It was a holiday weekend which saw a number of unbeaten teams go down in defeat as well as shake-up at the top of the BCS rankings. Conference title games also hinged on the outcome of a number of contests from this weekend. Included in week 14 were mainstay and sleeper prospects who impressed NFL scouts.
Josh Huff/WR/Oregon: Huff, one of the nation’s most underrated receiver prospects, finished off his college career in style against rival Oregon State . The senior put up a season best 9 receptions, 186 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, the last of which put Oregon up for good in the final half-minute of the game. Huff’s not very big or super fast but reliable and football smart. He’ll quickly produce at the next level for a team that lines him up in the slot as a 3rd/4th receiver.
Bishop Sankey/RB/Washington: The Huskies junior ball carrier finished his record setting campaign in style, running roughshod over rival Washington State. Sankey posted 200-yards rushing on 34 carries (5.9-yard average) with one score. It was the second time this season he’s gone over 200-yard mark in a game and Sankey finished the year with 1775-yards on the ground and 18 touchdowns. Expected to enter the draft, Sankey grades as a second round pick and would do well playing in an offensive system such as the one employed by the Miami Dolphins.
Tyler Gaffney/RB/Stanford: Once again Gaffney came up big when facing a tough opponent, posting career numbers against Notre Dame. The senior ran for 189-yards on 33 carries, eclipsing the 171-rushing yards he posted against UCLA earlier in the year. Gaffney, who put his professional baseball career on hold to join the Cardinal football team this season, is a powerful, downhill runner with terrific size and athleticism. He’s the antithesis of Bishop Sankey; a heavy duty ball carrier that will find a home for a ground and pound/power running offense in the NFL.
Keith McGill/DB/Utah: This was a game scouts circled and McGill did not disappoint. The Utes leaned on McGill to slow down Colorado star receiver Paul Richardson and the fast rising defensive back responded. Richardson had his second lowest output of the season, 4 receptions with 54 receiving yards. For his part McGill recorded 6 tackles and broke up two passes. The senior offers the versatility to line-up at corner or safety and is a tremendous athlete with a large upside. A good week of Senior Bowl practices could push McGill into the second round.
Derrick Mathews/OLB/Houston: Mathews has been a tackling machine at Houston since breaking into the line-up as a freshman yet the junior poses a dilemma for scouts. His production has been nothing less than outstanding and his totals a year ago included 126 tackles. Twelve games into the 2012 season Mathews has posted 110 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and 7 sacks as well as 5 pass defenses. Built more like a defensive back (6-feet, 215lbs) than linebacker, Mathews offers possibilities as a nickel linebacker or safety and special teams player in the NFL.
J.R. Collins/DE/Virginia Tech: With so much headlining talent surrounding him its easy for Collins to get overlooked but the game film tells a different story altogether. The undersized defensive end, who was not graded by scouts entering the season, has shown himself to be a complete defender. For the year Collins posted 47 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 5 sacks, numbers superior to James Gayle, his highly rated teammate. He also has 22 quarterback hurries to his credit. Collins offers back-up potential at defensive end or linebacker and has special teams possibilities. Good workouts during the Virginia Tech pro-day in March could push him into the late rounds.
David Fales/QB/San Jose State: I’ll be honest and mention I’ve never been a big proponent of Fales next level potential yet I would be remiss not to mention his performance against once unbeaten Fresno State. Fales took full advantage of the Bulldogs leaky defense by putting 547 passing yards with 6 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also completed 82.2% of his throws. This comes against a team fighting for an undefeated season and potential BCS invitation. Fales ultimate draft grade will come down to his Senior Bowl performance (assuming he receives an invitation) and combine workout. Regardless, he raised the eyebrows of NFL decision makers over Thanksgiving weekend.
Tajh Boyd/QB/Clemson: Despite praise heaped on Boyd by many on the outside scouts are not overly impressed with the signal callers next level potential. Saturday’s loss to South Carolina was another example why. Boyd threw for a mere 225 yards with no touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Worse, his wayward passes resulted in lost opportunities for the Tigers offense on a number of occasions. Boyd has the arm strength to play in the NFL but can be all over the place with throws. He benefitted from throwing to a pair of first round receivers the past two years who were able to consistently pull his errant throws from the air. In the NFL he’ll be facing first round cornerbacks who’ll be able to do the same.