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DRAFTNASTY’s In-Game Report: Western Carolina vs. Wofford, 10-7-17

DraftNasty traveled to Spartanburg, South Carolina for a SoCon showdown between the Western Carolina Catamounts and the Wofford Terriers.

Western Carolina

 21 RB Detrez Newsome (5’10, 210, Sr.)

Uses timely patience as an asset in WCU RPO zone scheme. Uses the slow to, fast through approach. Shows good vision and understands when he has the two-way go when he has lead blockers on the perimeter. Displays a controlled spin move and has confidence spinning to either side. Would like to see him get behind his pads more, as well as hit the gas pedal to stretch the defense more on zone stretch plays.

96 OLB Tahjai Watt (6’5, 220, Sr.)

Watt did a good job of extending the option attack of the Wofford Terriers due to his length. There were times after forcing the pitch; he displayed how much ground he could cover laterally to help out on the run. He was also effective defending the pass both as a drop and pressure player. His lack of weight is cause for concern.

1 WR Steffon Hill (6’0, 195, Sr.)

More quick than fast. Used in a variety of the Catamounts RPO game (hitches, swings, option). Lined up primary on the outside, but shows the quickness and niche for creating short separation fit for a slot receiver.

8 CB Tra Hardy (5’11, 185, Sr.)

Physical at the LOS. Forced Wofford’s receiver to take the longer path, due to his discipline of keeping his shoulders square and shuffling his feet versus the wide receivers release. He needs to improve on transitioning out of his break more fluidly. He does return kickoffs.

Wofford

21 LB Colton Clemons (6’0, 245, Sr.)

Clemons is a downhill thumper. What you have to like about him, is his consistency with downhill movement and scraping to fill the C and D gaps. He will finish on plays and drop his hips to drive through tackles. A great example of this came when he scooped Detrez Newsome on a screen play in open field. Recorded an interception in the 1st half.

90 DT Miles Brown (6’1, 320, Jr.)

The show starts in the middle with Miles Brown. He has an impressive get-off, which allows him to shoot the gap and create penetration in the backfield. His powerful lower half and stubby build allows him to quickly eat the up the cushion of interior lineman. Throughout the game he lined up as a shade, 2i, 3, and 4i. He made plays at each of the techniques he played. His short arms does bring a cause of concern.

24 CB Devin Watson (5’11, 195, Jr.)

Read and diagnosis routes quickly. Will drive on the out breaking route in ‘read’ coverage. Understands when to carry the No. 1 receiver in ‘read’ coverage after the No. 2 receiver climbs vertical. Will attack blockers and establish a presence versus screens. Lateral movement is questionable in space.

DraftNasty’s Week 1, in-game report: Kentucky vs. Southern Miss, 9-2-17

We go inside the game of a few prospects who stood out in Kentucky’s hard-fought 24-17 victory over the Golden Eagles this past Saturday.

Kentucky Wildcats

93 Matt Panton 6’5 233 P-Senior

The Australian-bred punter had an outstanding day for the Wildcats.  The fact that he averaged 42 yards per punt on nine kicks tells just part of the story.  In what proved to be a battle of field position throughout the afternoon, the rugby-style punter often pinned the Golden Eagles deep in their own territory.  One of his pooch punts was downed at the one-yard line after a funny bounce and he had another pooch punt that he got off in a respectable 1.22 catch-and-kick time.  While he lacked hang time (3.91) on yet another punt that was fair caught at the 15-yard line, he did generate 57 yards in distance on the kick.  Despite prototypical NFL-size for a punter,  the biggest question mark remains how he would fare kicking from a traditional style.

41 Josh Allen 6’5 230 OLB-Junior

Stats: 5 tackles, QB sack, 3 TFLs, FF

Allen did a fine job of working through traffic to slant inside (from a 2-pt LOLB spot) when the team ran zone blitzes from the wide side of the field.  From this same OLB spot, he ran down screens and quick swing passes that worked away from him with positive lateral pursuit angles.  When the team attempted to block him with H-back Julian Allen, he used his hands to snatch-and-pull him while maintaining his force as the quarterback flushed his way.  Despite somewhat of an angular frame, he translated speed-to-power to nearly post a safety running through Golden Eagles OT Paul Gainer, Jr. from the ROLB spot in the fourth quarter.  Allen’s ability to slip OTs was evident from either side, and he posted a quarterback sack and forced fumble in the first half.  He was equally effective slipping offensive guards when aligned head-up over them.  The junior’s versatility shined when they used him to walk out over the slot as he changed directions to break with fluidity versus screen passes.

