Zack Mettenberger, QB, LSU
In a stressful and emotional game against his former team, Mettenberger put LSU on his back and almost pulled off a road upset in a hostile environment. He lit up the Georgia secondary with touchdown passes of 48 yards and 39 yards. Midway through the fourth quarter, Mettenberger converted a third-and-23 when Odell Beckham, Jr. slipped open in zone between a few defenders and Mettenberger rifled the ball to him. Mettenberger completed 23-of-37 passes against the Bulldogs for 372 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He showed excellent field vision to throw the ball to the right receiver with superb recognition to exploit the defensive backs in single coverage.
The senior has completed 62 percent of his passes this season for 1,398 yards with 13 touchdowns and an interception. When given time to throw, Mettenberger will pick a defense apart. His arm strength can destroy zone coverage. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has really improved Mettenberger's footwork and accuracy. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is a dangerous pocket passer who has the arm to make all the throws. This performance will send his stock up for NFL teams.
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Mettenberger's receivers played extremely well and Georgia's secondary was unable to cover all of them. Landry was Mettenberger's favorite target and made a lot of clutch catches. Landry ripped off some good receptions before a beautiful touchdown down the middle of the field from 39 yards out. He ran down the middle seam and Mettenberger threw a dart to lead him into the end zone. Landry set up another score with a 25-yard gain to the Georgia six-yard line. He caught 10 passes for 156 yards with a touchdown versus the Bulldogs.
In 2013, Landry has 34 receptions for 520 yards with seven touchdowns. The junior is displaying once again that he is extremely sure-handed. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder doesn't have elite size, but he is polished with the quickness to get separation. Landry is an excellent route runner and is very smart. The outing against Georgia showed that he could be a nice complementary receiver in the NFL.
Jared Abbrederis, WR, Wisconsin
Going against perhaps the best cornerback he'll play all season in Ohio State's Bradley Roby, Abbrederis had a massive night and carried his team's offense. He burned Roby for a number of long receptions, including a 36-yard touchdown on which he beat a hold from Roby, made a tough catch and pushed Roby into the ground before darting into the end zone.
Abbrederis later got open in the middle of the field against zone coverage and added another 40 yards for a 64-yard reception. He was open for another touchdown and other big receptions, but Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave couldn't get him the ball. Abbrederis totaled 207 yards on 10 receptions with a touchdown against Roby and Ohio State.
It was a superb performance with Abbrederis illustrating the ability to get open with quickness and route-running. He has 33 receptions for 572 yards with four touchdowns through five games this year. He had good seasons in 2011 (49-837) and 2010 (55-933). Abbrederis can also serve as a punt and kick returner. The 6-foot-2, 188-pounder is an underrated receiver, but his performance against the Buckeyes could start to change that. He looks like a dangerous slot receiver in the NFL and could be moving up as a potential second-day pick.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
Donald has been on fire this season. He's had sacks in all four games and notched his second multi-sack game of the 2013 against Virginia. Donald recorded two sacks, three tackles and a forced fumble against the Cavaliers. His first sack was an impressive swim move and speed rush to close on the quarterback in an instant. Donald's second sack came when he powered through the guard. Donald slapped the ball loose but Virginia was able to recover the fumble.
The senior has 13 tackles with nine tackles for a loss and six sacks in 2013. He's tied for second in the nation in sacks. This season, Donald is showing NFL teams that he can provide them with some interior pass-rush ability. The 6-foot, 285-pounder may not be an every-down player as a pro. However, in the passing-driven NFL interior pass-rushers are a valuable commodity and are difficult to find. Donald is making the case to be drafted on the second day and work in a defensive line rotation.
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Aside from one play where Kouandjio tripped and fell down, he was virtually dominant against Ole Miss. The Rebels have some defensive line talent, but Kouandjio made it look easy. He was reliable in pass protection all day. Kouandjio showed natural quickness and athleticism to get depth in his drop and negate speed rushes. In the ground game, he was pushing around defensive line to open up holes for his running backs. The junior also was using his speed to get to blocks on the second level.
This tape will help Kouandjio to be a first-round pick. He showed off a unique combination of size, speed, strength and agility. Kouandjio should become even better as he continues to refine his fundamentals and technique. Kouandjio could have more upside than the consensus higher-rated tackle prospects.
Tre Boston, S, North Carolina
The Tar Heels have been a disappointment this season, but one player who has been impressive is the senior safety Boston. While the rest of his teammates had a let down versus East Carolina, Boston stepped up with six tackles, one tackle for a loss and an interception. He was playing the deep free safety on the pick and tracked down a bomb in front of the receiver to make a leaping catch.
