UCLA at Nebraska, 12, ABC
Brett Hundley, QB, redshirt sophomore: Unbelievably, I omitted Hundley from my story about the Golden Age of Black Quarterbacks. This after saying he was my Heisman sleeper! Love Hundley. I think he’s going to decimate the Cornhuskers, who permitted 8.1 yards per play in a narrow win over Wyoming. I think Hundley (6-foot-3, 220) has 1st round talent, but the reason he won’t go that high if he enters the 2014 draft is because there is so much competition. In 2015? Well, if he continues to play like he did as a freshman for the rest o this year and next, then he could be Top 10 material. He’s no Kaepernick (yet?), but my guess is, someone would take a chance on Hundley early in the 2nd round in 2014.
Anthony Barr, LB, senior: Terror. Monster. Menace on the end, scary speed for someone who is 6-4, 250, and he’s going to be a Top 15 pick for sure, perhaps even Top 5. I had him in my first round last year, but he stuck around for another year. Matt Barkley surely remembers Barr.
Spencer Long, G, Senior: 6-4, 315: Former walk-on spent 2009 as a scout team defensive lineman. Then, they moved him to the offensive line. Fast forward to 2012: Long’s a 2nd team All-American. He’s not in the elite group of lineman in the 2014 draft, but probably in that next tier, which, for now, puts him in the 2nd-3rd round range.
Ameer Abdullah, RB, Junior: Probably falls into the “really good, fast, college system RB” than anything, but I like what I’ve seen. He tallied 1,137 yards last year, and has 114 in each of the first two games. Last year against the Bruins, he had 119 yards, 7.4 ypc, and two scores. Here’s video. At 5-foot-9, 195, he’s definitely not an everydown back in the NFL, and right now, a late-round pick at best.
Alabama at Texas A&M, 3:30, CBS
Ed Stinson, DE, Senior: Alabama has produced plenty of talented offensive lineman, and linebackers, but Stinson’s a very good pass-rusher who should have a long productive NFL career. Clowney and Tuitt (and I think, Aaron Lynch) will get all the hype, as they should. But after that, it’s a tossup – is Stinson better than Stanford’s Trent Murphy? Stinson doesn’t wow you with stats – just three sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss last year – and he’s up about 50 pounds from his freshman year, when he arrived on campus without a national profile. I’d peg the 6-3, 295 Stinson as a 2nd-3rd round pick right now.
AJ McCarron, QB, Senior: It was quite clear in the season opener against Virginia Tech that the rebuilt offensive line will make life significantly more difficult for McCarron this year. He’s still a pro, for sure, but it’ll be interesting to see what kind of mobility he has in the NFL. I think he’s definitely a better prospect than his predecessor, Greg McElroy, but five years from now, will AJ McCarron be in the NFL, or an analyst on the SEC Network? Putting aside his record and the titles, the only QB in recent memory surrounded by this stacked a roster was Matt Leinart. A 1st round pick in 2006, Leinart isn’t currently on an NFL roster.
Jake Matthews, OT, Senior: The 6-foot-5, 305-pounder is technically sound, rarely gets beat, and will find himself highly coveted prior to the draft. Is he better than Taylor Lewan, the mammoth lineman at Michigan? Here’s some Matthews tape last year – for such a large man, he moves effortlessly. Top 15 pick for sure, perhaps a top five selection.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Redshirt Sophomore: Manziel as a football player is fascinating. Sure, Cam Newton can take hits from NFL linebackers. RG3 hasn’t been able to. Kaepernick is 6-foot-6 and amazingly never gets hit (inbounds). Could Manziel find success in the pros the way Russell Wilson has? Well, Wilson was 23 years old when he entered the NFL, and played for NC State and Wisconsin. Manziel is only 21 in December and won’t even have 30 college starts under his belt. Much of the off-the-field stuff doesn’t really bother me – he’s still a kid, albeit one who will need to grow up fast in the NFL. I think right now he’s first round material, but I’m not certain he’s definitely taken in the first round.