Texas A&M vs South Carolina 6:00 EST on SECN
Texas A&M senior T Cedric Ogbuehi (#70): A top 10 overall prospect in my eyes. Ogbuehi is a super athletic offensive lineman in the mold of Tyron Smith, and shares some of the same issues as the former first-round pick showed. Ogbuehi’s biggest test last year was against Dee Ford, who beat the tackle with powerful hands and drive to his chest. Watching that game back, I believe Ogbuehi adjusted his game and depth accordingly and did very well in the second half. This will be Ogbuehi’s first game at left tackle.
South Carolina junior RB Mike Davis (#28): For a full report on Mike Davis, check out Cian Fahey’s post. Davis wins with acceleration and vision. Yes, South Carolina coaches were surprised by his long speed on a few runs, but those are few and far between. Davis gets to the second level and reads blocks and decisive cuts to find open areas of the field. As with all backs, displaying 100 percent health, receiving ability and pass protection skills are important. He enters the season as the third or fourth draft-eligible RB prospect.
Clemson at Georgia 5:30 EST on ESPN
Clemson senior Edge Rusher Vic Beasley (#3): For a full report on Vic Beasley, read Cian Fahey’s write up. Beasley might be the top defensive line prospect in the country, as he offers something every team covets: pressure. Like many rushers, Beasley’s top move is an outside line coupled with a strong get off and edge speed. Beasley flashes strength when extending and engaging, and he seems to have enough backfield vision to not take himself out of plays. Enough flexibility and bend is there to turn the corner. In order for him to be a complete rusher, Beasley could display an improved inside move or a willingness to power through blockers straight up. But that is not exactly necessary.
As Cian points out, Virginia game planned against Virginia in 2013, but the edge rusher still did his job despite not being able to complete plays thanks to quick passes or play action. Beasley beat up on Georgia last year. John Theus, a former five-star recruit, moves from right to left tackle. Good luck to you, John.
Georgia junior RB Todd Gurley (#3): A running back of Gurley’s size should not have the combination of speed, explosion, footwork and power the junior displays. He is a combination of Marshawn Lynch and Eddie Lacy (and I am not saying that just because of the dreads). Gurley is relentless after generating momentum, which he produces at a ridiculous rate. The Bulldog is difficult to take down at the line of scrimmage, second level and downfield.
We know Gurley is powerful and fast, but he also possesses patience and vision, specifically on screen passes. Again, evaluators will want to see 100 percent health and pass protection skills, but Gurley is almost too good to be true.
I would not be surprised if he ends up as a top 10 prospect on my board this year.
FSU vs Oklahoma State (Arlington) 8:00 EST on ABC
FSU redshirt sophomore QB Jameis Winston (#5): What I love most about Winston’s game is his poise and eye level, even when pressured. Few redshirt freshmen show it to Winston’s degree. It makes you consider if that type of skill is inherent.
Cian Fahey wrote a detailed preseason breakdown of Winston, and specifically pointed to Winston’s misplaced passes. Many make a big deal about Winston’s longer delivery as it relates to the time it takes for the ball to get out. The bigger concern might be the inaccuracies it causes. Honestly, I don’t think the motion is that big of a deal (some have compared it to Byron Leftwich).
The bigger question I have is Jameis moving on from a vertical receiver like Kelvin Benjamin. Winston knows where his receivers win and attempts to put the ball in correct position. Benjamin was Winston’s lone two vertical (downfield and off the ground) receiver. Will that aspect of the passing game be lost? And how will Winston compensate for it?
Oklahoma State junior CB Kevin Peterson (#1): Peterson was the “other” corner opposite Justin Gilbert last year. From watching the two, I thought Peterson pressed more at the line of scrimmage than the top 10 pick. However, he failed to sustain contact downfield and slow down his opponent. I know illegal contact has been a focus of the NFL preseason, but the penalty does not exist at the college level.
Use it to your advantage.
LSU vs Wisconsin (Houston) 9:00 EST on ESPN
LSU senior T La’El Collins (#70): I have questions with Collins’ game (detailed here). However, many will point to specific areas where Collins wins, and I agree with most of them. First, Collins is massive. We have seen in the past that sometimes that is enough to at least be adequate. Second, he flashes some athleticism moving forward and there are some real highlights that display supreme power. My issue is these were not consistent.
Focus on Collins when he is asked to pass protect on an island. Maybe not so much if he has perfect posture or technique, as many can win without both. More so how he loses. Does he get beat around the edge easily? Does he get beat to the chest when focused on gaining depth in the pocket? Can he stop an inside move? If he shows better when covered up by a tight end, evaluators could conclude Collins wins in tight spaces. Guard might be in his future.
Wisconsin redshirt junior RB Melvin Gordon III (#25): This is high praise, but Gordon III is a Jamaal Charles clone. Cian Fahey made the same comparison.
Gordon III should see more receiving and pass protection opportunities this year, which is great. We are not sure if he can or cannot handle those duties, so that aspect of the evaluation remains to be seen. We know what Melvin can do: stick his foot in the dirt, between the tackles or out in space, and get upfield. The Badger has a real chance to be a first-round pick this spring.