NFL Prospects on Display: 11\26

A few of the nation's best interstate rivalries highlight the final weekend in November. As we move towards December and bowl invitations, the number of opportunities for NFL-prospects to impress league scouts in dwindling. Besides the top major programs, this week we focus on a small-school prospect in the Bayou Classic.

Grambling vs. Southern (NBC/2:00pm EST)

The annual post-Thanksgiving SWAC rivalry moves west of New Orleans this year. Traditionally played in the Superdome, the contest will be played at Louisiana-Lafayette's home stadium due to hurricane Katrina.

Many were focused on ex-South Carolina pass rush specialist Moe Thompson after he transferred to Grambling. Thompson was dismissed from the Gamecock program by new coach Steve Spurrier yet has not dressed for the Tigers this season.  His football future is seemingly up in the air.

Yet another I-A transfer is making his mark, though it is an unheralded player for Southern.

Former West Virginia Mountaineer Joe Sykes has been a force off the edge in the Jaguars scheme.  The defensive end leads the team with 7.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss.  A solid run stopper, Sykes is also third on the unit with 43 tackles.

Explosive and a prospect with good speed, Sykes is a bit undersized yet has potential as a rush linebacker in the NFL.

Florida State vs. Florida (CBS/3:30pm EST)

Both teams are in need of a win as they head towards the post-season.  The Seminoles hope to build some momentum towards next weeks ACC title contest after a few bad losses.

Unlike many of his UF predecessors who amounted to little in the NFL, Gator wide out Chad Jackson is a star in the making and a legitimate player for the next level.  Seminole safety Pat Watkins, a hard-hitting centerfield with solid coverage skills in zone, will try to intimidate the well sized Jackson.  Earlier this season Watkins had problems with concussions, which is something to monitor.

The battle on the line of scrimmage must also be watched.  FSU defenders Brodrick Bunkley and Kamerion Wimbley have both elevated their draft status with solid play in '05.  

Florida's Lance Butler, Mike DeGory and Randy Hand are a trio of solid blockers up front who protect Chris Leak.  All are workmanlike in their approach yet limited athlete's who have potential as reserves in the NFL.  The match-up against Florida State's defensive front seven will be a good test for all three.

NFL Prospect Reports: Florida State | Florida

Fresno State vs. Nevada (ESPN2/7:15pm EST)

During our preview of last Saturday's games we highlighted Fresno State's contest against USC, focusing on the talented Bulldog secondary.  In a highly scoring affair which Fresno State lost by eight points, the Bulldogs defensive backfield allowed Matt Leinart just 200-yards passing.

This weekend they face Nichiren Flowers, one of the higher rated receivers coming into the season yet a prospect whose faced a very tough campaign.

After being suspended by head coach Chris Ault for the first half of the season's initial contest due to poor practice habits, illness struck Flowers, whose watching his play slide.  

Flowers was diagnosed with Crohn's disease after losing more then 20-pounds.  And while he'll still play against Fresno State as Nevada hopes to squeak into the post-season, Flowers is far from full strength.

Much was expected of the well sized pass catcher who has totaled just 47-receptions and a single score to date.  All things considered, Flowers will drop late in April's draft after coming into the season with a first day grade.

NFL Prospect Reports: Fresno State | Nevada

Georgia vs. Georgia Tech (ABC/8:00pm EST)

Georgia Tech comes off one of it's most important ACC wins of the last decade, beating Miami in the Orange Bowl.  Georgia locked up the SEC Eastern Division after mauling Kentucky.  The Bulldogs are stacked with NFL-prospects yet Georgia Tech's next level players are on the rise.  This game represents one of the fiercest interstate rivalries in America.

Tech defensive end Eric Henderson played well against Miami even though he had been slowed with an injured ankle in the previous weeks.  A one-gap front-four player who relies on twisting and stunts to shoot through the oppositions line, Henderson faces a Georgia offensive line that goes six deep.  Were it not for durability issues Henderson could be a top 40 choice but presently sits as a late first day selection.

The battle between Georgia's Leonard Pope, the nations top tight end, and the Yellow Jackets safeties should be watched.  Dawan Landry is a nice sized centerfielder with a terrific head for the game.  Constantly around the action, Landry always positions himself to make a play on the ball.  

The computer numbers of teammate Chris Reis, who plays strong safety, are just as good.  Yet his pass cover skills are limited and Reis is best in a straight-line.  He is fantastic on special teams and will make a number of tackles on coverage units.

Pope is big, fast and a tight end who consistently creates mis-matches in the defensive secondary.  Should he enter the draft (and it looks like he will) Pope will be the first tight end selected and could slide into the initial 32 picks.

NFL Prospect Reports: Georgia | Georgia Tech

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