Category Archives: Pigskins Weekly Prospects Review

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

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

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

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.

College Match-Ups Week 9

WEST VIRGINIA (6-0) @ OKLAHOMA STATE by 4 (5-2); NOON ET; FOX
If this game were in Morgantown I’d go with the undefeated Mountaineers, but Stillwater has become a tough place to play and the Cowboys should be 6-1, but for officiating robbery in their loss to Central Michigan. WVU has also shown a propensity for too many sloppy penalties, which may be hard to overcome in this one. Both teams are beginning their conference gauntlet, which the Big 12 prides itself on. A sleeper to watch from a pro prospect point of view is Oklahoma State junior QB Mason Rudolph who has improved each season and I think is a legit Top 100 Pick if he comes out early. Rudolph also has an outstanding target in junior WR James Washington, while C Tyler Orlovsky may be the Mountaineers best pro prospect, although truth be told there really are not very many elite prospects in this one, but some solid potential draftees for day 3. Prospects to watch:

WEST VIRGINIA                                                              OKLAHOMA STATE

#7 RUSHEL SHELL/RB 5’10/215                                        #2 MASON RUDOLPH/QB 6’5/235 JR
#6 DAIKEL SHORTS/WR 6’1/205                                    #28 JAMES WASHINGTON/WR 6’0/205 JR
#65 TYER ORLOVSKY/OC 6’4/295                                  #47 BLAKE JARWIN/TE 6’5/248
#95 CHRISTIAN BROWN/DE 6’2/298                            #90 MOTEKIAI MAILES/DT 6’3/315
#49 DARRIEN HOWARD/DT 6’1/297                              #13 JORDAN STERNS/S 6’0/200

GEORGIA (4-3) @ FLORIDA by 3 (5-1); 3:30 PM ET: CBS
Let’s start by saying that this is not a neutral game site as the Gators could almost walk from Gainesville to Jacksonville. His initial season at Georgia is not going as well as KIRBY SMART had hoped, but the cupboard is not bare and his Frosh QB/JACOB EASON is improving every week. If EASON breaks out the Gators could be challenged. But then again, as usual, Florida has one of the best secondaries in college football, led by potential first rounder JALEN “TEEZ” TABOR. If EASON gets too aggressive, or wilts under pocket pressure, then the Gators secondary could pad their INT stats. Florida is still offensively challenged, which HC McELWAIN is working on. But the Gators D is one of the best in the SEC. And this season the Gators have a big time weapon in PK/EDDY PINEIRO, who is accurate and kicks them long. The GATORS will be without LB/JARROD DAVIS & DE/BRYAN COX, but all that does is diminish their depth, not their talent. Plus UGA will be without RB/NICK CHUBB barring a Lourdes healing miracle.

GEORGIA                                                                               FLORIDA

#27 NICK CHUBB/RB 5’10/225 JR                                         #30 DEANDRE GOOLSBY/TE 6’4.245 JR
#73 GREG PYKE/G/T 6’6/315                                                   #91 JOEY IVIE/DT 6’3/295
#72 TYLER CATALINA/OT 6’5/305                                         #34 ALEX ANZALONE/OLB 6’3/245
#42 TIM KIMBROUGH/LB 6’0/226                                         #31 TEEZ TABOR/CB 6’0/191 JR
#20 QUINCY MAUGER/S 6’0/200                                          #20 MARCUS MAYE/S 6’0/207

WASHINGTON (7-0) by 4 @ UTAH (7-1); 3:30 PM ET; Fox Sports 1
It’s a pity that what could be the game of the year in the Pac-12 between unbeaten #4 Washington and #17 Utah is relegated to the depth of cable TV; trust us if this were USC or Stanford this game would be on national TV somewhere. And while its still fairly early to project very many games as “musts” for this year’s play-off aspirations, but that could be so in this one, especially in the case of surprisingly good UTAH. Despite a ton of graduation losses, the Utes have been beating people they weren’t expected to and now get a home field shot at the top PAC-12 team in the Huskies. Some of the best talent at both programs lies in their underclassmen ranks. RB/JOE WILLIAMS, who came out of self-imposed “retirement ” has run for 200+ yards in the past 2 games. If this thing stays tight I’d give a slight edge to Utah with their pro prospect PK ANDY PHILLIPS. The Huskies have a decided edge at QB, where Soph JAKE BROWNING looks like their best signal caller since a guy named JAKE LOCKER played on the Puget Sound. Both teams have explosive talent on offense, but they are also stalwart on D, which leaves the result here up in the air, IMO.

WASHINGTON                                                              UTAH

#15 DARRELL DANIELS/TE 6’4/240                            #28 JOE WILLIAMS/RB 5’11/205
#11 ELIJAH QUALLS/DT 6’1/321 JR                              #52 SAM TEVI/OT 6’6/305
#5 JOE MATHIS/ER/LB 6’2/256                                    #49 HUNTER DIMICK/DE 6’3/275
#20 KEVIN KING/CB 6’3/190                                          #15 DOMINIC HATFIELD/CB 5’10/175
#32 BUDDA BAKER/FS 5’10/185 JR                              #20 MARCUS WILLIAMS/FS 6’1/195 JR

CLEMSON (7-0) by 2 @ FLORIDA STATE (5-2); 8 PM ET; ABC
Prior to the season this is one of those games that had game of the year written all over it, however, a couple of losses by the Seminoles have robbed it of much of its luster. Still, don’t sleep on this game, just because FSU has two losses. Clemson looks like it has been sleep walking through some of their games this season, and they may run out of luck sometime soon, especially on the road in Tallahassee. The Seminoles are a very young squad, just like Ohio State, but the talent is there just inexperienced, also like the Buckeyes. But some of their players are growing on a weekly basis. It will be interesting to see if Clemson tries to use LB/BEN BOULWARE to spy RB/DALVIN COOK. Much as I like BOULWARE that could be a big mismatch athletically. FSU redshirt freshman QB/DEONDRE FRANCOIS is just as good of an athlete as Clemson’s DESHAUN WATSON who will be looking for a big game to keep his Heisman hopes on the front burner. In the end this is one of the those games where one just forget the records and enjoy. If push comes to shove late I’ll take FSU’s kicking game with the second AGUAYO brother RICKY/#11. Prospects to watch:

CLEMSON                                                                          FLORIDA STATE

#4 DESHAUN WATSON/QB 6’2/210 JR                          #4 DALVIN COOK/RB 5’11/206 JR
#7 MIKE WILLIAMS/WR 6’4/200 JR                              #15 TRAVIS RUDOLPH/WR 6’1/190 JR
#16 JORDAN LEGGETT/TE 6’5/255                                #72 KAREEM ARE/OG 6’6/330
#94 CARLOS WATKINS/DT 6’3/300                               #44 DeMARCUS WALKER/DE 6’3/275
#10 BEN BOULWARE/ILB 5’11/240                                 #27 MARQUEZ WHITE/CB 6’0/181
#25 CORDREA TANKERSLEY/CB 6’1/195                       #3 BOBO WILSON/WR/RS 5’10/186

BONUS COVERAGE: For the record, this weekend looks to be another really great one for watching college football. How great? Well, we didn’t even include a couple of major league Big 10 games on the list of top games. At 7 PM ET on Saturday evening, for example, #7 ranked Nebraska plays at #11 Wisconsin, with the conference ‘s western division spot B10 title game very much on the line. That one is on ESPN. Meanwhile, at Noon ET, ESPN also has #2 Michigan playing cross-state rival Michigan State in a game that features a pair of potential top 5 picks for the upcoming draft in the Wolverines SS/OLB/KR Jabrill Peppers, arguably the best defensive player in the country, and maybe also the most versatile, along with MSU DT Malik McDowell. Indeed, McDowell should spend a good part of the afternoon squaring off with Michigan C Mason Cole in a head-to-head match-up that should be worth the price of admission all on its own.

College Football Match-ups Week 7

The season is in full bloom and despite a plethora of lackluster action this coming weekend, we also have a chance to see some Top 25 teams match-up as they struggle to remain relevant for Holiday Bowling. And of course their games feature some serious Pro Prospects as well.

#1 Alabama at #9 Tennessee; 3:30 PM ET; CBS … The folks at Tennessee are wondering who the heck put together a schedule that has had them playing Florida, Georgia, at Texas A&M and this week against Alabama in successive weeks. Certainly this final week of this scheduling gauntlet will give Tennessee a pretty good indicator whether the program is in fact back as they face the #1 ranked defending national champions.

Not surprisingly, when two SEC powers go head-to-head there will be plenty of NFL draft prospects on display starting with the week’s best one-on-one match-up when Alabama has the ball and star junior Tide LT Cam Robinson goes up against Vols’ LDE Derek Barnett. Robinson is a top 5-10 prospect, while Barnett appears to be back on the rise in the eyes of NFL scouts after posting 5 sacks in the last three weeks versus quality SEC teams. Alabama also has a dominating DE in senior DE Jonathan Allen is another Tide player with top 10 potential, while redshirt sophomore CB Marlon Humphrey is one of the top 2-3 candidates at the position for the upcoming draft. Same story for OLB Tim Williams, one of the most explosive edge rusher in the country, although he has struggled at times both on and off the field so far this fall. The talented Alabama defense also features MLB Reuben Foster, SS Eddie Jackson and OLB Ryan Anderson, each of whom has top 100 potential. On the other side of the ball, TE O.J. Howard joins Robinson as this top-rated guy at his position.

Tennessee is not yet as deep or talented as Alabama, but does have some the best skill-position talent in the country in QB Josh Dobbs, junior RBs Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara, while Corey Vereen combines with Barnett to give the Vols a disruptive pair of DEs. Prospects to watch:

ALABAMA                                                                                     TENNESSEE

#74  OT  Cam Robinson, 6-5, 330, JR                                        #11  QB  Josh Dobbs, 6-3, 210, SR
#50  OG  Alphonse Taylor, 6-5, 345, SR                                     #1   RB   Jalen Hurd, 6-3, 240, JR
#88  TE  OJ Howard, 6-5, 245, SR                                               #6  RB   Alvin Kamara, 5-10, 215, JR
#93  DE  Jonathan Allen, 6-3, 295, SR                                       #3   WR Josh Malone, 6-2, 200, JR
#9    DE  Da’Shawn Hand, 6-3, 280, SR                                     #9  DE   Derek Barnett, 6-3, 260, JR
#54  DE  Dalvin Tomlinson, 6-3, 305, SR                                  50  DE   Corey Vereen, 6-2, SR
#10  LB   Reuben Foster, 6-1, 240, SR
#56  LB Tim Williams, 6-3, 240, SR
#22  LB  Ryan Anderson, 6-2, 255, SR
#26  CB  Marlon Humphrey, 6-1, 200, RSO
#4    SS   Eddie Jackson, 6-0, 195, SR
#99  PK  Adam Griffith, 5-10, 195, SR
#15    P    JK Scott, 6-5, 200, JR

NORTH CAROLINA (4-2) by 4 @ MIAMI (4-1); 3:30/ET ABC
I don’t really think the Hurricanes are about to free fall to mediocrity, but their QB/BRAD KAAYA is banged up after the loss to FSU. If KAAYA is able to play effectively the matchup with UNC QB MITCH TRUBISKY could be quite fascinating. But they are both Juniors and I think both should stay in school another year. IN fact the best prospects for both squads are underclassmen. Keep your eyes on Soph DT/NAZAIR JONES #90 for the Tar Heels. He’s a potential First Rounder for the 2018 Draft. I’m hoping RB/ELIJAH HOOD is back in the saddle again this weekend. He’s a Top 100 guy for 2017. I like UNC in a close and exciting game. Prospects to watch:

NORTH CAROLINA                                                          MIAMI

#45 MIKE BART/DE 6’3/270                                                #6 JAMAL CARTER/S 6’1/210
#71 JON HECK/OT 6’7/300                                                   #3 STACY COLEY/WR 6’1/193
#34 ELIJAH HOOD/RB 6’0/220 JR                                  #63 DANIEL ISADORA/OG 6’4/310
#2 DEZ LAWRENCE/CB 6’1/185                                        #26 RAYSHAWN JENKINS/S 6’2/208
#3 RYAN SWITZER/WR/RS 5’10/185                                #15 BRAD KAAYA/QB 6’4/210 JR
#10 MITCH TRUBISKY/QB/6-3/220/JR

SOUTHERN MISS (4-2) @ LSU (3-2) by 10; 7:30/ET SEC Network
I remember what happened at USC when ‘Coach O’ took over for Lane Kiffin, and I expect much of the same from LSU. THey should roll in this one against a solid, if unspectacular Southern Miss team. Not sure if FOURNETTE will play or not, but it should be the LSU Defense that controls this contest. DERRIUS GUICE/RB #5 is actually a more multi-faceted back than FOURNETTE. LSU is loaded everywhere but at QB, and LES MILES might still have his job if GOLDEN EAGLES QB/MULLENS played for the Tigers. This could be a better game than many think, but I cannot see the Tigers coming up short. Prospects to watch:

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI                                                LSU

#12 D’MERIUS ANTWINE/SS 6’0/215                                   #52 KENDELL BECKWITH/ILB 6’2/252
#77 JACOB FLEMING/OT 6’4/302                                          #83 TRAVIN DUVAL/WR 6’2/203
#9 NICK MULLENS/QB 6’1/195                                                 #7 LEONARD FOURNETTE/RB 6’1/230 JR
#17 ELIJAH PARKER/LB 6’2/220                                           #92 LEWIS NEAL/DE 6’2/265
#5 D.J. THOMPSON/WR 6’3/200                                           #77 ETHAN POCIC/OC 6’7/310
*************************                                                         #18 TRE’ DAVIOUS WHITE/CB 5’11/191
*************************                                                         #33 JAMAL ADAMS/FS/6-0/210/JR

MISSISSIPPI (3-2) @ ARKANSAS (4-2) by 5; 7PM/ET ESPN
I truly believe that right now BRET BIELEMA has a better balanced team than Ole Miss can handle. They are also big and tuff in his image. If AUSTIN ALLEN/QB #8 isn’t too banged up to play effectively after beat downs in the past few games he has enough moxie, FBI and skill to put up points on that Ole Miss D. And the lack of a Rebels running game will make CHAD KELLY a tasty target for the Razorback D. The loser here will be fighting to go to a December Bowl never mind a Holiday Bowl. I will take the home team. Prospects to watch:

MISSISSIPPI                                                                          ARKANSAS
#1 TONY BRIDGES/CB 6’1/185                                                #51 BROOKS ELLIS/ILB 6’2/248
#12 TONY CONNER/SS 6’0/215                                                #4 KEON HATCHER/WR 6’2/218
#17 EVAN ENGRAM/TE 6’3/235                                            #80 DREW MORGAN/WR 6’0/195
#93 D.J. JONES/DT 6’0/324                                                    #70 DAN SKIPPER/OT 6’10/325
#10 CHAD KELLY/QB 6’2/215                                                 #83 JEREMY SPRINKLE/TE 6’6/255
#8 QUINCY ADEBOYJO/WR 6’3/195                                    #48 DIETRICH WISE/DE 6’5/280

OHIO STATE (5-0) by 8 @ WISCONSIN (4-1); 8PM/ET ABC
A major Big Ten showdown between two relatively young teams who look like legit Top 15 teams. I expect the difference here to come down to Heisman Candidate QB/J.T. BARRETT/16 who is a dynamic leader and a dual threat as a runner and passer. The UW D has proven itself to be stout, featuring another of the WATT brothers in LB/T.J. But the Badgers O will be hard pressed to score much on the Buckeyes D, led by McMILLAN/#5. Ohio State lost a ton to the 2016 NFL Draft, but their young guys now have 5 starts under their belts and are looking elite. I believe the difference in this game could boil down to the Badgers having lost their PK to back surgery. I will take Ohio State by single digits. Prospects to watch:

OHIO STATE                                                                          WISCONSIN
#65 PAT ELFEIN/OC 6’3/300                                                  #47 VINCE BIEGEL/OLB 6’4/245
#59 TYQUAN LEWIS/6’4/260 JR                                             #6 COREY CLEMENT/RB 5’11/214
#5 RAEKWON McMILLAN/ILB 6’2/240/JR                       #42 T.J. WATT/OLB 6’5/247 JR
#84 COREY SMITH/WR 6’1/195                                              #15 ROBERT WHEELWRIGHT/WR 6’3/202
#6 SAM HUBBARD/DE/6-5, 265/RSO

Cheers for another week.

Pigskin

College Football Week 4

Saturday Sept 24 NOON ESPN
GEORGIA @ OLE MISS by 5
I truly believe that Ole Miss is the better overall team in this one, but I do have concerns about whether they can bounce back again from a loss to a Top 10 team with a superior effort. They may have too many injuries already to compete against top teams every week that their SEC schedule requires. Ole Miss will also be pitted against one of the top frosh QB in the country in JACOB EASON. But I do think QB/CHAD KELLY has the moxie to raise his team up again. The Rebels have to find some sort of running game to balance out their offense, while the D has got to contain the UGA running attack featuring CHUBB/MICHEL. I’ll take Ole Miss to bounce back again, but will not be shocked at all if the Bulldogs win on the road. Prospects to watch:

GEORGIA                                                                          MISSISSIPPI

#27 NICK CHUBB/RB 5’10/225 JR                                  #1 TONY BRIDGES/CB 6’0/185
#81 REGGIE DAVIS/WR 6’0/170                                   #10 CHAD KELLY/QB 6’2/215
#42 TIM KIMBROUGH/LB 6’0.226                               #12 TONY CONNER/S 6’0/215
#17 EVAN ENGRAM/TE 6’3/235                                    #20 QUINCY MAUGER/S 6’0/200
#93 D.J. JONES/DT 6’0/324                                            #73 GREG PYKE/OT 6’6/313

Saturday Sept 24 3:30 CBS
FLORIDA @ TENNESSEE by 3
I wanna pick Florida in this contest to make it 12 straight versus the Vols, but the Gators will using back-up QB/AUSTIN APPLEBY to steer an already mediocre Offense. However, the Gators’ D is tough as usual and TENNESSEE has looked downright anemic at times on offense. This could be a snoozer for those who like scoring; indeed, the best pro prospects on both side of the ball – CB Teez Tabor for the Gators and UT DE Derek Barnett, a couple of juniors with 1st round talent for 2017 – play defense. The VOLS, though, have enough talent to post some points, at least on paper. But they have looked like a team stuck in the mud so far this September. Logic says UT QB/JOSHUA DOBBS will lead the O out of their doldrums sometime soon. It had better be this weekend or they may get shut out by the Gators D. Prospects to watch:

FLORIDA                                                                          TENNESSEE

#34 ALEX ANZALONE/LB 6’3/244                                #11 JOSHUA DOBBS/QB 6’3/207
#94 BRYAN COX/DE 6’3/268                                            #1 JALEN HURD/RB 6’2/240 JR
#40 JARRAD DAVIS/LB 6’2/240                                    #21 JALEN REEVES-MAYBIN/LB 6’0/225
#91 JOEY IVIE/DT 6’3/295                                                #9  DEREK BARNETT/DE/6-3/260/JR
#20 MARCUS MAYE/S 6’0/207                                       #50 COREY VEREEN/DE 6’2/249
#31 TEEZ TABOR/CB/6-0/200/JR

Saturday Sept 24 8PM/ET ABC
STANFORD @ UCLA by 5
Okay, so its still September, but this game has all the earmarks of a preview of the conference championship game in December. This is especially a big chance for the Bruins to demonstrate that they are not just paper tigers in a “soft” PAC-12. STANFORD is by far the most physical team in the conference. And the Cardinal gets just enough Offense to win so far, led by all-purpose O weapon CHRIS McCAFFREY, who is a threat to break things open every time he touches the ball. Opposing defenses have been keying on McCAFFREY and his numbers so far are modest, at least by his lofty Heisman type standards, but most college football watchers feel a breakout performance is eminent. BRUINS QB/JOSH ROSEN is off to a mediocre start after his outstanding frosh season in 2015. But part of his issues can be traced to an almost completely overhauled group of skill position players to work with. He too, should get better as the season goes on. My thinking here is that when you combine home field advantage with better overall team speed UCLA may be able to outscore Stanford by game end. Prospects to watch:

STANFORD                                                                           UCLA
#67 JOHNNY CASPERS/OG 6’4/296                                   #3 RANDALL GOFORTH/S 5’10/190
#10 ZACH HOFFPAUIR/FS 6’0/197                                   #68 CONOR McDERMOTT/OT 6’9/310
#99 LUKE KAUMATULE/DE 6’7/295                                #10 FABIAN MOREAU/CB 6’0/200
#29 DALLAS LLOYD/SS 6’2/213                                         #32 NATE IESE/TE 6’3/250
#5 CHRIS McCAFFREY/RB/RS 6’0/202 JR                     #47 EDDIE VANDERDOES/DT 6’3/305 JR
#3 MICHAEL RECTOR/WR 6’1/185

Saturday Sept 24 Arlington, TX 9PM ESPN
ARKANSAS by 5 @ TEXAS A&M
I am of the belief that the Aggies may regret giving up a home game to play in Jerry’s World. In the meantime the Razorbacks look to be coming around overall as new QB/AUSTIN ALLEN gets more comfortable. Hogs’ head guy BRET BIELEMA may be the “mouth that roared” but he also knows fundamental football and how to coach it. The key matchup here is likely to be the Arkansas OL trying to protect ALLEN from the fearsome pass rush of DEs MYLES GARRETT and DAESHON HALL at the DE slots. Indeed, from a pure draft perspective, watching Garrett, arguably the top prospect overall for the 2017 draft, and Hall go against massive 6-10 Hogs’ RT DAN SKIPPER may be the best one-on-one watching of the weekend. Also keep an eye on A&M FS Justin Evans who is one of the hot draft commodities around these days. Indeed, lots of talent and teams that can both put up points in bunches should make for an exciting time under the Big Top.

ARKANSAS                                                                         TEXAS A&M
#51 BROOKS ELLIS/LB 6’2/248                                          #14 JUSTIN EVANS/FS 6’1/195
#4 KEON HATCHER/WR 6’2/218                                       #15 MYLES GARRETT/DE 6’5/262 JR
#80 DREW MORGAN/WR 6’0/195                                     #10 DAESHON HALL/DE 6’6/260
#70 DAN SKIPPER/OT 6’10/326                                         #65 AVERY GENNESY/OT 6’5/310
#83 JEREMY SPRINKLE/TE 6’6/255                                 #11 JOSH REYNOLDS/WR 6’4/190
#48 DIETRICH WISE/DE 6’5/280                                      #33 SHAAN WASHINGTON/LB 6’3/235

Enjoy the action folks and be sure to check the entire weekend’s slate of games. This is an upside weekend for quality game action.

Pigskin

Prospect Watch Week 3 College Football

After a week to more or less catch our breath we are back to a loaded schedule of great college match-ups this weekend.

