Heading into the 2015 NFL draft, we have an Andrew Luck vs. Robert Griffin III type of debate, but even more intriguing. Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are almost certain to be the first two quarterbacks off the board, and it's not much of a debate. What makes it so intriguing, though, is that it's completely up in the air as to who's selected first.
The question then becomes, who are the next best options for teams out there?
The group of quarterbacks after Winston and Mariota may not feature many, if any, instant-impact quarterbacks, but there are a few prospects who have major upside. These players could be the answer for teams who are looking to have someone sit and learn for a season or two, while the team essentially grooms them over time.
The NFL draft isn't short on big-named quarterbacks such as Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley, but where do these players land on the list?
The following quarterbacks were ranked not only by their college statistics, but also by things such as their decision making, accuracy and consistency. The potential round that each quarterback will be drafted is going to be factored in also and will be mentioned after the breakdown of each player.
“Welcome to Eugene, now help us win a national title.”
The directive is clear to all those associated with the Oregon football program: Win the Pac-12 title, earn a College Football Playoff bid and try to finally win a title.
So, with that, the Ducks welcome in one of their most prized recruiting classes in school history.
The Ducks, with 22 commitments, finished the recruiting season with the No. 3 recruiting class in the Pac-12, trailing USC and UCLA, and the No. 16 class in the country, according to 247Sports.
Oregon’s 2015 class is loaded with talent across the board, including six highly ranked recruits who have or will eventually enroll early at the school.
Though the 22 recruits will come in together as the 2015 class, there’s a clear division between those players who will help Oregon succeed in the 2015 and those who will have an impact further down the road.
The Ducks are best known for their high-octane, score-until-they-say-mercy offense. Oregon’s offense is the reason the program has become a national powerhouse.
However, this year’s most important recruit—and perhaps one of the most important in recent memory—is 5-star defensive end Canton Kaumatule.
Kaumatule, who is already on campus in Eugene, is the No. 16 player and No. 3 defensive end in the country, according to 247Sports.
At 6’7”, 290 pounds, Kaumatule should be able to come in and start from Day 1 for the Ducks. Oregon’s defensive line took a hit when junior Arik Armstead decided to jump to the NFL after this past season. However, Kaumatule is just the player to take his place.
According to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Crabtree, Kaumatule was one of the most impressive players at the Under Armour All-America Game:
That’s exactly what Kaumatule was at Tuesday’s second practice at the nation’s most prestigious high school all-star game. After a strong Monday performance, he backed it up with an even more dominating effort Tuesday.
Kaumatule wowed during one-on-ones with a combination of pass-rush moves, but what impressed so much was his quickness and his agility. He moved like a power forward on the basketball court, instead of a 6-foot-7, 290-pound defensive end.
'Just like everybody else out here, I’m just trying to make things happen,' Kaumatule said. “I think I’ve been executing and hustling, and I’ve kept my composure. I was kind of shaky before I got here, but I’m proud of how I’ve done so far. I’ve got to just stay hungry and be humble, while doing what I can on the field.”
Despite the fact that the Ducks powered through the likes of Michigan State, Stanford and Florida State this past season, they were still physically beaten down by Ohio State in the title game.
Oregon doesn’t need to change its recruiting philosophy. Clearly whatever they’ve been cooking up in Eugene over the past decade has worked beautifully. That being said, Oregon would be wise to continue trying to add bigger and more physical players, especially on the offensive and defensive lines.
Kaumatule is exactly the type of player Oregon needs on the defensive line. He’s big, physical and mean. Don’t be surprised if he makes a major impact on Oregon’s defense as a true freshman.
While Kaumatule comes in with high expectations for next season, there are a couple of other true freshman who are likely to make an impact next year.
Oregon has lost six starters on defense due to graduation or the NFL draft, meaning they’ll be looking for some defensive recruits to have an immediate impact next year.
Along with Kaumatule, it is expected that 3-star defensive lineman Gus Cumberlander will get some playing time next year. Head coach Mark Helfrich described Cumberlander, who is 6’6” and 241 pounds, as the “secret gem” of Oregon’s recruiting class, according to Brianna Amaranthus of CSNNW.com.
The Ducks will also need an immediate impact from their two JUCO linebacker recruits. The loss of Tony Washington and Derrick Malone is significant to the Ducks, but 3-star linebackers Jonah Moi and Paris Bostick both have collegiate experience and should be able to step into Oregon’s six-man linebacker rotation.
On the offensive side of the ball, look for true freshman Zach Okun, a 4-star guard from California, to be a potential starter in 2015. The Ducks lost left tackle Jake Fisher, center Hroniss Grasu and left guard Hamani Stevens to graduation, meaning there are plenty of spots available along the line.
Okun, who enrolled early at Oregon, is one of the most talented guards in the country and at 6’3”, 340 pounds has the requisite size to compete against college athletes. Of Okun, Helfrich said, according to GoDucks.net, “Another team captain, honor student. Really powerful first step, great strike close quarters combat type of guy."
