Scouting the Big 10: Michigan St

Michigan State rebounded nicely last year after a poor campaign in 2000. They now enter this season a very strong team even without TJ Duckett and MSU is poised to make a run at the Big Ten title. They also offer one of the top wide out prospects in the nation and a receiver that could break into the top ten of the '03 draft if he enters. Then again there is much more on this roster.

Michigan State Spartans

The first name that comes to everyone's mind when speaking of the NFL Draft and the MSU Spartans is Charles Rogers, and justifiably so. Rogers is a faster and more consistent version of Plaxico Burress. He is a game controlling receiver yet at the same time one that will break a contest open with his speed. He dominates opponents over the middle or in the red-zone, all along possessing the abilities to outrun them down the flanks. Rogers is a big-play receiver and the "go-to guy" opponents fear. He has big time potential at the next level but needs to refine the skills of his position (route running, concentration, catching the ball before running with it) yet all things considered will be the first or second wide out selected in '03 should he opt for the draft. One senior that will get draft consideration, though it will be in the later frames, is fullback Dawan Moss, who moves to tailback this season. Moss is an athletic prospect with decent size/speed numbers and efficient in what he does. He is neither explosive nor dominant at the point and has difficulty finishing off opponents as a lead fullback, though he gives top effort. Tackle Ulish Booker also displays adequate athleticism and though sized nicely, rarely plays with good strength to the point where he's constantly walked back into the quarterback from the blind side. Looking at him Booker has size potential and is a solid developmental prospect. MSU has a lot of undeveloped juniors that could move themselves onto radar screens should they improve their games. Jeff Smoker is a thrower with a live arm and a tough quarterback but sprays his passes around the field and must improve not only the accuracy of his balls but overall throwing technique. Steve Stewart is a huge and powerful right tackle that must also improve his fundamentals and learn to play under control. We ranked center Brian Ottney relatively high prior to last season, as he's a powerful pivot player that opens the middle of the field for the running game. He's also stiff and only effective in confined quarters, which will push his grade down somewhat.

If things pan out the Spartans could have one of the best defensive secondary's in the nation. Cedric Henry returns from academic suspension while DeMario Suggs puts the pads on after sitting out most of the entire '01 season with a bad ankle. Both have nice cover skills and are late round considerations. Boderick Nelson is another senior corner with adequate cover skills but a player that breaks up a lot of throws and gets beat deep with the same regularity. Thomas Wright is a hard-hitting safety that throws his body around the field and intimidates opponents. To his credit Wright plays a disciplined brand of football, keeping the action in front of him and taking good angles to the ball carrier. He does not have the speed you want in a deep centerfielder nor the great size for a strong safety. Still; he looks like solid value in the middle-to-late frames. A few underclassmen to keep an eye on are defensive end Greg Tarplin, an undersized but athletic pass rusher with a good degree of upside potential and sophomore safety Robert Flagg, and athletic and speedy defensive back with a bright future.

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