In the third and final week of the "All-Star Circuit", the Texas Vs. Nation game has built a fantastic reputation of adding quality players, especially unique small schoolers, to the roster. This year, potential offensive small schoolers like Matt Brown, Khiry Robinson, and Ryan Spadola have a chance to make a major impact on their draft stock with a big week.
See those small schoolers, plus more well known prospects with a lot to prove like Matt McGloin, George Winn, Justin Brown, Marquis Gray, and TJ Moe.
Notes by Eric Galko and Alex Brown of Optimum Scouting
1. Matt Brown, Illinois State
The 6’4, 238 pound passer has ideal size and build, with especially well built upper half for a quarterback. A quick, over the top release, Brown showed great velocity control in the mid areas and a quick release in short routes. However, he was forced to make quick decisions and anticipate routes/defense more than he would have liked thanks to poor blocking in front of him. He lacks great athleticism, stared down receivers at points, and his ball placement downfield isn’t great. However, he does spin a clean ball on the move and showed good mechanics on the outside.
2. Mitchell Gale, Abilene Christian
Having had a chance to see Mitchell Gale twice in person, I’m excited to see how he adjusts to the raised level of competition. Not overly gifted as an athlete, Gale does have functional mobility and the presence to locate pressure, climb the pocket and reset his feet properly with trash nearby. From his junior to senior seasons, I noticed marked improvement in terms of arm strength and downfield ball placement. At this all-star event, I’ll be looking for more of an internal clock from the former ACU Wildcat, as he has a tendency of holding onto the ball far too long through his progression reads. A solid prospect on most undrafted free agent boards before the week, Gale may leave as a draftable option with a strong enough performance.
3. Seth Doege, Texas Tech
Running the Texas Tech, fast paced and quick offense, Doege has developed impressive short and intermediate accuracy out of the shotgun, and we’ll see if dropping back makes any difference to his foot positioning and velocity. His arm is adequate, not great, and he can make vertical throws, but may struggle against long cornerbacks. Doege has to prove a lot this week after a lackluster Shrine Game week performance if he hopes to be an NFL development quarterback.
4. Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State
Aplin played in Guz Malahn’s up-tempo, no-huddle offense, and while his yardage totals weren’t as prolific as a year ago, his decision-making and accuracy improved. Aplin throws well on the run and is also willing to stand in the pocket to make throws with pressure in his face. He has the ability to get the ball downfield even with less-than-elite arm strength. His footwork is consistent in games vs lesser competition. He’s able to move the pocket in order to avoid the rush. Aplin’s lack of size and elite arm strength should prevent him from being drafted, but he’s got enough ability to stick around on a practice squad as a rookie.
5. Ryan Griffin, Tulane
The well-built, 6’5 four year starter, Griffin has the productivity and experience that should merit more NFL draft attention. But he’s a bit stiff as a quarterback, and doesn’t have great ball placement across the field. He’s in for a big week this week, and this could be the determining factor if he’s an NFL quarterback or if he won’t get a shot in the NFL.
6. Matt McGloin, Penn State
The two year Penn State starter and former walk-on, McGloin hasn’t had the most illustruss college career, but assumed a leadership role for a team that needed as many as they could get. He’s limited in his arm strength for the NFL game, and his ball placement in short-medium range routes is just okay. He works best on the move, and began to develop into a much better decision maker over his career. Still, it seems like a long-shot at best for McGloin to stick in the NFL.
1. George Winn, Cincinnati
Winn possesses good size and is a hard-nosed, between the tackles runner. Running with good forward lean, he was strong through initial contact, and highly effective when he got his shoulders square to the line. Though not shifty, he demonstrates solid burst up the middle and plus leg drive and second effort. A natural receiver, who gets turned upfield quickly, Winn also displays soft hands, and is active in the passing game, on screens and swings. Ideally suited to zone blocking scheme, Winn is firmly in the draft day discussion, and could separate himself to being among the top of the 3rd-5th round running back battle to rise to the top. He may be a better prospect than Isaiah Pead coming out of college.