FLORIDA STATE by 4 @ LOUISVILLE; NOON/ET ABC
Much to my surprise this game is a bit under the radar. It had better not be for the Seminoles. I will say it out loud…. if FSU falls as far behind as they did in the first half of their opener with Ole Miss, Louisville will be much harder to come back against. This game starts with a classic dual between FSU freshman DEONDRE FRANCIS and Louisville sophomore LAMAR JACKSON, two of the best young QBs in the country. Indeed, the Cards’ Jackson, the early Heisman leader, looks every bit as good as Clemson’s highly touted junior DeSHAUN WATSON. There will be plenty more great prospects in this game, though, than just the young QBs including redshirt sophomore RB DALVIN COOK, junior  LT ROD JOHNSON, DE DEMARCUS WALKER and S NATE ANDREWS of the Seminoles and DE/OLB DEVONTE FIELDS, S JOSH HARVEY-CLEMON, and NT DEANGELO BROWN among others. And you can count on HC BOBBY PETRINO not taking his foot off the gas pedal no matter what the score. Both teams have talent laden, big play defenses and I expect the turnover/takeaway numbers to decide the outcome. Prospects to watch:

FLORIDA STATE                                                                     LOUISVILLE

#4 DALVIN COOK/RB 5’11/206 JR                                           #97 DEANGELO BROWN/DT 6’0/308
#29 NATE ANDREWS/S 6’/210                                                  #92 DeVONTE FIELDS/DE/ER 6’4/245
#72 KAREEM ARE/OG 6’6/330                                                  #25 JOSH HARVEY-CLEMONS/LB 6’5/230
#44 DeMARCUS WALKER/DE 6’3/275                                    #55 KEITH KELSEY/LB 6’1/235
#27 MARQUEZ WHITE/CB 6’0/181                                           #17 JAMES QUICK/WR 6’1/191
#3 BOBO WILSON/WR/RS 5’10/186                                           #2 JAMARI STAPLES/WR 6’4/195
#77 ROD JOHNSON/LT/6’6/310/JR

ALABAMA by 6 @ OLE MISS; 3:30/ET CBS
Sorry to say that the Ole Miss fold-up against FSU two weeks ago has me a bit skeptical of them as a top tier team, although I believe they can win 9 games and go bowling for dollars come season end. Veteran QB CHAD KELLY is a legit pro prospect, but he tends to cut it loose under pressure and creates turnovers, while TE/HB EVAN ENGRAM, a possible top 100 pick this year, is one of the best receiving prospects at the position in the country. Kelly and company, though, will have their hands full as the Alabama D, led by DE JONATHAN ALLEN, ILB REUBEN FOSTER, DE/OLB TIM WILLIAMS and redshirt sophomore CB MARLON HUMPHREY each of whom has first-round potential, is the wrong unit to play loose against.. The Tide’s best pro prospect though could be junior OT CAM ROBINSON, while TE O.J. HOWARD is arguably the best two-way prospect at the position. I fear the Alabama front seven will eat up the Ole Miss OL and unleash their seeming legion of pass rushers all night long. Too bad Ole Miss still does not have a running game to control the clock and make the blitzing dial it back a bit. But there are playmakers on both sides of the ball for Ole Miss and they are capable of big plays on both sides of the ball. It could/should be an exciting game overall. Prospects to watch:

ALABAMA                                                                        MISSISSIPPI
#93 JONATHAN ALLEN/DE 6’3/294                             #1 TONY BRIDGES/CB 6’0/185
#22 RYAN ANDERSON/ER 6’2/253                              #12 TONY CONNER/S 6’0/215
#88 O.J. HOWARD/TE 6’6/242                                      #17 EVAN ENGRAM/TE/HB 6’3/235
#4 EDDIE JACKSON/S 6’0/195                                      #93 D.J. JONES/DT 6’0/324
#74 CAM ROBINSON/OT 6’6/327 JR                            #10 CHAD KELLY/QB 6’2/215
#56 TIM WILLIAMS/OLB 6’4/237

MICHIGAN STATE @ NOTRE DAME by 3; 7:30ET NBC
Notre Dame appears to be off to another start of a season that will test their mettle and depth. Injuries and player suspensions are already mounting, but the Irish still have a solid talent base and will look to ride home field advantage, not to mention the talents of emerging junior QB DESHONE KIZER, who is starting to get some top 5-10 buzz, to a win over Spartie. Michigan State has a top 5-10 guy of their own in DT MALIK MCDOWELL, but overall the Spartans who seem to lack playmakers on the offensive side of the ball this season. If Notre Dame’s D can bring some serious heat on QB/TYLER O’CONNOR the Spartans may be hard pressed to score many points. Prospects to watch:

MICHIGAN STATE                                                         NOTRE DAME
#30 RILEY BULLOUGH/ILB 6’2/230                              #36 COLE LUKE/DB 5’11/195
#7 DEMETRIOUS COX/FS 6’1/200                                   #94 JARRON JONES/DT 6’3/315
#4 MALIK McDOWELL/DL 6’6/280 JR                          #68 MIKE McGLINCHEY/OT 6’7/315 JR
#82 ISIAH PRICE/TE 6’4/260                                           #90 ISAAC ROCHELL/DE 6’3/287
#12 R.J. SHELTON/WR 5’11/205                                      #14 DESHONE KIZER/QB/6’4/230/JR

SOUTHERN CAL @ STANFORD by 3; 8PM/ET ABC
It’s only September and here comes a game that could set the pace for the rest of the PAC-12 season. The Trojans can ill afford another loss to a Top 25 team, while STANFORD needs to win this home game against an arch rival. Both teams are breaking in new QBs with the graduation of USC’s CODY KESSLER and Kevin Hogan of STANFORD. For the record, junior Max Browne takes over at USC, while Stanford starts senior Ryan Burns. Both guys are 6-5 with decent arms, but neither is as good as their predecessor. Fortunately, both QBs get to work with one of the best skill players in the country. Browne, for example, throws to junior WR Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster, who entered the season as the consensus #1 wideout in this year’s draft class. At the same time, Stanford RB Christian McCaffery just may one of the very best all-purpose backs in college football history. Pro scouts will also be watching USC junior CB Adoree Jackson, who has also been known to dabble as a receiver and kick returner at times.  Prospects to watch:

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA                                             STANFORD
#73 ZACH BANNER/OT 6’9/350                                          #57 JOHNNY CASPERS/OG 6’4/296
#22 JUSTIN DAVIS/RB 6’1/195                                            #99 LUKE KAUMATULE/6’7/295
#2 ADOREE’ JACKSON/CB/RS 5’11/185 JR                      #29 DALLAS LLOYD/SS 6’3/213
#48 TAYLOR McNAMARA/TE 6’5/245                                 #5 CHRIS McCAFFREY/RB/RS 6’0/202 JR
#9 JU-JU SMITH-SCHUSTER/WR 6’2/215 JR                   #3 MICHAEL RECTOR/WR/RS 6’1/185

OHIO STATE @ OKLAHOMA; 7:30 PM ET; FOX

Best game of the day, though, may be in Norman where #2 ranked Ohio State plays Oklahoma in a match-up of two traditional college football powers that just don’t play all that often. The game lost a little luster when Oklahoma lost its season-opener to upstart Houston, but its still the Buckeyes and Sooners with plenty on the line. That’s particularly true for Oklahoma that just can’t afford to lose a second non-conference game and still have a realistic hope of making the BCS playoff. Like a couple of other games this week, the Buckeyes-Sooners features a match-up between two of the better QBs in the country in juniors J.T. Barrett of Ohio State and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, both of whom are legit Heisman candidates, although neither is necessarily a prime-time draft prospect. However, both squads do have their share of top prospects like C/G Pat Elflein, junior ILB Raekwon McMillan, and DEs Tyquan Lewis, another junior, and sophomore Sam Hubbard. Meanwhile, the Sooners feature one of the best 1-2 RB combos in junior Samaje Perrine and soph Joe Mixon; ILB Jordan Evans, junior DE Charles Walker, junior CB Jordan Thomas and FS Ahmad Thomas. Should be fun! Prospects to watch:

OHIO STATE                                                                                 OKLAHOMA

#16 J.T. BARRETT/QB/6-2, 255/JR                                              #6 BAKER MAYFIELD/QB/6-1, 212/JR
#65 PAT ELFLEIN/C-G/6-2, 300                                                  #32 SAMAJE PERINE/RB/6-0, 235/JR
#6 SAM HUBBARD/DE/6-4, 265/RSO                                         #25 JOE MIXON/RB/6-0, 230/RSO
#59 TYQUAN LEWIS/DE/6-3, 260/JR                                         #97 CHARLES WALKER/DE/6-2, 300/JR
#5 RAEKWON MCMILLAN/ILB/6-1, 240/JR                             #26 JORDAN EVANS/ILB/6-1, 235
#95 CAMERON JOHNSTON/P/5-11, 195                                        #7 JORDAN THOMAS/CB/5-11, 190/JR
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx                                      #13 AHMAD THOMAS/FS/5-11, 200

Make you sure you have your recording device of choice all programmed for the weekend’s action. These are only the highlight games. There are a few other big match-ups that could spawn some upsets.

Pigskin

COLLEGE GAMES & Prospect Previews Week 2

I had a dream one night early this week that every weekend this college football season would be as dynamic, with great match-ups, as we saw in Week 1. Then I printed up the schedule of games for Week 2 and came back down to reality. Even the prettiest girl doesn’t look so stunning sans makeup in most cases. So here are some of the best of an overall mediocre slate for Week 2.

PENN STATE @ PITTSBURGH by 2  … Saturday Sept. 10 NOON/ET ESPN

IMO this is the year we find out how the FRANKLIN rebuild is going in Happy Valley. Good to see this natural rivalry game on the schedule. For better or worse the HACKENBERG Era is over and FRANKLIN can run his style of offense. There is talent on both teams though most of it is young. Both these teams are capable of winning seasons, but not much more. This could be the start of a very competitive program match-up for years to come with FRANKLIN & NARDUZZI both being solid coaches. For this year I will cop out and give the field goal nod to the home team. Prospects to watch:

PENN STATE                                                          PITTSBURGH

#11 BRANDON BELL/LB 6’1/231                            #69 ADAM BISNOWATY/OT 6’6/300
#72 BRIAN GAIA/OC 6’3/305                                  #47 MATT GALAMBOS/ILB 6’2/240
#6 MALIK GOLDEN/S 6’/205                                  #54 TYRIQUE JARRETT/DT 6’3/330
#5 NYEEM WARTMAN-WHITE/ILB 6’1/243       #83 SCOTT ORNDORFF/TE 6’5/265
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx                                               #5 EJUAN PRICE/ER 6’0/250
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx                                             #24 JAMES CONNER/RB/6’2/250

NORTH CAROLINA by 5 @ ILLINOIS … SATURDAY 7:30 PM/ET BIG TEN NETWORK

The Illini face the first real test of the LOVIE SMITH regime hosting the Tar Heels who lost a tough one to GEORGIA last week. I look for UNC to recover and beat the Illini, but not by much. There are some nice match-ups in this one including a tough/talented DL for Illinois trying to stop a 2-headed UNC running attack of HOOD & LOGAN behind a solid OL. I think Lovie and his boys get a taste of playing against the big guys this week and lose at home. Interesting to watch will be Cal transfer LB HARDY NICKERSON, who came to Illinois to play for his NFL alum dad of the same name, who is on Lovie’s staff. He is undersized but has some of the old man’s genes. He pursues and attacks all over the field. Prospects to watch:

NORTH CAROLINA                                                  ILLINOIS
#45 MIKEY BART/DE 6’3/270                                      #3 TAYLOR BARTON/SS 6’1/215
#71 JON HECK/OT 6’7/300                                          #12 WES LUNT/QB 6’5/225
#13 MACK HOLLINS/WR 6’4/210                              #10 HARDY NICKERSON/LB 6’0/230
#2 DESMOND LAWRENCE/CB 6’1/185                     #91 DAWUANE SMOOT/DE 6’3/265
#3 RYAN SWITZER/WR/RS 5’10/185                        #87 TYLER WHITE/TE 6’5/255

TENNESSEE by 8 VS VIRGINIA TECH; Bristol Motor Speedway; SATURDAY 8PM/ET ABC ***TOP GAME

BUTCH JONES and his Vols barely escaped a major upset in OT last week, while the Hokies showed new life under new HC JUSTIN FUENTE, ex-Memphis. I am guessing the Vols players had a tough week’s work under JONES and his staff and are ready to bounce back and look like the SEC Title contender most perceive them to be. But TECH will not be an easy out under FUENTE and his coaching crew. Give him another year to recruit his type of guys and TECH will be a very tough foe even for SEC teams. Prospects to watch:

TENNESSEE                                                                 VIRGINIA TECH

#11 JOSHUA DOBBS/QB 6’3/207                                  #19 CHUCK CLARK/FS 6’1/205
#21 JALEN REEVES-MAYBIN/LB 6’0/225                 #45 SAM ROGERS/FB 5’10/228
#23 CAM SUTTON/CB 5’11/185                                      #72 AUGIE CONTE/OG 6’6/303
#50 COREY VEREEN/DE 6’2/250                                 #95 NIGEL WILLIAMS/DT 6’4/295
#71 DYLAN WEISMAN/OG 6’4/305                               #7   BUCKY HODGES/TE/6’6/245/JR
#1    JALEN HURD/RB/6’3/240/JR                                #1   ISAIAH FORD/WR/6’1/190/JR

TEXAS TECH @ ARIZONA STATE by 5 … SATURDAY 10PM/ET FOX SPORTS 1

Both of these teams will have to struggle to rise above .500 this season, IMO. But a combination of factors make this a solid watch on a lackluster schedule board in Week 2. And to me QB/PAT MAHOMES,II will be worth staying up late to watch. he’s a running/gunning guy whose dad was an MLB Pitcher. The younger MAHOMES has all the tools to play in the NFL, kind of like a more disciplined COLIN K. The Sun Devils have just enough defensive talent to make life difficult for TECH. ASU is also likely to try to run the ball and control the clock, and may just have the legs to do so. I’ll take the Sun Devils, but if MAHOMES gets things cranked up watch out for a lopsided upset of minor proportions. Prospects to watch:

TEXAS TECH                                                                     ARIZONA STATE
#65 BAYLEN BROWN/OT 6’5/305                                    #58 SALAMO FISO/LB 6’0/230
#2 REGINALD DAVIS/WR 6’0/185                                    #57 EVAN GOODMAN/OT 6’4/310
#5 PATRICK MAHOMES, II/QB 6’3/230 JR                    #83 KODY KOHL/TE 6’3/235
#99 ONDRE PIPKINS/NT 6’3/325                                      #41 VILIAMI LATU/DT 6’2/290

Hang in there and enjoy a light schedule for this week, then gird your loins for some big time action in Week 3, like OKLAHOMA/OHIO STATE, FSU/LOUISVILLE, MICH STATE/NOTRE DAME and more. And don’t forget to catch my prospect thumbnails every Tuesday profiling some of the top prospects in action over the previous weekend.

WHO CAUGHT MY EYE Bowl Games II

Rolling thru my Bowl Game tapes and the final Bowl Games I have a dozen player thumbnails and other than a few of them, many of these guys may have not been on your radar yet. THat is what I am here to do. Bringing guys to your attention that aren’t on everybody’s lists is my duty in life as Pigskin Paul.

TYSON COLEMAN/OLB/OREGON 6’1/235 #33
Defense was not the forte of the Oregon team in 2015 and it showed again in their Bowl loss to TCU. But COLEMAN emerged in his senior season as an impact, play maker on the Ducks D. His speed and agility serve him well making plays in an opponents backfield. He made a big 4th Quarter strip-sack in the Red Zone to keep the Ducks in the game, and at least prolong collapse until OT. He also showed some ability to effectively drop into shallow coverage to help out the Ducks overmatched secondary. For the game he had 5 Tackles, 2TFL, 1 Sack, 1FF & 1 PBU. That is the same kind of impact effort that he made all season long, where his season stat sheet read as follows: 13G/63T/12TFL/4.5S/4QBH/3FF. He began to emerge back in 2014 and showed that his effort then was not a fluke with a solid 2015 season. At last look I did not see his name in any of the 3 major Star Games, which is disappointing for an emerging talent. If he does not get an invite to the Combine, I will project him as a Pro Day star. He’s rising as a player with serious pro potential who may sneak into the late rounds of April’s Draft. If the NFL ignores him expect the CFL to be all over him.

DAKOTA GORDON/FB/SAN DIEGO STATE 5’10/235 #46
Are some of you sick and tired of watching your favorite NFL team become impotent inside the Red Zone and end up settling for 3-points way too often?! In many cases I would say to you if your team had a true FB on the roster their Red Zone TD rate might go up significantly. Yep, I’m old enough to be old-fashioned. I hope you watched the Hawaii Bowl, in which Sen Diego State rolled all over a decent Cincinnati team 42-7. The AZtecs run the ball most of the time and a key player in their running game is GORDON, who is a throwback player. He is of course one hell of a blocker for the RB, PUMPHREY and PRICE, both of whom rushed for 1,000 yards this past season. But he was allowed to showcase his own running ability and other skills in this contest. In the 2nd Quarter he caught an option pass from RB/PUMPHREY, proceeded to run over a would-be tackler and scored his first TD of the day. By game’s end he had 4 receptions for 58 yards and that TD. He then recorded a 3rd quarter rushing TD. He blew up various defenders with crunching blocks. The former HS wrestler is a natural for Special Teams duty with his aggressive nature and love of contact. Do I expect him to be drafted… NO! But should a team that carries a FB on their roster and wants to run in goal line & short yardage situations seek him out as an URFA? You bet your chin strap.

TOM HACKETT/P/UTAH 5’11/195 #33
It will be very interesting to see (at least to me) if the 2 time Consensus All-America Punter will get drafted and then be able to earn a job in the NFL as the first rugby style Punter. Now the catch here is that HACKETT has been able to use multiple styles of punting in his collegiate career, with amazing results. Against BYU in the Vegas Bowl HACKETT had 6 punts averaging 49.5 ypp. He had 1 TB but offset that with 4 other punts downed inside the 20-yard line, and two were inside the 10. Word is also out that he will make a most interesting interview for personnel people with a nontraditional personality ala perhaps RAY GUY. For the full 2015 season HACKETT averaged 48-ypp with 23 of them going for 50 yards plus. 21 were Fair Caught, 28 ended up inside the 20 and only 9 were Touchbacks. Most importantly of all to NFL scouts will be the fact that he had no punts blocked this season. That sets him apart from most previous rugby style punters. On occasion HACKETT will actually deliver a standard US Football style punting stroke. Will some NFL team have the courage to think outside the box and actually draft him? Special Teams coaches gird up your loins for this guy. Stay tuned.

RYAN KELLY/OC/ALABAMA 6’5/300 #70
The more Alabama games that I watched this year, the more impressed I was with KELLY. He’s the leader of that OL that just won a National Championship. He’s not super athletic, but he is perhaps the best OC in this upcoming Draft. He’s a better prospect than BARRETT JONES was coming out of ‘Bama a few years back. He has the savvy to start in an NFL OL for the rest of this decade, as long as he’s surrounded by better athletes. Against CLEMSON, KELLY was near dominant in the center of that OL, especially in pass pro. He handled his man and then looked for other players to block. He never allowed penetration directly up the middle. His combination of smarts and strength allows him to effectively block better athletes. He reminds me a bit of his teammate from last year AUSTIN SHEPHERD, who played OT for the Tide despite being athletically challenged. I wrongly projected SHEPHARD to go undrafted. The VIKINGS took him in Round 7 and he’s already valuable, flexible backup. I won’t get fooled again. Mark KELLY down as draftable, with a chance to play a lot at the next level.

TERRELL LATHAN/DE/TCU 6’5/280 #90
If you watched the incredible TCU comeback win in Overtime over Oregon in the ALAMO BOWL, then you should have noticed this man in action. He has caught my eye on multiple occasions in other TCU games I watched this past season. He is a very “long” 6’5 and uses his vine-like arms to great advantage, whether it is shedding blockers or obscuring the QBs view of the field. He is not an edge-rusher, but has penetration ability and is stout enough to stuff the run. In that TCU win, without QB/BOYKIN, LATHAN was a one-man wrecking crew late in the game. He is the guy who sacked the Oregon back-up QB on the last play of regulation. Then he used his long arms and flexibility to knock down a pass in the first OT. He plays strong and will set the edge against the run, but does bring some pocket pressure to bear on opposing QB. He looks to me to be able to handle the DE slot in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. He is not currently listed on an All-Star Game roster, which I feel is a terrible oversight. He may not even be invited to the Combine. But mark my words, more than a few scouts will have their eyeballs trained on him in film study.

ALEX LEWIS/OT/NEBRASKA 6’6/290 #71
Once transferring from Colorado to Nebraska his college career really hit stride. Has over 40 career starts on his college resume’. He is the new (since steroid crackdown) prototype of an OT, with a long and fairly lean frame, if there is such a thing at about 300 lbs. He has good arm length and uses his arms and hands to fend off defenders. He is also agile for a tall guy and can get to his second level blocking assignments without much difficulty. He played quite well in the Cornhuskers San Francisco Bowl victory over UCLA. I thought it was quite interesting that when Nebraska starting OC RYNE REEVES went down with an injury LEWIS was helping to point out UCLA defensive alignments and making line-calls from his LT slot. That may speak volumes to his FBI, which should show up in the interview process over the next few months. Let me reassure you that in the NFL football smarts are a major factor for most players. Pro football is not a place for dumb guys. There has been much discussion about a pro move to OG for him. His ability to show potential to play the interior OL would be huge in buying him time as a reserve at the start of his pro career. Right now he is scheduled to appear at the SHRINE venue in Florida and will work under long time OL guru in Coach MIKE MASER. Watching his work in practices should be quite interesting.

D.J. READER/DT/CLEMSON 6’2/325 #48
Clemson has a ton of good athletes on their roster, as you should have noticed in their exciting loss to Alabama. That was a game for the ages, with Alabama Special Teams tipping the game in their favor. What you should have noticed was what a tough time Heisman Winner DERRICK HENRY had running the ball between the tackles in that contest. He had to fight for every yard he got and had his lowest yard per carry average of the season. We saw lots of pursuit and pocket pressure from the Clemson DE slots, but if you watched carefully READER and a couple of his friends really clogged up the center of the line of scrimmage all night long. I had written READER off as a just a big guy who took up space and would disappear at the next level. I may have misjudged him. He really pushed some ‘Bama OL around and refused to be pushed backwards himself most of the night. On a couple of occasions he helped collapse the pocket from the inside, which really bothers most QBs, even at the pro level. He shows decent mobility in a short area and great power to hold the point of attack. He was credited with 4 tackles in that Championship Game, but had far more influence on the running game than that number indicates. He belongs playing head up on the OC in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. He may not get drafted in April, but if he does I will nod my head, not in wonder at the pick, but in knowing what he is capable of in the pits.

JARQUEZ SAMUEL/DT/MARSHALL 6’4/290 #94
I just luv it when late in the season a player I’ve not been scouting seriously just jumps off the screen in a game. That is exactly what SAMUEL did with his play right from the first UCONN possession of the St. Pete Bowl. By and large he was unblockable most of the day for the Huskies OL. His stat sheet does not jump out at you, but that’s not uncommon for the interior DL. He grabbed my attention with a TFL on the first UCONN possession of the day. A bit later he felt the blockers setting up for a screen pass and adroitly dropped back toward the line of scrimmage in anticipation of a throw. He played smart and hard all game long, and showed decent athleticism. He’s a bit light and not a real pass-rush threat, but certainly looks like he could have some value in a DL rotation for any defensive set his team chooses to operate out of. He had some solid numbers for the 2015 season with 12 Games started, 42 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack and 4PBU, which were basically batted balls near the line of scrimmage. With 30 starts in his Marshall career he’s proved he can compete at a high level. Another guy not on an All-Star roster, which makes me question who the scouts are for a talent hungry roster like the NFLPA has. Probably not a draftable guy, but his agent could get some serious calls at the conclusion of the Draft. SAMUEL looks to me like a guy who could battle for a roster spot in an NFL Training Camp.

