Category Archives: Pigskin Paul

More COMBINE Thoughts from PIGSKIN

I cannot believe today’s “NOW” society at times. I’m still pulling together numbers and notes from the NFL Combine, and being accused of living in the past by some. The Combine wrapped up less than one week ago! How can it be old news?! All of our observations cannot be based on first impressions, so I will continue to propose more thoughts on last weekend’s event in Indy in the coming week or two.

Another of my more surprising moments from the Combine was the disappointing 40-times run by both Florida Gator CBs. TEEZ TABOR, could only manage a 4.62/40, while his teammate QUINCY WILSON was acceptable, but not elite, with a 4.54 posting. Both of these players have been listed as Top 10 CB with TABOR even appearing in many Mock First Rounds. There is more to being a top pro CB than straight-line speed, but it is a given that being fast is expected. Both of these guys will have to make up some time, so to speak, at their Pro Days to stay in the Top 50, in my eyes. Expect better in Gainesville, but I sure hope some NFL folks who attend the workout measure to make sure the sprint is on a full 40-yard run basis.

On a brighter note on a CB from the Sunshine State, and UCF, SHAQ GRIFFIN really impressed during his time in Indy. It started at the weigh-in when he was a solid 6’0 and 194 lbs. His 32 3/8″ arms were a real positive as well. He blazed a 4.38/40, as well as showing loose hips in his ability to flip them in coverage drills. His 38.5″ Vert was a clear indicator of explosion in his lower body. A sub-7 second 3-Cone time @ 6.87 was also what scouts like to see. He’s an aggressive player, who should only get better under pro coaching. Watch for him to crack the Top 100 in the Draft. And if you like back-stories check out that of he and his 1-handed brother, SHAQUEM.

An annual mystery to me is trying to figure out what is going on with players who show serious weight differences between their post-season work and what they looked like during their college career. A couple such guys have emerged again since January in this years Draft Class.
KAREEM HUNT was a record setting RB at Toledo, on a winning program during his career there. He was a strong player at over 220 lbs., with good hands as a receiver. He was an explosive runner while at the Senior Bowl venue, but surprised many with a weigh-in number of only 208 lbs. At the Combine he was back up to 216 lbs. running a 4.62/40. Now clearly we know that his game film shows a productive, hard running player who should fit an NFL RB rotation quite nicely. But as Mike Mayock likes to say, ‘I want to know who he is’ in referencing his playing weight. It creates another variable that personnel folks must sort through. Can’t wait to see his weight at the Toledo campus Pro Day.
Another mystery man, probably of even more significance, is TE/GERALD EVERETT of South Alabama. EVERETT is of the same ilk as EVAN ENGRAM, with some scouts ranking him above ENGRAM, who wowed at the Senior Bowl. EVERETT is the hybrid TE type, ala JORDAN REED of the Redskins, but his weight has been all over the place of late. He was listed in the college game programs at a generous 240 lbs, but drew polite gasps in Mobile when he weighed in at only 227 lbs. At the Combine he was back up to 239 lbs. while running a less than blazing 4.62/40. The timing of such a weight gain/loss in advance of running his 40 is questionable to say the least. It was also a bit disconcerting to have his hands measure in less than 9″, at 8.5″. I don’t think EVERETT helped his Draft status with the weight fluctuation and resultant workout numbers. He’s got some explaining to do, and some speed to flash, at team workouts and perhaps his Pro Day.

A sleeper who I mentioned back last Fall in my Who Caught My Eye column, got my attention again at the Combine. I am referring to Ole Miss DT, D.J. JONES. JONES had some excellent workout numbers in Indy. He was right on target measuring in at 6’1/319 lbs. Albeit in a very limited area, he shows some surprising quickness and pursuit along the line of scrimmage. He also has excellent hand strength and obviously a nice low center of gravity. For a team looking for a big bodied, plugger for the middle of their DL he could make a very valuable late round draftee in April. For a team that likes him, waiting tis after the Draft to get him as URFA could become somewhat problematic.

Another oddity that caught my eye watching hour after hour of workouts over the length of the Combine, was my mind’s comparison of the running of the gauntlet drill by receivers and DB groups in general. One of the intangibles that personnel people look for during this drill is for players to run straight along the yard-line that they begin the drill on. It looked quite clear to me that it was the DB group that stayed true to that line, while many in the receivers group were zig-zagging most of the width of the field. Not sure how that gets judged/ranked in scout notebooks, but it was conspicuously noticeable to me.

I am perfectly willing to admit that I do not watch an equal amount of game film on every player that I venture a scouting opinion on. And a guy who I only watched twice this past season (I discounted the hurricane mud-bowl game vs Notre Dame) was JOSH JONES/SS/NC STATE. I thought he looked OK in those 2 games I did watch, but was a bit surprised when I saw he had declared to leave school early for the 2017 Draft. I feel like he blew up his Combine opportunity with a standout display of athleticism and football related skill. It began with his 4.41/40 which he ran at a SS weight of 220 lbs., on a 6’1 frame. He looked very smooth in drill work whether running in forward or reverse mode. He added a 37.5″ Vert and a 132″ (that’s 11′ to you math challenged folks) broad jump, He also has functional strength, which include 20 reps in the Bench Press, with 32″ long arms. Throw his workout numbers on top of a 2016 season that included 109 tackles and 3 Int., and you have a young man who could be headed for a Draft slot as high as Round 2.

Though not as clear-cut good as JONES, a bit of a pleasant surprise in the secondary group was DELANO HILL/S/Michigan. HILL had a decent showing at the Shrine venue back in January, and really looked good at the Combine. He displayed a bit more athleticism at the Combine than expected perhaps, which should make it more likely to actually be drafted than we thought in December. HILL measured 6’1/216 lbs. and was able to run a 4.47/40. He also has 9 3/8″ hand spread & 32 1/8″ arm length. His 6.96, 3-cone time shows he has some change of direction flex to his body. He is lacking a bit in ball skills, but can run with receivers downfield. He showed solid all-around skills out on the field in 2016 with 52 tackles, 4.5TFL, 3 PBU & 3 Int. His ability to run and change direction was obvious in drill work in Indy, and he got mention on several occasions during NFLN broadcast times. Do not sleep on this guy once we get into Draft Saturday.

That’s what I have for today, but chances are good I’ll have more thoughts early in the coming week. I intend to watch the NFLN replay of the RB group workouts later today. I had satellite reception issues on that Combine Friday so I’m thinking I’ll have some additional thoughts on that group in particular early next week.

Cheers

Pigskin

PIGSKIN’S COMBINE THOUGHTS 2017 Part 1

Seems like I never learn from some of my previous mistakes. Every year I make the same mistake around NFL Combine time. I watch hours and hours of coverage on NFLN and take notes while I watch. Then I decide to wait until I see a bit more the next day before writing anything for the website. Before you know it the event is over and I am sitting with a dazed look on my face and brain lock form information overload. Then the real issue kicks in… at what point to start writing.

As of right now it seems that a good start might be to begin with some names and observations that I clearly did not see coming. I’m not going to try to rank them in significance or chronological order so let the thought flow begin.

AVIANTE COLLINS/OT TCU. COLLINS was not on my prospect list at all before the Combine invite list was put out for consumption. And his name did not inspire me enough to do any pre-Combine research on him. Just another name that some team really wanted to get a better look at so they pestered National Scouting into inviting him. Happens every year with 10 or so guys, most of whom quickly establish that they are in over their heads against the real prospects. COLLINS measured in at 6’4, 295 lbs., so the first thought, if one bothered to venture a thought on him, was that because of his height and arm length he would be switching inside to OG in an NFL Training Camp next summer. Then the guy pushed the bar up 34 times in the Bench Press. But what caused jaws to drop with the stopwatch crowd was a 4.81/40 at his size. That’s the kind of number about half the TE group put up in Indy during a normal year’s Combine. I suppose you could say we should have seen this coming since his dad and brother are noted track athletes, but still.. What does it mean going forward? It means a lot of scouts will be watching TCU game film, and heading to the TCU Pro Day to see if he can duplicate that number. It may also ported the possibility that some scouts potential steal of the Draft is now on a lot of radar screens. Look for him to turn out to be a Round 5-6 Draftee in April.

With a tip of the hat to GBN friend and contributor LARRY, he was the first guy to point me in the direction of ADAM SHAHEEN (almost a year ago no less) the hulking basketball turned TE at D-2 school ASHLAND. We knew he was big (6’6/278), and as a successful basketball player likely to be athletic. But it was still breath taking to watch him in action on the field with the big boys, and showing some of them up. His arms are not super long at 33.5″, but it was still impressive to see him pump iron up 24 times to tie for the lead in the TE group. He certainly looked more than OK running around in shorts during drill work. His hands are big and dependable. There could be a run of TE drafting in the top rounds this year, given overall quality of the position group, which could mean that SHAHEEN hears his name called early on Day 3 of the Draft.

I can still recall watching JAELN MYRICK/CB/Minnesota during Shrine Week practices and noting to myself that I liked his style of aggressive play for a short guy, with a muscled body. He practiced hard and seemed to be trying to learn from his coaches. But I could not find any specific mention of his explosiveness or speed/quickness anywhere in my notes. So imagine my surprise when he went out and toasted the entire DB group with his 4.28/40. Were it not for the blazing, record setting dash by JOHN ROSS @ 4.22 MYRICK would still be heading Combine wrap headlines. As it is I am guessing this run may propel him into an early 3rd Day Draft slot. Assuming that he impresses in the interviews over the next two months, I would bet his game tape will put him Round 4 consideration. By the way credit where credit is due, the last words out of Mike Mayock’s mouth on air before MYRICK took off was ‘this guy could run really fast’. Chalk that one up in the Mayock win column.

On the other hand, I’m gonna say I nailed it on FABIEN MOREAU/CB/UCLA, when I projected him as a top prospect at the Shrine, when he clearly showed he had recovered most, if not all, of his speed in recovering from a knee injury two years ago. And at 6’0, 206 lbs. what NFL team wouldn’t want him in their secondary. Especially, when you throw in that 4.35 he posted in his 40. The only things perhaps keeping him from being considered elite could be his apparent lack of ball skills, and a bit of stiffness to his frame. But I think he is clearly Top 100 in a very top heavy DB class.

You had to be impressed as MYLES GARRETT/Texas A&M posted great workout numbers that cemented his status as likely the first selection in April’s Draft. It’s hard to not be impressed by a 4.64/40 time at 272 lbs. But I want to go on record here in noting that I thought GARRETT looked far from smooth with his running. He looked somewhat awkward to me, listing to one side as he grunted his way to some excellent numbers. It may speak volumes for his work ethic and inherent athleticism, but I sure wouldn’t use the word “smooth” in describing his sprinting or backpedal. Go back and compare the film on VON MILLER running his drills. Now that is smooth!

I’m not exactly what I want National Scouting to do about it, but it bothers me when they list a bunch of edge-rushers, most of whom will have to stand up most of the time as a pro at OLB. The talent and skill set disparity between a guy at 230 lbs., and a real DE at 290 makes their numbers look very disparate on a stat sheet listing the top 40-times within the DL group.On the Combine player list it showed 59 DL and only 29 LB prospects. I counted 12 players that should have been reassigned based on their likely potential pro positions. That would have made it 47 in the DL group, and 41 in the LB group. Just saying!

Seems like a lot of people like JORDAN WILIS/DE/KANSAS STATE better the more they see of him in action. He was a rising star at the Senior Bowl and put up some numbers in Indy that I really did not expect from him. He’s more athletic than I ever thought watching him in action at K-State the past two seasons. His 4.53/40 time was good enough to call him a LB at 255 lbs. His 39 ” vert and 125″ board jump indicate more explosion than I would have expected. His hustle and effort are elite, but apparently so is his athleticism. I’m still not seeing him as a First Rounder, but must admit he’s knocking on the door. He may end up being a surprise as a pro, ala RYAN KERRIGAN of the Redskins, who I thought was too slow and stiff to stand up, but has proven my judgement wrong.

Gotta run for now. I’ll go through more notes and post more Combine impressions in a day or two.

Cheers

PIGSKIN

Ranking DEFENSIVE Position Groups 2017 DRAFT Part 2

Now it’s time to finish up my group rankings as we prepare for the NFL COMBINE this coming week.

ILB Group There is always a bit of disagreement within the scouting community on ILB vs OLB, but not too many would dispute that the best pure LB prospect may be REUBEN FOSTER?alabama. FOSTER reminds me a lot of former ‘Bama ILB MOSLEY, now wit the RAVENS. FOSTER shows the ability to defend effectively against the run and pass, which means he’s more likely to remain on the field for all three downs. FOSTER should be in the first half of Round 1. RAEKWON McMILLAN/Ohio State, who also shows versatility born of his athleticism is the other probable 1st Rounder in this group, tho he will be later in the Round.
I project another 3 ILB to be taken in the Top 100 selections in April. The average number of ILB taken per Draft is 10, with 12 being taken in 2106. I think somewhere in that 10-12 is a realistic range this year.
A perplexing prospect has emerged this year within this position group by the name of ALEX ANZALONE/Florida. ALEX is a nice sized, very athletic defender, who covers the field with speed and a nose for the ball. He shows some pass rush ability as a blitzer and is adequate in mid-field coverage duty. His best spot might be Inside in a 3-4 scheme, at 6’3/240, with a 76 1/4″ wingspan. He was invited to the Senior Bowl and was a standout all week. But he has missed more games in his college career than he has actually started. In the contact sport of football it is very hard to ignore his preponderance of injuries. Who rolls the ice on him, and how high in the Draft may end up becoming an ongoing saga come April.
Group Grade: B

CB Group This should be an exceptional year for teams needing some CB help on their roster. And the variety to choose from is part of the reason. There are big press-cover guys and quick twitch slot cover guys. There are zone defenders who will run step for step with speed receivers. Most of these Corners are willing participants in run support. The cherry on the cupcake is that as a bonus there are numerous CB who are excellent Return Specialists as well.
I expect a half-dozen guys to be taken in Round 1: MARSHON LATTIMORE/Ohio St, SIDNEY JONES/Washington, QUINCY WILSON/Florida, TRA’DAVIOUS WHITE/LSU, MARLON HUMPHREY/Alabama & ADOREE’ JACKSON/USC. HUMPHREY might be taken as a S. I also see as many as 15 CB in the Top 100.
The average number of CB taken in a Draft is 33, with 35 taken last year. I look for the same number this year.
As we head to the Combine I strongly recommend that you keep your eyes and ears open whenever you hear the name of FABIAN MOREAU/UCLA mentioned. He’s a full sized guy @ 6’/204. He bounced back very nicely last season from a nasty knee injury the year prior. He looked excellent in his play in the Shrine venue, and had many wondering why he was not in Mobile as well.Based on pure talent and size he’s very close to being a first rounder. His medical evaluation will be critical, and if that knee checks out OK his speed and quickness numbers will be scrutinized closely. Many think that a healthy MOREAU could run a sub-4.4/40. If he does, put his name down in late Round 1 for a team like the PACKERS.
Group GRADE: A-

S Group This could be the deepest and most talented S group in some time. In this era of pass-happy offensive attacks the S slots have re-emerged in importance for teams looking to stop big plays, down the deep middle of the field. It is also fashionable again to have a S or two who can be effective and impactful for blitzing situations.
I have 4 Safeties slotted for Round 1, which is a high number compared to most years. Right now my four are JAMAL ADMAS/LSU, MALIK HOOKER/Ohio State, OBI MELIFONWU/UConn & JABRILL PEPPERS/Michigan. ADAMS & HOOKER could be Top 12-15 if they post the expected numbers at the Combine. Overall I project about 10 S going in the Top 100.
In a normal year the League drafts 18 S, with 17 going last year. Play the over if your in Vegas in April, as I could see about 20 being drafted this year.
A sure-thing to fall in the Top 100 should be one of the best CB in college football the past 2 seasons in DESMOND KING/Iowa. KING is a real ball hawk as well as a great tackler. Unless he proves otherwise in Indy, the expectation is that he will be a bit slow, and a tad tight in the hips to be considered an elite CB for the pro game. But he could become the next BOB SANDERS/Iowa, who folks in Indy remember fondly for his All-Pro play as a crunching S. IF you like the play of MICAH HYDE for the PACKERS, expect KING to be just a step above in overall ability.
Group GRADE: B+

THat’s a wrap heading into the Combine. There is no doubt that we will see the prospect meter shift a bit based on some players who exceed expectations in Indy, and some who disappoint a bit. It’s always fun if you are tracking the detail of prospect evaluations.

This group of prospects is a bit light on proven skill position stars, but is long on potential and very deep in talent in general. I’d be glad to swap my first rounder for extra picks in Rounds 2-3-4. There may be little to separate prospect 50 from 100, which will make it critical for teams to identify the players who really fit the schemes of their current coaching staffs. It could also precipitate a rash of trades late in Round 1. And remember this is the first year that teams are allowed to trade Compensatory Picks, which were just announced. One more bit of spice to stir into your Draft gumbo.

Cheers

PIGSKIN

RANKING DEFENSIVE Position Groups 2017 DRAFT

Our defensive discussion will start with the big guys up front. For this year’s projection I am going to work with the time honored position groups of DE, DT, ILB, OLB, CB & S. But bear in mind this kind of breakdown is starting to feel more and more outdated with the absolute lust for edge-rushers about to force us to create a whole new position category for them. For now I will place those guys at either DE or OLB depending upon size and style of play, but keep in mind that calling that approach imperfect is putting it mildly, to say the least.

DT Group This will be comprised of guys playing on the Nose in a 3-4 scheme, or at DT in a 4-3 scheme. This is a solid year for the big guys who anchor the defensive front, even though a few of them actually excel in pressuring the pocket. I am only projecting 2 DT for Round 1 at this time: CALEB BRANTLEY/Florida & CARLOS WATKINS/Clemson.
The irony of these two being the only first rounders is that they are contrary in their style of play. BRANTLEY is cat quick, with strong hands that allow him to push past OL and record TFL and/or inside pressure on the pocket. WATKINS is a bit more traditional. He is above average in quickness, but is more of a power rusher. But he is NOT a Nose Tackle.
I see another half dozen DT being worthy of Top 100 selection. In an average year 18 DT are drafted overall, with 20 selected last year. I’m thinking I’d take the under for 2017 if I were a betting man.
Grade C+, some nice talent, but too many of them will play only on early downs, not full-time, thus limiting their value.

DE Group Remember now that this category must include 4-3 DE, as well as 5-technique guys for base 3-4 schemes. For players who I feel will play the majority of their time standing up, with their hand off the ground (which includes 3-4 OLB types) you will find them coming up later as OLB. Have I got you confused yet?
I see a solid 4-5 DE in this year’s prospect group. THe best of all is JONATHAN ALLEN/Alabama as the almost perfect 5-technique, but also capable of sliding inside for pass-rushing situations, and also being able of staying on the field in 2-man DL fronts. That versatility and his athleticism should make him a Top 10 draftee.
ALso likely to be taken in Round 1 are SOLOMON THOMAS/Stanford, CHARLES HARRIS/Missouri, DEREK BARNETT/Tennessee & TACO CHARLTON.Michigan State pretty much in that order. That’s a total of 5 for Round 1, and I would project another 6-7 in the Top 100. The average DE taken per Draft is 21, with 19 last year. Let’s round it off and say 20 this year.
A guy who really intrigues me is DEATRICH WISE/Arkansas. He played in the Shrine Game and had an excellent week’s work there. Physically he is a monster at 6’5/275, with 10 3/8″ hands and 35″ arms, with an 85″ wingspan. He’s a lot of legs, and had trouble staying on the field during his college career. But when he is healthy, as he was all week in St Pete, he can dominate a game for a series or two. At his best he looks a lot like JADEVEON CLOWNEY. How early will someone take a flyer on him? If he tests well at the Combine (which he should) and does well during the interview process, he could be an early Day 3 draftee.
Grade: B, a good just not great group.

OLB Group I’ll jump to this group next since I am pulling out multiple collegiate DE to stand up and play the position, especially in 3-4 base schemes.
Included in that category is the potential top pick on the Draft, MYLES GARRETT/Texas A&M, who I think is a just a bit bigger version of VON MILLER/Broncos, himself a former Aggie. GARRETT battled injuries this season but still impressed overall. He’s long and has a knack for spinning his way into the pocket. Like MILLER, he’s likeLy to learn on the fly and be headed to Pro Bowls in a couple of years.
I would also project the following guys to be first round OLB types: TAK McKINLEY/UCLA, ZACH CUNINGHAM/Vanderbilt, TIM WILLIAMS/Alabama, T.J. WATT/Wisconsin. That would mean 5 guys for Round One. I would also project another 5 OLB in the Top 100. The average Draft class sees 22 per year, with 24 drafted in 2016 as OLB. Unless the scouting community transitions quite a few more DE to stand up, then I might bet the under and place the 2017 Draft as having 20 taken overall.
One of the biggest ground gainers through the all-star process was HAASON REDDICK, who was outstanding in everything he did. The biggest surprise for many was his ability to match-up in coverage with RB & TE all week in Mobile. Two seasons ago he played almost exclusively as a pass rushing DE with his hand in the dirt. The expectation is he will rock the Combine with his athleticism, which tells me he could jump up into Round 2 of the Draft.
Grade C+, a few too many conversions projects here and that makes me a bit nervous.

Cheers for now.
PIGSKIN

Ranking Offensive Position Groups 2017 DRAFT Part 2

Let’s take a look at the remainder of the offensive position groups..

