In a change from the recent trend, Week 6 in college football saw few upsets as the nation's top teams came out of the weekend with still-unblemished records. It was also a week in which a number of NFL prospects from the defensive side of the ball watched their draft stock move.
Terrence Cody/NT/Alabama: Cody, who was playing for Gulf Coast Community College at this time last year, made an immediate impact upon his arrival at Alabama and has NFL scouts inspecting him closely. The Tide's No. 1-ranked rush defense is reliant on the 360-pound Cody clogging the middle of the field. He's only a junior and has played just six games for the Tide, yet already ranks as the top nose tackle prospect by NFL standards.
Clay Matthews/LB/USC: The Trojans defense boasts three bona fide first-round picks and another half-dozen that figure into the next four frames. Matthews was the forgotten man coming into the season and was not given a draftable grade by NFL scouts. He's changed that line of thinking since breaking into the starting lineup then putting together a string of four terrific games. Matthews now grades as a possible top-100 selection in next April's draft.
Anthony Felder/LB/California: The Bears came into the season with two linebackers that were handed mid-round grades by NFL scouting services. Felder was not included in this group, yet many scouts now rate him as the team's top senior defender. Felder leads Cal in tackles and has shown himself to be a stout run defender who forces the action up the field.
Jarett Dillard/WR/Rice: Dillard could well be the best receiver prospect you are unfamiliar with and another fine pass-catcher from Conference USA. The senior has averaged almost eight receptions per game this year, posting 11 touchdowns in the team's six games. He's on course to total more than 1,300 receiving yards, the third year in a row he will break the century mark. Dillard is a middle-round choice that fits in as a fourth receiver at the next level and may also be asked to return punts.
Travis Beckum/TE/Wisconsin: Beckum, who missed two games this season with a hamstring injury, put on a clinic in the team's loss to Ohio State. He's considered one of the best pass catching tight ends in the nation and posted six receptions for 60 yards against the Buckeyes. Beckum also threw several key blocks to help spring Badger running backs for long runs. Scouts from the Cleveland area are comparing Beckum to Kellen Winslow Jr. in style and substance.
Greg Romeus/DE/Pittsburgh: Romeus, a redshirt sophomore, is a star in the making and a potential first round draft pick. He's a forceful pass rusher who leads Pittsburgh in sacks even though opponents double team him in the vain effort to slow Romeus down. He was a constant presence in the South Florida backfield during the Panthers' critical conference victory last week.
Demaryius Thomas/WR/Georgia Tech: Thomas accounted for all the receiving production in Tech's 27-0 win over Duke. He totaled nine receptions, 230 receiving yards and one score, which went for 88 yards. He's another redshirt sophomore and a big-bodied receiver at 220 pounds with soft hands. Thomas reminds some of former Georgia Tech star Calvin Johnson.
Sleeper Alert -- A.J. Jefferson/CB/Fresno State: Jefferson serves a dual purpose for Fresno State; he's a shutdown cornerback and one of the nation's elite kick returners. Jefferson's defensive stats read 23 tackles with one pass defense, a testament to the fact opposing quarterbacks won't throw his way. Scouts from the Northwest have already stamped the junior with a first-round grade.
Eugene Monroe/T/Virginia: Monroe's play this season can best be described as uninspired. NFL scouts rated him as the No. 1 tackle prospect by a large margin coming into the season and projected Monroe as an early first-round choice. Monroe looked out of sorts since the team's first game, a blowout loss to USC and has struggled to get his game back on track.
George Hypolite/DL/Colorado: Hypolite was considered a defensive lineman with the opportunity to rise up draft boards this season, yet that has not come to fruition. His play has been disappointing as Hypolite is rarely a factor in games. He's recorded just one-half sack this year (compared to six as a junior) and was dominated during the first half of Colorado's blowout loss to Texas on Saturday.
Antonio Dixon/DT/Miami (FL): The Hurricanes tackle has failed to meet the expectations placed upon him by scouts this year. He's posted just 13 tackles in five games, accounting for no sacks and just a single tackle for loss. Dixon was a non-factor in the loss to Florida State, as the Seminoles totaled 281 yards rushing.
Notes: Next week's Red River Rivalry showdown between Texas and Oklahoma will not only have implications for the national title and the Big 12 but could also affect the status of several top draft prospects. Longhorn defensive end Brian Orakpo is considered one of the nation's better pass-rushers, yet he's criticized for his inability to defend the run. Sooner tackle Phil Loadholt is a massive offensive lineman who dominates the opposition but may be too big for his own good and struggles against the quickness and speed opponents like Orakpo possess. Theirs is just one of a half-dozen match-ups NFL scouts will be concentrating on in Dallas.
Much the same can be said for another highly anticipated SEC matchup as LSU visits The Swamp to take on Florida, a contest NFL decision-makers will be watching. Tim Tebow and his receiving duo of Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin face-off against the very talented secondary of LSU. For Tebow, this is another opportunity to change the opinion that he's just a good athlete playing quarterback in college and further state the case he's a potential starting signal-caller for the next level.
Miami defensive end Eric Moncur, given a solid middle-round grade by NFL scouts, may miss the rest of the season because of recurring problems with a sports hernia he had surgically repaired.
Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter, whose play has been erratic this season by NFL standards, sprained an ankle in the loss to Cal this weekend and may not be at full health when the Sun Devils face USC next Saturday. The game will be a measuring stick for Carpenter.