SHARE

No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels at No. 4 Florida State Seminoles

Monday, September 5, 8 p.m.

Orlando, Fla. — ESPN

College football’s opening weekend has several high profile matchups with Alabama-USC and Wisconsin-LSU receiving the most hype. However in regards to NFL talent, the lone matchup on Labor Day between Ole Miss and Florida State might be the best of a loaded weekend. The Rebels set a school record with three first round picks in the 2016 class, but also return several prospects that scouts are watching for next spring. Although there are questions at quarterback, Florida State is arguably the most talented team in the ACC.

Five draft-eligible prospects to focus on

Dalvin Cook , RB, Florida State, JR. (5-11, 213, 4.46, #4)
Cook led the ACC in six offensive categories last season, including rushing yards per game (140.9), rushing yards per carry (7.4) and rushing touchdowns (19). He is just the second player in school history with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons, joining Warrick Dunn, and needs only 1,261 yards in 2016 to surpass Dunn as the FSU all-time leading rusher. Cook runs with exceptional patience and burst with the coordinated feet to stop and redirect without gearing down. He has the feet and balance reminiscent of Ezekiel Elliott and is a tick more explosive than the former Buckeye, but Cook doesn’t have the same build or body armor, leading to scouts No. 1 concern with him: long-term durability.

Dalvin Cook FSUDalvin Cook belongs in the conversation when it comes to the nation’s elite RBs. USATSI

Marquis Haynes , DE/OLB, Ole Miss, JR. (6-2, 222, 4.67, #10)
Although he might not have the same name recognition as Myles Garrett or Derek Barnett , Haynes is one of the best pass rushers in the SEC, finishing last season with 16.5 tackles for loss and 10.0 sacks. He looks more like a linebacker or even a safety due to his narrow shoulders and thin lower body, but his athleticism to threaten the pocket will ruin a quarterback’s day. Haynes fires off the snap and shows excellent secondary quickness to work off contact, skim the corner and flatten due to his natural flexibility. He lines up at both left and right defensive end, but when on the right side vs. Seminoles junior LOT Roderick Johnson (6-6, 308, 5.37, #77), NFL scouts will be focused on that match-up.

Evan Engram , WR/TE, Ole Miss, SR. (6-3, 227, 4.64, #17)
After receiving a “go back to school” grade from the NFL Advisory Board, Engram made the wise choice to return for his senior season. No tight end in Ole Miss history has more career catches or receiving yards, but his production dipped in 2015 as he struggled to find chemistry with quarterback Chad Kelly . Engram is an above average athlete for his size with sudden release to quickly enter his route and sit down in soft spots underneath. He isn’t asked to run a diverse route tree, but has agile feet and fluid change of direction skills to make smooth adjustments and pluck the ball. Florida State sophomore SS Derwin James (6-2, 213, 4.52, #3) isn’t draft eligible, but will look to lock down Engram in this game.

DeMarcus Walker , DE, Florida State, SR. (6-2, 273, 4.86, #44)
After a breakout junior year with 10.5 sacks, Walker decided to return for his senior year to prove he is more than a one-year wonder. He is shorter than ideal, but certainly isn’t small with a thick, burly build and the core strength needed to control the point of attack. Walker uses his low center of gravity to hold his ground and quickly reset his eyes to find the football. He is a very alert player, tallying four forced fumbles and six passes defended last season. While he sets a hard edge in the run game to filter the ball carrier inside, scouts want to see the development of his pass rush attack. Walker is more of a one-speed athlete and needs to better translate his power to generate consistent movement.

Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss, SR. (6-2, 224, 4.76, #10)
The top draft-eligible quarterback in the SEC, Kelly led the conference in passing last season (4,402 passing yards, 31 touchdowns), becoming the first quarterback to lead Ole Miss to wins over five top-25 ranked teams. The nephew of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, he has NFL arm strength with effortless velocity to fire strikes, using his body and throwing motion to add extra RPM’s. He’s fearless, but belongs in gamblers anonymous because of his propensity to take chances and his inconsistent mechanics lead to streaky accuracy. Kelly has the competitive toughness that his teammates will rally around and his development, or lack thereof, will determine where he is drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Other Ole Miss prospects to watch

  • WR Damore’ea Stringfellow , rJR. (6-2, 212, 4.58, #3)
  • WR Quincy Adeboyejo , SR. (6-3, 195, 4.48, #8)
  • DT D.J. Jones , SR. (6-0, 321, 5.08, #93)
  • SS Tony Conner , SR. (6-0, 225, 4.60, #12)
  • DE Fadol Brown , rSR. (6-4, 273, 4.93, #6)
  • CB Tony Bridges , SR. (6-0, 185, 4.53, #1)

Other Florida State prospects to watch

  • WR Travis Rudolph , JR. (6-1, 189, 4.52, #15)
  • CB Marquez White , SR. (6-0, 181, 4.49, #27)
  • DT Derrick Nnadi , JR. (6-1, 303, 5.09, #91)
  • LG Kareem Are , rSR. (6-5, 334, 5.38, #72)
  • SS Nate Andrews , SR. (5-11, 210, 4.62, #29)
  • WR Kermit Whitfield , SR. (5-8, 180, 4.40, #8)

Six other matchups to watch, in chronological order:

No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 15 Houston Cougars

Saturday, Sept. 3, Noon, NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas Longhorns , ABC

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

RB Samaje Perine , Oklahoma, JR. (5-10, 235, 4.57, #32): With 3,062 rushing yards to his name, few running backs have been as productive as Perine over the past two seasons, needing just 1,057 yards in 2016 to pass Billy Sims for the No. 1 spot on Oklahoma’s all-time rushing list. He moves loose for a player with his sculpted physique, displaying NFL-level balance, strength and uncanny ability to keep his forward momentum.

samaje-perine-oklahoma.jpgPerine could set some impressive Sooner records in 2016. USATSI

RB Joe Mixon , Oklahoma, rSO. (6-1, 226, 4.52, #25): While Perine is the lead back, Oklahoma runs a lot of “21” personnel to also get Mixon on the field. He is a T.J. Yeldon clone with his electric feet, flexible hips and explosive lateral agility to juke out of trouble, transferring his weight with ease. Mixon also has NFL receiving traits to be a YAC monster and will be a great test for Houston ILB Steven Taylor (6-1, 225, 4.77, #41).

DE/OLB Tyus Bowser , Houston, SR. (6-2, 240, 4.67, #81): A stand-up edge rusher in Houston’s hybrid 3-4 scheme, Bowser lacks ideal size, but he flashes violence in his hands and uses his balanced, quick feet to skirt blockers and squeeze into the pocket. He leverages the field well vs. the run and also shows the versatility to move in reverse and cover skill players. Bowser and his upside have created buzz in scouting circles.

Other Houston prospects to watch: QB/WR Greg Ward, SR. (5-10, 185, 4.49, #1); WR Chance Allen , rSR. (6-2, 215, 4.54, #21); WR Ra’Shaad Samples , rSO. (5-11, 190, 4.52, #5); DE Cameron Malveaux , rSR. (6-5, 270, 4.86, #94); DT B.J. Singleton , rSR. (6-3, 314, 5.17, #93); CB Brandon Wilson , rSR. (5-11, 200, 4.55, #26)

Other Oklahoma prospects to watch: QB Baker Mayfield , rJR. (6-0, 210, 4.74, #6); WR Dede Westbrook , SR. (5-11, 175, 4.39, #11); TE Mark Andrews , rSO. (6-4, 250, 4.77, #81); LOT Orlando Brown , rSO. (6-7, 340, 5.44, #78); DL Charles Walker , rJR. (6-2, 304, 4.97, #97); FS Ahmad Thomas , SR. (6-0, 215, 4.60, #13)

No. 5 LSU Tigers vs. Wisconsin Badgers

Saturday, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m., Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis., ABC

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

RB Leonard Fournette , LSU, JR. (6-1, 230, 4.45, #7): After his dominant sophomore season (300/1,953/22), Fournette enters the 2016 season as a Heisman front-runner and possible top-10 pick next spring. Wisconsin ranked No. 2 in the FBS last season in total defense, allowing only 268.5 total yards per game, but defensive coordinator Dave Aranda is now at LSU and the Fournette has a rare blend of power, speed and balance.

