2013 NFL Draft Scouting Notes: Michigan State vs. Texas Christian

Le’Veon Bell carried Michigan State’s offense all night. (Photo: US Presswire)

NEPD Staff Writer: Matthew Jones

What began as a defensive struggle between Michigan State and Texas Christian eventually concluded with a fair amount of scoring as the two teams began to find some offensive rhythm; ultimately, the Spartans were able to emerge with a 17-16 victory following a 47-yard field goal. Each of the game’s four major prospects – Le’Veon Bell, Dion Sims, William Gholston, Josh Boyce – improved their draft stock on the night. Read on for more information regarding these four juniors.

RB #24 Le’Veon Bell, Michigan St.* (6’2″, 245)

• Caught a pass and was forced to cut back across the entire field for a one-yard gain
• Takes a direct snap from the “power package” in order to convert on third-and-one
• Uses two stiff-arms and absorbs additional contract to gain yardage on a sweep
• Stopped on third-and-one; Texas Christian defenders entered the backfield unblocked
• Makes an impressive jump cut in order to gain some unlikely additional yards
• Seems to have some trouble accelerating through short-lived holes in the line
• Absorbs initial contact from multiple defenders and pushes forwards for a first down
• Successfully spun twice en route to a ten-yard gain in a second-and-nine situation
• Converts another first-down; outstanding when running through short-yardage traffic
• Lobs a direct snap downfield for Michigan State’s longest pass of the night (29 yards)
• Ran through a gaping hole en route to his biggest run of the night – 21 yards to the left
• Ran into the end zone untouched to give Michigan State a 14-13 lead in the fourth

Summary: Bell struggled to begin the game, rushing for just 38 yards before halftime; however, he reinvented himself in the second half as the driving force behind Michigan State’s offensive resurrection, choosing holes effectively and gaining plenty of yards after the catch. Incredibly, Bell even led the team in passing yardage thanks to his 29-yard pass. He did not take many snaps as a blocker or receiver, but looks like a lock to be selected in the middle rounds of this year’s draft, as high as the third round, with a worst-case scenario being the fourth round.

TE #80 Dion Sims, Michigan St.* (6’5″, 285)

• Lined up in the slot initially; was utilized as a blocker on Bell’s rushing attempt
• Primary contributions throughout the game were as an inline blocker for Bell
• Frequently retained in pass protection; runs very simple pass patterns/clearing routes
• Converts a short first-down as Maxwell’s safety valve to the right side of the field
• Goes in motion to the left side of the formation and catches a pass between two defenders
• Sealed his assignment to the inside on Bell’s ten-yard run in the third quarter
• Active legs when locked onto a defender; keeps attempting to drive opponent back
• Picked up a clutch first-down on Michigan State’s final offensive drive of the game

Summary: Sims primarily used his size to help clear rushing lanes for Bell; the Spartans were unsuccessful passing the ball (3.3 yards per attempt), which did not afford Sims many opportunities to contribute in that regard. He is more athletic than he looks, but probably still a number two, blocking tight end at the next level. It may benefit Sims to return to school for another year and attempt to establish himself as more of a receiving option.

DE #2 William Gholston, Michigan St.* (6’6″, 280)

• Lines up at left defensive end and makes a stop on the second defensive snap
• Makes another stop from the right end position on the subsequent offensive drive
• Takes a play off; ends up giving minimal effort on a run directed to opposite field
• Recorded a quarterback hit on Trevone Boykin’s second-quarter interception
• Pressures Boykin on an incomplete third-down throw midway through the third quarter
• Batted down a Boykin pass in the fourth quarter; rushed from a two-point stance
• Sacked Boykin in the fourth-quarter after Michigan State took a 14-13 lead
• Made a tackle on an unsuccessful halfback screen late in the fourth quarter

Summary: Gholston didn’t always make a strong impression on the game, but he significantly improved his pass-rushing production in the second half and looked fairly impressive when Texas Christian ran at him. His motor ran hot and cold, but Gholston looked disruptive on occasion and most likely improved his draft stock overall; at this point, should he declare, Gholston could be selected anywhere between the third round and the fifth round.

WR #82 Josh Boyce, Texas Christian* (5’11″, 205)

• Gains separation on an intermediate “in” but is unable to compensate for a low throw
• Terribly overthrown after getting wide open on a third-down “fly” route deep downfield
• Records a pair of four-yard receptions over two consecutive offensive drives
• Catches a curl route, cuts across the field, and ultimately gains 61 yards before a fifteen-yard facemask penalty
• Badly overthrown on a second-quarter throw which is intercepted by Michigan State
• Catches a pass from the slot – typically plays outside – and gains seventeen yards
• Caught another pass late in the fourth quarter during Texas Christian’s final drive

Summary: Boyce was wide open on two separate occasions early in the game, but freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin let him down with a pair of poor throws. Nonetheless, Boyce was able to gain 91 yards on five catches, easily outperforming the rest of Texas Christian’s offense; most impressively, his 61-yard catch was largely composed of yards after the catch. Boyce looks like a fourth or fifth-round pick depending on his workout numbers.

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