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2013 Fierce-40 Previews: #8-Oregon State

by DJ Boyer on Aug. 14, 2013

2013 Fierce 40 Previews

 

#8 Oregon State Beavers

 

2012 Recap:

A 9-4 campaign offered a glimpse of how competitive Oregon State is going to be this year with losses against Texas in the bowl game, Washington, Stanford and Oregon. With the exception of the Oregon contest, Oregon State lost all of their games by four points or less, so they were in virtually every game and scored big wins against UCLA, BYU and Wisconsin.

Coaching:

Mike Riley has a huge task at hand picking a starting quarterback, but aside from that aspect the rest of the team is virtually set and very solid with 15 starters returning to action. Riley has been one of the most underrated coaches in the sport since returning to Oregon State after a failed venture into the NFL.

 

Offense

Quarterbacks/Running Backs:

Usually a team with a quarterback controversy like we see at Oregon State is in trouble or not enjoying success but at Oregon State we have a pair of capable quarterbacks. Sean Mannion was a Freshman All-American after 2011 when he threw for 3,328 yards and 16 touchdowns. Oregon State was 3-9 during his freshman campaign, but last year they got out to a 4-0 start before Mannion went down with a knee injury. Cody Vaz came in and won both his starts and from that point on it was back and forth between them. Both posted great numbers and had a pair of 1,000 yard receivers in their arsenal. Mannion ended the year with a good completion percentage, but 15 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. Vaz had 11 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions but didn’t throw for as many yards and his completion percentage was well below that of Mannion. It doesn’t matter who gets the call as both have great quarterback qualities, as well as nice targets. This offense will be near the top of the PAC 12 statistically.

For Oregon State to be near the top they need a consistent running game and sophomore Storm Woods will give that to the Beavers. Woods had nearly 1,000 yards as a freshman with a bum knee, and Woods is healthy and ready to run wild. I see Woods as a 6th round prospect for 2016.

Best Draft Prospect: Storm Woods RB 6th Round 2016.

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:

Last year Markus Wheaton and Brandin Childs combined to form one of the best 1-2 wide receiver tandems in the country, if not the best. Wheaton has been drafted and he leaves 91 catches, 11 touchdowns and 1,244 yards behind, but Oregon State keeps Childs with his 67 catches, 5 touchdowns and 1,151 yards. Oregon State will certainly miss the contribution of Markus Wheaton, but not that much as Oregon State has plenty of young developing targets that have already shown they are reliable. Kevin Cummings and Richard Mullaney are the other starting receivers as Oregon leads with the three receiver set. These receivers had 18 and 13 catches respectively a season ago. The receivers are the strength of the offense and the style of play doesn’t change with the quarterback as both play similar styles. This will help the wide receivers with their preparation and if a quarterback change is necessitated during the game.

The target we will see step to the forefront is tight end Connor Hamlett. Hamlett had 32 catches for 403 yards and more importantly he is a better blocker than receiver. Put the physicality of Hamlett together with his 6’6” 270 pound frame and you can see why Oregon State remains excited. Cooks and Hamlett are both graded as 4th round prospects for 2015 and I do not feel either is a threat to leave school early.

 

Best Draft Prospect: Brandin Cooks WR 4th Round 2015 and Connor Hamlett TE 4th Round 2015.

 

Offensive Line:

Oregon State fields a very solid but unspectacular line but four starters from a season ago are back in the mix. They have a couple of players that have NFL talent but none look like they would be taken in the first three rounds. This is a solid group that really plays well together and has backups that are versatile with the ability to play multiple positions. At first glance you wouldn’t think this is a special group but nothing could be further from the truth. Isaac Seumalo is only a sophomore but seems to have the best pro prospects as he is one of the better centers in the conference. Michael Phillip has good size at left tackle and looks like a 7th rounder for this season.  Phillip has great technique, the knock being on his footwork which is very sloppy as he tends to struggle against the double move or shifty rushers. Oregon State has a pair of seniors on the interior of the line at guard in Josh Andrews and Grant Enger. This team should run the ball much better than a season ago when they were 10th in the conference and 100th in the nation. They have a healthy runner and an experienced line. They should climb into the top five or six for the conference and the offense will be better than a season ago.

Best Draft Prospect: Isaac Seumalo C 5th Round 2016.

