NCAA Football

Florida Football: What to Watch for in Gators' 2015 Spring Scrimmage

Fans inside "The Swamp" for Florida's Orange and Blue Debut won't get to see a traditional spring game this year. Depth issues—particularly along the offensive line—have prevented first-year head coach Jim McElwain from conducting true scrimmages this spring in Gainesville.

But there's still plenty to learn about the 2015 Gators on Saturday, when McElwain and his crew wrap up the spring practice session.

Can the offense show signs of life? Who will step up in the front seven? What kind of scheme will new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier employ when dual-threat quarterback Treon Harris is in the game? 

Let's get you ready for the Florida spring scrimmage with some things to keep an eye on:

 

Offensive Identity

It's no secret that McElwain and Nussmeier have been successful running more of a pro-style system at their various stops, but Florida ran more of a wide-open spread system first with quarterback Jeff Driskel and then with Harris last year under former offensive coordinator Kurt Roper.

How many of those elements will remain in this new system?

Some will have to when Harris is taking the snaps because, while he is a talented quarterback, he's much better suited to thrive in a multidimensional spread running attack than a traditional pro-style passing attack.

Not just for Harris, though.

Redshirt freshman Will Grier, while being a pro-style passer with an accurate arm, is athletic enough to thrive with some read-option elements as well. Since Demarcus Robinson is the only established wide receiver in Gainesville and there are plenty of running options including Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane, getting a little creative in the running game might help ease the transition this spring as McElwain continues to install his system this offseason.

 

Who is Will Grier, Really?

Of the quarterback contenders in the SEC who haven't taken a snap in college football, it's hard to find one more polarizing than Grier.

The Davidson, North Carolina, native came to Florida last year as the second-ranked pro-style passer in the nation, but as I pointed out earlier in the week, there are some concerns about just how good Grier really is based on the rather weak competition he routinely faced in high school.

"The big question for me has been, and will be until proven otherwise, can Will Grier play at a high enough level consistently to be a successful SEC quarterback?" Bleacher Report national video analyst Michael Felder said. "Obviously, he was a monster in high school, but the competition level left me wanting to see more."

Fans likely already have an opinion one way or the other on Grier, but the truth of the matter is that nobody truly knows.

Grier is a mystery, and the curtain will be peeled back on Saturday in The Swamp. 

If Grier, who is leading the quarterback race at the moment (due mostly to Harris' absence dealing with a death in the family), looks like he can stretch the field vertically and consistently push the ball from sideline to sideline, it will be a good sign that the hype is real and that he's ready for the challenge.

If Grier struggles, it isn't the end of the world. 

McElwain and Nussmeier haven't been able to install everything based on the depth issues up front. Of course, that won't prevent the hot takes from flying after spring practice, though.

 

Just How Good can the Linebackers Be?

While the offensive line's struggles have dominated the headlines this spring, the absence of Antonio Morrison and Jarrad Davis at linebacker has also been a challenge for McElwain and new defensive coordinator Geoff Collins.

That has opened the door for Alex Anzalone, Daniel McMillian and Matt Rolin to all establish themselves as more than role players and press the starters who are out for playing time.

According to Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel, the linebackers are thriving.

Are Morrison and Davis in danger of losing their jobs? Nope.

But if the reserves can at least make it a reasonable question, that'd be huge for the 2015 Gators. It'd give Collins the depth he needs to produce a competitive SEC defense.

 

Watch the Training Table

It's no secret that Florida is suffering through a numbers problem. After all, McElwain and former Florida head coach Will Muschamp got into a nice little passive-aggressive war of words this spring over the subject.

"You've got to play the hand you're dealt," McElwain said, according to Thomas Goldkamp of GaitorBait.net in March. "And right now, quite honestly, the hand we were dealt is really insufficient at some of the areas."

That didn't sit well with Muschamp.

"He said he could coach a dog and win," Muschamp said, according to James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser. "Heck, (does he) like the dog better than his players?"

Verbal jabs aside, Florida can't afford more injuries. 

The loss of offensive lineman Rod Johnson to a stinger leaves the Gators just six healthy scholarship offensive linemen, according to The Associated Press, via Fox Sports. The linebackers are thin too, and it's not like Florida is incredibly deep at wide receiver or quarterback either.

If the medical staff is busy on Saturday, that's bad news for McElwain.

