View Full Version : WVU players at the Combine.

02-26-2011, 08:22 PM
Below are the notes and measurements from the scouting combine. I am also including my personal take on the note supplied from the combine. I have watched every game these young men have played in since joining the WVU team and agree or disagree with some of the assessments. I will also say how if at all they could help out the Steelers. Hope someone finds it helpful.

Devine, Noel: RB, 5-08, 179 West Virginia

Devine can be a human highlight film, but his diminutive stature may limit his ability to make an impact at the next level. Quicker than fast, he is always at full speed and has plenty of wiggle to make defenders miss in the open field. He is also an asset in the passing game with reliable hands and terrific short area quickness. His size will prevent him from being a load back at the next level, however, given the success of smaller backs like the Patriots' Danny Woodhead, he could be an effective change-of-pace back. Overall, Devine will likely be a Day 2 selection unless teams are scared off by his difficult past.

Devine is an electric back capable of going the distance on every carry. Displays very good vision and patience, finds running lanes quickly, and reaches top speed in an instant. Possesses reliable hands and is a nightmare to tackle in the open field due to excellent change of direction skills.

Does not have the size to be an every-down running back in the NFL. Lacks the lower body strength to battle for tough yards up the middle and will not break many tackles at the next level. Stumbles frequently because he runs with an exaggerated forward lean. Has character concerns.

My Take
Noel has shown zero signs of any character concerns since becoming a Mountaineer. He had a troubled past in high school due to both of his parents dying from aids when he was young. He bounced from family member to family living where he could. He overcame adversity that no one should ever have to face.

Noel will not be an every down back at the next level. He carried the team this year and was paid for it with injuries. Toe and ankle injuries plagued him starting in the LSU game and continuing the rest of the season. He has amazing change of direction. Some moves that reminded me of Barry Sanders. That is a strong comparison, but put on tape from the WVU Maryland game from his freshman year. Amazing! Good hand out of the backfield. He would be a good mid round selection for a team that has a good running back in play but needs a 3rd down back. He is so so in the blitz pickup. Could use some development in that area.

I would take him as a replacement if we let Moore walk.

Hogan, Brandon: DB, 5-10, 189 West Virginia

Hogan is a talented, but troubled cornerback with multiple run-ins with the law in the past year. On the football field, Hogan has excellent vision in zone coverage and could be an asset as an extra cornerback in nickel and dime situations at the next level. He is also fearless in run support and is a sound tackler. Despite having a nose for the football, Hogan struggles to track the ball in the air and has less than adequate hands. His poor ball skills will be exposed by bigger stronger wide receivers in man coverage. Overall, Hogan is a mid-round talent, but he may slip due to character concerns.

Hogan is a quick footed corner with adequate size. Maintains good position in zone coverage and shows a knack for finding the ball. Fiery player that diagnoses fast, fills quickly and looks to deliver a good pop in run support. Very good tackler that consistently wraps up the ball carrier.

Does not possess the top end speed necessary to recover once he is beat. Lacks the ball skills necessary to be a playmaker at the next level. Loses momentum in transition and can be a liability in man coverage. Struggles to disengage from blockers in run support. Has major character concerns.

My Take
Agree with everything that has been stated and have some additional things to add not listed. Missed the bowl game 3 years ago against UNC for "undisclosed health reason". It never did come out why he missed the game. The next year he was arrested for DUI and suspended from the team. This year he was arrested again for DUI and suspended again for one game. The boy has a drinking problem at WVU. Imagine that. Drinking is one thing. But getting behind the steering wheel while drunk is completely moronic. I can say the first one was a mistake but twice is just idiotic. Issues with judgment.

Character concerns aside he was the second best corner on the team this year. 3 INT 37 tackles. His tackles were down this year but you can argue why that is. Number 1 team against the run could mean there wasn't a lot of RBs making it to the second level this year. He is strong in run support and a good zone corner. Man coverage isn't his strong point. He will get beat deep due to a lack of elite speed. Factor in that he tore his ACL in the last regular season game and did not participate in the bowl game due to the injury I would pass on him. Word is he would have been academically ineligible for the bowl game this year if he wasn't injured. Character concerns and injuries should be an easy pass for the steelers. He will be a Nickle or Dime at the next level. We need an elite CB.

