Prospect Preview: Arizona vs Oklahoma State

NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Loyko

The Arizona Wildcats visit Stillwater, Oklahoma on Thursday night to take on Oklahoma State. In a game that features some big time prospects, here’s who we will be watching.

This game will feature two high powered offenses. Both teams return players who could have entered the NFL draft and been drafted. Instead they decided to return to school which really enhances this matchup. The game should be a shootout, as both teams have draftable quarterbacks who love to throw the ball.

Arizona-

#82 WR Juron Criner- Criner is the best pro prospect on Arizona’s team. Possesses great size and hands. As of right now I would put him in the 2nd round.

- Great Size, strong sturdy frame
- Not elite speed. His forty time will likely cause him to fall out of 1st round
- Finds the ball in the air and adjusts—makes tough catches look easy
- Possession receiver—runs variety of routes—short, intermediate and deep
- Would like to see more separation
- Uses his hands to catch the ball
- Wins battles when ball is in the air- good body positioning

#8 QB Nick Foles- I have to be honest, I’m not a Nick Foles guy. While he has all the measurable that scouts love, I question his intangibles and football IQ.

- Prototypical size for an NFL QB at 6’4” 240
- Adequate arm strength, but can put zip on the ball
- Struggles to read and recognize coverage’s
- Doesn’t always go through his progressions and can lock in on a route
- Really struggles throwing the ball downfield- time after time Criner and his other receivers have to adjust, comeback to, or are over thrown
- Checks down to the safety valve too much rather than make a tougher throw downfield
- Throws a lot of “what were you thinking” passes
- Plays in the spread attack, so will have to adjust to playing under center

While scouts have Foles ranked higher I think he was way too inconsistent and struggled with his accuracy to be a high draft pick. If he can improve those things especially the way he throws the ball down field and locks on to a receiver than he becomes more attractive to the NFL. Right now he’s a Late Round-UDFA.

#24 CB Trevin Wade- Entered his junior season highly touted and highly ranked after intercepting 8 passes his first two seasons on campus. Wade struggled all season in coverage and only intercepted one pass and had 3 passes defended all season. He can be a ball hawk in coverage. Wade will need to bounce back after a tough junior campaign to regain his draft stock.

#1 S/CB Robert Golden- Golden is the other draftable member of the Wildcats secondary. He has been moved between cornerback and safety consistently. Ultimately I think he ends up at CB. Much more of a physical player than Wade, loves to hit. I am anxious to see Both Golden and Wade and if they can bounce back. If they can Arizona could be a threat in the Pac-12

Other Prospects to Watch-

#41 OLB Paul Vassalo, #7 SS Marquis Flowers, #2 RB Keola Antolin, #80 WR David Richards

Oklahoma State-

#81 Justin Blackmon- Blackmon would have been a top 15 pick had he decided to enter the draft last season. He surprised everyone and decided to return to school for his junior season. Blackmon had one of the all time great receiving seasons in college football history, recording 111 rec. 1,782 yards and 20 TDs a season ago. As long as Blackmon stays healthy Blackmon is a lock for the top half of the first round and should probably be gone by pick 10.

- 6’1” 207 has good size but his strength is what makes him elite
- Catches everything thrown his way
- Not afraid to go over the middle
- Very solid YAC—possesses a great stiff arm and breaks tackles using his strength
- Is used at every level of the passing game –short as well as a deep threat
- Doesn’t have elite speed
- Not the most natural route runner
- Ultra competitive, doesn’t take plays off
- Threat to go the distance every time he gets the ball

Blackmon is the total package. His compete level and intensity really stands out; he wants to be great. He reminds me a lot of Andre Johnson with his size, strength and hands. With another season like last, Blackmon may bring home the Heisman Trophy to Stillwater.

#3 QB Brandon Weeden- If it wasn’t for the fact that Weeden is soon to be 28 years old more people would be talking about him as a high pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.

- Has the size and arm strength you look for in a QB
- Very good athlete played 5 season in the Yankees minor league system
- Exhibits poise under pressure
- Smart player, reads defenses well
- I really like the way he throws the ball deep
- Completed 67% of his passes
- Decided to return to Stillwater for his senior season after a great year, despite knowing that it could affect his draft stock—committed to winning.

Weeden is a really interesting prospect. I like his accuracy, arm and leadership. I think he could be a very good NFL QB. But his age will make him almost undraftable in the first couple rounds. His case could very much be like that of Chris Weinke who ultimately ended up being drafted in the 4th round.

#73 LT Levy Adcock- I will be watching Adcock closely to see how he rates against the likes of the other LT prospects in this year’s draft. Solid pass protector, however the two games I saw him play last year he played too high and allowed the defender to get into his chest. I will be watching closely to see if he can stay lower and bend his hips.

#10 FS Markell Martin- One of the top safety prospects in this year’s draft. Explosive athlete, he has great size and speed for the safety position. I will be watching to see how his coverage skills and how quickly he is able to react to a throw.

Other Players to Watch-

#1 RB Joseph Randle- Only a sophomore Randle has all the tools to be an NFL RB. He has great size at 6’1”191 pounds. Great receiving weapon out of the backfield, he’s poised to have a monster year.

#74 C Grant Garner- one of the better center prospects in the 2012 draft class

Tags: 2012 NFL Draft, Justin Blackmon, Prospect Interview

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