Each Friday, we’ll preview some college football players to watch ahead of the 2015 NFL draft. Some teams we’ve covered this season: Clemson/Georgia, Wisconsin/LSU; Oregon/Michigan State, USC/Stanford; UCLA/Texas, Arizona State/Colorado, Tennessee/Oklahoma; Florida/Alabama, Clemson/Florida State; Arkansas/Texas A&M, Oregon State/USC, Missouri/South Carolina and last weekend, Mississippi State, TCU, Oklahoma, Nebraska & Michigan St.
Washington State at Stanford, 9 pm, ESPN Tonight
WASHINGTON STATE: Vince Mayle, Senior, WR: Not perceived as an early-round pick (yet), but a talented and nice player at the college level whose best is yet to come. He’s got nice size (6-foot-3, 240 pounds) and impressive stats (6th nationally in yards per game; 3rd in receptions) and projects as a mid-late round pick. Former basketball player who once won a dunk contest. If he were a little taller, the NFL would consider moving him to tight end, where he could shine. Set a school record with 263 receiving yards last week. Raw in some areas – not quite a project – but at times reminds me of poor man’s Vincent Jackson. But Jackson ran a 4.46 40 at the Combine. If Mayle can crack 4.5 at the Combine, I think he could go as high as the 3rd/4th round. With the right coaching staff and QB, could be a very nice pro in 2-3 years.
Georgia at Missouri, 12 pm, CBS, Saturday
MISSOURI – Shane Ray, Redshirt Junior, DE. This is being billed as the Game Without Todd Gurley, but if you’re struggling for a reason to watch, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound pass-rushing terror who is tied for 2nd in the country in sacks with seven (all in the last four games) is a great reason. He’s also got 11.5 tackles for loss, including four in this game alone against UCF. Seems to do 90% of his damage based on awesome speed. Doesn’t yet have the power to plow through blockers, nor the moves. Can he retain his speed while adding 20 pounds in the pros?
TCU at Baylor, 3:30 pm, ABC
BAYLOR – Shawn Oakman, Redshirt Junior, DE: As far as physical freaks go in the 2015 draft, Oakman may top the list. He’s the size of an NBA power forward (6-foot-8 275-pounds) with a body by Zeus. Look at those freakin’ pythons. This tape is only against lowly SMU, but he mauled folks on the way to two sacks and two TFLs. So where’s the bad news? Well … he was kicked out of Penn State after this incident where, depending on whom you talk to, he tried to take food and grabbed an employee. He was charged with a misdemeanor, fined, and thrown off the team. It was his third strike (read the link for the other two). Oakman has avoided trouble in Waco. If he stays clean up to the draft, don’t be surprised to see him in the 1st round.