Southern Miss Golden Eagles

32 Xavier Thigpen 6’5 240 OLB-Senior

Coming into the game, we knew Thigpen would line up all over the place in DC Tony Pecoraro’s multiple schemes.   Once again, he was often featured in a stand-up OLB position in the team’s amoeba defenses on third down.  He flattened effectively to thwart a Kentucky inside run on a 3rd and 6 attempt, displaying adequate flexibility.  On this play, Pecoraro had all 11 players standing up prior to the snap.  His versatility also showed up when re-mapping his course to stop a potential big kickoff return in kickoff coverage.  With his hand in the dirt as a LDE, he still needs work constricting his courses to prevent getting pushed by the pocket.  He was at least satisfactory plugging the puller versus power schemes.  His leggy nature was a bit evident when attempting to defeat cross-blocks from H-backs on split zone run concepts.

19 Curtis Mikell 5’8 170 CB-Senior

The diminutive Mikell has always overcome his size with zeal and fire.  Additionally, he’s adept at climbing the ball to fend-off potential catch opportunities down the field for bigger opponents.  In this game, he used his bail technique to keep vision on the quarterback before going up to deflect a post pattern away from the Wildcats 6’3, 214-pound sophomore WR Tavin Richardson.  His vision came up big when mid-pointing a seam route from the outside-in to nearly pick off another pass when in three-deep zone.  He also showed the ability to turn-and-run on a go route when in off-man coverage   versus one of Kentucky’s faster wideouts in Isaiah Epps.  His tackling stood out when defending smoke screens to the Kentucky wide receivers.

 

Q&A with Chicago Bears DB Deon Bush

When it comes to making a statement from a physical perspective, Chicago Bears and former Miami (Fla.) safety Deon Bush has proven capable of making it happen either defensively or on special teams. DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous sat down with Bush during 2016 East-West Shrine practices and discussed the strengths in his game.

Corey: How has it been so far this week working with a guy like Sam Madison (former All-Pro cornerback with Miami Dolphins)?  I know you’re kind of familiar with him from down that way (South Florida).

Deon: It’s always an honor to work with Sam Madison.  Coach Madison, I’ve worked with him since high school.  He was on
my 7-on-7 Express (South Florida Express) and he worked us out. He’s always good to work with; he knows the game of football. He’s
played for so long and it’s great to work with a guy like him.

Corey: You’ve had a lot of games in your career where you’ve kind of imposed your physicality. Go back to the Notre Dame game three years ago (2012), two forced fumbles. The physical part of the game is always been something you’ve always enjoyed.  But you’ve had some injury problems.  How have you been able to overcome that and become a consistent player?

Deon: I’ve been able to overcome that by accepting that in football you’re going to have injuries.  It’s a physical game and when
you play physical it is going to happen. You’ve got to fight through it and try to avoid those injuries as much as possible.  Just
fighting through it and not letting it just bring me down.  It’s part of the game at the end of the day.

Corey:  Do you feel like your man coverage skills are a little bit underrated?

Deon:  I feel like it’s an underrated part (of my game).  I’m confident against whoever they (offense) put out there. You can put a fast
receiver out there, a tall receiver, a tight end and I feel like I can cover them all.   I feel like I have the speed to cover them, I feel like I have the size to cover the big guys and I think I’m physical enough to cover the tight ends.  Every time I step on the field I try to show what I can do and try to prove to everybody that I can play all the coverages and be physical at the same time.

Corey: Who would you say was your toughest opponent in school?

Deon: I’d probably say Dalvin Cook (RB-Florida State).  He was a very explosive and fast running back.

Corey: We want to wish the best of the luck in the draft.

Deon:  Thank you.

-2016 East-West Shrine practices

Q&A with Cincinnati Bengals safety Clayton Fejedelem

Long before Cincinnati Bengals safety Clayton Fejedelem made it to the NFL, he made quite a statement in his final season for the Fighting Illini.  After starring at St. Xavier (an NAIA school in Illinois), Fejedelem decided to walk-on at Illinois in the spring of 2013. In his final season in the Big Ten, he led the conference with 140 tackles. DraftNasty’s Corey Chavous caught up with the former high school wrestler during the week of the 2016 East-West Shrine game to find out what drives him day-to-day.