AZIZ SHITTU/DE/STANFORD 6’3/275 #7
A former 5-Star recruit who took a long time to develop in a very deep Cardinal defense. But 2015 was his breakout season. He was a dominant force in the first half of the Rose Bowl spending a lot of time on the Iowa side of the line-of-scrimmage. He also pursues well along the line. He was second on the Stanford team in tackles in 2015 with 57. He was also credited with 14TFL, 4S, 1QBH, 3PBU. That last stat of 3PBU makes me wonder if he might eventually be a candidate to lose 10-15 lbs and play standing up in a 3-4 scheme as a pro. He should test out as being fast for a DL, and may show impressive spring in his legs. In a vanilla defensive scheme like the Vikings I’m not sure he will have much appeal. But for teams like the BILLS and PATRIOTS he might make a very versatile and productive chess piece who plays multiple roles ala ROB NINKOVICH. As I write this SHITTU is scheduled to play in the Shrine Game next week. I will be watching him carefully in practices to see how he is used and what he can do well. Gameday rules are pretty vanilla in All-Star Games so practice may speak more to his overall potential. Another Round 4 guy for me. I must be thinking Round 4 has 50 selections in it, as I continue to pack names into that round.

ERIC STRIKER/LB/OKLAHOMA 6’0/221 #19
We’ve been watching this man fly around the field and make plays for the Sooners for 4 years, and hoping he would fill out just a bit. But the latter really hasn’t happened so what we have here is a flash player, capable of making plays that change the game. It will be absolutely critical that he run fast, jump high and cut on a dime at the Combine. But even if he does all that I’m still not sure he goes Top 100 on Draft weekend. He plays a lot like an in-the-box, zone-blitz S, but that might be asking too much of him at the pro level. The question is not whether he’ll play pro ball, just how hot of a commodity he will be? He looked better than most of his teammates in the Bowl loss to Clemson, recording 5 tackles which included 2 TFL. He also made plays that influenced the Offense all night long, with his pressure pursuit. He clearly could be a Gunner on Special Teams coverage units, as well as a multiple sub-package contributor to any NFL Defense. Teams should take note, and STRIKER take heart, in the Rookie season of BUCS LB KWON ALEXANDER, who isn’t a whole lot bigger than STRIKER. The right DC should be able to put STRIKER in a position to succeed and play pretty much full-time. STRIKER finished his senior season with 67 tackles, 19TFL, 7.5Sacks, 1 INT, 11 QBH, 1 FF. He’s either Round 3 or 4 in my scouting book.

NATHAN SUDFELD/QB/INDIANA 6’5/240 #7
This guy looks the part of a traditional NFL pocket passer. But he also shows a lot of fundamental flaws in his throwing mechanics. Which is somewhat surprising given how many games he has played for the Hoosiers. He certainly has the arm to compete at the pro level, but his accuracy is erratic. In the overtime loss to Duke we saw both sides of SUDFELD’s game. He went 28/51, for 389 yards and 3 TD. But he also opened the action with 2 UNT in the first quarter. In 12 games during the 2015 season he fell just short of completing 60% of is throws, 59.95%. UNder HC WILSON he has had very little opportunity to make play-calling decisions. He has also not been blessed, especially in 2015, with a lot to work with in the receiver corps. I will add that I was pleasantly surprised to see his ability to tuck the ball and run. That demonstrated better athleticism than I had previously given him credit for. He might have a slight chance to develop into something decent as a pro if he goes to a team with a QB guru and he has a couple of years to sit and learn. Look for him to be drafted late.

DeANDRE WASHINGTON/RB/TEXAS TECH 5’8/198 #21
I found it quite enjoyable to watch TEXAS TECH play this past Fall with the current college-MANZIEL in QB PAT MAHOMES, who might be my Heisman favorite going into the 2015 season. The Red Raiders fought their way to a 7-5 season and a spot in the Texas Bowl, where LSU ran them out of the stadium. But let’s talk about WASHINGTON, who we have to consider in the short, but elusive RB slot. He has proven to have excellent quickness and very good hands. Plus he is solidly built and can through secondary tacklers when needed. Remember that at his current height/weight ratio if he was 5’11 he would weigh about 215 lbs. He is not on an All-Star Game roster right now and that is a shame. For such a venue his skill set indicates he could post some big numbers at that kind of venue.. TECH was unable to run much against LSU so his Bowl numbers were not impressive in the running game with 10 runs for 37 yards. But his 7 catches for 81 yards give you a feel for that part of his game. He is a tough guy who also blocks pretty darn well. His 2015 season numbers cry out as a guy with multiple skills as a change-of-pace RB who could bring value to an NFL Offense: 13 games, 1492 yards rushing, 6.4 ypc, 14 TD, 41 receptions, 385 yards, 2 TD. If he isn’t in Indy at the Combine they have missed another good prospect. He has great potential explosion when he touches the ball, and by Round 5 I would be pounding the table for my team to select him.

For the next three weeks what you read from me will be centered and All-Star games. THen we’ll jump back into game film until the Combine rolls into view.

Who Caught My Eye Bowl Edition

ANDREW ADAMS/S/UCONN 6’0/198 #22
The best all-around defender on the UCONN roster proved his worth again in their Bowl loss as he more than held up his end of the defensive effort. I saw him miss badly on one open field tackle in the 2nd half, but that might be considered nit-picking for a guy who was credited as being in on 14 tackles for the game. I should also note that not long after the whiff, he got into the backfield to take down a RB for a TFL. His size may not indicate it but he is a very aggressive in-the-box defender, who has some cover skills, as evidenced by 3 INT in the 2015 season. He also topped the magical 100 tackles mark with 103 in 13 games. In addition to his 3 INT ADAMS also had 6 PD, which adds to the perception that he is a solid S prospect who should go early on Day 3 of the 2016 Draft. His aggression and tackling acumen would also indicate he has a pro future on Special Teams units. In a relatively weak S class (barring CB to S switches) he could be a nice “get” in the 4th/5th Round range.

TEVIN CARTER/S/UTAH 6’1/215 #9
Welcome to the mystery man that is TEVIN CARTER. CARTER has been on again, off again within the Utes football program because of academic issues. The good news is that he managed to play in 12 games for the Utes this year. He is an excellent athlete who has been described as a S, with CB speed. But I would have to label him as a super-flash player from what I have seen, and/or not seen in his play. One can see his versatility and athleticism just by looking at his 2015 stats: 12G- 56T- 5.5TFL- 2INT-5PD-1QBH- 1FR. Not an exceptional resume, but one that reflects his overall ability out on the field of play. But watching his play in the Las Vegas Bowl against BYU sent up some red flags about his overall play. In the explosive 1st Quarter for the UTES that gave them an insurmountable lead (just barely), CARTER was the defensive star. He recorded 2 INT, one of which he returned for a TD, before the game was 15 minutes old. But at the end of the contest that was all he had to show on his stat sheet. He failed to record even 1 tackle on the day. He is currently scheduled to play at the Shrine Game and will no doubt be at the Combine. His effort under All-Star coaching, workout numbers and interviews will all have to be given heavy consideration in his final draft grade. Right now his total college career raises just as many questions for me as it does providing answers. I can’t honestly say I’d give him a draftable grade at this time.

KAMALEI CORREA/OLB/BOISE STATE 6’3/245 #8
CORREA was a hot prospect to watch coming off of a highly productive 2014 season in which he recorded 12 sacks and 7TFL. But the team asked him to modify his role in 2015 and moved him around, especially in pass coverage. But he was still an impact player whether making plays himself, or forcing offenses into running the ball away from him. Watching him play one gets the sense that he really has a knack for getting after the ball and is athletic enough to run things down. I firmly believe that CORREA’s role in the romp over NIU is indicative of what he can bring to an NFL Defense. He was credited with 4 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks & 1 FF. He has good tackling fundamentals and though not speedy can move well to the ball. He did a lot of shallow coverage work in this game. He struck me as being a very good candidate to stand up as a 3-4 OLB and be used in blitz situations. He showed well in the Bowl win on delayed blitzes which kept the inexperienced NIU QB off balance. Seems to work his way through blockers well and get to the ball. For the season his numbers were still quite good for the hybrid role he played: 13G- 39T- 11TFL- 7S- 3FF. I see him coming off the board in Round 3.

KENNETH DIXON/RB/LOUISIANA TECH 5’10/215 #28
DIXON has been hampered the second half of the 2015 season with ankle issues. The issues have eaten into his playing time and clearly affected his speed and cutting ability. Therefore, the medical at Indy will be critical to his draft status. Having said that, let me add the following; If he looks this good and productive at less than 100% healthy, he is going to be a stud pro RB when he heals up 100%. DIXON really put on a show in the New Orleans Bowl. DIXON was engaged in an end of career battle with NAVY’s KEENAN REYNOLDS/QB, so getting to the end zone was a game time priority, right after a win. With assistance of several ankle re-tapes, and a new Jersey with #1 in the 4th Quarter DIXON rushed 21 times for 102 yards and 2 TD. He also caught 6 balls for 113 yards and 2 more TD. His running style is a nice combination of power, balance and speed. He’s not blazing fast, but can outrun lots of folks. His bonus selling point is the fact that he is an excellent blocker in pass pro. Inability to block has left a lot of college star RB on the bench in the NFL. He also has the nose and toughness to find the end zone. Fighting through the ankle woes he still rushed for 1070 yards on the season, including 19 trips into the end zone. He is also accomplished as a receiver, adding 34 catches for 7 TD to his resume’ during the regular season. He’s touched the ball a lot during his college career, which combined with his ankle issues this past season will be in red ink in some scouting files. But overall he will be hard to pass on once we get to Round 3 of the Draft come April.

GERMAIN IFEDI/OT/TEXAS A&M 6’5/320 #74
IFEDI is the latest in a stellar line of OT coming out of TEXAS A&M since MIKE SHERMAN took over the coaching reigns there almost a decade ago. Guys named JOECKEL, MATTHEWS & OGBUEHI have all been high NFL Draft Picks out of this program. Surprisingly he is also the latest of these star players who have spent their college careers primarily as RT, not at the glamour LT slot. But once again, IFEDI will be drawing a lot of attention between now and the Draft because of his natural ability and potential. He is already a good player who though not an excellent athlete has enough size and mobility to eventually start in the NFL. He has shown he can handle run blocking as well as pass protection effectively. The highest compliment paid to IFEDI was a tactic employed by Louisville in the Music City Bowl. IN the first quarter of that game the Cards top edge rusher DEVONTE FIELDS was lined up at LDE matched up against IFEDI. After a couple of unproductive possessions FIELDS was moved away from IFEDI to RDE for most of the remainder of the game. THat move in and of itself should tell you how effective IFEDI is. He has decent foot movement, but lacks explosiveness or speed at the snap of the ball. He was able to get to his second level assignments most of the game. Has good hand usage in jarring and keeping defenders off balance. Might be a bit grabby with his hand usage. He’s not elite, but looks like he can get better under pro coaching. I expect him to be taken in Round 2 unless he flops in workouts over the next couple of months.

DEION JONES/LB/LSU 6’0/220 #45
This versatile tackling machine only lacks NFL preferred height. IF he were 6’2/240 lbs. he’d be a second rounder, at the very least. He has a high FBI and the motor to go with it. In the LSU Bowl win he recorded 8 tackles which included 2 TFL, 1 sack & 1 FF. He has the quickness to play in reverse and stay on the field for passing downs. In his 12 game season he posted 100 Tackles, 13.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 6 QBH, 1 FF and 2 INT. His sideline to sideline pursuit does not come at the expense of fulfilling his responsibilities to the overall defense. He looks to me to be assignment sure. It is a testament to his speed, quickness and determination. He should star immediately as a special teamer. Hs size will not show up in the “ideal” range for an NFL LB, but I will comment that he’s pretty much the same size and style of player as former teammate KWON ALEXANDER, who had a standout Rookie season in Tampa Bay. The COMBINE will have major importance for JONES as it will provide him with a platform to display his athleticism. JONES will likely last into the 4th Round and that may make him a Draft steal IMO.

PETER MORTELL/P/MINNESOTA 6’2/190 #27
Purely and simply put, MORTELL is one of the top 2-3 Punters in the country and will be very tempting for a Punter hungry team to draft come April. He’s a physically impressive athlete who displays good form and consistency in his punting duties. He gets good hang time and can directional punt, which is coming back into vogue in the League. He helped the Gophers win the field position battle in the Quick Lane Bowl averaging 46 ypp and placing two punts inside the 20. It could be said that he flipped the field several times. Over his career he has placed 1/3 of his punts inside the 20. Here are his numbers for the 2015 season: 74 punts- 2 TB-30 inside 20- 17 fair caught. His overall average was 43.4 ypp. on the season. He has no problem getting his punts off under rush pressure. He can manipulate distance, direction & spin on his punts. It will be late but I see this man getting drafted in a late round. I will also state that I am extremely disappointed he will not be at the Senior Bowl later this month.

JOSHUA PERKINS/TE/H-B/WASHINGTON 6’4/226 #82
This guy has jumped out at me in game action several times this past season. IMO, his athleticism is off the charts, and his size and length make him a very intriguing prospect. But his frame does not fit the mold for a true TE, and he’s not fast/quick enough to slide into a WR job. He also displays soft hands, though he doesn’t always get himself into the best receiving position for thrown balls. In the Huskies bowl win over Southern Miss he caught 3 balls for 69 yards. For the mathematically challenged that’s a whopping 23 yards per reception. In his 12 game season, PERKINS caught 36 balls for 539 yards and 3 TD. In this day and age of souped-up passing offenses I could easily see some NFL teams being interested in this versatile athlete as a sub-package receiving option, ranging from TE/H-B/WR. But to be totally frank, I think he has a slight chance to be drafted in Round 7, more likely an URFA, and his ability to find some niches on Special Teams will determine whether he has any chance to make an NFL roster. Over time he could become a valuable member of a receiving corps.

CHASE PRICE/RB/SAN DIEGO STATE 5’8/200 #22
What one must always keep in mind when evaluating NFL Prospects is that on occasion the back-up on a team may have better pro potential than the starter. That may indeed be the case for the top 2 RB coming out of San DIego State. Junior DONNEL PUMPHREY is the star of the show for the Aztecs offensively and is replacing MARSHALL FAULK in the Aztecs rushing record books. But PUMPHREY is a whopping 175 lbs., soaking wet. That makes him a highly suspect NFL RB prospect. On the other hand PRICE, who has played second fiddle to PUMPHREY, is short, but hefty at 200 lbs. He runs with good explosion and quickness. He used his carries in the Bowl win over Cincy to boost his rushing total to 1000 yards for the 2015 season. PRICE had 13 carries for 68 yards. He also caught 2 passes for another 22 yards. He looked like a natural hands catcher. He’s a tough “little” guy to get off his feet and if he can adapt to a Special Teams role or three could just end up at the bottom of an NFL roster. In a nutshell, I would describe him as a powerful, low slung, elusive target. I would doubt that there is anything he can do between now and the Draft to significantly raise his stock, but I do believe he could be a very popular URFA, with a chance to make an NFL roster, or practice squad, next summer.

CHRIS SWAIN/FB/NAVY 6’1/245 #37
SWAIN will have limited NFL interest for two reasons. The first is that he owes the US Navy about 5 years of service. Secondly, we have reached a stage where almost half the NFL doesn’t have a legit FB on their roster. But for the remainder of teams there should be plenty of long term interest in SWAIN, who is a throwback to the day when NFL rushing records were set by FB with the HB doing more of the blocking. SWAIN is a battering ram, with balance and some burst. He has good hands and can catch out of the backfield. He is also an accomplished blocker who won’t require a lot of time to adapt to pass-pro for his QB. But his running dimension is indeed fascinating for the right NFL Offensive Coordinator. In 2015 he rushed for 1023 yards and 10 TD. He averaged 4.81 yards per rush while playing second fiddle to his QB. He should make an all purpose Special Teamer as well. Once again, I will say for an NFL team with patience, he could be a very valuable player in 3-4 years.

CHARLES TAPPER/DE/OKLAHOMA 6’4/281 #91
If you watched TAPPER closely in the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson then you should have a pretty clear picture of his pro potential. He is not a big flash player, but is smart and dependable, with above average athleticism. He’s not an edge rusher, but should make a nice 3 down DL in a 4-3 scheme. He has also been moved inside to DT by the Sooner coaching staff to get some pocket pressure up the middle. He can and will collapse the pocket on a regular basis. His frame looks to me like be could get up to 290 lbs. and still show good pursuit as a pro. He looks to have a long frame. For the 2015 season he recorded 50T- 10TFL- 7S- 3QBH- 4FF. There might be some interest in TAPPER by Round 3, but I would expect he’s more likely to hear his name called in Round 4. He strikes me as not a special player, but a useful one who can help a DL rotation in the NFL.

LAQUAN TREADWELL/WR/OLE MISS 6’2/210 #1
When DONTE MONCRIEF was in his final season at Ole MIss this guy showed up and stole throws away from MONCRIEF. Though not an NFL star we all know MONCRIEF has been a solid No. 3 wideout for the COLTS to date. Unfortunately, in 2014 TREADWELL was on his way to a stellar year when he broke his leg in the Auburn game. He busted his butt this past off-season rehabbing from the gruesome injury. He started the 2015 season a bit slow, but came on strong to lead the SEC in receptions. He showed what he can do in the Sugar Bowl catching 6 balls, for 71 yards and 3TD. He also went 1/1 in the passing game with a long 2nd Quarter completion on a reverse and throw. He made some scintillating over the head catches in the Bowl win. He showed once again that he is an elite all-around athlete. NFL Scouts love the fact that he was such a hard worker in his rehab program. They also like what they hear about his locker room leadership. He is a confident player but not a loud mouth braggart type. He also came back 10 lbs. lighter and does indeed look just a twitch quicker than pre-injury. The COMBINE will be a huge event for him. His medical will of course be critical, but I do not think I am alone in wondering what his 40-time will be. I see him as a very good NFL prospect, capable of being a No.1 wideout for some team. But I am still not convinced whether he is elite or just good. His Combine numbers could well clarify whether he’s a Top 10 talent, and the first WR drafted, or a mid-First Rounder.

WHO CAUGHT MY EYE on game tape

While we were in that brief game lag between the end of the regular season and the Bowl schedule I have been doing some game tape watching and created thumbnails for another group of prospects for you.

AARON EPPS/OT/LOUISVILLE 6’7/288 #78
I was watching tape of the State of Kentucky rivalry match-up and though several key players underwhelmed me, as usual a couple of lesser name prospects rose up to catch my attention. EPPS playing out at RT was one of those who caught my attention pretty quickly. He looks practically skinny, but he also shows great length and above average athleticism. 2015 has been his first season for Louisville as a full-time starter and he has shown some flashes of development along the way. I realize he’s not going to an All-Star Game, or the Combine. But he’ll get some scrutiny at the Louisville Pro Day. He is a very long (excuse the pun) shot, and certainly nothing more than an URFA afterthought, but there is a guy who gets some starts in Tampa by the name of DEMAR DOTSON, who played mostly basketball in college and has challenged for playing time and starts for the BUCS in recent years. An athlete like EPPS, is exactly what an NFL Practice Squad was created for, IMO. He’s a long, tall lump of clay waiting for some good coaches to mold him into a football player. Put the measuring tape on his arms and hands and tell me he’s not worth a cup of coffee and development time.

JOSH FOREST/ILB/KENTUCKY 6’3/235 #45
Another exceptional athlete who came to Kentucky as a WR, and has developed into a legit NFL LB prospect. He is scheduled to make an appearance in Mobile this January for the Senior Bowl. Tuned in the Kentucky/Louisville rivalry game two weeks ago just in time to see FOREST step in front of a seemingly open receiver and streak 70+ yards for a Pick-6. I spent the rest of the day watching him make tackle after tackle as his team gave the game away to the Cardinals. He’s a bulked up 235+-pounder, who totaled 97 tackles for the Wildcats this season. His athleticism should allow him to stay on the field for 3 downs. He is relentless in pursuit and takes good angles to the ball. He’s also a good wrap-up tackler. I think his athleticism will play out best as an ILB in a 3-4 scheme. His athleticism, paired up with a thumper beside him could provide nice versatility in the middle of the field. He will clearly cover more ground than most inside guys, as evidenced by a 3rd Quarter play in which came all the way across the field and made a pursuit tackle 20 yards downfield. He’ll be a bit out of position in Mobile, where the 4-3 scheme is mandated, but he should look solid in practices where his natural athleticism can be showcased. I see him as a solid Round 4 Draftee next April.

KYLER FACKRELL/OLB/UTAH STATE 6’5/250 #9
I am just as perplexed as ever as to how to project this guy’s skills and college productivity to the next level. He’s played on a talented LB group with the VIGIL Brothers at State. He’s a really good athlete and a smart football player. But he’s so long and lean that I just can’t see him keeping his long legs untangled as he tries to play in reverse in pass coverage. He missed all of 2014 to injury. He looked healthy in 2015 and put together another solid season. He was second on the team with 76 tackles, which included 13.5 TFL, 4 sacks, 12 QBH and 2 FF. He can rush the passer and pursues the ball well in general. I am just not sure how to project him to the pro game. He’s too thin for the DE slot and as I have already stated I am concerned about his long frame translates against NFL quick-twitch athletes out in space. Can he be the next BRAD VAN PELT/GIANTS, for the NFL? The good news is that I should get a week long shot at evaluating him in Mobile under NFL coaching. Enough said for now.

BRONSON KAUFUSI/DE/BYU 6’7/265 #90
KAUFUSI reminds me a bit of a guy named ZIGGY ANSAH in his physique and his skill-set. He is not as dynamic as ANSAH, but conversely he has the career resume’ that ANSAH did not playing in the BYU program. He’s long, fairly athletic and has a definite impact on games with his pass rush skills and his ability to block passes and kicks. I can guarantee that opposing QB were well aware of his presence and play-making ability the past few seasons. His stat sheet for 2015 should paint a clear picture of his athleticism and versatility for you: 12 games, 55 tackles, 17 TFL, 11 sacks, 1 INT, 6 QBH & 4 blocked kicks. That is the resume’ of a player who could be a dynamic weapon in the hands of the right coaching staff. He stays on his feet well and was even asked to drop into pass coverage on several occasions against Utah State. He seems to see the ball well and track it around the field. But his biggest asset is clearly his length! He is currently listed on the Shrine Game roster and I look forward to watching him closely at that venue in January. I doubt that he will soar as a prospect like ANSAH did at the Senior Bowl a couple of years ago, but he will be hard to miss competing this off-season. If his work in St. Pete, compares to what I saw this past season I think his skill-set and size could push him into Friday of the 2016 NFL Draft

DEVIN LUCIEN/WR/ARIZONA STATE 6’1/200 #15
Mark LUCIEN down as one of the biggest benefactors this season of the NCAA graduate student transfer policies. He was more productive in his one season with the Sun Devils than he was in his entire UCLA career. And it took persuasion from QB/MIKE BERCOVICI to get HC TODD GRAHAM to grant LUCIEN a scholarship. He took over a crowded WR group and was hitting full stride in the final month of the season. While sitting a lot for UCLA he clearly studied the game and listened to his coaches, because he runs good patterns. I’m not sure how to gauge his actual speed right now, but he gets open and gains yards after the catch. His numbers in Indy or his Pro Day will go a long way in determining his Draft placement. I realized he had come on strong leading up to watching him in the ASU/CAL game, but he really opened my eyes with 8 catches for 200 yards and 3 TD. He went from 58 catches, for 752 yards and 4 TD in 33 games at UCLA, to 57 grabs for 931 yards and 7 TD in 12 games this season for the Sun Devils. There will clearly be questions about his UCLA career from NFL personnel people, but the tale of the tape in his post-season should be the major factor in determining his Draft status.

