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2015 NFL Draft Big Board Following First Week of CFB Season

Week 1 of the 2014 college football season has come and gone, and we have gotten a look at some of the best talent in the country, which gives us a bit of a jumping off point for the 2015 NFL Draft.

Obviously, it's not much to go off of, and they won't impact the rankings heavily. But there were some great performances to go along with some pretty disappointing ones as well. 

I did my "way-too-early" 2015 big board way back in May right after the 2014 draft, and you'll notice that the top of the list looks relatively the same, but there is a lot of shuffling on the back end.

Remember, this is not a mock draft in any way; it is merely my own ranking of the best draft-eligible college prospects in 2015. 

 

*Indicates underclassmen

 

1. *Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Marcus Mariota's blend of speed and arm ability is exceedingly rare. He reminds me a bit of a taller Mike Vick with the way he can outrun defensive backs and also throw bombs down the field. 

 

2. *Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Andrus Peat is a Goliath at 6'7", and he anchors another exceptional Stanford offensive line this year. His spot as the top offensive lineman in this class, however, is not at all set in stone. He's still a bit raw, and there are lots of talented players behind him.

 

3. *Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

A bit of a boom-or-bust guy right now, Randy Gregory is a former junior college transfer who led the Big Ten in sacks last year. He suffered a minor knee injury in Week 1 and will likely miss this week's game against McNeese State, per Steven M. Sipple of the Lincoln Journal Star (h/t Jerry Hinnen of CBSSports.com).

 

4. *Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Jameis Winston might be the biggest name in college football, but he isn't necessarily the best player. Don't get me wrong—I think he's a tremendous player. His raw natural talent is exceptional, but he has to harness it and put some of his off-the-field issues aside.

 

5. Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Brandon Scherff is quietly one of the best players in the country heading into 2014. I think he's an early sleeper candidate to be the first non-quarterback selected in this draft.

 

6. Vic Beasley, DE/OLB, Clemson

Vic Beasley is just an absolute monster on the outside. I don't know whether he'll play at outside linebacker or defensive end in the NFL, but he looked sharp against Georgia and is a difference-maker that any defense wants to have.

 

7. *Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

In that original Big Board I have linked to up top, I said it was difficult for me to separate Amari Cooper with Nelson Agholor, and that still holds true. But after seeing Cooper dominate in Week 1 with 130 yards, I switched the places of these two while moving them both up.

 

8. *Nelson Agholor, WR, Southern California

Agholor had only 55 receiving yards in Week 1, but he caught two touchdowns, which is good for his projections. He isn't a physically imposing player, but showing a nose for the end zone is always good.

 

9. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

I certainly have nothing against Ifo Ekpre-Olomu despite his dropping from No. 6 in my original ranks to No. 9 here. Beasley, Cooper, and Agholor just all impressed me, but Ekpre-Olomu is still by far the best cornerback in the country with his range and versatility.

 

10. *Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

The biggest riser after Week 1. I don't think I'm jumping the gun much at all here. In fact, I might even be late, but I'll say it now: Todd Gurley has the highest ceiling of any non-quarterback in this draft, and he could be a legitimate NFL superstar. The only thing him holding him back is the anti-running back movement in the league right now.

 

11. Cameron Erving, OT, Florida State

A former defensive tackle, Cameron Erving will still have to prove in 2014 that he's polished up his game enough to be worthy of a high pick. But from an athletic standpoint? He's top-10 material; no question about it.

 

12. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

A&M is looking like an offensive tackle factory right now, and Cedric Ogbuehi will look to follow in Luke Joeckel's and Jake Matthews' footsteps. He has all the ability to be the first tackle selected come May.

 

13. *Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State

Consider me sold on Shilique Calhoun's upside. A former basketball star and latecomer to football, I'm confident he will take college football by storm in 2014.

 

14. *Leonard Williams, DE, Southern California

Leonard Williams is an animal on the defensive line, and he will have a major test against Stanford's great offensive line Saturday. He looks more and more like a 3-4 DE to me.

 

15. *Landon Collins, S, Alabama

Through no fault of his own did Landon Collins fall a few spots here, although Alabama's defense as a whole didn't look that great against West Virginia. He's a pretty good bet to be the first safety taken next May if he declares.

