Week 6 NFL Prospects
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Before the 2014 season, I was very undecided about Melvin Gordon as an NFL Prospect. On the one hand, he obviously has rare athleticism. On the other, he had yet to carry a full workload for an entire season, had very little experience in the passing game, and had below average ball security. As the season has progressed, Melvin has shown that he can be a workhorse game-in and game-out. He’s become a good inside runner. He’s shown that he is an overall average pass blocker that should improve as he learns to read the blitz better. Also, he’s a good receiver out of the backfield.
It has come as a pleasant surprise to me that he’s even more explosive this season. He still could improve his ball security but he seems to be closer to being average in this category than he was last year. In 2014, he’s typically been the best player on the field. That was the case against LSU in the season opener and that was undoubtedly true against Northwestern. He literally put the Badgers on his back and carried them for 259 yards in a losing effort due to the passing game being dreadful. All in all, nobody that was already high on my radar before the season has seen their stock rise more than Gordon’s.
It will not go down as Connor Cook’s best performance of his career nor was it even a defining moment. Nonetheless, he was able to do what the all top NFL quarterbacks are able to do. He managed the game and still made several jaw dropping plays. Quarterbacks, even elite signal callers, are human. They have off nights too but the key is what constitutes an individual’s off night. That’s why it was still an impressive performance in my opinion. He was under some pressure during the game, especially from Randy Gregory, and still was able to be successful.
Some “analysts” have said he struggled, but they obviously only looked at the box score and did not watch the full game. Cook threw a perfect in-stride bomb to Tony Lippett. He made several other throws into extremely tight windows that very few quarterbacks are even capable of making and fewer still have the confidence to attempt. This is the Connor Cook that impresses me so much. In my opinion this is by far the most underrated aspect of quarterbacking. A guy may have the arm strength and the accuracy to make a throw but many do not have the inner confidence to pull the trigger. Connor Cook is never afraid to do just that.
Ameer Abdullah may be lightning quick and a dangerous player in space but he lacks the power to break tackles that is necessary to be a good inside runner in the NFL. Against the Spartans, Abdullah struggled to break tackles. He relies on superb elusiveness to produce. However, when the stingy Spartan defense closed down his running lanes, he could not put his head down and plow his way for a few yards.
So far this year Abdullah has averaged over four yards per carry before even being touched. Thus, it is obvious he has gotten great blocking this year. There’s no doubt he’s a great college football player but in the NFL will need to split the carries or at least not be a workhorse due to this hole in his game.
Shilique Calhoun once again showed why he will unable to live up to the hype that NFL Draft Analysts such as Mel Kiper have billed him up to be. He has a good first step. However, he lacks the flexibility to consistently bend around the edge. In addition, he has a raw set of pass rush moves that have not improved since last year.
Furthermore, his hand usage when trying to shed blockers as a run stopper or even just trying to complete pass rush moves appears to have, if anything, gotten worse since last year. If a team wants a good backup defensive end in a 4-3 defense then he’s your man. Any team that expects any more from him at this point is in for an unpleasant surprise.
E.J. Bibbs suffers from what many top college receivers do: less than stellar quarterback play. It’s hard to let your production properly reflect your talent when you don’t receive the ball enough or many balls are uncatchable. Anyway, he’s only got average speed for an NFL tight end but he makes up for it by being extremely savvy and simply knowing how to gain separation. Add in a nice pair of hands and the ability to make the spectacular catch and you have a solid NFL tight end.
Many tight ends lack the acrobatic ability to complete the highlight reel catch but not Bibbs. Against Oklahoma State, he had to make a diving one-handed grab for a touchdown that bordered on being a circus catch. He’s not exactly the next Tony Gonzalez but he’s the type of player that could very well have a long and successful career in the NFL.
Kevin Peterson really showed a nice skill set against Iowa State. With good overall athleticism and impressive ball skills, he looked like the best player on the field. He was tested a lot early. Despite that, he let the Cyclones know pretty quickly that it was a bad idea to throw the ball anywhere near him as he was able to break up passes and nearly had an interception. If he is able to continue this level of play for the remainder of the season then it will be interesting to see if he decides to forgo his last year of eligibility and declare for the 2015 NFL Draft.
Prospect on the Rise: Melvin Gordon
Prospect on the Decline: Ameer Abdullah
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