Insider News & Notes is back with the latest what’s being said inside the scouting community as we move closer to the draft. Updated news on seniors preparing for the post season and juniors making the jump. Updated 1/10 @2:10PM Tannehill, Toon, Armstead
– To follow up on our post on Twitter from this morning, late yesterday afternoon I was given word that Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who’s been soaring up draft boards, suffered a foot injury that will keep him out of the Senior Bowl, which starts in less than two weeks. Further investigation this morning revealed that the injury occurred while Tannehill was training in Bradenton, Florida. It was described as a fluke injury in which the senior signal caller was participating in a simple passing drill. The severity of the injury has been described to me in a variety of ways but will be left as “significant” until further clarification.
Why is Tannehill making such a bounce up draft boards in recent weeks? One trusted source told me teams are eating up the quarterbacks upside potential and described it as “the love affair factor”- teams see what Tannehill can develop into at the next level and can’t stay away. His athleticism, mobility, toughness and decision making all has scouts giddy. With Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder coming off the board so early in the 2011 NFL Draft, teams now feel they have the green light to select someone such as Tannehill earlier than most anticipate. Sources are saying don’t be shocked if the Texas A&M product ends up as a top 15 choice, depending on the injury.
– Sources alerted me that Wisconsin receiver Nick Toon suffered a significant foot injury while he was training in Carson, California. According to those who witnessed the injury, Toon was participating in a running drill when a “pop” was heard from his foot.
– We were told last week to keep an eye on defensive lineman Armond Armstead, whose on story was written about in yesterday’s edition of the LA Times. Armstead is expected to try and transfer out of USC as he’s not happy the way the program handled the illness (evidently a virus) which sidelined him all of 2011. We hear he’d like to play with his brother Arik, a highly rated high senior line prospect who de-committed from USC, but declaring for the draft is also an option. Remember, Armstead enter the season with mid-round consideration from scouts.
After speaking with people last night who told us Boston College junior linebacker Luke Kuechly was leaning towards staying in college, something I posted on Twitter, I decided to speak to a few more sources close to the situation throughout the day today. The information I was given was a bit more revealing though no more hints as to Kuechly’s final announcement.
According to sources the junior is really struggling with his decision and he’s thoroughly going through the process. Emotionally we hear Kuechly really prefers to stay for his senior season at Boston College for a variety of reasons. Sources tell us he’s loved his experience at Boston College and feels a responsibility to his teammates. Further Kuechly really does not want to leave after suffering through one of the worst seasons experienced by the BC program in sometime.
One the “business” end of it I was told all the information coming into Kuechly is advising him to enter the draft. We hear in some instances he’s been advised his draft stock will never be any higher than it presently grades and he could potentially lower his draft grade if he does not improve on what was a phenomenal season.
We hear Kuechly has looked at a timetable as to what his life will look like over the next four months if he eventually decides to enter the draft taking into account combine preparation, the combine workout then pro-day and individual workouts. Right now it seems it will come down to the wire before any final decision comes from Kuechly.
-I posted on Twitter yesterday that Omar Bolden of Arizona State will not apply to the NCAA for a 6th year eligibility and is headed for the NFL draft. Bolden received high grades from NFL scouts prior to the year but sat out the 2011 season after suffering an ACL tear in spring practice which required surgery to repair. It was the second such ailment in less than two years as Bolden played the first four games of the ’09 campaign before being sidelined with a knee injury. The general consensus among scouts and most others was Bolden should attempt to regain a year of eligibility to prove he lost little on his game. But despite this recommendation sources tell me Bolden kept invoking the experience of Antonio Cromartie- who sat on the sidelines with a knee injury as a junior at Florida State in 2005 then entered the 2006 draft only to be the 19th selection of round one. And while those in the Bolden camp are confident he will be a selected during the second day of the draft (2nd/3rd Round) most people feel he’s likely a late round pick- an opinion I would have to agree with. Reportedly Bolden is now training at the Tom Shaw facility.
– There is a similar feeling from area scouts about the decision by Donte Paige-Moss. The ultra-talented junior announced he will enter the draft despite tearing an ACL in his right knee during North Carolina’s bowl game. This has sent up all kinds of red flags. Despite the obvious situation surrounding the injured knee, scouts thought it would be best for Paige-Moss to return to UNC and prove he could be the top defender on the Tar Heels with such much senior talent leaving for the NFL.
– Staying on the Tar Heels, the news has not been positive for defensive lineman Quinton Coples. Considered by just about all, including yours truly, as the top rated senior entering the 2011 campaign Coples watched his play and production slide. Its obvious on film Coples did not play with a sense of urgency last season nor really went after plays not in his immediate vicinity. While Coples turned it on late in the year scouts were given the word from those inside the North Carolina program that Coples was “playing not to get injured” for much of the year and was preparing for the draft rather than playing for the season.
