Saturday NFL Draft watch notes

• Coming into this week’s games against Alabama, Ryan Mallett was the national leader in pass efficiency. As everyone knows, the Michigan transfer has a dynamite arm. As a freshman with the Wolverines, Mallett sometimes looked tentative in the pocket and strong-armed every pass he threw. Against Georgia, he showed good touch and looked like a future pro. Alabama is easily the best defense he’ll face all year.

• Also worth checking out in the Arkansas/Alabama game will be Tide cornerback Javier Arenas. He's a little small at 5-foot-9, but he's a play maker. He shows great anticipation and is very quick. He plays with a good bit of physicality and can be a terror against the run.

• This is a big week for Notre Dame wide receiver Golden Tate. A junior, Tate has been overshadowed this season by sophomore Michael Floyd. Now that Floyd is out for the year, Tate has the opportunity to assert himself as a top playmaker, especially against a below-average Purdue defense.

• Miami defensive end Eric Moncur is a great effort player and could give the Virginia Tech offensive line plenty of trouble on the outside. After missing all of last season and the first game of 2009, Moncur has showed great awareness. He was a big reason Miami was able to take of care Georgia Tech. Moncur doesn't have great size at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds, but he makes a lot of plays.

Taylor Mays might be back this week for Southern California. He began practicing more intensely Thursday. Injured two weeks ago against Ohio State, Mays has to start playing much better to maintain his lofty draft status.

• Penn State senior defensive tackle Jared Odrick really has a chance to cement himself as a top interior prospect this week. He's been disruptive all season, but the Nittany Lions have played marginal competition. Against Iowa, he won't face premier linemen but the Hawkeyes always have technically sound and disciplined players.

• After being suspended the first game of the season, Mississippi State's Anthony Dixon has shown a good burst the past two games. Against Auburn and Vanderbilt, he's combined for 215 yards. Playing LSU this weekend will really test the 235-pound senior's mettle.

• If you're recording the Oklahoma State game, you might want to reconsider what you DVR. Possibly missing this week's game is cornerback Perrish Cox, wide receiver Dez Bryant and running back Kendall Hunter.

Jerry Hughes has been dominant for TCU, and expect that domination to continue this week against Clemson. It's likely he'll line up against left tackle Chris Hairston who is coming back from a sprained MCL. On the year, Hughes has 16 tackles, 5 1/2 for loss and 4 1/2 sacks. However, those stats have come against Texas State and Virginia. Clemson isn't great competition either, so Hughes' numbers are slightly deceiving.

• This weekend against Stanford, the mental toughness of Washington quarterback Jake Locker could be tested. Coming off the biggest win of his career, it will be interesting to see if Locker is mentally prepared for a Cardinal team that has deceptive toughness and athleticism on its defense.

• Thus far in 2009, Georgia defensive tackle Geno Atkins has been a non-factor. Arizona State doesn't have the best interior blockers, so this could be Atkins' best chance of the year to show his dominance from 2007 before heading into SEC play.

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