College Football

Help Wanted: College Prospects the Philadelphia Eagles Need

The Philadelphia Eagles are a struggling team in the worst divisions in football this year. When times are tough, you have to take a step back and evaluate. Taking a step back and evaluating the Eagles, I found many problems layered one on top of the other. Some of these problems are fixable, some require massive change. Some problems you just gonna have to live with and hope for the best.

While watching the Eagles this year, it’s hard not to come away with one common theme. The Eagles simply lack talent. Yes there are some schematic issues and injuries have once again decimated the team, but when you break it all down guys just aren’t good enough. It’s my humble opinion that a massive influx of talent is desperately needed. So where do they need talent? Short answer, everywhere. This is where I come in. I’m going to take on the arduous task of scouring the college ranks to find players that make sense for the Eagles.

This week in college football there is a ton of talent on display. Mainly for this week I’m looking directly at Georgia vs Alabama. This game stands out to me because there are multiple players that play positions the Philadelphia Eagles really need help. Where do the Eagles need help at? I’m glad you asked! Let’s begin…

Linebacker

To put it simply, the Eagles have been down right irresponsible with the linebacker position. The team doesn’t value the position, ok I get it. That shouldn’t mean that they should be this negligent in their talent evaluations. The only hope for the position right now is that rookies Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley develop down the road. The starters Duke Riley and Nathan Gerry are below average players and unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. So where is the help? Here.

Dylan Moses

The 6’3 240 Dylan Moses has played inside and outside LB for Alabama. In 2018 he led the team in tackles and is dong the same this season. Moses has the athletic ability to get from point A to point B in a hurry as well as the strength to shed blocks. What might be the most impressive are the natural LB instincts the Moses has. If the term “heat seeking missile” was a player it would be Dylan Moses. There is a bit of an injury concern with Moses missing the 2019 season because of a torn ACL. Talent wise Dylan Moses is everything the Philadelphia Eagles need in the middle of the defense. Below you can see Moses attacking the line of scrimmage and quickly reacting to the run at the mesh point.

Monty Rice

Playing for the Georgia defense is ILB Monty Rice. Rice took over the starting position in 2018 and hasn’t looked back. In 2019 Rice led his team in tackles and is currently doing the same in 2020. On tape Rice looks to have good short area quickness and coverage ability. In the run game he reads his keys and quickly diagnoses the play. A stout build at 6’1 235 and strong hands allow Rice to have success stacking and shedding blocks. Rice isn’t a freak athlete like some of the other players in his class but a solid athlete in his own right. In the clip below we see something Eagles fans haven’t seen all year. A linebacker having success in man coverage…

Cornerback

It feels like the Philadelphia Eagles have been looking for competent cornerback play forever. They got it right with the trade for Darius Slay. The problem is Slay can’t cover 3 receivers at a time. The rest of the Eagles CB room has been a disappointment. Nickell Roby-Coleman and Avonte Maddox were supposed to be the other two top corners, but both have under achieved for different reasons. Currently Jalen Mills is back at CB opposite Slay, but we’ve all seen that movie before and we know how it ends. Once again the position needs a overhaul. So who to keep an eye on?

Patrick Surtain II

Standing at 6’2 203, the son of former Dolphins CB Patrick Surtain Sr. has the ideal length/speed combination to have success in the NFL. Surtain has a ton of experience lining up at the outside CB position. Currently has 27 consecutive starts and is showing no sign of slowing down. On tape Surtain looks like a strong physical boundary CB. He uses the sideline as an extra defender very well as he routinely smothers receivers out of bounds. When Surtain is targeted downfield, he shows a willingness to attack the all in the air, conceding nothing to the WR in jump ball situations. I think smaller, quicker receivers would give Surtain some trouble, but against the bigger contested catch receivers Surtain should make plays like this…

Tyson Campbell & Eric Stokes

Georgia boasts a dynamic duo at the CB position this season. Both Stokes and Campbell stand around the 6’1 range weighing in at 185. At the NFL level they may have to add a bit of muscle to help with contact balance and in the run game. Both are similar players in that they both offer an excellent blend of length, speed and athleticism. At Georgia, both players are used in a variety of coverage including press and bail technique as well as man and zone concepts.

Campbell is the more naturally gifted athlete, but I believe both players have starter upside at the next level. Both certainly could earn major snaps in Philly immediately. Two clips below show Tyson Campbell flipping hips and showing his speed taking away a go route that the QB was looking for. The QB is forced to tuck the ball and run because of the sticky coverage of Campbell. Next Eric Stokes is seen being physical throughout the stem of the route, never panics on the back shoulder throw and knocks the ball away at the last minute.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/syndication.bleacherreport.com/amp/2913157-panic-meter-for-struggling-nfl-teams.amp.html

https://www.tacklerr.com/schemers-and-streamers-for-week-6/

Scouting Series: Who to Watch

I’ve got a fresh list of prospects to watch this weekend. But first let’s look back at last week and see how the players I listed fared.

Jaylen Waddle from Alabama put on a show with 8 catches for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns on 10 targets.

Nick Bolton in that same game managed 7 tackles and recovered a fumble

Trey Smith got busy moving bodies en route to Tennessee rushing for 133 yards and securing the win.

Seth Williams exploded for 6 catches for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns. Williams was a big play threat averaging over 18 yards per catch.

