NFL Media 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: "All this stuff with (former USC coach Steve Sarkisian) will create the kind of turmoil in that locker room that will challenge (Cody) Kessler. I suspect he's a little bit of a lamb-killer, so we'll see if he can rise to the challenge or if he will be the shrinking violet we saw last week (in a loss to Washington)." -- AFC Pac-12 scout on the USC QB
The skinny: The "lamb-killer' comment references fattening up the stats on lesser opponents, but it's worth noting that Kessler put six touchdowns on Notre Dame and three on Nebraska in back-to-back games to close out last season. However, Kessler is not close to being my favorite quarterback prospect thanks to concerns I have with his pocket poise. Here is a question I would pose: Is it fair (or better yet, smart) for evaluators to use this challenging period at USC to make a determination about Kessler's leadership and mental toughness? I would be careful about that if I were an NFL scout. Judging a college quarterback based upon these very extraordinary circumstances seems short-sighted. If I'm going to downgrade Kessler, it will be because of what I see on tape from him this season.
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The scoop: "Go study the left tackle from Texas Tech and tell me what you think. I came into this year with a late-round grade on him, but after watching him against Arkansas, TCU and Baylor, I think he's more like a Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) player -- probably middle second round." -- NFC scout on Texas Tech left tackle Le'Raven Clark
The skinny: I need to study Clark more closely, but after watching him this summer, I came away with a less favorable opinion of Clark than this scout currently has of him. It is worth noting that I had a Round 3-4 soft grade on him thanks to his size, athleticism and incredible length. Clark has to work on his hand usage and play with better control, but he clearly has the traits to excite NFL evaluators looking for a left tackle.
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The scoop: "I was doing some background work on Taysom Hill and other BYU prospects the other day and, man, that guy is a player. I had never really looked at him very closely, but he had pro size and a pro arm." -- AFC director of scouting on the injured BYU QB
The skinny: Hill combines NFL size, good arm strength, underrated touch and above-average athleticism. Unfortunately, after suffering a season-ending Lisfranc injury (foot) in September, he has now endured season-ending injuries in three of his four years at BYU. He now has a decision to make. His options include returning to school for another year or leaving to pursue the NFL. He is said to have a lucrative job waiting for him when he is done playing. There is a chance that his various injuries will simply chase him into a new life outside of football.