The latest scouting news and notes coming from the ACC and SEC. Who is rising up draft boards and what players are heading in the other direction? What juniors are likely to leave for the NFL in January? Here’s the latest from out on the road.
– While beating North Carolina was a good start, nothing less than a trip to the ACC title game is likely to save Al Groh’s job. There’s already talk that Temple head coach Al Golden could replace Groh at year’s end. If there is a change at head coach we hear there is a very good possibility cornerback Ras-I Dowling could enter the draft, against the recommendations of many. Dowling has terrific size yet scouts feel he needs a lot of improvement with his overall ball skills.
– Matt Tennant is likely to be the first center selected in the 2010 draft and should be chosen during the initial 40 selections April. While he’s dominant on the pivot sources we’ve spoken with say he also offers a lot of potential at offensive guard. That versatility will help his draft stock. Tennant’s football intelligence is being compared to Nick Mangold’s, the former first round pick and Pro-Bowl center of the New York Jets. Like Mangold, scouts feel Tennant will come into the league NFL ready as a rookie.
– The next great Boston College lineman is already being touted by scouts before Tennant has even graduated. Tackle Anthony Costanzo has a lot of people really excited about his next level potential and could end up in the first round of the 2011 draft.
– Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell, a week five riser in our SI.com column, could be headed for the draft. The talented blind side protector has had academic issues in the past and sources we spoke with last week said that could push him to early entry into next April’s event.
– Sources have told us the word around Gainesville is defensive end Carlos Dunlop and cornerback Joe Haden are expected to enter the draft. For Haden it could be a good choice considering he’s played well besides the limited depth at the cornerback position from the senior class. Nothing could be further from the truth as it pertains to Dunlop. He’s shown nothing but inconsistency and though scouts we’ve spoken with love his upside, they classify him as a boom or bust prospect at this point.
– Teams are grading Eric Norwood of South Carolina as a first round pick despite the linebacker being “vertically challenged”. National Scouting estimates his height to be 6-0 even. Sources we’ve spoken with who have spent time with Norwood this year said he may be a smidgen taller. Norwood’s decision to return to South Carolina for his senior season after initially stating he would enter the 2009 draft is paying nice dividends. What caused his change of mind? Norwood told us the grade he received last January from the advisory committee stated he would be drafted somewhere between the 4th and 7th round.
– Some scouts have told us Norwood’s Gamecock teammate, Greg Matthews, could be the better NFL player. It is an opinion we agree with. There’s little speculation or assumption Matthews will leave for the NFL after the season at this point.
-Two juniors from the University of Georgia could be headed to the draft next April. Separate sources have told us it is a foregone conclusion that safety Rashad Jones will leave for the big leagues after this season. A number of scouts have him rated sky high at this early stage of the scouting process.
– Linebacker Rennie Curran is also giving serious thought to entering the draft at this point. Curran, who measures 5-feet, 10-inches on a good day, is having a lights out season. The thinking is baring injury, he’s not likely to play much better as a senior in 2010 and surely won’t get any taller. When you speak about Curran to NFL scouts the player they compare him to is Dexter Coakley.
– Several seniors have disappointed scouts this season starting with Clemson receiver Jacoby Ford. Sources have told us Ford needs to work on the consistency of his hands, something we found unusual after watching lots of film on him.
– Florida State cornerback Patrick Robinson is also dropping. Scouts have told us Robinson needs to start proving he is a football player with ball skills rather than just a big, fast athlete running around the field.
– Five separate teams told us Arkansas defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard has been a disappointment this season. He’s not improved on what was a good junior campaign and could fall into the draft’s very late rounds.
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