This summer, the National Football Post is breaking down every team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) to identify players who might warrant interest from NFL teams in the 2010 draft.
The Penn State Nittany Lions return a talented group of prospects from their 2009 Rose Bowl team and look like the favorites to win Big Ten in 2009.
Darryl Clark: No. 17, QB, 6-1, 233
Possesses a strong arm and can make throws outside the numbers with good zip, but his deep ball tends to hang. Does a nice job anticipating routes down the field and has the ability to throw receivers open once he’s set in the pocket. Has the build of a Greek god and exhibits the strength to break tackles and keep plays alive with his feet. Is very comfortable on the move and is a dual run/pass threat once he breaks containment. However, he needs to do a better job gathering himself before the pass. Has a tendency to get sloppy with his footwork and doesn’t always align his feet and body with the throw, which causes him to lose sight of the strike zone.
Isn’t real natural with his timing in the short/intermediate pass game and has a tendency to miss high on his throws. Doesn’t look comfortable from under center and struggles with his balance and footwork in his drop. Possesses a high delivery point and the athleticism to move around in the pocket and find throwing lanes, which help make up for his lack of height.
Impression: An intriguing athlete who will likely be asked to take the same route as former Penn State quarterback Michael Robinson at the next level.
Evan Royster: No. 22, RB, 6-1, 212
A tough, inside runner who showcases the vision and patience to pick his way through the line of scrimmage. Is a balanced back who consistently drops his pad level on contact and is very powerful in the lower half. Does a nice job working his way through creases at the line and keeps his legs pumping through the hole. Is very difficult to knock off balance and possess the footwork and strength to absorb a hit and keep driving forward. Displays a sudden jump-cut and exhibits the footwork to quickly changes directions, square his shoulders and attack up field.
Has a good first step and showcases a burst out of his breaks, but lacks the second gear to run away from defenders in the open field. Isn’t overly elusive and isn’t going to consistently make defenders miss. However, he breaks a lot of tackles and is able to generate long runs because of it.
Impression: Isn’t going to “wow” you with his quickness or speed, but he’s an instinctive runner with great balance and looks like a starting-caliber back at the next level.
Andrew Quarless: No. 10, TE, 6-5, 253
Fires off the ball and gets on top of linebackers quickly. Is an impressive athlete for his size and possesses the straight-line speed to consistently get down the seam. Is an explosive leaper with long arms who knows how to high point the football and secure the catch. Displays good balance and fluidity as a route runner and knows how to separate out of his breaks. Still developing as a blocker, but certainly has the size and power to be effective in that area. Didn’t play much last season because of troubles off the field, and because of it he lacks some awareness in all areas of his game.
Impression: Is one of the most physically gifted tight ends in the country but has yet to put it all together. His lack of maturity is the only thing holding him back from developing into a good tight end at the next level.
Mickey Shuler: No. 82, TE, 6-4, 250
A savvy receiver who lacks the burst to get down the seam but displays good short-area quickness and knows how to work his way into soft spots on all levels of the field. Is a natural plucker who extends his arms well and does a nice job securing the ball over the middle. Showcases good technique as a blocker and consistently gets his hands inside and angles defenders away from the play.
Impression: Is never going to be much of a playmaker at the next level, but he does all the little things right and looks like a solid No. 2 option.
Stefen Wisniewski: No. 61, C/G, 6-3, 302
Is a bit narrow in his stance but showcases great flexibility and can really fire off the ball and get into linemen quickly. Has a strong lower half and does a nice job driving his legs through contact and washing interior defenders away from the play. Plays with natural leverage and consistently gets under his man and locks him out at the point of attack.
Showcases strong hands and does a nice job moving his feet and sliding with opponents on contact. Redirects quickly in the pass game and demonstrates the coordination to mirror defenders in space.
Possesses the body control to chip and get out to the second level, where he exhibits a jarring punch on contact. Displays good technique and bend in all areas of his game and can really anchor inside. Gets a bit ahead of himself on slide-down blocks and will lose his balance trying to stay on defenders down the line. However, he’s comfortable pivoting out of his stance and eliminating targets in space.
Impression: You can tell he’s the son of a former pro: He’s technically sound and looks NFL-ready. The best interior lineman I’ve studied so far this year.
Dennis Landolt: No. 73, OT, 6-4, 305
Lacks flexibility and is a bit high out of his stance, but does a nice job delivering a quick punch on contact. Moves his hands and feet in sync and showcases good coordination in pass protection. Displays a smooth kick-step on the outside, but consistently gets too high on contact and can get walked into his quarterback’s lap. However, he possesses impressive lateral mobility and redirects quickly off any kind of inside move.
Isn’t overly physical in the run game. Struggles staying low on contact and driving defenders down the field. Is at his best using his initial punch and athleticism to gain a step and angle linemen away from the play.
Impression: Lacks the physical tools to play offensive tackle at the next level, but is a coordinated athlete who may be able to find a home inside.
Note: Penn State ILB Sean Lee will return this year from an ACL injury that cost him the 2008 season. He’s considered one of the nation’s top middle linebacker prospects and is certainly a guy to keep an eye on in 2009.
Jared Odrick: No. 91, DT, 6-4, 305
A long, powerful interior lineman who can really coil up into his stance and fire off the ball. Does a nice job crossing the face of offensive linemen and driving his legs through gaps inside. Is very explosive off the snap and possesses the balance to absorb a lineman’s punch and walk him into the backfield.
Displays a good initial jolt on contact, but gets a bit upright when met with the resistance of the double-team. Needs to do a better job keeping his butt down and holding the point of attack. However, he plays with much better leverage when working down the line and has the body control to slide laterally when engaged and clog run lanes on either side of him. Times the snap count well and consistently is one of the first defensive linemen moving off the ball.
Has a strong, coordinated swat and can cleanly sidestep blocks inside or simply bull rush opposing linemen into their quarterback’s lap. However, he isn’t overly sudden when his initial rush is slowed and has a tendency to get too high when trying to disengage.
Impression: Has a good-looking frame and an impressive combination of burst and power. Looks like a starting interior lineman at the next level.
Navorro Bowman: No. 18, OLB, 6-1, 230
A gifted athlete who is very comfortable in space and does a nice job cleanly redirecting out of his breaks. Reads and reacts quickly to the play and possesses the balance to instantly close on the ball. Is a tackling machine who wraps up well on contact and takes proper angles toward the ball. Showcases the base strength to take on linemen in the hole, but lacks the length and upper body strength to quickly disengage. Possesses the straight-line speed to make plays sideline to sideline and does a nice job shifting his way through traffic.
Impression: A gifted athlete who quickly finds the ball and can track plays all over the field. Looks like an ideal weakside linebacker at the next level.
A.J. Wallace: No. 1, CB, 6-1, 200
An impressive-looking athlete who displays a real second gear to his game and gets up to speed quickly. Exhibits a good initial burst out of his breaks and showcases the range to track the football down the field. However, he’s very raw in all areas his game and lacks instincts in zone coverage. Consistently struggles locating the football and doesn’t tackle as well as his frame would indicate.
Impression: The tools are there, but he doesn’t look like much more than an intriguing developmental guy at this stage.
Be sure to check out the rest of my team breakdowns at NationalFootballPost.com.