Draft Buzz: Luck's potential impact
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Steve Muench's Stock Report
Illinois MLB Martez Wilson -- At 250 pounds, Wilson is a downhill run-stopper who can hold his own in phone-booth situations and stop backs in their tracks. He doesn't have great agility, but flashes above-average range pursuing the run and dropping into zone coverage. His versatility reminds me of 2010 second-round pick Brandon Spikes (New England). Wilson times his blitzes well when lined up at linebacker and also can line up at defensive end on passing downs. Wilson missed all but one game in 2009 with a neck injury, and the NCAA granted him a medical hardship waiver. So, he has two years of eligibility remaining, and it seems likely he will return to Illinois to work on reading his keys and cutting down on false steps. Keep an eye on Wilson, though, because he is draft-eligible and the overall inside linebacker class is not a great one.
Nebraska DT Jared Crick -- His production didn't dip as much as we thought it would after the departure of 2010 No. 2 pick Ndamukong Suh, but Crick's stock has still slipped considerably. Other defensive tackles, including Auburn's Nick Fairley and Illinois Corey Liuget, have stolen the spotlight with outstanding seasons, but there's more to it than that. Crick has been inconsistent as a run-stopper and a pass-rusher. He plays too high at times, and he's not big enough to get away with it, especially at the NFL level. Although he recorded two sacks and flashed active hands in the Big 12 championship game against Oklahoma, he didn't show the ability to counter when he didn't win with his initial move. He also has failed to show that he can beat double-teams the way most elite defensive tackles can.
Kevin Weidl's Stock Report
Clemson DT Jarvis Jenkins -- I saw Jenkins live against Wake Forest and was very impressed. He shows good first-step quickness, and his explosive short-area power is what sticks out most. Jenkins has strong hands and a quick, compact punch that allows him to quickly stack and shed blockers. He also has good overall range and athleticism, is light on his feet, and can make plays outside the tackle box. Jenkins has only one sack on the season and I'd like to see him finish more as a pass-rusher, but he has the tools to be a good one-gap 4-3 defensive tackle or even move to the five-technique (end) in a 4-3 scheme. We have a high fourth-round grade on him right now, but Jenkins could very well move up the board as the pre-draft process unfolds.
Virginia QB Ras-I Dowling -- We gave Dowling a first-round grade coming into the season based on his combination of size, range and ball skills. However, the 2010 season did not unfold as Dowling would have liked. He missed time early to a hamstring injury, dealt with a nagging knee problem when he returned, then suffered a season-ending fracture in left ankle in November. Make no mistake, Dowling has first-round tools, but the durability issues likely will land him in the second round. He's not being helped by the overall strength of the cornerback class, either. Dowling is one of nine corners with at least a second-round grade, and not being able to show his skills alongside other rising, highly ranked players at his position has hurt his stock, as well.
Scouts Inc. Observations
Muench: Intangibles are important at every position but none more than quarterback. Andrew Luck sits atop our board, and all indications are he has excellent intangibles. The progress he has made the past two seasons is a reflection of his work ethic, and he is quick to deflect praise to his teammates and coaches. Jake Locker has slipped down the board but is a tough leader who is willing to play in pain and take the big hit to help his team get the win. On the other hand, he has to convince NFL teams he won't jump ship and pursue a baseball career if he struggles early or doesn't get drafted high enough. There are also concerns about two other quarterbacks on our board. Right or wrong, there are questions about the maturity of Ryan Mallett that stem from his time at Michigan, and the recruiting scandal surrounding Cam Newton raises a red flag. The good news is that both will get the chance to ease those criticisms when they sit down with organizations and tell their sides of their stories.
Weidl: There are no elite players on the offensive tackle board, but the position as a whole is beginning to gain some momentum. Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi is very strong in the running game and got better as a pass-blocker as the season progressed, and Colorado's Nate Solder ended the season on a high note after early-season struggles. Boston College's Anthony Castonzo has some holes in his game but appears stronger in the lower body and his core than we saw on his 2009 film. Junior Tyron Smith of USC has emerged with a strong season thanks to the kind of athleticism and natural feet NFL teams look for in left tackles. Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod has played well enough this season to make appearances among our top 32 overall prospects, and Villanova's Benjamin Ijalana is a rising small-school prospect who appears to have locked down a second-round grade. The 2010 draft saw three offensive tackles -- Trent Williams, Russell Okung and Anthony Davis -- taken in the top 11, and although no 2011 prospect is on their level, it appears that there is some depth to this year's class and that there are a few players teams can work with in the mid-to-late first round or early in the second.