2014 NFL Draft: Previewing the Top Prospects From the Top Games Today

 

 

Alabama DefenseFocusing on the top games of the weekend, we'll take a look at the top prospects to watch in the Louisville/Kentucky game,  Tennessee/Oregon game, and the highly touted Alabama/Texas A&M game.

With Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Marcus Mariota all underclassmen top quarterbacks to watch, it should be an eventful Saturday despite the lack fo elite matchups after the SEC showdown.

Louisville at Kentucky

(JR) Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (#5), 6’4, 225
The consensus top draft eligible quarterback for the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft, Teddy Bridgewater is the total package in terms of having the plus physical qualities and right mental makeup. Bridgewater does a tremendous job of getting through his reads from within the pocket, and importantly showcases the subtle pocket athleticism to maximize the play of his offensive line. You don’t see Bridgewater step into many sacks, and he showcases the plus arm talent to complete high difficulty passes from various throwing platforms. Bridgewater’s pocket tolerance and ability to extend plays with his feet should on full display Saturday, as Kentucky is an improving program with a disruptive front four defensively.

Preston Brown, ILB, Louisville (#2), 6’2, 260
Possessing plus size, strength and explosiveness at the Mike linebacker position, Preston Brown brings outstanding tools to the table as an NFL Draft prospect. Brown takes pride in the way he tackles, being sure to wrap up and drive his legs on contact. There’s noticeably greater acceleration in downhill run fits, as compared to redirection in pass coverage, an area he’ll have to improve in as a senior. Certainly capable athletically, Brown simply needs to anticipate and react with less hesitation in coverage. 

Hakeem Smith, S, Louisville (#29), 6’1, 180
In referencing our own area scout, Chris Tripodi’s preseason scouting report of Hakeem Smith, if Hakeem could only turn pass breakups into interceptions, he’d be a much more highly though of draft prospect entering the 2014 NFL Draft. Playing a single high alignment over the top of Louisville’s defense, Smith is your prototypical center fielder at free safety. Smith puts himself in proper positioning to make plays on the ball in air and shows awareness for his coverage responsibilities; however, he’s not enough of a playmaker or strong enough athlete to warrant anything higher than an early day three selection.

 

Other Louisville Notes:

  • With Bridgewater spreading the ball around so judiciously, it can be tough to pinpoint a true primary target, but redshirt senior Damian Copeland (#7) and junior DeVante Parker (#9) lead the team with 9 receptions and 2 touchdowns a piece through two games in 2013. Parker is the better NFL prospect as a 6’3, 200+ pound target, and may have a difficult decision to make regarding the draft.
  • Running back Michael Dyer (#26) has resurfaced on the college football scene, but is playing second fiddle to senior Senorise Perry (#32). At Auburn, Dyer was an explosive runner that ran with a low center of gravity, great contact balance and had the long speed to take any run for six points. So far, Perry has averaged less than 4 yards a tote while Dyer has averaged over 6 yards per carry for Louisville’s rushing attack. More touches should be in the works for the former top recruit and BCS Title MVP. 

Donte Rumph, DT, Kentucky (#99), 6’3, 320
An older prospect (age 23) that has overcome adversity early in his collegiate career is defensive tackle Donte Rumph, who had to spend two seasons a Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia while he brought his grades up. Now a senior with 34 games under his belt and 18 career starts, Rumph looks the part of a playmaking nose tackle at the next level. Playing both the 1 and the 3-technique, Rumph displays lateral agility to scrape over the top of blockers and run down zone stretch plays to the numbers. With his bulk and natural anchor strength, Rumph can anchor down and clog things on the interior as well. After a breakout junior campaign in which he recorded 36 tackles, 6 TFLs and 4 sacks, Rumph will be working to climb NFL Draft boards as a solid, mid round DT prospect.

(JR) Za’Darius Smith, DE, Kentucky (#94)
Za’Darius Smith is a JUCO talent that transferred in from East Mississippi Community College, but don’t mistake this player as a raw talent. Very much the opposite, Smith plays with sound fundamentals at the point of attack, utilizing his power-length combination to set the edge, disengage and follow the action. Less athletically gifted than teammate Bud Dupree, Smith wins with his ability to set up blockers off the snap, read the play and shed into tackling position.

