2009 National Football Post Scouting Series: Ole Miss

Dale ThortonCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2009

DALLAS - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Jevan Snead #4 of the Mississippi Rebels drops back to pass against the Texas Tech Red Raiders during the AT&T Cotton Bowl on January 2, 2009 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

For the rest of the summer, the National Football Post will be 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.

We start our series with the University of Mississippi, which has a possible franchise-type quarterback in Jevan Snead and considerable talent along the offensive and defensive lines.

Here is our first look at the top Mississippi prospects:

Mississippi Offense

Jevan Snead: No. 4, QB, 6-3, 215

NOTES: A potential NFL franchise quarterback who possesses a strong arm and good confidence from the pocket. Does a nice job really snapping the ball off on all levels of the field and giving his receivers a chance to make plays.

Showcases clean footwork from under center, but gets fidgety in the face of pressure. He has a tendency to trust his arm too much at times and doesn’t always move his feet and stride into throws, which causes the ball to sail on him.

He needs to do a better job reading defenses and going through his progressions quicker, as he will lock on to his primary target and force the ball into coverage. His accuracy and timing get spotty at times.

Impression: Potential franchise QB prospect, but is too erratic with his accuracy.

Dexter McCluster: No. 22, WR, 5-8, 168

NOTES: An undersized slot receiver who displays the consistent ability to gain initial separation out of his breaks. He exhibits good balance and body control as a route runner and is very dangerous after the catch.

Has the ability to make a man miss and is very elusive in the open field. Showcases a great first step out of his stance and gets on top of corners quickly. Can really snap a route off on a dime.

Will also line up in the backfield and is an explosive third-down type of running back who gets up to speed quickly. However, he lacks any kind of power and is taken down very easily at the line of scrimmage.

Impression: Has a place in the NFL, either in the slot, as a third-down back or as both.

Shay Hodge: No. 3, WR, 6-1, 207

NOTES: A tall, good-looking wideout who does a nice job adjusting to the football and making the play at its highest point. He isn’t really explosive after the catch and isn’t going to make anyone miss.

Is slow to get out of his stance and lacks burst as a route runner. A glider who doesn’t have any kind of second gear to his game and plays at one speed.

Impression: Will struggle gaining separation at the next level.

Cordera Eason: No. 25, RB, 5-10, 225

NOTES: A physical, downhill runner who does a nice job running behind his pads and gets up to top-end speed quickly. Isn’t real shifty in the open field and lacks any kind of second gear or breakaway speed.

However, he runs with authority at the line of scrimmage and showcases good patience and instincts. Drives his legs through contact and consistently falls forward.

Impression: A physical runner with good vision and power, but plays at one speed.

Gerald Harris: No. 80, TE, 6-5, 250

NOTES: He possesses a nice sized frame and natural flexibility in his stance. A coordinated blocker who showcases a quick first step and does a nice job winning the initial hand battle and gaining inside position.

However, he lacks upper body strength and struggles sliding his feet on contact. Can be easily ripped across his frame by bigger defensive ends and will drop his head too quickly when engaged, which causes him to lose balance at the point of attack and struggle staying on blocks.

Impression: Displays good technique as a blocker, but lacks the power to stay engaged.

John Jerry: No. 77, OG/OT, 6-5, 348

NOTES: A massive offensive lineman who is ideally suited to play inside at guard, but has also started at RT during his career. Possesses natural bend and flexibility for his size and showcases an explosive first step.

Consistently gains the upper hand on defensive linemen because of his quickness and has the agility to get around on reach blocks.

However, he has a tendency to get overextended in his play and will lose balance easily. As an offensive tackle, he lacks fluidity in space and is very susceptible to the inside counter move.

Impression: A powerful interior lineman who is ideally suited to play inside in the NFL.

Daverin Geralds: No. 72, C, 6-2, 312

Snaps and steps quickly and is a decent overall athlete in space. Gets out to the second level well and has the athleticism to hit a moving target away from his frame.

A fluid lineman in pass protection who slides well laterally but lacks the quickness to consistently mirror sudden defensive linemen.

Struggles to stay balanced when engaged and allows defensive linemen to muscle their way across his frame.

Impression: An average NFL athlete, but lacks balance when engaged.

Reid Neely: No. 71, OG, 6-6, 310

Notes: Showcases a quick first step with a flexible, strong base and does a nice job winning initial hand battles. Possesses the quickness to reach DTs off his frame and angle them away from the play.

Drives his legs through contact, works until the whistle and does a nice job fighting to say on blocks. However, he will lose his balance at times and overextend himself, which allows DTs to counter his initial surge.

Has the athletic ability to pull and get out to the second level, but struggles breaking down in space and hitting a moving target. Doesn’t have heavy hands, and even when he gains inside position, his blocks are easily shed.

Impression: A tough, experienced lineman with the athletic skill set to play inside in the NFL.

Mississippi Defense

Greg Hardy: No. 86, DE, 6-4, 265

NOTES: A sudden athlete who displays the burst to consistently reach the corner. Possesses the body control and flexibility to dip under tackles and gain initial leverage on contact.

Does a nice job mixing up his pass rush and has the coordination and lateral mobility to counter inside and fight through blocks. Exhibits good lower body strength and is a lot stronger at the point of attack than given credit for.

Lacks elite closing speed, but works hard in pursuit and plays until the whistle. Needs to do a better job using his hands to avoid being cut down at the line of scrimmage, which should in turn help him avoid further injuries.

Impression: An explosive, polished pass rusher who looks like a key NFL contributor.

Marcus Tillman: No. 92, DE, 6-4, 260

NOTES: A flexible athlete who coils up into his stance well but doesn’t take a positive first step off the ball and has a tendency to get too high in his pass rush. Isn’t real physical and doesn’t like to take on blocks.

Doesn’t use his hands well at the point of attack and will simply throw his shoulder into blockers and allow himself to get taken out of plays.

Showcases good body control and change-of-directions skills as a pass rusher and exhibits the closing speed to get after the quarterback.

Has the ability to add a half step off the ball with some work on his stance.

Impression: Demonstrates some raw pass rush ability but isn’t physical at the point of attack.

Lawon Scott: No. 96, DT, 6-1, 322

NOTES: A gifted athlete for his size. Does a nice job using his hands to keep defenders off his frame and avoiding being cut down at the line of scrimmage.

Possesses a powerful lower half but has a tendency to get too upright when asked to make plays away from his frame and on his pass rush. Displays some lateral quickness as a pass rusher, but doesn’t consistently exhibit a low pad level.

Has the ability to push the pocket, but at times plays too cute and refuses to use his natural lower body strength to overpower defenders. Works hard in pursuit but ends up on the ground too much and lacks great awareness off the snap.

Impression: Has NFL starting potential but needs to learn to play with more grit and a lower pad level.

Patrick Trahan: No. 7, OLB, 6-3, 228

NOTES: An athletically gifted linebacker who showcases impressive explosion and closing burst to the football. Possesses great speed and fluidity in all areas of his game. Is comfortable in space and was even asked to line up over the slot receiver at times last season.

However, he isn’t very physical and struggles shedding blocks, even against wideouts.

Isn’t the most instinctive linebacker and is slow to read run/pass keys, but the athletic ability is there. Makes most of his plays in pursuit and has the closing speed to play sideline to sideline.

Impression: An athletically gifted linebacker who plays well in space; an ideal Cover 2 guy.

Be sure to check out the rest of my breakdowns at www.nationalfootballpost.com/the-scouting-department.html