Florida vs. South Carolina

One of the premier weapons to watch in this game is TE Kyle Pitts. Pitts is the model for what teams want their TE to look like. The 6’6 240 lb monster caught 8 passes for 170 yards last week. The longest play going for 71 yards. Pitts is just a matchup nightmare with his height and speed. Pitts can line up as an inline TE taking on blocks or detached from the formation. Either way this is a guy you want with the ball in his hands.

Mississippi State vs. Arkansas

36/60 for 623 and 5 Touchdowns. No those aren’t video game numbers. That is the stat line put up by KJ Costello against LSU last week. The 6’5 225 senior QB showed off his arm strength, poise and ball placement in his first game. Costello is more of a throwback pocket passer types of yesteryear. But that is not at all a bad thing. Costello has shown he can stand tall in the pocket and place the football where only his guy can get it.

Consistency and eliminating mistakes will be key for Costello going forward. Although he had a monster game, Costello also threw 2 bad interceptions. One in particular turned into a pick six. On that play Costello threw the ball behind his receiver on a crossing route, and the LSU LB quickly undercut the route. Costello is a work in progress, but off to a good start. Below is just an example of his arm talent. Costello has no base whatsoever, but still was able to get the ball out to his guy on arm strength alone.

Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina State

The player to watch from this game is Pitt Safety Paris Ford. Ford is one the most versatile and aggressive Safeties in the country. In 2019 he led his team with 97 tackles and 3 interceptions. Ford is quick to click and close downhill and always meets the ball carrier with bad intentions. Although Ford is highly physical, he can’t be limited to just a box Safety role. In 2018 Ford was a reserve CB which shows he has the athletic profile to cover on the back end.

Pittsburgh utilizes Ford as a deep Safety as well as closer to the line of scrimmage and he excells in either role. It remains to be seen if Ford and his 190lb frame can continue his violent tackling style at the next level. Below is an example of the instincts and coverage ability that Paris Ford provides. He simply is reading the QB and makes a nice play on the ball.

Alabama vs. Texas A&M

The guy I’m keeping an eye on in this game is Alabama LT Alex Leatherwood. Watch out, the guy is a physical marvel. Standing at 6’6 and tipping the scales at 312, you’d think that Leatherwood was a big plodding mauler. Incorrect, Alex Leatherwood effortlessly moves in space matching any speed rush brought to him. Not only is the agility abundant with Leatherwood, but the strength is also there. Alex has all the tools to be a dominant LT at the next level.

Leatherwood has experience at RG as well as LT. Playing at LT in 2019 Leatherwood surrendered a mere 2 sacks and 3 hurries the entire season. Going forward I would like to see Leatherwood refine his hand placement. Against Michigan in 2019, Edge rushers Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson were able to get into Leatherwood’s chest and bullrush on a few snaps. Consistent hand placement eliminates rushers getting too close. Below you see Alex Leatherwood at his best. Firing out of his stance, using his long arms and totally controlling his defender.

https://www.tacklerr.com/schemers-and-streamers-for-week-4/

https://www.scout.com/football/college/

Scouting Series: The SEC Crashes the Party

Here was the 2020 college football season going right along, minding it’s own business. Then here comes that big mean SEC to bombard you with an influx of talent. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic to have any type of sports in the times that we are currently living in. But there is another level of excitement when SEC football comes along. The higher level of talent and coaching just seems to bring out a different level of interest. Today I’ll be strictly highlighting a few SEC players and games you should have on your radar.

Alabama vs. Missouri

There will be alot of talent on the field in this game. The talent to watch most certainly will be Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle. The 5-10 183 receiver is simply electric. It’s not just his straight line speed that is dangerous, it’s his agility and effortless change of direction at the speed in which he moves that is so mind boggling. Waddle lead the nation with and average of 24.4 yards per punt return.

Pull up any highlight tape and you will see Waddle making guys miss in space on a routine basis. Now add that type of running ability and elusiveness to a route runner out of the slot, and you see why Jaylen Waddle is special. Waddle is not the biggest guy, which will lead to catch radius concerns. His routes could also use some refinement. But overall, Jaylen Waddle is one of the best receivers in the country. Below you’ll see a clip that really doesn’t need much explanation. It’s simply Jaylen being a quicker, faster human being than the guy covering him.

On Defense…

On the other side of the football, Missouri has a heat seeking missile by the name of Nick Bolton. The 6’0 232 LB lead the SEC in tackles in 2019 with 107. According to Pro Football Focus Bolton was the top graded Linebacker with a grade of 91.1. Bolton started the season as an outside LB, then injuries forced him into the middle linebacker position. He excelled in both roles. In the run game Bolton is a seek and destroy type of player.

He diagnoses the play quickly and shoots the gap to meet the ball carrier with bad intentions. In pass coverage Bolton uses his speed and instincts to prove himself as a reliable three down player. Bolton isn’t a guy you want taking on alot of blocks and letting offensive lineman lay hands on him. In the clip you’ll see where he’s most effective, free of blockers and using his read/react to blow up plays.

Tennessee vs South Carolina

There is some intriguing talent on that South Carolina offensive line, but today I’m looking at Tennessee offensive lineman Trey Smith. Trey Smith came to Tennessee as a 5 star recruit and played LT during his freshman season. Sadly his 2018 season was lost, as he was forced to sit out with blood clots that threatened his playing career. In 2019 Trey Smith came roaring back, starting 12 games at LG and earning First Team All SEC honors. The 6’6 330 mountain of a man has the ideal size and athletic ability to play any position on the offensive line. What in my opinion is more than ideal is the strength and mean streak Smith plays with. When you see him play, you see that Trey has no problem tossing people aside like a sack of potatoes. Here you’ll see him against 49ers first round pick Javon Kinlaw.

