The 2016 college football regular season and post-season have come and gone, which means the NFL draft season is upon us; therefore, let the uncontrolled giddiness commence! In the next two weeks, three college football all-star games will help NFL talent evaluators, draft analysts, and couch GM's decipher the best of the best senior prospects in this years' draft class. For those selected few seniors, it's their last chance to play collegiate football competitively against quality talent, where iron sharpens iron in hopes of increasing a players' draft stock or create a memorable and lasting blip on an NFL teams' radar.
The college football all-star game on the slate is the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. Earlier in the week one of our new draft coverage writers (MichaelBR07) highlighted the top 5 players on the offensive side and the defensive side of the football. Players from both rosters will be coached under the tutelage of NFL guidance with Jim Zorn coaching Team American and Mike Martz coaching Team National. Today, I take a look at a few standout players on both sides of the ball from each squad. So, sit back, put your scouting hat on, and let's get things started with today's action.
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
Team America vs. Team National
Location: Carson, CA | StubHub Center - Cal State University Dominguez Hills
Game time: 1:00 PM PT
Channel: FOX Sports 1
Live Stream: FOX Sports GO
Team American Coach: Jim Zorn
Team National Coach: Mike Martz
QB Mitch Leidner, No. 7, 6'3" - 230 lbs., 4.95 40 - (7th) - Minnesota
Leidner's 2016 season stats: 307 passing attempts completing 173 with a 56.4% completion percentage; 2,169 passing yards; 8 touchdown; 12 interceptions; 111 rushing attempts; 366 rushing yards; averaging 3.3 yards per carry; and 10 rushing touchdowns.
QB Mitch Leidner has had some hype entering the season with "first-round" potential being slung around quickly resulting in numerous fans mouth's to agape, but I am not on that hype-train. Leidner definitely possesses the prototypical size and bulk for the position, with impressive athleticism - can do damage with his legs - and has decent arm strength. There are flashes of premier talent and he definitely has raw physical tools that can be molded with solid coaching, but a lot of inconsistency in his game with a 56.4% average passing percentage and a 35-32 touchdown to interception ratio throughout his collegiate career.
With Colin Kaepernick likely opting out of his contract at the end of the season and no other quarterbacks under contract going into 2017, Leidner would be a raw prospect that has potential (with a lot of solid coaching) to be a backup.
Round Projection: 7th
WR Zach Pascal, No. 6 (86), 6'2" - 214 lbs., 4.47 40 - (6th) - Old Dominion
Pascal's 2016 season stats: 65 receptions; 946 receiving yards; averaging 14.6 yards per reception; 9 touchdowns; 23 rushing attempts; 145 rushing yards; averaging 6.3 yards per carry; 12 kickoff returns; 315 kickoff return yards; and averaging 26.3 yards per kickoff return.
WR Zach Pascal is a big physical receiver with great speed and length. Pascal displays good explosion and burst off the line of scrimmage, does a great job working his strong hands and quick feet in concert to win at the point of attack (excellent size and strength to counteract when pressed), shows fluidity in route running, has the ability to break in and out of cuts and separate from defensive backs with nice suddenness. Pascal showcases a great ability to elevate attacking the football at its highest point with strong reliable hands (extends arms to make the catch), solid body control, and excellent ball skills (impressive vision to track passes over the shoulder). Showcases play making ability to take a short pass and explode and separate with elusiveness and running fast in pads. Has the versatility to line up in the slot, out wide, and in the backfield with impressive skills as a rusher displaying good vision and toughness, and displays great effort blocking downfield and out of the backfield.
As a position of need for the 49ers, Pascal offers the toughness, physicality, sure hands, and NFL size to work and win at all three levels of the field with the versatility to line up at all skill positions, as well as bringing value in the return game.
Round Projection: 6th
TE Darrell Daniels, No. 15 (82), 6'4" - 246 lbs., 4.44 40 - (6th) - Washington
Daniel's 2016 season stats: 17 receptions; 307 receiving yards; averaging 18.1 yards per reception; and 3 touchdowns.
TE Darrell Daniels is a former wide receiver turned tight end with a great blend of speed, size, and athleticism. The hybrid Daniels is essentially a big natural receiver with good suddenness in his game. Shows the ability to separate from defenders and extends hands away from body making the grab with soft hands. Displays a good ability as a detached blocker blocking in space, and has improved as a blocker end of line at the point of attack. Will need more consistency with his hands (catching) and blocking.
When healthy, Vance McDonald has finally shown the skills to be a home run threat with his power and speed, but the injury issues at the position is concerning. Daniels provides tremendous value as a reliable receiver as well as a decent blocker providing depth and competition to the position.