RB GROUP As often happens in the NFL, it appears to me that the importance of the running back positions is back on the uptick. The passing game can be more exciting to fans than a good run game, but depending upon the opponent’s defensive scheme, and the scoreboard, having a run game to balance an offensive attack can be critical to success. Having diversity in your your RB corps is also key to forcing defenses to respect your entire offense.
Thanks to a glut of quality RB a lot of NFL teams should be able to augment their RB stable throughout the 2017 Draft. We actually went through several drafts in recent years where no RB were selected in Round 1. EZEKIEL ELLIOTT showed clearly in 2016 that a stud RB can still have a huge impact on games from week to week. I am thinking that 3 RB clearly appear to be First Rounders heading into the Combine: DALVIN COOK/Florida State, LEONARD FOURNETTE/LSU & CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY/Stanford. The clear beauty of this trio is their different skill sets.
COOK is the best overall, looking an awful lot to me like ELLIOTT from this past season. He’s explosive with the ball in his hands and a threat to score from almost anywhere on the field. He is adept as a receiver and understands how to block in pass-pro.
FOURNETTE, is the more traditional bell-cow power back who runs over and through people, and is able to break big gains because of his balance and straight line speed once he gets his momentum going. But he’ll be coming off the field on 3rd and long because of deficiencies as a receiver. FOURNETTE reminds me a lot of HERSHEL WALKER, and as great as he was, fitting into today’s NFL as the go-to guy would be a challenge even for WALKER.
McCAFFREY is the most versatile weapon in the group. He can run, catch and return kicks. But he will have to be used selectively because his frame is pretty lean overall. He may be good for about 25 total touches per game at the next level. His 40-time will be watched most closely of the three at the Combine. He shows a bit of the LeVEON BELL slide & pick your hole type of running style.
The same kind of skill-set variety can be found throughout the RB group, of which I can easily see 8 of the Top 100, and 25 picks overall being used on RB. Normally 22 RB are drafted each year, 23 being taken last year.
The real Big One this year could be JOE MIXON/Oklahoma. MIXON may be more talented and explosive than my top 3 above. In fact he reminds me a lot of ADRIAN PETERSON coming out of Norman a decade-plus ago. He’s about 6’1/225 and combines the power and explosiveness of an uncommon level. He’s a touchdown waiting to happen whenever he touches the ball. But he won’t even be at the Combine because he cold-cocked a female student as a Frosh at OKlahoma. HC STOOPS suspended MIXON for his entire freshman campaign, but now that a tape has gone viral showing ‘the punch’, some people are screaming for the death penalty for MIXON. Some team will eventually have the courage to draft him, and they may get the steal of the decade on the playing field.
Grade: A, exceptional quality and depth. Something for everyone.

OT GROUP This could be the thinnest and least impressive OT group of the current decade. At least 3 of the Top 10 in this group have pretty much been relegated to consideration at the less glamorous OG slots. Lack of ideal height and/or arm length seems to be the criteria robbing this group of some serious talent. Outstanding college OT LAMP, DAWKINS & MOTON are all being shoved inside in most scouts’ notebooks. As a result I have never seen such limited resumes’ at the top of the OT group. RYAN RAMCZYK/Wisconsin & GARRETT BOLLES/Utah both made their D1 debuts last season. Their potential is solid and both are likely to be starting NFL LT in a couple of seasons, but may not be quite ready to step in immediately.
I see those two and CAM ROBINSON/Alabama as the 3 first round OT this year. CAM has started for 3 years at ‘Bama but is lacking a bit in body flexibility in his overall frame and may need to play on the right side of the line. Noted Draftnik MIKE MAYOCK has CAM sliding inside to OG in his current rankings.
Those 3 look like solid first rounders to me, but we may be into the second half of Round 1 before the first OT is taken. I can also see as many as 7 OT in the Top 100 right now. 23 OT are drafted in an average year, with 22 in 2016. I’d bet that number slips back into the teens for the 2017 Draft, with another couple of those ending up sliding into the Interior at Training Camp.
A real late bloomer, who should sneak into the Top 100 is ANTONIO GARCIA/Troy, who is raw but shows picture book form as he drops into pass pro. But he has some physical limitations that do catch your eye. He was at the Senior Bowl and by weeks end he was catching up to his peers real quickly. But at 6’6, he weighed only 293 lbs., and looks like he needs a lot of time in the weight room. His arms are also a touch under 33″ at a position where scouts fret arm length under 34″. Long range he has starting pro potential, but it’s not a slam dunk.
Grade: C, and that may be a generous grade.

OG/C GROUP The Interior OL is the stepchild of offense in Round 1. But as defensive schemes are developed to put more pressure on the pocket up the middle the importance of interior blocking and athleticism is picking up. Most of the NFL’s premier, mobile QB will admit pressure up the middle is more unsettling than edge rushers. If the QB cannot step up into a stable pocket to buy time then chaos often ensues.
I have 2 OG likely going in Round 1 this year: DAN FEENEY/Indiana, FORREST LAMP/W Kentucky. LAMP is the best athlete, having played very well at LT in a passing offense in college. His shorter arms 31 1/8″ absolutely force the move inside, which automatically makes him an athletic freak for the inside. He could be the next ZACK MARTIN/Cowboys.
FEENEY had a tough luck 2016 season, which included an early season concussion which will be scrutinized heavily at the Combine medical. But he’s a good athlete and a tough guy. He also has some petty nice measurables for an OG. He measured 6’044″ and 306 lbs. at the Senior Bowl weigh-in, with 10″ hands and 34″ arms. Put FEENEY’s numbers back on LAMP and FORREST is probably a Top 12 draftee at LT.
My estimate is that we will see about 7 OG/C taken in the Top 100 come April. The yearly average for the two slots is 20/year, with 19 being taken in 2016. With the glut of OT moving inside I’d say the average looks like a solid projection for 2017.
Keep your eyes peeled on Day 3 for OC/JON TOTH/Kentucky, who impressed at the Senior Bowl. He looked solid all week and he won big time at the weigh-in on Monday in Mobile. He had a nicely proportioned and conditioned body at 6’047″ & 308 lbs. He also had 10″ hands and 33 1/8″arm length, with an 80 1’4″ wingspan.
Grade: B, aided greatly by those short armed OT sliding inside.

That’s it for the Offense folks. Next week I will get to my Defensive overview.

Ranking Offensive Position Groups 2017 Draft

The COMBINE plays a larger role for me with every year that passes, it seems. I want to see more of those underclassmen in action, as well as small school guys. I also like having an idea how fast players are in comparison to their peers, even if it is only in their underwear. But while we wait for the Combine (an extra week later this year), I thought I would give a post-All-Star Game evaluation of the position groups for the 2017 Draft.

Let’s start with the Offense today.

QB GROUP This is likely to be a major disappointment after last year’s record haul of 15 QB drafted, including the top 2 picks in the entire process. Neither of those things is likely to happen this year. Perhaps more under the principle of ‘supply & demand’ economics, as opposed to pure talent/value, we can expect a couple of QB to be taken in Round One, maybe as many as 3. But to be honest if I need a franchise QB added to my team I am making a trade bid for JIMMY GAROPPOLO from the PATRIOTS.
The highest upside guy for me is DeSHONE KIZER from Notre Dame, but he’s almost a reclamation project already because of the mental damage inflicted upon him by BRIAN KELLEY, the Irish Head Coach and noted QB killer. KIZER may need to be de-briefed for a year or two, and the team that drafts him had best have a real QB Whisperer on the staff to tutor him one-on-one. Go back and look at some Notre Dame game film as KIZER stands on the sidelines, gazing into the stands, or perhaps up at Touchdown Jesus if it’s a home game, as KELLEY gets in his face about the last possession. Can you say ‘tuned out’?!
MITCH TRUBISKY, has a resume’ almost as short as CARSON WENTZ did last year at this time. At least his film is against FBS teams. He may indeed be NFL caliber in time, but at best he reminds me a lot of ANDY DALTON, and that is not a Round 1 recommendation. DeSHAUN WATSON has winner & leader written all over him, but he doesn’t usually overwhelm the opposition, and relies on his feet way too much to think he’ll stay healthy long enough at the pro level, ala RG3. How high will PATRICK MAHOMES/Texas Tech go? Likely, Round 2, but it may be several years before he sees the field because he has a lot to learn about running a pro stye Offense after being with HC KINGSBURY and his ‘chuck & duck’ offense.
I’m thinking 6-7 QB will be taken in the first 3 rounds, and maybe about 10-12 overall. 12 is the norm. Kind of on the positive side (I think), there may be 2-3 undrafted QB with just as good a chance to make NFL rosters as any of the Day 3 Draftees.
Group Grade: C, average

WR GROUP The recent benchmark for this position group is the amazing 2014 Draft that featured BECKHAM, LANDRY, BENJAMIN, WATKINS, BRYANT, MATTHEWS and more. This year’s group of wideouts is much more pedestrian than that group. But I have little doubt that once we stir the underclassmen into the mix, there will be a dozen-plus players capable of becoming solid No. 2 & 3 receivers on NFL rosters. I would also expect needy teams to be able to conjure up a first round short list of 3-4 names to plug into Round 1.
For my money MIKE WILLIAMS, COREY DAVIS & JOHN ROSS look like sure things for Round 1. Maybe 12-13 wideouts go in the first 3 Rounds overall. Based on the law of averages I’d expect about 30 players to come from this position group in April. That’s right about average, 31 being the norm.
The good news is that there should be something for just about everyone, when all is said and done. I have no doubt that the Combine will identify some real speed burners (like ROSS). We also have some nice sized possession types, as well as some smaller cat-quick slot guys to choose from.
Do NOT be sleeping on COOPER KUPP/E. Washington. He may be from a small school, but he is a big time player. He was not covered very often during Senior Bowl Week and seemed to have a personal duel going with RASUL DOUGLAS/West Virginia, who is a highly regarded CB. His goal is to run a 4.40-40 in Indy. By doing so he would shake off some scouting community stereotypes, and given his sure hands and great route running moves, could be a solid second rounder.
Group Grade: C+, slightly above average

TE GROUP For those teams who have been moaning about slim pickings at the TE slot the past few years, it is time to rejoice and pick your poison. The quality and depth at TE is the best it has been this decade heading toward the Combine. The only big question mark is how well JAKE BUTT/Michigan recovers from his knee injury incurred at the end of the Wolverines 2016 season. Per-injury I saw BUTT as having WITTEN type pro-potential, and clearly a Top 100 Draftee.
Leaving BUTT out of the equation I still see 3 very likely Round One TE prospects: O.J. HOWARD/Alabama, DAVID NJOKU/Miami, BUCKY HODGES/Virginia Tech. HOWARD is the best all-around, pure TE who can block as well, or better, than he catches. NJOKU, seems to have almost unlimited upside, and HODGES is a WR in a TE’s body.
The most fascinating “hybrid” TE is EVAN ENGRAM/Ole Miss, who at 236 lbs. can chip block a little bit, but cannot be covered by LB or S over the middle. He proved that at the Senior Bowl venue. He’s the next JORDAN REED/Washington, and what NFL team can’t find use for another REED?! On the average 15 TE get drafted per year by the NFL. Last year was a drought year with only 11 drafted. Bet the over in 2017, with more than a few being heavy Rookie contributors in 2017 for their teams.
A real late bloomer, in a monster body is MICHAEL ROBERTS/Toledo. This young man played at both the Shrine & Senior Bowl venues and showed very well at each one. His measurables are simply off the charts. He’s 6’043″ tall and weighs 261 lbs. He also has 11 5’8″ hands that are part of 33 1/4″ long arms. His wingspan is just over 80″! He established himself as a TD maker last season in the MAC. He could be the next TE taken after the top 3, given BUTT’s injury.
Group Grade: B+, well above average.

Next up a look at the RB/FB/OL groups.

PIGKSIN

SHRINE GAME Chatter

Players will begin showing up for the Shrine Week activities this weekend, with the game scheduled for the 21st. Sunday will be the day that players find out what this game is really all about with visits to the Shriners’ Children’s Hospital in Tampa. ‘Strong legs run, so weak legs may walk’.
This year’s event will mark the 92nd Shrine Classic, with the first game having been played in 1925. Sometime back in the ’60’s the Senior Bowl passed the Shrine Game as the pre-eminent Star game, aided in great part by their partnership with the NFL to provide coaching staffs for the game. That and the emergence of the SEC as a true power conference for providing players to the game.

Most of the Shrine’s history lies on the West Coast. I recall as a youngster watching the Shrine Game being played in Palo Alto at STANFORD Stadium. I believe I was watching it on ABC’s Wide World of Sports broadcasts initially. Like me, the game has now been in Florida since 2010. The first two years they were in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl, and 2017 will mark their 6th year at The Trop in St. Pete.
The biggest change for the 2017 game edition will be that the coaching staffs will be comprised of up-and-coming young NFL Assistant Coaches. You can read more about the selection process at the Shrine website, www.shrinegame.com . I’m anxious to see how that new process works out, but am most pleased to see the Shrine and NFL forging more of a partnership around the game.
Overall the Shrine venue now plays second fiddle to the Senior Bowl in player procurement. Most agents will suggest their player clients head to Mobile if invited, with the Shrine Game being the back-up option. This can be challenging for Game Director Harold Richardson and his staff as players initially committed to the Shrine Game get late invites from the Senior Bowl as injured and elite players back out of their prior commitments to that venue, thus leaving the Shrine Game to find bodies to fill their rosters. Thanks to some informed consultant work, by DAN SHONKA of Ourlads in particular, some very worthy replacement players are brought in right up until game time.

So what’s up with this year’s crop of prospects who will be in action down here.

As usual there is a large and decent quality group of DB in this year’s contest. I am particularly interested to watch S/WESTON STEELHAMMER/Air Force (what a great football name), TEDRIC THOMPSON/S/Colorado, FABIAN MOREAU/CB/UCLA & BRAD WATSON/DB/WAKE. DB is usually one of the top groups at the Shrine venue.
The WR group is not stellar, but there looks to be some potential pros on hand. Of particular interest to me there are STACY COLEY/MIAMI, RODNEY ADAMS/USF, and AUSTIN CARR/northwestern. I am also anxious to see small school standout BILLY BROWN, a big wideout (6’4/240) from Sheperd College. I’ve seen his name around, but never watched him in action personally.

One of the more interesting prospects in this game could be DEATRICH WISE/DE/ARkansas. WISE has the look of an elite pass rusher, but has been dogged by constant injuries during his college career. I am anxious to watch him in action, and frankly to see if he makes it healthy to game day. On the interior DL DEANGELO BROWN of Louisville has gotten rave reviews from some, and indifference from other Draftniks. He’ll be high on my watch list next week.

I will also be looking for a sleeper or two within the OL groups. Normally there are some pretty impressive OL candidates in those groups, but as has been noted almost everywhere this year’s crop along the OL is a bit down in general. AVERY GENNESY/T/TX A&M, EVAN GOODMAN/T/G/ARIZ ST, DAN SKIPPER/OT/ARKANSAS, WILLIAM HOLDEN/T/VANDY & ALEX KOZAN/G/Auburn stand out for me right now.

As has been a continuing trend this decade there are a goodly number of famous last names in this group. GUNNER KIEL is related to former Notre Dame QB/BLAIR KIEL. TREY GRIFFEY/WR is indeed the son of former MLB star KEN GRIFFEY, JR. HARDY NICKERSON/LB/Illinois is the son of the father of the same name who starred at LB in the NFL, primarily for the Steelers. DE/BRYAN COX/Florida is indeed the son of the former NFL LB of the same name. There a few other familiar names on the rosters that I need to research a bit more to check their football family tree.

A big key to an exciting game always revolves around the QB group, depending upon their talent level and how quickly they grasp the schemes being taught by the game coaches. In most instances after only a week of practices, with all new receivers, the Defense dominates the action. Guys who may prove to be the most serviceable in generating some offensive juice for this game may be ZACH TERRELL/W. Michigan and COOPER RUSH/C. Michigan, both from the MAC, but playing on opposing squads in this contest fortunately. Those two may be the best actual long term pro prospects, but keep you eyes peeled on NICK MULLENS of S. Mississippi, who may possess the best all around tools for an All-Star venue with a strong arm and good wheels to move around and extend plays, ala CHASE DANIELS coming out of Missouri some years ago.

After Monday morning weigh-in proceedings both teams will practice in the afternoon. Those practices are limited, and just a notch above walk-throughs, but will give us a chance to get a feel for athleticism and energy level early on. I should have some tidbits for you Monday night, albeit a bit later in the evening than the rest of the week.

Don’t forget folks that the proceeds from this game go to support the Shriners’ string of children’s’ hospitals and medical research. IF you can afford it go to their website www.shrinegame.com and make a donation if you can’t attend the game. You folks in the Tampa Bay area buy a game ticket or two and head to the Trop next Saturday afternoon. Let’s get attendance above 30,000 for this year’s game.

Cheers all!

Pigskin

WHO CAUGHT MY EYE Bowl Edition Part 2

Just when you thought we might be through with prospect thumbnails I have dusted off my notes from the second half of the Bowl season. By this time next week I’ll be deeply immersed in prep work for Shrine Week. But I did find some impressive work from prospects during the past couple of weeks, and wanted to share some more of them with you. Here’s a Baker’s Dozen for your consideration.

JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER/WR/SOUTHERN CAL 6’2/215 #9 JR I’m going out of alphabetical order here because I witnessed one of the greatest, all-time receiving exhibitions in this season’s Rose Bowl that I have ever witnessed. And a healthy JUJU was one of the two stars. SMITH is the best WR the Trojans have had since KEYSHAWN JOHNSON. He’s not quite as “big” as JOHNSON, but is a bit faster. This young man can do it all, and seems to have a great work ethic and competitive fire. I was taking notes on him the last month of the regular season and though he played well, he was beaten up with leg & back issues, which limited his playing time and effectiveness. As I expected his health was much improved by the time the Rose Bowl rolled around. He was outstanding with 7 catches for 133 yards and a TD. He made an amazing, over the shoulder, sideline catch in the first half to set up a Trojan TD. If he comes out early (no announcement yet) his 40-time at the Combine is going to get tons of attention as teams look to ascertain his true speed. His combination of good hands, catching radius and overall size has most NFL teams salivating. If he comes out, and runs a 4.40-40 he should be a lock for Round 1 selection.

CHRIS GODWIN/WR/PENN STATE 6’1/208 #12 JR On the other side of the field GODWIN was drawing oohs and aahs with some of the same talents on display as JUJU. Nice size and great hands. Good at locating the ball in the air, and beating defenders to it, GODWIN snagged 9 catches for 187 yards and 2 TD. He’s as good looking of a prospect as was former PSU star ALLEN ROBINSON, who now plays at a Pro Bowl level for the hapless JAGUARS in the NFL. GODWIN knows how to run patterns and is excellent at finding the openings in the D. You can also bet that he does not lack speed. In order to beat a fast and athletic USC secondary, speed is a must beyond ten yards. He really grabbed my attention in the second quarter, when replay showed him making a great, behind-the-back catch on a throw in traffic. Like JUJU I would expect he is near the top of a lot of prospect lists coming out of the 2016 season, and with a spectacular Bowl performance. Several of his catches defied logic in that game. GODWIN just announced his intentions to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s moved into my Top 100 with his performance in the Rose Bowl.

The ROSE BOWL was one of the more entertaining and exciting games of the Bowl Season, and these two receivers were absolute stars.

DEREK BARNETT/DE/ER/TENNESSEE 6’3/265 #9 JR I have been lukewarm on BARNETT as a prospect because I saw him as a one-trick pony. But give the man his due, he was absolutely a game changer in the Bowl win over Nebraska. He absolutely terrorized back-up Huskers QB FYFE all day long. This game was clearly an audition tape for him and the film gets 4-stars, for both effort and execution. He was credited with 6 tackles, including 1 sack and a TFL. I am still not convinced how he fits into an NFL defensive scheme, other than as a n edge-rusher, buy I just have a feeling some clever DC will figure it out. His sack allowed him to pass REGGIE WHITE into first place alone on the Vols career sack list, although the style of play was a bit different back in WHITE’s day. But he clearly has the motor to dominate when motivated. He declared for the 2017 Draft just days after the bowl game. I will be fascinated to see how he ends being ranked heading into the Draft. I am also suspecting that there will be some serious differences of opinion on his value around the League, and even within scouting departments.

ADAM BUTLER/DL/VANDERBILT 6’4/300 #69 One of seemingly many DL in this years prospect group who plays the DL with high energy and good intelligence, He is also versatile, as he showed all season and in the Independence Bowl against NC State. He played DT in a standard 4-3 scheme, but moved out to DE in a 3-4 set in passing downs. Vandy was able to use the two different sets interchangeably, in great part because BUTLER was strong enough to play inside on the one hand, but also athletic enough to generate some pocket pressure when moved outside in the DE spot. He showed a very effective and smooth inside-reverse pass rush spin on a couple of occasions. He was credited with 7 tackles in the Bowl match-up. Vandy is not known for great defensive players, but I have a feeling this young man may just rank as draftable, albeit late, by teams looking for versatility and depth along their defensive fronts. Teams like the PACKERS & PATRIOTS come to mind.

CORN ELDER/CB/MIAMI(F) 5’10/175 ELDER had a stellar senior season for the Hurricanes. He’s a fairly little guy, who has excellent quickness and is not afraid to mix it up with the bigger boys. Take for example his play in the Russell Athletic Bowl win over West Virginia. When WVU did pass they usually went away from his side of the field. But he was in hot pursuit of the WVU running game, leading his team in tackles with 7. Not bad at all for his size. For the 2016 season ELFER recorded 76 tackles, had 1 INT and 12 PD. He’s been solid in a secondary that has sent multiple players to the NFL like ARTIE BURNS & TRACY HOWARD in 2016. At the very least I see him using his quicks and aggressiveness as a slot-nickel back. He probably doesn’t go until Draft Saturday, but by the same token he’ll probably earn a roster spot and contribute right away. I like the attitude and quickness of this little and think he can overcome his lack of size to play at the NFL level.

