Scout.com has confirmed that representatives from the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans and Washington Redskins will be in Tampa on Thursday night to see a huge Big East showdown between two undefeated teams, No. 8 Cincinnati (5 – 0) and No. 21 South Florida (5 – 0).
Six of the teams in attendance will send high level scouting executives to observe the talent on the field. The Cardinals will send their Director of Player Personnel (Steve Keim), as will the Falcons (Les Snead). And four General Managers will also make the trip: Jerry Angelo (Bears), Jeff Ireland (Dolphins), Ted Thompson (Packers) and Marty Hurney (Panthers).
The highest rated prospect in this game is Cincinnati wide receiver Mardy Gilyard. At 6-foot, 187 pounds, Gilyard has a lanky build and isn’t a physical receiver, but he’s an exciting playmaker that is most effective in space. He’s quick off the line, uses his hands well to fight off a jam and will challenge a defender over the middle and downfield. He has good hands and vision, and consistently finds openings within a defense. He sets up defenders nicely after the catch and is elusive in the open field. He shows good awareness after the catch and follows his blockers to pick up positive yards. Even though he’s not a physically imposing player, he demonstrates plenty of desire by being able to make tough catches in a crowd. He has a knack for the acrobatic and makes highlight reel plays. He’s a tremendous return specialist who can take it the distance any time the ball is in his hands. As thrilling as Gilyard can be as a receiver, he has some flaws in his game. He has to improve his route running; he rounds off too many of his routes. And he has to get stronger and become a better blocker downfield. The No. 2 rated WR by Scout.com, Gilyard has 38 receptions for 517 yards and seven touchdowns through five games.
Bearcats quarterback Tony Pike is also receiving plenty of attention from scouts. At 6-foot-6, 212 pounds, Pike has prototypical size and a strong arm. He’s patient in the pocket and has the athleticism to buy time with his feet as he waits for a receiver to get open. He has a great understanding of how to read a defense and identifies the blitz consistently at the line of scrimmage. He goes through his progressions well and doesn’t just lock in on one receiver. He tends to force throws into coverage, but usually takes the safe route if his primary receiver isn’t open. He benefits from taking most of his snaps out of the shotgun, but it could be a detriment to him at the next level. So far this season, Pike, who’s completed 66.7-percent of his passes for 1,493 yards, 13 touchdowns and three interceptions, has been sensational and is being discussed as a potential Day One selection in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Another prospect in this contest that will receive Day One consideration is South Florida defensive end George Selvie. Currently the No. 3 rated DE by Scout.com, at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, Selvie is a hybrid that can play with his hand in the dirt or standing up. He’s quick off the edge and is a skilled pass rusher, but he has to improve against the run. After a monster sophomore season in 2007, where he amassed 59 tackles, 31.5 for a loss and 14.5 sacks, Selvie’s production has dipped, and in his last 17 games he has totaled 63 tackles, 18 for a loss and 7.5 sacks. Despite the decline in play, teams are intrigued with Selvie’s skills and many feel that better days are ahead of him in the NFL where he’s an ideal fit at OLB in a 3-4 scheme.Here are more prospects that will be featured on Thursday that scouts will keep an eye on. From Cincinnati: SS Aaron Webster, OT Jeff Linkenbach, DT Ricardo Mathews, DE Alex Daniels, RB Jacob Ramsey and LBs Andre Revels and Craig Carey. From South Florida: CB Jerome Murphy, FS Nate Allen, LB Kion Wilson, and juniors; DEs Jason Pierre-Paul and Craig Marshall, DT Terrell McClain, LB Sabbath Joseph, RB Mike Ford, WRs Carlton Mitchell and A.J. Love.
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. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.