NEPD Staff Writer: Matthew Jones
Two of the top ten scoring offenses in the league will meet tonight in what should be among the most exciting bowls of the year. However, it’s the defensive prospects in the game – including Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown and Oregon pass rusher Dion Jordan – who are most intriguing. Brown is poised to be selected in the second round or so, while Jordan’s size and length should earn him a spot in the draft’s first twenty picks. Of course, there are a handful of other prospects who will find themselves under scrutiny from NFL scouts tonight; read on for more information.
QB Collin Klein, Kansas St. (6’5″, 225)
Received Heisman consideration this season after passing for 2,490 yards and 15 touchdowns, adding 890 yards and 22 scores on the ground. However, style of play is not well-suited to the NFL and projects as a late-round pick whose only value may come as a wildcat quarterback or potential conversion candidate. Mobile with an ugly throwing motion.
WR Chris Harper, Kansas St. (6’1″, 230)
Bulky wide receiver with above-average height and surprising athleticism; projected to run in the 4.4-4.5 range at the Combine. Converted from quarterback after his freshman season. Has four years of decent production spread between both positions. Combination of size/speed earned him a Senior Bowl invite.
DE Meshak Williams, Kansas St. (6’2″, 245)
Undersized defensive end whose sole shot in the NFL may come as a conversion candidate to rush linebacker in a 3-4, where his athleticism would be adequate. Was named to the All-Big 12 First Team by the media. Finished the season with 9.5 sacks. Started last year as well and recordered seven sacks. Potential late-round pick.
OB Arthur Brown, Kansas St. (6’1″, 230)
Transferred from Miami. Undersized 4-3 weakside linebacker at the next level who has an extensive history of accolades. Two-time team captain with impressive speed and range. Recorded 101 – 9.5 – 2.0 as a first-year starter in 2011 and then added 91 – 6.0 – 1.0 with two interceptions this year. Somewhat reminiscent of Lavonte David.
CB Nigel Malone, Kansas St. (5’10”, 185)
Feisty cornerback who was selected to the All-Big 12 Second Team by the media. Burst onto the scene last season with seven interceptions in his first season as a contributor; added five more interceptions this year. Decent physical tools but looks raw and could use some time. Worth considering late in the draft.
RB Kenjon Barner, Oregon (5’11”, 190)
Very exciting multi-purpose back who has averaged over six yards per carry over all four seasons at Oregon. Rushed for 1,624 yards this year, averaging 6.55 and adding 21 rushing touchdowns. Difficult to project because his size does not translate to a starting role in the NFL; however, has some of Darren Sproles’ magic as a runner.
OT Kyle Long, Oregon (6’7″, 310)
Son of Howie Long, brother of Chris Long. Was drafted by the Chicago White Sox as a pitcher back in 2008 but ended up returning to football and joining the Ducks this season, where he started ten games between the tackle and guard spots. Originally played defensive end at Saddleback CC. Will turn 25 during his rookie season.
DE Dion Jordan, Oregon (6’6″, 245)
Likely first-round draft pick whose combination of size and versatility recalls Giants LB Mathias Kiwanuka. Lines up at end, linebacker, and sometimes even in press coverage for the Ducks. Raw; not a particularly explosive or creative pass rusher. May struggle to hold the point of attack. Best fit may come as a 4-3 SLB similar to Kiwanuka.
IB Kiko Alonso, Oregon (6’3″, 240)
Tall, thin inside linebacker who may want to add some weight to his frame. Missed his sophomore season with a knee injury but returned as Oregon’s starting middle linebacker the nextseason. Tackling production increased substantially from 2011 (46) to 2012 (75.) Also effective in coverage (six career interceptions.)