2014 NFL Draft Watch: Week 5

Posted by Brad On September – 26 – 2013

"Seantrel Henderson"

Robert Mayer – USA TODAY Sports

No. 15 Miami (FL) at South Florida Saturday 12:00 PM on ESPNU

This appears to be a lopsided contest as the 3-0 Canes head to 0-3 South Florida. It’s the first time since 2004 that the Hurricanes start the season 3-0. Miami will have to avoid looking ahead to their ACC schedule and have to find some offensive rhythm. Stephen Morris was forced out of the Savannah State scrimmage with an injured ankle but is expected to play. It will be important for Morris to start clicking at a high level for his draft stock and the team’s bid for an ACC title.

What we’ll be watching:

Seantrel Henderson vs. Aaron Lynch

When the Canes are on offense my eyes will be locked on Aaron Lynch. The former Golden Domer has been relatively quiet in the 2013 campaign and this will be the game every NFL talent evaluator turns on for evaluation of Lynch. There’s little doubt that Lynch has the physical tools to be an effective NFL pass rusher but he’s yet to notch a sack in three contest and has just .5 tackles for loss. Much was expected from Lynch this season and this would be a prime breakout week for the highly touted defensive end.

Lynch will matchup with Seantrel Henderson and Ereck Flowers. Henderson is a supremely talented tackle that has never lived up to the enormous billing. He is likely to be one of the more widely debated prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft – as some have anointed him a first rounder. From everything that I’ve seen on tape I think it’s a stretch to call him a third rounder. This week will be one of those signature games for Henderson as he takes on the speed/power blend of Lynch. If Henderson can dominate his opportunities against Lynch it would go a long way in justifying those that are high on him.

Morris’ rebound after Florida

Stephen Morris wasn’t very good against Florida despite being on the winning side of the game. I gave him half credit because the bottom line is the Canes walked out with the “W”. That said, we expect much more from Morris – a prospect that is in the discussion of the top senior passers.

Morris was forced to leave the Savannah State game after four passes – one of which was an 80-yard TD. He’s expected to play this week and he needs a tune up before the Canes head into the heart of their ACC schedule.

On paper this should be a game that Morris dominates and he needs to do just that as I think he’s losing momentum in the battle to be the top senior QB. Despite an enormous physical skill set, Morris’ struggles with accuracy, ball placement, and decision making under pressure are getting the best of him. Morris has weapons at his disposal. Senior WR Allen Hurns is his most reliable target, while junior WR Phillip Dorsett is the game breaker. Morris could and should look to junior TE Clive Walford early and often in this contest as Walford possesses reliable hands and always finds the open grass.

GAME PREDICTION: Miami 31, South Florida 13

No. 6 LSU at No. 9 Georgia 3:30 PM on CBS

Not watching this game? That’s on you. Georgia easily has the toughest early season schedule in the country. They’ve taken on Clemson, South Carolina, and now LSU. Georgia will be looking to get a foothold in the SEC East with a big win over SEC West contender LSU. The Tigers have Alabama and Texas A&M waiting to claim their spot in the SEC Championship game but this game is up and a must win for Les Miles’ squad.

What we’ll be watching:

Mett vs. Murray

"Zach Mettenberger"

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

I’m not sure there’s a hotter quarterback in the country than LSU’s Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger has been fantastic early this season. I can say one thing for certain – there’s isn’t a more improved QB in the country from last season to this season. Mettenberger will be looking to take advantage of a young, inexperienced Georgia secondary with Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. being the prime targets.

On the other side of this matchup is Aaron Murray. Murray has been lights out since struggling against Clemson in the opener. He was near perfect against South Carolina and will be looking for the same this week taking on a solid LSU secondary. Murray is without top target Malcolm Mitchell for the season but sophomore WR Justin Scott-Wesley, senior TE Arthur Lynch, and senior WR Michael Bennett have filled in just fine.

