Tag Archive: LSU


1- Orson Charles, TE, Georgia: Grade: 1st round
2- Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson: Grade: 1st round
3- Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame: Grade: 1st round
4- Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford: Grade: 2nd round
5- Michael Egnew, TE, Missouri: Grade: 2nd round
6- Ladarius Green, TE, Louisiana Lafayette: Grade: 3rd round
7- David Paulson, TE, Oregon: Grade: 3rd round
8- Deangelo Peterson, TE, LSU: Grade: 3rd/4th round
9- Brian Linthicum, TE, Michigan State: Grade: 4th round
10- Kevin Koger, TE, Michigan: Grade: 4th round
11- George Bryan, TE, North Carolina State: Grade: 4th/5th round
12- Tyler Urban, TE, West Virginia: Grade: 4th/5th round
13- Rhett Ellison, TE, Southern Cal: Grade: 5th round
14- Josh Chichester, TE, Louisville: Grade: 5th round
15- Aron White, TE, Georgia: Grade: 5th round
16- Anthony Miller, TE, California: Grade: 5th/6th round
17- Beau Reliford, TE, Florida State: Grade: 5th/6th round
18- Kavario Middleton, TE, Montana: Grade: 5th/6th round
19- Brad Herman, TE, Iowa: Grade: 6th round
20- Nick Provo, TE, Syracuse: Grade: 6th round
21- James Hanna, TE, Oklahoma: Grade: 6th/7th round
22- Brandon Barden, TE, Vanderbilt: Grade: 6th/7th round
23- Adrien Robinson, TE, Cincinnati: Grade: 7th round
24- Alex Gottlieb, TE, William & Mary: Grade: 7th round
25- Jake Byrne, TE, Wisconsin: Grade: UDFA

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1- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: Grade: Top 10
2- Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina: Grade: 1st Round
3- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame: Grade: 1st round
4- Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor: Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd
5- Jarius Wright, WR, Arkansas: Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd
6- Mohamed Sanu, WR, Rutgers: Grade: Early/Mid 2nd
7- Rueben Randle, WR, LSU: Grade: Early/Mid 2nd
8- Nick Toon, WR, Wisconsin: Grade: 2nd/3rd
9- Dwight Jones, WR, North Carolina: Grade: 2nd/3rd
10- Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa: Grade: Grade: 3rd
11- A.J. Jenkins, WR, Illinois: Grade: 3rd
12- Brian Quick, WR, Appalachian State: Grade: 3rd
13- T.Y. Hilton, WR, Florida International: Grade: 3rd/4th
14- Joe Adams, WR, Arkansas: Grade: 4th
15- Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma: Grade: 4th
16- Marquis Maze, WR, Alabama: Grade: 4th
17- Greg Childs, WR, Arkansas: Grade: 4th/5th
18- Jarrett Boykin, WR, Virginia Tech: Grade: 4th/5th
19- DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State: Grade: 5th
20- Jeff Fuller, WR, Texas A&M: Grade: 5th
21- Juron Criner, WR, Arizona: Grade: 5th
22- Rishard Matthews, WR, Nevada: Grade: 5th
23- Jermaine Kearse, WR, Washington: Grade: 5th/6th
24- B.J. Cunningham, WR, Michigan State: Grade: 5th/6th
25- Gerell Robinson, WR, Arizona State: Grade: 5th/6th
26- Lance Lewis, WR, East Carolina: Grade: 6th
27- Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan: Grade: 6th
28- Marvin Jones, WR, California: Grade: 6th
29- Chris Owusu, WR, Stanford: Grade: 6th
30- Derek Moye, WR, Penn State: Grade: 6th
31- Travis Benjamin, WR, Miami: Grade: 6th/7th
32- Devon Wylie, WR, Fresno State: Grade: 7th
33- T.J. Graham, WR, North Carolina State: Grade: 7th
34- Keshawn Martin, WR, Michigan State: Grade: 7th
35- Mike Willie, WR, Arizona State: Grade: 7th
36- Junior Hemingway, WR, Michigan: Grade: 7th/UDFA
37- James Rodgers, WR, Oregon State: Grade: 7th/UDFA
38- Da’Jon McKnight, WR, Minnesota: Grade: 7th/UDFA
39- Thomas Mayo, WR, California (PA): Grade: 7th/UDFA
40- Darius Reynolds, WR, Iowa State: Grade: 7th/UDFA

