Each year, NFL hopefuls in college football look to fill in the gaps in their resumes for pro scouts. This year will be no different.
The college football season kicks off next week, and many players will soon be on the clock. These five might have the most to prove:
David Fales, QB, San Jose State
When I ask my scouting friends for their evaluation of Fales, I get a wide range of opinions. Everyone loves his timing, touch and toughness, but there isn't a consensus when it comes to his arm strength. A few evaluators believe he has enough arm to succeed at the next level, while many others have their doubts. Personally, I would love to see Fales drive the ball with more velocity this fall. He needs to prove he can make the difficult, small-window throws that translate to the next level. If he can put a few of those on tape for evaluators to study, he will emerge as a very appealing option for NFL teams in need of a starting quarterback.
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
Thomas entered last fall with very high expectations. There was some buzz in personnel circles that he could even emerge as the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft had he decided to enter. Unfortunately for Thomas and Virginia Tech, he fell well short of those expectations. His footwork was very poor and his accuracy was an issue all season. He would occasionally flash the tools to make rare throws and create plays with his legs, but he didn't do it consistently enough. He'll have a chance to redeem himself right off the bat in 2013. The Hokies square off against the defending national champions (Alabama) in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic next Saturday in Atlanta.
Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Skov is a solid football player with a big reputation in the media. However, NFL evaluators have concerns about his speed and overall athleticism. He was very lethargic at times last season (although some of that can be attributed to his return from injury). He has the size and physicality to bang with offensive guards in the run game, but he needs to prove he can hold up in pass coverage this fall. Pac-12 offenses will provide plenty of opportunities for him to prove he can play in space.
Kyle Van Noy, LB, BYU
Van Noy put up ridiculous statistics last fall, including 22 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and six forced fumbles. He has a nose for the football and plays with an excellent motor. While evaluators love his production and effort, there is some concern about his lack of strength. This is an issue that shows up when he has to take on blockers in the running game. He is light (236 pounds) and he struggles to hold the point of attack on a consistent basis. Scouts won't be bothered if he fails to produce the same eye-popping statistics in 2013, as long as he proves he can hold up physically against the run.
James Hurst, OT, North Carolina
College football is loaded with quality offensive tackles; Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan and Antonio Richardson have each garnered plenty of national attention heading into the 2013 season. Hurst would love to join that upper-echelon group and he'll have an opportunity to do just that in the Tar Heels' season opener next week. North Carolina goes on the road to play South Carolina and all-world defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. If Hurst can pitch a shutout in that contest, his stock will soar with NFL evaluators.
Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.