'06 NFL Draft Watch: UTEP

In his first year at the helm in UTEP, Mike Price immediately turned the program around and brought the Miners to a bowl game. Now stepping up to a better level of competition, UTEP is already expected to win the C-USA title during their initial campaign. Several senior Miner prospects will be selected throughout next April's seven rounds.

Scouting C-USA: UTEP

Offensively, the team is full of prospects starting with quarterback Jordan Palmer, younger brother to former USC passer and initial pick of the draft Carson Palmer. Effectively commanding the offense like his older sibling, Palmer sells ball fakes, puts touch on throws when necessary and nicely places screens. Displaying a sense of timing, he is patient in the pocket and buys time for receivers. Not an elusive quarterback, Palmer is slow setting up in the pocket, stares down primary targets and does not possess a huge arm. Presently he looks like a solid middle round prospect yet that could change over the next two years. The team had several receivers to keep an eye on starting with Jayson Boyd. A nice sized possession wide out, Boyd displays good eye\hand coordination and makes the tough reception in a crowd. Lacking quickness and the ability to stretch the defense (though he reportedly timed under 4.4 at UTEP), Boyd could be a solid third receiver at the next level. Chris Francies is another well sized pass catcher who could move into the late rounds with a good senior campaign. The team welcomes former UCLA running back Tyler Ebell to the squad. A small yet elusive back, Ebell has a variety of skills and looks like a solid situational/third down back at the next level. Tackle Josh House is an outstanding position blocker who controls opponents at the point of attack. Setting with a wide base and working to bend his knees, House is patient in pass protection and strong at the point. Making effective use of blocking angles, he gets maximum use from all his assets yet is a marginal athlete who will  be kicked inside to go guard at the next level.

Defensively the team has two prospects to watch starting with linebacker Thomas Howard. A defender with outstanding size\speed numbers, Howard stands out in coverage, displaying the ability to run downfield with fast tight ends or opposing running backs. Showing a good change of direction, he possesses a burst of speed to the play and good lateral movement skills. Lacking playing strength, Howard is easily slowed up by the initial block and is taken from the action.  With ability to be used in a variety of schemes, Howard presently looks like a top 75 selection. Defensive tackle Chris Mineo is a leverage lineman who quickly gets off the snap with a nice first step. Possessing a burst of speed, Mineo is also intelligent, quickly reading or diagnosing the action and goes hard for 60 minutes.  Undersized, Mineo will be handled at the point by single blocker but has potential for a team which rotates its front and could be used in the three technique position.

UTEP Prospect List

 Name Pos Yr #
Jayson Boyd WR 5Sr 1
James Delgardo CB 4Sr 24
Tyler Ebell RB 5Sr 2
Chris Francies WR 5Sr 80
Josh House T 5Sr 74
Thomas Howard OLB 5Sr 40
Chris Mineo DT 4Sr 70
Jordan Palmer QB 4Jr 7


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