Josh Norris of Rotoworld.com joined us again this week to talk about the NFL and NFL draft prospects.
We started off with Saturdays opponent, UAB, and it was a short chat. Theres probably nobody on the Blazers roster, at least no upperclassmen, who will be on an NFL team. So we moved quickly on to Gamecocks in the NFL, including the surprise of the season for me, which is former offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins, who may start this week for the St. Louis Rams.
When you look at the Blazers, is there anybody in there that might catch the NFLs eye?
No, theres really not to be perfectly honest. I dont even know if they have anybody in the top 50 at any position.
Now, we can move on and talk about something else, and the first of those is former Gamecock and current St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Rokevious Watkins. How did he look in the first week?
They shuffle their offensive line the entire preseason, and they really havent found that continuity game. He didnt start this game but then they had some injuries and they put Watkins in there at left guard, and he actually played pretty well. Hes a massive guy, especially compared to their other blockers. I think hes their biggest one. I think hes up to 340 pounds, or maybe down to 340 pounds. Hes a big guy, can really move people in the running game. He has a long first step, which is very good on those zone runs, and he got to the second level pretty well for a big guy. However, in the passing game, pass blocking was where he struggled. He struggles to mirror in his lateral moves. Hes someone who really wants to punch on the first contact and take a good shot, but, especially in pass blocking and switching of defensive linemen and crossing him, they took advantage of his inexperience. He didnt know which lineman to pick up and when to switch. Thats something to look for moving forward, but he actually did pretty well for a debut. With these injuries to the center and left tackle, he may see a lot of playing. And (running back) Stephen Jackson is their best offensive player so he can really open up some holes for him.
Rokevious was the first South Carolina offensive lineman drafted in the Steve Spurrier era, but South Carolina has put a ton of defensive backs in the NFL. Does that track record help current Gamecock defensive backs get attention at the next level?
I cant speak specifically to South Carolina, but this is one of the things that came up when I served a very short time in the scouting department of the NFL, just as an intern there. This kind of came up out of nowhere: which schools do you trust to produce players and which schools do you not? There were lists with both sides. (Teams) that really stood out positively were Georgia, Alabama and Iowa. They just love players who are ready to compete, who are competitive, physical and also have some technique. So many of these athletes are missing technique and get by on natural ability. But this changes when a coaching staff changes, and there is so much of that in the college landscape. An example of that is a school like Miami. They used to produce all these prospects, and they are still getting the same about of high school talent I guess you would say, but they come out so much more raw. They dont come out as the same finished product. South Carolina, I absolutely agree, the defensive side of the ball is something evaluators absolutely love. You saw it last year with a guy like Melvin Ingram, comes out and is prepared for it. Hes very physical, and Stephon Gilmore really came out of nowhere on a national scene to be the second cornerback drafted. I think its certainly something that theyre taking a liking, too.