This is conference championship weekend in college football. Prospects galore. Seahawks fans can be forgiven for ignoring the college game this season, given the team's 11-1 start. Still, the reality is that the roster will change this off-season. Players with significant roles on this team will lose their jobs to someone playing college ball right now, perhaps in one of today's games. It's the way of the world. So it always behooves a smart fan base to keep one eye on the college game, and to get familiar with names you're going to hear throughout the winter and spring.
Now, I'm no hard core prospect analyst. So, I'm not afraid to go to those who are. They're the real heroes. For this post I've mostly linked to Rob Rang's NFLDraftScout.com powered by SportsXchange; the old site, not the prettier but far less informative CBSSports version.
MAC Championship (Friday): Bowling Green over Northern Illinois
Bowling Green Prospects
Jerry "BooBoo" Gates, SS (5'11", #219) - Gates was voted first-team all conference on defense for the second straight season. As you can see from his listed measurables, he's a healthy sized safety. I haven't seen him play enough to say anything other than "he's a big safety." That, along with his resume, might be enough to get him on the Seahawks' radar screen as depth behind Kam Chancellor. Rob Rang has him rated rd. 7-FA*.
*These grades are almost certainly coming into the 2013-14 season, and have not necessarily been updated for this season's play. So, consider them conservative grades in most cases. Also, these are mostly senior prospects. Many underclassmen who will declare have not, and others thought to forego eligibility will return to school.
Northern Illinois Prospects
Ken Bishop, DT (6'1", #308) - A first-team All-MAC defender. Rang does not project a draft position, but had him rated 31st at DT coming into the season. That's actually not a bad rating.
Jordan Lynch, QB (6'0, #216) - Even with Tarvaris Jackson and P.J. Daniels on board, I'd be surprised if Seattle isn't in the developmental QB market this off-season. Lynch will be a consideration. Kid is a force. He probably played himself onto some teams' boards. On the other hand, he probably played himself out of a trip to the BCS and out of a trip to NY for the Heisman last night. The Russell Wilson comparisons are inevitable, but his skill set compares more favorably to Jeff Garcia. Gifted runner. Adequate passer. Lynch is likely limited to a West Coast system, but he's a better prospect than the noodle-armed Colt McCoy.
Jimmie Ward, S (5'11", #192) - Ward was also voted first-team All-MAC defense He tied a record with six INTs. That's on eight passes defensed, which is some nice ball skill. Rang gives Ward a rd. 3-4 grade.
Big 12: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State ("Bedlam")
This is not a championship game, but Bedlam is a notable rivalry game that should feature a number of draftable prospects.
Aaron Colvin, CB (6'0, #192) - Size, speed and physicality likely put him on Seattle's radar screen. He's been inconsistent this year and injured (shoulder). Rang gives him a 3rd rd. projection.
Gabe Ikard, C (6'3", #298) - Ikard was pre-season All-American (Sports Illustrated) and All-Big 12 for the Sooners. He's best-suited for a zone scheme.
Bronson Irwin, G (6'5", #314) - Irwin was voted Honorable Mention All-Big 12 by the media.
Trey Millard, FB (6'0, #253)** - Millard is the kind of hybrid FB/HB that Carroll would love for this offense, as he played a kind of "Mike Rob" role for the Sooners. He blew out his knee in October, but could be a FA of interest for Seattle.
Jalen Saunders, WR (5'7", #157) - Perhaps a tad small, even for Seattle's mighty mite receivers. But, he has flashed blazing speed as a returner. (You should know that I wrote that before 64-yd punt return score in this game.)
Damien Williams, RB (5'11", #211)** - There is much to like about the physical profile, but much of it is offset by off-field problems. He was dismissed from a program that couldn't afford to lose his talent. That says a lot, and it will almost certainly cost him in the draft. Under those circumstances I wouldn't be surprised if PC/JS are interested in this low cost gamble.
**Will not play in the game.
Oklahoma State Prospects
Justin Gilbert, CB (6'0", #200) - A top-three CB in the class for some, also an accomplished kick returner. He looks like the kind of lanky, long-limbed guy Seattle covets. Seattle would have to fall in love and then move up to get him.
Calvin Barnett, DT (6'2", #300) - JUCO transfer is a one-gap tackle with serious get-off. He's had problems keeping it under control at times. Got the rare two personal fouls on one play in an early season game at Arizona.
Tracy Moore, WR (6'1, #215) - OSU seems to get these guys from a factory. Unfortunately, common sense, hands and route-running do not always come installed. Moore has been injured, has been in a little trouble, but is definitely draftable.