Boston has 21 tackles with two interceptions so far this season. The senior looks like a good fit as a free safety who can use his speed, instincts and ball skills to make plays. The former corner also has coverage ability to help defend slot receivers and tight ends. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder is a sleeper safety who could turn into a nice value pick on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Honorable Mentions: Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin, Stanford defensive end Trent Murphy, Texas A&M left tackle Jake Matthews, Stanford defensive tackle Ben Gardner and Stanford defensive tackle Josh Mauro.
2014 NFL Draft Stock Down
Damien Swann, CB, Georgia
Swann started the season off with a solid showing against Clemson's dynamic passing attack. Aside from the Clemson Tigers, the LSU Tigers would probably be the best matchup for NFL talent that he would see the rest of the 2013 season. Swann had an ugly showing versus LSU unlike the Clemson game. LSU backup receiver Kadron Boone burned Swann on a deep post to get wide open for an easy 48-yard score. Swann was also beaten by Jarvis Landry for a first-down reception and by Odell Beckham for a 17-yard gain.
Swann had a hard time running with LSU's receivers and not allowing separation. The 5-foot-11, 178-pounder looked like a zone corner rather than a cornerback who is capable of playing man coverage in the NFL.
Dominique Easley, DE, Florida
It isn't fair for Easley to have his stock go down right now, but following his second ACL injury, that is going to be the case with NFL teams. Prior to the recent injury, Easley was in the running as the best defensive lineman in college football this year. He was dominant in the early going for Florida as he was a constant source of disruption. Easley totaled five tackles with two tackles for a loss, but his stat line doesn't indicate all the negative plays he created for the Gators' defense.
In speaking with sources before the injury, they felt that Easley was playing himself into the final 12 of the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, similar to Datone Jones last season. These sources felt that Easley (6-2, 282) was undersized to a degree and lacking in length, but he would make a good 3-4 defensive end who could rush the passer as a three-technique.
Easley previously suffered a torn ACL late in 2011, and that could have contributed to him starting slowly in 2012, but he eventually led the Gators' tough defense in sacks last year. ACL and knee injuries knocked down a number of players in last year's draft: Tank Carradine, Marcus Lattimore, Keenan Allen were a few. It seems likely that Easley will be a second-day pick because of his latest knee injury.
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Somewhat lost in the headlines around Lane Kiffin's firing after USC's loss to Arizona State was the injury to star receiver Marqise Lee. Early in the fourth quarter, he had a nice punt return but twisted awkwardly while being tackled. Lee sustained a knee injury and was done for the night. The injury is said to be a severe knee sprain. His timetable to play again is unknown, but it sounds like he could easily miss some time as he is on crutches. The junior is listed as doubtful for the Trojans' next game.
Prior to the injury, Lee was having a mixed night. He got open on a go route down the sideline in the third quarter and the ball was dropped in for a 51-yard gain. Lee had seven receptions for 92 yards against the Sun Devils, but also caused an interception when he let an easy reception skip off his hands and into a defensive back a few yards behind him.
In 2013, Lee has 30 receptions for 385 yards and a touchdown. He has seen steady double coverage and USC's quarterbacks haven't played well. Still, Lee (6-0, 195) isn't the biggest of receivers, and right now, he looks more likely to be a pick in the back half of the first round rather than the top.
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
With Ohio State's weak schedule, Wisconsin wide receiver Jared Abbrederis could be the closest thing to an NFL receiver that Roby would play this season. It was a nightmare performance by Roby as he was completely exposed by Abbrederis. All Roby could do to stop Abbrederis was hold him by his jersey and hope a pass couldn't be completed.
After a reception of about 20 yards, Abbrederis ran a vertical route down the field with Roby holding onto his jersey. The ball was dropped in to Abbrederis, who pushed Roby to the ground after making the catch. Abbrederis bolted five more yards into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown. He had a step on Roby in the end zone a few plays later, but the ball wasn't thrown on time for an incompletion.
Abbrederis later beat Roby for another nice gain, but a holding call on the Badgers' offensive line canceled it out. Late in the first half, Abbrederis had Roby burned on a double move. The pass was terribly underthrown, but Abbrederis made a tremendous adjustment to come back to the ball and leap above Roby for the reception.
To be fair, Roby had some good moments. He had an interception on a horribly thrown pass by Joel Stave. There was no receiver in sight, yet Stave threw it to Roby like he was the intended receiver. Roby broke up a couple of quick slants and had some good tackles in the ground game.
Still, this was an awful performance for Roby. Abbrederis is a good college receiver, but if he can destroy Roby like this, what would Clemson's Sammy Watkins do to him? Much less a good NFL wide out. Roby had coverage problems a few weeks ago in the California game as well. Adding in a run-in with the law before training camp and Roby has done a lot to damage his draft stock. If the junior doesn't close out the season in better form, he should consider returning to Ohio State for 2014. Roby isn't playing like a first-round pick right now.
Dishonorable Mentions: Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, LSU safety Craig Loston and San Jose State quarterback David Fales.