||12-28-2007 11:57 AM
Today's draft watch games include Matt Ryan...
December 28, 2007:
Boston College vs Michigan State; Champs Sports Bowl; 5 PM et; ESPN… A pretty good case can be made that this afternoon’s Champs Sports Bowl match-up between Boston College and Michigan State has as much talent for the 2008 draft as any contest on the early bowl schedule. BC QB Matt Ryan (#12, 6-5, 235), for example, has been one of the major rising stars of the upcoming draft class; indeed, there are teams around the league that would make the Ryan the first player off the board at the position ahead of the likes o Louisville’s Brian Brohm and Andre’ Woodson of Kentucky. And Ryan could very well be joined in this Year’s opening round by rugged OT Gosder Cherilus (#77, 6-6, 320) and CB DeJuan Tribble (#27, 5-9, 190), although the latter won’t play because of an injury. Meanwhile, the Eagles’ senior class also has plenty of depth including the RB duo of Andre Callender (#32, 5-10, 205) and L.V. Whitworth (#30, 5-11, 222), All-America FS Jamie Silva (#44, 5-11, 205), DE Nick Larkin (#57, 6-3, 255), MLB Jolonn Dunbar (#40, 6-0, 225) and WR Kevin Challenger (#84, 5-9, 185).
Michigan State could also have an impact on the early going at the 2008 draft if junior WR Devin Thomas (#5, 6-1, 215) who doesn’t get that much in the way of national pub, but has been as productive as any receiver in the country this fall. Indeed, Thomas, who runs in the 4.50 range for the 40, caught 76 passes for 1,200 yards this fall and averaged a healthy 28.1 yards per KO returns. The Spartans also have one o college football’s most versatile players in TE Kellen Davis (#80, 6-5, 255) who also plays along the defensive line. MSU also features a big offensive line including OT Pete Clifford (#75, 6-6, 320), OG Mike Gyetvai (#66, 6-6, 310) and C John Masters (#54, 6-3, 285) who combine to clear the road for RBs Javon Ringer (#23, 5-9, 205), an explosive junior pile driving Jehuu Caulcrick (#30, 5-11, 255). Meanwhile, the Spartans defense isn’t as strong as the offense and won’t be helped by the act that star DE Jonal St. Dic won’t play because of academics, although steady MLB Kaleb Thornhill (#41, 6-0, 240), DT Ogemdi Nwagbuo (#99, 6-3, 290), DE Ervin Baldwin (#51, 6-2, 270), and safeties Nehemiah Warrick (#3, 6-1, 210), Travis Key (#13, 5-10, 185) and junior Otis Wiley (#21, 6-1, 210) are solid second-tier types.
Houston vs Texas Christian; Texas Bowl, 8 PM ET; NFL Network… If speed is the name of the game, then pro scouts will be tuned when Houston plays TCU in the Texas Bowl as the Cougars feature two of the fastest players in the country as both WR Donnie Avery (#2, 5-10, 190) and RB Anthony Aldridge (#22, 5-9, 175) run close to 4.3 for the 40. And both have translated that speed into terrific productivity on the field. Avery, who doubles as an outstanding KO return man who averaged over 28 yards a return this fall, for example, had 81 catches this season for over 1,300 yards. For his part, Aldridge, who is smallish by current NFL standards, had over 2,000 yards in total offense this season including 1,600 yards on the ground and another 400 plus on 41 receptions; Aldridge also scored 19 times this season. Meawnhile, Avery combines with rangy WR Jeron Harvey (#9, 6-5, 215) to give the Cougars one of the better 1-2 punches at the position in college football. Other Cougars to watch include OG Jeff Akeroyd (#77, 6-3, 295), junior DE Phillip Hunt (#53, 6-2, 250), LBs Brendan Pahula (#3, 6-2, 240) and Trent Allen (#41, 6-1, 245) and safety Rocky Schwartz (#20, 5-10, 200).
The player under the microscope in the Texas Bowl though, will be TCU DE Tommy Blake (#97, 6-2, 255). Blake came into the season rated as one of the top pass-rushers in the country, but ended up sitting out much of the year dealing with some personal issues. If on his game, though, Blake combines with fellow DE Chase Ortiz (#93, 6-2, 255) to give the Horned Frogs a dangerous outside pass rush. TCU also has a pretty good KR in SS Brian Bonner (#6, 5-10, 200), while FS David Roach (#27, 6-1, 215) and OLB David Hawthorne (#46, 5-11, 225) are solid. And if the offense stalls, the horned Frogs have one o the country’s most accurate PKs in Chris Manfredini (#44, 5-9, 165).
Maryland vs Oregon State; Emerald Bowl; 8:30 PM ET; ESPN… Which team wins this year’s Emerald Bowl may come down to who wins the head-to-head battle between star Oregon State RB Yvenson Bernard (#26, 5-9, 205), a slasher with over 3,700 career rushing yards, and Maryland junior MLB Erin Henderson (#1, 6-2, 236), the more athletic younger brother of Vikings’ LB E.J. Henderson. Bernard runs behind a huge offensive line anchored by OGs Roy Schuening (#67, 6-3, 320) and junior Jeremy Perry (#62, 6-3, 315) who was considered the top player at the position prior to the season but played little because of a leg injury. The Beavers also have a very experienced defensive front sevens which starts al seniors including DEs Dorian Smith (#93, 6-3, 260) and Jeff Van Ostrow (49, 6-3, 265) and LBs Derrick Doggett (#45, 6-3, 210), Alan Darlin (#46, 6-0, 255) and Joey Larocque (#44, 6-1, 220). For good measure, Oregon State also has one of the better kickers in the nation in PK Alex Serna (#13, 5-8, 170).
If LB Henderson decides to stay in school for the 2008 season, the Terps’ best prospect for the upcoming draft should be emerging DT Dre Moore (#92, 6-4, 315), a rugged run stuffer with enough quickness to post 6.5 sacks this season. The Terps will also feature one of college football’s better 1-2 senior punches at RB in Lance Ball (#44, 5-9, 225) and Keon Lattimore (#21, 5-10, 225), while TE Joey Haynos (#880, 6-7, 260) is a decent blocker and improving receiver. Meanwhile, veteran OG Andrew Crummey (#63, 6-4, 305) is a solid interior blocker. The most intriguing Maryland prospect, though, may ultimately be redshirt sophomore WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (#8, 6-1, 205) who is still learning the nuances of the position, but is a former track star who may very well be the fastest player in college football.