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A.J. Green will challenge Janoris Jenkins

10/29/2010

I'm headed to Jacksonville to take in the Florida-Georgia game and am excited to see one of the best perimeter matchups of the season between Gators CB Janoris Jenkins vs. Georgia WR A.J. Green.

Green is hand-down the top receiver on our board and has almost single-handedly turned around the entire Bulldogs' offense since returning from a four-game suspension. He has impressive size (6-foot-4, 208 pounds), runs silky-smooth routes that help him separate coverage and tracks the deep ball better than any wideout in the nation.

As for Jenkins, he has the best change-of-direction skills of any corner on our board, and the balance and quick feet to plant and turn when mirroring receivers. He's not the strongest corner but uses good technique when jamming receivers at the line, so look for Jenkins to press up on Green at times in an effort to stay in his pocket through routes.

Pressing Green could backfire, though, because on film Jenkins appears to lack elite recovery speed when caught in trial position and if he misses on the jam it could be lights-out. Green is a long-strider with deceptive top-end speed and if he gets a step on Jenkins his elite ball skills will allow him to bring in almost any ball thrown in his direction. And while Jenkins shows good ball skills of his own he will have to be that much better to compete with Green.

Jenkins must also tackle well. I've seen him struggle on film to bring down bigger, stronger receivers and Green is effective using his strength and a straight-arm to elude defenders and pick up yards after the catch. Patrick Peterson (LSU) and Prince Amukamara (Nebraska) rank ahead of Jenkins among 2011 cornerback prospects, and having seen both of them play in person I'm interested to see how Jenkins stacks up in live action against elite competition.

Ponder's struggles continue

Florida State QB Christian Ponder came into last night's game against N.C. State looking to bounce back from a dismal performance against Boston College, but Ponder's slide could very well continue after he struggled in a close loss to the Wolfpack.

Ponder is dealing with an injury to his throwing elbow which is affecting his ability to drive the ball down the field. Too many of his passes floated, and while he did not throw an interception he did hang up two balls that should have been picked off. He also lost two fumbles, furthering concerns about his ball security in the pocket. Finally, there is nothing he can do about a lack of height that means he must find clear passing lanes in the pocket to maximize his accuracy.

Consecutive bad outings, poor decision-making and those height concerns mean Ponder could soon find himself fighting to remain in the second-round area.

Florida State G Rodney Hudson -- His angles and technique stood out in preseason film study and Hudson looked good in both areas against N.C. State. However, he lacks ideal size and appears to have problems with bigger, stronger defenders despite playing with decent leverage.

That issue reared its head on a third-and-1 play in the first quarter when Hudson was blown back and knocked off-balance by the defensive lineman, which allowed Wolfpack LB Nate Irving to make the stop and stall the drive. Because of his lack of size and questionable anchor Hudson looks like a second-rounder at this point in my opinion.

N.C. State MLB Nate Irving -- Irving turned in another solid effort, showing off his instincts by timing a run blitz well on the aforementioned third-and-1 play and wading through traffic to make the tackle. And while his overall range is limited he did make a nice play late in the game by taking a good angle, chasing the ball carrier outside the tackle box and making a solid tackle for a minimal gain.

There will always be durability concerns with Irving, who had a 15-inch rod inserted in his left leg and missed the entire 2009 season after a serious car accident, and he also lacks ideal athleticism. He is a bit tight in space and I'd like to see more snap and explosion when he's fighting off blocks, but his overall instincts and toughness make him a good value pick in the fourth or fifth round.