NFL Draft '07: Scouting Saturday for talent

Several outstanding match-ups dot the schedule this weekend. A number of top prospects will be facing off against each other from the early part of the day through the evening. Also on the docket are several late round choices to keep an eye on.

Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse

Syracuse is showing some life after a bleak year in '05 which continued during the early part of this season. Pittsburgh has lost just a single game this year and is poised to make a competitive run at the conference title.  A trio of underrated prospects stand out in this contest.

The Panthers offer the top quarterback/receiver combinations in the conference.  Senior signal caller Tyler Palko has really taken his game to another level this season.  Averaging 262-yards passing per game and completing 68% of his throws, Palko has also connected on 14 touchdown passes while throwing just three picks during the team's initial five games.   His favorite target is junior wide out Derek Kinder who leads the Big East in every receiving category.

Kinder is a developing wide out with sure hands and the ability to break games open.

The two face off against Orange cornerback Tanard Jackson, one of the nation's most underrated cover-corners.  A consistent positive at SU the past three years, Jackson has opposing quarterbacks consistently looking away from him.

Jackson sits as a first day pick next April while Palko will get consideration in the late rounds by a team which runs the west coast offense.  Kinder, the next in what has been a line of good receivers from the Pitt program, will grade out as a top 45 pick for the '07 draft.

West Virginia vs. Mississippi State

An unusual match-up between the Big East and SEC offering a pair of programs headed in different directions.  The West Virginia running game is explosive and helped by a pair of solid senior blockers.  Mississippi State on their behalf offer two of the best defensive tackles people are unaware of.

Dan Mozes has been a productive offensive lineman for West Virginia at both guard and center.  Explosive and smart, Mozes lacks bulk but is a solid late round pick who could be an invaluable utility lineman at the next level.  

Jeremy Sheffey is a strong blocker who opens holes for the running game.  A late round pick/free agent prospect, he could also add depth at the next level.

Deljuan Robinson is the leader of the of the Bulldog line and a tenacious defender who goes hard until the whistle blows, making a good amount of plays on the inside.  Robinson is good value at the start of the draft's second day and a player who could produce at the next level.  

Robinson's teammate Antonio Johnson is considered to have better potential for the next level yet rarely plays to it.  Johnson could end up as a late round pick and can be a quality player in the NFL if the light ever goes on.

Texas vs. Oklahoma

The Red River Rivalry offers another great contest in the Big 12 this year.  Each squad has one loss this season and this is a must win for both teams.

Several match-ups will be offered throughout the day but the one to concentrate on is Adrian Peterson against the Longhorn defensive line.

Peterson is off and running this season and despite the Sooners woes at quarterback and on the offensive line, he has been running rough-shod over opponents.  Proving he is a multi-dimensional player, Peterson has done much of the work on his own this season.  Already stating he is likely to enter the draft, Peterson will be a top-three pick next April.

Texas offers three draftable players on their defensive line.  Tackle Frank Okam stuffs the run in the middle of the line and commands double teams.  The junior is a pocket pusher that will be a first round pick if he leaves for the draft after this season.

Tim Crowder and Brian Robinson are a pair of solid defensive ends.  Crowder, the better athlete, is a solid pass-rusher but can be a liability against the run.  Robinson makes a lot of plays with his head and will get late round consideration.

South Carolina vs. Kentucky

A resurgent Kentucky program hopes to keep the momentum going after several surprising victories.  South Carolina comes off a tough loss against Auburn and needs a victory to keep their bowl hopes alive.

Red-shirt sophomore Sidney Rice is justifiably considered a first round pick whenever he enters the draft.  A tall, fluid wide out, Rice plays with great balance and body control.  Natural in all aspects, he possesses both soft and strong hands. After a slow start to the season Rice has been on fire the past three weeks.

Kentucky possesses just a single NFL prospect from their senior class, cornerback Bo Smith.  Offering solid size/speed numbers, Smith flashes cover skills but must start to consistently make plays.  Part of the problem is opposing quarterbacks purposely throw away from Smith.

When matched-up against Rice on Saturday Smith is likely to see plenty of action.  This is a good match-up to watch and a solid opportunity for Smith to show he has the stuff needed for the next level.

Tennessee vs. Georgia

An important contest in the SEC East as Tennessee needs a win in Georgia to keep its' conference title hopes alive.  This game offers a tremendous battle on the line of scrimmage.

Arron Sears is one of the most underrated  blockers in the nation and a player we highlighted in last week's review.  Productive the past three years, Sears is a terrific left tackle who could also be pushed inside to guard at the next level.

This week's task is a tough one as Sears faces one of the highest rated senior prospects in the nation.  Quentin Moses is an explosive pass rusher who consistently makes plays in the opponents backfield.  Fast off the edge, he has the athleticism to pursue plays from the backside and creates a lot of havoc. 

Sears has his work cut out for him tomorrow but good results could push him into the first round.

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