Week 2 NFL Draft prospect matchups to watch
Your one-stop guide to the top NFL Draft prospects to watch this weekend on the college landscape
FLORIDA at MIAMI
Saturday, Sept. 7, Noon
Coral Gables, Fla. – ESPN
WHEN THE GATORS HAVE THE BALL…
While most of the prospect match-ups to watch will be with Miami on offense and Florida on defense, the Gators do have a handful of offensive players worth keeping an eye on in this game. A former quarterback, senior TE Trey Burton (6-2, 225, 4.59, #8) has gradually grown into his current role as a do-everything H-back type and has the chance to be a key to the Florida offense this season as a bulked-up pass catcher. On the offensive line, one of the more experienced players on the Florida roster is senior C Jonotthan Harrison (6-3, 302, 5.22, #72), who has 28 starts under his belt at both center and guard.
WHEN THE HURRICANES HAVE THE BALL…
After becoming the full-time starter last season as a junior, senior QB Stephen Morris (6-2, 215, 4.65, #17) appeared to settle in and take command of the offense, showing much more confidence with the added reps. He has a little too much belief in his arm at times, forcing throws into tight coverage, but he has good feel and mobility in the pocket to maneuver around the noise and keep plays alive with his mobility and eyes. One of the best prospect match-ups to watch in this contest is in the secondary where Florida boasts a surplus of next level talent. Last week in the season opener, senior CB Jaylen Watkins (6-0, 182, 4.48, #14) and junior CB Marcus Roberson (6-0, 195, 4.52, #5) were the starters at cornerback for the Gators, but junior CB Loucheiz Purifoy (6-0, 185, 4.47, #15) will return to the field against the Hurricanes after a one-game suspension. Also, one of the most explosive interior pass rushers at the college level today wears a Gator uniform: senior DT Dominique Easley (6-2, 283, 4.93, #2).
OTHER FLORIDA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
DE Ronald Powell (6-3, 235, 4.62, #7)
SLB Darrin Kitchens, senior (6-2, 230, 4.76, #49)
RT Tyler Moore, RS sophomore (6-6, 312, 5.18, #73)
RB Mack Brown, RS junior (5-10, 213, 4.42, #33)
OTHER MIAMI PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LG Malcolm Bunche, RS junior (6-6, 327, 5.24, #79)
TE Clive Walford, RS junior (6-4, 259, 4.79, #46)
DE Anthony Chickillo, junior (6-3, 268, 4.79, #71)
WR Allen Hurns (6-1, 195, 4.56, #1)
SOUTH FLORIDA at MICHIGAN STATE
Saturday, Sept. 7, Noon
East Lansing, Mich. – ESPNU
WHEN THE BULLS HAVE THE BALL…
The Spartans finished top-10 in the Nation last season in both pass and run defense and return five of their top six tacklers from a year ago, including stout senior MLB Max Bullough (6-3, 245, 4.78, #40) who had a team-best 111 stops in 2012. In the secondary, Michigan State returns a pair of senior leaders: CB Darqueze Dennard (5-11, 197, 4.52, #31) and SS Isaiah Lewis (5-10, 210, 4.54, #10). Dennard tied for the team-lead in INTs (3) and passes defended (10) last season and is arguably the Spartan’s best draft-eligible NFL prospect.
WHEN THE SPARTANS HAVE THE BALL…
While Michigan State has the better NFL talent, South Florida might have the best pro prospect on either roster with RS sophomore DE Aaron Lynch (6-5, 248, 4.76, #19). The Notre Dame transfer sat out last season after a promising freshman year in South Bend. It might be a long year for the Bulls, but Lynch makes them worth watching. Also on defense for USF, keep an eye on seniors MLB DeDe Lattimore (6-0, 236, 4.83, #34) and DE Ryne Giddins (6-3, 255, 4.87, #97), who are both considered borderline draftable talents right now.
OTHER SOUTH FLORIDA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
RB Marcus Shaw, senior (5-9, 182, 4.64, #20)
FS Mark Joyce, senior (5-10, 195, 4.59, #26)
DE Tevin Mims, senior (6-4, 246, 4.86, #99)
SS JaQuez Jenkins, RS senior (6-2, 190, 4.56, #3)
OTHER MICHIGAN STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OLB Denicos Allen, RS senior (5-11, 224, 4.73, #28)
LT Fou Fonoti, RS senior (6-5, 305, 5.27, #51)
WR Bennie Fowler, RS senior (6-1, 212, 4.53, #13)
DE Marcus Rush, RS junior (6-2, 250, 4.68, #44)
SOUTH CAROLINA at GEORGIA
Saturday, Sept. 7, 3:30
Athens, Ga. – ESPN
WHEN THE GAMECOCKS HAVE THE BALL…
The Bulldogs' defense allowed 38 points last week in the loss at Clemson and looked like a team forced to replace eight starters from a year ago. Senior QB Connor Shaw (6-1, 208, 4.64, #14) didn’t light the world on fire with his performance last week (11-for-20 for 149 yards and one score), but it was clear he has taken on more of a leadership role. On the offensive line, three SC blockers have stood out: junior LT Corey Robinson (6-7, 338, 5.36, #53), junior LG A.J. Cann (6-3, 310, 5.08, #50) and senior RG Ronald Patrick (6-2, 315, 5.34, #67).
