NFL Draft Watch Week 4
We are officially about one fourth of the way done with the college football season and it has taught us many things. We found out just how great Alabama is, the Badgers are not even close to their 2011 form, and USC is not as unbeatable as first thought. There is much more to learn and draft positions will continue to jostle as this exciting season continues to live on and teams begin to play “big boy football” in conference play.
Game to Watch: Clemson at Florida State
When and Where to Watch: Saturday September 22nd at 8 PM on ABC
What to Watch For: This Florida State defense is one of the most feared and talented in the nation. If there is a team that has a chance to beat an SEC team for the BCS Championship this year, my conjecture is that it is Florida State. This game will pit their aggressive, athletic, and talented defense against an explosive Clemson offense. Keep an eye on both of the Seminoles starting corners, as both have NFL futures. As it stands Xavier Rhodes will be a first round selection, and maybe even selected in the top ten. He has ideal NFL size and great speed. His instincts are great and he is a ball hawk. NFL scouts will be looking at his footwork and eye discipline, as well as how physical he is. Check to see if he is actually making run and pass reads, or just guessing pass and reacting to run. When you are as athletic as Rhodes you can get away with that in college, but in the NFL that will not work, because corners need to be able to make a play within a few yards of the line of scrimmage. Being true to your keys is huge and should help avoid getting sucked in by play action and getting burned deep. Being smart in coverage is another major aspect to playing corner. Does he really understand zone concepts? Make sure he is not dropping just five yards if it is third and 15, even if he is in a cover two zone. Scouts expect a blanket, but a smart player as well who can drift into the proper place on the field and not be lured by a quarterbacks eyes. Another big thing that scouts will want to see, especially if he will be selected in the top ten, is physicality. Can he make plays against the run? Does he tackle well? Or do guys break his tackles? Does he seem to shy away from contact? Or really enjoy it? Will he get up to the line and jam a receiver? These are all burning questions, and Rhodes has a great chance to prove himself against a high flying offense.
Reid is a slightly less talented corner, but has other issues surrounding him, particularly his height, or lack thereof. He needs to prove that despite his small stature, he is a big time football player. To believe this, scouts need to see him match up against taller receivers and dominate them. They will also see if he is physical and aggressive, despite being smaller, and not allow himself to get pushed over by bigger players. He will have a chance to display his ball skills in this game, and every game, because many teams will be afraid to the throw the ball Rhodes way. This could be a big game in moving up draft boards for Reid.
Game to Watch: Kansas State at Oklahoma
When and Where to Watch: Saturday September 22nd at 7:50 on Fox
Who to Watch For: QB Landry Jones, Oklahoma
What to Watch For: The Sooners have not played anyone that had a chance to challenge so far this season, but that all changes when they host Kansas State. Landry Jones, a possible Heisman candidate and sure-fire first round draft pick, will have a chance to prove he is the real deal in this game, which possess lots of challenges for him. First, he is playing a very talented defense for the first time this year. Because of this scouts will pay very close attention. Is he able to find the open receivers against a team that matches up well physically with the Sooners? Can he make the right decision under duress in the pocket? Will he get flustered if he gets hit or things don’t go his way? Jones has a chance to eliminate lots of question marks and make a statement about his ability to play at the next level with this game. Secondly, scouts will look at his leadership ability. Not only does he have the pressure of facing a great defense, but he may also feel pressure to keep up with the opposing offense. Can he keep the pace in a track meet? Or will he try to force the ball, complicating the problem? If the game is tight, like many expect, can he maneuver key drives when they matter most? This could mean late in the first half, a drive that ices the game late in the second half, or of course, a game winning drive. Jones will have a lot on his shoulders this game, and scouts will be taking it all in. They will also be checking for the usual things with a quarterback as well, such as can he deliver an accurate ball under pressure? Does he have the arm strength to make all the throws? Does he make the correct decision with the football often? Can he fit the ball in tight spaces when necessary? Jones surely feels like he is worthy of a top pick, and so do I, but this game is a big test for him and it will certainly affect how scouts feel about his value at the next level.