NFP Scouting Series: Colorado
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 Colorado Buffaloes.
WR Scotty McKnight: No. 21 (5-11, 185)
A thin, instinctive wideout who exhibits a good feel in the pass game and knows how to create initial separation out of his breaks. Isn’t a real physical or explosive athlete, but does a nice job setting up defensive backs and changing speeds in and out of his routes. Possesses good short-area quickness and displays the ability to quickly redirect underneath and uncover from defenders. Is a smooth route runner vertically and does a nice job giving a little head fake in order to sell his routes. However, he doesn’t showcase the same type of sharpness and/or burst when he’s asked to snap off routes at 90 degrees. Has a tendency to chop his feet before the break and doesn’t consistently separate. Tracks the football well down the field and exhibits the concentration to consistently adjust to the play. Showcases natural ball skills and does a nice job extending his arms and consistently plucking the football away from his frame.
Struggles maintaining his balance off the line and fighting through press coverage. Lacks great speed, and although he displays good short-area quickness, he isn’t a threat to run by defenders down the field.
Impression: Showcases good ball skills and is savvy in the pass game, but lacks the burst and physicality to play on the outside at the next level. Looks like a guy who could make a roster and work his way into some sub packages, but only from the slot.
OT Nate Solder: No. 78 (6-8, 310)
A physical specimen for the position who possesses a rare combination of size, length and overall athleticism. You can tell he’s a former tight end by the way he lines up in pass protection, as he exhibits good flexibility but coils up as if he’s almost trying to release off the line and get into a pass route. Then, he simply stands straight up off the snap, extends his long arms and uses his athletic ability to mirror on the edge. He’s still very raw with his kick-slide, which causes him to get overextended with his base and lose balance on contact. Does a much better job maintaining his balance and staying quick and compact with his footwork when he knows he has help on the outside in the form of a chip. However, when left on an island he's more athlete than technician and is consistently susceptible to the "up and under move." Also, he lacks the upper body strength to stick to linemen once they gain a step on him.
Now, he is a gifted athlete in space and showcased better pop and power as a run blocker than I expected. Looks natural on the move and has the ability to get into blocks quickly and create a bit of a surge at the point of attack.
Impression: A guy who will likely be over drafted based on upside, and rightfully so as he has the skill set to be as good as he wants to be in the NFL. However, isn't nearly as comfortable in pass protection when trying to play with proper technique and it will be interesting to see how far he has matured this offseason.
CB Jimmy Smith: No. 3 (6-2, 201)
A tall, long-armed defensive back who is at his best when asked to press off the line. Does a nice job keeping his base down off the snap, extending his inside arm initially and re-routing receivers on contact. Uses his outside arm well as well when receivers try to flash across his frame on the inside slant and really makes it tough for opposing wideouts to get inside on him. Is very smooth and coordinated working his hands in unison and remaining balanced in bump coverage. Possesses good ball skills and a natural first step when asked to click and close, really looks natural fighting his way though contact and making his way toward the throw. Exhibits good hands and body control and has the ability to not only make a play on the football but come down with a tough pick.
Lacks ideal balance and footwork when asked to play in off-coverage. Doesn't sit into his drop nearly as well and will get overextended when asked to change directions. Nevertheless, exhibits impressive natural fluidity for his size, with the ability to cleanly open up his hips and get back up to speed quickly when asked to close on the football. Generates a good initial burst for himself initially and knows how to under cut throws from the trail technique. Will lose a half step when asked to turn and run down the field and does look more comfortable with his hands on receivers, but exhibits above average speed for his size.
Now, isn't nearly as impressive as a tackler when asked to click and close on completions in front of him. Struggles to break down in space and has a tendency to overrun the football. Is a decent wrap-up guy who uses his long wingspan to get into ball carriers in tight quarters. But he doesn't tackle with much leverage and is more of just a drag down guy in space.
Impression: His overall coordination combined with his length and ability to smoothly use both hands to press off the snap really reminds me some of Nnamdi Asomugha. Now, he isn't quite as polished or balanced with his footwork at this stage and doesn't tackle nearly as well, but he definitely has the kind of length and fluidity to mature into one of the better press corners in the NFL.
CB Jalil Brown: No. 23 (6-0 201)
Possesses good overall size for the position and has experience playing both on the outside and in the slot. Displays above-average strength off the line when asked to press. However, he lacks ideal balance and isn't able to consistently get his hands on receivers. At times he gets really sloppy with his technique, bending from the waist, lunging into his target and easily loses his balance in his lower half. Exhibits above-average straight-line speed for his size and can track the football down the field once he gets going. But looks a bit stiff when asked to turn and run, and he struggles to get back up to speed quickly.
Isn't nearly as physical down the field with receivers as he is off the line and can be pushed around/outmuscled in short areas when fighting for the football. Displays some savvy in zone when asked to read the quarterback’s eyes and click and close the football, but again will get overextended too easily in his lower half when trying to redirect and struggles to quickly/cleanly close on the football.
Impression: Has experience playing both on the outside and in the slot, but doesn't look real proficient in any area of the game at this stage. Looks more like an intriguing size/speed developmental prospect to me.
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