Tuesday, October 23, 2007

If you only Watch 1 Game this week (college)

I love football. There I've said it, does that make me a bad person? Unless your my wife (who thinks I watch way to much football in general) I'm guessing that you like football too if you are reading this.

First and foremost I am a Raiders fan. The ineptitude of the team the last 4+ years has had me looking more and more to the college game. I have gone from just watching Michigan and VT to watching as much as I can, with an eye toward the talent who can make it at the next level.

Yep, I'm also a draft nick. The lead up to the draft, watching players rise and fall based on what they can do in shorts and t-shirts is fascinating to me. Watching the media hype up some bowl game winner who did nothing prior to the bowl game, to the point that he gets drafted #1, is incredible. The pressure place on a loosing organisation by the media and the fans to take the media anointed "Next Superstar" while ignoring the college player who is actually the better prospect is enormous.

There are multiple examples of players who I pegged right, and players I was way off on. I thought that Leaf would handle the pressures of the NFL better than Manning due to Manning's collapses vs. top competition. I thought Vick was vastly overrated due to his inaccuracy as a passer. I thought Gallery was the surest thing in the draft and that the QB's went Big Ben, River, Manning. I thought the Raiders made the right choice in Huff over Leinart, but not Cutler. I thought the Texans made the right choice at #1 with Williams. And finally I think the Raiders made the wrong choice in Russel at #1, but were right in picking him over Quinn.

So I'm definitely hit or miss in my evaluations. But no more so than the Kipers of the world.

What this weekly item will be is a look at the college game that features the most NFL draft talent to watch so that you, the NFL fan can get a leg up on the draft and get a chance to judge these players for yourself, before combines and Kipers cloud your and the NFL's judgement.

There are three rules I will try to abide to when picking my game of the week.

1 - Potential talent discussed will be seniors. I'm sure that I'll break this rule on multiple occasions, but other than the guys who have 1st round talent, juniors coming out are too hit and miss.

2 - The game must be on national television. FSN and VS. don't count, unless I can't find anything else.

3 - Each week will have at least 1 team that I haven't told you to watch before. I could easily just tell you to watch USC every week. But that would be boring.

Without further ado, if you watch only 1 game this week in college football, make it

Boston College vs. Virginia Tech

This is already the biggest game on this weeks schedule. At one of the best places to watch a football game, Blacksburg, at night. So Tivo "My name is Earl" and "The Office" and tune into the one thing that ESPN still does right, Thursday Night Football.

Boston College

BC has been an after thought in college football since Flutie was tossing up Hail Mary's. But they have rounded up a talented roster this year and somehow have managed to avoid the pitfalls to remain undefeated and have reached #2 in the rankings.

Matt Ryan (QB, 6-5, 224) has steadily climbed the ranks as a prospect and is now being looked at as a mid 1st round prospect. Be sure to keep an eye on how he handles the pressure of the VT defense and the noise problem that Lane Stadium present.

Gosder Cherilus (OT, 6-7, 318) is the latest in a long line of solid BC lineman. These guys never seem to get the national recognition of the Big 10 lineman, but continually perform better than their draft slot in the NFL. Once again the attacking VT defense and the crowd will provide an excellent chance to get a good handle on him.

DeJuan Tribble (CB, 5-9, 188) DeJuan does not have the prototypical size that NFL teams look for, and the VT passing game may not be the best to evaluate him against. He is excellent in run support for his size. If VT is able to pass on him, his stock will take a hit. Teams that play allot of zones with the corners in run support will take a hard look at him.

Others to keep an eye on:

BJ Raji (DT, 6-1, 322) and JoLonn Dunbar (OLB, 6-1, 228) both have mid round grades at this time, but both should have a chance to shine against a questionable VT offense.

Virginia Tech

After getting trounced at LSU early in the year, the Hokies have ridden their excellent D and special teams to get back in the BCS hunt. A win against BC will do wonders for their big bowl hopes. All of the VT players have already shown their stuff in big games. BC is another good test for all on National TV.

Xavier Adibi (OLB, 6-2, 225)Adibi is a play making Will LB and his name is fun to say. He can get caught up on blockers, and is a bit small so he won't translate to the Sam or Mike backer in the pros. But teams are always looking for play makers and this guy fits the bill.

Vince Hall (ILB, 6-0, 238) If you are going to let your play maker range all over the field, you have to have someone solid to cover for him when he gets out of position. Hall is that guy. He recently broke his wrist and may miss the game. He would be a key loss for the Hokies. Will be seen a little undersized for the mike in the 4-3 at the next level, may be best suited as the WILB in a 3-4.

Chris Ellis (DE, 6-5, 258) Was suppose to be near the leaders in sack numbers coming into this year, and while 5 ain't bad, its not going to get you drafted too high when you only weigh 258. Projects as a rush end/LB in the NFL.

Eddie Royal (WR, 5-10, 184) Royal is a burner with a reported 40 time of 4.3 seconds. He has never fully developed as a WR, but is scary good as a kick & punt returner and that is where he will find his niche at the next level until can figure out route running.

Others to watch Duane Brown (OT, 6-5, 283) lacks ideal size, but an excellent athlete (has played some TE) who projects to a zone blocking system and Carlton Powell (DT, 6-2, 295) high motor guy, solid player who could work into a DL rotational slot.

So there you go, If you watch 1 game this weekend (and why would you only watch 1 when you can TiVo and watch 10) watch BC and VT battle Thursday night, then impress your fellow football fans come draft time when you tell them about a 4th round pick and how he projects. Without resorting to reading Kiper.