Future NFL Players to Watch: Wisconsin vs. Michigan State, Washington vs. Stanford

By Jason McIntyre

Michigan State:

Kirk Cousins, redshirt senior QB: The 2013 draft is loaded with prospects who likely will enter the 2012 draft, shoving Cousins down the boards. Would you rather have Cousins (6-3, 205, good at everything, but excels at nothing), or 28-yard-old Brandon Whedon from Oklahoma State? I can see Cousins being a 4th round pick – but being like the 7th or 8th QB taken.

Jerel Worthy, redshirt junior DT: He’s 6-foot-3, 310-pounds and has 4.5 tackles for loss this season to go with 2.5 sacks. I had him going 5th overall in my first mock draft, but slid him to 9th in the most recent one. It had nothing to do with his performance, it was simply a need thing. Since 2005, a DT has gone in the Top 16 of each draft, and Worthy, if he comes out, will definitely be the best DT on the board. I’ll be curious to see how Worthy does against the biggest Wisconsin’s offensive line, which is the biggest in the country.

Edwin Baker, junior RB: A slightly heavier version of Darren Sproles in the NFL? He’s not as fast as Sproles, but at 5-9, 210, he’s the speedy back on the Spartans, and doesn’t get many goal line carries (only two TDs; 240-pound back Le’Von Bell is the hammer – he’s got six scores). It’ll be interesting to see how Baker does against a sturdy Wisconsin defense that bottled up the Nebraska running game (only 3.7 ypc).


Russell Wilson, redshirt senior QB: His size (5-11, 200) will prevent him from being an early-round pick, and I don’t see him being an NFL starter. But what a final year in college he’s having: 74 percent completions and 14 TDs vs. one interception. He runs well, and in the right offense (Philadelphia, New Orleans) I can see him being a solid No. 2 or No. 3 QB.

Montee Ball, junior RB: On a loaded offense, he’s got 653 yards rushing, is averaging 6.1 ypc and has scored 16 TDs. He’s rushed for 292 yards in the last two games. He cut 20 pounds in the offseason and is faster and stronger (5-11, 210ish), and although he lacks 4.35 speed to be a 1st or 2nd round pick, I can see him going in the 3rd or 4th round next year. If he waits another year, does he run the risk of looking ordinary without Wilson at QB to keep defenses honest?

Nick Toon, senior WR: Son of former Jet great Al Toon is kind of a forgotten man when it comes to the draft because his position is so stacked. Toon has good hands and nice size (6-2, 220) and his stock his risen because he has a pass-first QB (Russell Wilson). I’d peg Toon as a 3rd-4th round sleeper with 2nd round potential. Toon leads the team with 25 catches for 447 yards and six TDs.


Alameda Ta’amu, senior DT: Space-eater who might be a nice fit at NT in a 3-4 defense has 18 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss this year. He’s 6-3, 337 and will be going up against one of the best lineman in the Pac-10, David DeCastro. Todd McShay really likes Ta’amu and sees him as a 1st round pick; I haven’t seen incredible things from him and would say he’s more likely to a 2nd-round selection.

Desmond Trufant, junior CB: One of the top defensive backs in the Pac-10, Trufant is 6-foot, 185-pounds and has two picks and nine pass break-ups this year. He projects as a mid-round pick in 2013. Not the surest tackler (as you’ll see from the video below) but he’s good in coverage. Expect to see Trufant matched up against Chris Owusu, Stanford’s best receiver who is coming off a concussion. Trufant is the younger brother of Marcus, who plays for the Seattle Seahawks.

Chris Polk, RB, Washington: Has rushed for over 107 yards in five of six games this season. He rushed for over 1,100 yards each of the last two years, and isn’t bad at catching passes, either. Not bad for the 139th ranked recruit in the country in 2008. Look at the 17 guys from the State of California who were ranked ahead of him. Would make a nice 3rd/4th round pick in 2012; perhaps 2nd round if he does well at the combine.


Andrew Luck, redshirt junior QB: Best. Quarterback. Ever.

Coby Fleener, redshirt senior TE: The 6-foot-6, 240-pound tight end is Luck’s top target (23 yards per catch, 6 TDs). He had 28 catches and seven TDs last year. Good blocker, too. Surprisingly nimble and quick for his size. I can’t find a TE who will be drafted before him in 2012. I kind of wonder – with New England utilizing two TEs so effectively, and with Jimmy Graham developing into a star, would Fleener be an option early in the 2nd round?

Chase Thomas, redshirt junior LB: A very good prospect who appears to be a 2nd/3rd round pick in 2013, assuming he stays for one more year. With star LB Shayne Skov lost for the season, expect Thomas (6-4, 240) to be in the middle of many collisions with Polk. Leads the Cardinal with 7.5 tackles for losses. He’s also got 5.5 sacks and has forced three fumbles. Here’s some video of Thomas last year wrecking havoc against Notre Dame.