MITCH MATTHEWS/WR/BYU 6’6/215 #10
MATTHEWS has used the 2014 and 2015 seasons to greatly enhance his potential as an NFL receiver. It will be interesting to see how he tests at the Combine, or more likely his Pro Day, but he had a solid 2015 season leading the Cougars with 52 catches for 729 yards and 11 TD. He may impress some scouting personnel when they slap the tape measure on his hand spread and his arm length. I’d guess his vert will be impressive for his size as well. He is incredibly strong and wins constantly on jump balls against smaller DB. He also appears to have excellent hand strength and size. At times he reminds me of a thinner GRONK. Even the NFL’s bigger, harder hitting S might have some issues covering and tackling this guy. His game day demeanor is intense, to say the least. He shows the ability to accelerate in the open field after a catch. Early this season I was skeptical of how his game might translate to the NFL. After watching him in the UTAH STATE showdown game I doubt him no more. He caught 6 balls, for 158 yards and 2 TD in the Holy War game. His long catch of the day was a 72-yard TD, catch and run. I know some fans have a great amount of skepticism about these over-aged, white guys from BYU, but once you get to Round 4 of the Draft there are few expectations of 10-year, all-pro careers anyway. A player like MATTHEWS should be a very viable 5th Rounder who might give a team 4-5 solid years as a 4th receiver and Special Teamer for the bottom of a roster. He’s on my Top 250 list for sure.

ROBERT NKEMDICHE/DT/OLE MISS 6’4/290 #5 JR
There can be very little doubt that NKEMDICHE is one of the elite talents of college football. His combination of size and athleticism is uncommon. But a lot of his value is in his potential. He’s nowhere near as pro ready as a guy named SUH was, but I’m not sure staying at Ole Miss strengthens his game any. I recently watched game tape of the big win on rivalry weekend against MISS STATE. By the end of the day NKEMDICHE had 3 sacks and numerous other disruptions of DAK & the State offense. He is a very fast penetrator and finds the ball very well. But other than his speed and persistence there is not much to his pass rush. He clearly needs to work on his arm and hand usage to discard blockers. He also needs to show a bit more hustle in his pursuit of the ball once it moves away from him. His pursuit right now often looks like a light jog. He’s top notch, but I think he needs pro coaching and motivation to step it up another notch. I’d also like to see him get his weight up to 300+. NKEMDiCHE has recently complicated his draft status due to his apparent belief that he might be able to fly. ROBERT is worthy of a Top 5 Draft Pick already, but his pro team and their fans will need to understand the word patience, because he’s not ready to dominate against grown men just yet. His interviews in the coming months will be critical to his draft status.

JORDAN RIGSBEE/OG/CALIFORNIA 6’4/300 #73
CAL finished the season 6-6, and is going Bowling. Future NFL star QB JARED GOFF led this team and had to overcome a mediocre OL and run for his life most games. RIGSBEE, however was the strong point on that line. He’s a well proportioned athlete who can move his feet and engage defenders well with his hands. He strikes me as a guy who can help an NFL OL in a precision style passing attack offense. He has decent strength, but it is his mobility and technique that get the job done. Watching him it was clear that he could both pull on plays going wide, as well as hit a gap and get out to complete second level blocks. If CAL had a couple more OL of his quality GOFF might have been able to lead the team to a few more Wins for CAL this past season. Right now I do not see his name on an All-Star roster, which is a shame in my opinion. He looks to me like a young man who can and will compete with the best if given a chance. He may end up a late draftee, but he will get a look in the NFL’s relentless search for talent to fill its rosters.

HUNTER SHARP/WR/RS/UTAH STATE 6’0/200 #4
I finally got my long look at SHARP watching game tape of BYU/UTAH STATE contest, and I must say I was impressed. He has nice size, and very good hands (despite 1 drop). He runs well and should be able to post a 40-time in the middle of the WR pack in Indy. What should appeal to NFL personnel people is his versatility. He has the quicks and elusiveness to compete as both a Punt and Kick Return Man in a Camp next summer. He seems to have really high FBI. On several occasions he could be seen running back toward his QB in scramble situations. That does not happen a lot at the college level of competition. He is also very elusive with the ball in his hands anywhere on the field. He has also been used on reverses regularly for State in his career there. He made a highlight reel leaping, stretching catch of a ball coming across the middle of the field in the 3rd Quarter. For a top ranked team that catch would have been in highlight reels that night. He runs good patterns and seems to track the ball really well in the air. For the game he caught 7 balls, for 100 yards and 1 TD. For the 2015 season, SHARP had 60 catches, for 746 yards and 8 TD. Most impressively he averaged over 30 yards per KR this past season. He is also currently listed on the SHRINE GAME roster and I am looking forward to watching him catch some balls from serious QB prospects like ALLEN, SUDFELD & DOUGHTY. This guy is outside the Top 100 on my WR list right now, but that’s in a very deep WR group assuming a large number of Juniors are likely to come out early.

CHRIS WESTERMAN/OG/ARIZONA STATE 6’4/300 #55
This athletic interior OL came home from Auburn to finish up his playing days in the Valley Of the Sun. He has a nice, solid frame and could clearly add another 10 lbs if needed. Though not my cup of tea for a job with a power running attack, his overall athleticism and agile footwork will serve him well for a precision passing game Offense. He’s solid in pass-pro after playing in a Sun Devil Offense that resembles a pro style scheme. I’ll take a stab at this and say he’ll post Combine numbers that reflect his athleticism vs. functional strength. He explodes off the snap on running plays and getting to second level blocks is a snap for him. He uses his hands well to tie up defenders and direct them way from the ball. He’s smooth with little wasted energy and effort to his game. He stood out right away when I watched tape of the ASU/CAL game. He’s scheduled to be in Mobile this January and I expect him to make a solid impression under NFL coaching staffs. Another player who is right on the cusp of being in my Top 100. The post-season should go a long way to determining his draft status.

Who Caught My Eye Week 14 plus

Here are a group of prospect thumbnails from Week 14 and a few games a week earlier. I will continue to post weekly reviews based on accumulated game tapes that I have not watched yet. Then before we know it the Bowl season will be underway.

ROBBY ANDERSON/WR/TEMPLE 6’3/190 #19
Since this is a thumbnail I don’t have time or space to detail the travails and travels of ANDERSON during his on again/off again career at TEMPLE. Let’s just leave it that as a senior he broke out and established himself as a legit pro prospect. He’s not a burner, but he eats up yardage with his long strides and can go up to get high throws. He also has above average hands. In the AAC Conference Championship Game he was Temple’s biggest weapon by far. He hauled in 12 balls for 150 yards and a TD. Some of those catches came at the expense of HOUSTON CB/WILLIAM JACKSON, who is one of the top senior prospects in the country on the Corner. In 13 games this season ANDERSON totaled 64 receptions at a rate 13.64 yards/catch and scored 7 TD. His measurables at the Combine will be critical to his Draft status come April. Some of his answers to questions about his questionable dedication to the game and his teammates will also be important during the interview process. All in all, he could well become late draftable.

MORGAN BURNS/CB/RS/KANSAS STATE 5’11/195 #33
I was mightily surprised to see K-State upset WEST VIRGINIA last Saturday. The Mountaineers seemed to be on a role over the last month of the season. But then again never underestimate the coaching ability of that Old Fox Bill Snyder. And don’t ever forget the power of Special Teams. For it was a 4th Quarter Kick Return of 97 yards for a TD by BURNS that flipped the scoreboard in the Wildcats favor. Despite the loss of TYLER LOCKETT to the NFL this off-season the return game has been in good hands with BURNS. BURNS has 1047 yards worth of KR this season including a team record-tying 4 TD. 3 times this year BURNS was voted as Special Teams player of the week in the Big 12 for his efforts. BURNS is also a decent DB for the Wildcats. At the least he should have a shot at winning a job on an NFL roster next year for his Special Teams play and secondary sub-package potential. He has a nose for the ball and is not afraid to stick his nose into the action. He was the team’s 3rd leading returning tackler and interceptor from 2014. His Pro Day will likely be very important for his Draft status. I’d mark him down as a savvy, veteran defender with a chance to go in Round 7, or to make some noise as an URFA next summer.

LEONTE’ CAROO/WR/RUTGERS 6’1/215 #4
CAROO had the distinct disadvantage of playing for a bad football team his senior season, as well as missing multiple games with leg issues. In fact he only played in 8 games. But he had some amazing performances along the way. In the season’s finale against Maryland he hauled in 7 catches for 183 yards and a TD. He has more speed than you might think when totally healthy. He displayed excellent fundamentals as a receiver and made some amazing “hand” catches. He made an over the shoulder sideline catch against the Terps that was highlight reel quality. He sports a well muscled frame and has a reputation as a very hard working player, which NFL coaching staffs really appreciate given the diva attitude of more than a few top receivers at the pro level. In his 8 games this season he totaled 39 catches, which included 10 TD and an eye-popping average of 20.7 yards/catch. During his Rutgers career he scored a TD almost every 4 receptions. Ability wise, I think he’s the equal of former Knight WR/SANU, but he’s clearly more productive. Assuming he is 100% healthy I expect he may really impress with his work out numbers at the Combine. He’s a 2nd or 3rd Rounder in my opinion.

JACOB COKER/QB/ALABAMA 6’4/235 #14
Chalk up COKER as a late bloomer for the Crimson Tide. After transferring from FSU he lost out to Blake Sims in 2014 for the ‘Bama starting QB job. He was even benched early this season. But after the Tide lost to Ole Miss in a game he did not start, OC LANE KIFFIN put his eggs firmly in COKER’s basket and he delivered. His confidence and effort led him to a point that just as Alabama began to roll it was COLKER leading the Offense along with HENRY/RB. COKER looks a lot like BLAKE BORTLES in physical stature. He is jumbo sized and athletic enough to roll from the pocket and extend plays. He consistently showed that he can be very accurate on long ball throws, even on the run. He also showed his teammates that he is willing to sacrifice his body to run for first down yardage as needed. He came to own the ‘Bama huddle. In the SEC Championship game he did just what he needed to, to help beat the QB challenged GATORS. He played almost error free football and went 18/26-65.7%- 204 yards- 2 TD- 0 INT. On the season he hit on 65.7% of his throws and threw only 8 INT compared to 17 TD passes. I’m now on the side of saying that COKER may indeed get drafted, although late. He looks to me to have enough going for him to be an NFL back-up QB in the mode of SHAUN HILL/VIKINGS.

JACK CONKLIN/OT/MICHIGAN STATE 6’6/320 #74 JR
Meet another former walk-on who grew physically, and responded to good coaching, during his years in college. He’s very long and functionally strong player. Hew can handle pass pro, but his real strength is in mauling defenders for inside runs. He is not graceful at times, but he has good balance and stays on his feet. He shows nice, long arms, and hands that can deliver a jolting initial punch in pass pro. Expect him to start his NFL career at RT, but with additional coaching he could eventually slide over to the LT spot. He and his line-mates completely controlled the tired Iowa defense on their game winning, 4th quarter drive that was essentially accomplished almost entirely on the ground. Although he is athletic enough to pull and get to second level blocks he has some challenges finishing off his defender. On several occasions in Ohio State game, he got out in pace but was unable to finish his blocks on LB/JOSH PERRY. No need to worry about his overall ability. If he comes out early, I clearly envision him as a First Rounder, but not Top 12 like some have projected. He’s not that polished… yet.

SU’A CRAVENS/LB/SOUTHERN CAL 6’1/225 #21 JR
Probably the most athletic and dynamic defender at USC since a guy named POLAMALU terrorized the PAC-10, then made his mark in the NFL. CRAVENS is a bit undersized for a traditional NFL LB, but in this day and age of NFL offenses, being mobile is more important than being big. And this guy is so mobile that he’s as much a S as a LB for the Trojans D. His range is incredible and he really brings it with some of his tackles. He led the Trojans this season with 78 tackles. The detail of his efforts tell you his true versatility. His 78 tackles included; 14.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 2 INT, 8 PD, 2 FF. In the big win over UCLA he got beaten to the end zone early, in his coverage, but bounced back with 2 PBU in the 2nd Quarter of action. I’m thinking his overall production as a pro LB will be similar to the wide ranging play of LAVONTE DAVID of the BUCS, who is a blanket-the-field defender. If he comes out of school early I expect him to explode at the Combine athletically and be a late First Rounder in the 2016 NFL Draft. This player shows many of the attributes needed to excel at the highest level of competition. In this era of guys labeled as LB who are really just edge-rushers a player like CRAVENS could be super desirable to a 4-3 defensive scheme looking for a star/impact player. A team like the GIANTS could seriously upgrade their LB corps with an athlete like this to work on the outside.

KYLE FRIEND/OC/TEMPLE 6’2/305 #79
Some team looking for a meat and potatoes guy to man their OC slot is going to fall in luv with the gutsy FRIEND and grab him by about Round 6. FRIEND, was 2nd team All-AAC as a junior, and 1st Team All-AAC as a senior in 2015. He lost some time to injury this past season, but was back in form in time for the Championship Game with Houston. He’s tough as nails and a bit more athletic than he looks at first blush. Very strong with his hand punch after the snap of the ball. He may have a bit of trouble with the bigger, more powerful NT guys, but it won’t be for lack of effort or smarts. Should not have any problem handling line calls right away. I don’t think he’s NFL level at any other position than OC, which of course will diminish his overall value as a prospect. But he’s the gritty kind of guy most of us have come to recognize as the prototype for an NFL OC. If an opening develops on his team that allows him into the lineup, expect him to be hard to move back to the bench. Does the little things well. Late draftable, or an URFA.

TYRIQ McCORD/LB/MIAMI 6’3/240 #17
Over the past few seasons MIAMI has turned out some solid, if under-appreciated LB prospects.
Last year THURSTON ARMBRISTER went undrafted, after a solid campaign, then won himself a roster spot with the JAGUARS. Injuries have pushed him into action ad he is responding well overall. This year I say watch out for McCORD, who has quietly put together a solid season for the ‘Canes. He started 12 games as a junior and 8 more in 2015. When RAPHAEL KIRBY went down to injury halfway through the season it was McCORD who the coaches went to and he has responded. In his 8 games started he has 29 tackles including 5.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks & 3 QBH. He did some major damage in the W over PITT. He was credited with 4 tackles, which were very productive. He had 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 QBH & 1 Forced Fumble. In a 3rd Quarter possession I saw him line-up outside to blitz (his QBH); drop into pass coverage shallow over the middle; shoot the 1-gap and stone the runner at the line-of-scrimmage, on successive plays. He’s an active player, but it seems to take him a while to determine where the ball is and where he should be going. I especially disliked the fact that he stood flat-footed most of the time after the snap, while trying to decide his next move. That will not fly in the fast paced NFL. He must get off the balls of his feet and keep his feet moving. That would seem to me to be a coachable thing. So despite liking some aspects of his game I would project that he’s an URFA prospect for next April. Then in a Training Camp he’ll have to excel on Special Teams and show progress from scrimmage in response to coaching during practices.

ANTONIO MORRISON/LB/FLORIDA 6’1/229 #3
Anyone who followed College Football in 2015 pretty much knows that FLORIDA’s 10-Win season was fueled primarily by its stingy and opportunistic Defense. And for the second year in a row MORRISON, the tackling machine, led the team in tackles. MORRISON had 101 tackles in 2014, coming off a knee injury that cost him all of the 2013 campaign. He came up with 97 tackles in 13 games this year. Throw in their upcoming Bowl game with Michigan and he should be over that magical 100 tackle mark again. He pursues from sideline to sideline, and though lacking ideal size, his athleticism should allow him to stay on the field for 3 downs for most NFL defenses. He is a solid open field tackler and flows very well to the ball. In the Conference Championship loss to ‘BAMA he recorded 11 tackles, including a TFL. He shows some cover skills against RB & TE slipping out in the flat, or over the shallow middle of the field. Mark him down as a natural coverage unit star on Special Teams, which is where many Rookies make their initial impressions at the pro level. I project him as a late/middle round, 5th or 6th, prospect.

PAUL PERKINS/RB/UCLA 5’11/208 #24 JR
PERKINS carried the UCLA Offense at times the past two seasons and certainly helped Frosh QB JOSH ROSEN shoulder the load as an immediate starter in 2015. PERKINS is a slashing runner with very good vision, and what he lacks in burst/speed he makes up for with cutting ability and great balance. PERKINS gets a lot of his yardage after initial contact. He is also an excellent target in the passing game. He is the all-time leading receiver as a RB for the Bruins program. He is also solid in pass-pro. He will deliver a blow to blitzers and is also adept at slipping out into the flat for a screen pass and run-after-catch yardage. It should also be noted that he has a nose for the end zone. In essence I think he brings the same package to the pro game as a guy named MATT FORTE. In 2015 PERKINS gained 1275 yards rushing at 5.71 yards/carry. He also ran for 13 TD. In addition, he caught 27 passes including another TD. He more than did his share n the showdown loss to crosstown rival SOUTHERN CAL rushing 17 times for 95 yards and 2 TD. In his spare time he caught 5 balls for another 36 yards. Most of that came after getting dinged up a bit in the first half. PERKINS has had enough touches in college to more than justify an exit to the NFL before the tread gets any more worn on his tires. For a team looking for their version of MATT FORTE I would expect him to be worth a 2nd Round Pick.

BRANDON ROSS/RB/MARYLAND 5’10/210 #45
In today’s pass first, run later NFL every team seems to be looking for their RB prospects to come on Draft Saturday. So in that vein, I would like to nominate ROSS as a viable rotation RB prospect. Needless to say, the poor season that the Terps had in 2015 does not help his cause. But NFL talent evaluators have to look under every rock to find enough viable prospects to fill their rosters. I struggled through watching 3 Maryland games this season, including the season ender against Rutgers. I saw no quit in ROSS’ effort and productivity. He toted the rock 28 times for 173 yards (6.2 ypc) and 3 TD in that contest. On the season he gained 958 yards rushing, at an average of 6.4 ypc. He also found the end zone 10 times. Those are darn good numbers on a 3-9 team with marginal OL and QB situations! He’s a tough guy with good balance. He can make cuts in the midst of being hit and struggle forward for another 3-4 yards after contact. He does his best work battling between the tackles, but I saw him break several rubs well into the secondary. He is also a willing blocker for his QB in the pocket. IMO, ROSS should be late draftable and I firmly believe he can be a part of a 3-man RB corps. I’d also bet on his ability to help out on Special Teams units as well. So let me project him somewhere Round 6 thru URFA, but with an NFL future.

RASHAWN SCOTT/WR/MIAMI 6’2/205 #11
SCOTT missed the 2014 season with shoulder issues. He started slowly upon his return, but by October was the Hurricanes most productive and reliable receiver. He has good size and quicks to go with his nice sized frame. He’s very polished and precise in his route running which has made him a favorite target for QB/BRAD KAAYA. He impressed me greatly with his work against PITT in the regular season finale for the ‘Canes. He showed soft, pliable hands with some nice grabs. Maybe best of all, he was quick to turn defender on a couple of errant KAAYA throws and prevented PITT DB from making interceptions. He also showed excellent ability to use the sideline as a weapon, by tapping his feet down to record receptions. At the end of the day, and a solid W for Miami, SCOTT had recorded 7 receptions for 74 yards and a TD. In his 10 healthy starts for the season he had 47 catches for 620 yards and 5 TD. He looks to me like an ascending player. He was listed this week as having accepted an invite to play in the Shrine Game in January. Add that to a Bowl Game appearance and he could find himself ending up on the invite list for the Combine as well. If he gets that invite I could see him posting some impressive numbers in INDY. If he passes his medical exams with flying colors I’d also anticipate him being draftable come April. He may be moving ahead of some other receivers in prospect lists over the next couple of months.

Who Caught My Eye Week 13 & More

The last full weekend of College Football game action is over. And Bowls will nurture us for the next month plus. I watched 6 games starting last Friday and taped 10 more. I’ll use notes from those venues to generate prospect thumbnails over the next 2-3 weeks. Here are my observations from this past weekend. It’s a Baker’s Dozen to get started and I’ll use those game tapes to bring you more later this week, or next Monday.

VONN BELL/S/OHIO STATE 5’11/205 #11 JR
Clearly BELL is one of the best all-around S prospects in the nation. Though not quite the ideal size for today’s S position he is not bashful in laying hits on receivers and runners. He seems to have a 6th sense for locating the ball. At times it is hard to look at stats and get a feel for the true value of players that populate loaded rosters like he Buckeyes. But I think his 2015 season stats reveal his versatility on the field. BELL totaled 63 tackles, including 1 TFL, 2 INT, 9 PBU and 1 fumble recovery. The stats are good but don’t tell you how well he understands the dynamics of the game around him, which is critical at the S spots. He played a very intelligent and controlled game in helping the Buckeyes dismantle the Wolverines last weekend. He’s a veritable traffic cop in that Ohio State secondary. If he decides to go pro expect him to post some excellent numbers at the Combine and thrust himself into the second round. Despite my overall high regard for him as a prospect, I do not see him as elite enough to warrant a first round selection however.

JORDAN CANZERI/RB/IOWA 5’9/192 #33
Yes I know he’s too short, too light and too slow to make an elite RB for the NFL. But he does all the little things you ask of a back-up RB in the NFL. I don’t believe he’s going to ring the bell with his speed at the Combine, but I have seen him break runs of over 50-yards 3 times this season. He ran wild again against Nebraska to help the Hawkeyes wrap up a perfect 12-0 regular season. CANZERI carried 17 times, for 140 yards and 2 TD. His long run this day was a 68-yard TD romp. He has decent hands and will give effort in pass-pro. He has been shaken up for short periods throughout his collegiate career and missed multiple games.This season he has 964 yards rushing, in 10 games, having missed 2 games to injury. He’s certainly not a potential NFL star, but I don’t see why he can’t carve out a roster spot in the League much like former Cornhusker REX BURKHEAD. His quickness and shiftiness will serve him well as a pro, if not in the NFL perhaps in Canada.

JEHU CHESSON/WR/MICHIGAN 6’3/207 #86 JR
CHESSON had a whopping 14 catches in 2014. He has come to life in 2015 under new HC JIM HARBAUGH and his offensive system. He’s a long gifted athlete who has a chippy attitude which he still shows on Special Teams units. He blocked a 4th Quarter punt just as the Wolverines started to mount a comeback attempt. He is best on coverage units, not returns as you might expect. Against Ohio State you can’t blame CHESSON for lack of productivity. He hauled in 8 balls for 111 yards and a TD.On the season JEHU totaled 45 catches (2nd on team) for 14.4 yds/catch and 8 TD. He uses his length well in working the sidelines and can highpoint the ball with his vertical jump. His hands are reliable and once he catches the ball he can streak downfield with his long strides. He is also willing to fight in a crowd and it often takes multiple defenders to finally get him down. He is clearly now RUDOCK’s go-to guy. I fear he has shown too much this year to stay in school Wolverine fans, especially late in the season. I’d rank him as a Day Two draftee right now. He may decide to make hay while the sun shines.

BRANDON DOUGHTY/QB/WESTERN KENTUCKY 6’3/215 #12
With the emergence of PAXTON LYNCH at Memphis this mid-major star has lost some of the pub he earned in 2014. But it is not from lack of productivity or pro potential. DOUGHTY just led the Hilltoppers to their first 10-Win season in school history. And he personally just wrapped up a second straight year of passing for over 4,000 yards and 40 TD. And he’s not just whipping up on little boy teams. Last week, against perennially sound Marshall he passed for 27/39- 69%- 370 yards and 5 TD, with no INT. He reminds me a bit of AARON RODGERS at CAL with his current throwing style and his body frame. He’s working on beefing up a bit, and like RODGERS, I’d bet he’ll get to 220, in a couple of seasons. His arm is strong and he can make all the throws, as they say. He also has nice touch on his throws. He can zing it when he needs to, but he seems to take no delight in trying to break receivers’ fingers. He lives with his playbook and already has high FBI. He is willing to trust his receivers and throw timing routes. He sees the whole field and looks to be going through receiver progressions on a regular basis. He’s in my Top 5 QB prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft.

