NFL Draft Watch Week 10
Week nine was a great week of college football, culminating with a stellar performance by Notre Dame, who silenced critics by thwarting a highly touted Oklahoma squad. This week also features a great slate of games and is highlighted by an epic SEC clash. The Tide will put their undefeated record on the line as they travel to Death Valley to face an angry LSU team on Saturday night on CBS. That game is great for college fans and NFL scouts alike, as it pits many outstanding players against one another.
Game to Watch: Alabama at LSU
When and Where to Watch: Saturday November 3rd on CBS at 8 PM
What to Watch For: There is a lot for your mind and eyes to keep up with in this contest, as both teams are loaded with prime time NFL talent. This list is not even all the players who have a chance of being drafted within the first three rounds. It is no secret how Alabama and LSU are so dominate every year, they are better than everyone in the trenches. When you are scouting LSU defensive players, pay close attention to their defensive line. Defensive tackle Sam Montgomery and defensive end Barkevious Mingo may be the best combination in the land. To make matters more problematic for teams, you cannot double team both of them, unless you commit extra guys to protection. Watch for who Alabama choses to double team and when. When they double team someone, see how either player reacts. Both players will need to show the ability to block and shed quickly, then reposition themselves to make a play. Defeating a double team is not easy, but it is necessary to play at the next level. Both players will need to make a splash in the running game. Montgomery must prove he can eat space and occupy blocks to free up linebackers to make plays. He also must show that he can get off blocks, particularly one on one blocks, and disrupt the running game by getting penetration. A few big plays and an overall solid game against arguably the best line in the nation should solidify his stock as a top tier lineman in this crop of players. On pass plays, see if Montgomery can apply some pressure up the middle. Pressure up the middle is the hardest for the offense to deal with and is the most disruptive. He doesn’t necessarily need to record any sacks, as pressure from the middle is just as effective. Also pay attention to see if he can get his hands up and knock the ball down. His athleticism will be a key factor in determining how high he is drafted.
Mingo has a lot to gain from this game as well. He has a chance to prove he is an elite player, not just beating on offensive lineman that he is bigger, faster, and stronger than. Mingo will need to prove he can beat double teams to get to the quarterback on pass plays. This double team could come from two linemen or be the help of a chipping back or tight end. Either way, he will face more than one blocker and he needs to prove he can handle it and still be effective. On run plays he needs to prove to be competent. The NFL is all about getting to the quarterback, but they will need players who can defend the run. He doesn’t need to be a run stuffer to be selected highly, but he does need to play solid against the run. If Alabama starts breaking out big runs his way, his stock could dip as he is not properly setting the edge. Overall, pay attention to both of these players and make sure they never give up on any plays. A high motor is critical to success at the next level, and if either of them does not have one, their stock will take a hit.
Also on defense pay attention to LSU standout safety, Eric Reid. He has a chance to be a very high draft pick because he is an ideal NFL safety. He has the speed to cover wide outs and the size, strength, and ability to stuff the run. He is very athletic and has scouts turning their heads already. This week will be a big test for him. He faces an athletic Alabama team that has great size and speed. They will challenge him through the air and on the ground. Look to see if he can make some plays in the run game and doesn’t get beat deep. If he can do that he will start to solidify a top 15 selection.
On the offensive side of the ball pay attention to the offensive line. Watch both players footwork as closely as you can. Footwork is the key to success in the trenches. Great footwork will equal a great NFL prospect. The better the footwork the higher their draft status will be. Also pay attention in the run game. They need to get off the ball quick and recreate the line of scrimmage down the field. If they can do that consistently against one of the best defenses in the nation, their stock will increase. Check to see if either tackle, Faulk or Hurst, can get to the second level of defenders, which is the linebackers. If you see either of them blocking down the field and covering up linebackers their draft stock will skyrocket. LSU doesn’t pass the ball much, but when they do look to see if there is pressure off the edge, although their pass pro will be judged harshly on their footwork rather than results, especially due to the limited amounts of pass plays that LSU runs.
When scouting Alabama players there are two areas to watch, one on offense, one on defense. On offense watch their offensive line, on defense watch their secondary. Their offensive line boasts two outstanding interior line prospects, center Barrett Jones and guard Chance Warmack. When you are scouting them look for the same thing you would with the LSU prospects. However, because there are interior linemen, put more stock into their run blocking. These are the players who make the run game effective because you need to be able to control the middle of the field to dominate the run game. Footwork will be the key, but pay close attention to how well they block LSU DT’s because both are on the NFL radar, particularly Sam Montgomery. If they are able to block one on one and be effective pushing the line of scrimmage backwards, they will continue to improve their draft stock. Also pay attention if they ever double team players, or if Alabama trusts them enough to block one on one. NFL scouts will want to see their ability to block one on one, because teams do not want to commit to always double teaming opponents.
On defense pay attention to corner Dee Milliner. He is the next heir to Alabama corner greatness, proceeding Dre Kirkpatrick, who was a first round selection a year ago. Scouts know Milliner has the speed and ability to cover already so this will be a great showcase to see how well he plays against the run. He needs to prove he has the physical ability to stop the run. He needs to shed the stock block and then close quickly to make a tackle. If he misses tackles or gives up big runs to his side by not being aggressive enough, his stock will decrease as teams want all-around corners, not just a player who can only defend the pass.
The other player in the Alabama secondary to scout is safety Robert Lester. As we all know, this is a changing position in the NFL and Lester needs to prove he can fit that mold. LSU does not have much of a pass threat, but he will have the chance to show he is a talented player, like Mark Barron, a top 10 selection a year ago from Alabama. And can do it all on the field. He will need to show he can play against the run like a linebacker. Critique his aggressiveness harshly. He needs to be very aggressive and prove he can make plays within four yards of the line of scrimmage. If he is making tackles in that range, NFL teams will quickly move him up their draft boards. See how hard he hits as well. The harder he hits the more enticed scouts will be. He has a chance to prove he is a solid tackler as well by not missing tackles against the talented LSU players. A solid game out of Lester versus a great team, although not a great offense, will help his draft stock immensely.