 

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports' composite rankings.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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B/R Exclusive: 5-Star QB Malik Henry Plans to Enroll Early at Florida State

It's been an eventful offseason for 5-star quarterback and current Florida State pledge Malik Henry.

He's changed his address, moving from California to Florida powerhouse IMG Academy, and he earned MVP honors at the Atlanta Nike Opening Regional camp last month—which also resulted in him garnering an invitation to The Opening.

Now, Henry has more news that will undoubtedly excite Seminoles fans.

"I'm graduating early, so in a few months, I'll officially be a Seminole," Henry told Bleacher Report.

Henry confirmed those plans to Bleacher Report via text on April 8.

Florida State is seeking to replace Jameis Winston this fall, but Henry could eventually be the long-term answer for Jimbo Fisher's club moving forward.

The 6'3", 180-pounder is the nation's No. 9 player overall, the second-best pro-style passer in the country and the crown jewel of FSU's top-rated recruiting class

Getting him on campus early is sure to help him get adjusted to Fisher's offense and make the transition to the college level.

Henry—who is also a standout baseball player—has been busy adjusting to his new home since he arrived at IMG. In fact, he's yet to make it up to Tallahassee since he committed to the Seminoles last November.

However, according to Chris Nee of Noles247, that will change this weekend, as he's set to be part of a loaded visitor list heading to Tallahassee for FSU's spring game.

Accompanying him on that trip will be 4-star tight end and fellow new IMG product and FSU pledge Isaac Nauta.

Henry notes that he and Nauta, who is his roommate at IMG, have grown particularly close. The two have been working to develop a chemistry that Henry hopes will carry over to the next level.

His performance in Atlanta was one that Henry said is a reflection of the work he's put in over the offseason.

"I just want to go out there everyday and work hard to prove that I'm the best quarterback in the nation," Henry said. "That's what I look at myself as. It's not me being cocky, either. That's just the confidence I carry within myself. I'm very confident in my game. When I put my mind to something, I'm going to do it."

Henry said that he also remains in contact with Fisher and tight ends coach Tim Brewster. In particular, Fisher told him to enjoy his last few months on the prep level before he arrives in Tallahassee. 

"He was just telling me to enjoy my senior season and enjoy the time with my friends in high school," Henry said. "He also wants me to build that chemistry with Isaac since he's coming up there with me for sure. Otherwise, just have fun with it."

 

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand, and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

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4-Star OL and Brock Lesnar Look-Alike Parker Boudreaux Boasts over 70 Offers

With 71 offers, 4-star offensive lineman Parker Boudreaux of Orlando, Florida, is having the time of his life with his recruiting process. In addition to making unofficial visits this spring, he's also having fun being an unofficial celebrity look-alike.

"Brock Lesnar. I probably get that one every day," Boudreaux said, referring to the popular professional wrestling and mixed martial arts athlete who recently re-signed with WWE. "I'll get [Ivan] Drago from Rocky. I'll get [Brian] Bosworth. Everybody has something. It's pretty funny."

Now standing 6'4" and 295 pounds, Boudreaux is one of the few who can actually stare Lesnar eye to eye size-wise. What college coaches like about the 2016 lineman is that he has a similar mean streak on the football field as Lesnar shows at WWE events. The attitude definitely works as an offensive lineman.

Boudreaux, 17, takes the celebrity comparisons all in stride (he likes the Lesnar comparison—see his Twitter page), much like the recruiting process in general. The nation's No. 9 offensive guard isn't in any rush to make a decision about his college future, but he is making the spring count with several visits around the country. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were his latest stops, as he was in Norman last Thursday and Friday, and in Stillwater last Saturday.

Entering the week, Ole Miss and Auburn had been among his favorite visits this spring. Boudreaux said Oklahoma is right up there with the others, as he is a fan of the overall campus environment and the coaching staff.

"Norman's really cool. The fans are awesome, really nice people," Boudreaux said. "There's like 40,000 students at Oklahoma, and the farthest walk is like 12 minutes from everything. The campus is real nice. It's a real college town. I'm loving it here."

Boudreaux added that he likes the fact that Oklahoma has a great academic support system. That's one thing he said head coach Bob Stoops and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh have been stressing to him.

While it is still early in the process, Boudreaux said Oklahoma could be a strong contender when it's time to make his decision. One school to keep an eye on, however, is Oklahoma State, as he gave his trip to Stillwater high marks.

