Scouting the Big 12: Missouri

While Missouri has been up and down the past 15-years, or the most part its' been an extended dreary run for followers of the program. They may be starting an upswing as second year coach Gary Pinkel brings a team that could broach the .500-mark this season. They also have a good amount of middle round draft picks for the '03 draft.

Missouri Tigers

Justin Gage, the teams best receiver, thought long and hard about entering the draft last April but made the smart choice returning to college.  Gage is a nice sized possession wide out with a gliding smooth style, and one that is an excellent red-zone/third down target.  He extends nicely and snares the high pass out of the air, easily out-jumping opponents.  Gage is not as physical as we'd like for a bigger bodied wide out and not always will to extend or expose to make the catch.  He has first day talent and is possibly a top 45-selection if he puts it together as a senior.  Kirk Farmer is a mobile signal-caller with an adequate arm but has been setback by injury and inconsistency in the past.  Added is the fact that he'll be splitting time with Darius Outlaw at quarterback so Farmer really needs to standout if he's to get any serious consideration for next April.  Junior Zack Abron is a nice sized interior runner for the future and we really like the upside of center A.J. Ricker, a smart, tough, pivot man with size potential which will only enhance the ability he already has to dominate the middle of the line. 

On defense all eyes will be focused on tackle Cedric Harden, a powerful and dominant interior lineman we feel took a big step backwards last season.  When he was on his game as a sophomore, Harden demands double teams to prevent him from collapsing the pocket and bulrushes opponents off the line of scrimmage.  As a junior in '01 he looked overweight, out of shape and was not a weekly force, which he was the prior campaign.  Harden can go one of several ways; if he gets his butt in gear and priorities in order he is a fringe first round choice but should Harden continue the ways of last season, a middle round selection could be in the offing for '03.  Harden could take a page from the book of Sean Doyle, a self-made linebacker that goes 100-mph, making plays all over the field.  Unfortunately for Doyle his size/speed numbers are such that not many will consider him at linebacker and he'll need a huge pre-draft workout to get consideration at strong safety.  Still, as it stands now, a late round pick as a back-up linebacker and special teams terror would be justified for his services.  Taurus Ferguson stepped up at safety last season after transferring from junior college.  He is a heady defensive back that makes positive plays and does not get beat.  A good senior campaign and workouts prior to the draft could move him into the middle frames.  Similarly Keith Wright is an undersized yet athletic defensive end that displays eye-popping quickness and speed on occasion. Should he pull it together Wright could fall into the late frames.

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