Tag:South Carolina
Posted on: February 21, 2012 2:28 pm
 

Stephen Garcia fighting odds to reach NFL dream

Former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia wasn't among the 300-plus prospects invited to this week's Scouting Combine, but he is still working hard to convince scouts to give him a shot at the NFL.

Garcia participated in the Battle of Florida all-star game and took part in one of the regional scouting combines that were set up this year. He's waiting to hear if he'll be selected for a "super regional combine" scheduled for March 30 at Ford Field in Detroit.

It has been a long road for Garcia, a one-time prized recruit who was kicked off the South Carolina team last year for drinking alcohol when he was given a no tolerance policy from coach Steve Spurrier following five previous suspensions.

However, Spurrier is allowing Garcia to participate in South Carolina's March 28 pro day, and the quarterback said he's committed to proving to NFL teams that he does not have a problem with alcohol.

"I want to meet with the NFL and prove that I'm not an alcoholic," Garcia told Scout.com's Aaron Wilson. "I've learned from my mistakes."

"I've learned how immature I really was. I just didn't know exactly how important everything was until after I made all of those mistakes. I was trying to be like every other college kid, but you can't do that as a starting quarterback

Garcia is the 26th-rated quarterback available in April's draft by NFLDraftScout.com, and is currently viewed as unlikely to be drafted. However, he could sign as a priority free agent and get that opportunity to prove himself in an NFL camp.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:50 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:35 pm
 

S. Carolina WR Jeffery, CB Gilmore enter draft

South Carolina junior WR Alshon Jeffery and cornerback Stephon Gilmore have decided to enter the 2012 NFL Draft, ESPN's Joe Schad reported.
   Jeffery had 88 catches for 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore, when defenses zeroed in on then-freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore. Without Lattimore, who suffered a torn ACL in October, Jeffery drew more attention and wasn't aided by a midseason switch at quarterback. He finished with 49-762-8 in 2011.
   NFLDraftScout.com projects Jeffery as a fringe first-round pick. He's ranked 40th overall and fifth among wide receivers.  
  "I would like to thank the fans, my teammates, Coach Spurreir and everyone involved for all the opportunities South Carolina has provided me," Jeffery said, according to Schad. "I am proud to say I will always be a Gamecock."
   The 6-foot-4 receiver was ejected from the Capital One Bowl on Monday after shoving Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard, a small, pesky cornerback who is also in the first-round mix. He has been frustrated when unable to separate and uses his body to shield receivers from the ball. If he runs near 4.6 in the 40 as NFLDraftScout.com expects, he is unlikely to be a first-round pick.
   Gilmore and Jeffery have yet to hire agents, per the report, and therefore can return to South Carolina if they so choose by Jan. 14.
   Gilmore has played mostly off-man coverage and has good size but fits best in a zone system. His size and skill set are comparable to Bears zone corner Charles Tillman, a second-round pick in 2003. Gilmore is an aggressive tackler and asset against the run. At 6-1, 193, he could work his way up from his current spot -- 50th overall -- in the NFLDraftScout.com rankings and be a pleasant surprise.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 8:24 am
 

Six New Year's Day* matchups to watch

Due to New Year's Day falling on a Sunday this year all of the traditional bowl games played on this day were moved to Monday. For football enthusiasts it just means an extension of an already dramatic college football season.

Whether you are a hardcore fan preparing yourself to watch every second you can of the six games on tap today or just want to have a handy Who-To-Watch guide for the few minutes you get to sneak away from your job to check the game, I've got you covered with one head to head matchup NFL scouts will be watching.

Here they are:

TicketCity Bowl

Penn State DT Devon Still vs. Houston C Chris Thompson: The 6-4, 310 pound Still currently ranks No. 8 on NFLDraftScout.com's 2012 board for all prospects. Opposing him is Houston's Thompson, a 6-2, 285 pound technician who we rank as a likely free agent (rated No. 38 amongst centers). Don't think that the Cougars won't have a plan for Still and the rest of a talented Penn State defensive line. The beauty of Houston's spread offense is that it gets the ball out of Case Keenum's hands so quickly that often bigger, more athletic pass rushers are limited in what role they can have. Couple that with the fact that Thompson is a wily veteran who earned his second consecutive All-Conference USA honors this season (last year he won it playing guard) and we have an interesting matchup to start off the day.

Capital One Bowl

Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard vs. South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery: Scouts circled this one in red ink, and Jeffery should do the same. He's against the clock to prove he's not overhyped in an offense that caters to his natural skills. Jeffery, a junior, has a 6-inch and nearly 25-pound advantage on the Nebraska senior cornerback. Dennard's late-season push to work back into first-round conversation would get an exclamation point if he muzzles the gifted but undisciplined Jeffery.

Outback Bowl

Michigan State DT Jerel Worthy vs. Georgia C Ben Jones: There may not be a defensive tackle in the country blessed with a more impressive combination of burst off the snap and strength than Michigan State's junior defensive tackle. Playing in the SEC, however, has prepared Jones for just this type of matchup. While the All-SEC center may lack Worthy's power and athleticism, the senior is tough-minded, technically sound and a legitimate top 75 pro prospect, in his own right. If nothing makes you happier during the holidays than a good old fashioned battle in the trenches, this is the showdown to watch.

Gator Bowl

Florida DT Jaye Howard vs. Ohio State C Mike Brewster: Just like in the Outback Bowl, I expect the television analysts to focus on matchups between the skill position players in the Gator Bowl but winner of the Gator Bowl will likely be the team that gets more from their senior in the middle. Howard is quietly among the better, all-around senior defensive tackles and is being viewed by some 3-4 clubs as a possible conversion to defensive end. Brewster isn't flashy but is a tough guy who always competes and is starting his 49th consecutive game. Each is listed by NFLDraftScout.com as potential mid round picks.

Rose Bowl

Wisconsin FS Aaron Henry vs. Oregon RB LaMichael James: The key to stopping the "Quack Attack" is the same as it is with most offenses: take away the running game. Without a dominant front line, the Badgers will have to demonstrate extraordinary discipline in the back half of their defense. Fortunately, they boast a terrific all-around defender in Henry, a former cornerback who has earned all-conference honors after each of his two seasons at free safety. Scouts, of course are even more familiar with James as he's led the country in rushing yards the past two years. If James is to leave Oregon after this season as those close to the program expect, notching yet another 20-plus carry game (he has seven this year) against a traditionally stout defense could help convince scouts the 5-9, 195-pound back has the toughness to be successful in the NFL.