My First Mock Draft of the Year

1. Indianapolis- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford:
Analysis: It’s clear to everyone just how valuable Peyton Manning was to the Colts now. He’s practically an MVP candidate and he hasn’t even played a game. The Colts have since fired their defensive coordinator and while it’s arguable the Colts could use defensive upgrades there is no one in the draft that warrants a selection of Andrew Luck. Some people think that the Colts can’t have Luck and Manning on the same roster, but I disagree. Luck may be NFL ready, but you can’t convince me that he would be better off playing as a rookie instead of sitting for a year and learning from Manning. Learning from a MVP and a Super Bowl champion your first year on the job will only make you better.
2. Minnesota- Matt Kalil, OT, Southern Cal:
Analysis: The Vikings made a bold and, in my opinion, a great move releasing Bryant McKinnie. Leslie Frazier put his foot down by making it clear that even a quality LT will get cut if he shows up out of shape and isn’t ready to contribute to the team. However, that didn’t work out that well for the Vikings this year as Charlie Johnson has not been a worthwhile replacement in any sense of the word. He’s been consistently beaten as he’s tried to protect McNabb’s and Ponder’s blind side this year. LT is as big a need as any of the Vikings many needs, and it would be very easy to fix should Kalil declare for the draft this year. He’s the best left tackle in the country, and don’t forget that he was talented enough to keep an eventual top 10 pick in Tyron Smith at right tackle as a junior for the Trojans. Kalil has the potential to start at left tackle from day one, and that makes him very appealing to a team like the Vikings.
3. St. Louis- Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State:
Analysis: The Rams have been assembling some pieces on offense in recent years. I’m not sold on Sam Bradford yet, but he is clearly the quarterback of the future for the Rams. With Steven Jackson continuing to play well, Lance Kendricks coming on board in the 2nd round last year, and by acquiring Brandon Lloyd at the trade deadline the Rams have made surrounding Bradford with some weapons a priority. Lloyd is a quality target, but getting him a true #1 target with plenty of upside is something they still need to do. That is where Blackmon comes in. Blackmon is my #1 WR in this draft class, he has very good hands (though he does have concentration lapses at times resulting in drops), fantastic body control and he is very hard to tackle once he has the ball in his hands. He’s the top receiver in this class, and the Rams must only evaluate his character to determine whether he will continue to improve and if he will stay out of trouble once he gets his first NFL paycheck.
4. Jacksonville- Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU:
Analysis: The Jaguars have had a good defense this year and they really need offensive help, but one spot they could use help at is cornerback. Looking at the players available at this point I think Claiborne warrants the pick here more than any of them. Matt Barkley might have a higher grade, but with Blaine Gabbert on the roster I don’t think they will even consider a quarterback this early. Some will disagree with that based on Gabbert’s struggles this year, but he shouldn’t have been playing yet anyways. He needed a year to learn on the bench and he didn’t get it, and as a result the Jaguars have risked stunting his development. Claiborne is ready to come in and play right away and he is easily the most impressive cornerback in the country. He has very fluid hips, he turns and runs well, he has very good speed, he’s very athletic, and he has fantastic ball skills and return ability once he has the ball in his hands. He’s a playmaker at corner with great size, long arms and good instincts. It really speaks to LSU’s talent in the secondary that they may have a first round pick from their defensive backfield three years in a row if Claiborne and Tyrann Mathieu are drafted in round one in 2012 and 2013.
5. Carolina- Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa:
Analysis: The Panthers could use another wide receiver here and they have serious needs on defense, particularly at defensive tackle. However, Jeff Otah has not been particularly impressive when I’ve watched him and he has had serious durability issues since being drafted by the Panthers. Jordan Gross has been a mainstay on the Panthers offensive line for years but he is 31 years old now. He won’t be around forever, and drafting an eventual replacement for him as well as a player who could replace Otah at right tackle should he continue to struggle with injuries. Reiff might not be ready to start at LT right away, but he definitely has NFL LT ability.
6. Miami- Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal:
Analysis: Miami may end up trading up from this spot to assure themselves a shot at Barkley should he actually declare. I think he will after the fantastic season he’s had, but there is a possibility that he could come back and attempt to lead USC to a BCS bowl game. However, if he does come out he is definitely NFL ready as a result of his three years of experience starting in a pro style offense at USC. He is a NFL ready quarterback that could play day one much like Luck if necessary. Ideally he wouldn’t because I believe that quarterbacks should be developed patiently, but that’s just my opinion. Miami hasn’t had a legitimate quarterback since Marino, so hopefully Barkley can break that trend. Again, don’t rule out Miami moving up on draft day if they are in a similar position as they are in this mock to go up and get the quarterback they want.
7. Washington- Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor:
Analysis: Washington could go any variety of ways here, but quarterback is one of their most pressing needs. Rex Grossman and John Beck are not long term solutions by any means, and Robert Griffin has been one of the most impressive players, not just quarterbacks, in the entire country this season. He’s very mobile and his passing has developed vastly every year that he has been at Baylor and his athleticism would be utilized brilliantly by Mike Shanahan and his offense. He’s got as much upside as any quarterback in this class thanks to his passing ability and his athleticism, he just has to be developed appropriately. It’s a tricky thing to do, but Shanahan might be the man for the job.
8. Arizona- Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford:
Analysis: The Cardinals have huge needs along the offensive line but particularly at left tackle. They haven’t been able to adequately fill that position for years, and Levi Brown has not been holding up well at all. He has been flat out abused at times this year, and they don’t have an adequate replacement on the roster right now. I personally am not sold on Jonathan Martin being a quality left tackle yet as I think he might be a more ideal fit at right tackle, but I do think he will be drafted quite high because of his potential projection to the blind side.
9. Philadelphia- Luke Kuechly, ILB, Boston College:
Analysis: Kuechly continues to impress everyone who watches him. It’s hard to find significant flaws in his game and he has been doing amazing things at the linebacker position for Boston College. He’s a fantastic linebacker and is easily the most NFL ready linebacker that is eligible for the draft this year. He is only a junior so while he is absolutely ready for the jump to the next level it’s not a sure thing that he will leave early. However, the Eagles should be praying that he does because he is the perfect solution for their middle linebacker position. He’s a top 10 lock in my opinion because he is going to test off the charts in interviews and while he might not be an elite athlete with freakish ability he is very arguably the best tackler in the entire country and is as fundamentally sound and reliable as any linebacker prospect in the nation. The Eagles need a player like him in the middle of their defense as bad as anyone, and getting the chance to pick him #9 overall would be a godsend for their franchise.
10. Cleveland- Quentin Coples, DE, North Carolina:
Analysis: Cleveland seems to have hit home with Jabaal Sheard thus far but they don’t have a lot of pass rush talent opposite him and while they do have talent at defensive tackle I don’t think they have a defensive tackle with legitimate pass rush talent inside. Coples projects best to DE in the NFL, and while I’m not sure if he would be at RE or LE for the Browns since I wouldn’t want to move Sheard from where he has had success, I think he projects well to DE at the next level. Ideally he would be at left end, but on top of the value he presents as a starting left end he would also be able to slide inside to defensive tackle in pass rushing situations. He is a ‘tweener to some extent, but I think that works to his advantage in this situation. He would be able to be an every down defensive end, but he has such impressive size and strength that I think he could shift inside and use his athleticism to his advantage to create pressure from the interior in obvious passing situations. That would give the Browns some scheme flexibility and boost Coples’ value even more.
11. Kansas City- Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma:
Analysis: There is significant chance that Cassel will still be the Chiefs quarterback of the future, but he will be 30 next May and there is no indication that he is going to be durable for the long haul. Cassel hasn’t proven to be a franchise quarterback to any extent and the Chiefs front office has been making concerted efforts to surround him with weapons. He has Jamaal Charles, Dexter McCluster, Dwayne Bowe and Jonathan Baldwin at his disposal now. The effects haven’t been exactly what the Chiefs desired. Landry Jones might not be my favorite quarterback in this class, but he has quality size, arm strength and accuracy. I don’t think he’s a franchise guy and I’m not sure he will win a Super Bowl without a quality supporting cast and a great defense, but that’s just my opinion.
12. Seattle- Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama:
Analysis: Richardson is a top talent, but running backs don’t always go in the top five. I would argue that he’s on a similar level as McFadden and perhaps even Adrian Peterson as a prospect, but running backs have to make a fantastic case to go in the top 5-10 picks. There isn’t an incredible amount of demand for a running back in the top five, and outside of Washington and Cleveland there isn’t a ton of demand for running backs in the top 10. Shanahan doesn’t have a track record of picking running backs early on anyways, so I don’t think he would pick Richardson at 7 in this scenario unless he thought he was a truly elite talent. That, in my opinion, would cause Richardson to slide a bit. Seattle might not need him that much given Marshawn Lynch’s re-emergence to a degree, but with all of the highly touted underclassmen quarterbacks off the board I think that Pete Carroll would go in another direction other than quarterback. Richardson would help take a ton of pressure off of Tarvaris Jackson by combining him with Lynch in the running game. This might not be the most likely pick or the best pick for need for the Seahawks, but I do think Carroll is a man who could appreciate the immense value of this selection.
13. San Diego- Jarvis Jones, OLB, Georgia:
Analysis: San Diego has been searching for an upgrade at outside linebacker since they lost Shawne Merriman to injury years ago. Larry English hasn’t panned out like they thought he would (I personally thought he would be better as a RE in a 4-3, or perhaps only as a situational pass rusher in nickel packages) and they haven’t been able to upgrade him yet. Enter Jarvis Jones, one of the best pass rushers in the entire country. There’s no guarantee that he will declare as he is only a redshirt sophomore, but he has as much upside as a pass rusher as anyone in the nation. He’s been dominant rushing the passer this year and really helped ease the loss of Justin Houston to the NFL and made up for Cornelius Washington’s absence due to suspension at times this season. He’s got tremendous upside and while he needs to get bigger and stronger before he is NFL ready if he did declare I think he would demand immediate top 20 consideration.
14. Tampa Bay- Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame:
Analysis: This might not be Tampa Bay’s biggest need, but Josh Freeman has a solid running back in LeGarrette Blount, a talented tight end in Kellen Winslow and a potential #1 WR in Mike Williams, but I think he could use another weapon at wide receiver. Floyd is a good value at #14 overall and has the potential to go higher than this, but his character concerns might drop him a little bit. The Bucs haven’t shied away from character concerns before, especially at wide receiver where they picked the potentially troubled Williams who quit the Syracuse football team and still went in the fourth round. Floyd has had his issues, but he is a talented, big bodied receiver who would really compliment Mike Williams’ explosiveness and burst well.
15. Buffalo- David DeCastro, OG, Stanford:
Analysis: Buffalo needs help along the offensive line and David DeCastro is as good as it gets for an offensive guard prospect. Top 15 picks at OG are extremely rare, but this might be one instance where it could happen. DeCastro is a fantastic guard prospect and while he is only a junior he is ready for the next level. The Bills have a few needs along their roster, but I think that DeCastro would fill a significant need at guard for the Bills.
16. Tennessee- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama:  
Analysis: The Titans have a quality corner in Cortland Finnegan, but they don’t have much talent beyond him. The Titans have other needs they could address here, but picking up a corner like Kirkpatrick who absolutely has top 15 ability makes a lot of sense in my opinion. The Titans have bigger issues than corner thanks to Finnegan’s ability, but getting another quality corner to start opposite him can help the defensive line, and if they are able to boost their pass rush and help out the secondary the Titans defense would really improve considerably. They need upgrades on defense and on offense, but picking up a very good corner like Kirkpatrick can’t hurt here.
17. New York Jets- Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma:
Analysis: The Jets are one of the most creative teams as far as blitzing schemes thanks to Rex Ryan and they have enough talent on the back end to get away with some intricate blitz packages. However, their secondary and defense overall would benefit considerably if they could get a better pass rush out of their base packages. Ronnell Lewis has been one of the better pass rushers in the country and while he is still young he has plenty of upside and the Jets have shown that they have at least some ability to get production out of athletically talented players, most notably Aaron Maybin who looked like an absolute bust on the Bills but has tallied 5 sacks since signing on with the Jets. Lewis is an athletic specimen as well, and if he is developed properly I think he can be a quality pass rusher for the Jets.
18. Denver- Chase Minnifield, CB, Virginia:
Analysis: The Broncos defense has really stepped up this season and Von Miller in particular has been playing not only like a Pro-Bowler, but like an All-Pro. He has 10.5 sacks in only 11 games which is almost unheard of for a rookie. The Broncos defense is definitely on the right track, but they could probably use an upgrade at corner. Champ Bailey is getting older but still playing well, however they don’t have an abundance of talent opposite him. I have been high on Minnifield since I watched him last season as a junior, and I think he has legitimate 1st round ability. Any corner that gets a chance to learn from Bailey will benefit considerably from it, but I think Minnifield would help improve Denver’s back end considerably once he was deemed ready to start.
19. New York Giants- Zach Brown, OLB, North Carolina:  
Analysis: The Giants may not have as serious of a need at linebacker as it seemed at the beginning of the year if Mark Herzlich proves to be the man for the job, but they have had serious issues with injuries and inconsistency at linebacker for years, so adding some talent to the fold isn’t a bad idea. Brown is extremely athletic and has significant upside and would fit very well on a Giants defense that likes an athletic front 7 and enjoys applying pressure with their front four and linebackers.
20. Dallas- Mark Barron, S, Alabama:
Analysis: Dallas has had issues at safety since they had Roy Williams starting at safety years and years ago and they’ve never really solved that problem. Mark Barron is one of the only safeties in the class that potentially warrants a 1st round pick. I was not high on him after his junior season, but he has shown much more ability in coverage than I expected to see this year. If he truly projects well to the NFL from a coverage standpoint then he definitely warrants 1st round consideration and the Cowboys would be wise to consider selecting him here.
21. Cleveland (F/ATL)- Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State:
Analysis: Cleveland’s offensive line could use an upgrade. Joe Thomas is a stud, but opposite him there isn’t anything special. Mike Adams has some potential as a left tackle, but I think he could be a good or a very good right tackle. He’s a local guy having gone to Ohio State and he would fill a need for them up front.
22. Cincinnati (F/OAK)- Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin:
Analysis: Cincinnati could use significant help along the interior of their offensive line and getting a center like Konz would be ideal. He’s easily the best draft eligible center for the 2012 draft and if he is healthy enough to play in the Big 10 Championship Game or whatever bowl game Wisconsin plays in then I think it is possible that he will declare. Regardless, if he decides to come out he is the rare center that warrants a 1st round selection.
23. Cincinnati- Alfonso Dennard, CB, Nebraska:
Analysis: Cincinnati has some talent at corner, but when they lost Jonathan Joseph to the Houston Texans in free agency it definitely hurt their secondary. Dennard is a physical corner and would help replace Joseph in the secondary. I don’t think he has the ball skills that Joseph has by any means, but he would definitely help shore up the hole he left at corner.
24. Chicago- Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State:
Analysis: Chicago has been searching for a left tackle for years and they haven’t found it yet. They drafted Chris Williams to play there and he has only recently showed enough to start inside at guard. J’Marcus Webb was certainly not drafted to be the future at left tackle but he has spent far too much time starting at that spot. He’s not a left tackle and he has struggled at the spot. Zebrie Sanders may not have been considered by many to be a starting left tackle but he pleasantly surprised a lot of people when he slid over to the left side of the line to replace Andrew Datko for Florida State this season. I think he has NFL potential at left tackle and if Chicago agrees then they have to pick him. Getting bookend tackles for an offensive line that has been one of the league’s worst for years would be a huge step in the right direction for the Bears organization.
25. Detroit- Cordy Glenn, OG, Georgia:
Analysis: Detroit seems to be a team that drafts primarily for value and doesn’t reach for needs, preferring to get as much talent as possible. I like that drafting strategy, but unfortunately it led to them ignoring the offensive line and the cornerback position last year. This year I think they need to make sure they address the offensive line, and Cordy Glenn is one of the best remaining offensive linemen on the board at this point in the draft. He is a huge, powerful run blocker but I don’t think he can stick outside at tackle. That makes me think he could be a very good offensive guard, and the Lions could use the push up front.
26. Houston- Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis:
Analysis: Dontari Poe is a raw prospect in my opinion but at a listed height and weight of 6’5”, 350 pounds he definitely has immense upside. Houston likes to penetrate upfield and cause havoc with their defense, and Poe could definitely help them do that. I personally he might eventually be a better fit in a 4-3 defense if he is able to improve his pass rush moves to collapse the pocket more versus the pass. However, a lot of teams will see his size and strength and assume he is ready to be a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. As we saw with Albert Haynesworth size and strength don’t automatically mean he can play nose tackle in that defense, so we need to be careful assuming that he is a great fit in that scheme. However, my opinion has never stopped NFL teams from doing what they want to do, so Poe could very well end up on a 3-4 team after all.
27. New England- Devon Still, DT, Penn State:
Analysis: The Patriots have plenty of talent in their front seven, but they still struggle to rush the passer at times. This might have to do with their transition from a 3-4 defense, but I think that Still projects well to the DT position in a 4-3 defense. He has had a fantastic senior year and could easily go higher than this, but it’s hard to figure out exactly where everyone’s stock is at this point. If he did make it this far I would not put it past the Patriots to take advantage of the value picking Still here would present.
28. New England (F/ NO)- Alshon Jeffrey, WR, South Carolina:
Analysis: New England has a lot of quick wide receivers but they don’t have a big, physical receiver. Perhaps they don’t want one, but I think it hurts them a bit in the red zone when they have to rely on quick routes from their wide receivers and throwing to tight ends in one on one coverage. At the very least, having a big, powerful wide receiver like Alshon Jeffrey couldn’t really hurt them in the red zone or overall. I worry about his ability to create consistent separation in the NFL, but he has fantastic size, very long arms and great hands. He’s got plenty of upside, but his stock has slipped this year due to inconsistent production partially because of him and partially because of transitions at the quarterback position. Jeffrey could easily go higher than this, but I’m not convinced he’s going to be a top 5-10 pick at this point.
29. Baltimore- Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State:
Analysis: Burfict has top 20 talent thanks to his combination of size, athleticism and his electrifying hitting ability. However, he has some character concerns that will probably scare a few teams away. The elite teams in the NFL often have the locker room presence to take risks on a certain number of these types of players. Burfict is such a player, and with Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and other strong locker room leaders the Ravens are one of the teams that could take a risk on Burfict. In fact, I think Ray Lewis would be a very intriguing mentor for Burfict because Lewis is a big hitter with great toughness and leadership capability. Burfict could learn a lot from Lewis and it might also help improve his reputation. Not only that, but Burfict would be the obvious heir apparent to Lewis at middle linebacker.
30. Pittsburgh- Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame:
Analysis: Pittsburgh, much like Baltimore, has an aging leader at middle linebacker in James Farrior and I don’t think the future replacement for him is currently on the roster. Enter Manti Te’o, a 1st round caliber middle linebacker. Te’o projects well to a 3-4 scheme that would require him to play downhill and blitz to help create pressure, two things that Te’o does very well. Pittsburgh would get a player who is a good fit for their scheme and they’d have a great replacement for Farrior in the middle of their defense.
31. San Francisco- Alameda Ta’amu, DT, Washington:
Analysis: San Francisco lost Aubrayo Franklin in free agency and most people anticipated them struggling to stop the run after losing him. That hasn’t been the case, however, they could still use an upgrade at the nose tackle spot. Ta’amu is one of the best nose tackle prospects in the country and he is very hard to move off of the line of scrimmage. He’d be a perfect nose tackle for the 49ers, and would be a reasonable value at this point in the draft.
32. Green Bay- Brandon Jenkins, OLB, Florida State:
Analysis: I have been saying this since Clay Matthews emerged as a stud linebacker for the Packers: They need someone opposite him to help take pressure off of him. Matthews is a man-child, but he can’t get 10 sacks a year and apply consistent pressure without a talented player opposite him. At first they had Brady Poppinga and he was replaced by Erik Walden, but both players could be easily upgraded. Enter Brandon Jenkins, the nation’s sack leader from a year ago. He has tons of speed off the edge and while he needs to get stronger he has significant upside as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Thanks for reading! I’d appreciate any feedback so I can improve future mock drafts.

