Answer this question: What is Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray in the NFL? The positives are that he's a four-year starter and widely regarded as a film room junkie. He easily fits the somewhat antiquated Bill Parcells principle and is playing well this season despite most of his top receivers being injured. The rub is he's only a listed 6-foot-1 and 208 pounds and isn't a physical specimen.
The NFL is apparently unsure what to think of Murray as well. A scout told NFL Network's Albert Breer that half the league views him as a backup and half as a starter. Despite that he'll have started more than 50 games in college, the debate about Murray and his draft placement is on.
When Georgia plays Auburn today (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS), NFL scouts may be watching more Tigers than Bulldogs. Auburn senior defensive end Dee Ford has emerged as a pass rush specialist who projects to outside linebackers in the NFL. Junior running back Tre Mason has balance, vision and decisiveness when he runs and could go pro a season early. The real wild card is Tigers left tackle Greg Robinson. ESPN's Mel Kiper sung the praises of the redshirt sophomore earlier this week.
Ohio State at Illinois, noon, ESPN
This is sort of a weird game to preview, right? It is. So here are some thoughts on Ohio State prospects from Kiper, who held a conference call on Thursday:
On junior linebacker Ryan Shazier:
Shazier flies around. He’s got a lot of Lavonte David in him. He’s all over the field. I loved Lavonte David at Nebraska and I love Shazier. He can play every down. He can cover. He can play every down. He’s a great tackler in the open field which you have to do in today’s NFL. Shazier is a heckuva football player.
On senior running back Carlos Hyde:
I love the way Carlos Hyde runs. He runs with power. He runs with intensity. He delivers blows. As a pure power big back, he’s exactly what you want.
On junior cornerback Bradley Roby:
I think Roby obviously had some rough spots early, particularly against (Jared) Abbrederis in the Wisconsin game. But he’s a kid who’s got talent. He’s got the ability to be a first-round draft pick. Has he played to that level in some games? No. But he’s got a lot of physical ability and talent.
Thanks, Mel! Want more from Kiper? Jump down to the bottom of this post for a few more quotes.
Michigan State at Nebraska, 3:30, ABC/ESPN2
Here's something sort of ridiculous: Someone has compared Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard to Deion Sanders. Further ridiculousness: It's part of a 77-page report about Dennard. That is not a typo. It should be noted that the writer is the legendary Dave-Te' Thomas, who provides scouting analysis to NFL teams and media members (how much either use it, you got me). But comparing any cornerback to Deion Sanders is like comparing your little sister's piano play to Mozart.
More to watch: Dennard is a pretty known commodity as a press coverage corner who can get physical (unlike Deion Sanders). It's Nebraska cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste who intrigues. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, the former wide receiver is an imposing presence. He's still raw and inconsistent at the position, but some team is going to take him high because of upside and size.
In a draft in need of 4-3 edge rushers, Michigan State redshirt sophomore Shilique Calhoun could strongly consider going pro. He's a good athlete and a playmaker. While he could improve with another year in college, he's a top 100 pick right now.
Oklahoma State at Texas, 3:30 p.m., Fox
One of the bounce back players this season has been Oklahoma State senior cornerback Justin Gilbert. After a poor 2012 season, Gilbert smartly returned to school and has four interceptions this season. If you recall, Gilbert intercepted Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill in 2011. Gilbert can be a physical cornerback and has deep speed to keep up. He'll be tested today by Texas' Mike Davis, a vertical threat who is a tough matchup at the catch point.
More to watch: Texas' Jackson Jeffcoat is back on the radar thanks to seven sacks in his last six games. As a pro, Jeffcoat may be used as a pass rush specialist, at least initially.
Stanford at USC, 8 p.m., ABC
At the start of the season, there were debates about whether Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee or Clemson's Sammy Watkins was the top player at the position. Because of injury, Lee is no longer in the discussion. "He has the skills to dominate, so he needs to show big-play potential in every game, and also make the routine plays," an anonymous scout told Breer. It's the routine part that should make people cause. Even when Lee's been healthy this season, he hasn't made an unspectacular play spectacular. We haven't seen the extra gear he had last season. Now you wonder if Lee is behind receivers like Mike Evans of Texas A&M, Brandin Cooks of Oregon State and others.
More to watch: Because of the lack of depth at 4-3 ends in the 2014 draft, you wonder if Stanford's Trent Murphy is going to be worked out at the position in the offseason process. Murphy seems as comfortable with his hand in the dirt as he does playing in space. At 6-foot-6, 261 pounds, Murphy has the size to hold the edge.
More from Mel Kiper:
On Taylor Lewan of Michigan:
He's been criticized unfairly in some cases where it wasn't even him who was beaten. To me, he's in that mid-first-round area. He's been up in the top 10. He's right in that same area, and it's not because of performance (he's fallen on the draft board), it's because other kids have stepped up. There are a lot of underclassmen on this board.
On Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M
Manziel has improved his status in regard to the draft. Once he gets on that field, he leads his team and you have to be impressed. Pocket skills have improved, accuracy has improved. He's a warrior out there. Bottom line, the kid is a football player. If he takes care of business and sets the tone off the field, he can be a heck of a quarterback.
On Stephen Tuitt of Notre Dame:
Stephon Tuitt is getting after it. He almost singlehandedly won the USC game for Notre Dame. He was unblockable in a number of games this year. He's a top 10 guy.
On LSU defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson:
Anthony Johnson flashes and makes plays. Ego Ferguson has been more consistent. Johnson has to be more productive and reliable week in and week out. Some of these DTs can show they can do it and wreak havoc and then they're not in there. I would put Johnson fifth underclassmen with Ferguson at four. Johnson is in the 2nd and 3rd round mix like Ego Ferguson.
On LSU running back Jeremy Hill:
Hill is an enormously talented running back. He can do so many things with the football. From a skill set standpoint is going to make him an intriguing prospect. You'd have to put him there with Ka'Deem Carey, Melvin Gordon and Lache Seastrunk.
On Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman:
He flashes is what he does. Of course, you see glimpses of the big-time ability he has. He’s got incredible talent from a physical standpoint, and he can run. I’ve seen him pursue the sidelines and run like a linebacker, and he’s a big kid. I mean, this is a kid who’s got enormous potential. You coach him up in the NFL, improve his technique, and certainly in a rotation situation, he can be a very good player. I think he’s probably a second-round type of player now.