Since Ed Johnson was cut, we are in a dire need for defensive tackles. There is no better time to start scouting than right now. We have two needs: defensive tackle and outside linebacker. We have to cover those in the 2009 NFL Draft. Here are some games that you should watch to see players who could be playing at Lucas Oil Stadium next year.
Auburn @ Mississippi State (ESPN2, 7 PM ET)
Prospects To Look For
Auburn is loaded with players that could be future Colts. Sen’Derrick Marks is the most likely player to be taken by the Colts if they were to go defensive tackle in the first round. He’s big (291 lb), and he can get to the QB along with stuffing the run. The 3 Auburn linebackers are good run stoppers who also are strong pass defenders. Derrick Pegues is a return specialist as well as a safety. He scored a touchdown on a punt return last year and averaged 22.9 yards per kick return.
Michigan @ Notre Dame (NBC, 3:30 ET)
Players To Look For
As a Notre Dame season ticket holder and a rabid Skunkbears hater, I know a lot about these players. Terrence Taylor is a flat out star. He plays well on special teams and stuffs the inside with his huge 317 pound frame. Will Johnson is another run-stuffing defensive tackle, although he has an undertackle frame. Brandon Graham, if he comes out, should be one of the top defensive ends in this draft. He is a good pass rusher and got 8.5 sacks last year. David Bruton is one of the top sleepers in this draft. He has a motor that never stops. He’s one of the best special teams players on the Irish roster. He forced and recovered the fumble at the goal line against San Diego State that saved Notre Dame’s season. Maurice Crum is an undersized linebacker who is great at covering the pass. He’s been cursed with not playing in his type of system throughout his career at ND. The Tampa 2 would be a great fit for him.
Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech (ABC, 3:30 ET)
Players to Look for
If there is one game to watch this week, it’s definitely this one. The Georgia Tech defensive tackles are perfect for the Colts. I will be bouncing off of the walls if both of them are playing for the Colts next year. Walker and Johnson both had more than 10 tackles for losses last season. Michael Johnson is likely a top 15 pick, but if he would slide, the Colts would not have any time run off of their clock. He is one of the best pass rushers in the nation. Andrew Gardner is a phenomenal run blocker as well. Orion Martin comes from the same school that Xavier Adibi, one of my favorite prospects last year, came from, and he plays a very similar style of strong pass defense and sure tackling.
Wisconsin @ Fresno State (ESPN2, 10:30 ET)
Players to Look For
Casillas and Levy are the main reasons to watch. Both of them are undersized but ridiculously fast linebackers who are born to play in the Tampa 2. Shaguhnessy is a very good pass rusher who has a quick burst off of the line. Brandstater is probably a surprise to you since he is a QB, but with Peyton’s knee injury, we have to get a qualified backup (preferrably one who’s name doesn’t rhyme with Morgi).
Here’s the big one…
Ohio State @ USC (ABC, 8:00 ET)
Players to Look For
This game has an unreal amount of of prospects. The USC linebackers are amazing. Maualuga and Cushing are two of the top players in the nation, and although I think Cushing is roiding (because he transformed from a tub of lard to a body builder in a short period of time), he is a great run stopper. Taylor Mays is a lot like Antoine Bethea with his ball hawking skills. Fili Moala is another great run stopping defensive tackle.
Ohio State’s prospects will all be stars in the pros. Laurinaitis is one of the best all-around linebackers in the country. I’ve seen him make amazing pass defense plays, intercepting balls that were destined to hit the ground or the receiver’s chests, and no running back can get by him. Malcolm Jenkins and Brian Robiskie are good enough to be listed here even though they play a position with good depth. Don’t get me started about Freeman. If the football gods want to pay us back for taking away our defensive tackles for the craziest reasons, they would give us Freeman. He could be the best run stopping linebacker in the nation. Alex Boone is only a junior, and I don’t think he will come out, but I could see the Colts looking at him in 2010.
This is a great college football weekend. I won’t see too many games because I will be at the ND-scUM game, but I know that these players that I listed are all the real deal and will be stars if the Colts get them.