NFP Scouting Series: Virginia

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 Virginia Cavaliers

Offense

TE Joe Torchia: No. 83 (6-6, 250)
A big, long body who displays above-average flexibility out of his stance and is able to get into blocks quickly. Showcases good body control into blocks as an in-line guy. Generates good leverage for his size, pumps his legs hard and can stick to defensive ends initially through the play. Will get a bit overextend in his lower half and eventually fall off blocks, but has the ability to get a push off the snap. Looks comfortable getting his feet around defenders, scoop blocking on the outside and finishing through the play. Isn’t quite as coordinated when asked to stay on defensive ends on slide-down blocks, but has the skill set needed to improve in that area.

Is a lumbering athlete who doesn’t run real well and tends to drift in and out of his breaks. However, possesses a good wingspan and knows how to pluck the football away from his frame in traffic.

Impression: A guy who I am interested to watch again in 2010. Has some natural power and body control as a blocker and can pluck the football away his frame. Isn’t ever going to be a starter or consistent receiving threat in the NFL, but if he continues to mature, has a chance to fill a void as a reserve tight end.

OG B.J. Cabbell: No. 65 (6-5, 307)
Possesses good size for the position, but struggles to keep his base down initially out of his stance in the pass game. Has a tendency to bend at the waist, lunge into blocks and lacks the type of balance to cleanly slide his feet through contact. Displays some natural strength in his upper body and can stick to defenders initially through the play, but simply lacks the coordination/lateral athleticism to mirror for any extended period of time.

Exhibits decent athletic ability when asked to pivot out of his stance and boom block from the far side. Isn’t overly fluid or rangy, but identifies his target quickly and can reach/hit his man in space. However, lacks ideal body control into contact and consistently lunges into blocks and ends up on the ground. Isn’t as clean as you would like to see on the move and does just enough to get a piece of opposing defenders. Plays too high to generate a push consistently off the football as an in-line guy, but has enough short-area coordination to get around defenders, extend his arms and seal from the football.

Impression: Displays only average college production along the offensive line in both the run and pass game and will have a tough time making an NFL roster.

Defense

DB Ras-I Dowling: No. 19 (6-1, 199)
A tall, well-built defensive back with a broad upper body and long arms for the position. Showcases good ball skills and body control when asked to make a play on the throw down the field. Locates the football quickly and showcases the timing and coordination to consistently go up and get his hands on the football. Displays good instincts in zone-coverage, reads the quarterback’s eyes well, gets early jumps on the pass and does a nice job putting himself around the action. Is a sound, wrap-up tackler who isn’t afraid to attack downhill at the line of scrimmage. Generates a good thrust through his hips and creates a pop on contact. Also does a nice job fending off blocks on the outside. Uses his length well to play off opposing wideouts and make his way toward the football.

However, isn’t real flexible when asked to sit into his stance, doubles over at the waist and allows his pad level to get too high when asked to turn and run. More of a strider who needs a couple steps to get going to begin with, but his lack of fluidity and balance when asked to turn and run really limits his initial burst down the field. Isn’t real clean with his footwork at this stage as well. Has a tendency to open up his hips prematurely in man coverage, struggles to consistently stay compact and balanced in his lower half and it really takes him a while to regain his footing when asked to redirect. Consistently is overextend with his footwork and too easily allows wideouts to separate down the field on him. Now, he is physical and tracks the football well, but he won’t see the consistent amount of underthrown passes vertically in the NFL that he sees in college.

Impression: A physically strapping corner with good size and ball skills, and he knows how to tackle in the run game. However, I wouldn’t trust the guy at this stage in man-to-man coverage at the next level. Looks more like a cover-two type corner only to me or a potential free safety prospect. Not as high on him as most.

Top underclassman

DE Matt Conrath: No. 94 (6-7, 270)
A tall, long-armed defensive end prospect who lines up at the five-technique in Virginia’s 3-4 defense. Does a great job keeping his base down, head up and using his length to dictate to opposing linemen off the snap. Possesses an above-average first step and despite his lack of ideal girth, does a nice job playing with leverage, anchoring with consistency in the run game and using his strong hands to disengage toward the football. Now, he isn’t overly powerful and needs to continue to add more girth/strength through his entire frame, but technically he’s very sound, which allows him to play a lot stronger than where he is at physically right now. Can two-gap and clog up run lanes on either side of him and is very instinctive, consistently putting himself in position to make tackles on the football when run at.

Displays an above-average first step when asked to shoot gaps and make his way into the backfield. Also showcases decent range and balance for his size once he gains a step and can fend his way off blocks and work his way from the backside. However, isn’t a real gifted pass rusher at this stage. Allows his pad level to rise as he tries to slip blocks laterally — loves to work the arm over move — and exposes too much of his frame. But, quickly is able to use his length to free himself from opposing linemen and consistently gets his hands up into throwing lanes, knocking down throws at the line of scrimmage. Reads his run/pass keys quickly and seems to be moving toward the football instantly off the snap. But at times can be a bit inconsistent getting off the ball on time.

Impression: He isn’t there yet physically, but plays with impressive flexibility in the run game and knows how to use his length to fend off blocks when asked to anchor. Is an above-average athlete for his size, but isn’t ever going to be a real productive pass rusher in the NFL. However, looks very capable of maturing into a solid starting five-technique guy in the NFL or base 4-3 DE who can play in the league as an unsung defensive lineman for a long time.

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