2020 NFL Draft: American Athletic Conference (AAC) Scouting Reports

PFN Chief Draft Analyst Tony Pauline's scouting reports for 2020 NFL Draft prospects in the ACC, including Gabriel Davis and Josh Jones.

SMU Mustangs
2020 NFL Draft Prospects

Shane Buechele, QB

Career Snapshot: Transfer from Texas who started his lone season at SMU and earned First Team All-AAC honors as a senior in 2019. Completed 62.7 percent of his passes for 3,929 yards and led the conference with 34 touchdown passes. Dealt with shoulder and ankle injuries and split time with Sam Ehlinger as a sophomore in 2017 after he threw 21 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2016. Underwent hip surgery in early 2018.

Positives: Texas transfer who comes off a career season. Patient, buys as much time as necessary in the pocket and leads the offense extremely well. Goes through progressions, locates the open wideout, and does not release the ball until the final second. Senses the rush, steps up in the pocket and gets outside the box to buy time. Keeps his eyes downfield, spreads the ball around and shows good command of the offense. Displays timing, does not make receivers wait on the ball and takes big hits in order to get the throw away.

Negatives: Does not throw tight spirals. Must improve his downfield accuracy. Doesn’t have a big-time arm.

Analysis: After minimal success at Texas, Buechele made the right decision to transfer to SMU and had a terrific season in 2019. He lacks great upside, but he gets it between the ears and could end up on an NFL roster as a third signal-caller.

Rodney Clemons, S

Career Snapshot: Four-year starter who earned Second Team All-AAC honors and made 78 tackles (three for loss) with four interceptions and nine pass breakups as a senior in 2019. Received a medical redshirt after he played four games and suffered an injury as a true freshman in 2015.

Positives: Incredibly underrated safety who is effective against both the run and the pass. Smart, instinctive and tough. Breaks down well, uses his hands to get off blocks and fires up the field to defend the run. Keeps the action in front of him, works well with cornerbacks and wraps up tackling. Effectively patrols center field, displays solid ball skills and locates the pass in the air. Effectively positions himself against pass catchers to defend the throw. Takes proper angles to the action.

Negatives: Stiff and mechanical in his backpedal. Better when he faces the action. Possesses an average closing burst and overall recovery speed.  Ran poorly at the Combine.

Analysis: In terms of his on-field play, Clemons is a terrific safety with a variety of skills. Speed may be an issue, but at the very worst he’s a zone or strong safety who should also excel on special teams.

Xavier Jones, RB

Career Snapshot: Three-year starter who was named First Team All-AAC and rushed 244 times for 1,276 yards and a conference-best 23 touchdowns as a senior in 2019. Started six games as a true freshman in 2015 before he struggled with hamstring and shoulder injuries in 2016 and received a medical redshirt. Started 12 games and rushed for 1,075 yards as a sophomore in 2017 before he moved into a backup role in 2018.

Positives: Patient, productive ball carrier who is solid in all aspects. Displays vision, finds the open lanes, and runs hard. Instinctive, effectively follows blocks everywhere on the field and runs north and south. Has a tough style, keeps his feet moving and runs through arm tackles. Effective pass catcher out of the backfield and a solid blocker.

Negatives: Displays average quickness and speed and has marginal burst. More of a downhill runner who loses a lot of speed and balance when he tries to cut back against the grain or change direction.

Analysis: After he struggled with injury as a junior, Jones turned in a career year last season and produced as both a ball carrier and pass catcher. He comes with average size and speed, but he’s a good football player who could make a roster as a fourth back.

Patrick Nelson, S

Career Snapshot: Transfer from Illinois who started two seasons for the Illini before he joined SMU and started his final two years with the Mustangs. Earned First Team All-AAC honors and made 80 tackles (18 for loss) with 12 sacks as a senior in 2019. Redshirted in 2015 due to a torn ACL, missed two games due to injury in 2017 and missed two games due to an ankle injury in 2018.

Positives: Nice-sized safety who displays a variety of skill. Stays with assignments, gives effort and displays solid speed. Effective in space, quickly closes to the action and sells out to make plays. Breaks down well, works hard to get involved and tackles well in the open field. Forceful up the field and sells out on the blitz. Hard-hitting and violently goes after ball carriers.

Negatives: Displays average deep speed. Occasionally gathers into tackles. Stiff in his backpedal and loses in transition.

Analysis: After an incredible senior campaign when he was used in the box and up the field, Nelson displayed solid ball skills during the week of practice at Shrine Bowl. He has some athletic limitations and must consistently face the action, but he can be used as a zone or strong safety and comes with a special-teams mentality.

James Proche, WR

Career Snapshot: Four-year starter who was named First Team All-AAC in each of his final two seasons at SMU. Led the AAC in all major receiving categories as a junior in 2018 with 93 catches for 1,199 yards and 12 touchdowns and topped the conference with 111 receptions and 15 touchdown catches as a senior in 2019.

Positives: Incredibly productive receiver who plays with tremendous quickness, balance, and body control. Fluidly releases off the line of scrimmage, tracks the pass in the air and looks the ball into his hands. Makes the difficult reception with defenders draped on him.

Runs scissor-sharp routes, separates from defenders and is impossible to cover at times. Does not back down from a challenge, consistently offers the quarterback a nice target, and adjusts to the errant throw. Gets vertical and comes down with the difficult reception in the deep field.

Negatives: Has size and speed limitations. Possesses average run-after-catch skill and gets easily brought down in the open field by a single defender. Struggles in battles with larger opponents and cannot take a pounding.

Analysis: Proche was incredibly productive last season and performed well during Senior Bowl practices, where he was unstoppable in the short and intermediate field. He has a place at the next level as a fourth receiver who can be used in the slot or put in motion before the snap of the ball. Proche should also be productive as a punt returner.

Delontae Scott, DE

Career Snapshot: Two-year starter who earned Second Team All-AAC honors and made 39 tackles (18 for loss) with 10 sacks and three forced fumbles as a senior in 2019. Made 32 tackles (10.5 for loss) with 4.5 sacks as a junior.

Positives: Hard-working defensive lineman with growth potential. Breaks down well, effectively fights with his hands and works hard to get off blocks. Displays speed off the edge, possesses good length and moves well in every direction of the field. Attracts a lot of double-team blocks.

Negatives: Lacks bulk, gets easily outpositioned from the action and must get stronger. Lacks great pursuit speed and does not show a next-level burst.

Analysis: Scott was a hard-working defensive lineman who got the most from his ability for SMU, but he must get bigger and stronger to have any chance in the NFL.

View more scouting reports

Page 2: Central Florida Knights
Page 3: Cincinnati Bearcats
Page 4: UConn Huskies/East Carolina Pirates
Page 5: Houston Cougars/Memphis Tigers/Navy Midshipmen
Page 6: SMU Mustangs
Page 7: South Florida Bulls
Page 8: Temple Owls
Page 9: Tulane Green Wave/Tulsa Golden Hurricanes

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