Scouting the Buckeyes: Offense
By Brandon Castel
They have yet to begin their senior seasons at Ohio State, but there is already some buzz surrounding the Buckeyes for the 2012 NFL Draft.
Terrelle Pryor may be gone but there is still plenty of talent in Columbus and Wes Bunting recently broke down Ohio State’s top pro prospects for The National Football Post.
Among the players scouting by Bunting were wide receiver DeVier Posey, defensive end Nathan Williams, linebacker Andrew Sweat and a trio of offensive linemen in Mike Adams, Michael Brewster and J.B. Shugarts.
His most interesting analysis, however, may have been directed at tailback Boom Herron.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“(He) isn’t dynamic really in any athletic or physical aspect. However, he runs with a strong base, has impressive short-area quickness and a natural feel between the tackles,” said Bunting, director of college scouting for the NFP.
“Can certainly contribute early in his NFL career in a rotation and will create for himself if he has to.”
Herron ran for 1,155 yards and 16 touchdowns as a redshirt junior last season, but has not been viewed by many as a legitimate pro prospect. He is only 5-10 and 202 pounds but he packs a lot more punch than his small frame would suggest.
“(He) is a naturally strong kid who gets better as the game goes on. Runs with a good forward lean when pressing the hole. Keeps his pad level down, is decisive when asked to pick his way through traffic and does a nice job setting up blocks inside,” Bunting wrote.
“Runs with a good foundation, is tough to knock off balance and once he slips/breaks a tackle, he accelerates quickly into the open field.”
It is there Bunting sees the one glaring weakness in Herron’s game; one that could keep him from being a full-time starting tailback at the next level.
“He likes to finish runs into daylight, but isn’t overly dynamic in the open field. Possesses only average straight-line speed—4.5 range— and can be tracked from behind.”
Speed was also a major factor in Bunting’s analysis of DeVier Posey.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“(He) does have a somewhat explosive element to his game vertically,” he wrote.
“Doesn’t quite have the deep speed to consistently outpace NFL corners on the outside, but plays fast, tracks the football well and can routinely adjust to the throw. Displays good body control/coordination when asked to go make a play on the football in jump ball situations and can make some stellar grabs off his frame.”
That was about where the compliments ended and the critiques began.
“(He) seems content to simply try to run through contact instead of disengaging off the line and can be easily re-routed off the snap,” he said of Posey.
“Too often skips off the snap, slowing himself off the line and really starts to drift prematurely into his breaks. Displays some natural balance on sharply breaking routes running/accelerating through the break, but rounds off his route significantly and wastes a lot of motion because of it.
Bunting said Posey is not detail oriented, making a lot of minor mistakes that add up over the course of a season. His one major mistake, however, is one Ohio State fans became all-too familiar with last season.
“(His) concentration runs hot and cold as he too often allows throws to get into his body and he will put the ball on the ground,” Bunting wrote.
Which is why he does not make a favorable projection for Posey as a big-time receiver at the next level.
“Possesses some natural talent and can make plays down the field and track the football. However, he’s raw as a route runner, puts the ball on the ground and will have a tough time vs. press in the NFL,” said Bunting, who has been scouting college football since 2002.
“Doesn’t look like much more than an occasional big play threat who needs to work inside at the next level.”
Bunting’s analysis of the Buckeyes took a favorable spike when talking about the three offensive linemen from the class of 2008. He started his analysis with center Michael Brewster, who he believes could be a starter in the Nation Football League as a rookie in the right situation.
Photo by Dan Harker
“A tall, flexible center who sits into his stance well, displays natural bend and creates pretty consistent leverage for someone his size,” he said of Brewster.
“Snaps and steps quickly and does a great job in the pass game quickly getting his hands up, gains proper hand placement and is a really sticky player through contact. Is tough to disengage from because of his heavy hands and natural shuffle and slide ability through contact.”
He wasn’t done raving about Brewster’s abilities as a pass protector.
“Maintains his balance well, keeps his base/feet under him and holds up consistently one-on-one inside vs. the pass,” Bunting wrote.
“Possesses good awareness and feel inside as well, keeps his head on a swivel, consistently picks up stunts cleanly inside and has the range to redirect in space, maintain balance and stun a blitzing linebacker with a compact/strong punch.”
His one major knock on Brewster was the fact he at times takes poor angles in run blocking, which allows defenders to get up field and create havoc in the backfield. That’s something he improved on last season and he should only continue to improve.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Another player Bunting sees as a future starter in the NFL is left tackle Mike Adams, but not nearly as quickly as Brewster.
“He’s a talented kid with a big frame, long arms and natural movement skills. He can bend, just doesn’t do it consistently,” Bunting wrote.
“If he can put it all together and clean up his footwork he could certainly mature into a starting caliber tackle, but is going to need some development.”
As with most offensive tackles, that will start with his footwork, something Adams has been trying to improve since the moment he got to Ohio State.
“(He) struggles with balance and footwork, gets overextended when trying to shuffle and slide. Needs to clean up his lower half technique and do a better job staying more compact and balanced when changing directions,” Bunting wrote.
“Is long armed and keeps his hands up in order to protect his frame, but again doubles over at the waist into contact and gets his shoulders out in front of his feet too often.”
That is about as accurate a scouting report as one could give on Adams’ flaws, but Bunting says he also has all the tools to be a starter in the NFL.
“A tall, long armed, athletically built offensive tackle with a frame that can add even more girth and get even bigger,” he wrote.
“Displays good initial quickness off the snap in the pass game. Displays the ability to keep his base down on his initial power step off the line from a two-point stance and displays natural fluidity in the hips and good short-area quickness toward the edge and when asked to mirror.”
As a run-blocker, Adams is a bit of a mixed bag.
“(He) doesn’t generate a ton of snap in the run game as an in-line guy. Gets high coming out of his stance, struggles with leverage and can be stonewalled vs. college defensive ends,” Bunting wrote.
“Is at his best crashing down the line inside and delivering a nasty punch in order to seal the edge. Also, possesses the short-area quickness/coordination to reach block on the edge and is comfortable in space.”
Bunting is less convinced about the potential he sees in right tackle J.B. Shugarts, saying that he looks “more like a fringe roster guy only in the NFL.”
J. B. Shugarts
Photo by Dan Harker
“(He) isn’t the most athletic or natural of benders when asked to sit into his stance,” Bunting wrote of the OSU senior.
“(He) struggles to keep his base down off the ball, stands upright out of his stance in the pass game and seems to bend over at the waist consistently.”
He also said that Shugarts is “tight in the hips” and loses his balance easily while lunging into contact and needs to do a better job “sinking his hips” and playing lower. He is constantly exposed on the counter, but makes up for some of technical flaws with some “real grit” and a nasty demeanor.
“(He) takes good angles on the edge and has a good first step when trying to reach the edge. Displays natural initial balance on his kick slide but has only average range,” Bunting wrote.
“Uses his long arms and strong punch to stun defenders on the outside and push them past the pocket. Exhibits decent anchor strength because of his strong base and long arms.”
All three players were highly-touted as members of the “Brew Crew” back in ’08. They have all developed into multi-year starters, with Adams earning first-team All-Big Ten honors last season while Brewster was named an All-American by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
Adams will miss the first five games of the season while serving an NCAA-imposed suspension.
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