Fiesta Bowl

Oklahoma State FS Markelle Martin vs. Stanford TE Coby Fleener: If there is a safety in the country with as many responsibilities looming as Wisconsin's Henry, it is Martin. At 6-1, 198 pounds Martin doesn't have the bulk scouts generally prefer, but his coverage skills and penchant for the big play have made him NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior at the position. It will be those coverage skills that are put to the test against Andrew Luck and his favorite target, the 6-6, 245-pound Fleener. With little speed on the flanks, Stanford's passing game attacks the field down the middle. As such, the winner of this one on one battle could very well determine the Fiesta Bowl champion.



Posted on: November 26, 2011 12:15 pm
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week 13

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman

1. Penn State DTs Devon Still (#71/6-4/310/5.06)/*Jordan Hill (#47/6-1/298/5.06) at Wisconsin RG Kevin Zeitler (#70/6-4/318/5.26)/C *Travis Frederick (#72/6-3/330/5.27)
Penn State DE Jack Crawford (#81/6-5/273/4.79) at Wisconsin LT *Ricky Wagner (#58/6-6/320/5.32)
Penn State DE Eric Latimore (#56/6-5/277/4.86) at Wisconsin RT Josh Oglesby (#67/6-7/330/5.38)
Saturday, 3:30, ESPN

Both Penn State and Wisconsin rank in the top ten nationally in scoring and total defense, but the Badgers' more potent offense (they rank 5th in scoring, Nittany Lions 106th) should put some pressure on PSU's talented defensive line. Still ranks 11th in the country with 16.5 tackles for loss, mostly when able jump the snap and penetrate into the B-gap. That means Zeitler, a solid top 125 talent likely to be an NFL starter due to his strength, technique, and fair mobility must be quick enough to ride Still out of the play. Once Still is stopped on his initial move, he won't necessarily bull his way in; but Zeitler and Frederick, the thick starting left guard who moved to center for the injured Peter Konz, will have to sustain blocks against the athletic Still, as he is agile enough to drag down junior RB Montee Ball from behind for short gains if given a clear path.

Crawford is also on scouts' radars as a mid-round pick because he has the size and agility to be a very capable swing end able to stand up on either side of the line. Although the London, England native is not elite with his speed off the edge, he will test Wagner's sprained MCL and the lateral movement of any of the inexperienced tackles the Badgers throw at him if their junior starter isn't healthy enough to stay on the field. Scouts will also take a look at two potential late-round picks in the hustling Latimore and the athletic but inconsistent Oglesby.

2. Alabama DE/OLBs Courtney Upshaw (#41/6-2/265/4.76)/*Dont'a Hightower (#30/6-4/260/4.74) at Auburn LT A.J. Greene (#77/6-5/298/5.18)/RT Brandon Mosley (#75/6-5/305/5.22)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, CBS

Two potential first round picks will challenge Auburn senior tackles Greene and Mosley during the Iron Bowl. Upshaw will likely rush the passer and try to contain sophomore running back Michael Dyer from the strong and weak sides of the line, though he'll more regularly likely go against the adequate Greene both standing up and his with hand on the ground. Hightower and junior DE/DT Jesse Williams (#54/6-4/320/5.28) tests the lateral agility of Mosley--the junior college transfer who has some athleticism and strength, but not elite amounts of either.

3. Clemson RT Landon Walker (#72/6-5/305/5.18) at South Carolina DE* Devin Taylor (#98/6-6/260/4.76)
Clemson DE Andre Branch (#40/6-4/260/4.77) at South Carolina LT Rokevious Watkins (#73/6-4/340/5.36)
Saturday, 7:45 pm, ESPN

Two of the top defensive lines in the country reside in this fight for the pride in the Palmetto State. Walker's one of the most underrated tackles in the country, but Taylor plays stronger than his long, lean frame would indicate. If Walker can anchor in pass pro against Taylor, or even if top freshman Jadeveon Clowney moves to that side of the line, scouts will be impressed. Branch is a potential 4-3 end or 3-4 linebacker prospect who also plays with leverage against the run despite a somewhat lean build. But scouts want to see him beat Watkins off the edge--the Gamecocks' top lineman is playing out of position at left tackle, but his toughness helps him win more battles than he loses. Still, if Branch wants to earn a second-round grade, he'll need to show the quickness and flexibility to get the corner.

4. Ohio State LT Mike Adams (#75/6-6/320/5.28)/RT J.B. Shugarts (#76/6-6/305/5.23) at Michigan DEs Ryan Van Bergen (#53/6-6/288/4.84)/*Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)
Ohio State C Michael Brewster (#50/6-4/305/5.17) at Michigan DT Mike Martin (#68/6-1/304/4.98)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ABC 

When the Buckeyes have the ball in the Midwest's version of "The Game", their talented offensive line must control some solid Wolverines defenders up front. Adams looked like a top ten pick at left tackle with his fluid movement and prototypical length, though he'll need to play hard every snap against the active Roh and workmanlike Van Bergen. Shugarts may not be drafted due to his average athleticism but he'll give great effort to keep those ends away from freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. Brewster's also fighting the non-athlete label from scouts, as his reaching and slow footwork could be exposed by the high-motor Martin, who is not easy to stop from penetrating into the backfield to track down Miller or Ohio State's top running back, "Boom" Herron.

5. Virginia Tech LT Andrew Lanier (#72/6-5/306/4.87) at Virginia DE Cam Johnson (#56/6-3/270/4.76)
Virginia Tech RG Jaymes Brooks (#68/6-2/308/5.05)/LG Greg Nosal (#75/6-5/298/5.27) at Virginia DTs Matt Conrath (#94/6-7/280/4.84)/Nick Jenkins (#96/6-3/276/5.14)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Like many other games today, scouts will have bouncing between multiple OL-DL match-ups in this battle for Virginia bragging rights. Cam Johnson is looking like a top 50 pick at times because of the pressure he puts on the outside shoulders of left tackles like Lanier. He'll need to prove to scouts he has a counter to his up-and-under move, however, or Lanier will negate it after the first couple of series. Conrath's long, lean frame is not typical of most college DTs; watching him against the short, stout Brooks will be interesting, though he'll be lined up across from the slimmer Nosal on most plays. Jenkins (like Clemson's Rennie Moore) has below-average size but will find his way into the backfield to chase redshirt sophomore QB Logan Thomas if Brooks/Nosal don't keep their feet moving and hands active.

