If you haven’t noticed, the RSP blog is often my catchall area to write about anything I can relate to football. Nonetheless, rookie evaluation is still far and away the headliner. With the regular NFL season in the books I’ve ramped up my film study of college players. Here’s a few odds and ends about several players I’ve watched recently. For much more in-depth analysis, get the Rookie Scouting Portfolio publication available April 1.
Western Kentucky RB Bobby Rainey is the best running back prospect you’ve never heard of. NFL.com researcher Chad Reuter asked me to give a second opinion on him this summer. Based on the clips I saw, I thought he was a second- or third-day pick who would make a roster and contribute on special teams for sure. He reminded me a little of Brian Mitchell, the great return specialist for the Redskins. However, the more I watch the 5-8, 205-pound all-purpose runner pound the rock in an I formation ground game, the more he reminds me of Ray Rice in terms of build, stamina, versatility, and vision. I need to see more of him against top-notch competition, but he’s a player to watch. He won’t be a first-day pick and he’ll need to work his way onto a roster, but he’s a talented runner.
Cal receiver Marvin Jones must adjust to more errant balls per game than any receiver in college football. I like that his routes frequently tell a story and that he can get yardage after the catch. What I like most is that he likes to be physical in the run game as a blocker. If he’s willing to work at his craft, his athleticism, the Cal pro style passing game, and his budding receiving skills are a nice match for the NFL.
Jones’ teammate Keenan Allen may have to wait another year or two for the the NFL, but he can make more successful moves in a five-yard space with the ball in his hands than any receiver I’ve seen this year. He’s one of those guys that played “Kill the Man With the Ball” and could stay upright longer than his friends could give chase.
Kashif Moore, a 5’10″, 175-pound receiver from Connecticut, may never become an NFL starter, but he impresses me with his routes and skill against press coverage. He uses his hands well when releasing from the line of scrimmage and he sets up his breaks with more subtlety than the average college receiver. He tells a story with his routes. I like his chances to make some noise in an NFL camp as a rookie free agent even if it doesn’t amount to significant playing time.
Temple receiver Rod Streater is another camp invitee type, but unlike Moore he has the size to play on the perimeter. I like what I’ve seen from him as a vertical route runner and he adjusts well to the football in the air.
Virginia Tech receiver Jarrett Boykin has NFL athleticism, but he’s got a ways to go as a route runner. The Hokies do a fantastic job of getting athletic players on the perimeter, but these players have not entered the NFL as refined craftsmen at their position.
Tennessee running back Tauren Poole is an underrated runner. He’s smart, quick, and a player that might not have the flash of Lamar Miller, LaMichael James, or David Wilson, but he should become a capable contributor in the NFL..
USC’s Marc Tyler has decent feet for a big back and he runs with good pad level. What I like most is that he has some third-down skills he could develop if he makes it in the NFL. What I like the least is that the 230-pound running back makes too many decisions with the ball in his hands that would make you think he’s a plodding 180-pound runner than a big back with fleet feet.
Running back Robert Turbin had a nice comeback season for Utah State after tearing his ACL as a junior. At 5’10″ and built with a muscular core, he looks like an NFL running back. And in a lot of ways he moves like one. What concerns me is explosiveness – will it return for him? It didn’t appear to be the case in the games I’ve seen of him this year.
Perry Jones can catch the ball like a receiver. The UVA tailback might stick around another year – I would if I were him – but he has enough versatility to develop into a third-down back if he’s willing to work at it.
When most NFL fans think of Ohio University and recent NFL prospects, Taylor Price comes to mind. Price had a lot of good aspects to his game that made him a viable prospect. But Price is no LaVon Brazill, who is a stud. The only thing I don’t like about Brazill’s game is that he tore his meniscus at the end of the season and its doubtful we’ll see him at a college all-star game. Brazill and Rainey are my favorite two prospects not on the lips of the general draft discussion of players.You’ll get to read more about them when I publish the 2012 Rookie Scouting Portfolio, which will be available through a link on this site on April 1.