Prospect Evaluation #11: Shuler & Rector

24 down and two more to go. Garry Cobb has been steadily working his way through the Cardinal's 2012 prospects, most of whom are now officially signed with Stanford. Clearly, C/OG Graham Shuler is one of the vocal and enthusiastic leaders in this year's class and WR Michael Rector may have been our most significant 'stealth' recruit during this historic recruiting cycle.

Prospect Evaluation #11: OL Graham Shuler & WR Michael Rector


Graham Shuler
, C/OG  6'5" 275 lbs (Brentwood Academy, Brentwood, TN)

 

Scout.com Ratings – 4*, #4 C

 

Rivals Ratings – 4*, 5.8/6.1, #21 OT, #207 National Prospect, #5 Prospect in Tennessee

 

ESPN Ratings – 4*, 79/100, #43 OT, #149 Regional Prospect, #5 Prospect in Tennessee, No National Ranking


Rating the Ratings

Shuler is seen as a solid four-star offensive line prospect across the board regardless of whether he is rated as an interior lineman or a tackle. The outlier in this case is ESPN who has him ranked somewhat lower than the other services, possibly due to his body type being a better fit at guard.  Aside from that outlier, it appears that all of the services have him pegged accurately as a prospect.


Evaluation

Graham Shuler is a prospect who has the ability to carry out any of the assignments that one would ask of an offensive lineman.  When firing out on run blocks, Shuler keeps great leverage on first–level defenders.  He gives a nice "pop" on initial contact, which is strong enough to stun defenders and knock them off balance.  When his forward lean is too pronounced he can occasionally end up out of position on quick defenders, but his feet and strength enable him to rebound nicely. During blocks Shuler shows great drive through his hips allowing him to drive defenders back into the secondary. His athleticism shows in his ability to track moving defenders after contact. He does a very good job of turning his hips on defenders who are re-directing to keep them within his frame and avoid holding penalties.

 

Shuler also does a great job of getting to second-level defenders. He is consistent with keeping his hips low when engaging linebackers. Finally, whether he is engaged with a lineman, linebacker or defensive back, the aspect of his game that comes out prominently in his video is how well he finishes blocks.  He consistently keeps contact with his opponent through the whistle or through the pancake.  Shuler sets out to eliminate at least one defender on each play and sometimes ends up eliminating more than one.

 

In pass protection, a nice wide base and active feet are Shuler's main tools.  In the unlikely event he were to play tackle in college, he would help himself by gaining more distance on his initial kick-slide to deal with speed rushers. However, both his kick-slide and punch techniques look to have improved during his senior year and even more so up to and during the U.S. Army All American Bowl.  He maintains excellent balance throughout engagement and is able to reset quickly when the pass rusher reverts to a bull-rush.  Those skills allowed him to put forward a very impressive performance at his aforementioned All-America game. 


Projection

Graham Shuler's abilities and body type will allow him to play any position on the offensive line.  Though he doesn't look to have the wing span of the prototypical college offensive tackle, his athleticism and learning skills would make up for it if he were called upon to play outside. That notwithstanding, Shuler will likely find his permanent home on the interior of the Cardinal offensive line. Regardless of whether he is placed at center or guard, expect Shuler to spend a redshirt year gaining experience and bulking up to at least 290-300 pounds.  By the beginning of year two, look for Shuler be in the mix for a starting spot at center or guard and at least receive significant playing time at either position. Don't be surprised if Shuler is able to win a spot as a redshirt freshman, especially if he is placed at center. From that point on, he has the ability to be an outstanding starter for the duration of his time on The Farm.

 

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Michael Rector, WR  6'1" 175 lbs (Bellarmine Prep, Tacoma, WA)

 

Scout.com Ratings – 3*, #73 WR

 

Rivals Ratings – 3*, 5.5/6.1, No Position Ranking, No National Ranking, #11 Prospect in Washington

 

ESPN Ratings – 2*, 74/100, #173 WR, #224 Regional Prospect, #21 Prospect in Washington, No

National Ranking


Rating the Ratings

Michael Rector looks to be slightly underrated by ESPN given his high school production, height and the skills he displays.  Overall, Rivals and Scout look to be similar in their respective assessments of Rector, which look to be accurate.


Evaluation

Michael Rector is a receiver with very good acceleration out of his stance and out of his breaks.  Combined with his ability to sink his hips into his breaks and make sudden stops, his acceleration allows him consistently to get great separation from defenders.  He also displays the ability to be a deep threat, showing  very good deep speed. Though it is possible that his competition level in high school may somewhat distort the perception of his speed, he definitely has speed that defensive backs will have to respect on each play. 

 

Rector also accelerates well with the ball in his hands. While he shows decent, but not great moves after the catch, he is a player who can make one quick cut and take off down the field for extra yards on short passes. 

 

Ball skills are a key part of Rector's game and are a huge asset given that his height is already over or around six feet. He appears to have an extremely strong sense of the ball's flight and has the ability to adjust accordingly allowing him to high point the ball when necessary. Rector does catch the ball well with his hands but also knows when to corral the ball in traffic. His long arms enable him to win battles for jump balls. Along with high-pointing the ball, Rector can use his body to ward off defenders on underthrown passes, which is a key skill for any wide receiver.

 

Incidentally, on defense, Rector's breaks on the ball are excellent.  Though it is not likely that he will play cornerback in college, the fact that he can plant and explode out of his backpedal on defense speaks to his athleticism.


Projection

Michael Rector's bid for early playing time depends on his putting on 5-10 pounds of good weight and how well he absorbs the offense.  If he does catch on to the offense quickly, the staff will want his route-running skills on the field.  More than likely, Rector will redshirt his freshman  year and will start to see significant playing time by his third year. Making a big push in year two is not out of the question, however, especially if the speed he shows on video translates well to the Pac 12.


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