NEPD Staff Writer CJ Sousa
If you’re looking for major intrigue between powerhouse schools, Week 8 isn’t for you. However that doesn’t mean the NFL Draft evaluators are taking a week off, and neither are the prospects. Some college football is better than no college football, right? Let’s take a look at the matchups I will be playing closest attention to this Saturday.
Iowa State vs #2 Baylor 12:00 ESPN
No, I don’t believe this will be much of a contest. But thanks to a prospect filled Baylor Bears’ roster card this noon game is worth tuning into. In case you haven’t heard, arguably the best story in college football Baylor WR Corey Coleman has absolutely set the world on fire and looks to continue that vs Iowa State. I will also have a close eye on the Bears’ highly talked about defensive front. I expect DT Andrew Billings dominate, and would love to see that same consistent effort from the much more publicized Bears’ defensive linemen Shawn Oakman. This game should be a slaughter, but draft fans should tune in to watch one of the most talented teams in the country who can help headline the draft next spring. Baylor wins, maybe by half-a-hundred.
DE Shawn Oakman: One of the most hyped players entering the 2015 season, Oakman has flashed his potential here and there. The problem is, the 6’9 275lbs DE still has yet to put it all together in one consistent effort. He has the talent to be a top 5 pick, but all too often plays like a second/third round prospect as far as impacting the game.
WR Corey Coleman: Out of nowhere, Coleman has thrown his name into the Heisman race. Seriously. Through half a season, Coleman already owns the Baylor single-season touchdown record (16). He’s been virtually un-coverable this year, and is equally as nimble in the open field after the catch. He catches the ball with strong, soft hands and has enough speed to run away from you. He also has the ability to track the ball well over his shoulder. Coleman has 41 catches and 877 yards so far to go along with his 16 touchdowns.
DT Andrew Billings: After some Baylor review, and you may call me crazy, I believe Billings will be the better pro compared to Oakman. One of the strongest players in all of college football, Billings consistently blows up plays in the backfield and has a unique ability to simply toss away double teams and make plays on the ball carrier. He is day-to-day for Iowa State due to a sprained ankle.
OT Spencer Drango: His quickness is his best attribute. One of the top offensive linemen in college football, Drango consistently on film stonewalls rushers and is very tough to bet around the edge. One of the most complete prospects in college football.
Iowa State prospects
CB Nigel Tribune: The junior CB is probably going to go back to school for his senior season, but at the moment is the top pro prospect on the Cyclones’ roster. He’s improved immensely since his freshmen season, as he started as a true freshmen. He has good ball skills but is just adequate in the size/speed/strength category which makes Tribune a work in progress. Nonetheless, with some time left at Iowa State Tribune is a low key prospect to keep your eye on.
WR Quenton Bundrage: The redshirt senior got off to a slow start this season, but got going last week vs TCU with season highs in catches (7) and yards (86). At 6’2 200lbs, Bundrage should be at worst invited to a camp next season.
Other prospects: TE Ben Boesen, OG Daniel Burton, OLB Luke Knott
Tennessee vs #8 Alabama 3:30 CBS
One of the oldest and most historic rivalries in college football. This edition of the Third Saturday in October rivalry pits one of the most prospect packed rosters in America (Alabama) vs one of the youngest talented teams in the country (Tennessee). Not since the lone Lane Kiffin Tennessee year in ’09 has this game been reasonably close (12-10, Kiffin now Alabama OC), however I think Tennessee can hang around a bit. Vols’ QB Josh Dobbs finally lived up to some preseason hype vs Georgia with 430 yards of total offense. The Vols will need every bit of the same effort and then some in Tuscaloosa. Alabama mauled Texas A&M upfront last week, and simply grinded the Aggies down on defense. RB Derrick Henry once again seemed to be the bully on the playground, and the Tide even got some decent play out of the quarterback position. If Tennessee plays mistake free football, they are talented enough to hang around and make things interesting. I’ll take Alabama to win, but Tennessee +16.5 to cover.