2. John White, Utah
With limited size and good, not great top end speed, White doesn’t have the skill set to be a high round pick. But his subtle shiftiness, explosive step to the 2nd level, and ability to keep his balance through contact is what makes him a solid running back prospect. He plays with fantastic pad level, but does have a tendency to lean into contact too much, limiting his big play ability at times.
3. DJ Harper, Boise State
A very small compact runner. Harper hits the hole hard with short choppy steps with great burst. He has the ability to break tackles with lower body power as well as enough explosiveness to take it to the house. He has good vision, able to make one cut and explode, and is adequate in pass-pro. If it wasn't for his injury history, he may push more towards a draftable grade as a runner.
4. Khiry Robinson, West Texas A&M
This Blinn JC transfer broke out in a big way for the West Texas A&M in 2012, displaying incredible balance, leg drive, and suddenness to break through arm tackles en route to 2,252 all-purpose yards. Robinson’s ability to churn out yards past first contact, while making defenders miss with power and explosiveness, was impressive to say the least. A high 4.5-low 4.6 type of runner, Robinson wins with his short area burst, decisive cuts and balance through first contact. Furthering his bid for a look from NFL teams, Robinson performed very well in pass protection at the collegiate level, picking up a-gap pressures on scan protections. Robinson will likely get an opportunity to receive punts and kicks here in Allen, Texas, giving him special teams value.
1. T.J. Moe, Missouri
Everything you want in your starting slot receiver, T.J. Moe plays with a tremendous amount of toughness and physicality over the middle of the field, throwing caution into the wind by extending and exposing his frame in traffic. Moe is a consistent hands catcher that plucks the ball naturally, but more importantly impresses with route running savvy and ability to separate in the short-to-intermediate levels. A fringe top 100 prospect and one of our top rated pass catchers here at the Texas vs. Nation event, Moe should be in-line for a solid week of practices.
2. Justin Brown, Oklahoma
Picking up the Oklahoma playbook over the 2012 summer after transferring out of a messy situation at Penn State, Justin Brown really made a name for himself in the way he picked up the Sooner’s offense and inserted himself into the lineup. Brown, who played almost exclusively to the right side of formations as the “Z” receiver, lacks explosiveness at the top of his route but understands how to position himself at the catch point, body up opposing corners and win with physicality. Possessing elite concentration and focus at the catch point, I’m expecting to see a few “wow” receptions from Brown.
3. DeVonte Christopher, Utah
Utah’s top receiver will be heavily relied on by this offense and junior quarterback Jordan Wynn. Christopher doesn’t have elite bulk, top end speed, or physicality as a receiver. But technique-wise and fundamentally, there’s a lot to like with Christopher. He gathers the ball well without body catching, and positions his body well after his route. And through his routes, he’s very decisive, has few if any wasted steps, and is able to get separation necessary to be a 3-wide receiver as a Z or slot receiver.
4. Ryan Spadola, Lehigh
After a fantastic junior year with quarterback Chris Lum putting up great numbers and utilizing him, Spadola’s production dropped this season. Part of that was thanks to the loss of Lum, the other is that he was dealing with mono for part of the season. However, his upside as a seam stretching, reliable slot receiver has ample value, and this week will go a long way in determining if he’s drafted or not.
5. Lanear Sampson, Baylor
My bet for the fastest receiver in this event, Lanear Sampson should an outstanding day three value for NFL teams in need of added explosiveness in four-receiver formations. Well put together at 200 pounds and an explosive vertical threat that can stretch the field with sub 4.4 speed, Lanear Sampson could very well be a better pro than collegiate player. Excellent at tracking the deep ball and soft handed at the catch point, Sampson plays much bigger than his actual height by extending and attacking the football away from his frame. A 6th or 7th round pick that should stick on a roster, don’t be surprised if Sampson ends up producing right away at the next level.
