Scouting the Big 10: Northwestern

A season of great expectation in 2001 was met with even greater disappointment after the program was unable to rebound from the tragic death of Rashidi Wheeler prior to the campaign. Still; it was a fruitful year for NU in NFL War rooms last April, something unlikely to happen in '03.

Northwestern Wildcats

The Wildcats offensive system usually lends to reliable pass catchers but the offensive prospects we like best are on the line. Should he physically mature, adding bulk and strength, center Austin King has a future as a starter at the next level. A smart, heady pivot man that explodes off the snap into his blocks, King is effective not only at the line of scrimmage but out to the second level as well, quickly engaging linebackers to remove them from the play. Fundamentally sound, competitive and a cognizant lineman, it is very easy to like King and a big senior season will put him into the middle rounds. Guard Jeff Roehl has the size and power King lacks, turning defenders off the line and opening holes for the running game. Roehl dominates opponents but is stiff and restricted to confined quarters, which will push him into the late frames. Still, he could be very effective blocking for a power running game or in a zone-blocking scheme. NU has a pair of receivers to watch including senior Jon Schweighardt, a tough and heady receiver possessing only average size/speed numbers. Teammate Kunle Patrick has those numbers and the junior is developing into a fine wide out for the future.

Defensively the Wildcats have a lot of question marks, something that will hamper them on the field next season and result in only a few free agent signings during the draft. Patt Durr is a lot like many of his predecessors at NU; explosive, intense, versatile and undersized. Durr, who played on the outside last season, moves to middle linebacker this year, though his best pro-position could be on the weak-side. Pre-draft workouts will dictate whether or not he is selected in the late rounds. Underclassmen Colby Clark is an athletic lineman that can play either tackle or end and has a nice future ahead of him.

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