 

Defense

Defensive Line

Oregon State has a very balanced defense and one that got overlooked a lot last season because of the terrific numbers that Wheaton and Cooks put up at wide receiver. Oregon State was just 3-9 in 2011 and the offense was functioning at a high rate. The biggest difference and the reason for the six game turnaround had more to do with defense as Oregon State climbed from #81 overall to # 30. Oregon State was solid against the run and rushing the quarterback as they finished 27th against the run and 49th against the pass. Scott Crichton is the star of this line and there is a small chance he turns pro after this season. Crichton looks like a 2nd/3rd round pick but if he stays for his senior season he could push himself into the 1st round. At 6’3” 265 Crichton has NFL size, and just needs to improve his upper body strength a bit to hang with the big boys in the NFL. Fellow defensive end Dylan Wynn returns and he is a solid run specialist that plays his lanes and assignments well. The interesting piece will be at defensive tackle as both starters for this season transferred from the JUCO ranks a season ago and have two years of eligibility remaining. Brandon Bennett-Jackson will be available backup along the line as he can play at tackle and will see some action at defensive end. They are a well-disciplined unit and I expect their numbers against the pass to improve and for this to be a top 25 unit.

Best Draft Prospect: Scott Crichton DE 2nd Round 2015 (Possible early entrant for 2014).

                       

Linebackers:

The linebackers could be an area of great pride or concern as the middle linebacker position is far from sewed up for anyone. Oregon State may have to go with a platoon situation in the middle as nobody has assumed the starter spot. Joel Skotte looks to have the inside track as he saw action in 13 games last year, but he was used largely on special teams as a freshman. Josh Williams is also an option but nobody knows exactly what is going to happen. One has to hope the Beavers sure up this position because the outside linebackers are fast and outstanding with Michael Doctor returning after leading the team in tackles during 2012.  Doctor was second on the team with 11 tackles for a loss and he is joined by D.J. Alexander who was 4th in tackles last season with 58. Caleb Saulo is a freshman that has the coaching staff raving. He should see a lot of action along the outside and move into the role of special teams ace for the Beavers. There has even been some talk that if there are struggles in the middle that D.J. Alexander makes the transition there with Saulo possibly moving into a starting role. As long as Oregon State gets the middle figured out this is going to be a nice and deep unit. If not we will have to see how shuffling the lineup affects the team. I have Doctor as a undrafted free agent who can move into a 6th or 7th round spot with another big season in 2013.

Best Draft Prospect: Michael Doctor UFA 2014.

 

Secondary:

The secondary is going to be fantastic and could be one of the best units in the conference with the returning talent in the back of the defense. Rashaad Reynolds really came into his own during the second half of last season and finished with 3 picks and 13 passes defensed. Reynolds was a fringe draft prospect when the year began but he moved into 3rd/4th round territory for this upcoming draft and the sky is the limit. We are seeing Reynolds bring his play up a few notches right before our eyes and he is turning into one of my hidden gems for this draft and his ascension may not be over. Reynolds also has amazing straight line speed and changes directions well. He could be one of these players that throws up a sub 4.4 number in the 40 and flies up the board, which if that happened he'd be a solid 2nd round selection. Sean Martin will be the other corner and he had three starts a season ago as he has spent a few years as the “put –me-wherever-you-need-me” type player in the Oregon State secondary. Safeties Tyrequek Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy are great examples of teamwork. I don’t see either being huge NFL prospects but they gel very well together and always seem to know where one another is on the field. I am impressed with the communication and recognition in the secondary. The only thing that could derail this unit is a major injury suffered by one of the players. The depth is not as strong as it is in the front seven but the secondary has the ability to be the brightest spot along the defense.

Best Draft Prospect: Rashaad Reynolds CB 3rd/4th Round 2014.

 

Special Teams:

Trevor Romaine had a terrific year as the kicker and has put himself on the map as a possible prospect for 2015. Punter Keith Kostol did not post huge punting numbers last year but he is a terrific directional and positional punter who you really have to earn your return yardage against. Oregon State should finish near the top of the conference in net punt return average. The question marks are in the return game, where opposing teams got the best of the Beavers a season ago, so this is an area Oregon State needs to improve for 2013.

Best Draft Prospect: Trevor Romaine K 7th Round/UFA 2015.

 

Schedule:

Oregon State really gets the benefit of a nice schedule for 2013 with most of their toughest games at home (Stanford, USC and Washington) and the only road game will be the final game with rival Oregon which could have BCS implications.

 

Draft Outlook:

2015 and 2016 could be big years in the draft for the Beavers. This season we are seeing Rashaad Reynolds emerge at cornerback and the possibility of Scott Crichton going pro early, though I feel he would be better served coming back for his senior season. 

 

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