Lastly, we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about Oregon’s new speedsters. In what was a major coup for the program, the Ducks snagged three of the top four all-purpose backs in the country.
247Sports' No. 1 all-purpose back, Taj Griffin, has already enrolled at Oregon and should have a leg up on his fellow classmates, though he is recovering from a torn ACL suffered during his senior season. Griffin may not be in a position to play a lot in 2015, but if healthy, he could have an immediate impact as a third-down back for the Ducks.
No. 3 all-purpose back Malik Lovette is a Mark Helfrich favorite. In his post-national signing day press conference, Helfrich said of Lovette “"This guy's special, just in his vibe, his energy and everything about him” and mentioned he’s similar to senior wide receiver Keanon Lowe.
Helfrich said, according to GoDucks.net, that Lovette “played everywhere, was recruited everywhere as a cornerback, safety, specialist, obviously tailback, receiver.”
Kirk Merritt, the No. 5 all-purpose back, may have the most immediate impact. Merritt, who won the Nike SPARQ national championship last year, will likely play wide receiver for the Ducks, though, he could be moved to cornerback.
It would be wise of Oregon to use Merritt as Byron Marshall’s understudy. Merritt is a ridiculously talented athlete and has fantastic hands. While he played all over the field in high school, Merrit’s talents lend itself to being Oregon’s next Marshall or De’Anthony Thomas.
While the Ducks have plenty of talent on the current roster, don’t be surprised if a significant number of true freshman get playing time next year. As Matt Prehm of 247Sports points out, the Ducks have played 16 true freshmen in Mark Helfrich’s first two years—including 10 in 2014.
See ya Next Year
Based on Helfrich’s history with true freshman, the Ducks are bound to lean on some youngsters next season. However, there are some 2015 recruits who won’t see the field next season but represent the future of the program.
The two players Oregon fans will want to watch closely over the next two seasons are QB Travis Waller and wide receiver Alex Ofodile. If all goes to plan, this may be one of the best duos in college football a couple of years down the road.
Waller, a 4-star QB from Anaheim, California, is the No. 4 dual-threat QB in the 2015 class, according to 247Sports. Waller, who will enroll at Oregon in the spring, is definitely the future for the Ducks. There’s a good chance he starts in 2016 or 2017, but he’s not the present. He’s too raw and a bit too small.
That being said, Waller has monster talent, and the coaches love what he brings to the table. According to Molly Blue of The Oregonian, Helfrich said of Waller, "He's an off-the-charts guy. We're really excited to see Travis."
Ofodile, who has already enrolled at Oregon, has great size at 6’2”, 185 pounds and is bound to be a star for the Ducks. According to The Oregonian, Helfrich said of Ofodule, "He's a big guy, very physical, can go up and get it.”
Ofodile may not have an immediate impact, as he’ll be playing behind Darren Carrington, Devon Allen, Dwayne Stanford and others, but there’s no doubt he one to watch. If Ofodile and Waller build a rapport, watch out.
Another area to watch for down the line from this class is along the offensive line. The Ducks brought in six offensive linemen in 2015, including Okun, who we mentioned above. Recruits like tackle Brady Aiello, Calvin Throckmorton, Shane Lemieux likely won’t be part of the mix in 2015, but they’re integral parts of Oregon’s future.
Lastly, 4-star cornerback Ugo Amadi is one to watch in 2016. Amadi, who has also enrolled early at Oregon, could be the next shutdown cornerback for the Ducks. According to GoDucks.net, Helfrich said of Amadi, “Electric, very powerful. Has the hips and change of direction to play corner, physical enough to tackle."
Amadi may find some playing time this season as Oregon’s secondary tries to replace Erick Dargan, Troy Hill and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. That being said, Chris Seisay and Arrion Springs look like the front-runners at this point. Amadi is a talented athlete and could be a future star, but his role will be limited next season.
Here’s a look at Oregon's entire 2015 recruiting class:
Jason Gold is Bleacher Report’s lead Oregon writer. Follow Jason on Twitter @TheSportsGuy33.
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Alabama won their fifth consecutive recruiting class national championship in the 2015 cycle. The Crimson Tide have dominated the recruiting trail, but could their reign be coming to an end?
Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe sits down with 247Sports.com National Recruiting Analyst JC Shurburtt to discuss the teams that could dethrone Alabama.
Who will win the 2016 recruiting national championship?
Check out the video and let us know!
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The Michigan Wolverines are trying to tighten up the quarterback position after the landing of John O'Korn, a transfer from Houston. O'Korn joins Zach Gentry, Wilton Speight, Alex Malzone and Shane Morris at quarterback on the Michigan roster.
Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe sits down with Michigan beat writer Steve Lorenz on the future of the Wolverines quarterback position.
Who is Michigan's quarterback of the future?
Check out the video and let us know.
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Throughout the recruiting process, a head football coach has to walk a tight rope when discussing the players he is chasing. While cryptic tweets and overly generic coachspeak is usually the best you can hope for, on Wednesday Brian Kelly—and every other college football coach in America—opened up about the recruits joining their program.
