Now the Schedule Gets Real

September 11, 2013 by Andy Staples

Actual games have provided us with some hard data for the Big Board, but too many power-on-creampuff matchups have made a lot of that data worthless. Fortunately, we’ll start seeing more conference games this week.

One thing the few elite-on-elite games taught us in the first two weeks is a quarterback doesn’t need to be 6-4 to stand tall in the pocket and throw strikes. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (against Georgia) and Georgia’s Aaron Murray (against Clemson but especially against South Carolina) showed that quarterbacks who don’t have ideal NFL size can make NFL-type throws against future NFL defenders. Boyd and Murray will get marked down for the heights—which are generously listed at 6-1 at the combine—but what they’ve done on the field should matter more.

My second look at how the top 50 prospects for the 2014 draft are shaping up:

2014 NFL Draft Big Board 2.0
1
jadeveon-clowney

Jadeveon Clowney

DE; Junior; University of South Carolina; 6-6, 274

(Last week: 1) Clowney needs surgery on his foot, but we’re only hearing this now that his production has tailed off. Doesn’t matter. He’ll still go No. 1 unless someone absolutely needs a quarterback.

2
teddy-bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

QB; Junior; Louisville; 6-3, 196

(Last Week: 2) Bridgewater didn’t have a monster day against Kentucky (16 of 28, 250 yards, 1 TD), but he still seems like the most appealing quarterback from an NFL standpoint.

4
taylor-lewan

Taylor Lewan

OT; Senior; Michigan; 6-8, 308

(Last Week: 3) Lewan injured his right leg against Akron but returned to the game. He arrived at Michigan’s media session on Monday in a walking boot. “The walking boot’s a fashion statement,” Lewan joked to MLive.com. The injury sounds about as serious as Lewan.

5
jake-matthews

Jake Matthews

OT; Senior; Texas A&M; 6-5, 305

(Last Week: 4) Matthews protected Johnny Manziel well on Saturday, though Manziel didn’t seem to mind when Matthews’ linemates let a few rushers through.

7
deanthony-thomas

De’Anthony Thomas

RB; Junior; Oregon; 5-9, 176

(Last Week: 5) Thomas is averaging 9.9 yards a touch. The scary part is he hasn’t really had a breakout game as Oregon has spread the wealth in three blowout wins.

8
louis-nix

Louis Nix III

DT; Junior; Notre Dame; 6-3, 340

(Last Week: 6) Nix is living the “double-team life”—his term, not mine—but he’s still clogging gaps and turning the game into a 10-on-nine matchup.

9
Cyrus-Kouandjio

Cyrus Kouandjio

OT; Junior; Alabama; 6-6, 310

(Last Week: 7) The Crimson Tide offensive line was a wall against Texas A&M, and Kouandjio was the best of the bunch.

14
stephon-tuitt

Stephon Tuitt

DE; Junior; Notre Dame; 6-6, 303

(Last Week: 8) Though Tuitt’s numbers are down this season, Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said the junior is playing well. Kelly was especially pleased with Tuitt’s play against Purdue, even though Tuitt recorded only one assisted tackle. “This was probably his best game of the year in terms of being on every play, just physically at the point of attack, two-gapping, doing the things that we want him to do, and effort level,” Kelly told reporters.

11
james-hurst

James Hurst

OT; Senior; North Carolina; 6-7, 305

(Last Week: 9) After dealing with Clowney in Week 1, the next few should feel like a breeze. An Oct. 5 trip to Blacksburg should provide a challenge.

13
tahj-boyd

Tajh Boyd

QB; Senior; Clemson; 6-1, 225

(Last Week: 10) Boyd will have the Thursday night spotlight this week at NC State.

15
aaron-murray

Aaron Murray

QB; Senior; Georgia; 6-1, 208

(Last Week: 11) Murray enjoyed a week off after a brutal opening duo of Clemson and South Carolina.

3
anthony-carr

Anthony Barr

LB; Senior; UCLA; 6-4, 245

(Last Week: 12) Barr did have a monster day in Lincoln. Even though Nebraska did everything imaginable to stop him, he still made 11 tackles and forced three fumbles.

16
sammy-watkins

Sammy Watkins

WR; Junior; Clemson; 6-1, 205

(Last Week: 13) The ACL injury to Charone Peake may allow defenses to focus more on Watkins.

19
will-sutton

Will Sutton

DT; Senior; Arizona State; 6-1, 305

(Last Week: 14) Sutton was contained by Wisconsin’s massive offensive line Saturday.

