RISERS
By Ralph Mancini
 
Terron Armstead (OT- Ark Pine Bluff): The athletic lineman made good use of his long arms and quick feet in protecting the blindside. He has the ability to redirect pass rushers. He looks like a Day Two pick, who is strong enough to move inside if necessary. 

Blaize Foltz (OG- TCU): What’s not to love about the TCU strongman? He is an overpowering force in the run game, who constantly pushes his man back. Foltz was exceptional in burying his opponent on a 12-yard scamper by Kerwynn Williams. The 315-pound mauler isn’t the most nimble blocker from side to side, but he can certainly open up holes in a phone booth. The Saints are reportedly very much enamored with this rising prospect. 

Anthony Amos (WR- Middle TN St): He’s not overly big nor fast, but he’s quick and agile. Amos exhibited those traits on a three-yard reverse, which put the West up 7-0 in the first quarter. The small school phenom showcased quick, soft hands on an 18-yard completion as he plucked a high toss from mid-air. He projects as a late-round slot man at the next level. The Jets have reportedly expressed some interest in the former walk-on. 

Corey Fuller (WR- VaTech): Mark him down as a Day Three sleeper. Fuller was sensational on a sideline route in which he turned Aaron Hester around and left him in the dust with his acceleration after the catch. The 6’3” speedster only caught two passes despite being open on numerous occasions. Fuller is a converted quarterback who only recently began playing wide receiver, but has the upside to be a quality pro thanks to his soft hands and ability to run sharp routes. 

Chris Pantale (TE- BC): The former Eagle raised his stock by flashing the ability to find open spaces in coverage and was particularly impressive in adjusting to an underthrown Collin Klein pass for the 17-yard completion in the fourth quarter. His play has sparked the interest of some teams including the Ravens. 

Christine Michael (RB- TX A&M): The 220-pound prospect was easily the best running back on either roster. Michael used a lethal jump cut to run past defenders for 8 yards on a delayed draw on 3rd-and-6. His ability to avoid the first tackler in confined space was evident on a 2-yard advance on 1st-and-goal that could have easily ended up being a three-yard loss. The oft-injured back has the instincts to quickly hit the hole and churn out yards along with possessing the quickness to stick one foot in the ground and find the open crease. What you don’t like about him is the fact that he suffered a broken leg and a torn ACL in back-to-back years. 

Devin Taylor (DE-SC): The 6’8” behemoth authored a dominant performance by making several splash plays. He looked especially quick in the second quarter with his ability to redirect and transition from pass rusher into run defender. Taylor consistently used his vine-like arms to disengage from his blocker, but also offered spectators a dose of his raw power by bull rushing the 300-pound Tanner Hawkinson into the pocket and sacking Alex Carder. On another play, Carder couldn’t elude the enormous defensive end, who actually outran the quarterback and limited him to a two-yard gain. The former Gamecock’s only misplay occurred on the Amos touchdown, as he lost contain to the outside and was shielded by Hawkinson. The best thing about Taylor is that he’s 275 pounds and appears about 20 pounds lighter thanks to his great height and length. One question GMs will ask is why couldn’t a supremely gifted athlete like Taylor show more consistency throughout his college days in the SEC. 

A.J. Klein (LB-Iowa St): The fiery inside linebacker got off to a fast start by quickly reading Ray Graham’s intentions and filling the hole immediately on a run play that went for no gain. He later sniffed out a misdirection fake and dropped Montel Harris for a loss. Above all, Klein is a secure tackler and is very effective in executing his drops in zone coverage. The only part of his game that’s really lacking is his man-to-man coverage skills, but his intelligence and intensity are through the roof.

 Albert Rosette (LB-NV): The Nevada product got his name mentioned a few times due to his knack for getting himself in position to make tackles in the run game. Rosette was terrific in occupying Zac Stacy’s cut-back lane and bringing him down for no gain in the fourth quarter. He may have worked his way into being a seventh-round pick. 

Brandon Thurmond (LB-Ark-Pine Bluff): The 260-pound outside linebacker showed off his big motor in the second half by constantly getting into the backfield. Thurmond was quick off the snap and flashed tremendous closing speed on a couple of occasions in pursuit of Collin Klein. He really stood out on a fake handoff by Klein to Stacy and stopped the quarterback dead in his tracks. The big linebacker employs a series of fakes to get by his blocker, but can also bull rush if necessary. 

Earl Wolff (S-NC St): A heady safety who can just flat out read the quarterback in pass coverage. Wolff was excellent in running his opponent’s route at the end of the fourth quarter and tracking down Seth Doege’s underthrown ball for an easy interception. 

Terry Hawthorne (CB-Illinois): The 6’1” Hawthorne is a physical defender, who applied tight coverage on receivers all week in practice and then also brought it to the game on Saturday. The former Big Ten corner bodied up on tight end D.C. Jefferson and actually outleaped the 6’6” target and came down with a pick with about eight minutes left in the game. Many have raved about his fluid backpedal and ability to stay low. Hawthorne’s stock has risen dramatically and he may be able to work his way into being a Day Two selection. 

Caleb Sturgis (PK-FL): The place kicker has great form and a big leg. He effortlessly booted a 48-yard field goal during the latter part of the second quarter and was an astounding 8-for-8 from 50 yards and beyond during the season. 

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