A review of the prospects from the Humanitarian Bowl
Northern Illinois Huskies
Chad Spann, RB (5-9, 198 lbs)
Spann lead the MAC in rushing this year with 1388 yards and 22 touchdowns while finishing the Humanitarian Bowl with 99 yards and 2 touchdowns. At 5-9, 198 he lacks ideal size for a back at the next level but does have some thickness through his hips and shows some strength in his lower half. Spann is generally a one cut runner who is most effective when is able to run north/south. He possesses good balance and keeps his pad level low, protecting the ball and not giving defenders much to hit. His instincts and vision are above average and he runs very hard and aggressive, which are probably his best attributes. Spann’s major deficiencies are his lack of explosion and elusiveness whether he is running between the tackles or in space. While he does exhibit the ability to reach the edge he is not likely to take it to the house due to his lack of elusiveness, shiftiness, and speed. When running between the tackles Spann runs extremely hard but because of his lack size and elite lower body strength he will struggle at the next level with yards after contact. He is not much of a pass catcher either hauling in only 9 catches for 45 yards on the season.
Overall – Spann has an uphill battle on his hands as he looks like a reserve/backup type at the next level. I see him as being either a late round pick or a potential free agent but a solid player who will get some looks from NFL teams in training camp. Northern Illinois also has a reputation of producing NFL caliber backs including such notables as Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe, so Spann may be one to keep an eye on in the future.
Fresno State Bulldogs
Chris Carter, DE/LB (6-2, 240 lbs)
Carter led the WAC this year in sacks with 11.0 but he is considered undersized as a prospect for the NFL. At 6-2 240 lbs Carter is thin throughout his frame and does not possesses the thickness needed to stand up at the point of attack. Because of his lack of bulk he projects as a standup outside rush linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. During the game, the Bulldogs used Carter exclusively as a down lineman in a rush end position however this does not look like his natural position as he did not demonstrate the ability to explode out of his stance with the power and strength required by a down lineman. Athletically he showcases good agility, exhibits a very good first step and demonstrates the ability to change directions quickly. He also possesses good speed and quickness for the position but because of his diminutive frame and lack of strength once lineman are able to get their hands on him, Carter becomes ineffective for the most part. Against the run I cannot be sure how he performs because Northern Illinois did not run at him much but I suspect because of his inability to hold the point of attack, lack of physicality and the way he seems to get caught up in traffic at times he would likely struggle.
Overall – At this point Carter is basically a pure speed rusher who combines a bull rush and spin move occasionally. At the next level if he can demonstrate enough ability to rush the passer he may be able to stick but projects only as a pass rush specialist and is likely to get drafted in one of the later rounds or picked up as a free agent by a 3-4 team.
Ryan Colburn, QB (6-3, 220 lbs)
Colburn finished the game with 2 TD’s and 288 yards passing on 28 of 38, but from what I saw in this game I do not envision Colburn being able to play at the next level. While he does have good size and shows reasonable athleticism his decision making and his ability to handle defensive pressure is very poor. Each time he faced any kind of pass rush Colburn would get extremely anxious and just look to get rid of the ball as quick as he could. Additionally if Colburn was pressured and began to scramble he did not keep his eyes down field which limited his ability to find the open receiver or make big plays down the field. When Colburn did get time he demonstrated the ability to run through his progressions but he did it very slowly and methodically, it was as if the game was just too fast for him. While Colburn still needs to work on his release and his mechanics, most obvious is the fact that he stares down his receivers consistently and tends to use only part of the field to throw to, enabling the defense to defend him much more easily.
Overall – Based upon what I saw in the Humanitarian Bowl I do not think Colburn has the ability to be a QB at the next level (NFL, CFL or UFL) and even though he does possess the size and possibly the arm to compete he does not seem to have the mental makeup. I do not expect him to be drafted and I would be surprised if he received any free agent offers.