NFL draft risers: Week 1
Robert Griffin, Case Keenum had impressive debuts under center
Marvin Jones' deep prowess helped prove he's more than a possession receiver
Cordy Glenn looked out of place switching from guard to left tackle
The college season kicked off last weekend as NFL prospects from around the nation put their talents on display for league decision makers. Several prospects looked good in the season opener, and several lesser-known players put themselves on the radar screen with terrific performances. Here are 10 players that came out of the weekend building a buzz for themselves.
Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor* -- In one of the weekend's most exciting games, Griffin led the Bears over interstate rival TCU with a sensational passing performance. Completing almost 78 percent of his throws, Griffin totaled 359 passing yards with five scoring strikes. Most impressively, despite significant pressure from the usually reliable TCU defense, Griffin did not throw an interception and was sacked just once. He's shown exciting progress since his freshman season, and Griffin is transitioning from being a great athlete into a complete signal caller.
Marvin Jones, WR, Cal -- Graded as a potential mid-round choice by NFL scouts before the season, Jones looked even better during Cal's opening win over Fresno State. He finished with just five receptions, but two resulted in touchdowns while another pair helped keep scoring drives alive early in the game. He finished with 118 receiving yards, an average of 23.6 yards per catch. That average in particular means good things for Jones, who is mostly perceived as a possession receiver.
Shea McClellin, DE-OLB, Boise State -- During the Broncos' statement win over Georgia, McClellin was an unstoppable force, leading Boise State in all tackling categories. The senior finished with 7 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and another 2.5 sacks against what is a talented Georgia line. McClellin has the size to line up as a one-gap defensive end, but also possesses the skills necessary to be considered as an outside linebacker in the 3-4 alignment. His intensity is infectious and his ability to routinely make plays behind the line of scrimmage will surely push McClellin into the middle rounds.
Quentin Saulsberry, OL, Mississippi State -- Saulsberry made the seamless transition to center in the Bulldogs' season-opening win after starting at both guard spots the prior two seasons. He looked powerful, dominant and very quick, commanding an offensive line that totaled more than 300 yards rushing against Memphis. The versatile lineman is not just a small-area blocker, as he moves very well on his feet and displayed terrific skills blocking in motion. The ability to play four positions on the offensive line (he was a freshman starter at right tackle), coupled with his blocking prowess, will result in a rise up draft boards for Saulsberry.
DaJohn Harris, DT, USC -- One of the better senior defensive tackles, Harris proved his worth in the Trojans' victory over Minnesota. Large and athletic, Harris was constantly double-teamed up front, clogging the middle and making life tough for the Gophers. His 8 tackles, with another 2 tackles for loss, led all Trojan linemen. Harris is a solid middle round choice that projects well on the inside of a four-man line.
Jordan Mabin, CB, Northwestern -- Ranked as a free agent prospect by numerous scouts, Mabin's performance against Boston College will make NFL decision-makers take notice. Mabin led the Northwestern defense with 8 tackles, while also intercepting one pass and breaking up another throw. He projects as a dime back in a zone system at the next level and offers special teams skill, as well.
Case Keenum, QB, Houston -- Just a year ago, Keenum was looking forward to a big senior season, but his campaign was cut short after he tore a ligament in his right knee during the third game against UCLA. On Saturday, Keenum made a triumphant return against that same UCLA team and led Houston to victory. Completing 75 percent of his throws, Keenum totaled 310 yards passing with a pair of scores. Considered a potential late-round choice, Keenum showed no ill effects from the injury that sidelined him in 2010 and projects well as a West Coast/timing passer in the NFL.
Don Barclay, OL, West Virginia* -- Graded by scouts as a late-round prospect, Barclay does not look the part, yet continually gets the job done from his left tackle position. He did a terrific job protecting quarterback Geno Smith during the WVU dismantling of Marshall, a team with outstanding pass rushers. He lacks classic tackle size and may eventually move to guard, but in the proper NFL system Barclay will flourish.
Derek Blacknall, CB, East Carolina -- The East Carolina senior is moving from his safety spot to cornerback this season, and on Saturday he held his own against the lethal South Carolina passing offense. Blacknall made several big plays early in the game and showed better than expected ball skills. He's far from a finished product, yet showed enough ability in his opening game at corner to get the attention of NFL scouts.
Sleeper: Jerrell Gavins, CB, Boise State -- Gavins did not register with scouts prior to the season, and understandably so. The junior college transfer was a rotational cornerback the past two seasons before finally cracking the starting lineup this year. In Boise State's victory over Georgia, Gavins recorded an interception, broke up one pass and tallied 5 tackles. Sporadically used as a return specialist at BSU, Gavins projects as a dimeback/special teams player at the next level and warrants monitoring the rest of the season.
Faller: It was an underwhelming performance by Cordy Glenn of Georgia on Saturday. The dominant guard moved over to the left tackle spot and struggled with his footwork, balance and overall pass protection skills. Though he seemed to improve as the game went on, Glenn's style does not lend scouts to believe, at this point anyway, he has an NFL career at blind side tackle.
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