Posts Tagged ‘University’

Cornerback Desmond Trufant (6) of Washington is projected to be the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, according to On the Clock's Jeff Vinton and Bill Slane

Cornerback Desmond Trufant (6) of Washington is projected to be the 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, according to On the Clock’s Jeff Vinton and Bill Slane.                  (Source: sportspressnw.com)

Cornerback Desmond Trufant (6′ 0″, 190 lbs.) out of Washington has risen up draft boards lately thanks to a great showing at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last weekend and is now considered one of the top two corners in the 2013 NFL Draft. Trufant, the younger brother of Seattle Seahawks corner Marcus Trufant and New York Jets corner Isaiah Trufant, played 45 straight games for the Huskies before getting injured and missing Washington’s game against Colorado this past season. He was named captain of the Husky football team this past fall and was named to the All-Pac 12 first team. Now he has healed and is gearing up to join his brothers on Sundays as a prospect in the NFL Draft April 25.

Here are Desmond Trufant’s statistics from Washington and his combine performance:

Stats:

Career- 50 games, 195 total tackles, 151 unassisted, 44 assisted, 2 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 5 fumbles recovered, 33 passes defended, 6 interceptions

2012- 12 games, 36 total tackles, 27 unassisted, 9 assisted, 1 sack, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovered, 9 passes defended, 1 interception

Combine Performance: 4.38 second 40-yard dash, 16 bench press reps at 225 lbs., 37.5 inch vertical jump, 125 inch broad jump, 3.85 second 20-yard shuttle

I will now evaluate Trufant based on these criteria: Agility, Run Defense, Awareness, Range, Coverage, Tackle, Ball Skills, Speed, Burn Rate, and Health.

AGILITY:

Trufant doesn’t get juked easily and that has a lot to do with the quickness of his feet and the looseness of his hips. He can change direction extremely quickly and keep up with any move that a wideout tries to throw to shake his coverage. He’s balanced on his feet and in general, just has some damn good agility.  8.75/10.00

RUN DEFENSE:

This is the area of Trufant’s game that needs the most work. It just seemed like Trufant was very slow at diagnosing the run, even in obvious formations (no wide receiver on his side) and situations. Then once he did diagnose the run, the back would already be at or past the line of scrimmage and he would basically have no impact on the play from there. Now, Trufant is a cover corner, so I am not totally surprised that he is lacking in this area, but I would still expect him to be a little better at this, and with his speed, to have more of an impact on the play. This is something that he will no doubt work on as he advances. 8.0/10.0

AWARENESS:

Trufant possesses great awareness. He can diagnose any pass play and pretty much whatever route the receiver he is covering is running before the snap. He adjusts his coverage to what he reads and does it fairly quickly. He can diagnose play-action and route changes with the best of them and this helps make his coverage that much better. 8.5/10.0

 

RANGE:

Thanks to his 4.38 40 time, Trufant’s range is amazing. He can close in on receivers that get past him and knock balls that seem way out of his reach out the air. On runs, after he takes the time to diagnose the play and see where it is going, he takes good angles, but since it takes him so long to diagnose the play, he usually shows up after the tackle has begun, so sometimes he gets a final hit in there to force the ball carrier to the ground, but sometimes just shows up after the ball carrier has been tackled and the play is over. He gets there, but is not usually there in time to make the initial hit on the run. If a receiver gets behind him, then he can close in on the receiver quickly and then make a play on the ball. I was very impressed with Trufant’s range. 9.0/10.0

 

COVERAGE:

I said this above, I see Trufant as a coverage corner more than anything else. He blankets receivers and makes it insanely hard for receivers to get open and quarterbacks to complete throws. He is better in man, which is the coverage that Washington ran most often, and great against deep throws. QBs will still try to make deep throws, but that attempt is often misguided due to Trufant’s coverage. 8.5/10.0

TACKLE:

Not many people can get away from Trufant’s tackles, but a lot that has to do with where he makes his tackles on the field and how he hits and wraps up. When one is as fast as Trufant, a lot of momentum can be built up when sprinting at or with a man downfield and then hitting them. Since a lot of those hits happen along the sideline, the force that come with Trufant’s hits force receivers the extra foot or two that they need laterally to get out of bounds. When he does actually tackle, his technique is pretty good. He hits low, wraps up and takes down to the ground. Long story short, Trufant is a pretty good tackler.  8.5/10.0

BALL SKILLS:

When defending the ball in the air, one can’t get much better than Desmond Trufant in this year’s draft class. Trufant attacks the ball in the air, is not afraid to dive at any ball that is thrown to his receiver and basically just do whatever it takes to make the throw incomplete. When a receiver does catch a ball and Trufant is trying to take him down, he looks like he is trying to strip the ball pretty much every time. Since he is not afraid to attack the ball in the air, Trufant is fairly good at grabbing interceptions (6 in his career, 1 in 2012). He doesn’t grab as many as he could, but if he works on his hands a bit in practice, I’m sure that number will go up at the next level. 8.75/10.00

SPEED:

Trufant ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at the Combine in Indianapolis last weekend, so yeah. He’s fast. He’s fast enough where there is no doubt that he can keep up with any receiver currently in the NFL, coming into the league this year or any year after this. I am hugely impressed with his speed and it is something that I know NFL teams loved seeing last weekend and the team that drafts him will love seeing every Sunday during the fall.  9.0/10.0

BURN RATE:

I pretty much covered his burn rate in the ball skills section, but I’ll sum it up again here. Desmond Trufant doesn’t get burned often. When the ball is thrown to his man, he jumps up in the air, dives, and knocks balls down. Obviously, a corner can’t knock every ball down, but Trufant is a great defender when the ball is thrown to the receiver he’s covering.  9.0/10.0

HEALTH:

He started 45 straight games before getting hurt and missing the Colorado game this past season, so that injury will be something that teams will keep in their minds when thinking about drafting him on April 25. I don’t believe that this will be much of an issue in his career, however. One injury in four years is definitely not a worrisome thing to me, and I think that NFL teams will look past that injury on draft day. 9.5/10.0

 

OVERALL:

From me, Desmond Trufant gets a score of 8.75/10.00. I believe that the youngest brother in the Trufant family will become the greatest corner of the three. I think that he can make a great addition for a team in need of a corner and that he will become a Pro Bowl-level corner. Trufant really needs to work on his run defense, but that can come with time. He has excellent coverage skills and I love his speed. Trufant is a great corner that is going to make whatever team that drafts him very happy. There might be some growing pains right away, but give him time and he will be really good. Now as to where I think Trufant will get drafted? Well, I believe (and this can be seen in our Round 1 mock draft below [also in the “Mock Draft” category]) that Trufant will be drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 13th overall pick. The Bucs are dealing with the best corner in franchise history, Ronde Barber, nearing retirement, and they will need to find someone to take his role on the defense. Trufant could come in and get game experience right away while learning the ins and outs of the NFL from an all time great. It is an awesome situation for Trufant to go into, and the Bucs would be extremely happy to grab a corner with the skills of Desmond Trufant.

HIGHLIGHTS:

 

Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow me on Twitter! @J_Vinton52 @OnTheClockNFL

Next, I’ll be previewing Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas!

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BYU defensive end/outside linebacker Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah (47) intercepts a tipped pass against San Diego State in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA on Dec. 20, 2012. The Cougars defeated the Aztecs 23-6.

BYU defensive end/outside linebacker Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah (47) intercepts a tipped pass against San Diego State in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA on Dec. 20, 2012. The Cougars defeated the Aztecs 23-6. (Source: patriots.com)

Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah is not the typical NFL prospect. The 6′ 5″, 271 pound BYU Cougar originally hails from Accra, Ghana and grew up playing basketball. When Ziggy came came to America and Provo, Utah, specifically, he ran track for the Cougars for one year and tried and failed twice to walk on to the basketball team. From there, Ansah discovered football and convinced head coach Bronco Mendenhall to give him a chance. Ziggy became a special teams player in his second season in Provo and was starting on the defensive line last season, his senior year.