Auburn vs. Kentucky

“I feel like my mindset this year is just to go all out and prove to everyone that I am a wide receiver and there’s nothing left for me to prove……..Show what I’m all about”

Those are the words of Auburn WR Seth Williams. The 6’3 receiver dropped down from 224 to 211 lbs during the offseason and is motivated to solidify himself at the top of the WR class. Williams is looking to improve upon his 2019 numbers of 830 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. With his size and strong hands it’s easy to see a jump in production on the horizon. Even though blinding speed, quickness and jaw dropping routes don’t seem to be William’s game, he brings a strength and physicality to the game that can’t be denied. Winning on slants, fade routes and contested catches like the one you see below is where Seth Williams will do his damage.

https://www.tacklerr.com/scouting-series-who-to-watch-this-week/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbssports.com/college-football/news/college-football-picks-schedule-predictions-against-the-spread-odds-for-key-top-25-games-in-week-4/amp/

Tate Martell: QB1 Netflix Star and High School Legend to…College Football Bust?

It was only a few years ago when the Netflix show “QB1” was released in early 2017, featuring high school football stars such as Jake Fromm and Tate Martell. It was no accident that Martell was selected to be featured on this show, he had a truly legendary high school career. Throughout his 3 year career at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, NV, Martell was able to lead them to a 45-0 record with 7,510 passing yards and 113 total TD’s. Aside from putting up stats worthy of being one of the greatest high school players of all time, he also led Bishop Gorman to 3 straight national championships during his undefeated tenure as their QB.

At just 14 years old, University of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian got Martell to commit to the Huskies since Sarkisian could see he was going to be something special. It’s hard to believe a 14 year old would be able to hold a commitment for 4 years, which is true because he ended up flipping his commitment in favor of attending the Ohio State University.

Unfortunately for Martell, when he enrolled at OSU, he ended up redshirting his freshman year since he was stuck behind QB stars JT Barrett and Dwayne Haskins, so it made more sense to preserve a year of eligibilty than to be stuck low in the depth chart. His second year at OSU with JT Barrett gone, he was able to get some game snaps in garbage time during blowouts, but still stuck behind Dwayne Haskins.

After 2 underwhelming years as a Buckeye and with incoming transfer Justin Fields likely to take over the starting job, Martell decided to transfer to the University of Miami. Miami was ushering in a new head coach and offensive coordinator at the time with Manny Diaz (previously their DC) and Dan Enos (QB coach from Alabama who produced Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa). Expectations were high for QBs with Enos and his pedigree at Alabama, which is probably what most attracted Martell to Coral Gables to play for the Hurricanes.

There was no returning starting QB for Miami, so it was a three way open competition for the job between Tate Martell, N’Kosi Perry and Jarren Williams. Martell ended up losing this QB battle and ended up 3rd on the depth chart. This season ended up going as poorly as possible for Martell as he decided to switch positions during the season to WR where he saw limited playing time, before ultimately switching back to QB where he’d find himself back on the bench. It wasn’t until the final game of the year in the Independence Bowl where Miami had trouble putting up any type of offense, they turned to Martell for 1 series under center where he failed to impress and was replaced after that drive.

Fast forward to the current 2020 season, Martell was not even listed in the top 3 of Miami’s opening game depth chart which was very surprising considering a true freshman Tyler Van Dyke made it onto 3rd string. It wasn’t until after their first game that head coach Manny Diaz mentioned that Martell was not active for game 1 due to being suspended. A day before Miami was set to take on Louisville for their second game of the season, it was made public that Tate Martell had decided to opt out of the 2020 season altogether.

There had been a lot of speculation throughout social media over the past year ever since Martell lost the initial QB battle upon his arrival at Miami that he may be looking to transfer again. His decision to opt out the week after being suspended and not even making the depth chart creates some real smoke that Martell’s days left in Miami may be numbered. Since everyone will gain a free year of eligibility due to this unknown season, Martell will still have 2 years of eligibilty remaining should he return to Miami or go play elsewhere.

After having such an illustrious high school career and being a highly touted recruit, through his four years as a college athlete, he has yet to make any significant impact in either of the programs he has been a part of. When Martell decided to transfer from Ohio State, many were calling him a guy who “runs from competition”, and if he were to leave Miami, this would only further reinforce this label for him.

Perhaps Martell just isn’t a Division 1 FBS caliber of a QB? Some believe Martell would be better off transferring to a lower caliber program, such as UNLV which is where he is from in Las Vegas, to have less competition in the QB room to allow him playing time to showcase what he can do. What is becoming more glaringly obvious by the day is that the longer he decides to stay at Miami, the less of a football future he may have both in college and in the NFL. Since Martell has opted out of this season, he won’t be seeing any playing time this year, so now we just wait to see what his next move will be. Hopefully Tate Martell can find a way to resurrect his football career and avoid being labeled as one of the biggest college QB busts of all time.

https://www.tacklerr.com/draftkings-nfl-2020-week-2-picks-sunday-main-slate/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/29923335/miami-hurricanes-tate-martell-opts-playing-2020-season%3fplatform=amp

Scouting Series: Who to Watch This Week

College Football season is full steam ahead. With that comes the endless evaluation of the prospects looking to make the leap to the NFL next season. Last week one of the players I highlighted was Notre Dame defender Jeremiah Owusu-Karamoah. The athletic linebacker didn’t disappoint as he registered 7 tackles and a sack. Another guy I mentioned was Syracuse Safety Andre Cisco. Cisco was his usual ballhawking self with a nice looking interception. This week our scouting series brings another handful of players that should be on your radar.

