MDD Writer: John Blair
Changing His Ways
One of the more intriguing prospects in 2014 draft is TCU QB Casey Pachall. Pachall has been one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football. In 2011, he set school records for completion percentage, completions and passing yards. He went on to have a great start to the 2012 season — in the four games he played, he had a pass efficiency of 180, 10 touchdown passes and completed 66 percent of his passes.
Unfortunately, Pachall only played in four games last season due to the fact he had to enter substance treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. He entered treatment after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in October of 2012. He also admitted to police that he smoked marijuana and tried cocaine and ecstasy in 2012 according to ESPN. On the positive side, since Pachall entered treatment he has had no issues off the field and seems to be turning his life around. This is evident by the fact that he has been back in school since January. He also has been working with the team in both the weight room and in spring ball. Also according to TCU360, he is still undergoing counseling for his substance problem.
When it comes to Pachall as a draft prospect, some things definitely stand out about this player. The first is his arm strength. He has the arm to throw all the passes required of an NFL QB. He also has a very compact delivery which allows him to get the ball out quickly. Pachall has outstanding size at 6-5, 230 pounds, and is a very good athlete for his size. The biggest concern with him is obviously is also off-the-field issues. I also have some concerns with him when he is facing pressure. When he is under pressure he tends make questionable decisions and force some passes into tight coverage. His technique also tends to break down when he has to face a stiff pass rush. The last major concern I have with Pachall is that his accuracy needs to improve. Even though he completed 66% of his passes as a sophomore and junior, in my opinion his receivers had to make too many adjustments to catch some of his passes. I currently see Pachall as third- or fourth-round draft pick, but his stock could improve if he stays out of trouble off the field.
One of the most important weeks a senior NFL prospect faces is Senior Bowl week. This event pays off for NFL Draft prospects for several reasons. Firstly, this is such a critical week because it is the first chance NFL coaches get to work with draft prospects. This is such a crucial component, as NFL coaches get to see how prospects practice, focus during team meetings and interact with their teammates.
Senior Bowl week is also significant for prospects because they get to show how they match up against other high-caliber prospects. This is extremely critical when it comes to players who don’t play in a BCS conference. Two players who fit this category this year were Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher and BYU DE Ziggy Ansah. During this year’s Senior Bowl week, Fisher helped earn himself the first selection in the draft by proving he could compete against some of the country’s top pass rushers. Ziggy Ansah impressed enough during the Senior Bowl to be drafted by his coach at the Senior Bowl, Lions head coach Jim Schwartz with the fifth pick in the NFL Draft.
Senior Bowl week also allows players to separate themselves from the pack. One player who accomplished this is EJ Manuel, who at the time of the Senior Bowl was considered a late second- or third-round pick, but ended up having a great week at the Senior Bowl and being the first quarterback taken in the NFL Draft. Another player who impressed coaches during this week was Oregon offensive tackle Kyle Long, who ended up being a surprise first-round pick of the Chicago Bears.
Overall, the Senior Bowl is a great week for prospects to show their talent and move up their draft stock due to the fact players receive pro coaching, get to compete on a consistent bases against top level talent and it allows players to showcase their talent.
A Look at the 2014 TE Class
The 2014 draft is relatively weak when it comes to the tight end class. The only prospect that I see with first-round potential is Washington junior Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Jenkins has great size at 6-6 and 267 pounds. He is also a very good athlete for his size, and can use his size and athletic ability to go get the ball in traffic. One concern I have with him is that he was suspended from the team indefinitely after being charged with a DUI in April.
The top senior tight end on my board is Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz. Fiedorowicz is another player who has great size at 6-7, 265 pounds. I also like how physical of a blocker Fiedorowicz is, and how he can hold the point of attack against most players. His run-blocking ability will really help some team’s running game. He also has solid hands, and is a good red-zone target, although Iowa for some reason did not use him very much in this area (only had one TD reception last season). I am not overly impressed with his athletic ability or speed.
Wisconsin senior tight end Jacob Pedersen is the second-highest rated tight end on my board. Pedersen has been very productive at Wisconsin, and earned first team All-Big Ten last season. His run blocking has also helped Wisconsin establish one of the better running games in the Big Ten. I currently see Pedersen as a third-round draft pick.
One of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s draft is the 6-3, 228-pounder Trey Burton out of Florida. Burton had a stellar season under former coach Urban Meyer in 2010 with 349 yards rushing and 210 yards receiving. However, since Will Muschamp has taken over, his production has dropped. Burton is a very good athlete who can create matchup problems in the passing game. One area of his game he needs to improve is his blocking. In fact, he may need to switch to an H-back since he struggles so much in this area.
Another player who is undersized and might have to play the H-back position in the NFL is Chris Coyle of Arizona State. Last season, Coyle put up big numbers with 57 receptions for 696 yards, which helped him to be one of the most productive tight ends in the PAC-12.
Asa Watson of North Carolina State is rated as the fifth-best senior TE on my board. Watson has outstanding character, and would be an addition to any team on and off the field. Watson might have some medical concerns, due to a rapid heartbeat which he had to have surgery on in 2011, though, his heart condition is not supposed to affect him when it comes to playing sports.
Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated recently analyzed how conferences broke down in terms of draft picks in the last five drafts. The conference that produced the most talent was the SEC with 229 draft picks. This was more than any other conference by 69 players.
The second-leading conference in terms of producing NFL draft picks was the ACC with 160 players. The fact that the top two conferences in terms of producing NFL talent both come from the Southeastern part of the country shows how much high school talent there is that part of the country. It is also worth pointing out that the state of South Carolina produced the best per capita of players drafted this year according to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer.
One thing that surprised me was how little talent the Big 12 is producing, considering how many teams draw heavily from the state of Texas during recruiting. The Big 12 finished fifth in terms of producing NFL Draft picks.
Here is final breakdown of the five conferences Andy Staples broke down.
1. SEC: 229
2. ACC: 160
3. Big Ten: 151
4. Pac-12: 147
5. Big 12: 136
Texas A&M OT Jake Matthews will play left tackle this year. Matthews played right tackle last year, with this year’s No. 2 pick Luke Joeckel on the blind side. … Some notes on draft prospects from Bruce Feldman’s 2013 Freak List. Jadeveon Clowney was No. 1 on the list he has a 4.54 40 time and a 38-inch vertical jump. Arkansas State DT Ryan Carrethers came in at No. 10. He can power clean 400 pounds, and squat 664 pounds. Auburn FB Jay Prosch is the only draft prospect to make the Freak List twice. He has a 4.59 40-yard dash and 5.9 percent body fat. … Look for Florida to use CB Loucheiz Purifoy some as a WR. … Miami of Ohio WR Nick Harwell was dismissed by the school last week. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 89 of them being suspended for attempted theft. He has transferred to Kansas. Harwell averaged 7.6 catches a game last season and 129.6 receiving yards per game in 2011. … RB Charles Sims will not return to the University of Houston. Sims won’t have to sit out a year if he transfers because he has already graduated. He also is considering entering the supplemental draft. … Look for LSU to use RB Alfred Blue more in the passing game this year. He has lined up out wide as a receiver some in spring ball.