For Kelly, signing day was a culmination of two years of work. And while most experts have already had their say on the 24 student-athletes joining the Notre Dame football program, let's look at what the Irish head coach had to say about the players joining his program.
The Offensive Line
With Jerry Tillery beginning his career on defense, Harry Hiestand only brought in two offensive linemen this cycle. But the staff likes both of them, starting with early enrollee, and No.1-ranked center, Tristen Hoge.
After recruiting mostly high school tackles and transitioning them to other positions, Kelly talked about Hoge's advanced knowledge at the position and how it could pay dividends.
"What separates Tristen for us is a true center," Kelly said on Wednesday. "In the college game, you're going a lot more of reading fronts, shotgun snapping, having to really take on much more of the identification of fronts, coverages, and it requires somebody that maybe didn't play that position in high school. Tristen's already done that."
Joining Hoge up front is Trevor Ruhland. A very early commit to the Irish, Ruhland's toughness stood out for Kelly.
"What we really loved about Trevor is his toughness. Two‑way player, he never came off the field, and we were looking for an interior guy that really fit our style of play," Kelly said.
Brandon Wimbush deserves his only section. Because after losing coveted 5-star target Blake Barnett, Notre Dame's staff found a quarterback who might be an even better fit for the Irish offense.
Kelly conceded that after Barnett flipped to Alabama, he was willing to go without a quarterback in this cycle. But seeing Wimbush's senior film changed all that, and the Irish staff did a great job flipping the quarterback from Penn State.
"As a quarterback you have to have a presence...and he has an incredible presence and a leadership presence about him where he makes others around him better," Kelly said. "He lights up the room. He's a thermometer guy. The temperature in the room rises when he's in it because he has such a great presence about him."
The Skill Players
With only Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston on the scholarship roster, Notre Dame's staff was committed to landing two running backs. They found their first early in Josh Adams. Their second took some time, with Dexter Williams pledging to the Irish on signing day.
In Adams, the Irish staff showed patience, recruiting Adams even after suffering an ACL tear during his junior season. But the Pennsylvania native rebounded in 2014, and Kelly believes the best is yet to come.
"[Adams] has not even tapped what he can do at the position," Kelly said. "He has not played a lot of football. And at 6'2", 210 pounds, we think he can be, with the speed that he possesses, we think he can be whatever he wants to be."
Williams addition was a key to signing day. And after a hard-fought battle with Miami, Kelly praised both Williams' football skills, but also the trust his parents were showing in Notre Dame's coaching staff.
"We love his family, his mom and dad were extremely supportive of him leaving Florida and coming up here," Kelly said. He knows that his experience at Notre Dame is going to benefit him greatly, not only in the short term but in the long term."
Notre Dame's four wide receivers add to the healthiest position group on the roster. The Irish added length with Miles Boykin and Equanimeous St. Brown and speed and quickness in Jalen Guyton and C.J. Sanders.
Boykin profiles as an outside receiver, a player Kelly thinks will challenge defenders with his size and power.
"[Boykin] can use his body extremely well. Great catching radius. Can go up with the football. He can separate," Kelly said. "We just think that he gives you a great match up on the perimeter."
While most recruiting services only saw Guyton as a 3-star prospect, the Irish staff saw things differently. And it's likely because of the insane production (82 catches, 1,770 yards and 22 touchdowns) Guyton had as a senior for the powerhouse Allen program, the Texas 6A state champions.
"Jalen had an incredible season in terms of numbers, off the charts," Kelly said. "He was the go‑to guy, playing at the highest competition in the State of Texas. Just a breakout year."
In C.J. Sanders, Notre Dame restocked the slot receiver position. After moving a converted safety (C.J. Prosise) and a former running back (Amir Carlisle) to the position, Sanders fits the mold at the position, with elite speed he showcased last offseason at Nike's The Opening.
"He's a guy that can open up the game for you with one missed tackle, because you won't be able to catch him," Kelly said of Sanders. "Elite speed and a true slot receiver, one that we haven't had since Robby Toma."
St. Brown's commitment on signing day was the final piece of the puzzle. After a trilingual performance on ESPN, St. Brown adds another receiver who will challenge defenders with his length.
"Another very rangy wide receiver who can run," Kelly said. "He can get in and out of his break, another match‑up guy that I think you're going to have problems with now."
While all four wide receivers have promise, tight end Alize Jones might step onto campus and battle for a starting job. Flipped from UCLA and joining his Bishop Gorman teammate, Nicco Fertitta, in South Bend, Kelly couldn't contain his excitement for Jones.
"We've been recruiting him since his sophomore year. We think he's the finest tight end in the country," Kelly said. "We think that we've had some great tight ends here, and we think he's going to be another one of the great tight ends that have played here at Notre Dame."