His full story can be found in these two videos from 2011:

Here are Ansah’s stats from BYU:

Career: 31 games played, 72 total tackles, 39 unassisted, 33 assisted, 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 7 quarterback hits, 9 passes broken up

2012: 13 games played (13 starts), 62 total tackles, 35 unassisted, 27 assisted, 13 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 6 quarterback hits, 9 passes broken up

Ansah, who originally dreamed of playing in the NBA, is now headed for a career in the NFL and it is time for me to evaluate him. My evaluation will consist of these categories: Agility, Bull Rush, Speed Rush, Run Defense, Speed/Burst, Strength, Pass Defense, Tackle, Read and React and Health.

AGILITY: 

Honestly, Ansah has some of the best natural agility that I have seen in this year’s crop of defensive linemen and linebackers. He can change direction as quick or quicker than just about anybody, and when he is engaged with a lineman (or any type of blocker, for that matter) he throws one of the quickest and best spin moves that I have seen. This spin move is flat out dirty and it is one of Ansah’s best assets. He is not as balanced as I would like to see, but that is because he is still learning and getting comfortable in his pads. 9.0/10.0

BULL RUSH: 

Ansah doesn’t have the strongest bull rush, but that is mainly due to the fact that sometimes he doesn’t stay low and that is a horrible thing for a defensive lineman to do. One of the main thing that coaches preach to defensive linemen is to “Keep your pads low!” When a D-lineman is lower than his offensive counterpart, then he can get leverage and push the o-lineman backward. Now, during my third year of football, I wasn’t very good at this either, but I also am no comparison to Ziggy Ansah. But, Ansah seems extremely coachable and I bet that we will see improvement in this when Ansah takes the field in September for his first NFL game.  7.75/10.00

SPEED RUSH:

When Ansah is lined up in his typical defensive end or outside linebacker spot (he also lined up at nose tackle and defensive tackle at BYU), he has a pretty dang good speed rush. He stays outside and then cuts inside, usually using his spin when he sees that the quarterback has handed the ball off to a running back on a draw or that the QB is setting up to throw the ball. He doesn’t always get inside (notably during the Notre Dame game), but when he does, he causes a ton of disruption for the offense, and if you don’t believe me, check out the Utah State highlights throughout the videos. 8.5/10.0

RUN DEFENSE: 

Ansah is a naturally good tackler, which helps him a ton in his run defense. He’s not the greatest at diagnosing the play (but who is after only three seasons?), but when he does see it, he uses the speed and burst that I will talk about in the next section to catch up to running backs and throw them to the ground. I am honestly hugely impressed with Ansah’s run defense. 8.75/10.00

SPEED/BURST: 

Ansah ran a 4.63 40-yard dash at the Combine in Indy on Monday, sixth best among all the defensive linemen at the event. His speed and burst are even more impressive on the field. As I said in the last section, Ansah can chase down running backs who have gotten past him. There were times in his tape when he would come out of nowhere to make a tackle. He also has an insane burst when he sees a lane on a play. For example, in the Notre Dame game, Ansah was lined up at OLB and was left unblocked on a draw play. Ansah bursts through a lane on the Notre Dame line and takes Irish RB Theo Riddick down to the Notre Dame Stadium grass. That play shows Ansah’s burst more than almost any other. 8.75/10.00

STRENGTH:

If I were to say that Ansah is the strongest d-lineman in the draft, I’d be lying, but he is still really strong. He repped 225 pounds 21 times in the bench press test in Indianapolis and there are tons of plays where Ansah locks out 300+ pound offensive linemen to showcase how strong he really is. There is also a scene in the second video of Ansah’s story (above) that shows how strong he is. At one of BYU’s practices, Ansah lifts a blocking dummy (which, trust me, are not light) about six feet in the air and then throws it down to the ground as if it weighed nothing at all. That play showcased his strength to me more than any other. The best thing about Ansah’s strength is that there is more to come. He will benefit hugely from working with a NFL strength and conditioning coach to build a lot more strength in the weight room. I really cannot wait to see him in the NFL. 9.0/10.0

PASS DEFENSE:

Ziggy Ansah 2

Ansah knock as pass down against Washington State.

