MDD Staff Writer: Chad Pullen
The Ticket City Bowl doesn’t sound like much, and the matchup certainly isn’t one that makes college football fans clamor at its mention, but the matchup between Houston and Penn St did offer some final glimpses at some interesting prospects for the NFL Draft in April.
We checked in to see how they fared.
Case Keenum, QB, Houston
- Run and shoot style QB, throws over and over and over and the defense can’t keep up with him
- Highly accurate, quick release, and throws the ball immediately, there’s almost no need for a defensive line
- Makes a nice throw after stepping up in the pocket, keeps head up looking for target
- Good zip on his passes, not a cannon for an arm, gets by with good anticipation on his throws
- Touch on his passes, will fire into a window, but can also put a little air under it and get it over a defender
- Perfect throw on a 40 yard TD, right on the hands, exactly the kind of throw you want
- His quick throws and release kept him clean all day, pass rush almost never got a glove on him, helps an offensive line, don’t have to maintain their blocks as long
- Good mobility, slides, moves forward, or rolls out if he senses pressure at all, not a statue
- Height could be an issue. Only 6-2, and with a low release point, saw several defensive lineman attempt to knock passes down at the line, only one was successful however.
- No progressions. Snaps it and throws it, that fast. No second or third reads, however does know presnap where he’s going. Late change of looks on defense before snap could get him in some trouble next level.
- Ball security. Throws 60 times a game, and ended the year with 5 interceptions all season.
- Not going to be an early pick, but anyone that can throw as well as him is worth a cursory glance to see if there’s something there. QB’s are in short supply, that alone will help him find a team one way or the other.
Patrick Edwards, WR, Houston
- Pass catching machine, based on pass throwing offense. A lot like Davone Bess and Wes Welker in their college careers.
- Good route runner, goes over the middle, the edges, screens and go routes.
- Runs a beautiful fake route good enough to cause the safety to lose his footing, Edwards is WIDE open down the middle of the field for a 75 yard TD. (also caught the 40 yard TD)
- Good sure hands, but did have one drop turning his head upfield too soon.
- Was a walk on, broke his leg in bad on field accident in 2008, worked hard to come back, shows heart
- Limited by his size, only 5-9, a high throw from Keenum gets past him, if he were 6-4 it would have been an easy catch
- Should be a great slot receiver at the next level, but may find it tough to get drafter. Bess and Welker were both UDFA. I don’t see him being a Steve Smith type that bulks up and has tremendous leaping ability to become a #1 WR.
Devon Still, DT, Penn St
- This was not the bowl game for him to showcase his talent. Almost zero runs up the middle til late in the game
- Did get to at least rush the passer quite a bit, however with Keenum’s quick release, after 2 seconds it was over for D lineman rushing
- Switches from side to side of the center for matchups, on one presnap read he slides over and almost deflected the pass, he knew where the play was going.
- Reads screens and draws well, goes straight to the spot, but overall this was a very frustrating day for him
- Best thing he showed on the day was leadership, Houston jumped all over Penn St’s defense early, tv showed him pulling his unit together on the sideline and trying to rally them up, the defense did start to buckle down for a bit afterwards. That counts for something on a day where he couldn’t affect plays off his ability
Jack Crawford, DE, Penn St
- Reads a slot screen immediately and adjusts out to break up the play. Does it again later in the game.
- Hustles downfield on a play to get involved in a tackle, good 20 yards from where he chased QB
- Plays right and left end depending on play calls or substitutions.
- Crawford felt the same frustration as Still, after 2 seconds the ball is gone and no need to rush the passer, best either of them could do was attempt to knock down passes
- Did show good speed coming off the edge, but not enough time to get to Keenum no matter how fast. Crawford could have jumped offsides before the snap and not gotten a sack on this day. No knock at all on either Penn St lineman, just not a showcase matchup for them.
One lesser known prospect that caught my eye was WR Justin Brown from Penn St. His first touch was a 93 yard punt return for a TD that was called back after a review showed that his heel touched the out of bounds line by a millimeter. While it may not have counted, it was an impressive play.
Later in the game he made an outstanding finger tip grab over the middle on a post pattern and accelerated past the defenders to the end zone for a 69 yard TD that did count this time. At 6-3, 215 lbs, he has the size and frame for the position, he’ll just need to add some bulk and hopefully he stays in school for his senior year to refine his game. Penn St had less than stellar QB play this year, if they can improve next season, we may see Brown’s name come up again when the 2013 Draft rolls around.