Josh Norris

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Good From Far, But Far From...

Monday, July 16, 2012


As a complement to my Love At First Sight piece, below I offer a handful of seniors that flash an intriguing characteristic, but once they are evaluated more carefully their overall game is more muddled than expected. We will call them the "Good from far, but far from good" prospects.


Just because a player is on this list does not mean he is doomed to fail or will not improve. All it means is that up until now that prospect has not shown the complete caliber of play that I had hoped. In fact, a few of these names have received plenty of preseason attention, but I cannot project as large of an improvement that others might.

You can see where these players fit in our Senior Rankings.


Purdue DT Kawann Short (6'3/310/5.28) - The inspiration for this piece, Short played all over the Purdue defensive line last season, especially defensive end, and tallied 17 tackles for loss including 6.5 sacks. That is impressive production for a man his size. However, he has very little burst off the line, specifically on the edge, which makes it much more difficult to win on first contact. Short is consistently jolted and engages with a high pad level, opening up a larger target to latch on to. This poor posture really hampers his ability to plant and anchor versus the run, therefore Short frequently loses ground or even his footing. I hate seeing trench prospects go to the ground multiple times per game. Hate it. Nothing positive happens there. It shows a lack of balance, base, and coordination. Short did flash splitting lanes by getting skinny in short yardage situations and make an engulfing tackle for loss, but those plays were few and far between. I saw him take more plays off after facing a double team when pass rushing than I did positive plays. If Short can be more physical on first contact and not allow offensive linemen to latch on to his chest by extending with length to leverage and separate, we will see improved play. But that is a handful of "ifs" for an alleged first-round pick.


Virginia OT Oday Aboushi (6'6/310/5.20) - Aboushi offers ideal size and uses it effectively when crashing down in the running game. His upper body is balanced and Aboushi does not fall for spins or slippery techniques, instead catching the pass rusher mid-move with a strong grasp. The problem lies in his lower half; Aboushi's feet are not quick enough to mirror pass rushers around the edge after uncoiling from his stance. His pass drop is sloth-like. Just turn on the contest against Florida State, specifically his matchup with Brandon Jenkins, and Aboushi is abused play after play. If he bails on his pass drop then defensive linemen have an easy outside to inside move due to Aboushi's overextension. At the snap, he is excessively bent over and it shows when contacting pass rushers. Aboushi's hands start at his waist and take far too long to reach their target. I question his base and balance, because Aboushi is another player that goes to the ground far too often when he is the one supposedly in control. If Aboushi is in a balanced, proper position with the pass rusher in his grasp, he is very good. However, this will be far more difficult to achieve at the next level and the consistency is just not there at the moment.


Baylor WR Terrance Williams (6'1/190/4.49) - Williams is widely considered the next Baylor receiver to be drafted in the Draft's top two rounds. His vertical speed is undeniable, and Williams flat out runs past awaiting off coverage defensive backs that are late to hip turn and chase while tracking the pass over his shoulder. Problem is, Williams is not a natural pass catcher. Too often he allows the ball to enter his body and struggles when forced to extend his arms. Some may not consider this an issue moving forward, but to me, it is all part of Williams' soft style of play. He rarely attacks anything with intent to dominate. Williams takes what is given to him on routes, sitting into soft zones rather than exaggerating his footwork to create even more separation. Run blocking is poor, as Williams tends to bow his arms on contact instead of engaging and sustaining. During routes, he is consistently slowed by contact rather than avoiding it or delivering a straight arm himself. Finally, there is very little run after catch ability after contact. Even from a simple push, Williams goes down easily. He is vertical slot prospect that offers a large target to contact. Williams is not overly explosive out of breaks but could show improvement this season while being considered Baylor's top target. Although, Kendall Wright showed these skills much earlier on.


USC DE Wes Horton (6'5/265/4.77) - Every year, many high schoolers are given scholarships just because they possess a frame to build and a game to work on. Some work out, many do not. NFL evaluators may have the same dilemma with Horton in April. Problem is, there is very little "football player" in Horton. It is apparent that he has been taught the basics: use his length on contact, work around the edge to force the quarterback to step up, etc. But natural play recognition and quick reactions cannot be taught. On the edge, Horton is a grinder that flashes straight-line athleticism, but there is very little power behind his game especially when attempting to disengage. Horton's upper body is easily manipulated and once contact is initiated, the Trojan's impact is usually over. He initiates the wrong angles when closing on the quarterback and ball carriers, taking himself out of plays and even losing end responsibility. Anticipation and feel are not there versus the run, specifically when offensive linemen are crashing down on his shoulder. An anchor is non-existent since Horton does not lower his center of gravity. I see natural athlete, not natural football player.


Georgia DT Johnathan Jenkins (6'3/351/5.45) - Jenkins is massive, that instantly stands out. Too bad he plays like a teddy bear on the field, repeatedly staying in the offensive linemen's grasp while losing ground rather than working to disengage and separate. When Jenkins does not jolt the opposition on first contact, he is defeated. Too often he is an absorber rather than delivering the blow, therefore he has to work from behind. Flashes are there for Jenkins, extending his arms with apparent upper body strength and uncommonly quick feet for his size, but consistent tenacity is not part of the package. Even when he penetrates, Jenkins does not have the speed to reach ball carriers in the backfield. I am all for rotating defensive linemen, but Jenkins seemed to sit out multiple series in a row. In his defense, Jenkins faced plenty of guard/center double teams when pass rushing and chose to occupy rather than press the pocket. He is currently a soft road block, but his entire game could change if the switch turned on. I need to see determination rather than a delicate giant.



Josh Norris is an NFL Draft Analyst for Rotoworld and contributed to the Rams scouting department during training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Josh Norris



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