Originally posted on Optimum Scouting  |  Last updated 1/20/13
A North roster full of intriguing players, including the game's top three quarterbacks (in our opinion) that have a lot to prove this week. Along with our favorite (and #2 ranked) QB Ryan Nassib, along with talents like Eric Fisher, Aaron Dobson, and Markus Wheaton, all with a lot to prove this week.   Quarterbacks 1. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse While he’s begun to get more and more attention through the process, Nassib has been and will remain one of our top quarterbacks, currently at #2 in our rankings, just behind the (Senior Bowl no-show) Geno Smith. Nassib struggles a bit with velocity control and some mechanic issues, both which will be interesting to note this week. However, his decisiveness, poise in the pocket, and route timing understanding should allow him to thrive this week. 2. Mike Glennon, NC State The tall, well-built NC State product hasn gotten ample media attention (thanks Mel Kiper) over the past few weeks, and there could definitely be an argument made he’s the best QB in this class…but I don’t believe that’s the case. He has ample arm strength, great ball placement in the short area and flashes touch downfield. He’s a bit immobile however, and he’ll be tested in 12 vs. 12 drills when transitioning to his second read, which is his biggest concern after his lack of foot speed in the pocket. 3. Zac Dysert, Miami (OH) Big-bodied and athletic, Dysert has a unique ability to adjust to pressure and deliver from within the pocket, while also being able to create outside the pocket and throw on the run. Dysert suffered from a number of dropped passes and poor routes from his receiving corps at Miami (OH), in addition to an offensive shift from being under center to a more shotgun-based passing attack. The former Redhawk should shine with improved talent around him, but he’ll have to learn to reset his feet more efficiently and maintain a proper throwing base throughout his progressions. The Senior Bowl will give Dysert an opportunity to prove to scouts that he does in fact belong in the top tier of senior quarterbacks.   Running Backs 1. Johnathan Franklin, UCLA Franklin was one of the most improved players in the country, showing a better trust in his instincts and running much more confidently. He’s become a much more patient runner and shows good judgment when picking and prodding through tight spaces. He could use an additional 5-10 pounds to fill out his frame, but he combined his natural balance and improved strength to become a better runner between the tackles in 2012. He is not a burner but he has enough speed to get to the edge and has the wiggle to make guys miss on the second level. 2. Kenjon Barner, Oregon The diminutive runner comes from a recently impressive stable of running backs, and Barner has filled in that primary back role well. While he doesn’t have the same devastating open field speed or lateral cutting ability as LaMichael James before him or D’Anthony Thomas now, Barner offers a bit of a different touch to the running game. He stays low to the ground, utilizes choppy and high stepping feet to adjust his direction without losing burst or balance. He’ll need to show ability through contact this week, as well as impress as a receiver out of the backfield this week. 3. Robbie Rouse, Fresno State Rouse is a well-built running back that has produced since being handed the keys to the Bulldogs running game and finding his way to the Bulldogs all-time leading rusher. Rouse runs low to the ground with good speed and power. He is able to make good cuts and accelerate after the cut. I like how hard Rouse hits the hole and is a north-south type runner that always ends up going forward after contact not losing yards on the tackle. After being on the initial NFLPA Collegiate Bowl roster, Rouse will be making the jump among the best running backs in a loaded senior class.   Wide Receivers 1. Markus Wheaton, Oregon State Wheaton, who’s been a terrific athlete over his 20 starts and 49 appearances at Oregon State, began to develop more defined routes to gain separation on a consistent basis, as well as flashing the ability to use his hands and double moves to effectively get vertical. A still developing receiver, especially as a route runner, Wheaton’s progressions this year along with his vertical stretch ability should make him a great value in the 2nd-3rd round. 2. Aaron Dobson, Marshall Dobson had the misfortune of playing with some mediocre or poor passers at his time at Marshall, and still was able to produce at a high level considering. What Dobson lacks in elite speed, burst upfield, or polish in his routes, he wows with highlight reel catches and elite body control. With his upside, he should turn out to be a better college than a pro, and could rise to the early 2nd round discussion. 3. Aaron Mellette, Elon Despite just two years of high school football (partly why he landed at Elon), Mellette has gone on to be one of the most productive receivers in the country at the FCS level since 2010. However, Mellette doesn’t have elite speed, lacks polish as a receiver, and the level of competition issue (see his UNC game) won’t go away quietly. The Senior Bowl is of major importance for Mellette. 4. Chris Harper, Kansas State The former Oregon quarterback recruit, Harper transferred to Kansas State (closer to his hometown), and the former dual-threat QB developed the physicality and polish as a receiver to now be one of the most physical receivers in the country. With the sheer strength to win as a receiver and runner, similar to Anquan Boldin, Harper could rise throughout the process and be in the 2nd-3rd round discussion. 5. Denard Robinson, Michigan 6. Marquise Goodwin, Texas   Tight Ends 1. Ryan Otten, San Jose State One of the most naturally talented tight ends in the country, Otten may be unheralded at the moment, but he has the NFL body, athleticism, and versatility to get drafted early and last in the NFL. He extends well as an interior blocker and shows better-than-average run blocking vision and positioning on the outside. As a receiver, he shows the ability to separate in-line and in the slot, turns body well to position in the seam, and extends away from his body in traffic and vs. man coverage to be a productive receiver. He should impress as a versatile, seam catching receiver this week.   2. Nick Kasa, Colorado 3. Jack Doyle, Western Kentucky Offensive Tackles 1. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan One of the premier left tackle prospects in the 2013 NFL Draft, Fisher possesses the length, lateral balance in his kick slide, and body control/flexibility that backside protectors need to have to be worthy of first round status. He positions his body well and maintains good kick slide form to maximize his size and length, and put him in good position to punch and kick on the edge. He also shows the ability to work upfield in the run game, thanks to his experience at left tackle, right tackle, and left guard in his career (where he impressed in each). He’s not far (at all) from Luke Joeckel as a LT prospect, and he if he controls as a pass blocker the way I expect this week, he may be in the “top offensive tackle” discussion with us and likely many NFL teams. 2. Justin Pugh, OT, Syracuse After overcoming a shoulder injury earlier this year, Pugh has stepped up and gotten back to his 2011 form as a legit left tackle prospect. Listed as both a redshirt junior and senior by Syracuse (thanks to him not playing any snaps in 2008), my feeling from being at Syracuse was that Pugh is already basically considered a senior and likely to be playing in the NFL next year. Still a little stiff in his in-line pass protection, Pugh still has the balance in his kick slide, the anchoring ability in pass protection to protect inside, and the ability to time his initial punch on the edge to not allow over-extension or a loss of balance on the outside. Pugh is the top ranked offensive tackle prospect for us, and certainly has 1st round, left tackle upside in the 2013 NFL Draft. 3. Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin Ricky Wagner is another Wisconsin left tackle expected to be one of the best in the country. A former basketball recruit, Wagner walked on to the football team as a 235 pound tight end. He maintained his athleticism, which is showcased in the passing game. He shadows pass rushers very well, but at times he struggles with speed rushers, especially fast linebackers. Ricky also needs to work on his hand placement.  If he can show this week he can play the outside and be an effective (even though limited), he’ll have a chance to redeem the struggles he had this senior season. 4. Kyle Long, Oregon 5. Brain Winters, Kent State 6. Hugh Thornton, Illinois 7. Joe Madsen, West Virginia 8. Braxston Cave, Notre Dame
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