MATT GALAMBOS/ILB/PITT 6’2/245 PITT #47 When scouting players I always go into a game with a short list of players I am curious to watch carefully. But I always try to stay alert for “lesser” prospects who just stand out with their play in specific contests. GALAMBOS was not on my watch list for the Pinstripe Bowl in NYC with Northwestern. But all too often it was #47 chasing down a play to make the tackle. By halftime, I knew I would have to track him in the second half, based on his play in the first half. Sure enough, by the end of the contest he had recorded 15 tackles, including 2 TFL and a recovered fumble. Big numbers for a large body ILB like MATT. This is not the first time GALAMBOS has caught my eye while watching PITT play this past season. Usually i was watching several of their players on Offense, but in each instance #47 had my attention after a couple of defensive series. He stays on his feet well and wraps when tackling. He looks strong at the point of attack and uses his hands well to fend off blockers. He’s likely to be taken off the field in certain passing downs as a pro, at least early in his career. He brings some serious “pop” to his tackling and runs well enough to contribute on Special Teams at the next level. Probably best suited for a 3-4 scheme, but likely would not be lost as a pure Mike-LB. I’d be ready to draft this guy for my team by the 5th Round or so. His Combine and/or pro Day work will be a serious consideration come April.

DARIEN HOWARD/DT/WEST VIRGINIA 6’1/305 #49 It was another disappointing game under the bright lights for WVU against Miami. The Mountaineers OL could not handle the ‘Canes relentless DL pressure. But WVU hung in there for 3 quarters, in great part due to their DL matching Miami’s intensity for much of the game. HOWARD is probably just a bit undersized to play the Nose as a pro, at least on a full-time basis, but he shows good strength and awareness for his size. He also has enough gas to play some loop games and stunts to pressure and/or push the pocket. He is also active in pursuit along the line-of-scrimmage for his body type. He can eat up blockers and thus allow his ILB to pursue the ball. I like the way he battles with blockers and holds up the middle of the line-of-scrimmage. I also appreciate the way he stays on his feet and off the ground. He may end up as a mid-to-late Round pick who will fight his way onto a roster as part of a DL rotation.

KEVIN KING/CB/WASHINGTON 6’3/195 #20 KING has caught my attention several times this past season as I watched the Huskies put together a top notch 2016 season.He did so again in the Bowl loss to Alabama, where the Huskies D held up well until fatigue set in and the Offense failed to control the ball and post points. KING is the tall, long striding defender who can run with most wideouts well down the field. He is also solid in his hand use, without being too grabby. He looks to me best suited for a zone/Tampa-Two base defense. What really impressed me was his feisty attitude, and willingness to back it up with tackling skills and want-to. In the Loss to ‘Bama KING led the Huskies Defense with 9 tackles, including a TFL. That TFL came in the 4th Quarter when Alabama chose to go for it on a fourth down. That TFL turned the ball back over to the Huskies, who failed to convert the possession into a score. For the 2016 season KING recorded 44 tackles, with 2 INT and 13 PD. A couple of teammates in the secondary (BAKER & JONES) got more pub than KING, but I felt he was the more productive overall player. His nose for the ball should serve him well at the next level, and add value to a Special Teams unit or two. He’d be high on my last early on Draft Saturday if he’s still available, which may be the case thanks to a DB-rich looking Draft class.

DAVID NJOKU/TE/MIAMI(F) 6’4/240 #49 JR Following a nice performance in the Hurricanes Russell Athletic Bowl victory, this excellent athlete declared for the 2017 Draft. In that game, he caught 5 passes for 44 yards and 1 TD. As he plays more and learns more of the nuances of the TE position his threat to defenses should only grow. Though not a great blocker, he gives it a try and might grow into a complete inline TE with time. He will help make the TE group for this upcoming Draft be one of the best and deepest in quite some time. He’s an all-around athlete, who is relatively new to football. He often displays his athleticism by hurdling would-be tacklers after he catch. He may need to be persuaded to limit that practice at the next level, for fear of injury. His upside for a pro career sure looks to me to be very high. He may not hit his pro stride for a couple of seasons. If he posts the numbers most feel he is capable of at Combine testing he may be knocking on the door of Round 1 come April.

JOSH REYNOLDS/WR/TEXAS A&M 6’4/195 #11 This long, lanky receiver has been the most consistent receiver for the Aggies the past couple of seasons. And he really put on his best looking performance against K-State in the Heart of Texas Bowl. REYNOLDS battered the Wildcats secondary for 12 catches, 154 yards and 2 TD. He outran defenders with his long striding legs, and got separation with some excellent pattern running. He shows very nice footwork along the sidelines and in the end zone. He also shows the ability to outrun most defenders once he gets his hands on the ball, and shows strength, despite his wiry frame. He could make a nice addition to an NFL team as a No. 3 receiver on their roster. He may post numbers at the Combine that get him further notice, but I still have a gut feeling he will have to wait until Round 4 to hear his name called in April. But then again a lot of 4th Round players make NFL rosters at the WR position.

STEVIE TU’IKOLOVATU/DT/SOUTHERN CAL 6’1/320 #96 Stevie, used the NCAA graduate transfer rule to move to USC from UTAH. He was effective, but part of a deep DL rotation for the UTES. He was a nice depth addition to the Trojans Defense, but he really stood put at the end of the season, and in the Rose Bowl as injuries allowed him to see more playing time. He was a major force along that DL against Penn State. His final stats showed 8 total tackles on the game, with 6 of those being listed as solo tackles. Folks that’s a lot of solid work for the interior of the field. Quite often this year he looked like DT/WOODS from last years Trojans D. He is very active and he gives great effort. He was a key part of the Trojans defense shutting Penn State down in the 4th Quarter, while QB/DARNOLD rallied the Offense to victory. This is a strong, hustling player who could contribute as a pro rotational guy.

ANTHONY WALKER/LB/NORTHWESTERN 6’1/235 #1 JR Another outstanding performer who has declared for the 2017 Draft. He’s a very good athlete with a high FBI. He covers the field and makes tackles from sideline to sideline. In the WILDCATS upset win over PITT, WALKER was credited with 7 tackles. That allowed him to total 105 tackles over 13 games in the 2016 season. He is also mobile/agile enough to pick-up RB & TE in pass pro with regularity. He also looks to have picked up some of the grit and determination that marked his Head Coach’s playing career at Northwestern and on into the pro game. Having PAT FITZGERALD in his ear for 3 seasons can only have helped WALKER on several levels. Combine that bulldog mentality with his natural talent and a high FBI, and he should make quite a pro player. I look for him to end up in my Top 100 Prospect lists going forward.

BRAD WATSON/DB/WAKE FOREST 6’0/200 #25 WATSON was clearly the best DB on the field for the Wake D this season. He has excellent size for a CB, but in reality he may lack the quicks to handle the Corner in the NFL. He shows decent coverage skills, with a nose for the ball, and a serious willingness to throw his body around. He was credited with 7 tackles in the close Bowl loss to Temple. I would have also credited him with several PBU for his efforts. With his long frame, he was able to disrupt several catches with his reach, even though he was technically beaten by the receiver. He could make a very versatile sub-package performer, and I would work on converting him to a FS position as an NFL Rookie. WATSON was the team’s leading returning tackler after 72 tackles in 2015. He almost duplicated that number in 2016. He’s been consistent in grabbing 2 INT each of the past 2 seasons. I did not get a final count for this season, but he easily led the team in PBU in 2015 with 16. Special Teams should also be a Rookie niche for him as a pro. I really like WATSON’s overall game and though he may go late in the 2017 Draft I would not hesitate to pull the trigger and draft him in the middle rounds. He’s a good, not great athlete, and a solid core player for his team, IMO.

PIGSKIN’S 2016 NFL ALL-ROOKIE ROSTER

The regular season is all but over and it’s time, IMO, to take a look back at the Rookies who stood out in 2016 around the NFL.Not just a starting lineup, but an actual roster of top first year men. I fact, I’d go so far as to say I’d like to see this roster face off in the Pro Bowl against a roster of vets.

QB DAK PRESCOTT/DALLAS, CARSON WENTZ/PHILLY
RB EZEKIEL ELLIOTT/DALLAS, JORDAN HOWARD/CHI, ROB KELLEY/WASH
FB DEREK WATT/SD
WR MIKE THOMAS/NO, STERLING SHEPARD/NYG, TAJAE SHARP/TENN
TE HUNTER HENRY/SD, TYLER HIGBEE/LAR
OL JACK CONKLIN/TENN, TAYLOR DECKER/DET, GRAHAM GLASGOW/DET, JOE HAEG/INDY, RONNIE STANLEY/BALT, JOE THUNEY/NE, LAREMY TUNSIL/MIA, CODY WHITEHAIR/CHI

DL JOEY BOSA/SD, JAVON HARGRAVE/PITT, CHRIS JONES/KC, YANNICK NGAKOUE/JAX, NOAH SPENCE/TB, JIHAD WARD/OAK, ADOLPHUS WASHINGTON/BUF
LB DeVONDRE CAMPBELL/ATL, DEION JONES/ATL, DARRON LEE/NYJ, BLAKE MARTINEZ/GB
CB JAMES BRADBERRY/CARO, VERNON HARGREAVES/TB, JALEN RAMSEY/JAX, TAVON YOUNG/BALT
S SEAN DAVIS/PITT, KEANU NEAL/ATL, JUSTIN SIMMONS/DEN

P RILEY DIXON/DEN, DREW KASER/SD
K WILL LUTZ/NO
RS TYREEK HILL/KC

Head Coach ADAM GASE/MIA

Overall Rookie of the Year: DAK PRESCOTT/QB/COWBOYS!

BOWL WATCH Dec. 30th

Rolling along toward the big time games we come across out first real match up in the Orange Bowl, but first let’s check everything on the 30th.

GEORGIA (7-5) Vs. Texas Christian (6-6); LIBERTY BOWL; NOON PM ET; ESPN … Somewhat down years for both programs in 2016. But both teams have solid talent and look to be better in 2017. The future for UGA begins with Frosh QB/JACOB EASON #10, who is clearly the best QB in Athens since MATTHEW STAFFORD. Expect UGA to pound the ball with the best pair of RB in college ball, who should be reasonably healthy for this contest: NICK CHUBB/#27 & SONY MICHEL #1. Can a very young Defense handle a dynamic TCU Offense? The TCU O improved as the season progressed with transfer KENNY HILL #7 at QB. On D watch for the Horned Frogs senior bookend DE CARRAWAY & McFARLAND, who can both pass rush and drop into zone coverage to confuse a young QB like EASON. Players to watch:

GEORGIA                                                                                TEXAS CHRISTIAN
#20 QUINCY MAUGER/S 6’0/200                                         #21 KYLE HICKS/RB 5’10/200 JR
#54 BRANDON KUBENOW/OC 6’3/296                              #30 DENZEL JOHNSON/S 6’2/205
#72 TYLER CATALINA/OT 6’5/303                                       #40 JAMES McFARLAND/DE 6’3/255
#73 GREG PYKE/OT 6’6/313                                                   #94 JOSH CARRAWAY/DE 6’4/250

NORTH CAROLINA (8-4) Vs. STANFORD (9-3); SUN Bowl; 2 PM ET; CBS … Look it’s an actual bowl game that is not on an ESPN Network station. Pretty amazing ain’t it. And it should actually be a pretty good quality game with lots of pro prospects to watch. UNC is led by QB/MITCH TRUBISKY, who some think will be the first QB drafted if he declares for the 2017 Draft. Lack of a top notch QB is actually the key issue that kept Stanford from making more noise in the PAC-12 this past season. Sad note is that CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY is bypassing this one to get ready for Combine and NFL Draft. Based on his absence I’d put my $ on the Tar Heels if i was a betting man. UNC will try to open this up into a track meet, while Stanford will attempt to play smash-mouth on both sides of the ball. Players to watch:

NORTH CAROLINA                                                             STANFORD
#2 DES LAWRENCE/CB 6’1/185                                             #3 MICHAEL RECTOR/WR 6’1/185
#3 RYAN SWITZER/WR/RS 5’10/185                                  #10 ZACH HOFFPAUIR/S 6’1/197 ?INJ
#10 MITCH TRUBISKY/QB 6’3/220 JR                               #24 DALLAS LLOYD/SS 6’2/213
#71 JON HECK/OT 6’6/300                                                    #34 PETE KALAMBAYA/OLB 6’3/245
#68 LUKE CROWLEY/OC 6’3/290                                        #57 JOHNNY CASPERS/OG 6’4/296
#84 BUG HOWARD/WR 6’5/210                                           #99 LUKE KAUMATULA/DE 6’7/295
#90 NAZAIR JONES/DT 6’5/295 RSO

TENNESSEE (8-4) Vs. NEBRASKA (9-3); MUSIC CITY Bowl; 3:30 PM ET; ESPN … Another interesting match-up of contrasting styles of play. The Huskers like to play D and run the clock with a balanced offense which eventually relies on pounding the rock and shortening the game. The VOLS have been defensively challenged and that has cost them some late game comebacks by opponents. In their defense the VOLS have been plagued by injuries all over the roster. QB DOBBS could decide this contest with a clutch late drive. Keep your eyes peeled for
#6 KAMARA, who is a human highlight film with the ball in his hands. Many Tennessee followers expect him to declare for the 2017 NFL Draft. Expect the VOLS to win a tight contest. Players to watch:

TENNESSEE                                                                          NEBRASKA
#6 ALVIN KAMARA/RB 5’10/215 JR                                    #1 JORDAN WESTERKAMP/WR 6’0/200
#9 DEREK BARNETT/DE/ER 6’3/257 JR                          #11 CATHAN CARTER/TE 6’4/240
#11 JOSHUA DOBBS/QB 6’3/207                                         #25 NATE GERRY/SS 6’2/210 ?INJ
#23 CAMERON SUTTON/CB 5’11/186                                 #34 TERRELL NEWBY/RB 5-10/200
#24 TODD KELLY/FS 5’11/208 JR                                       #52 JOSH BANDERAS/LB 6’3/240
#50 COREY VEREEN/DE 6’2/249                                       #55 KEVIN MAURICE/DT 6’5/300

SOUTH ALABAMA (6-6) Vs. AIR FORCE (9-3); ARIZONA Bowl; 5:30 PM ET; NO NATIONAL TV … Welcome to the Nothing Bowl that you might have to watch on your laptop, tablet or phone…. if you care. These are two competitive teams and it may actually be a tight battle, but I look for the Falcons to soar. NO. 8 for the AIR FORCE gets my NAME OF THE YEAR.

SOUTH ALABAMA                                                            AIR FORCE
#12 GERALD EVERETT/TE 6’4/240                                  #8 WESTON STEELHAMMER/SS 6’2/200
#72 CURTIS WILLIAMS/OT 6’5/308                                 #9 KALEN ROBINETTE/WR 6’4/215

MICHIGAN (10-2) Vs. FLORIDA STATE (9-3); ORANGE BOWL; 8 PM ET; ESPN … Now for the feature bout of the evening! Both teams had their moments in the sun, as well as some letdown games. Two of the best players in the country will be featured on he field at the same time in this contest. With FSU on Offense RB/DALVIN COOK WILL lead the charge, while All-Athlete JABRILL PEPPERS/OLB #5 tries to contain him. FSU is it’s usual wide open O, while MICHIGAN under HC HARBAUGH tries to pound his opponents into the ground. The amount of talent on the field at any given time will be overwhelming to your eyeballs. This is a nail-biter toss up contest in my eyes. South Florida will be rocking on this evening. Players to watch:

MICHIGAN                                                                         FLORIDA STATE
#4 DE’VEON SMITH/RB 5’11/228                                      #4 DALVIN COOK/RB 5’11/206 JR
#5 JABRILL PEPPERS/OLB 6’1/208 RSO                       #15 TRAVIS RUDOLPH/WR 6’1/190 JR
#26 JOURDAN LEWIS/CB 5’10/175                                 #18 RO’DERRICK HOSKINS/ILB 6’2/245
#33 TACO CHARLTON/DE 6’6/285                                 #27 MARQUEZ WHITE/CB 6’0/181
#43 CHRIS WORMLEY/DL 6’5/303                                #29 NATE ANDREWS/S 6’0/210 INJ
#78 ERIC MAGNUSON/OT 6’6/305                                 #44 DeMARCUS WALKER/DE 6’3/273
#82 AMARA DARKWA/WR 6’2/215                                 #72 KAREEM ARE/OG 6’6/330
#86 JEHU CHESSON/WR 6’3/200                                  #77 RODERICK JOHNSON/OT 6’7/307 JR
#88 JAKE BUTT/TE 6’6/250

BOWL WATCH; WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28th

PITTSBURGH (8-4) Vs. NORTHWESTERN (6-6); PINSTRIPE Bowl; 2 PM ET; ESPN … The Wildcats are a feisty bunch under HC PAT FITZGERALD. They started the season slowly, but played some really solid ball to end the year at .500. The play a bit of Offense and a bunch of Defense. But they are likely to be outclassed in this contest by a PITT team that has rolled up points in bunches, especially late in the season. Comeback POY JAMES CONNER has improved steadily all season and earned himself a /RB/# returned from his victory over cancer to excel both as a runner and receiver. He has already declared his intention to go pro after this game. Meanwhile senior QB/PETERMAN #4 has improved all season and even got an invite to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. I expect the Wildcats to hang with the Panthers for a while, but are likely to pull away in the second half. Players to watch:

PITTSBURGH                                                                   NORTHWESTERN
#5 EJUAN PRICE/DE/ER 6’0/250                                    #90 C.J. ROBBINS/DE 6’5/300
#24 JAMES CONNER/RB 6’2/230 JR                                #7 IFEADI ODENIGBO/DE 6’3/250
#53 DORIAN JOHNSON/OG 6’5/300                                #1 ANTHONY WALKER/LB 6’1/235 JR
#54 TYQUAN JARRETT/DT 6’3/335                                #21 JUSTIN JACKSON/RB 5’11/190 JR
#69 ADAM BISNOWATY/OT 6’6/300                              #76 ERIC OLSON/OT 6’6/295
#83 SCOTT ORNDOFF/TE 6’5/265                                   #80 AUSTIN CARR/WR 6’1/195
#4 NATHAN PETERMAN/QB 6’2/225

WEST VIRGINIA (10-2) Vs. MIAMI (F) (8-4); RUSSELL ATHLETIC Bowl; 5:30 PM ET; ESPN …  The Mountaineers are probably the most under-appreciated teams in the country, with their double digit win total. THat may be due in large part to laying an egg, at home, in their big game with Oklahoma on their home field.But the team is well balanced and may have most of their RB group healthy for this contest. Their OL is very solid with several pro prospects as you will see below. Their D has also shined at times and is led by their pro prospect CB/RASUL DOUGLAS. MIAMI may be playing with BRAD KAAYA @ QB for the final time. He’s started since Day 1 as a frosh, and would be a Top 4 QB prospect if he comes out early. He and STACY COLEY/WR are a dynamic duo. WVU looks to have the depth and talent to prevail in the long haul. Players to watch:

WEST VIRGINIA                                                              MIAMI
#6 DAIKIEL SHORTS/WR 6’1/205                                     #2 JOE YEARBY/RB 5’9/207 JR
#7 RUSHEL SHELL/RB 5’10/215                                         #3 STACY COLEY/WR 6’1/195
#13 RASUL DOUGLAS/CB 6’2/208                                    #6 JAMAL CARTER/S 6’1/209
#49 DARIEN HOWARD/DT 6’1/300                                 #15 BRAD KAAYA/QB 6’4/210 JR
#57 ADAM PANKEY/OG 6’5/315                                        #26 RAYSHAWN JENKINS/S 6’2/208
#65 TERRY ORLOSKY/OC 6’4/295                                    #29 CORN ELDER/CB 5’10/178
#97 NOBLE NWACHUKWU/DE 6’2/275                          #63 DANNY ISADORA/OG 6’4/310
…                                                                                                  #86 DAVID NJOKU/TE/6’4/245/RSO

UTAH (8-4) Vs. INDIANA (6-6); FOSTER FARMS Bowl; 8:30 PM ET; ESPN … This one looks like a major mismatch on paper. The talent advantage clearly goes to the UTES, and on top of that INDIANA HC KEVIN WILSON was forced to resign by the school administration last month. Watch for Utah RB/JOE WALKER/#, who “retired” back in September, and then was talked into retuning when injuries decimated the RB corps. He’s been a 200-yard per game rusher since his return. IU as a solid OL, led by DAN FEENEY/#67, the consensus top OG prospect for 2017, but he can’t block everybody at once. I expect a double-digit Win for the UTES. Players to watch:

UTAH                                                                                        INDIANA

#20 MARCUS WILLIAMS/S 6’1/195 JR                                #4 RICKY JONES/WR/RS 5’10/184
#29 JOE WILLIAMS/RB 5’11/205                                         #44 MARCUS OLIVER/ILB 6’1/235 JR
#49 HUNTER DIMICK/DE 6’3/272                                      #67 DAN FEENEY/OG 6’4/305
#52 SAM TEVI/OT 6’6/305                                                     #77 DIMITRIC CAMIEL/OT 6’7/310
#72 GARRETT BOLES/OT 6’6/296 JR

TEXAS A&M (8-4) Vs. KANSAS STATE (8-4); TEXAS Bowl; 9 PM ET; ESPN … I have great respect for HC BILL SNYDER of K-State, but not all 8-4 teams are created equal. A&M faced a tough SEC schedule on a weekly basis, while the Wildcats basically beat no one with an overall winning record. SNYDER will likely keep his team in this with a conservative game plan relying on the opponent to make a few mistakes, while his troops protect the ball. That will work for a while until super star MYLES GARRETT/DE/#15 leads the A&M Defense in pressuring any/all K-State QBs into mistakes. GARRETT may be healthier than he has been since September for this one, which is bad news for the Wildcats. A&M also has big play potential on Offense with receivers REYNOLDS/SEALS-JONES/KIRK all able break the big play. QB/TREVOR KNIGHT/#8 should be fairly healthy and able to lead the Offense. A&M will likely pull away from State for a convincing win. Players to watch:

TEXAS A&M                                                                         KANSAS STATE
#9 RICKY SEALS-JONES/WR 6’5/240 JR                         #6 DEANTE BURTON/WR 6’2/205
#10 DAESHON HALL/DE 6’6/270                                       #9 ELIJAH LEE/LB 6’3/220 JR
#11 JOSH REYNOLDS/WR 6’4/190                                    #10 DONNIE STARKS/CB 6’0/180
#14 JUSTIN EVANS/S 6’1/195                                              #22 DANTE BARNETT/FS 6’1/195
#15 MYLES GARRETT/DE/ER 6’5/265 JR                       #24 CHARLES JONES/RB 5’10/206
#33 SHAAN WASHINGTON/LB 6’3/235                          #75 JORDAN WILLIS/DE 6’5/260
#65 AVERY GENNESY/OT 6’5/310

Who Caught My Eye Bowl Watch

It’s our last chance to see prospects in live game action as the Bowl season trudges on. In some cases the games are bereft of serious prospects to thumbnail because almost 150 were done during the regular season play. But in some cases there are also previously injured players who are returning to action. On the downside the new trend of players skipping their final collegiate game to head for Performance Camps, but those numbers are small, at least for now. Anyway here are some guys who have literally caught my eye already.

