NFP Scouting Series: Northwestern

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 Northwestern Wildcats.

Offense

WR Sidney Stewart: No. 5 (6-1, 185)
A limited route runner because of his overall stiffness in his hips. Is consistently forced to gear down out of his breaks and lacks any kind of real burst when asked to quickly change directions. Possesses decent straight-line speed once he gets going, but doesn’t do a great job firing off the line and eating up a cornerback’s cushion all that quickly. Seems to drift into his routes down the field and lacks any kind of real suddenness or snap in and out of his breaks. However, is a patient wideout who does a nice job setting up corners and using his frame to shield and secure the catch. But, he simply isn’t a real natural plucker and consistently lets the ball into his frame, especially over the middle of the field.

Impression: Possesses decent size and some savvy, but not enough to overcome his inability to separate as a route runner.

Defense

DT Corbin Bryant: No. 98 (6-4, 285)
Possesses a good initial first step out of his stance when asked to one-gap and get up the field. However, lacks power on contact and can be stonewalled once an opposing lineman gets his hands on him. Needs to do a better job extending his arms and gaining inside leverage, as he consistently gets his hands outside the opposing lineman’s frame and can be sealed easily from the football. Isn’t real instinctive, has a tendency to take himself out of plays and is slow to read and diagnose inside.

Now, he definitely has some get-off burst as a pass rusher and will try to cross the face of opposing linemen with his arm-over move. But he isn’t real compact with his arms and exposes too much of his body when trying to disengage, allowing blockers to easily get into his frame. Gets too upright on his bull rush and struggles to create a real push at the point of attack. Now, he does do a nice job keeping his base down initially when shooting gaps up field and can win with his first-step burst and occasionally create behind the line. But, he’s more of a linear athlete who really struggles to break down when asked to redirect and close on the football.

Impression: Has a first step that allows him to create at times up the field. However, he wasn’t effective in any area of the game if he couldn’t win initially off the line inside. But, he could be an interesting developmental defensive end prospect both in a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme at the next level.

MLB Nate Williams: No. 44 (6-2, 235)
Lacks fluidity in coverage and really looks tight in the hips when asked to redirect and quickly change directions. Now, he does exhibit natural balance in his drop and has the ability to keep his feet under him. He just really struggles to generate a burst out of his breaks and lacks the range to close on the football. Struggled generating depth down the field, as well, and just doesn’t have the athleticism needed to make many plays in zone coverage.

However, he is instinctive inside vs. the run game. Seemed to consistently get good jumps on the football, picks his way through traffic well and knows how to fill run lanes. Exhibits good wrap-up ability on contact and although he lacked a great snap through his hips, he consistently got his man to the ground when playing in a phone booth. But, isn’t real rangy when asked to work sideline-to-sideline and lacked the power to take on blocks when run at.

Impression: A solid two-down college player who isn’t dominant enough in the run game to make up for his lack of fluidity and range vs. the pass to meet NFL standards.

OLB Quentin Davie: No. 41 (6-4, 230)
Possesses a tall, long frame with good overall growth potential, especially through his lower body. However, he isn’t real instinctive when asked to read his run keys inside and often times is slow to react and find the football. Doesn’t consistently take proper angles in pursuit and really looks uncoordinated when asked to tackle in space. Plays at one speed and lacks the kind of range needed to run sideline-to-sideline. Needs to do a better job protecting his legs, as he allows himself to get cut down too easily in all areas of the game.

Isn’t real coordinated in his drop and lacks ideal body control when asked to quickly change directions and click and close on the football underneath. Displays a lot of wasted motion in his footwork and struggles to cleanly click and close in space.

Impression: I like his frame, but he’s not a real instinctive or coordinated athlete and will struggle to hold up in both the run and pass game at the next level.

Top underclassman

OT Al Netter: No. 75 (6-6, 300)
A natural bender for the position who really looks comfortable sitting into his stance and maintaining his balance. Lacks ideal lower-body strength at this stage, but makes up for it with his overall flexibility, consistently gaining leverage at the point and anchoring vs. even college football’s most powerful defensive ends. Is very smooth and coordinated out of his stance, exhibiting a clean initial kick-step and good range when asked to reach defenders off the edge. Displays impressive lateral agility when redirecting on both sides of his frame with the body control to quickly change directions and cut off blitzers shooting inside. Possesses active hands on contact and does a nice job moving his feet and mirroring defenders through the play. Is long armed and knows how to maximize his length, as he can consistently dictate to blocks on contact. Drops his base down well and gets his hands onto defenders trying to flatten out around the edge and demonstrates the kind of range to stay on blocks through the play and is not forced to simply push pass rushers past the pocket. However, needs to do a better job keeping his arms in tighter to his frame on his initial kick-slide as they have a tendency to flail outside his body and are not always set to punch.

Does a great job getting into blocks quickly in the run game, extending his arms into defenders and achieving proper hand placement on contact. Has the athleticism to get his body around and seal on the edge and does a nice job moving his feet through contact. However, lacks ideal power in his upper body and isn’t real heavy handed. Has a tendency to eventually fall off blocks vs. more powerful linemen, especially as an in-line guy. But, I think with some more time he can add the strength needed to stay on blocks more efficiently. Nevertheless, he looks natural and athletic on the move, has the range to reach defenders off his frame and breaks down well on contact in all areas of the game.

Impression: He’s coordinated, flexible and exhibits impressive athleticism in both the run and pass game. Needs to get a bit stronger, but has the ability to mature into one of if not the best offensive tackle prospect in either the 2011 or 2012 NFL draft.

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