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NFL Draft 2013: What College Players to Watch Today

Skipped this exercise last week because the slate was so poor. This week, we’re going to highlight all three games between undefeated teams. If you missed the other September posts on the subject: the first week; week two and week three.

LSU at Florida, 3:30 pm, CBS

We’ve covered both teams before. You’ll want to keep an eye on LSU’s terrible defensive line twosome, Sam Montgomery & Barkevious Mingo. The latter – who I said reminds me of LT, and was profiled by SI.com this week – could go first overall in the the draft. Toss in DT Bennie Logan – who feels like a 2nd or 3rd round pick in a deep class; Mel Kiper loves him – and the LSU line should be the difference in this one. I don’t see Florida being able to run, so I took the Tigers -2.5.

LSU defensive back Eric Reid, who right now looks like the 1st safety that will be taken in the draft, has the skills and size (6-2, 210) to go in the late first round. If you get through the title game against Alabama – not his best performance – there’s plenty good on this tape:

Safe to say all the Mettenberger preseason hype was just that. He’s nowhere near ready for the pros. Hell, it isn’t out of the realm that if LSU struggles here and in the on the month ahead – the schedule is rough – Les Miles could turn to a backup.

Georgia at South Carolina, 7 pm, ESPN

Jarvis Jones, probably the best LB who will be in the 2013 draft, will be meeting another star, SC RB Marcus Lattimore, in the running lanes all night. Lattimore will probably be the best running back in the draft, but he’s still not 100 percent after last year’s injury. (Also of concern: His workload as a freshman.)

The other two Georgia defenders to keep an eye on: 360-pound John Jenkins on the interior – he’s off to a great start – and Alec Ogletree, a linebacker who has an arrest under his belt, and broke his foot last year, but looked very good against Tennessee last week with 14 tackles. Jenkins (along with Jones) had a monster game against Missouri:

Why no mention of South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney? Sure, he might be the best defensive player in college football, but he’s only a sophomore. But yes, If I did a 2014 mock draft, he’d be No. 1, maybe followed by two WRs – Sammy Watkins of Clemson and Marquise Lee of USC.

West Virginia at Texas, 7 pm, FOX

Geno, Geno, Geno. It’s all about Geno Smith. The Heisman leader has been clinical through the first month of the season putting up astronomical numbers. Not to be the pump-the-brakes guy, but can we at least see him against a real defense this year? (Yes, I know what he did vs. LSU – 38-of-64, 463 yards, but it wasn’t a dominant performance.) Smith is going to be facing two Top 60 picks in next year’s draft – DEs Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor. The Texas defense, as chronicled here, hasn’t been impressive this year, so sure, Smith could blow up for another 400 yards and five TDs. Are we seeing another meteoric QB rise, like RG3 last year, or just another B12 QB putting up Arena League numbers? There isn’t another real defense on the schedule. Would love to see Smith vs. Alabama/LSU in the title game. Mel Kiper put Geno Smith 14th on his big board this week; Todd McShay 2nd.

Smith’s top target will be 5-foot-9 Tavon Austin, who caught 11 passes for 187 yards in last year’s game, including a 72-yarder that led to a score. This year, he’s 3rd in the country in receptions (48), 7th in yards (560), and tied for 2nd in TDs (7). It’ll be interesting to see where Austin goes in the draft. What’s the market for 5-foot-9, 175-pound receivers?

 

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