Cincinnati vs Austin Peay

The player to watch in this game is Cincinnati QB Desmond Ridder. Ridder is an athletically gifted player standing at 6’4 weighing 215 pounds with mobility and arm strength. The Junior QB led his team to an 11 win season in 2019, topped off by an impressive 38-6 rout of Boston College. In his 13 starts last year, Ridder threw for over 2100 yards and ran for 650 yards with 23 total touchdowns.

On tape there is alot to like about Desmond Ridder. First thing that jumps out to me is his mobility. Ridder can run to extend a play or get himself out of trouble. Ridder has proven himself to be a dangerous option in the RPO game. On top of the mobility, he shows an above average arm and good ball placement on his throws. It’s always good for a QB to know when to put steam on his passes and when to put some air under it, and i think Ridder has good judgement in that area. More often than not Ridder is putting his throws where only his guy can get the ball.

Ridder does have some things he needs to work on. The 9 interceptions he threw in 2019 were a product of a nasty habit of locking on to a receiver and telegraphing his throw. The other issue is mechanical. Ridder has a bit of a wind up when he passes. That gives the defender an extra split second to break on the ball and disrupts the timing of the play. Overall I like Desmond Ridder as a prospect and I think he has real upside to his game. Below you can see the good and bad sides of Desmond Ridder

Oklahoma State vs. Tulsa

Next up I’m looking at OSU WR Tylan Wallace. In 2019 Wallace averaged 112 receiving yards per game and amassed 903 receiving yards in only 9 games. In his sophomore season Wallace had over 1400 receiving yards. Standing at 6’0 and tipping the scales in the 180-190 range Wallace isn’t the biggest or fastest receiver in this class. What he does have is high level toughness, skill and YAC ability.

Wallace was never asked to run a complex route tree at OSU, but he shows the potential to add that aspect to his game. One of the most impressive parts of Wallace’s game is his hands. In contested catch situations his ball tracking ability and strong hands allow him to play like a much bigger receiver. Once the ball is in his hands he has enough speed to do damage after the catch as well as an aggressiveness to run defenders over. The main concern with Tylan Wallace is how he comes back from a torn ACL injury. If he shows no lingering effects from the injury his stock will soar come draft time. The clip below tells you exactly what type of player Tylan Wallace is.

Boston College vs. Duke

A good matchup in the trenches is always fun. Duke features two talented pass rushers in Chris Rumph and Victor Dimukeje. Boston College also has some talent on their offensive line to counter that. The Left Guard Zion Johnson in particular is one to watch. The 6’3 310 transfer has an intriguing blend of strength and mobility. BC loves to get him on the move pulling in the run game, and he’s proven to be good at it.

In the passing game Zion shows the ability to drop his weight and anchor down to stop the rush. Although Zion Johnson looks to be a very solid player, he has a limited sample size of game action at the FBS level. The main thing to look for with Johnson is consistency and progress. can he maintain a high level of play throughout an entire season? We’ll see. In the clip you’ll see Zion against Clemson. He does a nice job pulling around and sealing off Isaiah Simmons, allowing AJ Dillon to gain positive yardage.

Wake Forest vs. North Carolina State

In this game my eyes are squarely on Wake Forest Defensive End Carlos “Boogie” Basham. Basham is one of the most complete edge rushers in this class. His 18 tackles for loss and 10 sacks in 2019 are evidence of his skill versus the run as well as the pass. Basham may not be the athletic freak like some other edge rushers but his polish and relentless effort more than make up for any athletic deficiencies.

Basham is a quick read when it comes to diagnosing run plays and has violent hands that allow him to disengage from blockers quickly. As a pass rusher Basham has a spin, club/swim and a solid bull rush in his arsenal. I believe Carlos Basham can help any NFL defensive rotation right now. In the clip below you’ll see Basham showing excellent recognition in the run game as well as the strength to toss aside would be blockers. Lastly you’ll see how he meets the ball carrier with bad intentions.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ncaa.com/news/football/article/college-football-tv-schedule-game-times-preview%3famp

https://www.tacklerr.com/scouting-college-football/

Scouting Series: Who to Watch this Week

It’s been a rough year, but at least we got football back, and there are a ton of great games to be scouting this weekend. The NFL and NCAA are starting their respective seasons and i am here for it. While many of the top prospects have exercised their right to opt out of the season, there are still some very good looking prospects left. For this week, I’ll highlight some games with prospects you should keep an eye on. Check it out:

Syracuse vs North Carolina

There are two prospects I will be scouting heavily playing in this game. first up is Syracuse Safety Andre Cisco. Standing at 6 foot 209 pounds, Cisco plays a coverage Safety role for Syracuse. The two year starter has a whopping twelve interceptions in two seasons. He finished off last season with an interception in three straight games. It’s safe to say Andre Cisco is a ball hawk. Being a ball hawk is also a double edged sword. Cisco is aggressive in coverage, which means he’ll take chances and isn’t always right. All things considered, Cisco is a game changer to keep an eye on. Below you see an example of the anticipation and ball skills that Cisco has.

