By Alex Kozora
Our focus has shifted to the offseason and for the next few months, I’ll be providing scouting reports on several draft prospects. Some of these players the Pittsburgh Steelers may look at and others will be top players that will be off the board before they select. All to make you as prepared as possible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Breakdown of our first guard of the year. Penn State’s John Urschel.
John Urschel/OG Penn St: 6’3 313
– Technically sound
– Fantastic job of setting his hips and takes great angles in his blocks
– Overall, does a good job of getting his lower half churning, in sync with upper body
– Works hard to get his arms extended in the run game
– Plays with proper leverage
– Quality upper body strength and generates a push in the run game
– Good athlete who can operate in space
– Strength to anchor in pass protection
– Nasty to his game, finishes his blocks and plays to the whistle
– As smart as they come in the classroom
– Highly decorated career on and off the field
– The Bad
– Uninspiring build and despite large hands, owns average arm length (33 inches)
– Heavy hands
– Issue mirroring in pass protection, struggles against quick DTs with active hands
– Can lean in pass pro
– Not a top notch athlete
– Occasionally will fall off his blocks and on the ground a tad more than you’d like
– Only played one position
– Limited ceiling?
– Full-time starter last two seasons, spot started one game sophomore season
– 396 snaps during his junior season (2011)
– 2013 co-captain
– Two-time first team Big-Ten
– Two-time first team Academic All-American
– 2013 winner of William V Campbell Trophy, awarded to nation’s top scholar athlete
– Three-time first team Big Ten All-Academic
– Undergraduate work in mathematics in 2012, earned master’s in math the following year, currently working on second master’s in math education
– Has had two scholarly articles published
– Has taught two undergraduate math classes at Penn State
– In Penn State’s Scholar Athlete Hall of Fame
– Face painted on Penn State mural next to Sue Paterno
– Captain on high school football team as a senior, three-time captain on track and field team
I definitely had to be weary of “lazy scouting” with Urschel. It’d be eay to see a guy who is smart in the classroom while not having a particularly intimidating build on the field and call him what most might: a smart, tough, technician, who isn’t going to offer anything as an athlete. A phone booth blocker.
And my report does state some of those very things. But instead of starting with that, I want to recognize that Urschel is a good athlete. Probably more than he gets credit for.
Downfield block on this screen to spring the running back for a large gain. Urschel is #64, the right guard for the Nittany Lions.
Works to the linebacker, sticks, and drives him downfield, taking him out of the play.
Penn State ran a ton of inside zone and Urschel was asked to reach and scoop block a lot. Bad athletes can’t succeed in that scheme. He did.
Takes good angles and really does a nice job getting his hips into position. Lets him seal with easy and he routinely opened up big running lanes in Happy Valley.
And some still shots to show it.
Effort and second level blocking on the first play against Minnesota.
I listed a novel about the accolades he earned in the classroom. Would doubt you’ll find a smarter player in this class than John Urschel. Absolutely remarkable list.
As noted, he’s had two papers published. One entitled, “Instabilities of the Sun-Jupiter-Asteroid Three Body Problem” and the other, “A Space-Time Multigrid Method for the Numerical Valuation of Barrier Options.”
You get the idea. Wicked smart.
Multi-time captain also speaks well for his character and you’d have to think teams fell in love with him during the interview process.
Of course, he does have his flaws. Not a top notch athlete. Will struggle in pass protection against quick defensive tackles. Prone to getting beat.
I think Urschel would fit in just fine with the Steelers, who hope to re-implement their zone blocking scheme under Mike Munchak. System Urschel will be very comfortable in and he has the skillset to succeed in it. Offensive line is not a priority that some draftniks may make it out to be, but depth is an issue. Given his value, in the back half of Day Three, it’s a worthwhile selection.
Projection: Early-Mid 6th
Games Watched: vs Kent St, at Ohio St, at Minnesota
Previous Scouting Reports:
Buffalo LB Khalil Mack
Illinois State T/G Josh Aladenoye
Penn State WR Allen Robinson
Stanford ILB Shayne Skov/a>
Florida State WR Kelvin Benjamin
North Carolina TE Eric Ebron
Auburn T Greg Robinson
Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman
Notre Dame NT Louis Nix III
Auburn LB Dee Ford
Texas Tech TE Jace Amaro
North Dakota State T Billy Turner
Boston College RB Andre Williams
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney
BYU OLB Kyle Van Noy
Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald
Tennessee NT Daniel McCullers
Colorado State DE/OLB Shaquil Barrett
Alabama T Cyrus Kouandjio
Tennessee T Antonio Richardson
Central Florida RB Storm Johnson
Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller
Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
West Virginia DE Will Clarke
Louisville S Calvin Pryor
Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland
Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
Virginia T Morgan Moses
Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt
Mississippi WR Donte Moncrief
Central Florida QB Blake Bortles
Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
North Carolina DE Kareem Martin
UCLA OLB Anthony Barr
South Carolina CB Victor Hampton
Clemson WR Martavis Bryant
Fresno State WR Davante Adams
Texas DE/OLB Jackson Jeffcoat
Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard
TCU CB Jason Verrett
Louisiana Tech NT Justin Ellis
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk
Rice CB Phillip Gaines
Coastal Carolina RB Lorenzo Taliaferro
LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Cincinnati TE Blake Annen
Alabama LB C.J. Mosley
Auburn RB Tre Mason
Duke CB Ross Cockrell
Missouri CB E.J. Gaines
Utah CB Keith McGill
Nebraska WR Quincy Enunwa