6. Penn State CB D'Anton Lynn (#8/6-0/208/4.53)/Chaz Powell (#2/6-1/206/4.48) at Wisconsin WR Nick Toon (#1/6-2/220/4.52)
Saturday, 3:30, ESPN

If the Badgers are to advance to the Big Ten Championship Game, they'll need senior Russell Wilson to find his favorite receiver on their preferred out routes as well as down the sideline. One reason Toon is considered a top prospect in the 2012 draft class is that he can use his size advantage over smaller college corners. But Lynn and Powell will give no quarter at the line of scrimmage or downfield, so the son of former first round pick Al Toon must use foot quickness to separate during his routes and prove he can win 50/50 balls against Penn State's two well-built outside defenders.

7. Iowa State LT Kelechi Osemele (#72/6-5/347/5.40) at Oklahoma DE Frank Alexander (#84/6-3/255/4.82)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, FX

Iowa State would love to make it two wins over Oklahoma schools by beating the Sooners one week after upsetting Oklahoma State in Ames last weekend. The Cyclones' massive left tackle will be a big factor if they're to pull off another unexpected win. He plays with the nasty attitude NFL offensive line coaches love. Some scouts suspect he will have to move inside at the next level due to a lack of agility, and though Alexander brings more strength and hustle as a pass rusher than pure speed -- he will attempt to help them make their case.

8. Virginia Tech WR Jarrett Boykin (#81/6-2/218/4.64)/Danny Coale (#19/6-0/200/4.43) at Virginia CB Chase Minnifield (#13/6-0/185/4.49)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

The son of former NFL cornerback Frank Minnifield obviously has the length, quickness, height, and ball skills (13 INT, 18 PBU) to be an NFL corner, but will be closely watched by scouts to see if he has strength to handle larger receivers like Boykin downfield as well as the foot work and instincts to stay with the savvy Coale. Virginia Tech's receivers also have something to prove against their in-state rivals, as Boykin's large hands don't always make the big catches when needed and Coale looks to show scouts he is more of a play-maker than pure possession receiver.

9. Rutgers LG Desmond Wynn (#70/6-5/295/5.14) at Connecticut DT Kendall Reyes (#99/6-4/296/4.99)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ESPN2

Reyes is the sort of athletic big man coveted by NFL defensive coordinators preferring three or four man fronts -- and especially those using a mix of both because of his versatility. After putting up big numbers against non-conference foes (9 TFLs, 4 sacks), he has a grand total of two tackles for loss and a half-sack in the past five games. But that doesn't mean he isn't active, as he has managed to rack up 14 tackles in the two weeks. Wynn will therefore have to not only prevent Reyes from knifing into the backfield, but also sustain his block to ensure the probable All-Big East tackle won't shed to grab freshman running back Lyle McCombs.

10. Louisiana-Lafayette CB Dwight Bentley (#5/5-10/180/4.49) at Arizona WRs Juron Criner (#82/6-4/215/4.62)
Saturday, 4:00 pm, TBA

Arizona quarterback Nick Foles suffered bruised ribs against Arizona State, but he is expected to play in this game. Bentley has gotten close looks from scouts this year due to his toughness and ball skills, especially when he intercepted two passes against Oklahoma State in the season opener. He'll face strong competition from the 6-4 Criner on the outside, as the senior has had three 100-yard games in the last five games even after tweaking his knee a couple of weeks ago. And Criner isn't the only one able to stretch defenses vertically, or go over the top of Bentley with his six-inch height advantage, as will Foles' other targets: *Dan Buckner, David Douglas and Gino Crump.

Honorable mention

Georgia CBs CB Brandon Boykin (#2/5-10/183/4.44)/*Branden Smith (#1/5-11/176/4.39) at Georgia Tech WR *Stephen Hill (#5/6-4/206/4.57)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ABC

Rutgers DE Manny Abreu (#51/6-2/260/4.76) at Connecticut LT Mike Ryan (#71/6-5/335/5.38)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, ESPN2

Michigan State WRs B.J. Cunningham (#3/6-2/216/4.59)/Keshawn Martin (#82/5-10/190/4.44) at Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin (#26/5-10/180/4.57)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

Iowa State WR Darius Reynolds (#7/6-1/208/4.54) at Oklahoma CB Jamell Fleming (#32/5-11/192/4.54)/*Demontre Hurst (#6/5-09/182/4.46)
Iowa State RG Hayworth Hicks (#75/6-2/336/5.37) at Oklahoma DTs *Casey Walker (#53/6-1/308/5.09)/* Jamarkus McFarland (#97/6-1/296/4.97)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, FX

Cincinnati LT Alex Hoffman (#59/6-6/298/5.28) at Syracuse DE *Chandler Jones (#99/6-5/265/4.86)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, MASN/SNY/ESPN3.com

Rice DE Scott Solomon (#35/6-3/270/4.79) at SMU LT Kelvin Beachum (#70/6-3/306/5.52)
Saturday, 12:00 pm, FSN

Tennessee DE/DT Malik Jackson (#97/6-5/270/4.82) at Kentucky RG *Larry Warford (#67/6-3/336/5.34)
Saturday, 12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

Nevada DT Brett Roy (#47/6-3/280/4.88) at Utah State OG Phillip Gapelu (#68/6-2/300)
Saturday, 2:00 pm, ALT/Comcast

Wyoming CB Tashuan Gipson (#4/6-0/203/4.57) at Boise State WR Tyler Shoemaker (#89/6-1/212/4.50)
Wyoming DE Gabe Knapton (#52/6-3/252/4.79) at Boise State LT Nate Potter (#73/6-6/298/5.18)
Saturday, 3:00 pm, MTN

Kansas RT *Tanner Hawkinson (#72/6-5/295/5.04) vs. Missouri DE Jacquies Smith (#3/6-3/255/4.62)Kansas C Jeremiah Hatch (#77/6-2/308/5.48) vs. Missouri DTs Dominique Hamilton (#90/6-5/305/5.24)/*Sheldon Richardson (#34/6-3/290/4.86)/Terrell Resonno (#93/6-3/295/5.08)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, FSN 

Maryland CB Cameron Chism (#22/5-10/190/4.52) at North Carolina State WR T.J. Graham (#6/5-11/180/4.36)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Illinois CB Tavon Wilson (#3/6-0/205/4.54) at Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Alabama CBs Dre Kirkpatrick (#21/6-2/192/4.49)/*DeQuan Menzie (#24/5-11/198/4.65) at Auburn WR *Emory Blake (#80/6-1/197/4.58)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, CBS