Next up we have North North Carolina Wide Receiver Dazz Newsome. Dazz had a breakout year in 2019 with 72 catches for 1,018 yards. He averaged 84 yards per game, and even played the hero with a game winning touchdown catch against Miami. On tape Dazz mostly plays the slot. His fluid hips are obvious when you see him easily get in and out of his breaks. Not only is he a good route runner, he also has some speed to get deep. Dazz isn’t this biggest player standing at 5’11 190lbs, but he does do a good job in contested catch situations. Below you see Dazz doing work on a Pittsburgh DB. He loses him at the top of the stem, sells the vertical route and turns it into a dig route. To put the cherry on top Dazz throws in some YAC as well.

Duke vs Notre Dame

There are a couple of interesting defensive prospects to be scouting in this game. Over at Duke the more highly touted pass rusher is Chris Rumph. His teammate Victor Dimukeje is nothing to sneeze at either. The 6’3 265lb Senior had 8.5 sacks last season starting all 12 games for the 3rd straight year. When I pop on the tape, his strength and hand usage stands out. Hand usage and pass rush moves aren’t something young pass rushers master early, so to see his advancement in that department is exciting. While not the freak athlete that will get all the headlines, Dimukeje makes up for it with high motor and effort. Below he’s at the bottom of the screen you see him keeping the OT hands off of him while crossing his face. Dimukeje knifes through the inside shoulder of the tackle, creates pressure and gets the sack.

Next up is Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. He’s the latest in the growing line of hybrid positionless players that the NFL id trending towards. At 6’2 216 he’s not quite a Safety, not quite a LB, but at the same time a little bit of both, if that makes any sense. Notre Dame uses him in coverge, as a blitzer, overhang defender etc. He’s basically a jack of all trades for the front seven. In 2019 he had 80 tackles to go along with 5.5 sacks. In the clip below you see him defending the slot WR in space, breaking on the ball and breaking up the pass. There’s a creative defensive coordinator somewhere watching his tape thinking up formations as I type.

Pittsburgh vs. Austin Peay

Pittsburgh boasts alot of defensive talent. Guys like Jaylen Twyman (opt out), and Paris Ford will be hot names NFL teams will be scouting when draft time comes around. The player I’m going to focus on is DE Patrick Jones. Jones has ideal size for an edge rusher at 6″5 260lbs. In 2019 he played in all 13 games registering 12 TFL’s, 8.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 18 hurries. Jones has good get off at the snap and has the length to keep hands off of him. Although I would like to see him continue to get stronger as well as add to his pass rush repertoire, I believe Jones can be a great asset to any teams pass rush. Below is a clip of Jones’ mean inside swim move along with the sack fumble.

https://www.tacklerr.com/2020-college-football-schedule/

2020 College Football Season Predictions

Some of the 2020 college football season has already kicked off, but most teams in the country start their seasons in the next coming week. Here we take a look at a few predictions of teams out there. The 54 FBS programs not playing this fall will not be included in these predictions.

Favorites to Win the National Championship:

Clemson Tigers:

Clemson was coming off a national championship back in 2018-19, then came up just a little bit short vs LSU this past year in an attempt to win back to back titles. They return Heisman front runner Trevor Lawrence for a 3rd season, and since he is projected to be drafted 1st overall in 2021, this will be his final opportunity to lead the Tigers.

Teaming up once again with RB Travis Etienne, the only question mark offensively will be their WR core who took a hit from multiple losses to the NFL. Their defense should return plenty as well as reload what they lost, so Clemson should be expected to cruise through the ACC once again right into another National Championship opportunity. Ohio State was expected to be their toughest competition standing in their way, so Clemson is benefitted by the Big 10’s decision not to participate this season.

Alabama Crimson Tide:

Year after year you can expect to find Alabama listed high on this list, but this year is slightly different. Last season we saw Tua Tagovailoa go down with an injury, and Alabama seemed to struggle offensively when forced to replace him with QB Mac Jones. This season, it is all Mac Jones’ team so it’ll be interesting to see if he can take that next step as a passer, especially after losing star WR’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs. RB Najeh Harris decided to return for his final season so that was important to hold down this offense in case the passing game goes stagnant at times. Alabama continuously puts out a quality defense year after year so I think when all is said and done, Alabama will still compete for a title this year.

Teams that Need to take the Next Step:

Florida Gators:

The Gators finished last season in the top 10 with an Orange Bowl victory, and begin this year in the top 10. The problem with Florida is they have not been able to get over the hump and win the SEC East. No matter how good they have been the past few years, Florida has not been able to get past Georgia. Dan Mullen brought a lot of hype to this team when he took over back in 2018 but now is the time to take that next step and win the division at least.

Florida returns Kyle Trask at QB who exceeded expectations when he had to fill in for injured Feleipe Franks last year, so the offense will be in good hands. The defense should be solid as always as well. Tennessee and South Carolina are both showing signs of slow improvement in the SEC East so the window may be closing soon on the division being only a 2 team race between Florida and Georgia.

Texas Longhorns:

Texas has been in the midst of mediocrity ever since 2010. They have Heisman candidate Sam Ehlinger back at QB for one final season, so it is his final chance to show what he can do before heading off to the NFL next year. One of Texas’ biggest issues last year was defense, so they replaced their defensive coordinator Todd Orlando with Rutgers former head coach Chris Ash.