DANIEL BUSHKILL/OT/SAN DIEGO STATE 6’5/270 #71 Watch for this guys name at the Combine and during All-Star Game action. He was their second string TE going into Spring ball in 2016. But the coaching staff switched him to OT. By October I was starting to hear his name being whispered as a legit pro prospect at his new position. Sure enough, he looked fundamentally sound in their Las Vegas Bowl win. My eyes say he is of course far from a finished product at his new spot, but I also saw enough to think he has long range potential. Believe it or not I thought he looked better in pass pro, than trying to run block. He is reportedly up to 270 lbs, and clearly is trying to adjust to his new body. He still looks lean and fit though. What he currently lacks in strength is compensated for, in part, by his athleticism. He may become a very intriguing late round prospect.

DAKOTA COX/LB/NEW MEXICO 6’0/231 #49 Sorry to say I had little opportunity and even less viewing time to watch New Mexico play this past season. So watching the New Mexico Bowl was my first/last chance to watch the team carefully. Congrats to Bob Davie for reviving a dormant football program, by the way. The most impressive player to my eyes was LB/COX for the Lobos. He displayed nice athleticism and football savvy. He’s a good tackler and pursues til the whistle. I was impressed with his ability to handle his responsibilities in pass coverage situations. At times he looked to me like a jumbo SS playing in the box. At the end of the day his stat sheet showed me what I thought I saw from him was legit. He was credited with 10 tackles (to lead his team) including 1.5 TFL. He also clearly had several PBU. If he can further develop his current skill set he may have a career in the NFL as a back-up, sub-package & Special Teams player. He might be draftable, albeit late.

MARCUS COX/RB/APPALACHIAN STATE 5’10/200 #14 COX lost his starting/feature RB job to JALEN MOORE this past season, but with MOORE nicked up throughout the Camellia Bowl it was COX who flashed his old skills that allowed him to gain over 1400 yards rushing in 2015. On the day he carried the ball 22 times for 143 yards and 1 TD. I’m not sure how straight-line fast he is, but he has great burst and can really pick up those feet and put them down, as we used to say a quarter century ago. He gets lots of yards after contact due to his balance and forward lean running style. I would think that this effort has put some shine back into his game as a legit possible third day draftee. He also caught two short passes, which will be a major consideration when looking at his overall value. This guy is the kind of quick hitting runner, with the balance and burst to gain yardage through NFL size creases in opponents DL. He’s fighting to make himself draftable and his performance in workouts and hopefully an All-Star game will be critical in the coming months.

SAMSON EBUKAM/DE/OLB/E. WASHINGTON 6’3/240 #3 The long range prospects for EBUKAM are very good because he plays with high energy and looks to be a natural as an edge rusher. But he clearly faces the challenge of adapting to life standing up as an OLB. No question about his athleticism however. Against Youngstown, he got caught up in the wash way too often when trying to set the edge or collapse on running plays inside the tackles. His eagerness to rush the passer also resulted in his being pushed way too far past the QB to actually affect the play. But his quickness and balance are excellent when targeting the QB in the pocket area. He had a 2nd Quarter sack as well as a deflected pass. I felt he was held on multiple occasions during the game, especially in pass-pro. I think it is safe to say that he is fairly raw, but possesses the athleticism and energy to refine his game under pro coaching, and could be RBOERT MATHIS player as a pro. He has to be drafted, likely in the middle rounds.

ANTONIO GARCIA/OT/TROY 6’7/302 #53 Most NFL personnel people think this is one of the weakest OT groups this decade. This will be especially true if a handful of the top juniors don’t declare for inclusion in the 2017 Draft. When such a situation presents itself the talent scouts dig a little deeper looking for potential gems. Go back a few years when a guy named ERIC FISHER from the MAC had a really solid Senior Bowl and vaulted up to being the first pick in the entire Draft. I’m not projecting that for GARCIA, an actual senior, but his name is rising and he recently was named to the Senior Bowl roster for late January. Coincidentally, he was in Mobile Friday night for the Dollar General Bowl affording yours truly his first chance to see him in action. We are talking the real deal here folks with strong Top 100 potential. He has some work to do in strengthening his run blocking, but the whole package is there. He’s a long, lean athlete with great feet. He’s as quick off the snap in pass-pro as anyone I have seen this year. He’s clearly a natural knee-bender who almost looks like a training film for form with fully bent knees, a straight vertical upper body and extended arms waiting to repel pass rushers. He uses agile feet to mirror defenders handily. He looks like he needs to work on a stronger initial hand punch to jolt defenders. He also needs to beef up in his upper body. He’s barely over 300 lbs. right now and should/could easily slide up to 315/320 if it’s muscle. He also showed a tendency to try to cut-block defenders on running plays. I do NOT like that technique in taller, athletic linemen. The bottom line is that he is really good, and looks to have major upside. He should emerge as a starting OT in the League in a few years, and I look forward to watching him a the Senior Bowl next month.

COOPER KUPP/WR/E. WASHINGTON 6’2/215 #10 KUPP seemed to be the top rated FCS prospect going into the 2016 season. After watching him play in the semi-final loss to Youngstown State I can see why. This guy is a polished player and a good athlete. Though he is not a speedster, he had enough speed to get open deep on several occasions. And to his credit on those occasions he had to pull up to wait for under-thrown balls, then battle with defenders to make the catch. And catch them he did. He showed excellent hands on a single digit temperature day. He made a nifty one-handed catch of an errant throw in the second quarter. He was double teamed from the start of the game and still finished the day with 10 catches for 180 yards and 2 TD. He also showed the physical strength to win contested throws and break tackles. I think he will bring the same ability to an NFL team as that of ERIC DECKER of the JETS. Luckily, we will see much more of him in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. A good showing there, and posting some solid numbers at the Combine could push him to the cusp of Round 1, IMO.

HENRY LANGI/LB/DE/BYU 6’3/249 #16 This do-everything defender may be a riser as we get into All-Star game action and Combine/Pro Day workouts. BYU had a Top 10 rushing Defense this season and the versatile LONGI played a big part in that work. He split time this season as a LB, and a pass-rusher with his hand on the ground. He is not a superior athlete, but he is a highly productive player with a clearly high FBI. He absolutely covered the field in BYU’s win over Wyoming in the Holiday Bowl. He was dropping into coverage, rushing the passer and, of course, stuffing the Cowboys rushing attack. He finished the night with 16 tackles, to match his uniform number, including 1 TFL. He’s big enough to take on blockers and runners at the point of attack, but also does an excellent job dropping into shallow/medium coverage. Watch for his name in the next 4 months. I just have a notion he will make some noise as a fairly early 3rd Day draftee prospect.

NICK MULLENS/QB/SOUTHERN MISS 6’1/195 #9 Anther gunslinger is coming out of Southern Miss, but let’s be real and dispense with any pretense of FAVRE comparisons. At best he may have potential to stick on some team as a developmental 3rd QB. Which means he’s likely to go undrafted, but… He can move around and sling the ball downfield. In the near home game New Orleans Bowl MULLENS was a one man army in crunch time situations. He finished the game going 25/40- 62.5%- 346 yards- 2TD- 1 INT. He did not dominate the game totally with 2 turnovers to his name (1 INT, 1 Fumble), but he was the field general who did what needed to be done more often than not. The 2016 NFL Draft featured 15 QB being drafted. I don’t expect a new record this next April, but if it gets close he’ll be among those getting late consideration. Right now I would say he’s most likely an URFA.

CALVIN MUNSON/ILB/SAN DIEGO STATE 6’1/240 #54 In the last 3 seasons MUNSON has never failed to start a game for the Aztecs D. He has played both inside and outside in their schemes. I think he’s best suited as an ILB in a base 3-4 scheme at the next level. His lack of length will be less obvious on the inside, IMO. But he shows the whole package despite not exactly being a great athletic specimen. How about if we say he’s a smart, hard nosed football player. He was decidedly the leader of the Aztecs D with his play in the Las Vegas Bowl. By the end of the evening he had recorded 8 tackles, including 1 Sack and 1 TFL. Then as a finishing touch to the evening he sealed his team’s victory with an INT in the late 4th Quarter. He’s a high rev motor guy with a high FBI. He should be outstanding Special Teams player immediately for his pro team. Given his skill set what appeals most to me is his ability to diagnose the pass and effectively drop into short area coverage. His resume’ says he gets a few Picks every season. His pro potential may exceed his athleticism.

STORM NORTON/OT/TOLEDO 6’7/306 #74 I am not going to proclaim NORTON as a top prospect, but I do see him as being draftable. His play can best be described as steady. He more than held his own in the Camellia Bowl against an aggressive APP State Defense. I liked his work best in pass-pro in this contest, but he was adequate with his run blocking, especially to his side of the field. He had a tendency to go for cut blocks on running plays away from him, which in general I feel is an ugly look for guys his size. He looked to me to have a strong, effective arm extension and hand punch. He also showed a pretty good/quick first step backwards in pass-pro. Like most really big bodies he is likely to be challenged at the next level by fast/quick edge rushers, and primarily for that reason I think he is a possible late round draftee at this stage in his play.

JORDAN REID/WR/OHIO 6’3/210 #12 REID turned out to be the go-to guy for the Ohio Offense in the Dollar General Bowl Friday night. He ran solid routes, and showed dependable hands. He was also to gain some significant yards after the catch with his strength and good field vision. He can catch in a crowd and his size makes him a natural red zone threat on jump balls. He became the teams big playmaker against TROY finishing the night with 12 catches for 162 yards and 1TD. Speed, or lack thereof, may be the biggest concern for Personnel People heading into Draft evaluation season, but his size and hands will earn him points. Most NFL receiving groups show balance between pure speed, quickness, size and a few other factors. For a team lacking a big guy to work the middle and run over defenders after the catch REID should start generating interest in later rounds. If not in the states, he should generate some scouting interest from CFL talent scouts.

2016 FINAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL RANKINGS

Time to give this a whirl, pre-Bowl season. Luckily we now have a Final Four to look forward to in January. But until that process rolls around, here is how I rank teams heading into the Bowl Season.

1) ALABAMA 13-0 Really! Any questions here?

2) CLEMSON 12-1 May not have rolled over many opponents, but had enough to keep winning.
3) OHIO STATE 11-1 One hiccup game and perfection was down the drain. Wait til next year.
4) WASHINGTON 12-1 Great young team that could be better in 2017 if junior stars stay around.

5) PENN STATE 11-2 Just think, even in 2015 some were doubting FRANKLIN was the right man.
6) OKLAHOMA 10-2 It’s been a trying year for the D, but the O is top notch.
7) MICHIGAN 10-2 The team seemed to wear down late, but lots of talent on campus.
8) WEST VIRGINIA 10-2 Solid team, which laid a big bad egg against Oklahoma at home.
9) WISCONSIN 10-3 A surprisingly successful season for a team racked by injuries.
10) SOUTHERN CAL 9-3 Coaching Staff chose the wrong QB at start of season, but is now rolling.

11) WESTERN MICHIGAN 13-0 I can’t put an undefeated team lower than this. Keep rowing guys!

12) LOUISVILLE 9-3
13) COLORADO 10-3
14) FLORIDA STATE 9-3
15) OKLAHOMA STATE 9-3
16) STANFORD 9-3
17) HOUSTON 9-3
18) SOUTH FLORIDA 10-2
19) TEMPLE 10-3
20) WESTERN KENTUCKY 10-3
21) NAVY 9-3* One more game to play vs. ARMY
22) VIRGINIA TECH 9-4
23) BOISE STATE 10-2
24) SAN DIEGO STATE 10-3
25) FLORIDA 8-4

At least a half-dozen teams are poised to crash these rankings with impressive work while Bowling For Dollars.

PIGSKIN

Who Caught My Eye Week 14

This pretty much wraps up our weekly prospect thumbnails of the week since the 2016 College football season is now over. But wait, in a couple of weeks the Bowl season gets underway and will provide us with more prospect play to review.

TARELL BASHAM/DE/OHIO 6’4/265 OHIO #93 There may be almost as many questions about BASHAM’s pro potential as their are actual positives. He has been a reliable player for FRANK SOLICH at Ohio, and has some nice pass-rush moves, not to mention a very high rev motor. He tries to set the edge against the run, but he’s pretty lean. So an immediate question is whether he can pack on 10 or more pounds and hold up in a pro 4-3 scheme. He had a solid effort in the MAC Championship game against Western Michigan, being credited with 5 tackles, including 1 TFL & 1/2 Sack. To his credit I would also estimate another 3 QBH as he and his teammates on D forced WMU QB/ZACH TERRELL to play under pressure all night and have his most mediocre performance of the season. With a Bowl game still to play BASHAM has 10 1/2 Sacks on the season. I expect him to be a Saturday Draftee. He is committed to the Senior Bowl and I will be curious to see how they work with him in practice with a possible OLB job in mind.

RUEBEN FOSTER/ILB/ALABAMA 6’1/240 #10 In the 2015 season ‘Bama’s Alpha Dog of Defense was REGGIE RAGLAND, who has moved on to the pro game. In 2016 another ILB, FOSTER has taken over the lead dog role for the Tide D. FOSTER is a savvy, instinctive, high FBI player who holds the unit together. During the Tides 13 game roll to the SEC title, FOSTER racked a total of 94 tackles. He is slightly undersized by NFL standards bit he is certainly big enough to play ILB in a base 3-4 scheme. In the anti-climactic SEC title game with Florida he amassed 11 tackles, including 2.5 TFL and 2 Sacks. I don’t expect him to be taken in Round 1, but if he makes it to Round 3 some NFL team likely gets a steal. If he has to wait his turn at a starting job, I would project he will star on multiple Special Teams units. Don’t expect him to rock the Combine in his underwear. I could picture him as a slightly lesser version of MOSLEY of the RAVENS, in an NFL Defense.

MATT GESICKI/TE/PENN STATE 6’6/255 #88 JR Just like the Penn State team overall GESICKI really blossomed during the surprisingly successful 2016 season for the Nittany Lions. He’s a full sized guy, who is a solid inline blocker. But he has also shown that he has the perhaps surprising speed to get separation downfield, as well as excellent hands to make catches. He is also almost acrobatic on the sidelines and in the red zone. His 1st Quarter TD catch of 33 yards in the end zone broke the early game dominance of the Badgers. For the game he had 3 catches for 58 yards and 1 TD. On the season, he pulled in 47 catches for 668 yards and 4 TD. That’s a solid 14.2 ypc for a 255-pounder. My gut says he’s staying in school for another season, but I would also expect that he will have voices in his ear telling him he can be a Top 5 TE if he comes out now. Those voices might be correct. After a couple of recent years of relatively few full-sized TE prospects, his presence might be welcomed by the 3rd Round for some NFL teams without a young TE on their roster.

FORREST LAMP/OG/WESTERN KENTUCKY 6’3/300 2016 was LAMP’s 3rd straight season as a starting OT for the Hilltoppers. He has developed as both a run blocker and a pass protector in the wide open WKU offense. He is quick off the snap of the ball and easily gets to second level blocks. He has a strong upper body, with a devastating hand punch. He put several defenders on their butts with his explosive hand punch, in the win over LA TECH that I watched. He is projected by most to be moving inside at the next level, because he is only about 6’3 and has less than ideal arm length. In reality that may make him one of the top 5 OG prospects, because he has shown more than enough athleticism to play well at LT the past 2 seasons. He looks to be a natural knee bender who fires out to get to second level blocks. His initial role in the NFL may be as a 3-4 position backup on a game day roster. He has accepted an invitation to appear in the 2017 Senior Bowl game in Mobile. Can’t wait. Could he be the next JOE HAEG to emerge there against the big boy competition?!

JOE MIXON/RB/OKLAHOMA 6’1/225 #25 RSO I am surprised I don’t see MIXON on more prospect sheets since he is indeed Draft eligible, after sitting out the 2014 college season for qualifying reasons. MIXON has been almost the perfect compliment to SAMAJE PERINE in the Sooners running attack. While PERINE pounds opponents’ Defenses, MIXON is the big play waiting to happen. He is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield. The big instate W over Oklahoma State was a great example of his value and multiple skills. PERINE was carrying the ball and the day as the Sooners pulled ahead in the 3rd Quarter. But then he got nicked and went to the locker room for repairs. In comes MIXON and immediately breaks off a 79 TD run, winding his way through the entire State D. For the game MIXON carried 11 times for 99 yards and that TD. He also caught 2 balls for 19 yards and another TD. On the season MIXON now has 1183 yards rushing, at 7.0 ypc and 8 TD. He also has 32 catches for 449 yards and 5 TD. I do NOT see him as the new ADRIAN PETERSON, but he’s damn close. I hate to say it SOONER fans, but I could see you losing both PERINE & MIXON to the 2017 Draft. I would guess MIXON would be a monster in underwear at the Combine. Athletically, I’d see him as a First Rounder if he comes out early.

TAYWON TAYLOR/WR/WESTERN KENTUCKY 6’1/190 #2 This guy is close to being a first rounder IMO. Chances are a Senior Bowl appearance and his Combine work will decide that. But I have little doubt that his combination of speed, good hands and elusiveness after the catch will add up to an immediate role as a top 3 receiver on an NFL roster. He’s not one of the “big” receivers, but he will work the middle of the field and will bounce off contact in the secondary, picking up significant after the catch yardage. He had a typical day, for him, in the Conference USA Championship Game victory for the Hilltoppers. He caught 7 balls, for 194 yards and 2 TD. On the season he posted 89 catches for 1586 yards and 16 TD, in 13 games. That yielded a yards/catch average of 17.8, making it 3 years in a row of over 17 yards per catch. He has accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl. he should show well there, and in Indy.

TRENT TAYLOR/WR/LOUISIANA TECH 5’8/178 #5 It has become much more common place in the NFL these days to have a smaller framed guy like TRENT on their roster to compliment a team’s full sized WRs. TAYLOR is as quick as a hiccup, and just as fearless. He did not handle return work this season, but I can envision him as a potential Punt Returner with his quickness and explosiveness. He was Mr. Reliable in the Championship game against WKU, hauling in 11 balls for 108 yards. For the 2016 season he has totaled 124 caches for 1570 yards and 10 TD. Happily for those of us wondering how he potentially fits against the truly big boy defenses he is currently listed as a Senior Bowl attendee. We can dredge up names like WLEKER, AMENDOLA and more, but more smurf guys have slipped away quietly than succeeded as pros. Let’s just say right now that to my eyes TRENT has more than a few of the qualities the League seeks, and should be draftable, albeit late.

ANTHONY WALES/RB/WESTERN KENTUCKY 5’10/195 #20 I watched the final two games (sans Bowl season) of the season for the WKU team and came away the most impressed with the productivity of WALES. This dual purpose back may not have the size to tote the rock 20 times per game as a pro, but he has the versatility to see a lot of action in a RB rotation. He gained 1376 yards rushing on the season, at an average of 6.8 ypc. He also found the end zone 28 times, including 24 on the ground. He was indeed a workhorse in the Conference championship game touching the ball 41 times while rushing for 209 yards and 4 TD, plus catching 5 balls for another TD. He’s not a speed burner, but is light on his feet and can get to the corner. He also picks his running lanes well between the tackles for tough inside yards. His cutback moves are swift and decisive. Good balance allows him to get significant yards after contact. It will be a gross oversight if he’s not at the Combine and an All-Star game.

T.J. WATT/OLB/WISCONSIN 6’5/247 #42 JR Will the supply of players to the NFL from the WATT family never end? Not any time soon, and that’s a good thing for the pro talent pool. T.J. is the next in line and if not for some injury issues during his stay in Madison this guy would have been garnering more serious pub prior to this season. He’s not J.J. on a pure talent basis, but he certainly has enough ability and the high rev energy level that J.J. and DEREK have displayed, to be highly sought after in the 2017 Draft if he declares. He shows natural pass-rush ability and has a long frame. He and VINCE BIEGEL could arguably be the best pair of OLB in college football this year. WATT had 4 tackles, including 1/2 TFL and 1 Sack, and 2 QBH in the Big Ten championship game. He was close to recording sacks on multiple additional occasions. He is above average in coverage, although he was caught in man-coverage on a RB out of the backfield, which resulted in a Penn State TD. The other issue on this day was that TRACE McSORLEY/QB may be more dangerous on the run than when he stays in the pocket. But WATT had a very solid Junior season, and certainly has to be considered as a possible early entry for the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s a Top 100 prospect.

College Football Preview Week 14

Except for ARMY/NAVY this is the weekend for the final games of the 2016 season. We have a mix of Conference Championship games as well as the wrap up of the Big 12 regular schedule.

