All eyes in the college football world were fixated on Johnny Manziel and A.J. McCarron on Saturday afternoon, but two better NFL quarterback prospects had already finished up fine performances earlier in the day.
By now, Teddy Bridgewater has established himself as the front-runner to be the first quarterback off the board in the 2014 NFL Draft. But UCLA redshirt sophomore Brett Hundley may be emerging as a solid No. 2 after his effort against Nebraska.
Here are watch notes from the two noteworthy matchups from the early portion of Week 3's college football schedule.
Kentucky vs. Louisville
- Teddy Bridgewater had another rock solid outing on Saturday, completing 16 of 28 passes for 250 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Bridgewater suffered a minor ankle injury but played through it, getting more comfortable as the game went on. As has always been the case with Bridgewater, pocket presence stands out. He's not only willing to take a hit in the pocket while keeping his eyes down field, but he is able to sense pressure and move around the pocket to avoid it. He is consistently looking to attack the intermediate and deep areas of the field and does so with great consistency.
One small concern for Bridgewater may be his size. He has the height to succeed in the NFL, but he has a bit of a wiry frame. He's been banged up easily over the last two seasons. This is a minor concern but one worth noting. Bridgewater showed off some scrambling ability against Kentucky but needs to learn how to slide properly. He looked awkward trying to avoid contact. Overall, another solid performance from the clear-cut top quarterback prospect eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft.
- Devante Parker had another standout performance against Kentucky. The final stat line of four catches for 50 yards and a touchdown doesn't do him justice. Parker showed off focus and body control, two essential traits for an NFL wideout. He has the ideal vertical to go with his 6-foot-3-inch frame. The touchdown he caught was a thing of a beauty.
- Louisville fed Michael Dyer more than it has all season long. He performed pretty well but wasn't quite as shifty in the open field as he once was. He's added quite a bit of size, mostly muscle. It should be interesting to see how he runs as he gets up to full speed.
-Louisville defensive end Marcus Smith jumped off the screen due to his first step. He plays a bit upright at times, but the senior pass rusher has some physical ability.
- Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson continues to be one of the most underrated players in the nation. He's consistently spot on with his keys in the running game and plays with a solid base through contact. Against Louisville, Williamson was all over the field, showcasing his instincts and fundamentally sound tackling on his way to 15 total tackles in the game.
- The Wildcats also have a pair of dynamic defensive end prospects, Za'Darius Smith being the better or the two. Add him to your list. No. 94 on Kentucky's defensive line is a junior college transfer with incredible physical tools and polish off the edge. He understands how to use his length to create leverage and has the burst off the line of scrimmage to cause problems in the backfield. Marlon Dupree isn't bad across from Smith, either. He's an imposing athlete still making the transition from linebacker.
Nebraska vs. UCLA
- The unsung hero of this game was Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste. He's a huge cornerback that has no business moving the way he does. At 6-feet-3-inches and 220 pounds, Baptiste will be among the biggest cornerbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft, and he plays that way. He's physical, but what stood out on Saturday was his ball skills. That's a new development for the Husker defensive back.
- UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo is quickly making a case that he's the best guard prospect in the country. Just a junior, Su'a-Filo utilized his ability to get to the second level of the defense, opening up huge running lanes for the Bruins' backs. It's no surprise that UCLA rushed for over 200 yards on Saturday with how he was blocking.
- He's only a redshirt sophomore, but UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley looked like a top 10 pick on Saturday against Nebraska. It took him a little while to get comfortable, but Hundley settled in to throw for three touchdowns, looking like a mature veteran in the hostile environment on the road.
What's most notable about Hundley is his poise under pressure. He avoids rushers and resets his feet, adjusts his shoulders and continues to attack the deep and intermediate areas of the field. On more than one occasion, Hundley delivered perfectly thrown deep passes down the sideline with anticipation and touch that top level quarterback prospects throw. It doesn't hurt that he's a terrific athlete as well. He picked up 61 yards on the ground, breaking tackles and showing some agility.