Ansah is about as good as it gets when it comes to defensive linemen against the pass. He broke up nine passes and even intercepted a pass this past season. I thought Bjoern Werner was about as good as it got for d-linemen here, but now that I have seen Ansah’s tape, I realize I was wrong. For Ansah, this all just comes naturally, and his pass defense is no exception. 9.25/10.00

TACKLE: 

I stated this earlier, and it seems like I’m saying this a lot, but tackling just comes naturally to Ziggy. He rarely misses a tackle and has learned well on how to form tackle from his coaches at BYU. He hits hard and doesn’t let players escape. If Ziggy gets ahold of a player, they are meeting the turf in some way. 9.0/10.0

READ AND REACT: 

This is an area where Ziggy could improve, but it really has to do with the fact that he’s only been playing the game for three years. It takes a ton of time to be able to read formations and linemen well, and Ziggy can do that, it’s just not as fast as I would like to see. But, I believe that he will improve with time in the NFL. So for right now my rating is 7.0/10.0, but I truly believe that he will improve and improve fast.

HEALTH: 

No injury problems currently, but with an inexperienced player, injuries are always a risk because of poor technique and learning how to defend different things that offensive players do (ex: cut blocks, a lesson I learned the hard way). 10.0/10.0

OVERALL:

If it’s not already obvious, I think that Ziggy Ansah is the best defensive lineman or outside linebacker available in this year’s draft. Overall, he got a score of I think that he has almost limitless potential. Here’s how I see it. If had his ability after only three seasons of football, then I would have a FBS scholarship and still be playing instead of sitting behind my computer screen writing about players. He is one of the most naturally gifted players that I have seen in a l0ng time, and I believe that with some coaching, then he will be an All-Pro defensive player. He is raw, but there is just a ton of potential there. Now as to where Ansah will be drafted. Various sources have him going anywhere from picks 6 to 19, and I believe really believe that he’ll be off the board quick at pick #6 to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns are still trying to build a competing team the likes of which they had before the old Browns moved to Baltimore. Ansah will help them out a ton on the defensive side of the ball and they will have the time to properly develop him to his true potential.

HIGHLIGHTS:

 

Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow us on Twitter! @J_Vinton52 @OnTheClockNFL

Tomorrow I will be previewing Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington!

Florida strong safety Matt Elam takes Louisville running back Jeremy Wright in the Sugar Bowl Jan. 2, 2013. The #21 Cardinals upset the #3 Gators, 33-23.

Florida strong safety Matt Elam knocks Louisville running back Jeremy Wright’s helmet off of his head during the Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans Jan. 2, 2013. The #21 Cardinals upset the #3 Gators, 33-23.

Matt Elam (5′ 10″, 202 lbs.) is one of the top safeties going into April’s draft. Elam was know for his highlight-reel hits during his time at Florida. He was a spark plug on their defense who kept the team excited and helped make Will Muschamp’s defense one of the best in the country this past fall. Elam was someone that even from just watching his tape, was easily found on the field from his excited and passionate play. He truly cares about his team and wants to do whatever it takes to help them succeed.

Here are his stats from Florida:

Career: 176 total tackles, 124 unassisted, 52 assisted, 23.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 13 passes defended, 6 interceptions.