The Heisman chase for Leonard Fournette begins against Wisconsin. USATSI

RB Corey Clement , Wisconsin, SR. (5-10, 227, 4.53, #6): While Fournette might be the first back drafted, Clement has a chance to be the top senior drafted at the position. After a disappointing 2015 season as he tried to replace Melvin Gordon , Clement will face a tough test vs. LSU’s defense led by two highly graded run stuffers: SS Jamal Adams (6-0, 211, 4.54, #33) and ILB Kendell Beckwith (6-2, 252, 4.82, #52).

CB Tre’Davious White , LSU, SR. (5-11, 192, 4.50, #18): Likely passing up a spot in the top-50 picks, White spurned the NFL to return to Baton Rouge for his senior season and another chance to impress pro scouts. He has the size and athleticism to press and keep the passing game off rhythm and will likely match up often with the Badgers’ top returning pass-catcher, WR Robert Wheelwright (6-2, 211, 4.54, #15).

Other LSU prospects to watch: WR Malachi Dupre , JR. (6-2, 190, 4.56, #15), WR Travin Dural , rSR. (6-2, 203, 4.49, #83), OC Ethan Pocic , SR. (6-6, 309, 5.18, #77), DE Lewis Neal , SR. (6-1, 264, 4.82, #92), DT Davon Godchaux , JR. (6-4, 293, 5.07, #57), FS Rickey Jefferson , SR. (5-11, 206, 4.58, #9)

Other Wisconsin prospects to watch: QB Bart Houston , rSR. (6-3, 235, 4.93, #13), RB Dare Ogunbowale , rSR. (5-11, 205, 4.50, #23), OC Michael Deiter , rSO. (6-5, 325, 5.28, #63), OLB Vince Biegel , rSR. (6-4, 245, 4.75, #47), ILB T.J. Edwards , rSO. (6-1, 244, 4.79, #53), CB Sojourn Shelton , SR. (5-9, 170, 4.46, #8)

No. 16 UCLA Bruins at Texas A&M

Saturday, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m., College Station, Texas, CBS

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

DE Myles Garrett, Texas A&M, JR. (6-5, 262, 4.64, #15): Entering the season as the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2017 draft class, Garrett faces high expectations and he’ll be tested right away against UCLA LOT Conor McDermott (6-8, 310, 5.27, #68), one of the top senior blockers in the country. This match-up will be athleticism vs. athleticism so Garrett will need to use his full pass rush arsenal and dip into his bag of tricks.

Myles-garrett-atm-2015.jpgMyles Garrett could wind up the No. 1 pick in April. USATSI

DE Takkarist McKinley , UCLA, rSR. (6-2, 252, 4.81, #98): A player who has seen his role grow with each game the last few seasons, McKinley lines up both inside and outside, using a head of steam to create pressure. He has the athleticism to capture the corner, but needs to improve his pad level and rush sequence, especially when lined up against Aggies LOT Avery Gennesy (6-5, 310, 5.08, #65), a future NFL player himself.

DS Justin Evans , Texas A&M, SR. (6-0, 195, 4.52, #14): The Aggies’ run defense ranked dead-last in the SEC in 2015, but Evans, who did a little bit of everything from his safety spot, flashed a ton of potential in his first season at Texas A&M. He has outstanding play speed and range and is an excellent high-to-low tackler, arriving with violence. With a full season under his belt, NFL scouts have high expectations for Evans in 2016.

