With 102 underclassmen entering the Draft, we haven’t begun to begun to write them all up. Starting today, I will spend the next two weeks writing reports on the underclassmen that I haven’t written reports on.
Yawin Smallwood – Linebacker – Connecticut
Size – 6040e - 235e – 4.90e
Strong Points – Has some natural size, flashes versus the run, shows awareness in zone coverage, tackling
Weak Points- Play speed, just an adequate athlete, average production, shedding blocks, not a very physical player
Summation – Smallwood is a fourth-year junior who is entering the Draft. My feeling is he made a mistake. I looked at five tapes and I couldn’t get excited. In only one game (Cincinnati), did he show me enough to be a quality backup linebacker.
Smallwood has been a three-year starter and is supposed to be UConn’s leading tackler. But I didn’t see that kind of production on tape. He has good size and looks to have the frame to get bigger, but he does not play with top strength and explosion. He plays slowly and is just an average athlete. I did not see any quick-twitch to his game at all. He can be slow to react in the run game, does not fill well, and is slow to shed. He rarely makes plays at the line of scrimmage. He doesn’t attack, he waits for plays to come to him. He is not aggressive. While he will chase in pursuit and takes good angles, he doesn’t have the play speed to consistently get to the ball. He is a good tackler when he gets the opportunity.
In pass coverage, he does get depth with his drop and he shows more awareness then he does in the run game. He plays the underneath routes well.
There were a few plays where he had to cover a tight end man-to-man on seam routes, and he did fairly good job. He doesn't have the suddenness needed to be consistently effective in coverage at the next level.
Overall, I was disappointed in this player's play. I see a player who, at best, is a late-round pick. He has a chance to make a roster as a backup but will always be the type you want to replace.
Grade – C 6.3
Ka’Deem Cary – Running Back – Arizona
Size – 5010e – 202e – 4.50e
Strong Points – Very productive, good athlete with good play speed, body control, inside and outside run, elusive.
Weak Points – Average size for the position, pass blocking, not used a lot in the pass game.
Summation – Cary is a third-year junior who is entering the Draft. As a true freshman, he played as a backup, but still got significant play time. In his second year, he was a starter and led the team in rushing with over 1900 yards and 23 touchdowns. In 2013, he again started and rushed for 1885 yards and 19 touchdowns. For his career, he has averaged 5.7 yards per carry. He also had 77 career receptions for 679 yards and four touchdowns.
Cary is not a big back. He is about 5010 – 202. He has speed and quickness to go along with very good body control. His estimated speed is in the 4.50 area. He plays from a spread formation and is very quick to the hole. He runs with good lean and while he is explosive, he has only average power. He is an instinctive back with good vision and he is a good decision maker. He can see the cut-back lanes and is a very good cut-back runner. He also can make a cut in the hole to find a seam. Despite his lack of top size, Cary runs hard. He can break arm tackles and can get some yards after contact, but he does not have the power to move the pile. He is effective both as an inside and outside runner, and he has the burst to go the distance if he has an opening. He shows the quick-cutting ability to make a man miss both in tight and in the open field. He is not used that often as a receiver. His role is mainly as a check down receiver, and he is used on some screens. You seldom see him used as a route runner. He has good hands, but I have not seen him have to adjust to a difficult throw. He is willing as a pass blocker but not very effective. I have seen him run over by a blitzing linebacker. He does a better job when he tries to cut block. He lacks the size and power to anchor and needs to use his hands better.
Overall, Cary is talented, but he has limitations. I see him more as a rotational back in the NFL. He doesn’t have the size or power to be a consistently effective number one back. If used correctly, he can be very effective as a change-of-pace back who gets 15 touches a game. He needs to develop his pass route running and pass blocking skills. At present, he can’t be trusted as a blocker. Because of his speed and big play ability, he could easily be taken in the third or fourth round.
Grade – B 6.5
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This story originally appeared on Nationalfootballpost.com
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