Texas A&M vs Mississippi
7PM EST ESPN
‘Ole Miss tries to get back to their winning ways after last weeks stunning loss to Memphis while A&M hopes to creep closer to the nation’s top ten. This game also marks the return of highly rated offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, who’ll be thrown into the fire.
Tunsil, who was suspended the first half of the season after the NCAA deemed he received impermissible benefits, is ranked among the top offensive tackle prospects in the nation and sits at the top of some boards at the position. He’s a quick footed blocker with the ability to hold the point in pass protection and power to drive opponents off the ball on running downs.
Against the Aggies he faces one of the best young pass rushers in the nation.
True sophomore Myles Garrett has totaled 8.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss in six games this season. He has the speed to bend off the edge but also shows enough athleticism to beat opponents on the inside. Garrett is a tremendous player who’ll be graded a top ten prospect as we move towards the 2017 NFL Draft.
But the focus is the 2016 NFL Draft and from all accounts Tunsil will part of the event next April. His readiness and ability to handle Garrett will be the center of attention on Saturday.
Utah vs USC
7:30 EST FOX
After a hectic week in which their head coach was fired, the Trojans traveled to South Bend and played admirably in a losing effort against Notre Dame. This week they try and upset the undefeated Utah Utes. This contest features another battle along the lines of scrimmage which many scouts will focus on.
Two weeks ago I mentioned Zach Banner, the Trojans massive offensive tackle, is considering entering the draft. Last week I was told the chances Banner opts for the NFL after the season is growing. A lot may hinge how he plays this weekend.
I’ve notated several times since the summer Utah offers more than a half dozen draftable prospects on defense. Defensive end Jason Fanaika is one rarely mentioned in the media but he’s a player that receives high praise in scouting circles.
Fanaika entered the season with second day grades and continues to impress scouts. He’s a terrific athlete and as told to me by a west coast source, “weighs 270-pounds but looks like he’s 250-pounds.” The inference being he can add additional bulk to his frame with little problem. Fanaika makes a lot of plays that don’t show up on the stat sheet and offers a nice degree of upside.
Banner has a significant size advantage over Fanaika, who’s the better player. This is a great match-up between potential middle round/second day picks.
South Alabama vs Texas State
7PM EST ESPN GP
This little known match-up in the Sun Belt will be closely monitored by scouts.
Receiver Josh Magee of South Alabama was put on my watch list entering the season after I saw him play at Alabama-Birmingham in 2014. The junior does not put up big pass catching numbers (14 receptions in 6 games this season) rather is a playmaking receiver with home run hitting speed. Magee has averaged 28.7-yards on his 14 receptions and found the end zone 3 times.
On Saturday he squares off against David Mims, possibly the most underrated cornerback in the nation.
Mims was ignored by scouts entering the season despite his five interceptions from last year. Teams have purposely thrown away from Mims this season and he has no picks but lists second on the defense with 26 tackles. I graded Mims as a priority free agent off the 2014 film, believing he has next level ball skills but speed could be an issue.
If that’s the case Magee should be able to exploit Mims on Saturday but the South Alabama receiver is slightly built and may not stand up to Mims physical style of ball.
Containing or shutting down Magee will be a major boost to Mims draft stock.