Arkansas vs LSU: Top NFL Draft Prospects to Watch for in SEC Clash

Tyler Brooke@TylerDBrookeSenior Analyst IINovember 29, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 09: Zach Mettenberger #8 of the LSU Tigers passes for a touchdown during the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 9, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The SEC is known for its top-tier talent, and with this week's game between the Arkansas Razorbacks and LSU Tigers, there are a number of exciting potential NFL prospects to watch for.

The college football season is starting to wind down, meaning that there are only a few more opportunities for these prospects to prove themselves.  This is the last regular-season game for both teams, while the Tigers will be heading to a bowl game after.

Let's take a look at a few NFL draft prospects from this exciting SEC matchup, breaking them down and looking at which round they could be selected in.


Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 10:  Jarvis Landry #80 of the LSU Tigers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Tiger Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

While both Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry could make excellent receivers at the next level, I want to take a closer look at the latter and his NFL future.

Landry has become an incredibly productive player as a junior this season.  After catching 56 passes for 573 yards and five touchdowns in 2012, the hiring of Cam Cameron has given him more opportunities to make big plays.  This season, he's already caught 67 passes for 1,059 yards and 10 touchdowns, making him one of the most productive receivers in the country.

Even at 6'1'' and 195 pounds, Landry is a surprisingly tough receiver who can play on the outside.  He's a smooth route-runner who's an incredibly consistent player, and he already has the set of skills necessary to make an immediate impact for a future NFL team.

With other players like Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans, the receiver position is incredibly deep this year.  For Landry, that may keep him from being a first-round pick, but he should still be taken somewhere in the second or maybe even third round.


Chris Smith, DE, Arkansas

TUSCALOOSA, AL - OCTOBER 19:  Chris Smith #42 of the Arkansas Razorbacks runs on the field during pregame warmups prior to facing the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Im
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the exception of Jadeveon Clowney, there wasn't a more deadly pass-rusher to return for the 2013 season in the SEC than Chris Smith out of Arkansas.

Smith finished with 9.5 sacks last season, and he's been just as deadly in 2013.  Through 11 games, he's already grabbed 8.5 sacks, including three against Southern Mississippi earlier this season.

While Smith is only listed at 6'3'' and 251 pounds, he makes up for it with some incredible athleticism and quickness.  He's capable of getting off the line with some real explosiveness, but he's always capable of bull-rushing if he gets a good enough angle.  He's not the most punishing hitter when wrapping up, but he's still capable of working in the trenches and getting the ball-carrier down behind the line.

It will be hard for Smith to grab a spot in the first two rounds considering how many great pass-rushers there are.  However, he's good enough that he should be able to find a home late in the third round, especially if there's an ideal fit.


Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU

With Cameron as his offensive coordinator, Zach Mettenberger has truly become a pro-caliber quarterback.

The numbers really say it all.  Mettenberger has become a much more efficient quarterbacks, and he's improved across the board, as you can see below:

Mettenberger 2012 vs. 2013

Mettenberger has the ideal size at the quarterback position, listed at 6'5'' and 230 pounds.  He has a strong arm and is capable of squeezing in tight throws through small windows.  He's also shown that he has developed very well during his time at LSU, as he's now doing a great job reading defenses and going through his progressions.

The big concern for Mettenberger is that he isn't an ideal athlete, and that's becoming more valued at the position in the NFL.  He's not going to make a ton of plays when rolling out or scrambling, and since he's not the most elite passer already, it makes it harder for him to be considered a better prospect than players like Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater.

Still, Mettenberger has shown that he's capable of improving, and it seems that he's going to keep getting better.  I expect a team with a need at the position will take him in the second round and that he could become a starter shortly after.