draft prospects to watch
Davis Dandies: Five players to keep an eye on
By Keenan Davis
Special to NFL.com
Each week we will profile the Davis Dandies. These are performances by under-the-radar standouts from the college ranks in addition to the high-profile, soon-to-be money-makers that sometimes go unnoticed.
(Oct. 23, 2006) -- This week's nominees are:
1) In the Ole Miss vs. Arkansas game, Rebels senior linebacker Patrick Willis came to play. Although his team faltered 38-3, the middle linebacker left no doubt in the minds of this viewer that he is a football player. Willis finished with 13 tackles (including 10 solo) and reminded people why he has been the most consistent defensive player in the SEC over the two past years. The Butkus Award finalist has sideline-to-sideline range. What I am most impressed about is his vision. Willis slipped underneath blocks and used angles to regularly beat the backs to the perimeter. He proved why he is currently second in the nation in solo tackles.
2) The Blackshirts defense from Nebraska gave the Texas Longhorns all they could handle in a tough, hard-fought 22-20 loss in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday. Senior right defensive end Jay Moore was a nemesis to the Texas offensive line in the snowy conditions all afternoon. The 6-foot-3ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½, 290-pound athlete finished with four tackles, including three from behind the line of scrimmage, a sack and a pass defended. More importantly, his explosive first step and strength at the point of attack consistently got underneath the Longhorns' lineman pad level controlling the line of scrimmage all afternoon. Moore is an ideal 3-4 defensive end or under tackle in a Tampa-2 defense.
3) There is a reason why the Michigan Wolverines are currently ranked fifth in the NCAA in total defense. Their defense is an offensive coordinator's nightmare. Senior outside linebacker Shawn Crable showed that he can play a little bit of football. While LaMarr Woodley and Prescott Burgess are the more heralded front-seven teammates, Crable showed that his 6-4ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â½, 241-pound frame can do a little bit of everything. On Saturday against Iowa, he put his hand down and got upfield to rush the passer and dropped back into coverage and made plays on the ball in his zone. He finished the game against the conference foe with three convincing sacks and one jaw-breaking forced fumble. Even though Woodley and Burgess receive more attention, look for Crable to potentially join them on Sundays. Crable has the look of a 3-4 outside linebacker in the DeMarcus Ware mold.
4) The one name from Saturday that left a fan like myself in awe was Ameer Ismail. The record-setting performance was enough for me to say, Ameer who? But if you watched the junior linebacker from Western Michigan, you would notice that the kid has game. Against Ball State, he tied Elvis Dumerville's single-season sack record with six takedowns against the Cardinals. The former running back shows good timing on his blitzes, but also the speed to get around the edge. Ismail plays with a confidence that he will not be denied any cost. The 2005 first-team all-MAC defender is a run-and-chase linebacker with instincts. He took a pick six to the house in the first quarter. Ismail leads the nation in total sacks with 11. People had heard about him regionally, but Saturday was his official coming-out party. This may not be the last time that you will hear his name called (hint, hint).
5) With 62 seconds remaining in a must-win contest and a potential spot in a BCS Bowl game on the line, Notre Dame senior quarterback Brady Quinn stared the vaunted UCLA defense in the eyes and said, "Give me your best shot!" With no timeouts remaining, Quinn used pinpoint accuracy to go 3 for 3 for 80 yards and the go-ahead touchdown pass in 35 seconds to catapult the Fighting Irish to a stirring come-from-behind victory 20-17. Sometimes with all the hype, the stars are expected to pull off this type of performance, but this guy right here has the 'it' factor. He is mobile enough to buy time in the pocket with his feet and strong enough to stand tall and drive the ball downfield. Quinn has a laser-quick release, good spiral consistency with the moxy of all the great ones. If the game is on the line, I'm hard-pressed to find another guy playing on Saturday to give the keys to. My hats off to Mr. Quinn for hoisting South Bend, Ind., on his shoulders and once again carrying the team to victory.
Each week, please log on to NFL.com to vote for your Davis Dandy of the week.
I like this weeks group. one may end up in a saints uniform. well maybe not Quinn. :D
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