Today is Pro Day for the Cincinnati Bearcats Football Seniors. Their last chances to make an impression with the NFL scouts before the 2011. Lets be honest, there is not a ton of talent on last years team. UC was very, very young and very, very thin. Jason Kelce, Armon Binns and Jake Rogers all got combine invites this year, but none of them are going to be particularly high draft picks in late April. So in an effort to give you a primer on today's Pro Day I have enlisted the help of Dan Kadar of Mocking the Draft, SB Nation's NFL draft site.
UC is pretty light on NFL prospects in 2011, particularly compared to the last to classes which were both pretty deep in talent, even though a couple of those guys weren't quite draftable talents. What are your thoughts on Jason Kelce, Armon Binns and Jake Rogers, the three guys who got invited to the Combine this year. Is this a one draftee class?
Before the season, I actually liked Binns a lot. But he was kind of exposed as a one-trick vertical receiver without explosion or great speed. Still, some team might fall in love with his size and take him late. Unfortunately for Kelce and Rogers, center and kicker really aren't positions that get drafted that often. They'll be UDFAs for sure, but maybe not drafted.
Vidal Hazelton, what are the chances that he gets a look from teams. He is prodigiously talented physically but he had the falling out with USC during his Junior year, sat out a year after transferring and played a half of Football against Fresno State this year before blowing his ACL so the production just isn't there. I can't imagine he will get drafted given the circumstances but does he have NFL talent in your opinion?
That's a pretty good assessment. It was pretty surprising that he didn't even apply for a medical hardship. I know the UC people told him it wouldn't be granted by the NCAA, but what would it have hurt? The pro day will be bigger for him and than any other Cincinnati player. Hazelton has never been a fast guy, but he still needs to show something. He's kind of like Binns without the production.
Projecting forward a little bit lets talk about Derek Wolfe. He has all the things that NFL types love in a DT he is a legit 6'5" 300 pounds and he has the frame to really add weight if he has to. He has played in a 3-4 as a nose tackle last year, and a 4-3 at both tackle spots this year and is athletic enough that he could possibly play as a DE in some schemes. All that being said the production hasn't been great. He had 48 tackles this past year, but his sacks and TFLs both fell despite moving to the more DT friendly 4-3 from the 3-4 of 2008. What are your thoughts about him and what he needs to do to ensure he gets drafted next year
The statistical drop was probably based on his early season injuries and that he was seeing more attention from extra blockers. At the high side, he could blossom into a top 50 pick. He projects as 3-4 defensive end in the NFL because he has size and, like you mentioned, he's been versatile. Unless some freak injury happens to him, he'll be drafted in 2012 no matter what. Where will depend on his performance and how he works out. He should be the better player in every one-on-one matchup he's in next season.
By my count UC will have 5 legit NFL prospects taking the field in 2012. I have them as D.J. Woods, Isaiah Pead, Alex Hoffman, Kenbrell Thompkins and Wolfe. If those are the guys what do each of them have to do on the field to get drafted next April.
Woods will have to show he can still be productive matched up against other teams top cornerbacks and that he can get off the line. Pead needs to run with a little more power. Everyone knows he's fast and can be elusive, but can he bowl someone over? That Rutgers game last year, though, was amazing. Hoffman has to stay healthy and show he's agile. Otherwise he may have to move inside at the next level. Thompkins I don't know much about, sorry.
Zach Collaros NFL QB prospect yes or no, and why or why not?
Maybe. He's a fringe guy based on his size and arm strength. It depends how much he develops between the end of last season and the start of this season. He was pretty bad the second half of last season.
How much College Football do you watch on a given Saturday? And what is the process like for a given prospect from "discovery" as an underclassmen through their Junior/Senior years
During college football season, I pretty much watch games from noon until the last Pac-10 or WAC games end really late at night. Then during the week I go back and watch games I missed or rewatch games with a lot of NFL prospects. There is a lot of note taking that goes on. I kind of equate the discovery process to the same way people find out about great music before it blows up big time. So you kind of have to start finding out about the players in obscure places and really believe in what someone may tell you along the way. Then once you take note of a player, it's just doing the due diligence. For instance, last summer someone told me about a big and quick defensive tackle from the SEC who I'd never heard of. It was Nick Fairley, who you could tell pretty early in the 2010 season that he was a good one.
Do you pay much attention at all to recruiting at the high school level to get a jump on the process?
Only players from the NE Ohio area who I watch myself. Even for me, the recruiting process is information and speculation overload. And I'm an Akron Zips fan, so it's hard to get excited about recruiting when its a big deal if Akron gets a three-star player.
Thanks again to Dan for taking the time to throw this together.