2015 NFL Draft: Week 2 Prospect Preview
An in-depth look at the premier NFL prospects to watch in the top college football matchups this weekend
Sat., Sept. 6, 7 p.m. ET
Eugene, Ore. -- FOX
Although the slate of action for week two of the college football season isn’t as monumental as last week, there are a handful of pivotal match-ups that will help shape the college playoffs, led by Michigan State traveling west to play Oregon. These two programs have played four times in the past with the home team winning each match-up, another factor that favors the Ducks. However, the Michigan State defense is comparable to Stanford’s, which has shut down the Oregon offense the past two years.
FIVE PROSPECTS TO FOCUS ON:
QB MARCUS MARIOTA, rJR, Oregon (6-4 | 215 | 4.52 | #8)
The early favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Mariota is the ideal quarterback orchestrating the Oregon offense with his intelligence, athleticism and tools as a passer. He is a quick thinker and diagnoses the action with a calm demeanor, swift eyes and light feet in the pocket to feel his way around the noise, extending the pocket or picking up yards on the ground with his gazelle speed. Mariota has a tendency to stare down his targets at time, but he throws well on the run with excellent field vision and the arm talent to spray passes to all levels of the field. Michigan State’s aggressive defense will be an excellent test for Mariota's anticipation and ability to manipulate defenders.
DE SHILIQUE CALHOUN, rJR, Michigan State (6-4 | 257 | 4.72 | #89)
A year ago at this time, the Spartans pass rush was a question mark, but Calhoun emerged as one of the top up-and-coming defensive ends in the country in 2013. He finished with a team-best 7.5 sacks last season and notched his first sack of the 2014 campaign last week. Calhoun bends well off the edge with natural flexibility and coordination in space to easily change directions, something that will be tested when Oregon threatens the edges. Calhoun needs to develop a functional power element to his game and his snap anticipation and technique are both underdeveloped, but the unpolished skill-set shows a lot of promise and facing an athletic and versatile offense will be an excellent test.
CB IFO EKPRE-OLOMU, SR, Oregon (5-9 | 195 | 4.46 | #14)
Arguably the top cover cornerback in all of college football, Ekpre-Olomu is widely considered the top senior defensive NFL prospect by several in the scouting community. He has many of the requisite skills to survive in both press and off-man, displaying quick diagnose skills, twitchy reaction time and the athleticism to break on the ball. Ekpre-Olomu shows swivel hips, smooth footwork and explosive lower body skills to close in a hurry on the ball. He lacks ideal strength and build and can be easily tied up by blockers on the perimeter, but he doesn’t shy from throwing his body around in run defense. Ekpre-Olomu vs. Michigan State’s Tony Lippett will be an outstanding match-up to study in this game.
FS KURTIS DRUMMOND, rSR, Michigan State (6-1 | 200 | 4.58 | #27)
Although the Michigan State secondary lost cornerback Darqueze Dennard from last year’s No. 1 ranked defense, Drummond is the senior member of the Spartans’ defensive backs. He is a well-rounded player with the anticipation and pursuit downhill to close in the ground game while also showing the coordinated body control and timing in coverage to make plays in pass defense. Drummond has a lean body type and needs to consistently finish once he makes contact with the ballcarrier, but he understands angles and plays with the confidence needed at the position. With Dennard, Denicos Allen and Max Bullough gone from last year’s squad, Drummond has stepped into a leadership role in 2014.
RB JEREMY LANGFORD, rSR, Michigan State (6-0 | 205 | 4.47 | #33)
When discussing the top running backs in the Big Ten, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon immediately come to mind. But Langford isn’t far behind in terms of NFL potential, rushing for 1,422 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. He runs low to the ground with excellent pad level and energetic feet to get the most out of every touch. Langford is a workhorse type with a hard-nosed, no-nonsense style of running the ball, getting stronger as the game progresses. Against Oregon he needs to show improved patience to work around his blockers, but will also be heavily relied upon in the screen game and in pass protection – two areas that will promise him early playing time in the NFL.