Texas has no problem putting up points, but it will be up to the defense in order for Texas to improve this year. The Big 12 may be at its weakest point in a while. Texas A&M is no longer there. Oklahoma is starting a freshman QB and has continuously been exposed in the playoffs the last couple years. TCU has had to suspend operations due to a Covid outbreak. If they want to make the next step to take control of the Big 12, this is the year to do it.

Overrated Teams:

LSU Tigers:

It might be somewhat surprising that the defending national championship makes this list, but when you consider LSU had 14 players drafted from last year’s team, there’s not really much to go off of when judging this year’s team since most of their starters had to be replaced. The main issue I see with LSU is dealing with their offensive expectations after what Joe Burrow was able to do last year. Passing game coordinator Joe Brady was brought in and completely revolutionized the Tigers’ offensive system, but he is now moved on to the Carolina Panthers, and Joe Burrow graduated who also needs to be replaced.

Both of their top receivers, Justin Jefferson who went to the NFL, and Ja’marr Chase recently opted out of the season, could create some issues with their offense this year. Last year LSU was only 31st in the country in defensive ranking, which was fine because their offense picked up their slack, but that won’t be the case this year. LSU should still be able to compete for the SEC West, but it won’t be easy especially with their preseason expectation of being ranked 6th in the country.

Oklahoma Sooners:

Oklahoma comes into this season ranked 5th so they do not have much room for error in order to live up to that expectation. Jalen Hurts is gone, as well as CeeDee Lamb who were the main pieces in the dominant Lincoln Riley offense. Jalen Hurts is replaced by freshman Spencer Rattler who is unproven for the most part, so I would expect their offense to take a step back from last year. The concerning thing about this team is the defense who ranked 38th in yards allowed and 64th in points allowed. A freshman leading the offense with a weak defense may not be a recipe for a top 5 team in the country. The fact that Oklahoma has been blown out twice in the playoffs the last 2 years is also worrisome that they can’t compete in big games, especially after the offensive pieces they lost.

Biggest Games to Look Forward to this Year:

Auburn @ Georgia Oct. 3rd

Texas vs Oklahoma Oct. 10th

Georgia @ Alabama Oct. 17th

LSU @ Florida Oct. 17th

LSU @ Auburn Oct. 31st

Florida vs Georgia Nov. 7th

Clemson @ Notre Dame Nov. 7th

Alabama @ LSU Nov. 14th

Auburn @ Alabama Nov. 28th

https://www.tacklerr.com/scouting-cornerbacks/

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Scouting Cornerbacks

This year promises to be one of the most unique draft seasons ever, especially when scouting cornerbacks. I have been keeping a close eye on these 2021 prospects. This week I’ll take a look at some interesting defensive back prospects. Good defensive backs are always at a premium in the NFL. This 2021 Corner class is guaranteed to offer more top end talent.

Marco Wilson -Florida CB 6’0 190

First up we have Marco Wilson, the younger brother of Colts 2017 draft pick Quincy Wilson. When I put on the tape, what stands out to me is the athletic ability he displays. He’s got a good speed, with a track background going back to high school. Wilson also has fluid hips, good change of direction and excellent recovery speed. At the University of Florida, Wilson has played outside as well as in the slot. Florida calls their slot CB position the STAR position because much is asked of the player that plays there. Wilson has thrived in that position. Mostly playing in off coverage mirroring receivers on their routes, it is yet to be determined how Wilson fares in more aggressive coverages.

In the clip below, Florida is in zone coverage and you see Wilson lined up in the slot near the top of your screen. The QB is looking to hit his slot WR running a dig route. Wilson does a good job taking the route away and forcing the QB to come off that read. After that, the QB begins to scramble. Wilson stays disciplined and stays glued to his man throughout the scramble.

Kary Vincent Jr. -LSU CB 5’10 190

Next up we have Kary Vincent Jr. Kary Vincent is a gifted athlete. Coming out of high school he was the top ranked 200 meter sprinter in the country. Vincent also ran the fourth fastest 4×100 meter relay in LSU history. On the football field, Kary Vincent excelled as a nickel CB. In 2019, he recorded 4 interceptions along with 44 tackles while playing in 14 games (starting 8).

The film on Kary Vincent is impressive as well. The high end ball skills are prevalent throughout his tape. The tape also shows that Vincent is not only has straight line speed, but also lateral speed as well. While playing off coverage, Vincent does well reacting to what is in front of him and exploding in and out of breaks right along with the receiver.

In the clip below Kary Vincent is covering Ole Miss slot WR Elijah Moore. Vincent shows excellent route recognition. Once he knows what is coming, Vincent practically runs the route for Moore. He shows excellent short area burst to undercut the route as well.

Asante Samuel Jr- FSU CB 5’10 184

Son of Pro bowl CB Asante Samuel Sr. Asante Jr started 12 games in 2019, recording 14 pass breakups and 1 interception. On film Asante shows good quickness and change of direction to play off coverage. Asante jr also shows good ability to check receivers in aggressive man coverage. Florida State trusted him enough to give him the responsibility of traveling with receivers on vertical routes, which speaks to his ability to turn and run.

