by Greg Doyle, Patriots Daily Staff
September 12, 2009
BYU at Tulane (3:30 PM EST ESPN2)
Last week’s BYU win over Oklahoma was one of the biggest in program history. Tulane is improved, though they didn’t really show it in their opener against Tulsa. This game is in New Orleans and BYU has to be careful to not overlook Tulane here.
BYU Quarterback Max Hall (#15)
Hall is a great college QB, but it’s unlikely his skills will transfer to the NFL. He is smart, can move a bit and is a good leader. He also has an average arm, plays a gimmicky offense, and is undersized and over-aged. Hall originally started at Arizona State before transferring to BYU. He helped lead a great comeback win versus Oklahoma playing his best in a late game drive for the victory. Despite being a Heisman Trophy candidate, I see his only chance in the NFL as a hard-working backup who sticks due to smarts and solid accuracy. He probably will be a late pick or undrafted. His game may be better suited to the more wide open CFL.
BYU TE Dennis Pitta (#32)
Pitta is one of the better receiving tight ends in the country. A sturdy 6’5″ 248, Pitta might be best in the NFL as an h-back. His hands are outstanding and he runs good routes. Good in motion. Pitta right now slots as a mid-round pick similar to former Patriot Garrett Mills, though a bit bigger and stronger. He could fit with the backs and perhaps be versatile enough to play fullback as well.
BYU LB Coleby Clawson (#41)
The player who injured Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford on a clean hit, Clawson may be the best and most NFL ready of BYU’s deep linebacker crew. Clawson is a pure pass rusher who could convert to linebacker in the NFL and would fit with the Patriots. Clawson currently checks in at 6’2″ 235 and has outstanding speed and quickness for his position. He’ll have to learn to drop in coverage, but he has the athletic ability to learn while being a terror on special teams.
Tulane RB Andre Anderson (#32)
A solidly built 6’0″ 212 running back who does everything well, including catch the ball. Has had shoulder injuries in the past and an NFL team will have to monitor that as they have caused him to miss significant time. Runs well at approximately 4.45/40. Runs hard and can be elusive or bruising at times. If Anderson stays healthy, he should be drafted and has enough talent to play in the NFL.
Tulane DE Logan Kelley (#93)
Kelley is a pass rushing defensive end with a high motor, as they say. Keeps going and going to the whistle no matter what. He is athletic with good quickness and seems to beat offensive linemen off the snap with regularity. Last year he had 7 sacks. At 6’2″ 246, he has prototypical outside linebacker size and he’ll have a lot to learn converting there as a NFL player. But, he is a football player and will likely be given a good chance to stick in the league.
USC at Ohio State (8:00 PM EST ESPN)
Big game here between two top teams. Ohio State wants to redeem itself after a terrible showing versus the Trojans last year. There have been some comments from them this week that they’re playing for the honor of the Big 10. Of course, they hardly looked dominating last week, barely squeaking by Navy. USC is starting a true freshman quarterback in Brian Barkley, but looked as good as ever decimating San Jose State in the opener. I’m hoping for a competitive game, but USC’s athletes have the potential to dominate again if they get rolling. Here is to hoping that Ohio State, playing at home, can grind it out a bit and give us a more competitive matchup than last year.
Ballard is a big 6’6″ 256 lb. TE who is getting his most playing time this year as a senior for the Buckeyes. Has good strength to develop into a solid blocker. Looks as if he will be featured more as a receiver this year, catching 3 passes for 51 yards in the opening game this year versus Navy. Not overly fast nor does he show great movement, but does have good hands and makes a big target. Has second day NFL draft ability right now, but could move up with more playing time this year.
Ohio State WR Ray Small (#82)
An oft-disciplined but talented receiver for the Buckeyes who missed the opener due to illness. Small has good speed, shifty moves and solid hands. Still, has been plagued with problems and has not lived up to his potential. Somewhat small and has been occasionally nicked up. Has punt return ability. Has talent, but needs to smarten up and use it. Probably wouldn’t be looked at by the Patriots unless he did a 180. His chance to do so starts today versus USC.
An intelligent leader on defense. Good, but not great, for the safety position in the NFL. Can make plays and rarely makes mistakes, but made a huge one last week getting beat for an 85 yard TD against Navy. Plays like that won’t help his draft standing and he has a chance in a high profile game to step up his play this week. There is some possibility Russell may even be benched due to last week’s game, but he should still play a lot. Has NFL ability and is in general a smart player with good speed, leadership and tackling ability. But he isn’t a great player and at best will likely be a late round pick or undrafted free agent who’ll have to excel on special teams.
USC RB Stafon Johnson (#13)
With any other team, Johnson would be a huge star and probably regarded as one of the best backs in the country. With USC, he is just one of many good ones in a large stable of running backs. Comes into this game with over 1,400 career yards, but he could probably put that up in one year somewhere else. Great size, strength and vision. Hasn’t shown much receiving ability at USC and that will hurt him unless he can show he can do that in post-season all-star games. One benefit of drafting him is he won’t come with a lot of tread off the tires. Probably will be a 2nd or 3rd round choice simply due to his great talent, even with only average production.
USC TE Anthony McCoy (#86)
Big tight end with good blocking ability and toughness; average speed, but improving receiving skills. Will never be a Kellen Winslow Jr. type, but can be a solid all around tight end in the NFL and shows some leadership ability and fight on the field. Came into the year with 24 career catches, but shows improvement the more he plays. Had 3 catches on opening weekend, including a long one of 44. A mid-round choice who might interest the Patriots, but they probably prefer a more athletic tight end if they’re to draft one.
USC S Taylor Mays (#2)
One of the best players in the country and almost assuredly a top 5 pick. He does it all; hit, tackle, make plays, cover, play in the box, cause turnovers, you name it. Just a great player and a freak athletically with great size, speed, quickness, strength and endurance. He is really enjoyable to watch and I’m looking forward to seeing him this week in a big game. I’m sure Bill Belichick would love to have him, but it’s unlikely the Patriots will be in position to draft him in 2010.
E-mail Greg Doyle at email@example.com