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 Northwestern Wildcats have an impressive group of senior prospects on the defensive side of the ball and should build on their solid 2008 campaign.
Kurt Mattes: No. 78, OT, 6'6", 298
Isn’t real flexible out of his stance and struggles firing off the ball and getting into blocks quickly. Lacks body control and doesn’t possess the coordination to drop his pad level and cut down defenders on the edge.
Displays a below-average burst on his kick-step and has a tendency to get his hands outside defenders instead of punching them at the point of attack.
Plays too high off the ball and doesn’t exhibit the power to consistently get into blocks and engage on contact. Has a tendency to get jolted by opposing linemen and is easily stacked and shed on the outside. Doesn’t display much power in the run game and lacks the base to drive defenders off the ball.
Impression: Lacks the power, footwork and coordination to play at an NFL level.
Corey Wootton: No. 99, DE, 6'6", 270
A really powerful defensive end who does a great job dropping his pad level and delivering a strong initial jolt on contact. Has the natural strength to rock offensive linemen backward at the point and walk them into the play.
Isn’t an explosive, quick-twitch athlete and lacks the ability to consistently reach the corner. However, he possesses a big first step off the snap and has the ability to get on top of offensive tackles quickly, even though he rushes with his right hand down and right foot back. Will further enhance his initial burst with improved footwork out of his stance.
Exhibits impressive lateral mobility as a pass rusher and does a nice job taking offensive tackles up the field, planting his foot in the ground and shooting gaps inside. Possesses good flexibility and body control and does a nice job dipping under linemen on his outside pass rush.
Uses his long arms to keep opposing players off his frame and make his way through traffic.Impression: Has a great build, with good power and suddenness in all areas of the game. Looks like a contributing starter at the next level.
Adam Hahn: No. 79, DT, 6'4", 298
Lacks great power and flexibility in his base and struggles anchoring at the point of attack. Can be washed out of plays too easily and struggles being much of a factor vs. the double team.
Is a good straight-line athlete who works hard down the line and showcases impressive closing speed for his size. Is at his best when asked to beat slide-down blocks and make plays on the perimeter.
Lacks length and isn’t much of a factor vs. the pass game. Doesn’t have the burst to shoot gaps inside, and once linemen get their hands on him, the battle is over. Struggles disengaging from blocks and finding the football quickly. Has a tendency to take himself out of too many plays vs. the pass.
Impression: Lacks the necessary power and explosion to play at an NFL level.
Sherrick McManis: No. 24, CB, 5'11", 190
A smooth, flexible corner who sits into his back-pedal well in off-coverage and knows how to drive on the football. Displays good instincts and looks comfortable reading the quarterback’s eyes and jumping routes underneath. Has a tendency to open his hips up a bit early in zone coverage and allows himself to drift down field.
However, he does a nice job of changing directions cleanly and is smooth when asked to redirect and pick up a new receiver crossing his face. Shows a willingness to stick his head in vs. the run game and take on blocks on the outside. Plays with a swagger and has a nose for the ball.
Displays good patience when asked to turn and flip his hips and trust his second gear to run with receivers down the field. Gets a bit high when he starts to transition, which doesn’t allow him to quickly click and close on the ball.
However, he’s still tough to gain separation from because he does a nice job keeping his feet under him and staying compact with his footwork.
Impression: A savvy corner who possesses clean footwork and has the necessary tools to start on the outside in the NFL.
Brad Phillips: No. 17, FS/SS, 6'2", 216
Is built like a linebacker, but displays surprisingly fluid movements in the pass game for his size. Isn’t real explosive or sudden but does a nice job keeping his feet under him and changing directions cleanly. Struggles staying with receivers down the field and lacks the burst to drive on the ball out of his breaks.
Isn’t a two-stepper, and it takes him a bit to get up to full speed. Displays good power as a tackler and is a physical wrap-up guy. However, he will struggle breaking down in the open field and has a tendency to get too high and lose his balance when closing on the ball.
Impression: Displays decent footwork in space for his size, but will need to make the transition to strong safety at the next level to have a chance of making a roster.
Brendan Smith: No. 4, SS, 6'0", 212
A strong, wrap-up tackler who breaks down well in space and takes good angles toward the ball. Displays impressive instincts on all areas of the field and does a nice job quickly reading his run/pass keys. Lacks the range to consistently make plays sideline to sideline and struggles closing on runs away from his frame.
Exhibits a smooth, compact drop and does a nice job staying balanced and driving on the football in front of him. However, he’s stiff in the hips and will fight himself when trying to quickly change directions. Lacks the burst to stay with receivers down the field and consistently is playing from behind.
Impression: Has a thickly built frame and good power as a tackler, but is stiff and lacks the range to be much of a factor in coverage.
Be sure to check out all my breakdowns at Nationalfootballpost.com.