published Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

LSU-Alabama game full of NFL prospects

Trent Richardson (3) runs through the line during of an NCAA college football game against the Alabama Crimson TideSaturday, Oct, 22 2011 in Tuscaloosa Ala. (AP Photo/John Bazmore)
Trent Richardson (3) runs through the line during of an NCAA college football game against the Alabama Crimson TideSaturday, Oct, 22 2011 in Tuscaloosa Ala. (AP Photo/John Bazmore)
Photo by Associated Press.

LSU sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was making a case for Southeastern Conference player of the year until he was suspended for the Oct. 22 game against Auburn.

Mathieu has compiled 42 tackles, five tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and two touchdowns for the top-ranked Tigers. He has been nicknamed the "Honey Badger" because he takes whatever he wants, and one NFL scouting director believes Mathieu will excel in the pros despite being generously listed at 5-foot-9.

"He's an undersized guy, but he's a football player," the scout said. "He's a little bit like and probably a little better version of what Javier Arenas was like for Alabama a couple of years ago. He can do things in the return game. He's always picking up balls and scoring."

The scout does not consider Matheiu among his top five pro prospects in Saturday night's game between LSU and No. 2 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. It's a difficult cut to make, considering Crimson Tide safety Mark Barron and linebacker teammates Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw were left out as well.

LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson and Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, who was lost for the season in the Oct. 22 game against Tennessee, are true freshmen who could be on this list next year but not now. That said, here is one scout's ranking of the top five pro prospects Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium:

1. TRENT RICHARDSON

Alabama's 5-11, 224-pound junior tailback is averaging 123.6 yards per game and was dominant in early season tests against Penn State, Arkansas and Florida. Richardson played most of his first two seasons as Mark Ingram's backup, but the scout projects Richardson to get snagged quicker in the draft than Ingram, who went 28th overall in April to the New Orleans Saints.

"No question," the scout said. "He's a more dynamic back. He's faster. He's probably even stronger. Ingram is a good back -- don't get me wrong -- but Trent has more of a dynamic, play-making ability.

"He can make long runs. He is excellent in pass protection. He's a better back than Ingram and will get drafted higher than Ingram."

2. DRE KIRKPATRICK

Kirkpatrick doesn't have eye-popping numbers for the Crimson Tide, amassing 19 tackles, eight pass deflections and two forced fumbles, but the junior cornerback has other numbers -- specifically height and arm length -- that can't be disputed.

"Dre Kirkpatrick is a first-round draft choice," the scout said. "He's long. He's fast. He's got great instincts. He's got ball skills. He will come up and tackle.

"When you've got a guy with length, like Kirkpatrick, who's almost a 6-foot-3 corner who can run and has long arms, you've really got something."

3. MORRIS CLAIBORNE

Claiborne, a 6-foot, 177-pound junior, has better numbers than Kirkpatrick, having compiled 30 tackles, seven pass deflections and three interceptions. One of his interceptions was followed by an 89-yard return against Tennessee.

"He's also got the height, weight and speed and is a very athletic player," the scout said. "Claiborne is a good athlete and has good size, but I would say Kirkpatrick is more talented. Now, Kirkpatrick doesn't play as hard as Claiborne does, so there is a little bit of that factor going around."

4. BARKEVIOUS MINGO

Mingo is a 6-5, 237-pound redshirt sophomore, so he is eligible for the 2012 draft along with the four juniors also on this list. He has 19 tackles this season, seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

"He's a sophomore, so he's only a pup," the scout said, "but pass-rushers are a premium, and you look at him and say, 'This is a talented guy.' What you're going to see next year out of Mingo is an absolute force in the SEC.

"You look at him and think of the kid at Missouri last year, Aldon Smith, and he was the No. 7 pick in the draft."

5. RUEBEN RANDLE

Randle has been a steadying figure on the LSU offense no matter who is at quarterback. The 6-4, 207-pound junior has 33 catches for 638 yards and seven touchdowns, and he is averaging 19.3 yards per reception.

"Just watching him play this year, he looks like he has taken his game to the next level," the scout said. "He's really got good size, and his speed looks like it's there. Coming out of high school as a quarterback, it took him a little bit of time, but now he is really rounding into shape as a receiver and could get into that first round."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.