Big 12: Baylor vs. Texas
Cyril Richardson, G (6'5", #340) - A big, highly-regarded interior lineman. He moved inside from left tackle during the RGIII era. He will have to battle perceptions about how Baylor's system translates to the NFL. That could drop him into consideration for Seattle as a best player available candidate.
Ahmad Dixon, SS (6'0', #205) - This looks to be shaping up as a nice safety class. Dixon is big, fast, physical and has range.
Lache Seastrunk, RB (5'9", #210) - Hard to see the Seahawks interested in spending a high pick on a RB, but any of the other teams in the division just might. Seastrunk is fun to watch in any regard.
Tevin Reese, WR (5'10", 170)** - Reese injured his wrist and is out for the season. He seems like a good bet to return to school, particularly with Bryce Petty returning. But, Reece's calling card is his game-changing speed and speed has a shelf-life. So it wouldn't be a jaw-dropping surprise for him to declare.
Mike Davis, WR (6'2", #195) - Perhaps no player has suffered more from Texas' problems at QB than Davis. He has elite speed, sprinter speed. He's top-10 in receptions and yardage at Texas, and imagine what he might have done with consistent QBing. This is a big, fast receiver that might be a little better than his 3rd round projection.
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE (6'4", #250) - He's an interesting maybe even polarizing prospect. He's a productive 'tweener who lacks the kind of athleticism teams like in an edge rusher. He's put things together in his senior season after probably being overhyped to start his career. Is he a running downs LEO? Or, maybe he can bulk up into a DE.
Carrington Byndom, CB (6'0", #180) - Nice length, but concerns about his weight and physicality could push him down. Could be a later round candidate that needs a year to put on weight.
Chris Whaley, DT (6'3", #295)** - Whaley was well on his way to a Henry Melton-like transition from RB to 3-technique before blowing out his knee in November. He could be a guy that still warrants a mid-round pick, with 3-techs so hard to find.
SEC Championship: Auburn vs. Missouri
Auburn is really young, which is scary. So there may be fewer prospects than you might initially think for an SEC title game.
Kenneth Carter, DE/DT (6'3", #280) - He has some End/Tackle versatility.
Dee Ford, DE/OLB (6'2", #240) - Ford is Auburn's best pass rusher, and it's worth noting that Auburn is very good on passing downs. Similar prospect to Corey Lemonier. Could be a LEO for Seattle.
Jay Prosch, FB (6'0", #258) - Classic lead blocker. I'm not sure he's versatile enough for Seattle's tastes.
Additionally, Auburn's Punter, Steven Clark, and kicker, Cody Parkey, comprise one of the nation's best tandems. Both are considered draftable.
I know more about these prospects than any others because I'm a Mizzou fan.
Kony Ealy, DE (6'5", #275) - I have to think Ealy is on Seattle's radar. He's the player that most reminds me of Michael Bennett in terms of being a complete end. He's not quite that versatile, but pretty versatile. He has very good burst off the edge and uses his hands well. He gets hands on passes. He also kicks inside on a high percentage of passing downs. Should Bennett play his way out of Seattle's price range, Ealy might be the closest thing available. (He's a redshirt junior, and could come back to school.)
E.J. Gaines, CB (5'10", #195) - Probably not a position of need for Seattle early in the draft, but Gaines has most everything Seattle looks for in a CB. He's physical at the line, mirrors well, and challenges the catch. Note the job he did on Texas A&M's Mike Evans. He's an excellent tackler. It will be interesting to see his measurements, particularly his reach.
Michael Sam, DE (6'2", #255) - As Jared Stranger noted earlier, Sam is "slippery". If you just look at numbers you'll see a guy who all of a sudden had a great year. Look closer. Sam is 2-star recruit. (Gary Pinkel has made a career getting diamonds in the rough from Texas and developing them.) But you could see it with him. He was always half-a-beat late for sacks, particularly in the Big 12 against QBs that don't hold the ball. But produced consistent pressure. This year it's come together.
L'Damian Washington, WR (6'4", #205) - He's developed into a nice outside receiver, especially if you get him in the 3rd round. He's long, tough, and catches the ball well. He's also a very good gunner.
Justin Britt, OT (6'6", #315) - He's been a super-steady left tackle that's more athletic than classically big. He has very nice footwork, and what you'll notice is that nobody goes off on him. Missouri's offensive linemen typically take snaps at every position. Britt's played both tackles and could kick inside.
OK. That's it for now. I may try to get another post up for the later games.