Neild, Chris: NT, 6-02, 319 West Virginia

Neild is a run-stopping defensive tackle who could contribute in a defensive line rotation at the next level. He is stout with a strong lower half and is very difficult to move out of running lanes. He also has very active hands to keep blockers from getting inside and flashes the lateral range to make plays outside of the tackle box. However, he lacks explosion off the line and is very raw as a pass rusher. Neild possesses natural leverage and is an asset against the run and he will likely be a middle round pick.

Neild is tall enough with a thick lower half. Plays with good leverage and clogs up running lanes. Delivers a powerful initial punch and possesses very heavy active hands to shed blocks. Flashes a powerful bull rush. High effort kid that fights to the whistle and finishes plays.

Not the quickest kid off the ball and poor foot speed prevents him from making plays in the backfield. Will not be able to play nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme. Lacks a repertoire of pass rushing counter moves and does not have a closing burst to get after the quarterback. Will not make tackles in space.

My Take
Nield anchored our run D for a couple years. We had the number 1 run stuff D this year and were top 5 scoring D. We gave up 23 points this year in our Bowl game. The most we gave up all season. He doesn't have the moves to be an elite DT but he is a run stuffing fool and has played in a 3-3 or 3-4 his whole college career. He is a true NT that will fit our system. He would be a good replacement for Hoke if he isn't retained in the offseason. Mid round selection that I would take in a heartbeat. Kid is tough nosed and a hard worker.

Sanders, Jock: WR, 5-06, 181 West Virginia

Sanders is a drastically undersized slot receiver and return prospect who does not possess elite athleticism or big-play potential. Displays burst and quickness but doesn't always translate into his route-running and separation skills which still need improvement. Flashes run-after-the catch ability but doesn't have great make-you-miss. Is sure-handed and willing in traffic but is a tough target to hit and idles down while making the catch. Shows good effort in the running game and works hard to overcome lack of size but has off-field character flags. Sanders isn't a refined prospect and doesn't have a high ceiling. Potential late-round selection.

Sanders possesses good speed. Explodes off the line and has good quickness. Displays good hands and toughness over the middle. Can be a threat after the catch and on receiver screens. Willing to block despite lack of size. Tough, competitive player. Has return experience.

Severely lacks height and bulk. Vulnerable to press coverage at the line. Not an overly fluid route-runner, rounds off routes, and gathers in and out of his breaks. Tiny catch radius. Not a consistent vertical threat and doesn't have great open-field ability. Has off-the-field issues and character needs to be investigated.

My Take
Another Mountaineer with character concerns. He, like Hogan was kicked off he team after multiple DUI arrests. He was kicked off the team before his...Junior year I believe for a full 4 months. He was allowed back on the team after completing judge ordered classes and community service. He is a midget by NFL standards and I don't see him doing anything at the next level. I would pass on him, even after all he has done for WVU. I wish him well but I don't believe he has he size or skill for the next level.

Sands, Robert: FS, 6-05, 221 West Virginia

Sands is a well-rounded safety prospect with rare size, good speed, and a physical mentality and could become an excellent starter in the NFL. Can erase the deep half and hold up in centerfield. Makes a lot of plays on the ball with his range, large frame and good hands. On-field awareness is solid but still developing. Tough player who fills quickly in run support, will take on blockers, and supplies an intimidating presence over the middle in coverage. Main flaw is a lack of short-area quickness and fluidity in man coverage. Sands could hear his name called early on Day 2.

Sands is a tall, rangy, high-cut safety. Speed is better-than-average. Covers a lot of ground after reaching top speed. Can play the point or deep half. Huge catch radius and good hands to pull down the tough interception. Willing, aggressive and productive in run support and coverage over the middle. Sure-tackler. Displays solid awareness.

Like most high-cut athletes, suffers from some hip stiffness. Struggles a bit in transition. Not a good matchup against shifty slot receivers in man coverage. Instincts and ability to jump routes are adequate but still improving. Struggles to break down and make tackles in space at times.

