NFL Draft '07: Scouting Saturday for talent

Several major match-ups dot this Saturday's college schedule. Big time prospects who offer first round talent will face-off against one another. The action starts early and moves through the late evening. Here are some of the games NFL-scouts will be closely monitoring.

Michigan State vs. Pittsburgh 12PM EST ESPN2

A pair of first round players will compete against each other to start the day.  Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton is off to a hot start, completing 70% of his passes.  And while it was against marginal competition, Stanton will be tested Saturday.  

Many consider Darrelle Revis as the nation's top cornerback.  It is widely known the junior will enter the draft after this season.  Thus far in Pittsburgh's first two games Revis has picked off a pair of passes, returning both for touchdowns.  He has desirable size/speed numbers for the next level and the cover skills to match.

On his behalf Stanton also has the physical skills to be selected during the draft's initial 20 selections.  In fact Stanton was given an early first round grade by BLESTO scouting, one of two services used by the NFL, coming into the season.  With the ability to make all the throws, Stanton masterfully commands Michigan State's west coast offense and also has the skills to run a conventional system at the next level.  Stanton has a pair of quality receivers at his disposal.  Spartan's Jerramy Scott and Matt Trannon project as late round choices in next April's draft.

LSU vs. Auburn    3:30PM EST CBS

A huge early season SEC contest from the western division highlights the afternoon.  Several big battles between good prospects on both sides of the ball.  

Auburn running back Kenny Irons is off to a hot start and swiftly zooming up draft boards.  With the injury to Michael Bush during the season's first weekend, Irons now stands as the nation's top senior ball carrier prospect for the NFL.  In two games he's totaled 252-rushing yards while adding four receptions.  What excites scouts most about Irons is his improvement on almost a weekly basis since taking over the starting duties from Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams.  Irons is likely to be drafted in the top half of round one.

Considering LSU lost a trio of solid defensive tackles to the NFL last April, stopping Irons could be a chore.  Those duties will partially fall on the shoulders of safety LaRon Landry.  Offering terrific computer numbers, Landry entertained thoughts of entering last April's draft before deciding to return to Baton Rouge.   A complete defender in centerfield, Landry will be drafted in round one.  

Miami (Fl) vs. Louisville  3:30PM EST ABC

A rematch two years in the making after Louisville lost a heartbreaker to the Hurricanes in 2004.  This contest could set the tempo for the rest of the season for both teams.

Cardinal quarterback Brian Brohm has sliced up the opposition this year.  Completing 58.3% of his throws, Brohm is averaging 280-yards passing during the first two games.

The junior now faces his stiffest defensive competition of the year.  Miami's duo of Baraka Atkins and Kareem Brown will both be pushing the pocket from their defensive tackle positions while Bryan Pata will offer pressure off the edge.  If that wasn't bad enough Brohm must locate Hurricane safety Brandon Meriweather all four quarters.  

Meriweather offers outstanding cover skills and the ball hawk could slide into the draft's first round next April.  For their part Atkins is likely to be drafted early in round two with Brown not far behind in the third frame.

This will be an excellent test for Brohm, who many feel is first round material if the junior enters next April's draft.

Clemson vs. Florida State  7:45PM ESPN

Another tough ACC test for the Clemson Tigers, who soundly defeated Florida State a year ago.

The going has been tough recently for Gaines Adams, Clemson's pass rush specialist.  Uninspired play coupled with a recent shoulder injury has made Adams the whipping boy in a number of scouting circles.  The fact he's tallied just six tackles without recording a sack in the team's initial two games has helped bolster the criticism.

If Adams shoulder is healthy he faces off against one of the most underrated offensive tackles in the nation.  A large specimen, (6'6"/303lbs) Mario Henderson is a terrific athlete with the footwork necessary for the left tackle spot.  Seeing spot duty for the Seminoles in the past, Henderson has a chance to make a name for himself this weekend.

FSU senior linebacker Buster Davis is on the rise.  Looking like the best defensive player in the conference thus far, he is drawing comparisons to former All Pro London Fletcher.  Davis will be responsible for stopping Clemson's potent running game and future NFL star James Davis.  Many feel Davis is moving towards the draft's first day

Nebraska vs. USC  8PM ABC

Are the Trojans ripe to be upset at home?  That is the prevailing thought about this nationally televised contest.  In what should be a high scoring affair, several outstanding one-on-one match-ups must be monitored.

The highlight of the evening could be the showdown between USC junior tackle Sam Baker and Nebraska defensive end Adam Carriker.  Opinions are varied as to where Baker, a terrific pass blocker, will play at the next level.  Some feel he offers to 15 potential as a blind-side tackle while others are turned off by his lack of height and feel he's best suited for guard.  

Carriker terrorizes opponents off the edge and constantly disrupts the opposition in their backfield.  Looking almost thin at 6-feet-6-inches and 290-pounds, Carriker can be a liability against the run.  Yet to his credit he seems to have improved his run-defending skills in the early part of '06.  Carriker projects as a top 20 pick in next April's draft.

The Carriker/Baker match-up is a good one between two quality NFL prospects who play priority positions NFL teams look to on draft day.

We would be remiss not to mention one of the hidden gems in this game.

Since returning to the field after a year-and-a-half layoff, tight end Matt Herian looks like he has not missed a beat.  Averaging 14.1 yards on seven receptions, two which have resulted in touchdowns, Herian is once again establishing himself as a downfield receiving threat.

Trying to stop Herian on Saturday could be the best linebackers no one is paying attention to.  Junior Keith Rivers is a terrific athlete who makes plays in all directions of the field.  Offering outstanding range, the speedy prospect projects well to the weak-side at the next level.  Already considered top 60 material, a good showing against one of the nations best pass catching tight ends will only enhance Rivers value.



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