–Tom

1- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford: Grade: #1 overall pick
2- Matt Barkley, QB, Southern Cal: Grade: Top 5-10 overall pick
3- Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor: Grade: Top 15 overall pick
4- Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma: Grade: Late 1st/Early 2nd
5- Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M: Grade: 2nd round
6- Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin: Grade: 3rd round
7- Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State: Grade: 3rd round
8- Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: Grade: 3rd/4th round
9- Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: Grade: 3rd/4th round
10- B.J. Coleman, QB, Chattanooga: Grade: 4th round
11- Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State: Grade: 4th/5th round
12- Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State: Grade: 5th round
13- Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State: Grade: 5th round
14- Nick Foles, QB, Arizona: Grade: 5th/6th round
15- Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois: Grade: 5th/6th round
16- John Brantley, QB, Florida: Grade: 6th round
17- Matt Scott, QB, Arizona: Grade: 6th round/7th round
18- Patrick Witt, QB, Yale: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
19- Case Keenum, QB, Houston: Grade: 7th round/UDFA
20- Dominique Davis, QB, East Carolina: Grade: UDFA
21- G.J. Kinne, QB, Tulsa: Grade: UDFA
22- Aaron Corp, QB, Richmond: Grade: UDFA
23- Austin Davis, QB, Southern Mississippi: Grade: UDFA
24- Jarrett Lee, QB, LSU: Grade: UDFA
25- Jordan Jefferson, QB, LSU: Grade: UDFA

Andrew Luck is the ultimate prize for whatever NFL team manages to lose enough to get the #1 overall pick.

1- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford– Did you expect anyone else to be #1? He’s the best QB prospect I’ve seen since I’ve been scouting and he’s a great bet to be the #1 pick in the 2012 Draft should he declare after this season (and there have been rumblings that he will).

2- Matt Barkley, QB, USC- Barkley has been on my radar since he was a true freshman at USC. I was never sold on Aaron Corp and while I thought Mitch Mustain had potential as a sleeper before his off-field issues, I always thought Barkley was the most talented QB on the roster once he got there. That has proven to be true, and he has continued to develop in a pro-style offense since emerging as the starter during his freshman year. Now in his junior year it seems there is a strong chance he will declare. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did, but I think there is a small chance that he comes back to take a run at a Rose Bowl because their bowl ban will have expired. Part of me wants him to stay, but there isn’t much left for him to prove outside of leading his team to a great season with a post-season win.

3- Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M- Tannehill flashed incredible upside last year leading Texas A&M to a furious finish before ultimately losing to LSU in the Cotton Bowl. He hasn’t had the same incredible start this season but he has still flashed potential. He doesn’t have much experience but as he continues to develop he could become a quality NFL QB. He has quality tools such as arm strength, accuracy and athleticism. Plus, he seems to be a guy with quality intangibles and leadership capability, so even if you need to develop him for a year or maybe two he has the upside physically and mentally to warrant early round consideration.

Russell Wilson might not be rated this high by other draftniks, but he's a great QB. The only serious knock on him as a prospect is his height.

4- Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin- Russell Wilson won’t be this high on many people’s rankings, but I was one of the people that was wholeheartedly convinced that he would be a spectacular quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers and I said just as much in my post that I wrote shortly after it was announced that he was going to play for them this year. I didn’t think he’d be this terrific so early, but that really speaks to his fantastic intangibles and leadership qualities. Wilson’s only knock as a prospect and as a quarterback is his lack of size, as I would estimate he is about 5’10” or maybe slightly taller. That will make his transition to the NFL more difficult, but he is a very talented quarterback. He’s got very good arm strength, has accuracy to all levels of the field, throws a very nice deep ball, can make any NFL throw, and has demonstrated quality pocket poise at times. I think he could stand to improve as a passer with pressure around him when he’s in the pocket, especially when there is pressure at his feet. However, he is very athletic and uses his athleticism to extend plays and is great at making plays outside of the pocket. He may not be an ideal quarterback for a West Coast offense that requires frequent three step drops and throws as he will struggle to find throwing lanes at times and he may have problems with passes getting batted down at the line of scrimmage. But if he is drafted to a team with an offensive coordinator who knows how to get him out on the edge and make effective use of his athleticism and ability to throw on the move he could be a very dangerous quarterback. I know I won’t be betting against him simply because I know how hard he works and how well he assimilates into a new team. He became a leader of this 2011 Wisconsin Badgers team after being an official member of the roster for two months when it takes many quarterbacks two years if they can ever even become a captain. People have really underestimated how difficult and rare it is for him to do what he has done so far this year. Without sounding like a rabid Russell Wilson fanatic, it really is nothing short of incredible, not to mention very, very rare.

5- Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor- As skeptical as I was of Griffin before the season based off of the film I watched of him last year, you can’t help but be impressed by the unbelievable statistical start to the season he has had. I’m still skeptical of the offense he operates in, but it’s very clear that he has developed since the end of last season. Due to his arm strength, improving accuracy, fantastic athleticism as well as his reputation for being a very intelligent, disciplined guy as well as a film junkie NFL talent evaluators and Draftniks alike are going to be salivating considering his potential. He still has strides to make in my opinion, but he has definitely progressed since last year. I’d be a fool to try to ignore that, so even if I still need to see more of him I can at least acknowledge that.

