NFL Draft: Forecasting the Cougars

IF NFLDRAFTSCOUT.COM and Scout.com are right, Washington State's Jeff Tuel will be taken Saturday in the seventh round of the NFL draft. Offensive lineman Wade Jacobson, meanwhile, doesn't appear on the depth charts of many draft forecasters, but he tells Cougfan.com he's hearing encouraging words from several NFL teams. He also has a legend in his corner.

"This is the kind of player teams are looking for to populate a practice squad and allow to develop over time," former Cowboys general manager Gil Brandt, now with NFL.com, said of Jacobson after the big man turned in impressive numbers at WSU's Pro Day in March.

The draft begins Thursday and concludes Saturday, with free agent signings starting immediately thereafter.

Wade Jacobson is back home on the family ranch in Hollister, Calif., where he's baling hay and looking after the livestock as part of his fitness regimen.

"Give me a week or two at home with momma's home cooking and I'm good to go," Jacobson laughs. "No, I still eat pretty healthy. I've actually gained about ten pounds since I've been home."

He checks in at 6-6, 313.

NFLdraftscout.com lists him as the 40th best offensive tackle in the draft, a spot that would put him in free agency, but his pro outlook would appear to be at guard.

The uncertainty over where to project him is understandable. In his Cougar career, Jacobson started 13 games at right tackle, 10 at left guard and one at right guard.

"There are few men of his height and weight that can block and move as fast he plays on tape for a guard," writes Evan Brennan of BuffaloBillsDraft.com. "If the potential is there, sacks given up by Washington State as a unit may be discounted less by teams in their overall evaluations. Safe to say he will be a very high priority free agent, but with his elite pro day, he could easily find himself on some late 7th/6th round boards."

"Some teams say I'm on their draft board," Jacobson said. "It all depends on the team and what they're looking for in the later rounds."

He said Miami, Jacksonville, Green Bay, San Francisco, New England, Kansas and the New York Jets have all shown particular interest in him.

AS FOR JEFF TUEL, HE'S been on a whirlwind since guiding the Cougars to their dramatic overtime win in the Apple Cup. He played in two all-star games, spent much of the winter working with esteemed trainer Tom Shaw in Orlando, had a series of individual workouts with various teams, and like Jacobson, turned in a stellar showing at WSU's Pro Day.

Tuel said he's hearing from a number of teams, including Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles, the New England Patriots, St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and several others.

Most mock drafts have Tuel going in the seventh round or in free agency.

Brandt, of NFL.com, is complimentary of Tuel.


LONG ON CRUTCHES AT APPLE CUP.

"When healthy, Tuel has demonstrated the combination of intelligence, mobility, and accuracy that every scout is looking for in a developmental quarterback. He possesses good size and enough athleticism to buy time in the pocket and scramble for yardage when the defense is caught napping. Tuel's best asset might be his touch, as he's consistently shown the ability to drop passes over the top of his receivers, leading them beautifully for long gainers," he says.

THE MAN BRANDT DUBS "the best prospect" at Washington State, Travis Long, isn't turning up high in draft forecasts because he's recovering from the serious ACL injury he sustained late last season.

NFLdraftscout.com rates him the 33rd best outside linebacker prospect and just outside the seventh (and final) round, while WalterFootball.com rates him the No. 20 OLB and sees him being taken in the sixth or seventh rounds. Scout.com pegs him the 32nd best defensive end, but not within drafting range.

What position the 6-4, 243-pound Long would play in the NFL is an interesting question. He played defensive end at WSU his first three seasons and moved to the BUCK linebacker, a hybrid between end and outside linebacker, last season.

Rob Rang of NFLdraftscout.com calls Long a "classic tweener," needing more bulk to play end in the NFL but perhaps lacking the agility or straight-line speed to handle coverage responsibilities as a traditional outside linebacker.

What Long is hearing from NFL teams and how his knee rehab is coming along are tightly held bits of information. He has refused to speak with the media since the Apple Cup.

MARQUESS WILSON IS PROJECTED to be selected on day two or three of the draft, but concerns about his physicality and heart have forecasts of him ranging from the third round to the sixth.

"Wilson's exit from Washington State was not exactly ideal ... If teams believe he can improve the consistency of his hands and mature physically and mentally at the next level, he could be picked in the middle rounds and contribute immediately, similarly to how Mike Williams did for Tampa Bay in 2010," says Brandt.