Other Texas A&M prospects to watch: QB Trevor Knight , rSR. (6-1, 207, 4.62, #9), WR Josh Reynolds , SR. (6-3, 190, 4.52, #11), WR Ricky Seals-Jones , rJR. (6-5, 240, 4.59, #9), DE Daeshon Hall , SR. (6-5, 260, 4.77, #10), LB Shaan Washington , SR. (6-3, 235, 4.82, #33), SS Armani Watts , JR. (5-11, 190, 4.50, #23)

Other UCLA prospects to watch: DT Eddie Vanderdoes , rJR. (6-2, 305, 5.17, #47), DE/OLB Deon Hollins , SR. (6-0, 230, 4.74, #58), CB Fabian Moreau , rSR. (5-11, 200, 45.2, #10), CB/WR Ish Adams, rSR. (5-8, 180, 4.50, #1), CB Marcus Rios , rSR. (5-11, 185, 4.57, #9), DS Randall Goforth , rSR. (5-10, 190, 4.53, #3)

No. 18 Georgia Bulldogs vs. No. 22 North Carolina Tar Heels

Saturday, Sept. 3, 5:30 p.m. , Atlanta, Ga. , ESPN

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

RB Nick Chubb , Georgia, JR. (5-10, 220, 4.54, #27): Taking over as the lead Dawg for Todd Gurley , Chubb rushed for 100+ yards in the first five games last season, but the sixth game spelled doom as he suffered a “significant tear” to his left knee. He was recently cleared as “full go” by the training staff for the season opener so NFL scouts will be focused on Chubb’s return as he tries to regain his status as a high round prospect.

RB Elijah Hood , North Carolina, JR. (5-11, 220, 4.59, #34): In what could be a historic running back class next spring, Hood is a prospect who doesn’t receive his due as one of the best available at his position if he leaves early for the NFL. He averaged 6.7 yards per rush last season as a sophomore with 17 rushing touchdowns and although Chubb is clearly the best back in most of his games, that isn’t the case in this contest.

OLB Lorenzo Carter , Georgia, JR. (6-5, 242, 4.79, #7): After winning UGA Newcomer of the Year honors in 2014 (7.0 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks), Carter took a step back last season as he was buried on the depth chart behind Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins . A flexible athlete with easy burst, Carter has impressive traits, but is still raw in several areas and will be tested vs. North Carolina LOT Bentley Spain (6-6, 300, 5.04, #75).

Other Georgia prospects to watch: RB Sony Michel , JR. (5-11, 212, 4.56, #1); TE Jeb Blazevich , JR. (6-5, 248, 4.73, #83); OT/OG Greg Pyke , rSR. (6-5, 313, 5.27, #73); OC Brandon Kublanow , SR. (6-2, 288, 5.33, #54); SLB Davin Bellamy , rJR. (6-4, 242, 4.82, #17); FS Dominick Sanders , JR. (6-0, 190, 4.54, #24)

Other North Carolina prospects to watch: QB Mitch Trubisky , rJR. (6-3, 220, 4.83, #10); WR Ryan Switzer , SR. (5-10, 185, 4.50, #3); WR Mack Hollins , SR. (6-3, 210, 4.55, #13); WR Bug Howard , SR. (6-4, 210, 4.62, #84); DT Nazair Jones , rJR. (6-5, 295, 4.97, #90); CB Desmond Lawrence , SR. (6-0, 185, 4.50, #2)

No. 20 Southern California Trojans vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Saturday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m. , AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, ABC

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster , JR. (6-2, 220, 4.52, #9): Arguably the top draft-eligible wide receiver prospect in the country, Smith-Schuster isn’t the most technically refined, but he is a good-sized athlete with creative ball skills – very reminiscent of Jacksonville Jaguars WR Allen Robinson . Smith-Schuster vs. Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey (6-1, 198, 4.49, #26) should be a preview of two future first round picks for NFL scouts.

