Scouting the Big 12: Missouri

A bad loss to Bowling Green and close contests against Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas A&M found Mizzu on the short end of the stick, keeping the program out of the post-season in 2002. The team is headed in the right direction, though, and has several solid pro-prospects to keep an eye on.

Quarterback Brad Smith is a dynamic playmaker behind center and a signal caller who beats opponents with his arm or feet. A big-armed passer that drives the ball downfield or zips the outs, Smith also puts touch on the short screens. He's elusive yet powerful running the ball when he tucks the ball and takes off. Though accurate, Smith lacks the precise pass placement and needs to smooth the rough edges of his game. Still, he's a prospect with a high upside. Zack Abron is a powerful, feature runner on the inside and when properly conditioned and focused, displays the ability to be a one-man show that carries the pile for a lot of yardage. Neither fleet of foot or a back that creates, his skills would be better displayed were a pocket passer lined up behind center as opposed to Brad Smith. Abron could be a player that slips through the cracks and turns into a gem at the next level. Weak-side tackle Rob Droege is an intelligent lineman who combines finesse and brains to get the job done. He makes outstanding use of body positioning and blocking angles while also possessing adequate feet. Droege lacks the dominant strength and does not hold the great upside but is a prospect that could play several positions on the offensive line and add depth in the NFL. Center AJ Ricker is a mauler on the pivot and a tough guy that always plays hard. Strong at the point, he opens holes for the running game in the middle of the field. Ricker is not a nifty or nimble lineman, nor a knee bender effective in space. His tenacity and understanding of the position gives him a chance to start at the next level if used in the proper blocking scheme. Tight end J.D. McCoy is tough but possesses less than average size/speed numbers and has only minimal skills for the next level. Guard Cliff Young could move into the late rounds with a solid senior campaign and keep an eye on Darius Outlaw, the former quarterback turned receiver.

Defensively the top senior would be cornerback Michael Harden. A big, strong cover-man, Harden is best in press coverage; possibly the only scheme he can play at the next level. Harden purely out-muscles opponents defending the pass and even better, slows their release from the line of scrimmage with jams. His game lacks both top-end speed and explosion. A move inside to safety is possible. Red-shirt sophomore CJ Mosley is a bit undersized at tackle but has some growth potential and is a playmaker up front. Line-mate Russ Bell displays a lot of quickness but gets contained at the point by a single blocker. Brandon Barnes moves from rover to linebacker and has potential as a weak-side defender at the next level.

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