Slowing down Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley is as good as advertised and probably better. His 377 yards in three games and 6.0 yards per carry have taken a lot of pressure off Aaron Murray and the Georgia passing games. Teams have to respect Gurley’s ability to break off big chunks of yards with every touch – opening up the passing game.

Gurley will face his stiffest competition of the season as LSU’s defensive front seven is packed with future NFL talent. Junior DT’s Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson are capable of dominating the interior at will. Maybe the most impressive LSU defender in the early stages of the season has been WLB Lamin Barrow. Barrow has proven to be a jack of all trades as he can stop the run and drop off in coverage. Barrow’s ability to play at the line of scrimmage and cover Lynch in the backend will be a key to LSU’s success on defense in this contest.

GAME PREDICTION: LSU 24, Georgia 23

Arizona at No. 16 Washington 7:00 PM on FOX

A battle of the Pac-12 undefeated takes place in what has become a must-see matchup for draft fans. There is plenty of offensive firepower on both these squads as they feature two of the best backs in all the land. Washington’s Bishop Sankey and Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey will highlight this Pac-12 opener for both teams.

What we’ll be watching:

Offensive prospects galore in this Pac-12 matchup

On the offensive side of the ball there will be plenty to see for draft fans. Arizona’s pass game may not be on par with Washington’s but the run game is up there with the best in the country. Ka’Deem Carey is the headliner but the Washington defense is going to have to pay special attention to QB B.J. Denker. Denker has proven to be a more than capable runner and efficient passer when needed. Another back to watch is senior Daniel Jenkins. Jenkins has some big play ability and will be sprinkled in. The Arizona offensive line is led by junior tackle Mickey Baucus. Baucus is a behemoth that has a ton of experience and could be a sleeper prospect to watch out for.

"Bishop Sankey"

Kirby Lee – USA Today Sports

Washington’s offense is loaded with talent. QB Keith Price is playing much better this season – at least in the early going. He has plenty of weapons with RB Bishop Sankey, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and WR Kasen Williams the primary options. Sankey is quietly one of the best backs in the country and proving that he is a contender for the top back in the 2014 NFL Draft class – should he declare. Seferian-Jenkins missed the opener against Boise due to a suspension but has made his presence felt since returning. ASJ’s blend of size and athleticism make him a difficult matchup for anyone. Junior WR Kasen Williams is one of the most physically imposing receivers in the country at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds. Williams ability to use his body to box out defenders and his run after the catch ability will intrigue teams early in the draft, should he declare.

Don’t sleep on the defensive talent

The offenses are the sexy names in this contest but these are two defenses that are much improved. On the Washington side, Tosh Lupoi has proved he’s much more than just a monster recruiter. He has this defensive line hitting on all cylinders with Danny Shelton as the main cog. Shelton is a big body that can move – creating difficulty for opponents to run against UW. He will be a major key in keeping the Arizona run game held in check. FS Sean Parker is the QB of the secondary and brings his hard hitting, attacking style to the run and pass game. Parker lacks ideal size but he plays above it and could wind up being a steal in the draft if he slides down to the third day. Sophomore LB Shaq Thompson is a name to remember for 2015. He’s one of the most athletic, impactful linebackers in the country and could be a fast riser.

For Arizona they feature two draftable linebackers and a couple of nice secondary players. OLB Marquis Flowers is the headliner of the group. The former safety possesses great athleticism as he excels in pass coverage and running sideline to sideline. Flowers is joined by undersized ILB Jake Fischer. Fischer is probably a longshot to be drafted but his instincts may intrigue a team late and should be in a camp next summer. In the backend, Arizona has two interesting prospects. CB Shaquille Richardson will draw NFL interest with his combination of length and speed. There’s a lot to be desired with Richardson in terms of open field tackling and ball skills but tall, long-armed corners are all the rage and will get him a long look. Tra’Mayne Bondurant has been the playmaker of the Arizona secondary this season. Playing the “Spur” position, Bondurant has cashed in on Arizona’s weak non-conference schedule with 3 picks and a sack. Bondurant has shown play making ability throughout his career as a hybrid linebacker/safety. With the trend of NFL offenses, Bondurant may find a home in the NFL in a similar nickel/dime safety role.