The Defensive Line
Notre Dame needed to add reinforcements up front after seeing injuries decimate the depth chart on the defensive line. They did that, adding Micah Dew-Treadway, Elijah Taylor, Brandon Tiassum, Jerry Tillery and Bo Wallace to Mike Elston's position group.
Dew-Treadway and Tillery are early enrollees. Kelly praised Dew-Treadway's quickness and thinks he'll add some pass-rush skills as a defensive tackle.
"What really attracted us early on was his pass rush ability for his size," Kelly said. "Even though he projects as somebody that may play inside, he has the ability to pass rush even from an inside position and that's a unique quality for a guy 6'5", 280 pounds."
Tillery was expected to be an offensive lineman. But the 6'6", 310-pounder will start his career at defensive tackle, adding length, size and athleticism that has Kelly believing Tillery will contribute early and become a dominant defensive lineman.
"Jerry possesses some skill sets that most defensive tackles don't have," Kelly said. "So we decided to make the move and play him on the defensive line, and we think that we've got a potentially dominating defensive lineman."
In Taylor, the Irish landed a Cincinnati product who they think can do great things as a disruptive force in the middle.
"Talking to rival coaches, they said that when he was healthy, that he was not blockable," Kelly said of Taylor. You could not block him."
Tiassum is another defensive tackle prospect and one of four Indiana natives recruited to South Bend. After impressing at Notre Dame's summer camp, the Irish coaching staff pulled the trigger on an offer to Tiassum, who committed shortly after.
"We were just really impressed with his personality, the way he played the game, and he jumped in to every drill that we had," Kelly said. "Brandon showed us all the things that we were looking for when we had him up here in camp and really feel in love with him."
While Dew-Treadway, Taylor, Tiassum and Tillery are tackle prospects, Wallace is a pass-rusher. And Kelly thinks the New Orleans native is a very good one.
"We were looking for a flat‑out pass-rusher, and we found one in Bo Wallace," Kelly said. "He can come off the edge and pass rush. He's going to have to put on some weight right now but we'll get him in here in June and coach [Paul] Longo and his staff can work with him."
After former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco targeted larger and longer linebackers to fit his rugged 3-4 system, this group may not have the bulk to play in the trenches yet, but they will upgrade the talent at the position from the moment they step foot on campus.
Coney is already in South Bend. After battling Florida for his signature, the 4-star linebacker has already impressed in his first few weeks working with the strength staff.
"[He] physically looks like a guy that has been in our program for a couple years," Kelly said. [Te'von] very much has the physical traits necessary to compete early on."
In-state linebackers Barajas and Bilal also impressed Kelly. Both U.S. Army All-Americans, Barajas should compete immediately at outside linebacker.
"We were looking for a guy that could potentially play on the outside and run and give us length and size, and Josh certainly can do that for us," Kelly said of Barajas.
Bilal adds even more athleticism. While 247Sports viewed him as the No. 6 inside linebacker in the class, Kelly marveled at the Indianapolis native's ability to play in space.
"In the state championship game he played free safety," Kelly said. "Again, another guy that we are excited about developing physically and watching him grow."
While this group will wait to find out who ends up coaching them (247Sports' Tom Loy reports that former Notre Dame All-American and Vanderbilt cornerbacks coach Todd Lyght will be hired), whomever inherits Kerry Cooks' job will be getting an excellent group of recruits.
The Irish added three cornerbacks and two safeties to the depth chart. While there are worries that Nicco Fertitta and Mykelti Williams aren't enough depth at safety, both bring a great skill set with them and both will be ready to see the field early.
Fertitta might be undersized, but pound for pound he's one of the biggest hitters in this signing class. Between highlight-reel hits and outstanding toughness, Fertitta will lead from the front.
"I was looking for somebody in this class to bring that kind of dominant competitor spirit to our defense, and Nicco brings that," Kelly said. "He's going to make an impact right away. You'll see him on every special teams. You'll see him with the energy that he brings, he's pretty infectious to a football team."
Williams was a do-everything player for Warren Central in Indianapolis, playing both offense and defense at Sheldon Day's alma mater. While the Irish coaching staff got in on him relatively late in the recruiting cycle, they believe they found a gem.
"We think that we found a young man that has all the tools," Kelly said. "He's a guy that can play the ball off the hash. He can run the alley. He can play man‑to‑man. He's smart. He's got a high football IQ. He loves to play the game."
At cornerback, Nick Coleman, Shaun Crawford and Ashton White join the secondary. Even with KeiVarae Russell expected back, restocking this position was a key objective to this recruiting class.
In Coleman, the Irish found a great football player. A standout running back for Archbishop Alter, he'll spend his time as a cover man in college, where Kelly believes he'll thrive.
"Nick played running back. We see him as an inside and outside corner for us," Kelly said. "I really like his skill set, and he'll get a chance to compete on the defensive side of the ball."
Crawford might be the most readymade defender of the group. Only 5'9", Crawford held his own at every national appearance and was one of the most coveted recruits in the Midwest. While he'll start out at cornerback, he could make an impact anywhere.
