Key matchup breakdowns
Key matchups scouts will be keeping an eye on today:
Louisville WR Scott Long vs. Rutgers CB Devin McCourty
Rutgers CB Devin McCourty has had a strong senior season and possesses an impressive blend of straight-line speed, athleticism and ball skills in man coverage. He does a great job tracking passes down the field and has a knack for consistently getting his hands between the receiver and the football. Louisville, on the other hand, has had a tough time manufacturing yards in the pass game, but one constant has been the play of wideout Scott Long. Long is a big target, and although he lacks the type of speed to get behind McCourty vertically, he does a nice job using his frame to shield defenders and can create separation initially out of his breaks. McCourty clearly is the far better athlete in this matchup, but this is the type of battle Long needs to prove he can win on a somewhat consistent basis if he hopes to get a shot at making an NFL roster.
Wyoming DT John Fletcher vs. Colorado State OG Shelley Smith
Wyoming defensive tackle John Fletcher lacks ideal size for the position (6-6, 272), but he uses his quickness, length and motor to consistently fire off the football and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He currently has seven sacks and possesses the initial burst to definitely give Colorado State OG Shelley Smith some trouble inside in the pass game. Fletcher looks like a guy who will definitely need to make the transition to defensive end at the next level, but if he can prove capable of holding up inside vs. a potential draftable guard in Smith, it could go a long way to improve his draft stock.
Kent State H-back Jameson Konz vs. Buffalo S Davonte Shannon
One of the more intriguing senior fullbacks in this year’s draft class is Kent State’s Jameson Konz, a former linebacker who made the transition to offense in 2008 and possesses the type of athleticism (4.45 speed) to create mismatches in the pass game at the next level. He currently has 21 receptions for 298 yards, and it will be interesting to see if he can consistently gain separation from one of the top safeties in the MAC, Buffalo’s Davonte Shannon. Shannon is a gifted athlete in his own right and definitely has the ability to stay with Konz down the field. I’ll be watching closely to see if Konz possesses enough savvy and know-how as a route runner at this stage in his development to separate from a guy who’s just as athletically gifted as he is.
Alabama DE Brandon Deaderick vs. Auburn OT Lee Ziemba
Alabama DE Brandon Deaderick is never going to “wow” you with his stats, and he isn’t a guy who has the burst to consistently create pressure off the edge. But he’s a powerful, thickly built defender who looks like one of the more NFL-ready 3-4 DE prospects in this draft class. He’ll be opposed by Auburn junior left tackle Lee Ziemba, a prospect who has never really impressed me from an athletic standpoint. If he’s going to make a successful transition to the right side in the NFL, Ziemba has got to be able to play with power and consistently handle base defensive end-type linemen like Deaderick on contact. Deaderick is not an easy guy to move, so this will be a great test to see where Ziemba is from a physical standpoint.
Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh vs. Colorado OG Ryan Miller
Is there an offensive lineman in the country who has the combination or power, fluidity and overall toughness to block Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh one on one? Probably not, but Colorado’s Ryan Miller possesses one feature that could potentially keep Suh from being his usually dominating self inside, and that’s size. Miller is listed at 6-8, 320 pounds and possesses a massive frame -- wide shoulders and a long set of arms -- and should be able to at least hold his own vs. Suh from a physical standpoint. Now, there’s no way the Colorado coaching staff will allow Miller to try to block Suh straight-up consistently inside, but it will be interesting to see how well Suh can anchor vs. the size/power of Miller in the run game.
West Virginia DE Julian Miller vs. Pittsburgh LT Jason Pinkston
West Virginia DE Julian Miller has been one of the real surprises on the Mountaineers’ defense this season. Using his long, angular frame and explosive first step, he has absolutely terrorized opposing offenses all season, accounting for 8