Every few years, Maine gets a couple of players that the NFL scouts have interest in. This year there are two, corner Kendall James and defensive lineman Michael Cole. Both have been productive players at Maine; it remains to be seen whether they are good enough to play in the NFL. Let’s take a look at their play.
Kendall James – Defensive Back
James is a fifth year senior and a three year starter. He has been a productive player for Maine and has seven career interceptions. At about six feet tall with long arms, he has the desired height and length, but he looks like he weighs about 170 - 175 pounds and is not strong or explosive. He shows fairly good athleticism with loose hips, quick feet, and good body control. I question his long speed. While he has good quickness and a short burst, I doubt he will run any better than 4.55.
He usually lines up as the field corner. He plays off man a majority of the time but will line up in press or zone on occasion. When in press, he lacks a good jam to reroute receivers but has the suddenness to mirror receivers on shorter routes. He is inconsistent, staying with speed receivers on the deeper routes. In off, he does a fairly good job reading routes but plays a bit too soft and gives up a number of underneath throws. He shows he can transition, but many times, he is too loose to close and make a play on the ball. When he plays tighter coverage, his transition is good. He has good hands and has above average to good ball skills. His play in zone is similar to off. While he reacts quickly, he may not be tight enough to make a play.
I am disappointed in run support. He reacts quickly but is not aggressive. He waits for plays instead of attacking. He lacks top strength and is more of a block down tackler than a hit-and-wrap type. Because he lacks top strength, I have seen some missed and broken tackles.
Overall, James has some talent, but he needs to be more aggressive. His lack of bulk and strength may be the difference in making a club. At this time, I see him as more of a practice squad/developmental player. I also need a verified speed because it is such a stop watch driven position.
Michael Cole – Defensive Lineman
Recently, I wrote up another FCS defensive lineman from Illinois State (Colton Underwood). Cole and Underwood are very similar type players: tough, hard-nosed, competitive, but undersized.
Cole is a fifth year senior and has started games in each of the last four seasons. He missed the last half of 2012 with an injury and has already missed two games in 2013. When healthy, he makes plays. In five games in 2012 he had 20 tackles and seven sacks, in the four games played in 2013, he has nine tackles and four sacks. He makes plays because of his instincts and competitiveness. He plays hard every down and tries to be physical. What he lacks is size and top athleticism. At 6’2" – 250 lbs, he is too small to play down in the NFL. I don’t see the speed, quicks, and overall athleticism to project him to linebacker. He has some tightness in his knees and ankles and can play tall. His change of direction is average, and he is not "quick twitch". He sheds quickly at the FCS level because he is strong, tenacious, and has quick hands. He shows the strength to hold the point at this level, but I doubt he could do the same on a consistent basis at the BCS level, let alone the NFL.
Overall, I wish this player had better physical traits because you have to love the way he plays the game. The fact remains that he is small with no growth potential and is not athletic enough to play on his feet. At best, he is an undrafted free agent type with a limited chance to make a team.
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