Nebraska looks to finish out their Big 12 tenure in grand style and have the horses to do as much. The program has a lot of talent and the ability to make several BCS appearances over the next few seasons as well as continue to impact the NFL Draft.
The Cornhuskers have a ton of talent on the offensive line with several prominent juniors.
Marcel Jones is a large, athletic blocker who moves very well on his feet. Blocking with good lean, he gets his hands into defenders, keeps his feet moving and drives opponents off the line or engulfs them altogether. He’s very effective in motion showing the ability to pull across the line of scrimmage and gets out to the second level then annihilate linebackers. He must improve his use of angles but the NU lineman offers a tremendous upside.
Keith Williams is another nasty blocker that shows quickness if asked to kick out or pull. Sized well, Williams is strong at the point and explosive. He jolts defenders with great hand punch and is another very good blocking prospect.
Michael Smith is a small area blocker best suited for the strong side. Quick and explosive, he has nice length which allows him to block down on opponents. Smith does not show great balance or blocking agility.
The offense has a number of skill players that project well to the next level.
Niles Paul was rated by scouting services as the top receiver from the senior class and there’s a lot to like about his game. He’s a consistent hand catcher that displays eye/hand coordination as well as focus. Effectively extending his hands, Paul nicely adjusts to make the errant reception down field while running full speed and shows surprising quickness for a 220-pound wide out. He lacks the second gear and is a one speed receiver yet a prospect that could fill the role as a number two wide out in the NFL.
Roy Helu is a strong north/south runner that patiently waits for blocks to develop then hits the hole hard. A little straight-linish, he lacks the speed and agility to turn the corner.
Senior Mike McNeill is a reliable pass catcher that consistently extends to make the reception away from his frame and shows good eye/hand coordination. He finds the open spot on the field then uses his frame to shield away opponents and protect the pass. McNeill blocks with good knee bend but shows minimal strength at the point of attack. He’s a potential move tight end that could also fit a west coast offense.
The Blackshirts have a number of exciting players that grade as early first round selections as well as underrated prospects that will go in the late rounds.
We’ve discussed Prince Amukamara on a number of occasions and the cornerback enters the season as one of the two highest rated seniors in the country.
There’s a lot to like about Amukamara’s overall game. Fundamentally he’s fluid and smooth in all his mechanics. Quick pedaling in reverse, Amukamara flips his hips transitioning to run with opponents and is physical throughout the route. He does a good job in zone coverage, recognizing routes and following receivers out of their breaks. He has a nice burst to the action and voluntarily defends the run. At times Amukamara takes unwarranted chances which leads to receptions for the opposition but he has all the makings of a starting corner at the next level.
Alfonzo Dennard is not as skilled as his teammate to this point yet is someone who bears watching. Dennard displays a nice break to the throw and has a physical game.
Dejon Gomes is primarily used as the teams nickel back yet is a quality cornerback in his own right. He does a nice job reading and diagnosing the action, stays with assignments and takes proper angles to the action. Gomes is fast in a straight line or laterally and is always around the ball making plays. He shows good head for game and does a nice job getting his teammates in proper position.
Safety Eric Hagg is a guy we liked the more we watched him on film. Hagg plays smart football, works well with cornerbacks and constantly puts himself in a position to make plays on the ball. Occasionally lined over the slot receiver, he’s quick flipping his hips, shows good recognition and does a solid job in coverage. Physical, he shows toughness and aggressiveness defending the run. We really think he’s a guy with next level skill.
Jared Crick will be the center of attention on the defensive line now that Ndamukong Suh has graduated to the NFL. Crick plays with great explosion, displaying terrific first step quickness and uses his hands to get off blocks. Easily changing direction, he immediately alters his angle of attack to chase the action in pursuit. Crick must be more consistent playing low to the ground and must add football strength as he’s easily controlled at the point. He must also show he was more than just the beneficiary of the double and sometimes triple teaming of Suh the past few seasons.
Pierre Allen is a solid athlete that also makes plays in every direction of the field. He’s a decent pass rusher yet very slow to shed blocks once engaged at the point.
Missouri seems to reload every year yet the program has never had enough talent to get over the hump and into a BCS game. For years they had to deal with title contenders from the Big 12 South. This year, like last season, the stumbling block will be Nebraska. Yet with that they have two burgeoning underclassmen stars.
Blaine Gabbert is everything former Tiger star Chase Daniels was not; big and strong armed with the ability to make all the throws. Gabbert has terrific pocket presence, powers the ball into targets and gets the pass into the tight spots. He easily dives the deep ball and does a terrific job commanding the offense. Gabbert also lacks polish and his poor accuracy is worrisome. He constantly has receivers leaving their feet to make the reception, does not display a sense of timing and makes poor throws under the rush. He offers an upside but needs a lot of work on his game.
Tackle Dan Hoch is a fundamentally sound blocker best in a small area. Terrific with his hands, he jolts opponents at the point of attack and easily controls them once engaged in a block. Hoch keeps his keeps his feet moving, stays square and blocks with leverage. He displays no skill sliding out to protect the edge from his right tackle spot yet is a solid strong side/right tackle prospect.
Derrick Washington is slightly underrated in our opinion. He runs with nice degree of quickness, shows resiliency carrying the ball and the ability to adjust off the initial hit, regain his balance then continue his run. He also consistently makes the reception away from his frame. Washington will also get out front and block if necessary.
Tim Barnes is a terrific position and seal blocker at center. He keeps his head on a swivel, blocks with a nasty attitude and always looks for someone to hit. Barnes possesses better-than-average footwork in space and flashes skill blocking in motion.
Aldon Smith is a rising star on defense. Smith possesses terrific first step quickness, a solid change of direction and the ability to makes plays in every direction of the field. Smith can drop off the line and effectively play in space, displays terrific edge speed as well as a lot of explosion in his game. He’s a tremendous prospect and reminds us of a number of very athletic and special college pass rushers who were selected early in the draft then made their mark on the NFL.
Jacquies Smith is another smallish defender who flashes explosion and the ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. Not as athletic or sudden as his younger teammate, this Smith is also a legit NFL prospect.
Andrew Gachkar is a solid weakside prospect who makes plays sideline to sideline and displays ability in pursuit. He has adequate strength with the ability to get off blocks then slide to the inside and defend the run.
Kansas State returned to competitiveness with Bill Snyder back in charge and the team just missed out on a bowl bid last year. They return with one of the highest rated running backs in the senior class, and a prospect that promises to draw a lot of debate.
Daniel Thomas is highly rated by a number of scouting services yet in our opinion, he’s an upright interior, ball carrier with minimal upside. Thomas shows toughness in his game, keeps his feet moving up the field and possesses a decent amount of strength in his running. His game offers minimal quickness, he lacks the ability to turn the corner and his tall running style leads to a lot of heavy hits. We project Thomas as a second or third running back on an NFL roster.
Clyde Aufner is a solid young prospect who blocks with good fundamentals. Keeping his pads low, he gets leverage on opponents and is a solid position blocker. Aufner displays the ability to gets out to the second level then hit a moving target. He possesses above average strength and controls opponents once engaged in a block.
Raphael Guidry is a nice athlete on the defensive line and a one-gap tackle who plays with a good degree of quickness.
Kansas State Pro-Prospects