NFP Scouting Series: Baylor

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 Baylor Bears.

Offense

RB Jay Finley: No. 32 (5-11, 210)
A tall, physical back with a thick upper body but thinner lower half. Is patient when asked to pick his way through the line, but lacks an explosive first step. Exhibits average body control for a back his size with some short-area quickness, which allows him to keep plays alive in the open field. Runs hard and possesses adequate natural power, occasionally fighting off tacklers and staying on his feet. However, lacks the initial burst to separate and create for himself once he gains a step. Does a nice job setting up blocks on perimeter runs, but needs plays to be blocked off well in order to be effective and reach the edge.

Isn’t real instinctive inside and lacks the lateral suddenness to consistently create for himself when nothing is there. Didn’t exhibit the pad level to push the pile and fight for tough yards inside and was just very “blah” even vs. the softer Big 12 defenses.

Impression: Possesses decent size, but isn’t dynamic in any area of the game as a runner and just doesn’t have the talent to warrant much interest as a draftable prospect.

OL Danny Watkins: No. 59 (6-4, 310)
A tightly built, compact tackle who lacks ideal length and isn’t flexible when asked to sit into his stance. More of a waist bender who looks content to pop upright initially out of his stance in the run game, then simply fire low off the ball. However, exhibits good body control and a stronger lower half when asked to get his feet around the target and anchor defensive ends away from the inside run. And although he isn’t real long armed, exhibits a quick punch and good hand placement, allowing him to control blocks initially on contact in the run game.

Struggles with his pad level in the pass game and fails to consistently keep his base down and anchor with much leverage. Is a pretty good athlete with some natural range off the edge, but gets too high and narrow with his footwork on his kick-slide and can really be jolted on the point of attack. Exhibits decent change-of-direction skills to quickly redirect and mirror in tighter quarters, but too often allows defenders to get into his frame and fails to stay on blocks in pass protection.

Impression: Lacks the physical skill set needed to play on the outside at the next level. Will need to make the move inside to guard if he hopes to get a shot in an NFL training camp next summer.

Defense

DT Phil Taylor: No. 11 (6-4, 355)
A massive interior lineman with a thick lower half who actually looks to carry his weight pretty well. Exhibits a good first step off the snap for his size and at times can be very violent with his hands when trying to make his way toward the football on perimeter runs. Now, he isn’t a real gifted pass rusher. Displays some natural power on his bull rush when blocked one-on-one inside. But isn’t consistently overpowering because he allows his pad level to get too high and rarely keeps his base under him. Needs to do a better job using his length and hands to dictate to blocks, doesn’t extend his arms well into contact and consistently allows opposing linemen to get under his frame. Lacks the lateral athleticism to side step/slip blocks initially off the line, but is so naturally powerful he can at times just chuck blockers out of his way and eventually disengage.

However, this guy has the kind of lower body strength and natural get-off burst to simply overwhelm blockers at the point of attack vs. the run game. Can simply manhandle opposing linemen one-on-one inside and quickly drive his way into the backfield. Is stout at the point of attack inside and even shows the grace to slightly move down the line, fend off a block and make his way toward the ball carrier. However, he’s still very raw, allowing his pad level to get too high and failing to consistently extend his arms into blocks, which at times is the difference from him making the play and not. Isn’t overly instinctive at this stage as well and will struggle to consistently diagnose his run/pass keys quickly and find the football.

Impression: He’s got a big frame, a pretty good step for his size and is really powerful both in his upper and lower body. However, technically he’s raw and is playing in a conference not suited for his strengths. Nevertheless, I think he’s an intriguing developmental type tackle who with some time could end up anchoring a defense inside if he pans out.

OLB Antonio Johnson: No. 7 (6-0, 215)
A real tweener who lacks the size and girth to hold up at linebacker at the next level, and he isn’t rangy or fluid enough to end up making the move to safety. Possesses only average instincts when asked to read and diagnose inside, as he at times will take a false step and seal himself from the play. Works hard in pursuit and displays some natural range but is too easily knocked off balance and washed out of plays vs. any kind of contact. Isn’t afraid to mix it up inside and has the kind of body control needed to work his way initially through slide-down blocks on perimeter runs. However, eventually he is just ridden past the play and/or ends up on the ground.

Isn’t overly fluid in coverage either, even for the linebacker position. Demonstrates some straight-line speed once he gets out of his drop, but looks a bit stiff when asked to sit into his back-pedal and redirect quickly in space.

Impression: The physical numbers just don’t add up for him as a legit prospect at either OLB or SS.

DB Tim Atchison: No. 8 (6-1, 200)
A big, well-built defensive back with good overall size/length for the position. However, isn’t real fluid, especially when asked to play in off coverage/space and doesn’t look comfortable trusting his back-pedal and cleanly changing directions. Has a tendency to open up his hips prematurely in order to get jumps on the football and really struggled when asked to quickly redirect and get back up to full speed. Consistently gets too high in his drop, which causes him to lose his balance easily. Fails to consistently keep his feet under him and doesn’t exhibit the footwork needed to quickly click and close on a route in front of him, as he tends to significantly round his breaks off in order to regain/maintain his balance. Possesses a better overall feel in zone coverage and has the instincts to locate the throw and make his way toward the football. However, because of his lack of balance and overall body control, struggles to quickly change directions and generate a burst toward the football.

Showcases a willingness to support the run game, but isn’t a real efficient open-field tackler. Fails to consistently break down in space and although he has a long wingspan, isn’t a real secure wrap-up guy.

Impression: He possesses a good-looking frame, but he’s really stiff in the hips and lacks the body control/balance to hold up in man coverage at the next level.

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