2013 NFL Draft Game Notes: Western Michigan vs. Ball State

October 18th, 2012

Dann O'Neil
The MAC matchup between Western Michigan and Ball State wasn’t the high-scoring slobber-knocker that we had expected it to be but it was a close game that turned into an overtime thriller. Western Michigan converted on a 52-yard field goal attempt at the end of the game to tie it up but then missed a chip shot in overtime; Ball State came out and pounded the ball in for the game-winning score.

Western Michigan quarterback, Alex Carder, missed yet another game due a dislocated finger; he would’ve been one of the top prospects from this game. Even with Carder out, we had solid prospects with Ball State’s linebacker Travis Freeman and cornerback Jason Pinkston while WMU still had OT, Dan O’Neill, who showed that he is going to play on Sunday’s but still has some things to work on.

MDD Staff Scout: Alex Farnworth

Western Michigan

#68 OT Dan O’Neill
-Lined up as RT
-Generates a ton of push on goal-line runs
-Extends arms and gets leverage routinely
-Doesn’t hold his blocks for very long, doesn’t move on to the next level of the defense on run plays either
-Very slow getting out of his pre-snap stance
-Fails to move his feet when shadowing the defensive linemen, ends up getting twisted and tangled up
-Gets intimidated when DE line up far outside of him, resulting in false starts
-Repeatedly gets beat on speed-rushes; not able to square up on the DE
-Opposing DL starts to speed rush more often, O’Neill resorts to committing holding penalties

Overview: Dan O’Neill really shines on run-blocking plays, Western Michigan ran a lot, and therefore, O’Neill was impressive. The right tackle exhibits barbaric size and strength and manhandles opposing lineman on run plays even though his technique is off.  O’Neill is truly a mauler but he has all of the physical attributes to become a mid-round prospect; things such as hand-checking techniques and footwork can be taught.

Ball State

#6 CB Jason Pinkston
-Lining up about 8 yards off of the receiver
-Starts off with an initial cushion but tightens up throughout the routes
-Able to keep his eyes on the QB while being aware of where the WR is
-Does a good job of playing the ball and staying on the receiver without unnecessary contact
-Takes bad angles when chasing down the ball carrier
-Shows “stiff” hips when opening up to cover the deep routes; it slows him down quite a bit
-Nearly non-existent on running plays because he is playing so far back

Overview: With Western Michigan running the ball so much in this game, we didn’t get to see too much of Jason Pinkston, but, when we did he flashed a good skillset. The 6-foot cornerback plays very tight coverage, which results in the quarterback looking away from Pinkston’s receiver. Even when Pinkston was trailing the receiver on hitch and comebacks, he managed to work his way in front of the receiver to deflect the pass. Pinkston’s stiff hips and lack of NFL speed could cost him a draft spot, but his instincts and efficiency could get him picked in the 6th or 7th round.

#8 ILB Travis Freeman
-Very physical when in coverage over the flats
-Not fluid when in pass coverage
-Shows good instinct and a knack for being in the right place at the right time
-Exhibits active hands on a goal line stand, tips the ball and a teammate intercepts it
-Goes into gang tackles, helps cleanup
-Takes down ball carriers anyway possible, gets caught with a careless facemask call
-Shoots the gaps hard but has a hard time using his hand to get off blocks
-Has nearly no technique in trying to get off of blocks, taking out of many plays throughout the game
-Does a great job of keeping an eye on the QB and containing them

Overview: This was not Travis Freeman’s best game by any means but he still showed the intangibles at the middle linebacker position that scouts love. Freeman flies to the ball and shows great instinct right off of the snap but struggled to get off of blocks against Western Michigan. The Ball State captain looked raw with his movements in pass coverage but still managed to deflect passes and even tackle the quarterback when the play broke down. His technique may be a bit off but he is a playmaker, and a big enough one for a team to take a flier on him in the later rounds.

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