Other Michigan State prospects to watch:
CB Trae Waynes, rJR (6-1 | 183 | 4.53 | #15)
WR Tony Lippett, rSR (6-3 | 190 | 4.49 | #14)
DE Marcus Rush, rSR (6-2 | 255 | 4.86 | #44)
LT Jack Conklin, rSO (6-6 | 300 | 5.09 | #74)
ILB Taiwan Jones, SR (6-3 | 252 | 4.76 | #34)
RB Nick Hill, rSR (5-8 | 197 | 4.40 | #20)
Other Oregon prospects to watch:
DL Arik Armstead, JR (6-7 | 296 | 4.97 | #9)
C Hroniss Grasu, rSR (6-3 | 297 | 5.12 | #55)
OLB Tony Washington, rSR (6-3 | 250 | 4.73 | #91)
OLB Derrick Malone, rSR (6-2 | 220 | 4.68 | #22)
LT Jake Fisher, SR (6-6 | 299 | 5.22 | #75)
RB Byron Marshall, JR (5-9 | 201 | 4.47 | #9)
Other match-ups to watch:
USC at Stanford
Sat., Sept. 6, 3:30 p.m. ET
Stanford, Calif. -- ABC
WHEN THE TROJANS HAVE THE BALL…
The USC offense scored 52 points in the season opener, but goes on the road to face a stout Stanford defense in this match-up. RS senior TE Randall Telfer (6-4 | 260 | 4.77 | #82) didn’t record a reception last week against Fresno State, but his ability to work the middle of the field will be important if Stanford overloads the edges. The Cardinal defense has several senior prospects worth watching in this game, including ILB A.J. Tarpley (6-2 | 238 | 4.84 | #17), DE Henry Anderson (6-6 | 295 | 5.06 | #91) and SS Jordan Richards (5-11 | 208 | 4.57 | #8).
WHEN THE CARDINAL HAVE THE BALL…
The two most impressive prospects in this match-up will face off in the trenches with USC junior DL Leonard Williams (6-5 | 298 | 4.88 | #94) and Stanford junior LT Andrus Peat (6-7 | 312 | 5.28 | #70). Both have the potential to be elite-level prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft due to their rare physical gifts. Senior WR Ty Montgomery (6-2 | 215 | 4.46 | #7), who is in the discussion to be the top senior wideout drafted in the spring, recorded five catches for 77 yards and a score last week, adding a punt return for a touchdown.
Other USC prospects to watch:
WR Nelson Agholor, JR (6-1 | 190 | 4.49 | #15)
OLB J.R. Tavai, SR (6-2 | 250 | 4.79 | #58)
ILB Hayes Pullard, rSR (6-1 | 235 | 4.73 | #10)
QB Cody Kessler, rJR (6-1 | 210 | 4.95 | #6)
OTHER STANFORD PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
Other Stanford prospects to watch:
OLB James Vaughters, SR (6-2 | 254 | 4.73 | #9)
CB Wayne Lyons, rJR (6-1 | 196 | 4.56 | #2)
QB Kevin Hogan, rJR (6-4 | 228 | 4.72 | #8)
DE Blake Lueders, rSR (6-5 | 260 | 4.89 | #43)
East Carolina at South Carolina
Sat., Sept. 6, 7 p.m. ET
Columbia, S.C. -- ESPNU
WHEN THE PIRATES HAVE THE BALL…
The offense is the strength of the East Carolina squad, led by senior WR Justin Hardy (6-0 | 188 | 4.49 | #2), who has Mr. Reliable for the Pirates and became the school’s all-time leader in receptions (274) last week in the opener. He already holds the ECU record for receiving yards (3,134) and touchdown catches (27). Senior QB Shane Carden (6-2 | 221 | 4.92 | #5) is the point guard of the Pirates’ offense and while he doesn’t have a skill-set that screams NFL, he is a winner with a competitive appetite that will win over coaches during interviews.
WHEN THE GAMECOCKS HAVE THE BALL…
The South Carolina offense appeared stagnant in the season opening loss to Texas A&M as RS senior QB Dylan Thompson (6-3 | 219 | 4.83 | #17) struggled through the air and junior RB Mike Davis (5-9 | 216 | 4.52 | #28) couldn’t get going on the ground, re-injuring his ribs, making him questionable for this game. Regardless of who is toting the rock for the Gamecocks, RS senior LG A.J. Cann (6-3 | 318 | 5.18 | #50) will be opening holes in the run game and will often match up with ECU RS senior OLB Maurice Falls (6-3 | 247 | 4.67 | #48).