12
aj-mccarron

AJ McCarron

QB; Senior; Alabama; 6-4, 214

(Last Week: 15) As great as Manziel was Saturday, McCarron wasn’t far behind. He always had Alabama in the correct play, and he completed 20 of 29 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns.

37
devin-gardner

Devin Gardner

QB; Redshirt Junior; Michigan; 6-4, 210

(Last Week: 16) Three interceptions against a team as bad as Akron is a bad sign.

17
ryan-shazier

Ryan Shazier

LB; Junior; Ohio State; 6-2, 222

(Last Week: 17) Shazier racked up 11 tackles (with one sack) in the Buckeyes’ win at Cal.

18
braxton-miller

Braxton Miller

QB; Junior; Ohio State; 6-2, 215

(Last Week: 18) Miller sat out the Cal game with a knee injury. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Miller will start this week against Florida A&M if healthy. Don’t expect the Buckeyes to take many risks with Miller. He should be ready to play against Wisconsin on Oct. 28.

21
cj-mosley

C.J. Mosley

LB; Senior; Alabama; 6-2, 232

(Last Week: 19) Mosley led the Crimson Tide with 12 tackles against Texas A&M. Spread offenses seem to bring out the best in him.

6
mike-evans

Mike Evans

WR; Redshirt Sophomore; Texas A&M; 6-5, 225

(Last Week: 20) Anyone who didn’t know Evans before Saturday knows him now. He caught seven passes for 279 yards and a touchdown. On that 95-yard score, he ran away from the Alabama defense. If Calvin Johnson is Megatron, Evans might be Galvatron. If you don’t get that reference, ask a nerd who grew up in the ’80s.

23
david-yankey

David Yankey

OG; Senior; Stanford; 6-5, 311

(Last Week: 21) Pay special attention Saturday. Yankey and Arizona State’s Sutton should collide a few times.

24
kyle-van-noy

Kyle Van Noy

LB; Senior; BYU; 6-3, 245

(Last Week: 22) After a week off, Van Noy will play in his final Holy War against Utah on Saturday

25
loucheiz-purifoy

Loucheiz Purifoy

CB; Junior; Florida; 6-1, 189

(Last Week: 23) Tennessee has an open quarterback competition this week. That means it could be open season for interception-hunter Purifoy on Saturday.

10
johnny-manziel

Johnny Manziel

QB; Redshirt Sophomore; Texas A&M; 6-1, 200

(Last Week: 24) Manziel accounted for 562 yards of total offense and five touchdowns against a Nick Saban defense. That just doesn’t happen. The guy is special. Someone in the NFL will figure out how to use him.

20
jason-verrett

Jason Verrett

CB; Senior; TCU; 5-10, 176

(Last Week: 25) How versatile is Verrett? He smothered receiver Eric Ward (6-0, 205) and tight end Jace Amaro (6-5, 260) at different times last Thursday. It wasn’t enough for TCU to win, but the loss would have been worse if not for Verrett.

26
bradley-roby

Bradley Roby

CB; Redshirt Junior; Ohio State; 5-11, 192

(Last Week: 26) Against Cal’s Bear Raid offense, some of the 50-plus passes will slip through, but Roby had two breakups and 6.5 tackles and helped Ohio State shut down Cal early—which allowed the Buckeyes’ offense to jump on the Bears.

28
timmy-jernigan

Timmy Jernigan

DT; Junior; Florida State; 6-2, 298

(Last Week: 27) Thanks to West Virginia bailing on a scheduled game after joining the Big 12, we won’t get much meaningful tape from any of the Florida State players until October.

27
marqise-lee

Marqise Lee

WR; Junior; USC; 6-0, 195

(Last Week: 28) Lee only caught two passes against Boston College, but one catch was an 80-yard touchdown.

29
cyril-richardson

Cyril Richardson

OG; Baylor; 6-5, 335

(Last Week: 29) Speaking of ugly early-season schedules, Baylor plays Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. We won’t see Richardson against an AQ-league defense until Oct. 5.

30
adrian-hubbard

Adrian Hubbard

LB; Redshirt Junior; Alabama; 6-6, 252

(Last Week: 30) Hubbard had two pass break-ups and chased Manziel without much luck.

31
haha-clinton-dix

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

S; Junior; Alabama; 6-1, 208

(Last Week: 31) Clinton-Dix nearly became a victim of college football’s well-meaning but tough-to-properly-enforce targeting rule on Saturday. While making a play on the ball in the second quarter, he collided with an Alabama receiver and their helmets made contact. Clinton-Dix was flagged for targeting and ejected, but a video review showed he hadn’t actually done anything wrong and he was allowed to stay in the game.