HUNTER HENRY/TE/ARKANSAS 6’5/250 #84 JR
It does not look like a very good year for TE prospects for the 2016 Draft, but if HENRY decides to come out he looks to be a good one and probably rises to the top of the TE list.
He doesn’t have huge numbers in great part because the RAZORBACKS, under HC BIELEMA, like to pound the ball on the ground. And make no mistake HENRY is a solid contributor to the blocking effort to power that running game. But he also displays excellent hands, and can get open deep. I was very impressed with his effort against MISS STATE two weeks ago. What really caught my eye was an ankle injury that took him off the field late in the 1st Quarter. He went to the bench to get checked out and returned to action 2 possessions later with a re-taped ankle and a noticeable limp. He confined his play to blocking for a while but just before half-time started catching balls again. By the end of the day, which included another rousing Arkansas comeback, he had recorded 7 catches for 129 yards and 2 TD. In the official Arkansas season stat sheets HENRY is listed as having 0 drops this season. In an age where I get frustrated weekly by star receivers and their gameday drops I find that stat very encouraging. If he chooses to come out early I expect him to be the first TE drafted next April. He reminds me of guy I saw play a lot in Green Bay named MARK CHMURA.

TYLER JOHNSTONE/OT/OREGON 6’5/295 #64
Oregon was supposed to have the best set of OT in the nation in 2014 in JOHNSTONE & JAKE FISHER. Clearly the Football Gods decided no team deserved that big of a competitive advantage. So JOHNSTONE missed the entire campaign with toe and knee injuries. He’s back and looked as good as new playing LT for the Ducks in 2015. He’s a well proportioned athlete, and though long, he’s thick enough to battle in the trenches with the strongest DL. Playing in the diverse Duck offense means he’s well versed in both run and pass blocking. He is a natural knee bender and has a very solid hand punch that puts most defenders back on their heels. TYLER can fire out and pull or get to second level blocks, and stays fairly low out of his 3-point stance. He’s also blessed with good balance and stays on his feet. I am betting that when he gets to the Combine his weight will be over 300 lbs. I believe he is more pro ready than FISHER was coming out early last year. Right now I would project him in the Second Round. Hoping to see him in Mobile next month.

TANNER McAVOY/S/ATH/WISCONSIN 6’5/222 #11
TANNER has been a wild card for the Badgers during his career under 3 Head Coaches. He has been asked to bail the team out as a QB, of all things, on multiple occasions. But despite his athleticism and FBI a lack of throwing accuracy doomed those experiments long term. This season with new HC PAUL CHRYST deciding to ride JOEL STAVE at QB, McAVOY found a permanent spot at S. And he turned in stellar efforts week after week, culminating in the big Win over MINNESOTA, which brought PAUL BUNYAN’s axe back to the Badger state for another year. McAVOY recorded 3 tackles and had 2 INT for the Badgers including the game clincher late in the 4th quarter. On the season he had 39 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 6 PBU and 6 INT. When you look at his size and overall athleticism it appears that it may be a challenge to determine exactly where he fits overall as a potential pro. But given his size, versatility and surprising athleticism it would seem likely that he gets a look near the end of the Draft and may stick on an NFL team in large part because of his versatility.

JAMAL PALMER/DE/LB/BAYLOR 6’3/240 #92
Teammate SHAWN OAKMAN gets almost all of the press on the other side of the DL, but in just about every Baylor game that I watched PALMER was the guy making more impact plays overall. He had only 5 starts in 2014 because of a knee injury. But he came back strong in 2015 showing no ill effects from said injury. Against TCU, at less than 250 lbs., PALMER was forced into playing DE in a 3-4 base set due to injuries in the DT corps. He held up quite well managing to total 5 tackles in the constant pouring rain, including 1.5 TFL and 1 sack. He also forced a fumble by BOYKIN in the 2nd Quarter of play. He has excellent all around athleticism and I expect him to test with the LB group at Indy. I also expect him to post some very impressive workout numbers within that group. He looks like an ideal specimen for an OLB spot in a 3-4 base scheme, and I would expect he can help produce some pass rush pressure from the outside. For the 2015 season PALMER recorded 5.5 sacks as well as 14 QBH. This guy had a nice college career without much fanfare. He’s one of those players who I can see having a more productive pro career than his college one. If he can impress in the post-season I’d not be shocked to see him drafted as high as the 4th Round.

DAVION PIERSON/DT/TCU 6’2/305 #57
If you had the patience to watch the BAYLOR/TCU monsoon game last week them you should have noticed this guy, just like I did. I thought I saw him make a lot of tackles on the sloppy field. But I was amazed when I saw the stat sheet that had him credited as being in on 13 tackles. Folks that’s a ton in one game for someone who plays the interior of the D-Line. Within that work number were 3.5 TFL, 1 sack & 1 fumble recovery. PIERSON is not stout enough to play on the nose in the NFL, but he should be effective in a DT rotation in a base 4-3 scheme. He has just enough agility to slide through some OL gaps and pressure the pocket. I think his arms are going to measure up as fairly short, which will hurt him overall as a prospect. I would also point out however, on the plus side, that he seemed to be out on the field for almost every defensive snap. After watching tape of that Baylor contest NFL personnel people in bad weather climates like Seattle, Green Bay, Buffalo, etc. should be making a note in his scouting profile that he seems to be a “mudder”. I like him as a late round draftee next April.

JALEN RAMSEY/CB/FLORIDA STATE 6’1/201 #8 JR
RAMSEY is clearly an elite athlete and a top notch NFL prospect. He bit the bullet for the team and switched to CB for the 2015 season. And he has done just fine thank you. He’s very physical and limits opposing receivers each week. He can catch up with plays going away from him and has no fear of providing man-cover when needed. He did an outstanding job against rival Florida last week, but their offense is very limited in the passing game. He’s a willing tackler and likes to occasionally go for the big hit. For the 2015 regular season RAMSEY had 43 tackles, 2TFL, 1 sack and 10 PBU. And even though he can blanket his receiver he has not shown the ball skills to get an INT. In fact it’s because of that lack of takeaways on the corner that I think his NFL position will be at S unless his team is desperate for a CB. He’s not quite as intense or vicious as the original, but I think his pro potential is similar to a guy from USC decades ago named RONNIE LOTT. Expect RAMSEY to come out and be a First Round selection even as a S. He’s that athletic and talented. He also seems to have a high FBI.

DEANDRE REAVES/WR/RS/MARSHALL 5’10/180 #19
While watching DOUGHTY of WKU, I couldn’t help but notice REAVES and his explosive work in the Return Game. His 1st half, 95-yard Kick-off Return was like a demonstration tape of what to look for in potential Return Specialists. He showed sharp early cuts, without losing any speed through the gaps and then smooth jet-like sailing along the sideline with no one closing on him at all. He has also taken a Punt back for a TD this season, which makes him the first Marshall player to do so in one season since a guy named TROY BROWN, who is beloved by PATRIOTS fans. Now the really good news, from a prospect perspective, is the fact that REAVES finally won himself a starting job as a WR in this his senior season. He speedy, quick and elusive REAVES had two catches for 45 yards in the Loss to WKU. For the 2015 regular season he had 47 catches (2nd on team) including 4 TD grabs. It’s REAVES combination of speed and quickness that make him so dangerous. As a Punt Returner he had 13 returns for an average of 13.7 ypr and 1 TD. As a kick returner he brought back 22 for an average of 30.5 ypr and 2 TD. In this day and age in the NFL, where Special Teams play tilts the field of play and scoreboard in so many games I can’t believe this guy won’t be highly sought after in the later rounds next April. A lot of Special Teams Coordinators are going to be holding their breath and banging tables for their team to select this guy before someone else does.

JARRAN REED/DL/ALABAMA 6’4/313 #90
REED came to Alabama in 2014 from the JC ranks. He has been the anchor of their talented DL since his arrival. He’s an interior strong boy whose best pro position will likely be as a DE in a 3-4 scheme. As most of you know ‘BAMA has been rotating a large and talented DL group over the past few seasons to great advantage. Accordingly individual stats can be unimpressive. There are only so many tackles to go around. But when you look at the final ‘Bama stats sheet for 12 games REED ranks 4th of all defenders with 50 tackles. He does a bit of everything including 2 PBU at the line of scrimmage and 6 QBH. But his real forte is just being an immovable object on that defensive front. He primarily occupies blockers and either stuffs runs himself at the line of scrimmage or keeps blockers off the LB corps which then amasses multiple tackles. The Crimson Tide DL has controlled games this season because of the stout play of their DL led by REED. He may not be a glamour boy but ask opponents who can’t be moved along that DL and REED’s name will come up almost every time. Because he’s not an edge rushing force I don’t see him as a First Rounder, but by Draft Friday expect him to be in high demand.

ELANDON ROBERTS/LB/HOUSTON 6’0/230 #44
One of the big stories this season has been the fine play of the Cougars as they have put together an 11-1 record. This weekend they face TEMPLE in the AAC Conference championship game. Their Offense under the direction of QB/GREG WARD has been running up scores this season, but a stout defensive unit has also done its part. And by far the leader of their front 7 has been ROBERTS who has totaled 127 tackles in 12 games, which is quite a jump for a player who had 26 tackles in 2014. He was especially impressive in the team’s “upset” win over NAVY, where coaches used him primarily to “spy” Navy QB/AARON REYNOLDS. He really hindered REYNOLDS overall and thus slowed down the NAVY Offense, especially in the second half. When the day was over ROBERTS had recorded 7 tackles, which included 5 TFL and 2.5 sacks. In other words he spent most of his day in the Navy backfield. He will clearly make an immediate impact in the NFL on Special Teams with his speed, nose for the ball and ability to tackle in the open field. What he lacks in ideal height he more than makes up for in speed and his nose for the ball. The light really came on for ROBERTS under new DC TODD ORLANDO. I will be very surprised if he is not drafted, though he will certainly have to wait until Draft Saturday.

Who Caught My Eye Weeks 11/12

I’m doing a slight variation on a theme for the rest of the College season. Since I have multiple game tapes recorded and the games are dwindling down I will be doing prospect thumbnail sketches based on games I have just watched, either live or recorded. I will be sure to indicate which games I am using for the profiles. The goal now is to get as many players covered as possible for you.

AUSTIN BLYTHE/OC/IOWA 6’3/290 #63
BLYTHE is just what we all have come to expect from the Iowa program under HC FERENTZ. He’s pro ready, polished in his fundamentals, but with very little upside. What you see is what you get from BLYTHE. He’s slightly undersized but makes up for some of that missing weight with his solid technique. I watched him carefully in the W over Minnesota, which has a stout solid Defense. He uses good leg drive and hand usage to move defenders where he needs them to go. He has very nice footwork and little wasted motion. On several occasions I noticed he responded very quickly to inside blitzes and picked up the LB/DB to buy more time for his QB. He stays on his feet and keeps them under his pads in either run or pass blocking. He is also adept at staying down in his stance to maximize his leverage and strength. He should make a very solid pro lineman for a team that uses a zone blocking scheme. Power running, man blocking offenses may want to look elsewhere fort their OC. Draftable but not until Rounds 4/5.

SHILIQUE CALHOUN/DE/MICHIGAN STATE 6’5/250 #89
Watching CALHOUN in the big showdown game with Ohio State was disappointing to me. Then again I’ve been unimpressed with CALHOUN pretty much for the last two seasons. I don’t see anything really special about his play. Against the Buckeyes he was credited with 3 tackles, including 1/2 TFL. And I think his game is not going to translate to the NFL well at all. He has not added any significant weight to his frame in 3 years. Yet he’s not light enough on his feet to stand up and spend considerable time as an OLB in any scheme I am aware of. He’s not explosive off the snap and spends a lot of time engaged with the OT he lines up against. In 11 games this season he has 37 tackles, which include 11.5 TFL, 8.5 sacks & 15 QBH. He’s been a solid, reasonably productive college football player, but not the special guy he’s often made out to be. To put it bluntly, he ain’t no JOEY BOSA. Against the Buckeyes CALHOUN was particularly vulnerable to cut blocks, which usually took him off his feet. I wouldn’t draft CALHOUN until Draft Saturday and only for a 4-3 scheme. I think he’s going to be overpowered trying to set the edge against the run, and not quick enough to excel as a pass rusher.

KENNY CLARK/DT/UCLA 6’3/308 #97 JR
This tough kid is not the next WARREN SAPP, but he is stout, reasonably athletic and plays with urgency. A lot if his game is just relentless push and leg drive into the middle of the line. He is very thick through the legs and mid-section, and will overpower a smaller OC. He is also capable of occasionally penetrating through gaps to collapse the pocket. Although I think JIM MORA and his staff got a bit cute at times with their player usage, it does speak well for THOMAS as an athlete that they actually put him in the backfield a a blocker on one goal line possession. However, he was exposed in that scenario when he was not fast enough to get out and lead on a play run wide to the left. Coaches’ bad, not the player’s IMO. I noticed in the WSU game that when THOMAS was getting a brief rest, the UCLA line was usually blown off the ball. His relentless leg action and strong, active hands propelled THOMAS to 4 tackles in the game, including 3 sacks. Despite being listed at 6’3 (he might be shorter) he was credited with tipping two passes in this contest. I don’t see him as bulky enough to play the Nose in a 3-4 as a pro, so I project him to a team with a standard 4-3 scheme as their base defensive set. I luv his energy and his productivity. Mark him down as having 2nd Round potential.

KA-IMI FAIRBAIRN/K/UCLA 6’0/185 #15
UCLA coaches have been waiting for this prospect to fulfill his perceived potential as a top notch Kicker. He has been a solid, if unspectacular Kicker coming into 2015, but has been almost perfect this season. Against WSU he was 4/4 on his field goal attempts. At that point he was 19/20 on FG and 39/39 on XP for the season. He’s not a booming kicker but in the right wind conditions is able to give it a go past 50-yards. He has a nice smooth leg action and gets good trajectory on his kicks out of the hold. I expect we will see him at an All-Star venue which could enhance his rating heading to the Combine. I do not project him to be drafted right now, but he is certainly one of the top 3-4 Kicking prospects based on his accuracy and cool demeanor. He’s probably a bit more of a prospect than KAI FORBATH was coming out of the Bruins’ program.

LEONARD FLOYD/OLB/ER/GEORGIA 6’4/230 #84 JR
FLOYD is a bit of a puzzlement to me as I try to project him to the pro game. He’s long and instinctive to the ball. He has some natural edge-rush skills that lead to more than his share of sacks and QBH. But is he too long, and lean, to be as productive as a pro as he has been as a collegian? My scrutiny of him came against Auburn, which has a pretty solid OL. For the game (a UGA W) FLOYD was credited with 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Sack. His 1st Quarter sack was a thing of beauty as he put an inside swim move on the LT and spun right into the QB. He was quite disruptive and caused blocking assignment night mares all day long. But he’s sliding around blockers with his quickness and balance, that may not be as effective against most NFL OL groups. To excel at the NFL level he’ll need to play for an innovative DC who will move him around to take advantage of his quickness, and diagnostic skills, while trying to keep big bodies and extra blockers off of his thin body. And of course, he needs to find a way to bulk up by 10-15 lbs. without losing his quickness. Look for him to explode at the Combine if he comes out, which I think he will.

KRIS FROST/LB/AUBURN 6’2/240 #17
Mark this man down as another solid tackling machine. FROST recorded 87 tackles in 2014 and had 83 through 10 games this year. He’s athletic and productive enough to stay out on the field for both long and short yardage situations. His versatility is reflected in his overall numbers. He also has 2 TFL, 2 INT, 1 FF & 2 QBH on the season. He’s a very active defender who responds quickly to the ball. He can also be seen well downfield in pass coverage each game. He finishes off quite a few tackles for his team with his ball pursuit downfield. The big question mark is likely to be whether he’s just a half-step slow to be as productive at the pro level. We might get a feel for that if he plays at the Senior Bowl and by what he’s able to do in shorts at the Combine. An NFL team will certainly have no worries about him giving them full effort, and his FBI. He posted his usual stat listing with 9 tackles against Georgia two weeks ago. I see his best chance to succeed in the NFL in a 3-4 scheme, where he will play both inside and outside depending upon down and distance. I would also expect him to contribute effectively on Special Teams units all around. I’d project him to be a mid-Round (5) draft selection.

JARED GOFF/QB/CALIFORNIA 6’4/210 #16 JR
I have thought about thumb-nailing GOFF for over a month. But I wanted to find a game against a top notch opponent, but one in which GOFF would not be a tackling dummy behind a mediocre to poor CAL OL. So I settled on the Stanford game, based on the rivalry aspect, and the fact that though not dominant the Cardinal defense plays big boy football. My final analysis leads me to say, come on out and be the first QB taken in the 2016 NFL Draft Mr. GOFF. While working under considerable pass-rush pressure GOFF was outstanding. Keeping a clean pocket for GOFF to throw from has been a challenge pretty much all season. But in this losing cause GOFF was 37/54- 68.5%- 386 yards- 2 TD- 0 INT. He shows good mobility, and though his somewhat slight frame would discourage him from tucking the ball and running too often, he is a good athlete. I’ll even go so far as to say he is somewhat of a smaller framed, less experienced ANDREW LUCK. His passing mechanics look very good overall and he can make all the throws. He has a very live arm, yet throws a very catchable ball. He shows touch as needed on his throws. I even smiled when he carried out his throwing motion fakes after handing off to the RB, ala BRETT FAVRE in his PACKERS days. He is very good with room to get even better. He is reported to have a very high FBI, and I have no reason to doubt that watching him. The only times I have seen him get into INT trouble is when he forces throws when falling way behind. Sounds like LUCK again to me. Despite losing against better competition once the PAC-12 segment of the schedule came along GOFF has maintained his cool and kept his team in the hunt on most weekends.

KAREEM HUNT/RB/TOLEDO 5’11/225 #3 JR
Out on the field this player looks a bit shorter and a bit stouter than his program numbers. We’ll likely find out at the Combine what the truth is about his size. But he is an intriguing combination of strength and agility with the ball in his hands. He was operating at far less than 100% for much of the mid-season, but finally looks ready to rumble for the late Bowl run. Following an early turnover TOLEDO drove 27 yards in 4 plays, each of which was a HUNT run, for their first TD of the night. Toledo alternates 3 RB, with HUNT getting the bulk of the carries when healthy. In the big showdown game with BGSU, HUNT ended up with 29 carries, for 153 yards & 2TD. Not bad against one of the best Defenses in the MAC. His long run for the night was 41-yards. He’s not a long distance threat, but gains lots of yards after initial contact with a combination of power and balance. He also shows quick feet and the ability to jump-cut to change direction. Defenders taking him on will feel the pain in most instances. On several occasions I saw him eyeball a small seam in the defense and explode through it to get to the second level. This may sound like sacrilege to many, but his size and running style remind me quite a bit of EMMITT SMITH. He could be headed for another 1000 yard season, which would tell me it’s time to head to the NFL. He’s up to 755 yards (including 9 rushing TD) on less than 150 carries. He could have 3 games left to play, and if healthy should top that mark. If he does come out the Combine will be very important for him. I think he’s worthy of a Day Two Draft selection, but we shall see.

DESMOND KING/CB/RS/IOWA 5’11/200 #14 JR
I don’t often say this about Iowa players, but KING has elite athletic gifts in addition to his solid coached-up technique. He is faster than you might guess initially and should test quite nicely at the Combine. He finds the ball quickly in Iowa’s Zone D and can make plays on the ball in the air. Even though he did not have an INT against the Gophers he led the country with 8 going into that game. He is very dangerous as a return man in his spare time. At the end of the 3rd Quarter as Minnesota was mounting a comeback KING returned a Kick-Off 58 yards to thwart Minnesota’s post TD momentum. He has a strong, solid physique and pro scouts luv his strong and active hand usage. He looks like, and hits like a Safety in run support. This guy is the complete CB package, and the time may be right for him to pack up his bags and head to the NFL after this outstanding season for both him individually, as well as his team. His versatility and athleticism will be big selling cards for NFL personnel people. Sorry IOWA fans. After watching him closely in this contest I see him as a potential late First Rounder if he comes out for the 2016 NFL Draft.

MALCOLM MITCHELL/WR/GEORGIA 6’1/195 #26
Last year one of the biggest puzzlements to me was how PHILLIP DORSETT/WR/MIAMI could have all that speed plus good hands, yet be targeted so few times by his QB. He blazed his way through the Combine and was a First Rounder for the COLTS. MITCHELL poses the same question marks this year. He has been nicked up and missed games throughout his career, but even during healthy stretches his numbers are underwhelming. Against Auburn he caught only 2 balls for 20 yards. I also spied him making a very solid goal-line block on a sweep play to tie the game up at 10-10 in the third quarter. I realize the Bulldogs have some real QB issues this year, but somehow a guy with MITCHELL’s speed, hands and yards-after-catch potential should be getting more touches IMO. He should be drafted, but he’s not close to being in my Top 100 right now. Buyer beware, if he blows things up in shorts at the Combine.

JORDAN PAYTON/WR/UCLA 6’0/212 #9
Even though WASHINGTON STATE pulled the big upset over UCLA you certainly couldn’t blame PAYTON for the loss. He was outstanding as the go to guy for frosh QB ROSEN. PAYTON does not have deep speed, nor ankle breaking quickness. All he does is get some separation with tight patterns and catch most everything coming his way. Against WSU he caught 14 balls, for 152 yards. He uses his body well to screen off defenders from throws, bounces off would-be tacklers and gets bonus yardage quite often. As an added bonus he is already a very solid blocker downfield in the running game and for his fellow receivers after the catch. He makes a lot of catches in 3rd down situations and runs his patterns to the proper yardage needed to move the sticks. I see his value as a pro in the role of the No. 3 receiver. Right now I’d project him being drafted in Round 4/5, but if he puts up some better than expected speed/quickness numbers at the Combine his good hands and reliability could bump him up into Top 100 prospect status.

NICK VANNETT/TE/OHIO STATE 6’5/260 #81
This is not a great year for the TE position prospect list to put it mildly. I see some very nice H-Back/slot type pass catchers who are big bodied WR, but don’t offer much more than that. VANNETT may be the closest thing we have to a good inline blocking TE who can also go out and effectively run some pass routes. VANNETT does a lot of H-Back work as well. He runs pass routes for State, but the TE seldom gets targeted in their scheme. Thus he had 3 catches against the Spartans for a paltry 9 yards. How about if I just say I feel petty certain that he is vastly underutilized for his talents. In fact the TE is always a rotation group position for Coach URBAN. VANNETT is reasonably athletic and though he’s no Gronkowski I truly believe he can be more productive as a pro than he has been in college. I think he could be similar to KYLE RUDOLPH for the VIKINGS, and a very valuable inline piece for Red Zone and short yardage situations. For teams without a true FB he could have value in that H-Back role.

DOM WILLIAMS/WR/WASHINGTON STATE 6’2/195 #80
Some guys may not have the speed numbers everyone wants to see, but they are just plain solid football players. I believe WILLIAMS fits that bill. He has excellent hands and ball awareness. I was amazed at several of his catches in the WSU upset (I guess) of UCLA. His TD catch on a ball thrown directly over his head was outstanding. He showed good hands all night long. He keeps the ball away from his body when possible and works the sidelines to his advantage. He is one of the Cougars go-to guys on third down situations. He has good length to extend for throws as well. With a speed receiver on the other side of the field to loosen up the secondary I think this guy will make a very productive No. 2 receiving option as a pro. Against a fast, hard hitting UCLA secondary WILLIAMS pulled in 7 catches for 100 yards, which included that 30-yard TD. Assuming a bunch of outstanding underclassmen will flood the Draft Class, WILLIAMS likely gets relegated to Day 3 Draft status. That will only mean some NFL team gets a bargain next April, in the middle rounds.