2012: 76 total tackles, 58 unassisted, 18 assisted, 11 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 5 passes defended, 4 interceptions

Now that Elam (who will participate in drills at the Combine this morning) has declared for the NFL Draft, I will evaluate him. My evaluation will be based on these categories: Agility, Run Defense, Blitz, Range, Coverage, Tackle, Ball Skills, Speed, Completion Percentage and Health.

AGILITY: 

Matt Elam has pretty dang good agility. He is insanely quick as a runner, tackler and coverage man. He is balanced, he can keep up with any move that a receiver or running back tries to put on him, and he can change direction on a dime. Long story short, Elam possesses top of the line agility. 9.0/10.0

RUN DEFENSE:

Elam can attack the line and the ball carrier with the best of them. He takes on blocks head on and throws them with quick jukes and strong throws, but he sucks (and I am not using that word lightly) at bringing down the ball carrier. I’ll get to this more in the tackle section, but all he does is go for the big hit. This is NOT going to work in the NFL. I don’t know what it is going to take, but someone needs to teach Elam how to bring down a ball carrier correctly. I maybe saw him wrap up a ball carrier correctly five times in his tape. It infuriated me, and I would second guess drafting him in the first or second round because of it. 8.0/10.0

BLITZ: 

When asked to blitz and bring down the quarterback, Elam does fairly well. He is usually asked to blitz on the outside and beat the tackle around the edge, and when he does, he tries to put a huge hit on the QB. But this is where that whole tackle thing comes into play. Sometimes he puts a huge hit on the QB and other times the QB squats, lowers his shoulder, and bounces away from Elam. There are other times (and all of this happens in his run defense too) where the QB will break Elam’s tackle. Most of these times he strings the QB to the edge and Florida’s defense would swarm the ball carrier, which helped him out, but he still needs to get better at bringing down the ball carrier. 8.0/10.0

RANGE:

Since Elam is pretty dang fast (pre-Combine 40 time: 4.53) he moves pretty damn well in space. He can read where the QB is throwing the ball and closes in on it very fast, and when he sees a fumble he is usually one of the first defenders to get there because he takes great angles. Elam has very impressive range. 9.0/10.0

COVERAGE: 

Elam is a much better zone coverage man that a man to man coverage man. In coverage he can read the throw and the QB’s eyes and see where it is going and react much quicker. In man, he doesn’t have that opportunity and has to keep up with a receiver, who is usually at full sprint when Elam meets him down the field. He is pretty good at both, but he is much better when he combines with a corner in man coverage. QB’s like to take shots at receivers that Elam is covering, but few of them get completed. I wish I knew the actual statistic, but I’ll keep it at this. Elam is a pretty damn good coverage guy. 8.5/10.0

TACKLE: 

Here’s the section I’ve already mentioned twice and have been waiting to get to. And I’m going to put this bluntly. Matt Elam cannot tackle. I don’t know what it is. I’m wondering if he ever even learned how to tackle when he was younger. I was taught how to tackle almost every single year I played football, so I have no idea how Elam is so bad. All I saw in Elam’s tape is him trying to make big hits on guys and receivers, running backs and quarterbacks all just bouncing off of him and getting first downs or huge gains. I said this earlier, but I’m going to say it again. This absolutely infuriated me. These plays can work in high school where he was probably one of the best defensive players in his league, but it sure as hell didn’t work in college and it’s not going to work in the pros. Elam

needs to be taken aside and taught how to wrap up on a ball carrier. Going for big hits may work once a game, but a defensive player has to be able to WRAP UP! Honestly, if I were a GM in the NFL, I would pass on Elam because of this in the first few rounds. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t take him until rounds four or five. That’s how big of an issue this is. There’s plenty of teams that could use a good safety, but I’m not sure that Elam can do that unless he learns how to tackle. 5.0/10.0

BALL SKILLS: 

matt elam 2When Elam has the opportunity to create a turnover, whether that be an interception or fumble, he relishes the opportunity. He, like any defender, loves to create turnovers and give the ball and some momentum to his offense. He is also a pretty good defender on balls in the air. He’s not afraid to jump to hit a ball out of the air or dive to knock a ball that’s in front of him down. I like Elam’s ball skills. 8.25/10.00

