NEPD Editor: James Christensen
College football. For some it is a religion. For others, merely a minor league for the NFL. Either way, I’m incredibly glad to be evaluating NFL Draft prospects with new games.
Here are my notes on 15 prospects from the rainy South Carolina vs Vanderbilt game.
#98 DE Devin Taylor
-Lined up at left defensive end.
-Looks very quick off the ball.
-Strings play out, good arm extension and speed down the line.
-Sets the edge, sheds the block and makes the tackle for a loss.
-Chases play down from the backside, good hustle.
-Follows RB into the flat in coverage.
-Pad level got a bit high, bull rush went nowhere – chases down RB from behind for the tackle.
-Shrugs off chip from RB, pressures QB into a sack – menacing long arms.
-Tries some counters, but can’t get the edge on the tackle.
-Steps inside of block, makes the RB cut into a defender.
-Drops on zone blitz, long arms influence the passing window.
-Decent push/pull move, but late getting there.
-Slow inside move, stoned by right tackle.
-Beats RT with a strong club move, but picked off by helping guard.
Overview: Taylor had an up and down night. He still isn’t as physical as I’d like him to be, but he looked stronger and held up better against the run than last year. His frame, speed and motor are still top-notch.
#21 OLB Devonte Holloman
-Seeing time at a variety of positions as well as special teams.
-Strings out play until help arrives on the edge.
-Shoots into backfield and contains play, but can’t make the tackle.
-Stands up the left tackle, clogs up the running lane.
-Steps around block, blows up screen play.
-Sets the edge, sheds fullback’s block and makes the tackle.
-Out-ran by QB Rodgers to the corner – lacks DB speed.
Overview: Holloman played mainly in the box and was very good against the run. His sub-par speed is going to end his time as a defensive back prospect, but he still has a future as a sub-package linebacker. He reminds me a lot of his predecessor Antonio Allen.
#36 SAF D.J. Swearinger
-Playing safety, mainly deep.
-Flies up in run support, shoulders the RB down.
-Good angle to sideline, makes another physical tackle.
-Misjudges ball, goes over his head for a big completion – should have intercepted it.
-Tackles a little high, gets ran over by Stacy.
-In-phase all the way with receiver, deflects the lofted pass.
-Man coverage on the slot, solid tackle on WR screen.
-Gets away with pass interference, was in WR’s hip pocket but chopped his arm before ball got there.
Overview: Swearinger was very physical as always, but also showed off some improved man coverage skills, shadowing receivers all night long. Other than one mistimed jump that led to a big completion, Swearinger had a very good night.
#54 LB Shaq Wilson
-Playing inside linebacker as well as on some coverage units.
-Can’t make the tackle on QB draw, couldn’t wrap up.
-Gets some pressure with the blitz, but QB makes him miss.
-Flows to the ball against wildcat, strong tackle.
-Good instincts on throwback screen, impressive catch for the interception.
-Doesn’t have great speed – easily caught from behind by running back.
-Flows to the ball, wraps up again – showing solid tackling fundamentals.
-Solid open-field tackle on QB, stayed balanced and mirrored well.
-Picks his way through traffic, another solid tackle.
-Does a decent job in zone of reading the routes and QB’s eyes.
-Spies the quarterback, another solid open-field tackle on Rodgers.
Overview: Wilson isn’t the speediest guy, but he sees the play develop and was very solid in his tackling. His size and lack of elite athleticism are troubling though.
#1 RB Marcus Lattimore*
-No running room, ball punched out and loses the fumble on first play back from ACL injury.
-Shows an impressive combination of speed, power and agility on a fantastic 29-yard TD.
-Stumbles in backfield after bumping lineman.
-Nice work in pass protection, ushers the blitzer around the QB.
-Balanced cuts, picks up a tough first down.
-Nifty cut in the backfield, decent burst after the move as well.
-Chip block, great balance after catch, three tacklers bounce off him.
-Another sketchy handoff, but hangs on to this one – goes down on first contact.
-Picks up blitz again, looks comfortable in protection.
-Very nice catch in traffic, reaches for the first down.
-Excellent cut block on QB draw, got just enough of the LB.
-Gutting out some yards with some pretty iffy blocking – gets the short TD.
-Gets skinny through the hole, runs out of an ankle tackle.
-Big run, but doesn’t finish with the same power as I normally saw – bounces off of safety.
-Stopped in the hole, couldn’t accelerate out of it, stopped for a loss.
-Blown up and drops pass – took a big hit.
Overview: For the most part, Lattimore passed all the tests he needed to coming off of ACL surgery. He cut well, had a little burst and was effective in all aspects of the passing game. I thought he was maybe half a step slower and a little less powerful, but as the knee continues to heal I think he’ll get stronger as the year progresses.
Vanderbilt draft prospects are on page two.