LSU (#13) vs. Alabama (#1)
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (6’1, 208)
This game is without a doubt the game of the week.
Alabama S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix happens to be my one of my favorite defensive backs to watch and is currently my top rated safety for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Clinton-Dix basically plays center field for a Crimson Tide defense that has only allowed 179 passing yards per game and given up six total touchdowns this season. This is an even more incredible number when you consider that Johnny Manziel had five of those six touchdowns through the air.
Alabama will square off against a very explosive LSU unit that scores an average of 40 points per game. As a result, they’ve managed to shed the label of being just defensive minded team and are arguably a much more complete team across the board.
Even though the Tigers have a high-powered offense, I expect Alabama to constantly blitz LSU QB Zach Mettenberger in order to make him to make throws under duress, which is typically when he makes the most mistakes.
I expect Clinton-Dix to have a big impact on this game due to his range, athleticism and outstanding ball-hawking skills. Clinton-Dix isn’t far off from solidifing his status as the best safety in next year’s draft class.
We have Ha Ha Clinton-Dix ranked as the No. 18 prospect in our 2014 NFL Draft Big Board
BYU vs. Wisconsin (#24)
Kyle Van Noy (6’3, 235)
Kyle Van Noy doesn’t get a lot of national notoriety playing for BYU, but he is definitely worth your time. Van Noy is in the midst of a decent season in which he has racked up 35 total tackles and an interception.
Keep in mind that these stats do not depict Van Noy’s true impact on the BYU defense. Opposing teams are well aware of what Van Noy is capable of, which often leads to gameplans shifting away from his side of the field.
Van Noy is a very versatile defender who has the ability drop into coverage. One of his main assets is his ability to get to the passer, which is highlighted by his 11 quarterback hurries four sacks on the season. Throughout his career, Van Noy has totaled a staggering 55.5 tackles for loss, which is eighth most among active players.
BYU gets a very solid test this weekend against a Badgers offense that features one of the nation’s best running back tandems in Melvin Gordon and James White.
Wisconsin is a run-first offense, which coincides with what we’ve seen from them for a number of years now. The Badgers currently rank 10th in the nation with 287 rushing yards per game. Despite being draft eligible, Gordon told Zack Miller from the Badger Herald this week that he expects to return for another season and make a run as the Heisman trophy next year, which is a little surprising to me given that he is currently projected to be a top 40 pick.
This matchup is worth keeping an eye on as it will showcase some you players with huge NFL potential. Watch out for Van Noy throughout the remainder of the season and leading up to the draft process as he should be a first-round pick.
We have Kyle Van Noy ranked No. 24 and Gordan at No. 35 overall in our 2014 NFL Draft Big Board.
Penn State vs. Minnesota
Ra’Shead Hageman (6’6, 311)
Ra’Shead Hageman may not be a once-in-a- generation-type player, but his athleticism and consistent motor make him one of the most exciting players to watch week in and week out.
Hageman actually began his career as a tight end, but in 2011 former Golden Gophers HC Tim Brewster switched him to defensive end in order to take advantage of his physical traits, which is exactly what J.J. Watt did a few years ago at Wisconsin.
Hageman’s major asset to is his athleticism, but he’s so quick and explosive overall that it will be extremely tough for the Penn State offensive line to stop him on Saturday.
There is no question that he has quickly become one of the best defensive lineman prospects in next year’s draft class and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see him get drafted in the first-round next May.
We have Ra’Shead Hageman listed as the No. 45 prospect in our 2014 NFL Draft Big Board.
Allen Robinson (6’4, 210)
Hageman and company will face a Penn State offense that ranks 62nd in the nation in points scored with almost 30 points per game. The Nittany Lions offensive unit is lead by Christian Hackenberg, a freshman quarterback who has put together an up and down season so far. But it’s really hard to not be encouraged by what we’ve seen from him this season.
The Penn State game plan is mainly centered around WR Allen Robinson, who is one of the most complete receivers in the country. Robinson can basically do it all. He possess great feel for the game and has an outstanding ability to go up and get the ball. Add in the fact that he possesses amazing speed and can beat almost any cornerback in the country, and you can see why he has been a focal point of the Penn State offense. Its worth noting that Robinson is the only the second receiver to pass the 1,000 receiving yards mark through 8 games. On the season, Robinson has 66 receptions along with 1043 receiving yards and six TD.
Even though the Golden Gophers know that the Nittany Lions will rely on Robinson on Saturday, they need to get pressure on Hackenberg and disrupt the offense’s timing.
Notre Dame (#23) vs. Pittsburgh
Tom Savage (6’5, 230)
Pittsburgh QB Tom Savage is better known for his constant school transfers than for his on-the-field production, which probably isn’t fair considering that he’s having a very good season overall. Savage is an emerging prospect who brings a lot of upside to Panthers offense. He has a great frame for a quarterback and has displayed solid arm strength and accuracy this season.
Stephon Tuitt (6’6, 312)
Savage will see a lot of Notre Dame DE Stephon Tuitt on Saturday, who happens to be one of the best pass rushers in the nation. The bad news for Savage doesn’t end there, as Tuitt is finally healthy after being slowed earlier this season by a sports hernia surgery.
Tuitt is a very talented player who has displayed a great combination of quickness and power, and his length really makes it tough for opposing offensive lineman to keep him in check.
This is a good matchup for the Fighting Irish pass-rush simply because of the poor and inexperienced Panthers offensive line that ranks last in the ACC with 29 sacks allowed this season.
While many people don’t expect Pittsburgh to win this game, it could end up being a very close matchup considering that two teams last five meeting have been decided by six points or fewer.
Savage has a great opportunity ahead of him to shine on the national stage and boost his draft stock. So far, NFL scouts project Savage to be taken in the middle-rounds of the NFL Draft.
We have Stephon Tuitt ranked as the No. 13 player in our 2014 NFL Draft Big Board