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Mississippi State vs. Texas A&M: Top NFL Draft Prospects in SEC Clash

Nov 2, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) rushes for a touchdown during the third quarter against the UTEP Miners at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IINovember 8, 2013

With the college football season starting to wind down and NFL scouts starting to look at potential pro prospects, the Mississippi State-Texas A&M game becomes a pretty important one for players trying to boost their draft stock.

The Aggies enter this one with a 7-2 record and a Heisman contender, searching for a big bowl bid.  Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are 4-4 with a 1-3 SEC record, and they're just trying to finish with a winning record.

Below are just a few of the top NFL prospects in this game, along with a breakdown of each player and which round they will likely be taken in this May.

 

Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Oct 26, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies offensive linesman Jake Matthews (75) warms up against the Vanderbilt Commodores before the game at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

It seems that Texas A&M does a great job of bringing in top-tier offensive tackles, and after Luke Joeckel went with the No. 2 overall pick this past draft, Jake Matthews is looking to be the top offensive tackle taken in May.

After playing right tackle during his first three seasons, Matthews has moved to left tackle during his senior year, replacing Joeckel.  So far, he hasn't missed a beat, doing an excellent job protecting the blind side of Johnny Manziel.

With some solid footwork combined with nice size and strength, Matthews has all of the tools needed to be a great offensive tackle in the NFL, and he should be a top-10 selection.

 

Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State

Sept 1, 2012; Starkville, MS, USA;  Mississippi State Bulldogs offensive linesman Gabe Jackson (61) during the game against the Jackson State Tigers at Davis Wade Stadium.  Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the Jackson State Tigers 56-9.  Mandatory Cred
Spruce Derden-USA TODAY Sports

While the Bulldogs don't have a ton of flashy draft prospects this season, they do have one of the elite offensive guards in the country with Gabe Jackson.

Despite playing in the competitive SEC, Jackson didn't allow a single sack in 2012.  At 6'4'' and 335 pounds, he has ideal size for an interior lineman, and he uses his size along with his strength to simply manhandle defensive linemen.

Jackson might be the best offensive guard in the draft, but due to the nature of the position, he may only be a late first-round or early second-round pick.

 

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

COLLEGE STATION, TX - SEPTEMBER 14:  Mike Evans #13 of Texas A&M Aggies reacts to a play in the fourth quarter during the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Kyle Field on September 14, 2013 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Before this season, not a ton of people were talking about Mike Evans as an NFL prospect, but with a huge season in 2013 he's shown that he's likely the second-best receiver behind Sammy Watkins entering the draft.

So far, Evans has caught 52 passes for 1,147 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging an incredible 22.1 yards per reception.  While Manziel is getting most of the Heisman attention, Evans has bailed him out often with some incredible catches.

Evans is one of the tallest receivers in the draft class, listed at 6'5'' and 225 pounds.  Even with his size, he shows great burst and can overpower defensive backs, although he won't burn past them with vertical speed.  Still, he can easily play on the outside as a receiver and could be an incredibly dangerous red-zone threat talented enough to make himself a first-round selection.

 

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

There are a ton of NFL prospects in this SEC matchup, but everyone is going to be looking at Johnny Football, who has actually improved as a passer.

Manziel has completed 72.5 percent of his passes this season for 2,867 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions.  On the ground, he's racked up another 564 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

While Manziel still isn't perfect, he has improved as a passer.  He is making fewer bad throws and is stepping up into the pocket more often.  At the same time, he's still using his athleticism and elusiveness to extend plays and make things happen.

However, there are a ton of talented quarterback prospects coming out in this draft class, which will likely have Manziel drop a bit down the boards.  He should still be able to go early in the second round, and he will likely find a team that will try make him a starter as soon as he comes into the NFL.

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