With the 2012 NFL season in the books and the pre-draft process underway, it's time to reunite with our old buddy and new collaborator Greg Cosell of NFL FIlms and ESPN's NFL Matchup (as well as Shutdown Corner, in articles you can read here and here). The scouting combine is coming up rught away, and since Greg and I will both be there, along with Shutdown Corner's Brian McIntyre, we thought it would be good to go over the big prospects before the combine shook a few things out. As always, Greg gives you a sense of the process you won't get anywhere else, based on his conversations with players and coaches past and present, and his OCD-level evaluation of coach's tape.
A few words of wisdom from Mr. Cosell:
On West Virginia QB Geno Smith: "There's no question that he has an NFL arm. The ball comes out with good velocity and juice. His short to intermediate throws are very, very good. The one thing that troubles me about Smith, and it's theoretically coachable, is that he's primarily a shotgun quarterback, which in and of itself is not an issue. But he has a tendency to bounce on his drops -- he does not actually drop. And that must be cleaned up. Because the problem when you do that is you're not truly ready to throw the ball, and a major difference between college and the NFL is the response time of defensive backs. If you're not ready to throw, and you wait that extra beat while you get your feet set, you'll have an issue."
On USC quarterback Matt Barkley: "He does not have a naturally strong arm. There's not a lot of natural velocity on his throws. He did not drive the ball at the intermediate and deeper levels. He does have a quick and compact delivery, but I think arm strength is a significant concern as he transitions to the NFL. The other concern is that his feet are a little slow; he's not very athletic in and around the pocket. To be a top NFL quarterback, he's going to have to be a rhythm and timing passer with great anticipation and ball location. That must be his game if he's to be a quality NFL starter."
On Florida State QB E.J. Manuel: "Of the top six or seven quarterbacks in this class, he's the only one who can run read-option. It will be interesting to see if that raises his value. But again, it gets back to throwing the football. I think he has an easy delivery, and the ball comes out with velocity. He was under center more than people think -- I think people just assume that he was in the shotgun all the time. There were throws I saw that did have anticipation and good accuracy. He's got a high release point. At times, he's a little scattershot, and we'll see where that goes. His ball position is too high, and that will be changed in the NFL."
On Notre Dame TE Tyler Eifert: "To me, he's far and away the best tight end in this draft for the NFL that we now exist in. This guy lines up wide, he beats cornerbacks on vertical routes, he's got great hands, he has body control flexibility tracking the ball, and a very wide catch radius. To me, he's worthy of a first-round pick, and maybe even a top-20 pick."
On Florida State DE Bjoern Werner: "I've seen a bunch of games, and I'm going to be in the minority here, but I did not love this kid on tape. He's naturally athletic, there's no question about that, and there were times when he was very explosive off the ball as a pass rusher. There were times when he used his hands effectively to stack and shed in the run game. I thought he was more of a speed-to-power pass rusher than an explosive edge rusher, and I didn't think he was highly competitive snap after snap. I thought he was a flash player -- when he won early, he was really good. But if he didn't win initially, he was not a finisher."
As with everything involving Greg Cosell, this podcast is a must-listen for those fans of advanced tape analysis. Subscribe to the Shutdown Corner iTunes link (in iTunes, go to "Advanced/Subscribe to Podcast," and paste this link in: http://ysportspods.podbean.com/category/shutdown/feed/). You can also use the link below to either left-click and listen, or right-click to save to your computer.