My Take
Sands was our all star in the secondary this year. His range was amazing along with his size. Measuring in at 6'5 he can see over the line and look right into the QB's eyes and reads well. He had a bit of a down year in comparison to past years due to a shoulder injury that he played through. He would consistently make a tackle and run off the field in pain because of his shoulder, only to come back a play or two later and make another play. Tough kid that played through the pain, good tackler and great range. Good matchup against big tight ends going down the middle. Will have issues with small quick slot recievers but should be the highest WVU player picked this year. 2nd to 3rd round at my guess. Would be good to sit behind Clark for a year or two and then take over.

Thomas, James: LB, 6-01, 241 West Virginia

Thomas is an undersized linebacker, but he has the speed and athleticism to develop into a quality reserve in a Tampa 2 system. He has a great closing burst, but gets blown out of the play in run support too often and lacks the upper body strength to consistently shed blocks. He excels in pass coverage, as he has great awareness and range in zone and the hip fluidity to stick with running backs and tight ends in man. Thomas is a fundamentally sound tackler that can also contribute on special teams and should be a later round pick.

Thomas is a speedy 'backer with good length. Possesses the range to make plays from sideline-to-sideline. Shows a smooth back pedal and gets into sound position in coverage. Flashes the closing burst to jump crossing routes and break up passes. Sound tackler that consistently wraps.

A moment slow reacting to the play and can get caught out of position. Lacks the bulk to take on blocks at the next level and gets overwhelmed in phone booth situations. Takes poor pursuit angles at times and struggles to wade through traffic. Inconsistent footwork limits his explosive first step. Not an effective blitzer.

My Take
The assessments are pretty spot on. JT was our best LB this year. Great in coverage but will be a back up at the next level. Could continue our LB special team player role and be a solid backup but won't be a full time starter on our team. Later round pick at best, most likely a free agent pickup.

02-26-2011, 08:56 PM
thank you for the great write-ups... :Cheers

I would love to see the Steelers select NT Chris Nield, re-sign Chris Hoke for another year, develop Nield and let him take Hoke's roster spot the following year.

Sands would be great too, if for whatever reason he was available at the end of Round 3 we would seriously have to consider him...doubtful though, don't think Sands will last until then.

02-26-2011, 09:36 PM
I have been a big Noel Devine fan since his days in high school. I remember when he became a youtube high school phenom and wanted him badly to play for the Buckeyes.

I really like the kid's style of play (and I am not generally a scat back fan) but he shows toughness rarely seen in a guy his size. He just disappears behind linemen then pops out and explodes. I agree he appears to have rare vision and ability to change direction.

However, I don't know anything about his blocking and I must assume that a guy his size will be a liability in that area. We also know 3rd down backs do not get on the field unless they can block. So, unless he shows slot potential, he is at best a rarely used change of pace back for the Steelers.

With that said, if he could be had in the 5th or later...I would love for the Steelers to take a chance on him. I really would.

02-27-2011, 10:42 AM
The one thing that Devine has on his side is his strength. He was benching 415 lbs And squatting in the 600s when he was a junior. He has been so so in the pass protection. I will try and find some video of him picking up a blitz but that isn't really how he was used. His strength though will be beneficial for pass protection. His stature will limit him but I think he can improve in that area.


02-28-2011, 03:38 PM
West Virginia RB Noel Devine met with the Falcons at the NFL Combine on Saturday.
The diminutive back, who's reportedly gained 16 pounds this winter, has also met with the Bucs, Rams, Browns, and Steelers. A home-run threat in college, Devine is too small to be a full-time player in the NFL, but he could be a nice late-round flier for a Falcons team looking for playmakers.

Source Rotoworld.

03-03-2011, 09:43 AM
I like Nield alot late in the draft.

Also like Sands in the Round 4-5 range. He should be there because he did not show good positional skills at the draft.

03-03-2011, 12:19 PM
West Virginia RB Noel Devine met with the Falcons at the NFL Combine on Saturday.
The diminutive back, who's reportedly gained 16 pounds this winter, has also met with the Bucs, Rams, Browns, and Steelers. A home-run threat in college, Devine is too small to be a full-time player in the NFL, but he could be a nice late-round flier for a Falcons team looking for playmakers.

Source Rotoworld.

This is really good news. I would love to add another playmaker on O. Why not take a late round chance on a guy with that kind of ability?

03-03-2011, 12:31 PM
I like Nield alot late in the draft.

Also like Sands in the Round 4-5 range. He should be there because he did not show good positional skills at the draft.

