2018 NFL draft

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: ACC, Big Ten titles on the line

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2018 NFL draft prospect watch: ACC, Big Ten titles on the line

The stakes are high for tonight's ACC and Big Ten title games.

There will be plenty of NFL talent on the field that can help the 10-1 Eagles next season.

Here are eight prospects to watch.

No. 7 Miami at No. 1 Clemson - 8 p.m., ABC
No. 52 - Kc McDermott, OL, Miami, senior (6-7/300)
McDermott has spent a lot of time on the interior of the Hurricanes' line but has excelled this season as the team's left tackle. He was named to the All-ACC third team and has started 32 consecutive games. There's nothing flashy to McDermott, but he's long and aggressive and always seem to be under control and in the proper position.

No. 7 - Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami, junior (6-3/312)
Norton has been an extremely disruptive run defender for Miami. He had 10 tackles for a loss last season and has 6 1/2 more this season. He has just five career sacks, but his athleticism for his size leads you to believe there could be more pass rushing potential there. 

No. 34 - Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson, junior (6-0/225)
Jim Schwartz loves him a thumper and Joseph certainly fits that bill. As a sophomore last season, Joseph had a 106 tackles (11 1/2 for a loss), four sacks and an interception. While the numbers may not stand out as much this season, Joseph is still making a huge impact on the Tigers' D.

No. 6 - Dorian O'Daniel, LB, Clemson, senior (6-1/220)
O'Daniel doesn't have the size of Joseph, but he's been just as disruptive. Playing on the outside, O'Daniel has 80 tackles this season (10 1/2 for a loss), five sacks and two interceptions. O'Daniel will likely excel as a weakside linebacker at the next level that is allowed to roam and attack the football, but he could stay on the strong side because of his coverage skills. 

No. 8 Ohio State at No. 4 Wisconsin - 8 p.m., FOX
No. 17 - Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State, junior (6-1/225)
As of right now, Baker is the cream of this linebacker crop. Baker is built like and has the aggressiveness of a 'backer, but has the eyes and coverage ability of a free safety. He'll likely test well and be out of the Eagles' range come draft time, but he'd look mighty good playing next to (a hopefully healthy) Jordan Hicks next season.

No. 25 - Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State, redshirt sophomore (5-10/214)
As a redshirt freshman last season, Weber ran for 1,096 yards. Impressively, he joined Robert Smith and Maurice Clarett as the only Buckeye freshmen to run for 1,000 yards. He's taken on less of a load this season but is still averaging 6.5 yards a carry and has 10 TDs. He also has 32 catches in his collegiate career. There's nothing flashy about Weber, but he's a solid back who could be worth a flyer in the middle rounds. 

No. 63 - Michael Deiter, OL, Wisconsin, junior (6-6/328)
Deiter's most impressive quality is his versatility. After redshirting his freshman season, Deiter has started at center, left guard and left tackle. Deiter has tremendous size but is also a pretty good athlete. He's likely getting looked at as a center and the experience will likely serve him at whatever position he plays at the next level.

No. 81 - Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin, senior (6-6/248)
Fumagalli doesn't have great numbers, but a big part of that is Wisconsin's run-heavy offense. Fumagalli is a big target with reliable hands. The Badgers' offense has also allowed him to show off his prowess as a run blocker. He may not have the flashy numbers or crazy measurables, but Fumagalli has the potential to be a real solid NFL tight end.

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Championship weekend is upon us

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2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Championship weekend is upon us

This is one of the best weeks of college football as several conferences hold their championship games.

The Eagles are sitting pretty at 10-1, but will certainly have an eye on a bunch of NFL draft prospects in action today.

Here are six players to watch in the early games.

No. 20 Memphis at No. 14 UCF - 12 p.m., ABC
No. 3 - Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis, senior (5-11/190)

Size obviously isn't Miller's strong point, but he is mighty explosive. After recording 1,434 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore, Miller has 1,212 yards and another 14 TDs so far this season. He's also been dangerous as a runner and as a punt returner. He's a pure playmaker. Just get the ball in his hands and clear a path. 

No. 18 - Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF, senior (6-1/223)
Griffin is by far the coolest story in all of college football. A birth defect forced Griffin to have his left hand amputated at 4 years old. He hasn't let that stand in his way, winning AAC Defensive Player of the Year last season. He's stood out yet again this season, recording 56 total tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and an interception. If you haven't watched Griffin yet, make sure you tune in.
 

No. 11 TCU at No. 3 Oklahoma - 12:30 p.m., FOX
No. 78 - Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma, junior (6-8/345)

Brown is an enormous human, but don't be fooled by his appearance. He's actually an outstanding athlete. Brown weighed 415 pounds in high school, but has dropped the weight and was named the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year last season. He's likely a late first-round pick. He's an obvious mauler in the run game but has really improved as a pass protector.

