Pro prospects: UGA talent; big game for Johnson

jkendall@thestate.comOctober 3, 2012 

This week’s chat with Josh Norris of (@JoshNorris on Twitter) is our longest of the season, and our best. Norris talks about Georgia’s many NFL prospects but gives Gamecock fans reason for optimism in his evaluation of star linebacker Jarvis Jones and mammoth defensive tackle John Jenkins. Norris also talks about how much he likes Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray and why this is a big resume game for Gamecocks like center T.J. Johnson.

Georgia has got plenty of NFL prospects, and it starts in most people’s mind with Jarvis Jones who is their pass-rushing linebacker, a guy who moves around the field a lot. When you look at Jones, what do you see?

He gets moved around quite a bit. They run a 3-4 mainly. Not every 3-4 is created equally, but this 3-4 is one of the more traditional ones with the outside linebackers both being able to pass rush. Jones is not just a left outside linebacker, he’s not just a right outside linebacker. He moves around, and the best thing about him is his burst off the ball and the ability to win with just that first step. That can come in handy so much in college football. You can get so much production out of that because you face so many heavy-footed, unathletic offensive tackles. You look back at his Missouri games, he went against Elvis Fisher to start the game until Fisher got hurt, and he could just beat Fisher right off the step and just work around. He can use that little bit of bend because Jones does bend around the corner and take a direct angle at the quarterback. And he has a high motor in terms of chasing the play down in the running game. However, I’m not quite there putting Jarvis Jones in the same category as a Von Miller a couple years ago, and it’s because Jones does struggle with athletic offensive linemen. I believe Corey Robinson is the left tackle, and I haven’t done a bunch of work on (Brandon Shell), but Robinson is going to have to keep his feet behind him. He’s going to have to stop that first initial move. If you stop Jones’ momentum, he does suffer a lot from there. He doesn’t have a nice speed counter or a strong counter move. He doesn’t plant that outside foot and work back in, so if you can halt that momentum, get your hands on him and stuff him on that first blow by, I think that he’s a lot less effective. They did it last week with the Tennessee, Antonio Richardson and Dallas Thomas combined on that left side to stop him all day long. I believe he only had a half a tackle for loss and that’s it, compared to being dominant all season. I’ll be really watching him to see if he does use anything more than that outside speed rush, and if that outside speed rush isn’t working for him, I’ll think he’ll have just an average day.

Jarvis Jones is not the only guy he’s got that has some pro potential. Who are some other guys that you like, or that the NFL likes, from that roster?

There are so many, especially on that defensive side of the ball. Why don’t we start with John Jenkins, big John Jenkins. T.J. Johnson is going to have a massive day with him. John Jenkins is someone that I am really hot and cold on. Sometimes you look at him and he is just dominant off the snap and can really get in the backfield with some quick hands and some quick feet. He’s a massive guy, what 6-3, 358 pounds, something like that, but then there are other times where he just doesn’t do anything after first contact. He loses, he’s very soft. He plays like a teddy bear. There really are two sides to him, and it seems like as the game goes along, he gets worse and worse. He’s taken out for long periods of time and re-inserted. I think the slanting, zone-blocking style of the Gamecocks’ running game will give him a lot of trouble because is going to have to run the line or get up the field in penetration. That’s also going to have a lot to with Abry Jones, their defensive end, who is another big, solid guy, 6-3, 308 pounds. He doesn’t have necessarily the same height as some of the 5-techniques in the NFL do, but I think for college football he is great at it. He’s got the strength to anchor, and then they have another defensive tackle in Kwame Geathers who is another massive guy, 6-5, 355 pounds. He’s only a junior, but they rotate him and Jenkins at times and even move him and Geathers over to defensive end at times. A couple more guys in the back seven, you’ve got Baccari Rambo, who gets all the glory as this big All-American last year, intercepted a bunch of passes. He’s made the most of his opportunities. I actually like their other safety, Shawn Williams, a little bit better. He’s a much better tackler. I think he’s more aggressive downhill. He plays that strong safety spot, and he makes fewer mistakes than Rambo, and then you have Sanders Commings, who did play some safety early in the year, has moved back to corner. He’s not an exceptional athlete, but he’s very composed. He understands his limitations, he’s very knowledgeable of routes. And then you’ve got Alec Ogletree, who’s this junior linebacker who I think has a lot of similarities to (Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker) Lawrence Timmons, but this guy is even bigger. He’s very much sideline to sideline. He’s great in coverage, just a junior. Finally, Cornelius Washington, who’s going to be opposite Jarvis Jones at that other outside linebacker spot, has great length at 6-4, 268 pounds. That’s pretty much a loaded defense. I only didn’t name about two or three guys there in the starting lineup. They’ve got plenty of talent.

You got time for the offensive guys, just two guys there?

Obviously you have to start at quarterback, Aaron Murray, a junior. People might say comparatively that he is short, but I think that anyone that looks at (Seattle Seahawks quarterback) Russell Wilson, he’s 5-10, isn’t going to think that a guy who is 6-1 is short. What makes him not appear short is his ability to shuffle and reset to find throwing lanes. He does that a lot with great pocket movement, and, despite his lack of height, he is not afraid to test downfield. With all these other quarterbacks being hot and cold, these junior ones I am talking about, Logan Thomas, Tyler Bray and some others, Aaron Murray has been the most consistent force and he really might be the top one of the group right now. Maybe he might not have the uber upside that the other ones do, but he’s consistent and teams love that. And finally you have Tavarres King, who is this solid junior receiver who has really come on this year as a downfield threat and is making big play after big play. I believe he has had some down weeks, maybe some defenses are rolling some coverages around him, but he has really come along, and he’s got vacuums for hands.

And one final question, when scouts start breaking down tape and saying, ‘OK, I want to get my final impressions of this guy,’ are these the kinds of games they want to watch because it’s a big game?

It’s a question that a lot of people ask. ‘How do you know which games to watch?’ and ‘How do you know which games to watch?’ Well, for me, I like to have at least three exposures for each player. One of the exposures being the best game they had statistically, the second one being against the top competition whether it be one player or one team and then third, some other point in the season. Let’s say both of those are in the later parts of the season, I might pick one at the beginning. This definitely classifies as a top competition game. Let’s say for a guy like T.J. Johnson, who’s going up against a 3-4 defense, so you want to see how he faces off against that nose tackle. So those are the different type of style matchups that you want to watch. This is definitely one of those games that will be classified as one of those top-competition games. You want to see if this South Carolina defensive line can overcome the Georgia offensive line, which is a very young group and see if they dominate them as they should, and see if these blockers can get past this stout Georgia defense. And if (Marcus) Lattimore can break these tackles of Ogletree and Rambo and Williams at the second level. This could definitely be one of those games that evaluators will watch live and then go back and watch it again.

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