I've discovered that ESPN U is showing some games from this previous college football season over the next few days. I'll be watching the ones that feature some of the prospects that seem to have an interest for the Mustacheers. I had a chance to DVR and watch Clemson vs. Miami and did so to try and get a better look at CJ Spiller. What I saw was both impressive and slightly disappointing. But, hey, enough of my yakking, click on the read more to read more of my yakking.
This game was a highlight reel for Spiller. He took a kickoff 90 yards for a score, broke open a 48-yard run and scored on a 56-yard reception. Each of these plays displayed some impressive skills. The return was set up by some good blocking and then he just out ran everyone. On the long run, he saw the hole, hit it, got to the 2nd level quickly and again used his speed to cut back and break it to the outside for the big gain. On the reception, he started in the backfield and ran play-action. He then ran a nice wheel route and just blew by the LB assigned to him and ran under a nice pass. Each of these plays demonstrated the home run ability that makes Spiller a high-rated prospect in the upcoming draft.
There were some other aspects of Spiller's play in this game that could translate well into the NFL. He looked very good running routes out of the backfield and natural catching the ball. He did a nice job of turning upfield quickly after the catch. This included a few times where he hit blocks before rolling into the flat (one he chipped a DE nicely and the other he set up a block, then disengaged and caught a dump-off pass).
There were a few things I noticed that had me concerned about his game. The thing that was most troubling was how he looked on standard run plays. He only had the one quality run from what I saw. To be fair, the blocking was not the greatest, but I would have liked to seen more from him. It looked like he was dancing a bit too much when the hole wasn't immediately available. Also, I'm concerned with his stamina. He sat out numerous plays and went right to the sidelines after the aforementioned long run. Anyone who has been in the stands with me during a Hawks/Rams game knows that this is a pet peeve of mine. I love to give Steve Jackson the business every time he has a good run, gets pumped up and then goes straight to the sideline (I'm sure that my creative jeering really gets under his skin). He also was not in the game at the end of regulation. I would think you'd want a playmaker like Spiller in there when the game is on the line.
Now to be fair, I don't think people are expecting Spiller to be a guy who carries the ball 25-30 times a game. He should be a complementary back who can be used in the passing game and on special teams. The Hawks need a guy who can make big plays and I would still love them to draft Spiller, but he's not the best option to improve the running game. I'd like for there to be a way to trade down from the 14th pick to get lower in the first round and take Ryan Matthews out of Fresno State. I haven't had a chance to expert-analyze his play, but I think he has more of a #1 back game. Still, I would love to have Spiller on the Hawks, because we have not had a player that defenses really need to account for in a long time. I just hope that if we pass on him, the Niners don't get him.