Yesh’s Thoughts: Cincinnati against Vanderbilt gives us an interesting matchup in the Liberty Bowl. Vandy was a team that looked better than their record all season long, and who looked like a pretty good team in the last 2 months of the season. They blew out a decent Wake Forest team and lost close games to Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, and Tennessee (okay, so that’s nothing to write home about.
Cincinnati is just the opposite. They have a nice record at 9-3 but have looked worse than that this year. The only game they actually looked good in was against NC State. Still, there is talent on the Cincinnati side of the ball. Zach Collaros is an absolute playmaker, who has been much more successful this year now that he has an actual offensive line blocking for him. This should be a tight, hard-fought game throughout. Neither offense is that efficient (Cincinnati’s is much better than Vandy’s), but both are capable of big plays at times. Expect a close game punctuated by huge plays.
Isaiah Pead, RB Cincinnati:
Pead is a shifty, scat back type, that is explosive in the open field and can a cut on a dime. He has fantastic change of direction skills, and doesn’t dance or hesitate, sees the whole, and makes one cut and is gone.
Has a natural runner’s stride, with no strain or stress in his motion and great balance.
Pead is really good at catching the ball out of the backfield, with great vision to find the seam and get going down field. Follows his blockers well, and can make people miss in one on one situations.
Great stiff arm that he can use when he gets into the second and third level of the defense, and if there is daylight, Pead is gone.
Pead does have some concerns about his build, as he has a thinner than preferred lower half, that doesn’t allow him to break tackles. Hasn’t worked out of a normal pro set at Cincy, and needs to become a better blocker as well.
NFL Fans that Need to Watch: Broncos, Giants, Packers, Steelers
Projections: 2nd Round
Casey Heyward, CB Vanderbilt:
The first thing that jumps out at you about Hayward is how overlooked he is because he goes to Vanderbilt.
He is a bit smallish in size, but does a great job taking on bigger WR’s. Has good speed, and shouldn’t ever get blown away even if he doesn’t possess elite top end speed.
His ball skills could lead to him moving to a FS position down the line, as he reads and reacts very well while in coverage.
Great, fluid hip turns that is the reason he is able to keep up with faster receivers.
Can get overly physical leading to penalties, and can avoid contact when playing up in the run game. Heyward has not been used on blitzes at all at Vandy, although he can come up and lay a hit without hesitation on an unexpecting ball carrier.
NFL Fans that Need to Watch: Panthers, Jaguars, Vikings, Bengals, Broncos, Colts
Projections: 2nd Round
Other Prospects to Watch
Derek Wolfe, DL Cincinnati:
Wolfe has shot up draft charts with a strong senior season. He has a great motor and can flourish in either a 34 or 43 alignments, where he can attack the passer and use his long arms to fend off blockers or bat down balls at the line of scrimmage.
Although he is an overachiever, he can get beat and isn’t the most gifted athlete on the field.
NFL Fans that Need to Watch: Jets, Bills, Patriots, Chiefs
Projections: 3rd Round
JK Shaffer, ILB Cincinnati:
Schaffer is solid in his run defense has become very effective at timing his blitzes up the middle. Schaffer is a crunch time player, who has good natural instincts.
He lacks ideal size and needs to be allowed time to develop in order to make an impact at the NFL level.
Projections: 5th Round
Chris Marve, ILB Vanderbilt:
Instinctive LB that lacks elite speed and isn’t overly physical. Is solid in run support, but doesn’t show enough athleticism to stay on the field in passing downs, as he can get beaten too easily and doesn’t have natural flow to the ball.
Looks to be a career backup and special teamer, but could surprise b/c of how natural he is at the position.
Prjoections: 5th Round
Brandon Barden, TE Vanderbilt:
Strong blocking TE that is not used often in the passing game, as evidence by his 104 career receptions and only 9 career TD’s.
Projections: 7th round