Risers And Sliders: Week Three
Brooks Reed DE Arizona
In a very good display of his pass rush ability, Reed had highly-touted sophomore tackle Riley Reiff back on his heels all night. The Arizona defensive end generated good push on contact while also showcasing his speed off the edge, beating Reiff around the corner for a very nice sack. A former fullback, Reed plays with a lot of ferocity and a tremendous motor, as was seen on Iowa’s final drive. When an Iowa back tried to meet him head-on in blitz pickup, Reed plowed his way through the poor RB and notched his second sack of the game.
At a shade below 6’3” and 255 lbs., Reed doesn’t possess great size, nor is he a special athlete. However, his ever-churning motor and good speed off the edge should appeal to many teams, especially one that run a 3-4 defense. Because of his style of play, Reed could be a nice fit as a 3-4 OLB, perhaps even getting a chance to play inside as well.
Virgil Green TE Nevada
Green had his coming out party in the season opener against Eastern Washington, hauling in seven passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. With that in mind, his meager Week 3 stat line (2 rec., 35 yards) may not seem all that impressive. However, the undersized tight end stood out as a blocker, repeatedly taking out defenders on QB Colin Kapernick’s long runs. Without him, Kaepernick wouldn’t have been able to gain 148 yards on the ground and run in 3 TDs.
With his size limitations, Green isn’t going to be an effective in-line blocker at the next level. However, his willingness to go after guys downfield should make teams more confident in his ability to seal off second level defenders and become the kind of move tight who can do enough as a blocker to get him and his strong receiving skills on the field.
Kelvin Sheppard LB LSU
Sheppard has played this well this season, including in the opener against North Carolina. However, he did have some problems bringing down UNC’s ball carriers, going into tackles without much force or proper technique. For that reason, it was great to see a more explosive Sheppard show up Saturday night against Mississippi State.
The LSU LB notched eight tackles, as well as 1.5 TFL. He also pressured QB Andrew Reiff on an ill-advised throw in Patrick Peterson’s direction, resulting in a pick. Sheppard’s ability to be physical playing downhill and effective in coverage should make him a very good three down linebacker at the level. And if he continues to play mean in the middle, the 6’2″, 246 pound linebacker could have a chance at sticking inside at the next level.
Da’Quan Bowers DE Clemson
Bowers has upped his commitment to football, showing up to summer practice 20+ lbs. lighter than he did in ‘09. And it’s shown on the field: while not necessarily more explosive than he was in previous years, Bowers more consistently flashes the ability to beat offensive tackles and chase down running plays. Against Auburn, Bowers notched a half sack and was credited with two QB hurries. His three tackles for loss reveal how disruptive he was in the Saturday night matchup.
Questions will remain as to whether Bowers will be able to sustain the kind of commitment he’s shown over the last few months; it’s always curious when a player suddenly shows up during what could be his final year of college football. However, Bowers is showing NFL teams the special upside he possesses, which could earn him a spot somewhere in the first round.
Jake Locker QB Washington
Much already has been said about Locker’s performance against Nebraska: some think it confirms their doubts about Locker’s accuracy, decision-making, and readiness to play in the NFL; others have argued that it was only one epically bad game in which the lack of elite talent surrounding Locker was exposed.
There is some truth in the apologetics written by Locker’s defenders, but they also can be misleading. While Locker’s game against Nebraska was noticeably worse than his previous performances, it also highlighted the accuracy issues that have plagued him in each of his three games this season. In addition, the denigration of Locker’s surrounding cast has gone to an extreme eerily reminiscent of the explanations for Brady Quinn’s not quite as bad performances during his senior year.
Hopefully, Locker will correct some of the flaws that have affected his play this season. But at this point, it’s hard to label him an elite prospect. Instead, he’s a high ceiling QB with issues that could prevent him from ever becoming a true franchise QB.
DeMarcus Love OT Arkansas
Love is a maddeningly inconsistent prospect: he has the potential to be a very good NFL OT, but his technique all too often fails him. Against Georgia, Love repeatedly was caught off balance and was beaten when the Bulldogs’ outside linebackers looped inside. More disconcertingly, his play declined when it mattered most: he had a costly 3rd down false start that killed a drive, and he was remarkably slow out of stance on Arkansas’ second to last drive, resulting in him getting beat around the edge for a sack.
Because of his athletic potential, Love should come off the board in the early rounds of next year’s draft. But if he’d like to make his way into the first round, Love needs to up his game, starting with his tough matchup this weekend against Alabama.
Evan Royster RB Penn State
Royster rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two years, but he’s gotten off to a very slow start this fall. Through three games, he’s only run for 110 yards on a 3.55 yards per carry clip. And in the second half of the Kent State game, the sliding prospect ended up standing on the sidelines.
The senior running back possesses good balance, along with good vision and power for his size. However, he’s never been particularly fleet of foot and has had some trouble breaking runs to the outside. Unfortunately, it now appears that his lack of speed is catching up to him, which could drop an anvil on his draft stock.