We skipped the NFL Draft/college football post last weekend because there were no quality games. Same deal this weekend. So instead, here are five players to keep an eye on. Teams we’ve previously highlighted:
Boise St./Georgia, LSU/Oregon
Alabama/Arkansas, LSU/West Virginia
Alabama/Penn State, South Carolina/Georgia
Virginia Tech/Clemson, Wisconsin/Nebraska
Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State (vs. Michigan, noon): The 6-foot-3, 310-pound junior has 4 tackles for loss this season and two sacks. I had him going 5th overall in my first mock draft, but slid him to 9th in the most recent one. It had nothing to do with his performance, it was simply a need thing. Since 2005, a DT has gone in the Top 16 of each draft, and Worthy, if he comes out, will definitely be the best DT on the board. Worthy should be able to have his way with an OK Michigan offensive line today. I’m assuming he’ll be fired up after reading this: “Worthy got a tattoo on his bicep, depicting a Spartan warrior stomping a Wolverine.” Watch how many times Notre Dame doubled or held Worthy in this video.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (vs. Texas A&M, noon): Griffin has been tremendous this season – 19 TDs, 1 INT, 80 percent completions – and he made his debut on Mel Kiper’s big board this week. Robert Griffin, 1st round pick? His stats show significant improvement during his career in Waco, and at 6-2, 220, I’m sure he’ll draw some comparisons to Vince Young (scrambling ability!). Guess where Texas A&M is ranked in pass defense? Give up? The answer: 120th. Dead last. Worst in the country. In the last three games, they’ve given up over 1,200 passing yards.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (vs. Texas, 3:30): Is he the best receiver in the country? Or are you an Alshon Jeffery guy? Blackmon’s numbers are impressive so far – 46 catches, 534 yards, six TDs – and should eat up a young secondary that just got abused by Landry Jones (367 yards, 3 TDs). As the NFL transitions into more of a pass-happy league, with guys like Wes Welker and Calvin Johnson putting up extraordinary stats, I think Blackmon (6-foot-1, 215) could go in the Top 5. Both receivers who went in the first round last year (Green 4th, Jones 6th) are having solid rookie campaigns.
Chris Polk, RB, Washington (vs. Colorado, 3:30): Big fan. He’s 5-11 220 and doesn’t get much publicity because Jake Locker hogged it all the last two years, and this year the Huskies are maybe the 5th most interesting team in the Pac-12. Only a junior, I don’t see Polk coming out, but when he does, I’m not sure why he wouldn’t be a 3rd round pick. Against what was supposed to be a formidable Nebraska defense, Polk rushed for 130 yards; he put up 189 against Utah. He rushed for over 1,100 yards each of the last two years, and isn’t bad at catching passes, either. Not bad for the 139th ranked recruit in the country in 2008. Look at the 17 guys from the State of California who were ranked ahead of him.
Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona St. (vs. Oregon, 10:15): Speedy, punishing linebacker goes against the speedy Ducks. Last year in a loss to Oregon, Burfict had 10 tackles and 2.5 tackles for losses. On pure athletic ability alone, he’s a first round lock. The only concerns I have: 1) just how unhinged in this guy? On the field and apparently off it, he seems like a loose cannon 2) Will he be able to play in a system, or are we looking at LaVar Arrington here, a guy who freelances too much? At 6-3, 250, does Burfict get a look at DE if he adds 20 pounds?