LOUISIANA TECH (8-4) @ WESTERN KENTUCKY (9-3) by 8; C-USA Title Game NOON/ET ESPN … Two well known names in the world of college football are building some perennial winning programs with SKIP HOLTZ coaching TECH and the BROHM Brothers running the WKU program. Both teams are best known for their offensive prowess this season. So therefore let me project that whichever team’s Defense can step up and make a few stops and create a couple of turnovers is likely to emerge victorious. Sounds like an Arena Football match-up doesn’t it?! Great little match-up between the Conference’s top two wideouts with the battling TAYLORs in action. If you are a gambler at heart contact your Vegas sports book and bet the OVER for total catches on the game by the two TAYLORs combined. This should make for exciting viewing unless you are a football purist who expects Defenses to show up. I think WKU has a decided edge in this one. Prospects to watch:

LOUISIANA TECH                                                                 WESTERN KENTUCKY
#5 TRENT TAYLOR/WR/RS 5’8/178                                    #2 TAYWAN TAYLOR/WR 6’1/195
#7 XAVIER WOODS/S 5’11/188                                            #20 ANTHONY WALES/RB 5’10/195
#5 DALTON SANTOS/ILB 6’2/257                                       #31 BRANDEN LESTON/S 6’3/205
#75 DARRELL BROWN/OT 6’4/300                                   #76 FORREST LAMP/G/T 6’4/300

#1 CARLOS HENDERSON/WR/5-11, 195/JR

#14 RYAN HIGGINS/QB/6-2, 215

OKLAHOMA STATE (9-2) by 3 @ OKLAHOMA (9-2) 12:30PM/ET FOX … One more time I will say Oklahoma State should be 10-1 – and very much in the discussion to be in the CFP playoff because of that loss that shouldn’t have been early in the year against Central Michigan – but let’s leave it at that. The Sooners lack of Defense has been appalling at times for a major football program this season, injuries or not. State appears to have developed into a nicely balanced team that can run and throw, as well as play respectable Defense at times. But their D will be tested severely by the Sooners RB combo of PERINE & MIXON, who could both be in the NFL next year. It’s also a great college QB match-up with RUDOLPH for State, and MAYFIELD for Oklahoma. In-state rivalries are usually something special to watch, and this one shapes up that way. I’ll go for State despite being on the road. Prospects to watch:

OKLAHOMA STATE                                                         OKLAHOMA
#2 MASON RUDOLPH/QB 6’5/235 JR                               #6 CURTIS MAYFIELD/QB 6’1/212/JR
#13 JORDAN STERNS/S 6’0/200                                        #5 GENO LEWIS/WR 6’1/200
#47 BLAKE JARWIN/TE 6’5/246                                       #11 DEDE WESTBROOK/WR/RS 6’0/170
#28 JAMES WASHINGTON/WR 6’0/205 JR                  #32 SAMAJE PERINE/RB 5’10/234 JR
#96 VINCENT TAYLOR/DT 6’3/310 JR                             #13 AHMAD THOMAS/S 6’1/210
#77 VICTOR SALAKO/OT 6’6/330                                     #26 JORDAN EVANS/LB 6’2/233
#40 DEVANTE AVERETTE/LB 5’11/240                          #25 JOE MIXON/RB 6’1/225 RSO

BAYLOR (6-5) @ WEST VIRGINIA (9-2) by 4 3:30/ET FS1 … Baylor has come unhinged in the second half of the season, since the injury to SETH RUSSELL forced them to start a Frosh at the QB spot. The Mountaineers were one of my dark horse teams for much of the year, but they really laid an egg in their big showdown game at home with Oklahoma. They get one more shot here to win an important game at home. I can’t see them imploding again in this one. We might have a great pro prospect match-up in this game especially of WR/CANNON is matched up against the nation’s Interception leader CB/DOUGLAS. If RB/JUSTIN CRAWFORD has a big day I would expect WVU to control the tempo and thusly the scoreboard. Prospects to watch:

BAYLOR                                                                                    WEST VIRGINIA 
#9 K.D. CANNON/WR 6’0/180 JR                                       #6 DAIKIEL SHORTS/WR 6’1/205
#32 SHOCK LINWOOD/RB 5’9/200                                  #25 JUSTIN CRAWFORD/RB 6’0/200 JR
#55 KYLE FULLER/OC 6’5/315                                           #65 TERYY ORLOSKY/OC 6’4/295
#17 SETH RUSSELL/QB 6’3/220 INJ                                #97 NOBLE NWACHKWU/DE 6’2/275
#28 ORION STEWART/S 6’2/200                                      #49 DARIEN HOWARD/DT 6’1/297
#9 RYAN REID/CB 5’11/190                                                  #13 RASUL DOUGLAS/CB 6’2/208

CLEMSON (10-1) by 6 vs. VIRGINIA TECH (8-3); ACC Title Game; 8PM/ET ABC … Clemson seems to have lost some luster this season by not dominating very many games, but don’t underrate them. The talent mother lode is real for the Tigers. Could it be their Coach’s motor mouth has distracted them at times? Be clear that DESHAUN WATSON/QB wants to win and put up big numbers in a year when another ACC QB names JACKSON has stolen the spotlight. TECH has had an almost seamless transition from BEAMER to FUENTES, and has improved all season. Two of the Top 10 WR prospects will be on display in this one with WILLIAMS for Clemson, and FORD for Tech lighting up the opposing secondaries, which are quite good for both teams. But TECH had best be on their game from the onset, or this could get ugly. CLEMSON has the horses to wear teams down, while TECH is a bit thin this season. I’ll take the Tigers to win and advance to the Final Four. Prospects to watch:

CLEMSON                                                                            VIRGINIA TECH
#4 DESHAUN WATSON/QB 6’2/210 JR                            #1 ISAIAH FORD/WR 6’2/190 JR
#7 MIKE WILLIAMS/WR 6’4/220 JR                                 #7 BUCKY HODGES/TE 6’7/245 JR
#9 WAYNE GALLMAN/RB 6’0/215 JR                              #45 SAM ROGERS/FB 5’10/228
#16 JORDAN LEGGETT/TE 6’5/255                                    #4 KEN EKANEM/DE/ER 6’3/255
#10 BEN BOULWARE/ILB 5’11/240                                   #19 CHUCK CLARK/SS 6’1/205
#18 JADAR JOHNSON/S 6’1/205                                       #60 WOODY BARON/DL 6’1/275
#25 CORDREA TANKERSLEY/CB 6’1/195                        #95 NIGEL WILLIAMS/DT 6’4/295
#94 CARLOS WATKINS/DT 6’3/300

Enjoy! Pigskin

WHO CAUGHT MY EYE WEEK 13

DANIEL CARLSON/PK/AUBURN 6’4/215 #38 JR It is not very often that I look to Kicker underclassmen as prospects for declaring early for the NFL Draft, but after watching CARLSON again this season I think he is as close to being a dominant player at the position as we can get right now. And for way too many NFL teams, even in this era of wide open offenses, the ability of their Kicker to convert on more than 75% of his FG is critical to several potential wins per season. CARLSON has one of the smoothest kicking motions of anyone I have seen in recent memory. He has accuracy as well as power. He stood out again in the Iron Bowl hitting on 4 of 5 attempts, with his only miss being from 50+ yards out. In fact for the season he is now 9 of 13 from 50-yards or more. That’s 69%, which many current day kickers barely top on all attempts. It should also be noted that he has the leg strength to kick-off into and thru the end zone. I have no info indicating he’s thinking of leaving school early, but I will also note that he is a 3.66 GPA who already has his degree in Finance. He might be draftable in the Top 100 if he does come out.

TACO CHARLTON/DE/MICHIGAN 6’6/275 #33 TACO is another of Michigan’s seniors who reinvented themselves with the arrival of HC JIM HARBAUGH last year. And he really impressed with his work in the big showdown game with Ohio State last weekend. He appeared on camera, chasing the ball constantly. Officially he had 9 tackles, including 3 TFL, 2.5 of them for sacks. He has incredibly long arms and legs. I can’t wait to see his hand and wing span at the Combine. He looked to be battling cramps during the second half of the big game last Saturday, but he kept getting back on the field and making plays through the pain. He shows natural pass rush ability and is starting to use his length to intimidate and block the vision and throwing lanes of opposing QB. Based on his development this season I would suspect that he has more upside to be tapped at the pro level. A good All-Star game performance and some eye-popping numbers at the Combine could easily get him into the top 3 Rounds of the 2017 Draft. He has a CLOWNEY look in pads.

D’ONTA FOREMAN/RB/TEXAS 6’0/238 #33 JR FOREMAN has exploded for the Longhorns over the past two seasons. To put it frankly he has looked a lot like a former Longhorns RB named EARL CAMPBELL. He can run through, over and around tacklers. He should make a strong short yardage runner as a pro and a guy who can accumulate multiple 20 yard runs for his team. He topped 2,000-yards behind a very average OL this season. Why come back for his senior campaign? Another coaching staff change and the wear and tear of another season on his body cannot logically be making him lean toward another season in Austin. He’s already a late first rounder IMO, and I doubt that gets any higher even if he runs for another 2000 yards next season in college. Come on down D’ONTA, and start getting paid for the beating your body is absorbing. By the way, despite the Longhorns passing their brains off in the 2nd half against TCU, trying to keep up on the scoreboard, FREEMAN finished the day with 165 yards on 31 caries. And believe me if you didn’t watch the game, he earned most of those yards on effort and power, behind a mediocre OL blocking effort.

JADAR JOHNSON/S/CLEMSON 6’0/210 #18 Here is another guy who tickles my fancy. He had a whopping 2 starts during his first 3 seasons with the Tigers. Then when multiple juniors in the secondary defected to the 2016 Draft, JOHNSON got his chance, and made the most of it. He clearly won a starting job last Spring and August. He’s not an elite player, but showed he is better than average this season. He was a major part of a strong Clemson defensive effort that shut down the Gamecocks in a 56-7 victory. He tallied 3 tackles with 1.5 of them being TFL. He also made a nice downfield INT, giving him 5 picks for his first full season as a starter. I can guarantee you that he should also make a solid Special Teams performer as a pro. He has enough athleticism and more than enough “want-to” to go out there and knock heads covering kicks and punts. Chances are good at this point that he will be a late Draftee.

ERIK MAGNUSON/OT/MICHIGAN 6’6/305 #78 Believe it or not even the top college football teams (except for maybe that Saban team) are full of nothing but 5-Star recruits. There are lots of less heralded high school players who dot college rosters. ERIC MAGNUSON has worked his tail off and made himself a solid OT, who has a solid chance to be a mid-Round Draft Pick in 2017. He has flourished in the Jim Harbaugh offense the past two seasons where the run and pass are balanced leaning slightly more to the run. He has a nice long frame and stays on his feet well. His biggest weakness shows when he must try to keep up with speed rushers. But that is partly why he’s over on the right, not the QB’s blind side. He held up well overall in the Ohio State game. He was able to engage and control some Buckeye DE, which is a deep talent position for OSU. He shows good and active hand usage overall. He displayed some excellent seal blocks down on the goal line. I’d look for him somewhere in the Round 5-6 area with a decent chance to fight for a starting RT job in a few years, with some intense OL coaching at the next level.

PAT MAHOMES/QB/TEXAS TECH 6’3/230 #5 JR I present another name in our seemingly endless search to find an NFL QB candidate worthy of early selection in the 2017 Draft. The first thing in his favor is that his dad pitched in the Major Leagues for almost a decade. You know me and the gene pool theory. He has been the highlight of TECH HC KINGSBURY’s program. TECH can’t recruit enough athletes to play Offense and Defense, so most games are a shootout and scoring fest. They beat Baylor last weekend by the score of 54-35. MAHOMES has thrown for over 5,000 yards this season, with one game left to play. Go check your NCAA record books folks. Against Baylor MAHOMES was 30/46- 65%- 586 yards- 6 TD- 0 INT. He can throw it long or short with a better than average arm. His throwing fundamentals and footwork require some serious refinement for the NFL, but the natural talent is there. Luckily he has good size because he’s constantly throwing under pressure. On several occasions I was fearful he was out for the game, but he got up and kept on throwing. You can call him a product of a system, but he’s mastered it and looks to me to have solid pro potential. If the NFL shuns him he could be a record setter in the CFL. I can’t see him returning to college for 2017.

DREW MORGAN/WR/ARKANSAS 6’0/195 #80 You could almost put MORGAN’s picture in the football dictionary next to the definition of possession receiver at this point in time. Going into the Mizzou game MORGAN had 56 receptions on the year and 35 of them had resulted in first downs. That clearly indicates to me a receiver who runs good patterns and gets the needed yardage on those routes. He can gain some yardage after the catch, but that’s not his strong point. He had a typical game effort against the Tigers with 6 catches for 54 yards. I counted 3 of those 6 receptions being good for first downs, by the way. He is also known for his reliable hands and ability to work the sideline as an ally against defenders. He’s tough as nails, although it does concern me the number of hits he takes which cause him to leave the field for at least a few plays. Will he be a constant target of concussion protocol watch dogs at the next level? I would also expect him to find several niches on Special Teams units to secure a pro career. Another middle round draftee in my book.

JALEN MYRICK/CB/MINNESOTA 5’10/205 #5 Last season the Golden Gophers sent both of their starting CB to the NFL in MURRAY & BODDY-CALHOUN. But not to fear in 2016, because MYRICK was ready and waiting to step up and seize a full-time job. He is a solid cover Corner who plays the ball well in the air and can deliver a solid blow to would-be receivers with his compact, 205 lb. frame. He also handles his coverage business really well all across the field. He was part of a great defensive effort agains the Badgers last Saturday, when the Minnesota Defense kept the team in the lead, until a hobbled starting QB MITCH LEIDNER started throwing picks in crunch time. MYRICK finished his day with 6 tackles and several PBU. He reminded me a great deal of MURRAY and his play last season. He’s a tough guy, who plays hard, fast and smart. It may be a struggle for him to earn a starting CB job in the NFL, but he should be able to handle sub-package roles and could excel on Special Teams. Right now I’d say he deserves a late round Draft selection.

JABRIL PEPPERS/LB/SS/MICHIGAN 6’1/208 #5 RSO Most of the talk surrounding PEPPERS this season has centered around whether or not he could parlay his multiple skill set into a strong Heisman Trophy run. HC HARBAUGH has used PEPPERS in almost every imaginable role, including at QB this season. But I am more concerned about what his pro potential is. In my mind he has not used him at his most likely NFL spot as a SS. Ignoring his work on Offense and in return work, PEPPERS had 67 tackles on the season, including 4 sacks, as an OLB. In the showdown game with the Buckeyes, PEPPERS totaled 7 tackles and recorded his first career INT on a deflected ball. Perhaps his primary playing position of OLB this year is in part predicated on his lack of ball hawking ability in the secondary. He clearly is an elite athlete but there are not very many full-time LB who weigh just under 210 lbs., in the NFL. If he declares for the 2017 Draft (which I think he will) it will be interesting to see what position group he is listed in for the Combine. I would guess that he will work out with both the DB & LB group. For those confused about his Draft status, he was red shirted with an injury as a true frosh, so even tho 2016 was his second season on the field he meets the 3-years beyond HS rule regarding the Draft. I would find it hard to believe he does not have a bright pro future ahead of him, but…

ETHAN POCIC/OC/LSU 6’7/310 #77 AFter watching all or part of over 100 college games this season, POCIC is probably my choice as the best all-around OC prospect for the 2017 Draft. He could become the tallest OC in the NFL, but his height never seemed to be a detriment to his play at LSU. He is a natural knee bender and plays with decent pad level for his size. He is also experienced enough, with 36 career starts, to make line calls and direct traffic in the trenches. His long arms serve him well in pass-pro where he ties up would-be pocket collapsers trying to push right up the middle of the field to his QB. He spends little time on the ground, unless he’s being cut-blocked, in which case he tends to just lay on the DL doing so. In the run game, he shows no difficulty getting to second level blocks quickly. I have no doubt he’s a Top 100 prospect, and a Day 2 Draftee.

RYAN RAMCZYK/OT/WISCONSIN 6’6/309 #65 If you are looking for a fascinating back story google up info on RAMCZYK who took quite a circuitous route to the starting LT job for the Badgers. And he has done so well in his first season actually on the playing field for the Badgers that there is growing speculation that he could come out for the 2017 NFL Draft and be Friday Draft selection. The big guy, has exceptional feet for his size, as well as long, strong arms to push defenders away from his body and out of the pocket area. He is functionally strong and may only get bigger and stronger. Several of my contacts up in Badger Country told me in September to watch out for this guy. AFter a redshirt season n Madison working in the weight room and with the varsity in practice, he grabbed hold of the starting LT job and excelled. Sure enough he’s impressed everyone in a surprisingly strong season for the Badgers as a team. If he returns for a senior season he will be perhaps the highest ranked OT on Draftnik Big Boards next September. If not he’ll be fighting for a starting job in the NFL next summer.

FRED STEVENSON/FB/FLORIDA STATE 6’1/240 #23 IN this dying age of the FB as a full-time football position there are still teams around the NFL that want and nee one on their roster. I laugh at teams that e=bemoan their lack of a Red Zone running game, but don’t have a legit FB on their roster. Just before FSU brought in a guy named DALVIN COOK, they had a guy named KARLOS WILLIAMS, who was built like a FB and really blossomed as a RB, including a promising but brief pro career with the BILLS. His demise had more to do with off-field and personalty issues than lack of talent. Several FSU coaches have been quite vocal that STEVENSON could gain 100-yards per game if they needed him at RB. We got a glimpse of that in the Florida game when STEVENSON took 1 of his 2 carries to the house on a weaving run of 27 yards. He is also known to have reliable hands and run good routes on the rare occasions when he is thrown to. Most importantly for his position, he is a stout blocker, especially in the run game. He’s also the perfect specimen for Special Teams duty. He has already been announced to appear at the Senior Bowl venue next January, which will tell us even more about his pro potential as NFL coaches put him through his paces. Having a solid week in Mobile could put him in a strong position to be drafted next April.

COLLEGE MATCH-UPS WEEK 13

Time to give you a preview of some of the game match-ups on what is often referred to as rivalry weekend in College Football. This is the last full schedule week in the 2016 season. Amazing how the past 3 months have flown by. Another amazing season, with perhaps a few surprises left for this weekend.

TOLEDO (9-2) @ WESTERN MICHIGAN by 3 (11-0); Friday; 5 PM ET ESPN2
I find the MAC to be one of he most dynamic conferences in FBS football. This game is a good example of why. Both teams have dynamic offenses with a little defense thrown in for good measure. Plus there is a ton at stake in this game as the winner goes to the conference title game next week against 8-4 Ohio. There is even more on the line for WMU as the Broncos likely will be in line for the non-Power 5 conference spot in the Cotton Bowl if they can win out. This may be as good of a draft eligible QB matchup as you will see this year. The undefeated BRONCOS are led by senior ZACH TERRELL, who has developed nicely during his 45 starts in Kalamazoo. Toledo’s LOGAN WOODSIDE/#11, a junior, will likely return to school for 2017 and be a top 10 QB nationwide. HC P.J. FLECK of WMU is considered one of the bright young coaches in the nation, and may be a hot job interview for some very big programs come January. I consider COREY DAVIS/WMU #84 to be the top senior wideout for the 2017 Draft. Toledo’s RB/KAREEM HUNT/#3 may just be the top senior RB in the country as well. Don’t miss this game if you luv College Football. Prospects to watch:

TOLEDO                                                                              WESTERN MICHIGAN
#3 KAREEM HUNT/RB 5’11/225                                    #1 KEION ADAMS/ER 6’2/245
#23 DeJUAN ROGERS/FS 6’0/190                               #11 ZACH TERRELL/QB 6’2/205
#44 JAYLEN COLEMAN/LB 6’0/235                           #72 TAYLOR MOTON/OT 6’5/328
#74 STORM NORTON/OT 6’7/306                               #68 DAVID CURLE/DT 6’3/303
#80 MICHAEL ROBERTS/TE 6’5/270                         #83 MICHAEL HENRY/WR 5’11/189
#91 TREYVON HESTER/DT 6’3/300 INJ                   #84 COREY DAVIS/WR 6’3/210

AUBURN (8-3) @ ALABAMA (11-0) by 8; Saturday; 3:30 PM ET; CBS
One last chance for an SEC team to ruin the Tides perfect conference mark, before next weekend’s the conference championship game against Florida. I look for Auburn to keep this contest tight, with their tough and deep defense, at least for about 3 quarters. The Tigers running game must control the temp and the clock, and avoid turnovers. A fully healthy SEAN WHITE/QB/#13 would help that cause. But this ‘Bama D has a bully mentality, with an incredibly athletic frosh QB in JALEN HURTS who just gets better every game. I expect the Crimson Tide D to bust this open with some turnovers in the second half. But a big edge to Auburn if it comes down to a long FG in the end. Auburn’s CARLSON has a big, accurate leg. He’s special enough to be a possible Top 100 draftee if he comes out early. Prospects to watch:

AUBURN                                                                          ALABAMA
#1 MONTRAVIUS ADAMS/DT 6’4/305                        #10 REUBEN FOSTER/ILB 6’1/240
#15 JOSHUA HOSLEY/CB 5’11/198                               #22 RYAN ANDERSON/ER 6’2/252
#23 JONATHAN FORD/SS 6’0/203                              #54 DALVIN TOMLINSON/DT 6’3/307
#38 DANIEL CARLSON/K 6’4/213 JR                          #56 TIM WILLIAMS/OLB 6’4/237
#55 CARL LAWSON/DE/ER 6’2/257 JR                      #74 CAM ROBINSON/OT 6’5/325 JR
#63 ALEX KOZAN/OG 6’4/300                                     #88 O.J. HOWARD/TE 6’6/248
#94 DEVAROE LAWRENCE/DT 6’2/290                    #93 JONATHAN ALLEN/DE 6’3/295
……                                                                                          #26 MARLON HUMPHREY/CB/6-0, 200/RSO
……                                                                                          #4 EDDIE JACKSON/SS/6-0, 195