Who Caught My Eye Week 11

JACOBY BRISSETT/QB/NC STATE 6’4/235 #15
BRISSETT has been a solid leader for the Wolfpack, but I question how his game translates to the NFL level. He has great size and above average arm strength. But I think he has issues processing information about what is going on around him at times and is late responding to receivers as well as pocket pressure. Being just a twitch too slow is acceptable most of the time in college, but will not fly in the NFL. I think he will be too slow on the trigger as a pro and that will lead to way too many INT and sacks. As he did against the Seminoles last weekend his stat sheet always looks pretty good. He went 27/47- 57.4%- 209 yards- 1 TD- 0 INT, and that’s against an athletic young defensive unit. Those numbers are OK, but not enough to make a big difference on a team with very little going for it in the running game. Quite frankly, if I were a scout I would recommend my team just take him off their Draft Board and move on. But he will be drafted late, IMO.

TAVEZE CALHOUN/CB/MISS STATE 6’1/185 #23
I don’t see CALHOUN as a feature, shutdown Corner, but after watching State twice in the past month I would label him as draftable (Day 3 early) and a nice eventual No. 2 option for someone. He was State’s leading returning tackler from their secondary group based on 53 tackles in 2014. Although he’s wiling to help in run support, his forte is clearly in coverage. Against ‘Bama he did some nice work early in man-cover on RIDLEY. Overall the Tide chose not to throw at CALHOUN much on the day. He was credited with 5 tackles, including a TFL. On the season CALHOUN has 2 INT and 7 PD. He now has a total of 5.5 TFL, which shows he will penetrate at the line of scrimmage if he senses a run play or pass, away from him. At the worst, I would see him playing right away at the next level in sub-packages on passing downs. He has a chance to help himself at an All-Star Game and the Combine this post season. Slot him in for Draft Saturday.

PHAROH COOPER/WR/RS/SOUTH CAROLINA 5’11/208 #11 JR
Given the coaching turmoil and QB issues for the Gamecocks this season I would expect this exceptional athlete to turn pro a year early. He’s very versatile and can make things happen whenever he touches the ball. Against Florida last Saturday he was 1/1 passing, 17 yards for a TD. He rushed the ball from formation 3 times for 16 yards. And in his regular role as a WR he caught 3 balls for 40 yards and another TD. That is in an offense featuring a former walk-on now starting at QB. He’s got a nice solid build at over 205 lbs., but is also fast, quick and elusive. I think he will need some refinement as a receiver for the pro level, but in short order will contribute ether in the slot or outside. I get the distinct impression that he can be a bigger contributor to his pro team than he has been allowed to show for the Gamecocks. I would also guess that he will put up some very impressive numbers at the Combine. But his biggest selling point will be the offensive versatility he has shown in college.

COREY DAVIS/WR/WESTERN MICHIGAN 6’3/205 #84 JR
After watching this guy for the second time this season this past week against BGSU, I have to believe he’s best off packing his bags and heading to the NFL. His QB at WMU, who is only a Junior, is limited athletically and does not get the ball to DAVIS as much as he should. COREY has long, lean frame and can really accelerate on deep patterns. DAVIS caught 78 balls for 15 TD in 2014 as a sophomore. He is on pace for less this year, but I think some of that is his QB’s inability to throw deep accurately. DAVIS played his usual clutch role against BGSU hauling in 13 catches for 159 yards. He loosens up opponents secondaries and creates room for a lot of the team’s underneath throws. He has a smooth, natural catching style and can pile up yards after the reception. As you might expect given his length, he shows above average ability to go up to high-point throws that shorter DB cannot get to. I like the comparison to a smooth looking, long WR who played at UVA & for the LIONS named HERMAN MOORE. If DAVIS does come out early I see him as a sure fire Top 100 Draftee, likely early Round 3.

TRAVIS GREENE/RB/BOWLING GREEN 5’10/185 #8
Everyone worries about the transition of smurfs to the pro level. But GREENE is not a smurf at 5’10, although he does have a slender frame. Quickness is his game. He is very elusive whether running with the ball from scrimmage, or after the catch. He shows very good hands and natural pass catching fundamentals. Let’s use an old phrase and say he’s a “scatback”. He’s hard to knock off his feet primarily because of his good balance. He is reasonably patient as a runner, looking for a hole and then exploding through it. Right now he gets plenty of touches against MAC defenses. In the big win over WMU last week he carried 24 times for 170 yards and 3 TD. He also caught a pass in the contest. Last year I thought this guy’s play was a bit of a fluke. He just missed gaining 1000 yards rushing, including 12 TD. Through 10 games in 2015 he has 866 yards rushing and 10 TD. Now I’d bet on him competing for some return duty at the pro level as well. He’s been too productive and competitive to just overlook. I’ll label him as late draftable. Even though his touches will have to be monitored, he’ll make a nice change of pace guy as your No. 2 or 3 RB.

CYRUS JONES/CB/RS/ALABAMA 5’10/196 #5
I do NOT see JONES as a top end pro prospect, but in great part because of his energy and feistiness I don’t see how he’s not fighting for an NFL roster spot next summer, even if it is as an URFA. He’s a high energy competitor, who broke the MISS STATE game open with his 2nd Quarter 69-yard Punt Return for a TD. He also defended an end-zone lob pass to De’Runnya Wilson later in that quarter to foil a scoring attempt. That is the way this guy plays every week. I almost worry for his health with his aggressiveness to the ball as a run defender. For the game, his stat sheet said he was in on 4 tackles and had 2 PBU… not to mention that Punt Return. For the season he has returned 26 punts for an average of 11.1 yards per. For a player without perceived exceptional athleticism he has an INT, as well as 6 PBU on the season. I can see him near the bottom of an NFL roster contributing in sub-package secondary sets as well as being a key Special Teamer. Hoping to see this ‘Bama boy in Mobile for the Senior Bowl.

JOSHUA PERRY/LB/OHIO STATE 6’4/254 #37
Watching him on the field, I think PERRY can play either inside or outside, especially in a 3-4 scheme. He’s a stud-looking athlete who is very likely to impress at the Combine in February. He’s a very flexible athlete and thus DC LUKE FICKELL is using him to drop into pass coverage more often than not. But when PERRY reads run, or screen, he reacts quickly. Against Illinois he recorded 9 tackles, 1/2TFL & 1 QBH. He’s not a flash player, but rather glides through plays making sure he takes care of him primary responsibilities. ‘Do your job!’, has been a catch phrase made popular lately by an in-depth look at the PATRIOTS and their Super Bowl win. BILL BELICHICK uses that as his coaching mantra to his players. I was particularly impressed by a second half play where PERRY diagnosed screen, floated over to cover the RB, which forced QB LUNT to ground the ball. He was also effective on several occasions disrupting the pocket on blitzes up the middle. Watch PERRY on game film and you’ll see a player doing a very effective day’s work every week. Watching him run around is a thing of grace. And lest you think he is not productive I might note that he led BUCKEYE defenders in tackles in 2014 with 124.

STERLING SHEPHARD/WR/RS/OKLAHOMA 5’10/195 #3
Most folks wondered why SHEPHARD did not come out for the Draft last year. It had a lot to do with his special relationship with HC BOBBY STOOPS and his teammates. Even though he caught only 59 balls in 2014, it still led the Sooners who struggled offensively because of continued health issues for QB/TREVOR KINGHT. With the emergence of transfer/walk-on QB BAKER MAYFIELD, SHEPHARD, and the team, are having the kind of season they expected to last year. SHEPHARD was the big weapon in the upset road win over Baylor last Saturday. He caught 14 balls for 177 yards and 2 TD. He’s a water bug of a receiving threat who shows very dependable hands. He also has the quicks to gain a lot of yards once the ball is in his hands. He now has 61 catches on the season for over 1,000 yards and 9 TD. He looks to me to be a very desirable slot receiver type with return ability as well. He reminds me a bit of RANDALL COBB in his size and style of play. He’s Top 100 as a prospect, but I am guessing a lot of teams will be looking at his Combine speed and quickness numbers very closely. I’d luv to see him in Mobile come January, but that might be wishful thinking.

NELSON SPRUCE/WR/PR/COLORADO 6’1/195 #22
SPRUCE was responsible for 106 catches in 2014 and is headed into that rarified air again this season. The BUFFALOS gave Southern Cal all they could handle last Friday night and SPRUCE was the glue for their offense. He had 7 catches for 94 yards and a TD. He also serves as a Punt Returner for the team. He has very good hands and reacts well to thrown balls in his general direction. In this day and age of receivers who drop a ball or two per game he will be a refreshing exception to the norm for NFL coaches. He is very clever at finding holes in secondary zone coverages and sitting down for throws. He’s also good at taking those little dump down throws and turning them into 5-10 yard gains. I would trust SPRUCE implicitly on 3rd down throwing situations. He’s not an elite athlete, but I would draft him by Round 5 for my team and expect him to make a solid No.3/4 wideout option as well as to contribute on Special Teams units.

DARIAN THOMPSON/S/BOISE STATE 6’2/210 #4
Standing out on the field in uniform THOMPSON looks like the stereotype of an NFL S. He’s tall and solidly built, and his body looks athletic enough to drop into coverage or play in-the-box. He looks just as much the part once the ball is snapped. The recent loss to New Mexico was an indictment of the BOISE front 7, more than it was their secondary. New Mexico only had to pass 13 times while controlling the clock and the ball with their running game. THOMPSON was credited with 10 tackles, which included 1.5 TFL and a forced fumble. On the season he has 5 INT, 2 FF and leads the team in tackles with 63. For his career in Boise he now has 19 career INT. Expect him to show up at the Senior Bowl and impress all week. He is likely to be a 2nd Rounder in the 2016 Draft. I also expect him to put up some impressive workout numbers at the Combine as well.

SEBASTIAN TRETOLA/OG/ARKANSAS 6’5/320 #73
Because the Arkansas OL is so massive there is a general tendency to overlook the natural athleticism that some of their big guys possess. TRETOLA may be the best example of that misconception. The JC transfer saw plenty of action as a junior, but has really stepped it up in his senior year. He is an exceptional run blocker, with perhaps surprising speed to get his big body in motion and lead the way on sweeps. I saw him pulling on multiple occasions in the big upset of LSU, and he made his way to those second level blocks just about every time. The Razorbacks also pass a bit more than some folks give them credit for, and he shows himself to be relatively light on his feet given his girth. He certainly puts an initial shock punch into pass rushing interior DL with his upper body strength. He may not get drafted until the Round 5/6 range, but I see a solid NFL future for him with power running Offense teams like the CHARGERS, STEELERS or BILLS.

JIHAD WARD/DE/ILLINOIS 6’6/295 #17
Methinks some NFL team is very likely to get a bargain buy with WARD in the 2016 Draft. The JC transfer has really developed nicely in his second season at Illinois. But by taking a bullet for the team, and moving inside to DT for the second half of the season, his talent is being masked somewhat. Although he’s not an edge-rusher per se, his size, length and athleticism made him an impact player on the outside initially, but now playing inside he’s being chop blocked and double teamed constantly. And even though he has good strength, teams running at him head on are negating his best attributes. Against Ohio State he was credited with 7 tackles and 1 PBU. He’s a high motor player who can run all day. He was still making plays out on the sideline in the 4th quarter of the game. When he was playing outside earlier in the season he reminded me of former Buckeye CAM HEYWARD, now with the STEELERS. He appears to be so long that he is able to reach out and grab players who look to be beyond him. Luckily for WARD he has an invite to the Senior Bowl, where I am pretty sure they will move him back outside in the required 4-3 DL sets. He may wreak havoc in Mobile. I am bullish on this player and expect him to have a better pro career than collegiate one. He’ll be in my Top 100 Prospect list!

Who Caught My Eye Week 10

The dreaded double digit number appears and we all know that the College Football season is dwindling down a precious few weeks. Keeping my focus in check, here are some guys who got my attention in games this past week.

VADAL ALEXANDER/OT/LSU 6’6/320 #74
A very long, athletic player. Much more of a finesse OL than a bulldozer. Has good agility, but tends to play too tall and loses much of what natural strength he does have. Played OG for the team in 2013 then moved back to RT. He’s a functional player at a high level program, but is far from NFL ready. Anyone drafting him before Round 3 is doing so on potential and trainability. He had a tough night against the bullying DL of Alabama. But most OL do struggle against the 2 deep, physical group that SABAN has assembled. He is clearly best suited to develop for a zone blocking scheme in a precision passing game offense. I am high on his potential, but a bit disappointed in his lack of development given how many games he has started. I’d sure like to see him under the watchful eyes and tutoring of an NFL OL Coach in Mobile come January.

VERNON BUTLER/DT/LOUISIANA TECH 6’3/309 #27
Once again the lack of any uniformity in college uniform numbering caused me to take a while to find this big guy wearing a RB number, but playing in the pits. He’s very active and alert to the ball. He recorded a Sack in Quarter 2, and then a few minutes later he tipped a pass to the ground. In that game against RICE he was credited with 4 tackles overall. On the season he now has 7 TFL, 3 sacks & 5 QBH among his 36 total tackles. He’s not stout enough to play on the Nose, but he looked very effective when TECH dropped into a 2-man DL formation. He’s has decent length for his somewhat shorter frame. He’s very active in ball pursuit, but pays attention to his responsibilities overall. He causes more general havoc than he does making specific plays in the backfield. He could be a nice addition to a team like the PACKERS who de-emphasize the DL positions and often use only a 2-man line, relying on their LB corps to make most of the plays. If he shows well at an All-Star venue and the Combine (or Pro Day) he might get drafted albeit in he later rounds.

DeFOREST BUCKNER/DE/OREGON 6’7/295 #44
This true senior is destined for Top 12 Draft selection next April. He’s best suited for a 4-3 scheme, but can play in any system. He’s an athlete first and a dominant player second. He was a big factor in the victory over CAL last Saturday night with 7 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU. I also felt he earned 2 QBH and would have had a second sack, but was held which precipitated a penalty flag. He’s doing all this damage with a large cast on his right wrist/forearm. He’s stout against the run and stays on his feet to help finish plays. He’s quick to follow the action and reverses direction constantly. He had a runner cut up inside him on a sweep, kept his feet and made the tackle 16 yards downfield. I am curious to find out his wingspan when measured at the Combine. For the season, thru 9 games, he has recorded 12 TFL and 7 sacks. Also ranks second on the team in overall tackles with 51. My eyes tell me that whoever drafts BUCKNER will be adding the League’s next CALAIS CAMPBELL to their roster. I believe he’s a better overall player than ex-mate ARIC ARMSTEAD, who was a first rounder this Spring for the 49’ers.

COREY COLEMAN/WR/BAYLOR/JR 5’10/190 #1
I was skeptical of COLEMAN’s pro prospects early in the season, in good part because of his chippiness and constant trash talking in several games I watched. But I was very impressed with his serious, but controlled demeanor as Baylor introduced frosh QB/STIDHAM as their new starter against K-State. I was even more impressed with the numbers he put up; 11 catches-216 yards- 2 TD. On his first TD catch of 81 yards he just simply outran everyone, made an effortless catch and continued to leave defenders in the dust. In the course of catching those 11 balls he also high-pointed catches against bigger defenders, tip toed the sidelines, and more. He does indeed remind a bit of STEVE SMITH/RAVENS with his combination of speed, strength, elusiveness and determination. I now believe he will leave school early and end up being a First Rounder in the 2016 NFL Draft. Expect him to wow people at the Combine with his workout numbers and fine tuned body.

JEFF DRISKEL/QB/LOUISIANA TECH 6’3/234 #6
One of the major disappointments of the MUSCHAMP regime in Gainesville has found a home playing under SKIP HOLTZ at LA TECH. DRISKEL looks much more composed and comfortable at the helm for the Bulldogs. Perhaps not being in the spotlight so close to home has helped him. It s a slight step down in competition level from the SEC, but his conference does produce pro prospects and he ends up with a bit less to work with. He’s up to seven straight games with over 300 yards passing and seriously reduced his INT ratio. In the Win over RICE, DRISKEL was 17/26- 65%- 320 yards- 4 YD- 0 INT. He has shown good leadership and improved quite a bit under pocket pressure. He scrambles, extends plays and throws the ball away these days instead of throwing it up for grabs. I still don’t see him in my Top 100, but he’s made himself back into being a draftable prospect. If he’s not on Senior Bowl radar the SHRINE folks should snatch up the Florida boy for their game.

WILL FULLER/WR/NOTRE DAME/JR 5’11/180 #7
I was gong to thumbnail RB/PROSISE, until he injured his shoulder in the 1st Quarter against PITT. But it was a no brainer to switch to FULLER, who is Notre Dame’s big play maker as a receiver. My first notes after switching my focus to him was a replay of his 47-yard TD catch to put the Irish up 7-0. He finished the night with 7 catches for 152 yards and 3 TD. Like all the Notre Dame receivers he is a solid blocker for his teammates down field. He’s improved tremendously in the past year in yards after catch. His second TD reception in the second quarter was a 36-yard strike. I also counted 4 clutch catches on the night, that resulted in first downs on third down receptions. With the numbers he is putting up this season I would expect him to head to the NFL sooner rather than later.

JP HOLTZ/TE/PITT 6’4/245 #86
In case you haven’t noticed, true inline blocking TE, who can catch the ball downfield are almost as much of an endangered species as the FB. A lot of formations don’t even call for a true TE on passing downs. The H-Back is the mode of preference all too often these days. HOLTZ is a throwback and may make a more productive pro player than he has been allowed to show in college. He is a solid, though not exceptional inline blocker. He is good at getting off the line of scrimmage and into his routes, many of which are 10-15 yards downfield. He has good, not great hands, which might improve with more passes being thrown his way. Against the Fighting Irish he caught 3 balls for 58 yards. His long play was a 27-yard out-route during a 2nd quarter PITT drive. He also had a shot at another 15-20 yard sideline cross which he could not hang on to. I’m not sure he has pro starting potential, but he could make a solid No. 2 TE and be worth a 5-7th Round selection.

CHRIS JONES/DT/MISSISSIPPI STATE/JR 6’5/308 #96
JONES came on with a bang as a frosh in 2013 when he was selected as a 1st-team Freshman All-America. When looking at his stats, one must remember that DC MANNY DIAZ insists on playing 8 players in a DL rotation. He refers to them all as starters. Therefore, JONES numbers are not always a true indicator of his impact out on the field. He is the complete package and demonstrated that in Thursday night’s Win over MIZZOU. In that game he recorded 2 tackles both of which were TFL. He was also credited with a Sack in the game. On the season (9 Games), he has 32 tackles, 6 TFL & 2.5 sacks. He’s also been credited with 4 QBH. He’s more athletic than physical, but requires double team blocking on almost every down. His talents make me think he can play DE in a pro 3-4, or DE/DT in a 4-3 scheme. Right now I would admit he is a flash player, but some of that can be attributed to playing in a rotation. If you look at a highlight reel he might rank as a First Rounder, but he hasn’t dominated play for extended periods of time. If more playing time helps him improve, or motivates him to push himself one might justify a first round selection on him, but if he comes out I’d guess he may still be around in Round 3. That could be quite the bargain over the long haul.

DANIEL LASCO/RB/CALIFORNIA 6’0/210 #2
Let’s flash back a couple of weeks to talk about LASCO and his work against Southern Cal. LASCO has been battling a hip injury much of this season. As a result, after rushing for over 1100 yards in 2014 his stats are mush less impressive this year to date. But it is his versatility that appeals most to my eyes. Against USC, 2 weeks ago, he was able to rush for 64 yards on 15 carries and 1 TD while sharing time at RB. But his ability to block in pass pro was crucial in protecting star QB JARED GOFF. In his spare time LASCO played on Special Teams coverage units and made 2 tackles that I saw. He’s a slashing runner who can find creases and get through them. Though not a real Hone-Run threat he has the potential to tough his way to some nice double digit runs each week. LASCO has also shown good hands as a receiver over his career. It all adds up to a solid 2nd or 3rd RB spot for an NFL team looking to upgrade the middle of its roster. What he does at an All-Star venue and the Combine will have a lot to do with his final draft position next April.

KEENAN REYNOLDS/ATH/NAVY 5’11/205 #19
Yep, I know the drill. How can be a legit pro prospect? He has a military commitment on his horizon. He’s too short for QB and running wildcat offenses has gone the way of the wishbone. I get all that, but he’s a quick twitch athlete, with lots of brains and guts. A leader of men to put it simply. Remember when the PATS took a QB from the MAC named EDELMAN? How has that worked out? REYNOLDS has accounted for 77 rushing TD and 26 passing TD in his NAVY career, with more to come. Accounting for more that 100 TD is rarified air in FBS football. He can and will do whatever is required of him. I see potential as a receiver, a Special Teams ace, a Return Specialist, and more. BELICHICK drafted a LS from NAVY last year (JOE CARDONA) and as of today he’s serving that function on the PATRIOTS roster. If not beaten to the punch by another team watch him end up in New England’s 2016 Training Camp and we’ll see what happens from there. REYNOLDS has a legit shot at the NFL at some point in the next few years. I’m hoping to see him in action at the shrine venue in January!

A’SHAWN ROBINSON/DT/ALABAMA 6’4/312 #86
Once again there really aren’t any stats that I can point to in explaining the impact this man had on the big win over LSU. But if you watched the game you had to sense his presence. ‘BAMA has a two deep DL rotation, most of whom will play in the NFL. But ROBINSON stood out in this game. Officially, he was credited with 3 tackles, 2 of which were TFL, 1 PBU and a blocked extra point. But he literally intimidated the LSU OL all night long and occupied blockers while the LB and S held FOURNETTE to 12 carries of 1 yard on the night. He only gained 31 net yards total. Even ROBINSON’s blocked extra point was awe inspiring as he jumped over the snapper, landed upright and leaned forward, arms extended to block the kick. His strength is overwhelming and he looks even bigger than his actual weight. This as a SUH-like interior DL who can change the flow of the game with his presence. If he chooses to come out after this season I will guarantee you he’s a TOP 10 draftee.

TERRANCE SMITH/LB/FLORIDA STATE 6’4/230 #24
The Seminoles may have failed to upset Clemson in their showdown game last Saturday, but this young man came up huge in defeat. One of the few FSU seniors back for the 2015 campaign, SMITH reminded me a lot of another SMITH (TELVIN) for the Seminoles who now plays LB for the JAGUARS at a high level. SMITH was everywhere the ball went in this game. When the contest ended and they added up all the numbers TERRANCE was credited with being in on 14 tackles, 6 of them solo. I also counted a TFL among those 14 stops. He is adept at dropping into coverage as well as run support. Even though not credited with a sack in this contest he is very capable and explosive as a blitzer. Even though he looks long and lean that 230 lbs. will serve him well in the NFL. He should be a Top 100 prospect and expect to be drafted by Round 3, if not before. His speed and instincts are what most NFL defenses are looking for more of.

CODY WHITEHAIR/OL/KANSAS STATE 6’4/309 #55
WHITEHAIR is a slightly undersized pro prospect, who will get by in the NFL on his determination and smarts. He will probably be able to play some OT in an emergency, but is more likely to start inside where he can hide some of his physical shortcomings. Though his range is limited he is agile on his feet with good blocking technique. He had issues containing the long and quick SHAWN OAKMAN of Baylor, but most OL find OAKMAN most difficult. He should also provide great value as a multiple position back-up. He’s a team leader, primarily by example on the field and in the locker room. He might sneak into Round 3, but I expect him to more likely be a highly sought after player when Draft Saturday rolls around. It may take a couple seasons as a versatile back-up, but I would fully expect him to earn a starting job with time. Then good luck getting him out of the lineup.