– On twitter yesterday I mentioned Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks and defensive lineman Josh Boyd will return for their senior seasons after receiving fourth round grades from the advisory committee. The “committee” or whomever handed out the grades was airing on the side of caution in my opinion. Banks was worthy of a top 75 pick and could have snuck into the second frame, depending how fast he ran. Boyd was no worse than a third rounder. On the advisory boards behalf, I was hearing from area scouts the week leading up to the Bulldogs bowl game that is was in the best interest of Banks to return to school for another year. Both Banks and Boyd have decided to do as much and should be commended. They are talented prospects and I hope it works out for them and both turn into top 45 picks in 2013.
– With the upheaval presently in the athletic and football program, we hear a number of underclassmen from North Carolina will head to the NFL after the season. Two names passed onto us include defensive end Donte’ Paige-Moss and linebacker Kevin Reddick.
– Staying with the Tar Heels, we hear a number of area scouts have come out of Chapel Hill very impressed with senior receiver Dwight Jones.
– Back on August 21st, during our NFL prospect preview of the Cal Bears, we suggested people keep an eye on senior safety D.J. Campbell who was not considered an NFL prospect at the time. Midway through the season area scouts have come away impressed with Campbell. Several insiders have confided to us that a number of teams have graded Campbell higher then teammate Sean Cattouse, who is projected as a draftable prospect.
– Another west coast prospect gaining steam is Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford. Despite mediocre productions numbers we’ve been told by scouts they like the way he’s has developed the past year (he transferred to Boise State from Bakersfield College) and feel Crawford has an NFL body.
– Sources have told us Rutgers tight end D.C. Jefferson is thinking about entering the NFL draft and will evaluate his options at seasons end. The former quarterback is an awesome looking specimen and comes with great upside yet needs a lot of work on his overall game.
– One super sleeper that scouts are starting to talk about is Cal-Pa receiver Thomas Mayo. The senior, who received almost no notice from scouts prior to the season, has caught 42 passes for 755-yards with 9 scores during the Vulcans initial six games. Mayo played at Concord in 2010 and posted numbers of 74/1315/14.
– The chatter is getting louder that this will be the final year at Iowa for Riley Reiff and the offensive tackle will enter the draft at seasons end.
– Additional sources have confirmed what we told readers several weeks ago; Nick Perry of USC will opt for the draft after the season. Scouts love Perry’s athleticism and upside. We question his instincts to play linebacker in a 3-4 at the next level, the position the undersized college defensive end projects to.
– Numerous sources have told us Dontari Poe of Memphis will enter the draft after the season. The massive defensive lineman, awarded all-Conference as a sophomore, would instantly be one of the highest rated nose tackles available next April.
– Opinions on Washington defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu are all over the board. Several we’ve spoken with think Ta’amu is not living up to expectations this season. Yet one AFC North team, which employs the 3-4 defense, grade the Husky senior as a potential top 25 pick.
– One PAC 12 player we hear scouts unanimously agree is rising up boards would be Oregon outside linebacker Josh Kaddu.
– We’ve previously mentioned a pair of small school corners, Furman’s Ryan Steed and Asa Jackson of Cal-Poly, as players that have really impressed scouts this season. Yet neither can compete with the rave reviews we’re hearing on Trumaine Johnson of Montana. Johnson has been so dominant this season opposing teams refuse to throw or run in his direction. We’ve heard anywhere from top 35 to definite second round for Johnson next April. It would not be a stretch to announce Johnson presently grades as the top non-BCS/non-IA player on draft boards. We expect Johnson to receive and invite to the Senior Bowl.
– Another small school player that’s getting a lot of talk in the scouting community and one we’ve heard is likely to get a Senior Bowl invitation is guard Amini Silatolu of Midwestern State. The dominant blocker is graded as a top three senior at guard by a number of teams.
– The play of Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin has been incredibly impressive thus far this season. But we hear scouts are just as impressed with Griffin’s football intellect as they are with his physical skills. According to those close to the situation Griffin is a book smart student that transitions his intelligence onto the football field. Our report from several weeks ago was reiterated to us from another source; Griffin’s family is laying the foundation for his potential entry into the draft but right now its less than 50-50 the talented pass catcher makes the jump to the NFL.
– During our Texas preview in August we talked up junior safety Kenny Vaccaro. Sources have told us Vaccaro is also impressing scouts this season and there’s a very good chance he enters the draft after the year.
– Additional sources have confirmed our story from last week that Utah junior defensive tackle Star Lotulelei will opt for the draft after the season.
– Separate sources have told us the three big juniors from Alabama will all enter the draft. Expect running back Trent Richardson, linebacker Don’ta Hightower and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick to leave for the NFL after the season.
– The Big Ten has a pair of highly rated senior centers in David Molk of Michigan and Mike Brewster from Ohio State. Yet many scouts feel the best of them all is junior Peter Konz, Wisconsin’s dominant blocker on the pivot. Right now info is sketchy on what Konz will do after the season.
– More and more people have told us they expect Iowa tackle Riley Reiff to enter next April’s draft. Those who have confided in us also say Reiff will be a first round pick.
– To build upon last week’s story of the potential exodus of underclassmen from Stanford, sources have told us the program is expecting a large number on non-seniors to bolt for the NFL in 2012. Sources told us prior to his season ending knee injury linebacker Shayne Skov was also planning to enter the draft but that has been put on hold.
