Top NFL prospects: Week in review

As the college football season moved into full swing this past weekend, several of the nation's top NFL prospects capitalized with standout performances, which caught the notice of league scouts. Here's a look at some of the fast starts by top prospects.

For the second week in a row Bowling Green quarterback Omar Jacobs passed for more then 400 yards, this time leading his team to a win. After a 458-yard performance against Wisconsin, the strong-armed signal caller threw for 428 yards against conference opponent Ball State. Two weeks into the 2005 campaign, Jacobs has thrown 10 touchdown passes with just two interceptions and completed more than 60 percent of his throws. Many feel Jacobs could well be the top quarterback prospect in America and will end up as a top-10 pick should he enter the draft.

Another junior, Arizona State's Sam Keller, performed well in a loss to LSU, amassing 461 passing yards and completing 62.5 percent of his throws. Seeing just spot duty behind Andrew Walter the past two seasons, Keller will make a big jump up draft boards if he continues this pace.

Count Darrell Hackney of Alabama Birmingham as another riser from the quarterback ranks. After a tough seven-point loss to highly rated Tennessee, when he completed 71 percent of his throws for 282 yards, Hackney returned to lead his team to a 20-point victory over Troy State. During Saturday night's contest, Hackney completed more than 65 percent of his throws for 296 yards. A physically gifted prospect, consistency is key for Hackney, who will jump into the draft's first day if he continues with positive performances.

One of the most underrated receivers in the nation, Oregon State's Mike Hass is having a quick start to the season. Posting 11 receptions for 178 yards and one score in the Beavers' three-point victory over Boise State last week, Haas is averaging more than 165 yards receiving per game this year. While ordinary size/speed numbers will depress his draft ranking, Hass is a solid first day pick who could develop into a productive second wideout in the NFL.

Hank Baskett came up big in New Mexico's victory over Missouri. Totaling 10 receptions for 209 yards and three scores, he was of the "go-to guy" Mizzu could not stop. Well-sized at 220 pounds, Baskett is a consistent pass catcher and another first-day selection.

It seems Miami of Ohio receiver Martin Nance is back in fine form from a knee injury, which shelved him most of last year. Posting consecutive 100-yard receiving games, Nance topped a solid nine-reception performance against Ohio State by adding seven more against Central Michigan this weekend.

At the tight end position, Marcedes Lewis of UCLA has been a force. Presently leading the Bruins in receiving, Lewis totaled nine receptions during the team's first two contests, averaging 17.6 yards per catch. A deep threat who creates mismatches in the defensive secondary, Lewis could be headed into the draft's initial 45 selections.

Possibly no performance from last Saturday was better than Tulsa's Garret Mills. A tight end that sometimes lines up at fullback, Mills was a one-man show against Oklahoma, catching 13 passes for 152 yards in a game the Hurricanes kept close until the very end. A potential H-back at the next level, Mills will draw late-round consideration.

An underclassman has led the way at running back.

Junior Laurence Maroney of Minnesota ranks as a top-30 pick by most scouting combines. Rushing for 133 yards and two scores during the Gophers trouncing of Colorado State, Maroney has averaged 9.7 yards per carry in the teams first two games.

Keep an eye on Washington State senior Jerome Harrison. The underrated ball carrier totaled 150 yards in each of the Cougars' initial two contests. Harrison's per carry average is a healthy 6.8 yards.

One of the draft's biggest sleepers at running back may have awoken. De'Arrius Howard of Arkansas has combined for 260 yards on the ground during the Razorbacks' first two games. More impressive is his 8.4-yard average each time he takes a handoff. At 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds with 4.4 speed, NFL scouts knew Howard possessed the physical skills to play at the next level. Now he's starting to answer questions about productivity on the field.

For the second week in a row Georgia Tech's Eric Henderson was been a dominant force up front. After a game in which he consistently beat Marcus McNeil of Auburn, one of the nation's top offensive tackle prospects, Henderson was again omnipresent in the Yellow Jackets victory over North Carolina. Consistently making plays in the opponent's backfield, Henderson has been devastating pressuring quarterbacks, forcing fumbles or chasing down running backs. Considered a first-day pick entering the season, it is safe to say Henderson has jumped into the initial 60 choices of April's draft.

A second ACC defender stood out on Saturday, this one being Maryland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. Leading the conference in tackles in 2004, Jackson is ahead of last season's pace, totaling 34 total tackles during the Terps' first two games. A solid middle linebacker, Jackson has combined intelligent play with reckless abandon.

Another linebacker, A.J. Hawk of Ohio State, was front-and-center during the Buckeyes slim defeat at the hands of Texas. Posting a game-high 12 tackles, which included a pair of sacks, Hawk also intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble. Awarded Big 10 Defensive Player of the Week honors on Monday, Hawk is solidifying his ranking as a potential first-round pick.

Finally Penn State cornerback Alan Zemaitis shut down receivers all day in a victory over Cincinnati. Possessing outstanding corner size, Zemaitis has picked up where he left off after a terrific junior season.


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