2014 NFL Draft Scouting Notes: 9/19/2013 Clemson at North Carolina State

September 28th, 2013

Junior defensive end Vic Beasley logged three sacks and forced a fumble in Clemson’s win over North Carolina State (Photo: orangeandwhite.com)

DraftBrowns.com Staff Writer: Justin Higdon

Clemson is off to a hot start, and sits at number three in the AP poll four weeks into the college football season.  Last Thursday they went into Raleigh and knocked off previously unbeaten North Carolina State.  Here’s a look at how some of the draft-eligible players from both teams fared.


#10 QB Tajh Boyd

  • Read option keep and is decisive through the hole for a short gain
  • Keeps on the QB draw and follows his blocks for a first down run
  • Pressured and throws it away to avoid the sack
  • Flushed up in the pocket and takes a sack
  • Play action, rolls left and delivers accurately on the run on the comebacker on the left sideline
  • Fakes to the back and fires high to the sideline incomplete
  • Tries to avoid pressure up the middle but holds the ball too long and takes a sack
  • Taking some short throws to get into a rhythm
  • Play action from his own end zone – steps into the pocket and overthrows an open receiver on the deep ball – big missed opportunity for a long TD
  • Strong back shoulder throw to the right sideline for a big gain
  • Throws wild on a WR screen though he does compete it
  • Fakes the handoff and the end around – slow developing play and he is flushed but scrambles for a first down
  • Locks onto his WR on a throw to the left sideline and throws a pick six – play was negated, blown dead
  • Play fake, steps back and throws deep and again overthrows an open WR on a would be TD
  • Rolls right and makes a strong throw on the run down the right sideline but the WR did not keep his feet in bounds – he had room to run up the middle initially before rolling right
  • Throws low on the WR screen – hurried the throw but that was a requirement of the play
  • Read option keeper – ultimately runs into the back of his OL
  • Gets pressure up the middle and retreats – barely gets out of the pocket to throw the ball away
  • Accurate throw to the right sideline but the WR cannot hang on in bounds
  • Long throw back across the field to the left sideline – accurate throw
  • Play action then gets pressure and throws while backpedaling – dangerous throw is broken up
  • Keeps on the read option but tries to bounce it outside – stuffed
  • Pump fake then goes underneath on 3rd and 12 – short of the first down
  • Fakes the jet sweep and charges through the middle for a solid run
  • Steps right and fires a TD down the seam to the TE
  • Another wild throw on a WR screen – low and wide
  • Poor throw behind the WR on an out to the sideline
  • Fakes the reverse and finds an open WR deep for a TD – WR had to wait on the ball a little
  • Not seeing a lot of progressions – first read type throws for the most part
  • Fires a pass almost into the chin of the DE and has it batted backwards
  • Definitely mobile
  • Arm angle looks like 3/4 delivery on a number of his throws
  • Flips one like a shortstop down the seam for a big gain – accurate placement
  • Back shoulder throw to the end zone – puts the ball high where only his WR can get it
  • Had the look of a power runner on a few late keepers

Overview: Boyd may be one of the top senior quarterbacks in the country – if not the top senior quarterback – but he still has maddeningly inconsistent games like this one.  He missed two big opportunities for deep completions that could have been long touchdown passes, and he got caught locking onto his targets a few times.  On the flip side Boyd’s mobility makes him dangerous and he has at least a few “wow” throws per game.  For example, his back shoulder pass to Martavis Bryant in the front corner of the end zone was a thing of beauty.  Tantalizing moments like those may ultimately convince a team to select him in the first round next May.

#3 DE Vic Beasley

  • Good use of hands to get off the block and close quickly on the QB on the roll left
  • Shows excellent speed closing quickly on a jet sweep but misses the tackle – play results in a big gain
  • Not blocked – flows down the line for a run stop at the line of scrimmage
  • Lean but shows impressive strength on a bull rush
  • Tries a swim move and gets his hands up to try and bat the pass
  • Splits two blockers and flattens the pulling guard trying to make a run stuff – disruptive play but still results in a gain by the QB
  • Doing a good job driving the LT back into the QB
  • Gets inside the shoulder of the OL on a run to the other side – good pursuit but doesn’t finish the tackle
  • Stutter step speed move to get pressure
  • Good effort on every snap regardless of pass or run – maybe even a little overzealous at times
  • Crosses the face inside and wins with speed to get the sack
  • Effective swim move
  • Frozen by the fake but recovers and flies in to get pressure
  • Effective getting pressure to the inside and outside
  • Beats the LT with another inside move for a sack – speed to power conversion on display and forces a fumble
  • Beats the LT with an inside spin move
  • Uses a swim and gets held – uncalled
  • Shakes off the cut block and gets his left hand up to bat a pass
  • Gets his left hand out to bat down a screen after the RB tries to slip by him
  • Bull rushes the LT then rips away back to the middle for another sack
  • Spin move inside and the guard tries to pick him up as he blows by for pressure
  • Really nice job not letting the LT steer him upfield away from the QB