Corey: What’s been the best experience so far this week in terms adjusting to these players after having such a good year in the Big Ten?

Fejedelem: It’s nice coming down and getting the top players in the nation from all over the nation. So you get to kinda test your worth
against a lot more conferences, a lot more different styles of play, different offenses and it’s pretty cool.  The coolest thing coming down here was getting the opportunity to talk to all those different scouts and all the guys you’ll see in the future.

Corey:  When you look at your game and how it evolved, would you say one of the more underrated aspects was just how quick you triggered forward in some of the quick game stuff when you were in man coverage (like against Minnesota)?  Talk about your eyes and how you see things on the field.

Fejedelem: Absolutely.  I take pride in preparing myself for the game, watching the film so I get out there and it’s muscle memory.  You only need to see a few keys and you already know the play that’s coming.  I take pride in the speed that I play the game and I think that’s one of my biggest assets.

Corey:  It seemed like there was competition between you and your other safety-mate (No. 3 Taylor Barton) when it came to just getting to the football and breaking on the football.  Was there a little inter-competition between you and him?

Fejedelem:  Me and Taylor Barton are pretty good friends off the field.  In practice, we’re always messing with each other on who can get their hands on more footballs and in the game it’s no different. That’s how you get paid..so.  He came up on top with a few more interceptions than I did this year.

Corey: You had more tackles though.

Fejedelem: I had a lot more tackles. There were throwing his way because there were scared to throw my way.  That’s the reason (laughs).

Corey:  That’s what I like to hear.  Finally, you kind of remind me of one of my former teammates, the late Pat Tillman (Arizona Cardinals, 1998-01),  in your tenacity and ability to get to the football. Also in your ability to play special teams.  Who do you compare yourself to at the next level?

Fejedelem: Currently playing, probably Eric Weddle (Baltimore Ravens). He’s out there and he’ s kind of a savage.  I like his style
of play; he’s very scrappy.  If I’m going back some years, I try to model my game as kind of a hybrid Ed Reed/Brian Dawkins.
Reed’s ballhawking ability and he wasn’t afraid to stick his neck in there. And Brian Dawkins was just an overall freak.  I try to hybrid
that.

Corey: Talk about your work in the weight room. What are your expectations in the short shuttle and other testing? Your coaches have talked about you being one of the faster players on the team. Tell us a little bit about your workout numbers, some of the stuff you’ve put up and what are your goals for the postseason?

Fejedelem:  Right.  I was one of the workout warriors as our head strength coach (former Illinois head strength coach Aaron Hillman) would say. I just enjoy the grind; I really do.  I think the more you prepare yourself in the offseason the better it’s gonna be.  Even if you are the most talented player all the extra work is gonna make you that much better. I put the extra time in with the squats, the benching.  I did pretty well last summer with my 225-lb test; I’m shooting a little bit higher.  I think that test was 22 (reps); right around there.  I’m shooting for that 38-inch vertical; right around there.  And I’d like to get under a four (4.0) in the shuttle and 40 (yard dash), try to run that high 4.4.

Corey: That’s awesome man.  We just want to wish you continued success and thank you for your time. Make it to the league.

Fejedelem: Thank you.  Appreciate it.

—Corey Chavous, 2016 East-West Shrine practices

Ezekiel Elliott 6’0 225 RB Ohio State: 2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report

15 Ezekiel Elliott RB 6’0 225 Ohio State

Photo by: Al Bradley
Former Ohio State RB Ezekial Elliott, pictured, has rushed for over 2,600 yards and scored 25 touchdowns in two seasons for the Dallas Cowboys after getting selected fourth overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Photo by: Al Bradley  Instagram: www.instagram.com/1djsoul

