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 Stanford Cardinal.
FB Owen Marecic: No. 48 (6-1, 244)
A well-built lead blocker who does a great job using his hands to engage into blocks, seal targets and pump his legs through contact. Looks really comfortable reaching defenders off his frame on perimeter runs, breaking down in space and keeping them from ever getting a sniff of the play. Reads and reacts quickly to defenses inside and has a great feel for the run game. Isn’t the most fluid of athletes and will struggle to maintain balance when asked to quickly change directions. But showcases good pop when asked to lunge into blocks off his frame and can still create a seal for his running back inside. Plays till the whistle and always seems to be working to push the pile, a real team-first guy. Looks comfortable in blitz pick-up as well, quickly locating his target and moving his feet through contact. Also, can catch the football out of the backfield, but isn’t a real natural plucker and is more of a linear guy with the ball in his hands. However, he can be a solid safety valve out in the flat.
Now, physically he isn’t the most dominant guy when asked to drive defenders off the ball and overwhelm them at the point of attack. Possesses good, not great, strength for the position, but relies more so on his coordination, hands and grit to get into blocks and seal in the run game.
Impression: A really impressive fullback who understands angles, has a great feel inside and consistently is able to get into blocks and eliminate his man on contact. Looks like a starting caliber lead guy in the NFL from day one and is one of my favorite fullback prospects in the draft.
WR Ryan Whalen: No. 8 (6-1, 205)
A tall, savvy wideout who showcases impressive body control and hand/eye coordination when asked to extend his arms and go get the football. Isn’t real explosive off the line and isn’t a guy who will be able to run by anyone at the next level. However, does a nice job disguising his routes, changing gears and cleanly working back toward the football. Doesn’t waste much motion when asked to break off a route and does a great job quickly locating the football and using his strong hands to go up and make a play. Will at times lose his balance, though, as he almost looks to be moving too fast for his own good trying to drive defenders up the field, causing him to not be as clean out of his breaks at times. Has an impressive feel vs. zone, quickly finding soft spots underneath, sitting down and plucking the football. Also, will block down the field, but isn’t real physical or strong on contact. However, he works hard to stay on his man.
He just isn’t a real physically gifted athlete and lacks the type of shiftiness, explosion and/or strength to quickly/cleanly get into routes vs. press. Is easily re-routed off the line and doesn’t exhibit much burst when asked to generate separation for himself out of his breaks. Seems to have only one gear and isn’t going to ever be a threat down the field.
Impression: Isn’t capable of playing on the outside at the next level, but because of his ability to find soft spots in zone and be a reliable pass catcher, could end up filling out a wide receiving group at the next level as a team’s No. 5 or No. 6 guy. Isn’t anything more.
OG Andrew Phillips: No. 71 (6-4, 305)
A tough, gritty velcro player who does a nice job sticking to blocks in the run game and turning his opposition away from the play. Isn’t overly flexible in his stance and lacks ideal explosion off the line. But does a nice job of quickly extending his arms into contact, under the chest plate of defenders and working his legs through the whistle. Lacks great range on slide-down blocks, but he looks coordinated when asked to get his body around defenders and has just enough athleticism to stick to interior linemen enough through the play. However, isn’t a guy who is going to drive bigger defenders off the ball as an in-line guy.
Isn’t real heavy-handed in the pass game and doesn’t generate much of a punch on contact. Too often allows defenders to get into his frame, jar him at the point and create separation for themselves. Does a nice job keeping his base down, maintaining balance while sliding his feet and cutting off their initial surge, but isn’t fluid enough to consistently mirror in space.
Impression: Isn’t the most athletic or physically imposing guard in the draft, but just finds a way to get the job done. Doesn’t look to have the skill set to be a reliable starter in the NFL, but could work his way onto an NFL roster.
OC Chase Beeler: No. 72 (6-3, 275)
Snaps and steps quickly in the run game, quickly firing off the football and getting on top of opposing defensive linemen inside. However, fails to consistently get his hands up initially into blocks and can be easily shed on contact. Keeps his base down and tries to gain initial leverage on contact, but isn’t a real velcro player, lacks ideal upper body strength and can be easily disengaged from at the point — even when asked to seal. Possesses only above-average athleticism when asked to scoop block and get around targets on perimeter runs. Displays a good first step, but just really struggles to get into opposing linemen and is easily shrugged off and typically ends up on the ground.
Lacks ideal power in the pass game, as well, and he isn’t a guy who can sit into his stance and anchor. Showcases the ability to work his hands through contact and gain some leverage on opposing linemen. However, consistently bends at the waist, drops his head down and loses all his technique in order to try to hold up at the point.
Impression: Lacks ideal power/girth inside and isn’t the kind of athlete that can make up for it. Won’t be able to hold up inside physically at the next level.
DT Sione Fua: No. 92 (6-2, 305)
A thick, stout defensive lineman who isn’t real explosive off the snap. But does a nice job keeping his base down into blocks, extending his arms and creating a strong punch on contact. Has the ability to jolt/knock opposing linemen at the point and work his way into the backfield. Does a nice job keeping his base down through contact and consistently can get a good push as a bull rusher. However, isn’t the kind of sudden athlete to quickly shed blocks and get after the quarterback. More of a push/pull guy who lacks ideal lateral quickness and doesn’t have the kind of first step to consistently threaten gaps inside.
Uses his length and punch well to create separation for himself when run at and can disengage from blocks inside. However, isn’t real rangy and struggles to quickly shed and make a play off his frame. Displays above-average anchor strength for his size, but can easily be handled vs. any kind of additional attention. Also, struggles to consistently find the football and even though he can stack one-on-one inside, he routinely takes himself out of plays trying to read his run keys and rarely makes his way initially toward the football off the snap.
Impression: Lined up at both the nose and three-technique last season and has some natural power to his game. But lacks ideal instincts, isn’t real sudden when asked to shed and looks nothing more than a rotational/fringe roster guy in the NFL.
CB Richard Sherman: No. 9 (6-2, 210)
A tall, lean corner who isn’t real instinctive and struggles to quickly recognize routes in front of him and close on the football. Is slow to decipher information and click and close on the play. Lacks balance and coordination in his back-pedal, consistently gets overextended and fails to quickly put himself in position to make any plays on the throw. Isn’t a guy who can cleanly redirect and fails to generate any kind of a closing burst out of his breaks. Struggles to maintain his balance and lacks the kind of speed to make up for any kind of false step. Consistently is forced to turn his back toward the football and bail out of his drop in man coverage.
Now, uses his length well to wrap up on an island at times, but isn’t a real physical guy; he’s more of a drag down tackler.
Impression: Possesses a good-sized frame, but simply lacks the balance, footwork and coordination to hold up in coverage at the next level.
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