UTAH (8-3) @ COLORADO (9-2) by 2; Saturday; 7:30 PM ET; FOX
Fascinating storyline in mountain country where 9th-ranked Buffaloes can go from worst to first in the Pac-12 South as a win against the Utes sends Colorado to the conference championship game against somebody from the state of Washington just a year after the Buffs were 1-8 and dead last in the league play. The pressure is really on Colorado though as a loss means USC, which finished league play at 7-2 and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker against Colorado, advances to the conference title game. The key to me in this game is how healthy SEFO LIUFAU/QB/#13 is for the BUFFS, and whether or not the Colorado D can contain RB/JOE WILLIAMS/#28 who has been running wild since his return to the team from his self-imposed exile just after mid-season. If the game is indeed tight you might have to give UTAH the advantage with their PK/ANDY PHILLIPS being one of the best in the country. It’s nice to see a couple of really good teams that normally play under the radar getting a prime time Saturday night slot to display their wares. If this comes close to the COLORADO/WAZZOO showdown last weekend for excitement then you are in for a treat if you watch. Prospects to watch:

UTAH                                                                               COLORADO
#20 MARCUS WILLIAMS/S 6’1/195 JR                      #4 CHIDOBE AWUZIE/CB 6’0/205
#28 JOE WILLIAMS/RB 5’11/205                                #9 TEDRIC THOMPSON/S 6’0/205
#39 ANDY PHILLIPS/K 5’10/210                               #13 SEFO LIUFAU/QB 6’4/230
#49 HUNTER DIMICK/DE 6’3/275                           #55 JOSH TUPOU/DT 6’3/330
#53 SAM TEVI/OT 6’6/305                                           #81 SEAN IRWIN/TE 6’3/255
#93 LOWELL LOTULELEI/DT 6’2/310 JR              #98 JIMMIE GILBERT/OLB 6’5/228

FLORIDA (8-2) @ FLORIDA STATE by 5 (8-3); Saturday; 8 PM ET; ABC
Not much at stake here except bragging rights as the GATORS have already clinched an SEC East title despite a noticeable lack of offense, while the Seminoles are out of it with three losses. However, all the players know each other and in Florida bragging rights mean something. Despite winning the SEC East, Florida has struggled to put points on the board, but just wait another year or two when HC JIM McELWAIN gets that O in gear with his recruits. On the other side of things there is a lot of talk around the sunshine state that FSU HC JIMBO FISHER may find overtures from LSU too good to pass up. But for now he is guiding a very young, but talented team led by an explosive young man named DALVIN COOK, who could very well be the first RB taken in the 2017 NFL Draft. Watch for the Seminoles to go deep and try to exploit missing SS MARCUS MAYE, out with injury. Expect a lot of running by both teams, while they wait for their defenses to create some turnovers. I will take the Seminoles at home. Prospects to watch:

FLORIDA                                                                   FLORIDA STATE
#30 DeANDRE GOOLSBY/TE 6’4/245 JR              #4 DALVIN COOK/RB 5’11/206 JR
#31 JALEN TABOR/CB 6’1/191 JR                          #15 TRAVIS RUDOLPH/WR 6’1/190 JR
#34 ALEX ANZALONE/LB 6’3/244 INJ                #27 MARQUEZ WHITE/CB 6’1/185
#40 JARRAD DAVIS/LB 6’2/240                            #29 NATE ANDREWS/S 6’0/210 INJ
#91 JOEY IVIE/DT 6’3/295                                      #44 DEMARCUS WALKER/DE 6’3/275
#94 BRYAN COX/DE 6’3/268                                  #72 KAREEM ARE/OG 6’6/330

Who Caught My Eye Week 12

DANTE BARNETT/S/KANSAS STATE 6’1/195 #22 Team leader who lost his 2015 season to a shoulder injury in Sept. He was 2nd Team All Big-12 back in 2014. Is back looking as good as ever. He is a fine all-around player who is effective in coverage and is aggressive in run support. He’s always around or on his way to the ball. Seldom fooled in his play reads. He gave up a 2nd Quarter TD pass even tho he had good coverage on the receiver. The QB for Baylor threw his receiver open with a ball to the outside, while BARNETT had coverage to the inside of the field.But BARNETT got revenge later on when he grabbed an INT to stop Baylor’s last chance to tie up the game. He returned that INT 48-yards, and K-State ran out the clock for HC Bill Snyder’s 199th coaching Win. For the game BARNETT had 4 tackles and the INT. Without a doubt BARNETT will make a fine Special Teams player at the pro level while he develops into a sub-package role player in a secondary. If his medical checks out at Combine he should be a late round draftee.

K.D. CANNON/WR/BAYLOR 6’0/180 #9 JR This young man has that special “it” factor about him that is best described as explosive. He displays good hands and can make grabs away from his body if the throw is a bit errant. He displays excellent body control and flexibility. His rhythm has been disrupted some the last two seasons as Baylor has been shuffling at their QB position because of injuries to SETH RUSSELL. True frosh ZACH SMITH was throwing to CANNON against K-State. I am curious to see what his 40-time is if he comes out and attends the Combine. With 2 games left in the season CANNON has 56 receptions, only 2 short of his career best. Against K-State he caught 9 balls for 91 yards, but could not crack the end zone. Given all the strife within the Baylor football program over the past year plus I would be surprised if CANNON did not come out, and secure a place in the 2nd or 3rd Round.

JAMAL CARTER/S/MIAMI (F) 6’1/210 #6 Overall things are looking pretty positive for the MIami football program in year one of he MARK RICHT era. And CARTER would appear to be one of the reasons for it, as well as being a recipient of the positive vibes of the RICHT coaching staff. CARTER looks to be a bit more free to rely on his reads and instincts under DC MANNY DIAZ. The Hurricanes victory over NC STate, on the road, was a clear indicator of CARTER’s new role. He split his time quite evenly between pass coverage responsibilities, while still having a big role in run defense where his size and hard hitting style work to his advantage. At the end of the day CARTER had 10 total Tackles in the Win, which included a shared TFL. CARTER made several significant plays that the officiating crew did not give him credit for. In the second quarter CARTER made a strip tackle on a screen play, which the Hurricanes recovered. The officials called it an incomplete pass. Not so sure I agreed on that call. While protecting the lead in the late 3rd Quarter CARTER went high to tip a pass back into the end zone to a teammate for an INT. His foot appeared to just touch the sideline negating the play. IMO, these plays both clearly indicated a high FBI on CARTER’s part as well as the athleticism to make things happen. His toughness on the field would also indicate to me that NFL Special Teams would be an added asset to his playing tool kit. I see CARTER as being a late round Pick not just another left over URFA.

JUSTN CRAWFORD/RB/WEST VIRGINIA 5’11/200 #25 JR Now before you jump all over me to ask how I can thumbnail a JC transfer, who wasn’t even starting until injuries hit the RB corps at WVU, understand please his situation. The clock is ticking on his life, and has been harsh at times to date. He already has a family to feed, and has shown plenty of talent in his short tenure with the Mountaineers. With injuries to the two guys ahead of him CRAWFORD became the man in this contest and really answered the call. By the end of the day, as WVU recovered from a miserable first half, CRAWFORD had carried the ball 24 times for 331 yards. He showed good burst, field vision and the balance to get yards after contact time after time. He is also pretty strong for his size. On the season (with 2 games left to play) CRAWFORD has 930 rushing yards, @ 7.6 ypc. He has 4 100-yard rushing games. Assuming another 2 healthy, strong games, plus a Bowl appearance he may approach 1500 total yards rushing. He’s already traveled a long and tough journey to get where he is. Why would he not think about heading for the NFL and the kind of money to support his actual family? It may sound crazy, but I see something special here, and a real “hardship” situation. I’d draft him in Round 3 for my team, unless a problem showed up at the Combine. Sorry Mountaineer fans, but in this case I would support one and done.

JOSHUA DOBBS/QB/TENNESSEE 6’3/207 #11 And away we go again, with another great athlete and an exceptional team leader, who just may be lacking a bit in the necessities to become an NFL QB. The VOLS have been derailed this season in large part due to extensive injuries to key players, especially on Defense. But heading into last weekends home game with MIZZOU the team was 7-3 and still had a chance to win the SEC East title, until FLORIDA beat LSU that is. Deservedly, DOBBS got a standing ovation when introduced on Senior Day. The VOLS defense could not stop Mizzou all day, but DOBBS did his best LAMARR JACKSON impression and helped the Offense put up 63 points. On the day, the multi-talented DOBBS posted these stats: Passing 15/22- 68%- 223 yards- 3TD- 0 INT; Rushing 10 carries, 190 yards, 2 TD. And yet, put me near the front of the line of doubters as to his prospects to be an NFL QB. His throwing mechanics are TEBOW-esque at times and his throwing accuracy has not allowed him to top 60% his last two years, as The Main Man. He also seems unsure of what he reads in a Defense at times, which causes him to make his throws too late at times. He can extend plays and commands the huddle and the locker room, without trying to dominate teammates. I fear that his lean frame, and propensity to take off with the football, will land him on IR on a regular basis as a pro. Can he be a multiple position player, and emergency third string QB? That may indeed be his future, although if willing to serve an apprenticeship in the CFL, who knows what he might look like coming back to the NFL in 3-4 seasons? I hope he takes a slot at the Senior Bowl under pro coaching for a week.

JAKE ELLIOTT/K/MEMPHIS 5’10/165 #46 Nobody at the NFL level wants to pin too much hope on college kicking prospects coming into the league and taking over their PK job. In fact the vast majority of NFL Kickers went undrafted. But every team needs a good one, so the search must go on. ELLIOTT just might be the first PK drafted in 2017. He wasn’t asked to perform heroics against Cincinnati, but he was perfect on the night going 4/4 on XP and hitting 2 of 2 FG. Despite his relatively diminutive size he has a strong leg. He can regularly reach the end zone with his kick-offs. And he’s more accurate on long distance FG than intermediate ones. He is 81.8% on 18 of 22 FG this season. But interestingly, he is 2/3 from 50+ yards, and 9/10 from 40+ yards. Those kind of numbers will get you drafted. He’s a cool customer and has the confidence of his coaches and teammates, that he will make big kicks and win them some games, late. He has totaled 102 points in 11 games so far this season. Watch for his name on Draft Saturday.

LUKE FALK/QB/WASHINGTON STATE 6’4/215 #4 JR As the season has worn on more QB prospects than not have fallen a bit in the evaluation process. One who has risen as his team has played well, is FALK for the Air-Leach attack in Pullman, WA. FALK is a former walk-on but don’t let that fool you. He was a well known HS talent, who got caught up in last minute recruiting shuffles. He is flourishing for LEACH, and showing NFL scouts that he has many desirable pro attributes. His stats in the big showdown with Colorado were not exceptional, but I am gong to make a couple excuses for him. I think the Buffalos have one of the best defensive secondaries in the country. I also felt the State OL gave up way too much pocket pressure around FALK. FALK played without his top target in RIVER CRACRAFT, and it took a while for his receivers to pick up their play. I counted 4 drops in the first two Cougar possessions. I saw a guy who locates his throws well the vast majority of the time. He also throws a nice catchable ball, despite the drops. He clearly takes time to go through his throw progressions and targets the right receiver much of the time. He can make all the throws, though some of his deep ones were a bit errant on this day. In the end he passed for 26/53- 49%- 325 yards- 3 TD- 1 INT. If FALK decides to come out I think he will be considered one of the Top 2-3 QB prospects. His interview work at the Combine will be critical, as pro personnel people try to gauge how his processing of the LEACH Offensive scheme could translate to the NFL.

KYLE FULLER/OC/BAYLOR 6’5/315 #55 There has been a bit of a trend in the NFL recently to concentrate more on technique and FBI at the OC slot. But there is nothing wrong with a big hulking strong guy at the position, especially for match-ups with teams that run a 3-4 scheme and have monsters like WILFORK & BRANDON WILLIAMS manning the Nose/0-gap slots. FULLER fits that role as a solid, big based body who can move in a limited area and understands the mental aspects of pass protection. FULLER stays on his feet and is always watchful of help situations he can involve himself in. He keeps his head on a swivel and can move straight ahead to help out at the second level. I saw him be asked to pull on several occasions against K-State and that was a challenge to him. He is adept at both run blocking and pass-pro because despite what some people envision when you mention the Baylor offense, they try to establish the run first, then pass whenever possible. FULLER should be an early Saturday Pick, who could develop into an NL starter in time. He may also be able to back-up at all three INT OL spots.

BRAD KAAYA/QB/MIAMI (F) 6’4/215 #15 JR I think we are all still trying to identify the top couple of QB prospects for the 2017 Draft. There are a good number of projects, a few of whom will likely become pro starters someday, but I sure don’t see the GOFF/WENTZ guys to take over the top of the Draft. Then again at this time last year I said that about both of them. KAAYA has been a starter for the Hurricanes since arriving on campus. The game with NC State was his 36th consecutive career start, even though when he takes his helmet off he still looks like a rosy cheeked frosh to me. Under some serious pressure from the Wolfpack D, KAAYA passed 22/38- 58%- 286 yards- 0 TD- 0 INT on the game. After some risky forced throws into coverage in the first quarter he throttled it back and let his running game and Defense control the game. He shows a nice, catchable ball, with a quick release. He’s not a big scrambler, but is athletic enough to extend plays. He holds his ground in the pocket under pressure. His passing numbers were hurt on multiple occasions by penalties committed by his OL, which called back significant completions. His mechanics are OK and improving. In fact here is the deal to me. New Miami HC MARK RICHT has his finger prints all over KAAYA’s play right now. That can only help the young man. If he stays another year with RICHT tutoring him, he might turn into a Top 10 Draft PIck for 2018. If he comes out I’d take him by late Round 1 if I needed a young QB for my franchise to develop.

ARTHUR MAULET/CB/MEMPHIS 5’11/190 #8 We are pretty late into another football season, and most of the tires have been kicked when it comes to the usual, known prospects. It is indeed a pleasure to unearth an additional talent this late in the process. So a big thank you goes out from Pigskin Paul to ex-NFLer COREY CHAVOUS, who does color analyst work and is a devoted Draftnik in his post-NFL days. I watched the Memphis/Cincinnati game last week and my ears perked up when I heard CHAVOUS talking about the play and pro-potential of CB/MAULET, who was not on my watch list, or anybody else’s as far as I know. I paid attention and agree with CHAVOUS. This guy has nice size and can cover as well as tackle in the open field. He owns the sideline. He uses excellent footwork, and fluid hip action to stay with receivers through their cuts. He is aggressive fighting off blocks from receivers, and had himself 10 tackles for the game. In the 3rd Quarter, he fought thru a TE block at the line-of-scrimmage and recorded a TFL on the Cincy RB. He looks to have a very high FBI in anticipating routes and diagnosing the overall action around him. He looked to me in this game like a “shut down Corner”. It’s only a snapshot of one game, but this guy deserves some attention and an invite to a January All-Star Game!

CONOR McDERMOTT/OT/UCLA 6’8/310 #68 A former Mr. Basketball in HS back in Tennessee. He now roams the football field as a very smart and athletic LT for the Bruins. He’s built for today’s NFL game, where precision passing attacks rule the field. He has decent functional strength, though certainly not overpowering, with very good foot action. His arms are very long and he fends off defenders, and steers them away from the ball. To me he looks like this year’s version of JASON SPRIGGS/IU, who was a second day draftee of the Packers after entering college with a basketball background. I especially like the fact that he doesn’t jump up at the snap of the ball. He keeps his feet moving and appears to be a natural knee bender. I am also impressed that after his first blocking assignment is over he is usually looking for another block to make. If he can somehow bulk up a bit in a pro weight room, then so be it, but he has the athleticism and attitude to get the job done. He did his part in helping an undermanned (because of injury) UCLA team hang with the Trojans into the second half of play.

TAKKARIST McKINLEY/DE/ER/UCLA 6’2/265 #98 It’s kind of hard not to root for TAK as he finishes up his senior season with the Bruins. He had a tough upbringing and had to take long route, which led him into the JUCO routes. But HC JIM MORA will tell you what a great job he has done for the Bruins and what a fine young man he is. He also happens to have one of the most sought after football skills in the NFL these days: that of an edge rusher. Entering the Southern Cal game TAK had recorded 18 TFL, including 10 sacks during the 2016 season. He beat LT/CHAD WHEELER on multiple occasions and despite not officially getting a Sack on the night, he had 3 QBH by my count. He officially had 4 tackles for the game, but he was an irritant all game long, and only the mobility of USC QB DARNOLD kept him from ringing up several sacks. He’s a bit light in the pants to truly set the edge as a DE, but there is speculation that he will run somewhere in the 4.5/40 range. Given his intensity and effort if that speed guesstimate turns out to be accurate I wouldn’t bet against him being able to adapt to a stand-up OLB slot in an NFL 3-4 base scheme. He’s a very good athlete with long legs and arms. He’s also a young man who realizes what a great opportunity football may afford him in his life ahead. This young man has more than enough “want-to” to make his mark as a pro.

TEDRIC THOMPSON/S/COLORADO 6’0/205 #9 THOMPSON is one of the best performers, on a top notch Colordao defense, which has had a resurgent season at 9-2 after the big home win over Washington State. He and teammate CB/CHIDOBE AWUZIE, may both be Top 100 Draftees next Spring. Led by these two aces COLORADO held LUKE FALK/QB (see above) to under 50% passing last Saturday. THOMPSON is solid and explosive to the ball & receivers. Overall, he’s a sure tackler and a tough dude. He is a much better cover guy than the majority of S in the college game, and currently ranks 3rd on his team in tackles. He finished 4th on the team in tackles last season with 63. With 26 seconds left to play THOMPSON sealed the deal with an INT. He also had several PBU (I counted 3) on the day and was credited with 5 total tackles. This is an all-around performer, who dies not shy away from the action in either the run or pass game.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL Rankings #4 11/20/2016

Down to the nitty gritty folks with most top teams having 2 games left, which includes Conference Championships in the neXt few weeks. Hell, we’ll be watching Bowl Games in early December, but those games won’t include the teams below, or at least they shouldn’t. Here we go again…

1) ALABAMA 11-0 Is it just me, or is this getting boring. They should apply to be an NFL expansion franchise.

2) CLEMSON 10-1 They have stumbled a few times this year, but they look stronger than the Big Ten’s best right now to me.

3) OHIO STATE 10-1 Some weeks they look mediocre, but we all know better than that.

4) MICHIGAN 10-1 This crew seems to be losing some juice, plus they haven’t had to win much on the road… yet.

5) OKLAHOMA STATE 9-2 Actually 10-1, with the big in-state showdown on tap with the Sooners. One of the best balanced teams in the country that can win with D or O.

6) WASHINGTON 10-1 Still a top notch young team in my opinion. How can you fault them for losing to the SAM DARNOLD Trojans?!

7) WISCONSIN 9-2 We’ve known all year how good their Defense is, and now they are scoring points in bunches.

8) OKLAHOMA 9-2 The big one is coming up (see above) but this team is tough to handle on Offense despite a mediocre, at best, Defense.

9) LOUISVILLE 9-2 This team is somewhat undisciplined and the OL is pretty bad. But LAMAR JACKSON/QB is still very special, and still has my Heisman vote.

10) COLORADO 9-2 A special team and a special year in Boulder. If LIUFAU can stay whole they can win a couple more games. May have the best secondary in the country.

11) SOUTHERN CAL 8-3 I can’t put them higher with 3 losses, but AD (After Darnold) they are almost unbeatable over 60 minutes. Watch out for this crew.

12) WESTERN MICHIGAN 11-0 This is as high as I can go given their level of competition, but undefeated is still undefeated. Big MAC showdown this week with Toledo @ 9-2!

13) BOISE STATE 10-1 It’s the Mountain West, but they have beaten 2 PAC 12 tams, plus BYU. Solid all around team with tough finale against the Air Force on the road.

14) FLORIDA 8-2 They may yet lose to FSU in the finale, but just think how good this team will be in a couple seasons when McELWAIN develops an Offense, which he will.

15) PENN STATE 9-2 I am still skeptical of their Offense, or lack thereof, but JAMES FRANKLIN is building his program and they will beat you with D and Special Teams.

16) HOUSTON 9-2 GREG WARD looks healthy again, and if all the talk about HC HERMAN to TEXAS isn’t too big of a distraction, a couple more wins might be in their immediate future.

17) NAVY 8-2 Nobody wants to play this disciplined, hard running option team.

18) TEXAS A&M 8-3 They have stumbled and are without TREVOR KNIGHT/QB, but they still have some star players on both sides of the ball.

19) WEST VIRGINIA 8-2 They came out over-hyped for their big home showdown with Oklahoma and laid an egg. Can DANA settle them down to Win 2 more games, that they should on paper?

20) STANFORD 8-3 They have righted the ship and McCAFFREY is healthy., and gaining crazy yards. After they bury RICE they will be a feared Bowl opponent.

21) NEBRASKA 9-2
22) FLORIDA STATE 8-3
23) UTAH 8-3
24) WYOMING 8-3
25) WASHINGTON STATE 8-3

That’s it for this week.