SPEED: 

With a pre-combine time of 4.53, Elam is up with the some of the best safeties in the draft when it comes to speed. He has a great burst when he is blitzing and his acceleration is top of the line. Elam can catch up to just about anyone on the field and NFL teams will love that. 8.75/10.00

COMPLETION PERCENTAGE:

QB’s like to take shots at receivers that Elam is covering, but few of them get completed. I wish I knew the actual statistic, but I’ll keep it at this. When it comes to completion percentage, Elam’s is pretty low for a safety. 8.5/10.0

HEALTH:

No injury problems here. 10.0/10.0

OVERALL: 

Overall, Elam gets an 8.3/10.0 from me, but I just cannot get past his tackling ability. It’s just missing. I understand that as as player, one would want to make big hits because it gets them on SportsCenter and it gets them noticed by scouts, but when scouts dive into the players tape and see like I have that he can’t tackle, I can’t see scouts recommending that their team draft Elam in the first few rounds in April. I went into this thinking that Elam, from what I had seen this past season, was one of the top safeties in college football. He’s fast, he has good ball skills and he can read and react with the best of them. But he just can’t tackle. If it were me, I wouldn’t draft Elam until the 5th round, but I know that he’ll be gone by the end of the 2nd. Good Luck to whichever team drafts him. You have a project on your hands and I wish you luck. Maybe you’ll come out on top and make a great pick. Maybe he’ll be a bust. Just don’t pay him too much.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook! @J_Vinton52 @OnTheClockNFL 

Next, I will be previewing Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU!

Notre Dame's Manti Te'o (5) and Zeke Motta (17) and Michigan's Jeremy Gallon (10) reach for a batted ball during the game between the Irish and Wolverines on Sept. 22, 2012. Te'o intercepted this pass and the Notre Dame defeated Michigan 13-6.

Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o (5) and Zeke Motta (17) and Michigan’s Jeremy Gallon (10) reach for a batted ball during the game between the Irish and Wolverines on Sept. 22, 2012. Te’o intercepted this pass and Notre Dame defeated Michigan 13-6.

It seems weird that a scandal the likes of which Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o (6′ 2″, 255 lbs.) has gone through could effect his draft stock so much. In December, Te’o was a surefire top 10 pick, but Deadspin publishes a story and suddenly he’s either at the end of the first round or out of it completely. This could be because teams are questioning his intelligence (as I have, because, c’mon. Who gets catfished that bad?), or how the scandal could effect his performance, as it undoubtedly did in the National Championship game where the previously unbeaten Irish were throttled by Alabama 42-14 and the defense looked nothing like it had the entire season. But I cannot answer those questions, all I can do is evaluate his skills.

Here are Te’o’s stats from Notre Dame:

Career: 51 games (49 starts), 437 total tackles, 212 unassisted, 225 assisted, 34.0 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 12 quarterback hits, 17 passes defended, 10 passes broken up, 7 interceptions

2012: 13 games (13 starts), 113 total tackles, 55 unassisted, 58 assisted, 5.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 4 quarterback hits, 11 passes defended, 4 passes broken up, 7 interceptions

My evaluation will consist of these criteria: Agility, Bull Rush, Speed Rush, Run Defense, Speed/Burst, Strength, Tackle, Read and React, and Health.

