve his accuracy. That is what held him back in this game, though he did come through when his team needed him as he helped lead two 4th quarter touchdown drives, including one 18 play drive that lasted 9:21. The next one was significantly shorter thanks to his perfect 42 yard strike to Skye Dawson that was ultimately the game-winning score.
Waymon James, RB, TCU: Waymon James didn’t finish the game with the most rushing yards on the Horned Frogs, but I think he is definitely their best back. He is a smaller back and is listed at only 5’8″ but he weighs an impressive 203 pounds. He has quality leg drive, good footwork as well as impressive burst and acceleration. He’s not an elite athlete, but he has been productive in each of his two years on TCU and profiles as a quality sleeper prospect for either the 2013 or 2014 draft depending on how long he stays in school. Keep an eye on him!
Josh Boyce, WR, TCU: Boyce was TCU’s go-to receiver this season as he had 61 receptions on the season including his five receptions against Louisiana Tech. He produced 998 receiving yards on the year along with 9 touchdowns and demonstrated quality hands, good body control and ability to adjust to the ball in the air even on very under thrown passes. He’s only about 6’0″, 200 pounds but he’s got upside without a doubt. It will be interesting to see how he progresses next year as a junior in his second season catching passes from Pachall.
Skye Dawson, WR, TCU: Dawson started this game out poorly as he dropped a wide open pass down the seam that would have converted a 3rd and 2 and gone for a huge gain thanks in part to his speed and in part because he was absolutely wide open in the middle of the field. Pachall delivered a nice throw but it went right off his hands and fell incomplete and TCU was forced to punt. I couldn’t see how far back the safeties were, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he could have gained 40-50 yards after the catch which would have significantly changed the landscape of this game. However, he still produced 4 receptions, 85 yards and the game winning touchdown in the 4th quarter and was named the player of the game for this reason. Dawson strikes me as a guy who has taken some time to develop as he was a junior this year but it was his first season with significant playing time while Boyce was playing last season as a freshman. Dawson has track speed which makes him a big play threat despite his 5’10″, 175 pound size. He flashes some route running ability which helped him create great separation on the game-winning touchdown he caught. He’s still developing, but he had a bit of a break-out season this year and definitely has some upside as a slot receiver as he enters his senior season.
Stansly Maponga, DE, TCU: Maponga is a guy that intrigued me last year as a freshman and I expected him to improve significantly in his sophomore season. He did just that as he registered 55 total tackles (32 solo), 13.0 TFL, 8.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles and 2 pass deflections this season. He has solid size at 6’2″, 255 pounds but doesn’t have a lot of edge speed from what I can tell. He does have a solid get-off and acceleration when he lines up in a correct stance, but sometimes because he is often asked to stay at home for the zone read or for play-action bootlegs he drops his behind down from the ideal 3 point stance and stands up when he comes out of it. I’m not sure if he is coached to do this or not, but it hurts him when he is run at because he loses his leverage. Regardless, when he is in a correct stance and rushes the passer he uses his long arms effectively to help him avoid blocks, he flashes some hand usage and shows some flexibility to get the edge. He’s not a great pass rusher yet by any means, but he does have some upside. It is encouraging to see him use his long arms to affect passing lanes. It may not show in his number of pass deflections, but he gets his hands up pretty regularly. He’s only a sophomore so it will be interesting to see how he develops in the next year or two.
Tank Carder, ILB, TCU: Carder is a guy that I was very impressed with last year as he seemed to single handedly slow down Wisconsin’s offense in the Rose Bowl last year. Regardless of that great performance I can’t say I have been that impressed with him this year. He has solid size for a linebacker at 6’3″, 235 pounds or so but his combination of solid size and limited athleticism makes it hard for me to project him as anything more than a 5th round pick at this point. His athleticism projects him better to the inside, possibly in a 3-4 defense, but he doesn’t shed blocks that well and his sideline to sideline speed is not ideal. He demonstrates pretty good instincts but at times he will take false steps or take a long time to read the play before he reacts. It remains to be seen if his instincts and smarts will help him overcome some of his physical limitations to eventually be a starter, but for his first couple seasons I would expect him to be a back-up that contributes on special teams.