– Sources have told us Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei is very likely to enter the draft after this season. The Snow College transfer became a fulltime starter this year after seeing action with the first team very late in the ’10 campaign. If this holds true it will mark three of the past four drafts a underclassmen on the defensive line bolted Utah for the draft.
– Looking for a sleeper at the tight end position that received little mention from scouts prior to the season? Tyler Urban of West Virginia has been spoken about a lot recently and is impressing NFL decision makers.
– On the flip side sources have told us it is quite likely that the career of New Hampshire tight end Chris Jeannot is over. The senior was considered a late round choice but saw his season, and possibly career, come to an end with post-concussion symptoms. We wish him the best moving forward.
– Several sources have confided in us that Stanford guard David DeCastro will enter next April’s draft. Numerous scouts presently grade DeCastro as the top guard prospect in the nation. What has set him apart this year is the ability he’s displayed moving on his feet and blocking in motion. The comparison made to us when speaking of DeCastro is to four time All Pro lineman Olin Kreutz.
– Jonathan Martin is another junior on the offensive line at Stanford that sources have told us is likely to enter April’s draft. Those close to the situation put it at “90%” right now and people in Martin’s close circle are sending the feelers out at this early stage.
– The word circulating in the agent community is that Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck has settled on representation for next year. We must note that we have not spoken with the agency rumored to be Luck’s choice.
– Also from the underclassmen front, we hear those close to quarterback Robert Griffin of Baylor have been laying down the ground work for the junior to enter April’s draft. Those we spoke with say that while its not a definite Griffin will leave, at the very least it is a serious option at this point.
– There are a variety of opinions on the next level potential of Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. We liken him to Colt Brennan but there are some NFL teams that love Moore and compare him to Drew Brees.
– Last week we reported Nick Perry of USC is likely to enter the draft after the season. Those close with the program told us Perry is a legitimate 4.6-second forty guy at 265-pounds.
– One sleeper out west getting a lot of attention from scouts is Southern Utah quarterback Brad Sorensen, who began his career at BYU. The 6′-3”/220lbs strong armed passer can make just about all the throws with accuracy. Only a junior, we’ve not heard any mention of Sorensen entering the draft but it is worth noting he’s a member of the 2006 graduate class and served a church mission before entering BYU.
– The west coast scouts have been incredibly impressed with USC tackle Matt Kallil thus far. He’s been completely dominant in all aspects and the teams that have watched him say he’s a big time left tackle prospect. In fact one of the best in recent years. If he enters the draft, and early word is Kallil will make the move to the NFL, scouts say he’s a much better prospect than Tyron Smith and will be drafted earlier than his former teammate, who was chosen with the 10th selection by the Dallas Cowboys last April.
– There’s a good chance many of Kallil’s underclassmen teammates will join him and make the leap to the next level in 2012. Several sources have told us there’s tension in the USC locker room and the players are just not having a good time. Many of the top junior prospects have already begun the process of looking towards the 2012 NFL Draft. In fact sources told us the players are having family and friends lay the foundation and do the research necessary. In conversations over the past week with numerous insiders we’ve heard that quarterback Matt Barkley, safety T.J. McDonald, defensive end/outside linebacker Nick Perry and Devon Kennard are all seriously considering opting for the draft after the season. We hear both Barclay and McDonald will leave if they receive first round grades in post season evaluations.
– At this early stage we are hearing a lot of different stories on whether or not Iowa offensive tackle Riley Rieff will opt for the draft.
– We’ve taken heat from different sources for our initial evaluation on Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, and that’s fine. Insiders we’ve spoken with say that while they rate him slightly higher than us, they concur Jones has done nothing yet to prove he’s the first round choice many have anointed him to be. Surprisingly, or I should say surprising to us anyway, scouts are very high on Oklahoma State signal caller Brandon Weeden, though his age (28 years old next month) is a concern. We liked what we saw from Weeden in spurts last year but were not as impressed after breaking down his game film.
– Moving back towards the west coast teams like the size and arm strength of Nick Foles, referring to the Arizona’s physical skills as first round like. They do have concerns about his decision making
– One quarterback receiving rave reviews, and justifiably so in our opinion, is Ryan Lindley of San Diego State. Scouts feel Lindley, who we referred to as the most underrated senior prospect in the nation has the tools to be the complete package in time.
– Who could be this year’s version of Cam Newton- the quarterback with unlimited physical skills that comes out of nowhere to “WOW” scouts? Many will shake their head in agreement when we tell you the name being passed around scouting circles is Florida State’s EJ Manuel.
– Staying in the ACC, we were gratified to hear that a number of teams in the league concur with our assessment on offensive guard Jonathan Cooper of North Carolina and they give the underclassman high grades.
– Another junior blocker scouts have a high opinion of is Chance Warmack from Alabama. He’s more highly considered than tackle Barrett Jones, often spoke about by many on the outside.
– Two small school sleepers at the cornerback position to keep on your radar are Asa Jackson of Cal-Poly and Furman’s Ryan Steed. We’re hearing potential top 125 for Jackson and possible top 60 for Steed.