(JR) Alvin “Bud” Dupree, DE, Kentucky (#2), 6’4, 252
Bud Dupree is a prime candidate to play the “LEO” hybrid rush linebacker position at the NFL level, thanks to his plus speed, body control and lateral range off the edge. After playing outside linebacker a year ago and showcasing impressive athleticism in coverage, Dupree will have his hand in the dirt on most snaps. Capable of winning with speed to the outside or with an inside counter move, Dupree’s biggest issue to date has been taking on offensive tackles and setting the edge properly. Dupree isn’t as technically sound with his hands as teammate Za’Darius Smith, but possesses superior athletic traits in terms of burst to the football and movement range. 

Avery Williamson
Williamson is Kentucky’s best player and showcases elite level instincts at the linebacker position. Wasting no time in stepping to his run fits, Williamson has the explosive lower body power to take on and stun lead blockers in the hole. Even more impressively, Williamson scrapes and slides over the top of blockers fluidly to stay in phase with the ball carrier and in position to make the tackle. Capable of wrapping up in the open field or dropping the hammer in tight quarters, Avery Williamson is just a really good tackler. He’s always near the action or making the tackle, and can also stay on the field for every down as an effective delay blitzer or middle hook-to-curl zone defender. Very much an every down starter at the next level, Avery Williamson should be a day two lock come April 2014.
 

 Other Kentucky Notes:

  • Za’Darius Smith isn’t the only JUCO transfer standout to watch for the Wildcats, as junior Javess Bell (#8) has already inserted himself as the team’s top wideout. Jumping off the screen a week ago against Miami (OH), Bell displayed a wide catch radius, very good long speed and sharp change of direction skills both as a route runner and runner after the catch. When I asked his former head coach Troy Morrell from Butler Community College about Javess Bell, Morrell said Bell was the best receiver he has coached in 18 years at the school, praised his return skills, ability as a blocker, and dramatic work ethic improvements during his stint at Butler.
  • The Wildcats running game is led by senior Raymond Sanders (#4), who has been a steady performer in recent seasons. Although Sanders lacks the measurables to be drafted, he does have the shiftiness and tough running style to fight his way onto a roster as a UDFA.

  

Tennessee at Oregon

(JR) Antonio “Tiny” Richardson, OT, Tennessee (#74), 6’6, 327
A gifted left tackle prospect, Tiny Richardson has refined his craft over the past year to remain patient in his initial pass set, maintain bent knees through contact and keep inside placement with his punches. Most noticeable in the early going of the 2013 season is Richardson’s awareness in the presnap phase, as he’s doing an increasingly better job of addressing the numbers in the box and locating his assignment. Because of his size and strength, many are quick to overlook Richardson’s plus athleticism and impressive foot speed –this is a left tackle prospect at the next level. Richardson doesn’t always lock out his arms and stay seated in his set, but his violent, physical style of play helps set the tone for this star-studded o-line.

Zach Fulton, OG, Tennessee (#72), 6’5, 323
One of my top sleeper prospects in the SEC, Zach Fulton very much is a draftable guard prospect and a potential day two talent. Built like an offensive tackle but having the mindset and power of an offensive guard, Fulton ideally projects to a man-blocking scheme where he can collapse down blocks, combo to the second level and win one-on-one matchups. Potentially facing Oregon’s Taylor Hart, Fulton could have the matchup of the day and will be a player worth watching closely.

Ja’Wuan James, OT, Tennessee (#70), 6’6, 318
In preseason study, James immediately stands out because of his physical presence in the run game and natural movement skills to slide in pass pro. Still, I had a difficult time overlooking his unrefined kick slide technique and penchant for “opening the gate” against speed rushers. Improving his kick slide range with a deeper bucket step off the snap, James has taken the next step as a draft prospect and looks more than capable as a next level starter at right tackle.

Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee (#98), 6’8, 351
McCullers is a mountain of a man, and quite frankly I don’t buy his listed weight. Regardless of his true weight, McCullers is the ideal two-gapping, “war-daddy” on the interior, capable of taking on and ending multiple blockers off the line of scrimmage. McCullers currently lacks the technique to two-gap and appears more concerned with winning individual battles, before tracking the football and making the play. With Oregon’s heavy use of read keys along the defensive line, don’t be surprised when McCullers is set as the read key for some midline read-option running concepts. In this game, it’ll be important for McCullers to showcase gap integrity and use his hands to disrupt his opponents’ paths to the second level.