"A dynamic player as a return man. A dynamic player on offense, defense," Kelly said of Crawford.
White earned a scholarship after camping with at Notre Dame this summer. The one-time Virginia Tech commit may not be the most highly rated prospect, but that won't get in his way.
"I love the way Ashton is a very confident player," Kelly said. [He] plays with a lot of confidence and believes that he's going to be the starter for us. I love that kind of attitude."
Notre Dame fans saw the ups and downs of a kicker last season when senior Kyle Brindza hit a midseason slump. So while not many recruiting fans know about Justin Yoon, he'll certainly have the spotlight on him once the Irish open next season against Texas.
"Somebody that will impact us probably more than maybe any one player on this roster is Justin Yoon," Kelly said. "He'll come in and start right away. We think he's the best kicker in the country."
Yoon starred at the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando in January, setting records with his accuracy and leg strength. We'll see how that carries forward moving into the 2015 season.
*All quotes obtained firsthand. All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports. Heights and weights courtesy of Notre Dame sports information.
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Every NFL draft seemingly features one or two polarizing prospects with off-field issues to go with immense on-field potential. Last year, the list included former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and South Carolina cornerback Victor Hampton. In the 2015 class, wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham will serve as another test to see how much NFL teams weigh off-field concerns.
Lyerla and Hampton each went undrafted in 2014 and failed to make an impact in their rookie seasons. Lyerla spent the season on injured reserve, and Hampton bounced between the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants but never played. The Cleveland Browns completely ignored all of the noise around Manziel, and now they’re contemplating on whether they should again address the quarterback position this offseason, as Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole reported.
As Josh Gordon has demonstrated during the past three years, off-field issues can spill onto the playing field and be a major detriment to the team. Coaches and general managers need talent that can be counted on every week. Drug problems create the ultimate uncertainty, even when dynamic talent is present.
If Josh Gordon scares you, add in a domestic assault and you have DGB. Big risk for NFL teams.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 25, 2015
That’s why the debate on Green-Beckham is fascinating. The former Missouri Tiger and Oklahoma Sooner was unable to play in 2014 when his transfer waiver was denied. Green-Beckham spent the season practicing with Bob Stoops’ Sooners to help keep himself in shape and engaged in football activities.
To fully evaluate Green-Beckham, his past transgressions and red flags have to be acknowledged. At the same time, so must his incredible talent and ability to grow into an elite playmaker.
The events that led to Green-Beckham’s dismissal from the University of Missouri are well documented. We won’t be speculating—rather, we'll just work with what has been reported already.
In two separate incidents between 2012 and 2014, Green-Beckham was arrested for marijuana-related suspicions.
His arrest in January 2014 was in connection to police finding a pound of marijuana in a car he was riding in, which prompted a felony drug investigation. Green-Beckham was found innocent, but this was his second arrest in just 15 months.
His 2012 arrest led to charges of misdemeanor possession of marijuana after a police officer said he smelled marijuana on Green-Beckham and his two friends. Charges were later dropped.
With two strikes already on his record, Green-Beckham couldn’t afford another mistake. The former No. 1 overall recruit out of high school was becoming a terror to defend between the goal posts on Saturdays, but he was wearing out his welcome in Columbia, Missouri.
In early April of 2014, Green-Beckham had a burglary investigation opened against him. The police report detailed allegations that Green-Beckham forced an 18-year-old Missouri student to open her apartment door. Things must have escalated, as the woman said she was shoved down at least four stairs by Green-Beckham.
He was never arrested because the witnesses became reluctant due to fear of retaliation and harassment. Green-Beckham’s girlfriend sent 16 text messages to the victim, asking for her to bury the incident because "pressing charges would just ruin it [his football career] for him completely."
Another potential red flag was found in the messages. His girlfriend had detailed a possible domestic abuse occurrence, where Green-Beckham had dragged her from the apartment by her neck. When asked about it by the police, she was uncooperative and claimed she didn’t remember sending that message.
Ultimately, there were no convictions that stemmed from the event that led to Green-Beckham ending up at Oklahoma. Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel said he had “other information” on his dismissal but wouldn’t publicly address the situation. It’s fishy, but we’re just left with the reports of what happened.
Entering the NFL, Green-Beckham will be subject to the NFL’s personal conduct policy. According to Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated, he’s been in talks with the league to see where he stands. He is subject to entering the league already in the program, but whether he would be in for drugs and/or domestic violence isn’t known.
If he begins in Stage One of the drug program, he will be placed in an intervention program for up to 90 days. Another violation would lead to Stage Two, which progresses from fines to suspensions if mistakes continue to be made.
NFL teams will surely be digging deep into Green-Beckham’s off-field history. The Josh Gordon situation could be coming at a bad time because the league is seeing that another young player is struggling with responsibility and maturity. However, Gordon’s gaffes shouldn’t be used to punish Green-Beckham.
On the Gridiron
Standing 6’6” and 225 pounds and supposedly capable of running a sub-4.4 40-yard dash, Dorial Green-Beckham has been a physical mismatch his entire career. The comparisons have been lofty, primarily including athletic uber-freak Calvin Johnson.
