Scouting the MAC: Central Florida

For all their success, not many have noticed the Golden Knights; they've offered good pro-prospects and had bowl worthy records but all to often have been pushed aside. That may now change during their initial season of play in the MAC Conference. The team that put Daunte Culpepper and Travis Fisher into the draft's first two rounds may add another name to that list.

Central Florida Golden Knights

NFL scouts will be focusing on Doug Gabriel, a game-impacting receiver that also instantaneously changes the momentum contests as a return specialist. Gabriel, a nice sized wide out with solid size/speed numbers and receiving skills, had nine touchdowns during the 2002 season and an astounding 28.7-yard average per catch. His 27-yard return each kickoff is nothing to sneeze about either but before everyone gets to happy about Gabriel and anoints him as a first round choice lets not forget; he did only catch 22-passes in ten games last season. That said a big senior season coupled with solid pre-draft workouts could push Gabriel into the middle part of day one. His counterpart, Jimmy Fryzel, is another nice sized receiver with a good head and a pass catcher that constantly finds the open spot in the defense. A "go-to" guy that plays with great focus and concentration, Fryzel lays out for the difficult grab, displaying the ability to make the tough catch in contorted positions but in the end is not fast enough to get separation down the field or big enough to be considered a "possession receiver" and will end up a free agent. Tight end Mario Jackson is a solid athlete that breaks down well, blocks with solid fundamentals and for the most part, displays solid hands when the ball is thrown in his direction.  Jackson lacks ideal tight end size and is rarely involved in the passing offense; something he needs to change in '01 if he wants draft consideration. Passing to this trio is junior Ryan Schnieder; a live armed quarterback with poise, patience and a signal caller that throws a terrific deep ball. A tough guy that sits in the pocket and gets clobbered in order to get the pass off, Schnieder sees the field, finds the open receiver and makes good decisions. He lacks pocket passer size and has difficulty seeing the passing lanes as he's just a hair over 6-feet. As a result he changes his point of release, which adversely affects his accuracy. Brian Huff blocks up front and a strong lineman, he is effective blocking for both the running or passing game. Huff looks rather unathletic but to his credit displays surprising skills sliding out to protect the edge or blocking on the second level. A late round choice could be in the offing for him.

Defensive lineman Elton Patterson is quick, athletic and a prospect with a fluid change of direction  that makes plays up the field or pursuing laterally. Patterson breaks down well, fights with his hands and is rarely off his feet. Measuring at barely 6-0/270 pounds, he reminds us of former Nevada lineman James Cannida, the Tampa Bay Buccaneer that followed Tony Dungy to the Colts. Like Cannida, there is a place for Patterson at the next level.




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