Saturday NFL Draft watch notes

It goes without saying that the best one-on-one matchup of the day will be Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones going against LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. Both are big athletes, with loads of talent. If the two juniors come out after this season,, they could both go in the top 10.

After missing two games due to injury, Arizona quarterback Nick Foles is back. He can try and steal some of the spotlight when his team plays Stanford and Andrew Luck. No one is suggesting Foles is equal to Luck, but he can show his quarterback ability to all the NFL scouts that will be in attendance.


One prospect we haven't really discussed much this year is Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea. He's statistically having a down season with just 18 tackles with three and a half for loss. That's due to double and triple teams all season. Expect more of the same against UCLA. But the Bruins don't have much of a line so the 6-foot-1, 310-pound senior could get off Saturday.

In the Louisville/Syracuse game, there are a couple good late-round running backs. We've discussed Louisville's Bilal Powell some here, but also check out Syracuse's Delone Carter. He has 746 yards rushing on the year, with 109 coming against Cincinnati last week. Against the Bearcats earlier this season, Powell had 209 yards.

Chris Steuber of NFL Draft Scout is reporting that scouts from the 49ers, Buccaneers, Dolphins, Giants, Panthers, Rams and Titans will be at the North Carolina/Florida State game. One player they may be looking at is Tar Heels junior end Quinton Coples. The 6-foot-6, 245-pounder has greatly benefited from Robert Quinn's suspension. He has 11 tackles for a loss and six sacks on the year. He's developing but loaded with potential.

Speaking of tackles for a loss, the nation's current leader is Ryan Kerrigan of Purdue with 18.5. There are questions about whether or not the defensive end may be better suited for outside linebacker in the NFL. Against Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi, he can show whether or not he's strong enough to stay on the line.

Another stat stuffer on defense is Fresno State senior end Chris Carter. He has 13 tackles for a loss, nine sacks and four forced fumbles on the year. He's purely a linebacker prospect, but plays backer and end for the Bulldogs. Fresno State doesn't have a lot of top athletes, but Carter is one of them. He's a late-round prospect.

How does Nebraska's Roy Helu get to follow up his 307-yard performance from last weekend? By playing Iowa State, which is ranked 99th in the nation in run defense. It should be another game of more than 100 yards for Helu. When you watch him, look at his cutting ability. He's deceptively shifty.

Utah and TCU is the premier game on Saturday. The top NFL Draft prospect in that game is Utah junior cornerback Brandon Burton. He's a big, fluid athlete who routinely matches up against an opponent's top receiver. Teams generally don't throw at Burton. If TCU does, look for him to make a play on the ball.

There should be plenty of passing offense in the Boise State/Hawaii game. If you have caught the Warriors this season, wide receiver Greg Salas is one to watch. He'll be playing in the Senior Bowl this year.

Closing the night out is Arizona State at USC. The game features one of the better one-on-one matchups of the day with Sun Devils cornerback Omar Bolden going against USC receiver Ronald Johnson. Bolden is similar in a lot of ways to former UCLA cornerback Alterraun Verner. The junior was a star early in his career, but has leveled off. A good game against USC will grab attention.
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