College Football Preview Week 10

OK now I am concerned! Seeing that double digit number in the title above tells me it won’t be all that long before we are lamenting the end of another football season. But for now let’s plow ahead with some important match-ups and some key players to watch.

Saturday NOON ET ESPN2
DUKE @ NORTH CAROLINA by 4
If the ACC leaders ever get their heads out of there own collective asses, and reverse the ridiculous DUKE loss from last week, this game would take on monumental importance in the ACC Coastal. For now, we will have to treat it as the most important game for the Tar Heels in quite a while. I like the growth of this UNC team and will give them the home field nod. DUKE, of course, will be super motivated to not let their season go down the drain. I believe that UNC QB MARQUISE WILLIAMS, is destined to be the next great young QB in the CFL. He’s an all-purpose QB who can beat you with his arm, legs and/or both. DUKE will play with their backs to the wall and this game should be a “hum dinger”, to quote KEITH JACKSON. Should be well worth your time to tune in.

Prospects to watch:

DUKE                                                                 NORTH CAROLINA

#16 JEREMY CASH/SS 6’2/205                     #10 JEFF SCHOETTMER/LB 6’2/235
#28 SHAQ POWELL/RB 5’10/205                 #12 MARQUISE WILLIAMS/QB 6’2/220
#35 ROSS MARTIN/K 5’10/185                      #14 QUINSHAD DAVIS/WR 6’4/210
#41 WILL MONDAY/P 6’4/210                      #42 SHAKEEL RASHAD/LB 6’2/242
#62 MATT SKURA/OC 6’4/205                      #78 LANDON TURNER/OG 6’4/325
#89 BRAXTON DEAVER/TE 6’5/240           #98 JUSTIN THOMASON/DT 6’4/290
#98 CARLOS WRAY/DT 6’2/290

SATURDAY 3:30 ET ABC
FLORIDA STATE @ CLEMSON by 5
Part of me actually thinks Clemson may blow out their rivals, but then I remember that though young and inexperienced JIMBO FISHER has almost more 5-Star recruits on his team than McDonalds has franchises. This game should clearly decide which team is going to be the Atlantic Division champs for the ACC. But then again, who thought GA TECH was going to beat FSU two weeks ago?! FSU may have to rely on SEAN MAGUIRE at QB again, and though he’s no slouch he ain’t no healthy EVERETT GOLSON. But the bigger key is whether resting DALVIN COOK/RB for a week will have him healthy enough to run all over Clemson. Two of the top CB prospects in the nation will be on display in RAMSEY for FSU, and ALEXANDER for Clemson. Slight break for FSU, the game at least begins in daylight. Clemson doesn’t lose very many night games at home. The Seminoles better take advantage and start fast.
Prospects to watch:

FLORIDA STATE                                            CLEMSON
#6 EVERETT GOLSON/QB 6’0/200               #2 MACKENSIE ALEXANDER/CB 5’10/190
#5 REGGIE NORTHRUP/LB 6’1/226            #19 CHARONE PEAKE/WR 6’2/205
#8 JALEN RAMSEY/CB 6’1/201                     #20 JAYRON KEARSE/S 6’4/210
#19 ROBERTO AQUAYO/K 6’1/205               #48 DJ READER/DT 6’2/325
#24 TERRANCE SMITH/LB 6’4/230              #73 JOE GORE/OT 6’5/290
#38 CARSON BEATTY/P 6’3/215                     #90 SHAQ LAWSON/DE 6’3/275

SATURDAY 3:30 ET FOX
TCU by 6 @ OKLAHOMA STATE
Two undefeateds go head to head trying to make sure that the BIG 12 doesn’t get shut out of the Final Four again this season. Remember, no official title game for this conference. The winner will likely have to get by BAYLOR & OKLAHOMA to win it all. The entire month of November looks like it will be a conference play-off tournament for these teams. I have great respect for HC MIKE GUNDY and his Cowboys who play much like a true band of brothers. But I do not see their D being able to shut down BOYKIN all day. Both teams are a bit light defensively so watch for another game with an Arena Football kind of score. Stock up on your favorite snacks and get them by your seat. You may barely have time for potty breaks in this one.

Prospects to watch:

TCU                                                                OKLAHOMA STATE

#2 TREVONE BOYKIN/QB 6’2/205          #1 KEVIN PETERSON/CB 5’11/190
#7 KOLBY LISTENBEE/WR 6’1/185         #7 BRANDON SHEPERD/WR 6’1/195
#9 JOSH DOCTSON/WR 6’4/195            #38 EMMANUEL OGBAH/DE 6’4/275
#22 AARON GREEN/RB 5’11/205            #44 JIMMY SEATON/TE 6’2/250
#26 DERRICK KINDRED/FS 5’10/210    #52 RYAN SIMMONS/ILB 6’0/240 INJ
#33 JADEN OBERKRON/K 6’3/187         #82 JIMMY BEAN/DE 6’5/250
#90 TERRELL LATHAN/DE 6’5/280

SATURDAY 10:00 ET ESPN2
CALIFORNIA @ OREGON by 4
Both of these teams have lost a lot of their luster with 3 losses apiece, but either one could salvage the chance for a New Year’s Bowl slot by winning this game. I think they are headed in opposite directions and the Ducks will prevail in a likely shoot-out. JARRED GOFF is a big time NFL QB prospect, but the troops around him are rather thin and very young. So I will go with Oregon, which would set up a big showdown for them next week at STANFORD. But if GOFF gets hot and plays at his best watch out. The PAC 12 is very talented, and like the SEC, the conference schedules turn into gauntlet running and survival tests. RIGSBEE/G blocking inside against BALDUCCI/DT could be quite the pit fight at times. BUCKNER/DE looks like a sure First Rounder, earning even a higher draft slot than ARMSTEAD last year by the 49’ers.

Prospects to watch:

CALIFORNIA                                                  OREGON

#16 JARED GOFF/QB 6’4/210                        #9 BYRON MARSHALL/WR/RS 5’10/200 INJ
#2 DANIEL LASCO/RB 6’0/210                   #33 TYSON COLEMAN/OLB 6’1/235
#6 DARIUS WHITE/CB 6’1/180                   #44 DEFOREST BUCKNER/DE 6’7/290
#7 JALEN JEFFERSON/LB 6’2/235            #48 RODNEY HARDRICK/LB 6’1/245
#73 JORDAN RIGSBEE/G 6’4/300              #56 ALEX BALDUCCI/DT 6’3/310
#89 STEPHEN ANDERSON/WR 6’3/220   #64 TYLER JOHNSTONE/OT 6’6/295

Who Caught My Eye Week 9

TRA CARSON/RB/TEXAS A&M 6’0/235 #5
CARSON, an Oregon transfer, is the leading RB for the Aggies with 646 yards through 8 games, surpassing his 2014 season total already. He played a big part in the team’s tight win over South Carolina last Saturday, carrying 21 times for 122 yards and 1 TD. He is a power back who runs hard north and south most of the time. He carries tacklers for additional yards after contact on many of his rushes. A nice plus to his game is a very reliable pair of hands and a natural pass catching style on short throws out of the backfield. He also has 25 catches for the season. He looks to me like a nice candidate to be a second RB option for a team with a speed guy as their starter. I think he might also have very solid value as a Red Zone option because he runs low to the ground, is hard to bring down and can catch screens out of the backfield. I could see CARSON as a late round draftee next April, and a nice addition to the Shrine or NFLPA game rosters.

JAKEEM GRANT/WR/RS/TEXAS TECH 5’7/170 #11
I have discussed several times in this space that the NFL has reached a place in it’s development that teams must find room for players of “questionable” size on their roster. Mighty Might GRANT may be one of those players. He’s a do-it-all offensive/Special Teams performer who can flip the field in a heart beat with his combination of speed and quickness. He was a major factor in keeping TECH in their contest with unbeaten Oklahoma State. He got everyone’s attention in the 1st Quarter with his 100 yard (actually 107 unofficially) kick-off return. And he never took the pedal off the metal as he blazed around the field in between re-taping of an ankle that got twisted on a TD reception. In fact he had 210 all-purpose yards in the 1st Quarter alone as TECH forged a lead on the Cowboys. I am not sure if he has more speed or greater quickness, but he clearly has plenty of each. When the dust cleared and STATE had rallied for the win GRANT had 13 catches for 178 yards and 1 TD. He also averaged 48.7 yards on 3 kick returns. You look at his size and scoff at the notion he could survive in the NFL, but I maintain if limited to about 12 touches per game, he would still have a chance to impact the contest every week. I’d draft him for my team in the 5th/6th Round and chart his plays carefully.

CHRISTIAN HACKENBERG/QB/PENN STATE/JR 6’4/235 #14
HACKENBERG has been a savior of sorts for Penn State since arriving as a 5-star recruit under BILL O’BRIEN in the post-SANDUSKY era. He’s now a junior and toiling for HC JAMES FRANKLIN. It has been a bit of a challenge for HACKENBERG & FRANKLIN to devise an offensive system that suits them both. FRANKLIN prefers an option style QB to run a spread attack, while CHRIS is a traditional pocket passer. Given better athletes surrounding him HACKENBERG is having a breakout season, as are the Nittany Lions, who now stand at 7-2 after their convincing 39-0 victory over a solid ILLINOIS team. HACKENBERG has a big arm, but understands touch on the ball and throws very catchable passes. He may not be a scrambler, but he is athletic enough to move around and extend plays. He demonstrated that against the Illini who often beat up on a very average State OL. For the game HACKENBERG was 21/29, 72.4%, 266 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT. That lack of an INT is major progress for HACK, who had 15 INT/12 TD in 2014.This season he has 13 TD and only 2 INT. My guess is that he has learned as much as he can at State relative to a pro career, and may be best served to move on perhaps like BLAKE BORTLES did by leaving UCF after his junior season. He may not be game ready for the NFL 2016 season, but should still be a Top 10 Draft Pick at the ripe old age of 21 next April.

RICARDO LOUIS/WR/AUBURN 6’2/215 #5
I have LOUIS marked down as a sleeper receiving prospect for the 2016 Draft. He was supposed to play second fiddle this season to SHAQ WILLIAMS, who was kicked off the Auburn team last month. LOUIS is trying to pick up the slack, but the Tigers miss QB KEITH MARSHALL more than they thought they would, and play at their QB position is down this season as a result. I believe LOUIS is an under-developed receiver right now, with the size and speed to excel at the pro level. In the close loss to Ole Miss LOUIS caught 4 balls for 137 yards and 1 TD. He’s a smooth running, big target who could make a very solid No. 2 wideout for some NFL team with patience and good coaching. He should look good in post-season All-Star action and at the Combine. I would expect him to be an early Saturday draftee.

CASSANOVA McKINZY/LB/AUBURN 6’2/253 #8
One of the great names in this year’s Draft Class. He’s an interesting prospect, who is getting a chance to show his multiple skill sets under new DC WILL MUSCHAMP, who has a knack at finding niches for his players. McKINZY showed some natural pass rush ability from both the inside and outside against Ole Miss, but also showed he can be a big thumper against the run as well. I thought he even showed some ability to drop into shallow coverage a couple of times. Clearly MUSCHAMP is not reluctant to use McKINZY in multiple defensive roles. If you watched the game and thought you saw CASSANOVA as a very active player you were correct. Here was his stat line for the day: 9 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 sack, 5 QB hurries. Now picture that kind of athlete/performer in an attacking 3-4 defensive scheme like the STEELERS or PACKERS. McKINZY has a chance to push into a Friday Draft position. A Senior Bowl appearance could provide a huge stage for him to perform on.

JADEN OBERKRON/K/TCU 6’3/190 #33
This long, lanky guy reminds me a bit of ALEX HENERY, when he kicked for Nebraska. Even though the Horned Frogs aren’t prone to very many close games OBERKRON has been a nice security blanket for that probability. In their eventual romp over WVU last THursday night he kicked 4/4 field goals, with a long of 57 yards, when drives stalled for TCU earlier in the game. He is now 12/15 on the season on those rare occasions that BOYKIN and Co. can’t reach the end zone. His leg is strong, giving him 50-yard range almost every week. He can also reach the end zone with his kick-offs. For a guy his height, and he’s very long legged, his leg swing mechanics are very consistent and smooth. I would doubt he gets drafted but he should be in an NFL Training Camp with a serious chance to earn an NFL roster spot.

EMMANUEL OGBAH/DE/OKLAHOMA STATE/JR 6’5/275 #38
This long drink of water may be one of the “prettiest” prospects out there as you watch him run around the field in pads. And I dare say that I think he just oozes of potential, despite the act that he is a star already. I was slightly taken aback at first, watching him against Texas Tech, because I did not see the quickness and explosion that I expected from him. But the longer I watched the more I appreciated his playing style. He maintains awareness of the action around him on the field, looking to complete his assignments and responsibilities, not just pinning his ears back and flying to the QB. He may have to pick that up a bit in the quick release NFL, but I like his all-around game. If needed I would guess that his frame could accept another 10+ lbs if desired. I like him best on the weak side/blind side in a 4-3 scheme, where that athleticism can avoid some traffic, but he’s a bit more than just a pure edge-rusher, IMO. I would describe his overall playing style as controlled, but relentless. Against Tech OGBAH recorded 7 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 3 QBH (my count). He now has 7.5 Sacks on the season and looks poised to top his 2014 total of 11 sacks. Sorry OKie State fans, but he is another young man who I think is ready both mentally and physically for the NFL. I look for him to declare and be another guy who likely goes in the Top 10 of the Draft.

SHAKEEL RASHAD/OLB/NORTH CAROLINA 6’2/245 #42
This edition of WCME has been populated by some very big names in the prospect world. Now I want to present to you a player who might be labeled a “late bloomer'” in the vernacular of us older talent scouts. RASHAD played sparingly (2 starts) in 2014 and recorded only 18 tackles on the season. His main claim to fame was as an absolute standout on pretty much all the Tar Heel Special Teams units. He’s still all that in his senior season, but has been thrust into a starting slot at LB and has flourished. In the big UNC win over PITT he looked equally adept at dropping into pass coverage as he did playing the run and rushing the QB. He was credited with 6 tackles and 1 QBH for the day, and was outstanding in kick and punt coverage. On the season his stat sheet is quite impressive with it’s versatility through 8 games: 54 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 QBH, 3 FF, 1 PBU & 2 INT. Despite the lack of a Sack I will tell you he’s just a bit of technique away from a few of those as well. He looks to me to be a player who is going to be very impressive with his Combine or Pro Day testing numbers. I would project him to be a late round pick who may have a very nice pro career. I hope to see him at the Shrine Venue in January.

WILL REDMOND/CB/MISSISSIPPI STATE 5’11/185 #2
REDMOND is likely out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury. So I went back to look at him on tape against Southern Miss, which has a solid team this year. Here is what I saw. As expected he showed well i coverage whether in man-press or zone. He is very quick to react to the ball in the air. He gets to balls that look like sure completions when they are thrown. He made a few tackles, but he did not look like a guy who relishes putting his nose into ball carriers. He jumped all over a sideline throw throw for a pick in the 2nd Quarter. I’d like to see him be more assertive in run support, but his real value lies in coverage. He appears to be the next Miss State CB to be headed for a pro career. At the very least he looks like a potential slot coverage guy, but he has the tools to be more. His medical check at the Combine could be critical to his draft status.

JOE SCHOBERT/OLB/WISCONSIN 6’2/236 #58
This former walk-on has become one of the Badgers most reliable and important defenders. His forte is getting after the passer. I reviewed IOWA game tape and can tell you he did his job and then some in that defensive struggle, where the Badgers lost despite the Defense only allowing 10 points. Let me tell you what I saw him do. I counted 3 outright Sacks for the game along with 4 QB hurries. He forced 2 fumbles and one of his hurries resulted in an INT. That’s my notes, not an official stat count. But he looks to me like more of an all-around LB than he’s given credit for. He peeled off into pass coverage on multiple occasions and clearly looked like a player who can cover most inline TE. He can get tied up at times by blockers, but he usually fights free with upper body strength and flexibility. He’s not elite, nor in my Top 100. But I will say I see him as draftable, as early as Round 4. Looks like strong Shrine Game material to me and should be invited to the Combine, where I think his numbers will be better than a lot of folks think.

LAREMY TUNSIL/LR/OLE MISS/JR 6’5/305 #78
TUNSIL is finally back on the field after being held out while the NCAA completed an investigation into allegations of receiving perks from agent-types. He still looks to be in excellent football shape. I cannot believe how low he gets in his natural 3-point stance. He had his work cut out for him against Auburn because star DE CARL LAWSON was back in action for the Tigers. At the end of the day I declared the TUNSIL/LAWSON match-up as a draw. He was called for 2 pre-snap penalties in the first half, likely because of the loud crown noise at Auburn. But he looked more comfortable and effective as the game wore on. He may have looked a bit rusty, but his conditioning was good as he played the entire game. He’s what scouts are looking for in today’s NFL. He’s a long athlete with smooth footwork. I’m guessing his arms will be quite long when measured at the Combine. And yes, I don’t see how he doesn’t come out now that the NCAA is tracking his off-field actions. Expect him to be a Top 10 draftee, and likely the first OL taken in 2016. Sorry Ole Miss fans.

LANDON TURNER/OG/NORTH CAROLINA 6’4/325 #78
This big stout guy fits the description of a mauler, but with surprising athleticism for his body type. He’s a wide body with that big base pro teams looks for. He did a lot of pulling in action against PITT. And for his bulk he was quite smooth and effective doing so. Defenders were driven back on their heels all night with TURNER’s power and leverage. He does a nice job staying low out of his stance and getting into the bodies of his targets. Not a huge surprise, but he was a bit slow reacting to a couple of inside blitzes. I believe he saw them, but was unable to move quickly enough to stuff them. Overall, he’s aggressive with his hand punch and can rock defenders with it. He may be considered more pro ready than some other OL prospects because UNC plays more of a pro style Offense and that may allow him to fit into a pro system pretty quickly. I felt I saw him make extra blocks when plays were extended beyond the original play call assignments. I liked what I saw and would project him as a 2nd or 3rd Round draftee next April. Look for him at the Senior Bowl.

Who Caught My Eye Week 8

It was another weekend of all-day driving as i returned to Florida, but with night games and taping I saw enough game action to pull together another 11 pro prospect thumbnails.

CONNOR COOK/QB/MICHIGAN STATE 6’4/220 #18
I chose to go back and watch the tape of the Michigan game two weeks ago to thumbnail COOK. I like CONNOR COOK, and believe he can be an NFL starting QB, but I do not see an elite player here. He’s still a 50% passer, not a 60% guy. In this game, against an admittedly tough Wolverine Defense he went 18/39, for 328 yards and 1 TD. He has cut down on his INT numbers as he has progressed during his college career, but his accuracy is too variable for my taste. He has a slightly above average arm, but I don’t see much zip on most of his throws. His mobility is limited, though he can keep plays alive some of the time. He’s too slow to escape the pocket and break long runs. I’m not convinced I see him as a First Rounder next April. But he has a chance to earn a starting job in the NFL in time, in a short passing Offense that runs the ball first to set up he passing game. To my eyes he’s a bit bigger version of ex-teammate KIRK COUSINS, and that is not meant as a knock. But he’ll likely be serviceable, not a star at the next level.

EZEKIEL ELLIOTT/RB/OHIO STATE 6’0/225 #15 JR
ELLIOTT just continues to pile up yardage week after week, doing just as much as his team needs from him while they sort out their QB situation. Against Rutgers he pounded the rock 19 times for 142 yards and 2 TD. They don’t require much of him in the passing attack, but he is a solid blocker in pass pro and is a natural pass catcher with reliable hands. If you get the ball to ELLIOTT in space, he will get you extra yards. Any way you get the ball into his hands good things usually happen. He can get the tough inside-the-tackles yards in short yardage situations and break long runs just as readily. He seldom goes down on the first hit he takes. He’s certainly ready to compete at the pro level next season if he chooses to come out early. Mark this young man as the next RB to be taken in Round 1 by some NFL team.

TAYLOR FALLIN/OT/MEMPHIS 6’6/325 #77
A really big guy with good, sound fundamentals. He has solid pass pro technique and gets lots of reps because of their prolific passing attack. He can maul a bit at the line of scrimmage and gets to second level blocks well for his size. Has a wide base, aka a big caboose. Sets up squarely and stays on his feet well, allowing him to block until the whistle sounds most of the time. Uses his hands and arms well to move blockers the direction he wants them to go. He’s not an elite prospect but has veteran savvy and understands his job. Has a chance to rank in the Top 100 if he shows well as an All-Star venue and/or the Combine, but I see him likely to be selected in Round 4-5 range.

KEYARRIS GARRETT/WR/TULSA 6’4/221 #1
While I was oohing and aahing at the play of LYNCH for Memphis last week, this young man caught my eye by total surprise. His size is impressive, but so was his speed at that size. He was absolutely dynamite catching balls over his shoulder and playing tag with the sidelines. He high-pointed several balls for catches, but was also good enough running his routes that he did indeed get separation from defenders multiple times. He catches over the middle, on the sidelines and deep. As Tulsa tried to keep pace with MEMPHIS/LYNCH, GARRETT led the way. He pulled in 14 catches for 268 yards and 3 TD on the night. His overall play reminded me of ALSHON JEFFERY in some of his best games at South Carolina. I saw nothing that would indicate this was a fluke game for GARRETT. Give him a high recommendation to the Shrine Game brass, Mr. Shonka.

GRAHAM GLASGOW/OC/MICHIGAN 6’5/303 #61
GLASGOW is a very good athlete who has played more OG than OC to date. Stays after his man until the end on every play. Needs to keep concentrating on keeping his pads low, because he’s taller and longer than the average OC. Looks to have a high FBI the way he calls out OL assignments. Because of his athleticism he is quick to react to the action around him and help pick up stray defenders. GLASGOW shows good balance and stays on his feet and in the thick of the action. Easily gets himself into position for second level blocks. He’s a natural fit in HARBAUGH’s Offensive system and is probably moving his draft stock up, in this his senior season. His ability to play all 3 interior line positions will help him as a potential Saturday draftee.

ADAM GOTSIS/DT/GEORGIA TECH 6’6/290 #96
Another Aussie native who is still pretty inexperienced at American football, but has the body and athleticism to tease personnel people with his perceived potential. Has been reasonably productive in the Tech program. He’s over the Center most of the time in their 4-3 scheme, but I think he might be best served in a base 3-4 scheme as a 5-Technique. I think his arms and wingspan measurables will be impressive at the Combine, and he has shown a knack for getting his arms up to deflect thrown and kicked balls. In the big upset win over FSU GOTSIS was credited with 4 tackles, including 1 Sack. He’s not a sack master but gets enough push to pressure the pocket. He’s a project whose best football likely lies ahead a couple of years into his pro career. I tab him as an intriguing prospect for early on Day 3 of the Draft.

CHRIS HAIRSTON/RB/EAST CAROLINA 6’/200 #22
I look at the burst this guy demonstrates when handed the football and a crease opens, and wonder why he is not featured more. He gained 528 yards in 2014, and led the team at 6.7 yards/carry. Last week against Temple’s stout defense he gained 65 yards on only 8 carries. That’s just over 8 ypc for you mathematically challenged folks. He scored 1 TD. HAIRSTON is also a sure handed receiver, though not thrown to much. At the very least his quick-cut style will get what is blocked, if not more. He’s up to 525 yards on the season, through 7 games. He’s not a powerful runner, as his size indicates, but looks elusive and quick enough to me to fit into a 3-man NFL RB rotation. I’d like to see him up close at the Shrine venue. He looks late draftable to my eyes right now.

