NFL draft watch: Ty Montgomery, Rashad Greene could be future stars
By the time Kansas State and West Virginia kick off next Thursday night, we'll be less than one month away from the first bowl game of 2014-15. (The New Orleans Bowl kicks off at 11 a.m. ET on Dec. 20, if you're curious.)
The snow has started falling in some parts of the country, and the college football season is closer to its end than its beginning. Before you know it, the NFL will be in full-on draft mode. To give you a head start on the preparations, here are five 2015 prospects to track in this weekend's college football action:
Grady Jarrett, DT, Clemson (at Georgia Tech, noon ET): Jarrett's teammate along the defensive line, Vic Beasley, gets most of the attention. But Jarrett himself will hear his name called at the draft, possibly as early as Day 2.
Listed at six feet tall and 290 pounds, Jarrett is about the same size as Rams rookie Aaron Donald (6-1, 285 at the combine). His NFL future could be in a similar style role, as a Henry Melton-esque penetrating tackle. Jarrett has 6.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks this season for the Tigers.
This weekend pits Jarrett and the Clemson defense against Georgia Tech's triple-option attack. The Yellow Jackets may opt to run around Jarrett in taking those plays wide rather than testing him straight up the gut. Either way, it's a chance for the future NFL defensive lineman to show what he can do against the run.
Blake Bell, TE, Oklahoma (at Texas Tech, 3:30 p.m. ET): The 6-foot-6, 259-pound former quarterback has not exactly blown up as a pass-catcher (13 receptions for 154 yards and four touchdowns), but he has shown enough promise as a tight end to get himself on the draft radar.
"He's a big target," Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said earlier this month, "and particularly in the red zone when you can throw it over the linebacker and feel you're not going to throw it out of the end zone because of his height and his ability to go up and get it. That definitely was the case on one of the touchdowns. He's got great hands, and he continues to improve blocking-wise the more he does it."
Oh, Bell also will be Oklahoma's backup quarterback again this week, with starter Trevor Knight out of action.
Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford (vs. Utah, 6 p.m. ET): No. 36 on our October Big Board, Montgomery is a home-run threat whenever he touches the ball, be it on offense or as a return man. Montgomery is the Cardinal's leading receiver (56 catches for 543 yards) and has averaged 6.2 yards on 19 rush attempts and is closing in on 700 yards combined as a punt/kick returner.
In last season's matchup with Utah, Montgomery hauled in eight passes for 131 yards and took a kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown.
Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State (at Miami, 8 p.m. ET): Greene landed 10 spots above Montgomery on the Big Board, and he might keep climbing, even if his measurables lead him to a second- or third-round selection.
Listed by Florida State at 6-0 and 180 pounds (and in reality, smaller in both areas), Greene is among the most natural route-runners in this year's class. Even though he can be pushed around a bit by physical cornerbacks, Greene counters with speed and an NFL-ready ability to plant and cut. Recent prospects-turned-playmakers Keenan Allen and Jordan Matthews carried similar scouting reports -- advanced skill sets coupled with decent physical gifts.
Greene might not be one of the first receivers off the board, but he could step in and produce immediately next season.
Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State (vs. Maryland, 8 p.m. ET): The shine has worn off the Michigan State defense some this season, with Ohio State's 49-37 win last weekend exploiting the Spartans' issues all over the field. Drummond was victimized on one of the Buckeyes' bigger plays, a 44-yard touchdown pass from J.T. Barrett to Devin Smith late in the second quarter: Drummond failed to get deep enough to help in coverage as Smith went long.
Overall, there's still a lot to like about Drummond, particularly at a position that is not all that deep, yet is coveted by just about every team in the NFL.
Drummond recently accepted an invite to this year's Senior Bowl. (So far, 11 players have been announced as official participants.) He has had far better outings than the one against Ohio State, like his nine-tackle showing against Nebraska.