In some ways Asante Jr’s game resembles his father’s. His route recognition is good and he breaks on the ball quickly, just like dear old Dad. One difference is that Asante Jr doesn’t quite have the ball skills that his father does yet. There are instances where Asante Jr makes a tremendous break on a pass only to have the ball slip through his fingers. Another difference would be a higher level of physicality that Asante Jr brings to the field.

In the clip below you’ll see Samuel lined up against Eagles 5th round pick John Hightower in the red zone. Hightower takes Samuel on a vertical route up the seam. Samuel does a great job using trail technique. He stays in phase with the receiver throughout the entire route. Had the ball not been overthrown, Samuel would have been able to undercut the route and make a play on the ball.

These are just a few guys that caught my eye. I haven’t even gotten to the top guys yet. I’ll highlight more as I grind through the tape.

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My Top 3 Draft and Stash Dynasty Running Backs

#1 Anthony McFarland Jr.

No way, he’s way too small to be a 3 down work horse running back……wrong. McFarland stands at 5’8″ and weighs 208 pounds. Some comparable running backs are JK Dobbins and CEH. Dobbins standing at 5’9″ and weighs 209 pounds and CEH is 5’7″ weighing 207 pounds. Not a soul said Dobbins and CEH are undersized running backs and can’t be a work horse type. McFarland isn’t an undersized back and would have no problem taking on a full work load. McFarland has elite explosiveness. He is extremely elusive, with great vision and straight line speed. McFarland has a career yards per carry of 6.7 at Maryland. 23% of his carries went for 10 plus yards and in 19 games in college, he had 9 20 plus yard runs. I watched this kid two years ago as a freshman at Maryland and was extremely impressed! Impressed enough to secure him in my dynasty league at pick 2.8. He starts off my top 3 because this kid is pure speed and elusiveness. Pro Football Focus ranked McFarland #8 in running backs based on their opportunity with their new team. If Conner can’t stay healthy then look out for Anthony McFarland!

#2 DeeJay Dallas

Love me some DeeJay Dallas. Mainly because Chris Carson is in the last year of his contact and I don’t see Seattle paying him. Rashaad Penny is also coming off ACL surgery and may not be ready for week 1. Enter DeeJay Dallas, who will not “Wow” you with his metrics. At the combine Dallas ran a 4.58 (53rd percentile) 40 yard dash, a 98.6 (58th percentile) speed score, a 116.5 (38th percentile) burst score and a 11.5 (37th percentile) agility score. Nothing really stands out when it comes to his metrics, but his game tape does! He has a history of playing quarterback, wide receiver and running back so he is a natural athlete. He is a very similar runner to Carson with the receiving ability of Penny. With Dallas it seems like Seattle will get the best of both worlds! All camp long coach Pete Carroll and quarterback Russel Wilson have sung praises when talking about Dallas! Overall he’s a good hard runner between the tackles, which Pete Carroll loves, runs great routes and has sure hands!

#3 James Robinson

Rounding out my top 3 is no other than the pride of Illinois! James Robinson holds the rushing record for the state of Illinois at the High School level with 9,045 yards while attending Lutheran High. He is second in career rushing yards at Illinois State with 4,444 yards, while having 129 less touches than Illinois State’s leading career rusher. Robinson was a UDFA but has a chance in Jacksonville to shine! Leonard Fournette is on the trading block and set to be a UFA in 2021. If Jacksonville lets Fournette walk, I don’t see Ryquell Armstead being the guy. Robinson stands at 5’9″, weighs 219 pounds with a 130.5 (92nd percentile) burst score and a 11.22 (69th percentile) agility score. He doesn’t have the straight line speed you would want in a running back, running a 4.64 40 yard dash but makes up for it with his vision and ability to make defenders miss. He has great feet and burst which shows in his game tape. All he needs is a chance and I feel Robinson can eventually be the lead back in Jacksonville!

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Grading the SEC Crossover Opponents

There have been lots of unknowns going into this season, but the SEC has finally released their updated schedule. Each team has added two new crossover opponents from the opposite division in addition to their two previously scheduled crossover games. Here is our grading of the SEC crossover opponents

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And since large parts of America still can’t go to the movies (I know I’m going through cinema withdrawal), I thought it might be fun to bring the movies into sports and imagine what films remind us of each team’s new crossover schedule:

Alabama: B+

Scheduled crossovers: vs Georgia, at Tennessee

New opponents: at Missouri, vs Kentucky

Film: The Departed

We got exactly what we expected – Alabama makes out pretty well in the realigned schedule, adding what should be two easy games against Mizzou and Kentucky. Like any Scorsese movie we already knew what was going to happen, and then watching it left us all feeling pretty good. In a bonus, the Tide also avoid any serious difficult stretches, with winnable games before their toughest opponents (Georgia/LSU/Auburn). 

Arkansas: D+

Scheduled crossovers: vs Tennessee, at Missouri

New opponents: vs Georgia, at Florida

Film: The Green Lantern

Ouch. This almost can’t get worse for the Hogs, adding what are the two clear favorites from the SEC East. Our expectations weren’t the highest, but we’re still coming out disappointed. Much like seeing Ryan Reynolds and having a couple decent CGI moments, there’s a minor saving grace here in that their previously scheduled crossovers come against Tennessee and Mizzou, two games they at least have a chance in.