Other East Carolina prospects to watch:
CB Detric Allen, SR (6-0 | 200 | 4.59 | #4)
WR Cam Worthy, rSR (6-2 | 220 | 4.59 | #9)
DT Crishon Rose, rSR (6-4 | 303 | 5.08 | #93)
RB Breon Allen, SR (5-8 | 190 | 4.52 | #25)
Other South Carolina prospects to watch:
LT Corey Robinson, rSR (6-7 | 348 | 5.33 | #53)
TE Rory Anderson, SR (6-5 | 232 | 4.73 | #81)
SPUR Sharrod Golightly, rSR (5-10 | 205 | 4.57 | #9)
DT J.T. Surratt, rSR (6-2 | 305 | 5.08 | #97)
Michigan at Notre Dame
Sat., Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m. ET
South Bend, Ind. -- NBC
WHEN THE WOLVERINES HAVE THE BALL…
After lining up as a tight end most of his career, junior WR Devin Funchess (6-5 | 230 | 4.73 | #1) is playing full-time on the outside as a receiver in 2014 and made the transition flawlessly last week, recording seven catches for 95 yards and three scores against Appalachian State. With junior CB KeiVarae Russell (5-11 | 190 | 4.50 | #6) still suspended amid academic fraud allegations, Funchess is poised for another productive day. The main question for the Michigan offense – can RS senior QB Devin Gardner (6-4 | 218 | 4.62 | #98) be consistent?
WHEN THE FIGHTING IRISH HAVE THE BALL…
The Irish offense is young with only two senior starters: TE Ben Koyack (6-4 | 261 | 4.77 | #18) and RG Christian Lombard (6-5 | 315 | 5.26 | #74). While not as dynamic a pass-catcher as Tyler Eifert and not as physical as Troy Niklas as a blocker, Koyack is the next future pro in South Bend, which has been a NFL tight end factory over the last decade. Lombard missed all of 2013 due to injury, but looked stout last week against DT Christian Covington and Rice. Senior LB Jake Ryan (6-3 | 235 | 4.68 | #47) continues his transition to MLB.
Other Michigan prospects to watch:
DE Frank Clark, SR (6-2 | 270 | 4.76 | #57)
CB Raymon Taylor, SR (5-10 | 182 | 4.52 | #6)
CB Blake Countess, rJR (5-10 | 183 | 4.52 | #2)
OLB Desmond Morgan, SR (6-1 | 232 | 4.76 | #48)
Other Notre Dame prospects to watch:
DL Sheldon Day, JR (6-2 | 290 | 4.94 | #91)
CB Cody Riggs, rSR (5-9 | 190 | 4.56 | #2)
RB Cam McDaniel, SR (5-9 | 207 | 4.56 | #33)
C Nick Martin, rJR (6-5 | 295 | 5.30 | #72)
BYU at Texas
Sat., Sept. 6, 7:30 p.m. ET
Austin, Tex. – FOX Sports 1
WHEN THE COUGARS HAVE THE BALL…
Although he’s always been a dangerous threat with his legs, junior QB Taysom Hill (6-2 | 221 | 4.62 | #4) has really come a long way with his development as a passer and is the catalyst of BYU’s offense. He will be without arguably his best lineman with senior OT Michael Yeck (6-8 | 292 | 5.83 | #77) expected to miss this game, still nursing a broken toe. On defense, Texas has two seniors who could be top-100 draft picks with impressive 2014 seasons: DE Cedric Reed (6-6 | 271 | 4.89 | #88) and CB Quandre Diggs (5-10 | 204 | 4.53 | #6).
WHEN THE LONGHORNS HAVE THE BALL…
The Longhorns had no problem with North Texas last week, but didn’t escape healthy on offense with two key seniors sidelined for the foreseeable future: QB David Ash (6-3 | 227 | 4.68 | #14) due to concussion symptoms and C Dominic Espinosa (6-4 | 300 | 5.23 | #55) with a broken ankle. BYU junior DE/OLB Bronson Kaufusi (6-7 | 263 | 4.78 | #90) was named the FBS Independent Defensive Player of the Week after his two sack performance vs. UConn in the season opener and is an intriguing underclassman on the NFL radar.
