by Greg Doyle
Some good games on the slate this weekend. LSU-Florida is a huge SEC tilt and #1 Oklahoma takes on #5 Texas in a big Red River Showdown rivalry game. Let’s start with that match up.
Oklahoma at Texas (Noon EST ABC)
We’ve looked at these two teams before, but this is a great game and perhaps the game of the weekend. There are several other good players on both sides worth watching with the draft in mind as well. Here’s a couple.
A huge safety at 6’3″ 226 lbs who can certainly get down in the box and play linebacker types of responsibilities. Surprisingly decent in coverage as well and makes plays on the ball more than you’d think. Was first team All Big-12 as a junior. Has had some shoulder injuries. Oklahoma has actually used him as a linebacker at times. Not fleet footed, but likes to hit when he catches up to an offensive player. Could perhaps switch full-time to linebacker in the NFL or may be utilized by a team like the Patriots as a nickel linebacker given his hybrid ability to be in the box, but also out in space in coverage.
Texas CB Ryan Palmer (#13)
A solid corner with average size and lots of college experience. Considered one of the better corners in college football against the run, which surely will attract the Patriots attention. Has not made a lot of interceptions in college and that downgrades him a bit. Plays mostly zone coverage, but is physical and likes to hit. First day pick.
Arkansas at Auburn (5:00 PM EST ESPN-Gameplan)
This game is available for subscribers of ESPN Game Plan. Two struggling teams here; Auburn just fired their offensive coordinator this week and Arkansas has been miserable under first year coach Bobby Petrino. But there are a couple draftable players worth watching.
The interestingly first-named Smith is a lanky outside receiver who can get deep down the field. Displays good hands. Not very strong or physical; he won’t block well for you. He’ll have to improve those qualities to get on the field in the NFL. But there is talent to work with here. Will hold onto the ball over the middle and can move the sticks and find seams on third down, which is a very positive quality. Right now a second day pick type, but could move up with a good combine.
A big 305 lb. run stuffing tackle that gets overshadowed by the more highly acclaimed Malcolm Sheppard, the junior defensive tackle who plays next to Mitchell. Mitchell is a strong point of attack nose tackle that has surprising quickness. He may be able to play outside in the Patriots 3-4 and has the combination of strength and athletic ability to play there. Probably a late-rounder right now but I like the different strengths he brings to the table. Mitchell has had some knee injuries this season so is questionable for this game but he should be back at some point.
Others to Watch
North Carolina’s trio of receivers is worth watching at 3:30 PM EST on ABC as they take on Notre Dame. The best one, Brandon Tate, has been a monster this year both receiving and returning kicks. He looks like he could be special at the next level as he is still developing. Here is a highlight video. Hakim Nicks is good too, though he isn’t quite as game-breaking. He is only a junior but could come out. The third guy, Brooks Foster, isn’t bad either. Good size at 6’3″ and a possession receiver who gets lost in the shuffle. But he may be able to play in the NFL as well. All three make for quite the headaches for defenses and could each fit with the Patriots or many other NFL teams, especially Tate given his game-breaking big play ability. Over on ESPNU at Noon, watch 2006 and 2007 Big East Player of the year Pat White man the quarterback position for West Virginia as they take on Syracuse. White is a very fast, athletic, game-changing type runner. He ran for over 1,300 yards just last year alone. He’s done well as a passer in college, but is likely looking at a career in the NFL as a receiver. He has the speed and athletic ability to make the transition and be a good one. Look at his athleticism in this exciting video.