Overview: Beasley could not be stopped by the Wolfpack that Thursday night.  His ability to convert speed into power was too much for his inexperienced opponent to handle, and he made a living in the backfield all game long.  Beasley was lightning quick off the snap, and showed impressive instincts in reacting to the plays in front of him.  Should he decide to declare for the draft, Beasley is positioning himself for a spot in the mid first round with his early season performances.

#2 WR Sammy Watkins

  • Makes a big third down catch at the left sideline and is able to turn upfield for a couple more yards and pickup the first down
  • Takes a toss from the backfield as the tailback and gets stopped for a yard
  • Nice job reaching back to make the catch on a slant and still picking up a few yards after the catch – picks up a first down on a third down play
  • Overthrown by Boyd and shows some frustration – was open deep
  • Fakes on the hitch, rolls to the inside and makes the catch – comes up short on third down

Overview: Watkins finished with ten catches for 96 yards, but could have had more had Boyd not missed him in the end zone.  The junior receiver continues to show strong hands and excellent ability to run after the catch.  He will be the top receiver on a number of draft boards as long as he can convince teams that his off the field issues are a thing of the past.

#25 RB Roderick McDowell

  • Stands in and gets flattened in pass protection but does his job buying the QB some time
  • Runs wide but finds the cutback lane for a gain of about four yards
  • Picks his way through traffic then uses a spin move to pick up some extra yards – looks quick and shows some good vision
  • Takes the screen and makes a nifty jump cut right to a cut back inside using his hand to swat the defender away and pick up extra yards after the catch
  • Lowers his shoulder and keeps his feet pumping on a power run – covering up the ball
  • Dances a little on the next play and loses a couple of yards

Overview: McDowell displayed quick feet, agility and open field speed on most of his 15 touches in the game.  He has good vision as a runner, though he got caught dancing on a couple of carries.  McDowell gained ten yards on his only catch, and made a defender look silly on his way to a first down.  The Tigers would benefit from giving him more opportunities in the passing game.

#1 WR Martavis Bryant

  • Goes up with one hand but can’t handle the high red zone throw from Boyd
  • Gets open deep behind two DBs and has to wait on the ball on the 30-yard TD catch
  • Runs to the front corner and wins the jump ball – high points the ball for a TD even with contact from the defensive back on the play

Overview: Bryant has already matched his career high with ten receptions on the season.  He finished this game with six catches and a pair of TDs.  The junior receiver’s combination of height and speed make him an inviting target – especially in the red zone – so he could be in for a breakout season.

#63 OT Brandon Thomas

  • Playing RT – beaten around the edge on a play that results in a sack
  • Blocks down to the inside opening up an off tackle run lane on a key fourth down keeper by Boyd
  • At LT – blocks down to the inside to allow Boyd room to run off tackle to the left
  • Keeps his man from working back to the inside on Boyd’s fake reverse TD pass but got way too deep in his drop
  • Picks up a block at the second level on a run play the passes off his man – peels back and picks the same man back up to give the runner a few extra yards

Overview: If nothing else, Thomas will appeal to NFL teams due to his experience and versatility.  The senior has played in 39 games (26 starts) and has lined up just about everywhere.  He has seen action at guard, but on this day he split his time between the two tackle spots.  Thomas’ best moments came in run blocking – in particular on designed quarterback runs – but he did have a few issues in pass protection.  He may ultimately find himself back at guard at the NFL level.



