Scouting the SEC: Arkansas

Scouting the SEC: Arkansas

Houston Nutt has turned the Razorback program around; some say for the better and some otherwise. Despite all the off-the-field problems, there is no questioning the fact that Nutt has changed this into a competitive program and increased the talent on the roster.

The number one prospect on this roster, Shawn Andrews, is perhaps the nation's best offensive tackle prospect. Andrews looks and plays big; he's a behemoth that destroys opponents, driving them off the line run blocking or holding his ground in pass protection. Yet at the same time Andrews displays decent footwork and lateral slide in space. We do not feel this is the case of a college right tackle that projects to the left side at the next level, rather a highly sought after strongside blocker that could be an early pick next April if he leaves for the draft. As Andrews has risen to the top of his position Cedric Cobbs has gone in the other direction.

Just a few seasons ago Cobbs looked like the next franchise running back, a ball carrier with power, speed and moves. But after shoulder injury and then off-the-field incidents, Cobbs is not even listed as the team's starter going into the season. A naturally gifted runner with instincts, Cobbs has a very smooth style. He displays flashes of his old self on occasion but limited consistency. Even his coaches have complained in the past that he's a "soft player". Underachievers, especially at the skill positions, have a way of not getting selected come draft time and that may be the case for Cobbs unless the light goes on very soon.

Jason Peters is a tight end in an offensive lineman's body. Strong at the point, Peters is very effective as a blocker and not a bad pass catcher when called upon. He needs to iron out the rough edges and will never be a tight end that makes plays down the field but he could be a solid number two at his position.

George Wilson could be a number four receiver at the next level if the big pass catcher improves his hands, while Richard Smith displays enough speed to get consideration as a slot receiver.

Lead blocker Matt Peirce plays with a fullback's mentality but has limited upside.

Left tackle Bo Lacy is a workman-like blocker who could backup in the NFL at several positions, while Matt Jones is one of the more intriguing prospects on this roster. Jones has pocket passer size and an NFL arm but is better carrying the ball than passing it, as his accuracy and fundamentals leave a lot to be desired. Even with that there is no discounting the way Jones wins football games (last-second pass against LSU to secure the SEC West title) or keeps his team in games (14 points in the last 6 minutes to tie Tennessee in Knoxville). He needs to be schooled in proper passing techniques but is a solid developmental prospect.

Defensively, both corners could move up significantly with solid senior campaigns. At the top of his game Lawrence Richardson is a shut down cover-man with excellent speed, explosion and ball skills. Lacking a physical nature, Richardson gave up a lot of big plays last season, more than a highly ranked corner should.

Ahmad Carroll does not play to the same speed as Richardson but has decent cover skills and is not afraid to mix it up.

 Linebacker Tony Bua plays with a warrior's mentality and flies around the field, sacrificing his body to make the tackle. Bua is small for linebacker and could project to safety at the next level. He should be a demon on special teams.

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