Week 3 College Football Scouting Guide

By on September 12, 2013

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Week 3 of the college football season brings marquee matchups sure to affect the rankings, but which games are NFL scouts focused on?

Here are the 10 games every NFL front office will be watching this weekend.

 

TCU heads to Texas Tech in an in-state showdown, but the players to watch here are tight end Jace Amaro and cornerback Jason Verrett. While the two aren't likely to match up head-to-head, Verrett's physical style of play could bring him in contact with the athletic tight end.

 

Louisville and Kentucky are bitter rivals, but that hasn't bled over to the football field as much as the basketball courts. This game is likely to be a one-sided battle, but watching quarterback Teddy Bridgewater against Mark Stoops' defense will make this one appointment viewing.

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If the NFL draft were today, who would be the No. 1 overall pick?

The easy answer is South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, but would a team like Jacksonville or Oakland pass on a quarterback for the once-in-a-decade pass-rusher? That's the question we aim to answer.

The first mock draft of the season isn't published for accuracy, but to give an idea of where teams have needs and where players' stock currently sits. Not every underclassman listed here will enter the 2014 NFL draft, but this is an idea of how the draft would look if the top eligible juniors and redshirt sophomores were to enter the lottery.

And as always, the draft order here is taken from Bovada Super Bowl odds and adjusted for playoff seeding.

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Which 2014 NFL draft prospects benefited from great summers to propel their draft stocks up as we head into the season? Which guys had issues on and off the field that resulted in downward-trending draft stocks?

Our first "Stock Watch" of the season isn't about on-field play, at least not yet. It focuses on the players who saw their draft stocks change the most over the summer. That might be due to increased time, study film, off-field issues or lost starting jobs. 

The good news is that players with poor stock momentum have time to reverse their fortunes on the field. And those players who see their stocks moving up? All they have to do is continue doing what's working.

You will also notice something new this year—a weekly pro-player comparison tracker. This will give you an idea of the type of player the prospect is projected to be like on any given week. Tracking Matt Barkley last year would have seen him go from a Drew Brees-like passer to an Alex Smith-style ranking instead. 

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Already excited about the 2014 NFL draft? Good.

Scouting players for the NFL draft is a yearlong process. As soon as one draft ends, research begins on building a watch list and then a Big Board for the next year's class. That's where we're at now.

As the summer comes to an end, my research of which players to watch gets prioritized, leaving me with a list of the top 500 draft-eligible players in college football. Not every player listed will declare for the draft or live up to expectations. There will be surprises, letdowns and newcomers along the way.

This is not a final list, but a look at where players are projected to find themselves drafted at the current time. Throughout the year, I will update this list every two to three weeks to give you a fresh look at the draft positioning of the best of the best in college football. If there's someone missing, it's likely because of limited time to evaluate prospects before the season kicks off.

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The turn from July to August inevitably means one thing: Everyone in the college football world is rushing to put out a preseason All-American team. Why should draft fans be left out?

How would an All-American team made up completely of the top prospects in the 2014 NFL draft class look? In some cases, it looks just like the other teams based on college production, but being a good draft prospect doesn't always mean you're the most productive guy in college football—just ask Kellen Moore about that.

Scanning the NCAA for the best draft-eligible players—that means redshirt sophomore or higher—here is my take on the 2014 All-Draft Team.

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The 2014 NFL draft class is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory, but a draft class is only as good as its quarterbacks. 

In the 2013 class, we saw just one quarterback (EJ Manuel) drafted in the first round. The lack of top-end talent at the position led many to label the 2013 class weak—a statement that was true about one position, not the entire class. Whether it's the media, fans or even NFL teams, we're all looking at each draft and, fairly or not, rating its potential impact by the talent at quarterback alone.

That's good news for the 2014 class, which features an eye-popping 25 quarterbacks with NFL-level talent. Not all 25 QBs are seniors, as we could see an influx of underclassmen ready to take the league by storm.

Who are the quarterbacks worth watching during the college football season? Here's a preseason preview of the best of the best.

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The supplemental draft is the NFL fan's version of an icy cold drink in the middle of the desert, giving diehard football fans something to talk about other than arrests and which team's hat a player is wearing during the quiet month of July. What's worth talking about in this year's supplemental class?

Six players have forfeited their college eligibility for a chance to play in the NFL during the 2013 season, but unlike last year's crop—headlined by Josh Gordon—there are no guarantees that anyone will be selected in the lottery-based draft on July 11. 

The six players eligible for the draft will not be well-known to casual fans in the college football or NFL world, but each player does come with upside if he can get in the right system, overcome off-field issues and respond to coaching. Who are these prospects, and what do they bring to the table?

 

James Boyd, Defensive End, UNLV

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Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel enters the 2013 college football season as the most polarizing, and perhaps the most confusing, of all draft-eligible players.

If the NFL is in Manziel's near future—he's eligible as a redshirt sophomore to enter the 2014 class—what changes will scouts and general managers be looking for?

What does this former quarterback coach and recruiter see in the most talked about college football player since Tim Tebow? After watching every game, every throw and every run of Manziel's 2012 season, here is an inside look at what he must change in order to become a successful NFL quarterback.

 

1. Mechanics

The most important aspect of quarterbacking is, without a doubt, accuracy. It's also the hardest thing to coach into a player, but Manziel has hope in this area if he can improve his mechanics.

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The 2014 NFL draft class is loaded up with talent at key positions, like quarterback, offensive tackle and defensive end. After a class that many felt was below average in 2013, draft fans and NFL teams will get a breath of fresh air when they see the talent assembled next May.

Looking ahead 10 months to the 2014 NFL draft, which players are at the top of my rankings heading into the season, and which areas will each team likely need to address after another season of play? Where will Heisman favorites Teddy Bridgewater, Jadeveon Clowney, Tajh Boyd and Marqise Lee find themselves once they enter the NFL?

Taking a way too early look at next year's class, and thanks to Super Bowl odds from "The Linemakers", here is a first-look at next year's first round.

 

*Please note: The draft order is based on Super Bowl odds and not any prediction on team records.

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South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney is firmly entrenched atop 2014 NFL draft watch lists.

Not since Andrew Luck, and before him not since Mario Williams, have we seen a player so dominant that he was the default No. 1 overall player before playing his final college football season.

Had Clowney been eligible for the 2013 NFL draft, he would have been my No. 1 overall player. Same as Luck when he headed back to Stanford for his redshirt junior season.

Read on to see what makes Clowney such an amazing prospect.