Landry Jones and Brandon Weeden are directing two of the most explosive, high-scoring offenses in the nation.

6- Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma- Landry Jones is a talented quarterback with quality size, arm strength and accuracy. His accuracy becomes more erratic when under pressure, however, and doesn’t seem to react well to pass rushers in his face. That is concerning for a NFL draft prospect, and it is the reason I might have him lower on this list than some other people do. He’s a quality prospect, I’m just not a big fan of him personally. He’s got upside, I’m just not sure he will ever be a quality NFL starter.

7- Brock Osweiler, QB, Arizona State- Osweiler is a junior with only seven games of NFL experience up until this point, and he has a huge test upcoming against Oregon this Saturday. He’s got a fantastic combination of size and arm strength (reminiscent of Ryan Mallett to be perfectly honest) and his accuracy looks significantly improved over last season. He’s not very mobile, but he has a terrific arm and he’s progressing in the mental aspect of the game. He’s got a boatload of upside, and I’m personally a pretty big fan of his. I’d be surprised if he declared this year, especially since he would have a maximum of 16 games of starting experience at the end of this year, but if he did I would definitely expect him to get drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round range. But if he comes back I would be surprised if he didn’t end up in the 1st round discussion for 2013.

Geno Smith is quietly establishing himself as a quality NFL Draft prospect. He may not have had a fantastic game against LSU, but putting up 468 passing yards against that defense is definitely worth mentioning.

8- Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia- Geno Smith was never someone I was particularly high on, but watching him put up 463 yards on LSU’s fantastic defense definitely opened my eyes. He was carving them up with downfield passes and showing off an impressive arm, and even though WVU was losing for most of the game he never stopped coming (even after they had been made into a one-dimensional offensive attack due to their struggling running game and the scoreboard). He wasn’t incredibly efficient as he threw 65 passes and completed only 38 of them (58.5% completion) and threw as many touchdowns as interceptions (2). One of them came on an incredible play by Tyrann Mathieu, but overall I was impressed with Smith. He looks very skinny on film, and I’d be surprised if he declared this season, but he definitely has upside in my opinion.

9- B.J. Coleman, QB, Chattanooga– Coleman definitely has upside, but he needs development. I don’t think he’s ready to step into a starting spot in his first year or two, but he’s definitely worth a mid-round pick. He has a strong arm, quality (but sometimes a bit inconsistent) accuracy, great size and some pocket poise. He just needs coaching and development, but he doesn’t have incredible upside in my opinion.

10- Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State- Weeden is a solid prospect but his age is going to make it hard for him to crack the top three rounds just because of his limited upside. How much better is he really going to get before he’s 30? He will improve with coaching, but at best he has a 5-7 year window as a starter once he gets to the NFL, and that’s assuming he sticks as a starter in the first place which as everyone knows is not guaranteed. He can stretch the field, he’s accurate and has been a key cog in one of the most explosive offenses in college football over the past two years, but his upside is limited due to his age and that makes him a mid-round guy.

11- Ryan Lindley, QB, San Diego State– Lindley is a guy that I identified as a player with upside that needs to improve in some areas. Right now he’s a mid-round guy with plus arm strength but inconsistent ball placement. He has upside due to his combination of solid size, quality arm strength and his athleticism but his accuracy is only above average at this point. He has struggled with ball placement as a junior and so far as a senior at times. He has a live arm so he definitely has upside, but if his accuracy doesn’t continue to develop then he won’t live up to his potential. He’s a developmental guy at this point with more upside than most mid-round QB’s.

Kellen Moore doesn't have much arm strength, but his other quality attributes make him draftable in my opinion.

12- Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State- Kellen Moore is an interesting guy because even though he is a smaller guy with very average arm strength I still think he has a shot in the NFL. I wouldn’t peg him as a starter in his first two seasons by any means, but he has quality accuracy, he’s very intelligent, he plays well in pressure situations and he’s got a vast amount of experience. He will have to transition from the spread offense that he has played in at Boise State, but because of his intangibles I don’t think that will be as big of a road block as it is for some spread QB prospects that attempt the same transition. He’s a fourth or fifth round pick in my opinion right now but he’s definitely got the upside to stick in the NFL. I’m not sure he will ever be a quality starter, but with his intelligence I think he can be a back-up QB in the NFL. I’m just not sure he has the arm strength to threaten defenses downfield and that can spell disaster at the NFL level.

13- Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State- Cousins is a guy I’ve been paying attention to since he was splitting snaps at QB with Keith Nichol as a sophomore and while he is definitely a NFL prospect I’m not as high on him as I thought I might have been. He hasn’t progressed like I was hoping he would and while he has the potential to stick in the NFL I would not bet on him being a quality NFL starter right now.

14- Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois- Harnish showed some ability when I watched him last year and while I haven’t had a chance to see him this year I definitely think he can stick in the NFL. I would like to see more consistent accuracy and ball placement from him before I would project him as a potential starter in the NFL, but I haven’t seen him play this year so I can’t speak to his progression from his junior to senior year yet.

15- Nick Foles, QB, Arizona- Foles is a prospect that you seem to either really like or completely dislike. I am personally not very high on him and I think that people putting 1st, 2nd or even 3rd round grades on him are vastly overrating him. He’s got good size and arm strength, and he’s accurate on short throws as well as medium throws at times, but the offense he plays in makes him look better than I think he really is. I’m definitely not high on him, but his size, arm strength, experience and production should get him drafted. I just don’t think it will be nearly as early as some people think.

Tyrann Mathieu is a special player and a special prospect. If he was two or three inches taller he would be getting touted just as highly as Patrick Peterson was.

Summary: Tyrann Mathieu is a sophomore cornerback on LSU. He wears #7 in honor of his mentor Patrick Peterson who left after his junior season after which he was selected with the fifth overall pick by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2011 NFL Draft. Mathieu is a playmaker in the same vein as Peterson was at LSU, and may be even more impactful. Mathieu is truly a ball-hawk, a playmaker at cornerback and as a return man, and his versatility within LSU’s defensive scheme makes him incredibly valuable. He may not be the biggest defender on the field, but there is little doubt that he has the biggest impact.

Size: Mathieu doesn’t have very good size for a cornerback as he is listed at just 5’9”, 175 pounds. I have maintained that if he was two or three inches taller he would be discussed as a potential top five pick, but his size is one of the only knocks on him as a prospect. He more than makes up for his lack of ideal size, but when you see him line up opposite a receiver you notice that he has a natural disadvantage due to his height.

Athleticism: Mathieu is a fantastic athlete. He has great straight line speed, impressive quickness and burst, he changes directions very easily, he closes very effectively and he absolutely flies around the field whenever he steps onto it. His athleticism helps mask his lack of size.

Man Coverage: Mathieu doesn’t play a vast amount of man coverage at LSU (or at least I haven’t seen him do so) because they moved him around a lot last year as a nickel corner, and this year he often plays inside on the slot guy. However, he has fluid hips, he changes directions well, he closes incredibly fast on plays in front of him, he recovers very quickly on plays behind him, and he mirrors receivers well thanks to his quick reaction time. I think he could be a great man coverage corner, I just haven’t seen a ton of evidence of it yet due to how LSU uses him.

Zone Coverage: Mathieu is lethal in zone coverage for many of the same reasons he is lethal in man coverage. He is very instinctual (my guess would be that he also watches a LOT of film) and he reads quarterbacks very well. Then, once he knows where the ball is going, he is off like a rocket closing on the ball and more times than not if it is thrown near him he makes a play on it to either break up the pass or to make an interception. He is incredibly comfortable in space and his closing speed makes him a special zone corner.

Run Support: This is one aspect of Mathieu’s game that really surprised me the first time or two that I saw him last year as a freshman. He closes on the running game the same way he closes on passes in the air and that is surprisingly rare for cornerbacks. He is very willing in run support, he loves laying down a big hit, and he’s not afraid to tackle running backs that are much larger than him. He may be one of the best run support corners in the entire country.

Mathieu is one of the best tackling cornerbacks in the country, and has an uncanny knack for producing turnovers.

Tackling: Mathieu is a very reliable tackler. He does miss tackles in open space at times, but most players do miss those on occasion. However, I would say he is a very good tackler especially for a cornerback. He is a fundamentally sound tackler and he doesn’t drop his head when he attempts tackles. This often results in missed tackles and a surprising number of players do this. On top of all that, he also packs a serious punch as a hitter. He is one of the best corners in the country when it comes to hit power and his proficiency for forcing fumbles.

Blitzing: Mathieu is an effective blitzing corner and he is very dangerous coming off the edge as a blitzing corner. He seems to be pretty good at knowing when to come late, when to show he is coming, and when to show that he’s coming and then drop back into coverage. It isn’t as much of a surprise to see him blitzing as a sophomore because he was so incredibly successful at doing so as a freshman, but he hasn’t had quite as much success blitzing off the edge thus far this year. However, I would argue that his lack of success has something to do with coaching staffs scheming to make sure he isn’t the one to create pressure and get a hit on their quarterback because of his proficiency for forcing turnovers.

Ball Skills: Mathieu’s ball skills are out of this world. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player who is more of a ball-hawk than Mathieu is. He flies to the ball constantly, he has great hands to make tough catches in traffic or on diving attempts, locates the ball very well in the air, he adjusts to the ball effectively in the air, and he will do anything to make a pass deflection or an interception. This part of his game is the part that truly sets him apart and makes him a rare, special corner.

Intangibles: I tend to believe that Mathieu has very impressive intangibles. He’s an aggressive player and he plays with great energy all the time, and I think he has fantastic instincts and I would imagine that has something to do with good study habits. However, he does have a tendency to get in people’s faces due to his intensity, and I see him “barking” at players after the play is over which will eventually get noticed and draw penalties in college and in the NFL. I think he has had a late hit or two when I have watched him as well, and that is something that he needs to make sure he doesn’t do. You love the intensity and his willingness to fight until the whistle, but late hits are cheap yards for the offense and he can’t make simple mistakes like that.

