2014 NFL Draft: Week Three Scouting Notes From Across the Country

Christian JonesAfter a week three in college football where Nick Saban, Johnny Manziel, and the Alabama/Texas A&M game stole the show, our staff was scouting across the country, looking at the Sun Belt, ACC, C-USA, Pac-12, and more.

Here's our staff's scouting notes from Arkansas State/Troy, Florida State/Nevada, Marshall/Ohio, UCLA/Nebraska, and Arizona State/Wisconsin.

Scouting Notes by Dan Claycomb, Chris Tripodi, and Mark Dulgerian

Arkansas State vs. Troy

Ryan Carrethers, DT, Arkansas State (#98), 6’2, 330
Likely the top pick off the board for the Sun Belt, Carrethers had an underwhelming game. He showed good strength, however too often he could be stopped one-on-one. A player with his strength should be dominating Troy’s offensive line. He’ll be have to play NT in the NFL, so his strength and ability to take on the double team will be extremely important in his draft position, and currently he doesn’t ‘wow’ in either area, something he should do against Sun Belt competition.

David Oku, RB, Arkansas State (#25), 5’10, 195
Oku’s offensive line doesn’t make things easy for him, but too often he seemed to move East-West when he should have been getting downfield. Only had 20 catches last year and had a drop on a screen this game which may suggest he won’t have much to add in the passing game. He’ll likely to get invited to training camp, but I can’t see him getting drafted.

Eric Thomas, WR, Troy (#3), 6’1, 209
The only real player from Troy to stand out to me was Eric Thomas. Showed great body control on a few jump balls. Ran good routes and showed good hands. May not be much of a deep threat but he may be a good late round pick. Combine will be big for him, if he can show some speed, it may be enough to entice at least 1 team to think they can turn him into something.

Florida State vs. Nevada

Christian Jones, OLB, Florida State (#7), 6’4, 232
LB tend not to go in the top half of the 1st Round but Jones has a chance to do that. Unfortunately he failed to make a case for himself against Nevada. Rarely seemed to be involved in the play and played very tentatively. FSU website listed Jones as only having 1 solo tackle (they gave him 4 assists which was extremely generous by my eye). He looked blitzing the LB and taking on the RB but still failed to make the play. Will need to see a lot more from Jones to keep him as a 1st Rounder.

Lamarcus Joyner, S, Florida State (#20), 5’8, 195
Joyner is the type of player on your defense that you love. He’s constant sprinting around the field getting involved in the play. Saw him line up on the TE, on the WR, and 15 yards off the ball at safety; he plays all over the field. The biggest question with him is obviously his size. At 5’8 he will be limited in who he can matchup against in the NFL, however a creative D-Coordinator will love his ability to blitz, play the slot, and fly all over the field. Most important thing for him is to show he can play his style and avoid injury.

Demonte McAllister, DT, Florida State (#97), 6’2, 285
FSU has one of the most impressive 2-deep defensive lines in America and even so McAllister still stood out to me. He stood his ground when going against the run block and got involved in a few tackles. What I found more impressive, were his pass rushing skills. He had great use of hands and really good burst to work around the guard and get to the QB. Definitely a player I will keep a closer eye on against some better competition.

RELATED LINK: 2014 NFL Draft – Week Three Stock Watch and Injury Update

Marshall vs. Ohio

Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall (#12), 6'0, 188 (JR)
An impact player for the Thundering Herd since his freshman season, Cato is a strong-armed junior in the mold of Seneca Wallace. Lacking ideal height for the position, Cato uses his mobility to break the pocket when his blocking breaks down, which happened often against Ohio. He does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield while on the move and prioritizes making plays in the passing game over gaining yards on the ground. Cato is accurate with his passes and has consistent success on comeback routes and back shoulder throws.

Cato’s sideline balls have plenty of zip but his deep passes have a tendency to float on him. He throws well on the move but doesn’t see ghosts in the pocket, stays home until flushed and climbs the pocket well when he has time. His passes have nice touch on them but he’ll occasionally miss high when he puts his whole body behind his pass. Cato shows good field awareness and leadership ability but doesn’t throw from the multiple arm angles needed to consistently win from the pocket at his height. Dealing with interior pressure is an issue for him when he can’t get outside the tackle box.

