Just because we never get tired of seeing Sun Devils in the NFL, we've been checking up with draft analysts to determine the value of Arizona State's finest players.
Norris contributed to the St. Louis Rams' scouting department during the training camp of 2010 and the 2011 NFL Draft. If you aren't familiar with Norris' work, we strongly suggest you check it out. Now that we have adequately hyped him up, here is what Norris had to say:
Q: You've long been a defender of Will Sutton despite all the criticism he has garnered this season. What has the tape shown you in 2013?
Josh Norris: I still believe Sutton is playing at a high level. Now, I haven't watched every one of his games, but the notion that he is having a poor season is overblown. Sure, his production (from a numbers perspective) is down, but that does not matter if you watch the games. People love to cite the box score. It is easy. But in reality, disruption is production, even if it might not show up on the stat sheet. I've seen more double teams this year, but in many ways Sutton is still the same play as in 2012.
Q: Do you believe Sutton can continue playing at 300+ pounds in the pros or do you think his future NFL team will ask him to trim down to his junior weight? Furthermore, which NFL team/system fit his skill-set?
Norris: I think the news that Sutton added weight has become a crutch for his critics. For many, added weight means less burst and quickness. Although Sutton does utilize explosive movements on the field, it was never the foundation of his game. He's not just an up-field penetrator that splits gaps. Sutton is a very technical player. He has active hands to gain control, leverage to get his opponent off balance, and strength to create separation. Once creating space, then he uses quickness to finish plays in the backfield.
I could see him at either weight, it does not really matter to me. Interior pressure is more important than ever. In fact, if I was asked to choose between interior disruption or edge disruption, the former would win every time. Now, it is impossible to consistently generate either, but you get my point. Sutton causes confusion up front and screws with what the opponent has planned. I do think he fits any team. Clubs that strictly run three man fronts might not fit as well, since he might not have the length of other 'undersized' interior linemen (see Iowa's Mike Daniels).
Q: What's your opinion on Carl Bradford? Have you noticed any improvement in his run defense and do you believe he can be a 8-10 sack player on the professional level?
Norris: Eight to ten sacks is no easy goal. I believe only 34 defensive players crossed that mark last season. I liken his game to Rob Ninkovich a bit. He's a hard rusher off the edge and I haven't noticed him losing consistently against the run to the point that it is a problem.
Q: From what you've seen of Jaelen Strong so far, do you think it would be wise of him to pull a Cordarrelle Patterson and hop to the pros after one year? Is he NFL-ready?
Norris: Patterson was pretty unique. There were rumors he was struggling academically and he was also a junior. Strong could still have two more seasons of eligibility. Patterson was also a rare ball carrier after the catch. I don't see those same traits from Strong. That's not to say I don't like Strong. I do, but I wouldn't put him in Patterson's class. This is shaping to be a very good wide receiver class at the top, so it might not be wise to declare.
Q: Assuming Bradford and Strong were to come out, where do you project these three players in the 2014 NFL Draft?
Norris: The NFL will knock Sutton for something. Lack of production, soft size, etc. This isn't to say I do everything the right way; but just because the NFL has one line of thinking, doesn't mean it is right. I expect Sutton to be a second-round pick.
I could see Bradford as a second day pick as well. I think it is too early on Strong to give a prediction either way.
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