Overall: As I’m sure you can tell by reading my breakdown of Mathieu’s game, I am a huge fan of his. If I were forced to pick one favorite player in all of college football I think it would be him. He plays with a reckless abandon, he’s the definition of a playmaker and a ball-hawk, and he plays the game the right way. He is everything you could want in a corner, even if he’s two inches shorter than he ideally would be. He has top five-ten ability and if teams can look past his height they will get an absolute stud once he is draft eligible. Because that’s the amazing thing: Mathieu is still only a sophomore. He still has another year after this season to develop. I just hope that he stays healthy for the remainder of his LSU career and for his very promising NFL career. He has a ton of upside and potential, and if you haven’t seen him play I encourage you to find a way to watch a LSU game this year or next. You won’t see a talent like this very often, even in the SEC. He’s truly a special player.

Projection: Top 15 in 2013 draft. As good as Mathieu is and will be by the time he is draft eligible his size will still be a knock on him. For some players it makes sense to knock them because their lack of size will inhibit them as playmakers in the NFL. I think Mathieu is an exception to that rule. Regardless, I find it hard to imagine that he will get picked in the top five or ten overall selections even as his skills continue to develop. But if he fell out of the top 15 it would be an absolute travesty for someone as talented as he is.

Hopefully you enjoyed my first current season scouting report of the year! Thanks for reading!

–Tom

NCAA Week 5 Top 25 Picks

South Florida over Pittsburgh

BJ Daniels should have a good game and Pittsburgh struggles with close games. The trouble is, this one might not end up being that close.

South Florida by 13

Texas A&M over Arkansas

Ryan Tannehill had a pretty good game last week in a loss to Oklahoma State, and the Aggies will be looking to rebound against Arkansas just a week after they were thoroughly dominated by Alabama. Both teams really need a win here, but I think Arkansas’ defense will prove problematic against the Aggies.

Texas A&M by 6

Michigan over Minnesota (Potential blow-out)

Denard Robinson should have a big game running and possibly a big game passing against the Gophers who are trying to turn the program around under Jerry Kill. The trouble is the head coach has had trouble with seizures, and there is no way it hasn’t had an impact on his players. Minnesota is simply overmatched in this game, and I see Michigan blowing them out.

Michigan by 24

Illinois over Northwestern

Illinois is a solid team but so is Northwestern. I expect Illinois to win, but don’t sleep on Northwestern. They are well coached and have some talent, plus they never go away. If the Illini let them hang around they could make a late push.

Illinois by 7

LSU over Kentucky (Potential blow-out)

LSU is hitting on all cylinders right now and Kentucky is going to be borderline powerless to stop them. Their defense is the best in the country and their running attack is extremely tough to slow down, much less stop. I see LSU winning in blow-out.

LSU by 24

Boise State over Nevada

Boise State lost this game to Nevada last year in dramatic fashion, but I don’t see Nevada pulling off two in a row. They should be overmatched, and Kellen Moore and company won’t be merciful after what Nevada did to their title hopes last season.

Boise State by 21

Georgia Tech over NC State

Georgia Tech’s running game is absolutely gashing anyone who gets in their way, even my beloved Tar Heels last week, and NC State’s defense isn’t on the same level as North Carolina’s. I expect them to run the ball early and often and control the clock in this game, and I think Georgia Tech should win pretty comfortably.

Georgia Tech by 17

West Virginia over Bowling Green

West Virginia is coming off of a rough loss against LSU, but Geno Smith looked poised and impressive staring into the teeth of the best defense in the nation and actually carved them up to an extent by throwing for 463 yards on 38 of 65 passing (58.5% completion) and two touchdowns and two interceptions. Was it a great game? No, but it was quite good for a developing quarterback against a fantastic defense. WVU should rebound easily against Bowling Green now that they know what their offense is truly capable of.

West Virginia by 28

Baylor over Kansas State

Robert Griffin III has been absolutely amazing this year. Through three games he has completed 70 of 82 pass attempts while throwing for 962 yards (11.73 yards per attempt, an insane number), 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. Last season he threw 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 13 games, an impressive statistical season. He is on pace to throw for well over 40 touchdowns at this current pace. It’s hard to imagine him continuing to play this way especially since he is averaging only four incompletions per GAME, but if he keeps playing comparably well to how he has started the season the Baylor Bears will be tough for anyone to beat. I don’t anticipate Kansas State being the team to cool Griffin off, so the Bears should win easily.

Baylor by 21

Auburn over South Carolina (upset)

I think South Carolina is pretty overrated and I think Auburn has a chance to pull off the upset here. Gene Chizik and his Auburn Tigers have a flair for the dramatic and they are tough to beat when you let them hang around. They always seem to make the big play late in the game to keep themselves alive, and they are well coached when it comes to playing from behind late in the game. I love Marcus Lattimore, but I don’t think Steve Spurrier has much faith in Stephen Garcia and I’m not sold on South Carolina’s defense. The game is in South Carolina, but I think Auburn has a great chance to pull off this upset. It will be interesting to see if they manage to do so.

Auburn by 3

TCU over SMU

I think SMU has a small chance of pulling off an upset here, but TCU is the better team overall. It will be interesting to see which way this game goes, but if SMU gets their offense going they could be tough to keep up with. Their running back Zach Line has 463 yards and 11 touchdowns in only four games, and their top receiver Darius Johnson has 27 catches, 398 yards and two scores already. I think TCU will win, but I don’t think it will be as easy as some people might think.

TCU by 7

Clemson over Virginia Tech

This was a really tough game for me to pick. I picked Clemson to upset Florida State last week, but Virginia Tech is extremely tough at home and the Tigers have to cool off EVENTUALLY right? Perhaps, but I don’t think it will be this week. I am high on Virginia Tech’s defense though and I think they have a chance to slow down Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins and the rest of Clemson’s high flying offense in this game. However, what might define the game is how well Logan Thomas and Virginia Tech’s offense is able to play. Thomas has been solid thus far with 761 yards on 60 of 105 passing (57.1% completion) but he has thrown as many touchdowns (4) as interceptions. Clemson is on fire right now, so it will be interesting to see how this game plays out.

Clemson by 7

Texas over Iowa State

The Longhorns lost this game last year and I think they will make sure they show up to this one. Iowa State isn’t a push-over this year, but I think the Longhorns will be too much for them.

Texas by 14

Oklahoma over Ball State

Oklahoma still has a legitimate argument to be the #1 team in the country, so I don’t think they will have too much trouble with Ball State.

Oklahoma by 28

Alabama over Florida

This is going to be a fantastic game. I think Alabama and Florida have the 2nd and 3rd best defenses in the country only to LSU, so this is going to be a defensive slug fest if I had to guess. I picked Alabama because I trust their offense more thanks to Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy on the ground. This should be a great, close game though.

Alabama by 10

Wisconsin over Nebraska

This game is going to be fantastic. I have been waiting for this game ever since I heard that Russell Wilson might sign with the Badgers. Wisconsin’s run defense might be problematic against Nebraska, but I think Wisconsin’s offense is more than potent enough to put up points on the Cornhuskers. It should be a great game that is close right until the end, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. I do expect Russell Wilson to give the Badgers the push they need to win this game. A year ago I couldn’t have picked Wisconsin, but with Wilson at the helm I expect them to win.

Wisconsin by 7

Stanford over UCLA

Stanford is just too talented and well coached to be slowed down by UCLA.

Stanford by 21

Arizona State over Oregon State

Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler is a player that I am really warming up to, and I expect that he and the Sun Devils won’t have a lot of trouble with the win-less Oregon State Beavers.

Arizona State by 17

I was 16-3 last week, so let’s see how I do this week! Thanks for reading, and enjoy the games!

–Tom

Jarrett Lee has done a great job filling in for the Tigers in the wake of Jordan Jefferson's suspension (which coincidentally ended yesterday as LSU reinstated him) and it will be interesting to see exactly what his role is throughout the rest of the season.

Jarrett Lee (Senior) has been a quality starter for LSU this year, but he isn’t a great NFL prospect. He has solid size at 6’2”, 206 and he has solid mobility. His arm strength leaves a lot to be desired, and he struggles to put zip on throws beyond 10 or so yards. His deep passes have a lot of air under them, and I’m not sure he can make every NFL throw with solid zip. He’s a pretty accurate passer but his deep balls aren’t often well placed, either over throwing his receivers or putting the ball on the wrong shoulder. I think that a lot of his inaccurate passes can be traced back to his issues with stepping into his passes, especially in the face of pressure. He has gotten better about this, but it is still a very significant issue. Frequently when he feels pressure he instinctually fades away from the pressure as he throws instead of stepping into it. That hurts his zip and his ball placement, and it’s very noticeable. He seems to be very smart and the team seems to respect him as a leader in spite of the loss of Jordan Jefferson, and I think they have a chance to win a National Title with him at the helm thanks to their amazing defense. I thought he reminded me a bit of Matt Flynn when I had seen him before, but he doesn’t have the same arm and poise that Flynn did in my opinion. I think he’s a very late round prospect or an undrafted free agent as of right now, but he’s got the potential to stick as a #3 or as a practice squad QB in the NFL. He’s only throw 87 passes in four games (about 22 per game) and while he has been efficient in those attempts, it will be interesting to see how he and the rest of the LSU offense does if he is forced to throw to open up the running game if opposing defenses stack the box and slow down LSU’s powerful combination of Spencer Ware and Michael Ford. I think they might struggle, but I think they can win as long as he isn’t forced to throw 35+ times a game.

