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Favorite Players to Watch come Draft Weekend

The NFL combine week has come and gone, and players now wait to find out how they did and where there draft status now lies. Let’s take a moment to look at some favorite players from the 2013 college football season.

Let’s begin on offense with A.J. McCarron quarterback of Alabama. He is a kid that possesses a very high football IQ., leaves the Crimson Tide as a multiple National Champion and had a 34-2 record as a starter (.943 winning percentage). His senior season was solid with 226 completions on 336 attempts, good for 3,063 yards. His touchdown to interceptions ratio was very good at 28 TD’S to only 7 INT’S. He finished the 2013 campaigned with a passer efficiency rating of 167.2. It’s been said that McCarron’s numbers are this good because of the talent he was surrounded with during his time at Alabama. While that might be true, his ability to use this talent the proper way is in large part why the Crimson Tide were that good. As a second or third round pick, any NFL team that takeS A.J. will be getting a quarterback that is ready now to step in and play at the next level.

At the wide receiver position, Wake Forest’s Michael Campanaro could be a steal for any team looking for someone who has an idea of how to get open. The 5-11, 190 pounder finished his career at Wake as the school’s all-time leader in catches with 229. His ability to read defenses, to find the seams to get open, could make him a good pick in the latter rounds of the draft. Campanaro is not a speed burner by any means, but knows how to run routes and is able to make the tough catch in traffic. Limited to only 8 games this past year because of a shoulder injury, the senior flanker was still able to put up respectable numbers. He had 67 catches for 803 yards and 14 TD’S. He can also be used as a punt returner in a pinch.

On the defensive side of the ball, Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh was a beast. The 6-0, 285 lbs. defensive lineman was a man among boys this past season. He registered 59 tackles (43 solo, 16 assisted) and 11 sacks. His best game was vs. Georgia Tech with 11 solo tackles and one sack. He was a problem for every offensive line he went up against, always being double teamed because no offense line could handle him one on one. He took home every defensive post season award there was to take. Chuck Bednarik, Bronko Nagurski, Outland and Vince Lombardi Rotary awards. If there was a defense player that could have been giving Heisman consideration, Donald might have been that guy.

The combine does not always invite everyone to Indianapolis. Sometimes there are players left behind for whatever reason, two players come to mind. Boston College’s placekicker Nate Freeze leaves BC as the schools career scoring leader with 317 points. During his time at Chesnutt Hill, Freeze connected on 67 of 79 career field goals attempts good for a conversion percentage of 84.8. As a senior, he was one of only two kickers in FBS with a perfect field goal pct. with more than 10 field goals attempted. Freeze was also one of just seven kickers in FBS to handle kickoffs, punts and placekicking. During the 2013 season, Freeze average was 42 yards per punt with 20 being downed inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. If an NFL team is looking for someone who can preform at all levels of the kicking game, Freeze’s name should come up in the latter stages of the draft.

Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock might be undersized for the position he plays, but that did not stop him from putting up serious numbers this past season. The 5-11, 250 pounder played in all 12 games this year for Wake. He finished the 2013 season with 82 tackles, ( 57 unassisted, 25 assisted), 19 tackles for losses of 98 yards and 9 sacks for 74 yards in losses. The nose guard position is a tough spot to play no question and Whitlock was able to manage it and stay on the field to help out his defensive mates. Guys who can find a way to stay on the field can always find a place in the NFL. Whitlock made not be an every down player at the next level, but could be useful to any team that decides to either draft him or if they are luckily sign him to a free agent contract. Nikita Whitlock has a motor and should add depth if giving a chance.

photo by: zennie62

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