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NFP Scouting Series: Pittsburgh

A look at some of the best prospects on the Panthers. National Football Post

Print This June 07, 2010, 01:28 PM EST

For the rest of the summer, the National Football Post will be breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who could warrant the most interest from NFL teams in the 2011 draft.

Therefore, today we take a look at the Pittsburgh Panthers.

Offense

OL Jason Pinkston: No. 77 (6-4, 305)
Possesses good overall thickness through his upper body and looks a lot broader than his height/weight numbers would indicate. Also plays long and does a nice job of keeping his elbows inside his frame and maximizing his length on contact. Is a pretty natural bender out of his three-point stance and does a nice job of keeping his base under him and really firing off the football in the run game. Exhibits an impressive combination of body control and pop when asked to reach linemen off his frame and is really powerful on contact eliminating defenders on kick-out blocks inside. Displays good coordination on the move and can break down in space, but he seems to get a bit confused at times and struggles to find a man to block at the second level. Will consistently make his way out into space, but at times gets caught blocking no one.

Showcases natural balance out of his stance in the pass game and does a nice job of quickly redirecting laterally. Generates a good burst off his left foot when asked to change directions back inside while keeping his base down and feet under him. Does a great job keeping his hands up where his eyes can see them at all times and is a quick puncher who can sit in and anchor at the point. Doesn’t waste much motion off the snap when asked to reach the corner out of his three-point stance. Does a great job of getting his left foot moving initially toward the edge and gracefully sliding his feet together in sync on his kick-slide. However, the biggest concern I have with him at this stage is his overall range as I don’t think he’s a good enough athlete to reach speed off the edge at the next level.  He’s consistently forced to open up his hips/shoulders toward the outside and push the pass rusher past the pocket on their outside speed rush if they get on top of him quickly.

Impression: He’s physical and coordinated in the run game and very fluid redirecting vs. the pass. Just lacks the kind of range needed to play left tackle at the next level. However, he looks like a very capable right-sided player with Pro Bowl potential if kicked inside to guard.

Defense

DE Greg Romeus: No. 91 (6-6, 270)
A good-looking pass rusher who has the kind of length to consistently disengage from blocks on contact and close on the football. Is only a decent bender, but does display some natural flexibility to coil up into his stance and fire off the football. However, he has a tendency to pop upright off the snap and consistently allows his pad level to get too high into contact. Showcases some natural power on his bull rush and uses his long arms well to get into blockers quickly and can deliver a real jolt on contact. But, because of his inability to play with routine leverage, opposing linemen can reset their feet and anchor after his initial jolt. Possesses violent hands and is really sudden when changing directions on his pass rush, as he loves to work his inside chop in order to disengage and close back inside. Displays a good overall first step and can get into opposing tackles quickly, but isn’t going to win at the next level with his speed rush alone, as he struggles to drop his pad level when flattening out around the corner and can be easily pushed past the pocket. Also, has a motor that will tire from time to time.

As a run defender he has the length to consistently defeat blocks on the outside vs. perimeter runs and displays impressive range away from his frame. Exhibits good overall hand placement in all areas of the game and can consistently dictate to blocks on contact. However, he can get jolted off the line and sealed from the football because of his inability to play with leverage. Isn’t as stout at the point of attack as his size would indicate.

Impression: A really long, impressive athlete with powerful hands and good closing speed on the football. Possesses big-time potential at the next level. However, in order for this guy to become a legit blue-chip pass rusher in the NFL, he needs to learn to play lower.

DE Jabaal Sheard: No. 97 (6-4, 260)
An instinctive defender who plays the run game with integrity and quickly is able to decipher plays and get his hands up in passing lanes. Isn’t overly powerful into contact and although he does a nice job of maintaining his balance when working his way down the line vs. the run game, he lacks the kind of body control and power needed to shed blocks and make plays on the football. More of a congestion guy than playmaker at this stage.

However, as a pass rusher he has the ability to get after the quarterback in a variety of ways off the edge. Isn’t the most natural of benders when sitting in his stance, and as he tires his butt seems to get higher and higher, but he has the first step and balance to reach the corner and flatten around the edge. Uses his violent hands well to chop himself free once he gains a step and loves to work the rip once he gets himself to the edge. Also does a nice job of working the arm over as a counter move back inside and plays with enough leverage to win as a bull rusher as well. He’s a pretty technically sound pass rusher at this stage, but he needs to do a better job of getting off the snap count more consistently. And he needs to do a better job of playing with leverage, as he can be stalled by opposing tackles when fighting his way through blocks even once he gains a step.

Impression: Isn’t quite the long, sudden athlete that Romeus is, but he’s a more technically sound pass rusher who can certainly get after the quarterback in his own right. After watching him on tape, I really expect him to put it all together this year and have a very productive senior season.

SS Dom DeCicco: No. 31 (6-3, 230)
A big, thickly built safety who simply lacks the kind of fluidity and balance needed to play in an NFL secondary. Really struggles any time he’s asked to cover in man as he consistently loses his balance into contact and is really stiff when asked to turn and run. Looks top heavy in his drop and although he does a decent job of keeping his feet under him, struggles to cleanly redirect and is routinely forced to bail out of his back-pedal, turn his back to the play and then locate/track the football.

Now, he does have some pop as a tackler and will attack the line of scrimmage with some vengeance. However, he’s too often clipped and easily knocked off balance by downfield blockers in pursuit and simply lacks the kind of range to quickly close sideline-to-sideline in all areas of the game.

Impression: Possesses good size and above-average overall instincts, but he simply lacks the athleticism and overall range to hold up in coverage in an NFL secondary. Will likely be looked at more as an undersized outside linebacker and special teams guy.

Top underclassman

WR Jonathan Baldwin: No. 82 (6-5, 225)
A king-sized wideout who possesses a well-built upper body with the strength to consistently fend off defenders in the pass game. Is at his best when asked to get down the field, locate the football and go up and make a play. Looks like a power forward the way he attacks the throw and consistently is able to come down with the catch. Now, he is more of a strider when asked to get vertical, but exhibits some shiftiness to his game with the ball in his hands and is able to side step defenders and accelerate into daylight. Does a really nice job of plucking the football over the middle of the field and isn’t afraid to put his body in harms way in order to make a play.

However, he lacks ideal balance/footwork as a route runner. He’s consistently forced to gear down and gather himself when asked to change directions. Plus, he isn’t real sudden when asked to beat press coverage, and although he does do a good job of gaining a step and dropping his shoulder, he isn’t nearly as impressive at beating the bump as you would expect from someone his size. 

Impression: At his best when asked to get down the field and go up and make a play on the football. Is still raw, but he has that special quality to come down with the football even when he is covered. Looks like a legit starting wideout on the outside at the next level.

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