This is a new weekly feature here at Buffalo Rumblings, so we hope you like it. We have assembled a small staff of "scouts" - and by "scouts," we really mean Saturday bums looking to get a little production out of their college football-watching lethargy - to monitor the college ranks for legitimate NFL prospects. In this fashion, we hope to provide year-round scouting, in by far its lamest definition, and NFL Draft discussions for all you couch scouts out there.
Each week - and yeah, we're going to limit this to once per week, considering the topic of this blog - we'll highlight three prospects whose stock is up, and three more whose stock is plummeting. You'll find our Week 1 thoughts after the jump, and you're more than welcome to share your own observations as well.
THREE UP - Three players whose stock is soaring after strong Week 1 performances
#1 - Cincinnati QB Tony Pike. At least three of us on the staff watched Monday's Cincinnati/Rutgers game and came away very impressed with Pike, a 6'6", 225-pound senior. His football experience is limited, as he's only been playing quarterback for six years. But in a game that was supposed to be much more closely-contested than it was (Cincinnati wiped the floor with Rutgers 47-15), Pike was tremendous, completing 27 of 34 passes for 362 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. He's got more-than-prototypical size, has some agility and the ability to make things happen with his legs, and an adequate NFL arm. He made good decisions and showed a strong command of Cincinnati's spread offense. With a few more performances like that, lots of NFL teams might be willing to pass on big-name quarterbacks to nab a sleeper like Pike a bit later on in the draft.
#2 - Boise State CB Kyle Wilson. Wilson is already one of the top-rated corners in the country, but we wanted to see the 5'10", 187-pound senior for ourselves when Boise State and Oregon opened the college season last Thursday. He's everything he's advertised as: extremely athletic (with great promise as a kick/punt returner), supremely confident (he does a lot of talking on the field, almost to the point of arrogance), and a top-notch cover corner in every sense. He plays hard, hits hard, and is perfectly willing to support the run. Wilson is perhaps one of the most well-rounded talents in the country, and he's got No. 1 corner potential. He played very well as Boise State bounced Oregon with ease.
#3 - Syracuse DT Arthur Jones. Even with the arrival of coach Doug Marrone and quarterback Greg Paulus, most don't expect Syracuse to make much noise in the Big East this season. That doesn't mean they're devoid of talent, however, and by far the best NFL prospect on the team is senior DT Arthur Jones. The 6'4", 294-pound senior is the anchor of an Orange defense that performed admirably against a solid Minnesota team; Jones, despite being "light" for a tackle, showed an ability to anchor against multiple blockers and keyed a solid run defense that yielded only 3.5 yards per carry. He's a very active player with solid athleticism, but it'd be nice to see him develop some block-shedding skills. Jones has serious NFL potential, but he won't be a great fit for every NFL scheme.
THREE DOWN - Pretty much the opposite. These guys saw their stocks dip for various reasons.
#1 - Oregon RB LeGarrette Blount. This one's pretty obvious. Blount has serious NFL talent; he's well-built (6'2", 240 pounds), yet he plays with the agility of a much smaller man. But Boise State frustrated him to the tune of 8 yards on 10 touches in Oregon's 19-8 season-opening loss - and "frustrated" is putting it mildly. As depicted in the ESPN-provided picture above the fold, Blount attacked Boise State players after the game, and then later attempted to attack heckling fans. He has since been suspended for the season by Oregon. In one night, Blount went from a possible (probable?) first-day draft prospect to a serious character risk. Serious character risks don't usually get drafted.
#2 - Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham. If you're new around these parts, I'll fill you in - last January, just prior to the deadline for prospects to declare themselves eligible for the 2009 NFL Draft, Gresham took his name out of the pot, much to my disappointment. At that time, the 6'6", 260-pound Gresham had what looked to be a beat on being the top tight end off the board in the draft, even ahead of Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew, who went No. 20 overall to Detroit. Less than a year later, Gresham's season is over, as he's had season-ending knee surgery. If he recovers well, he'll still be a contender for first-round selection next year (he's a senior) - but part of him has to be second-guessing his decision to return for his senior season. He is undoubtedly a rare talent at the tight end position.
#3 - Mississippi QB Jevan Snead. There is no question, at least to the few of us on this farce of a scouting staff, that Snead has the best NFL arm of any top QB prospect out there. A 6'3", 215-pound junior, Snead is facing lofty expectations as he enters his second full season at quarterback for the No. 6-ranked Rebels. Although Mississippi ended up winning their opening day game over Memphis by a final score of 45-14, Snead struggled mightily - and that kept Memphis in the game far longer than they should have been. Snead completed only 12 of 22 passes for 174 yards, and while he did throw two nice touchdown passes, he also threw two pretty brutal interceptions. Snead's talent level is immense - his skill set rivals that of Jay Cutler's, in our opinion - but he's got some serious technical flaws he needs to iron out. His accuracy is awful while throwing on the move, and his pocket awareness needs honing. His decision-making looks rather like Cutler's as well. He needs time, but he did not get off to a great start this season.