In the second week of Thursday night football, the two games on tonight aren’t top tier match-ups, but feature a host of both top tier 2014 draft selections and a handful of sleepers that you’ll be able to get a first look at.
Will Sutton of Arizona State should be able to dominate FCS Sacramento State along with the Sun Devil offense. As for the early game, East Carolina’s Will Simmons is worth your time in checking out tonight.
Optimum Scouting’s Mark Dulgerian’s and Chris Tripodi’s scouting work was used in this piece.
Florida Atlantic vs. East Carolina (7:30pm EST on FS1)
Will Simmons, OG, East Carolina (#70), 6’5, 342
Powerful, well-built, and the best player on an offensive line that has some talent, Simmons mostly impresses with his consistency and power when he’s matched up against potential NFL talent. He has a powerful, redirecting punch in his initial pass protection, and sets up very well with his hands and keeping his back arched and strong. He needs to stay more consistently lower in run blocking, and can lose leverage at times against quick off the snap bull rushers, but the natural pass blocking ability and size give him a chance to be a potential NFL guard.
Sacramento State at Arizona State (10:00pm EST on Pac-12 Network)
Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State (#90), 6’1, 288
Sutton flirted with the idea of entering the draft after his junior campaign after winning the Pac 12 Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year award and posted 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. While he enters the season at his self-proclaimed "natural playing weight" at 305 pounds, questions remain if he simply lacks the arm length to keep from being neutralized against NFL linemen. He's also yet to show scouts that he will have the same quickness on the field at his new playing weight. At his size, he cannot afford to sacrifice the quality that makes him special. He is instinctive and plays fast not only because of his athleticism but because he can usually sniff out the play before it has developed. He lives behind the line of scrimmage by winning at the snap with his first step and becoming relentless in pursuit. He's played in a system that's called for him to split doubles and he's proven capable of beating 2 and 3 man blocking schemes. He is a 3-down player but teams will certainly attack him straight on if he doesn't improve his ability to anchor and shed at the line of scrimmage.
Chris Coyle, TE, Arizona State (#87), 6’3, 230
The 5th year senior had a breakout season last year when he broke the school record for receptions in a season by a tight end. Coyle is a very good athlete who should be one of the more versatile tight end/H-back prospects in April's draft. He lines up everywhere; from an offset shotgun formation to inline and in the slot, Coyle is the type of athlete that contributes in multiple facets of ASU's spread. He is somewhat undersized by traditional tight end standards, but that's not what he is. He is an outstanding receiver with above average top end speed to eat up cushion and can get open against safeties downfield. He's a natural plucker and was often the bail out guy who made tough grabs on key downs and in traffic. He is quick out of his stance off the line of scrimmage and shows some polish with his hands in beating the jam. He gets into his route quickly and sinks in and out of his breaks. He shows good body control in space but lacks great burst upfield. Coyle has build up speed but it's enough to stretch the field and attack the deep seam. Overall, Coyle lacks elite physical qualities but he's in the mold of today's 12 personnel hybrid tight end that more and more NFL teams covet.
Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State (#1), 6’0, 199
Grice was one of the top overall JUCO prospects in the 2012 class and had originally committed to Texas A&M before choosing the Sun Devils. He was highly productive as a part time contributor in a crowded backfield. Despite splitting running duties with three other teammates with 100+ carries, Grice ended the season as the team's leading rusher and scorer and finished second on the team in receptions. He is a very good athlete with a smooth running style. He is at his best as a one-cut runner who shows good patience and vision between the tackles but also has enough speed to win the edge on stretch plays and sweeps. He does not have elite speed but he shows the burst to and through the hole that many successful NFL backs possess and a second gear to pull away on the second level. He shows very good suddenness in the open field and is an effortless cutter. He is a taller back who has packed on about 15 pounds after spending his first full offseason in an FBS weight program. He has outstanding balance and can stun defenders with an initial explosive pop through contact but could improve leg drive to break tackles more consistently.. He really stands out in the pass game. Grice is an outstanding receiver who has shown the ability to run crisp routes and has natural hands. He is one of the nation's most versatile backs and should be on everyone's radar by year's end.
Others to Watch
Evan Finkenberg, OT, Arizona State, #62, 6’4, 290
Allen Darby, S, Arizona State, #4, 5’11, 180
Oshaon Irabor, CB, Arizona State, #24, 5’11, 182
Chris Young, OLB, Arizona State, #21, 6’0, 232
Junior Onyeali, OLB, Arizona State, #5, 6’0, 233