2014 NFL Draft: Top Performers from Week 10 of College Football

Brandon Holstein@@BHolsteinNFLDM3Featured ColumnistNovember 7, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Devonta Freeman #8 of the Florida State Seminoles rushes in the second half against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the game on September 2, 2013 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Week 10 of the college football season brought with it some rather memorable individual performances. For instance, Princeton quarterback Quinn Epperly set the NCAA record for most passes completed consecutively with 29.

Elsewhere, Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr threw for 487 yards and three touchdowns, completing 17 of those passes to junior wide receiver Josh Harper.

In yet another area of the country, senior Air Force tailback Anthony LaCoste ran for an impressive 263 yards and three touchdowns on just 23 carries.

Clearly, it goes without saying that is was a pretty impressive week all around.

However, a few key performances stood out. 

RB Devonta Freeman, Florida State

It's easy to forget about guys like Florida State Seminoles running back Devonta Freeman.

After all, playing in the same offense as a guy named "famous" Jameis Winston will have that kind of effect on a player—especially when that same player is the starting freshman quarterback on an undefeated team.

Nonetheless, while Jameis has been great, it was the play of Freeman that really sparked the Seminoles in their win over the rival Hurricanes this past Saturday night.

Whether he was coming out of the backfield, running between the tackles or out on the edge, Freeman's decisiveness and ability to get up to full speed quickly made him a mismatch no matter where or how he got the football.

To put it quite simply, Miami had no answer for Freeman and forced people like respected CBS Sports draft analyst Rob Rang to take notice by tweeting out the following:

Now certainly it's not completely fair to start comparing Freeman to Rice. However, then again, their similarities in both running styles and body type isn't all that different.

You see, like Rice, Freeman also possesses a compact build, and his low center of gravity makes him a menace to tackle one on one in space, let alone see behind the line of scrimmage.

In fact, it’s the same kind of physical qualities that have allowed players such as Giovani Bernard and Zac Stacy to make such an immediate impact in the NFL.

Surely, it goes without saying that part of these players’ success can be attributed to other qualities such as vision and power. However, Freeman has been good in these areas as well, combining his blend of quickness and footwork to expose holes and attack the line of scrimmage.

Obviously, there's still a long way to go, and there's a chance Freeman doesn’t even declare this year. However, in a relatively weak running back class, Freeman's performance and overall skill level continues to stand out.

Don't be surprised if he's drafted sooner than you think.

OT Brandon Scherff, Iowa

Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff is one of the nation's most pro-ready offensive linemen.
Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff is one of the nation's most pro-ready offensive linemen.Matthew Holst/Getty Images

There's just something about those Big Ten offensive lineman. Year in and year out, this conference produces quality big men, and perhaps no school has done it better in recent memory than the University of Iowa.

After all, in just the past few years, Iowa has produced first-round picks Brian Bulaga and Riley Reiff, and now looks as if it could be adding one more.

Of course, I'm talking about Iowa's current starting left tackle, Brandon Scherff. 

Only a junior, Scherff still has a year left of eligibility but has already established himself as one of the most pro-ready offensive linemen in the entire country. 

In fact, his stellar play this past weekend went so far as to prompt the previously mentioned Rang to spit out this article and further display his enthusiasm by sending out this tweet:

Clearly, like many, Rang sees the amount of value a player like Scherff can bring to the table and for very good reason. 

On Saturday, Scherff simply dominated in the run game. Consistently and routinely he drove his defender off the football and won the leverage battle by sinking his hips and firing off the line of scrimmage. 

Alternatively, in the pass game, Scherff struggled at times with speed and quickness. However, more often than not he displayed the type of toughness, strong hands and overall technique you would expect out of a Kirk Ferentz-coached offensive lineman.

At the end of the day, however, don't be surprised if Scherff isn't taken in the first round. Overall he's solid, but ordinarily sound football players like Scherff have been getting overlooked for years.

CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State

Sticking in the Big Ten, we move now to a player that may not have necessarily put up the same type of numbers as his teammates but still had a lot to do with his team's overall success against in-state rival Michigan.

Over the weekend, the Spartans defense allowed just 168 total yards to the Wolverines, while also sacking quarterback Devin Gardner an astounding seven times.

Linebacker Denicos Allen led the Spartans charge by collecting three of the seven sacks, and defensive lineman Shilique Calhoun also played great with 2.5 sacks of his own.

Nov 2, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans cornerback Darqueze Dennard (31) looks at Michigan Wolverines wide receiver Jehu Chesson (86) during the third quarter at Spartan Stadium. Spartans beat the Wolverines 29-6. Mandatory Credit: Raj
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

However, somewhat lost in some of the shuffle was the excellent cover skills of senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard, whom Rotoworld Draft Analyst Josh Norris recently ranked as his No. 22 overall prospect and player that reminds him of current New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib. 

At 5'11", 197 pounds, Dennard may not have the same size and length as Talib (6'1", 205) but showed why his play merits this type of comparison. 

Coming out in 2008, Talib was considered one of the more physical and aggressive defensive backs, which is a quality that also stands out when watching Dennard.

Consistently in their game against Michigan, Dennard was able to lock down his man by executing great technique as a press corner while showing enough natural speed and agility to turn and run with receivers down field.

In fact, it's completely plausible to say that Dennard's ability to lock down and not allow his receiver to gain separation was one of the bigger reasons why Michigan State was so successful up front. 

As CBS Sports Senior College Football columnist Bruce Feldman points out, "MSU makes its bones with its aggressive pressure packages, and that relies on excellent DBs."

To put it quite simply, not may players can survive while being left alone out on an island. Darqueze Dennard just so happens to be one of those players, and Michigan State's defense is thriving on account of his play.


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