NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Loyko
Here is how the top prospect fared in the Rose Bowl between Oregon and Wisconsin. We now know that Montee Ball will be returning to school for his senior season and Peter Konz will be entering the draft.
I will exclude Ball from this report to focus on players eligible for the 2012 draft.
#21 RB LaMichael James, Oregon
– Unreal cutting ability, makes cuts and doesn’t lose any speed, very tough to tackle in open field
– Some of the best balance in the country, able to get low, take a hit and stay up
– Biggest question will be system fit and pro style offense. Almost always plays out of offset, gun.
– Better inside runner than many think, he attacks the LOS.
– Not tentative, runs hard which creates a lot of power
– If he gets into open space forget it, has very good top end speed, and looks like a 4.4 guy.
– Had a drop in the first quarter, but James is a natural pass catcher, his drop looks like a case of trying to make a move before he catches it, not poor hands
– Lethal on screen passes and swing passes, reads his blocks very well
– Just plain explosive in every sense of the word.
James is one of my favorite players in this entire draft class. I love his explosive big play ability and I love his toughness. He is a better all around back then people think and is not a product of the Oregon system. James has the ability to help a team right away, his good hands and elusiveness will allow him to complement another running back perfectly. It is tough to find a comparison for James, he is a much better football player than Dexter McCluster whom I here him compared to sometimes. Due to the very deep running back class this year, James could fall into round 3. But, I think a team will fall in love with his all around ability and pick him in round 2.
#66 C Peter Konz, Wisconsin
– Tremendous strength and quickness, turns his defender, with butt facing the hole
– Has great technique and gets his hands in the defenders chest
– One of the more flexible centers I have seen, exhibits good knee, hip and waste bend
– Real big for a center, but stays low and keeps his pads down
– Sinks hips nicely in pass protection, doesn’t give much ground
– Just dominate at times, a road grader, pushing his man 7 yards off the line.
– Montee Ball gets most of his yards running right off of Konz
– Very long arms, gets good extension and is able to get position on his man
– Equally adept pass protector, keeps head on swivel, provides a big punch and doesn’t get pushed back
– Pulls exceptionally well for someone of his size
– Gets to the second level on almost every play, beautiful footwork
I have seen ever top center prospect play this year and Konz blows them all away. His combination of size, agility and technique make him the top center in this years draft. Konz will be able to anchor a team’s offensive line from day 1. He moves extraordinary for a player of his size. He has good flexibility in his hips and knees. Makes calls at the LOS and exhibits solid leadership skills. Konz has declared for the NFL draft today and is a likely last first round pick. A team like the Ravens or Patriots should have a lot of interest in Konz.
#70 OG Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
– Tactician, appears fundamentally solid
– Excellent footwork, gets to second level and seals the hole
– Stays with his blocks, one he has a man engaged, he stays on him
– Appears to move good in short areas, able to open holes even when he appears beaten
– Keeps a very good base consistently, doesn’t get his feet tangled up, keeps them wide with a good knee bend.
– Feet are always moving, and he does a good job of helping on pass protection when freed up
– Not as athletic as other guard prospects, needs to be quicker off the LOS
– Has the ability to pull either direction, looks up inside and pancakes his man
Zeitler is a hard nose gritty offensive guard prospect. His ceiling is not as high as Konz or another guard like David DeCastro.
However, Zeitler’s tough and physical nature will allow him to play and play for a long time in the NFL. Zeitler is a much better run blocker right now than a pass blocker, but he won’t get your QB killed. Zeitler is sure to be a target in round 2 since so many teams are in desperate need of offensive line upgrades.
#1 WR Nick Toon, Wisconsin
– Perfect size for a WR, has a tall frame with good muscle tone and enough bulk to handle physical CB
– Good positioning on slant pattern, allowed the ball to get into his body
– Can be used in all phases of the pass game, runs a good strong slant and can get over the top
– Plays a pretty physical game, a solid run blocker should be able to handle press man.
– Not a burning but plays with a smoothness, always under control
– Not afraid to take on contact and continuely goes into the dirty areas.
Nick Toon is one of the most complete WR’s in this draft class. While he doesn’t have 4.4 speed and isn’t the biggest deep threat, he is a very solid all around WR. He makes an impact in the short, intermediate and deep passing game. He goes over the middle as much as any WR. His size and strength allow him to get off the line of scrimmage without much struggle. He will be able to hold up against big physical press corners in the NFL. I have Toon solidly in the second round and I think he will steadily move past some other WR as the draft nears.
#56 OLB Josh Kaddu, Oregon
– Big athletic frame, really long arms
– Very good speed and quickness for his size
– Doesn’t make a ton of plays but chases down from the opposite side
– Ran down Russell Wilson from the opposite side of the field, on a bootleg, exhibiting his speed
– Plays too high
– Solid tackler, delivers a pop when making a tackle
– Needs to add bulk as he is much too lean
– Really raw right now, more of an athlete playing LB
Kaddu is a project at OLB. He has the size and athleticism that NFL teams yearn for. Kaddu is a good tackler and has very good speed. His instincts need work and he can struggle to get off blocks. For someone with his measurables he should be a better pass rusher. An NFL team will draft him as a back up or developmental LB, but he has potential to be a good ST player due to his speed and tackling ability. Most likely a 5-7th round pick