NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko
The past three weeks we have previewed Division-1 conferences that had some decent prospects, but this week we will preview the Pac-12, which might have the most Senior talent anywhere in the country.
Thanks to some high profile Juniors returning to school, the Pac-12 even has some players who could be contending for the #1 pick in next April’s draft.
Here is a team by team look at the top Senior prospects in the Pac-12 for the 2013 draft.
Dan Buckner, WR – Buckner is one of the most under-rated and least talked about Wide Receiver prospects in the country. The 6-4 214 pound transfer from Texas recorded 42 receptions for 606 yards in his first season at Arizona. Now that Juron Criner has graduated to the NFL, Buckner will move into the number one WR spot. As an NFL prospect he has all the physical attributes however, he must become more consistent on the field and refine his route running. Buckner has also run into some trouble off the field, which led to his transfer in the first place. Buckner is a similar prospect to Juron Criner although he appears faster and more agile on film. Buckner is poised to move up draft boards throughout the season.
Matt Scott, QB – Scott is a interesting QB to watch in 2012. He has gotten the chance to start 5 games over the course of his career and has flashed legitimate ability at times. Not only is he an athletic QB who can extend plays and throw outside of the pocket, he also has some natural throwing ability. At 6’3″ he has the size necessary to play QB in the NFL and also has an above average arm. When given a chance to play he has completed passes at 64.7% rate and 6-5 TD to INT ratio. Scott red shirted last year and is now #1 on Rich Rodriquez’s depth chart.
Cameron Marshall, RB – Marshall is a big back who was a touchdown machine last year for the Sun Devils, punching it across the goal line 18 times. Marshall is listed at 5’11” 223 lbs. and exhibits good burst when hitting the hole, but won’t run away from many defensive backs. When Marshall stays square to the hole and keeps his pads low he is much more effective. The concern with Marshall is that a lot of his success came out of the spread offense, which creates huge running lanes. I want to see Marshall operate in tighter spaces and break more tackles. He has also caught 49 passes over the past two seasons, which is a plus. Marshall should be the feature player for the Sun Devils offense this year and continue to show overall improvement.
Aaron Tipoti, DT – Cal continues to just reload with NFL caliber defenders and Tipoti could be the next one. Tipoti is a bit undersized but, makes up for it with explosion off the ball, strength to over come blocks and power at point of attack. With how quick he is into the backfield Tipoti will draw the attention of 4-3 teams in the NFL.
Matt Summers-Gavin, OT – Summers-Gavin is an experienced and versatile lineman earning starts at three different positions. He has started games at LG, RT and LT at times throughout his career and is projected to be the starter at right tackle as a Senior. Summers-Gavin is probably not long enough or quick enough laterally to stick at tackle in the NFL, but will make a very good guard prospect.
Douglas Rippy, ILB – Colorado only has eight Seniors listed on their roster and not many of them are NFL draft picks. Their top prospect is probably Rippy, who was the best player on the Buffaloes defense early on last year before tearing his ACL. Rippy possesses a combination of size and speed that make NFL scouts drool over a linebacker prospect. Before earning the starting linebacker job in 2011, Rippy was a stand out special teamer. With his speed and athletic ability he should get a shot based just on his special teams exploits. With a full and healthy season at LB Rippy could really emerge as a legit prospect in this year’s draft.
Dion Jordan, DE – The 2013 draft figures to be as deep as ever with pass rushing prospects and the best to come out of the Pac-12 will likely be Jordan. A converted tight end, Jordan has only played the position for two seasons and showed amazing improvement in his second year recording 7.5 sacks. At 6’6″ 246 lbs. he has a tall, lean and athletic frame but, what makes him special is his fluidity and ability to run at his size. Jordan likes to use a dip and rip move right now, as he develops a more refined pass rush aresenal he will become even tougher to block. Jordan is so athletic that Oregon even lined him up in the slot to jam WRs at times. If Jordan can add some strength to his frame and learn to recognize plays a little quicker he could be a first round pick in April.
Kenjon Barner, RB – If you liked LaMichael James as a prospect this year, you will probably like Barner as well. They are both similar prospects, although Barner possesses a little more bulk to his frame. Like LaMichael, Barner has elite explosion and acceleration. He is a threat to score each time he touches the ball and often breaks off long runs. Barner has also displayed solid hands, which will help his transition to the NFL. Barner will face the same “system” questions that James’ did. All Barner can do, is go out and have a monster year, which he wll likely do.
John Boyett, FS – Put on an Oregon tape and you will likely see John Boyett making plays all over the field. He is a big time play maker who exhibits good instincts, range and tackling ability. Boyett led the Ducks in tackles and played his best in the biggest games, the Pac-12 Championship Game and Rose Bowl. According to the Oregon website Boyett recorded a 3.91 short shuttle and 6.84 three cone drill during on campus testing. In the past five years Oregon has produced three very good NFL safeties in Patrick Chung, TJ Ward and Jairus Byrd and Boyett looks like the next. If Boyett puts up those numbers, along with his on field performances than Boyett is an upper echelon Safety prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft.
Jordan Poyer, CB – Poyer is one of the top cover corners for the 2013 NFL Draft. He has a perfect build for an NFL CB standing 5’11” 190 lbs with good fluidity and excellent speed. Poyer has good ball skills and gets his hands on a lot of balls. (4 INTs, 12 PD as a Jr.) Besides playing corner, Poyer is also a very good kick and punt returner. Poyer has the ability to become a first round CB, but most likely he will be a 2nd-3rd round type player.
Markus Wheaton, WR – Wheaton is one of the best offensive weapons in the conference and one of the best kept secrets as well. Wheaton has track speed and has consistently shown the ability to run by cornerbacks. Wheaton has caught 128 balls the last two seasons combined and that number will likely go up with the improvement of Sophomore QB Sean Mannion. He has very good hands and tries to catch everything away from this body, which is impressive for a college WR. The Beavers try to get the ball in Wheaton’s hands a number of different ways since he is their best offensive play maker. He reminds me of a poor mans Percy Harvin due to the way he is used on a number of quick passes and rushing plays.
Shayne Skov, ILB – Even though the Cardinal lost a number of top prospects to the draft last year, they return a handful of players who will be high draft picks. The most talented might be Skov who missed almost all of last season after having a tremendous junior season. Skov is a really well rounded ILB. He looks good playing down hill and attacking the line of scrimmage with his size and strength. He is a good tackler and powerful player. But, he also can drop into coverage and gets to a lot of balls despite looking a little bit stiff in his drops. Skov will likely battle it out all year to be one of the top MLB drafted in April.
Chase Thomas, OLB – Thomas along with Skov will combine to form one of the best linebacker tandems in America. Thomas is one of the leading returning pass rushers to the conference after recording 8.5 as a junior. It will be interesting to see how many sacks Thomas can compile now that Skov is back healthy. Thomas is 6’4″ 240 lbs., does a good job timing the snap and getting off the ball. Unlike most elite pass rushers, Thomas doesn’t have the burst or explosion, which really limited his ceiling. Thomas plays to high most of the time and gets blocked easily once he is engaged.
Prospects from UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington and Washington State can be found on page two.