by Russ Lande
October 04, 02012
Kentucky -vs- Mississippi State
Kentucky WR La’Rod King (6037 V, 213 V and 4.55 E) vs. Mississippi State CB Jonathan Banks (6021 V, 185 V & 4.55 E)
While Jonathan Banks is well known to “draftniks,” La’Rod King has not received nearly the same amount of publicity, but this should be an excellent matchup. I, along with every NFL scout I have spoken to that covers Mississippi State, love Banks combination of height, long arms, smooth athleticism, instincts and ball skills, but have concerns about his top end speed. Similarly, King is a strong, powerful receiver with excellent size and natural hands, which have enabled him to be Kentucky’s go to receiver. However, King is not a blazer and relies on his size and receiving skills to excel. Banks’ speed will not be challenged trying to cover King, but he is thin for a tall cornerback and needs to prove he can handle covering big, physical receivers if he is going to be successful covering the big receivers that have become the trend in the NFL. This game will give King a chance to prove to NFL teams that he has enough foot quickness to go with his route running and size to be effective against NFL caliber cornerbacks because despite concerns about Banks’ speed he is at worst going to be a second round pick.
Florida -vs- LSU
US PRESSWIRELSU's Sam Montgomery drives off ball to start pass rush.
Florida OT Xavier Nixon (6047 V, 306 V and 5.25 E) vs. LSU DE’s Barkevious Mingo (6050E, 240E & 4.60E) & Sam Montgomery (6050 E, 260 E & 4.70 E)
Mingo and Montgomery have been causing nightmares for opposing quarterbacks all season and if Florida’s offense is going to be effective vs. LSU then left tackle Nixon will need to play at a high level. Obviously, Nixon will only block one at a time, but he will likely get the chance to block both numerous times throughout the game. Nixon is an athletic tackle with good foot quickness, agility and flexibility, which helps him to pass block with good base and play strong at point of attack. A highly competitive blocker, Nixon needs to prove he can handle protecting the corner vs. the explosive Mingo. Nixon will need to use his hands well to “get a good fit” in order to hold handle Montgomery’s combination of excellent strength and hand use as a pass rusher. Mingo and Montgomery are both likely to be first round picks if they come out for the 2013 NFL Draft, but they are very different players. Montgomery is a bigger, stronger player who pressures quarterback through a combination of strength, hand-use/technique and effort. For such a productive pass rusher, Montgomery is surprisingly dominant taking on and defeating run blocks to make tackles on runs to his side of the field. On the other hand, Mingo is an explosive athlete whose elite initial quickness helps him to beat the offensive tackle to the turn point with surprising consistency. His ability to beat pass blocks with his quickness and burst is impressive as is his playing speed chasing down running backs in backside pursuit.
UCLA -vs- California
California WR Keenan Allen (6030 E, 210 E & 4.45 E) vs. UCLA CB Sheldon Price (6010 E, 185 E & 4.45 E)
Unlike the physical WR/CB match-up between King and Banks who both have excellent height for their respective positions, this one will entail more of an athletic matchup. Allen is one of the most dynamic receivers in the country who can change games with big plays any time he gets the ball in the open field. Despite his size, Allen can accelerate to full speed fast, has the playing speed to out-run angles and the open field running skills to make game changing plays. Naturally soft hands help Allen to make tough catches seem routine and to tuck the ball away fast so that he can get started up the field in a flash after the catch. Price has the length, athleticism and top end speed to stay with Allen all over the field in man coverage, so this game will provide him with a challenge to cover one of the best all-around receivers in the country. While not a strong or physical defender, Price can transition and close fast on passes in front of him and can turn and run without losing a step in man coverage. His athleticism and speed helps him to stay on the receiver’s hip all over the field in “trail” coverage. This game will provide Allen and Price a chance to show NFL scouts that they can out produce when going head to head with an NFL caliber player.
Email Russ at Russelllande@yahoo.com and Follow him on Twitter @RUSSLANDE.