Greg McCoy, CB, TCU: McCoy is an interesting prospect. He’s listed at 5’10″, 182 pounds and has a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.43 which is awfully impressive. He might be a better return man than a cornerback, but that isn’t to say I think he’s a terrible corner. He’s just a very good return man. This season he produced 979 kick return yards (with a fantastic 30.59 average per return) and took two kick-offs back for touchdowns. He doesn’t have any punt return experience in college, but he might be worth trying out at that position once he gets to the NFL. As a corner I’m not sure how well he projects to the NFL, but he did a good job staying with Louisiana Tech’s receivers when he was thrown at. They aren’t burners by any means, but he was in their hip pocket consistently and every time I saw him he seemed to have good coverage and made a couple plays on the ball to deflect passes away. Will he be a good/great corner in the NFL? I’m not sure, but I think he has enough ability as a corner to stick on a roster as a return man and contribute on special teams before ultimately living up to some of his potential as a nickel or dime corner. It will be interesting to see if he gets invited to any post-season all star games. I’d love to watch him play on special teams as well as demonstrate his upside as a corner.
Colby Cameron, QB, Louisiana Tech: Cameron had a solid start to this game but as I expected once TCU started to bring pressure he struggled more and more. Obviously he didn’t fold like a lawn chair and never complete a pass again, but he faded away from more of his throws, threw without his feet properly set more often, and continued to seem uncomfortable in the face of TCU’s pressure. That led to the offense’s collapse and helped spur TCU to a win, and had Cameron not thrown a perfect pass off of his back foot that Myles White managed to catch up to and haul in for a 61 yard touchdown then Louisiana Tech would have probably lost this game by two or more touchdowns. Their offense didn’t produce a single point in the last 17 minutes of this game and Cameron had plenty to do with that. Cameron is a junior that stands at 6’2″, 205 pounds, has average arm strength and accuracy and in general doesn’t have impressive NFL upside in my opinion. He looks far too uncomfortable in the pocket and struggles in the face of pressure which is always a red flag when you are evaluating QB’s. He led Louisiana Tech to a 5-1 record in his 6 starts this year, but it will be interesting to see if teams find creative ways to pressure him to see how he holds up next year.
Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech: Patton is a junior WR on Louisiana Tech that impressed me in this game. He struggled to create separation from Greg McCoy at times which might hurt his ultimate NFL prospects, but he demonstrated pretty reliable hands and the ability to make catches in traffic which he will need to do at the next level since he isn’t a burner. He still has another year at Louisiana Tech so he has the opportunity to improve and develop further, but he had a very productive season this year with over 78 receptions, 1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has solid size at 6’2″, 195 pounds and a listed 40 yard dash time of 4.56 so while he isn’t an elite NFL prospect by any means I do think he has a chance to be a late round pick if he continues to improve.
Matt Broha, DE, Louisiana Tech: Broha is an interesting prospect. He had a pretty good year this year as he produced 45 total tackles (25 solo), 9.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 pass deflections. He’s got solid size at 6’4″, 255 pounds but he doesn’t have much edge speed and he looks very stiff rushing the passer at times. He struggled to get the edge and finish the rush at times, though initially he looks pretty good getting off the ball and using his hands to keep blockers off of him or using a pass rush move like a swim or a club move to gain an advantage. He doesn’t project as anything more than a late round pick or possible free agent to me, but with his size and solid hand usage he has a chance to make a roster. I just haven’t seen much that makes me think he will be a quality rotational guy at the next level.
Terry Carter, CB, Louisiana Tech: I was excited to see Carter in this game but he was very rarely challenged while I was watching. He’s not very highly rated but at 5’11″, 190 pounds he has solid corner size. I wasn’t able to judge his tackling in this game, but he did have 59 total tackles (41 solo) on the year as well as 2.5 TFL, 11 pass break-ups, 1 forced fumble and an interception that he returned for a touchdown. I don’t have a listed 40 yard dash time for him and I didn’t see much of him against TCU, but he had solid coverage the few times I was able to see him. I would be surprised if he was picked earlier than the 5th round right now due to the sheer lack of information on him, but he strikes me as a guy that could be a bit better than most people think.