The Impact of A&M vs. ‘Bama

One of the most highly anticipated games of the college season didn't just live up to the hype, it had major ramifications on the top of the draft

By
Andy Staples
· More from Andy·
Mike Evans was a beast for Texas A&M against Alabama, catching 279 yards on only seven receptions.
Mike Evans was a beast for Texas A&M against Alabama, catching 279 yards on only seven receptions. (David J. Phillip/AP)

One of the challenges of this exercise is to highlight on-field performance by players whose skill sets translate to the NFL, while still keeping in mind what NFL teams value in the draft. That’s why Jadeveon Clowney remains atop the Big Board in spite of his depressed numbers and the injury he revealed last week. Clowney still has all the tools an NFL team would want, and the likelihood of him going No. 1 in the draft remains quite high.

Johnny NFL?

Greg A. Bedard examines whether Johnny Manziel really has what it takes to make it in the NFL. His verdict? Read for yourself.

If the on-field part was all that mattered, UCLA linebacker/rush end Anthony Barr probably would have bumped Clowney this week. Barr’s performance at Nebraska was a tour de force, and if you pick up a copy of this week’s SI, you’ll see UCLA defensive coordinator Vic Spanos explain one three-and-out series in which Barr compiled no stats but still helped shut down one of the most potent offenses in college football.

As for the game I saw in College Station on Saturday, most of the guys who played on offense moved up. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel did things no one does against an Alabama defense loaded with future pros. Aggies receiver Mike Evans, meanwhile, showed why he can’t be left alone with a cornerback except on rare occasions. On the other side, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron quietly and methodically led his team to a win—which is pretty much all he has done since he won the starting job in 2011. There’s a lot to be said for that.

On to the board…

2014 NFL Draft Big Board 3.0
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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
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.

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.

42
odell-beckham

Odell Beckham Jr.

WR; Junior; LSU; 6-0, 193

(Last Week: Not Ranked) Beckham is averaging 22 yards a catch for the much-improved LSU offense. He’ll be critical against Auburn on Saturday.

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.

45
travis-swanson

Travis Swanson

C; Senior; Arkansas; 6-5, 315

(Last Week: Not Ranked) Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema calls Swanson the most talented center he’s been around. That’s high praise, considering Bielema coached 2013 first-rounder Travis Frederick at Wisconsin.

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
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.

50
aaron-donald

Aaron Donald

DT; Senior; Pittsburgh; 6-0, 285

(Last Week: Not Ranked) In two games, Donald has five tackles for loss—including three sacks.

More from The MMQB
15 comments
reddenwright1
reddenwright1

Braxton Miller is not NFL ready.  He lacks consistent touch on medium to long passes, shows an inability to check down or look a DB or safety off, gets happy feet in the pocket, and is too susceptible to big hits when he runs, making him an existential PUP candidate.  He's great on Saturdays, but will need a lot of work before taking the field on Sundays.

mondello58
mondello58

So a running back who is averaging 13.0 yards a carry, with breakaway speed, isn't worthy of being in the top 50?  Melvin Gordon says hello!

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

Mariotta should be a LOT higher. Maybe most underrated player right now.  Not an Oregon fan at all but love his game.  As far as De'Anthony Thomas I don't see it.  The speed of the NFL negates most of his advantage, i.e. speed.  What's gonna be his position, slot?  Cause he's too small to be an every down RB and which team is gonna use a high round pick for a third-down RB only?  

donald5
donald5

Did Staples beat you up as a kid, OK?

OK
OK

"(Marqise) Lee only caught two passes against Boston College, but one catch was an 80-yard touchdown."

Staples,

How many passes were thrown Lee's way? How inept was the new quarterback for USC? Do you believe that wide receivers are responsible for both throwing and catching the football?"

IDIOTS, I'm surrounded by idiots!

(h/t Cholla, The Black Widows)

OK
OK

Staples: "(Will) Sutton was contained by Wisconsin’s massive offensive line Saturday."

Translation: "Sutton did not come to play on Saturday and got his butt kicked up and down the field by Wisconsin's road graders. Sutton left an NFL fortune on the field, and we'll be hearing Melvin, His Punk Sidekick, and Mikey Mayock whine about Sutton's "lack of a motor", "questionable motivation", and "fall stock" in the 2014 NFL Draft for months after the season ends."

OK
OK

"“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 (about defensive end Stephone Tuitt).

Translation: "I, Kelly, just signed a new contract for a boatload of offshore dinero. My defensive end, Tuitt, read all the hype in the preseason and showed up on campus lazy, fat, happy (probably from weed), and full of himself. Now I've got to cover his butt, because I've got to cover my butt, and get better, more motivated recruits (without their imaginary girlfriends) to come to this Indiana dump so that I can get an NFL head coaching gig for even more money. Tuitt's sticking it to me. But I've got to back Tuitt. So that I can stick it to South Bend and leave this Indy toilet for the NFL life."

OK
OK

"If you don’t get that reference, ask a nerd who grew up in the ’80s."

Your mother's busy, Staples.

OK
OK

The Clown is not doing his job. After an offseason of being told he's the greatest, The Clown returned to South Carolina out of shape, arrogant, and lazy.

Now The Clown is making excuses about some phony injury.

Lot of Rolando McClain in The Clown.

#####

As for Johnny PUNKzeil, he can write all the arrogant, repugnant "air autographs" he wants. PUNKzeil still threw two picks - one taken back for six - and CHOKED against Bama.

longbordr52
longbordr52

If you're going to put redshirt sophomore Mariota on this list (deservedly so), you MUST put Brett Hundley on the list as well. After Bridgewater, many NFL scouts view Hundley as the next best quarterback PROSPECT in college. He had just as incredible of a game against a hostile Nebraska crowd as Barr did. It was Hundley who surgically dissected the blackshirts to the tune of 38 unanswered points in Lincoln.

cmm62
cmm62

@stabmasterarson21 Agree completely.  Someone needs to explain why Boyd, Bridgewater and McCarron are considered better pro prospects than Mariotta, who I am convinced will be the No. 1 pick in April.

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

@OK He ain't clowning.  Good thing you're not a GM, Mel Kiper, Sr, hah hah.

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

@longbordr52 Hundley is indeed good but many of those NFL scouts are wrong all the time.  That's not to say Hundley won't make a nice pro QB, he will! :)

mnico213
mnico213

@longbordr52 Yeah, Hundley not being on this list is pretty crazy.  I've seen him jump to the top five on a few lists.  I'm not saying he should be that high, but not in the top 50 doesn't make sense.

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