Spencer Ware (Sophomore) is a guy that I was extremely impressed with him when I watched him against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. He seems bigger and more powerful this season, and he has really impressed me in all three games of his that I’ve watched. Against Oregon he demonstrated fantastic leg drive, a great ability to push a pile, an unwillingness to go down to the first hit, and he frequently ran through arm tackles. His cuts weren’t incredibly crisp and were at times slightly deliberate, but he also has good quickness considering his size (5’11”, 225 pounds or so). He also showed pretty reliable hands out of the backfield. I think he definitely has the potential to be a 3rd or 4th round pick in the NFL Draft (since he probably won’t run a great 40 yard dash time or blow people away in drills) when he comes out this year or next, and then be a very effective power back in the NFL. I think he has quality vision, great power, and good hands. He has done a great job of wearing defenses down and grinding out tough yards for LSU this year. Then Michael Ford comes in and gashes them, and Jarrett Lee burns them with play-action passes.

Michael Ford (Sophomore) is the quicker LSU back, though he is still a load to bring down. He’s listed at 5’10”, 215 pounds and he has a lot of quickness and burst based on what I have seen. He demonstrated solid hands in addition to good vision to find cut-back lanes and seams, he ran patiently much like Spencer Ware, but he has more speed to rip off runs for large chunks of yardage. That’s why he and Ware are such a potent one-two punch. Ware grinds the defense down, then Ford comes in and is just as likely to run you over as he is to outrun you to the edge. He’s a quality back, and definitely has it in him to be a feature back in the NFL.

Rueben Randle has a lot of potential due to his combination of size and athletic ability, but I want to see him make catches with his hands away from his body more consistently. He tends to body catch, and that leads to unnecessary drops at times.

Rueben Randle (Junior) is an intriguing wide receiver because of his size, but his hands are inconsistent. He can make catches with his hands, but will also let passes get into his pads. He also attempts to jump up and catch passes at chest level (like on back shoulder throws in the red zone) instead of simply catching them with his hands away from his body. But at 6’4”, 208 pounds he definitely intrigues you because he has the speed to threaten deep and he can win jump balls because of his size and athletic ability. But if his hands don’t improve he won’t ever reach his upside as a receiver. That sounds stupid to say because a receiver’s job is to catch the ball first and foremost, but every year there are players that are over-drafted because of how good they could be if they learned how to catch the damn ball.

Odell Beckham (Freshman) has been huge for LSU so far this year. He doesn’t have great numbers (17 receptions, 193 yards and 1 touchdown) but he has made some big catches and has proven to be one of the most reliable (if not the most reliable) receivers on LSU’s roster. He’s been getting significant playing time and he continues to impress me every time I watch him. But being able to play well in his first game as a true freshman receiver in a critical game against one of the two teams who played for the National Championship the year before is extremely impressive. I always say that I love identifying players that step up in critical moments or in big games, and Beckham is well on his way to getting that reputation as far as I’m concerned. Watch out for him, because he’s going to be a good one.

Deangelo Peterson (Junior) is a tight end that reminds me a lot of Lance Kendricks, a tight end that I was extremely high on last year and had as my #1 TE for almost the entire year. Peterson is very athletic, has reliable hands, tracks the ball very well in the air, adjusts to the ball well in the air, can catch the ball away from his body, makes tough catches in traffic or with defenders draped over him, has enough speed to threaten down the seam, and offers solid run blocking as a wall-off blocker in the run game. He isn’t the same blocker that Kendricks is, but he’s got a similar blocking “style” in that he won’t drive block defensive ends four yards downfield, but he will get his hands on them and “wall them off” to create a seam or a cut-back lane and to take his man out of the play, even if he doesn’t dominate him. He’s only a junior, and in LSU’s run-heavy attack he won’t be featured very often, especially with all the talent they trot out at receiver, but outside of Orson Charles and Michael Egnew there might not be a better tight end in the country.

Darron Thomas has ability as a quarterback, but I don't think he is a consistent or polished enough passer to project well to the NFL at this point.

Darron Thomas (Junior) had his struggles in this game. I don’t think he is a pure passer, rather he has the ability to pass but also threatens as a runner because of his athleticism, and I think he will be an effective college quarterback but not an effective NFL quarterback. He has solid size at 6’3”, 215 but he looks VERY skinny on film. He doesn’t go through his progressions very regularly and has a tendency to stare his receivers down, partially because of him and partially because of the offense he plays in. Regardless, it reinforces bad habits and it almost led to a pick six or two against LSU because of Tyrann Mathieu’s great instincts and closing speed. His accuracy is good on shorter throws, but as he passes further downfield it becomes more erratic, and he doesn’t seem to have a very good sense of timing. I do think he understands  how to attack zone coverage, but doesn’t understand WHEN to attack zone coverage. A few times he threw the ball behind his intended receiver but it was in the correct hole in the zone, so his receiver had to stop and make a catch on a ball thrown behind him. While that might look like a bad throw/poor accuracy, it reflects that Thomas knew that if he led his receiver he would lead him either into a huge hit or potentially give the defender a shot at the turnover. However, after re-watching the plays it was evident that he just didn’t go through his progressions fast enough and didn’t get the ball out quick enough, because the throw was there earlier as the play was developing. He just didn’t see it, and because he was delivering it late he had to throw it behind his receiver to put it where only his receiver would have a chance to catch it. So while he does have above average accuracy, solid arm strength and mobility, I’m just not sure he has the intangibles to make it as a quarterback in the NFL.

LaMichael James (Junior) has a ton of potential as a 3rd down back and as a complementary back in the NFL, but I don’t think he can be the feature back for an offense like he is at Oregon. The Ducks throw the ball very frequently, and James rarely has to be the guy that grinds down the defense at Oregon. While he did average about 24.5 carries per game as a redshirt sophomore last season, he was averaging almost 6 yards per carry and did not get hit hard frequently. He is most dangerous in the open field, when he can find a cut-back lane, or when he can bounce a run outside. While he is also effective running between the tackles, that is not the best use of his speed and elusiveness. And because of his size (5’9”, 185 pounds) I don’t think he could hold up to the constant pounding that a NFL RB takes on a game to game basis. That makes me think he is a late 1st to early 2nd round pick as far as my grade on him. He has a lot of ability and is an absolute game-breaker, but I don’t think he should be running the ball 20+ times per game in the NFL every week. Giving him 8-10 carries and some passes out of the backfield or when he is split out on a linebacker maximizes his value in my opinion. I really do think he can go that high though, because his speed, quickness, burst, vision and hands are all good enough to step in and contribute to a NFL team right away.

D'Anthony Thomas has a lot of game-breaking speed, and he impressed me as a receiver and as a running back against LSU. He's going to be fun to watch as he develops.

D’Anthony Thomas (Freshman) definitely stuck out to me because this was his first game as a true freshman as well, and he played very well before having some “rookie” struggles in the second half when he lost two fumbles to an opportunistic LSU team. However, his upside and versatility is undeniable. In four games playing both receiver and running back he has totaled 11 receptions, 172 yards and two touchdowns, 173 rushing yards on 23 attempts (7.52 ypc average) and one touchdown. Plus he has returned eight kickoffs for 163 yards, and has returned 3 punts for 52 yards (17.33 average per return). He’s undersized at only 5’9”, 173 pounds but he can get up to 180 or 185 pretty easily in my opinion. But one thing he definitely has is speed. He is extremely fast, has great burst and has reliable hands. He made some big catches on 3rd downs and was one of Darron Thomas’ most reliable targets against LSU as he had six of his 11 total receptions on the season in that game. It will be interesting to see how his role develops as the season goes on, but he is definitely a talented player and one that everyone should keep an eye on.

David Paulson (Senior) is a solid TE who I think will creep up boards slowly this year. He isn’t featured in this high flying Oregon offense by any means, but he has great size for a TE at 6’4”, 241 pounds. He isn’t an athletic freak and I don’t think he will blow you away with his 40 yard dash time, but he has reliable hands and provides Thomas with a reliable security blanket. He only has seven receptions for 48 yards and one touchdown in four games, but I think Paulson is a guy that will be under the radar for the majority of the season. If he is going to emerge I think it will be during the post-season in a game like the Senior Bowl or more likely the East-West Shrine Game where he will prove he has the necessary skills to play at the next level once he gets more reps and touches throughout the practices. I think he’s a solid sleeper at the TE position based off of what I’ve seen, but I don’t think he will ever be a game-breaker either.

Hopefully you enjoyed the second section of my Oregon-LSU post. I apologize for the length of each post, but hopefully most people reading this appreciate more information versus less. Thanks for reading, and look for a couple preliminary scouting reports in the next couple days!

–Tom

Michael Brockers has great size but could carry even more weight on his frame. He has a lot of potential, but I'd like to see him develop more as a pass rusher.

Michael Brockers (Sophomore, LSU) is a beast of a defensive tackle. I don’t think he’s a very good pass rusher, but at 6’6”, 306 pounds he has the potential to be a great run defender and I think he could develop into a better pass rusher as he gains more experience. This season he has 14 total tackles (8 solo), 3.5 TFL, one sack and one interception in the first four games. I have been consistently impressed with his hand usage, his ability to shed blocks, and the sheer strength and size that he has in the trenches. The scary thing is his frame isn’t even filled out, and I think he could carry 315-320 pounds very easily given his great size. I think Brockers has a ton of potential, and he is still very young. I’m excited to see how he develops over the rest of this season and during his junior year after that. Keep an eye on him.

Bennie Logan (Sophomore, LSU) is a talented DT who usually starts with Brockers at the beginning of the game. He has pretty good size at about 6’3”, 287 pounds and he showed the ability to drive his man into the backfield. It’ll be interesting to see how he does the rest of the year, but he has 14 total tackles (6 solo), 3.0 TFL, one sack and one pass break-up through four games. He has some upside thanks to his size and continues to demonstrate pretty good hand usage. Like Brockers he hasn’t shown me the ability to consistently apply pressure on the passer, so I will be watching to see if that starts to come as he progresses.

