* Boston College MLB Luke Kuechly has been my favorite player all year and his performance against Miami only solidified that. Kuechly was in on 9 tackles (low for him). He broke up a couple of passes. He also picked off a pass and ran it back 45 yards for a TD. That game really showed Luke for what he is. He tackled well. He showed good range. He was an effective pass defender.
I’ve thought Luke was going to be an early 2nd round pick for a while, assuming he comes out. He isn’t a great athlete and 2-down MLBs just aren’t valued the way they were 15 or 20 years ago. After seeing him against Miami I now think Luke could be a guy that goes in the 15-25 range. I’m still not sure that is likely, but I do think it is possible.
Some people point out guys like Rolando McClain went Top 10, but he was a 250-pound MLB that played in the SEC and showed cover skills. Luke is 240. He’s not a great size/speed guy. He will play faster than he times.
The argument for Luke is that he is exactly what defenses need. Now that teams spread defenses out so much, you should covet a 240-pound LB who can play the run and be adequate in coverage. The running game is no longer I-formation, power stuff.
* Clemson DE Andre Branch had a couple of sacks vs South Carolina to give him 11 for the year. There was an even more impressive showing for me in that game. Branch dropped into coverage on 3rd down. He was 1-on-1 with a RB in space. The pass came to the RB and Branch made the stop for a short gain. 3-4 teams will be drooling over that. Branch can rush the passer and play in space.
Clemson DT Brandon Thompson is a player I get asked about. Lists at 6’2, 310. Can be quick off the ball. Can be disruptive. Not a consistent playmaker. Has 17.5 career TFLs. I don’t think of Thompson as 1st round material. I don’t think he’s got the athleticism to be a 3-technique DT in the NFL. I think he could be a good 4-3 NT. Let him eat up blocks and attack upfield when single blocked. I expect him to be at the Senior Bowl and we’ll get a better feel for him down in Mobile.
* Baylor RB Terrance Ganaway stepped up when QB Robert Griffin III was hurt. Ganaway ran 42 times for 246 yards and 2 scores. Baylor lists Ganaway at 6’0, 240. He has a thick build and is a downhill runner. He’s not a freight train like Brandon Jacobs or LeGarrette Blount, but Ganaway could be a good role player in the NFL. He’s a N-S runner, which is what you want from a big guy. He has good size and power. I’d like to see Ganaway run with more attitude. He’s bigger than most tacklers. Attack them. He’s not passive now, but just doesn’t have that edge that you love to see from power runners. The best of them want to punish defenders and I don’t see that from Ganaway.
* I’ve written a lot of good things about Penn State DT Devon Still this year. He can be very productive (17 TFLs this year). Even when Still isn’t making plays, he can be disruptive by eating up blockers or getting penetration. The last 3 weeks haven’t been so kind to Still (Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin). They held him to just 1.5 TFLs in 3 games. All 3 teams ran effectively, often up the middle. Still didn’t do a good enough job of shedding blocks and/or controlling the middle.
* UNC wideout Dwight Jones had a huge showing vs Duke. He was 10-101 with 3 TDs. The best TD catch was a one-hand grab in the endzone. I’m really impressed with Jones. Big WR who plays big. Duke’s secondary had no answer for him. Jones took advantage of the matchup.
DE Quinton Coples had a pair of sacks and a FF. Duke had trouble with him all day. Coples has picked up his level of play in recent weeks. LB Zach Brown was in on 10 tackles.
* LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne had another highlight type INT. He high-pointed a ball down the field. Claiborne is big and fast, but has unusually good ball skills for a CB. He catches the ball very naturally and easily. He now has 5 INTs each of the last 2 years. LSU did a fantastic job of shutting down the Arkansas passing game. Joe Adams, Greg Childs, and my man Jarius Wright combined for just 8 catches, 102 yards. Wright did have a TD.
* Teams looking for a role player WR could have interest in Michigan State’s Keshawn Martin. He ran a punt back 57 yards for a TD last week. That gives him 3 return TDs in his career (2 PR, 1 KOR). Martin has a medium build at 5’11, 189. He has pretty good speed, but his strength is RAC ability. Put the ball in his hands and he can make things happen (just like the PR TD). Martin gets some carries and is 57-522-3 for his career as a runner.
* I think Clemson star Dwayne Allen is the best TE in the country, but Georgia’s Orson Charles isn’t too shabby himself. He had 5 catches for 95 yards vs Ga Tech. Charles looks like a WR/RB hybrid. They list him at 6’3, 241. Ideally you’d like him in the 250-255 range to help with his blocking, but you don’t want to sacrifice his athleticism. Charles is a weapon at his current size. Get him the ball in space and he can make things happen. Could be a 2nd round pick if he comes out.
* I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Wisconsin RB Montee Ball. He was 25-156-4 vs Penn State. Ball now has 34 TDs on the year. The NCAA record is 39 by Barry Sanders. Ball has to face Michigan State this weekend and a good team in the bowl game. He has a tough challenge in getting to 39, but it is possible. That blows my mind. Ball could be the #2 RB taken if he decides to come out. I think Trent Richardson is first, but Ball could be in the mix. He has good vision and excellent lateral agility. The knock on Ball is that he’s coming from Wisconsin. Their RBs haven’t fared real well in the pros. The good thing is that he’s coming from Wisconsin and knows how to play in a pro style offense.
* I loved watching the Ohio State-Michigan game. It wasn’t full of great prospects, but was just a great college game. Michigan won 40-34. How bad has the Buckeye offense been this year? OSU wideout DeVier Posey has only played in 2 games due to NCAA violations and he is just 7 catches from being tied for the team lead in receptions. Yikes. Posey has played well since coming back. Legit NFL talent. Good hands and size. Good athlete. Senior Bowl will be crucial due to lack of a Senior season.