Originally written on Optimum Scouting  |  Last updated 11/14/14

In the past, this article has been a part of the Monday Scouting Notebook. However, due to the fact that our staff compiles loads of scouting notes each week, it makes it better for you to view these notes separately from the major scouting notes of the weekend. 

This week's general notes feature notes from Florida State, Clemson, Maryland, West Virginia, San Diego State, San Jose State, UCLA, Oregon State, Kentucky, Florida, Missouri, Auburn, and LSU.


 
Notes by Eric Galko, Jimmy O'Brien, Alex Brown, and Mark Dulgerian of Optimum Scouting.

 RELATED: Scouting Notebook: EJ Manuel vs. Tajh Boyd, Notre Dame's Elite Defense, Top 10 in Heisman Race
 
-Chris Thompson, running back for Florida State, has been a pleasant surprise for EJ Manuel and Florida State. He was a lightning rod for FSU this past weekend, showcasing elite change of direction, acceleration, and low center of gravity at the 2nd and 3rd level when engaging tacklers. He’s gone from a surprise starter to the a legit NFL prospect. -Thoroughly impressed by Florida State defensive ends Bjoern Werner (junior) and Tank Carradine. Werner showcases elite vision as he attacks the backfield. Elite strength, both upper and lower half, and ability to shed blocks in pursuit could make him a Top 10 pick in the 2013 draft. As for Carradine, he’s filled in nicely for Brandon Jenkins and actually looked more effective in attacking interior and outside lanes in pursuit, taking less chances but also staying in ideal position while still providing pressure.

-In the pre-season, I wrote for MiamiDolphinsDraft.com about the top ACC juniors. While Sammy Watkins may have the higher upside and flashed the most in season's past, junior DeAndre Hopkins was the apple of my eye during the Clemson pre-season scouting. Now, it seems, Hopkins has emerged as the leading receiver. He runs a diverse set of routes on the route tree, catches away from his body well, and has the balance to turn and run upfield with vision. Not the elite talent Sammy Watkins is, but he'll certainly provide potentially starter ability in the NFL.

-Clemson recorded multiple big plays versus FSU, may of which were turned in by running back Andre Ellington. Continuing to demonstrate top level burst, patience, and vision, Ellington is breaking more tackles this year, showing improved balance and power through contact. He flashed improved route running, solid hands, and explosiveness in the open field. After being relatively quiet for 2 games, Ellington’s outburst entrenches him as one of the nation’s top Senior running backs, and, with several sustained follow-up performances, he could push himself into the draft’s first round.

-Though Maryland DT Joe Vellano didn’t produce any flashy plays, and recorded a modest total of 6 tackles (2TFL), he led an extremely physical defensive line that kept consistent pressure on Geno Smith, and kept the Moutaineer QB out of sync for much of the afternoon. Playing predominantly Zero Tech and Nose Shade, Vellano, and linemate A.J. Francis, controlled the line of scrimmage, snuffing out any semblance of a run game, holding WVU to a total of 25 rushing yards, at 1.0 yards per carry.

-The key beneficiary of Maryland’s strong D-Line play was Senior LB Demetrius Hartsfield, who flashed range, athleticism, and physicality knifing the “A” and “B” gaps versus the run game all afternoon, and registering several QB hurries, 1 sack, and 7 tackles. As a true downhill player, who plays bigger than his 240 pounds, Hartsfield demonstrated enough in-the-box toughness and cover skills (though he was beaten badly for a TD by Tavon Austin) to put himself into the mix as a potential late round draft prospect.

-Playing alongside Hartsfield, was SAM linebacker Kenny Tate, who finally returned after missing most of 2011 and 3 games this season with knee injuries. Tate showcased the ability to play in space, and excellent cover skills, making several impactful plays versus the passing game. In one sequence, he made a forceful in-the-box tackle in run support, then, on the following play, broke up a pass while covering the highly elusive Tavon Austin. For the most part, Tate dropped into zone coverage, though he was occasionally called on to rush the passer, having much more success from the edge than as a “A” gap blitzer. Overall, Tate looked tentative at times, and certainly didn’t showcase the burst, lateral agility, and change of direction skills that he showed in 2010, when he was a 1st team All ACC safety;  however, much of that could be due to the position change and difficulty in recovering from a devastating knee injury. Still, he looked like a very good cover linebacker, whose role in the defense, confidence, and level of success should grow with each successive game.

RELATED: Scouting Notebook: EJ Manuel vs. Tajh Boyd, Notre Dame's Elite Defense, Top 10 in Heisman Race

-Larry Warford proved why he belongs among the top offensive line prospects in the 2013 draft class with a strong performance versus an explosive Florida front four. This thickly built and reliable, 4-year starter at Kentucky, is the total package in terms of scheme versatility; Warford can down block effectively as the playside guard or pull and lead as the backside guard on power-o runs; he can reach block on zone calls; and he can eliminate 2nd level defenders on combo blocks. Punching and resetting with sudden, firm hands at the point of attack, Warford directs and turns his defender in the hole to create a running lane. The only concern is Warford’s conditioning, as he seemed to tire as the game wore along. A strong 2nd round prospect with a plug and play skill set, Warford should be a long-term starter at the next level.