 

16. *Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA

I don't like over-reacting too much to one game, but Brett Hundley did not look good at all against Virginia. He's got a lot of competition at the quarterback position in this class, and he needs to step it up quickly.

 

17. Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor

Baylor's opener against SMU doesn't really mean much, but the gap is definitely small between Bryce Petty and Hundley. I think Petty is the safer bet at this point, but Hundley has more upside.

 

18. Rashad Greene, WR, Florida State

There is nothing sexy about Rashad Greene; he isn't big, he isn't a speedster and he doesn't make many highlight-reel plays. But he's a heck of a pass-catcher and has been really consistent for Winston. Greene dominated Oklahoma State last Saturday with 11 catches, 203 yards and a touchdown.

 

19. *T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama

I may have heaped a lot of praise on Gurley earlier, but don't think I'm sleeping on T.J. Yeldon at all. His 126 rushing yards against West Virginia is the biggest reason the Crimson Tide didn't blow that game.

 

20. *Jaelen Strong, WR, Arizona

The Philadelphia native isn't a big name right now. But he's got a whole lot of potential, and people should start taking notice. He started 2014 off with a bang, notching 10 catches for 146 yards.

 

21. Denzel Perryman, ILB, Miami

22. *Hroniss Grasu, OC, Oregon

23. La'el Collins, OT/G, LSU

24. *Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

25. *Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland

26. *Sammie Coates, WR, Alabama

27. *Devin Funchess, TE, Michigan

28. *Mario Edwards, Jr., DE, Florida State

29. *Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

30. *Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington 

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College Football Picks Week 2: B/R's Expert Predictions for Top 5 Games

Week 2 of the 2014 college football season will bring us the end of an era in South Bend, a battle of playoff favorites in Eugene, a whole bunch of unknowns in Columbus and shots at redemption in Austin and Palo Alto.

Michigan and Notre Dame will square off for the final time in the foreseeable future in what should be a close contest throughout. Neither team wants to end this rivalry game with a loss, so expect the Wolverines and the Fighting Irish to come down to the wire.
With two contrasting styles of play, the Oregon and Michigan State game is sure to keep fans on the edge of their seats. Will the Spartans tough nose defense slow down the great speed of the Ducks’ roster? 

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian knows what it takes to beat Stanford, but earlier this week, Trojans starting quarterback had a procedure done on his toe. Will he be fully healthy and ready to challenge the Cardinal's talented defense? 

Ohio State struggled to put Navy away in Week 1, and now the Buckeyes face a hungry Virginia Tech squad looking to make some noise with the national spotlight on them. Will Urban Meyer have his team ready to avoid an upset?

And the final contest our experts picked this week is a rematch of a game that was an embarrassment for Texas a season ago. BYU’s Taysom Hill will once again be tough to stop, but Longhorns’ head coach Charlie Strong is known for solid defense. However, the major question in this game is how will Texas’ offense look without quarterback David Ash and starting center Dominic Espinosa?

Sallee and Blaudschun have the early lead with perfect picks from Week 1, but there is a great deal of football left to be played. Kramer, Kercheval and Felder have plenty of time to catch up. Who will come out on top this week?

Sound off in the comments below on their picks and who you think will win in Week 2

*All picks made straight up. Spread is not a factor.


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USC vs. Stanford: Underrated QBs Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan Fight for Spotlight

"This week's matchup, you're really looking at two of the Rodney Dangerfields of the conference."

Stanford head coach David Shaw may be the only person in America who thought to draw a parallel between the starting quarterbacks in Saturday's matchup of Top 15 teams (No. 14 USC vs. No. 13 Stanford) and the late stand-up comedian known for lamenting his lack of respect.

However, the analogy Shaw drew during Tuesday's Pac-12 coaches teleconference is spot-on.

In a year when the Pac-12 is being praised for its depth and quality of quarterbacks, Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler are being treated as afterthoughts to Heisman Trophy favorites such as UCLA's Brett Hundley and Oregon's Marcus Mariota as well as NFL draft prospect Sean Mannion of Oregon State.

"People might say the fifth- and sixth-best quarterbacks in our conference [Hogan and Kessler] are really, really good," Shaw said. "When you watch Cody Kessler play, you say, 'Wow, he's really good.' When you watch Kevin Hogan play, you say, 'You know what? He's really good and he wins football games.'"