"Best facilities I've seen so far," Boudreaux said about Oklahoma State. "They have awesome, really straight-up coaches. The culture around the program is pretty cool. The campus is beautiful, and everywhere is walkable."

Recruited by Oklahoma State offensive line coach Greg Adkins and head coach Mike Gundy, Boudreaux considered the trip a pleasant surprise. He also likes the fact that early playing time in a high-octane offense is a possibility in Gundy's system.

"They only took a couple of offensive linemen for the 2015 class, so it is an amazing time to come in and play as a freshman," Boudreaux said. "I really enjoyed my visit at OSU."

Boudreaux said his final unofficial visit will be at Notre Dame this summer. In the month of March alone, Boudreaux, per his 247Sports timeline, made unofficial stops to South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama and Auburn. He also attended Clemson for a junior day.

Boudreaux said Ole Miss has a great tradition and overall culture that fit him. He said Alabama was "better than expected" and has solid facilities and friendly people. He's been to Auburn three times and said he enjoys the family atmosphere. Boudreaux said all three schools, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have genuine coaches who he can see himself playing for.

Boudreaux plays tackle at Bishop Moore Catholic, but he will line up at guard at the college level. He bench presses 365 pounds, squats 460 and deadlifts 535. The combination of early playing time, quality academics and overall comfort level with the coaching staff and the campus will help Boudreaux make a decision when that time comes.

For now, he said he's just having fun with it all. Much like he is with the celebrity look-alike chatter.

 

Damon Sayles is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Damon via Twitter: @DamonSayles

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Why Nick Chubb Will Make or Break Georgia Football in 2015

The fate of the University of Georgia's 2015 season falls on the legs of standout running back Nick Chubb following his superb freshman year in Athens, Georgia.

The Georgia Bulldogs finished 10-3 last season following a 37-14 victory over the Louisville Cardinals in the Belk Bowl. Chubb carried the ball 33 times for 266 yards and two touchdowns on that day.

In order for the Bulldogs to finish above the Missouri Tigers in the SEC East and challenge for a spot in the College Football Playoff, Georgia needs the 5'10", 228-pound tailback to run rampant all season long.

Georgia returns an even more experienced and dominant defense with the return of stalwart linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins. Defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt's side of the ball should continue to be at the top of the ranks in the SEC.

The real problem falls in replacing the production of several key offensive players who are no longer with the Bulldogs following the 2014 season. The man to fill these voids is the likely preseason Heisman Trophy candidate Chubb.

The Cedartown, Georgia, native showed explosion and power throughout his first season, which made college football fans' mouths water across the country. The halfback's ability to turn the corner and his determination to cross into the end zone were on clear display against Florida last year.

Under head coach Mark Richt, the Bulldogs average nearly 480 rushing attempts per year. Chubb received 219 carries in his freshman campaign, but that total is definitely going to increase next season with the departure of Todd Gurley. The likely future first-round pick compiled 123 carries in his suspension- and injury-riddled 2014 season.

Since Richt's arrival in 2001, there have only been two seasons in which one running back accounted for more than 50% of Georgia's team rushing attempts. However, when Gurley was out of the lineup last year, Chubb was responsible for just under 57% of the team's carries, and the workload is not likely to be any more balanced this upcoming season, according to Bleacher Report's Andrew Hall.

"The state of Georgia's backfield lends itself to a disproportionately large concentration on Chubb," Hall said. "Put bluntly: It's hard to quantify exactly how valuable Georgia's other options will be in 2015."

Fellow rising sophomore Sony Michel contributed 410 yards and five touchdowns in 2014 but appeared in only eight games for the Bulldogs.

The other running back likely to share some of work is Keith Marshall, but his health is far from reliable at this point. Marshall was the second-ranked running back in the 2012 recruiting class, the same class as Gurley, and rushed for 759 yards and eight touchdowns his freshman year. However, the talented prospect has not re-established himself in the Georgia backfield since suffering a knee injury in the middle of the 2013 season.

On top of replacing Gurley, the Bulldogs will also have to replace last year's starting quarterback, Hutson Mason. The graduating senior was the latest of a long line of stellar Georgia quarterbacks including Aaron Murray and Matthew Stafford.

There is no clear replacement for Mason, as Brice Ramsey, Faton Bauta and Jacob Park are battling to become the team's head signal-caller. This transformation could affect the Bulldog's play-calling next season, but last year's Belk Bowl provided some insight into the mindset of Richt.

