Scouting The Rose Bowl
By Bill Lund
The Rose Bowl pits the immovable object (Michigan State's defense) versus the irresistible force (Stanford's running attack). The Spartans unit won’t be at full strength after the suspension of middle linebacker and captain, Max Bullough. The Cardinal features a talented offensive line in their ground-and-pound attack.
The game has a number of talented NFL prospects on both sides and will be a classic matchup for the 100th game in the Rose Bowl.
Darqueze Dennard, CB
Dennard is arguably the top corner in the 2014 draft. He shows quick, fluid hips, giving him great ability to turn and run with receivers. He has great feet and can make cuts in unison off a receiver’s breaks, keeping him close enough to make plays on the ball. Dennard shows tremendous instincts and is a good open-field tackler. His matchup against Stanford's Ty Montgomery will be a good battle to watch.
Isaiah Lewis, SS
Lewis is a three-time All-Big Ten performer. At 5-foot-10 and 208 pounds, Lewis has adequate size to be a box safety. What will get scouts interested is Lewis’ ability in pass coverage. Lewis shows good speed and smooth transitions from his back pedal. He has good range off the hash and the ball skills to make plays on throws. He could go has high as the middle rounds.
Denicos Allen, LB
Allen earned All-Big Ten and All-American accolades after a productive senior year. Allen is an instinctive player with a nose for the ball. He can close on ballcarriers in space and is a sure tackler. He is small by NFL standards, but being a leader on the best defense in college football will have a lot of eyes evaluating him to determine his role at the next level. His best fit would be in a 4-3 scheme where he can be protected (aligned to the side of the 3 Technique tackle) and flow with minimal contact with offensive lineman. Allen is a player in the DeAndre Levy mold and is likely a mid-round prospect.
Fou Fonoti, RT
Fonoti was a junior college transfer who has been a solid starter for the Spartans, and he shows good strength at the P.O.A in the run game. He has a decent punch and can be a solid pass protector. He has been a solid player in the rugged Big Ten and should garner some late-round consideration.
Bennie Fowler, WR
Fowler had a slow start to his career, missing time in 2009 and 2011 with a foot injury. He has the option to pursue a sixth year of eligibility. He was the Spartans leading receiver the past two seasons and will garner consideration in the late rounds.
Shayne Skov, ILB
Skov is an explosive player with good instincts and downhill burst against the run. Skov can punch and disengage from offensive lineman on his way to the ballcarrier. A good open-field tackler, Skov will be a good fit in any 3-4 scheme, but his speed may limit his interest by 4-3 teams. His high level of play and production should get him hard looks on Day 2 of the draft.
Trent Murphy, OLB/DE
Murphy is a fifth-year senior who led the nation in sacks with 14. He's versatile and has been utilized numerous ways, which highlights Murphy’s football intelligence. Murphy has length and power with a good burst at the snap. Strong at the point of attack in the run game, Murphy can rush with speed or power and his athletic ability allows him to bend and collapse the pocket. urphy can also drop into coverage and still make plays. He will be a late first round or second round selection.
Josh Mauro, DE
Mauro wasn’t on the radar until injuries opened the door for him to get on the field. He has blossomed into a disruptive and productive edge player in the Cardinal's 3-4 defense. Mauro (6-6, 282) has the length and strength to be a 5 technique end. He is a mid-round prospect who could continue to rise.
Ed Reynolds, FS
Reynolds was named first team All-Pac 12 this season. Physical and instinctive, the 6-2, 205-pound Reynolds possesses the build scouts love for the safety position. Reynolds has the athletic ability and speed to handle covering hybrid ends in the slot and the range to play deep. Given the reduced importance of the safety position in the draft, should Reynolds declare this year, he will make a case for himself to be drafted as high as Day 2.
Ty Montgomery, WR
Montgomery was the explosive aspect of the Cardinal offense, leading them in TD catches. Montgomery is also a dynamic kick returner, leading the nation with 31.2 yards per return. Montgomery is draft eligible but will most likely return for his senior year.
David Yankey, G
Yankey is an integral part of the Cardinal offensive line’s ground-and-pound attack. Yankey is an athletic and mobile guard with good body control and excellent power on his punch. Yankey has versatility to play tackle as well and could be the top guard in the draft, likely going in the first or second round.
Kevin Danser, G
Danser is a strong, physical run blocker with good feet. Another cerebral player, Danser has the power to hold up on the interior against the pass rush. He has the versatility to play either guard or center at the next level and should be a mid- to late-round selection.
Cameron Fleming, RT
Fleming has the size team’s love (6-6, 318). A player with great smarts (he's an Aeronautics/Astronautics major) and instincts playing in a pro-style offense. He has very sound technique but has struggled against elite defenders. Fleming has a year of eligibility remaining and coming back in 2015 will only improve his stock for the 2015 draft.
Tyler Gaffney, RB
Gaffney is a big-bodied back who has been very productive in a pro-style power attack. He has great size and decent speed. His best trait is his vision and patience as a runner. Gaffney is a one-cut runner who would excel in a zone attack. Given the trend of NFL teams to draft backs in the later rounds, Gaffney could be a late-round gem.