#4 QB Pete Thomas

  • Rolls left and throws on the move for a short gain
  • Play action and puts the deep ball on the inside shoulder of Underwood but he can’t hang onto the pass – just missed a little too far inside
  • Pressured and throws the screen at the feet of his RB – just a throw away
  • Good placement on a slant to allow his WR to pick up extra yards after the catch
  • Stands in and takes a big hit and delivers to down the sideline on a wheel route – receiver had to wait on the ball or it could have been an even bigger play
  • Hangs one up on a deep ball down the seam and the pass is broken up
  • Pressure from the right side and moves up into the pocket but then panics and takes a sack
  • Stands in and fires complete on a short cross on fourth down for a first down pickup
  • Flushed on the next play and rolls right but skips the ball short and incomplete
  • Throws high and wild behind his receiver on a cross to right sideline on third down
  • Gets pressured and steps up and delivers on the run moving forward – completes it for another fourth down conversion
  • Pressured again and steps up and runs for a short fourth down conversion
  • Tries to run a QB draw on the next play and takes a huge shot
  • On third and goal runs the QB draw for the TD
  • Flushed again and runs for a first down – nice slide at the end of the run
  • Showed more mobility than expected
  • Throws off his back foot on the final play and gets picked off

Overview: Thomas is a transfer from Colorado State and is off to a rough start for the Wolfpack.  The junior QB was intercepted once, and missed at least two opportunities for big plays.  In fact, Thomas has yet to throw a touchdown pass this season.  He did run for one, and showed more mobility than expected both on designed runs and in avoiding pressure in the pocket.  NC State is off to a 2-1 start, so despite his uneven performance thus far, Thomas figures to remain the starter, but it would be a surprise to see him declare for next May’s draft.

#80 WR Bryan Underwood

  • Takes the jet sweep and avoids Beasley in the backfield – shows good speed down the sideline and picks up some extra yards at the end of the run with a nice cut back move – but he had stepped out of bounds earlier in the run
  • Can’t haul in the deep ball to his inside shoulder – would have been a tough catch just a shade too far to the inside
  • Jet sweep to the right sideline and turns the corner – walks the tight rope down and just barely appears to stay in bounds for an 83 TD run – ruled that he stepped on the line after 36 yards
  • From the slot runs the cross and makes the catch – makes a move to pick up a few extra yards after the catch but again runs out of bounds – stays away from the contact but didn’t have opportunity to gain much more

Overview: The junior receiver may have been robbed of an 83 yard TD (replays were not conclusive as to whether his foot nicked the sideline or not), but he also missed opportunities for big plays by stepping out of bounds on his first carry and by failing to come up with the tough catch in the red zone.  Underwood is coming off a successful sophomore season in which he gained 620 yards and scored 10 touchdowns receiving, so NC State would be wise to continue to get him the ball.

#62 G Duran Christophe

  • Picks up a nice seal block to the outside to clear an inside running lane for Thornton on a TD run – gets a little high out of his stance though
  • Gives help to pick up Beasley and allow Thomas to get a Hail Mary off just before the half
  • Unable to get over to help in time on a Beasley sack the results in a fumble and turnover
  • Pulls to the right and sets up in a pass blocking stance
  • Looks passive at times – not locating a man to put a hat on
  • Pulls and gets too far to the outside of the LB who cuts inside and makes the tackle for loss on the RB
  • Too often just standing around – in position to block but not actually blocking or helping anyone

Overview: Christophe made a couple of nice blocks but too often he just stood there like a trainee at a new job – eager to pitch in, but not sure what to do yet.  The problem is, Chirstophe has been around for five years.  He should know better by now.  He has the look of an undrafted free agent until someone can consistently point him in the direction of the opposing team’s defensive front seven.


  • NC State redshirt sophomore Joe Thuney started at left tackle for the first time as a collegian and was beaten repeatedly by Beasley.  Thuney was no match for Beasley’s speed or variety of pass rush moves
  • NC State got some solid play out of its defensive front.  Senior DE Darryl Cato-Bishop got some pressure on Boyd early and forced him to throw it away.  Cato-Bishop also cleaned up on a sack in the red zone.  Junior Art Norman weaved through traffic to get heat on Boyd, getting a hand on him until help arrived for the sack.  Later in the game, Norman stayed home at left end on the jet sweep shovel pass and got in front of the receiver, sticking with him as he tried to take a wide path to the outside and stopping him for a loss.  Redshirt sophomore Mike Rose got pressure around the right tackle that led to a sack and also batted a pass at the line of scrimmage.

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, Clemson, Martavis Bryant, NC State, NFL Draft, Pete Thomas, Sammy Watkins, Scouting Notes, Tajh Boyd, Vic Beasley

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