College Football 2009 NFP Scouting Series: Virginia Cavaliers

Dale ThortonCorrespondent IJuly 20, 2009

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - AUGUST 30:  Tailback Mikell Simpson #5 of the Virginia Cavaliers scores a touchdown against the Southern California Trojans during the game at Scott Stadium on August 30, 2008 in Charlottesville, Virginia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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 Virginia Cavaliers finished with a 3-5 record in the ACC last season, but you can always count on head coach Al Groh to have a solid group of prospects ready for the next level. This year looks to be no different.


Note: QB Jameel Sewell returns after missing the 2008 season because of academic problems. He’s a raw quarterback prospect but might warrant consideration from NFL teams due to his impressive athletic ability.

Mikell Simpson: No. 5, RB, 6'1", 205

Exhibits a good first step and gets up to speed quickly, but it’s his short-area quickness that makes him effective. Is an instinctive runner who has the ability to avoid the initial tackle and create a play when things break down.

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Possesses the lateral mobility to make a man miss in a phone booth and does a good job attacking upfield quickly. However, he doesn’t showcases the same type of patience or vision when asked to read blocks in front of him and pick his way through the line of scrimmage.

Displays good straight-line speed and can create some separation from defenders at the second level. Does a nice job keeping his balance when changing directions and can outrun angles in space. Isn’t overly physical and doesn’t break a lot of tackles. Has a tendency to get swallowed up at the line of scrimmage.

Impression: Showcases impressive short-area quickness and has the ability to fill a roster spot at the next level; could warrant a draftable grade with a strong senior year.

Rashawn Jackson: No. 31, FB, 6'1", 248

Showcases good power in his lower half when running the ball and has the ability to drive his legs through contact and push the line of scrimmage. However, he lacks the speed to consistently threaten the edge and isn’t going to make anyone miss.

Has a tendency to get too high in space and loses his base strength when trying to change directions, which causes him to get tripped up easily for a back his size. Is patient through the hole and does a nice job allowing blockers to set up in front of him, but lacks the burst to explode into the second level.

Displays good body control and patience as a blocker in the pass game; possesses the footwork to mirror defenders laterally and really explodes through his hips on contact.

Exhibits the athletic ability to reach a moving target at the second level, but needs to do a better job staying low into his blocks. However, he displays a jarring punch on contact as a lead blocker and certainly has the power to eliminate defenders in the run game.

Impression: An intriguing athlete who has the physical makeup to develop into a do-it-all fullback at the next level.

Will Barker: No. 61, OT, 6'7", 318

A technically sound offensive lineman who possesses a coordinated kick-step out of his stance and has the ability to quickly set on the edge. Gets too high off the ball but does a nice job sinking his hips and extending his arms into blocks.

Possesses the footwork to cleanly redirect in space and is consistently able to drop his pad level, gain leverage, and anchor inside. Does a nice job working his hands and feet through contact and staying in front of defenders in pass protection. However, he isn’t much of a Velcro player and will allow defenders to disengage on the outside and work their way toward the ball in pursuit.

Isn’t as coordinated in the run game and gets overextended trying to drive opposing linemen off the ball. Has a tendency to reach into blocks and will lose his balance, allowing defenders to get slip across his face and make their way into the backfield.

Impression: Showcases the technique and body control in the pass game to certainly hold down a starting right tackle assignment in the NFL.


Note: DB Chris Cook has rejoined the Virginia team after missing the 2008 season because of academic problems. Cook started 18 games during the 2006-2007 seasons and possesses the size (6'2", 205) and athletic ability to warrant a draftable grade with a strong senior year.

Ras-I Dowling: No. 19, CB, 6'2", 200

A good-looking athlete with a long, muscular frame and impressive coordination for his size. Showcases excellent physicality in the run game and does a great job taking on blocks and fighting his way toward the football. Lacks ideal technique, but he possesses the strength and willingness to simply overpower receivers on the outside.

Displays good patience and balance in off-coverage, but has a tendency to get too high in his drop and looks a bit mechanical with his footwork. However, he does a nice job keeping his feet under him and cleanly changing directions.

Exhibits good fluidity when asked to flip his hips, but struggles getting back up to speed quickly and consistently allows receivers to gain a step on him. Yet, he looks comfortable when asked to play from behind and possesses the length to high-point the football.

Showcases the natural flexibility to sink his hips and close on the play, but his technique gets a bit sloppy once the whistle blows. Displays good instincts in zone coverage and demonstrates the range and length to consistently get his hands on the ball.

Impression: Has some rough edges to his game, but he’s a great-looking athlete with the ball skills and physicality to play either safety or corner in the NFL. Looks like an intriguing Cover Two guy.

Vic Hall: No. 4, CB, 5'9", 190

Lacks ideal balance and body control in press coverage and struggles staying in front of receivers when trying to re-route them off the line. Looks a bit top heavy and isn’t real flexible in his drop. Has a tendency to get “leggy” with his footwork and is easily separated from out of his breaks.

Showcases good awareness in zone coverage and does a nice job jumping routes and quickly diagnosing plays underneath.

Displays the first-step burst to close on plays around him and possesses the coordination to adjust his body and break up the pass. However, he lacks the speed to make up for a false step and isn’t real physical taking on blocks in the run game.

Impression: Lacks the balance and fluidity needed to be considered much of a slot guy in the NFL and simply doesn’t have the physical dimensions to play on the outside.

Be sure to check out the rest of my breakdowns at Nationalfootballpost.com.


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