Arizona State vs UCLA: Top NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in Pac-12 Clash

Tyler Brooke@TylerDBrookeSenior Analyst IINovember 23, 2013

October 12, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr (11) defends against the California Golden Bears during the first half at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona State Sun Devils will be facing the UCLA Bruins in a big Pac-12 matchup on Saturday.

While the game itself will be a good one, it will also be an excellent opportunity to look at some top-tier NFL prospects.

Both teams enter this game in the Top 20 of the BCS rankings, each with an 8-2 record.  

The Pac-12 South is up for grabs, and both of these teams have a shot to go to the conference championship game.  

This will certainly be an entertaining game to watch with a lot of talented players that could be going to the NFL.  Below is a look at a couple of prospects from each team, breaking down their abilities and projecting which round they could be taken in.


Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 14:  Defensive tackle Will Sutton #90 of the Arizona State Sun Devils reacts after a tackle against the Wisconsin Badgers during the college football game at Sun Devil Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  The Sun Devils
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After winning the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award and being selected as an All-American in 2012, Will Sutton has continued to prove he's a legitimate NFL prospect in the middle of the defensive line.  

He racked up 13 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss in 2012, and while the numbers haven't been as impressive this year, he's still making big plays. 

While he may be only 6'1'', Sutton makes up for his lack of height with a solid 305-pound frame that he's grown into over the past year.  He's a surprisingly explosive athlete off the snap and does a great job of clogging gaps and getting into the backfield to make big plays.

While there are a number of impressive interior defensive linemen entering this year's draft, Sutton is a reliable enough option to be worth a selection late in the first round or early in the second.


Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 15:  Brett Hundley #17 of the UCLA Bruins makes a throw in the pocket during the third quarter against the Washington Huskies at Rose Bowl on November 15, 2013 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Brett Hundley was supposed to be one of the top quarterbacks joining the NFL in May, but his draft stock has taken quite a hit while a number of other QBs have emerged onto the scene.

Still, the numbers for Hundley have been solid this season.  

He's completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 2,384 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions while adding 502 yards and seven scores on the ground.

With an ideal frame for a QB and his ability to make plays through the air and on the ground, Hundley has the potential to be the next successful mobile quarterback as the read option continues to be popular in the NFL.  He has a strong presence in the pocket and usually makes the right decision regarding when to tuck it and run.

However, Hundley needs to work on being more confident in reading opposing defenses and work on his accuracy.  

He struggled against Oregon this year, failing to consistently read the coverage and looked confused as the Ducks made pre-snap adjustments.

The number of potential first-round quarterback prospects for the 2014 draft is four or five, and Hundley is not one of them.  Still, an NFL team will have the opportunity to take Hundley later, and he could go early in the third round.


Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State

If you haven't watched Marion Grice play, you really need to.

One of the most productive players in the country, Grice is having a fantastic 2013 season.  He has run for 901 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 5.2 yards per carry.  He's also been a threat in the passing game with 43 receptions, 366 yards and six touchdowns.

A 6'0'', 204-pound frame means that Grice doesn't have the most ideal size for a workhorse running back at the next level.  

He's a bit lean and doesn't have elite speed, but he shows a great ability to find the open hole and explode through it, something that players like Trent Richardson could afford to learn at the next level.  

Grice's ability to make plays in the passing game, as well, is what makes him such a valuable running back prospect.  He's an ideal third-down running back in the NFL, and that will make him one of the first players taken in the second round.


Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA

There are plenty of intriguing prospects that will be playing in this game, but none will be taken as high in the draft as Anthony Barr.

After recording 13.5 sacks and earning All-Pac-12 honors in 2012, Barr has continued to help his draft stock in 2013.  

He has recorded 51 total tackles and seven sacks, which is quite impressive as opposing teams have focused on doing whatever it takes to take him out of the game.

At outside linebacker, Barr has ideal size and athleticism. He's explosive off the snap and is an excellent pass-rusher, constantly putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

But that's not all that Barr can do.  

Not only can he get pressure on the quarterback, he can blow up plays in the run game.  He has excellent awareness and does a great job staying home in order to disrupt plays in the backfield.  He uses his strength and athleticism to get by offensive linemen any way possible and make big plays on a consistent basis.

Todd McShay (subscription required) from ESPN now has Barr as his No. 2 prospect behind Jadeveon Clowney, and that's a very big deal.  With his all-around game at the outside linebacker position, Barr will have no problem being a top-five pick in May.




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