PredictionMachine.com’s NFL Draft Expert, Matt Richner, takes his weekly look at three notable college prospects as well as who to watch in the upcoming bowl games.
Tyler Wilson (QB, Arkansas): Tyler Wilson is coming off an impressive junior year campaign. Wilson was expected to take the next step and become an elite signal caller for the Razorbacks. This season, Wilson racked up 3,387 yards and 21 TDs, but he also more than doubled his career total with 13 INTs thrown this season.
Against LSU, Wilson made 31 of 52 pass attempts, with one INT and one TD. Wilson’s average snap-to-pass was an NFL-level 2.42 seconds. Wilson crumpled under pressure in the pocket, completing just seven of 20 pass attempts. When facing five or more pass rushers, Wilson completed six of 12 passes. Below is a quick breakdown of Wilson’s throws in the game.
Short passes (0-5 yards): 25 of 34; average snap-to-pass time was 2.38 seconds
Intermediate passes (6-11 yards): 1 of 4; average snap-to-pass time was 2.51
Deep passes (12+ yards): 4 of 16; average snap-to-pass time was 2.42
Wilson tends to stare down his receivers and has trouble being accurate in his pass attempts going over the middle of the field. He consistently underthrew his deep passes and lacks quality fundamentals to throw the football on the run. Wilson is a developmental quarterback who will need time to work on a number of fundamental issues; he could develop into a backup. A number of scouts say Wilson reminds them of current Chief Matt Cassel.
Knile Davis (RB, Arkansas): Knile Davis was viewed as possibly the top running back in college, with tremendous athletic ability, top-tier speed and the ability to consistently break tackles. Unfortunately, Davis suffered a gruesome ankle injury during spring practice in 2011, which forced him to sit out last season.
Before his injury Davis averaged 6.48 yards per carry; this season he averaged 3.4 yards per carry. Against LSU, Davis had seven rush attempts for 34 yards, with an average of 0.7 YSAC (yards-after-significant-contact). He doesn’t show the same speed and ability to cut at full speed as he did prior to his injury. On four of his touches in the game, Davis was tackled from a defender who was able to catch him from behind.
Davis will need a strong showing at the NFL Combine. Because of the weak running-back class, Davis is still projected as a fourth- or fifth-round selection. If he can regain his old form and speed, Davis could be a steal in the later rounds.
Brandon Kaufman (WR, Eastern Washington): Playing at the FCS level, Kaufman has been an elite performer these past few seasons. This year he set the FCS single-season receiving yards record with 1850.
For his career, Kaufman has played against four FBS opponents, recording 24 receptions for 465 yards and 3 TD, a 19.4 yards-per-catch average.
Blessed with size (6’5”, 220 lbs) and fantastic leaping ability, Kaufman has all the measurables scouts are looking for. Kaufman has the strength to fight through double and triple teams, while making the tough catch in traffic. He is an above average route runner, who understands how to use his body to shield defenders away from the football.
From a scouting and statistical perspective, Kaufman reminds me of current Saints WR Marques Colston.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
BYU (Kyle Van Noy, LB), (Ezekiel Ansah, DE): BYU, which boasts the nation’s third-ranked defense , is lead by athletic linebacker Kyle Van Noy. The junior, who is still considering declaring for the 2013 NFL draft, has 11.5 sacks this season. He is unquestionably the leader of a stout defense that is capable of wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. Scouts have tagged Van Noy as a possible third-round selection if he were to come out this year.
Ezekiel Ansah has rocketed up draft boards by displaying an elite level of athletic ability rarely seen on the football field. Having never played football until just a few years ago, Ansah has impressed scouts with his 6‘6” frame and 260 lbs and the ability to play with his hand on the ground or rush the passer standing up. He is still raw, but scouts always love a diamond in the rough.
San Diego State University (Leon McFadden, CB): The two-time first-team all-conference cornerback is ready to see if he can be a lock-down defender at the next level. He has the size and physical strengths teams are looking for in the cornerback position. His draft stock is starting to climb; as it stands he has a third- to a fourth-round grade.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg
Ball State (Travis Freeman, LB): Freeman currently leads all active FBSplayers in career tackles with 455. With 112 tackles on the season, Freeman has shown enough athletic ability to be considered for a possible seventh-round selection or as a prime undrafted free agent pick-up.
UCF (Quincy McDuffie, KR/PR): The All-American returner who has the highest average yards per kickoff return this season with 34.3 yards, McDuffie is an explosive punt and kick returner, but his receiving skills leave much to be desired. Scouts currently see McDuffie as an undrafted free agent.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana-Lafayette (Melvin White, DB): With the recent success of bigger, taller cornerbacks in the NFL, White looks to be a player who has the ability and skill set to climb a few draft boards in the upcoming months. At 6’3” and 191 lbs, White has the size and speed to be a physical force on the outside capable of locking down bigger wideouts.
East Carolina (Justin Hardy, WR): Only a red-shirt sophomore, Hardy needs another season to refine his craft, but the speedy wideout has been improving the last couple of seasons. Working effectively out of the slot position, Hardy currently ranks eighteenth in the country in receptions per game with 6.9.
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl
University of Washington (Desmond Trufant, DB): Desmond Trufant looks to follow in the footsteps of his two older brothers and become a starting defensive back in the NFL. A confident defensive back, who keeps his eyes in the backfield, Trufant is looking to make a big play for his team. Trufant excels in zone coverage situations, but he needs to upgrade his play in man-to-man coverage. Scouts have given Trufant a third-round grade.
Boise State (Jamar Taylor, DB): Taylor has come on strong this season, battling back from a leg injury that cut his season short last year. With six career INTs and 17 PBU, Taylor is a physical corner who is capable of shutting down his side of the field. Scouts have graded Taylor as a fourth- or fifth-round selection.