Mason left the game in the in the second quarter due to injury, leaving the Georgia head coach without a reliable quarterback. In this situation, he decided to go back to old faithful.

The Bulldogs ran the ball on 68 percent of their offensive plays and averaged 5.5 yards per attempt against Louisville's second-ranked rush defense, per Bleacher Report's Ben Kercheval.

"With a new quarterback under center—freshman Brice Ramsey filled in for an injured Mason—there should be a heavy lean on the run game," Kercheval said.

"It's what Georgia does best anyway. In fact, there's a case to be made that Georgia shouldn't attempt a pass under any circumstance. Ever.”

The Bulldogs ran the ball an astounding 555 times for 3,352 yards compared to throwing 322 passes to gain 2,599 yards in the air last season. With the uncertainty at quarterback, Georgia could rely even more heavily on the running game next year.

The question is whether Chubb can remain healthy throughout the entire season. The running back is working hard this offseason to best prepare his body for the punishment it will endure next year.

Based on the total number of carries for Georgia in 2014, Chubb will tote the rock an absurd 316 times if he continues to carry the ball 57% of the time in Gurley's absence.

Chubb underwent surgery last season to fix a broken thumb but remained relatively healthy otherwise. However, carrying the ball as many times as Richt and the coaching staff will probably like may be too much work for any running back to withstand.

Chubb's ability to continue to produce and remain healthy while his body racks up more miles will make or break Georgia's 2015 campaign. A standout season by the rising sophomore will help nullify the questions surrounding other positions for the Bulldogs.

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Texas Football: 5 Players to Watch in Texas' 2015 Spring Game

Spring ball reaches its end next weekend when the Longhorns kick off their spring game. No matter which team they work with, every Longhorn fan will have eyes on Jerrod Heard and Malik Jefferson.

Charlie Strong's second spring game is packed with intrigue. It will be the general public's first look at Heard and Jefferson in Longhorn uniforms, the new uptempo offense and an overhauled defense that lost no fewer than five of its best players.

Beyond the two former top recruits, the new offensive workhorses and the defense's unheralded top player will be must-see when the Horns take the field April 18.

 

1. QB Jerrod Heard

In all likelihood, Tyrone Swoopes starts this game with the first team. He has the most experience, has been consistent throughout spring practice and is taking a leadership role with the team.

It'd be great to see the junior play well. He just doesn't bring quite the same level of excitement to the field as Jerrod Heard, who ran for almost 5,000 yards during his high school career en route to two state titles.

Facing an uphill battle to start the spring, Heard has started to turn heads as a passer, and Strong said the redshirt freshman was the better player during Monday's practice. With reports emerging that he's progressing as a passer, the competition with Swoopes is getting closer.

Heard's improvement through the air will be interesting in the biggest scrimmage of the year, but his legs will bring the real excitement. After all, the Longhorns are now running an offense he ran to perfection in high school, and his explosiveness adds an element that gives defenses nightmares.

With some big runs and a couple of nice throws in a game setting, Heard can do himself a lot of favors to close spring practice.

 

2. LB Malik Jefferson

Malik Jefferson has been a college athlete for less than three months, and his coaches are already trying to find ways to put him on the field whenever possible.

The No. 1 recruit in the state this past cycle, Jefferson has lived up to the hype this spring. The remarkable young athlete looks no worse than the backup to Naashon Hughes at the hybrid "Fox" position, and he's been among the first players to get a look inside following Dalton Santos' injury.

To summarize, Jefferson is basically getting looks at three different positions within his first two weeks of collegiate practice. He's shown the size and strength to rush the passer, the speed to drop into coverage and the instincts to diagnose plays as a middle linebacker, though the latter hasn't come quite as naturally.

247Sports' Jeff Howe has more on Jefferson's recent work on the inside:

The biggest happening at linebacker was Malik Jefferson worked on the inside. He had been on the outside and worked behind Hughes at the Fox some, but the coaches wanted to get a look at him in the middle.

It was a learning day for Jefferson, who got consistent feedback from Brian Jean-Mary. Jefferson got barked at a few times for being out of position or missing an assignment, but it clearly looks like the staff is pushing him as hard and as fast as they can knowing they're going to need him to play this fall and possibly multiple positions.

Few of these 5-star, can't-miss recruits have panned out for Texas of late. Rest assured that Jefferson is already too good with too much remaining upside to disappoint like Garrett Gilbert or Taylor Bible.

