It’s that time of the year when even as successful as the season has been for the New Orleans Saints people want to know who to keep a close eye on when it comes to college players for bowl time and all-star games.
Here is my look at 6 prospects that look to be late first round picks for the 2014 NFL draft in May.
1. Jarvis Landry-Wide Receiver LSU
2. Cyril Richardson-Offensive Guard Baylor
3. Travis Swanson-Offensive Center Arkansas
4. Justin Gilbert-Cornerback Oklahoma State
5. Trevor Reilly-Outside Linebacker/Defensive End Utah
6. La'El Collins- Offensive Tackle LSU
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger had a signature season for the Tigers in 2013, but what he will be remembered for is how he finished his senior season.
Mettenberger completed 64.9% of his passes for 3,082 yards, 22 touchdowns and 8 pass interceptions in 2013 and he led a team with a mediocre at best defense to a 9-3 regular season finish.
But it was how he played through an injury that everyone should remember him for.
It was obvious since the Ole Miss game that the flame-throwing Mettenberger had a lower-leg injury and a knee issue. He played through that injury and the 6-4, 230 pounder was still a really good player for the Tigers after a sizzling early season start.
While Mettenberger is not a “get in your face” type leader for criticism or encouragement he really caught everyone’s attention for his toughness, his grittiness and his quiet leadership on a team void of a “big man” leader on offense and also on the defensive side of the ball.
While being banged around quite often against Alabama and again against Arkansas Mettenberger showed the type intangibles that the pros were looking for and for some, it was in question.
You might question his decision making process at times, his lack of quickness in the pocket and a lack of a take-charge presence out on the field, but you can’t question Mettenberger’s toughness as a player and how much football means to him.
I strongly believe that Mettenberger will end up being a late first round pick in the 2014 NFL draft and my comparison to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco coming out of Delaware will be the one you will hear quite often over the next couple of months.
Just a couple of years back one of the most highly-sought after football players in the country was Thibodaux High School star quarterback/athlete Trovon Reed. Reed had his choice of just about any school in the country to choose from before he decided to sign with Auburn over LSU.
A player on that Thibodaux High School team who was overshadowed due to the exploits of Reed was offensive tackle Greg Robinson.
Robinson was also a highly coveted player and like Reed he also signed on with Auburn.
But in college Greg Robinson has emerged as the star performer from Thibodaux and emerged as one of the top left tackles in the Southeast Conference.
This season the second year fulltime starter has emerged as one of the elite left tackles in the SEC and he has caught the eyes of NFL scouts.
The 6-5, 320 pound Robinson redshirted in 2011, but he earned a starting spot in 2012, starting 11 games and this season he has been outstanding in pass protection and also being a huge impact player as a run blocker.
While Robinson is listed as a redshirt sophomore he is three years out of high school and his play has him in my eyes as a probable top-100 pick in the 2014 NFL draft, if he decides to come out early. Robinson has not only been a good player, but he has been dominant at the left tackle spot displaying excellent athleticism and “power” skills as a run blocker.
While Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio will be named 1st team All-SEC and he will probably be a top-12 pick in the 2014 NFL draft I really think the best left tackle all season long in the state of Alabama has been Greg Robinson.
When the(9-2) New Orleans Saints play the (10-1) Seattle Seahawks it will be a playoff game with mother-load of implications for both teams.
The Seahawks are riding a 13-game home winning streak. They have outscored their opponents 405 to 172 in those 13 games.
The only teams to score more than 20 points on the Seahawks in those 13 games were the New England Patriots (23) in 2012 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (24) in 2013.
The Seahawks have one of the best young signal-callers in the game in Russell Wilson, who in so many ways reminds you of Drew Brees off the field and for his command of the moment on the field.
The Seahawks have the best runner in the NFL for yardage after initial contact in Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch is as physical a runner as anyone in the NFL and stopping him is the key to this contest.
The Seahawks also have the best run after catch yardage receiver in the league today in wide receiver Golden Tate and one of the most explosive slot-end/return specialists Percy Harvin in the lineup.
The Seahawks are known for putting great pressure on opponents with their front four and have one of the top young middle linebackers in the league in Bobby Wagner.
And they have the best secondary in the NFL.
1. Jadeveon Clowney-Defensive End South Carolina