Week One Risers/Sliders
With Draft Breakdown writers living across the country, we’ve been able to cover several different slates of regional games. In our Risers/Sliders piece, our crew goes through the draft-eligible prospects who either impressed or disappointed them.
Vontaze Burfict LB Arizona State
Burfict got his season off on the right foot, albeit against an overmatched UC-Davis team, with three sacks that resulted in 20 yards lost for the Aggies. He showed every bit of aggressiveness and physical play that you would expect, but without the ridiculous penalties that sometimes follow. Burfict was explosive and smart with his timing, showed great speed for an inside backer, and punished the QB when he hit him. The biggest downfall here is that he managed only the three tackles, which will need to improve as the season progresses.
Bo Levi Mitchell QB Eastern Washington
The former SMU QB, and Most Outstanding Player from last year’s FCS championship game, was unbelievably good against Washington, completing 39-of-69 passes for 473 yards and three TD’s in a 30-27 loss. Despite two interceptions, including the game-clincher, Mitchell was in control most of the day as his Eagles pretty much did anything they wanted offensively. He is only 6-2 and 210 lbs., but Mitchell should find himself being talked about as a mid-late round draft prospect, especially if he dominates the FCS schools again this year. His arm strength is only average, but Mitchell had great accuracy to go along with an excellent understanding of the game.
Brandon Kaufman WR Eastern Washington
Kaufman was not a player that I knew much about, but really impressed me with his game against Washington. At 6-5 and 215 lbs., he dominated the smallish Huskies corners to the tune of 10 catches for 140 yards. He showed excellent hands and ability to both go up over the corner for the ball, as well as shield the defender from any chance at defending the pass. He should form a formidable combo with QB Bo Levi Mitchell, and could have an impressive season this year.
Chris Polk RB Washington
The most impressive part about Polk’s 23 carries for 125 yards against Eastern Washington was the fact that he had arthroscopic knee surgery just two weeks ago, and was uncertain to play against the Eagles up until game time. Everyone knew he was a tough player, and this pretty much just sealed the deal about just how tough and competitive he is. He carried the load for the Huskies on a day that could just have easily gotten away from them, with new QB Keith Price struggling to get the ball down field. Polk once again displayed that, although he lacks any real breakaway speed, he is as tough a runner as there is in the country.
Alameda Ta’amu DT Washington
In a game versus Eastern Washington that Ta’amu should have dominated for all intents and purposes, he was mostly non-existent. Although he faced many double-teams, Ta’amu only managed 5 tackles, none for loss, and no sacks. One thing to keep in mind, however, was that Ta’amu broke his hand earlier in spring practice, and was therefore playing with a cast. This game by no means ruins the senior’s season, but it was disappointing nonetheless. The Eagles employed a quick passing game to negate the Huskies pass rush, but even on the few deeper drops Ta’amu and company did not display much penetration.
Cameron Chism CB Maryland
Chism is probably only a late round prospect at best, but he had himself a good game in coverage for the Terps, including the game-sealing interception off an errant pass from Miami QB Stephen Morris. He also stripped the football from running back Mike James that DL Joe Vellano took back for a score. Chism was called for a holding penalty that kept one Miami drive alive, but the call was pretty questionable. Maryland has produced some quality NFL defensive backs over the last several years and Chism might be worth a look in the later round of the 2012 draft.
Davin Meggett RB Maryland
Meggett is a small, but compact, runner with a lot of burst. He’s been very successful at UMD since his freshman season, and with a consistent and healthy senior season he’ll probably end up being a solid mid-round pick. He wasn’t super flashy against the Canes, but he had some nice plays and looked much improved when asked to stay into block for QB Danny O’Brien. He needs to start running more North/South instead of East/West.
Vaughn Telemaque DB Miami
Telemaque is only a junior, and he may not declare for the 2012 draft, but he was one of the lone bright spots on the Miami defense. He racked up 8 tackles and a key interception for the ‘Canes in the red zone. Telemaque was flying to the ball and looked competent in coverage. When the rest of the Miami defensive starters return, if he continues to be successful there’s a chance he may decide to leave school early. He’s someone to keep an eye on.
Kenny Tate LB Maryland
In his first game action moving from Safety to Linebacker, the Terps star was very unimpressive. Moving closer to the line of scrimmage only allows bigger offensive lineman to take him out of a play. In addition, no NFL team will seriously consider drafting Tate to play linebacker – he’s only 220 pounds. He’s another freakish athletic talent to come out of College Park, but he’ll end up sliding down many draft boards as the draft approaches since he currently has no true NFL position.
Miami Starters on Defense
Miami was arguably missing its five best players on defense, so it’s no surprise that the Terps racked up nearly 500 total yards on Offense. However, the return of Sean Spence, Marcus Forston, and Adewale Ojomo in the coming weeks should help improve the stock of this unit. Monday nights game was not pretty for this unit and there were no seniors that turned in notable performances.