NFL Draft Scouting Notes: Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh

October 10th, 2012

Ryan Nassib
The Pittsburgh Panthers traveled to Syracuse in order to face the Orange in their last matchup as Big East schools. The game started out with high intensity but ended with great efficiency; both teams have a handful of NFL prospects. This may not have been the shootout that was anticipated, but these two teams said a lot about themselves in this matchup.MDD Staff Scout: Alex Farnworth

Syracuse

#67 OT Justin Pugh (rJR)
-Lining up at left tackle
-Blocks through the whistle, shows barbaric strength
-Great explosion on goal-line plays, blows multiple defenders back
-On second drive hits the end, DE stops trying, Pugh tries to go move the pile up the middle
-Stands upright on passing plays, creates a nice cup for the QB
-Footwork looks really good at times, has strong hands and fights of defensive ends with little struggle through the first half
-Doesn’t budge at the snap of the ball, strong base, halts pass-rushers at will
-Has good recovery skills, uses long arms to get out in front of rusher when he gets beat
-Locks arms with the pass-rushers, limits the number of moves they can perform
-Down-blocks on a run play when trying to burn clock, leaves DE untouched resulting in a tackle for loss
-Gets the extra push on the second-effort, creates space for the big backs.

Overview
: Many scouts believe that Pugh’s draft stock is highest right now as a junior. In the matchup vs. Pitt, Pugh demonstrated clean footwork and the ability to put defenders right where he wanted. He manipulated the pass rush of Pittsburgh and helped create a great pocket for Nassib. One area that Pugh needs to improve on is blocking down the field on screen or QB read-options, it is tough for a lineman to know when/where the QB is scrambling but that awareness should come with experience.

#12 QB Ryan Nassib
-Looks most comfortable when throwing on the run
-Very calm when in a fast-paced offense, likes to move around|
-Sometimes leaves the pocket too early, opening himself up for hits
-Looks very distraught when not in a rhythm
-Very good with the read-option, keeps the first one for a 9-yard gain
-Tries to run it on 3rd and 13, didn’t finish through his reads and a had clean pocket
-Throws a nice touch pass to the tight end on 4th and 9, 18 yard pickup
-Tries to throw a back-corner fade 2 plays after the conversion, bad read, bad throw, end zone interception
-Does too many hand movements, ball is clear for the taking; however, very active and is good at evading sacks
-Tends to underthrows receivers on shots down the field
-Makes risky passing decisions late in the game, up by only one point
-Knows exactly how many yards he needs for the first down, rushes for 6 yards on third down to move the chains
-Rarely lines up under center; does is on a 3rd and 1 late in the game

Overview: Nassib wasn’t a play “maker” per say, however, he made enough plays to get the victory. At times, the senior quarterback looked very flustered and tried to do too much. Nassib is terrific on rollouts and throwing on the run but he will need to adjust to an NFL system next season and he looks very uncomfortable taking snaps under center right now. I don’t see Nassib getting drafted until the fourth round but he has a high IQ, which will keep his draft stock in the upper echelon for quarterbacks.


#21 SS Shamarko Thomas
-Stacks the box on run heavy sets.
-Flies to the ball as soon as the QB hands it off
-Lines up 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage
-Physical mindset, first step is forward (run-stop), not backwards (pass coverage)
-Plays the contain very will in the run game, closes off the outside run for RB late in the game
-Acts as another linebacker on run plays, doesn’t shy away from contact
-Goes to lay a brutal hit on the TE midway through the fourth quarter, gets low, doesn’t wrap, TE gets lower and Thomas gets hurt on the play

Overview: Strong safety Shamarko Thomas turns the Syracuse defense into a hard-nosed, hammer-laying type of team. Thomas is willing to give up his body on every play if it means he denies the ball carrier from getting the first down or the receiver from making the catch. Although Thomas has a unique, relentless style of play, he needs to improve on his form-tackling. You won’t bring down many NFL running backs without wrapping them up. Luckily, Thomas’ problems can be fixed very easily.


#15 WR Alec Lemon
-Catches back-to-back passes on first drive, doesn’t show fatigue
-Isn’t afraid to leave his feet over the middle of the field, violent runner for a wide receiver
-Put in motion a lot, runs short routes, catches a lot of 5-yard passes
-Comes in motion in the red zone, catches a pitch and runs for 4 yards
-Makes a short-yardage catch tries to stay in bounds to keep clock moving
-Utilized in the pass and the run game
-Explodes into his blocks, keeps the defensive backs away from the play on rushing attempts

Overview
: Alec Lemon might be the number 2 receiver but he showcased more upside than Sales in this game.  Lemon will not blow by his defenders but he is sure-handed and utilized in the short passing game. Lemon was thrown to on a lot of sideline catches but instead of just stepping out of bounds he would try to turn up-field and run over tacklers; coaches love that.

