‘Chase-ing’ the Dream: Missouri’s Gridiron Stars Enter Draft
Total Pro Sports – “Let’s talk talent!” A challenge offered up to all TPS readers has given birth to its first offspring. My first topic in this series is in response to a question posed by “Canadian Colts”: “What do you think of Chase Daniel as a pro prospect?” Great question, Mr. Colts!
In Daniel, we have the quintessential top-notch college quarterback. He has solid mechanics, leadership ability, and athleticism. He’s been extremely accurate over his college career, completing better than 67% of his passes in slightly more than three seasons. He has shown the ability to get outside the pocket and make some tough throws on the run. He has also been a decent weapon as a runner, and has been a finalist for several major awards over the last two seasons. The best thing about Daniel to me is that I believe he can get better, as he has shown consistent improvement as his career has progressed.
Daniel will be fighting an uphill battle at the next level, however, and that hill may be too steep for him to climb for long. He has decent size, at 225 lbs, but he is extremely “vertically challenged”, and will probably measure out at slightly under six feet at the combine. His arm is also a major question mark in a league where arm strength is highly valued. Most of the passes he’s thrown in Missouri’s offense are five to fifteen yard timing throws. When he does throw deep, it is rarely into a tight window, as speedster Jeremy Maclin has made his life fairly easy in that department. Throwing for distance isn’t the problem, though. It’s the eighteen yard deep outs from seven yards deep in the backfield that I would worry about as a scout. Those balls are thrown routinely in most NFL offenses, and it takes arm strength to get them there on time, without being defended or picked off.
There are many other factors that Daniel will need to improve as he fights for an NFL roster spot next season, not the least of which is his obvious inability to read coverage down the field. Again, much of that probably relates to the offense he ran at Missouri, but it is something that will concern scouts nonetheless. When he does drop back and read coverage, he tips his hand far too soon by staring down his first read much of the time. The likes of Ed Reed would devour him due to that major flaw. He also holds on to the ball much longer than an NFL quarterback should, a trait which usually indicates an inability to process information quickly, leading to sacks, fumbles, or bad decisions at the next level. If he were three inches taller, I’d be forced to give him a third round grade, based on potential, and his experience as a passer. Unfortunately, he is not 6’3”, and that fact alone will push him down draft boards. Combine the rest of his imperfections with his lack of height and arm strength, and he will probably go somewhere in round five or six.
The other Chase in Missouri’s offense, however, is a different story altogether. Chase Coffman, the 6’5” 255 lb tight end, son of former NFL TE Paul Coffman, is going to be an awesome pro! I love this guy, and think he should receive first round consideration by teams at the end of round one. Coffman is not your typical tight end, something that makes his evaluation a bit difficult, and has rarely been tested as a blocker, but has exceptional athletic ability for a man his size. He is a very versatile player, and displayed excellent receiving skills from the slot. He has great hands and uses his body well to create separation and to make tough catches in traffic. He can “go up and get it” as well, and would definitely be a weapon on the goal line.
Coffman does not have ideal speed like Chicago’s Greg Olsen, or San Fran’s Vernon Davis, but is quick enough to get open consistently at the next level. He is a highly intelligent football player that comes from great bloodlines and will learn the NFL game quickly. He will have no problem finding holes in zone coverage from day one. The knocks on his speed and question marks about his blocking ability will most likely cause him to slide into the second round, where he should go quickly.
Ironically, Missouri’s top prospect is not named Chase, though I believe it will be a household name within three years. Jeremy Maclin, the 6’1” 200 lb wide out with sub 4.4 speed is definitely the cream of the crop on the Missouri campus. This guy is a Playmaker! Notice the capital P. He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball and, in Missouri’s offense, he touched it all day long. Used as a return man, in the running game, and as a primary receiver, Maclin was Mr. Everything for the Tigers in both seasons he played, after red shirting in ’06.
His adjustment to the NFL will not be seamless, however, so a rookie of the year award is probably not in his future. He has much to learn about running routes as well as reading and adjusting to coverage, but will be utilized immediately as a punt and kick returner. He is very comparable, in ability, to Dolphins WR Ted Ginn, and his progression into an NFL offense will probably take as long. By the end of his third season, Maclin should become a primary target in the NFL, and will be competing for a Pro Bowl roster spot. He is a first round LOCK in ’09, and will most likely go in the top 20. Look for the Jets at 17 or the Bears at 18 to snatch him up.
Interestingly enough, this allows me to answer another question posted by “Gator Bait” who asked, “What are your thoughts on Percy Harvin? Where do you think he should go and how will he fair?”
Some may call me crazy, but I’ve seen enough film on Harvin and Maclin both to feel confident in saying that if you had them swap jerseys, you wouldn’t know the difference. I guess that I’d have to give Maclin an edge as a return specialist, but that will only matter in the short term. Okay, Maclin is also about two inches taller and maybe five pounds heavier, but everything else is pretty identical. The only real glaring difference is the roles they played on their respective teams, causing Maclin’s numbers to be much more impressive. Had Harvin signed with Missouri, and Maclin with Florida, I think the numbers would have been no better or worse in either offense for either player. The strengths and weaknesses are the same for both players, and the developmental projections I listed for Maclin will be the same for Harvin. It’s rare for me to see two guys so closely measured, and equally talented, but I’ve tried to find differences, and I just don’t see anything worth mentioning. The two inches in height and the extra opportunities Maclin was afforded at Missouri puts him ahead of Harvin in the draft, but Harvin will most likely be the third wide receiver taken in April, with an excellent chance of going at the end of the first round.