Much has been made of the fact that the Insight Bowl Friday night may have been the last collegiate games for Oklahoma junior quarterback Landry Jones and Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff, also a junior. Each is listed as potential first round draft pick by NFLDraftScout.com.
Though highly regarded, neither enjoyed the type of dominating game last night to make their decision an easy one.
Jones completed 16 of 25 passes for 161 yards for one touchdown and one interception. He showed some toughness in taking a wicked hit from Iowa and demonstrated the live arm that scouts can't help but admire. However, the same discomfort once the pocket collapses around him that has caused me to rank Jones outside of my Top 32 prospects, was again apparent in this game. Jones had to endure more pressure in this game than he's used to. He was sacked twice (both by Iowa DT Mike Daniels) and pressured often, which contributed to numerous high and wide throws. Two sacks doesn't sound like a lot. But the spread offense Oklahoma runs helps keep Jones upright. Oklahoma had allowed just nine sacks all season long.
On the interception, Jones extended the ball out in play-action before attempting to lob a pass (into double coverage) to Kenny Stills into the back of the endzone. Defensive lineman Broderick Binns deflected the pass and caught it at his own six yard line to extend Jones' string of troubling play since losing All-American receiver Ryan Broyles to a torn ACL. Prior to throwing a three-yard touchdown to senior tight end Trent Ratterree on the next drive, Jones had thrown for zero touchdowns and six interceptions since Broyles' injury November 5.
Like Jones, Reiff has the physical characteristics scouts are looking for. At 6-6, 300 pounds he is very light on his feet, handled numerous exotic blitzes from the Sooners and is technically refined. Also like Jones, however, Reiff showed that another season of college play could go a long way in helping his game. Reiff has a relatively slight upper body and the lack of power was evident against Oklahoma's Frank Alexander (and more troubling) other OU defenders, as well. He has been my second-rated offensive tackle in the country behind Southern Cal's Matt Kalil (ahead of Stanford's Jonathan Martin) all year long and I stand behind that grade. However, after this performance I'd place more distance between Kalil, who I see as a top five pick, and either Reiff or Martin, both of whom I feel are better values outside of the top 10 (or perhaps even top 15) picks.
Though Jones and Reiff entered the game with much of the hype, quite frankly Alexander, OU cornerback Jamell Fleming and Iowa's Daniels were the best three players on the field Friday night -- at least among legitimate NFL prospects.