Round Projection: 6th
DE Pat O'Connor, No. 52, 6'4" - 270 lbs., 4.92 40 - (7th) - Eastern Michigan
O'Connor's 2016 season stats: 42 tackles; 15 tackles for loss; 8.5 sacks; 2 pass deflections; and 5 forced fumbles.
DE Pat O'Connor is a long-limbed athletic edge defender with a nice explosive quick first-step and is a disrupter in the backfield. O'Connor displays active and strong hands (heavy punch) at the point of attack, great dipping of the shoulder to bend (a natural bender) and flatten out bursting with great closing speed. Displays nice quickness and movement skills with impressive change of direction skills. He showcases a tenacious high-motor always hustling towards the action and has a nose for the football. Shows a great ability to set the edge with sound technique stacking and shedding (good functional strength). Displays the versatility to rush on both sides of the defensive line.
An edge defender and pass rush specialist in the 49ers 3-4 scheme that brings a relentless high-motor, excellent work ethic, and tremendous toughness in his game.
Round Projection: 7th
FS Lorenzo Jerome, No. 22, 5'11" - 200 lbs., 4.59 40 - (5th) - St. Francis (PA)
Jerome's 2016 season stats: 59 tackles; 5.5 tackles for loss; 2.5 sacks; 11 pass deflections; 1 fumble recovery; 6 interceptions; 14 kickoff returns; 405 kickoff return yards; averaging 28.9 yards per kickoff return; 1 touchdown; 12 punt returns; 58 punt return yards; and averaging 4.8 yards per punt return.
FS Lorenzo Jerome is an explosive playmaker hugely impacting two phases of football, Jerome wreaks havoc on the defense side of the field, and is a constant threat in the return game. The former high school basketball and soccer star is an extremely athletic prospect, plays with amazing instincts and ball awareness (high football IQ), is a ball hawk with a nose for the football (18 career interceptions), and displays a good combination of size, speed, smoothness, and athleticism with the fluidity, range, and versatility to play outside on the boundary, in the slot, and in the middle. In the return game, Jerome showcases excellent stop and start ability, impressive foot speed with terrific suddenness, and outstanding vision.
Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid are both entering their final year of their respective contracts, and with Jaquiski Tartt the only safety under contract beyond 2017, the position appears in need of depth for the future. Jerome provides the playmaking skills, high football intelligence, and versatility adding the necessary depth the 49ers will likely need with the potential to be a starter. Moreover, Jerome provides the added benefit in the return game, one of the best returners in the FCS.
Round Projection: 5th
Other Team American players of note:
RB De'Angelo Henderson, No. 31, 5'8" - 208 lbs., 4.50 40 - (7th-UDFA) - Coastal Carolina
WR Michael Rector, No. 3 (83), 6'1" - 189 lbs., 4.49 40 - (7th) - Stanford
OT Andreas Knappe, No. 53 (76), 6'8" - 319 lbs., 5.33 40 - (6th) - Connecticut
DE Keion Adams, No. 1 (92), 6'2" - 245 lbs., 4.79 40 - (7th-UDFA) - Western Michigan
CB Shaquill Griffin, No. 10 (30), 6'1" - 200 lbs., 4.57 40 - (7th-UDFA) - UCF
FS Ahmad Thomas, No. 13 (32), 6'0" - 215 lbs., 4.60 40 - (4th) - Oklahoma
SS Mike Tyson, No. 5 (37), 6'2" - 201 lbs., 4.57 40 - (7th) - Cincinnati
QB Brady Gustafson, No. 7 (3), 6'7" - 235 lbs., 4.97 40 - (6th) - Montana
Gustafson's 2016 season stats: 396 passing attempts completing 260 with a 65.6% completion percentage; 2,785 passing yards; 25 touchdown; 8 interceptions; 111 rushing attempts; 366 rushing yards; averaging 3.3 yards per carry; and 10 rushing touchdowns.
QB Brady Gustafson is a very tall (6'7") athletically gifted quarterback thriving under a fun and dynamic Bob Stitt offense. The former high school basketball player displays good movement with the ability to navigate and move the pocket with his feet. Stands tall and poised in the pocket with the ideal height to keep eyes above defenders easily capable of finding receivers. Showcases a big arm capable of making throws in all three levels of the field. Shows impressive arm strength and zip in tight windows and possesses solid touch, good ball placement (needs more consistency), good accuracy, and a fair job on anticipation throws. Gustafson is a quick decision maker displaying the capability to swiftly process information efficiently. Has shown the ability to read the entire field, but has a tendency to stare down receivers. Inconsistent on deep ball accuracy and mechanics (mostly lower half as well as a long delivery) is a work in progress. Moves well for a man his size and is not afraid to tuck the ball and run showing great toughness. Has shown the capacity to improve. Operates exclusively in shotgun, so will need work from operating under center.
