2010 NFP Scouting Series: Tennessee

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 Tennessee Volunteers.

Offense

FB Kevin Cooper: No. 45 (6-0, 247)
A thick, squatty fullback who showcases a good initial first step as a lead blocker and has the ability to get out to the second level. Doesn’t possess elite pop on contact, but can create a slight surge in the hole and gets enough of defender’s frames to seal them from the football. Loves contact and is always looking for someone to hit on every play. He has the right demeanor for the position.

However, he isn’t a real balanced athlete. Struggles to generate much pop on contact when asked to quickly change directions and isn’t real coordinated when asked to cut down defenders off his frame. And although he does do a nice job reaching targets as a straight-line guy, he lacks the balance to stay on blocks after his initial surge and too often ends up on the ground.

Does a nice job recognizing blitz pick up, but can’t be left alone on an island vs. a pass rusher and is really hard handed when asked to slip out in the pass game.

Impression: He’s thick, squatty and can run pretty well for his size, but I would like to see more of a hammer out of him on contact since he isn’t the greatest of athletes.

WR Gerald Jones: No. 4 (6-1, 199)
Showcases a good initial first step off the line. Can eat up a cushion quickly vs. a free release and cleanly get into his routes. Does a nice job using his short-area quickness to side step corners down the field and possesses the body control to remain balanced and get back up to speed quickly. However, he’s a really raw route runner at this stage who seems very impatient getting in and out of his breaks. Seems to be moving too fast for his own good at times, as his footwork is very sloppy and he consistently rounds off his routes tremendously, especially in the short passing game. Does a better job down the field, but still seems rushed getting out of his breaks as he consistently advertises his routes before they take place or he will really chop his feet in order to regain balance before changing directions.

Also, doesn’t showcase the ability to cleanly beat press off the line, isn’t real sudden or physical and simply allows defenders to get their hands on him as he tries to run himself free down the field.

Impression: Has some decent athletic ability, but it’s not enough to overcome his struggles as a natural route runner.

TE Luke Stocker: No. 88 (6-6, 240)
A really impressive pass blocker who does a nice job reaching defenders off the edge, extending his long arms and mirroring in space. Looks very comfortable when asked to pick up blitzers and consistently is able to keep his side of the pocket clean. As a run blocker, he possesses the length and power to handle linebackers who line up over his face and has the lower body strength to drive them off the ball. However, although he is athletic enough to get his feet around defensive ends off the snap and seal, he lacks the base to consistently set the edge on the outside and is too often defeated on contact. Nevertheless, he does look natural getting out to the second level and sealing down the field.

In the pass game, he isn’t overly explosive off the snap and really seems to lumber as he’s asked to go further down the field. However, he does a nice job cleanly releasing off the line and has the body control and short-area quickness to create separation for himself out of his breaks. Exhibits clean footwork and good overall balance, which enables him to quickly get back up to speed when changing directions. And, he gets his head around quickly and plucks the football well on all areas the field. Now, he isn’t a guy who will consistently create after the catch or make anyone miss, but he’s a load to bring down and will fight for additional yards. Displays a good overall feel in the pass game when asked to recognize zone coverages and consistently is able to find soft spots down in the red zone.

Impression: He lacks great power/pop as a run blocker vs. defensive linemen, but is a coordinated individual who, with some added girth, could mature into a low-end starter at the next level. But, I think I would like him a lot more as my number two tight end because he really isn’t dynamic in any area of the game.

Defense

DE Chris Walker: No. 84 (6-3, 242)
An undersized defensive end prospect who possesses a good initial first step off the snap. Does a nice job quickly changing directions as a pass rusher, displaying the body control to reach the edge and cleanly snap off a counter move or work the initial jab step inside and quickly take himself back toward the corner. Showcases some savvy extending his left hand initially into the inside shoulder of the left tackle when trying to work his way back inside and knows how to keep opposing linemen from locking onto his frame. However, he lacks great awareness off the snap and is consistently one of the last defensive linemen firing off the football. Plus, he plays simply too high off the edge, wastes too many steps standing upright into his rush and doesn’t exhibit the ability to drop his pad level when trying to flatten out around the corner.

He also isn’t much of a factor in the run game. Struggles to anchor with any kind of consistency out of his stance and is too easily sealed outside away from the inside run. However, he does showcase some range when asked to work in pursuit.

Impression: Has some natural burst and pass rush ability, but lacks the strength to hold up as a 4-3 DE. Projects as a draftable 3-4 rush guy who needs to learn to play lower if he hopes to have an impact as a pass rusher in the NFL.

DE Ben Martin: No. 99 (6-3, 251)
A well-built athlete with good overall musculature through his upper body. However, he isn’t overly physical off the snap, even against tight ends, and has a tendency to allow his pad level to get too high into contact. Is a hard worker, though, who is really violent with his hands when working himself free from blocks after the initial surge and showcases the range to make plays away from his frame. Nevertheless, he really lacks instincts when asked to find the football inside and has a tendency to take himself out of too many plays. Makes the majority of his tackles in the run game five-plus yards down the field.

Now, he does a nice job of keeping his pad level down initially off the snap as a pass rusher and can deliver a slight pop on contact when extending his arms into contact. However, he lacks great lower body strength and doesn’t have the type of power to simply drive opposing linemen into the backfield on his bull rush, as he consistently gets engulfed at the point. Displays the flexibility to coil up into his stance and fire off the football with an above-average first step. But he doesn’t showcase much in the way of lateral agility as a pass rusher. Nevertheless, he does exhibit the ability to quickly change directions and accelerate on stunts inside and can move with some fluidity when asked to drop off into coverage. He just hasn’t put it all together as a pass rusher yet.

Impression: Has a good-looking frame and some intriguing physical attributes, but his lack of lowe r body strength and power has me worried about how effective he can be at the next level. Now, he does have some burst as a pass rusher and range vs. the run game and should get a shot in an NFL camp as a 3-4 rush guy. But, it will be interesting to see how he develops this season as a pass rusher.

OLB LaMarcus Thompson: No. 42 (6-1, 221)
A thin, undersized outside linebacker prospect who can be absolutely handled at the point of attack in the run game. Struggles to even take on tight ends on contact and is routinely driven down the field. Exhibits good read and diagnose skills inside and knows how to quickly find the football. However, he lacks ideal power as a tackler, will overrun plays and isn’t a real consistent wrap-up guy inside.

Showcases above-average range in pursuit and can close quickly on the football from the backside. However, for his size, he isn’t nearly as fluid in coverage as you would suspect and struggles to cleanly flip his hips and change directions in space.

Impression: An undersized ‘backer who has some natural range, but because of his lack of power inside the box, he’s going to have a real tough time making an NFL roster.

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