NEPD Staff Writer CJ Sousa
Week 3 offers up three SEC tilts with an interesting late game in Los Angeles. This prospect preview will save you the in-game googling and highlight the top NFL Draft prospects in each game.
#18 Auburn vs #13 LSU 3:30 CBS
Always one of my favorite games of the year. Auburn survived the scare of all scares last week with an overtime win over FCS Jacksonville State, while LSU won in hostile Starkville by the skin of their teeth. I get it with Auburn, and although that game shouldn’t have been that close – there is something to be said for battling back to win when nothing is going right. Should Jeremy Johnson be the Jeremy Johnson we all expected to see, Auburn could easily walk out of Baton Rouge with a victory.
LSU running back Leonard Fournette (Soph) got 28 carries last week, and can expect a similar workload this week. The potential offensive explosion leads me to pick Auburn, but I don’t bet against LSU at home. I’ll take LSU 21-17.
OG/OT Vadal Alexander: Has been pretty solid so far in 2015, and remains one of the top overall prospects in 2015.
CB TreDavious White: Confident kid with good technique, White had a big time pass breakup late in the Tigers’ close win last Saturday in Starkville. Could be a fast riser up boards this fall.
ILB Kendell Beckwith: Played nearly every defensive snap in Starkville, and could do it again vs Auburn. He was active in all aspects of the game, and will be put to the ultimate test against Gus Malzahn and his power-spread scheme.
Other prospects: FS Jalen Mills (questionable), WR Travin Dural, TE Dillon Gordon, P Jamie Keehn, OLB Lamar Louis
QB Jeremy Johnson: My predicted Heisman winner has looked anything but so far in 2015. His reads have been slow, he’s stared down his receivers and is slow in his progressions. Johnson must be better, point blank.
WR Duke Williams: Was temporally knocked out of the Jacksonville State game but came back to have a big catch later on. He remains Auburn’s best threat, but his production has been hampered by the poor play of Jeremy Johnson.
DE/OLB Carl Lawson: A major question mark for this game. Gus Malzahn said he is ‘day-to-day’ with a hip flexor. Auburn’s pass rush was flat out poor against Jacksonville State, and will struggle again in his absence in Baton Rouge.
Other prospects: ILB Cassanova McKinzy, OLB Kris Frost,RB Jovon Robinson, DT Montravius Adams, OT Avery Young
South Carolina vs #7 Georgia ESPN 6:00
On first glance, this should be a blowout. Georgia is significantly more talented in essentially every aspect of the game. Georgia is favored by 3 scores, yet has fallen to the Gamecocks 4 of the last 5 seasons. I expect South Carolina to pull out all the tricks out of the closet Saturday night, with a heavy dose of Brandon Wilds. Nick Chubb will get all of the attention, but I’m eager to see Wilds and Cooper vs the Georgia defense as all eyes should be on them. I think this will be closer than expected, but Georgia should win.
South Carolina Prospects
WR Pharoh Cooper: After being forced to essentially play running back for a half vs North Carolina, Cooper settled into his more conventional role last week catching 9 passes for 100 yards. Must make some big plays to keep Georgia in the game.
ILB Skai Moore : Between Chubb, Sony Michel and Keith Marshall and a huge lack of quarterback play, it is safe to say Moore will be in the spotlight as Georgia may run the ball 40+ times.
RB Brandon Wilds: He got going last week with 6.6 yards a pop last week and will need to continue the solid play to keep the time of possession in USC’s favor. Huge opportunity for Wilds to help his stock in Athens.
Other prospects: OT Brandon Shell, TE Jerell Adams, DT Phillip Dukes, DT Gerald Dixon, SS TJ Gurley
OLB Leonard Floyd: Could be the best pass rusher Georgia has had in many years. Long, explosive and relentless. A potential elite level draft prospect.
OLB Jordan Jenkins: Versatile, but lacks the elite level speed and agility that his teammate Floyd possess. Nonetheless, Jenkins is one of the top senior prospects in the country. Good power for his size and doesn’t get overmatched by bigger lineman often
WR Malcolm Mitchell: Georgia’s most experienced threat on the perimeter, he is vital to the “improving” Georgia pass attack. When Georgia gets in must pass situations, Mitchell is their go-to guy.