DT/DE A’Shawn Robinson: Tennessee simply doesn’t have the horses to contain Robinson. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how Robinson does when he gets doubled relentlessly. Robinson dominated Texas A&M center Mike Matthews last week for the entire game, and I’m not confident Tennessee will be able to provide a better match up. Arguably the top prospect in the game.
RB Derrick Henry: The 6’3 245lbs truck that is Derrick Henry figures to get fed the ball early and often Saturday. The weakness of the UT front is directly in the middle, and I expect Henry to go off Saturday. He’s been overshadowed by the greatness of Leonard Fournette in the SEC, but Henry has tallied 901 yards and 12 touchdowns so far this season.
ILB Reggie Ragland: The leader of the Alabama defense, Ragland flies all over the field capable of making plays sideline to sideline as well as in the backfield. He is a forceful tackler, instinctive leader and rarely takes a false step. Last week he even showed up rushing the passer, chasing down A&M quarterback Kyle Allen.
Other prospects: TE OJ Howard, DE Jonathan Allen, RB Kenyan Drake, OLB Ryan Anderson, CB Cyrus Jones, S Eddie Jackson, DL Jarran Reed, C Ryan Kelly
CB Cam Sutton: The leader of the secondary, Sutton is the top playmaker on the entire roster. If Tennessee has any chance Saturday, Sutton will probably have to make a major impact play whether it be on defense or as a punt returner. He is one of the top cornerbacks in college football, and doesn’t really show any glaring weakness’.
*RB Jalen Hurd: Built similarly to Derrick Henry, Hurd is a big bruising back that punishes opposing defenders. Had a big fumble on the goalline vs Georgia which lead to a touchdown the other way, but continued to run hard all game. He should get over 20 carries Saturday as the focal point of the offense.
*Derek Barnett: The numbers haven’t been there in his sophomore campaign to match his dominant freshmen campaign, but without senior OLB Curt Maggitt Barnett poses the biggest threat off the edge to Alabama. He’s explosive off the line with a variety of moves, Barnett needs to unleash his talent a bit to put some pressure on some questionable quarterback play.
Other prospects: QB Josh Dobbs, FS LaDarrell McNeil, SS Brian Randolph, OG Kyler Kerbyson
#15 Texas A&M vs #24 Ole Miss 7:00 ESPN
This has ‘must win’ feel all over it for Ole Miss. A once promising season highlighted by a massive win at Alabama is in danger of going off the rails. Florida pummeled the Rebels in The Swamp 38-10, and after a win vs measly New Mexico State the Rebels got upset at Memphis, 37-24. Now all of a sudden a talented Aggies team comes to town, and Ole Miss is in danger of losing three out of their last four. The big storyline is OT Laremy Tunsil, one of the best players in college football will be returning to the field just in time to face sophomore sensation Myles Garrett. I was once a believer in Ole Miss, no more. Give me the Aggies to score a huge road win 41-30.
C Mike Matthews: I thought he played decent vs a talented Alabama front, but had his struggles no question. Overall was overmatched by A’Shawn Robinson who dominated Matthews in the run game and generated good push while rushing the passer. It doesn’t get any easier this week with Robert Nkemdiche.
OT Germain Ifedi: Thought overall he overall was solid. Held his own in the pass game for four quarters. Was a victim of a coverage sack late, but overall a solid outing vs the Crimson Tide.
*DE Myles Garrett: In his first 18 career games, he has 20 sacks. Get your 2017 big boards out because Garrett could be atop the list. He is explosive off the line, has a devastating first step and has a multitude of pass rush moves. He blocked a punt last week vs Alabama, and will arguably be the best athlete and prospect on the field. He leads the SEC in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (11.5).
Other prospects: WR Ricky Seals-Jones, P Drew Kaser, OG Joseph Cheek,RB Tra Carson
Ole Miss prospects
DT Robert Nkemdiche: He is questionable for the contest with a concussion. *Understatement alert* Should Nkemdiche not play, it would be a devastating blow to the Rebels in a must-win type of game.
