Purdue vs Notre Dame
It's been up-and-down for Notre Dame the past
two weeks after the shellacking by Michigan then a great comeback victory over
And while most concentrate on the team's big
names from the offensive side of the ball, the secondary has been opportunistic
all season. Corners Ambrose Wooden, Mike Richardson and safety
Zbikowski have all turned in big plays at some time through the first four
Richardson, the senior of the trio, is late
round talent as a nickel/dime back at the next level. Wooden, a
third-year junior, has first day talent in the future while opinions are mixed
on Zbikowki. The hard hitting safety has a penchant for snuffing out the ball in run
defense but lacks pure cover skills against the pass. Most presently grade the junior as an early
second day strong safety selection.
The three face Purdue's productive pass catcher
Dorien Bryant, a small yet omnipresent receiver. Bryant has a way of
consistently getting open to make the clutch catch. He also impacts the game
returning kicks. Size is a limiting factor yet production will give this
junior first day looks when he enters the draft.
Another battle can be found on the line of
Irish defensive end Victor Abiamiri has found
the going tough this season. The potential first round pick has already faced top
competition such as Penn State's Levi Brown then Jake Long of Michigan. This Saturday he faces off against another
highly rated tackle, Mike Otto.
A solid athlete with good pass blocking
feet, Otto has done an outstanding job at the left tackle spot in Purdue's
passing offense since his red-shirt freshman season. He presently holds
a middle round grade.
Georgia Tech vs. Virginia Tech
A huge battle in the ACC which features one of the
nation's most dominant pass catchers pitted against the highest rated safety in
Everyone considered Calvin Johnson, Georgia
Tech's ultra-productive wide out, as a top three pick in next April's draft when
the season started. The junior, who is expected to leave for the NFL after
this season, has not disappointed. Johnson has shown himself to be a
one-man show, taking games over or breaking them open. And while his early
fate was tied to the throwing problems of Tech quarterback Reggie Ball, the big
receiver has recently turned in some brilliant performances. Some now
think Johnson could be the first pick of the draft, depending on who owns the
Coming into the '06 campaign Aaron Rouse of
Virginia Tech was given a first round grade by most NFL scouting
services. The conventional wisdom was Rouse would battle Laron Landry of
LSU as the top safety available next April. Rouse, a defensive back with a complete game, has
had a solid yet unspectacular senior campaign. His battle against Johnson is huge and
could earn him a lot more respect with NFL scouts.
Georgia vs. Mississippi
It's been a bleak season thus far in Oxford,
Mississippi. The Rebels have suffered several devastating losses and at
this early juncture of the campaign it looks as though there will be no post-season
Yet the Rebels best player, linebacker Patrick Willis, has looked solid through it all. A big defender in the middle
who stacks well against the run, Willis is averaging near twelve tackles per
game and has broken up three passes.
The match-up against Georgia will be one of the
toughest faced thus far by Willis. The Bulldogs rushing offense has been
been opportunistic. The ability to hold their big plays in check
will fall on the shoulders of Mississippi's middle linebacker.
Bulldog tight end Martrez Milner is off
to a very good start. The heir apparent to Leonard Pope came into the
season with unusually high grades for a prospect who had been a back-up much of
his previous three years. This will be a stern test for Willis, whose
deficiency is pass coverage.
Willis grades as a potential late pick in round
one while Milner rates as a first day selection.
Washington vs. Arizona
One of the better stories at quarterback this
season has been the transformation of Washington signal caller Isaiah
Stanback. A strong-armed athlete who can make all the throws, Stanback
is finally turning his raw talent into football skill.
To the delight of Husky fans he has led his
team to a 3-1 start and a bowl berth seems possible. To the surprise of
scouts Stanback has shown he is more then a great athlete struggling to play
quarterback. Stanback has improved his accuracy, decision making and overall
game this season. He is slowly rounding into a complete passer on a
Stanback faces a talented Arizona defensive
backfield, a secondary we highlighted last week when the Wildcats played USC.
Against the Trojans passing game the Wildcat secondary stayed in the game,
holding USC's explosive offense to just 179-yards passing.
This will be a great test for Stanback and
another opportunity to cement in the minds of scouts he is on the rise.