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NFL Draft Prospects To Watch: Week 7

We learned a lot from this past week’s action. LSU has an awful offense, West Virginia is the real deal, teams like Georgia and Florida State are out of the BCS title race (because of some glaring issues).

With more top 25 teams going up against one another in some interesting games, I’m ready for another wild week of college football. Let’s take a look at this week’s prospects to keep an eye on for next year’s draft.

Texas vs Oklahoma

Texas S Kenny Vaccaro

Are you ready for the latest chapter in the Red River Rivalry? This game will feature coaches that have been here for years going head-to-head, tons of top recruits on both teams, on both sides of the ball, from both Texas and Oklahoma. his should be a solid offensive showcase, but the winner will be determined by who gets the last stop or the big play on defense that swings momentum. I am looking directly at Texas senior safety Kenny Vaccaro.

Vaccaro (6’1, 218 lbs.) has been a rock for the Texas secondary, despite the poor showing they had against both Oklahoma State and West Virginia. Despite a few tough games, Vaccaro is the leading tackler for the Longhorn defense and he will have to keep the secondary in check as the talented yet inconsistant Landry Jones leads the Sooners’ passing game.

For the season, Vaccaro has 36 tackles, two interceptions, 2 deflections, and even has a pair of QB hurries and 1.5 tackles for loss.

Tennessee vs Mississippi State

Miss. State CB Johnathan Banks

NFL general managers and coaches can always appreciate a 6-foot cornerback with great ball skills and athleticism to boot, and this game will feature quite possibly the best corner in the nation.

Johnathan Banks (6’2, 185 lbs.) not only has exceptional size and speed for a cornerback, but also possesses the hands of a wide receiver. He will be tasked with dealing with the big play passing attack of the Vols and fellow first rounders in QB Tyler Bray and WR Justin Hunter. N.C.State CB David Amerson didn’t fare too well against Tennessee earlier this season, getting burned for two touchdowns in a loss. How much better will Banks do?

So far this year, Banks has 19 tackles, three interceptions, two deflections, and two tackles for loss. He also is averaging over nine yards per punt return.

Pitt vs Louisville

Pitt RB Ray Graham

This will be a big game in the Big East, with Louisville attempting to notch their sixth straight win. While Pitt has had a disappointing season thus far, they did come away with a big win over Virginia Tech in which Ray Graham totaled over 100 total yards and three total touchdowns, two rushing.

Graham (5’9, 190 lbs.) doesn’t have prototypical size for an NFL back, but with the league going more to spread offenses, there is more room for scat backs like Graham to make a living off screens, dump offs, and draws. Think of him as a poor man’s Darren Sproles; small but lightning quick with good hands out of the backfield. This season, Graham has 419 rushing yards, 13 receptions for 122 yards through the air, and five total touchdowns. He is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and 108 total yards per game.

Stanford vs Notre Dame

 Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor

Is it me or does Notre Dame appear on this list every week? Well, this is one game that definitely belongs on your “to watch” list, as it pits one of the best defenses in the nation against one of the most physical offenses in the country. Enter Stepfan Taylor.

Taylor (5’11, 215 lbs.) is a bruiser of a back who excels at running between the tackles, and loves contact. This game will be a test of his skill and toughness, as he will be up against the top linebacker and maybe overall defender in the country in Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o. For the year, Taylor has 555 yards rushing and five touchdowns, along with 15 receptions for 82 yards and one touchdown.

Akron vs Ohio

Ohio RB Beau Blankenship

The Ohio Bobcats are undefeated, with a 6-0 record, including a nice first week win over Penn State, and are currently on a 2 game win streak within their conference. The offense has been very good thus far, averaging over 36 points per game, and Beau Blankenship is the key to the offense.

Blankenship (5’9, 202 lbs.) is a small and sturdy back who handles a heavy workload. He averages 30 carries a game, and has 843 yards rushing with six rushing touchdowns this season. He also has notched nine receptions and a receiving touchdown.

Duke vs Virginia Tech

Duke CB Ross Cockrell

Duke has only one loss this season, and while the offense is averaging almost 38 points per game, the run defense and their play-making secondary are big reasons for the team’s success . Already 2-0 in ACC play, the Blue Devils face a huge test this week against Virginia Tech.

Cockrell (6’0, 180 lbs.) has good size, and has been a ball hawk and true difference maker so far this season for the Blue Devils. So far this year, he has 34 tackles (second on the team), one tackle for loss, four picks, nine pass deflections and a touchdown.

Toledo vs Eastern Michigan

Toledo RB David Fluellen

Toledo is 5-1, 3-0 in their conference, and this week has what appears to be an easy game against a division opponent Eastern Michigan. Toledo has won five games in a row thanks to a defense that forces key turnovers, an efficient play action offense, and an effective running game lead by David Fluellen.

Fluellen (6’0, 215 lbs.) has been the engine that runs this offense this year. A back with good size and soft hands like Fluellen is desirable in today’s NFL, and he could get a look as a third down back. For the season, he has 112 carries for 604 yards and seven rushing touchdowns, and 20 receptions for 156 yards.

Kent State vs Army

Kent State RB Dri Archer

This might be one of the ugliest games this weekend, but Kent State has only one loss and don’t be confused; Dri Archer is a legit NFL talent. Kent State is 4-1, and Dri Archer has a lot to do with the success they’ve had this season, as he is their second leading rusher, second leading receiver, and one of the most dangerous return men in the country.

Archer (5’8, 175 lbs.) is very small by NFL standards, but is having a great year so far for the Golden Flashes. Thus far, he has 403 rushing yards on 46 attempts and five touchdowns, 14 receptions for 225 yards and three touchdowns, and 11 kick returns for 525 yards and three touchdowns! For those of you counting at home, that’s good for 1,153 all purpose yards and 11 total touchdowns through FIVE games.

Game of the Week: South Carolina vs LSU

LSU QB Zach Mettenberger

LSU’s offense has looked awful the last couple of weeks. The passing game, led by QB Zach Mettenberger, has been down right atrocious at times, and last week LSU was shut down on offense by Florida. South Carolina, on the other hand, completely handled a very talented Georgia squad to the tune of 35-7, and has been very good on defense thus far. It’s very possible that LSU could lose back to back games for the first time since the end of 2008.

Mettenberger (6’5, 230 lbs.) has excellent size and arm strength for the position, but it hasn’t yet clicked for him in his first year in Baton Rouge. He has been terribly inconsistent thus far this season, as he has thrown all three of his picks on third down and only has six touchdown passes through six games. For the season, Mettenberger has completed 61.8% of his passes for 1,174 yards and six touchdowns to go along with his three interceptions.