32
derek-carr

Derek Carr

QB; Senior; Fresno State; 6-3, 218

(Last Week: 32) Carr and the Bulldogs were supposed to play at Colorado on Saturday, but the game was postponed. It may be played on Dec. 7, but that won’t happen if Fresno State makes the Mountain West Conference title game. Still, Carr will get his chance to shine Friday when the Bulldogs host Boise State.

22
marcus-mariota

Marcus Mariota

QB; Redshirt Sophomore; Oregon; 6-4, 211

(Last Week: 33) Mariota did the bulk of his damage through the air against Tennessee, completing 23 of 33 passes for 456 yards and four touchdowns.

33
zack-martin

Zack Martin

OT; Senior; Notre Dame; 6-4, 304

(Last Week: 34) Martin will have his hands full Saturday when Michigan State and its ferocious defense come to South Bend.

34
antonio-richardson

Antonio Richardson

OT; Junior; Tennessee; 6-6, 327

(Last Week: 35) Richardson will get a big test Saturday against Florida rushers Dante Fowler Jr. and Ronald Powell.

35
ifo-ekpre-olomu

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

CB; Junior; Oregon; 5-10, 190

(Last Week: 36) Ekpre-Olumu and the Ducks held Tennessee to just 126 passing yards this past Saturday.

36
khalil-mack

Khalil Mack

LB; Senior; Buffalo; 6-3, 245

(Last Week: 37) Mack had 10 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in the Bulls’ five-overtime scare against Stony Brook.

38
anthony-johnson

Anthony Johnson

DT; Junior; LSU; 6-3, 294

(Last Week: 38) Johnson has been nursing a sore shoulder since the season-opener against TCU, but he seems determined to play through it.

39
hakeem-smith

Hakeem Smith

S; Redshirt Senior; Louisville; 6-1, 179

Smith had an interception Saturday in the Cardinals’ win against Eastern Kentucky.

40
trent-murphy

Trent Murphy

LB; Redshirt Senior; Stanford; 6-6, 261

(Last Week: 40) Murphy added another tackle for loss against Army. He’ll need to be great against Arizona State.

41
ka'deem-carey

Ka’Deem Carey

RB; Junior; Arizona; 5-10, 207

(Last Week: 41) Carey gained 128 yards and scored two touchdowns on 27 carries against Texas-San Antonio.

39
jordan-matthews

Jordan Matthews

WR; Senior; Vanderbilt; 6-3, 205

(Last Week: 42) Teams know the Commodores are going to throw to Matthews, but they can’t stop it. In Saturday’s loss at South Carolina, Matthews caught eight passes for 106 yards.

43
brandon-coleman

Brandon Coleman

WR; Redshirt Junior; Rutgers; 6-6, 220

Coleman has 11 catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, scouts are also noticing sophomore teammate Leonte Carroo, who has caught six passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns.

43
darqueze-dennard

Darqueze Dennard

CB; Senior; Michigan State; 5-11, 188

(Last Week: 44) Dennard will have a showcase against Notre Dame on Saturday.

44
xavier-sua-filo

Xavier Su’a-Filo

OG; Junior; UCLA; 6-3, 304

(Last Week: 45) Su’a-Filo helped the Bruins wear down Nebraska’s defense in the second half of a comeback win.

46
max-bullough

Max Bullough

LB; Senior; Michigan State; 6-3, 242

(Last Week: 46) Bullough had only two tackles in a warm-up against Youngstown State. The real games for the Spartans start on Saturday at Notre Dame.

47
aj-johnson

A.J. Johnson

LB; Junoir; Tennessee; 6-2, 243

Johnson will face his toughest test of the season at Oregon on Saturday.

47
scott-crichton

Scott Crichton

DE; Redshirt Junior; Oregon State; 6-3, 265

(Last Week: 48) Crichton had two tackles for loss—including a sack—in the Beavers’ overtime win against Utah.

48
ra'shede-hageman

Ra’Shede Hageman

DT; Redshirt Senior; Minnesota; 6-6, 311

(Last Week: 49) Hageman had his first sack of the season against Western Illinois.

49
lache-seastrunk

Lache Seastrunk

RB; Redshirt Junior; Baylor; 5-10, 210

(Last Week: 50) Like his teammate Richardson, we won’t know much more about Seastrunk until October.