by Greg Doyle
Look around college football today and you’ll see good game after good game. The tilt between Georgia and LSU should be great, as well as the big Texas-Oklahoma State matchup between two undefeated teams. Tonight, there will be the huge Penn State at Ohio State game in which the Nittany Lions will get a chance to prove they are the real deal.
Texas Tech at Kansas (Noon ESPN)
Texas Tech is undefeated and likes to throw it all over the yard. Kansas is also highly regarded and similarly has a very high powered offense. This could be fun and high scoring.
A very productive QB with good size and great stats. Harrell is a typical Texas Tech QB putting up great numbers in a spread offense that is completely unconventional to any offense in the NFL. Harrell is accurate enough, but like earlier Texas Tech Qb’s BJ Symons and Kliff Kingsbury, does not possess the greatest arm in the world. Never taking snaps from under center and the nature of the offense also present a problem for his NFL prospects. He has some ability, including throwing on the run, so he should be drafted at some point but its doubtful the Patriots would take a chance after the Kingsbury failure. Here are some highlights of Harrell.
A first year starter with excellent safety size at 6’1″ 222. Hines is a solidly built guy who played significant time as a junior, but only became a full-time starter this season. Has been decent but not spectacular. Ran a 4.6 in college, so there is decent speed to go with his big frame. Should get a look given that size, but must improve his play as he gains further experience this season. Needs to be a good special team player to play in the NFL.
Kansas WR Dexton Fields (#88)
A big, productive receiver who checks in at 6’0″ 204 and has been very productive and clutch for Kansas. Has 119 career catches. Fields missed a couple games earlier this season due to a foot injury, but is now back. Fields has good size and decent, but not breakaway, speed. He has very good hands and can return kicks. Fields seems like a solid mid-round pick with good production and that may interest the Patriots.
Mortensen is an excellent 6’1″ 250 lb. linebacker who led the Jayhawks in tackles last year. Mortensen is one of the best linebackers in college football. Speed could be an issue, but there is no doubt about his ability to stuff the run and be at least a 2-down player. Has been very productive on special teams, so this will increase his value. Mortensen is one of those classic middle linebackers who would have been more valuable in the old NFL, but with the spread and the way teams throw it on all downs with multi-receiver formations, he is probably a second day pick now. Perhaps early second day, but he must run well at the Combine. In any event, the Patriots would like a guy like Mortensen.
Penn State at Ohio State (8:00 PM ABC)
This is the game of the day. Penn State has been perhaps the most impressive team in college football this year, even more so than #1 Texas. And Penn State is obviously a traditional powerhouse playing at home with an exciting Freshman quarterback in Terrell Pryor.
A New Orleans native whose family lost its home during Hurricane Katrina. Abdallah has been a rotation player for several years with the Buckeyes. Abdallah is a tall player at 6’5″ who carries 297 lbs. on his frame. He’d probably fit better outside as an end in the Patriots 3-4. Very strong, physical run stuffing player who gives good effort but isn’t overly athletic. Reminds a bit of the Patriots Mike Wright. Abdallah is a role player again this year, but he has some ability and fits nicely with a 2-gap team with the Patriots. Should be worked out and possibly make a 7th round choice or priority undrafted free agent.
Ohio State CB Shaun Lane (#29)
A small nickel-back type at 5’10” 175 who can be a slot coverage guy and play special teams. Does not start for the Buckeyes. Has had ACL surgery and played some running back as well. Good football player, but not physically gifted enough to beat out the more talented guys at corner for the Ohio State. Does not complain and works hard despite not being a starter. Like Bam Childress, could get a look as an invite to someone’s minicamp and then impress.
A great athlete who is proving to be quite a quarterback in his first year as a starter for the Nittany Lions. Clark has come out of nowhere to show himself as a thrower on the run, an adept game manager, an accurate passer with a solid arm, and a winner. He has also been very good at avoiding dumb throws. But for Colt McCoy, Clark has been as impressive as any quarterback in college football, though some think this is his first real test against an excellent defense on the road. It should prove interesting. But no matter what, with his athleticism and throwing ability, he has moved up the charts and is now a bonafide NFL prospect after throwing less than 30 passes his first three years at Penn State.
A somewhat slight 171 lb. wide receiver that has made plays for all four years at Penn State. He has downfield ability, but at times has been used as a slot receiver and inside short guy. Penn State has a lot of options with fellow NFL prospects and seniors Deon Butler and Derrick Williams also at receiver. Norwood is less heralded than those two, but I like his ability to catch passes inside and his speed and solid hands. Can also take a hit. All three receivers will be drafted, but Norwood seems to come up with the biggest catches. Also a very smart kid and the Patriots will like that. Could be good mid-round value here, though he needs to bulk up. Watch this amazing catch by Norwood, one of the best you will ever see.
Others to Watch
Virginia running back Cedric Peerman (#37) has been on fire lately for the Cavaliers. They are on ESPNU at 3:30 playing Georgia Tech. Watch Peerman’s excellent vision and breakaway speed. He is transforming himself into one of the better backs in next year’s draft. He could bulk up a bit, but he is always a threat to take it the distance.