Other BYU prospects to watch:
CB Robertson Daniel, SR (6-1 | 198 | 4.56 | #4)
TE Devin Mahina, rSR (6-6 | 247 | 4.83 | #84)
SS Craig Bills, rSR (6-1 | 205 | 4.68 | #20)
DT Marques Johnson, rSR (6-2 | 308 | 5.23 | #99)
OTHER TEXAS PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
Other Texas prospects to watch:
RB Malcolm Brown, SR (6-0 | 228 | 4.59 | #28)
OLB Jordan Hicks, rSR (6-2 | 244 | 4.73 | #3)
WR Jaxon Shipley, SR (6-1 | 193 | 4.54 | #8)
DT Malcom Brown, JR (6-4 | 320 | 5.24 | #90)
Virginia Tech at Ohio State
Sat., Sept. 6, 8 p.m. ET
Columbus, Ohio -- ESPN
WHEN THE HOKIES HAVE THE BALL…
The experience of the Virginia Tech offense is the interior of the offensive line, led by seniors LG David Wang (6-2 | 298 | 5.08 | #76) and C Caleb Farris (6-3 | 303 | 5.12 | #79). Both will be tested against the Buckeyes talented defensive line, led by senior DT Michael Bennett (6-2 | 288 | 4.96 | #63), although Ohio State will be without junior DE Noah Spence (6-3 | 252 | 4.68 | #8), who isn’t eligible to return from his suspension until next week. This is the first meeting ever that Ohio State and Virginia Tech will meet on the football field.
WHEN THE BUCKEYES HAVE THE BALL…
Ohio State has only two seniors starting on offense and both project as draftable players: TE Steve Heuerman (6-5 | 255 | 4.68 | #86) and WR Devin Smith (6-1 | 197 | 4.46 | #9). Heuerman isn’t elite in any one area, but is well-rounded as both a blocker and pass-catcher and will be matched up often with Virginia Tech senior FS Kyshoen Jarrett (5-11 | 192 | 4.57 | #34), who is arguably the Hokies’ best defender. Seniors DT Luther Maddy (6-0 | 292 | 5.02 | #92) and FS Detrick Bonner (6-0 | 194 | 4.56 | #8) are also considered draftable prospects.
Other Virginia Tech prospects to watch:
DE Dadi Nicolas, rJR (6-3 | 218 | 4.69 | #90)
LT Laurence Gibson, rSR (6-6 | 274 | 4.96 | #63)
ILB Chase Williams, rSR (6-2 | 215 | 4.68 | #36)
WR Demitri Knowles, rJR (6-1 | 178 | 4.57 | #80)
Other Ohio State prospects to watch:
CB Doran Grant, SR (5-11 | 193 | 4.49 | #12)
ILB Curtis Grant, SR (6-3 | 240 | 4.73 | #14)
RB Rod Smith, rSR (6-3 | 231 | 4.64 | #7)
RT Darryl Baldwin, rSR (6-6 | 308 | 5.27 | #76)
Colorado State at Boise State
Sat., Sept. 6, 10:15 p.m. ET
Boise, Idaho – ESPN2
WHEN THE RAMS HAVE THE BALL…
A possible top-40 draft pick next spring, senior LT Ty Sambrailo (6-5 | 315 | 5.27 | #51) suffered a sprained MCL injury and will be sidelined for this game, but should return to the field in less than a month. Despite the loss, the Rams have several playmakers on offense worth watching, including senior TE Kivon Cartwright (6-4 | 245 | 4.78 | #86) and junior RB Dee Hart (5-9 | 187 | 4.48 | #10), who transferred to Colorado State from Alabama. The top NFL prospect for the Boise State defense is senior SS Jeremy Ioane (5-10 | 192 | 4.59 | #10).
WHEN THE BRONCOS HAVE THE BALL…
While the Rams have an explosive ground game, the top running back prospect in his contest is the Broncos RS junior RB Jay Ajayi (6-0 | 216 | 4.54 | #27), who recorded 86 yards rushing (4.3 ypc) and 93 yards receiving on 12 catches (7.8 average) last week against Ole Miss. The top senior prospect for Boise State on offense is WR Matt Miller (6-3 | 220 | 4.59 | #2), who will often find himself lined up with Colorado State senior CB Bernard Blake (6-0 | 185 | 4.52 | #23) – this match-up will be one scouts study when evaluating both prospects.
Other Colorado State prospects to watch:
QB Garrett Grayson, rSR (6-2 | 220 | 4.84 | #18)
ILB Max Morgan, rSR (6-1 | 231 | 4.79 | #40)
OLB Aaron Davis, SR (6-0 | 220 | 4.76 | #37)
RB Treyous Jarrells, JR (5-7 | 188 | 4.51 | #3)
Other Boise State prospects to watch:
CB Bryan Douglas, rSR (5-9 | 176 | 4.63 | #1)
QB Grant Hedrick, rSR (6-0 | 195 | 4.76 | #9)
CB Cleshawn Page, SR (5-9 | 174 | 4.43 | #3)
WR Dallas Burroughs, SR (5-9 | 165 | 4.38 | #81)
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