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Saturday NFL Draft watch notes

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There are some premier matchups in college football this week, especially in the Oklahoma/Penn State game. Here's our take on some top prospects this week:

Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray seemed to peak in his  breakout freshman season. Murray's draft position is probably the fourth or fifth round. But we've seen past running backs turn good senior seasons into better draft positions. Murray has to hope to do the same. Against Florida State, in front of a lot of scouts, he can make a name for himself again.


Against an athletic Sooners defense, keep an eye on Florida State guard Rodney Hudson. This is the kind of game where he should excel. He's terrific on the move and will be attacking players like linebacker Travis Lewis on the second level.

This is also a game that will challenge the mettle of Seminoles quarterback Christian Ponder. The Sooners always have a good pass rush, which is buoyed this season by end Jeremy Beal. Ponder likes to get in a rhythm throwing and that could be challenged today.

Penn State has one of the better interior offensive lines in the nation, which will test Alabama junior linebacker Dont'a Hightower. No one questions Hightower's ability to work laterally. However, to stop the Penn State run, he'll have to show he can move forward quickly, shed blocks and diagnose where the ball is going.

If Hightower can't shut down the run, it's up to safety Mark Barron. The senior's run defense is questionable – he takes poor angles to the ball and has only average tackling skills. There are plenty of knocks on Penn State's Evan Royster. One of them isn't downhill running. If Barron plays an undisciplined game, Royster could run him over.

There have been knocks that Virginia cornerback Ras-I Dowling doesn't have the agility and hip flexibility to cover quick receivers. He had a hamstring issue last week and could be challenged by Southern California wide receiver Ronald Johnson. This could be Dowling's best chance all year to prove doubters wrong.

Arguably the top one-on-one matchup of the weekend could take place in the Miami/Ohio State game. If Hurricanes defensive lineman Allen Bailey matches up against the Buckeyes' Justin Boren, watch out. Both are big, nasty and physical. Something will have to give. But what they get could be better draft positioning.

Similarly, Ohio State end Cameron Heyward will get a stiff challenge from Miami offensive tackle Orlando Franklin. Heyward is a power end. Franklin is a finesse blocker. This could be a classic matchup of strength against agility.

Some draftniks have been raving about the play of Washington quarterback Jake Locker last week against BYU. He started off strong, but faded down the stretch. In general, he didn't look like he has a killer instinct. He won't have much trouble against Syracuse today, but his intangibles are worth noticing. No one questions Locker's throwing or athleticism. To prove himself as the top prospect in the country, he has to show more fire.

There is some buzz about Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle. His toughest test of the season will be today against Nebraska. If Enderle can complete a few passes against cornerback Prince Amukamara, watch the buzz on him start to build.

No prospect looked better last week than Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins. He was stellar against Miami (OH) breaking up passes and blitzing the quarterback. He's right up there with Amukamara and Dowling. In fact, he could be even better.

Keep an eye on the hands of Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd. He's had a tendency to drop easy passes and fumbled last week. Michigan's secondary always plays physical, which will be a good test for Floyd.