2009 NFP Scouting Series: Southern Miss
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 could warrant interest from NFL teams in the 2010 draft.
The Southern Miss Golden Eagles finished with a record of 7-6 last season and will lean heavily on the legs of senior running back Damion Fletcher if they hope to compete for a Conference USA title in 2009.
Damion Fletcher: No. 25, RB, 5-10, 178
An undersized back who lacks ideal bulk and possesses a thin lower half. Isn’t real explosive and lacks the straight-line speed to outrun defenders at the second level.
Displays good vision and at the line of scrimmage and runs hard through the hole. Reaches his top speed quickly and exhibits the body control to remain balanced out of his lateral cuts and instantly attack up field. Does a nice job keeping his pad level low when changing directions, but he isn’t real shifty in space.
Lacks the agility to consistently make a man miss at full speed. Doesn’t possesses the power in his lower half to break tackles and is easily tripped up in space.
Is a coordinated athlete who does a nice job adjusting to the throw in the pass game and plucking the football with his hands. Showcases good footwork as a receiver and has the ability to cleanly get out of his breaks.
Impression: Displays natural vision and has a good feel for game, but simply lacks the size/speed numbers to be much of a threat at the next level.
Anthony Gray: No. 95, DT, 6-0, 314
Does a nice job getting his hands under the pad level of opposing linemen on contact and driving his way into the backfield. Is short and plays with natural leverage because of it, however, he isn’t a real natural bender. Has the ability to generate even more power from his lower half if he learns to keep his base down through the play.
Showcases natural body control on runs away from his frame and has the ability to shuffle his feet through slide-down blocks and disengage toward the ball. Exhibits good straight-line speed for the position and displays the range to make plays in pursuit.
Possesses good awareness off the snap and gets into opposing linemen quickly. Generates a strong initial jolt on contact and has the power to push the pocket.
However, he struggles shedding blocks in the pass game and doesn’t possess the balance to quickly disengage when working his way up the field. Lacks ideal short-area quickness and is more of a bull-rush threat.
Impression: A short, stocky interior lineman who displays good athleticism for the position and can push the pocket inside. Isn’t a real sudden pass rusher and needs to learn to play with a lower base. However, he has the potential to develop into a rotational lineman at the next level.
C.J. Bailey: No. 20, CB, 5-10, 190
Struggles to sit into his stance in man coverage and has a tendency to get bent over at the waist. Struggles with his initial burst because of it and lacks the type of closing speed to make up for a false step.
Gets too mechanical with his footwork and is consistently forced to gather himself in order to remain balanced; gives up a lot of separation underneath because of it. Doesn’t look comfortable when asked to turn and run with receivers and has a tendency to get grabby out of his transition.
Begins to open up his hips prematurely and although he does exhibit good straight-line speed down the field, he lacks the footwork to quickly change directions. Struggles when asked to play with his back to the ball and fails to quickly locate the throw.
Impression: Struggled vs. better competition and doesn’t look real comfortable in his drop. Gets erratic with his footwork and lacks the fluidity or balance to stay with NFL receivers in man-coverage.
Eddie Hicks: No. 18, FS, 6-2, 185
A tall, lean safety who struggles generating power from his base when asked to break down as tackler. Is more of a drag-down guy. Lacks physicality and doesn’t seem real interested in taking on blocks.
Is consistently sealed away from the football and doesn’t exhibit the power or willingness to fight his way toward the action. Isn’t real instinctive reading his run/pass keys and is slow to diagnose the action in front of him.
Isn’t fluid in his drop and struggles to cleanly get out of his breaks in coverage. Gets too leggy and has a tendency to become overextended with his footwork. His feet are all over the place when asked to change directions.
Lacks a first-step burst and is more of a strider who takes a while to get up to speed. Doesn’t consistently take proper angles toward the ball and can be out-paced in tight areas.
Impression: Possesses a long frame, but lacks the power or fluidity to hold up in any area of the game at the next level.
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