NFL Draft '07: Scouting Saturday for talent

A great week of conference games hits the schedule Saturday. Battle for league supremacy as well as post-season positioning starts early in the day and works through the evening. There are some titanic battles on the lines of scrimmage between highly rated prospects which must me watched.

Texas vs. Nebraska 12PM EST/ABC

A terrific cross-division contest in the Big 12.  Almost a dozen draft eligible players who will take the field hold first day grades.  Nebraska has the top offense in the conference while the Longhorn defense is number one in the league.

The Cornhusker pass rushing tandem of Adam Carriker and Jay Moore have been disappointing this season.  Carriker has just a single sack while Moore has added three.  Earlier in the year against USC both players were handled by top rated Trojan tackle Sam Baker.  This week they face-off against another edge blocker in Justin Blalock, a big wide-bodied lineman who will play either right tackle or guard at the next level.  

Blalock's star has been on the rise and he's moving up boards.  Carriker, at first considered a potential top 32 selection, has fallen deep into the second frame.  He needs a big game against the Longhorn tackle to stem his sinking grade.

Wisconsin vs. Purdue 12 PM EST/ESPN

Another game which offers a tremendous battle on the line of scrimmage.

After sustaining a knee injury in a bowl game last January when he sparingly played defensive end, Wisconsin left tackle Joe Thomas has mended nicely.  NFL scouts love Thomas as one source we spoke with earlier this week compared his pass blocking skills to those of Jonathan Ogden.

Purdue defensive end Anthony Spencer, a prospect we highlighted as a riser in last Monday's review, is making a huge charge up draft boards.  Coming into the season with a late round grade, Spencer leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss and sacks.  

This will be Spencer's toughest test of the season, though it does not get much easier for him next week against Penn State's Levi Brown.  Already solidifying himself as a first day pick, good results could help Spencer state his case to be a top sixty selection.

Should Thomas shut out Spencer it will further the belief of many scouts that he stands as one of the top five senior prospects available in next April's draft.

Alabama vs. Tennessee 3:30 PM EST/CBS

If its' the third Saturday in October that means it is time for Alabama and Tennessee to face off.

Tide receiver D.J. Hall has turned into a lethal weapon this season.  Hall is averaging 100-yards receiving in the six games as well as 20.8-yards per reception.  Add in his five touchdown catches and defenders have had trouble containing Hall in '06.

The Volunteers will try and counter with Jonathan Wade, a physically gifted cornerback with first day abilities.  Unfortunately for Wade inconsistency and a lack of pure ball skills/instincts have plagued him.  

Wade will have his hands full with Hall but if he keeps the Tides game breaking wide out in check it will ease some of the concerns scouts have about his game.

Rutgers vs. Pittsburgh 5:45 PM EST/ESPN2

The 19th ranked Rutgers Scarlett Knights have been one of the feel good stories of the year.  The schedule quickly turns tough as they take on Pittsburgh who sits in a three way tie with Rutgers atop the conference standings.

Rutgers offers one of the nations top offenses.  Averaging 31-points and more than 330-yards per game the team possesses two top rated skill players in multi-purpose fullback Brian Leonard, a top 60 selection, and tight end Clark Harris, a potential first day choice.

The Pittsburgh defense is manned by a first and second round choice as well as a late round sleeper.

H.B. Blades leads the conference in tackles and the Panther linebacker is constantly around the action.  The knock on Blades are his skills in coverage, something we disagree with.  Blades will have the opportunity to deflect that criticism against the outstanding pass catching ball carriers on the Rutgers offense as well as the sure handed Harris.  Blades is a top sixty choice with the ability to move into the draft's initial 45 selections.

The other Pitt linebacker, Clint Session, was not given a draftable grade entering the year.  But the senior has dismissed the notion he does not have the ability to play on an NFL level.  Right up there with Blades as on of the league's top tacklers, Session is developing a complete game and has moved into the late rounds of the draft.

Finally cornerback Darell Revis is turning into the nations best at his position.  Expected to enter April's draft, Revis sits as a top-twenty pick.

UTEP vs Houston 7PM EST

A terrific battle between two of the best passers in the conference, both of whom are NFL prospects.

Kevin Kolb has done nothing to disappoint NFL scouts this year.  As mentioned during our review last week, the Cougar signal caller is on pace to finish the season with 3500-passing yards and has completed 68% of his throws with 17 touchdowns and just one interception thus far in '06.  He leads the league's top ranked offense and has been very efficient all season.

UTEP and their signal caller Jordan Palmer sit right underneath Houston and Kolb as the league's passing leaders. 

Completing almost 71% of his throws, Carson's little brother is averaging 278-yards passing per game.  And while his 14 touchdown tosses are impressive his nine interceptions are a bit troubling.

Kolb is a fringe first day pick while Palmer more of a late round choice.  There should be a lot of offense and plenty of scoring in this affair.

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