One of the most highly anticipated games of the college season didn't just live up to the hype, it had major ramifications on the top of the draft

By Andy Staples
September 17, 2013


Mike Evans was a beast for Texas A&M against Alabama, catching 279 yards on only seven receptions. Mike Evans was a beast for Texas A&M against Alabama, catching 279 yards on only seven receptions.



One of the challenges of this exercise is to highlight on-field performance by players whose skill sets translate to the NFL, while still keeping in mind what NFL teams value in the draft. That’s why Jadeveon Clowney remains atop the Big Board in spite of his depressed numbers and the injury he revealed last week. Clowney still has all the tools an NFL team would want, and the likelihood of him going No. 1 in the draft remains quite high.



Johnny NFL?

Greg A. Bedard examines whether Johnny Manziel really has what it takes to make it in the NFL. His verdict? Read for yourself.


If the on-field part was all that mattered, UCLA linebacker/rush end Anthony Barr probably would have bumped Clowney this week. Barr’s performance at Nebraska was a tour de force, and if you pick up a copy of this week’s SI, you’ll see UCLA defensive coordinator Vic Spanos explain one three-and-out series in which Barr compiled no stats but still helped shut down one of the most potent offenses in college football.



As for the game I saw in College Station on Saturday, most of the guys who played on offense moved up. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel did things no one does against an Alabama defense loaded with future pros. Aggies receiver Mike Evans, meanwhile, showed why he can’t be left alone with a cornerback except on rare occasions. On the other side, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron quietly and methodically led his team to a win—which is pretty much all he has done since he won the starting job in 2011. There’s a lot to be said for that.


On to the board…

2014 NFL Draft Big Board 3.0

Jadeveon Clowney

DE; Junior; University of South Carolina; 6-6, 274

(Last week: 1) Clowney needs surgery on his foot, but we’re only hearing this now that his production has tailed off. Doesn’t matter. He’ll still go No. 1 unless someone absolutely needs a quarterback.


Teddy Bridgewater

QB; Junior; Louisville; 6-3, 196

(Last Week: 2) Bridgewater didn’t have a monster day against Kentucky (16 of 28, 250 yards, 1 TD), but he still seems like the most appealing quarterback from an NFL standpoint.


Anthony Barr

LB; Senior; UCLA; 6-4, 245

(Last Week: 12) Barr did have a monster day in Lincoln. Even though Nebraska did everything imaginable to stop him, he still made 11 tackles and forced three fumbles.


Taylor Lewan

OT; Senior; Michigan; 6-8, 308

(Last Week: 3) Lewan injured his right leg against Akron but returned to the game. He arrived at Michigan’s media session on Monday in a walking boot. “The walking boot’s a fashion statement,” Lewan joked to The injury sounds about as serious as Lewan.


Jake Matthews

OT; Senior; Texas A&M; 6-5, 305

(Last Week: 4) Matthews protected Johnny Manziel well on Saturday, though Manziel didn’t seem to mind when Matthews’ linemates let a few rushers through.


Mike Evans

WR; Redshirt Sophomore; Texas A&M; 6-5, 225

(Last Week: 20) Anyone who didn’t know Evans before Saturday knows him now. He caught seven passes for 279 yards and a touchdown. On that 95-yard score, he ran away from the Alabama defense. If Calvin Johnson is Megatron, Evans might be Galvatron. If you don’t get that reference, ask a nerd who grew up in the ’80s.


De’Anthony Thomas

RB; Junior; Oregon; 5-9, 176

(Last Week: 5) Thomas is averaging 9.9 yards a touch. The scary part is he hasn’t really had a breakout game as Oregon has spread the wealth in three blowout wins.


Louis Nix III

DT; Junior; Notre Dame; 6-3, 340

(Last Week: 6) Nix is living the “double-team life”—his term, not mine—but he’s still clogging gaps and turning the game into a 10-on-nine matchup.


Cyrus Kouandjio

OT; Junior; Alabama; 6-6, 310

(Last Week: 7) The Crimson Tide offensive line was a wall against Texas A&M, and Kouandjio was the best of the bunch.


Johnny Manziel

QB; Redshirt Sophomore; Texas A&M; 6-1, 200

(Last Week: 24) Manziel accounted for 562 yards of total offense and five touchdowns against a Nick Saban defense. That just doesn’t happen. The guy is special. Someone in the NFL will figure out how to use him.


