Johnny Caspers, DE 6'3" 270lbs (Glenbard West High School, Glen Ellyn, IL)
Scout.com Ratings – 3*, #41 OG
Rivals Ratings – 3*, 5.5/6.1, No Positional Ranking, No National Ranking, #30 Prospect in Illinois
ESPN Ratings – 3*, 75/100, #89 OG, #147 Regional Prospect, #28 Prospect in Illinois, No National Ranking
Rating the Ratings
Johnny Caspers' ratings are pretty even, though there is what appears to be a large discrepancy in his positional rankings from ESPN and Scout.com. For offensive guards, however, the discrepancy in projection for the #41 guard as opposed to the #89 guard are somewhat significant, but not nearly as drastic as they seem as raw numbers. Given the highlights of some of the prospects that ESPN has ranked ahead of Caspers, Scout's ranking looks slightly more accurate. The Rivals view of Caspers is almost identical to that of ESPN when it comes to his numerical ratings and his state ranking, and neither looks way off the mark.
Caspers' video is a testament to the old football adage that "the low man wins." When run blocking, Caspers keeps a great hip level from the time he fires out, to the initial contact with the defender through to the finish. His video shows great clips of him using that very attribute on goal line runs, where the force he creates through his low hips allows him to take defenders – who are staying low in their own right – into the endzone. Many first-level defenders appear as if they are on skates once Caspers makes contact.
When attacking the second level on run plays, Casper shows good athleticism with his quick releases from the line. He delivers a blow that is strong enough to take decent-sized linebackers off of their feet. That quick get-off at the snap is likely one of the reasons that Stanford apparently views him as a center. To be an effective center, a linemen needs to be quick enough out of his stance to make up for the time that he is snapping the ball and stay on schedule whether firing straight out or pulling.
Caspers doesn't look nearly as comfortable moving backwards in pass protection which is probably due to the fact that he hasn't had to do it very much. But that would be much more of a concern if he were playing on the outside. Once he has more reps under his belt in pass protection, he should be good enough to be a solid starter at center on the college level.
Caspers' career looks like it could end up being similar to that of current center Sam Schwartzstein. Due to depth chart and the amount of responsibility that is placed on the center's shoulders, Caspers' will likely be a contributor later in his career like the aforementioned Schwartzstein. But Caspers does have more upside given his size (he could ultimately push 300 pounds) and athleticism. The big question to be answered is how quickly he can grasp the mental portion of the game. That will be the difference between earning playing time in his second year or having to wait until his third or fourth.
Jameis "Jaboo" Winston, QB 6'4" 200 lbs (Hueytown High School, Hueytown, AL)
Scout.com Ratings – 5*, #2 QB
Rivals Ratings – 5*, 6.1/6.1, #1 QB, #10 National Prospect, #1 Prospect in Alabama
ESPN Ratings – 4*, 84/100, #1 QB, #5 Regional Prospect, #1 Prospect in Alabama, #11 Prospect Nationally
Rating the Ratings
No real discrepancies here. Winston is one of the top prospects in the country at the most prominent position. A serious stud. He did not receive a 5-star rating from ESPN, but they are extremely stingy with that designation and he is rated at the very top end of 4-star recruits.
Current Florida State verbal commit Jameis Winston is one "tough" football player. While that is not the first word that one would expect to describe a player who is arguably the top high school quarterback prospect in the nation, it is the first that comes to mind when watching Winston's video. Despite his tall, somewhat gangly appearance, Winston will lower his shoulder to bowl over defenders when running the football. Rarely will anyone see a quarterback throw a WR screen and immediately take off down the field to make the de-cleating block that turns the screen play into a touchdown. Winston's video provides one of those rare instances.
As a passer, Winston throws a very good long ball. He has a good sense of timing when he is throwing the ball down the field, whether he is in the pocket or on the run. His release could be shortened some, and it appears that he has already shortened it to some extent since his junior year. He has the arm strength to make all of the throws with good accuracy. Winston looks comfortable throwing while rolling to his left, despite being right-handed. Consequently, it will be tough for defenses to kill pass plays by flushing him out to his left as long as he keeps his eyes focused beyond the pass rush. He has the ability to make quick decisions in the pocket, but in college he will need to work on feeling the rush and stepping up in the pocket more often against outside rushes rather than rather than seeing the rush and trying to break contain. Finding a way to get outside of the pass rush seems to be his habit in high school. That will have to change once he goes up against much faster and athletic outside pass rushers.
As a runner, Winston brings an extra threat that will allow him to pick up first downs on broken plays and make a big run occasionally on the college level. He has good instincts as a runner. Patience in following blocks, vision and a good feel for the location of his blockers are all prominent aspects of Winston's ground game. Skills-wise he could be a dynamic runner on the level of a Tim Tebow or Cam Newton, but he does not have the bulk to play that style of football consistently.
Given that the threat of baseball snatching him away from the team will loom over Winston's college football career, coaches will likely find a way to get him on the field as a freshman. In that case he would surely see situational playing time in his first year if he were to end up at Stanford. The staff would enjoy dreaming up read option and trick plays for a player of his superior athletic caliber. Once he grasps the speed and schemes at the college level, he should be a starter. Whether he does so in his second or third year will depend on how much baseball will affect his football development. Either way, Winston figures to be a major game-changer at his school of choice so long as the MLB does not assert itself early in his college football career.
Additional Note: No worries here about quality of competition faced. Playing against some of the nationa's most-gifted prep defenders, Winston was named the MVP of the Under Armour All-American Game played on January 5, 2012, going 7-8 for 178 yards and throwing two touchdown passes, including a 75-yard bomb. While he is committed to Florida State, he is still be heavily recruited by Auburn and Alabama and has indicated his intention to visit Stanford in the coming weeks. As they say in basketball, you miss all of the shots you don't take! We have a shot to make an impression on a very talented young man.
Do you have a "premium" subscription to The Bootleg? If not, then you are seriously missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest, broadest, and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!