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2013 NFL Draft Prospect Watch: Week 5

In a bit of a down week the Tennessee/#5 Georgia matchup will be featured not only as the top game of the week to watch for draft-eligible prospects with upwards of ten players that could be selected in the first three rounds with most of them being potential first-round picks, but it will also showcase the best head to head matchup, well sort of, as Volunteers QB Tyler Bray will have to navigate his offense against a star-studded next-level Georgia defense that includes the #1 ranked draft-eligible prospect, OLB Jarvis Jones.

While it will unfortunately be on at the same time you should also keep an eye on the #14 Ohio State/#20 Michigan State game as it will include four top 60 prospects in OSU DT Johnathan Hankins and DE John Simon along with MSU DE William Gholston and RB Le’Veon Bell. Hankins is ranked among the top ten draft eligible prospects on most boards, while Gholston is rated as a likely late first round pick at the moment.

Best Head to Head Matchup to Watch: Tennessee QB Tyler Bray vs. Georgia’s NFL Defense @ Sanford Stadium

Best Game to Watch for Prospects: Tennessee Volunteers vs. #5 Georgia Bulldogs @ Sanford Stadium

Tyler Bray’s draft stock could be determined on Saturday. That is when he’ll face Georgia’s vaunted defense that features multiple highly rated prospects that will be playing on Sundays in the very near future. Bray has certainly looked the part of a future first round pick this season in leading the NCAA with 12 touchdown passes (Matt Barkley, Geno Smith and Seth Doege also have 12) while racking up 1301 passing yards, good for third in the nation. One of the biggest knocks on him has been his decision-making and he’s certainly showed improvement in that area throwing just three interceptions so far this year. He is a gun-slinger type quarterback with arguably the strongest arm in the class. He’s most often compared to Chicago’s Jay Cutler and it is an apt comparison as he does possess a number of the same qualities as Cutler, both good and bad. A great performance on Saturday against Georgia’s next level defense could not only lock Bray in as a first round pick, but could also send him flying up draft boards into the top five of the draft depending on how well he plays. The offensive weapons for him to succeed are at his disposal with one of the best wide receiver tandems in the nation in top-15 ranked prospect Justin Hunter and the fast rising Cordarrelle Patterson, who has made a major impact in his first four games with Tennessee after transferring from junior college. The duo has reminded scouts of former high first round picks A.J Green (Hunter) and Julio Jones (Patterson). The 6’4”, 205lb. Hunter is in a battle this season with the likes of California’s Keenan Allen and USC’s Robert Woods to be the first receiver selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. He combines great size and speed with elite hands and leaping ability. Hunter is able to use his size to outmuscle defensive backs on the inside, particularly when running a slant which he excels at a lot like Brandon Marshall, or on the outside going deep where he’s able to go up and get any ball thrown his way. There was concern coming into this season about his health after he tore his ACL last year, but he has recovered nicely and has not shown any lingering effects in his play through the first four games. It didn’t take long for Cordarrelle Patterson to show the Tennessee faithful what all the fuss was about with an electrifying first half performance in the season opener versus North Carolina State. Another big, fast wide out like his teammate Hunter, Patterson attacks defensive backs at the line before he blows past them deep with his deceptive speed. He also possesses excellent hands and leaping ability. If Patterson can continue to play at the level he currently is, he will definitely continue his march up draft boards towards joining his teammates in the first round. Those three aren’t the Volunteers’ only potential first round picks as LT/LG Dallas Thomas has started to be brought up in late first round discussions. Before starting the first four games of this season at left guard, Thomas had started 25 straight games at left tackle. He is an excellent athlete that plays with good quickness and leverage. He possesses very good balance and flexibility, but does lack the foot speed to consistently handle the faster pass-rushers. He should excel inside where he can be better protected, but because of his athleticism he could be able to eventually transition back to the left tackle position.

Every year now it seems that we’re talking about how good the Alabama and LSU defenses are and how stacked they are with draft-eligible prospects and that is no different this year, except that the best and most talented defense this season may reside in Georgia. The Bulldogs defense features four potential first round picks and as many as eight possible draft picks. Among those rated in the first round is OLB Jarvis Jones, who ranks as the #1 draft-eligible prospect for the 2013 NFL Draft and the best pass-rusher in the nation. Jones is an absolute terror on the field that wreaks havoc in the opponents’ backfield all game long. He’s already recorded 4.5 sacks in limited duty in blowouts of Buffalo, Missouri and Vanderbilt this year and has racked up 17.5 sacks in his last 17 games. An explosive pass-rusher, Jones has been brought up as a 3-4 outside linebacker in his time at Georgia, but so far this season he has started to show his versatility in being lined up all over the Bulldogs’ front seven. He’s shown that he’s not just a pass-rusher, but an every down linebacker that can stop the run and drop into coverage when called to. Jones has a great shot at being the first player selected in the 2013 NFL Draft. In that front seven with Jones are potential first-rounders, DT John Jenkins and ILB Alec Ogletree. Jenkins is a massive man at 6’3, 358lbs. with the athleticism to move and make plays across the line of scrimmage. He is much more than your standard take up the middle nose tackle. Jenkins displays great agility, balance and footwork to go with his incredible strength. He’s able to take on double and triple teams, while still being a major factor in getting to the quarterback. He’s being ranked all over the first round. Ogletree has yet to play this season, but will return for this matchup with Tennessee after serving a four game suspension to the start the year. Despite missing the first third of the season scouts have not stopped talking about the star inside linebacker. Ogletree is an elite linebacker with the ability and vision to cover the whole field and pursue ball-carriers sideline to sideline. He possesses the long arms NFL teams want in their linebackers and has shown that he can also make plays behind the line of scrimmage, which has some scouts wondering about moving him to the outside as a pass-rusher. While Tennessee may have the best pair of wide outs in the nation, the Bulldogs boast arguably the best safety tandem in SS Shawn Williams and FS Bacarri Rambo. Williams is an elite playmaking safety with excellent awareness and instincts. He possesses the ball skills (4 interceptions, 6 pass break-ups in 2011) to change the game, while still providing a stabilizing force against the run. Williams has received some first round buzz, but is more likely a second round pick. Rambo will make his season debut on Saturday after serving the same four-game suspension as Ogletree. He is Georgia’s safety valve always patrolling the back end allowing for Williams to be the risk-taker and make the headlines with the big play. Rambo is extremely solid and should be a late third/early fourth round pick. The rest of Georgia’s draft eligible prospects all look like Day Three selections and include QB Aaron Murray, DT Abry Jones, OLB Cornellius Washington, CB Branden Smith and WR Tavarres King. Murray is a good quarterback with the arm strength and athleticism to play in the NFL and probably has the best chance of this group of moving into the second day of the draft, but his lack of NFL prototype size will likely cause him to fall into the fourth or fifth round.

Written By: Mark Scott

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