Rivalry weekend saw a number of surprises as teams jockeyed for BCS positioning. Several skill players and linebackers watched their draft stock rise on Saturday while three highly regarded defensive players moved in the opposite direction.
Stedman Bailey*/WR/West Virginia: Bailey has taken a backseat to playmaking teammate Tavon Austin despite the fact he leads the Mountaineers in receiving yards and scoring receptions. His totals this season include 95 receptions, 1,342 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns. The junior is averaging 14.1 yards per reception in 2012. He's an underrated wideout and offers potential as a second receiver on the NFL level.
Quinton Patton/WR/Louisiana Tech: Patton received late-round grades entering the season yet the senior has watched his game and draft stock take off. His size/speed numbers look ordinary on paper, yet Patton is a natural pass catcher with a great feel. He finds a way to come free and make the reception despite double-team coverage every game. Eleven games into the season, Patton has recorded 94 receptions for 1,267 yards and 11 scores. He could slide into the third round of April's draft and Patton possesses the skill to be a third receiver at the next level.
Kerwynn Williams/RB/Utah State: Williams was a third-team running back at Utah State in 2011 yet has improved every aspect of his game as a senior. He's significantly increased his production this season, posting a career best 1,167 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground while also adding 39 receptions. Williams is not a big back (5-feet, 8.5-inches and 192 pounds) but rather a versatile skill player with potential as a third down back at the next level. With the weakness of this year's running back class, it's possible Williams slips into the draft's initial 100 selections.
Zach Line/RB/SMU: Line was considered a potential third-round choice at the start of the season and met expectations as a senior. He's a large, hard-charging ball carrier with terrific vision and football instincts. Adept at carrying the ball as well as catching it, the 230-pound athlete is averaging 4.8 yards on 235 carries this season and has 31 receptions. Line offers potential in the NFL as a feature back for a power running game or fullback in a west coast offense.
Jason Verrett*/CB/TCU: Verrett made an immediate impact for the TCU defense after transferring from Santa Rose JC in 2011 and scouts are now noticing his talents. The athletic defensive back is a feisty defender, slowly developing a complete game. Verrett has registered six interceptions this season besides breaking up another 13 passes. He's also combined for 104 tackles the past two seasons. Verrett has the size and skill to get consideration as a second-day draft selection.
Trevardo Williams/DE-OLB/Connecticut: Williams has been a nuisance for opponents all season from his defensive end spot and his impact was felt during the Huskies' upset of Louisville. The senior posted 3.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks as Connecticut shut down the Cardinals' explosive offense for more than three quarters. His totals this season, with one game left on the schedule, include 13.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. Measuring 6-feet, 1.5-inches and 240 pounds, Williams does not possess next level size yet consistently finds a way to make plays on the ball. He'll be a value pick on the draft's final day as his speed and pass-rushing skill will be an asset for any team.
Brandon Magee/LB/Arizona State: Magee missed the 2011 campaign with a torn Achilles but made up for lost time this season. He registered 17 tackles during the Sun Devils' recent victory over rival Arizona, giving him a team leading 104 tackles for the season. Magee also recorded 11.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks this year and intercepted two passes. He combines instinct with intensity and the ability to play in several defensive systems at the next level should help Magee cement a spot in the middle rounds.
Sean Porter/LB/Texas A&M: Porter often goes unnoticed with all the star power for the Aggies, yet scouts appreciate his attention to detail. He plays smart football, rarely makes mental mistakes and constantly positions himself to make plays. Porter also plays with a sense of urgency and shows skill in all areas. Graded as a late-round pick entering the season, Porter is another who has moved into the middle rounds.
Vinston Painter/OL/Virginia Tech: Painter, who began his Virginia Tech career on the defensive line, has shown terrific development since moving into the starting line-up this season. His athleticism and ability to block on the move has attracted the attention of scouts. Painter's game comes with a large upside and the ability to line up at tackle or guard enhances his value for the next level.
Terry Hawthorne/CB/Illinois: Hawthorne struggled through a disappointing senior campaign and his draft stock has taken a beating. He played uninspired football throughout most of the season and at times looked slow to react and non-instinctive. Rated by many as the top senior cornerback entering the season, Hawthorne presently grades as a third-round choice.
Rod Sweeting/CB/Georgia Tech: Sweeting was the only Yellow Jacket senior to receive a draftable grade at the start of the season but that may now be in jeopardy. The cornerback was consistently beaten in 2012 and finished the regular season without recording a single interception. Sweeting seemed to make plays after the fact this year rather than forcing the action as he did during his junior campaign.
Malliciah Goodman/DE/Clemson: Goodman's natural ability had scouts thinking he was a first-round prospect in September, yet that opinion has changed. Goodman has been a non-factor throughout much of the season and totaled just 24 tackles and three sacks. There's a good chance Goodman is over-drafted based on his athletic ability yet he's a long way from being NFL-ready.
Notes: The news was not good for Florida State on the scoreboard or in the war room on Saturday. Quarterback EJ Manuel looked pedestrian during the loss and likely locked himself out of the draft's first round. Manuel committed four turnovers and completed just 54.5 percent of his throws. His decision-making was suspect as Manuel's struggles started early in the contest.
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