According to ESPN.com's Heisman Watch, neither Hogan nor Kessler is at the forefront of the highly publicized Pac-12 quarterback discussion.

That could change with the spotlight on Stanford Stadium this Saturday, and an early advantage in the conference's championship race is at stake.

Other elements of Saturday's marquee matchup might overshadow the quarterbacks. Both Stanford and USC feature top-flight defenses. As a result, the two most recent installments in the series have not exactly been quarterback battles—Stanford won the 2012 encounter 21-14, while USC took last year's contest 20-17.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian explained how each program's style contributed to both quarterbacks getting overlooked.

"Both those guys last season...were really effective players," he said. "Their offenses weren't ones where the quarterback was just going to put up the most dynamic numbers. In this day and age of college football, some of the numbers people are putting up, that's what people tend to focus on."

 

Kessler Taking to a New Offense

Sarkisian's introduction of a hurry-up, no-huddle offense promises to boost Kessler's numbers and thus shine a more prominent light on him.

He is coming off a career-best performance of 394 yards and four passing touchdowns.

"Cody played really tough, played gritty, played tough," Sarkisian said. "Really handled an offense, for his first game running a new system, really, really well. I don't think we could have asked for more out of him."

He also showed off his mobility in Sarkisian's hurry-up offense, rushing for 28 yards and scoring once on the ground.

"It's a part of our offense. We'll never ask Cody just to be a runner. That's not who we are," Sarkisian said on his conference call Sunday. "But I do believe he has enough athleticism to just make it another part of our offense that you have to defend. He has the ability to use his legs to get us out of a jam."

Indeed, that new dimension of USC's offense adds to the game film opposing defensive coordinators like Stanford's Lance Anderson must study in preparation for the Trojans.

It also makes Kessler a more dangerous individual weapon for a USC lineup already loaded with explosive playmakers.

Kessler said at Pac-12 media days that his job was getting those playmakers the ball in position to roll off big gains. Against Fresno State, the quarterback did just that.

Ten different Trojans caught passes, including six with three or more receptions. Kessler and favorite target Nelson Agholor connected for two touchdowns, while the highly anticipated debut of freshman John "JuJu" Smith produced four catches for 123 yards.

The hurry-up offense has provided USC with a jolt that promises to make this year's matchup with Stanford more offensive than in seasons past.

Conversely, Hogan's role as the facilitator of Stanford's offense is unchanged from a season ago, when the Cardinal claimed a second straight Pac-12 Championship.

 

"Keep Going With What Works"

There is a collective pride in the Stanford program about the identity it's forged over the past seven years. The Cardinal have no intention to deviate from the formula, either.

Hogan emphasized at Pac-12 media days that Stanford's attack starts with the run.

"Keep going with what works" is how he described the philosophy.

The Cardinal offense doesn't mean Hogan is just there to get the running backs the ball, however. Rather, he's become adept at exchanging quantity for quality.

Stanford's 38-14 win over Arizona State in last December's Pac-12 Championship Game is a prime example. Hogan went 11-of-17 passing, scored on strikes of 17 and 30 yards, and added 45 rushing yards for good measure.

The Cardinal's unrelenting ground attack lured in the defense for Hogan to exploit mismatches, finding wide receivers Devon Cajuste and Ty Montgomery.

That performance typified what makes Hogan a great fit for Stanford and serves as an interesting case study for a statistical gem ESPN.com's Ted Miller mined:

Afterward, I asked Shaw about Hogan's development in 2013, his first full year as starter.

"When given the opportunity and games are on the line in big moments against ranked teams, he shows what he's capable of," Shaw said.

Hogan opened 2014 with a performance similar to what he delivered in the 2013 Pac-12 Championship Game, putting together a typically efficient outing in Stanford's 45-0 Week 1 drubbing of UC Davis. He went 12-of-16 for 204 yards and scored touchdowns on one-quarter of his completions.

The Stanford passing attack added weapons in the offseason with freshman running back Christian McCaffrey and sophomore Austin Hooper becoming the pass-catching tight end that was absent from the Cardinal offense in 2013.