Watch this guy go to work every chance you get or else you'll regret it.

 

3. WR Dorian Leonard

Dorian Leonard validated his coaches' praise with a ridiculous one-handed grab in drills. However, it's what got him noticed in the first place that should intrigue Longhorn fans.

Strong has mentioned Leonard's work in all three of his press conferences this spring, and it's easy to see why. At 6'3", 203 pounds, he's one of the few receivers on the roster with the length and size to play every down on the outside. 

Even with only one career reception under his belt, those traits give Leonard a great chance at being a key contributor this season. Anyone who doubts Texas' desire to feed receivers of his type should note that 1,000-yard wideout John Harris only had nine catches before last season.

Leonard will compete with Lorenzo Joe all offseason, but he's been the guy so far this spring and looks like a starter. Expect some big plays from Texas' next No. 1 receiver against a depleted secondary in the spring game.

 

4. S Jason Hall

If you're a fan of old school, hard-hitting football, then Jason Hall should be one of your favorite Longhorns. He's also one of the most talented players on the team in spite of those who have forgotten what he brings to the table.

As noted by Howe, a healthy Hall was a freshman All-American. He wasn't as productive as Virginia's Quin Blanding, but his numbers were right on par with LSU's Jamal Adams despite being hampered by a knee injury for the second half of the season.

When he's at full speed, there's nothing Hall can't do from the safety position. He's solid in coverage, and anyone who was on the business end of his aggressive style will check the closet for him next time they square off. 

Seriously, Strong had to tell him to stop hitting his teammates so hard on Monday.

Horns Digest's Chip Brown thinks Hall could lose his job to incoming freshman DeShon Elliott. Don't count on it, because Texas needs a fiery leader like this on the field as much as possible, and Hall has too much talent to be written off like that.

He'll make a play or two that will have you aching for real football. That you can count on.

 

5. RB Johnathan Gray

The last time we saw Johnathan Gray going to work in an uptempo offense, he was slicing and dicing his way to a 1,000-yard season. Behind an improved offensive line, he should be even better as a senior.

Gray just wasn't right for most of 2014. The Achilles tear he sustained in late 2013 robbed him of his trademark acceleration and agility, making him an undersized straight-line runner for much of the year.

The speedy back eventually found his wheels against Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, but poor play from his blockers kept him under wraps thereafter.

This season, Gray gets back to the scheme he excelled within, telling the media, "I love this offense." What should really excite Longhorn fans is he believes in his offensive line, stating the following in that same interview:

Those guys have shocked me, actually. They don't need any motivation. They go out there and work 100 percent. They work hard, too. That's what you want to see in young guys, and I think they know what they're supposed to do and what we're trying to get done and accomplished. Those guys are ready, I think.

Per CFBstats.com, Gray's 86.7 yards per game were among the nation's top 50 in 2013, all while working in tandem with Malcolm Brown. While there are some intriguing talents battling it out for starting jobs at receiver and along that improving offensive line, Gray's the workhorse the offense will lean on.

He's second only to the quarterback in terms of importance to this revamped attack.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats and information courtesy ofTexasSports.com.

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Georgia Football: 4 Players to Watch in Bulldogs' Spring Game

Saturday in Athens is back, as the Bulldogs will take part in the G-Day Game this Saturday.

This is only a small taste of what to expect from the Bulldogs this upcoming season, but that doesn’t mean fans aren’t excited to see the Bulldogs banging heads at Sanford Stadium.

What fans are the most excited about is the new players who will take the field on Saturday. The Bulldogs have some talented incoming freshmen playing in the game, and this will be the first time those players will get a taste of what Athens will be like in the fall.

However, there are also some players to watch who have been on the roster and are either looking to make a comeback or earn a starting spot after being a reserve.

So, who are the players fans need to keep an eye on as they watch the spring game?

 

Jacob Park, QB

Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta are looking like they have the edge on Jacob Park when it comes to the starting quarterback competition.

But Park could be the most talented of the three, and he will get a chance to prove it on Saturday.

Park worked with the scout team last year, and the coaches loved the way he was able to simulate the opposing quarterbacks. Now that he’s a redshirt freshman, Park is battling Ramsey and Bauta for the No. 1 quarterback spot.

Park has the arm and mobility to be a great quarterback for the Bulldogs. He may be down on the depth chart, but there is still plenty of time for him to move up, and it starts with a strong G-Day performance.

