This is Todd Graham's second year as Head Coach at Arizona State. In that short period, we have seen the program get stronger and the future looks bright. We have also seen the development of some players who should have futures in the NFL. Currently, I see three players who should get drafted, with two of them going high. Those players are defensive lineman Will Sutton, running back Marion Grice, and tight end/H-back Chris Coyle. All have played well in their time under Graham.
Will Sutton – Defensive Line
There is a lot to like about Sutton. He is an every down player and is extremely productive. He is a fifth year senior from Corona, California and has been a starter for three seasons. He missed the 2010 season. Sutton lines up all over the defensive line. He mostly plays as a 3 or 4 technique but he has also line up on the nose and as a 5 technique player. He is an active and makes a lot of plays. If there is a negative, it’s his height. He is listed at being 6’1 – 305. I agree with the 6’1 but he looks a little heavier. He has long arms, and that can help make up for his lack of height. He has very good initial quickness and quick hands. He shows the ability to control his opponent with his hands and can shed quickly. He plays with strength and power and never gives ground. He is a quick penetrator who can not only disrupt plays but can also make the play. With his long arms and power, he can 2 gap his opponent or play in a 1 gap scheme and shoot the gap. While he doesn’t have long speed (5.1 play speed), he is very quick for 5-10 yards and shows pursuit ability. He shows excellent pass rush skills for an inside lineman. He had 13 sacks in 2012 and has 16.5 total sacks since the beginning of the 2011 season. What we are seeing now is that he is constantly double teamed on passing downs. As a pass rusher, his initial quickness is very good, but he knows how to use his hands and can both bull rush and use moves, He is good with counter moves.
The player that he would compare to from last year is Bennie Logan, the Eagles 3rd round pick in 2013 from LSU. Sutton is about the same size but is more athletic than Logan and gets more production as a pass rusher. At 6’1, people may say he is a nose tackle, but I really think that he would be better off as a 3 technique on a 4-man front. He can play DE in a 3-4, but he lacks the desired height for that position. His productivity says he should go very high, but I feel he would be drafted somewhere between the 45th and 60th pick. He has starter traits, but you wish he was taller.
Marion Grice – Running Back
Grice is a fourth year senior and a transfer from Blinn Community College in Texas. He is an electrifying player who is very productive. Only six games into the 2013 season, he has 15 touchdowns. He has 90 carries for 417 yards and 10 TDs to go along with 29 catches for 265 yards and 5 TDs. He has also returned 10 kickoffs for a 22.7 yard average. In 2012 he ran for 679 yards and caught passes for 425 yards. He scored 19 times in 2012.
Grice is very athletic, with speed and body control. He has sub 4.5 play speed and can make quick cuts without losing much speed. As productive as Grice is, he is not an every down player. He plays in a rotation with two other backs. He is a very quick starter with top run instincts. He can pick and slide or make jump cuts, but he has a knack for finding a crease. He is not a power guy and is not a top after contact type back. He is quick, fast, creative, and elusive. Once he gets in the open field, he has a chance to take it the distance. He is not the type who is going to get the tough yards on 3rd and 2 on a consistent basis. He is dangerous as a receiver because he can run routes out of both the backfield or while split out. He shows he can uncover versus man coverage and has excellent ability to separate coming out of a cut. He has very good hands and can adjust to make the difficult catch. As a pass blocker, he is adequate at best. He lacks good technique as a blocker and is not aggressive.
Grice is very talented but he has limitations. I don’t see him as an every down back in the NFL because of those limitations. He will be more of a spot player, but because he has big play skills, he will still get a number of touches every game. I can also see him utilized as a kick returner. He needs to get a little bigger and stronger, become a better blocker, and learn to be a tough inside runner. If that happens, he can become an every down player. Still, because of his big play ability, he will be drafted high. I could see him going as high as the 2nd round.
Chris Coyle – Tight End/H-Back
Coyle is a very interesting prospect. He plays both as an in-line tight end and as an H-back type. He doesn’t have great size. He is listed at 6’3 – 240 and looks like he may be more like 245. He is a good athlete who is strong, tough, and competitive. Coyle is not a speed merchant, but I would say he easily runs in the 4.70 – 4.75 range.
When he lines up as a “Y” he doesn’t have the blocking skills that an NFL team would want. He is tenacious and very willing, just lacks the size and power to be consistently effective. He does well as an on-the-move blocker. With his athleticism, he can break down in space and hit a moving target. He stays in a good football position and looks to finish every block. He is adequate as a pass blocker.
As a receiver, he shows good hands and is a good route runner. While not a burner, he can uncover versus both man and zone and shows he can get in and out of cuts quickly. He is competitive, will compete in traffic for the ball, and is a good runner after the catch.
With the league shifting more and more towards two tight end play, Coyle is an ideal player to be that “move” tight end. Right now, he blocks better in space than many of the “move” guys in the league. He is reliable as a receiver and looks to have very good special teams potential. While he is not a guy that a team would draft in the first three rounds, I think he could easily be a fourth round type. There are too many things he does well.
Follow me on twitter @greggabe