Maryland defensive tackle Dre Moore is establishing himself as one of the most talented interior linemen – not only in the ACC but potentially in the country as well.
Although he is currently being used in a rotation-based system with the Terrapins, the junior has 20 tackles, five of them for loss and 2½ sacks, which is nearly double the production of senior Conrad Bolston and junior Carlos Feliciano with whom he has shared snaps this season. And thanks to his nearly 6-foot-5, 310-pound frame, Moore passes the eye test with flying colors, as he has set several personal offseason training records, including a 4.8-second 40 time, 34-inch vertical and nearly 500-pound bench press.
Notoriously a slow starter in past seasons, Moore has caused some inside the Maryland program to believe he has come around by turning his off-field ability into production on the field. He can dominate the line of scrimmage, create match-up problems and draw double teams to himself, which helps free up linebackers to make the tackle. Moore has a great wingspan and broad shoulders, and with continued improvement to his technique and use of his hands, he could become an every-down force in the NFL.
The early talk of Moore possibly investigating his current NFL grade at season's end could result in him becoming this year's version of Jonathan Sullivan, Dewayne Robertson or Haloti Ngata – relatively anonymous interior linemen in college who turned into high first-round NFL draft choices in recent years.
MORE PROSPECT NOTES
- Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson playing in front of his father Nelson for the first time in nearly 10 years last Saturday, may have also suited up for the last time at the collegiate level after suffering a broken collarbone in the fourth quarter of the Sooners' win over Iowa State. The initial diagnosis from team doctors is that Peterson would be sidelined until at least January, making a return possible for a New Year's Day bowl game.
The junior has gained 1,033 yards, putting him on pace for a 2,000-yard season and a potential Heisman Trophy finalist berth. He is expected to seek early entry in next year's NFL draft, but some area scouts have discussed the fact that – while he has a perfect combination of size and speed – he may lack ideal durability. In just three seasons of college ball, Peterson has now been hampered by injuries to his left shoulder, right ankle and now collarbone.
Peterson gains most of his yards after the initial contact, but his fairly upright running style leaves him open to big hits, leaving some scouts to wonder if he could be a very successful NFL back and have a lengthy career. Moreover, while proving to be a workhorse in college with 30 career starts and an average of just under 25 carries per game, he has limited experience in the passing game (22 career receptions) and can be hit or miss as a blocker.
- Oklahoma outside linebacker Rufus Alexander was arrested early Sunday and charged with two misdemeanor counts for disturbing the peace and interfering with official process, according to local police officials in Norman, Okla. Alexander, a potential top-five-rated linebacker prospect for the 2007 draft, was taken into custody a day after helping the Sooners beat Iowa State.
The senior currently leads the team with 48 tackles, including seven tackles – to go with an interception – in Saturday's Big 12 victory. The speedy defender recorded102 tackles as a junior and returned for his final campaign after receiving various reports on his potential NFL grade.
No official word has come down whether the athletic department or coaching staff will issue any type of team suspension, but Alexander will now have to answer plenty of postseason questions from scouts about his character and ability to use sound judgment off the field.
- Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith, who initially had been placed in the undersized category of signal callers like Florida's Chris Leak, has been upgraded thanks to area scouts' praise of his ability to make throws on the move and the velocity on most of his passes. Some scouts now feel the senior could be successful as an NFL quarterback if placed in the proper scheme, although he will have to quicken his release and learn to become a more accurate vertical passer.
Smith has ideal intangibles, leadership skills and athleticism, but how close he comes to being 6-1 rather than right at 6-foot during his postseason weigh-in could determine exactly how high he will get drafted. Right now, he is carrying a possible early-to-middle second-round grade.
- Stanford senior quarterback Trent Edwards suffered a broken right foot in the Cardinal's loss to Arizona on Saturday. Edwards has battled numerous injuries throughout his career, and this season he had been sacked a total of 22 times, the highest among all Pac-10 QBs. Edwards will miss the rest of the regular season and the postseason all-star games, but team doctors have told him that he should make a full recovery in time for the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis in February.
- Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback will miss the rest of the season after injuring his right foot on a late-game scramble in Saturday's loss to Oregon State. Head coach Tyrone Willingham said the senior had surgery on Tuesday and will not be available to play in a bowl game. Stanback has flashed potential as both a quarterback and "Slash" prospect, and his combination of size (6-3, 205), speed and raw skills at the QB position are sure to attract a lot of attention.
- Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata played his entire career outside at defensive end before being switched to defensive tackle the past few games. The senior lacks ideal size (6-4, 285) to take the pounding of playing an interior line spot, but, pound for pound, he is one of the Hurricanes' strongest athletes. He also possesses good speed (4.8-second range in the 40-yard dash).
The one questionable portion of Pata's game is his ability to find the action of the play fast enough to be a consistent performer, as he has flashed skills but failed to produce enough results. The move inside has allowed him to see the ball better and make wiser and quicker decisions off the snap, though. He can also use his strong upper body and hands to shed blockers and help collapse the pocket.
Pata has put himself in position to be evaluated by one-gap teams as a tackle and other teams with 4-3 based schemes as an end. That could help push his grade forward from the fourth-to-fifth-round range to a Day 1 selection.
- Michigan defensive end Rondell Biggs had two of the seven sacks the Wolverines' defense racked up in last Saturday's victory over Penn State. The 6-3, 275-pound senior has opened the eyes of area scouts after going from a key reserve in past years to ranking second on the team with seven tackles for loss and five sacks. He has ideal size for the next level and was timed in the 4.7-second range coming into the college ranks, so if he can duplicate those type of workout numbers with a 10-plus sack senior campaign, he'll become a rising talent among draft-eligible defensive linemen.
- Florida defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, who recently won an appeal of his original suspension for a second substance-abuse violation, returned two weeks ago in the Gators' conference win over LSU. Head coach Urban Meyer and his staff have paid very close attention to any type of character issues, and Thomas' family recently said that Thomas might have to serve up to a five-game suspension for a second failed drug test, which is actually part of the university's rules and regulations regarding student/athletes. Thomas entered his final campaign as a potential top-five senior defensive tackle prospect.
- The Senior Bowl, which traditionally holds off announcing its roster until the weekend before the game, has already sent out a number of invitations. Running back Kenny Irons and cornerback David Irons of Auburn, Florida State linebacker Buster Davis, LSU safety LaRon Landry, linebacker Earl Everett and defensive lineman Ray McDonald of Florida and Mississippi linebacker Patrick Willis are just some of the prospects who have confirmed invites to the Jan. 27 all-star game in Mobile, Ala.
SMALL SCHOOL WONDERS
- Idaho State wide receiver Akilah Lacey, whose game has really thrived thanks to the arrival of quarterback Matt Gutierrez from Michigan, has gained the attention of West Coast scouts thanks to his size and propensity for making big plays. Lacey has averaged 25 yards per reception and has a catch of at least 35 yards in five of six games this season. The senior stands just under 6-3 and weighs 205 pounds, and he has been a vertical threat throughout his career, averaging 16.8 yards on 130 career receptions and scoring 21 touchdowns. His production and size are making him an attractive postseason prospect for talent evaluators, but the results of his pro day workouts will determine his final draft grade.
- Florida A&M offensive tackle Daniel Parrish has started to cast a much bigger shadow, if that is possible at roughly 6-6 and 350 pounds, in the scouting community thanks to his improved conditioning and technique. The senior has played both left and right tackle in his career and overcome earlier injury and academic issues to become a dominant blocker against MEAC foes. Parrish also earned the respect of the Miami Hurricanes' defensive linemen earlier this season.
The Florida native played at Rickards High School in Tallahassee and had hoped for a college career across town at Florida State, but he is now earning more attention for his size, strength and NFL potential than anyone along the Seminoles' offensive line. In fact, Parrish has set his sights on former Rattlers standout blocker Jamie Nails, a fourth-round choice of the Buffalo Bills in 1997, as he would like to become the highest-rated FAMU lineman ever drafted.
At this point, Parrish has the natural size and strength, but he must learn to play with better balance and keep his pads lower as he tends to bend at the waist and then stand up and become a big target for opposing defenders. He is a long-range prospect, but he has the type of raw tools that excite and grow on NFL offensive line coaches.
- Jackson State running back Jamal Pittman has been moved to fullback this season after sophomore and former Ohio State recruit Eric Haw transferred into the SWAC program (which also received the services of a second Buckeyes transfer in junior tight end Marcel Frost).
The 6-1, 240-pound Pittman has the build and strength to thrive in his new role, and he has not complained about the loss of carries, even though he initially transferred from Mississippi in order to become the team's featured back. Pittman has averaged 4.3 yards per carry in his career, but he is now concentrating on his blocking assignments and improving his skills as a receiver. He could become an attractive priority free agent to teams using a West Coast style offense.
Senior wide receiver Jaymar Johnson opened a few eyes last Saturday night after catching seven passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns and flashing impressive speed on a 45-yard punt return.