The report from the combine was he showed stiff hips in man coverage. This is mostly due to his size at 6'4. The smaller safeties looked more fluid, as one would expect. He played a safety role in the 3-3-5 stack that WVU runs that has him coming up into the box and also playing deep. He was more of a SS type or even LB in our system. I would say that the 4-5 range is about right. He would be a good matchup against a TE but not so much for a small slot WR.

Nield would be a great role player. Hoke 2.0 IMO. All he did was clog up the middle for WVU. Hes not the most athletic but he can handle his own.

03-18-2011, 03:05 AM
Thursday, March 17, 1:16 p.m.

It was a quick day in Morgantown, W.V., in more ways than one. The Mountaineers just finished their pro day and there were several outstanding performances.

Running back Noel Devine, who was unable to run at the combine due to a leg injury, timed 4.43 in the 40. This was a solid not spectacular time for a skill player who measured 5-feet-7½ and 174 pounds in Indianapolis.

Defensive lineman Chris Neild looked terrific all day. He timed 5.09 in the 40, slightly improved over his average times from the combine. Neild then impressed scouts during position drills, looking fluid and smooth. With all the talent available on the defensive line in April's draft, Neild is truly one of the position's best kept secrets. He tested better than expected, plays with a blue collar mentality and has all the nuances teams want in a starting nose tackle for the NFL. Look for him to be off the board somewhere in round three.

On the other hand, safety Robert Sands continues to struggle. A slider after his combine performance, Sands looked stiff and slow today in all his drills. Despite a poor safety class, Sands will ultimately drop later in the draft than most are predicting.

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/f ... z1GvNov8Jp (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/football/nfl/nfl-draft-pro-days-2011/index.html#ixzz1GvNov8Jp)

03-18-2011, 04:29 PM
A third for Neild? Really? He has really moved up. Sands should have stayed another year. He could have improved his draft status.

03-18-2011, 04:46 PM

West Virginia Pro Day 2011

By Will Spencer
March 18th, 2011 at 1:16 am

Noel Devine

After a long, early morning drive to Morgantown, I finally arrived at the Mountaineers indoor practice facility to cover their pro day event. The WVU pro day was interesting as it featured two of the shortest at their positions (Noel Devine and Jock Sanders) as well as one of the tallest at their position (Robert Sands). A talented member of the Mountaineers team that wasn’t able to participate was CB Brandon Hogan, who is still recovering from a torn ACL. A decent turn out of scouts were on hand for the event but I didn’t observe any notable NFL personnel watching the workouts.

NFL team scouts I observed at the event were: New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, St. Louis Rams, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles.

Noel Devine’s speed and quickness had the crowd watching the workout buzzing. Talking to various sources at the event, Devine was timed in the 40 yard dash between 4.26 and 4.38 (NFL Network later reported a time of 4.43). Devine’s quickness isn’t an illusion; his feet were practically a blur while running the cone drills and later during position drills.

Robert Sands
Defensive backs were the first to take the field during the position drills and it wasn’t hard to spot the long and lean Robert Sands, otherwise known as “Predator 2.” In this environment, it was hard for Sands to show his best quality, which is as a hard hitting safety. During the position drills, Sands looked stiff in the hips and would frequently lose control and balance when changing directions or flipping his hips. However, Sands did make a very nice leaping grab on a deep pass that he used his long arms to stretch out and grab. The problem was, he followed that up by dropping two passes that were very catchable to finish up the drills. Afterwards, Sands spent some time talking with scouts from Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings.

The main event came next as Jock Sanders and Noel Devine took the field for positional drills. Interestingly enough, scouts had Sanders running routes not just as WR but as a RB out of the backfield. Both Devine and Sanders looked extremely quick and smooth. Both of these guys have some of the quickest feet of any prospect in this year’s draft class. Devine and Sanders are similar in size and stature and if you were watching form a distance, it would be easy to be confused as to who was who during the drills. Both caught the ball naturally with their hands and their ability to change directions without losing momentum was impressive. Clearly, size is working against both Devine and Sanders but it’s hard to avoid their playmaking abilities. While their height may keep them as later round picks, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see either of these guys contributing for an NFL team in some way. The only thing I could think of while watching Devine and Sanders was ‘Dexter McCluster.’

