The University of California is known for producing game changing athletes like DeSean Jackson, Marshawn Lynch, Aaron Rodgers, Nnamdi Asomugha, Andre Carter, among others, and tough, hardworking linemen such as Alex Mack, John Welbourn, Tarik Glenn, Todd Steussie, etc… This year is more of the same, as the Golden Bears top senior prospect is cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson, and the premiere prospect of the program is junior running back Jahvid Best.
There’s always something shiny and new to see in California, and every year NFL scouts are out to find a player that fits in with their franchise. And with the Golden Bears starting practice this week, Scout.com has confirmed that representatives from the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons were in attendance.
All of the teams that observed Cal this week either place a high emphasis on defense or need an infusion of youth in the secondary or on the defensive front. At 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, Thompson is an undersized, physical playmaker who has lockdown potential. Even though he lacks elite size, his quickness and ability to cover allow him to be successful against bigger receivers. He has smooth hips and transitions well with receivers vertically. He has a good burst to the ball and positions himself well to disrupt a play. He has tremendous ball skills and can turn defense into offense instantly. He’s a special athlete who’s not only a quality cover corner, but a dynamic punt returner as well. Thompson finished the ’08 season with 70 tackles, 7.5 for a loss, two sacks and four interceptions. He’s currently the 2nd rated cornerback (22nd overall) in Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.
For the teams looking to bolster their defensive front, versatile lineman Tyson Alualu will receive plenty of attention during the 2009 season. An athletic force in the trenches, Alualu can lineup at DT in the 4-3 or at DE in a 3-4. He’s quick off the ball, plays with leverage and has the ability to change direction at top speed. He uses his hands well and gets penetration by pounding the interior with his strength. He has to work on his technique and can’t rely on his strength on every play to get after the quarterback. He’s excellent in pursuit and can track down a ballcarrier off the edge. He possesses a high motor and is a hard worker. He’s a mature player that’s looking to get better. Alualu had an outstanding season in 2008 where he recorded 62 tackles, 11 for a loss and six sacks. He’s currently the 14th rated defensive tackle (128th overall) in Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.On the offensive side of the ball, Best is the most explosive force, but Cal also has two up-and-coming senior wide receivers, Verran Tucker and Nyan Boateng, that will enhance their draft status in 2009.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.