Auburn: B+

Scheduled crossovers: vs Kentucky, at Georgia

New opponents: at South Carolina, vs Tennessee

Film: Joker

It’s good. It’s pretty good. It’s really close to great, but….yeah. The best news here is that Auburn adds two very winnable games. We like that. The toughest of the two though is likely against the Vols, and unfortunately it comes right before the Iron Bowl. And there’s still Georgia looming. This schedule is really good, but we just can’t put it in the “great” category.

Florida: B-

Scheduled crossovers: at Ole Miss, vs LSU

New opponents: at Texas A&M, vs Arkansas

Film: Pitch Perfect

Some good, some bad. Overall, aca-mediocre but we keep watching it every time it’s on TV. The Gators already play a permanent crossover at LSU, so they just had to avoid Bama. They unfortunately got the West’s #3 team in the Aggies, and it’s an away game right before LSU comes to town. But they also drew the West’s worst team in Arkansas, so it’s not all bad right? We’d watch it again and hope for the best.

Georgia: B-

Scheduled crossovers: vs Auburn, at Alabama

New opponents: at Arkansas, vs Mississippi State

Film: Avatar

As far as the new special effects opponents, it’s all top-notch. Opening at Arkansas is a good way to break in the new QB, and Mississippi State should also be an easy W. But…there’s just still that one big elephant in the room. Unobtainium Alabama and Auburn still loom as the previously scheduled crossovers, and it just takes the air completely out of the rest of the movie schedule.

Kentucky: C

Scheduled crossovers: at Auburn, vs Mississippi State

New opponents: vs Ole Miss, at Alabama

Film: Cowboys & Aliens

Meh. That pretty much sums up the reaction to this schedule. It met our average expectations but there’s nothing to get too thrilled about. There’s some good things (think Daniel Craig & Harrison Ford) in Mississippi State and Ole Miss (wins?), but it’s tough to get past the worst parts and actually end up enjoying it.

LSU: A

Scheduled crossovers: at Florida, vs South Carolina

New opponents: at Vanderbilt, vs Missouri

Film: The Godfather: Part II

This almost can’t get any more perfect. Seriously – to wind up with arguably the three worst teams in the East is something that the defending champs are absolutely crazy about. If there’s one minor drawback it’s that the Tigers still have to play at Florida. Almost perfect…but maybe last years was just *slightly* better?

Ole Miss: B

Scheduled crossovers: vs Florida, at Vanderbilt

New opponents: at Kentucky, vs South Carolina

Film: Up in the Air

Lane Kiffin gets a pretty good draw for year one in Oxford. It’s going to be a bit slow, with no real big fireworks (unless they can put up a fight against the Gators) but the good looking leading man will help the Rebs skate their way to a couple wins and maybe an ESPY nomination.

Mississippi State: B-

Scheduled crossovers: at Kentucky, vs Missouri

New opponents: vs Vanderbilt, at Georgia

Film: Transformers

It’s time to change over to the air-raid in Stark-Vegas. There’s going to be that trademark Mike Leach glitz and glamour, plus lots of entertainment (and probably not just on the field). But there’s still the feeling we’re going to be left…disappointed. A couple of winnable games, but that trip to Georgia looms in the background.

Missouri: D

Scheduled crossovers: vs Arkansas, at Mississippi State

New opponents: vs Alabama, at LSU

Film: From Justin to Kelly

There are tempered expectations for new coach Eli Drinkwitz, but then he’s saddled with this script schedule? Things are going to go…not well. I mean, Bama AND LSU? There’s certainly possibilities to impress, but it’s just not going to happen in this reality. Let’s take our lumps, hope to beat Arkansas, and turn whatever we have into talk show gigs and Dr. Pepper commercials. We’re playing the long game here.

South Carolina: C-

Scheduled crossovers: at LSU, vs Texas A&M

New opponents: vs Auburn, at Ole Miss

Film: Mission: Impossible II

We’re coming in knowing how difficult this is going to be. Already saddled with West powerhouses LSU and Texas A&M, the addition of Auburn and Ole Miss is hard but not unexpected. There’s not much hope here, but with a decent core group the Gamecocks have a fighters chance to at least raise some eyebrows.

Tennessee: C

Scheduled crossovers: vs Alabama, at Arkansas

New opponents: vs Texas A&M, at Auburn

FIlm: Dune (2020)

Listen, expectations are high here. The Vols are progressing under Jeremy Pruitt and there is real hope in Knoxville that this team can make some waves in the East. But it’s such a massive slate already, adding 2 more quality teams is just setting the stage for future disappointment. The potential is there but no one is really expecting a blockbuster season to ensue.

Texas A&M: B-

Scheduled crossovers: vs Vanderbilt, at South Carolina

New opponents: vs Florida, at Tennessee

Film: Rocky 

Speaking of enormous expectations, the national media is very high on Jimbo Fisher’s squad this year. They’ve had ups and downs, but this is going to be the year! Right? Nope. Adding perennial powerhouse Florida and up and coming Tennessee might be too much for this team to handle. The Aggies have promise, but they won’t be able to get past Apollo Creed quite yet.

Vanderbilt: D+

Scheduled crossovers: at Texas A&M, vs Ole Miss

New opponents: vs LSU, at Mississippi State

Film: Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo

Last year was tough. I mean, every year of the past decade has been tough for the Commodores, but I digress. There isn’t a lot to follow up on from a horrific 2019, and 2020 is promising to get just as ugly. It might be funny, but probably not. And it’s definitely not going to be good. On the bright side, there are some familiar faces here and maybe they can put up a fight against Mississippi State.

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