Tommy Shuler, WR, Marshall (#1), 5’7, 190 (JR)
Shuler benefits from his chemistry with high school classmate Rakeem Cato and after making 110 receptions last season, he already has 23 through the first three games of 2013. His 9 receptions for 95 yards led Marshall against Ohio and while Shuler has reliable hands and shows the ability to high point passes thrown within his limited catch radius, he’s nothing more than an underneath receiver as he struggles to corral downfield passes and tends to hear footsteps on balls thrown deep into tight windows.

As a small target without blazing speed or elite quickness, Shuler relies on craftiness and guile to get open. His favorite route against Ohio was a quick double move where he settled into a curl route to set up the defender for an in-route over the middle, which he ran from either side of the field. Shuler has good footwork and sells his routes well, which gives him the separation he needs. He’s on the late-round/UDFA radar as a depth receiver, but likely not until 2015.

James Rouse, DE, Marshall (#11), 6'5, 268
Rouse was the senior standout for Marshall, showing an impressive combination of power and speed against the Bobcats’ offensive line. Rouse is very quick shooting gaps on both the inside and outside shoulders of opposing lineman and can split double teams with a strong power rush. He’s nearly impossible to block with a pulling lineman or a down block, as he fires off the line so quickly that he’s already past opponents blocking in motion.

Rouse quickly gets his hands into offensive linemen and uses good extension and strength to push them into their own backfield. He gets consistent penetration behind the line of scrimmage but shows the awareness to come off his rush and pick up running backs peeling out on screens, but lacks the ball skills to make a play when the ball is thrown to a spot away from him. Rouse can find his way into a 4-3 line rotation at the NFL level but will need to gain a few pounds to hold down a defensive end spot.
 

RELATED LINK: Scouting Notebook – Brett Hundley Impresses vs. Nebraska, Reminds of Colin Kaepernick

UCLA @ Nebraska

Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA #11, 6’4, 265
Despite carrying out heavy contain responsibilities, Barr had an outstanding game statistically (11 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 3 FF) and was constantly in the Huskers’ backfield putting pressure on Taylor Martinez.  The usual elite athletic qualities were once again on display but it was his backfield eye discipline that showed improvement from last week.  UCLA will see plenty more read option offense this year, which may actually benefit Barr’s development as he continues read “queues” and convert his athleticism into production.

Jordan Zumwalt, OLB, UCLA #35, 6’4, 235
Zumwalt will be a name being tossed around during the pre-draft process as scouts go back and watch film on some of UCLA’s bigger-name prospects.  He is a good athlete who played with physicality against the run and showed some fluidity dropping into coverage on Saturday.  He packs a powerful punch when he hits you too.

Shaq Evans, WR, UCLA #1, 6’1, 211
Evans continued to impress as Hundley’s go-to guy.  He’s a legit downfield threat and he’s looking the ball all the way in consistently.  Evans also looked good returning kicks and showing off the acceleration and speed to attack small creases. 


Wisconsin @ Arizona State

Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State #1, 6’0, 205
After rushing for 4 touchdowns in Saturday’s contest, Grice is now on pace to score 39 total touchdowns on the seasons if the ‘Devils make a bowl.  Against competitive Badger defense, Grice showed nifty footwork and patience setting up his blocks all night.  He even flashed some power in short yardage situations, one of the weaker parts of his game.  In addition, he looked like a wide receiver running routes and catching away from his body. 

Chris Coyle, TE, Arizona State #87, 6’3, 230
In our Preseason Draft Guide Coyle was described as an ideal hybrid TE fit in the increasingly popular “12 personnel” package NFL teams are using.  Saturday was a great example as to why, with Coyle lining up inline, in the slot, offset, and even from the fullback position.  He only caught 3 passes but did a nice job settling into windows and making difficult catches in traffic.  He’s not for everyone, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams grade him higher than the media will.

Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State #90, 6’1, 288
The Wisconsin game will be one that NFL scouts will look back on and question Sutton’s NFL value.  Sutton was disruptive and it was clear the Badgers game-planned to avoid him, but he struggled to finish plays and showed some durability issues once again.  While a 4th quarter thigh injury he suffered wasn’t serious–he eventually came back into the game—you have to consider his injury history, especially for a guy who’s considered at the top of his position.  Also, Sutton’s weight gain looks great on paper but it looked like it affected his closing burst and ability to redirect on some plays.

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