Scouting the Big Ten: Northwestern

A once promising program has fallen on hard times as Northwestern never seemingly recovered from the tragic loss of Rashidi Wheeler two years ago. They have a team that could surprise and make a low level ball game coming into the '03 season but the Wildcats draft outlook is not so keen for next April.

At best, the senior prospects on offense are late round candidates. Receiver Kunle Patrick is a solid pass catcher with reliable hands, nice size and a prospect that has been consistently productive. Kunle lacks the deep speed and is more a pure possession wide out.

Running back Jason Wright also excels catching the ball and many feel his receiving skills are preferable to his ball carrying abilities. Wright always gives to effort but is mostly a straight-line runner with limited elusiveness.

Lineman Carl Matejka is a hard-nosed blocker that always looks to destroy defenders. Not effective in space, he is best in a zone scheme or straight ahead. Matejka's status for this fall is uncertain.

The defense awaits the return of Pat Durr, the undersized yet explosive linebacker who missed all but six plays last season after tearing a knee ligament. Durr is fierce and flies around the field hunting for the ball carrier. Small at 6-0/230, Durr must improve his pass cover skills and abilities to play outside of the box, as weak-side linebacker is his true position.

Up front, Colby Clark is another explosive defender we have watched, and the junior beats opponents off the snap with a great first step. Clark lacks bulk and is handled at the point by a single blocker, but is prime for the three-technique at the next level.

Junior Marvin Ward displays cover skills on the corner while Doug Szymul is an active linebacker with poor size/speed numbers.

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