WR Laquon Treadwell: He has everything you want in a receiver. Size, length, hands, speed with route running ability, Treadwell has dominated this season so far. He had his best outing last week in the upset loss to Memphis, tallying 14 catches for 144 yards and 1 touchdown.
OT Laremy Tunsil: Arguably the top OT in college football will be making his season debut Saturday after waiting out a 7 game suspension. Tunsil immediately upgrades the Rebs, and gives them a fighting chance vs Myles Garrett. Tunsil/Garrett could be the matchup of the weekend.
Other prospects: SS Tony Conner (Hurt), TE Evan Engram, OG Aaron Morris, ILB CJ Johnson
#1 Ohio State vs Rutgers 8:00 ABC
This has the makings of an interesting game. Big heavy favorite travels halfway across the country to play a night game in conference, and…I’ll stop there. This won’t be an interesting game from a scoreboard sense. However Ohio State’s entire roster it seems is on the NFL Draft radar which alone gives intrigue. Combine that with the mystery that is Leonte Carroo (hopefully we get to see him play, he’s questionable) and we have a game worth watching. Ohio State hasn’t looked all that impressive even in their double digit wins this year, but I expect Urban Meyer’s bunch to really pummel Rutgers. Whatever the alternate spread is here, bet it. Give me the Bucks by 30+.
Ohio State prospects
DE Joey Bosa: His matchup vs JJ Denman will be critical for the Scarlet Knights. Bosa may be quiet on the stats front this year, but has been a force throughout 2015. He showed up last week to quiet some of his doubters, tallying 3 tackles for loss with 1 sack.
RB Ezekiel Elliot: If not for Leonard Fournette, Zeke Elliot would probably be front and center in the Heisman conversation. He’s been a workhorse of late carrying the rock 20+ times each of the last three weeks, scoring 6 touchdowns in that span. He is my top draft eligible running back at the moment.
SS Vonn Bell: One of the most highly recruited players in the country out of high school, Bell has lived up to the hype in Columbus. Bell combines phenomenal instincts with good ball skills, and is willing to come down in the box and chase down ball carriers. Could see some shading over the top on Carroo’s side Saturday night.
WR Michael Thomas: As the quarterback play has been inconsistent, so has Thomas. Nonetheless the 6’3 210lbs receiver still has proved to be the go-to man for the Bucks. During the Maryland game while the offense was struggling, Thomas helped the Bucks get off their feet catching 7 passes for 107 yards.
DT Adolphus Washington: He’s the key to the interior of the defense. Washington is a great athlete for his size and is capable of penetrating gaps to make plays up the field, as well as plugging gaps and stonewalling ball carriers. Washington is yet another top NFL Draft prospect on the Bucks’ defense.
Other prospects: OT Taylor Decker, OLB Darron Lee, OLB Joshua Perry, TE Nick Vannett, WR Braxton Miller, OG Pat Elflein, WR Corey Smith, C Jacoby Boren, QB Cardale Jones
WR Leonte Carroo: He’s the star of the show for Rutgers, and everybody knows it. Carroo left last week’s win over Indiana with an ankle injury and never returned. He seems optimistic about paying Saturday, but officially is questionable. When healthy, he’s a terrific threat both before and after the catch. He isn’t quite the route runner, but he reminds me of Nelson Agholor a little bit. Should he not play, I don’t see Rutgers generating enough offense to remain close in this game.
RB Paul James: Currently off the NFL Draft radar, but James has shown home run ability that could prove useful against Ohio State. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think it’s time Rutgers empty the tool shed and see what happens.
Other prospects: OLB Quentin Gause, OT Keith Lumpkin, ILB Kaiwan Lewis
*Not draft eligible
Tags: A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama, Andrew Billings, Baylor, Corey Coleman, Derrick Henry, Ezekiel Elliot, Iowa State, Joey Bosa, Laquon Treadwell, Leonte Carroo, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Robert Nkemdiche, Rutgers, Tennessee, Texas A&M