Montgomery reestablished himself as a dangerous, big-play threat last week with five catches for 77 yards and a touchdown reception. Big target Cajuste is back in the lineup against USC after missing the UC Davis game due to suspension.

"People are going to be amazed when they see these guys come out this season," Hogan said of the Stanford wide receiving corps.

 

The Matchup  

In December, Shaw cited Hogan's "big arm" and "clear conscience" as setting the foundation for Hogan's high individual ceiling.

That clear conscience will be necessary Saturday against USC. In the Cardinal's loss to the Trojans last November, Hogan threw two interceptions. One ended a promising Stanford drive in the red zone.

On the other hand, Kessler played an efficient game against Stanford's ballyhooed defense last season.

He's rarely been better in his young career than when he completed three consecutive passes, including one on fourth down, to lead the Trojans on a nine-play drive that set up kicker Andre Heidari's game-winning field goal.

USC will try to replicate that success against one of the toughest defenses in college football.

The Trojans may operate in an uptempo scheme now but remain committed to a power style, which promises to challenge the Stanford front seven.

"They're tough to crack and get after the quarterback like we typically like to," Shaw said of the USC offensive line.

Despite starting two true freshmen (Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama), against Fresno state, the Trojans' front five kept Kessler from being sacked.

The challenge facing USC in its effort to slow Hogan is similar. With preseason All-American left tackle Andrus Peat as its anchor, Hogan operates behind one of the most imposing offensive lines in the Pac-12—if not the nation.

Both Hogan and Kessler have an opportunity to flourish in the spotlight with this matchup. It's unlikely anyone will compare the winner to Dangerfield again after this week.

 

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise cited. Statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

USC vs. Stanford: Underrated QBs Cody Kessler, Kevin Hogan Fight for Spotlight

"This week's matchup, you're really looking at two of the Rodney Dangerfields of the conference...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

How Do the Oregon Ducks Prepare for Michigan State's Ferocious Defense?

Flash versus smash.

That is the only suitable way to categorize the showdown between the third-ranked Oregon Ducks and the seventh-ranked Michigan State Spartans.

The Ducks and Spartans are very different football teams—so much so that is almost seems like they’re not even playing the same sport. That’s why this matchup is so intriguing and ESPN’s College GameDay will be visiting Eugene this weekend.

We know that Oregon’s offense is revolutionary. It’s so revolutionary that the rest of college football has stolen bits and pieces of it, if not the whole playbook, and the NFL came calling for the offense's leading man: Chip Kelly.

The Ducks' zone-read-based “blur” offense operates at a speed and efficiency that would make Henry Ford cry tears of joy.

However, let’s not discount how great Michigan State’s defense is. In fact, it’s a groundbreaking defense in its own right. It seems simple, just like the Ducks offense, but can shift on a dime into a multitude of sets.

Dr. Evil once said to Austin Powers, “We’re not so different, you and I.” Well, Oregon’s offense and Michigan State’s defense aren’t all that different from one another.

In 2013, Oregon’s offense ranked second in the nation in total yards per game (565) and third in points per game (45.5). Conversely, Michigan State’s defense ranked second in yards per game allowed (252) and third in points allowed per game (13.2).

There’s no doubt that both Oregon’s offense and Michigan State’s defense are the best in the nation at what they do, and they're changing the game of football as they do it.

So, what exactly will Oregon’s offense up be against this weekend at Autzen Stadium?

Well, Michigan State is one of two teams to rank in the top five in defensive yards per play in each of the last three seasons, along with Florida State.

In 2013, while compiling a 13-1 record, claiming a Big Ten title and winning the Rose Bowl, the Spartans finished first in defensive yards per play.

The reason that head coach Mark Dantonio and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi have built such a successful defense is because of the 4-3 scheme they run and how they coach their players to make quick, instinctive changes before the snap.

Instead of trying to guess what Oregon’s offense is going to do on Saturday and picking the wrong defensive formation, Michigan State will utilize a defense that will change into the right alignment depending on how the offense lines up.

There may be times when Michigan State is playing Cover 4 and others when it's stuffing nine players in the box.

The only thing we know for sure about the Spartans defense is that it will start in a “4-3 Over” paired with “Quarters,” which is more commonly known as the Cover 4 defense.