It’s not really fair to compare anyone to Johnson, as it sets up a prospect to fail to live up to the production. Johnson scored in the 71st percentile or better in all of his NFL Combine individual tests, which is truly rare. To assume that Green-Beckham can replicate such incredible athletic testing feats can create an illusion about his receiving talent right now.
In his second and final season at Missouri, Green-Beckham compiled 59 receptions, 883 yards and 12 touchdowns. The output was nearly triple his freshman production and a sign that his role was growing in the offense.
As usual, the statistics can be swayed in a few directions. Looking at his game-by-game production, a huge chunk of his numbers came in three games. Against Indiana, Kentucky and Auburn, Green-Beckham had 21 receptions for 349 yards and seven touchdowns.
He feasted against weaker opponents but struggled against higher competition. Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert limited Green-Beckham to four catches and 53 yards. His combined numbers against Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Ole Miss and Tennessee were a measly 12 catches, 129 yards and one touchdown.
These numbers don’t tell the entire story of what happened on the field or his actual talents. They do, however, give reason to go back and watch the film of all these games. After doing just that, Green-Beckham’s game has a lot to love as he prepares to transition to the NFL.
Missouri’s offense is inherently basic to begin with in an effort to get the ball out into the hands of receivers as quickly as possible. Using four receivers, the offense is able to spread the defense and find the quick mismatch as the quarterback surveys the field. It’s an offense that works when the playmakers are good enough to go get the ball and create after the catch.
Considering his size and natural speed, Green-Beckham was a handful for collegiate defensive backs. His long strides and natural power as a runner allowed him to eat up a lot of space with ease. In the seven games I charted, Missouri worked to get him the ball on screens 16 times.
With the ball in his hands, Green-Beckham moves effortlessly as he slices across the field to find more space. His feet are impressively light for a player his size. He’s able to control his body well enough to draw in defenders and then explode past when they lose an advantageous angle.
Green-Beckham’s ability to use his frame as a receiver and protect the ball was often on display on slants and comebacks. The majority of his routes were either deep comebacks or quick slants. Each route was consistently productive for Green-Beckham, but he was especially efficient on comebacks. His ability to sink his hips and change directions quickly is devastating when he properly positions his body. There were some instances where he allowed the cornerback to cross his face and run his route with him, but this should improve in the NFL with more experience.
Being able to win at the catch point is where Green-Beckham stars. This includes comebacks, go routes and fades in the end zone. His level of aggression when the ball is nearing his huge catch radius is most similar to Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys. Even NFL cornerbacks will only be able to do so much to slow him in the red zone.
Knowing when to rise up and play the ball is certainly an art. Play the ball too early, and any leverage gained can be conceded. The defensive back can fix his position to ruin a potential big play. Jump too late, and the ball may fly out of bounds or into the hands of a defender.
Green-Beckham has great body control and the innate ability to rise at the perfect time. Mixed together, those abilities make his rawness in other areas become less important.
Another area in which he is more advanced than his peers is his ability to beat press coverage and separate down field. His powerful hands and long arms help him avoid press attempts because he can swat the defender away and move up the field.
Looking at where Green-Beckham needs to improve, the first thing that stands out is consistency. As mentioned before, he disappeared often in his first two seasons despite being an overwhelming physical talent. Too often, drops got the best of Green-Beckham. His hands aren’t bad, but his ability to stay focused on what is happening then and there will waver.
For example, Green-Beckham may be open for a catch, but he will turn his eyes away from the ball and try to head upfield before completing the reception. This isn’t unusual, as prominent NFL players do the same on a weekly basis. The key is to move on to the next play and not dwell on the mistake.
With just two years of collegiate experience, the fact that Green-Beckham is a raw route runner shouldn’t be too concerning. He wins with athleticism instead of showing nuances of the position. This can be said of almost every elite receiver prospect of the last decade, sans A.J. Green.
In this next route below, we can see a good post route from Green-Beckham. He sets the defensive back up for a go route, then sharply cuts inside and keeps position. At this point, it’s a jump ball, which we have seen is a major advantage for the former Tiger.
This is the type of intensity and sharpness that he must exhibit on every inside-cutting route. He was mostly limited to being an outside-the-numbers threat in Missouri’s offense, but when he had inside routes, he wasn’t as keen on being precise or gaining good position.
It’s hard to predict whether Green-Beckham even gets drafted or not. His off-field risks have to carry significant weight, even if his on-field talent is reminiscent of Bryant and Brandon Marshall. If it were as easy as selecting the most talented player, Green-Beckham is deserving of the top overall pick.
The NFL has seemingly punished players with character flags in recent drafts, but Green-Beckham’s recent issues read like a horror story. His time at Oklahoma, however, has been quiet, which is positive momentum.
Hopefully for Green-Beckham, his brief stint with the Sooners is a sign that his life is heading in the right direction. If he can stay on the field, he could be the steal of the 2015 NFL draft class and become one of the elite receivers in the league.
