logosby Greg Doyle

Editors Note: I’m particularly pleased today to re-introduce you to College Scout, the Patriots-centric weekly college football preview written by Greg Doyle. As regular readers will remember, Greg runs through each week’s slate of TV games and tips you on the top prospects to watch, particularly if you’re a Pats fan. It’s great to have Greg back for another season, his fourth behind the PD keyboard (SB).

We’re back this year for another addition of “College Scout” in which we’ll take a look at the college game with an eye towards the draft. In many cases, we’ll take a look at how certain players would fit with the Patriots (or not fit). Early in the season, we’ll look mostly at seniors and then later in the year highlight top juniors as well. It should be a great year with many great games in week one. I wish I could have highlighted more of them in this entry, but we will have the chance to spotlight many more of the top players as the season moves along.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

North Carolina State vs. South Carolina (8:00 PM ESPN)

The ACC travels to their southern neighbor from the SEC in a good matchup that gets the college football season off to an exciting start on ESPN. This could be Steve Spurrier’s best team since taking over the Gamecocks and at NC State, former BC headcoach Tom O’Brien looks to get the Wolfpack headed in the right direction in his second season there.
South Carolina RB Mike Davis (#25)

Davis is a short, compact runner who runs harder than you’d think, given his short stature. He does pack a lot of muscle on his small 5’9″ frame, weighing in at 214. He does not do anything spectacularly, but is a workman-like runner with some shifty moves and power, to go along with average speed. Here is a video of a nice run he made in 2006. Has decent hands with 49 career catches. This is probably a second-day draftee type and the Patriots could be interested given his all-around versatility.

South Carolina WR Kenny McKinley (#11)

McKinley was an All-SEC pick last year as a junior. Caught 77 balls for nearly 1,000 yards last year. He was a high school QB who has nicely transitioned to WR for the Gamecocks. As it turns out, with 17 more catches he’ll surplant Sterling Sharpe as the most productive pass catcher in South Carolina history. Pretty impressive. More of a fast, quick route runner than a strong receiver, he knows how to get open with his feet. He will take the hit though and catch the ball all over the field. Right now projects as a mid-round choice, but could move up. Needs to get stronger.

South Carolina LB Jasper Brinkley (#52)

Was considered one of college football’s best linebackers last year when he got hurt after 4 games. Suffered a serious right knee injury and South Carolina’s defense fell apart without him. They were giving up an average of 14 points per game before losing Brinkley, 28 afterwards. Was thought by many to be a first round NFL draft choice prior to the injury. A massive 275 run stuffing linebacker, he ran better than you’d think before the injury. If he recovers and has a good season, he’ll be back to a possible first day draft pick in next year’s NFL draft. With his size and leadership ability, the Patriots will likely be watching his progress. Brother Casper Brinkley is a rookie with the Carolina Panthers. Here is Jasper making some plays in a youtube video.

NC State RB Andre Brown (#24)

Split time last year and only ran for 447 yards, but he has definite NFL talent. Has over 1,700 career yards and can return kicks too. Good in passing game. A better athlete and natural talent than South Carolina’s RB Mike Davis. Big at 6’0″ 228 and can run with power as this video demonstrates. Needs to show a bit more, but has the talent to be a first round pick. Its puzzling why O’Brien didn’t feature him more last year.

NC State TE Anthony Hill (#83)

Only 15 receptions under a new coordinator last year, but had 45 in 2006. Has good size at 265 lbs. and also good height at 6’6″ Reportedly runs a solid 4.85/40. Had some nagging injuries last season. Has had a torn ACL, but with his size and athleticism if he has a productive, healthy 2008 the Patriots could see him as a perfect tight end for their offense.

Saturday August 30, 2008

Illinois vs. Missouri (8:30 PM ESPN)

Two Bowl teams from last season face off in a matchup of explosive offenses with good skill players. Missouri is ranked #6 going into this season and Illinois #20 so this is a definite big game to watch this opening weekend. This should be a great battle featuring two excellent Quarterbacks, Illinois’ Juice Williams (who we won’t preview this early in the year as he is only a junior) and Missouri’s Heisman candidate Chase Daniel.

Illinois DE Will Davis (#81)

A big, quick, strong defensive end who should be one of the better pass rushers in college football this season. He is strong and can out quick linemen as well. Had 9.5 sacks as a junior. Needs to improve against the run. Probably a lineman in a 1-gap system in the NFL and a mid-round pick at this point who wouldn’t fit the Patriots system.