Other prospects: OT John Theus, OG Greg Oyke, FB Quayvon Hicks, RB Keith Marshall, LS Nathan Theus
#15 Ole Miss vs #2 Alabama 9:15 ESPN
SEC West championship implications in September. The Rebels (although against cupcakes) have averaged over 70 ppg in their first two games. Alabama, however, is a completely different animal. The Bama front is as good as any, and could face the Rebels down their top pass protector, Laremy Tunsil. I don’t believe Tunsil will be the end all be all for Ole Miss, but his loss could be devastating. WR Laquon Treadwell always shows up in big games, and he better if they plan to keep up with the bruising Crimson Tide. Prospects galore in this one, and I’ll take the Tide to roll (assuming Tunsil won’t play) 33-17.
DT A’Shawn Robinson: Was tough to contain as is, and Robinson looks slightly quicker than last season. We have a treat with two of the best in the business Saturday night (Nkemdiche)
RB Derrick Henry: He’s been everything we could have expected and then some thus far. Defenders seem less than interested in tackling the best junior, who is averaging just south of 8 yards per carry. He has scored three touchdowns in each of his first two contests.
RB Kenyan Drake: Has been explosive as a dual threat, currently ranking second in the SEC in all-purpose yardage. He’s the perfect complement to Henry, as Drake is as fluid catching the ball as he is in the ground game.
TE O.J. Howard: Gasp, we’ve had some O.J. Howard sightings so far. Howard seems to be more involved in the Alabama passing game this year, which is a welcome sign. After just 31 catches in two seasons, he has already snagged 7 in his first two games.
DE Jonathan Allen OLB Ryan Anderson, CB Cyrus Jones, ILB Reggie Ragland, DL Jarran Reed, C Ryan Kelly
Ole Miss prospects
DT Robert Nkemdiche: He’ll line up all along the front vs Bama and who knows, maybe catch a pass here and there as well. He’s wreaked havoc so far in 2015 on special teams as well, look for Ole Miss to get the absolute most out of Nkemdiche.
OT Laremy Tunsil: Is he going to play or not? He’s been held out of Ole Miss’ first two outings due to a pending NCAA inquiry. His absence will be brutally missed vs one of the most talented front lines in the country if he is held out again.
WR Laquon Treadwell: The 6’2 210lbs receiver seems back and healthy, which is a welcome sign. He’s been active in the first two cupcake games snagging 9 passes. Treadwell will likely get the ball thrown his way early and often.
SS Tony Conner: An in the box safety more often than not, Conner will be put to the test vs Bama. I’m mainly looking for any improvement as a rusher off the edge as well as handling the likes of an O.J. Howard or other bigger bodies.
TE Evan Engram, OG Aaron Morris, ILB CJ Johnson
#19 BYU vs #10 UCLA 10:30 Fox Sports 1
Interesting late game in Los Angeles. BYU has the horses on defense to make things interesting, but will they keep up offensively? Unsung guys like NT Logan Taele, S Kai Nacua and LB Harvey Langi have stepped up and alongside DE Bronson Kaufusi BYU could give UCLA QB Josh Rosen his toughest challenge yet. The prospect matchup to watch will be the UCLA front led by Kenny Clark, Myles Jack, Deon Hollins and Takkarist McKinley vs the talented BYU front which has allowed just two sacks in their last seven games. I’ll take UCLA to eventually outlast BYU, close. 28-23.
DE Bronson Kaufusi : A basketball player as well, this 6’7 285 DE is a unique athlete for the position. He possess the ability to drop in coverage as well as an above average pass rusher, making him a legitimate prospect to keep your eye on.
WR Mitch Mathews: He lacks the ideal speed and burst, but with the size of Mathews (6’6 215lbs) he is worth a look. Has been productive this season, reeling in two touchdowns.
Other prospects: OT Ryker Mathews, WR Devon Blackmon
OLB Myles Jack: Already a two-way standout with return ability, Jack has immense athleticism highlighted by his rare speed and awareness for the position. He won’t knock your chinstrap off consistently, but has pass rush ability.
DT Kenny Clark: Will play huge vs BYU. He is critical to the run defense as he anchors double teams and allows the playmakers behind to do their job. Can play end or nose as well, which should make Clark a hot commodity come spring time.
CB Fabian Moreau: BYU may not give the best intel on Moreau, but nonetheless is the premier player to watch in the secondary. A solid run defender with some length on the outside, Moreau is in the range of a mid-round prospect at the moment.
WR Jordan Payton, WR Devin Fuller, C Jake Brendel
Tags: A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama, Auburn, Brandon Wilds, BYU, Carl lawson, Derrick Henry, Duke Williams, Georgia, Jeremy johnson, Jordan Jenkins, Kendell Beckwith, Kenyan Drake, Leonard Floyd, Leonard Fournette, LSU, O.J. Howard, Ole Miss, Pharoh Cooper, Skai Moore, South Carolina, TreDavious White, UCLA, Vadal Alexander