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01-02-2010, 10:33 AM
Steuber's NFL Draft Journal

By Chris Steuber
Scout.com NFL Draft Analyst
Posted Jan 1, 2010

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With the NFL regular season winding down and the playoffs about to begin, the NFL Draft takes center stage for most of the league. Scout.com's Chris Steuber has kept you informed of his analysis and scouting updates throughout the year on Twitter, and he will continue to do so, but now he releases his journal for all to read. There's no 140 character limit on Steuber in here...

Check back often for the latest journal entries.

Tennessee Safety Berry To Enter Draft
Posted: January 1, 2010 at 12:03 a.m.

Eric Berry | Tennessee

Itís unfortunate that Tennessee safety Eric Berry had to end his collegiate career in a 37 Ė 14 blowout defeat to Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Iíve learned that the talented junior safety is expected to announce that he will forego his senior year and enter the 2010 NFL Draft early next week.

Projected to be a top-five pick in the spring spectacle, Berry performed in front of scouts from the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night and recorded just four tackles. But he finished his junior campaign with 87 tackles, seven for a loss and two interceptions.
The 5-foot-11, 203-pound Berry is a versatile defender who has the playmaking ability and cover skills to be a dynamic force at the next level. A gifted all around player, who can control a game in the secondary, at the line of scrimmage and in the backfield, Berry is unique in the respect that offensive coordinators have to game plan for his every move. He plays with a great degree of suddenness and has the instincts and awareness to make plays all over the field. Heís a solid tackler in space and is an effective blitzer. He diagnoses the action well, possesses good cover skills and has the uncanny ability to track a ball at any location. He plays with a high motor, a mean streak, and amazingly he finds a way to harness his aggression and be disciplined.

More from Steuber: Latest Mock Draft | 2010 Big Board | Underclassmen Tracker | Follow On Twitter | More...

Tough Day For Keenum; Stay In School
Posted: December 31, 2009 at 4:21 p.m.

Case Keenum | Houston

In front of scouts from the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins, Houston quarterback Case Keenum had the worst day of his collegiate career in a game that could have determined his football future. Keenum, a highly-regarded signal caller who posts virtual reality-like numbers in Houstonís spread offense, recorded season lows in completion percentage (58.5%) and passing yards (222) in the Cougars surprising 47 Ė 20 defeat to Air Force. Not to mention, a career-high six interceptions and just one touchdown pass. Keenum had thrown just nine interceptions and 43 touchdown passes through 13 games this year.

Thursday's Armed Forces Bowl pitted the No. 1 passing offense (450 YPG) in Houston up against the nation's premier passing defense (148.7) in Air Force. It was the first time all season that Keenum faced a top-60 pass defense, and he failed miserably.

Prior to his dismal display in front of a national audience on Thursday, Keenum was rumored to be leaning towards entering the 2010 NFL Draft. At 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Keenum has good size, excellent pocket presence, the ability to locate an open receiver and deliver an accurate, catchable ball. But as talented as Keenum is, the offense that he stars in allows him to post the incredible statistics that heís produced over the last two seasons.

Keenumís attributes and ability are reminiscent of former Hawaii standout and current Redskins third-string quarterback Colt Brennan. Brennan had a sensational junior campaign at Hawaii and considered entering the draft following the season. At that time, Brennan was projected to be a late second, early third round draft pick, and he was expected to take advantage of his success. But in the end, he decided to return to Hawaii for his senior year. Brennan didnít have the individual success many expected, but Hawaii went undefeated and played in the Sugar Bowl against Georgia; Hawaii lost 41 Ė 10 and Brennan dropped to the sixth round in the 2008 draft.

Keenum has a huge decision to make after this poor outing. He can hope that teamís throw out the tape from the Armed Forces Bowl and strictly judge him on his other 13 games this season; and roll the dice and enter the draft. Or, he can return for his senior season, just as Brennan did, showcase his skills once again in an offense that allows him to be great and hope to improve his draft stock by a round.

If the draft took place prior to Thursdayís kickoff, Keenum, at best, would have been a late third round pick. But after scouts and personnel directors study the film of his latest performance, itís in Keenumís best interest to return to Houston for his senior year and work on his mechanics, arm strength and decision-making.
Keenum has hurt his draft stock more than any other draft-eligible player playing in a bowl game; he was exposed as a system quarterback.

More from Steuber: Latest Mock Draft | 2010 Big Board | Underclassmen Tracker | Follow On Twitter | More...

Buccaneers After DT McCoy?
Posted: December 31, 2009 at 1:24 p.m.

Gerald McCoy | Oklahoma

When Oklahoma takes on No. 21 Stanford today in the Brut Sun Bowl, there will be a few NFL teams observing the talent on the field. The Baltimore Ravens will send a scout; the San Francisco 49ers are dispatching their Director of Player Personnel Trent Baalke; and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are sending General Manager Mark Dominik. Itís interesting that Dominik is attending the game and not Director of College Scouting Dennis Hickey, National Scout Jim Abrams or another high-level scouting executive; Dominikís presence signals a strong interest in a particular player, and that player is Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

The Buccaneers have Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh at the top of their draft board, but Iíve learned that sitting at No. 2 on their board is McCoy. As it currently stands, the Buccaneers hold the No. 3 overall draft pick, while the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions own the No. 1 and No. 2 picks respectively. Itís almost certain that Suh will be a top-two draft pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, as will one of the top quarterbacks, Oklahomaís Sam Bradford or Notre Dameís Jimmy Clausen, which allows McCoy to land with the Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay has some young defensive tackles on their roster, Dre Moore and Roy Miller, and a couple of veterans, Ryan Sims and Chris Hovan, under contract. But not one of the four players mentioned has the playmaking ability that McCoy possesses. Moore has one year remaining on his two-year rookie contract, while Miller, who was the Bucs third round pick in 2009, still has three years remaining on his four-year contract. As for the veterans, Sims just signed a four-year, $8 million contract in 2009 and is due to make just $1 million in 2010. Hovan, on the other hand, has one year remaining on the five-year, $17.5 million contract he signed in 2006. At 31 years old, Hovan has been durable during his time with Tampa, but heís on the downside of his career and hasnít been very productive in the trenches.

Dominik understands the urgency to get a playmaker in the trenches, and itís no surprise that heís in El Paso, Texas this afternoon to witness the player he covets first-hand.
In addition to McCoy, the Buccaneers will also have an interest in another underclassman, Tennessee safety Eric Berry. The Buccaneers secondary has promise with cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Elbert Mack. But at safety, they could use an upgrade over Sabby Piscitelli, whoís more of a situational defender. Pairing Berry with steady defender Tanard Jackson would give the Bucs a solid, young secondary to build their defense around for many years.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuberís features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.