On paper this should be a blowout in favor of Oregon. The Longhorns defense will be hard pressed to match the speed of the Ducks offense or move the ball through the air. Then again Texas is playing for Mack Brown, who unwillingly leaves his head coaching position after the contest, so anything can happen. Tony Pauline looks at the top pro-prospects in this game.
Marcus Mariota/QB/Oregon: Despite the possibility of being the first pick of the draft, Mariota has announced he will put off his NFL career for at least a year. It’s a decision which looks concrete at this point. From the perspective of a quarterback prospect Mariota has it all. The athletic signal caller makes plays in and out of the pocket with his arm or legs. He’s quickly developed on the field from both a fundamental and intangible point of view. The red-shirt sophomore has unlimited potential and will undoubtedly be graded as a top two selection moving towards the 2015 NFL Draft. 1st Round
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu/CB/Oregon: Ekpre-Olomu is another Oregon underclassman who really watched his game take off this season. The shut down corner plays a physical brand of football and shows skill in man coverage as well as zone. He’s a little shorter than teams want in a number one cornerback but does a good job staying away from mental errors. Word is Ekpre-Olomu is likely headed for the draft where he’ll be the first corner selected. 1st Round
Jackson Jeffcoat/DE-OLB/Texas: If there was an all underrated prospect list Jeffcoat’s name could be at the top. The fierce pass rusher missed the second half of the 2012 campaign with a pectoral injury then returned this season to post 12 sacks with 21 tackles for loss. Jeffcoat was given a last day grade by scouts entering the season due to poor size/speed numbers yet any defender who can disrupt the action as he does will be sought out on draft day. The faster Jeffcoat runs in pre-draft workouts the earlier he’ll be selected. 3rd Round
Hroniss Grasu/C/Oregon: Grasu followed the lead of his quarterback and has announced he will return for another season with the Ducks. Had he entered the draft Grasu would’ve likely been the first center selected. He lacks great height yet plays with tremendous fundamentals and controls opponents at the line of scrimmage or on the second level. Size limitations will depress his draft grade yet there’s no denying Grasu offers starting potential at the next level.
Terrance Mitchell/CB/Oregon: Mitchell was the headlining cornerback on the Oregon defense entering the season and despite being passed by Ekpre-Olomu, still rates as a solid NFL prospect. Mitchell possesses better size than his teammate but has a penchant for falling asleep and blowing assignments at times. If he gets his act together and plays to his potential Mitchell is another Duck with starting potential for the next level. 3rd Round
Cedric Reed/DE/Texas: Reed moved into a starting roll this season then promptly turned in a career campaign. His numbers were gaudy as Reed posted 9 sacks, 18 tackles for loss and forced four fumbles. By comparison Reed posted 2.5 sacks a year ago. Only a junior, he has better size and growth potential compared to Jackson Jeffcoat and could be an early pick in the future if he continues to develop at this pace. 3rd Round