(JR) A.J. Johnson, ILB, Tennessee (#45), 6’2, 243
Being a large, athletic middle linebacker, A.J. Johnson surprisingly has the hardest time taking on blockers and holding his own at the point of attack. After a breakout freshman season, Johnson hasn’t progressed like evaluators have hoped he would, as he truly is a talented inside backer. More of an instincts-player with a hunting mentality, Johnson has a nose for the ball and possesses plus closing speed for his size. A big concern I have moving forward, is Johnson’s tendency to run underneath blockers. He must improve at using his hands forcefully and using extension at the point of attack to stay disengaged from the blocker. In coverage, you see the ability to flip open and run down the seams with inside receivers or redirect downhill against shallow crossers; however, multiple receivers flooding his area cause him trouble due to unrefined footwork in coverage drops. Johnson will be a key factor in whether or not Tennessee can stay in this game.

Other Tennessee Notes:

  • Should “Tiny” Richardson declare himself eligible for the draft, Tennessee could see all five of their offensive line starters selected in the 2014 NFL Draft
  • Left guard Alex Bullard may be the least talented of the bunch on Tennessee’s offensive line, but his versatility will land him in an NFL camp (starter experience at both guard positions, as well as center). On run-heavy formations, Bullard will line up as a third tight end at the point of attack.
  • Tennessee center James Stone had a surprisingly difficult time creating movement off the snap last week versus Western Kentucky and was routinely pushed back on first contact. His lack of plus power could lead to disruptive plays from the interior of Oregon’s defensive line.
  • Defensively, the Vols get back their top-returning pass rusher from last year in senior defensive end/rush linebacker Jacques Smith. Fracturing his right thumb early in fall camp, Smith hasn’t played since August and will be shaking out the cobwebs versus Oregon’s fast-paced, no huddle, spread attack. Smith’s stamina and effectiveness throughout the entire game will be worth monitoring, as will the amount of snaps he’s presented by the coaching staff.
  • Running back Rajion Neal will need to continue to attack without hesitation in his reads. Steadily improving throughout last year with his decisiveness as a ball carrier, Rajion Neal is a no non-sense, one-cut and go back that has a burst to his game and runs behind his pads well.


(RS SO) Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (#8), 6’4, 211
For a younger prospect (19 years old), Marcus Mariota is an outstanding decision maker in an offense that presents multiple run/pass options and varied read keys on each individual play. Running the inverted veer or zone read game with a packaged “stick” route concept or perimeter screen, Mariota’s ability to diagnose and operate efficiently within this offense stood out right away in my film study. Mariota looks like San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, only with smoother mechanics and an easier delivery. In the team’s recent win over Virginia, Mariota used his eyes to effectively move key defenders over the middle of the field, showing his development as a next level prospect. Given his size, speed, natural arm talent and decision making skills, Mariota could wind up as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2014 draft class. 

(JR) De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon (#6), 5’9, 169
In talking with our Head West scout Mark Dulgerian, De’Anthony Thomas may be more athletically gifted than 2013 first round pick Tavon Austin. Listed at 169 pounds but reportedly up to 180, Thomas’ lack of size will be his largest hurdle to overcome in the draft process; however, his elite movement skills, track speed and ability to create yards in space could ultimately make him an early day two pick if he declared for the upcoming draft.

(JR) Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon (#15), 6’5, 250
Third year tight end Lyerla really couldn’t have played at a more ideal time. In a league where versatile tight ends are sought out commodities, Lyerla has the versatility to be a full-service, three-down player at the NFL level. At his best as an off the line, slot target, Lyerla presents a distinct size-speed mismatch versus both safeties and linebackers. Against an SEC defense with a playmaking Mike linebacker in A.J. Johnson, I’d anticipate Oregon gameplanning in the same manner they did against Kansas State and 2013 draft pick, middle linebacker Arthur Brown. Putting Arthur in a bind versus the read option and giving Lyerla a stick route or seam route option, Oregon abused the Wildcat defense over the middle of the field.