James Hurst

OT; Senior; North Carolina; 6-7, 305

(Last Week: 9) After dealing with Clowney in Week 1, the next few should feel like a breeze. An Oct. 5 trip to Blacksburg should provide a challenge.


AJ McCarron

QB; Senior; Alabama; 6-4, 214

(Last Week: 15) As great as Manziel was Saturday, McCarron wasn’t far behind. He always had Alabama in the correct play, and he completed 20 of 29 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns.


Tajh Boyd

QB; Senior; Clemson; 6-1, 225

(Last Week: 10) Boyd will have the Thursday night spotlight this week at NC State.


Stephon Tuitt

DE; Junior; Notre Dame; 6-6, 303

(Last Week: 8) Though Tuitt’s numbers are down this season, Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly said the junior is playing well. Kelly was especially pleased with Tuitt’s play against Purdue, even though Tuitt recorded only one assisted tackle. “This was probably his best game of the year in terms of being on every play, just physically at the point of attack, two-gapping, doing the things that we want him to do, and effort level,” Kelly told reporters.


Aaron Murray

QB; Senior; Georgia; 6-1, 208

(Last Week: 11) Murray enjoyed a week off after a brutal opening duo of Clemson and South Carolina.


Sammy Watkins

WR; Junior; Clemson; 6-1, 205

(Last Week: 13) The ACL injury to Charone Peake may allow defenses to focus more on Watkins.


Ryan Shazier

LB; Junior; Ohio State; 6-2, 222

(Last Week: 17) Shazier racked up 11 tackles (with one sack) in the Buckeyes’ win at Cal.


Braxton Miller

QB; Junior; Ohio State; 6-2, 215

(Last Week: 18) Miller sat out the Cal game with a knee injury. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Miller will start this week against Florida A&M if healthy. Don’t expect the Buckeyes to take many risks with Miller. He should be ready to play against Wisconsin on Oct. 28.


Will Sutton

DT; Senior; Arizona State; 6-1, 305

(Last Week: 14) Sutton was contained by Wisconsin’s massive offensive line Saturday.


Jason Verrett

CB; Senior; TCU; 5-10, 176

(Last Week: 25) How versatile is Verrett? He smothered receiver Eric Ward (6-0, 205) and tight end Jace Amaro (6-5, 260) at different times last Thursday. It wasn’t enough for TCU to win, but the loss would have been worse if not for Verrett.


C.J. Mosley

LB; Senior; Alabama; 6-2, 232

(Last Week: 19) Mosley led the Crimson Tide with 12 tackles against Texas A&M. Spread offenses seem to bring out the best in him.


Marcus Mariota

QB; Redshirt Sophomore; Oregon; 6-4, 211

(Last Week: 33) Mariota did the bulk of his damage through the air against Tennessee, completing 23 of 33 passes for 456 yards and four touchdowns.


David Yankey

OG; Senior; Stanford; 6-5, 311

(Last Week: 21) Pay special attention Saturday. Yankey and Arizona State’s Sutton should collide a few times.


Kyle Van Noy

LB; Senior; BYU; 6-3, 245

(Last Week: 22) After a week off, Van Noy will play in his final Holy War against Utah on Saturday


Loucheiz Purifoy

CB; Junior; Florida; 6-1, 189

(Last Week: 23) Tennessee has an open quarterback competition this week. That means it could be open season for interception-hunter Purifoy on Saturday.


Bradley Roby

CB; Redshirt Junior; Ohio State; 5-11, 192

(Last Week: 26) Against Cal’s Bear Raid offense, some of the 50-plus passes will slip through, but Roby had two breakups and 6.5 tackles and helped Ohio State shut down Cal early—which allowed the Buckeyes’ offense to jump on the Bears.


Marqise Lee

WR; Junior; USC; 6-0, 195

(Last Week: 28) Lee only caught two passes against Boston College, but one catch was an 80-yard touchdown.


Timmy Jernigan

DT; Junior; Florida State; 6-2, 298

(Last Week: 27) Thanks to West Virginia bailing on a scheduled game after joining the Big 12, we won’t get much meaningful tape from any of the Florida State players until October.


Cyril Richardson

OG; Baylor; 6-5, 335

(Last Week: 29) Speaking of ugly early-season schedules, Baylor plays Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. We won’t see Richardson against an AQ-league defense until Oct. 5.


Adrian Hubbard

LB; Redshirt Junior; Alabama; 6-6, 252

(Last Week: 30) Hubbard had two pass break-ups and chased Manziel without much luck.


Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

S; Junior; Alabama; 6-1, 208

(Last Week: 31) Clinton-Dix nearly became a victim of college football’s well-meaning but tough-to-properly-enforce targeting rule on Saturday. While making a play on the ball in the second quarter, he collided with an Alabama receiver and their helmets made contact. Clinton-Dix was flagged for targeting and ejected, but a video review showed he hadn’t actually done anything wrong and he was allowed to stay in the game.


Derek Carr

QB; Senior; Fresno State; 6-3, 218

(Last Week: 32) Carr and the Bulldogs were supposed to play at Colorado on Saturday, but the game was postponed. It may be played on Dec. 7, but that won’t happen if Fresno State makes the Mountain West Conference title game. Still, Carr will get his chance to shine Friday when the Bulldogs host Boise State.


Zack Martin

OT; Senior; Notre Dame; 6-4, 304

(Last Week: 34) Martin will have his hands full Saturday when Michigan State and its ferocious defense come to South Bend.


Antonio Richardson

OT; Junior; Tennessee; 6-6, 327

(Last Week: 35) Richardson will get a big test Saturday against Florida rushers Dante Fowler Jr. and Ronald Powell.


Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

CB; Junior; Oregon; 5-10, 190

(Last Week: 36) Ekpre-Olumu and the Ducks held Tennessee to just 126 passing yards this past Saturday.


Khalil Mack

LB; Senior; Buffalo; 6-3, 245

(Last Week: 37) Mack had 10 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss in the Bulls’ five-overtime scare against Stony Brook.


Devin Gardner

QB; Redshirt Junior; Michigan; 6-4, 210

(Last Week: 16) Three interceptions against a team as bad as Akron is a bad sign.


Anthony Johnson

DT; Junior; LSU; 6-3, 294

(Last Week: 38) Johnson has been nursing a sore shoulder since the season-opener against TCU, but he seems determined to play through it.


Jordan Matthews

WR; Senior; Vanderbilt; 6-3, 205

(Last Week: 42) Teams know the Commodores are going to throw to Matthews, but they can’t stop it. In Saturday’s loss at South Carolina, Matthews caught eight passes for 106 yards.


Trent Murphy

LB; Redshirt Senior; Stanford; 6-6, 261

(Last Week: 40) Murphy added another tackle for loss against Army. He’ll need to be great against Arizona State.


Ka’Deem Carey

RB; Junior; Arizona; 5-10, 207

(Last Week: 41) Carey gained 128 yards and scored two touchdowns on 27 carries against Texas-San Antonio.


Odell Beckham Jr.

WR; Junior; LSU; 6-0, 193

(Last Week: Not Ranked) Beckham is averaging 22 yards a catch for the much-improved LSU offense. He’ll be critical against Auburn on Saturday.


Darqueze Dennard

CB; Senior; Michigan State; 5-11, 188

(Last Week: 44) Dennard will have a showcase against Notre Dame on Saturday.


Xavier Su’a-Filo

OG; Junior; UCLA; 6-3, 304

(Last Week: 45) Su’a-Filo helped the Bruins wear down Nebraska’s defense in the second half of a comeback win.


Travis Swanson

C; Senior; Arkansas; 6-5, 315

(Last Week: Not Ranked) Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema calls Swanson the most talented center he’s been around. That’s high praise, considering Bielema coached 2013 first-rounder Travis Frederick at Wisconsin.


Max Bullough

LB; Senior; Michigan State; 6-3, 242

(Last Week: 46) Bullough had only two tackles in a warm-up against Youngstown State. The real games for the Spartans start on Saturday at Notre Dame.


Scott Crichton

DE; Redshirt Junior; Oregon State; 6-3, 265

(Last Week: 48) Crichton had two tackles for loss—including a sack—in the Beavers’ overtime win against Utah.


Ra’Shede Hageman

DT; Redshirt Senior; Minnesota; 6-6, 311

(Last Week: 49) Hageman had his first sack of the season against Western Illinois.


Lache Seastrunk

RB; Redshirt Junior; Baylor; 5-10, 210

(Last Week: 50) Like his teammate Richardson, we won’t know much more about Seastrunk until October.


Aaron Donald

DT; Senior; Pittsburgh; 6-0, 285

(Last Week: Not Ranked) In two games, Donald has five tackles for loss—including three sacks.

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