Josh Downs (Junior, LSU) is the #3 or #4 DT in LSU’s rotation, but I think he has some sleeper potential even though he isn’t a starter. He doesn’t have the same raw upside and potential as Brockers and Anthony Johnson do, but at 6’1”, 287 he has proven to be very disruptive every time he is in the game. He won’t be any higher than a mid-round pick, especially since he doesn’t have ideal measurables, but he has the potential to get drafted late and make a roster as a rotational player. He is quick off the ball, has good hand usage, and has a squatty build that enables him to get under the pads of offensive linemen and drive them into the backfield. He has consistently beaten one on one blocks this year, and even though it doesn’t show on the stat sheet he has had a significant impact in each game, especially against Oregon. He was too quick and too strong even at his size for their offensive linemen, and was consistently in the backfield in this game. So even if he doesn’t show up as a guy who’s making plays on the stat sheet, just know that he has been consistently disruptive when he plays. Keep an eye on him as a sleeper for the 2013 Draft as a senior.

Anthony Johnson (Freshman, LSU) is a potential stud DT. He’s a freshman this year but he is already 6’3”, 310 pounds and he was rumored to run a 4.8 40 yard dash. That is absolutely insane if it is even relatively close to being true. He has four total tackles (2 solo), 2.5 TFL and one sack. He showed the ability to be disruptive and to penetrate, and seemed to have pretty strong hands and at least solid hand usage given his relatively limited experience. Some around the LSU program have said he could be the next Glenn Dorsey which is obviously an incredible compliment given his productivity during his time at LSU, so he is definitely a prospect to keep an eye on. All signs point to him having incredible potential, and it seems he has a relatively good chance of living up to it.

Kendrick Adams (Senior, LSU) has some upside as a defensive end, but I haven’t been very impressed with him from a pass rushing standpoint. He only has three career sacks (he has already matched his production as a junior from last season with 1.5 sacks in four games) and he has 2.5 TFL’s thus far this year. He has good size for a defensive end, listed at 6’5”, 260 pounds, but I don’t think he has very good burst off the line of scrimmage and I don’t think he has very good edge speed. He’s pretty solid against the run though, and I think he is a fundamentally sound player. It will be interesting to see if he progresses from a pass rush standpoint throughout the season, but as of right now I think he is a contributing factor to why LSU doesn’t apply a lot of pressure with their front four.

Besides having an awesome name, Mingo has tremendous upside as a pass rusher due to his athleticism, speed, motor and long arms.

Barkevious Mingo (Sophomore, LSU) is a freak athlete for a defensive end. He allegedly runs a 4.5 forty yard dash despite being listed at 6’5”, 240 pounds. He looks very skinny on film, but he’s extremely athletic. He has great burst off the line of scrimmage and has a lot of edge speed. He’s too skinny to absorb contact and continue to get the edge, but if he gets stronger and fills out his frame I think he could develop into a very dangerous pass rusher. Right now he is a one dimensional speed rusher, but he has so much athletic ability and such a good motor that I think as he continues to develop and mature as a defender that he could become something very special. I just hope he gets quality coaching to improve his hand usage and pass rush moves over the next two years.

Lavar Edwards (Junior, LSU) is a defensive end that usually plays opposite Kendrick Adams. He has solid edge speed and plays the run pretty effectively as well, but also has a quality motor. He pursues very well from the backside and never seems to give up on a play. He also appears to be a good tackler and a solid run defender. I’m not sure how much upside he has, but his motor and hustle stuck out to me.

Ryan Baker (Senior, LSU) is an undersized linebacker prospect that warrants late round consideration in my opinion. He’s a reliable tackler when he can play downhill, and has solid instincts, but I was very unimpressed with his motor and that really bothered me when I noticed that. As a linebacker his job is to read, react and if the play is away from him he has to pursue and clean up the play from the backside should it be necessary. But far too often he would just stop running and stand there, not even jog in the direction of the play, and wait for his teammates to clean up the mess. On a defense as talented and fast as LSU’s it’s not very obvious, but I’ve seen it multiple times including in this Oregon game. He has some upside because he’s a good tackler, but he’s not a well-rounded linebacker in my opinion and his lack of size and hustle concern me.

Morris Claiborne (Junior, LSU) has been incredibly impressive this year. He is the #1 corner on what may be the best secondary in the entire country, and he played very well against Oregon as well as the other games I saw him in. He is a better tackler than I expected him to be, but he also looked very comfortable in man and zone coverage. He showed very fluid hips, the ability to turn and run effectively, good closing speed, and impressive ball skills. He supports the run better than I expected him to, and while I have seen him miss a few tackles I still think he is an above-average/solid tackler, which is more than you can say for a lot of corners. Add in his size at 6’0”, 185 pounds, his speed and burst as well as his versatility to return kick-offs and interceptions effectively and with good vision and you’ve got a heck of a NFL Draft prospect. He’s not under the radar anymore, but keep an eye on him anyway.

Tyrann Mathieu is my favorite player in college football because he is the definition of a playmaker and he goes all-out on every play. He truly plays football the way it is meant to be played, and it is truly a treat to watch him play every time I watch LSU.

Tyrann Mathieu (Sophomore, LSU) is without a doubt my favorite player in the entirety of college football. When you see him walk onto the field as a nickel corner (when they play Simon on the outside to let Mathieu’s versatility shine) you don’t expect him to be the best player on the field, but so many times he is. In all my years of watching football I have rarely seen anyone with the kind of ball-hawking ability that Mathieu has. He is always around the ball, he has fantastic instincts, he’s extremely fast with a great burst, he is fearless, he’s a great tackler, he is very effective in run support, he’s a great blitzer off the edge, he packs a pop as a hitter and simply has an unexplainable knack for forcing turnovers, whether they be fumbles (like when he tackled Kenjon Barner on a punt return, forced a fumble, recovered it and scored a touchdown after a short return) or interceptions. He has fantastic ball skills and he reads the eyes of quarterbacks very effectively. I think he has top ten talent and the only knock you can possibly have on him is his lack of size. He’s listed at 5’9”, 175 pounds which means he may be about 5’8”, but if he was two or three inches taller playing the way he was he would be getting mentioned as a possible top five pick much like his mentor Patrick Peterson was (and I think Mathieu is a better playmaker). Mathieu also returns punts and while he will try to do too much at times, he’s also very elusive and makes a lot of guys miss when he has a chance to get into space. I will have a scouting report up on Mathieu soon, but as one of the people who has been driving the Mathieu bandwagon since last season when he was only a freshman I would like to encourage everyone to hop on board, because this kid is the definition of special.

Tharold Simon (Sophomore, LSU) is a very intriguing corner because he just has so much length. He is listed at 6’3”, 187 pounds but doesn’t seem to have stiff hips nor does he seem to have much trouble turning and running with receivers. On top of that, he has very long arms which he uses effectively in pass coverage (4 pass break-ups in his first four games as well as an interception and 24 tackles, 20 of which are solo). He also packs a pop as a hitter and seems to be an effective tackler. When he did get beat in the Oregon game he laid a great hit on the receiver as he attempted to bring the ball in and separated the ball from the receiver. His size may make people consider transitioning him to safety at some point, but if he has the footwork, the hips and the fluidity in his transitions to stick at corner it would be advisable to leave him there. His height, length and athleticism will make him an absolute pain in the ass to throw against as he develops, especially if you match him up with a big possession receiver.

Brandon Taylor (Senior, LSU) has some potential as a safety, but I have noticed that he’s been having some problems tackling that I have noticed. He doesn’t break down effectively, and he often gets “juked” by running backs and receivers. He’s not an awful tackler, but I definitely noticed a number of instances where he blew tackles. I haven’t been able to grade him much in coverage because of ESPN’s camera angles, so that will have to wait.

Brad Wing (Freshman, LSU) is a punter, and I know it’s weird to feature a punter in a NFL Draft post, but I think this kid is going to be a very good one. I thought this after the Oregon game as well, but against West Virginia he had an unreal game pinning the Mountaineers back inside the five yard line three times and inside the 10 yard line four times that I can remember off of the top of my head. Obviously that was a great game for him, but I think he has a bright future as a punter and is definitely a guy to keep an eye on when it comes to Ray Guy candidates in the future (the Ray Guy award is given to the top punter in the country).

Michael Clay (Junior) is an undersized linebacker on Oregon. He’s listed at 5’11”, 225 pounds but I thought he looked like he was 235 or 240 on film. Maybe that’s just me, but he looks big for his size. He seems to be an effective tackler, but the play that stuck out the most to me was when he absolutely lit up #80, a receiver on LSU, on a drag route on 3rd down. He hit him so hard he completely dislodged the football as it got there, forcing an incompletion. He’s one to watch because he seemed to be a quality run defender and he obviously can lay the boom in pass coverage, so it will be interesting to see how he continues to develop.

Anthony Gildon is not a well-known corner (Cliff Harris gets much more attention), but he impressed me a few times against LSU and I think he is a sleeper that warrants mentioning.

Anthony Gildon (Senior) is a cornerback on Oregon that impressed me quite a bit in this game. I had never seen him play before, but he was effective in coverage against LSU’s big, fast receivers. He has never gotten an abundance of playing time from what I can tell, but he has good size for a corner at 6’1”, 185 pounds and looked like he had fluid hips, good footwork and he seemed to run well with receivers downfield. He located the ball in the air pretty consistently, and had two big pass break-ups on deep balls when LSU was clearly targeting him as they expected him to be the weak-link of the secondary. There was one more play where he was credited with making a play on the ball but in reality he didn’t turn his head around and could have been called for a penalty in my opinion. I think he has upside though, so I’m going to keep tabs on him. I could see him getting invited to the East-West Shrine Game and becoming a mid-late round pick at this point. We’ll see what happens, but my initial impression of him was definitely positive.

Hopefully you enjoyed my notes on some of the defensive prospects that participated in the LSU-Oregon game. Obviously I don’t have any notes on Cliff Harris because he was suspended for this game, but I’m sure I will be able to give my thoughts on him later this year. Thanks for reading!

–Tom

NCAA Top 25 Picks Post

Here is a post where I make some picks for the games the top 25 teams are playing for the week. I’ll try to do this every week, but I might not always have time. I’ll track them to see how well (or poorly) I do over the course of the season. Enjoy!

