Early entry juniors: Part II
• I was a little puzzled over the decision of Oklahoma CB Dominique Franks to declare early for the 2010 draft. All reports were pointing to Franks’ return for his senior year, which, given the season he had, seemed to be his only option. Now, don’t get me wrong -- Franks is a tall, good-looking athlete who can track the football down the field and really close underneath. However, he isn’t real technically sound with his footwork, and it’s amazing how often he blows assignments or loses track of receivers in coverage. The guy makes his share of plays, but he also seems to give up his share as well. Consistency at the cornerback position is key at the next level, and that’s the one part of Franks’ game that seems to be missing at this stage.
• Another defensive back who surprised me with his decision to come out early is Georgia safety Reshad Jones. Jones is a big, physically built kid who showcases a willingness to play the run game and can create collisions in the secondary. But he isn’t a real gifted athlete in space, struggles to generate a burst out of his breaks and lacks range in the pass game. He has the type of size/physical skill set desired for the strong safety position in the NFL, but he doesn’t possess the kind of instincts needed to make up for his lack of athleticism. I can’t see him holding up in space in an NFL secondary.
• South Florida defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is a bit of an enigma at this stage, but trust me when I say this: The 6-6, 265-pound lineman has the physical and athletic skill set to be as good as he wants to be at the next level. Pierre-Paul possesses elite length for the position and does a great job keeping himself clean on the edge and shedding blocks in all areas of the game. Plus, he’s a gifted athlete for his size who displays a good first step and possesses the lateral quickness to disengage on contact and quickly close on the QB in the pass game. Pierre-Paul is still a bit raw at this stage, but if you want a great looking piece of clay that can be molded into a fine piece of artwork, he’s your guy.
• One defensive end I’m not quite as high on is USC’s Everson Griffen. There’s no denying Griffen’s physical skill set -- the guy has a good first step, can play with power on his bull-rush and knows how to push the pocket vs. the pass game – but his inability to shed blocks vs. the run and make plays on the edge is troubling. I know most junior prospects need time to develop and have some rough edges, but the fact Griffen doesn’t play the run well and doesn’t project as an impact-caliber pass rusher (in my opinion) makes me think his best option would have been to return for his senior year.
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