Duke WRs Conner Vernon (#2/6-1/195/4.53)/*Donovan Varner (#26/5-08/175/4.53) at North Carolina CB Charles Brown (#12/5-09/205/4.49)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, FSN

Virginia Tech CB *Jayron Hosley (#20/5-10/172/4.52) at Virginia WR Kris Burd (#18/6-0/200/4.53)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Penn State WR Derek Moye (#6/6-4/210/4.54) at Wisconsin CB Antonio Fenelus (#26/5-08/190/4.49)
Penn State LT Quinn Barham (#67/6-3/305/5.34) at Wisconsin DE Louis Nzegwu (#93/6-4/255/4.76)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Oregon State WRs James Rodgers (#1/5-07/188/4.48)/*Markus Wheaton (#2/6-0/178/4.47) at Oregon CB Anthony Gildon (#18/6-0/182/4.57)
Oregon State LT Mike Remmers (#50/6-4/305/5.26) at Oregon DE Terrell Turner (#45/6-2/265/4.86)
Saturday, 3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Florida WR Deonte Thompson (#6/5-11/200/4.44) at Florida State CB Mike Harris (#1/5-10/195/4.52)
Saturday, 7:00 pm, ESPN2

Washington State WR Jared Karstetter (#84/6-3/210/4.64) at Washington CB *Desmond Trufant (#6/6-0/185/4.49)
Saturday, 7:30 pm, Versus

Clemson RG Antoine McClain (#74/6-5/335/5.34) at South Carolina DT Travian Robertson (#42/6-4/303/5.08)
Saturday, 7:45 pm, ESPN

Notre Dame CBs Gary Gray (#4/5-10/195/4.49)/Robert Blanton (#12/6-0/200/4.53) at Stanford WR Griff Whalen (#17/6-0/187)
Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (#3/6-3/224/4.54) at Stanford CB Johnson Bademosi (#27/6-1/200)
Saturday, 8:00 pm, ESPN

UCLA OT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32) at Southern Cal DE *Devon Kennard (#42/6-3/250/4.72)
UCLA C Kai Maiava (#51/6-1/318/5.12) at Southern Cal DT Christian Tupou (#44/6-2/300/5.06)/DaJohn Harris (#98/6-4/310/5.16)
Saturday, 10:00 pm, FSN

San Diego State CB Larry Parker (#29/5-11/170) at UNLV WR Phillip Payne (#4/6-3/205/4.62)
Saturday, 11:00 pm, MTN

Tulsa LT Tyler Holmes (#78/6-4/302/5.29) at Houston OLB Sammy Brown (#8/6-2/240/4.67)
Saturday, 11:00 pm, ESPN3.com


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter   Follow him on Twitter @ChadReuter  

Posted on: November 26, 2011 11:15 am
 

Five Prospects I'll Be Scouting Closely Saturday

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL. 

Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks. 

Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here. 

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

RB Dan "Boon" Herron, Ohio State: Herron appeared poised to enter this season as one of the Big Ten's few superstars at the skill positions. After all, he'd shown an NFL-caliber combination of size, power and speed and had already rushed for over 2,000 yards and scored 29 touchdowns on the ground. Suspended for the first five games of the season due to Tattoo-Gate, however, this has been a lost year for the senior, who enters the annual showdown with Michigan having only rushed for 556 yards and two touchdowns this season. Michigan has a solid run defense and know the Buckeyes are going to try to control the clock to keep Denard Robinson off the field. Other than a senior all-star game, this may be Herron's best chance this season to impress scouts. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ABC.

ILB Audie Cole, North Carolina State:  For all of the talk this season about underclassmen inside linebackers Manti Te'o, Luke Kuechly and Vontaze Burfict (among others), Cole is quietly earning top 75 grades from some scouts. Big (6-4, 239) and athletic enough to move back to outside linebacker, Cole is viewed as one of the more versatile linebackers in a relatively weak senior class. He's getting plenty of Senior Bowl buzz and should perform well in his final home game against a Maryland team that features the run. This game begins at 12:30 pm ET and will be broadcast by ESPN3.

ILB Donta Hightower, Alabama: As you can tell from my Top 32 "Big Board," of the so-called elite Alabama defenders, I'm lowest on Hightower. In terms of their ability to play in the NFL I rank the top draft-eligible Crimson Tide defenders as Dre' Kirkpatrick, Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron over Hightower, a 6-4, 260 pound redshirt junior. Hightower is clearly more explosive this year than last as he further heals from the torn ACL that ended his 2009 season prematurely, but still doesn't have the lateral agility and straight-line speed most teams operating out of 4-3 are going to be looking for at linebacker. A move to defensive end is possible. Teams operating out of the 3-4 will certainly like Hightower's bulk and explosive hitting in their scheme, however. I'm curious to see Hightower have to defend in the open field, something I expect an Auburn team currently averaging 183.5 yards on the ground to force him to do. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS. 

TE Coby Fleener, Stanford: All of the hype in this contest is going to revolve around Andrew Luck and the possibility that this is his last game in Palo Alto -- as it should. We all know Luck is a terrific prospect, so I'm going to focus my attention elsewhere, including with Luck's senior tight end, Fleener, who despite being rated by most scouts as the top senior tight end in the country virtually all season long, he's received very little national attention. One can certainly understand why the scouts love him. While not a legitimate in-line blocker at the next level, the 6-6, 245 pound Fleener has rare speed and soft hands and is averaging a guady 19.7 yards per catch. Fleener will be matched up much of this game against another legitimate NFL prospect in Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, so this should be a battle worth keeping an eye on. This game begins at 8:00 pm ET and will be televised by ABC. 

DE Devin Taylor, South Carolina: In reality, I could have listed several of the Gamecocks' and Tigers' defensive linemen in this game as this is definitely the area scouts will be closely watching in this game. Without a doubt, in terms of pure talent, this game features the best collection of defensive line talent of the day. At 6-6, 260 pounds the redshirt junior Taylor has as much physical upside as any of them, though he's not the same consistent difference-maker as his senior teammate Melvin Ingram. I'll be spending a lot of time watching the Clemson defensive line, as well, as end Andre Branch and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (both seniors) are each capable of taking this game over, themselves.  This game begins at 7:45 pm ET and will be televised by ESPN2.


Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:04 pm
 

Five prospects I'll be scouting closely Saturday

Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL. 

Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks. 

Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here. 

Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.

QB Jeff Brantley, Florida:  Brantley was an extremely highly touted prospect when he signed with Florida, but his career has been marked by inconsistency and injury. His size (6-3, 220) and arm talent are enough that the Senior Bowl is rumored to be considering Bradley. A strong performance on the road against a talented South Carolina defense could make the decision an easy one. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by CBS.

WR Marvin McNutt, Iowa:  Overshadowed by Derrell Johnson Koulianos for much of his career, McNutt has emerged as one of the country's most feared receivers. Big (6-2, 215), physical and a better athlete than most think, McNutt has been difficult to stop this season, catching 57 passes for 959 yards and nine scores. McNutt will have his hands full against the conference's elite defense in Michigan State. This game begins at noon ET and will be broadcast by ESPN2.

DL Billy Winn, Boise State: At 6-3, 300 Winn has the size and athleticism to intrigue scouts working for three and four man fronts, alike. Unfortunately, he's battled with inconsistency throughout his career. Viewed as a potential first round pick heading into the season, Winn's stock has already slipped to the second round on many boards and is even lower on others. With TCU the best opponent he'll face the rest of the regular season, Winn could go a long way towards steadying his stock with a strong game.  This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by Versus. 

DE Nick Perry, Southern Cal: A better athlete than football player early in his career, Perry is starting to iron out some of the wrinkles to his game. The 6-3, 250 pounder beat potential 2012 first round pick Jonathan Martin (Stanford) with speed on multiple occasions to pressure Andrew Luck and currently has 8.5 tackles for loss and five sacks this season. Like Winn, Perry is a player that intrigues scouts from both defensive schemes. The Washington Huskies featured an underrated left tackle in Senio Kelemete, a potential top 100 choice in his own right, so this should make for a very interesting individual battle that could impact which team wins the game. This game begins at 3:45 pm ET and will be televised by FX. 

TE Coby Fleener, Stanford: Chip Kelly has built the University of Oregon into an annual Rose Bowl contender largely based on scheme. The Ducks aren't churning out NFL prospects with the regularity one might expect considering the fact that Kelly is 30-5, including 23-1 in conference since he took the head coaching job. The one position in which Oregon has consistently produced NFL caliber prospects, however, is in the secondary. With Andrew Luck's best big play wideout Chris Owusu sidelined with a concussion, the pressure will be on Coby Fleener and the rest of Luck's targets to get open against the Ducks' athletic defensive backs. The Ducks won't have their best one -- as junior cornerback Cliff Harris remains suspended -- but Oregon still boasts a physical safety in John Boyett and athleticism -- abeit young athleticism -- at cornerback to challenge this Stanford offense. Fleener will never get Luck's hype, but he's even been overshadowed by multiple members of Stanford's offensive line. It's a shame. He's been NFLDraftScout.com's top-rated senior tight end since September and is earning top 50 grades from scouts. This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ABC.


Posted on: November 5, 2011 11:43 am
 

Mano-a-mano, Week Ten

In addition to the prospects Senior Analyst Rob Rang wrote about in his "five players to watch" blog post, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations and what coaches see as favorable match-ups, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman.

1. LSU Back Seven at Alabama RB *Trent Richardson (#3/5-11/224/4.52)
8:00 pm, CBS

If the talented Alabama offensive line and LSU defensive line negate each other in the run game on Saturday night, this year's "Game of the Millenium" could be determined by whether Heisman hopeful Richardson can defeat Tigers' linebackers at the second level. Thick weak side 'backer Ryan Baker (#22/6-0/236/4.77), fast Sam LB Stefoin Francois (#23/6-1/223/4.58), and inside guys former strong safety Karnell Hatcher (#37/6-1/223/4.64) and solid sophomore Kevin Minter, must keep their feet and wrap securely if they want to bring down Richardson before he turns a three-yard plow into a 10 or 20-yard gain. But let's face it -- few college defenders can chop down Richardson on first contact because of his thick frame, natural aggression and constantly-churning legs. That means the Tigers must swarm to the ball, with strong safety Brandon Taylor (#18/5-11/195/4.57), sophomores nickel corner Tyrann "Honey Badger" Mathieu and leading tackler free safety Eric Reid helping out the linebackers to stop the Alabama run game.

2. North Carolina Defensive Ends Quinton Coples (#90/6-6/285/4.76)/*Donte Paige-Moss (#98/6-4/260/4.67) at North Carolina State OT *R.J. Mattes (#79/6-6/305/5.19)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

North Carolina's defensive line is among the deepest -- and hyped -- in the country. Coples has the size/length to start on three or four-man fronts in the NFL, while Paige-Moss has the size and athleticism that made former Tar Heels DE Robert Quinn a top 15 pick last April. They've combined for just 10.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in nine games (7.5, 4.5 for Coples), however, after putting up 29 and 17 (15.5, 10 for Coples) last season. Facing an All-ACC candidate in Mattes is not an easy way to increase that production; the redshirt junior left tackle is looking to prove his overall athleticism to scouts after showing strength and tenacity while starting at right guard and right tackle in his first two seasons on the field (though a torn ACL cost him the last four games of 2009).

3. Texas A&M CBs Coryell Judie (#5/5-11/190/4.48)/Terrence Frederick (#7/5-10/187/4.52) at Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles (#85/5-10/188/4.52)Texas A&M WRs Jeff Fuller (#8/6-3/220/4.52)/*Uzoma Nwachukwu (#7/6-0/195/4.42) at Oklahoma CBs Jamell Fleming (#32/5-11/192/4.54)/*Demontre Hurst (#6/5-9/182/4.46)
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

This week's version of "Luck vs. Barkley" is A&M's athletic and strong-armed QB Ryan Tannehill (#17/6-4/222/4.65) against Oklahoma's junior pocket passer QB Landry Jones (#12/6-4/230/4.74). Scouts for teams needing a quarterback could use this game as a tie-breaker of sorts for the second or third spot in their rankings.

But NFL teams with a young passer already on the roster will be checking out this game, as well,since both Big 12 squads have legitimate NFL prospects at cornerback and receiver. Judie's hamstring has been a problem this year, and he'll need to be healthy to handle Broyles' crisp routes and elusiveness after the catch. The NCAA's all-time leader in receptions will also face stiff competition from Frederick, an ascending talent who gives no quarter to receivers of any size. When Tannehill is leading A&M's offense, he'll look for Fuller to use his size advantage and Nwachukwu his speed against Sooners corners Fleming and Hurst -- both of whom can take advantage of sideline and comeback throws Tannehill leaves too far inside.