Illinois LB Britt Miller (#44)

A 6’1″ 250 lb. Middle linebacker. Faster than you’d think, played running back and ran track in high school. Smart player. Played outside last year when Minnesota Vikings rookie J Leman was the inside guy at Illinois. Miller should be a tackling machine in the inside and is athletic enough to play outside and cover passes as well. Intriguing guy who the Patriots will watch closely with the position switch inside.

Missouri QB Chase Daniel (#10)

Finished 4th in the Heisman voting last year for the Tigers 12-2 team and is a leading candidate this year. Daniel is a mobile guy, slightly short, but strong in stature. He has a good, solid arm. Accurate with over 68% of his passes completed last year. He makes plays and is a leader. The question about him is his height (6’0″) and that he doesn’t really play in a NFL style offense. Still his numbers, leadership and strong arm make it apparent he’ll be watched closely by scouts to see how he fits with the NFL game. Check out this exciting video of Chase.

Missouri TE Chase Coffman (#45)

Continuing Missouri’s parade of Chases is tight end Chase Coffman. Coffman is a 6’6″ 245 lb. guy who caught 51 passes as a junior. He is one of the best pass catching tight ends in football and runs really well. 156 career catches. He will be a valuable weapon in someone’s NFL passing attack. Father Paul Coffman was an NFL tight end with Green Bay. Considered coming out last year, but is an easy first day pick next year. Patriots could have definite interest the way they utilize tight ends in the passing game. Needs to bulk a bit and improve his blocking.

Alabama vs. Clemson (8:00 PM ABC)

Alabama comes in much improved in coach Nick Saban’s second year. Look for them to be a ranked team all season. They start off with a tough test in Clemson, who is ranked 9th in the country. Alabama is ranked 24th.

Alabama QB John Parker Wilson (#14)

A workman-like guy who doesn’t impress with a big arm. Has good size, but more of an efficient, accurate, game manager than a slinger. Reminds me somewhat of Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington. Smart kid and good leader.Had a good Bowl game last year. Patriots coach Bill Belichick did an offseason clinic with Alabama and with his ties with Saban, Wilson might be a late round type the Patriots consider.

Alabama TE Nick Walker (#88)

A big tight end who has been average in the passing game so far in college, but has some talent. Improved as a blocker last year, but has to bring game to a new level in order to be drafted. 35 career receptions.

Clemson QB Cullen Harper (#10)

A big, strong quarterback coming off a great year. Has a big arm and the pocket size the NFL looks for. Only threw 6 INTs in 13 games last year. Here is a video highlighting his ability to throw accurately on the run.

Clemson RB James Davis (#1)

Perhaps the best runner in college football, he is a sure-fire first round pick next year. Davis runs with power and elusiveness as you can see in this video. Goes by the nickname “Thunder” while his complementary back, the smaller junior C.J. Spiller, goes by “Lightning.” Hasn’t been used much in passing game, a weakness he’ll need to overcome in the NFL.

Clemson WR Aaron Kelly (#80)

Continuing Clemson’s parade of top skill players is 6’5″ WR Aaron Kelly. A bit slender, he makes up it up with speed. Great hands on tough catches and can go up and get a ball. Isn’t afraid to go over the middle. Particularly good around the red zone. Does lack concentration at times and makes an occasional drops on easy plays. Should be a first day pick.

Other Games and Players

On Saturday night at 10:00 PM on Fox Sports Net watch Oregon running back Jeremiah Johnson (#24) take on the Washington Huskies. Johnson was a backup last year to NFL first round pick Jonathan Stewart, but now has a chance to shine in his own right. He has displayed skills in the passing game and as a kick returner. He could make himself a lot of money with a good year this season. On Sunday at 7:30 PM on Fox Sports Net, Colorado State will take on Colorado in a traditional rivalry and Colorado State running back Gatrell Johnson (#5) will need a big game to help upset the improving Buffaloes. Gattrell is a 227 power back who should run well out of new coach Steve Fairchild’s spread out offense. On Monday night, September 1st Tennessee matches up against UCLA and their new coach Rick Neuheisel. The game will be seen on ESPN at 8:00 PM. Watch Tennessee’s stud running back Arian Foster (#27) get his season off to a big start against the Bruins. Foster is big and strong and also can catch. He is a potential first round pick next year; here’s a good highlight video of him. For UCLA, the rebuilding Bruins look for Tight End Logan Paulsen (#86) to jump start their passing game. Paulsen is tall and can run. He only had 12 catches last season, but has a world of potential. He has 41 career catches, but only one touchdown. He has to start living up to his ability to move on to the NFL.