WHEN THE BULLDOGS HAVE THE BALL…
Senior QB Aaron Murray (6-1, 212, 4.84, #11) recorded his eighth career 300-yard passing game in the season opener last week, but he failed to throw a touchdown pass. He is 0-3 against the Gamecocks the past three seasons and junior DE Jadeveon Clowney (6-5, 268, 4.56, #7) will try and make it four straight losses. Murray will be without his top target, junior Malcolm Mitchell (6-1, 192, 4.49, #26), who is out for the year with a torn ACL so look for junior WR Michael Bennett (6-3, 205, 4.58, #82) to again lead the Bulldogs in receptions.
OTHER SOUTH CAROLINA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
WR Bruce Ellington, RS junior (5-9, 197, 4.54, #23)
DE Chaz Sutton, RS senior (6-3, 256, 4.82, #90)
CB Jimmy Legree, RS senior (5-11, 188, 4.52, #15)
CB Victor Hampton, RS junior (5-10, 197, 4.52, #27)
OTHER GEORGIA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
RG Chris Burnette, RS senior (6-2, 315, 5.23, #68)
TE Arthur Lynch, RS senior (6-5, 258, 4.82, #88)
CB Damian Swann, junior (5-11, 190, 4.53, #5)
LT Kenarious Gates, senior (6-5, 318, 5.24, #72)
TEXAS at BYU
Saturday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.
Provo, Utah – ESPN2
WHEN THE LONGHORNS HAVE THE BALL…
While junior QB David Ash (6-2, 223, 4.68, #14) has made improvements, Texas will rely heavily on the run game with their talented backfield. Junior RB Joe Bergeron (6-1, 240, 4.60, #24) wasn’t as highly recruited as the other backs on the roster, but he continues to be productive with his quick feet and natural power. WR Mike Davis (6-2, 195, 4.52, #1), who recorded five catches and a score in the opener, is one of the top seniors at his position in the Big 12. On defense, many in the NFL are enamored with senior OLB Kyle Van Noy (6-3, 235, 4.68, #3).
WHEN THE COUGARS HAVE THE BALL…
For the BYU offense to be productive in this game, they’ll need senior WR Cody Hoffman (6-3, 215, 4.56, #2) back on the field after missing last week with a nagging hamstring injury. He isn’t flashy, but very reliable and a top-10 senior at his position. Senior DE Jackson Jeffcoat (6-4, 252, 4.78, #44) arrived in Austin with a lot of hype, but so far injuries and inconsistencies have held him back. However he has one final season in burnt orange to show NFL scouts that he has more than a familiar last name to be an early round NFL Draft pick.
OTHER TEXAS PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LB Jordan Hicks, RS junior (6-2, 235, 4.72, #3)
CB Carrington Byndom, senior (6-0, 182, 4.53, #23)
OT Donald Hawkins, senior (6-5, 312, 5.28, #51)
CB Quandre Diggs, junior (5-10, 200, 4.48, #6)
OTHER BYU PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
LT Ryker Mathews, RS sophomore (6-5, 292, 5.18, #72)
RB Michael Alisa, RS senior (6-0, 220, 4.62, #42)
WR Ross Apo, RS junior (6-2, 208, 4.59, #1)
WR JD Falslev, senior (5-8, 185, 4.54, #12)
WEST VIRGINIA at OKLAHOMA
Saturday, Sept. 7, 3:30 p.m.
Norman, Okla. – FOX
WHEN THE MOUNTAINEERS HAVE THE BALL…
It’s rare that we see seniors transfer from a FBS-level school to another FBS-level school for their final season of eligibility, but that’s exactly what RB Charles Sims (6-0, 205, 4.54, #5) did, arriving in Morgantown from Houston. He rushed for 120 yards in his Mountaineer debut last week as the featured weapon on the West Virginia offense. While he isn’t a first round type of prospect, senior CB Aaron Colvin (6-0, 182, 4.48, #14) is a talented defensive back who wins with his awareness and confidence to drive on the ball and disrupt the play.
WHEN THE SOONERS HAVE THE BALL…
The Oklahoma offense is forced to break in a new quarterback this season, but it’s the talent around him that has scouts flocking to Norman. The Sooners have three senior prospects in the backfield who have received attention from pro scouts: FB Trey Millard (6-2, 253, 4.64, #33), RB Damien Williams (6-0, 214, 4.53, #26) and RB Roy Finch (5-7, 167, 4.45, #22). But the highest rated prospect on the Oklahoma offense might be senior WR Jalen Saunders (5-9, 164, 4.49, #8), who doesn’t look like much but he can be dangerous out of the slot.