Taylor Hart, DT, Oregon (#66), 6’6, 287
Certainly not a plus athlete or “wow” defensive line prospect, Taylor Hart makes his money with consistent, down-in and down-out play to anchor at the point of attack, stack, shed and disrupt. More of a high effort, high strength type of player, Hart can collapse from the interior and has been very effective at clearing rush lanes for delay blitzers at the second level. Hart has experience playing the 3 and 5-technique positions, and impresses with his take-on technique versus blockers, as he fires his hips and hands to jolt the blocker, set the point, and direct the action. Hart’s strength and technique will be put to the test against a talented Vols’ offensive line group, and I have a feeling NFL evaluators will be going back to this tape prior to next year’s draft.

(JR) Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon (#14), 5’10, 185
Ikpre-Olomu is the kind of cornerback every NFL team needs –incredibly quick-footed and explosive athletically, physical off the line and throughout the route, and highly aggressive at the catch point. Ifo lacks plus height, but competes at an extremely high level and will play as physical as the refs will allow. His main goal it seems is to frustrate the opponent’s top passing target. It’ll be interesting to see how he’s used in this matchup, as Tennessee has a real lack of talent base at the wide receiver position after sending three receivers and a tight end to the NFL.

Other Oregon Notes:

  • Wideout Josh Huff (#1) was actually recruited to Oregon as a running back, but made the switch to receiver and has logged playing time since his true freshman season. Huff is a well-built player that shows natural ball carrier instincts once the ball is in his hands, setting up blockers and displaying field vision to create yards after the catch for himself. Huff doubles as an excellent special teams player, as shown by his blocked punt in last week’s win at Virginia.
  • Right tackle Jake Fisher (#75) is only a junior, but gaining momentum in the draft community. Having the long arms and quick feet desired by NFL scouts, Fisher should be given a shot to play left tackle whenever he decides to enter the NFL Draft.
  • Keep an eye on outside linebacker Boseko Lokombo (#25), who’s a long, lean athletic Will linebacker prospect at the next level. He’s proven himself to be a difference maker as blitzer off the edge or cover defender, and is continually improving at taking on blocks with his hands. Although he was selected in the CFL Draft, look for Lokombo to be an NFL’er by this time next year.

 
Alabama at Texas A&M

Check out our Manziel vs. Alabama breakdown of the match-ups to watch and the play breakdown of last year's battle.

A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama (#10), 6’4, 214
Against an athletic Virginia Tech defense, although the Alabama offensive line struggled with missed assignments, quarterback AJ McCarron did not showcase the pocket presence one might expect from a two-time BCS champion and senior entering his third year as a starter. Drifting and falling off his throwing base constantly, McCarron was unwillingly to stare down the barrel of the gun and deliver accurate passes while pressured. To McCarron’s credit, his functional mobility to extend plays outside the pocket and locate secondary targets remains a major plus. Additionally, McCarron flashed timing, touch and ball placement on a number of throws to the boundary. Limitations with McCarron include his inability to fit the ball into tight windows or drive throws with authority. Moving forward, I want to see McCarron maintain a stronger throwing base within the pocket and be more willing to stand in to take a hit.  

(JR) Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama (#71), 6’6, 310
Viewed as one of the premier offensive tackle prospects eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft, Cyrus Kouandjio had his ups and downs in Bama’s opening win versus Virginia Tech. Creating a ton of movement on outside zone runs and generally dominating at the point of attack with his flatback technique, Kouandjio played with an edge to his game. Issues that crept up in the run game included a narrow base that led to him falling off opponents and grabbing for cloth. On passing downs, Kouandjio held up very well initially by riding speed rushers out of the pocket with his length. Yet, as the game wore along, Kouandjio began to overset in his stance and could not redirect to protect against inside counter moves. From a skills standpoint, Kouandjio has the natural girth, anchor, leg drive, length and foot speed to be an all-pro left tackle; nevertheless, he must maintain a wider base to secure blocks in the run game and pass set with better balance to redirect inside.

Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama (#61), 6’3, 309
When analysts made mention of the members of Alabama’s star-studded offensive line a season ago, few threw out the name Anthony Steen. Playing right guard and showcasing the consistent technique, fundamentals and football IQ to start at the next level, Steen is largely underrated because of a lack of any elite physical qualities. Still, he possesses good quickness out of his stance, enough strength to execute in the run game and more than compensates for his lack of great length by timing his punches effectively. Bypassing last year’s NFL Draft to return for his senior season, Steen actually received a 3rd round grade from the NFL’s predraft advisory committee. 

Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama (#49), 6’4, 292
Originally recruited to play the JACK backer position and set to replace Courtney Upshaw following the 2012 NFL Draft, Ed Stinson continued to develop and fill out his frame before ultimately becoming a legit NFL prospect as a potential 5-technique. Stacked with a powerful body and long arms, Stinson uses excellent technique in setting the edge and disengages from blocks with violent hand use. He’ll slide from the 5-technique on three man fronts to a 2i technique on four man fronts, and should cause disruption against Texas A&M’s rushing efforts. Drawing a matchup against talented junior Cedric Ogbuehi, Stinson’s power-based game paints a stark contrast to Ogbuehi’s mirroring skills and high-level athleticism at right tackle. 

(JR) Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama (#42), 6’6, 252
After lining up across Luke Joeckel a year ago, Hubbard will face another elite left tackle prospect in Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews. Hubbard is a long, athletic rush linebacker type that understands how to leverage underneath blockers, uncoil his hips and lockout to direct the point of attack. Not gifted with a tremendous first step but having long steps off the line, Hubbard has deceptive speed rush ability in that he eats up space quickly between he and the opposing tackle. Hubbard is an exceptional athlete that can stick his foot in the ground and redirect in space, and will have to protect his outside rush lanes with those movement skills against the ever-mobile Johnny Manziel. 

C.J. Mosley, ILB, Alabama (#32), 6’2, 232
Spying Manziel will be #32, C.J. Mosley. Tasked with spying Manziel a season ago, Mosley performed respectably in the Crimson Tide’s home loss by putting on display his rare speed and range at linebacker. Truly a sideline-to-sideline player, Mosley’s athletic traits and 3rd down skills, as both a coverage player and blitzer, could make him an easy weakside linebacker projection for NFL teams. On the flipside, his instincts and high football IQ could lead to teams keeping him inside as their field general at the Mike backer position. At any rate, Mosley is a defensive coordinator’s best friend and a player that can do just about anything at linebacker.

(JR) HaHa Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama (#6), 6’1, 208
HaHa is no joke of a safety prospect and his given name is Ha’Sean for those that were interested. Clinton-Dix has dramatically improved as an open field tackler and alley defender, both of which come as a bonus to his already elite range at the free safety position. Explosively getting to his drops and experienced in both single-high, two-high or in the box coverage assignments, Clinton-Dix is your ideal center fielder, free safety prospect that can get his hands on passes that few defenders at the college level can. 
 

Other Alabama Notes:

  • Alabama employed a Big Nickel personnel package to combat Texas A&M’s heavy use of four receiver sets a season ago, and I’d look for the same type of matchup. Senior reserve safety Nick Perry (#27) hasn’t received a ton of playing time in his career, but is a more than capable safety prospect that will likely see the field versus A&M. Junior Vinnie Sunseri was the third safety on last year’s depth chart, but has assumed the starting strong safety position in 2013. Sunseri is an active, instinctive player that can deliver explosive hits in the secondary. At times you’ll see one of these two safeties dropping down into the box to assist C.J. Mosley to spy Johnny Manziel and cover the middle of the field.
  • Senior receiver Kenny Bell (#7) nearly quit the team and stopped playing football entirely. On the Tuesday following Alabama’s win over Virginia Tech, Bell shot out a series of tweets stating his frustrations and his intent to step away from the game; however, Nick Saban wouldn’t buy any of Bell’s talk and made it clear that #7 would indeed continue to play for the Crimson Tide. Bell came back from a broken leg suffered late last season and is fighting for targets in a crowded receiving corps.
  • In that receiver group, senior teammate Kevin Norwood (#83) is also coming off a major injury and appears primed for a breakout season. Having surgery on a turf toe injury that hampered him throughout the 2012 season, Norwood still impressed on tape with off-the-line acceleration, polished route running skills and reliable hands. A cool fact with Norwood’s 2012 production is the fact that 24 of his 29 receptions resulted in first downs.  