What makes this player NASTY (Strengths): Athletic bloodlines. Prototype size. Muscular build. Big game player. Brings his best vs. the best competition. Finishing speed. Ball security.  Keeps the football high and tight to his frame. Holds his top-end speed and has rarely been caught from behind in the open field. Sticks his foot in the dirt and gets vertical on inside zones. Runs with forward lean. Delivers punishment to safeties, LBs and DBs (6-yard run, 1st quarter, Notre Dame ’16). Gets on top of safeties and LBs quickly at the second level due to acceleration. Excellent hand-eye coordination shows up as an outlet on swings and flat routes. Patience.  On counter-trey and counter-trap runs, he allows the puller to make contact in the hole before making a decision. Possesses the deft, subtle skips to bounce runs to his left (Penn State í14). Outstanding blocker. He will get all the way up the third level to block safeties. Heís also been a factor lead blocking on strong sweeps; where he’s made highlight film blocks vs. CBs (Notre Dame í16-Fiesta Bowl). Ability to cut block has led to scoring opportunities in the red area (Barnett, TD, Illinois í15).  Measures the thigh boards and ankles of moving targets. Identifies and ID’s the most dangerous pass rusher in blitz pick-up.

Weaknesses: Does not always get his hips aligned to strike vs. longer OLB-types even after correctly identifying the man in pass pro (Penn State ’14, Oregon ’15).  Suffered a broken thumb in the 2014 fall camp. He hasnít always made the last man miss in open field situations (Daniels, Oregon ’15-national title game). Muffed and lost a punt vs. Virginia Tech in 2015. Underwent surgery on a wrist injury in the fall of 2014 and then again in the winter of 2015 (February). Had an infection in his leg in preparation for the Michigan State game in 2015 and was forced to spend time in the hospital due to pain. Posted just a 32 1/2-inch VJ at the 2016 NFL Combine.

Other Notes:

  • Earned a four-star ranking from Scout.com after starring in three sports (football, basketball and track & field)
  • Won state championships in the 100-meter, 200-meter (22.05), 110-meter high hurdles (13.77) and 300-meter hurdles as a senior
  • Named the Missouri Gatorade State Track Athlete of the Year in 2013
  • Tallied 50 total touchdowns as a high school senior
  • Coached by former NFL QB Gus Frerotte at the prep level
  • Father, Stacy, and mother, Dawn, both graduated from the University of Missouri and were standouts on the football and track teams respectively
  • 2013: 30 carries for 287 yards (8.7 YPC) and 2 TDs; 3 catches and one TD
  • 20 carries for 220 yards and 2 TDs vs. Wisconsin in the 2014 Big Ten Championship game
  • (OFFENSIVE MVP, 2015 Sugar Bowl): 20 carries for 230 yards and 2 TDs vs. Alabama on 1/1/15
  • OFFENSIVE MVP, 2015 National Title Game: 36 rushes for 246 yards and 4 TDs vs. Oregon
  • 2014: 273 rushes for 1,878 yards (6.9 YPC) and 18 TDs; 28 catches for 220 yards (7.9 YPR)
  • 27 rushes for 149 yards and 4 TDs vs. Notre Dame in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl
  • 2015 (Ameche-Dayne Big Ten Running Back of Year, 1st team All-Big Ten, coaches): 289 rushes for 1,821 yards (6.3 YPC) and 23 TDs; 27 catches for 206 yards (7.6 YPR)
  • 15 straight 100-yard games from 2014-15
  • 22 career 100-yard games
  • Career Stats: 592 carries for 3,961 yards (6.7 YPC) and 43 TDs; 58 catches for 449 yards (7.7 YPR) and one TD
  • 2016 NFL Combine: 10 1/4″ hands, 31 1/4″ arms, 4.47 (40-yd), 32 1/2″ VJ, 9’10” BJ

Time to get Nasty…(Our Summary):  Elliott’s deceptive stride length and natural power provide a poor man’s version of former All-Pro running back LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers, Jets). His light-footed skip steps set up blockers to seal the edge when bouncing runs or provide assistance for his blockers when running inside.  He has pop striking defenders in pass pro, but he could stand to match-up more square versus longer pass rush threats.  There are few questions regarding toughness, football intelligence or size.  Like Tomlinson, he’s very natural catching the football out of the backfield. Elliott projects as a starting running back in Year 1 and his style of play fits gap-schemed styles like the Carolina Panthers employ.

DraftNasty’s Grade: 6.605 (1st Round)

UPDATE: Elliott was picked fourth overall in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.  In two seasons in the NFL, he has rushed for 2,614 yards (4.6 YPC) and 22 touchdowns.  The 2016 first-team All-Pro selection has also caught 58 passes for 632 yards and three touchdowns.