Everyone know about the top NFL Draft prospects. The likes of Star Lotulelei and Luke Joeckel are almost assured top 10 picks. What we often try to do here is shed some light on lesser-known players. That was the goal of this week's spotlight. Make sure to keep reading through to the notes where I reveal my obvious choice vote for the Outland Trophy.
Baker Steinkuhler, DT, Nebraska
I initially watched the Penn State/Nebraska game for Cornhuskers linebacker Will Compton and safety Daimion Stafford. But it was Steinkuhler who stood out on the Nebraska defense. Steinkuhler is a long, active interior lineman who is often asked to shoot the gap between the center and the left guard. Steinkuhler's first step can be inconsistent, but his effort isn't. He has a long angular frame, so he may not be suited to play 4-3 tackle in the NFL. He could be a top five-technique end.
Ryan Griffin, TE, Connecticut
It can be difficult to evaluate tight ends. Earlier this season, we saw Notre Dame completely ignore Tyler Eifert. Against Pittsburgh Friday night, Griffin looked stellar. Well, in the first half at least. Through two quarters, Griffin had six catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. Then, in the second half, UConn QB Chandler Whitmer seemed to forget he was on the field. Griffin is an underrated all-around tight end. He has enough speed to beat linebackers in man situations but still physical enough to play on the line.
Damien Williams, RB, Oklahoma
Williams' ankle injury seems to finally be a thing of the past. He got 23 carries against Baylor Saturday and went for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Williams is a sneaky good running back prospect with nice size (6'0, 208 pounds) and has shown he has deep speed.
Cornellius Carradine, DE, Florida State
The college career arch for Carradine has been a fascinating follow. Carradine was expected to back up Brandon Jenkins this year, but has deftly stepped in for the injured Jenkins. He led Florida State with 11 tackles on Thursday to go along with another sack, his ninth of the season. Carradine has nicely situated himself into the top 50 picks of the draft due to his ability to shed blockers and get into the back field.
Chris Jones, DT, Bowling Green
Get to know this name as a possible mid-round surprise choice. Jones added another tackle for loss on Saturday, bringing his season total to 17 to go along with 11.5 sacks. Jones is a disruptive interior pass rusher who routinely saw more than one blocker last Wednesday against Ohio.
Robert Lester, S, Alabama
Lester entered the season with high expectations. His former teammate Mark Barron was a star who became a top 10 pick following a solid senior year. Much of the same was expected of Lester. But his game Saturday was indicative of his entire season. Lester missed several easy tackles trying to make a big hit or by over pursuing the play. Lester has been passed by the likes of Kenny Vaccaro of Texas and Shawn Williams of Georgia.
Logan Thomas, QB, Virginia Tech
This is from the "You say what now?" department. In October, the Virginia Tech quarterback said he plans on returning for his senior season. Now he's probably going to submit his paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Committee. There is nothing wrong with submitting paperwork. But since Thomas said he plans on coming back, he's thrown four interceptions and completed just 53.5 percent of his passes. The Virginia Tech system doesn't really help Thomas, but he misses plenty of easy throws. If he submits paperwork, he should expect a mid-round grade.
- It was another week and yet another stellar performance by Texas A&M offensive tackle duo Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. We've seen them handle the speed rush of LSU and this week they took care of the power of Alabama. I have a vote for the Outland Trophy and it's going to Joeckel, without hesitation.
- I know that Alabama was behind the entire game, but it sure seems like they should be more physical with running back Eddie Lacy and tight end Michael Williams. In the second half, Lacy had just seven carries. Williams had only a single catch on the game. It's true, Williams isn't a field-stretching tight end. But he's efficient and generally has good hands.
- Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson is a prospect on the rise. Could he be that late-rising quarterback in the draft, much like Ryan Tannehill this year? Wilson never has time in the pocket and takes a pounding on the regular. But he's a tough player who can be accurate when he has time.
- With the success Seattle has had with Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, South Carolina defensive back DJ Swearinger could be an attractive prospect in April. He moved from safety to cornerback against Arkansas and did so seamlessly. Swearinger has the size at 6-foot and 210 pounds to be physical and looks athletic enough to play outside. Of course it will require the right system, but Swearinger really stood out against the Razorbacks.
- As much as Logan Thomas has struggled, it hasn't been because of wide receiver Corey Fuller. The senior may not be a No. 1 or even No. 2 receiver in the NFL, but he has solid hands and can make tough catches.
- Connecticut linebacker Sio Moore has really come on lately. He was impressive against Pitt with six tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks. He has the frame and physical ability to play Sam in a 4-3, despite being listed at 229 pounds. The NFL is starting to value fluidity over pure size at linebacker and Moore should be a beneficiary.
- Khaseem Greene of Rutgers had 22 tackles against Army. I didn't watch the game so I can't comment directly on how he played. But if Greene played at a more high-profile school, most would be talking about him much like they did about Lavonte David last season.
- Tyler Bray, don't ever stop being you.