OTHER WEST VIRGINIA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
DE Will Clarke, RS senior (6-6, 273, 4.83, #98)
C Pat Eger, RS senior (6-6, 302, 5.28, #76)
SS Darwin Cook, RS senior (5-11, 203, 4.58, #25)
DT Shaq Rowell, senior (6-3, 305, 5.26, #90)
OTHER OKLAHOMA PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
C Gabe Ikard, RS senior (6-3, 298, 5.17, #64)
OLB Corey Nelson, senior (6-1, 226, 4.72, #7)
CB Gabe Lynn, RS senior (6-0, 199, 4.65, #9)
WR Jaz Reynolds, RS senior (6-2, 200, 4.54, #16)
NOTRE DAME at MICHIGAN
Saturday, Sept. 7, 8 p.m.
Ann Arbor, Mich. – ESPN
WHEN THE FIGHTING IRISH HAVE THE BALL…
Notre Dame lost several pieces to their offense from a year ago, including their top passer (Everett Golson), receiving target (Tyler Eifert) and rushers (Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood). But the Irish does return one of the more underrated receivers in the country, senior WR TJ Jones (6-0, 195, 4.54, #7), who collected six catches for 138 yards last week in the season opener. The Irish also returns several starters on the offensive line, including senior LT Zack Martin (6-4, 305, 5.22, #70), who probably projects best inside at guard at the next level.
WHEN THE WOLVERINES HAVE THE BALL…
It was an up-and-down debut for junior QB Devin Gardner (6-4, 212, 4.64, #12) as the full-time starter last week, including a pair of interceptions, but the natural talent is easy to see. Blocking his blind side is senior LT Taylor Lewan (6-7, 315, 5.09, #77), who is in his fourth year as a starter and has the chance to be one of the first players drafted next May with a strong senior campaign. On defense, the Irish have two impressive specimen up front: juniors NT Louis Nix III (6-2, 326, 5.17, #1) and DE Stephon Tuitt (6-5, 303, 4.89, #7).
OTHER NOTRE DAME PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
RB George Atkinson III, junior (6-1, 210, 4.48, #4)
OLB Prince Shembo, senior (6-1, 252, 4.76, #55)
CB Bennett Jackson, senior (6-0, 185, 4.52, #2)
OG Chris Watt, RS senior (6-3, 312, 5.24, #66)
OTHER MICHIGAN PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
OT Michael Schofield, RS senior (6-6, 306, 5.24, #75)
DT Quinton Washington, RS senior (6-3, 305, 5.17, #76)
WR Jeremy Gallon, RS senior (5-8, 187, 4.52, #21)
RB Fitzgerald Toussaint, RS senior (5-10, 200, 4.58, #28)
SAN JOSE STATE at STANFORD
Saturday, Sept. 7, 11 p.m.
Stanford, Calif. – PAC 12 Network
WHEN THE SPARTANS HAVE THE BALL…
This game will be an outstanding test for senior QB David Fales (6-2, 220, 4.93, #10), who will face his toughest challenge in just the second game of the season. He has very good passing awareness and vision, but scouts want to see how his arm strength and size holds up against one of the Nation’s top defenses. Attempting to make it a long game for Fales will be seniors DE Trent Murphy (6-6, 261, 4.86, #93), DE Ben Gardner (6-4, 275, 4.97, #49) and ILB Shayne Skov (6-2, 245, 4.95, #11), who will be attacking the pocket all night for the Cardinal.
WHEN THE CARDINAL HAVE THE BALL…
Stanford produced an outstanding NFL quarterback prospect two years ago with Andrew Luck and many believe the Cardinal will send another top pick to the next level with RS sophomore QB Kevin Hogan (6-4, 225, 4.84, #8). Like Luck, he is a big, athletic passer with the arm talent to dissect defenses. Hogan will need to stay alert for senior CB Bene Benwikere (5-11, 192, 4.53, #21), who has top-75 potential next May. Returning to the field for Stanford is senior RB Tyler Gaffney (6-0, 221, 4.57, #25), who missed last season while playing professional baseball.
OTHER SAN JOSE STATE PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
WR Noel Grigsby, RS senior (5-10, 175, 4.52, #23)
OLB Vince Buhagiar, senior (6-3, 244, 4.86, #36)
OG Nicholas Kaspar, senior (6-3, 302, 5.26, #75)
ILB Keith Smith, senior (6-0, 230, 4.74, #31)
OTHER STANFORD PROSPECTS TO WATCH:
FS Ed Reynolds, RS junior (6-2, 205, 4.54, #29)
FB Ryan Hewitt, RS senior (6-4, 246, 4.86, #85)
DE Josh Mauro, RS senior (6-6, 282, 4.98, #90)
C Khalil Wilkes, RS senior (6-3, 292, 5.14, #65)
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