 

A.J. Turman, RB

There is no question the depth at running back is deep. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will be leading the charge this season, and Keith Marshall will also be in the mix.

With that said, fans should keep an eye on A.J. Turman because he’s having the best spring out of all the running backs.

Turman has not played in a football game since his senior high school season in 2012 because he redshirted in 2013 and was sidelined all of last season with a foot injury. But now he’s 100 percent, and he’s been playing like a guy who wants to steal carries from Chubb, Michel and Marshall.

In the second spring scrimmage last Saturday, Turman rushed for 140 yards on 22 carries and scored twice with the second-team offense.

With the coaches limiting Chubb’s work this spring, and both Marshall and Michel nursing different injuries, Turman will have a chance to show the fans what he’s made of.

 

Jonathan Ledbetter, DT

If there is a true freshman to watch this Saturday, it would have to be Jonathan Ledbetter from Tucker, Georgia. According to Jake Rowe of 247Sports, the defensive tackle has been impressing the coaching staff.

Ledbetter may not be a starter this season because of the depth on the defensive line, but he has proven that he can play at the college level this season and should be part of the defensive line rotation this fall.

Fans will not be disappointed when they watch Ledbetter on Saturday.

 

Jake Ganus, LB

The fans will also not be disappointed when they see linebacker Jake Ganus in action. The transfer from UAB has been making plays all throughout spring and is really making a case to be the starter at inside linebacker.

New #UGA inside linebacker Jake Ganus has led both of Georgia's scrimmages in tackles. Has racked up 19 tackles this spring.

— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) April 4, 2015

Ganus is coming off a scrimmage where he led all defenders with 10 tackles. That is not a surprise because he led the Blazers in tackles over the last two seasons.

With this being his senior season, Ganus wants to finish his college career in strong fashion—especially with him leaving UAB due to the school shutting down the football program. He has had the best spring out of everyone on the roster, and he’ll shine again in the spring game.

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San Francisco 49ers Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Dorial Green-Beckham

If the San Francisco 49ers spend their first-round draft pick on a wide receiver, they should spend it on Dorial Green-Beckham.

Green-Beckham almost certainly will drop to the Niners at the No. 15 pick. Police arrested him twice for incidents involving marijuana while he was at the University of Missouri—once in 2012 and once in 2014, according to USA Today

On April 11, 2014, Missouri’s football team dismissed him after he allegedly broke into an apartment and pushed a woman down a flight of stairs, although, as NFL.com notes, the district attorney never charged him with a crime. Green-Beckham transferred to the University of Oklahoma in 2014 but never played a game for it.

Some teams probably will remove Green-Beckham from their draft board for his off-field issues. The Niners might not be one of those teams.

Based on the Niners' history, they seem very forgiving. They recently signed wide receiver Jerome Simpson, who has been involved in two marijuana-related incidents in his career. Niners fullback Bruce Miller allegedly pushed his fiancee to the ground on March 5. The district attorney hasn’t filed charges against Miller, and the Niners haven’t cut him.

If the Niners tolerate Miller’s and Simpson’s off-field issues, why would they object to Green-Beckham?

They most likely will focus more on Green-Beckham’s actions on the field than his past issues off it. Green-Beckham is a rare athlete—6’5”, 237 pounds, 4.49 40-yard dash, 6.89 three-cone drill. He’s a giant red-zone target with speed to be a deep threat too.

To put him in perspective, let’s compare him to other top wide receivers.

 

1. Kevin White vs. Green-Beckham

In 2013, Green-Beckham caught 59 passes for 883 yards and 12 touchdowns at the University of Missouri. He was 20.

When White was 20, he played in junior college. When he was 21, he caught only 35 passes at West Virginia. He didn’t dominate until he was 22. Maybe he’s a late bloomer, or maybe he’s a one-year wonder.

If he and Green-Beckham were in last year’s draft, teams would have picked Green-Beckham way before White.

Advantage: Green-Beckham

 

2. DeVante Parker vs. Green-Beckham

Parker and Green-Beckham both were 20 in 2013. Compare their numbers from that season.

Parker: 55 catches, 885 yards, 12 touchdowns.

Green-Beckham: 59 catches, 883 yards, 12 touchdowns.

Their numbers practically are identical. Now, factor in their quarterbacks. Parker played with Teddy Bridgewater, a first-round pick. Green-Beckham played with James Franklin, an undrafted free agent. Franklin’s arm was weak and inaccurate. Green-Beckham’s numbers would have improved had he played with Bridgewater.