4. South Carolina CB *Stephon Gilmore (#5/6-1/193/4.52) at Arkansas Receivers
7:15 pm, ESPN

Gilmore will be able to show NFL teams all of his skills no matter which of the Razorbacks' gaggle of receivers he may be facing Saturday night. He has the size and attitude to handle big receivers junior Cobi Hamilton (#11/6-3/209/4.57) and Greg Childs (#85/6-3/217/4.56) -- who has struggled coming back from last season's knee injury -- at the line of scrimmage or down the sideline. But scouts will be more interested to see if Gilmore can also handle the straight-line speed and quickness Jarius Wright (#4/5-10/180/4.34) and Joe Adams (#3/5-11/190/4.38) if in trail coverage or trying to chase them down after the catch in zone.

5. Missouri Defensive Tackle at Baylor C Philip Blake (#74/6-2/320/5.26)
7:00 pm, FSN

Danny Watkins took a circuitous route to NFL first round draft status, growing up in Canada, playing his first football in junior college before starting at left tackle for Baylor. Blake won't be selected that high and has played football for some time, but was also born in Canada and is advanced in age for a future rookie (Watkins turns 27 years old Sunday, Blake turns 26 later this month). He'll need to use his wide body and long arms to handle Missouri's trio of pro DT prospects: long and strong Dominique Hamilton (#90/6-5/305/5.24), athletic junior Sheldon Richardson (#34/6-3/290/4.86) and active DT Terrell Resonno (#93/6-3/295/5.08). The Bears have another big body up front, RG Robert T. Griffin (#79/6-6/330/5.38), who protects the team's athletic playmaking quarterback Robert Griffin III (who was actually born in Japan, where his father served for the U.S. Military). And no, that's not a typo -- the mammoth guard and unrelated 6-2, 220 pound quarterback have the same name.

6. Oregon Cornerbacks at Washington WR Jermaine Kearse (#15/6-1/208/4.50)
10:30 pm, FSN

The Huskies are one of college football's best stories that doesn't get talked about nearly enough. Washington fans can tell you that Kearse isn't the most consistent receiver in terms of his hands or physicality, but is a threat down the sideline to elude defenders after the catch when his game is on. Oregon's secondary has scoured by scouts for prospects over the years, but the 2011 group is a bit different. Three of the top four cornerbacks on the depth chart for this game are freshmen, and senior CB Anthony Gildon (#18/6-0/182/4.57) is erratic in his discipline outside. The wild card is junior CB Cliff Harris (#13/5-11/168/4.49), who packs a punch in press coverage that belies his wiry build, and also has the ball skills to knock away or intercept passes and had four punt returns for TDs in 2010. He may not play in this game, however, if unable to get out of head coach Chip Kelly's dog house because of an excessive speeding citation this summer and another traffic stop two weeks ago.

7. Michigan DEs *Craig Roh (#88/6-4/269/4.76)/Ryan Van Bergen (#53/6-6/288/4.84) at Iowa OTs *Riley Reiff (#77/6-6/300/4.94)/Markus Zusevics (#56/6-5/300/5.08)
12:00 pm, ESPN

Even though the Hawkeyes are coming off a brutal loss to Minnesota and the Maize-and-Blue is on top of the Legends Division of the Big Ten, Iowa still has games against the three teams tied atop the division in the Wolverines, Michigan State and Nebraska. To win any of those games, including Saturday's match-up, the team's two tackles must protect junior QB James Vanderberg. Reiff will face Roh (pronounced Row) on the weak side of the line on most plays; the more athletic pair should have good battles as Reiff tries to cut off Roh trying to use his length to turn the corner and anchors against the junior's relentless aggression. Van Bergen won't test the lateral movement of Zusevics (ZOOZ-uh-vicks) as much as the two-year starter's ability to hold his ground as the high-motor end attempts to push him into the pocket  a part of the somewhat lean right tackle's game in which he does not always excel. Both tackles will also have to seal their men inside or outside in order for bruising sophomore RB Marcus Coker (252 yards vs. Minnesota last week) to move the ball against an improved Michigan defense (ranks 35th in the FBS in total defense, ranked 110th after the 2010 season).

8. Purdue DT *Kawann Short (#93/6-3/310/5.22) at Wisconsin Interior Offensive Line
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Short was the Big 10 Co-Defensive Player of the Week against Illinois two weeks ago (3.5 TFL, 2 sacks), and played well in a loss to Michigan going up against senior center David Molk. This weekend, however, he really gets a chance to show NFL scouts he is a legitimate top 75 pick by taking on future pro starters junior C Peter Konz (#66/6-5/315/5.16), RG Kevin Zeitler (#70/6-4/318/5.26) and redshirt sophomore LG Travis Frederick (#72/6-4/330/5.27). Michigan State's Jerel Worthy found a bit of success against this group a couple of weeks ago, but was also redirected out of plays when unable to use his hands to disengage. Short will have to be more consistently quick off the snap to pressure QB Russell Wilson and agile/strong enough to maintain his gap discipline against the Wisconsin running game to be considered an elite prospect this year or next.

9. Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd (#3/6-3/224/4.54) at Wake Forest CB *Kenny Okoro (#6/6-0/190/4.49)
8:00 pm, ABC/ESPN2

Floyd's talents are well-known, as he's used his NFL size and strong hands to rank in the top 20 nationally in receptions and receiving yards per game. The Irish have not always fed him as often as they should, as Pittsburgh and USC kept him under 30 yards on four catches. Okoro's an under-the-radar talent at corner with good size, speed and aggressiveness for the position. A big game against Floyd could draw the notice of scouts looking forward to the 2013 draft.

10. Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight (#6/6-1/212/4.54) at Michigan State CB *Johnny Adams (#5/5-11/175/4.42)- Junior
12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

McKnight has been an underappreciated talent playing for a lowly Gophers squad, but last week's big win over Iowa gave him and junior QB MarQueis Gray (#5/6-4/240/4.56) a bit of a boost with scouts. Adams' competitive nature allows him to test McKnight's ability to get off press coverage and separate from/make plays against NFL-caliber corners downfield. In a deep senior receiver class, Minnesota's leading pass-catcher needs to have a big game against a good corner like Adams to get drafted come April.