All stats used are from Sports-Reference.com.
Ian Wharton is a Miami Dolphins Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report, contributor for Optimum Scouting, and analyst for eDraft.
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Every power conference program had an amazing recruiting class in 2015, each getting exactly the players they wanted to fill all the holes and provide necessary depth at key positions. At least, that's how the schools' coaches want it to look like.
Now that the glitz, glamour and drama of national signing day has passed us by, and Alabama has once again secured the nation's top-rated recruiting class according to 247Sports' composite rankings (despite a late push from USC), it's time to break down each group that the big schools landed to see what they've got to work with for 2015.
This starts at the top, by evaluating each one's top-ranked signee. Though they may not end up being the one that makes the greatest impact or contribution—either this fall or over the course of their career—at this juncture their pedigree makes them the most important newcomer and the key ingredient to improvement, sustained success or championship aspirations.
Check out our assessment of the top recruit that every team from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC (as well as Notre Dame) landed for 2015.
Well, the Terrell Williams era at Florida was short and—if defensive end CeCe Jefferson eventually signs his letter of intent—sweet.
Williams, who was named the defensive line coach of the Gators shortly after Jim McElwain was hired, left to take a job with the NFL's Miami Dolphins after only a few weeks in Gainesville. On Friday, McElwain named his replacement according to a release from Florida—former Texas defensive line coach Chris Rumph.
"Chris and I obviously have some experience working together from our days at Alabama," said McElwain in the release. "He joins a group of like thinkers on our staff and is someone who will positively affect our players’ lives—both on and off the field."
It's a fantastic hire for McElwain.
Rumph will bring boatloads of positive experience to Gainesville.
Last season, Rumph's Longhorns finished second in the Big 12 in total defense (348.5 yards per game), second in yards per play (4.68) and led the conference in sacks (40). Defensive tackle Malcom Brown led that charge, earning Associated Press All-American honors after notching 70 tackles, 13 for loss and 6.5 sacks.
Rumph was an integral part of Alabama's defense from 2011 to 2013, coaching studs Damion Square, Ed Stinson, A'Shawn Robinson and Jesse Williams, among others. Prior to that, he coached a Clemson defense that finished in the top 25 in total defense and scoring defense every year according to the release, and helped send several stars to the NFL, including Da'Quan Bowers.
The cupboard isn't bare in Gainesville, either.
Once Rumph arrives on campus, he'll find a roster loaded with both established and potential stars.
Jonathan Bullard, a 6'3", 270-pound monster, finished last season with 52 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. Bryan Cox Jr. and Caleb Brantley are just two of the several Gators who should earn more playing time in 2015, and Jefferson eventually signing would be the cherry on top.
What's more, he'll be working with new defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, who was the defensive coordinator for Mississippi State, which boasted one of the toughest and most physical front fours in college football last year led by Preston Smith.
On the recruiting trail, Rumph has everything it takes to continue to attract top-tier talent to Gainesville.
He was named the 22nd-best recruiter in college football in 2012, according to 247Sports, 24th in 2015 and is listed as either the primary or secondary recruiter for 4-star Texas signee Chris Warren and current Alabama defensive linemen Jarran Reed and D.J. Pettway.
"Rumph works hard and is good at building relationships," 247Sports national recruiting analyst JC Shurburtt told B/R.
"He scours his territories quite well and has done an excellent job during his career, landing his share of talent at Clemson, Alabama and during his short stint in Texas. Given he’s back in an area where he’s more familiar with the landscape, I suspect he will be one of the better recruiters on Florida’s staff."
Rumph has the pieces in place to keep the Gators' defensive line intact and the recruiting track record to not only benefit his specific position group, but the rest of the team with prospects in his specific recruiting territory.
The awkward timing of Williams' departure put McElwain in a tough spot, but he responded with a home run hire.
Rumph's arrival will pay immediate dividends and provide long-term stability through recruiting.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.
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. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.
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Thanks to the 247Sports class rankings, we already know which teams recruited the best overall talent. But who recruited the best at each position?
To answer that, we've combed through the 2015 signing classes and accounted for several factors. Quality of talent—how many 5-star players, how many top-100 players, etc.—was obviously important, but depth of talent mattered just as much.
There is no good formula (that I know of) to balance those two factors, but keep in mind that that's what we were looking for. How many players did you sign? And how high are those players rated?
Also, for simplicity, offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs were lumped into one category apiece. So many players move between defensive end and tackle, outside and inside linebacker and cornerback and safety that separating them would have been misguided.
Sound off below and let us know what you think.
National signing day is a blur for college football coaches, most of whom spend the majority of the day tracking down recruits and struggling to stabilize their blood pressure.
Penn State's James Franklin was one such coach especially wrapped up in the frenzy, working hard to close the deal on a formidable Nittany Lions recruiting class.
Somewhere in the fray, however, lines were crossed, and Franklin ended up contacting a dumbstruck fan while attempting to reach a new Penn State signee.
