2013 NFL Draft: North Carolina vs. Virginia Scouting Preview

Giovani BernardIn a Thursday night showing of ACC foes, the surprisingly competitive Virginia Cavilers match-up against the NFL Talent-laden North Carolina offense/defense.

By our scouting notes alone, North Carolina should run all over Virginia (with our top 2013/2014 running back and a host of talented offensive linemen) and shut down Virginia with their defense (UVA’s offensive tackle Aboushi can’t do everything). However, this still should make for an interesting ACC match-up.

Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – 5’9, 210, #26 (JR)
Currently playing right now (with Marcus Lattimore out), Giovani Bernard is the country’s most talented running back. With comparable prospects for Bernard being a mixture of Ray Rice and LeSean McCoy, it’s obvious that his upside and natural talent should have NFL team’s excited if/when he declares (only a redshirt sophomore). Bernard is built well in the lower half, and has the burst, balance, open field elusiveness, and body control to wow as a running back athlete and be a full time starter in the NFL. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a developed and willing pass blocker and is smooth coming out of hte backfield as a receiver as well.

Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina – 6’3, 310, #64
One of the most elite-talented guards in recent NFL Draft memory, Cooper’s as complete and athletic as any interior offensive lineman currently in the NFL. He pulls extremely well, sets up with fantastic body placement, and drives upfield as well as any guard in the past few drafts, competing with David DeCastro. If he’s asked to do the same things in the NFL as he is in college that maximize his athleticism, he’ll be a perennial Pro Bowler. He’s a must watch and a Top 15 value in the 2013 NFL Draft despite his position.

Brennan Williams, OT, North Carolina – 6’6, 310, #73
This is an excerpt from our 2013 Pre-Season NFL Draft Guide by Jimmy O’Brien, updated slightly
Williams possesses an ideal NFL body, with long, tree trunk arms, and a well developed, powerful lower body. He’s not a natural runner, displaying limited agility in space, and has difficulty lining up blocks in the open field. As a run blocker, Williams is not a player who wins on initial contact. He doesn’t fire off the ball; rather, he excels at angle blocking, where he locks on quickly and turns the opponent one way or the other, getting a solid push by churning his legs. He’s not a bulldozer, but he rolls his hips through contact, creating sustained power, and is proficient at maintaining engagement. In pass protection, Williams comes out of his stance and sets quickly, and slides his feet well laterally. He demonstrates only average foot quickness, with no advanced technique, which hurts his effectiveness versus athletic speed rushers, but he stays balanced throughout, and does a sound job of staying square to his opponent. Williams showcases heavy hands, good extension, and a strong, sustained initial punch, and follow up punches, that are generally well placed. However, when he does miss with the jab, he overextends and lacks the foot speed to recover. Ultimately, Williams is a solid all-around player. He lacks the athleticism of elite tackle prospects, and there’s no “wow” factor; he doesn’t deliver pancake blocks, or throw pass rushers to the turf. But, play after play, he gets the job done, and the defender he’s blocking rarely makes the tackle.

Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina – 6’3, 315, #92
This is an excerpt from our 2013 Pre-Season NFL Draft Guide by Jimmy O’Brien, updated slightly
Still learning the position, Williams possesses excellent size and mass, and moves well for a big man, flashing agility and short area quickness. He displays good snap anticipation, with plus off-the-line burst, and is often in the backfield rapidly. Versus the run, he keeps himself clean, employing aggressive hands to engage quickly, slip his man, and split defenders. Fighting off blocks well, he utilizes inside leverage, and can make himself skinny in the hole. He can play two-gap responsibilities, and does hold up versus a double-team; however, he needs to do a better job firing low, and staying under the opponent’s pads, and additional lower body strength is required to anchor against the powerful linemen he’ll face at the next level. As a pass rusher, Williams doesn’t engage with explosive power, but he plays with suddenness, often beating the opponent to the spot, before the defender can set up. He consistently plays too upright, and, when he wins, it’s due to violent hands, athleticism, and upper body strength. He has no effective bullrush, and won’t collapse the pocket, but he’s agile enough for twist and stunts, flashes quality club and swim moves, and displays nimble feet and good balance on spin moves. At UNC, Williams played mostly 3-tech and 0-tech, but he also has some experience as a 5-tech. With the Tarheels switching to a new 4-2-5 scheme, it remains to be seen how he will be used. He displays a variety of moves, and some sophisticated technique for such an inexperienced player, and he could just be scratching the surface of his potential. Williams is system and gap versatile, but would be an ideal fit as a 4-3 nose tackle in an undershift scheme.

Kevin Reddick, ILB, North Carolina – 6’3, 240, #48
One of the more naturally talented and instinct-high linebackers in the country, Reddick has had a very up and down season this year. He flashes the athleticism to make plays just on the outside, can breakdown and finish tackles, and plays with a high motor and good read/react skills. However. North Carolina moved to a 4-2-5 base set on defense, and Reddick has been asked to play more in space. He’s showed average range/athleticism thus far, and is really struggling to shed blockers this year. Already a problem for Reddick, his new role have made his concerns more prevalent, and he may not get a chance to improve his draft perception until after the season.

Oday Aboushi, OT, Virginia – 6’6, 310, #72
This is an excerpt from our 2013 Pre-Season NFL Draft Guide by Jimmy O’Brien, updated slightly
Oday Aboushi is a seasoned veteran and team-first player, with experience at both offensive tackle positions. He possesses NFL size, length, upper core strength, and natural athleticism in the running game;  however, as a pass blocker, he demonstrates insufficient fluidity, foot quickness, and intial punch velocity and impact. When asked to drive block, Aboushi persistently plays with poor leverage, and lacks the power in his lower core to gain much movement versus his opponent. He fails to exhibit any explosivess upon engagement, though he does do a solid job sticking to his man, locking him up, using plus hand and arm strength. He is a much more effective run blocker on the move, where he flashes good feet, balance, and body control, while creating power through momentum gained by being on the run. He locates potential downfield targets well, and demonstrates the athletic ability to finish the job. However, when defending the quarterback, Aboushi is considerably more mechanical and less athletic. His lack of quickness and sound footwork combine to make mirroring on the outside a lumbering chore, and, although he holds his own versus power rushers, he struggles to engage and ride out edge rushers with speed, who routinely beat him to the corner. A lack of sound technique also surfaces in Aboushi’s initial punch and hand use, each of which is largely ineffective. His limited ability to engage and mirror speed rushers would be minimized at the right tackle spot, where he would typically face more power rushers, with less burst and athleticism.

Others to Watch:
Erik Highsmith, WR, North Carolina – 6’3, 190, #88
Jherine Boyd, WR, North Carolina – 6’2, 195, #87
Travis Bond, OG/OT, North Carolina – 6’7, 345, #76
Tre’ Boston, S, North Carolina – 6’1, 200, #11 (JR)

Perry Jones, RB, Virginia – 5’8, 185, #33
Colter Phillips, TE, Virginia – 6’6, 245, #89
Steve Greer, ILB, Virginia – 6’1, 230, #53 

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