Rotoworld.com NFL Draft Writer Josh Norris and I have what may be a surprising chat this week about the South Alabama Jaguars. South Alabama quarterback Brandon Bridge reminds Norris of former Nevada and current San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and he hopes we don’t think he’s crazy for saying that. We also discuss the pro potential of South Carolina juniors Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds.
The State: South Alabama you tell me has got a guy that I think you like. Am I right?
Josh Norris: I promise you they have at least one player. Let’s stick with Brandon Bridge. He’s their quarterback. He transferred from I believe Alcorn State prior to last year. When you watch Brandon Bridge and stay here with me here, I don’t want you to hang up on me, he reminds me of Colin Kaepernick at Nevada. Now I am not saying he will turn into Colin Kaepernick, but he’s got some athleticism as a passer and a ridiculous arm and uses that athleticism to find space and be mobile and pick up yards with his feet. He does that very well. If your readers want to watch one game of his that really encapsulates how good he can be, watch his game against Appalachian State. He has also faced Mississippi State in the past. I am not saying this is going to an easy test for him, but Brandon Bridge certainly has traits you want in the NFL. He has the skills, he has the qualities, and he’s the type who will probably be drafted in the fifth, sixth, seventh round as a developmental passer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ultimately draws a Senior Bowl invite as well.
The State: This could be a showcase game for him against an SEC team but and SEC team that doesn’t have a great SEC defense. He might be able to turn some heads here.
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Josh Norris: The issue with Bridge recently has been completion percentage. When you take that completion percentage at face value, it isn’t good but it should look better because his receivers drop a ton of passes. I am sure you will see that on Saturday, but he is able to move in the pocket. He is getting a lot better at keeping up his eye level and finding the optimal space. He’s not afraid to throw vertically and he has a cannon for an arm. Placement can be an issue so there could be turnovers and keep in mind the drops his receivers are absolutely going to make.
The State: Now onto South Carolina, they have one running back in Mike Davis who I believe is going to leave for the NFL, and other in Brandon Wilds who may. Davis has had a good year but not a great year. Where does his NFL stock stand?
Josh Norris: When we talk about the running back position in the NFL in general, the amount of talent in the NFL right now outpaces the demand at the position. We have seen that (this week) Ben Tate and LaGarratte Blount, two free agents this offseason, being let go from their contracts, and we’ve seen it many times with undrafted free agents getting an opportunity and performing very well, even in their rookie year or in a few years, i.e. Jonas Gray or Joey Bell. Even these undrafted free agent types might not make it on their first contract or with their first team, but then if they go to a team that doesn’t mind developing them and letting them sit for a while, the New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers, when they get an opportunity, there you go. I obviously think Mike Davis will be drafted. Will it be in the second round? Probably not. It might be in the third or fourth round. There’s nothing wrong with that. His landing spot will be critical. I’m not so sure that Mike Davis will succeed in every scheme or every offense. So much of a running backs’ success is about the offensive line they are behind. We see that with Demarco Murray this year. Not to say Demarco Murray is not talented, he is, but he has been much better behind this great offensive line that the Cowboys have invested at least three first round picks in. Mike Davis is great in terms of lateral cuts, he attacks the hole, he’s got a great upfield cut as well and he’s actually shown some nice ability in the second level. The issue is, can he create on his own? Can he pick up 2, 3, 4, 5 yards when there is no real lane at the line of scrimmage and how is he going to be as a consistent back on passing downs? That is the biggest question with Mike Davis right now.
The State: Is Brandon Wilds even showing up on radar screens right now?
Josh Norris: Not on mine honestly. I see he’s a redshirt junior. Maybe he just wants to spend four years, get his degree and get a shot. I think we will see this a lot more with these running backs. They looked at Branden Oliver, they look at Jonas Gray, they look at Joey Bell. They look at all these guys who are undrafted free agents succeed so even if he is not drafted he can latch on with a team and try to make the most of his opportunity.
The State: They also look at Marcus Lattimore and Todd Gurley don’t you think and say, ‘I better get while the getting is good,’?
Josh Norris: You are 100 percent correct. And, once again, we don’t talk about it enough with the draft, landing spot is critical and if a team wants to be patient with your development.