Archive for October, 2012

Week 7 Game to Watch

Posted: October 13, 2012 in NFL Draft

No.3 South Carolina @ No.9 LSU

8:00PM EST

ESPN

Running Back, Marcus Lattimore is the player I’m most interested in watching for South Carolina.  Lattimore tore his ACL last season, and is still trying to return to his pre-injury form. It appears that Lattimore is getting stronger as he has rushed for 229 yards and 3 TD’s the last 2 games. I can’t wait to watch him against LSU’s dominant defense.

Devin Taylor is another player for South Carolina that needs to have a big game. Last year, Taylor had a production ratio of of 1.11 but this year that number has dropped to 0.91. (Production Ratio = (TFL+Sacks)/Games). Taylor has 4 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks this year, but 3.5 of his tackles for loss and all of his sacks came against UAB and Kentucky, the two worst teams on South Carolina’s schedule. I’d like to see more production out of Taylor against higher quality opponents. Jadeveon Clowney is another defensive star to watch for South Carolina but he’s only a Sophomore.

LSU appears to be slightly down this year but they are still loaded with NFL talent. On the offensive line, No. 72 Alex Hurst is the player to watch. Hurst has been the lesser known lineman for LSU due to Chris Faulk but with Faulk out the rest of the season with an injury, Hurst needs to step up. Last week he made his first career start at LT but it wasn’t a great performance for him. Hurst has great size, but he needs to show better quickness if he wants to improve his draft stock. UPDATE: There are reports that Hurst is dealing with personal issues and could miss tonight’s game against South Carolina. There have also been rumors that he quit the team but head coach Les Miles has not confirmed anything.

On the defensive side of the ball is where you find all of LSU’s studs. D-Ends Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery look to be 1st Round draft picks. Montgomery has a production ration of 1.41 through six games this year. He has 6.5 TFL and 2 sacks. Mingo’s stats are down this year but don’t let that fool you. He’s an extremely gifted player and will most likely be a Top 10 draft pick.  Another player on the defensive line that looks to be a 2nd or 3rd Round draft pick is DT, Bennie Logan. Logan is a solid 4-3 Defensive Tackle. He has 3.5 tackles for loss this season.

Inside LB Kevin Minter is a player who is on the rise for LSU after his dominating performance last week against Florida. Minter has 8.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks this season. He’s only a Junior but if he keeps performing like he did last week, you will start seeing his name move up on most people’s draft boards.

Eric Reid is the last player I’ll feature today. He’s the best safety in the 2014 class and could be the first safety selected in the 2013 draft if he declares early. Reid has a ideal size for a safety and he has good speed. He’s definitely a game changer in the defensive backfield.

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Thursday’s Game to Watch

Posted: October 4, 2012 in NFL Draft

GAME: (13) USC @ Utah

TIME: 9:00 PM EST

TV: ESPN

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With little surprise tonight’s game to watch is USC @ Utah.  This game features at least five players that could be drafted within the first two rounds in the 2013 NFL Draft.

USC Quarterback Matt Barkley entered the 2012 season as the Heisman frontrunner and as the consensus best quarterback in the class, but his struggles in a loss at Stanford find his draft stock slipping slightly to begin the season. Barkley has completed 61.5% of his passes for 1,005 yards, 12 TD’s and 5 INT’s.

Another star on the USC offense is wide receiver Robert Woods. Woods has struggled so far in the 2012 season only averaging 6 catches for 51 yards per game. Woods also entered the 2012 season as the best player at his position but many draft experts have started to move Cal receiver Keenan Allen ahead of him. Woods needs to have a big game tonight in front of a nationally televised audience.

Center, Khaled Holmes, is the best center in the 2012 draft class. He’s projected as a 2nd round draft pick and will get a good test tonight going up against Utah’s defensive tackle Star Lotulelei

Lotulelei is projected by many to be a Top 5 pick in the 2013 draft and he hasn’t disappointed so far this year. Lotulelei has 13 solo tackles, 4 of which are for loss. He also has two forced fumbles and knocked down two passes against BYU. Lotulelei mostly plays in a 3-4 scheme at Utah but he’s also capable of playing a 4-3 DT. Tonight will be a good test for Lotulelei going up against USC’s offensive line.

Brad Davis/Icon SMI

The 2012 NFL Draft class is going to be remembered for one thing; quarterbacks. Four quarterbacks were selected in the first round and all four of them are starting in their rookie seasons. Third round pick, Russell Wilson, is also starting for Seattle which brings the total to five rookie quarterbacks that are starting this year in the NFL. The NFL is clearly a quarterback dominated league, and every team that doesn’t have a franchise quarterback is desperately looking for that player every year.

Entering this year, it was believed that the 2013 quarterback class was going to be much weaker than the 2012 class without can’t miss guys like Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. Matt Barkley was the consensus best quarterback in the class but after him there were a lot of question marks, but one player is trying to change that. West Virginia quarterback, Geno Smith, has rocketed up most draft boards after his amazing start in September, much like Robert Griffin III did last season.

Griffin started off the 2011 season ranked behind many quarterbacks including Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, and Landry Jones but he quickly rose up the draft boards after dominating the first month of the season.   Through four games last year Griffin had completed 82% of his passes for 1,308 yards, 18 TD’s and only 1 INT.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Flash forward to this year and Smith has very comparable numbers, completing 83% of his passes for 1,728 yards and 20 TD’s. Smith also started this year ranked in the middle of the pack on most NFL draft sites but now finds himself moving up on most people’s boards. NEPatriotsDraft.com already has moved Smith up to No. 1 in their Top 100 list.

Griffin continued his hot play throughout the 2011 season and eventually won the Heisman Trophy and was selected No. 2 in the NFL Draft. Smith has several key games coming up, including this weekend at Texas, but if he can continue to light up the scoreboards don’t be surprised if he’s your next Heisman winner and Top 5 draft pick.

There are some differences between Griffin and Smith though.  Griffin was a world class track athlete and beat teams more with his legs than Smith does. Griffin rushed for 699 yards and 10 touchdowns in his final season at Baylor. He also ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Smith has only ran for 290 yards in his career with three touchdowns. NFL Draft Scout has Smith’s 40 time listed at 4.78. Smith is a good enough athlete to avoid the rush and to keep the play alive with his legs but make no mistake about it, he’s not necessarily a dual threat quarterback.

I think Smith is a more polished passer than Griffin was entering his final year at Baylor. Smith has shown good arm strength and good accuracy to all levels of the field. He also does a good job of going through his progressions and not focusing in on one receiver. Smith looks poised in the pocket, but when it collapses he has the athletic ability to evade the rush and to throw accurate passes while on the run. I definitely expect Smith to continue to rise up team’s draft boards and to eventually be selected early in the 2013 draft.