Arizona vs. Arizona State: Power Ranking the Top 5 Draft Eligible Players
Many NFL superstars and Hall of Famers have participated in the annual battle for the Territorial Cup.
This year's installment of Arizona and Arizona State's rivalry will feature many future NFL players, and has large implications for the Sun Devils.
If ASU can beat U of A, the Sun Devils will host the Pac-12 Championship game for the first time in school history.
For this to happen though, the Sun Devils will have to rely on their defense to shut down Arizona's highly talented running back Ka'Deem Carey.
Both teams feature solid rosters with NFL-ready talent.
Carey and ASU defensive tackle Will Sutton are the two most NFL-ready players participating in this year's game.
There are plenty of other guys playing in this rivalry, though, who can make an impact on Sundays.
Now, lets take at look at the top five draft eligible players participating in this year's Territorial Cup game.
Coyle is ASU's best tight end and led the team in receptions and receiving yards last year. He possesses a good set of hands, for a tight end, and has decent blocking skills. Coyle isn't going to go anywhere higher than the sixth round, but could be a serviceable tight end in the league.
Bradford is a junior who could declare for the NFL draft. He's currently second on the team in tackles-for-a-loss and sacks, and is sixth in tackles. He plays the game with a fire that is unmatched and his motor never stops. He's had his best year of his career this season and if he declares for the draft, he will make any team's pass rush more effective.
Tuihalamaka has started 32 games on Arizona's line in his career. He's made eight tackles for a loss this year and is top-10 on the team in total tackles. Tuihalamaka isn't likely to get drafted, but he could work his way onto an NFL roster as a special teams player.
No. 5: Marquis Flowers
Marquis Flowers is a defensive leader for the Wildcats.
The senior linebacker leads the team with 79 tackles, and also has eight tackles for a loss. He's probably going to be a late-round pick, but could make an impact on special teams immediately.
Flowers would be a good fit in a zone-blitz scheme, as he played safety before moving to sam linebacker last year. He has above average coverage skills and decent closing speed.
As Jason Scheer of scout.com writes, Flowers' best shot at an NFL career will be at linebacker, but his coverage skills could make him a valuable safety as well:
Flowers NFL future is probably at linebacker, although he was not a terrible college safety by any means. Last season, Flowers showed a solid ability at making open field tackles and getting into the backfield, as he finished with 13 tackles for loss, including 5.5 sacks.
Flowers has been an impact player this year for the Wildcats, and played a big role making eight tackles in U of A's upset of Oregon.
Great players show up when the lights are the brightest, and Flowers has proven the big stage doesn't scare him.
No. 4: Evan Finkenberg
Evan Finkenberg has been a staple on ASU's offensive line.
He's played both left tackle and right guard in his career, and would be a valuable late-round pick and could eventually find regular playing time.
He has experience blocking for one of the nation's best running backs in Marion Grice and has above average stamina, as he has to keep up with ASU's high-octane attack.
Kerry Crowley of houseofsparky.com says Finkenberg's speed will make him a future NFL player:
Finkenberg projects as a future pro because of his ability to play both guard and tackle, but also because of his above-average speed. The Tesoro High School product runs a 4.9 in the 40-yard dash, which makes him a threat to work to the second level of a defense on any running play.
Plenty of NFL teams will be looking to bolster their offensive line depth this offseason, and Finkenberg would be a good pick to do just that.
His combination of skill and experience will certainly attract the attention of NFL scouts and general managers.
No. 3: Marion Grice
It's no secret, Grice can score.
He's fourth in the nation in scoring, having found the end zone 14 times on the ground and six times through the air.
He's been a key part of ASU's high-octane attack this year, and projects to be a successful back in the NFL.
It's hard to say exactly where Grice will go in the draft, as ASU's system has really helped Grice shine and pad his stats.
Grice is a complete back, though.
His ability to run with purpose and receiving skills will make him hard for most NFL general managers to pass up.
The running back's ability to find the end zone is also going to make general managers salivate.
ESPN's Todd McShay told azcentral.com's Doug Haller he sees Grice as a fifth-round pick and broke down what he sees in Grice's game:
I’ve been really impressed. I’ve always liked his versatility. He just has a natural feel as a route runner — gets in and out of his breaks quickly. He has natural hands. He can adjust to the ball and get up the field quickly. He’s not the most powerful back, right around 205 pounds, but he has quick feet, good lateral agility.
Losing Grice will be a big hit to ASU this offseason, but the running back will make any NFL team, and their fans, happy come next year.
No. 2: Will Sutton
Will Sutton had the chance to leave last year, but chose to return to ASU for a chance to make history by winning the school's first Pac-12 South title.
He's helped ASU accomplish that, and is still the Sun Devils' best NFL prospect.
Todd McShay says he sees Sutton as a second-round pick:
His ability to get off the ball with an explosive first step and violent-hands use and consistently keeping blockers off his body because of his quickness is just tremendous. He’s always been an intense competitor. You can see him play with an edge.
Sutton is a defensive force that ASU hasn't really seen since the days of Terrell Suggs.
He put on weight this offseason, and it's hard to say if it's helped or hurt his game.
Either way, it's hard to argue the upside Sutton has. If he gets drafted into the right scheme he will be able to thrive at the next level.
He is the emotional leader of ASU's defense and will be an impact player on Sundays.
He may have to drop a little weight in the offseason to help him get his burst back, but either way he'll be able to make an immediate impact with whomever drafts him.
No. 1: Ka'Deem Carey
Ka'Deem Carey is the nation's fourth leading rusher and has the potential to be a first-round draft pick, if he leaves this offseason.
He's only a junior but is more than ready to make the leap to the NFL.
He has breakaway speed and can make defenders miss with ease. The junior has scored 17 touchdowns this year and has above average route-running skills that will make him even more valuable in the NFL.
The one, big knock on Carey is his off-field incidents.
He was kicked out of a U of A basketball game after getting into a verbal altercation with a security guard, and was charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct stemming from a domestic dispute.
Carey has all the on-field skill, though, to be a playmaker in the NFL.
Rob Rang of cbssports.com says Carey has all the skills an NFL team would want in a starting running back:
A year ago, Carey often relied on his lateral agility and burst to make defenders miss. He still possesses the juice to make defenders look silly but is clearly stronger in 2013, which helped him barrel through multiple would-be tacklers for short yardage scores.
Will Sutton and Carey are the two best NFL prospects playing in this year's Territorial Cup game.
Right now, it looks like Carey, if he declares, would go higher than Sutton.