Decent college football weekend slate with three top 25 matchups, but none are terribly compelling or have a spread less than a touchdown. And the three good teams in all those games – Florida State, Stanford and Ohio State – all feature future NFL players we’ve already covered. So a curveball this week: Five players to watch whose teams we won’t spend much time on this season.
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Redshirt Senior, Minnesota: Mammoth of a lineman (6-foot-6, 315 pounds) who does it all – two blocked kicks, three passes battled down, 5.5 tackles for loss, and he’ll have a shot to pad his stats against struggling but still-unbeaten Michigan. Here’s tape of him last year against Michigan (one sack, one TFL). Could pack on 30 pounds by the combine and solidify his spot as the 2nd best DT in the draft, and worthy of a spot in the middle of the first round.
[RELATED: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects, September 28: LSU, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Ohio State]
Paul Richardson, WR, Redshirt Junior, Colorado: Would he be in the Watkins/Lee/Evans tier if not for a knee injury that robbed him of all last season? Possibly. Not a huge receiver (6-1, 175) but a tremendous all-around talent who probably will end his career as one of the best in school history. Has five TDs in three games this year, but he was slowed considerably last week against Oregon State (5-70-1) as the competition level was raised. Had six TDs as a freshman in 2010, then had that monster 11-284-2 breakout game against Cal in 2011 (loss), but was injured midseason and never regained his form. The Buffaloes are outmanned against the Ducks, but Richardson will have an opportunity to impress against a future pro (Ifo Ekpre-Olomu).
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Junior, Oregon: Remember last year when NC State’s David Amerson came into the season as one of the highest-projected CBs for the 2013 draft, and then was torched in the season opener by Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee? Well, All-American Ohio State CB Bradley Roby struggled last Saturday night defending Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis, who looked like a future pro. Ekpre-Olomu (5-10, 185), who had four interceptions last year, is a strong contender to be the first cornerback taken in the 2014 draft. [vs. Colorado]
[RELATED: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects, September 13th - UCLA, Nebraska, Alabama, Texas A&M]
Bishop Sankey, RB, Junior, Washington: Leading rusher in the nation is averaging 151 yards per game and is a 5-foot-10, 205 workhorse. He’s had over 25 carries three times this season, including 40 last week against Arizona. Had a nice game against Oregon last year (25-104-2 TDs) and went for 205 yards in a bowl loss to Boise State. Speedy, shifty and good size have drawn comparisons to Gio Bernard, who starred at UNC and was drafted by the Bengals this year. Good hands out of the backfield, too (33 catches last year). Looks like a 2nd-3rd round pick. [vs. Stanford]
Christian Jones. LB, Florida State: One of the better inside linebackers in the country with nice speed (4.54 40) and good size (6-foot-3, 230). Minor test for the Seminoles this week at home against Maryland, which has been one of the biggest surprises in the ACC. Jones won’t be confused with Seminole legend Marvin Jones (no relation) because he’s not as sure a tackler. But after getting a “middle round” grade from the NFL a year ago, he stayed in school and so far, looks like a solid 2nd round pick. Was suspended earlier this year for a “team violation.”
[RELATED: 2014 NFL Draft Prospects, September 20th - Arizona State, Stanford]