NFL Draft Center


2013 NFL Draft Prospect Watch: Week 2

The second week of the college football season won’t feature the type of high profile matchup like we saw in Week 1 with David Amerson and Justin Hunter, however there is a pair of intriguing battles happening this weekend when LSU’s Zach Mettenberger has to throw passes into a Washington secondary led by potential first round pick Desmond Trufant while an under the radar matchup on Friday night between one of the draft’s top rated players, Utah’s Star Lotulelei and Utah State’s Tyler Larsen will take place in the trenches. The best game to watch this weekend for your prospect fix will definitely be Texas A&M’s SEC debut against Florida. The Aggies will have three potential first round picks on display in offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews along with pass rusher Sean Porter. On the other side, the Gators will have a myriad of players that should be taken throughout the draft, although a couple of their top prospects like SS Matt Elam and DT Sharrif Floyd may choose to wait until the 2014 NFL Draft.

Best Head to Head Matchups: Washington CB Desmond Trufant vs. LSU QB Zach Mettenberger @ Tiger Stadium and Utah NT Star Lotulelei vs. Utah State C Tyler Larsen @ Romney Stadium

The top head to head matchup to watch this weekend will be between LSU QB Zach Mettenberger and Washington CB Desmond Trufant. Mettenberger is the most physically talented quarterback that LSU has had since former 2007 first overall pick JaMarcus Russell. He has NFL prototype size at 6’5”, 230lbs with a big arm and the talent to lead LSU back to the National Title game. Mettenberger may be a better candidate for the 2014 NFL Draft as he just made his first start for LSU last week and is lacking in high level experience (Started 12 games for Butler Community College in 2010). Getting more experience should lead him to improving his decision-making, especially when facing heavy pressure, which he had problems with vs. North Texas in the season opener. He will face his first real big test on Saturday when he will have to throw passes into a Washington secondary featuring CB Desmond Trufant. A potential first round pick and one of the top corners available for the 2013 NFL Draft, Trufant is the younger brother of Marcus (Seattle Seahawks) and Isaiah Trufant (New York Jets). NFL eyes have been on him since he stepped on to the Campus in Washington and he’s done nothing to disappoint. He’s put together three outstanding seasons after starting as a true freshman with each year better than the last. He’s displayed next level cover ability and the ball skills and instincts to make game changing plays. He continues to make major strides in his game and it won’t be a shock to hear his name on the first day of the draft.

While Mettenberger and Trufant will take center stage, an under the radar matchup to check out will happen Friday night when Utah NT Star Lotulelei and Utah State C Tyler Larsen go head to head in the trenches of one of the longest standing rivalries in college football. Lotulelei came into this season with a ton of hype as one of top rated draft eligible prospects and for good reason. He may not put up eye-catching numbers, but his play certainly catches the eye of everyone watching as he blows up play after play despite facing double and triple-teams on every down. His combination of athleticism and massive size has scouts drawing favorable comparisons to Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata, a player every team in the NFL wants. Tyler Larsen won’t be a first round pick or anything close to one, but he is one of the top centers in the nation and finds himself on the 2012 Rimington Award Watch List (Top center in the Nation). He’s a rock in the middle for the Aggies with a ton of starting experience and possesses great technique and footwork. This should be one heck of a battle between these two on Friday night.

Best Game to Watch for Prospects: #24 Florida vs. Texas A&M @ Kyle Field

The best game to watch for draft eligible prospects this weekend will be the debut of Texas A&M in the SEC when they welcome the Florida Gators to town. The Aggies boast a trio of potential first round draft choices in offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews as well as pass rushing outside linebacker Sean Porter. Joeckel and Matthews make up the best offensive tackle tandem in the nation. Joeckel mans the all important left tackle position and is the top offensive lineman in the draft. He isn’t quite a finished product, but he’s pretty darn close. He possesses the size and athleticism to play the blind side at the next level along with the experience after starting immediately as a true freshman and ever since. If there’s an offensive tackle that can ascend into the top five of the draft, it’ll be Joeckel. Matthews is the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews and is the top right tackle prospect in the country. He is a strong, physical run blocker that plays with a mean streak that he puts on display every time he throws a defensive lineman to the ground and opens up a huge running lane. He has first round talent, but because he plays the less heralded right tackle position he could fall into the early second round. He too is experienced after winning the starting right tackle job midway through his true freshman season. Sean Porter is the leader of the Aggies’ defense and has drawn comparisons to his former teammate and 2011 second overall pick Von Miller. He’s very similar in size, speed and athleticism to Miller and plays the same type of hybrid pass rusher role from a 4-3 outside linebacker position. He’s not quite the natural pass rusher that Miller is, but he makes up for it with his ability to better pursue ball-carriers from sideline to sideline and drop into coverage on passing downs. It will be very interesting to see how high teams value Porter in comparison to Miller. After their top three prospects Texas A&M also has a pair of offensive playmakers in RB Christine Michael and WR Ryan Swope. Both look like mid round selections.

The 2012 NFL Draft was one to forget for the Florida Gators as they had just two players selected, neither among the top-100 picks. The 2013 draft might not be much different if Florida’s top prospects choose to return to school for another season. However, if they do choose to forgo another season in Gainesville then the Gators’ should be well represented at the 2013 draft. Currently rated as the top strong safety prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft, Matt Elam lived up his considerable hype as a high school recruit following a stand out season last year. Athletic and versatile, he has the ability to make all the plays required for the position whether dropping into coverage or moving up near the line of scrimmage to defend the run or rush the quarterback. Should he decide to enter the draft, he’ll be in a battle with the likes of Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) and Robert Lester (Alabama) for a spot as the top strong safety available, likely somewhere on Day Two. Sharrif Floyd is Florida’s next best prospect behind Elam and like Elam, he could be better off waiting for the 2014 draft. Floyd is a traditional defensive tackle, although he did start for the Gators at defensive end last season due to a lack at depth on the outside, but will be back on the inside this year. He possesses a great burst off the line and uses his raw power and talented hands to get into opposing backfields. Due to his ability to play inside and outside in a 4-3 defense, he will draw interest as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 scheme.  Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic are talented and fast attacking linebackers that should receive attention from traditional 4-3 defenses. Jenkins is the more talented and experienced of the two and will draw comparisons to the group of smaller 4-3 linebackers that went in the 2012 NFL draft in second round selections, Mychal Kendricks (Philadelphia) and LaVonte David (Tampa Bay). The team’s top Senior prospect is offensive tackle Xavier Nixon. He has the size of the NFL prototype left tackle with a naturally large frame and long arms. As a true freshman he looked like a potential star, but injuries and inconsistencies in the last couple of seasons have seen his stock decline. Nixon has shown he has the potential, but will need to show that he can stay healthy and play with more consistency this year if he wants to improve his draft stock among a very impressive group of draft eligible offensive tackles. Center/Guard Jonothan Harrison is also a prospect to keep any eye on, but I expect he’ll be back next season for another year in school.

Written By: Mark Scott

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