6. Uzoma Nwachukwu, Texas A&M
Underutilized and left out in the cold, Uzoma Nwachukwu won’t be overlooked by scouts who’ve done their homework on the Aggie receiver. Quick-footed and sudden off the line, Nwachuwku can separate at the route break and even create after the catch with the ball in his hands. Capable of extending and snatching the football cleanly away from his frame, Nwachakwu flashes the catching skills in traffic to stick on an NFL roster, as an undrafted free agent. Possibly a late round pick with a crisp week, Nwachukwu must win his one-on-one battles and match the physicality of his opponent through the route.
1. Marquise Gray, Minnesota
The former quarterback made the switch over to receiver mid-season this year, opening the door for better evaluation for Gray at his likely NFL position of receiver. A receiver (and an impressive one at that) as a sophomore, he started as a junior at quarterback and looked to come into this year to build on his upside as a passer. While he’s still rusty in his routes, has stiff hips in his route transition, and hasn’t been in the right position blocking-wise consistently, he’s shown strong hands and physicality to separate vertically, a wide catch radius and strong hands to bring it in, and great ball tracking ability in the short area. Still a raw receiver prospect. Gray certainly intrigues me enough to warrant a late round pick.
2. BJ Stewart, Cumberland
I haven’t seen enough of Stewart to give an accurate grade, but that’s what makes him so intriguing. The 6’5, 253 pound athletic freak at tight end who impressed at the Raycom All-Star game, Stewart could develop into this year’s Jimmy Graham or Taylor Thompson (of SMU). Both tight ends ended up in the mid-round despite being super raw at the position, and while I hesitate to compare Stewart to him, his size/numbers/athleticism could certainly draw that comparison. Be sure to follow Stewart throughout the process.
1. Elvis Fisher, OT, Missouri
After overcoming a torn patellar tendon in his left knee, Elvis Fisher did not return to his 2010 form, lacking the same range and suddenness at the point of attack. Still, Fisher steadily improved throughout the season and even showed an aggressive streak in landing 2nd level blocks. At the Texas vs. Nation practices, Fisher’s overall kick slide technique and hand placement should allow him to dominate lesser opponents, but his anchor will be tested. Fisher is more of a day three pick, but could solidify an earlier mid-round pick with a strong performance.
2. Lane Taylor, OG, Oklahoma State
Despite improving his drive blocking ability and overall strength at the point of attack, Taylor still struggles with poor hand placement and balance issues in his pass set. Taylor could stand to lean out his frame, as he’s not overly fluid in his movements. Overextension has been an issue with Taylor and he isn’t a natural knee bender, lacking the ability to sink and sit into his pass set. Once April rolls around, I’d expect to see Lane Taylor drafted in the middle of third day, likely in the 5th or 6th round as an immediate backup at either guard positions.
3. Brandon Hansen, OG, BYU
Hansen is an athletic guard that played center this season for the Cougars. Hansen has light feet, and plays well with his hands and once engaged is ability to control inside the pads to turn the defender. Hansen demonstrates a high level of football intelligence. After playing on a talented BYU offensive line, he’ll have a chance to separate himself this week.
4. Ivory Wade, OC/OG, Baylor
An experienced leader among Baylor’s offensive line, Ivory Wade will be finishing his collegiate career with an impressive 46 consecutive starts and experience at guard, tackle and center. Wade began his career at left guard, started two seasons at right tackle and moved to center with the graduation of Phillip Blake a year ago. Adjusting well to his new position, Wade has showcased the light feet, strong base and quick hands that made him a highly effective right tackle prospect. Wade, best served inside at guard, won’t impress with drive blocking skills but excels in cutting his opponent off with efficient steps, ideal angles to the second level and consistent hand placement. Likely a day three pick, Wade’s brings experience and versatility up front, with the ability to backup multiple positions.