After 14 weeks, is it really possible for a player to help or hurt his NFL Draft standing? If a player can lose a Heisman Trophy after a single game (sorry Jordan Lynch), a good or bad game in Week 15 can have an impact.
Perhaps no player is in greater need of a good game this week than Arizona State senior defensive tackle Will Sutton. The opinions on Sutton are varied. Some feel he's playing as well as he did a season ago. Others are of the opinion that the weight he added this season has been detrimental to his play.
A season ago, Sutton had 63 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. This season, he's at 42 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. The big impact numbers are down, for sure. Part of that is due to nagging injuries. Sutton, like many top upperclassmen defensive linemen, is seeing extra blockers.
But some of it can also be attributed to subpar play. Particularly when Arizona State played Stanford on Sept. 21, Sutton had an off game. The Stanford offensive line – led by junior left guard David Yankey – pushed Sutton around and often had him on the ground. When the two teams play again today (7:45 p.m., ESPN), Sutton can get redemption.
Sutton's play today will be highly scrutinized, but it's certainly not the only thing NFL evaluators will be watching. Below are the rest of the draft watch notes for the day. Matthew Fairburn will has a post just for Michigan State/Ohio State right here.
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, noon, ABC
One of the better straight-on matchups today will take place in the trenches of this game. Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard is an athletic snapper at his best out on the move. He may need to hold his spot on the line more going against Oklahoma State defensive tackle Calvin Barnett. Both of these players could be headed to the Senior Bowl, so this probably won't be the last time they butt heads.
Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert is a player on the fringe of the first round. A stellar athlete with size, teams have a lot to like with Gilbert. A Thorpe Award finalist, Gilbert was a draft riser earlier in the season. He may not get tested much today. The Sooners' best receiver is Jalen Saunders, but he has only 615 yards receiving and five touchdowns this season because of the quarterback play at Oklahoma.
Sooners left tackle Tyrus Thompson, a junior, has flashed potential at times but he's not expected to go pro.
Texas at Baylor, 3:30 p.m., Fox
Quietly, Texas senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat has 19 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Even with those stats, no one seems to be talking about Jeffcoat. Texas has been standing him up and even rushing him up the middle. It proved successful last week against Texas Tech with Jeffcoat totaling three sacks for the game. This season has proved that he's a capable 3-4 outside linebacker prospect.
There are few better slot cover cornerbacks in the nation than Texas junior Quandre Diggs. He'll have a hard decision to make after the season, but if he goes pro he should get picked in the first four rounds of the draft. He'll be tested by Baylor's fast-paced offense.
Speaking of that offense, quarterback Bryce Petty made the smart move announcing he's going back for his senior season. He may not raise his draft stock much next year, but he'll get better as a player. Could another Baylor star on offense be back next season as well?
Interesting. After being out two weeks because of injury, Seastrunk had a so-so game in his return last week against TCU. Seastrunk is currently our top running back prospect, but he doesn't have a death grip on the position. He could use better play from guard Cyril Richardson who has faltered some of late.
Missouri at Auburn, 4 p.m., CBS
One of my favorite stories of the year has been the resurrection of Henry Josey. Two years ago, Jose suffered a nasty leg injury that forced him to sit out the 2012 season. Watching him this season, you can see Josey getting better and more comfortable each week. If there's one player symbolic of Missouri's turn around this season, it's Josey. While he hasn't had more than 18 carries in a game this season, he's up to 951 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. He's a late-round prospect, but even getting to where he's at now is a triumph.
By now, everyone one is aware of MIssouri's talented pass rushers Kony Ealy and Michael Sam. Ealy, a junior, is the better player of the two. Even at 6-foot-5, he may have a future at linebacker in the NFL. Sam can run hot and cold, as evidenced by his multiple three-sack games this season. With Sam, who is only listed at 6-foot-2, NFL teams will want to his fluidity in space.
Auburn has a pass rusher of its own with Dee Ford. "I really like his burst, his explosiveness, and he'll need to get better refining his technique and pass-rush moves. He wins now with speed," a college scouting director told NFL Network's Albert Breer about Ford. During the offseason process, Sam and Ford will be interesting case studies on how teams view them as pros. Ford will have his hands full with Missouri left tackle Justin Britt, who should get a serious look at the next level.
More to watch:
What, no Florida State/Duke overview? Nope. This one will likely be a blood bath. But Florida State, despite being the No. 1 team in the nation, may not have a first-round player in the 2014 NFL Draft. That's good for the Seminoles next season. Left tackle Cameron Erviing is the most likely first rounder. He'll have a hard decision to make about going pro after being named the ACC's top offensive lineman. If there's a Tyrann Mathieu in next year's draft, it's FSU cornerback/safety Lamarcus Joyner.
Everyone is on the Blake Bortles bandwagon this week after ESPN's Todd McShay put him at No. 14 on his big board. With Petty and Oregon's Marcus Mariota going back to school and some seniors getting hurt, Bortles is poised to rise if he decides to go pro. He compares, stylistically, to Cam Newton. NOTE: That does not mean he's as good as Newton. But they have a similar style and frame. Bortles takes advantage of the short passing game but has the arm strength to go deep. His athleticism is very good as well.
Fresno State's Derek Carr is closing his college career out in style with consecutive 500-yard passing games the past two weeks and 13 total touchdowns. Carr is hovering around the top five of the draft. Oh, and if you're down on him because his brother didn't live up to his draft position, please go