Week Four NCAA Picks Post:

Oklahoma over Missouri

Analysis: Oklahoma’s offense and defense are both very good, and Missouri didn’t prove they could win against Arizona State, losing 37-30 in OT. James Franklin will probably struggle to carve up the Oklahoma defense like he did the ASU secondary, and I wonder just how much pressure their defense will be able to apply to Landry Jones. Jones will make poor throws when he has pressure in his face, so that will be the key to hanging in on this game. The problem is, I don’t think Missouri’s secondary can hold up consistently if the Tigers are forced to blitz to create pressure.

Oklahoma by 17

LSU over West Virginia

Analysis: LSU’s defense is the best in the country as far as I’m concerned. They were tested right off the bat against Oregon and stood very tall. I’ve never seen a defensive tackle rotation like theirs in all my years of watching football. I believe that they have four starting caliber defensive tackles, and they arguably have three starting caliber cornerbacks in Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon. Claiborne is a junior and Mathieu and Simon are both sophomores, but they might be the best trio of cornerbacks in the country. LSU’s run defense and pass defense are both very good and their defense is very fast, and I think they are going to cause a lot of problems for Geno Smith and his offensive counterparts. On defense, West Virginia will have to pressure Jarrett Lee, but also stop LSU from establishing the running game because they love to run play action after establishing the run (and they’re quite good at it). Without the play action fake LSU struggles to threaten downfield due to Lee’s lack of arm strength. However, I think WVU will struggle to take away the run game, end up loading the box, and therefore allowing Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham and Deagnelo Peterson to get behind the secondary.

LSU by 16

Alabama over Arkansas

This one was tough for me to call. Alabama probably has the #2 defense in the country behind LSU (at least as far as I’m concerned, but it’s definitely close) and they have a quarterback with limited experience as well in AJ McCarron. Luckily, they have two talented running backs to take the pressure off of him in Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy. Marquis Maze has stepped up as I thought he would and has 15 receptions, 186 yards and 1 TD in the first three contests. I think Alabama will be able to move the ball on offense against Arkansas’ defense, but I think that Alabama will be able to slow down the Razorbacks offensive attack. I love their WR’s, led by Cobi Hamilton as of now (13 receptions, a team leading 252 yards, 19.4 average per catch and 1 TD) and Tyler Wilson has stepped in to fill the void left by Ryan Mallett like I thought he would. However, Alabama’s defense is vastly better than Missouri State, New Mexico, Troy (the three teams he has faced this year) and much better than Auburn’s defense that struggled mightily to stop big, physically gifted receivers every time they matched up against them. Arkansas won’t get shut out by any means, but Alabama is going to be Tyler Wilson’s first real taste of what it’s like to play against a SEC caliber defense, and I don’t think he’s going to enjoy it.

Alabama by 13

Boise State over Tulsa

This really isn’t a hard pick in my opinion. Boise State’s defensive line is fierce and I expect Billy Winn and company to be in GJ Kinne’s face for the majority of this game. Boise State’s offense is still clicking thanks to Kellen Moore, so I expect this to be a relatively easy win. Kinne has a chance to show talent evaluators what he can do though, as his team is clearly overmatched.

Boise State by 21

Wisconsin over South Dakota

This shouldn’t be much of a contest either, as Wisconsin’s offense has the potential to be one of the best in the Big 10 if it isn’t already the best. Their running game and play action game will be way too much for South Dakota to handle, and hopefully they have continued to work on their run defense. If they don’t have it tuned up soon they will have a lot of trouble stopping Nebraska.

Wisconsin by 21

Texas A&M over Oklahoma State

This one was very tough for me to call as well. This could very easily go either way considering it is a rare battle between the #7 and #8 teams in the country. Oklahoma State’s offense is a juggernaut still led by Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, but Weeden has thrown 6 interceptions already this season, so that is a concerning stat for OSU fans. However, Joseph Randle has stepped up to replace Kendall Hunter very nicely, running for 378 yards and 7 TD’s on only 62 carries (6.1 average). Ryan Tannehill is a dangerous quarterback though, and he’s got a number of weapons to work with. I’m not sure which defense is better than the other, but I do think that Texas A&M will miss Von Miller rushing the passer in this game. However, Oklahoma State’s defense is traditionally their weakness, so that is why I had to go with Texas A&M. I will be at an away game during this contest and I am very angry that I will miss it. It should be a great game. But I had to give A&M the slight edge.

Texas A&M by 6

Nebraska over Wyoming

Not a very tough call on this one. Nebraska should win this game easily even if Taylor Martinez doesn’t dazzle as a passer.

Nebraska by 28

Oregon over Arizona

This one wasn’t as easy for me to pick as I thought it might be. Oregon has a pretty good defense, but Arizona can move the football pretty well. I’m still confident in Oregon, but Nick Foles has a habit of surprising people when they sleep on him. I don’t think Oregon will take him for granted though especially after losing a tough one to LSU in Cowboys Stadium, and that’s why I think they will end up with a big Pac-12 win here.

Oregon by 14

Clemson over Florida State (Upset)

Clemson is absolutely on fire right now, and this is the worst time for Florida State to be playing them. This isn’t a guarantee by any means, but Clemson’s offense is firing on all cylinders and Florida State didn’t get consistent pressure on Landry Jones last week. Clemson’s offensive line isn’t nearly the equivalent of Oklahoma’s, but they have enough weapons on offense to at least make this a plausible upset. I don’t think Clemson has the defense to keep them in the game if they can’t score, so unless their defense steps up and slows FSU down they are going to make me look foolish for this pick.

Clemson by 7

South Carolina over Vanderbilt

This isn’t as easy of a pick as I thought it would be, especially since South Carolina is in a state of flux and Vanderbilt is undefeated for the first time in recent memory after three weeks. I don’t think Vanderbilt will be able to hold off South Carolina, but stranger things have happened. If it was ever going to happen, I think it would happen now. Steve Spurrier doesn’t seem to have much faith in Stephen Garcia and even though they have one of the best backs in the country in Marcus Lattimore you just never know what will happen in the SEC. I don’t expect Vanderbilt to pull it off, but this is one I would watch as a POSSIBLE upset.

South Carolina by 10

Virginia Tech over Marshall

Analysis: This shouldn’t be much of a challenge for Virginia Tech, but it should be a good tune-up game for Logan Thomas. I think he has tons of upside, and it’ll be interesting to see how he develops throughout the season.

Virginia Tech by 17

Florida over Kentucky

Analysis: Kentucky isn’t a terrible team, but Florida’s defense is vastly better than I expected it to be even without Janoris Jenkins. Chris Rainey really impressed me last week and if he can stay healthy I think he could really improve his draft stock. I’m pretty high on Jonathan Bostic, Jaye Howard and Dominique Easley on their defense, so I’m excited to see them play against Kentucky again. I don’t anticipate the Gators having a lot of trouble in this game.

Florida by 14

Baylor over Rice

Analysis: Robert Griffin has been absolutely LETHAL this year. He’s 41/49 for 624 yards (83.7% completion), 12.74 yards per attempts and he has 8 touchdowns and no interceptions. On top of that, he has 116 yards rushing. Kendall Wright has been huge for Baylor with 20 receptions (14 more than the next receiver), 312 yards (184 yards more than the next receiver) and 3 TD’s. I don’t think Rice has much of a chance to slow Griffin down. The first time he might slow down in my estimation would be October 15th against A&M once they get into the real meat of their schedule. I haven’t been able to watch much of him, but it will be interesting to go back and watch him play to see if he has corrected any of the things I said he needed to work on in my preseason scouting report.

Baylor by 21

South Florida over UTEP

Analysis: South Florida is having one of their best seasons in recent memory, at least to start the season, and BJ Daniels seems to be maturing rather nicely. As long as he continues to develop the sky is the limit for USF, and I don’t think UTEP will have much of a chance to slow them down this week.

South Florida by 17

TCU over Portland State

Analysis: TCU lost a tough one against Baylor in week one, but they seemed to have bounced back in recent weeks. Portland State shouldn’t pose much of a threat, even with an inexperienced quarterback still getting a feel for the starting role.

TCU by 17

Michigan over San Diego State

Analysis: Brady Hoke welcomes his former team into the Big House as the Head Coach of the Wolverines this week as pretty heavy favorites. Denard Robinson isn’t my favorite quarterback but he is incredibly fast and I’m not sure SDSU has the speed to keep up with him in this game. Junior Hemingway has really stepped up this year (even though he looks like a TE rumbling downfield sometimes on go routes). It’ll be interesting to see how Michigan does in this game, but I would be pretty surprised if they botched this game after clawing their way into the top 25.

Michigan by 17

USC over Arizona State

Analysis: Before the game against Illinois last week I might have picked Arizona State in this one, but Brock Osweiler is still developing and even though the Sun Devils had a huge win against Missouri a couple weeks ago I don’t think they are ready to knock off USC. USC has a big chip on its shoulder because of the bowl ban that was placed on them, and I think they will approach this game with something to prove even though they are favored.

USC by 10

Illinois over Western Michigan

Analysis: This shouldn’t be a challenging game for Illinois. Western Michigan isn’t a bad program, but I don’t think they have the firepower to stick with Illinois on either side of the ball. They just fought their way into the top 25, so I don’t think they’ll get upset after just earning their #24 ranking.

North Carolina over Georgia Tech (Upset)

Analysis: I have to admit that I am a UNC fan, so that may have had something to do with this pick (which really isn’t much of an upset, though technically it is). I think UNC’s offense can score on Georgia Tech’s defense, and I think UNC’s defense is fast enough and disciplined enough to slow down Georgia Tech’s option offense that absolutely dominated Kansas last week. Georgia Tech is flying high, but UNC usually plays them pretty well and they are talented enough to pull this off. I really wish I could see this game, but I will be traveling and working while it goes on.

Those are my picks for this week. Hopefully you enjoy them and I look forward to seeing some good football this week. Thanks for reading!

–Tom