Now, factor in their injury histories. Green-Beckham hardly has one. He sprained his ankle in 2013 but didn’t miss a game. Parker broke his foot last season and missed six games.

The Niners spent their first-round pick last year on a player recovering from a broken foot—Jimmie Ward. He re-broke it midseason and spent the final seven weeks of the season on the injured reserve list. The Niners can’t afford to spend another first-round pick on player with a bad wheel.

Advantage: Green-Beckham

 

3. Breshad Perriman vs. Green-Beckham

Perriman is hot because he ran a 4.24 40-yard dash at his pro day. He is faster than Green-Beckham but not better.

In 2012 and 2013, Perriman made just seven touchdown catches, while Green-Beckham made 17. Perriman’s quarterback those years was Blake Bortles, a first-round pick. Perriman was a complementary receiver, a deep threat. Bortles threw him an occasional deep pass. Three of Perriman's teammates caught more passes than him in 2013.

Green-Beckham is a deep threat, but he’s more than that. He is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.

Advantage: Green-Beckham

 

4. Kelvin Benjamin vs. Green-Beckham

Green-Beckham and Benjamin produced similar numbers in college. Benjamin caught 84 passes for 1,506 yards and 19 touchdowns in two seasons at Florida State, and Green-Beckham caught 87 passes for 1,278 yards and 17 touchdowns in two seasons at Missouri.

Draft experts downgraded Benjamin for the same reason they downgrade Green-Beckham—pour route running. Which is strange. If you’re looking for a good route-runner, draft a small receiver. Very few 6’5” receivers who are nearly 240 pounds run good routes.

Benjamin’s poor routes haven't hurt him in the NFL. He caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie, and he made the Pro Bowl. He will be the Carolina Panthers' go-to player on offense for years. So much for the experts’ critique of him.

What’s the difference between him and Green-Beckham? Green-Beckham is faster (he runs a 4.49; Benjamin runs a 4.61) and more than two years younger.

Advantage: Green-Beckham

 

5. Brandon Marshall vs. Green-Beckham

Marshall (6'4", 230 lbs) might be the best comparison for Green-Beckham. Neither has the advantage over the other. They're both big, fast and quick.

The Niners should value receivers like them. Marshall scored three touchdowns in one game last season against the Niners. He beat their first-round pick, Jimmie Ward, every time. Jay Cutler just threw the ball up, and Ward had no chance to defend the pass. Ward is five inches shorter than Marshall.

Imagine if Colin Kaepernick could have thrown the ball up to Green-Beckham instead of Michael Crabtree at the end of the Super Bowl. The Niners might have won. They’ve needed a receiver like Green-Beckham for years, and finally they will get one.

 

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Matthew Falcon to Michigan: Wolverines Land 4-Star RB Prospect

Jim Harbaugh's first full recruiting class at Michigan continues to impress, as touted running back Matthew Falcon committed to the Wolverines on Wednesday.

Falcon, a 4-star recruit out of local Southfield High School, chose the Wolverines over a list of offers that also included Tennessee, Oregon, Arkansas and Arizona State. He previously announced his final five earlier this week, and momentum has been trending in Michigan's direction for months.

247Sports' Crystal Ball predictions gave the Wolverines a 64 percent chance of landing the commitment. Nearly all experts who made their prediction over the last couple months gave the Wolverines the nod. 

"It was pretty sweet. He came from Stanford and then the 49ers. He has that thing about him where you know you are talking to someone that's big-time," Falcon said of Harbaugh, per Andrew Nemec of The Oregonian. "It was pretty sweet getting the offer from him and getting to talk to him personally."

Falcon joins offensive tackle Erik Swenson and quarterback Brandon Peters as the most high-profile players in Michigan's growing class. The Wolverines are currently ranked No. 20 on 247Sports' overall team rankings despite Harbaugh being on the job for only a few months.

In Falcon, they'll be getting an impressive prospect who already looks ready for the next level. Listed at 6'1" and 215 pounds, he has a ready-made build that might be able to pack more weight without losing his explosiveness. It's not hard to envision him stepping right into a role similar to the one Frank Gore occupied under Harbaugh in San Francisco. 

Either way, Falcon's signing is a loud-and-clear message to the rest of the Big Ten that Michigan is on an upward trajectory.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.

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