Pigskin

College Game Previews Week 12

OKLAHOMA STATE (8-2) by 5 @ TCU (5-4); NOON ET; FS1
State should be 9-1, but for officiating blunders and TCU lost 2 of its games by 3 points. TCU can stay in this one thanks in great part to having home field, and the improved QB play of KENNY HILL. But the fighting GUNDY’s are well balanced, have a top notch QB in MASON RUDOLPH and are tough as nails. Both teams can both run and pass, and play some tough D. If State wins they face a showdown for the championship of both the Big 12 and the state of Oklahoma, when they play the Sooners in 2 weeks. There is also a goodly amount of potential NFL talent to watch. Prospects to watch:

OKLAHOMA STATE                                                   TCU
#2 MASON RUDOLPH/QB 6’5/235 JR                      #21 KYLE HICKS/RB 5’10/200 JR
#28 JAMES WASHINGTON/WR 6’/208 JR            #94 JOSH CARRAWAY/DE/ER 6’4/250
#47 BLAKE JARWIN/TE 6’5/248                               #95 AARON CURRY/DT 6’2/280
#40 DEVANTE AVERETTE/ILB 5’11/230                #40 JAMES McFARLAND/DE/O 6’3/255
#6 ASHTON LAMPKIN/CB 6’0/190                          #30 DENZEL JOHNSON/SS 6’2/205
#13 JORDAN STERNS/S 6’0/200

WASHINGTON STATE (8-2) @ COLORADO (8-2) BY 2; 3:30 ET; FOX
Raise your hand if you suspected early last September that this would be a featured showdown game in the PAC-12 come November. All you liars with your hands up please leave the room. Both of these teams are legit and could end up in the New Years Bowl groupings. After starting 0-2 MIKE LEACH righted the ship and his team has won 8 straight and now currently lead the conference’s northern division. Junior QB LUKE FALK is gaining steam and could actually end up in Heisman consideration if he puts up big passing numbers in the final two games. Unfortunately, Falk will be missing one of his favorite targets in RIVER CRACRAFT who blew out a knee last weekend against CAL, but will have Gabe Marks who last week became the Pac-12’s all-time leading receiver. Colorado, which is in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 South division, has been an even bigger surprise this year with multi-dimensional SEFO LIUFAU/QB leading the offense and a stout D which has held 5 opponents to 10 or less points this season. It warms the cockles of my heart to see two surprise teams like this have success this season. I’ll take the home team, but if FALK stays hot watch out. Prospects to watch:

WASHINGTON STATE                                                  COLORADO
#4 LUKE FALK/QB 6’4/215 JR                                           #13 SEFO LIUFAU/QB 6’4/230
#9 GABE MARKS/WR 6’0/188                                           #81 SEAN IRWIN/TE 6’3/255
#92 ROBERT BARBER/DT 6’3/309                                  #55 JOSH TUPPOU/NT 6’3/330
#18 SHALOM LUANI/FS 6’0/198                                      #98 JIMMIE GILBERT/OLB 6’5/225
#47 PEYTON PELLUER/LB 6’0/229 JR                            #4 CHIDOBE AWUZIE/CB 6’0/205
#58 RILEY SORENSON/OC 6’4/327                                   #9 TETRIC THOMPSON/SS 6’0/205
#76 CODY O’CONNELL/OG/6-7/355/JR

OKLAHOMA (8-2) @ WEST VIRGINIA (8-1) BY 3; 8 PM ET; ABC
Unapologetically, I will take the home team, the Mountaineers, in what amounts to an elimination game in the Big XII. I feel that WVU simply has a better balanced team this year and the Sooners D has been all but MIA this season. The cold night air in the mountains of West Virginia are not going to help the Sooners much either. Bobby Stoops has rallied his troops after a 1-2 start, but those losses were to HOUSTON and OHIO STATE. WVA surprised more than a few folks last week by going to Austin and beating a sound Longhorn team. IF West Virginia can get past this one they have a solid chance to survive the season with 1 loss, which should put them in the Top 10. This game should be intense and highly competitive. Hard to tell what kind of mood the Sooners locker room will be in after DE/CHARLES WALKER’s program defection to prepare for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Prospects to watch:

OKLAHOMA                                                                         WEST VIRGINIA
#6 BAKER MAYFIELD/QB 6’1/212                                       #7 RUSHEL SHELL/RB 5’11/220
#32 SAMAJE PERINE/RB 5’11/234 JR                                #6 DAKIEL SHORTS/WR 6’1/204
#5 GENO LEWIS/WR 6’1/201                                               #65 TERRY ORLOSKY/OC 6’4/295
#11 DEDE WESTBROOK/WR 6’0/170                                #57 ADAM PANKEY/OG/T 6’5/316
#26 JORDAN EVANS/LB 6’2/233                                       #97 NOBLE NWACHUKWU/DE 6’2/275
#13 AHMAD THOMAS/S 6’1/210                                         #13 RASUL DOUGLAS/CB 6’2/208

SOUTHERN CAL (7-3) by @ UCLA (4-6); 10:30 PM ET; ESPN
Due to injuries UCLA has had a dismal season. But they have been competitive even in some of their losses. Plus, let us not forget that this is a SoCal rivalry with lots of talent on hand. Most of all it’s about a Trojans team that has risen like a rocket with the installation of RS Frosh QB Sam Darnold/#14. The kid who looks like a left coast LI’l ABNER has been unbeatable as their starter for the past month plus. Minus their super soph QB/JOSH ROSEN the Bruins are struggling to find a rhythm, but this series history is full of upset wins and it would be a big deal for pride and recruiting if JIM MORA’s troops could rally past USC. Not this time! A potentially great match-up within the game for you Draftniks to watch could be Edge-rusher McKINLEY/#98 of UCLA going up against the Trojans OT tandem of BANNER/373 & WHEELER/#72. Prospects to watch:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA                                               UCLA
#22 JUSTIN DAVIS/RB 6’1/195                                               #32 NATE IESE/FB/TE 6’3/250
#1 DARREUS ROGERS/WR 6’1/215                                       #68 CONOR McDERMOTT/OT 6’8/310
#9 JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER/WR 6’2/215 JR                     #47 EDDIE VANDERDOES/DT 6’3/305
#73 ZACH BANNER/OT 6’9/340                                            #98 TAKKARIST McKINLEY/DE/ER 6’2/265
#72 CHAD WHEELER/OT 6’6/300                                         #9 MARCUS RIOS/CB 5’11/195
#2 ADOREE’ JACKSON/CB/RS 5’11/185 JR                         #10 FABIAN MOREAU/CB 6’0/200
#22 LEON McQUAY/FS 6’1/190                                                #3 RANDALL GOFORTH/S 5’10 190

Enjoy your college football day.

Pigskin

College Match-ups Week 11

BAYLOR (6-2) @ OKLAHOMA (7-2) by 3; NOON/ET ABC
Reality and distraction have hit the Baylor program, along with the tougher part of their schedule. OKLAHOMA has bounced back from a 1-2 start to seemingly right the ship. This is a critical game in the final month schedule gauntlet that the Big 12 puts it’s teams through. I will take the Sooners at home, but their lack of Defense worries me against QB/SETH RUSSELL, who I feel is one of the best QB in the nation. Expect fireworks, especially in the second half. Unless RB/PERINE is healthy there aren’t a ton of Draft prospects to watch here. So if you watch this one, just put down your scouting pad and enjoy the action of a good college match-up. Prospects to watch:

BAYLOR                                                                      OKLAHOMA
#17 SETH RUSSELL/QB 6’3/220                               #6 BAKER MAYFIELD/QB 6’1/212
#9 K.D. CANNON/WR 6’0/180 JR                           #32 SAMAJE PERINE/RB 5’10/233 JR
#55 KYLE FULLER/OC 6’5/315                                 #11 DeDe WESTBROOK/WR/RS 6’0/175
#9 RYAN REID/CB 5’11/190                                      #26 JORDAN EVANS/LB 6’2/233
#28 ORION STEWART/S 6’2/200                            #13 AHMAD THOMAS/S 6’1/210

WEST VIRGINIA (7-1) @ TEXAS (5-4) by 4; NOON/ET FS1
THE LONGHORNS have shown signs of life since losing to the two OKlahoma teams early in October. Not that they want to hear it, but CHARLIE STRONG’s players may be playing out the season to save their coach’s job. As long as D’ONTA FOREMAN/RB can pound out another 150+-yards TEXAS has a solid chance to win at home. WVU is a better team than many give them credit for, IMO, but they are vulnerable at the QB slot. At this time of year in close contests I really favor the home team, so give me Texas in a back and forth battle. Prospects to watch:

WEST VIRGINIA                                                       TEXAS
#7 RUSHEL SHELL/RB 5’10/215                                #18 TYRONE SWOOPES/ATH 6’4/254
#6 DALIEL SHORTS/WR 6’1/205                               #33 D’ONTA FOREMAN/RB 6’0/238 JR
#65 TERRY ORLOSKY/OC 6’4/295                             #76 KENT PERKINS/OG 6’5/320
#97 NOBLE NWACHUKWU/DE 6’2/275                   #93 PAUL BOYETTE/DT 6’3/315
#13 RASUL DOUGLAS/CB 6’2/2078                          #40 NAASHON HUGHES/LB 6’4/239

LSU (5-3) by 3 @ ARKANSAS (6-3); 7PM/ET ESPN
The ‘Bama game was not the Win that Coach O needed to have a solid chance to lose the interim tag at the end of the season. But the next 3 are. If his team struggles down the stretch he’s probably out and the search is on. The D is stout, but the O is still poor overall. The Razorbacks are a big physical team, which LSU must beat with their team speed. I say they get it done somehow and the coaching watch continues in the Bayou. Lots of good talent to watch if you’re a Draftnik. Prospects to watch:

LSU                                                                                ARKANSAS
#7 LEONARD FOURNETTE/RB 6’1/230 JR          #80 DREW MORGAN/WR 6’0/195
#83 TRAVIN DURAL/WR 6’2/205                             #4 KEON HATCHER/WR 6’2/218
#77 ETHAN POCIC/OC6’7/310                                  #83 JEREMY SPRINKLE/TE 6’6/255
#92 LEWIS NEAL/DE/ER 6’2/265                           #48 DEATRICH WISE/DE 6’5/280
#52 KENDELL BECKWITH/ILB 6’2/252                 #51 BROOKS ELLIS/ILB 6’2/248
#18 TRE’DAVIOUS WHITE/CB 5’11/191                  #37 TOBY BAKER/P 6’3/212
#33 JAMAL ADAMS/S 6’1/211 JR

SOUTHERN CAL (6-3) by 4 @ WASHINGTON (9-0); 7:30 PM ET; FOX
This is the really big one of the day, and if you have been watching Southern Cal since freshman SAM DARNOLD/#14 tool over as their starting QB, the Trojans have been cooking with gas, as my dad used to say. I respect the Huskies with JAKE BROWNING/QB/#3 at the helm, but they are now in the apparently jinxed No. 4 Play-Off spot, which means they may be doomed to lose this one. You Draft watchers will have to use your imagination with the Huskies who are relatively young, but the Trojans could be out there with 3 First Rounders for 2017 assuming WR JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER and CB ADOREE JACKSON/2 both declare for early entry. In fact, both of those guys should be locked into really intriguing one-on-one match-ups against the Huskies as UDUB has a quality corner of its own in junior CB SIDNEY JONES, while USC’s Jackson could be involved in a good one with emerging junior WR JOHN ROSS, one of the fastest players in the country.  This should be very high level entertainment for your viewing pleasure. And it’s not a really late time slot for a PAC-12 game. Prospects to watch:

SOUTHERN CAL                                                            WASHINGTON
#1 DARREUS ROGERS/WR 6’1/215                                #15 DARRELL DANIELS/TE 6’4/240
#9 JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER/WR 6’2/215 JR              #11 ETHAN QUALLS/DT 6’1/320 JR
#73 ZACH BANNER/OT 6’9/350                                       #5 JOE MATHIS/DE 6’2/255
#72 CHAD WHEELER/OT 6’6/300                                #20 KEVIN KING/CB 6’3/190
#2 ADOREE’ JACKSON/CB/RS 5’11/185 JR                 #32 BUDDA BAKER/S 5’10/185 JR
#48 TYLER McNAMARA/TE/6-5, 245                             #1  JOHN ROSS/WR/5-11, 190/JR
#22 LEON McQUAY/SS/6-1, 205                                      #50 VITA VEA/DT/6-4, 335/RSO
…                                                                                                #26 SIDNEY JONES/CB/6-0, 185/JR
…                                                                                                 #36 AZEEM VICTOR/ILB/6-3, 230/JR

Dig in folks the number of undefeateds is dwindling with a chance or two for more changes this weekend.

Pigskin

Who Caught My Eye Week 10

Ouch, Week 10 already in the books for the 2016 college football season. That hurts. That being said, the only positive side is that we’re only a touch away from two months until SHRINE GAME & SENIOR BOWL weeks… also known as Pigskin Paul’s Festivus Celebrations. Now for some players that got my attention in last week’s action.

JAMAL ADAMS/S/LSU 6’0/210 #33 JR An exciting prospect who some of his coaches compare to TROY POLAMALU. But ADAMS is a full sized thumper who already has better cover skills than TROY HAIR ever did IMO. Those coaches were primarily referring to his ability to cover the field and make big plays. But he is more disciplined player who can cover receivers downfield. He was outstanding against ‘Bama, which only managed 10 points against LSU. ADAMS has a high FBI and is considered a team leader. He jumped a throw on Alabama’s first possession and gave them a chance to draw first blood in the Red Zone. His offensive mates came up short. Late in the 1st Quarter, ADAMS downed a Punt inside the ‘Bama 5-yard line, on the Special Teams punt coverage unit. For the game he totaled 6 tackles, 1 TFL & 1 INT. I would expect him to declare for the 2017 Draft, and be the first true S taken, maybe even ahead of any of the CB prospects.

MONTRAVIUS ADAMS/DT/AUBURN 6’4/305 #1 I’ve had my eye on ADAMS since the 2014 season. His length and overall size make him look like a potential star. But he just doesn’t play with the fire or hustle often enough to be an impact player. It looked like he was progressing last season under DC WILL MUSCHAMP, but with WILL departed to South Carolina as head man, I see ADAMS out there taking up space much of the time. I feel like I see him way too often jogging along the line of scrimmage “in pursuit” of the ball as it moves away from his side of the field. But he very seldom gets to the ball carrier, unless the play is right at him. He fails to stay low off the snap and rises up to make a big blocking target for the OL. In the W over Vandy, he had 2 tackles, and 2 QBH. His appearance makes me think he should have another couple of tackles and perhaps a sack to add to that stat line. His apparent lackadaisical attitude tells me he will not be a Top 100 prospect, and may be a player who never lives up to his potential.

PHARAOH BROWN/TE/OREGON 6’6/245 #85 Two seasons ago as a Soph, BROWN was part of the high-flying DUCKS Offense under the direction of MARCUS MARIOTA, BROWN was voted first team PAC-12. His leg injury that cost him all of 2015 was pretty horrific and many questioned his return to the football wars. But here he is in 2016 looking almost as dynamic as his previous self and seemingly getting healthier and more productive every week. It’s been a tough season for the Ducks and in their effort to keep up with a surging USC team BROWN hauled in 5 catches for 30-yards and a TD. BROWN has a pretty lean body and I doubt he will ever be much of an inline blocking TE, but today’s NFL features more than a few long, lean pass catching TE, who are almost as fast at getting downfield as their WR counterparts. If he’s not dinged up, I would expect BROWN to get invited to an All-Star venue. But probably more important to his potential pro career will be his days at he Combine including the medical component, interview process and on-field measurables. A healthy, enthusiastic BROWN could make an interesting addition for a team like the CARDINALS, whose HC BRUCE ARIANS, collects TE as a hobby. Or in Green Bay, where a downfield threat at TE for AARON RODGERS could be just what the football doctor ordered.

ZACH CUNINGHAM/ILB/VANDERBILT 6’4/230 #41 JR Yep, add CUNINGHAM to the list of tackling machines playing LB in college these days, but don’t stop there in analyzing his pro potential. More than a few of his plays are impactful on the game’s outcome, and he’s one of the key components of a resurgent Vandy program. In 2015 he led the Commodores in tackles with 103. Vandy slugged it out with a solid Auburn team last weekend and CUNINGHAM was a major player in their tough defensive effort. He finished the contest with 9 tackles. He also appeared to have created a key fumble in the 3rd Quarter, but a questionable replay overrule wiped that play out. Earlier in the 1st Quarter he was Johnny-on-the-spot with a fumble recovery. He saved his best heroics for late in the day. With 1:41 left to play, and Auburn trying to stretch a 23-16 lead to 2 scores, he leaped high over the interior OL and blocked a FG to give Vandy one last shot to score. He’s a long, lean athlete who I think will play outside in a 4-3 scheme, or perhaps inside in a 3-4 ala RYAN SHAZIER. I expect him to declare for the 2017 Draft and be a first rounder. This elite athlete is also a great performer out on the grass.

KAREEM HUNT/RB/TOLEDO 5’11/225 #3 HUNT may be one of the most underrated prospects for the 2017 Draft. Its likely because he plays in the MAC, where many defenses are suspect to scouts. It could also be that he’s not a big guy with dazzling physical skill sets. But what he is, is a multi-purpose R who can get tough yards, catches well out in space and can pass-pro better than most RG coming out of college. The Rockets are blessed to have 3 quality RB in this year’s rotation so HUNT must share touches. But in the clutch this is their go-to guy. He has excellent balance which in great part accounts for his ability to get yards after first contact. He also has a nice spin move, which combined with his balance allows him to gain more yards if tacklers don’t wrap him up. As of their most recent game with Ohio, HUNT had over 700 carries in his Toledo career with only 1 recorded fumble, which he recovered. Can you think of an NFL Coach that won’t be impressed with that stat?! In the loss to Ohio, HUNT did his usual best to secure a Rockets victory with 17 carries, for 136 yards and a TD. He also had 2 receptions for an additional 21 yards. I believe he will make a very solid No 2 RB as a pro, and should be drafted early in Round 4 if not a bit earlier.

OBI MELIFONWI/FS/UCONN 6’3/216 #20 OBI is one of the prettiest athletes you will ever see in uniform and pads. He looks like the son of a Greek God came down to play with the mortals. And his production is super-human as well. This guy is gonna “rock it” at the Combine next Feb. He plays his deep S slot with great anticipation, FBI and execution. He had an average game for himself with 9 total tackles. He totaled 88 for the 2015 season. When you consider how feeble the UCONN offense is you appreciate the work of OBI and his mates even more. This guy was responsible for keeping 2 TD off the board by Temple, with two red zone Picks. The 2nd Quarter INT was made at the Huskies 1-yard line to stop a drive, while the 4th Quarter Pick was made in the UCONN end zone. If you have never seen MELIFONWI in action take the time to watch one of his final two games. And stay tuned, I will be shocked if he’s not in Mobile for Senior Bowl week. We’re talking a 2nd Round Draftee here, who his coaches compare to TROY POLAMALU in his impactful play. But this guy is a full sized model of he Steelers great.

JOSIAH PRICE/TE/MICHIGAN STATE 6’4/260 #82 The 2016 Draft was almost bereft of prospects at the TE position. This year PRICE is in the middle tier of a much better group. He’s a full service TE who can block and catch the ball. I have seen him make some very acrobatic catches this season, for a pretty poor Spartans club. In the disappointing loss to Illinois PRICE pulled in 6 balls for 65 yards. He shows good hands and has some elevation to contend for jump ball throws. His good body flexibility makes his catch radius appealing to his QB. Will get a few yards after the catch with a spin move, and can run over smaller DB, but he’s not eluding or outrunning anyone in the secondary. Because of his ability to do everything you want as an inline TE, he can stay on the field for 4-downs. For an NFL team that needs a back-up TE I could see PRICE being an early Day 3 Draftee.

HASSON REDDICK/OLB/ER/TEMPLE 6’1/230 #7 I spent almost a quarter cursing my luck that REDDICK was not playing in this game against UCONN for the Owls. Then I realized that he was out there, but with a new number for his senior campaign. You see HC MATT RUHLE has a tradition that the team votes for the hardest working players to get all the single digit numbers and REDDICK was voted one of those guys, so his number 58 turned into 7. Sure enough once I got that straight there was REDDICK flying around the field and exerting QB pressure with his pass rush ability and speed. He’s technically a DE, but they do move him around. He will face the difficult transition to OLB, but while he learns his craft he will certainly make someone an effective speed/edge rusher for passing downs, not to mention a likely Special Teams standout. By games end the stats for No. 7 did indeed look like those of old No. 58. He tallied 8 tackles, which included 1 sack, 1 QBH and 1.5 TFL, in helping the Owls D pitch a shutout of UCONN. REDDICK will face that challenge of converting to a stand-up player, but I think the Combine will give every indication he has the athleticism to do so.

MICHAEL ROBERTS/TE/TOLEDO 6’5/260 #80 In this day and age late bloomers are few and far between. But ROBERTS may just be the real deal. He only caught 21 balls in 2015 playing part time. But he has emerged big time this season. He is not only a weapon for QB/LOGAN WOODSIDE, but a downfield threat given his speed and huge catching radius. Word is that last spring when NFL personnel people visited Toledo for a Pro Day, ROBERTS was one of the juniors allowed to participate. Eyes popped when they put the tape to his hands and measured 12″. That is perhaps the largest hand spread ever measured by NFL folks. And he uses those big mitts well. His huge frame presents a dynamic catch radius that any QB would be glad to throw to. Against Ohio he caught 4 balls for 54 yards and a TD. His TD catch was a gorgeous sideline, goal line catch in double coverage. He needs to improve his run blocking, but he’s not terrible by any means. Expect him at an All-Star venue and he looks like one of those guys who could absolutely be a star at the Combine. I truly believe he has a shot to crack a Top 100 prospect ranking by April. If you are a true Draftnik, make yourself a note to keep watching for his name in Draft talk over the coming months.

ZACH TERRELL/QB/WESTERN MICHIGAN 6’2/205 #11 What makes TERELL so enticing is his high FBI and ability to play within his limitations. He’s a decent athlete, with an average arm. He’s clearly a big part of his team’s being undefeated after humbling Ball State 52-20 last week. ZACH went 23/34- 367 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT for that game. He makes very good decisions and can extend plays outside the pocket. He is even athletic enough to tuck the ball and gain valuable yards at times. The total package that he represents just screams out, to me at least, that he may make a very solid NFL back-up QB. Every time his name comes up in Draft talk, his high FBI is always mentioned. He makes good decisions and few mistakes. That kind of discussion is quite common for pro back-up potential QB. The only real question in my mind is whether he gets drafted late of will have to sign as an URFA. Remember we had a record number of QB draftees in the 2016 Draft, most of them on Draft Saturday. Either way I look for him to make an NFL team next Summer.

