|Tim Heitman/US Presswire|
|Kellen Moore is one of the best quarterbacks in college football, but his size could limit his pro potential.|
Each Monday throughout the college football season, NFL.com draft expert Bucky Brooks will share his notes and evaluations on potential NFL prospects for the 2012 draft and beyond. An asterisk (*) denotes players who aren't seniors.
A few observations
» Kellen Moore is a great college quarterback, but his sub-standard measurables makes it hard for scouts to get excited about his pro potential. Although the Boise State star continues to add to an impressive résumé, it will be hard for him to improve his stock with his 5-foot-11, 191-pounds frame and marginal arm strength. He fails the eyeball test in person and evaluators will have a tough time projecting him as an NFL-caliber quarterback.
It's unfortunate that Moore lacks the physical dimensions coveted at the position because he has all of the intangibles to be an outstanding quarterback. He shows excellent timing, anticipation and awareness as a pocket passer. He throws the ball in rhythm and rarely appears unsure where to direct his throws. His mastery of Boise State's system allows him to quickly diagnose the coverage and exploit the open areas with tosses to his second or third option in the progression. He makes good decisions with the ball, which is reflected in his touchdown-to-interception ratio (102 TDs, 20 INTs).
While Moore's savvy has led to extraordinary success, his physical deficiencies would be harder to mask as a pro. Defenders tower over him at the snap, and he could have difficulty finding passing lanes in a crowded pocket. He would also suffer from the lack of elite arm strength required to make tough throws against fast defenders. At this point, he can defeat cover corners with his anticipation of open windows, but the slow pace of his throws would allow quick NFL defenders to step in front of his intended target. Even elite passers struggle adjusting to the speed of pro defenders.
» Russell Wilson is an intriguing QB prospect. Wilson had a terrific debut as a Badger (10 of 13 for 255 yards with three touchdowns; two rushes for 62 yards, including a 46-yard score) following an illustrious three-year career at N.C. State. He finished ranked third in school history in career passing yards (8,545) with 93 total touchdowns, which also ranked second in school and ACC history. Given his remarkable success as a three-year starter for the Wolfpack, it was surprising the team allowed him to leave following a brief stint with the Colorado Rockies' minor league affiliate during the spring. However, his arrival at Wisconsin could significantly improve his pro prospects due to his ability to work in a pro-style offense.
Wilson has a solid understanding of pre-snap adjustments, and he's dangerous on the perimeter as a dual threat quarterback. He is comfortable working inside the pocket following conventional drops or play-action fakes. He possesses a strong arm and shows good ball placement on short and intermediate throws. He shows good anticipation, awareness and timing by routinely leading receivers into open areas with his passes. Wilson also displays excellent poise under duress and is very comfortable working through his progression before checking the ball down to his running backs in space.
Like Moore, however, Wilson's size (5-11, 203 pounds) will be the biggest challenge en route to the NFL. But the positive track record of Wisconsin quarterbacks (Brooks Bollinger, Jim Sorgi and Scott Tolzien) in the league will raise Wilson's value and give him a legitimate shot of finding a home as a late-round prospect.
» Ryan Broyles might be the best receiver in college football. That's high praise but the Oklahoma star has a polished game that is superior to his counterparts. As a precise route runner with extraordinary quickness, Broyles is nearly impossible to guard in the slot. He uses varying tempos and releases to gain leverage on defenders, and his burst out of breaks creates separation once the ball is thrown. He shows exceptional concentration in traffic and rarely allows the ball to get into his chest. His strong hands are remarkable considering his size (5-11, 187 pounds).
Broyles is also an exceptional open-field runner, as evidenced by his ability as a punt returner. He has averaged 11.2 yards per return in his career with two touchdowns.
While his production is a bit inflated due to the Sooners' spread offense, the fact that he has 280 receptions -- including another 14 for 158 yards and a score against Tulsa last week -- over three-plus seasons gives him a tremendous amount of experience. That could lead to a quick transition to the pro game, and make him an instant contributor.
Word on the street
» *Matt Kalil of USC is the top offensive tackle in college football. An NFC scout I talked to couldn't stop raving about Kalil's footwork, agility and athleticism. He loves Kalil's ability to hold up in isolated situations in pass protection and was even more impressed with his dominance as a run blocker.
» Arizona wide receiver Juron Criner is creeping up draft boards as a potential impact player. The 6-3, 215-pounder has been on the radar of scouts for the past year, but his impressive debut (six catches for 151 yards and a score against Northern Arizona) opened some eyes. An NFC scout told me he believes Criner's size and athleticism make him an ideal No. 2 receiver capable of doing the dirty work over the middle of the field.
Nick Foles, Arizona, QB: Foles had a spectacular performance in the Wildcats' opener against Northern Arizona. He connected on 34 of 42 passes for 412 yards with five TDs. He tallied three of those scoring strikes in a third-quarter flurry that put the game out of reach. With a tough contest against Oklahoma State on the horizon, the tuneup gives him a ton of momentum to start the season.
*Matt Barkley, USC, QB: The Trojans' offense sputtered at times against Minnesota, but Barkley efficiently picked apart their coverage (34-45 passes for 304 yards with three touchdowns) and showcased his pinpoint accuracy.
Dwight Jones, North Carolina, WR: Jones continued to build on the momentum he generated as a junior with his impressive performance against James Madison. He finished with nine receptions for 116 yards and two scores.
*Orson Charles, Georgia, TE: Charles made a statement with his six-catch, 109 yard performance against Boise State. He displayed the athleticism and speed that has scouts raving about his potential to develop into a matchup nightmare as a pro.
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, QB: Weeden did little to dismiss his gunslinger label with three interceptions against Louisiana-Lafayette, repeatedly throwing into tight coverage. His questionable decisions continue to raise flags about his ability to transition to the NFL from a spread offense.
*LaMichael James, Oregon, RB: James has posted big numbers as the feature back in the Ducks' spread offense, but questions linger about his ability to produce outside of that system. With an 18-carry, 54-yard performance against a stingy LSU defense, those concerns will remain until he has a standout game against an elite team.
Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks