There’s a meaningful game this weekend and it’s not the Super Bowl (duh) or the Pro Bowl. It’s the Senior Bowl, where many seniors (and a couple of juniors) will be showcasing their talents in front of scouts, hoping to get a shot in the pros. Because of the lack of NFL this weekend, the next two installments of The Tape Never Lies will feature five separate prospects from the offensive and defensive side of the ball that intrigue me and are worth monitoring as draft season approaches because of their potential at the next level.
First, let’s start with the offense.
Mike Glennon – QB – North Carolina St – Glennon has received a significant amount of pub as of late because of his skills. He is exceptionally tall, standing at a towering 6’6 6/8″ and weighing 220 pounds. This is a very good size for him and a little unexpected, as his school’s website actually listed him shorter than 6’6″.
On tape, Glennon is a polarizing player, as he is very inconsistent, especially under front-side pressure. He still needs to clean up his footwork, as he has a tendency to either lock his front leg or not transfer his weight forward from his back leg, and trust what he’s seeing out on the field. However, he has some interesting tools to work with. He possesses a strong arm, he handles pocket pressure well enough, and he has good touch and moves well for his size. He’s had some issues with ball placement, but it’s my belief that it stems from his inconsistent footwork, which can be fixed if he goes to the right coaching staff.
Ryan Nassib – QB – Syracuse – Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib is a very interesting quarterback because he has really risen up draft boards as of late. He’s 6’2″, 223 pounds and has a unique blend of traits that appeal to evaluators. He has a strong arm that enables him to throw vertical passes well, and he has the ability to anticipate receivers getting open in the intermediate depth of the field. He’s also mobile, and can throw on the run while going through multiple reads to find his outlet if necessary.
But like any young quarterback, Nassib has needs to be developed. His biggest problem is his footwork, which is to be expected. He doesn’t rotate his hips on a consistent basis, which is problematic because it means he doesn’t generate the required lower body strength to throw with power and accuracy down the field. He also doesn’t transfer his weight consistently, frequently raising his back leg like Glennon while throwing. These issues, along with him not squaring his hips when throwing on the run, all affect his accuracy at all levels of the field.
Quinton Patton – WR – Louisiana Tech – Quinton Patton has been one of my favorite receivers in this class for a few months now, and the reason is because he’s smooth.
He is 6’0 and 202 pounds, but he plays bigger, showing on numerous occasions that he can go up and get the football at its peak. He has quick feet that allow him to create separation on short and intermediate routes, and the vision to get open on vertical routes. Three outstanding traits that he has are body control (which is akin to that of Brandon Lloyd), tracking the football, and vision as a ball-carrier after the catch.
Patton still needs to improve in some areas, notably his pad level which can sometimes rise up when he’s running routes that work back to the quarterback. All in all, I expect Patton to go in the second round barring any unexpected medical or character issues.
Eric Fisher – OT – Central Michigan – The (somewhat) small school athlete of the bunch, Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher will likely be vying to be the top offensive tackle. He’s 6’7″, 305 pounds, with 34 inch arms, and he draws comparisons to San Francisco 49ers left tackle Joe Staley.
Like Staley, Fisher is very light on his feet for a big man, and he can take out targets in space when pulling. He has long arms that allow him to keep pass rushers wide of the pocket by redirecting them, and he’s always looking to block someone. He plays with a good, strong base that makes it difficult to bulrush him, and he does an exceptional job of mirroring pass-rushers as a blocker.
The concerns with Fisher are that he tends to play with high pad level, which is expected because he’s not only still learning the game, but he’s tall. He’s also missed some assignments in the games of his that I’ve studied, such as failing to pick up a rusher on a half or full-slide or against a stunt. Overall, he is likely to be a Top 20 selection.
Mike Gillislee – RB – Florida – Florida’s Mike Gillislee comes off as an old school running back when I watch him on tape. He’s 5’11″ and a sturdy 207 pounds, and he’s a north-south runner. He doesn’t take many false steps as a ball-carrier, instead planting his foot in the ground and immediately heading downhill. He’s the type of running back that is a fit in power, downhill schemes such as a team that runs counter and lead plays. Further, he doesn’t have many carries to his name, totaling only 389 in his four years at Florida.
As far as limitations go, Gillislee’s north-south ability is why he’s a bit restricted schematically as a runner. He doesn’t have great agility, which limits him on stretch runs a la LaMichael James last year.
All in all, the five prospects above are going to hear their name called on Saturday at the Senior Bowl and will have to step up during the game. It will be interesting to see how each of the players react, especially the quarterbacks because they’ll be monitored the most and will have to speak about it in the following interviews.