Jeff Risdon, DLD Editor
North Carolina State takes on Vanderbilt in the first game on New Year’s Eve. The Wolfpack feature several players who will be drafted, while the Commodores have a couple of under-the-radar players that bear watching.
QB Mike Glennon is the current flavor du jour amongst the draftnik community, being widely hyped as a first round talent. Glennon has great size at 6’5” and 230ish pounds, a strong arm, and high delivery. He is whip-smart, able to read defenses and go with the correct reads like a savvy veteran. He has shown the ability to get rid of the ball under pressure and has unquestionable toughness. But I’m not one of the sycophants, and when you watch this game I hope you’ll see why. Glennon often throws flat-footed and with a stiff front leg, which impacts accuracy and causes longer throws to sail. He has very limited mobility, and when he hesitates (which you’ll see too) at the back of his 5-step drop he is often a sitting duck. Some of what ails Glennon–staring down his receiver, forcing throws to his primary read–can be fixed. But he reminds me a great deal of Christian Ponder in that he often holds the ball for an extra count before throwing it, as if he doesn’t trust his instincts. This gives the defense time to react and puts undue pressure on him to throw the ball harder. For those scouting at home, pay attention to his anticipation skills; their offense is designed for him to get the ball out as he hits the back of his drop from center or with two steps in shotgun. When he doesn’t, bad things happen; see the UConn and Virginia games this year or Florida State in 2011.
CB David Amerson is someone Lions fans need to watch as a potential 2nd round pick. Amerson is a playmaking corner with great length. He led the nation with 13 INTs in 2011 and earned his reputation as having exceptional ball skills. His productivity fell off this year, but he still attacks the ball in the air and has excellent timing. The big question with Amerson is speed. Lions fans who saw receivers run past Chris Houston will be leery of lining up Amerson outside, as he struggles to turn and run down the field and lacks great recovery burst. He’s probably a better fit at free safety in the NFL, so pay attention to how well he plays the run and how he plays in coverage before the ball is thrown. I want to see good positioning and quick reactions in both, and I’ve seen both repeatedly on prior viewings.
In my Lions Mock Draft from last week, I slotted safety Brandan Bishop to the Lions in the 6th round. Like Amerson, Bishop is tall and long (both are 6’2”) and excel at playing the ball in the air. What attracts me to Bishop for the Lions is his awareness. When watching this game, try and pay attention to how readily Bishop reacts to the play in front of him, particularly on play action and combo routes. From what I’ve seen, he is very acute at diagnosing and getting himself in the proper position to make a play. Bishop lacks great speed and has pretty stiff hips and ankles to change direction quickly. I think those limitations condemn him to life as a 3rd safety in the NFL, but the Lions (and many other teams) happen to need one of those.
Bishop isn’t the only NC State safety to watch, however. Earl Wolff has been rock solid as a strong safety. He is a hard hitter who typically plays on the wide side and pretty close to the line. Wolff is a great form tackler with some pop to his hits, and he has a knack for creating fumbles. He was the only NCSU DB honored as 1st team All-ACC, ahead of Amerson, which speaks to how much opponents respect Wolff’s game. Watch him close on runs outside the tackles and how he handles the tight end in coverage situations.
RB Zac Stacy is the top Commodore prospect for Lions fans to watch. He is compactly built at 5’9” but he is a well-built 210 pound truck of a runner. Stacy has excellent vision on interior runs and has excellent leg churn. The lazy label is a poor man’s Mo Jones-Drew, but he reminds me more of a shorter Alfred Morris, a one-cut power back with underrated speed from a program not noted for producing NFL talent. He is one of my favorite sleepers in this class.
If QB Jordan Rodgers looks familiar, it’s because you might have seen big brother Aaron doing a discount double check recently for Green Bay. Jordan is not close to as skilled as his brother, but he does have some legit NFL skills. The biggest problem is that he is barely 6’1” but also doesn’t play bigger than his size. He is mobile and likes to create on the move, but his accuracy and ability to process defenses quickly keep him from being a better prospect.
Rodgers frequently hooked up with Jordan Matthews, a long wideout who earned All-SEC honors. He has excellent hands and has good feet in route running. Check out how he flows with Rodgers as he scrambles. He’s also a very good and technically sound blocker. I would like Matthews more but he is neither as quick nor as fast as most NFL receivers, and he projects primarily as a Kris Durham kind of NFL receiver, except he’s only 6’3”. There is a place for guys like that in the NFL but probably not on the Detroit Lions.
It’s unlikely that he gets drafted, but outside LB Archibald Barnes has intriguing athleticism and great length at 6’4”. He has flashed playmaking ability, looking dominant in last year’s Liberty Bowl, but he needs a lot of polish. There is enough to like to merit priority free agent status, and he could become an excellent special teams warrior.