Scouting the PAC 10: Arizona State

After a disappointing campaign in 2003, Arizona State now finds itself as a team with the potential to get back into the bowl scene this December. It all depends on players meeting expectations on the field. Positive results will impact next April's draft as well as the Sun Devils record.

The hope for the team may lay on the big shoulders of quarterback Andrew Walter.  A pocket passer with terrific stature, Walter possesses the arm strength and physical abilities to be a successful NFL passer and high draft pick.  Quickly releasing the ball, he easily gets the pass downfield with a flick of his wrist and does a nice job nice job letting receivers run to his throws.  Patient and calm as the pocket collapses around him, Walter is strong enough to withstand the rush and get the pass off.  Yet after a good sophomore campaign Walter looked rather ordinary last season and many questions about his play must be answered in 2004.  With a tendency to release the ball off his back foot, he lacks the precise accuracy and puts the ball up for grabs on occasion.  For a tall passer Walters has a lot of throws batted away as he continually changes his point of release and whips the ball from the side at times.  If he puts it altogether this year Walter could break into the late part of round one with good showings in the post season.  Otherwise he will fall deep into the second day of the draft.  Walters favorite targets are both underclassmen starting with junior receiver Derek Hagan.  Fundamentally sound, Hagan runs good routes, comes back to the ball and does a solid job extending his hands to catch the pass away from his body.  Also a good athlete, he gets vertical and high points the pass but lacks top playing speed and the ability to get deep separation.  Hagan has the size to be a solid third receiver for an NFL team if he continues to improve his game.  Tight and Lee Burghgraef is a solid pass catcher that holds his own blocking for the run or pass.  Quickly releasing off the line of scrimmage he displays speed into pass routes and makes the difficult reception in traffic.  Also strong at the point of attack Burghgraef gets movement from run blocks and easily controls opponents at the point of attack.  Neither nimble nor explosive he must improve his blocking fundamentals but offers good upside for the next level.  Junior tackle Grayling Love is a strong blocker with a good feel for the position.  Easily turning opponents off the line, he blocks with a wide base, forward lean and opens holes for the running game.  Lacking both quickness and adjustment, Love is best in a small area and not effective in motion.  Center Drew Hodgdon is an explosive blocker who plays with a nasty and aggressive attitude.  Lacking the top size he has difficulty opening up the middle of the field yet could eventually develop into a starter at the next level if placed in the right blocking scheme.

Defensively, Jimmy Verndon is an athletic end who makes plays in the offensive backfield yet at the same time has the ability to pursue the action from the backside.  Explosive in all his actions, Verndon is undersized and handled at the point of attack or rather easily driven off the line by opposing tight ends.  Verndon will test well athletically and could sneak into the draft's first day with a good senior campaign and solid post season showings.

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