Honorable Mention:

Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward (#19/5-11/188/4.53) at Florida WR Deonte Thompson (#6/5-11/200/4.44)
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

Virginia WR Kris Burd (#18/6-0/200/4.53) at Maryland CB Cameron Chism (#22/5-10/190/4.52)
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Wyoming CB Tashuan Gipson (#4/6-0/203/4.57) at TCU WRs Antoine Hicks (#13/6-2/212/4.57)/*Josh Boyce (5-11/203/4.54)
2:00 pm, MTN

Northwestern LT Al Netter (#75/6-4/310/5.26) at Nebraska DE *Cameron Meredith (#34/6-4/260/4.79)- Junior
3:30 pm, Big Ten Network

Cincinnati WR WR D.J. Woods (#3/6-0/182/4.49) at Pittsburgh CB Antwuan Reed (#22/5-10/190/4.54)
Cincinnati LT Alex Hoffman (#59/6-6/298/5.28) at Pittsburgh DE Brandon Lindsey (#7/6-2/250/4.68)
7:00 pm, ESPNU

Houston OLB Sammy Brown (#8/6-2/240/4.67) at UAB LT Matt McCants (#71/6-6/295/5.26)
7:00 pm, CBS Sports Network

Arizona State DE Jamaar Jarrett (#92/6-5/262/4.90) at UCLA RT Mike Harris (#65/6-5/326/5.32)
Arizona State WRs Gerell Robinson (#8/6-3/222/4.58)/Mike Willie (#1/6-2/212/4.59) at UCLA CB *Aaron Hester (#21/6-1/206/4.49)
7:30 pm, Versus

Kansas State CB David Garrett (#27/5-8/175/4.58) at Oklahoma State WR *Justin Blackmon (#81/6-1/215/4.54)
8:00 pm, ABC/ESPN2

LSU CB *Morris Claiborne (#17/6-0/185/4.45) at Alabama WR Marquis Maze (#4/5-8/184/4.49)
LSU WR *Rueben Randle (#2/6-3/208/4.57) at Alabama CB *Dre Kirkpatrick (#21/6-2/192/4.49)
LSU RT *Alex Hurst (#72/6-6/340/5.22) at Alabama DE/OLB *Dont'a Hightower (#30/6-4/260/4.74)
8:00 pm, CBS

Louisiana Tech CB Terry Carter (#28/5-10/190/4.43) at Fresno State WR Devon Wylie (#7/5-10/185/4.38)
10:30 pm, ESPNU

--Contributed by Senior Analyst Chad Reuter   Follow him on Twitter @ChadReuter 

Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:16 am
 

Mano-a-Mano, Week Seven

Mano-a-Mano, Week Seven

Although this week may not have a true blockbuster match-up, there are plenty of good scouting opportunities that NFL teams can use to evaluate potential draft picks.

If you want to see what scouts see, take a look at these memorable ten one-on-one 2012 NFL Draft prospect match-ups (plus a slew of honorable mention selections) while perusing this weekend's slate of college football games.

Because players move around based on different formations, these prospects won't go against each other on every snap. Scouts will pay attention when they do, however, because they rely on a player's film against top competition to determine their readiness for the NFL.

All times Eastern.
"*" Denotes an underclassman.

South Carolina WR *Alshon Jeffery at Mississippi State CB *Johnthan Banks
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

NFL teams looking for a difference-making receiver in the top five of this year's draft are spending a lot of time evaluating Jeffery, who seems likely to enter the draft a season early. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Jeffery faces possibly his toughest task of the year when he lines up against Banks outside in Starkville. Banks has the height (listed at 6-1) and ball skills (11 interceptions in three years) to be competitive in jump-ball situations if aware enough to turn with Jeffery downfield. Jeffery does line up in the slot on occasion, so it will be interesting to see if MSU coaches shadow him with Banks or trust their other corners to make plays against the All-American candidate.

Miami LT *Brandon Washington at North Carolina Defensive Ends
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com

Miami's stud lineman has moved from guard to right tackle to left tackle this season, and so far has graded out well in each spot. He'll be facing three excellent UNC ends today, however, in top senior Quinton Coples, junior Donte Paige-Moss, and sophomore Kareem Martin. All three ends have NFL size and will get to quarterbacks and ballcarriers with strong hands or by running through unprepared linemen. Coples and Paige-Moss have only combined for 3.5 sacks this year, however, as they've not been able to consistently turn the corner to get to passers' blind sides. They will all have a tough task to beat the 6-foot-4, 320-pound (at least) Washington off the edge, as his size belies the agility that scouts love in their linemen.

Michigan C David Molk at Michigan State DT *Jerel Worthy
12:00 pm, ESPN

At 6-foot-2, 288 pounds, some NFL offensive coordinators will consider him too small to play in their system. But anchoring proficiently against Worthy in one-on-one situations, and showing scouts he has enough arm length to redirect the Spartans' three-technique outside the pocket or running lane can help his cause. Worthy, on the other hand, needs to prove to NFL general managers that he can win a hand battle at the line of scrimmage with a technically-sound pivot man like Molk.

Baylor WR Kendall Wright at Texas A&M CBs Coryell Judie/Terrence Frederick
12:00 pm, FX

The Bears do a nice job moving Wright, who ranks in the top four in the FBS in both receptions and receiving yards, around to get him the best match-up possible. A&M has two solid corners, however, in Judie and Frederick. Judie has similar size to Wright on the outside, and has the speed and hands to knock away passes thrown in their direction. Frederick typically plays inside, and he also is willing to mix it up with Wright down the field -- but he needs to prove he has the agility to stay with Baylor's star receiver.

Iowa State LT Kelechi Osemele at Missouri DEs *Brad Madison
2:00 pm, TBA

Osemele is a 6-foot-5, 350-pound behemoth at left tackle, but faces a strong challenge in hustling and strong junior Brad Madison. Madison caught the eyes of scouts last year while aiding Aldon Smith pass the rusher, but most of his production (six tackles for loss and three sacks) came against lesser competition. He'll need to step it up against Osemele, whose strong hands and long arms simply do not let go of his man once engaged. Missouri's other starting defensive end, Jacquies Smith, is not related to Aldon but his build is quite similar. Though not as explosive to the Niners' first round selection, Smith would also test Osemele's ability to hold the edge if moved to the weak side during the game.