 

(RS SO) Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (#2), 6’1, 210
The modern day Joe Namath in that his performance on the field is only rivaled by his off-field exploits, Johnny Manziel is as divisive an football player, let alone draft prospect that I’ve ever evaluated. Cam Newton was highly scrutinized, but never followed to the extent that Manziel’s followed. I’ll save my extended thoughts on Manziel as a player and person for a later post, but his natural talent as a quarterback is tough to deny. Improving his composure within the pocket, Manziel is delivering throws from a far more balanced and set base. More consistent and sound from his footwork to release point, Manziel’s passes come out of his hand cleaner than they did a season ago. He’ll never have an elite level or cannon-type arm, but he does showcase the requisite amount of arm strength and improving accuracy. With regard his recent games versus Rice and Sam Houston State, Manziel surprisingly showed a willingness to work to the backside of his progressions, yet bypassed open primary reads to do so. Manziel’s ability to quickly shift his vision across the field, avoid pressure with his feet, and deliver on the move are qualities that make him special, but off field lapses and overall maturity question marks need to be answered.

(JR) Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M (#13), 6’5, 225
Manziel’s go-to weapon, Evans is a tremendously long and gifted athlete that plays similar to current Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout Vincent Jackson. Beyond being able to box out corners for receptions along the boundaries and dominate at the point of the catch, Evans also is difficult to bring down after the catch. Given his size, strength and length, I honestly wouldn’t be shocked to see an NFL team look at Evans as a potential tight end conversion; Evans is an outstanding perimeter blocker that fights to the whistle and understands how to maximize his function strength at the point of attack.

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M (#75), 6’5, 305
After losing their starting left tackle Luke Joeckel to the NFL last April, the Aggies had no issues replacing Joeckel with senior Jake Matthews. Flipping from right tackle to left tackle, Matthews brings plus foot quicks, active hands and remarkably sound technique to the table as a future All-Pro at the NFL level. Jake is also part of the Matthews’ NFL Clan, being the son of Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews, nephew of former NFLer Clay Matthews Sr., cousin of current All-Pro Clay Matthews, etc. You get the picture, he has deep NFL bloodlines, and it does suffice to say that Matthews is a lock for the top 32 overall in next year’s draft.

(JR) Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M (#70), 6’5, 300
Replacing Jake Matthews at right tackle is last year’s right guard Cedric Ogbuehi. Light on his feet and able to kick slide with plus lateral range, Ogbuehi moves like a left tackle. Are you sensing a trend here? At any rate, Ogbuehi drastically improved his knee bend in pass sets, is rolling his hips through contact and locking out his arms to create noticeable push in the run game, and is generally blocking with better leverage. He’ll need to block with intensity and keep those improvements in terms of leverage, strength and hip snap in this game, as he’ll be facing Alabama’s 6’4, 295 pound defensive end Ed Stinson. 

 

Other Texas A&M Notes:

  • Junior college transfer, Cameron Clear (#85) hasn’t lit up the stat sheet through two games but has ruined opposing linebackers and defensive ends as a blocker at the point of attack. Capable of collapsing inside on down blocks, sealing the edge for zone runs or working up to the second level with balance, Clear is a player the Aggies like to have on the playside of swing screens and running plays
  • Senior receiver Derel Walker (#11) is making the most of his first season as a starter by converting routes and working back towards the line of scrimmage when Manziel breaks pocket contain. Walker is a proportionally built 6’2 target that can high point throws at catch point and complete receptions in traffic.
  • The Aggies’ defense welcomed back starting nose tackle Kirby Ennis (#42) last week, after the senior prospect served a one game suspension for his actions off the field. Not very mobile but stout at the point, Ennis will need to play big and clog running lanes for A&M.
  • Also worth watching on A&M’s defense is wide receiver-turned-linebacker, Nate Askew (#9). Askew is a tall, filled out individual that has natural closing burst to the ball carrier and the speed to be a disruptive blitzer off the edges.
  • Junior cornerback Deshazor Everett (#29) sealed the deal in last year’s signature win versus Alabama with an interception in the endzone. Suspended for the first half of the team’s opener due to an off-field assault charge, Everett did not start the season on the right foot. In addition to that first half suspension, Everett wound being ejected in the second half for targeting penalty that carried over into another first half suspension versus Sam Houston State. In other words, Everett hasn’t played a full 60 minutes this season. Deshazor is a bigger corner with the physical tools to be a great player, but he’ll have to stay on the field to be an impact.
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