In a rematch of a game you may have just seen this past week, the Pac 12 title game features two of the more intriguing running back prospects in this year’s crop of players.
UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin and Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor are both in the top 14 in the country in terms of rushing yardage, and both guys are in line to be second or third round picks in the coming NFL Draft.
Stepfan Taylor is one of my personal favorite prospects coming out in the draft. Not only has he been in a pro style system in his college career, he’s always been a pro style runner. He has always shown an ability to run hard, quick, and pick up tough yardage after contact. I love his vision and burst, as well as his deceptive speed in the open field. He knows how to get tough yardage, and I think that will translate to the NFL level very smoothly.
Franklin has emerged in 2012 after a down year in 2011. He ran for over 1,000 yards as a sophomore in 2010, and has set career marks in almost every category as a senior in 2012. He’s carried the ball 249 times for 1,506 yards and 11 touchdowns. By the time the season is over, Franklin should easily have over 300 carries on the season.
We haven’t fully documented UCLA’s prospects yet, but one of their breakout players in 2012 has been junior linebacker Anthony Barr. Barr has 11.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss so far this season, as well as four forced fumbles. He’s a little undersized at 6’4″ and just 235 pounds, but the guy can certainly rush the passer. He is a very interesting prospect to keep an eye on.
Defensive end Datone Jones has 15.5 tackles for loss this season as well, which ranks second on the team. The Bruins’ defense has a lot of guys making plays behind the line of scrimmage, and Jones has been pretty good at that throughout his career from the defensive end position. Senior linebacker Damien Holmes is another player on the Bruins in the double digit tackles for loss category, and junior Cassius Marsh is not far behind with nine.
Offensively, the Bruins also have a big time weapon in tight end Joseph Fauria, who checks in at 6’7″ 255 pounds, and has caught 11 touchdown passes this season. He’s a major weapon in the passing game with 17 touchdowns the last two seasons.
We have documented Stanford’s top pro prospects here at NFL Mocks, and you can check them out here: