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 Indiana Hoosiers finished last in the Big Ten last season but feature a solid group of NFL prospects. They’ll lean heavily on their defense in their hope to rebound in 2009.
Rodger Saffold: No. 76, OT, 6-5, 306
Gets too wide with his footwork and struggles keeping his base compact in pass protection. Doesn’t generate much power when extending his arms into blocks and is easily disengaged on the outside. However, he displays good athletic ability in space with the quickness to cut off rush lanes once he loses a step.
Exhibits an above-average first step off the edge and has the range to consistently reach corner on his initial kick-slide. However, he has a tendency to get too high and lose balance vs. elite rushers, and struggles to quickly redirect and anchor at the point. Can be overwhelmed on contact and fails to consistently stay on blocks.
Does a nice job reaching defenders off his frame in the run game and uses his athleticism to chip at the line and seal at the second level. However, he isn’t a real physical in-line run blocker and struggles generating much push at the point of attack. Doesn’t possess the body control to consistently stay on linemen through the play and is eventually disengaged on contact.
Impression: Displays above-average athletic ability off the edge, but lacks the power and balance to quickly redirect and stay with athletic pass rushers in space. Struggles generating much movement in the run game and will have a tough time finding a home at offensive tackle at the next level. Might be best suited to kick inside and play guard in a zone-blocking scheme.
Note: Former wideout Ray Fisher will make the move to cornerback after leading the Hoosiers’ offense with 42 receptions and five touchdowns last year. He’s a smooth athlete with good ball skills, and it will be interesting to see how he transitions to the defensive side in 2009. He’s definitely worth keeping eye on this season.
Note: The Indiana secondary will get another boost this year with the return of former starting safety Nick Polk. Polk started seven games last season but missed the final three games because of a season-ending ACL injury. However, he’s a big, good-looking athlete who runs well for his size and is worth watching in 2009.
Greg Middleton: No. 92, DE, 6-3, 282
Defensive end Greg Middleton
Doesn’t play with much leverage at the point of attack, which causes him to really struggle holding up vs. the run. Is too easily washed away from the ball and doesn’t exhibit the type of power his size would indicate. Has a tendency to play soft and isn’t a guy who really craves contact. His motor rarely runs on high, and he doesn’t showcase the type of passion to consistently close on plays in pursuit.
Displays good lateral quickness and possesses the body control to quickly break off an inside move in space and come up underneath the opposing offensive tackle. Uses his hands well to slip blocks and showcases good coordination around the edge. However, he plays too high to be a consistent threat off the edge and lacks the base to fight his way through blocks. Struggles disengaging any time an offensive lineman gets his hands on him and at times looks content to be blocked.
Impression: Displays good natural fluidity and can be tough to stay in front of in space. However, he plays too high, isn’t much of factor vs. the run, and possesses a below-average motor. Looks like a guy who has some potential but will likely wash out at the next level.
Jammie Kirlew: No. 57, DE, 6-2, 265
Displays a decent first step off the edge but lacks the kind of burst to consistently reach the corner vs. athletic offensive tackles. However, he exhibits impressive short-area quickness and is a very sudden pass rusher. Possesses good body control and does a nice job cleanly changing directions while maintaining his balance and sidestepping blockers on the outside. Is violent with his hands and showcases the ability to consistently disengage from blocks 1v1.
Plays under control, but will occasionally miss his reads and take false steps in pursuit. Is inconsistent vs. the run and has a tendency to lose his balance and get washed out of plays. However, he showcases flashes of physicality at the point of attack and has the ability to play with leverage, but needs to become more reliable in that area. Uses his hands and length well to keep himself clean along the line and works hard in pursuit.
Impression: One of the better pass rushing defensive ends I’ve seen this year. Lacks a great first step, but is very sudden when changing directions and uses his violent hands to consistently fight off blocks. Has the ability to improve against the run and is a guy I could really see creating some pressure off the edge at the next level.
Matt Mayberry: No. 43, LB, 6-2, 244
Linebacker Matt Mayberry
Isn’t real instinctive inside the box, has a tendency to bite on play fakes and struggles to consistently find the football. However, he exhibits good straight-line speed and has the ability to run sideline to sideline and make plays in pursuit.
Lacks power at the point of attack and isn’t much of a factor when asked to attack downhill and fill run lanes inside. Is consistently sealed at the line of scrimmage and struggles fighting his way through blocks toward the football.
Isn’t real fluid in his drop and struggles to stay low and keep his feet under him when trying to get out of his breaks. Opens his hips initially off the snap and has a tendency to get too high in his back-pedal.
Impression: Displays some range when asked to run sideline to sideline, but lacks instincts and doesn’t have the type of power you want from a middle linebacker at the next level.
Will Patterson: No. 34, OLB, 5-11, 236
An undersized linebacker who lacks the bulk to take on blocks inside the box and consistently gets overwhelmed at the point of attack. Is routinely pushed past the play by any type of contact and even when he does make a play, its always five-plus yards down the field.
Exhibits good fluidity in space and does a nice job staying low in his drop, keeping his feet under him and generating some burst toward the ball, but he isn’t real instinctive and lacks a feel in zone coverage. Consistently allows receivers to uncover around him and doesn’t have much of a nose for the ball.
Impression: Lacks the size to hold up at the line of scrimmage, and although he’s a good athlete, he doesn’t possess the instincts to consistently make plays in coverage.