Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Week 12's a bit light on heavyweight matchups across the college landscape. That leaves us plenty of options to key in on with the 2013 NFL Draft picture getting clearer and clearer each week.
This is hardly a day filled with marquee matchups.
We've only got three games in which both teams are ranked: #18 USC at #17 UCLA, #23 Texas Tech at #24 Oklahoma and the game of the day, #13 Stanford at #2 Oregon in what should be an entertaining nighttime matchup. I've leaned on the SEC for most of these threads for good reason - there's more top NFL talent there than anywhere else among the college ranks. Today, though, belongs to the West Coast.
Iowa at #21 Michigan (12:00 p.m., ESPN)
The early slate isn't pretty, so let's get a look in at two potential targets for the Rams early on in the draft: Michigan OT Taylor Lewan and SS Jordan Kovacs. Lewan's really settled in a LT for the Wolverines despite the difficulty of playing left tackle when Denard Robinson is at QB. With Devin Gardner in at QB the last two weeks, Lewan's received glowing reports working in a bit more conventional of an offense. The bottom line is that he has the frame and movement skills to be an NFL left tackle; the major concern is that his footwork can get a bit sloppy when he's going full speed against quicker DEs. As for Kovacs, he's not the most physically gifted safety, but strong tackling and hard work matter. Kovacs will likely get some Craig Dahl comparisons; the question is if he's worth a late flier on potential.
#18 USC at #17 UCLA (3:05 p.m., FOX)
Let's start with UCLA. First, as much hype as Johnny Manziel, aka Jonathan Q. Football, has gotten, Brett Hundley is putting in one hell of a freshman season at QB for the Bruins. Over the last two weeks, he's 41/49 (83.67%) for 549 yards and 6 TDs along with one pick and a rushing TD. This is a great late season test to gauge the centerpiece of the future at UCLA under Jim Mora. As for more immediate draft impact, DE Datone Jones is going to get some looks late on day two as will RB Johnathan Franklin. Rams fans will want to get a look at TE Joseph Fauria.
On the Trojans' side, it's been a disappointing season. The losses to Stanford and Oregon can be justified, but Arizona? Kiffin's 2013 run is going to likely determine his future at SC, with a tough QB battle coming between freshmen Max Wittek and Cody Kessler and committed recruit Max Browne if he sticks. Regardless, expect a transfer from that trio if they're battling it out in the spring next year. Again to refocus on the 2013 NFL Draft, you guys know the names I've been putting out there since August: FS T.J. McDonald, C Khaled Holmes and WR Robert Woods are all potential Rams selections early on. And as great as Marqise Lee is to watch, I'm eager to see what he does after Woods leaves...and it would shock everyone if Woods didn't bolt this year despite being a junior. And man, the 2015 tight end class is starting to look really good. Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins is going to have everyone clamoring for him, Nick O'Leary is coming along at Florida State, and USC's Xavier Grimble has certainly impressed. His role's changed over the last month, and he's handled it very well. And get your look in at OT Max Tuerk; he'll be a name to track over the coming years at SC.