|Timothy J. Gonzalez/AP|
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein is constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. In this space each week, Zierlein will share some of what NFL folks are discussing in their circles.
The scoop: "I'm really coming around on Luke Falk. He's a little skinnier than you want, but he can sling it and he's got some courage. I had him equal with a group of quarterbacks headed into the year. He's starting to separate himself." -- Director of college scouting on the Washington State QB
The skinny: Falk's sophomore tape really jumped out to me when I studied him this summer and I felt like he might be a quarterback who could play well beyond Cougars coach Mike Leach's Air Raid system. While Falk, a junior, is a little slender (6-foot-4, 216 pounds, per school measurements), he also has good height to see over the defense and a compact release to get the ball on its way quickly. What really stands out to me about Falk is his natural accuracy, pocket demeanor and ability to scan the entire field. Look for Falk to continue to receive buzz from the NFL scouting community in the weeks to come.
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The scoop: "I can't wait to find out the behind the scenes stuff because something isn't right. I thought he was going to be the breakout star but he's not even the best running back at Tennessee now. I think he's still a middle-rounder if he came out (for the NFL draft) this year, but I don't get the idea of switching positions at another school. That's a decision you let an NFL team make." -- NFC personnel executive regarding Jalen Hurd's intention to transfer and reported desire to change positions from running back to wide receiver or tight end
The skinny: I find the idea of Hurd switching positions to be intriguing. Hurd's long-legged build and rushing style are better suited to a downhill, pro-style rushing attack than the shotgun approach that Tennessee uses. While Hurd can create for himself with his power, he doesn't have the initial quickness to dodge and dart around penetrating defensive linemen when his offensive linemen don't hold the point of attack early on. His hands are solid, but learning to be an effective route runner would take time. He might have a chance to become a "move" tight end down the road, but no matter where he next plays, I still think he should give running back a shot first.
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The scoop: "I think he will end up back at school (next season). If he's going to make a decision based on the (NFL Draft) Advisory Board, my guess is (the projection) won't be high enough for him to want to come out. But then again, he's a tackle with some length and those guys go higher than you expect sometimes." -- NFC regional scout on Florida State left tackle Roderick Johnson
The skinny: Johnson, a junior, has good size (6-foot-7, 311 pounds, per school measurements) and long arms. Those traits are always going to be appealing to NFL teams looking for a future starting left tackle. I agree that his waist-bending in pass protection and lack of consistent core strength against bull rushers can be problematic when projecting his play to the next level. However, we've seen prospects who play that position be picked earlier than their grade suggests they should because of the way teams value left tackles.
Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.