Sep 21, 2013; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) at the line during the fourth quarter against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Stanford Stadium. Stanford won 42-28. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 Championship - NFL Draft Prospect Preview

Stanford @ Arizona State  Saturday December 7th, 7:45 EST – ESPN

Haven’t we seen this before? Oh yeah we have. And in case you forgot, Stanford rolled up Arizona State 42-28, and it wasn’t even that close. In the first half, ASU looked lost, while Stanford looked like they were on their way to Pasadena. Two months later, the Sun Devils look like a totally different team. They have found their identity on both sides of the ball. Will Sutton has returned to his 2012 form, and Jaelen Strong has emerged as a top tier NFL receiving prospect. Unfortunately, ASU will likely be without their leading rusher Marion Grice. Taylor Kelly will have to step up as he faces Trent Murphy and Shane Skov. Regardless of who wins, there will be a lot of NFL talent on the field, and someone will rise to the occasion and improve their draft stock.

Arizona State Offense

Quarterback #10 Taylor Kelly (6’2” 202lb JR) will be under pressure both literally and figuratively. Literally, because Stanford has one of the best pass rushers in the country in Trent Murphy. Figuratively, because ASU’s main weapon, Marion Grice will be out of the game. Kelly is a lanky athlete who looks more like a shooting guard than a quarterback. He’s got good speed and agility, but doesn’t always look smooth when running. Same thing could be said about his passing. He’s good at finding the open man, but doesn’t have elite arm strength to delivery with authority. He will have to make Stanford’s defense pay for they’re aggressiveness, but avoiding the rush and beating them with his legs, or arm, or both. Current Projection: 2015 7th Round

Wide Receiver #21 Jaelen Strong (6’4” 205lb SO) is possibly the closest thing to Larry Fitzgerald in college football right now. He’s got great size, speed, and hands. While he’s not quite on Fitzgerald’s level (nobody is), if he continues to get better he might have a chance at replicating his production in the NFL. Strong is in his first year at the FBS level, and has shown he can play with the big boys. With Marion Grice out, he will be asked to carry even a bigger burden for the Sun Devils. He should be up to the task. Current Projection: 2015 1st Round

Stanford Defense

Outside Linebacker #93 Trent Murphy (6’6” 261 SR) had perhaps his quietest game of the year against ASU early in the year. Ever since, nobody can keep him out of the backfield. He has incredible strength to take on offensive tackles, as well as some kind of kung-fu magic he uses to get around guys. He doesn’t look that fast, but he has an uncanny ability to get linemen off balance. If NFL teams think he can grow physically, then the sky is the limit for Murphy. Current Projection: 1st Round

Free Safety #29 Jordan Richards (5’11” 205lb JR) is the prototypical strong safety who can play both the run and the pass. He matches up well with smaller tightends which will make him perfect for defending ASU’s Chris Coyle. Not a freakish athlete, but instinctually ends up in the right place. ASU uses their running backs in the passing game, so he will have to be aggressive moving towards the ball, while still maintaining his assignments. ASU should provide a good test for Richards. Current Projection: 5th Round

Stanford Offense

Running Back #25 Tyler Gaffney (6’1” 225lb SR) took a year away from football last year to play baseball, which is good since his body has taken a beating this year carrying the ball up to 35 times a game. He’s a solid back who is great at getting yards in four and five yard chunks. Gaffney has the benefit of running behind one of the best offensive lines in the country, so he doesn’t have to make too many cuts to find a hole. His athleticism will be tested against a fast ASU defense. He could change the game by busting out for a big run or two. Current Projection: Undrafted Free Agent

Left Guard #54 David Yankey (6’5” 313lb JR) is one of the top linemen in the country. He has the combination of speed and power that will translate well at the NFL level. Stanford’s scheme uses a lot of pulling linemen, and that’s where Yankey excels. He showed some vulnerability against USC where he faced off against elite athletes. His legs looked tired, and wasn’t blowing people away. Against ASU he will have to prove that was an aberration, as he should see some action against Will Sutton. Current Projection: 1st Round

Arizona State Defense

Defensive Tackle #90 Will Sutton (6’1” 290lb SR) struggled early in the 2013, but has gotten his groove back in the last month. He’s looks much more comfortable, and disruptive. He’s got a quick burst, but it’s Sutton’s second effort that separates him. Many defensive lineman give up when they realize they can’t get the quarterback, but Sutton just gets hungrier. This will have to be the case as he faces off against arguably the best offensive line in college football. If Kevin Hogan is allowed to comfortably throw it could be a repeat of their previous meeting. But more importantly, he will have to hold up against the run, and keep Stanford from getting four and five yards on first down. This could be a big game for Sutton to prove that he deserves to be a first round pick. Current Projection: 2nd Round

Cornerback #24 Osahon Irabor (5’11” 182lb SR) is the most exciting player nobody’s ever heard of. He’s a cornerback who plays like a linebacker. And defensive coordinators Paul Randolph and Chris Ball use him like one. Irabor blitzes more than any other corner, and that’s because he good at it. Whether it’s making a tackle, or pressuring the quarterback, Irabor seems to always be around the ball. He’s pretty good in coverage too. His versatility makes him a very intriguing prospect, and naturally a special teams contributor. Current Projection: 5th Round

Tags: Arizona State Sun Devils Football Stanford Cardinal Football

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