Scout.com has confirmed that representatives from the Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams will be in Bloomington, Indiana this Thursday night to see Indiana host Eastern Kentucky.
While Eastern Kentucky doesn’t have a stable of prospects at their grasp like Indiana possesses, they do happen to have an intriguing offensive lineman who’s generating buzz around scouting circles in tackle Derek Hardman. At 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, Hardman began his career at Eastern Kentucky as a right tackle and played there during his first two years, before moving to the left side as a junior. Entering his third year as a starter, Hardman continues to improve his strength and technique, and will only get better as the season progresses.
Eastern Kentucky’s offensive line has a tough task on Thursday night, as they have to deal with two tremendous pass rushers in Indiana’s Greg Middleton and Jammie Kirlew. It will be Hardman’s responsibility to keep Middleton under control, and it’s possible that the Colonels will double team Kirlew, who led the Hoosiers in sacks (10.5) last year. Middleton was where Kirlew is this year prior to the 2008 season. As a sophomore in ’07, Middleton had a breakout year where he had 50 tackles and a team-high in tackles for a loss (17) and sacks (16). But last season, Middleton failed to make the necessary adjustments and was held to just 18 tackles, five for a loss and a disappointing four sacks. Middleton has a greater upside than Kirlew, but Kirlew has been the more consistent player over the last two seasons, which is the reason why he’s currently rated higher than Middleton in Scout.com’s 2010 NFL Draft Rankings.Other Hoosiers players to keep an eye on are offensive tackle Rodger Saffold, free safety Nick Polk and linebacker Matt Mayberry.
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.