NYJD Staff Writer: Matt Deem
West Virginia and Connecticut squaring off offered me the opportunity to watch dynamic pass-rusher Bruce Irvin, and a handful of other 2012 NFL Draft prospects up close.
Here is what we learned.
Bruce Irvin DE Senior West Virginia
Irvin was on everyone’s watch list this year coming off a monster junior season where he had 14 sacks. I was able to see Bruce up close while at this game and he looks like an NFL veteran already, with his 6’3 245lb body, pure muscle. His greatest weapon is his speed, he is very quick off the line and uses his hands really well when going against bigger lineman.
In the first half Bruce whizzed by the right tackle on a speed rush and smashed Connecticut’s QB McEntree on a blindside hit. He is a fun player to watch on 3rd and longs, he had at least 5 QB hurries including a safety in the 3rd quarter where he was the first to the QB then 3 others piled on.
Bruce was off to a slow start this year with only 1 sack coming into Saturday’s game, if he can continually keep up the QB hurries the sacks will come, and I can see him becoming a late first rounder or a definite 2nd rounder in this year’s draft.
Geno Smith QB Junior West Virginia
Geno really was the star of the day he racked up 450 yards passing with 4 touchdown passes, actually most of those yards were acquired in the second half because UCONN’s defense stifled Geno and the mountaineer offense in the first half with a score of 10-9 WVU. There must have been some half time speech by new head coach Holgoson, because Smith had a great 3rd quarter with 3TD passes including an 84 yard catch and run play with WR Stedman Bailey.
Geno really controlled the second half, leading his team on five scoring drives. He looked like a man among boys most of the time with his 6’3 215lb frame, he is very mobile and I was surprised very accurate at times, but he did have his moments when he overthrew numerous WRs and TE’s on downfield throws. His footwork needs improvement, but with another year under Holgorson’s spread offense I can see Geno as a potential first rounder in the 2013 draft class.
Keith Tandy DB Senior West Virginia
Tandy had a nice game with 6 tackles and looked very fluid with his hips while in man coverage and is not afraid to step up and tackle in the run game as well. He has an almost ideal DB body at 5’11 200lbs; he already has 33 tackles and 2 interceptions this year, coming off an impressive junior season with 6 interceptions. Tandy was named All Big East last year, and named to the Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list for this season, he has good speed being timed in the 4.4 range, I can see him being drafted as early as the second round this year.
Ryan Griffin TE Junior Connecticut
Griffin had a nice game Saturday with 5 catches for 57 yards; he really helped out UCONN’s offense by stretching the field to open up the run game in the first half. He is 6’6 245lbs and is known for his superior blocking skills. He is second on the team in receptions with 17, averaging 16.8 per catch. Griffin can add some more weight to his frame and if he continues to work on his blocking I can see him transitioning well into the NFL as a blocking TE.