After watching Pittsburgh edge out North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, there were four players that stood out, including Tar Heels OLB Bruce Carter.
He is a physical specimen with great range and the ability to fight through traffic. His tools and potential make him a late first-round pick, but he does need to break down better when tackling and must locate the ball better in coverage.
In the first quarter, he over ran RB Dion Lewis on a simple off-tackle play after wading through traffic. As a result, Lewis was able to easily cut back and get up field. Later in the game, he did a great job of splitting two defenders, but went low and was unable to wrap up WR Jonathan Baldwin on a bubble screen. These two plays sum up Carter's play very well. He has the range to get to the ball carrier and flashes explosiveness at the point of attack, but he needs to play with more discipline.
• One word defines Panthers QB Bill Stull: efficient. He does a great job of anticipating throws, especially on crossing routes and has flourished in offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr.'s pro-style offense. He also does a good job of staying in the pocket and gets good trajectory on his passes.
However, he does throw the ball a bit high at times and there are some concerns about his ability to throw deep downfield because his passes tend to hang. Stull also tends to throw off-balance and struggles to set his feet, especially when he rolls to his left.
Regardless of his limitations, Stull would be a very good developmental project due to his experience in a pro-style offense. He should come off the board in the last three rounds.
• Stull has definitely benefited from a nice receiving corps, including Baldwin and TE Dorin Dickerson. While Baldwin's tremendous size gives defenders fits, it's Dickerson's versatilty that keeps defensive coordinators up at night. He is a matchup nightmare because he can line up at tight end, H-back or fullback. Plus, he can also split out wide or run misdirection plays.
He always gets a quick, clean release and has great ball skills. In the first quarter versus Pitt, he was lined up at tight end on the right side and showed his ability to stretch the field. He ran a corner route before turning up field and S Deunta Williams bit on the play. Dickerson drew a pass interference call and almost made a circus catch.
Dickerson is the No. 1 rated fullback on our board, but he is not someone who is going to pave the way and play as a typical fullback in the NFL. If he puts up the kind of numbers that we expect at the combine (4.4 forty time, 30 reps at 225 pounds and a 40-inch vertical), he could sneak into the second round.
• Tarheels WR Greg Little proved Baldwin wasn't the only big-time receiver on the field at the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder hauled in seven catches for 87 yards and two scores. He came into college as a running back, but has great ball skills and has developed into a go-to receiver. He proved he could do it all on the first drive of the game, where he ran an end around, deep out, short out and a fade in the end zone.
He is shifty, takes long strides and runs behind his pads -- like a running back. Little also showed that he is determined to pick up extra yards. He has an uncanny ability to fully extend and elevate over the defenders, which he showed during his first touchdown catch. While Little is a good running back and a gifted receiver, punting is not his strong suit. After scoring his first touchdown, he shanked a punt into the stands and picked up a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
After this strong performance, Little's game film needs to be re-evaluated but we wouldn't be surprised if he came off the board in the first three rounds, if he decided to come out.
• It was disappointing to see USC DE Everson Griffen leave the Emerald Bowl in the first quarter after injuring his ankle, but we think its a smart move by him to enter the draft. He has been very impressive this season on a depleted Trojans defense. Griffen has excellent size, natural explosiveness and could play rush end in a 3-4 scheme or play with his hand down in the NFL.
Griffen was a bit of an underachiever early on, but the light came on this year and he should come off the board in the early second round.