AGILITY: 

Te’o has decent agility. He can get juked, which is not good, but he also has the agility to get through the line and into the backfield to tackle running backs and wide receivers on screens. He can change direction to go to the ball carrier very quickly, his feet are always moving fast and his hips could use a little bit more flexibility, but just put him in some yoga classes and he’ll be fine. 8.0/10.0

BULL RUSH: 

Overall, Te’o doesn’t have the best bull rush. When he does take a lineman on head on, it’s usually a stalemate, and it’s broken when the ball carrier comes through Te’o’s hole. There are also times when I saw Te’o get driven because he was keeping his eye on the ball carrier and not on the man blocking him. On those plays, Te’o would be much higher in his technique than on most of his plays. He is most successful when he stays low, like he is before every play, so if he can stay low more often, Te’o will be very successful in the NFL. 8.25/10.00

SPEED RUSH: 

As an inside linebacker, Te’o has not had to use a speed rush very often. Most times he is rushing up the middle, and a speed rush is used on the outside. I’m sure with the speed and agility that Te’o has that if he was asked to use a speed rush in the NFL, he could and it would be pretty good. But I’m basing my rating here off of how I’ve seen him rush on the outside and his speed and agility. 8.0/10.0

RUN DEFENSE: 

Te’o is a great linebacker against the run. He diagnoses the run very quickly and deduces which side and what hole the run is head toward faster than just about any linebacker I’ve seen in awhile. Te’o attacks running backs, is not afraid to take on any lineman or fullback that tries to block him and he doesn’t let running backs escape tackles easily. Just look at his Michigan State tape. That was not a great game for Le’Veon Bell and Te’o was a large reason for that. 8.75/10.00

SPEED/BURST: 

When the ball is snapped and Te’o is blitzing, Te’o is off like a cannon. He runs a 4.75 40 yard dash, and can chase down just about anyone at the line of scrimmage. His speed and burst can best be seen in Te’o’s sack of Landry Jones in the Oklahoma tape. He also sprints to catch up to any running back or receiver that gets past the line of scrimmage, no matter how far from the play he is. Te’o has great speed for a linebacker and his burst is as good as anyone’s. 8.5/10.0

STRENGTH:

If one just looks at Te’o’s biceps they can tell that he is one strong dude. His strength can also be seen when he take on offensive linemen and fullbacks that try to block him. It’s not an easy thing to take a 300+ pound offensive lineman and stop him dead in his tracks and be able to keep him where he is. Te’o possesses that ability because he is so strong. I’ll have a more accurate measurement of how strong Te’o is after he takes part in the bench press test tomorrow. 8.75/10.00

TACKLE:

Te’o is a very strong tackler. In the Wake Forest tape, I did see him miss a couple of tackles, but normally Te’o is a very good form tackler who hits opposing players with a ton of force. Not many people can escape a tackle from Manti, which is one reason that he accumulated 437 tackles in his career. 9.0/10.0

READ AND REACT: 

Te’o can read any play and react to extremely quickly. In many cases, it looked like Te’o knew what the opposing offense was going to do before the snap and was just waiting for the ball to move so that he could react to the play. I really noticed that in the Michigan tape. It was mostly on run plays, but it just looked like Te’o knew exactly what Denard Robinson and the rest of the Wolverine offense was up to. This or his tackling ability is his best quality and one that I really enjoyed seeing on tape. 9.5/10.0

HEALTH: 

There’s no physical injuries to report for Te’o, but the whole Lennay Kekua incident could lead to some mental issues, especially when he gets to the locker room after he gets drafted. But, he should just go out on the field, show what he can do, and that should go away quickly. 9.5/10.0

OVERALL: 

Manti Te’o gets an overall score of 8.69/10.00 from me. I have had the pleasure of seeing Manti play in person (Stanford @ Notre Dame in 2010) and between his motor and everything I listed above, I believe that Manti can be an All-Pro linebacker in the NFL. The one aspect of Te’o’s game that wasn’t taken into account above is how good he is in pass coverage. He figured something out between the end of the 2011 season and the beginning of the 2012 season because Te’o went from 0 picks in his career at Notre Dame to 7 in the course of one season. Many of those picks came in crucial situations and I believe that this will be the ability that whatever team that drafts him will love utilizing. It is something he does better than any linebacker in the 2013 draft. Now who will pick him? Personally, I believe that Te’o will be available at the end of the first round, because of the Lennay Kekua incident and questions about him that have risen from that, and the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens will snatch him up. The Ravens are losing middle linebacker and  future hall of famer Ray Lewis to retirement and they really couldn’t do better than picking up Manti Te’o as his replacement. Te’o will learn a lot playing alongside Terrell Suggs, Dannell Ellerbee and Courtney Upshaw. It’s not very fun being the man replacing the man, as Te’o would do if drafted by Baltimore, but I believe that he’ll be up to the challenge.

