2014 NFL Draft Prospect Breakdown: Ole Miss Rebels vs. Vanderbilt Commodores
Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt Prospect Breakdown
Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews
Matthews had one of the gutsiest performances, we’ve seen from a prospect in quite a while. Matthews took a huge hit to the chest area in the second half and began to vomit on the field of play. However, Matthews checked back into the game after one play and made a key catch for a huge fourth down conversion for Vanderbilt.
I noted in my preseason evaluation of Matthews that I would like to see more physicality and toughness out of his game, and he showed me that tonight. Matthews continued to run solid routes and did a great job of exploiting the soft spots in the Ole Miss Zone defense. Matthews also showed off his break-away speed on a screen pass where he out-ran three Rebel defenders down the sideline to score.
While Matthews likely won’t time fast in Indy, he’s a guy who’s much faster in the game and can turn on the jets when needed. Matthews also worked the middle of the field very well and wasn’t afraid to leave his feet in the middle of the field to secure the catch. He did a great job of high pointing the ball and holding on to it throughout contact.
Matthews also showcased a much improved run after the catch ability as he broke several tackles throughout the night and even utilized a stiff arm on a screen pass to help secure a first down. It certainly seemed like Matthews is starting to embrace the size and natural strength that he has and is starting to incorporate it into his game which is something I wanted to see in this season.
For all the good that Matthews did, he did have one bad drop and it was the one that ended the game. I noted that Matthews is prone to focus drops every now and then and it reared its head at the end of the game when he let one slip through his hands and into the chest of an Ole Miss safety for a game ending interception.
Based on this game I would give Matthews a stock up, I really like the toughness and moxie he showed and how well he looked after the catch, which were two areas I wanted to see improvement in. Matthews needs to attack and eliminate these focus drops as it was the one big glare I saw in his game last night.
Vanderbilt S Kenny Ladler
The senior safety for Vanderbilt impressed me last night with his run defense. While he wasn’t tested a ton in coverage he made his presence felt against the run. Ladler does a great job of keeping himself clean and shedding from blockers on the edge and making tackles. I even saw him split a double team and stuff an edge run at one point. Ladler took much better angles in the run game against Ole Miss than he did in his junior year.
This speaks well for Ladler as he has the athleticism to function in coverage and could be a “big nickel” candidate for many teams in the league due to his great defense against the run. Ladler’s run defense should be able to translate to the next level as he still has room to add size and strength onto his frame as he’s only listed at 205 LBs.
I did notice that Ladler was beaten by Donte Moncrief on a post route when he bit inside like he was expecting Moncrief to continue up the field on a streak route. Ladler does gamble at times in coverage, but his instincts are also raw in this area as well. I would give Ladler a stock up after this game, the improved run angles are something that scouts wanted to see and he showed it to them.
Vanderbilt CB Andre Hal
Hal had arguably the best performance of any Vandy prospect on the field. While he did get beat once he did an outstanding job on Donte Moncrief. He consistently pinned him to the sideline and blanketed him giving Moncrief little room to work with and almost no margin of error. Hal also did a good job of covering Moncrief deep over the middle of the field but was erroneously called for PI.
Hal was officially credited with 3 passes defended, but I counted 4 as he deflected the pass on the play on which he was flagged for PI. Hal did a great job of bringing down Moncrief when immediately and not allowing for YAC. The other area where Hal impressed me was in the run game. He was active on the edge all day and is not afraid to get his nose dirty playing against the run.
Hal showed good tackling form and made several nice open field tackles and also blew up a screen play blasting Moncrief for a loss. Hal showed better hip fluidity than I expected. He was very physical against Moncrief pinning him to the sideline and boxing him out from the throw several times. He also did a great job of locating and deflecting the ball throughout the game. This was an extremely impressive performance by Hal against a very talented Donte Moncrief and is a stock up IMO.
Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief
Donte Moncrief had a very underwhelming opener. The size/speed freak had a tough night against Vandy corner Andre Hal. He only had five catches for 57 yards. Two of those catches came against other Vandy defenders including his one explosive play of the day, a 39 yard reception on a post route where he was passed off to Vandy safety Kenny Ladler.
Moncrief struggled with Andre Hal’s physicality all night and got pinned against the sideline often. Moncrief did not look very explosive as he struggled to get separation against Hal. However, Moncrief had his aforementioned big play on a post route where he drew Ladler inside and then cut the route back across the middle for the big gain.
He also drew a questionable flag against Hal working the deep middle area and probably should have gotten another flag earlier in the game when he built Hal on a double move. Moncrief’s route running was pretty solid and when he got open that is what he got open with, not his size or speed. Moncrief turned in a performance that was lackluster compared to the performances of a year prior.
However, there was one area where Moncrief was outstanding and that was his run blocking on the edge. He sealed off defenders on several different edge runs and had the key block on Jeff Scott’s go ahead TD run as he sealed off Kenny Ladler and allowed Scott to cut back across the middle of the field and get into the end zone for a touchdown.
Right now I would give Moncrief a stock down, you never want to see a bigger WR struggle against physical play and that’s what happened against Vandy for Moncrief.
Ole Miss DE C.J. Johnson
Johnson had a decent game against Vandy, and showed flashes of serious potential. The first play where Johnson jumped out to me was when he beat the RT with a spin move, however he was picked up by the back and was unable to capitalize and record a sack or hit, but his pressure did flush Carta-Samuels outside the pocket.
Johnson also beat Wesley Johnson with an arm over rip move and once again flushed Carta-Samuel out of the pocket. Johnson also utilized a bull rush throughout the night and did get Wesley Johnson off balance on one occasion but for the most part was held in check when trying to bull rush.
Johnson’s get off was average-decent on the night, he didn’t look extremely explosive in his get off neither did he jump the snap often. Johnson did a nice job of squeezing inside on some runs and forcing the back to hesitate and try and kick out the ball to the outside which lead to a couple of stuffs and TFL.
The one area where I had concern with Johnson was that he often lost the hand battle and allowed the OT into his pads and got stoned on several rushes. Johnson needs to do a better job in the hand fight and slap away the OTs hands and keep the OT from getting into his chest and pads.
I wouldn’t give Johnson a stock up or stock down based on this game. He flashed quite a few times, but you could also see that he still needs to do quite a bit of work.