DE Jonathan Allen , Alabama, SR. (6-3, 292, 4.85, #93): A player who passed up the first round to return for his senior season, Allen, who led the team in 2015 with 12.0 sacks, isn’t a sudden rusher, but his punch and ability to convert speed to power makes him effective. Along with senior DE/OLB Tim Williams (6-3, 237, 4.76, #56), Alabama will challenge USC ROT Zach Banner , rSR. (6-8, 360, 5.46, #73) with both quickness and power.

CB Adoree Jackson, USC, JR. (5-11, 185, 4.43, #2): One of the most exciting athletes on any level, Jackson is an explosive return man and should get some snaps on offense. But as a cornerback, he is still very raw with his technique and coverage depth. Jackson has the hips, body control and speed to stick with any receiver, but the route-running and savvy of Alabama WR Calvin Ridley , SO. (6-0, 188, 4.50, #3) will challenge him.

Other USC prospects to watch: QB Max Browne , rJR. (6-4, 220, 4.86, #4); RB Justin Davis , SR. (6-1, 200, 4.53, #22); WR Darreus Rogers , rSR. (6-1, 215, 4.54, #1); TE Taylor McNamara , rSR. (6-5, 245, 4.79, #48); LG Damien Mama , JR. (6-3, 328, 5.47, #51); FS Chris Hawkins , rJR. (5-11, 185, 4.48, #4)

Other Alabama prospects to watch: TE O.J. Howard , SR. (6-6, 242, 4.57, #88); LOT Cam Robinson , JR. (6-5, 327, 5.28, #74); DE/OLB Ryan Anderson , rSR. (6-2, 253, 4.77, #22); MLB Reuben Foster , SR. (6-1, 240, 4.72, #10); WLB Rashaan Evans , JR. (6-3, 230, 4.59, #32); SS Eddie Jackson , SR. (6-0, 195, 4.53, #4)

No. 2 Clemson Tigers at Auburn Tigers

Saturday, Sept. 3, 9 p.m. , Auburn, Ala. , ESPN

Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:

QB Deshaun Watson , Clemson, JR. (6-2, 210, 4.64, #4): The frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Watson enters this season with high expectations, especially after his performance in the National Title Game with 405 yards passing and four touchdowns vs. Alabama. As a junior, scouts are looking for Watson to improve his downfield efficiency and more importantly stay healthy.

DE/OLB Carl Lawson , Auburn, rJR. (6-2, 253, 4.67, #55): Lawson put himself on the NFL map very early, but an ACL tear robbed him of his 2014 season and due to a cracked hip, he was a shell of himself in seven games played last year. When healthy, Lawson uses his lower body athleticism and upper body power to string together moves, but he needs to stay healthy and productive in 2016 to avoid the fragile tag.

WR Mike Williams , Clemson, rJR. (6-3, 220, 4.50, #7): Clemson returns four of their top-five receivers from last season plus gets a huge boost with the addition of Williams, who missed all of last season with a neck injury. With his size, athleticism and ball skills, he has all the ingredients to be a first round pick, but first Williams needs to show he is fully healed, both physically and mentally. His road back starts in this game.

Other Clemson prospects to watch: RB Wayne Gallman , rJR. (6-0, 215, 4.64, #9); WR Artavis Scott , JR. (5-11, 190, 4.49, #3); TE Jordan Leggett , SR. (6-5, 255, 4.73, #16); DT Carlos Watkins , rSR. (6-3, 300, 5.06, #94); WLB Ben Boulware , SR. (6-0, 240, 4.84, #10); CB Cordrea Tankersley , SR. (6-0, 195, 4.48, #25)

Other Auburn prospects to watch: LT Austin Golson , rJR. (6-4, 314, 5.28, #73); RG Braden Smith , JR. (6-5, 300, 5.08, #71); LG Alex Kozan , rSR. (6-3, 310, 5.19, #63); DT Montravius Adams , SR. (6-3, 309, 5.12, #1); WLB Tre Williams , JR. (6-2, 240, 4.74, #30); FS Johnathan Ford , SR. (5-11, 204, 4.49, #23)


Source: CBS Sports Headlines / NFL Scout’s Eye: Ole Miss-Florida State tops loaded opening weekend