Each Friday I list my "Five prospects" that I'll be focusing on for the upcoming weekend. In reality, I'm focusing on dozens of prospects each week, but the players listed below are playing in high profile games and against the caliber of competition that I believe provides us with an opportunity to truly assess how a collegiate player might fare when asked to make the huge jump to the NFL.
Typically I focus on senior prospects in this space. However, with it becoming more and more obvious as to which underclassmen are considering the jump to the pros, I'll be incorporating a few more juniors and redshirt sophomores in the coming weeks.
Sometimes it also leads to the player being featured in Draft Slant , NFLDraftScout.com and CBSSports.com's weekly NFL Draft preview. In each PDF issue of Draft Slant Senior Analyst Chad Reuter breaks down six more players in Filmroom Notes, updates our Top 64 prospects overall and offers extensive previews of the next week's action. Here is the link to this week's issue of Draft Slant. Or for the entire season click this link . Looking for a specific week? Download past issues from the past three years here.
Without any further adieu, here are the five prospects, as well as the cable provider and time you can expect to see them.
DT Kheeston Randall, Texas: There are certainly plenty of talented players to focus on in this game, not the least of which is Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. While I will definitely be keeping a close eye on Jones' performance, I'm also very intrigued to see if the Longhorns' 6-5, 305 pound senior defensive tackle Randall is able to supply any pressure on the Sooner passing game. Randall has the frame and experience scouts are looking for, but hasn't yet played with any semblance of the consistency needed to earn a high round selection. In fact, through the first four games of the season, Randall has accumulated only five tackles (only two of which were solos). Like Texas, as a whole, to earn real respect, this is a game that Randall must play well. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by ABC.
OT Matt McCants, Alabama-Birmingham: It isn't often that Conference USA teams match up with SEC opponents, but that is precisely the case Saturday when UAB hosts Mississippi State. I certainly do not expect an 0-4 UAB team to perform particularly well against a physical Bulldogs' defense, but the Blazers possess a very real pro prospect in 6-6, 295 pound senior left tackle Matt McCants. I'm anxious to see how McCants holds up physically and athletically against Mississippi State's defenders. By playing for UAB, McCants is a logical local candidate to be invited to the Senior Bowl. I'm hopeful that he'll show in this contest that he deserves the consideration based on his talent, not just his local connections. This game begins at noon ET and will be televised by Root Sports/Fox Sports.
RB/WR Chris Rainey, Florida: Though he's rarely given the credit outside of SEC country, Rainey is one of the more versatile playmakers in the country. The Gators' leading rusher (415 yards) and receiver (14 catches for 246 yards) this season Rainey's exploits on the offensive side of the ball have been well documented, but he's also a special teams threat as a returner and is even tied for the Gator lead in career kicks blocked (five). We all know that LSU's defense is fast. Rainey, along with fellow mighty mite Jeff Demps, possesses the extraordinary speed that could serve as the Tigers' biggest test yet this season. Where Rainey fits into the NFL depends on which scout you ask. Some, however, believe that he could serve as a poor man's Percy Harvin at the next level. This game begins at 3:30 pm ET and will be televised by CBS.
OG Ryan Miller, Colorado: Standing at 6-8 and 298 pounds Miller has the build of a prototypical NFL right tackle, but has played well enough inside at right guard throughout his career that some view his best chance at NFL success remaining there. I'm not sure I among those who feel this way, however, as his height makes him susceptible to the powerful bull rushes he'll see at the pro level. Miller and his Colorado teammates will get one of their stiffest tests Saturday when they travel to play Andrew Luck and Stanford. Stanford's use of the 3-4 defense will be a different look than Colorado is used to and will put additional pressure on the Buffs' interior linemen to get out in space. I'm very curious to see how Miller, a rare five year letterman, handles the challenge. This game begins at 7:30 pm ET and will be televised by Versus.
DL Jared Crick, Nebraska: Among the better defensive linemen in the country over the past two seasons, Crick's senior campaign hasn't gone as expected. While his statistics aren't bad (19 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, one blocked kick), he hasn't been the dynamic presence inside that Huskers' fans had grown used to seeing. Crick will be challenged inside in this game by Ohio State's dependable Mike Brewster, one of the better center prospects in the country. However, with Ohio State struggling to score points, this appears to be the type of defensive battle that in which Crick could make an impact. He's slipped down draft boards this season. A big performance in this key Big Ten game could stop the slide quickly. This game begins at 8:00 ET and will be televised by ABC.