#5 WR Marcus Sales
-First pass play of the game, came back to the ball when QB was on the run
-Very lanky receiver, lines up by himself a lot
-Shows good chemistry with the QB, doesn’t tuck the ball; runs with it in front of his body and two hands holding it
-Takes a jet sweep handoff midway through third quarter, too hesitant as a runner
-Disappeared as the game went on
-Doesn’t hold blocks in the run game
-Tries to run away from tacklers which is hard when you don’t have blazing speed

Overview: Syracuse came out firing in the first half but started to slow down offensively very early. Sales lacks that “wow” factor that teams are looking for in a number 1 receiver; he is not a speedy guy, he does not run over defensive backs and he can’t jump over defenders. Sales was a bit underthrown on a 35+ yard pass attempt but he still should have caught the ball, you need to bail out your quarterback sometimes in order for him to keep going back to you.

#15 WR Alec Lemon
-Catches back-to-back passes on first drive, doesn’t show fatigue
-Isn’t afraid to leave his feet over the middle of the field, violent runner for a wide receiver
-Put in motion a lot, runs short routes, catches a lot of 5-yard passes
-Comes in motion in the red zone, catches a pitch and runs for 4 yards
-Makes a short-yardage catch tries to stay in bounds to keep clock moving
-Utilized in the pass and the run game
-Explodes into his blocks, keeps the defensive backs away from the play on rushing attempts

Overview: Alec Lemon might be the number 2 receiver but he showcased more upside than Sales in this game.  Lemon will not blow by his defenders but he is sure-handed and utilized in the short passing game. Lemon was thrown to on a lot of sideline catches but instead of just stepping out of bounds he would try to turn up-field and run over tacklers; coaches love that.

Pittsburgh

#1 RB Ray Graham
-Lines up as lone back on first play, takes the dive handoff, very hesitant before hitting the hole
-Stop-and-go running style, waits for blocks to develop, accelerates after a cutback
-Fields a screen nicely on the second drive, lays a stiff-arm and pushed out of bounds, showcasing quite a repertoire of moves
-Attracts defenders up the middle, hop-steps to the left and bounces run outside for a marginal gain.
-At the end of the second drive, handed the ball on 3rd and 3, needs to run downhill, gets caught dancing in backfield
-Running a lot of out-routes and stays in the flats, tends to get to the first down marker on every reception
-Finally punches in a touchdown on the third carry from the goal line
-Drive starts at own goal-line, takes the shotgun handoff and bounces the ball outside to give offense breathing room
-The next play QB throws him an out-route, a yard shy of first down, needs to show better awareness
-Becoming workhorse in the third quarter, designing outside runs, allowing him to use his cutback running style
-Productiveness increased as the game went on
-Covers the ball with two hands when busting through the line, great security skills

Overview: Senior back Ray Graham is coming off of season-ending knee surgery and his participation this early in the 2012 season was up in the air. Although it doesn’t appear that the injury has had any effect but you can’t help but think that Graham isn’t 100% yet. Graham started out slowly and tried to bounce everything to the outside but started to become himself as the game went on. Graham displayed the ability to run between the tackles as well as the ability to catch the ball, he is a do-it-all back who shows a similar play style to Jacquizz Rodgers of the Atlanta falcons. There will be a spot for him in the NFL as long as he continues to get stronger and stay healthy. The way running backs come and go in the NFL no, I expect Graham to be a mid-third round pick.

#54 OG Chris Jacobson
-Lining up at left guard
-Has no one to block on the first pass play, doesn’t help the left tackle, results in a sack
-Gets to the second-level on outside runs, completely eliminates the outside backers
-Very good at staying extended, turns defenders out with ease on inside runs
-Doesn’t take any plays off, when there is no one lined up on him, he looks for someone to go hit
-Extremely slow on outside run plays to the opposite side, needs to hold his blocks and not allow the defense to run down the line of scrimmage
-Spends a lot of time looking for blocks against 3-man rush, slides over and helps left tackle multiple times
-Seems to get in the QB’s way when sliding in protection, needs to know where his QB is
-Drives into his blocks at 100mph, took out the DT and linebacker on the last play of third quarter, resulted in a ten yard run
-First play of fourth quarter run an outside run to the right side, OG pulls and logs the end, very effective, very quick, very strong

Overview: Jacobson was dominant against the 3-man front of Syracuse. There was not one play in this game where Jacobson thought his job was “done”, he was always looking for someone to hit. Jacobson would slide to his left to help out an inexperienced LT a lot throughout the game and that helped tremendously. Jacobson isn’t the biggest but he is insanely strong and can move quickly on plays where he is required to pull. One key thing that Jacobson needs to learn is how far back he can go before he interferes with the quarterback but other than that he looked like a very good interior lineman prospect. The only red flag for Jacobson is his history of knee injuries.

