There’s a lot to like in Palo Alto as the Cardinal will put a terrific football team on the field this year, one we think will be victors of the PAC Ten conference. There’s franchise type talent on offense and a number of underrated prospects on the defensive side of the ball. In our opinion this is the most talented team in the league.
Andrew Luck is a dynamite prospect and the red-shirt sophomore has franchise quarterback written all over him. He’s smart, tough and has great presence on the field. Patient in the pocket, he makes proper decisions under the rush, knows where his targets are on the field and immediately locates the open wide out. Luck stands in against the rush and has a big time arm. He can thread a needle and get the ball through the tight spots, drive the ball downfield and shows tremendous accuracy and pass placement on just about all this throws. He will stare down the primary target at times and is not averse to chancing the ball into covered receivers. Considering he was just a first year starter the sky is the limit for Luck, who we presently rank as our top quarterback prospect in the nation.
Luck has a pair of NFL receivers to throw to.
Chris Owusu is a sure handed pass catcher with nice size and above average speed. He nicely adjusts to the errant throw and easily makes the over-the-shoulder reception downfield or effortlessly catches the ball in stride. He shows terrific eye/hand coordination and quickly transitions from making the catch to running after the reception. We like Owusu’s total package and think he could develop into a number two at the next level.
Ryan Whalen has better size than Owusu and is also a focused receiver with reliable hands. Whalen extends to make the reception away from his frame, displays terrific eye/hand coordination and wins out in battles. He’s a possession receiver who does not have the burst or deep speed but has the ability to play at the next level. Scouts coming out of Palo Alto this summer have been impressed with Whalen.
Lead blocker Owen Marecic has been one of our favorite players in college football the past two seasons and in our opinion is head and shoulders above all other senior fullback prospects. Quick and nasty with terrific blocking vision, Marecic immediately gets out of his stance, has the speed to create space for his ball carrier and jolts linemen at the point of attack or annihilates linebackers on the second level. He squares into defenders, knocking them off the ball and works hard to finish blocks. Marecic is also a terrific receiver out of the backfield. In our opinion he’s got second round talent yet fullback is not a priority position on draft day hence we downgraded Marecic accordingly.
Sione Fua is our top rated prospect on defense and the tackle will get consideration on the nose moving toward next April. Fua possesses a great first step, shows a lot of explosion in his overall game and hustles to make plays. His thick build makes it very tough to move Fua off the point and he shows the ability to bull rush opponents off the line. Better in a straight line, he does not show much speed pursuing the action to the flanks but will have a place at the next level occupying blockers up front.
Tom Keiser is a junior we are monitoring. The defensive end flies around the action trying to make positive plays. He plays with terrific pad level, gets leverage on opponents and shows adequate speed off the edge.
In our opinion Richard Sherman is one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the nation. The former receiver moved to the defensive side of the ball last season and showed a lot of skill at his new position. He offers nice size, athleticism and also impacts the game as a return specialist. Sherman was given a free agent grade by NFL scouts and we stamped him as a sixth rounder but if he plays as well as we think he can Sherman could move into the fourth frame.
Discuss all the NFL prospects from the PAC Ten!