Now, Michigan State’s defensive schemes and its ability to maneuver the formations on the fly have worked well against opponents who operate slowly. After all, most Big Ten teams don’t operate at any speed, let alone at Mach 10 like the Ducks.

The biggest concern for the Spartans has to be whether or not they will have the time to read Oregon’s offense and adjust on the move. Oregon’s speed has left opponents in the dust before.

If Michigan State can’t adjust early to the speed, it may go home scratching its heads.

With that said, the Spartans defense is smart and talented enough to make Oregon work for every first down. There’s a reason the Spartans’ rushing defense has been in the top 10 nationally in each of the past three seasons.

Additionally, the Spartans only allowed 12 passing touchdowns in 2013, while holding opposing quarterbacks to a 47.5 percent completion percentage.

The Spartans defense will depend heavily on defensive ends Shilique Calhoun and Marcus Rush, who will be tasked with controlling Oregon’s nearly unstoppable rushing attack. Calhoun, who is perhaps the best defensive player in the Big Ten, will also be asked to put pressure on quarterback Marcus Mariota, which isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world to do.

Michigan State’s secondary lost its best player from last year's team, Darqueze Dennard, to the NFL. However, the secondary should still be solid this year, especially with the front seven putting pressure on the quarterback.

One of the biggest concerns for the Ducks has to be whether or not the young wide receivers are able to take on the aggressive Spartans secondary.

We know the Spartans are going to play a ton of man coverage. It will be on the Ducks' wide receivers to create space and make plays, especially in 3rd-and-long situations.

Oregon’s offense is in for one of its toughest tests in years. The last time Oregon saw a defensive like this, it was 2011 and LSU manhandled the team in Cowboys Stadium. Three seasons later, the Ducks get an opportunity to show the college football world that speed truly kills—and just because you’re fast doesn’t mean you’re soft.

In order for Oregon to succeed against Michigan State’s defense, and thereby grab a victory, the Ducks are going to need to play with more strength between the tackles and be more aggressive in all phases of the game.

Whether that means holding blocks a split second longer or taking a big hit trying to make a play, it’s all going to have to be done to beat Michigan State.

Oregon’s offense needs to use its speed to impact Michigan State’s ability to adapt at the line of scrimmage, which is the Spartans' best defensive asset. If Oregon can incorporate an element of nastiness to its vicious offensive attack, the Ducks should come away with a huge victory over the Spartans.

 

Follow Jason Gold on twitter @TheSportsGuy33. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

How Do the Oregon Ducks Prepare for Michigan State's Ferocious Defense?

Flash versus smash. That is the only suitable way to categorize the showdown between the third-ranked Oregon Ducks and the seventh-ranked Michigan State Spartans...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Updated Recruiting Odds: Where Will Stud WR George Campbell Land?

George Campbell is a 4-star wide receiver out of the Sunshine State. This stud is making his college decision very soon between LSU, Florida State and Florida. Bleacher Report's College Football Analyst Michael Felder breaks down the odds of where Campbell will commit. Where do you think he will land? 

Check out the video and let us know!

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Throwback Thursday: LeGarrette Blount Punches Boise State Player After Loss

Chip Kelly had the Oregon Ducks in the national championship contention every year when he was the team's head coach, but his tenure there got off to a rough start.

On Sept. 3, 2009, Oregon lost to Boise State in Kelly's debut as Ducks coach. The 19-8 loss wasn't a great way to start his tenure in Eugene, but it's what happened after the game that overshadowed his debut—and not for a good reason.

After the game, Ducks running back LeGarrette Blount—who finished the game with negative rushing yards—punched Broncos defensive end Byron Hout in the face. Blount even got into it with the fans on his way off the field. Thankfully, this incident did get even uglier.

Kelly quickly decided to suspend Blount for the rest of the season. However, Blount ended up playing in Oregon's final two games of the season, including the 2010 Rose Bowl against Ohio State.

The punching incident certainly didn't help Blount's draft stock; the running back went undrafted. 

[YouTube]

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Are the Georgia Bulldogs National Championship Contenders?

After a strong week from Todd Gurley and the Georgia Bulldogs against Clemson, Bleacher Report College Football Analysts Adam Kramer, Barrett Sallee and Michael Felder discuss their National Championship potential.

Do you think they can make it all the way?

Watch the video and let us know!

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