Alabama Defensive Ends at Ole Miss OTs *Bobby Massie/Bradley Sowell
6:00 pm, ESPN2

The Crimson Tide have one of the deepest front lines in college football, and scouts are interested to see how two intriguing offensive tackle prospects in Sowell and Massie can handle the oncoming pressure. Sowell's svelte 6-foot-7 build gives him the length to handle rushers like 'Bama's versatile end/linebacker Courtney Upshaw, but he needs to prove he has the anchor and overall athleticism to stand up to bull rushes and take blitzers around the edge. Massie also has NFL size (6-6, 325) and length on the right side, but his agility will be tested with 'Bama bringing junior hybrid Dont'a Hightower after junior quarterback Randall Mackey.

Ohio State LT Mike Adams/RT J.B. Shugarts at Illinois DE *Whitney Mercilus
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Mercilus leads the country with 8.5 sacks, including three against Indiana last weekend. His job gets a bit tougher lining up across from Ohio State's pair of tackles, as long 6-foot-8 LT Mike Adams had a successful return from suspension against Nebraska and Shugarts is a battle-tested veteran on the right side. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Mercilus isn't as fluid as many edge rushers, and Illini coaches will want him to contain Buckeyes' freshman quarterback Braxton Miller instead of opening running lanes. But even if he doesn't rack up sacks, disengaging from either OSU tackle to make plays against the run (or a scrambling Miller) will move Mercilus up draft boards across the NFL.

Utah OTs Joe Cullen/Tony Bergstrom at Pittsburgh DE/OLB Brandon Lindsey
12:00 pm, ESPNU 

New Pittsburgh head coach uses Lindsey as a defensive end in the 3-3-5 defense, which does not exactly show scouts what the 6-foot-2, 250-pound senior would do as an edge rusher at the next level. Rutgers prevented Lindsey from making a single tackle last week because he simply lacks the bulk to take on bigger linemen on an every-down basis from the five-technique spot. But he could redeem himself with a strong performance against two Utah tackles on NFL teams' radars by using his violent hands and closing speed outside. He'll most often line up against Bergstrom on the strong side, who has an athletic build for a right tackle but is both tough to run through and run around. Cullen is not the biggest left tackle but always seems to prevent rushers like Lindsey from turning the corner with strong footwork. Good reps vs. Lindsey in that role would help Cullen earn draftable grades from more teams.

Miami CB *Brandon McGee at North Carolina WR Dwight Jones
12:30 pm, ACC Network/ESPN3.com 

The Hurricanes will probably throw three or four different corners against Jones Saturday afternoon, but McGee has the potential to be a top prospect because of his fair size (6-0, 190) and sub 4.4-speed. Jones presents a tough ask for any of the 'Canes defensive backs, however, because while not possessing great speed, his NFL-sized body (6-4, 225), strong hands, and long strides on vertical routes make him difficult to stay with downfield. Louisville's smaller defenders discovered last week that he's also difficult to bring down once he makes the catch. UNC's highly-touted redshirt sophomore QB Bryn Renner can also find juniors Erik Highsmith and Jheranie Boyd if Jones isn't available, however, so McGee and seniors Mike Williams and Lee Chambers won't be able to take a play off.

Oklahoma DE *Ronnell Lewis at Kansas RT *Tanner Hawkinson
9:15 pm, ESPN2

Two of the more underappreciated players in the country will butt heads throughout this afternoon's Big 12 contest in Lawrence. Lewis is a bit shorter than most NFL teams prefer when looking for a 4-3 defensive end, but some teams don't mind having 6-foot-2 ends if they play with leverage and can get under the pads of taller lineman as a rusher. The Sooners also stand him up at times, and scouts like the way he moves in coverage and rushes the quarterback as a 3-4 linebacker. Hawkinson flies under the radar playing for a poor Jayhawks' squad, but could prove to scouts he is a legitimate top 100 prospect if displaying the toughness and agility to hold off Lewis and any other Sooner end that Bob Stoops brings off the strong side.

 

Honorable Mention 

Michigan DEs Craig Roh/Ryan Van Bergen vs. Michigan State LG Joel Foreman
Michigan WR Junior Hemingway at Michigan State CB *Johnny Adams
Michigan CBs Troy Woolfolk/*J.T. Floyd vs. Michigan State WRs B.J. Cunningham/Keshawn Martin
12:00 pm, ESPN

Virginia Tech OTs Andrew Lanier/Blake DeChristopher at Wake Forest DE/OLB Kyle Wilber 
6:30 pm, ESPN3.com

Toledo CB Desmond Marrow at Bowling Green WR Kamar Jorden
12:00 pm, ESPN3.com

Utah DT *Dave Kruger at Pittsburgh RG Lucas Nix
12:00 pm, ESPNU

Baylor C Phillip Blake at Texas A&M DT Eddie Brown
12:00 pm, FX

Purdue DT *Kawann Short at Penn State LG Johnnie Troutman
12:00 pm, Big Ten Network

South Carolina DT Travian Robertson at Mississippi State C Quinton Saulsberry
12:21 pm, SEC Network/ESPN3.com

Iowa State CB Leonard Johnson at Missouri WRs Jerrell Jackson/Wes Kemp
2:00 pm, TBA

UNLV WR Phillip Payne at Wyoming CB Tashuan Gipson
2:00 pm, CBS Sports Network

Florida State CBs *Xavier Rhodes at Duke WR *Conner Vernon
3:00 pm, FSN

USF LG Jeremiah Warren at Connecticut DT Kendall Reyes
3:30 pm, SNY/MASN/ESPN3.com

Oklahoma State RT Levy Adcock at Texas DE *Alex Okafor
Oklahoma State C Grant Garner at Texas DT Kheeston Randall
3:30 pm, ABC/ESPN

Colorado OG Ryan Miller at Washington DT Alameda Ta'amu
3:30 pm, RSNW

LSU RT *Alex Hurst at Tennessee DE/DT Malik Jackson
3:30 pm, CBS

Boise State DEs Shea McClellin/Tyrone Crawford at Colorado State OT Paul Madsen
6:00 pm, MTN

Northwestern CB Jordan Mabin at Iowa WR Marvin McNutt
Northwestern DE Vincent Browne at Iowa LT *Riley Reiff/Markus Zusevics
7:00 pm, Big 10 Network


--Contributed by NFLDraftScout.com Senior Analyst Chad Reuter   (Follow Chad on Twitter  @ChadReuter)  
   

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com