The college football season enters its final weeks and continues to offer a different twist almost every Saturday. A number of prospects are taking advantage of their opportunities by making a good impression on NFL scouts, though the signal callers from the senior class continue to watch their draft grades plummet.
Chase Daniel/QB/Missouri: Daniel's blistering start and positive impression on NFL scouts came to a crashing halt in an eight-day span. He threw three costly picks during the second half of the loss to Oklahoma State then could not move the offense a week later against Texas, which resulted in Missouri falling behind 35-0. Scouts feel Daniel has not shed the tag of "system quarterback."
Chase Holbrook/QB/New Mexico State: He has watched his play regress after a record-breaking sophomore campaign. He's on pace for his worst season yet, completing just 12-of-20 passes for a measly 64 yards in the Aggies' blowout loss to Boise State. Holbrook is another benefactor of a pass happy offense and scouts are concerned about his transition to the next level.
Rudy Carpenter/QB/Arizona State: The Sun Devils signal caller has struggled with injury this season but his poor play is part of the reason ASU is mired in a six-game losing streak. Carpenter's accuracy and decision-making have been questionable throughout the stretch.
Terrance Taylor/DT-NT/Michigan: Just like the Wolverines, Taylor is stuck in the midst of a disappointing season. He came into the year graded by scouts as the number one senior defensive tackle, but has consistently been handled in the middle of the line by opponents.
B.J. Raji/DT-NT/Boston College: Raji, who sat on the sidelines in 2007 with academic issues, has not missed a beat since returning. He's been a force in the middle for a Boston College rushing defense that ranks second in the ACC and gives up just 106 yards per game.
Everette Brown/DE/Florida State: The Seminole junior is another ACC lineman whose name is being mentioned in scouting circles. Brown leads the conference in tackles for loss with 12 and sits second on the sacks chart with six. He's destined to be the next in a long line of athletic pass rushers to come out of the Florida State program.
Cedric Peerman/RB/Virginia: Peerman is developing into one of the best multi-purpose ball carriers from the senior class. The Cavaliers leading rusher is averaging 5.6 yards per carry while also adding four receptions per game. Peerman was graded as a late-round choice coming into the season but his impressive play this year has moved him into the middle frames.
Mike Wallace/WR/Mississippi: The Rebels senior receiver entered the season with barely a mention from NFL scouts. He's capitalized on a solid year and has developed into a multi-purpose threat. Wallace has not only established himself as a reliable deep threat for Mississippi but also impacts games returning kicks.
D.J. Moore/CB/Vanderbilt: Moore is turning into one of the best shutdown corners from one of the nation's best conferences. The junior is a terrific athlete with the size/speed numbers that make NFL scouts drool and the ball skills that will make him a first round pick. Moore is also a sensational return specialist, which gives him added value.
Emanuel Cook/S/South Carolina: Cook is another quality underclassmen defensive back from the SEC. He's an aggressive safety who leads South Carolina in tackles with 72. Cook has been a productive player on the Gamecocks defense since his freshman season.
• The poor play of the senior quarterbacks this season will open the doors of opportunity for a few small school passers, including Rhett Bomar of Sam Houston State and Nathan Brown of Central Arkansas the likely benefactors. Bomar, who began his college career with Oklahoma before transferring to SHSU, has been impressive the past two seasons and is on pace to top the 3,000-yard passing mark this year. Brown has thrown 23 touchdown passes and just a single interception this year. Both are likely to receive the coveted invitation to participate in the Senior Bowl next January. The last Sam Houston State player to be invited to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl? Quarterback Josh McCown, a seven-year veteran of the NFL.
• Injuries continue to mount for some seniors expected to be selected in the draft's top four rounds next April. USC safety Kevin Ellison could miss up to four weeks after suffering a knee injury in practice last week. Ellison, a three-year starter for the Trojans, was having a career season before tearing a meniscus in his right knee.
• Maryland cornerback Kevin Barnes was lost for the year after suffering a serious shoulder injury the prior week. Barnes was diagnosed with a shoulder blade fracture and will require surgery to repair the damage. He was considered second-round material by a number of scouts but is now looking at a rehab period of 5-6 months.
• Many eyes are on Texas as scouts await the news on the severity of the knee injury suffered by Brian Orakpo during the third quarter of the Longhorns loss to Texas Tech on Saturday evening. Team trainers are calling the injury a sprained left knee, though they admit further evaluations are necessary later this week. Last week, on our list of the top 45 prospects eligible for next April's draft, Orakpo was ranked No. 7.