No. 32 - Travin Howard, LB, TCU, senior (6-1/213)
Howard has been a tackling machine for TCU. While playing mostly safety as a sophomore, Howard recorded 107 tackles, then amassed 130 last year while transitioning to linebacker. He's missed the last two games with an injury (he's expected to play today), but still has 83 tackles on the season, including a 13-tackle game in the Hornfrog's lost to the Sooners a few weeks ago. He has a nose for the football and outstanding instincts.


No. 6 Georgia at No. 2 Auburn - 4 p.m., CBS
No. 3 - Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia, junior (6-1/225)
While the Bulldogs' running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are certainly worth keeping an eye on, Smith is the prospect that should most intrigue the Eagles. Smith has wreaked havoc this season, recording 100 tackles (8 1/2 for loss), and 4 1/2 sacks. He's a sideline-to-sideline ‘backer that always seems to be around the ball. He could certainly be an option late in the first round.

No. 71 - Braden Smith, OL, Auburn, senior (6-6/303)
Smith has a ton of experience playing in the loaded SEC. He's built like a tackle but has spent the majority of his collegiate career at guard. He made the All-SEC freshman team and was named to the All-SEC first team as a junior. Smith was part of an impressive effort by the Tigers' in their upset of Alabama last week. He'll face another stiff test against the Bulldogs this week.

Hunt for clues about Saquon Barkley's future at Penn State is on

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Hunt for clues about Saquon Barkley's future at Penn State is on

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- For months now, everyone has been seeking clues as to what Saquon Barkley’s intentions beyond this season might be, and the detective work continued Saturday.

Is Penn State’s prized junior running back headed to the NFL after this season? Is he even going to play in the Nittany Lions’ bowl game?

The latter question was answered in the affirmative after Barkley generated 224 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in PSU’s 56-44 defeat of Nebraska: He’s a go for whatever bowl the No. 10 Lions, now 9-2, find themselves in.

Still TBA beyond that. While coach James Franklin advised Barkley before the season as to what he should do, Franklin wouldn’t divulge the particulars of that conversation. (You’re shocked, I’m sure.) And Barkley said he still wants to talk to his family before he decides whether or not to declare for next spring’s draft.

So we wait. And we hunt for clues.

Like when Franklin said he was “blessed to have coached” Barkley — past tense — what did that mean?

Uh, nothing, Franklin said though he did launch into a monologue about advising Barkley and advising players in general.

“What I try to do for all of my players is give them advice that I would give my son,” he said. “If I feel like they should come back to school to finish their degree and have the opportunity to go on and get one more season of development, and then go to the NFL, I tell them that. If I think they should leave early, then I tell them that as well.”

It’s quite simple, in his mind.

“If IBM came to our computer engineering department and offered a junior a $12 million contract, they’d be gone,” Franklin said. “So I give these guys information all the time based on the entire picture -- what their future is like, where they’re at academically.”

Which sounded like a hint as to what he might have told Barkley, all those months ago. But again, who knows?

What we do know is that Barkley is a likely top-five pick. And while he has performed unevenly this season through no fault of his own (i.e., the offensive line has been surprisingly poor), he scored on a 65-yard run three plays into Saturday’s game, went over 100 yards for the game (and 1,000 for the season) when he broke off a 30-yard run on the final play of the first quarter and finished the half with 142 yards and three TDs.

The Lions were up 42-10 at that point. Barkley's final totals were 17 carries for 158 yards and three TDs, and six catches for 66 yards. He became just the second player in program history to surpass 1,000 in three straight seasons — Evan Royster was the other — and overtook Lydell Mitchell for most career rushing TDs; Barkley now has 39.

And that's all with two games remaining this season.

Yes, definitely two — at Maryland in next week’s regular-season finale, and then the bowl, wherever that may be.

Again, there were clues as far back as May that Barkley might follow in the footsteps of two other NFL-bound running backs, LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey, who skipped bowl games last year to prepare for the draft. Fournette was taken fourth overall by Jacksonville and McCaffery was taken eighth overall by Carolina

In a Sports Illustrated profile by Pete Thamel, Barkley was quoted as saying the following: “I would have a hard time doing it (i.e., skipping a bowl), but I’m not going to sit here and say I would never do it. I don’t know. I could be in a situation next year where I have close to two broken ankles, God forbid, or something going on in my upper body, and I can’t play in a game if I’m considering playing in the NFL.”

But he said Saturday he definitely plans to play, barring the unforeseen.

“I understand why some other players have not played in a bowl game,” he said. “I’m different from Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. … Our situations are different.”

Barkley admitted that he did get “a little emotional” Saturday, not so much because it was his final home game but because it was the last time he would be playing alongside the seniors in Beaver Stadium — “no matter what happens.”

No clues there, then. His play, however, would appear to offer the biggest clue of all and leaves little reason for doubt.

Why, at this point, should the sporting equivalent of IBM have to wait any longer?