With Colin Kaepernick likely opting out of his contract at the end of the season and no other quarterbacks under contract going into 2017, Gustafson would be a raw prospect that has potential (with a lot of solid coaching) to be a backup.
Round Projection: 6th
RB T.J. Logan, No. 8 (28), 5'10" - 190 lbs., 4.46 40 - (5th-6th) - North Carolina
Logan's 2016 season stats: 120 rushing attempts; 650 rushing yards; averaging 5.4 yards per carry; 7 rushing touchdowns; 29 receptions; 244 receiving yards; averaging 8.4 yards per reception; 3 receiving touchdowns; 21 kickoff returns; 690 kickoff return yards; averaging 32.9 yards per return; and 2 kickoff return touchdowns.
RB T.J. Logan is a very athletic running back showcasing tremendous vision, awareness, balance, agility, runs with physicality and smoothness, and elite speed and burst. Displays good change direction skills with light feet and is elusive in space. Gets to full speed quick and has the second gear to explode to daylight separating from defenders with elite speed. A complete running back with tremendous versatility in all aspects as an inside and outside runner, blocker, receiver, and brings superb skills in the return game (kickoff specialist). Shows the ability to be a three-down back, but will succeed as a change of pace pass catching running back at the next level.
Round Projection: 5th-6th
WR Jamir Tillman, No. 4 (83), 6'4" - 212 lbs., 4.57 40 - (7th-UDFA) - Navy
Tillman's 2016 season stats: 40 receptions; 631 receiving yards; averaging 15.8 yards per reception; and 2 touchdowns.
WR Jamir Tillman is a big bodied athletic receiver with good speed, fluidity and smoothness as a route runner (very smart), and the length to win contested matches with strong reliable hands, excellent vision, and nice body control. The former high school basketball and track athlete display good burst and quick release off the line of scrimmage with the physicality and strength to be effective when pressed, decent suddenness breaking in and out of his cuts, and has decent sneaky speed (long strider). Shows the ability to elevate for the football attacking at its highest point (great end zone threat). Very strong and effective blocker down field and displays great hip flexibility swinging his hips blocking in space. Boasts NFL bloodlines as the son of former wide receiver Cedric Tillman. Jamir Tillman is a practice squad type receiver bringing great size, strength, excellent blocking skills, and strong hands for the 49ers with the developmental potential to be the team's 4th-5th wide receiver.
Round Projection: 7th-UDFA
DE Lewis Neal, No. 92, 6'2" - 272 lbs., 4.82 40 - (6th) - LSU
Neal's 2016 season stats: 60 tackles; 5.5 tackles for loss; 3.5 sacks; and 1 pass deflections.
DE Lewis Neal is a high-motored explosive and tenacious rusher off the edge. He utilizes solid hand usage and strength at the point of attack, great balance, decent lateral movement, fair flexibility, and good closing speed. Neal shows great strength stacking and shedding offensive lineman and is relentless and plays with an angry-aggressiveness wreaking havoc in the backfield. Displays great ability playing front-side blocks at the point of attack with strength, technique, and sound awareness, as well as fair athletic ability to defend against back-side blocks. Needs to develop more pass rush moves, athletically limited in space, and lacks the desired speed and agility to run down defenders from behind. A 4-3 prospect at the next level.
Round Projection: 6th
Other Team National players of note:
RB Khalfani Muhammad, No. 29 (33), 5'9" - 175 lbs., 4.37 40 - (7th-UDFA) - Cal
WR Keon Hatcher, No. 4 (11), 6'1" - 218 lbs., 4.47 40 - (7th) - Arkansas
OT Nate Theaker, No. 72 (74), 6'6" - 303 lbs., 5.21 40 - (6th-7th) - Wayne State (MI)
C Jamaal Clayborn, No. 60, 6'4" - 315 lbs., 5.36 40 - (7th-UDFA) - Mississippi State
C Jay Guillermo, No. 57, 6'2" - 325 lbs., 5.34 40 - (7th-UDFA) - Clemson
OLB Tau Lotulelei, No. 55, 6'1" - 235 lbs., 4.76 40 - (6th) - UNLV
ILB Blair Brown, No. 33 (50), 6'0" - 240 lbs., 4.74 40 - (6th) - Ohio
CB Desmond Lawrence, No. 2 (22), 6'0" - 185 lbs., 4.50 40 - (6th) - North Carolina