Jock Sanders

After drills were wrapped up, I spent a few minutes talking with Jock Sanders. When I asked him if he felt comfortable doing the receiving drills out of the backfield, he assured me by saying “I can do that in my sleep.” Sanders told me that most NFL teams are looking at him as a slot receiver and rotational back, comparatively to how Kansas City is utilizing Dexter McCluster. Sanders actually enjoys hearing that from NFL teams because, as he pointed out, he and McCluster grew up in the same area and played against each other while in high school.

I would anticipate that NFL teams are looking at Noel Devine in a similar fashion. If an NFL team can find a way to get the ball in the hands of Devine or Sanders, especially in space, good things can happen. Devine also spent some time off to the side with a scout from the Atlanta Falcons, which happens to be a team that knows how to utilize smaller backs.

Check out the video below for a closer look at Devine, Sanders and Sands in action during today’s workout.


03-23-2011, 07:41 PM
Stroudsburg grad Chris Neild pops up on NFL's radar


Chris Neild, a 2006 Stroudsburg High School graduate who went on to start at defensive tackle at West Virginia, impressed NFL coaches and scouts at the Senior Bowl and the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

By Joe Miegoc
Record Sports Writer
March 22, 2011

Chris Neild knew what needed work.

The 2006 Stroudsburg High School graduate had just finished a fine career at West Virginia, where his play as a senior earned the defensive tackle All-Big East first-team recognition by the conference's coaches, and third-team All-American honors from Rivals.com and a fourth-team All-American selection by Phil Steele. With two opportunities to impress NFL talent evaluators coming up, Neild went west to hone his craft.

He descended upon Fischer Sports, a training facility in Phoenix, to get in the best physical shape possible and add to his game. A three-year starter in the middle of the Mountaineers' 3-3-5 defense, Neild took on two, and sometimes three blockers in order to free up teammates to make plays. He finished his career, which saw him play in 50 games, with 130 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and six sacks. It was that last number that had Neild working closely with Bertrand Berry, a former Pro Bowl defensive end with the Arizona Cardinals.

"I worked on getting off the ball and getting movement off the snap, working on my pass rush," Neild said before last month's NFL combine. "My pass rush was something that I lacked a little bit in college. I tried to work on that a lot to impress the NFL scouts."

Neild got two up-close-and-personal chances to do that.

First came the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Jan. 29. Before the game was played there were the all-important practices and personal meet-and-greets with coaches and scouts from around the NFL.

"The atmosphere was completely electric," said Neild, who is signed with agent Rick Smith of Priority Sports in Chicago. "You get out of your room and go down to the (hotel) lobby and there are NFL guys all over the place. It was an atmosphere I definitely wasn't used to, but when you're there you definitely have to try and make the most of it and impress the scouts on the field and off the field as well with the interviews. I think I did a pretty decent job of it."

His work on the field got noticed, too.

Tony Pauline, a draft analyst for SI.com and draftinsider.net, said Neild was, "the best run-stuffing defensive lineman throughout the week, bar none." Labeled a 0 technique who plays right over the center, Neild is rated as Pauline's 14th-best defensive tackle prospect and a third-round pick. Other websites and analysts have Neild ranked in the top 25 among DTs and a 5th- to 7th-round pick.

Neild's second chance to catch the eye of NFL people came at last month's combine in Indianapolis.

Neild weighed in at 319, up six pounds from the Senior Bowl and about 20 from his playing weight as a senior at West Virginia. He tied for 10th among defensive tackles with 30 bench press reps at 225 pounds, ran the 40 in 5.12 seconds and had an 8-foot-10 broad jump. That strength and agility is what set Neild apart early in his football career.

"Probably, when I look back on the 35 kids that have gone on to play Division I since I was the coach, none of them had the combination of big size, the physicality of a big kid, and the ability to run as Chris," former Stroudsburg coach Fred Ross said. "Probably only Bill Lacey, who went on to play (offensive line) at Villanova and was All-Yankee conference three years in a row."

With the combine over and the draft still six weeks away, Neild's attention will return on trying to achieve a goal he's had since his days at Stroudsburg.

"I always wanted to play at the highest level of football," Neild said. "I'm getting close to it now and I think all the hard work that I put in will pay off in the near future."

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