CHRIS WORMLEY/DL/MICHIGAN 6’5/303 #43 I was so impressed with the solid, heady play of WORMLEY that I profiled him as a guy who would come out for the 2016 Draft. And to the delight of Wolverine fans he stayed in school to be part of the HARBAUGH magic that is now Michigan. He is a long, gifted player who may be best suited to play the 5-Technique in an NFL scheme. He’s not a speed rusher but has decent quickness and gets to the ball. He’s very versatile and would be a good scheme fit for a team like the PACKERS, who use their DL in multiple formations and roles. In fact he reminds me of a longer version of DEAN LOWRY, who the PACK drafted this year out of Northwestern. Potential Pro Bowler… No. But a very useful, versatile player who could be a big boost to an NFL DL.

College Football Rankings #3

1) ALABAMA 9-0 PPP#7
2) CLEMSON 9-0 PPP#5
3) MICHIGAN 9-0 PPP#4
4) WASHINGTON 9-0 PPP#4
5) LOUISVILLE 8-1 PPP#3
6) OHIO STATE 8-1 PPP#6
7) WEST VIRGINIA 7-1 PPP#3
8) AUBURN 7-2 PPP#3
9) OKLAHOMA STATE 7-2 PPP#4
10) WISCONSIN 7-2 PPP#4
11) WESTERN MICHIGAN 9-0 PPP#2
12) NORTH CAROLINA 7-2 PPP#4
13) OKLAHOMA 7-2 PPP#3
14) VIRGINIA TECH 7-2 PPP#3
15) WASHINGTON STATE 7-2 PPP#3
15) BOISE STATE 8-1 PPP#4

The PPP# is a tool I use for my rankings. The number to the right indicates the number of teams with .500 or better records each rated team has beaten. Therefore, ALABAMA has beaten 7 opponents who were at .500 or better without their Loss to Alabama. It’s my strength of schedule calculator, so to speak.

Pigskin

College Matchups Prospect Preview Week 10

Always a melancholy feeling when I start typing in double digit numbers to identify the week in the college season. We are now down the home stretch to anther College Football season, that I just couldn’t wait to get started, seemingly not that long ago at all. The hilite of the week of course has #1 ranked Alabama playing at LSU later tonight, but there are also some decent, competitive match-ups earlier today which also feature some pretty significant 2017 draft prospects. Enjoy!

PITTSBURGH (5-3) by 4 @ MIAMI (F) (4-4) 12:30/ET ACC NETWORK
The PANTHERS have a healthy dose of above average to really good 2017 pro prospects. And they have played a pretty tough schedule to date. Miami came out of the gate really fast at 4-0 but injuries and a tough schedule of their own have caught up with them. The Hurricanes have one of the top passing combos in the country in QB/BRAD KAAYA and WR/STACY COLEY. PITT features cancer survivor JAMES CONNER running behind an NFL size, and in most cases talent level, OL. Even though he is size challenged PITT DE/EJUAN PRICE is a TFL/Sack demon for the Panthers. I will give the nod to PITT based on overall talent, but it is a home game for he Hurricanes so don’t count them out.

PITTSBURGH                                                                       MIAMI

#5 EJUAN PRICE/ER/DE 6’0/250                                        #3 STACY COLEY/WR 6’1/195
#24 JAMES CONNER/RB 6’2/230 JR                                  #6 JAMAL CARTER/S 6’1/209
#53 DORIAN JOHNSON/OG 6’5/300                                 #15 BRAD KAAYA/QB 6’4/210 JR
#54 TYRIQUE JARRETT/DT 6’3/340                                 #26 RAYSHAWN JENKINS/S 6’2/208
#69 ADAM BISNOWATY/OT 6’6/300                                 #63 DANNY ISADORA/OG 6’4/310
#83 SCOTT ORNDOFF/TE 6’5/265

FLORIDA (6-1) by 3 @ ARKANSAS (5-3); 3:30/ET CBS
Once again HC JIM McELWAIN is winning with a lot if defense and smoke and mirrors on Offense. Other than the 38 points they gave up to Tennessee in their only loss the Gators have not allowed more than 14 points to any other opponent. Once Coach Jim gets another couple of recruiting classes under his belt, which I assume would include a top notch QB prospect, the Gators could become as dominant in the SEC East as ‘Bama has become in the West. Florida goes 4-deep at RB with underclassmen, and some very explosive, young wideouts. We could probably call Florida DB-U. TEEZ TABOR/CB & MATCUS MAYE/S are both ticketed for the NFL in 2017. Arkansas is a big physical team, with a well rounded run/pass attack Offense, but too many holes on D. QB/AUSTIN ALLEN/#8 has been a pleasant surprise replacing his brother BRANDON as the starter. And his receiving corps are all likely to make NFL rosters in the next two years. Expect a low scoring affair with the old formula of least turnovers making the GATORS prevail. This will be very physical folks!

FLORIDA                                                                               ARKANSAS
#20 MARCUS MAYE/S 6’0/207                                            #4 KEON HATCHER/WR 6’2/218
#31 JALEN TABOR/CB 6’0/191 JR                                     #48 DEATRICH WISE/DE 6’5/280
#34 ALEX ANZALONE/LB 6’3/244                                    #70 DAN SKIPPER/OT 6’10/326
#40 JARRAD DAVIS/LB 6’2/240                                        #80 DREW MORGAN/WR 6’1/180
#91 JOEY IVIE/DT 6’3/295                                                   #83 JEREMY SPRINKLE/TE 6’6/255

OREGON (3-5) @ SOUTHERN CAL (5-3) by 5; 7PM/ET ESPN
His name is SAM DARNOLD/#14 and he’s the next great PAC-!2 QB for the Trojans. After a 1-3 start to the season under MAX BROWNE’s leadership, HC CLAY HELTON went to the RS Frosh and the team has gone 4-0 since then regularly lighting it up for 40+ points per game. Expect more of that against a very weak DUCKS D, which new DC BRADY HOKE needs to fix for 2017. SMITH-SCHUSTER & ROGERS may be one of the best WR tandems in the nation. ROYCE FREEMAN has had an up and down season running the ball, with much of the issue seemingly being a weak OL. But Oregon has some skill position tools to work with and can score with their true Frosh QB JUSTIN HERBERT improving weekly. This should be a very high scoring West Coast shootout. I’ll take the Trojans, but…

OREGON                                                                         SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

#1 AARON SPRINGS/CB 5’11/205                                  #1 DARREUS ROGERS/WR 6’1/215
#7 DARREN CARRINGTON/WR 6’2/195 JR               #9 JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER/WR 6’2/215 JR
#21 ROYCE FREEMAN/RB 5’11/230 JR                        #2 ADOREE JACKSON/CB/RS 5’11/185 JR
#81 EVAN BAYLIS/TE 6’6/250                                      #72 CHAD WHEELER/OT 6’6/300
#85 PHARAOH BROWN/TE 6’6/245                           #73 ZACH BANNER/OT 6’9/340

NEBRASKA (7-1) @ OHIO STATE (7-1) by 10; 8PM/ET ABC
Both teams are 7-1, but that is where the comparables end. The inexperienced Buckeyes are still growing as a team, while the Huskers will be hard pressed to keep winning with a roster that has maxed out it’s ability getting to 7-1. I think the Buckeyes will have this game in hand by halftime. J.T. BARRETT/QB/#16 has been an on-again, off-again Heisman candidate and he needs some big numbers in this game to reassert himself after two straight mediocre efforts. It would be an understatement to say HC URBAN MEYER will have his team ready to roll as they pint toward Michigan at the end of the month. MIKE RILEY and his staff have really done a fine job getting their team to this point, but the carriage is about to become a pumpkin again.

NEBRASKA                                                                      OHIO STATE

#34 TERRELL NEWBY/RB 5’10/200                              #5 RAEKWON McMILLAN/ILB 6’2/240 JR
#84 SAM COTTON/TE 6’5/250                                        #8 GAREON CONLEY/CB 6’0/195 JR
#25 NATHAN GERRY/SS 6’2/210                                  #54 BILLY PRICE/OG 6’4/315 JR
#52 JOSH BANDERAS/LB 6’3/240                                #59 TYQUAN LEWIS/DE 6’4/260 JR
#55 KEVIN MAURICE/DT 6’3/300                                #65 PAT ELFEIN/OC 6’3/300
…                                                                                              #16 JT BARRETT/QB/6-2/225/JR
…                                                                                               #2 MARSHON LATTIMORE/CB/6-0/195/RSO
…                                                                                             #24 MALIK HOOKER/6-2/205/RSO

#1 Alabama (8-0) and #13 LSU (5-2); 8:00 PM ET; CBS … This game had all the potential to be THE game of the year in college football, but a couple of tough losses by LSU have taken some of the luster of the contest. At the same time, though, the question around college football is “can anybody beat Alabama?” and with LSU at home in front of what is arguably the most raucous crowd in the country, this could very well be test. Certainly, NFL scouts will be there in droves; indeed, there is absolutely no reason for any team not to have reps in Baton Rouge on Saturday night as these may be the two most talented overall teams in all college. Indeed, the only reason that LSU also isn’t undefeated is that for whatever reason the Bayou Tigers just have not been able to find a decent college QB to complete the picture. Otherwise, the numbers tell the tale. Each team has a pair of players currently ranked in the top 10 on the GBN Big Board and 7 of our top 17 prospects will be playing in this game. Overall, Alabama has 8 players in the top 100, while LSU has seven; for the record no other team has more than 6.

For the record, Alabama’s two ten prospects are DE Jonathan Allen and junior LT Cam Robinson, while star RB Len Fournette, who appears to be getting closer to 100% after struggling through the first half of the campaign with a nagging injury, along with junior FS Jamal Adams represent LSU in the top ten. At the same time, Alabama has as many as four other guys with legit top 20 grades including redshirt sophomore CB Marlon Humphrey, OLB Tim Williams, one of the most explosive edge rusher in the country, MLB Reuben Foster, and TE O.J. Howard, all of whom rate as one of the 1-2 prospects at their respective positions, while SS Eddie Jackson, OLB Ryan Anderson, and 5T DE Da’Shawn Hand have top 100 potential.

While Alabama could dominate this year’s opening round, LSU could be the leader of the second-day pack as the Tigers feature as many as a half a dozen second or third round prospects including WRs Malachi Dupree and Travin Dural, C Ethan Pocic, CB Tra’Davious White, ILB Kendell Beckwith and junior DT Davon Godchaux. And for future reference check out emerging LSU sophomore DE Arden Key (#49, 6-5, 235) who has all the look of a possible top 5 in 2018.

ALABAMA                                                           LSU

#74  OT  Cam Robinson, 6-5, 330, JR                   #7  RB  Len Fournette, 6-0, 230, JR
#50  OG Alphonse Taylor, 6-5, 345                     #15  WR Malachi Dupree, 6-2,1 90, JR
#88  TE  OJ Howard, 6-5, 245                              #83 WR Travin Dural, 6-1, 205
#93  DE  Jonathan Allen, 6-3, 295                        #77   C   Ethan Pocic, 6-6, 310
#9  DE  Da’Shawn Hand, 6-3, 280                       #76  OG Josh Boutte, 6-4, 345
#54  DE  Dalvin Tomlinson, 6-3, 305                   # 92 DE  Lewis Neal, 6-2, 265
#10  MLB Reuben Foster, 6-1, 240                      #57  DT  Davon Godchaux, 6-3, 300, JR
#56  LB Tim Williams, 6-3, 240                           #52 LB  Kendell Beckwith, 6-1, 255
#22  LB  Ryan Anderson, 6-2, 255                       #18 CB Tra’Davious White, 5-10, 195
#26  CB  Marlon Humphrey, 6-1, 200, RSO        #33  FS  Jamal Adams, 6-0, 210
#4    SS   Eddie Jackson, 6-0, 195
#99  PK  Adam Griffith, 5-10, 195
#15   P    JK Scott, 6-5, 200, JR

Enjoy your Saturday football folks. Within weeks we’ll be bemoaning the end of the season again.

Who Caught My Eye Week 9

RODNEY ADAMS/WR/SOUTH FLORIDA 6’1/190 #87 This guy doesn’t put up huge catch numbers because he plays in an Offense where the QB is their best run option. So passing plays quickly turn into running plays when QB/FLOWERS takes off. But when you watch him for a whole game, as I did against NAVY his size and smooth running style make me think he has large upside for the pro game. Because the team runs so much he has become a very solid downfield blocker for his QB and fellow receivers. Against NAVY he caught 7 balls for 54 yards. He is also known his hurdling ability when tacklers go too low to tackle him. Even tho a reverse that he took for 35 yards was called back on a holding call, his speed and elusiveness was in plain view for all to see. He should make a nice local addition for the Shrine Game, and may raise some eyebrows at the Combine. THis man could develop into a more productive pro than he has been as a collegian.

JAMES CONNER/RB/PITT 6’2/230 JR #24 Everyone in the world of football knows the story of CONNER’s battle with cancer that caused him to miss the almost the entire 2015 season, as well as knee issues. He was declared cancer-free this past May and he has returned to the field with a vengeance. He’s a bit lighter than previously, but he still runs strong and hard, perhaps just a bit faster. He has a knack for finding openings to run through and has very good balance, thus gaining considerable yards after contact. He also looks to improved as a receiver since his return, which only enhances his value for the pro game. In an exciting game last Thursday against VA TECH, CONNER was a big weapon for the Panthers. For the evening he rushed 19 times for 141 yards and 3 TD. There will be medical concerns to get past relative to his cancer history, but at the very least I would expect some NFL team to take him in the 4th Round at the latest, if he continues his current efforts. I clearly expect him to declare for the 2017 Draft, having lost a full year in 2015. His background makes him a clear potential locker room leader at any level of play.

RASUL DOUGLAS/CB/WEST VIRGINIA 6’2/208 #13 I do not recall seeing DOUGLAS’ name on any early prospect lists last summer. But this incredibly gifted athlete has really looked solid this season for the Mountaineers. His size catches your eye first. Than watching him fly around the field and breaking up throws in coverage really impresses. Against Oklahoma State he had at least 3 PBU that I made note of. And he’s not hesitant to lay the lumber on potential receivers. He has recorded 3 INT through the first 7 games of the 2016 season. He seems to have great ball awareness, looking more like the receiver than the defender on some of QB/RUDOLPH’s throws last weekend. I am thinking that he will get invited to either the Senior Bowl or Shrine venue come January. I also hope he’s at the Combine, because he looks like the kind of athlete who could simply blow that venue up. Consider him a rising senior prospect.

ISIAH FORD/WR/VA TECH 6’2/190 JR #1 From what I have seen of FORD in 4 Tech games I have watched this season, this guy should be one of the top underclassmen wideouts to declare for the 2017 Draft and supplement a mediocre senior group at WR. FORD really showed what he’s made up in the close win over PITT. FORD grabbed 75 balls in 2015 and that was with mediocre QB play overall. Enter JC QB JEROD EVANS, with superior athletic skill and a big time arm for 2016. Even though EVANS spread the ball around vs. PITT, FORD was clearly his favorite target, with 10 CATCHES for 143 yards and 1 TD. FORD also also gained 26 yards on a reverse play. FORD has the speed to get deep and the size and strength to win contested throws. He shows acrobatic ability in wrestling away the ball from defenders on some of those lofted throws. He shows very good hands as well. With his 4th Quarter TD catch FORD became Tech’s career D catch leader with 23. Here’s betting he’ll get a few more in their final 4 games, plus Bowling work. THat combination of a high FBI, speed and athleticism could make him a First Round candidate next April if he comes out.

NATE GERRY/SS/NEBRASKA 5’2/220 #25 This savvy vet is a big hitter, with some basic cover skills. He’s been the leader of the Huskers’ both on Defense and Special Teams for several seasons. He’s a prime example of what is referred to as an in-the-box S. He led the team in tackles with 79 during the 2015 season. Despite a close loss to the Badgers last Saturday to end the team’s unbeaten streak, GERRY did his part with 7 tackles as well as 2 big INT. What he lacks in elite athleticism, he makes up for with FBI, hustle and high energy effort. What kind of pro he might be is a bit up in the air, but he will be drafted on Day 3, and will be tough for some team not to keep on their roster. What you see is what you get from GERRY, though in today’s NFL he may have to curb some of his launch-tackle propensity.

DORIAN JOHNSON/OG/PITT 6’5/300 #53 I have actually been keeping an eye peeled on the work of PITT OT/ADAM BISNOWATY. I still think ADAM is a legit prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft, by the middle of the 1st Quarter my eyes were glued to JOHNSON lat week. What an exceptional looking athlete for an interior OL. He shows excellent footwork and is smooth in his movement, almost as if he’s skating around the field. Incredibly quick off the snap and into the second level for downfield blocking assignments. They used him constantly to pull out for wide plays away from his side of the field. And he had no difficulty getting to his block. He also shows great balance to stay on his feet and ready for more contact. He executed a n almost perfect seal block to open a huge hole for JAMES CONNER to score through in the 3rd Quarter. He is functionally strong but does not overpower DL opponents. His best pro fit by far should be in a precision passing attack, which will give him the best chance to utilize his athleticism. THis is clearly a Top 100 prospect.

NOBLE NWACHUKWU/DE/WEST VIRGINIA 6’2/275 #97 The 6-1 Mountaineers are having a really good season in great part because their Defense has stepped up and kept most of their games from being weekly shootouts. The 37 points they gave up last week is the exception to their pattern this season, and it cost them their first loss. The leader up front on D this year has been NWACHUKWU, who is their veteran leader and is working on a 3-year starting streak. He may be much better suited for an NFL 4-3 defensive scheme than his current 3-4 role. He is a bit light, but his quickness and speed are his best weapons. He provides some pass rush and will pursue from sideline to sideline. He’s one of those guys who just has a nose for the football, and can complete the play when he gets to it. He does have some pass-rush ability and might crack double figure sack totals for the 2016 season. Some tea,ms might see him as a solid OLB prospect with the loss of a few pounds. He should be a solid Pick for some team by Round 4 or 5 next April. Looking forward to seeing more of him in action at All-STar venues in January.

TYLER ORLOSKY/OC/WEST VIRGINIA 6’4/295 #65 ORLOSKY is about to log his 40th collegiate start, and right now he’s in consideration as one of the Top 4 OC prospects for the 2017 Draft. He fits in the category of flexible, athletic pivot men. He has good functional strength, but is not the blocky muscle man that PAT ELFEIN is at Ohio State. ORLOSKY relies on athleticism, especially foot quickness, and technique to get the job done. Against Oklahoma State he had his hands full with a group of 300 LB.+ interior DL, led by top prospect VINCENT TAYLOR (see below). But despite a few pocket collapses he more than held his own. His size could be an issue at the pro level, especially against those burly Nose Tackles, but I would concur with other Draftniks that he is also likely to start for a decade as a pro. especially for a team that features a precision passing offensive scheme. I’d look for him in Round 3 next April, unless he comes up short at the Combine.

VINCENT TAYLOR/DT/OKLAHOMA STATE 6’3/310 #96 JR In most scouting circles, TAYLOR was considered a solid starter who would use the 2016 season to set himself up for a big year in 2017, in a push for elevated Draft status in 2018. Instead TAYLOR has exploded this season to be a dominant force at the line of scrimmage for the Cowboys. I have watched 3 Okie State games this Fall and TAYLOR has been a major force in every one of them. He refuses to stay blocked and also has shown good quickness for his size and body frame. He has been elite at collapsing opponent passing pockets, and some of that pressure has actually come when he has looped to the outside. He is adept at using his hands and arm strength to push around blockers, at times actually walking them back into their own QB. To add to his value he’s shown a propensity to pressure and/or block some place kicks. I’ve heard some talk of him playing the Nose at the next level, but I think he’s best suited for a base 4-3 scheme, with enough quickness to even play DE in Red Zone situations. To me he’s clearly a Top 100 draftee if he declares to come out early.

DeMARCUS WALKER/DE/FLORIDA STATE 6’3/275 #44 I disagree with those who see WALKER as a big time impact defender with First Round potential. I have watched 4 FSU games this season, including the Loss to Clemson last weekend and I have come away with a ton of respect for WALKER as a hard working, high energy player. He may lead the Seminoles D in snaps played if he keeps up his current pace. Against Clemson he was out on the field til the final whistle blew, but couldn’t quite disrupt QB/WATSON enough back in that pocket. He should also post double-digit sacks on the season, but I would not classify him as an elite pass rusher. He has been playing both inside and out this year along their DL. Despite trying hard, it’s not hard for him to get caught up in the trash when working inside at 275 lbs.. He shows some nice spin move action on the edge, but often doesn’t have the speed or quickness to get to the QB before the ball is released. It looks to me like he is not truly explosive off the snap. WALKER could play for my team, but I’m not drafting him any earlier than Round 3.

JAMES WASHINGTON/WR/OKLAHOMA STATE 6’0/205 #28 JR Another of the talented Junior wideouts that the NFL will be counting on to enter the 2017 Draft and boost the skill position talent pool. He’s the best all-around wideout at Oklahoma State since a guy named DEZ BRYANT, IMO. He has nice size and good speed. If he shows that his speed is elite at the Combine he could have a shot at Round 1 next April. Under HC Mike Gundy the Cowboys spread the ball around and try to balance the passing attack with a solid running game. Therefore you don’t see many games when WASHINGTON catches 15 balls. But he usually ends up as the teams top guy. Last week in the game with West Virginia, WASHINGTON caught 6 balls for 117 yards and 0 TD. He can catch in traffic or he can blow by the secondary and get deep. He had a 2nd quarter drop, which was almost a shock given his reliable hands. He is also not afraid to work the middle and take the hits if that is what the defense is giving. His speed and balance aid him in gaining yards-after-catch. In 2015 he caught 53 balls and averaged over 20-ypc. He’ll surpass that catch total this year, though his average per catch will drop a bit.