-A senior running back that continues to climb our 2013 draft rankings is Florida’s Mike Gillislee. Displaying plus balance, toughness, and leg drive to run through arm tacklers and pick up yardage after first contact, Gillislee is setting himself apart with between the tackles effectiveness. Additionally able to string sharp, sudden cuts in succession without loss off speed, Gillislee consistently hits the 2nd level at top speed. Rarely missing a cutback or bounce opportunity, he exhibits outstanding vision, instincts, and feel for the position –a skill set often over-looked at a position dominated by all-speed or all-power backs. Having a well rounded, balanced skill set with the ability to run inside or outside, Gillislee is a fast rising prospect to watch closely.

-In a losing effort, Missouri’s junior DT Sheldon Richardson impressed wildly with his highly active and dominant play. Relentlessly pursuing the football and flying to the football, Richardson put on display his plus motor and surprising chase speed. Quick-twitched off the line with suddenness and burst, Richardson showcased very good hand usage and counter ability to disrupt plays in the backfield. Utilizing a nice arm-over, short-swim move, Richardson’s lightning quick hands were too much for South Carolina blockers to handle.

-Defensive end Corey Lemonier of Auburn brought his A-game against LSU, showing off his non-stop motor and quick-twitch athletic ability. Lemonier, who wins with initial quickness and plus effort, displayed more bend than usual in this game, planting his outside foot at the end of his rush and working back inside to the quarterback.

-Despite leading the SEC in total tackles, Daren Bates of Auburn clearly struggled with missed tackles in Auburn’s two losses to Clemson and Mississippi State. Flipping the script versus LSU, Daren Bates made key stop after key stop, while not missing a single tackle on my count.  Decisive with his reads and quick to fill his gap assignment, Bates’ compensated for his lack of ideal strength with instinctive, fast flowing linebacker play. As a will linebacker prospect only at the next level, Bates is a late rounder that could even go undrafted; nevertheless, Bates’ productivity and fearless play versus LSU, is certainly a step towards a Day 3 draft selection.

-While junior LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger of LSU flashed his elite arm talent and plus size early in this game, he more consistently held onto the football too long in locking onto his primary target. Slow in progressing to his 2nd and 3rd reads, and also lacking a great feel or presence of the pocket, Mettenberger was affected all night by Auburn’s pass rush. On a positive note, Zach Mettenberger did show the toughness to step up in the face of pressure and deliver the football, while taking a hit; at the same time, he must quicken his reads and release of the football in order to keep himself upright and healthy for the duration of the season.

-Junior defensive end Sam Montgomery made a living in Auburn’s backfield by exploding off the football, each and every snap to disrupt the timing of running plays and collapse the throwing pocket.  Montgomery’s powerful yet quick hands at the point of attack enable him to snap blockers backward, creating separation to disengage with full arm extension. The top 4-3 defensive end eligible for the 2013 draft, Montgomery looks the part of a top 10 pick.

-San Diego State cornerback Leon McFadden is an under the radar prospect who is limited by marginal top end speed and any elite physical attributes. However, he is a tough player who is at his best in zone coverage where he shows quick diagnostic and reaction ability to break on plays in front of him. He showed excellent ball skills on several occasions against SJSU, tracking and locating the football with his hand in his receiver's hip and actually made a nice over the shoulder diving interception deep down the sideline while keeping his feet inbounds.

-San Jose State tight end Ryan Otten did not do anything spectacular against SDSU but he was the Spartan's most consistent receiving threat. He is basically a large possession receiver who often splits out wide or in the slot and occasionally asked to stick his hand in the dirt and handle one on one blocking duties. He's a hands catcher who showed toughness and clutch playmaking ability coming up with difficult catches in traffic on their game winning drive.

-San Jose State offensive tackle David Quessenberry had a very lackluster performance as he was too easily pushed into the pocket by some average defensive linemen. He flashes some athleticism in sliding and redirecting in pass pro. He has nice length and height but simply lacks the anchor and overall play strength to project as anything more than a camp body in the NFL.

-Outside Linebacker Anthony Barr (junior) is a converted H-Back who made the switch to OLB in the spring. He was a force on Saturday as he was consistently in the opponents backfield applying constant pressure as a pass rusher and even had a sack-fumble. He is still raw in terms of technique and has been able to use a quick first step, agility, and a special closing burst in order to create pressure up to this point but he doesn't have much of a palette of moves and is still learning how to counter. He's rangy and shows surprising awareness in coverage given he's only played in 3 games at his new position. With another year of coaching, he could emerge as one of 2013's premier pass rushing linebackers.

-UCLA senior running back Jonathan Franklin didn't have a great statistical day partly due to the team falling behind so quickly and partly due to a very stout and underrated Oregon State defensive focus on stopping the run. Regardless, Franklin looks like a different player this year, showing much improved decisiveness in hitting the hole and getting upfield much quicker. He is noticeably running stronger and has improved his balance through contact.

RELATED: Scouting Notebook: EJ Manuel vs. Tajh Boyd, Notre Dame's Elite Defense, Top 10 in Heisman Race

-Oregon State CB Jordan Poyer had another quiet game as a corner because he essentially shut his man down the entire game. He again showed very good aggressiveness in run support and really seems to like the physical aspect of the game.

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