GAME PREDICTION: Arizona 27, Washington 23

No. 23 Wisconsin at No. 4 Ohio State 8:00 PM on ABC

It’s a monster Big Ten matchup that could shape this race for the Big Ten Championship. Wisconsin has run all over their opponents this season and the Buckeyes have been unstoppable on offense in the early-goings. Neither team has faced the test they will face on Saturday night. The atmosphere will be electric in the ‘Shoe for this must-see game.

What we’ll be watching:

Wisconsin O vs. Ohio State D

"Melvin Gordon"

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

For Wisconsin it’s all about the three-headed monster at RB. The Badgers may be heading more towards the two-headed monster with Melvin Gordon and James White toting the rock. Gordon is quickly becoming a name for NFL Draft fans to know. Despite being just a redshirt sophomore, Gordon is catching the eye of the national media on a week by week basis – and one can ascertain that NFL talent evaluators have had their eye on him. Gordon’s ability to get to top speed in the blink of an eye is impressive to say the least – only matched by his vision and elusiveness. Needless to say, Gordon has vaulted himself into the top of our RB rankings. James White, a senior, has been on the NFL radar as the No. 2 to Montee Ball for the previous two seasons. White lacks elite size but has game breaking ability. Ohio State will have to contain White, as he’s able to break a big one at any time.

Ohio State will focus much of their attention to the run game. The OSU front seven is young but talented. The only real NFL Draft prospect in the front seven for 2014 is outstanding OLB Ryan Shazier. Shazier is a speed merchant that can deliver bone jarring hits. Shazier will have to prove he can wrap up and secure Wisconsin’s host of backs. With another strong performance against one of the best running teams in the country, Shazier should secure himself as a first round pick.

There will be some nice matchups in the backend of this contest. Ohio State’s Brad Roby will blanket Jared Abbrederis for much of the night. Wisconsin will attempt to move Abbrederis all over the field to avoid Roby but there’s little reprieve as Doran Grant and the OSU safeties have NFL futures.

Braxton Miller…Kenny Guiton – does it matter?

In Braxton Miller’s absence, Kenny Guiton has emerged from Miller’s shadow as a legitimate NFL prospect. Guiton has shown impressive command over the offense to go with arm talent and athleticism. We expect Braxton Miller to be back under center for this contest but Urban Meyer hasn’t been shy about talking of a role for Guiton in this offense. Whether it be in short spells or both quarterbacks – no one knows but Guiton has flashed NFL ability and may be one to watch during the pre-draft process.

Miller’s dynamic athletic ability is just too good to justify keeping him off the field. He’s shown improvement in his passing mechanics through spring and summer and could be ready to take off after watching Guiton’s success from the sideline. I said it this week in a radio spot but the best thing for the Buckeyes and Miller may be building that hunger back inside of him before Big Ten play. Watching his backups success should motivate Miller and I expect a big week for the Buckeyes and Miller. Miller will have plenty of weapons at his disposal with junior WR Devin Smith and senior WR Corey Brown as the headliners. Smith’s speed and explosion in the vertical game are garnering him a lot of attention and he could be a surprise early entrant from this Buckeye group. At running back senior Jordan Hall has been a pleasant surprise as he’s shown he can carry the load in Carlos Hyde’s absence. Carlos Hyde has worked his way out of Urban’s doghouse after his three-game suspension but Hall’s play has earned him the No. 1 role. I expect the Buckeyes to get Hall and Hyde on the field together more this week and look out for freshman Dontre Wilson to be featured more.

GAME PREDICTION: Ohio State 45, Wisconsin 24