Week 11 Prospect Matchups

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

This week we highlight a game of incredible importance on the national level and within the SEC. The Georgia Bulldogs have played terrific football this season but now face several tests which will prove their worth as the No. 1 team in the nation. Their matchup against conference foe Auburn not only represents one of the longest standing battles in the SEC but also a great offense/defense matchup. Here’s our Week 11 Prospect Matchup.

Georgia vs. Auburn

3:30 p.m. EST -- CBS

The Bulldogs are the most balanced team in the nation and combine a suffocating defense with an offense that possesses a lethal running game as well as a big-play passing attack. Auburn is also well-balanced and combines many of the same elements on both sides of the ball.

Georgia has four NFL caliber-linebackers while Auburn possesses a terrific next-level running back who's gotten lost in the shuffle. The matchup is intriguing.

Week 6 riser Kerryon Johnson is in the midst of a dominant season at Auburn. The junior is a big back with an explosive burst as well as the strength to barrel over defenders and pick up a lot of yardage off initial contact. Johnson also displays terrific short-area quickness, and while he's best running downhill, he can bounce around piles or defenders and find the clearing in the defense. In seven games this season, he’s amassed 868 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. 

Johnson will have his hands full Saturday when he faces the top linebacker unit in college football.

Senior Lorenzo Carter is a linebacker prospect who excites me. 

Explosive, quick and fast, Carter is very effective making plays in every direction of the field. Carter can rush the passer off the edge, stack against the run or make plays in space when the ball is in the air.

We presently grade him as a fringe first-round pick.

Then there are some in the scouting community who believe Roquan Smith is the best Georgia linebacker for the next level. 

The junior, whom I’m told will enter next April’s draft, is not as stout at the point compared to his teammate but is faster and more effective in pursuit. With many teams casting aside measurables for speed at the linebacker position, Smith -- a Week 5 riser -- is poised to be a top-60 selection.

Davin Bellamy is more like Carter, as he’s stout and nasty with the ability to make plays in the box or up the field on the blitz. We grade the senior as a fifth-round prospect, a grade which could improve if he runs well before the draft.

Finally there’s Natrez Patrick, another draftable junior who's likely a last-day pick. Patrick is a run-and-chase linebacker who is also best in pursuit with the athleticism and speed necessary to make plays sideline to sideline. Patrick was suspended for possession of marijuana in early October and subsequently suspended four games. His suspension is due to end tomorrow.

I would expect Johnson to be asked to carry the load for Auburn and help set up the big play passing of Jarrett Stidham, who also has a future at the next level.

The task is monumental, as Georgia’s talented defense and linebacker unit will be waiting in the weeds.