Franklin posted video of the incident Thursday. He was trying to call defensive end prospect Shareef Miller but instead found himself FaceTiming with Aleem Medley, a random Penn State fan.
ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg spoke to Franklin and Miller about the unexpected conversation. The coach said a one-digit misdial might've caused the errant call.
"I guess we were off a digit," Franklin told Rittenberg. "This guy comes on the screen and we're trying to call Shareef Miller and I'm thinking, 'This must be Shareef's older brother or someone I haven't met yet,' and the guy's got a huge smile on his face."
Suffice it to say, Medley didn't foresee the impromptu conference coming.
"It was Coach Franklin," Medley told Rittenberg. "They had all the balloons in the background. I'm like, 'Coach?' … That was the best news I had in a while. I'm on cloud nine right now."
Unfortunately, Medley proved to be out of eligibility and could not slide into Miller's role on the D-line.
It's all good, Medley. Coach just wanted to keep you on your toes.
Dan is on Twitter, awaiting the call.
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Blake Barnett’s arrival at the University of Alabama has been met with much fanfare, and deservedly so.
He is one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2015 class. He is the highest-rated quarterback Nick Saban has signed at Alabama. His social media is sending the hearts of undergraduate females on campus aflutter.
The problem, though, is that the precedent set at Alabama for quarterbacks is waiting for playing time...and waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
AJ McCarron was Saban’s youngest starting quarterback while at Alabama when he won the job as a redshirt sophomore. Every signal-caller has redshirted his first season on campus.
So even if Barnett follows the so-far best-case scenario, we won’t be seeing him outside of Snapchat and Twitter until 2017.
But in an offseason of such instability at the quarterback position—there isn’t really a slam-dunk candidate right now to win the job—could Barnett surprise everyone and be Alabama’s starter in 2015?
“Right now I’m just focused on getting down with the playbook, getting stronger and preparing myself just for the season as much as possible,” Barnett said. “The depth chart is something I’m not completely worried about right now. I want to improve myself and my game as much as I can. Obviously, coming from high school to here is a big change, so I’m going to try to get in transition as best as possible and get familiar with the coaches and my teammates. That’s what my main focus is right now.”
It would be bucking a massive trend for Saban and would undoubtedly draw a lot of attention to the other quarterbacks on the roster.
Does it actually have a chance of happening?
Saban says it does.
“I wouldn't rule that out at all,” Saban said on national signing day when asked if he would start a true freshman quarterback. “If he's the best player, why would we not play him? That's like saying a guy is from California so we should not play him because he's from California. We wouldn't have recruited him. If the guy's the best player, we're going to play him.
“Just like Julio Jones was the best player when he was a wide receiver as a freshman and we played him. Amari Cooper was. Trent Richardson was. If a guy's ready to play and he's the best player, that means he's done something to deserve the right to play. “
With all due respect to Saban, he is almost contradicting himself here.
His logic is sound. Of course you would play the best guy at the position. But comparing playing wide receiver or running back as a freshman, like Jones, Cooper and Richardson were, isn’t in the same stratosphere as a quarterback.
In fact, Saban himself admitted as much during fall camp this year.
“I always say that the two positions that I feel like a guy could play at more quickly than others is probably running back and receiver,” Saban said. “I think that if you're an instinctive player, you have the skill set, there's not a whole lot to learn.”
It’s simple enough, if a guy is physically developed and has the skills, to send in a running back for a few carries or a wide receiver for a few routes.
But playing quarterback is obviously a different and more complicated animal. The quarterback has to know what every single player is doing on every single play, make protection calls with the offensive line, recognize coverages, change the play at the line. The list goes on and on.
So how does this all relate back to Barnett?
For him to be the starting quarterback, he has to prove he can do all of those things and be able to do them instinctually. Additionally, he needs to show his physical tools and ability can translate to the college game after just a spring, summer and fall camp on campus.
But he won’t start off as far behind as most freshmen do.
Lane Kiffin has only been Alabama’s offensive coordinator for a little over a year now, bringing in an entirely new scheme and playbook. The other quarterbacks on campus only have a year with Kiffin under their belts. That’s a far cry from a quarterback who comes into an established system.
There is every indication that Barnett has the skill set to compete for the job, but he’ll still face an uphill climb to win it. But he can’t be completely counted out.
And even if he doesn’t win the job this year, his future is still very bright in Tuscaloosa.
“My main goal is to compete for a spot, but right now that’s big-picture things,” Barnett said. “The small picture I’m focusing on right now is to get the playbook down and take it step by step. I think that’s a while away from here.”
Marc Torrence is the Alabama lead writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Follow on Twitter @marctorrence.
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Jordan-Hare Stadium, the home of the Auburn Tigers football team, will soon get a major upgrade.
How major? Auburn will upgrade its video board and become the proud owner of the largest big screen in college football. The picture above, uploaded to Auburn's Instagram account, shows how the transformation will look.
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