HIGHLIGHTS: 

Let me know what you think in the comments below and follow me on Twitter! @J_Vinton52

Next, I will be previewing Matt Elam, SS, Florida!

By Jeff Vinton, Blogger/Editor, On the Clock

Offensive lineman Terron Armstead of Arkansas-Pine Bluff gets into his stance before running a NFL Scouting Combine offensive lineman record 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash this morning.

Offensive lineman Terron Armstead of Arkansas-Pine Bluff gets into his stance before running a NFL Scouting Combine offensive lineman record 4.72 seconds in the 40-yard dash this morning. (Picture courtesy of atlantafalcons.com)

The NFL Scouting Combine began today with groups one through three, which consisted of offensive linemen, tight ends, and special teams players, taking the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The primary story to come from the performances today was that of 305-pound Arkansas-Pine Bluff offensive lineman Terron Armstead in the 40-yard dash. Armstead, the second lineman to run the 40 this morning, ran a blistering time of 4.71 seconds. To put that time into perspective, last year’s top performer for offensive linemen in the 40 (Donald Stephenson, Oklahoma) ran a 4.94, the average time for offensive lineman today was a 5.23 and top prospect Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M ran a 5.30. Armstead’s time is the new record for offensive lineman at the Combine.

Armstead had already begun to shoot up draft boards because of his performance at the East-West Shrine Game last month. His 40 time, along with his 31 reps in the bench press, vertical jump of 34.5 inches and his broad jump of 112 inches will no doubt help make him rise up draft boards even more.

Other top performers on the day were Stanford’s Zach Ertz and Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, the consensus top two tight ends in this year’s draft class.

There has been much coverage by the media over these two, who are battling to become the top tight end taken in the Draft on April 25. And battle they did today, as they interchanged spots in the top performers group through the various drills. Eifert bested Ertz in the 40-yard dash with times of 4.68 seconds and 4.76 seconds respectively. Ertz toppled Eifert in the bench press test by two reps, 24-22. Eifert came back and beat Ertz by five inches in the vertical jump, 35.5-30.5. That trend continued in the broad jump as Eifert out leaped Ertz 119 inches-111 inches. Analysts from NFL Network said that Ertz looked more natural catching the ball, so the battle lives on.

A story from off the field was also a large story during the first day of the Combine.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o took to the podium at 2:15 p.m. EST, his first press conference since the Lennay Kekua incident and his first public appearance since his interview with Katie Couric. Te’o, whose press conference was called “a zoo” in a tweet by Miami Dolphins beat writer Ben Volin, was asked both questions about the incident and general football questions.

When asked if NFL teams had talked about the incident with him, Te’o said, “They all talked to me about it.”

Te’o also made it clear that he is done talking about the incident, first reported in January by Deadspin.com, and that he is moving on and focusing on football.

The NFL Scouting Combine consists of 11 groups each holding certain positions that take the field for drills over the course of four days. Group one has kickers, special teamers, and some offensive linemen. Group two is all offensive linemen, and group three is the tight ends. Groups four and five consist of quarterbacks and wide receivers, and the running backs are in group six. Groups seven and eight consist of defensive linemen and group nine has the linebackers. Groups 10 and 11 hold the defensive backs.

Tomorrow is the skill position day with groups four, five and six taking the field to participate in the various drills and impress NFL Scouts. Drills will begin at 9 a.m.

Coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine will continue through Tuesday, along with daily player previews on On the Clock: Your NFL Draft Destination.