#15 WR Devin Street (JR)
-First reception is a bubble screen, looks the ball into his hands then turns on the jets for a first down.
-Makes a third and 11 catch on a 15 yard out-route, off-balanced/falling catch
-Creates separation with his speed and deceptive cuts
-The QB’s first read on almost every pass play, thrown at on third down a ton
-Hauls in a lot of short passes, turns on the speed after the catch
-Makes first defender miss almost every time after the catch
-Thrown at a lot on slants over the middle of the field, always a step ahead of his defender
-Recorded 8 catches for 107 yards in the first half, shows game-changing ability
-Makes a nice second-and-long catch on the sidelines, remains the go-to-guy, gets both feet down on the sidelines
-Made his tenth reception on a corner route, moves the chains with 6:50 left, keeps the game alive

Overview: Devin Street is only a junior but he plays like a veteran. Street had zero drops and had 10 catches for over 100 yards in the first half of play and he can catch any type of pass (acrobatic, away from the body, over the middle, high, low, screen, sideline, etc.). Street has two different speeds (fast and faster), Pittsburgh tried getting the ball to him any way they could. Early in the game he was catching screens, making the defense creep up then caught them off-guard by going out for deeper routes. Street is a play maker but right now he is very skinny, if he can add some bulk he could be a late second round pick should he declare early.

#18 FS Jarred Holley
-Lines up as free safety
-First step is always backwards (pass coverage)
-Used as the last line of defense for the Panthers
-Waits till the play is almost dead before he steps up and jumps into the pile
-Prevented Syracuse from throwing the ball down the field
-Didn’t allow any receiver to go uncovered down te field
-Helps in a lot of gang tackles
-Very skilled in reading the quarterback, starts running to the intended receiver before the ball is thrown.
-Defends the middle-third of the field greatly, acts as a centerfield when no receiver in the zone.

Overview: Jarred Holley leads the team in tackles, which is a remarkable stat for a free safety. The pass rush was nearly nonexistent for Pittsburgh, which puts more pressure on the secondary and Holley kept that back end disciplined; denying all deep throws. Although Holley didn’t force any turnovers, he was the top defender on a Pitt defense that only allowed one touchdown. Holley has a solid frame and great instincts but he needs to creep up when he knows there will be a running play, he rarely gets burned because he is almost “too safe”.

#87 WR Mike Shanahan
-Built like a tight end, massive frame, 6’5, 248
-Fluid/smooth in and out of cuts
-Used as a blocking wide receiver throughout the whole first half
-Very few targets early in the game
 -Finally gets a catch late in third quarter, took the top off of the defense, underthrown, comes back to it for a 45 yard reception
-Lining up as the inside guy on bunch sets, runs “deep” routes
-Doesn’t stay engaged in blocks that aren’t near his side
-Utilized more late in the game, becomes ridiculously open on play-actions, fakes the block before he releases

Overview: Early on in the game Shanahan causes you to do a double-take because you swear that he is a tight end but in fact he is actually a receiver. Mike Shanahan is at his best in the in the play-action because he fakes like he is going to block the cornerback and then releases and because wide open whether it be on a crossing route or a seam. Shanahan doesn’t have the speed of an NFL wide receiver but he could be lethal at the “Joker” position. NFL teams love athletic tight ends; he would be a work-in-progress but he could be well worth it.

#12 QB Tino Sunseri
-Doesn’t force throws
-Utilizes the pump fake quite a bit, maybe even too much
-First completion he steps up into the pocket and throws a dart over the middle with un-set feet
-Showcases veteran IQ, tries to rush the offense and get the snap off after a questionable catch ruling; booth reviews it before snap was made
-Shows that he has a mental timer, throws ball away before sack on several occasions
-Willing to give up body for yards, tries to run up the middle when no one is open, takes some hard/unnecessary hits
-Steps back 5-7 steps after the snap in the shotgun, increasing distance he needs to throw
-Senses pressure, steps up and throws his receiver open, shows a lot of faith in his WR

Overview: Tino Sunseri has been quite a story throughout his collegiate career; a three-year starter who had a different coordinator each year. Sunseri will never be the big QB that scouts want or have the strongest arm but he understands the game and makes all the right decisions.  Sunseri reads through his progressions ultra-quick, knows when to tuck and run and even slides (which seems to be forgotten in football nowadays). Sunseri probably won’t be a starter but a team could draft him late as a reliable understudy.

#83 TE Hubie Graham
-The second tight-end
-Moved in motion to help Sunseri identify the defense
-First target comes early in the second quarter, drops the ball near the sideline, routine catch
-Very stiff as a route runner and a receiver
-Rarely looked at as a receiver
-Subbed out frequently, used mostly on rushing packages
-Coming off a shoulder injury, comes up with leg injury, can’t stay healthy

Overview: Hubie Graham saw little action in this game and is slowly diminishing his chances of getting drafted. Graham is an excellent blocker but struggles as a receiver and has health concerns. As a tight end, Graham is able to block defenders one-on-one which is a plus but he needs to add more to his game. If he is lucky, he is looking at a seventh round selection as a special teams player.

Comments are closed.



  • Categories

  • Search NEPD Archives

  • Archives