KEITH LUMPKIN/OT/RUTGERS 6’7/317 #74
He looks all of his listed 6’7, but I’m not buying that he only weighs 317. Has over 30 starts at LT in his Rutgers career. When he earned a starting job as a Soph it looked like he’d be a premier player and pro prospect by his senior year. But he now looks very stiff in either direction. He has nice long arms and big hands which he puts to good use, but it is sometimes painful to watch him try to blow out of his stance and get downfield. He clearly lacks the foot speed to play on the left side as a pro. The Rutgers Offense looks to be slow overall in their play development, and I fear LUMPKIN will really struggle to keep up with the pro game pace. To his credit, he held his own when BOSA lined up at DE opposite of him. I could see him getting drafted late, by a power running team like the CHARGERS or REDSKINS. But I just can’t look past the stiffness he displayed trying to move around against Ohio State.

PAXTON LYNCH/QB/MEMPHIS 6’7/240 #12 JR
WOW! I just happened to run into the MEMHIS/TULSA game last Friday night in a hotel room. This guy is phenomenal. He has a strong arm. He reads the field and goes through receiver progressions very well. He can put touch on his throws and looks to throw a very catchable ball overall. He is also dangerous when he takes off running. I don’t see any logical reason (other than a luv for the college life) to not come out for the 2016 NFL Draft, and when he does I think he will blow up the Combine ala CAM NEWTON/ANDREW LUCK. I realize the Tulsa Defense is not equivalent to the Alabama D, but this guy is dominant with all the QB tools you look for. He also displays good ball handling skills and faking ability. He looks mentally and physically ready to move on, and may just be the best QB prospect for the next Draft. Looks to have total command of the huddle and max respect of his teammates. His stats for this game: 32/44 (73%), for 447 yards and 4 TD, and another rushing TD of his own. I’m all-in on this guy’s NFL potential.

TYLER MATAKEVICH/ILB/TEMPLE 6’1/232 #8
The tackling machine for the undefeated Owls is headed for an unprecedented 4th consecutive year of 100+ tackles. But it is not just his volume of work that impresses, it is his uncanny ability to discern where the ball is and where it is going that makes him so impactful. The Owls had to tough out a win vs. ECU last week and in great part it was his ability to locate and go to the ball that allowed the Temple D to control the flow and pace of the game. He reminds me of LUKE KUECHLY, with a little less speed. He attacks the ball, but he is very solid and instinctive dropping into pass coverage. He’s also a sure tackler whether in a crowd or out in space. Sacks are not his forte, but he recorded one in the first quarter against ECU. He’s just a natural football player and I have very little doubt he will have a solid NFL career. He looks to be solidly entrenched in my Top 100 Prospects list.

DELVON SIMMONS/DE/SOUTHERN CAL 6’5/295 #52
This big bodied guy looks well over 300 lbs. at first glance to me. He is somewhat limited in his range by a somewhat stiff gait. But he gets to the ball and makes plays on a regular basis. I would say that overall he’s serviceable and steady, showing athletic flashes at times. He recorded a Sack in the upset win over UTAH. If he’s really under 300 lbs. I do not see him holding up inside in the NFL. And he’s not quick enough to pose much of a pass rush threat outside. So let us presume that DE in a 3-4 front, like USC plays most of the time is his best position. Gaining a dozen pounds and working on upper body strength and hand usage should be high on his improvement effort IMO. He looks late draftable to me and could impress post-season.

Who Caught My Eye Week 7

I spent most of last Saturday driving to Wisconsin so this weeks edition is based in great part on notes from the previous couple of week’s action. I have indicated games from which my observations were made.

JOEY BOSA/DE/OHIO STATE 6’6/275 #97
BOA broke into the Big 10 as a stellar freshman performer in 2013. He’s now a junior and considered a lock to go pro next April. But he was suspended for the opener and took 3 games to record his first solo sack. But against Penn State the sleeping giant seemed to awaken and helped Ohio State completely dominate the line-of-scrimmage, as well as putting big time pressure on QB/CHRIS HACKENBERG all night. For the game BOSA was credited with 7 tackles, which included 3 TFL and 1 Sack. On passing downs the Buckeyes often slide him in to DT to take advantage of his pass-rush ability. BOSA’s length and athleticism remind me of MARIO WILLIAMS, now of the BILLS. My only concern is his lack of bulk. He actually looks skinny and that could limit his effectiveness as a pro. I see no functional reason for BOSA to return to Ohio State for his senior season in 2015. Expect him to blow up the Combine and be a Top 10 draftee in 2016.

TYLER BOYD/WR/PITT 6’2/190 #23
BOYD is the main offensive weapon on a surprisingly resilient 5-1 PITT team. With the loss of bell cow RB/JAMES CONNOR, BOYD is even touching the ball on reverses and end-arounds. In the solid road win vs. GA TECH last weekend, BOYD had 8 catches for 68 yards and 2 TD. For the year he now has 41 catches for 396 yards and 4 TD. Though only a junior I’m not sure why he wouldn’t declare for the 2016 Draft. He’s a super athlete with good hands and greater length and wingspan than his 6’2 height would indicate. he does indeed remind me a bit of former Panther great LARRY FITZGERALD. FITZ was often referred to as a 6’5 receiver while in college, but has been listed at 6’3 as a pro. BOYD should have a serious shot at being a First Rounder next April.

TRAVIS BRITZ/DT/KANSAS STATE 6’4/295 #95
Watching BRITT two weeks ago against TCU I was impressed with his solid play on the inside of the K-State DL. He’s a fit, wiry, strong player who can move well along the line of scrimmage. He can get some push when he hits gaps at the right angle. He is also adept at using his long arms to deflect passes and block kicks. He is a good, productive college football player with some NFL size. By the time a slew of underclassmen enter the NFL Draft I would not be shocked if this guy slips through the cracks and goes undrafted next April. But his agent’s cell phone should be buzzing come Sunday night after the Draft concludes and teams start calling trying to sign URFA types.

AARON BURBRIDGE/WR/MICHIGAN STATE 6’1/208 #16
The Spartans lost TONY LIPPETT and KEITH MUMPHERY to the NFL which left AARON as the top returning receiver with 29 catches in 2014. He has emerged and left his 2014 numbers in the rear view mirror. He’s a nice sized receiver with good speed and natural hands. He also battles well for contested balls. He was a big part of the last second win over Michigan. BURBRIDGE pulled in 9 catches, for 132 yards in this contest. He’s well on his way to an eye catching senior campaign. Even though the Spartans are far from a wide open passing offense their players have been popular with pro football teams under the Dantonio regime. BURBRIDGE should be no exception. He’s one of my Top 10 senior wideouts.

JAKE GANUS/ILB/GEORGIA 6’2/227 #51
One of many UAB transfers when football program was shut down, before it was restarted again. GANUS won a starting job with the Bulldogs and has been highly productive. He has shown excellent pursuit speed and very good diagnostic skills playing inside. He posted his usual stats in the defensive struggle win over Mizzou last weekend with 9 total tackles,1.5 TFL and 1 sack. THat’s what JAKE does just about every week. Slightly undersized, but should still be considered for work as a pro. He should excel on Special Teams at the next level. Very solid candidate for Shrine Game and the Combine. He’s working his way toward being drafted next April.

WILLIAM JACKSON/CB/HOUSTON 6’1/185 #3
With his team being amongst the unbeatens now JACKSON and some of his teammates are beginning to gain some attention for their play. There is a lot to like about this athletic, full sized CB. I will be interesting to see what he posts for Combine numbers. He possesses both speed and quickness, able to rotate those hips in transition. Showed a willingness to come up in run support against Tulane. Teams throw away from JACKSON most of the team, which has clearly had an effect on his stats. He has only 1 INT through 6 games and 12 PBU. He recorded 4 of those PBU against Tulane. He has only 3 INT for his career, but I sense that he has the tools to develop as an interceptor as a pro. He should get All-Star exposure, and may post some very impressive Combine numbers. He should make a push into Top 100 prospect status.

MIKE ROSE/DE/NC STATE 6’3/275 #90
I watched ROSE for 2 straight weeks for NC State, unfortunately in their first two Losses of the year. ROSE is an active player who gets some edge push into the backfield. He is also a constant motion player who makes more than his share of tackles downfield. But with his relatively slight frame and average quickness and speed he’s unlikely to have great success as a 4-3 DE at the pro level. I am also skeptical of his ability to stand up and show LB speed and mobility. Through 6 games this season ROSE has recorded 22 tackles, 5.5TFL & 3.5 Sacks. I believe he’s a very good college player, whose productivity will be limited at the next level because of size and speed limitations. ROSE needs to shine in the post-season and perhaps gain a few pounds at a performance camp.

RONNIE STANLEY/OT/NOTRE DAME 6’5/315 #78
One of the biggest coups this off-season was getting STANLEY to return to South Bend for another season. Now he’s one of the top NFL Draft Prospects at his position. But I must confess that I have been disappointed in his overall play so far. He’s big and athletic. He is also long with reasonably nimble feet. Her knows how to use his hands well to direct defenders where he wants them to go. He’s not a mauler, but can be physical when needed. Because of the ND balanced Offense he is adept at both run and pass blocking. But he has way too many mental lapses, especially pre-snap. I have seen him commit multiple false start penalties in several games this season. If he doesn’t have a hearing issue then he certainly is exhibiting a concentration challenge. A sure fire 1st Rounder cannot be a penalty machine. It raises a red flag to me for a guy who should be All-World.

DAN VITALE/H-B/NORTHWESTERN 6’2/235 #40
It may be a bit of a challenge to assess the true value of VITALE as a pro prospect because a lot of his value comes in relatively intangible ways. He is a good hands receiver, but isn’t fast enough to be a WR prospect, nor is he big enough to lineup as an inline TE. But he blocks very well for his size and gets yards with the ball in his hands. IN the IOWA loss he caught 2 passes for 14 yards. But he also made multiple punishing blocks to keep passing plays alive. He caught 18 balls for 221 yards and 2 TD in 2014. If the Wildcats Offense rebounds in the coming weeks he has a chance to exceed that number this season. He will present NFL teams with a chance to add a Swiss Army Knife kind of player to their roster next April. He may get drafted late or be a priority Rookie Free Agent. For football purists he’s a pleasure to watch in action.

Who Caught My Eye Week 6

GERONIMO ALLISON/WR/ILLINOIS 6’4/200 #4
Much like his Apache Chief namesake, who kept the US/Mexican cavalries chasing him around, opposing secondaries spend a lot of time on gameday trying to keep this wily WR under control. The JC transfer caught 41 balls last season for the ILLINI, and already has 40 catches through 6 games in 2015. He has a long, almost stick-figure physique that can hopefully fill out a bit for the pro game. His long arms and sure hands provide a very large target area for his QB WES LUNT. He is also dangerous after the catch. He averaged almost 15 yards per reception last season. Against a solid, vet IOWA secondary ALLISON pulled in 8 catches for a whopping 148 yards and 1 TD. That’s an impressive 18.5 ypc. The Illini own a solid 4-2 record with ALLISON being a big part of their Offensive production. He looks draftable to me. Could make some noise at an All-STar venue.

JUSTIN BURRIS/CB/NC STATE 6’1/207 #11
BURRIS is another example of a guy who plays football smart and hard. He may look average at best in his underwear, if he even gets a Combine invite next Feb, but he knows how to play football. If he’s deemed fast/quick enough to play CB at the pro level his size will be very attractive to scouts. He’s not a ball-hawk, but is physical in coverage and a solid tackler. He is now up to 35 career starts in the tough ACC. He was flagged for a second quarter PI vs VA TECH, but I thought it should have been a no-call when I watched the replay. He looks to me like a solid player who could be a sub-package defender, with enough size and physicality to stand out on Special Teams units. Watch this guy as a priority URFA type.

TRAVIS FEENEY/OLB/WASHINGTON 6’4/225 #41
Another solid performer who many fans East of the Rockies don’t know about. FEENEY broke into the starting line-up in 2013 as a redshirt frosh for the Huskies. The long/lean athletic player recorded a solid 60 tackles last season and is carrying on his work in 2015. He was very active against the Trojans. He made several Special Teams tackles last week which prompted me to look up his profile, only to find out he was voted the Huskies Special Teams player of the year in 2014. Seemed like I saw him somewhere near USC return men on just about every Punt. He runs very well and pursues the ball from scrimmage. Shows some ability to drop into pass coverage, both short and deep. In today’s NFL his pass coverage skills will allow him to stay on the field for passing downs. He recorded 3 PBU and 2 INT in 2014. Not much of a pass rusher at this point in his career. Watch for his name to climb up a lot of prospect charts in the next two months.

DEVON JOHNSON/RB/MARSHALL 6’1/243 #47
JOHNSON is finally rounding back into form after some early season injuries. He’s built like a FB and started out as a TE at Marshall. But last season behind a veteran OL he ran for over 1700 yards and 17 TD. Against an improved S. MISS Defense he gained 82 yards on 22 carries, including 1 TD. He breaks a lot of tackles on interior runs and can straight-line motor once he gets some momentum going for him. Defenders in the secondary find him hard to get off his feet and don’t relish tackling him. JOHNSON should have a shot in the NFL for a team that still uses a FB and/or a 1-Back set at times. He will need to polish up his blocking skills and embrace Special Teams work. He could also make a dangerous and versatile Red Zone weapon. He still has TE hands and can catch better than many true FB. Late draftable perhaps.

TRE MADDEN/RB/SOUTHERN CAL 6’1/225 #23
Despite the coaching mess in SoCal this guy is bouncing back very nicely from a lost 2014 season because of a severe turf toe injury. He looks healthy now and is using his slashing one-cut running style to accelerate through some decent holes and push the ball into the secondary. He’s sharing time with 2 talented underclassmen in the typical 3-deep RB talent for the Trojans. In the tough loss to Washington MADDEN stood out with 120 yards gained on 17 carries (7.05 ypc) and a TD. He also caught a screen pass, which he has shown a talent for in the past. He’s not a long ball threat, but will burst though holes and break a few tackles for multiple 10-15 yard gains. Though he has nice size he has a tendency to get nicked up a bit. If he doesn’t get caught up in a team collapse with the coaching changes he should work his way into a draftable position if he stays healthy.

BRAXTON MILLER/WR/OHIO STATE 6’2/215 #1
Two shoulder injuries/surgeries ended the QBing career of this 2-time Big 10 Offensive Player of the Year. But from a pro prospect standpoint the resultant switch to WR may have been a blessing in disguise. The position switch is still a work in progress, but based on his play to date the long term potential is exciting. HC MEYER still uses MILLER in multiple exotic ways on a limited basis, but he is turning into an exciting, explosive weapon as a true receiver. Against the TERPS, MILLER ended the day with 5 catches for 70 yards and a TD. The highlight of his day came on a 2nd Quarter scoring drive during which he made a nice leaping catch for a key third down conversion and then got open for a 33 yard TD catch. His route running is still developing, but he has the look of a game breaking option as a wideout. Look for MILLER to continue this progress and crack the Top 100 prospect list as a A WR.

DADI NICOLAS/DE/ER/VIRGINIA TECH 6’4/235 #90
The TECH coaching staff is upset with NICHOLAS and his practice & playing habits in 2015. And I can clearly see why. This guy has what we used to call senior-itis. It’s a self induced affliction, whereby established performers go through the motions in their final season. On the positive side this affliction usually goes away with time. NICHOLAS is a long armed, long legged Edge Rusher who probably has not much value to a team beyond that skill set. Right now he is not hustling to the ball and looks like he’s looking for a flag to grab rather than tackling anyone. He as credited with an amazing 35 QB Hurries in 2014, but showed almost nothing to my eyes in the W over NC State. He hardly looks like he weighs even his program listed 235 lbs. And his frame does not look like it can accommodate a serious bulk-up. He is going to have to show an awful lot in the second half of the season, and an All-Star venue to claim a Top 100 prospect ranking. I’d be considering taking him off my Draft Board if I were an NFL Scout.

REGGIE RAGLAND/ILB/ALABAMA 6’2/252 #18
I am going to try to contain myself here, but every ‘BAMA game I watch I find myself saying “WOW!” a couple of times to something this guy does. He’s as athletic as C.J. MOSLEY, but a lot bigger and more physical. He’s a throwback to the thumpers like BUTKUS and NITSCHKE. In today’s NFL I think he has the pro potential of BRIAN URLACHER, but already has the size while in college. He had 95 tackles in 2014 on a Defense led by LANDON COLLINS/S (with over 100 tackles) now blowing people up for the GIANTS. When RAGLAND tackles people they often go flying. ARKANSAS has a lot of very large players, but he blew them all up with regularity. Even a shoulder stinger only kept him off the field for a few plays. In the 4th Quarter he was 20 yards downfield breaking up a throw to a TE. He had multiple break-ups to Backs and TE coming short over the middle of the field. When he makes an open field tackle it looks like an explosion. This man is the real deal, and I cannot imagine an NFL team with a 4-3 scheme not wanting this player early in Round 1 of the 2016 NFL Draft. He should also make an impact Inside in a 3-4 pro scheme as well.

BRIAN RANDOLPH/S/TENNESSEE 6’0/209 #37
There are so many demands on the S position in the NFL these days that many folks complain annually about the lack of S prospects. RANDOLPH, and his effort against UGA, is a good example of why I think those complaints are off base. RANDOLPH does his best work in the box, supporting the run and attacking the pocket. He had 88 tackles in 2014. But he is also adept at zone coverage in passing situations. He flashed into the screen several times following the ball in the air. My biggest criticism of his play vs UGA was overrunning and missing tackles in the open field on several occasions early on. But conversely, he made multiple solid form tackles in space later in the game. It was RANDOLPH who flashed into the picture near the goal line, to go high and bat away the final pass of the day intended for MALCOLM MITCHELL and seal the win for the VOLS. I am guessing he will post some nice effort and numbers at an All-Star venue and the Combine. He looks to me like a Round 4 prospect for the 2016 Draft.

JOHN THEUS/OT/GEORGIA 6’6/313 #71
THEUS has been starting since his frosh season and is currently one of the best all-around OT in the SEC. He moves well for a big guy and can push defenders around. He uses his hands and arms well to control his blocks and sustain them. He gets to second level blocking assignments smoothly and also shows agile feet and balance in his pass pro back-pedal. THEUS seems to be get a quick jump out of his stance at the snap of the ball. He put in a solid effort, with positive results against the VOLS. He is not elite, but should get interest as early as Round 2, Top 100 for sure. Reminds me of former Bulldog JON STINCHCOMB, who went on to a solid pro career after his time at UGA.

MICHAEL THOMAS/WR/SOUTHERN MISS 6’1/186 #88
This guy looks a lot longer than his listed 6’1 height would seem to indicate. It would be nice if he could add a few pounds for the pro game, but he has the moves and the hands to play pro ball already. He is also dangerous once he gets the ball in his hands. Against an always tough Marshall D he hauled in 7 catches for 109 yards and 1 TD. Though not a blazer he can stretch a defense. He works the sideline well and can high-point throws. He will have a long journey to get drafted but should make an All-Star roster, perhaps the SHRINE or NFLPA. He has a chance to easily eclipse his team leading 41 catches from 2014 now that he has a good throwing QB slinging the ball around. Do not confuse this THOMAS with the other guy at Ohio State, but don’t overlook him either.

Who Caught My Eye Week 5

I think I eyeballed and profiled a nice mix of players for you this week.In addition to some well known names I’ve thumb-nailed some guys who have stepped up their play in 2015 and could certainly be on Scouts’ radar as we move forward.

SEAN DAVIS/CB/S/MARYLAND 6’1/200 #21
I’ve now watched DAVIS in two games this early season and am intrigued by his size and his athleticism. He is primarily playing CB this season for the Terps, though he has played more in the S slot earlier on in his career. He seems to have issues with covering receivers as a CB and then locating the football in the air. He recorded 115 tackles in 2014 playing primarily S, and was 100+ tackles back in 2013. He looks like a natural pro just waiting to be developed, but… It bothers me more than a bit that DAVIS has not yet recorded an INT in his college playing career. He does some nice things in games and tackles well, but his work is often hard to quantify. I doubt that he’ll go undrafted after he puts up the workout numbers I expect him to at the COMBINE. But by the same token we could be looking at a guy who never quite gets it, ala JARRETT BUSH in Green Bay. But like BUSH he has the size and athleticism to excel on Special Teams which can keep a guy on NFL rosters for years. But that alone will not get you drafted.

SHELDON DAY/DL/NOTRE DAME 6’2/290 #91
When you watch DAY the first description that comes to mind is likely to be “high energy”. Right now that does cause him to take himself out of some plays. On field discipline will be high on NFL coaching lists for this guy. But playing like his long flowing hair is on fire is not a bad thing at all. He spends a great deal of time in opponents backfields using a combination of leverage, strength and burst. He’s a bit short and lacks ideal length, but some teams (like the PACKERS) don’t worry a whole lot about length in their DL. DAY often uses his lack of height to his advantage by staying too low for blockers to tie him up. I did not see a sack from DAY in the Clemson game, but he clearly produces TFL (3 by my count) and can be credited with even more QB hurries. Stats indicate he had 9 QBH in 2014 and looks to be on his way to double digits in that category this year. He is team captain and leads by example every game. He will chase the ball until the whistle every down. I’m thinking he can crack the Top 100 as a prospect and his appeal to teams will depend more on style of play they want from their DL than the scheme employed.

SPENCER DRANGO/OT/BAYLOR 6’6/310 #58
DRANGO looked to me like the best all-around OT I have seen this season with his work against TX TECH. Although the BAYLOR Offense may raise questions about their QB pro potential Baylor’s OL must be proficient at both run and pass blocking to excel. DRANGO really gets after it. He has excellent balance and I don’t remember him being on the ground other than in short yardage situations. He plays clean, but looks to have a tough-guy attitude, with the strength to back it up. Relative to his footwork and agility, I noted 3 occasions when he pulled all the way from LT to the right side of the field to complete a second level run block. he was good last season, and I thought he might come out early, and he looks even better this year. I will be surprised if he’s not a First Rounder next April. He reminds me of JAKE MATTHEWS during his last season at A&M. He can do everything asked of a LT at a high performance level.

QUINTON JEFFERSON/DL/MARYLAND 6’3/290 #99
This versatile DL is coming off a Medical Redshirt 2014 season. You would b]never know it to watch his in action this season. He caught my eye two weeks ago in the blow-out Loss to West Virginia. So I decided to single him out in the game with Michigan. He looks like the real deal to me with enough talent to play at the pro level, and more than enough toughness and desire to contribute to a Dl rotation. he looks more suited to DE in a 3-4 pro scheme. He is not a quick burst, edge-rusher but can absorb an initial punch and then force his way through gaps in pursuit of the ball. He finds the ball and pursues. This was illustrated perfectly in third Quarter when he recorded an INT by pursuing to the ball, which bounced off the receiver when he was hit in the short secondary. He also posted 1 sack and a forced fumble. He looks like a solid DL rotation prospect who should get drafted, albeit in the later rounds.

JAKE McGEE/TE/FLORIDA 6’5/245 #83
As the Florida QB situation seems to be improving with the apparent emergence of WILL GRIER as their leader, the Gators Offense has picked up the tempo and transfer senior McGEE is developing as a solid counter-balance to the play of speedy wideouts ROBINSON & CALLOWAY. In the big Win over OLE MISS Jake caught 6balls for 29 yards, including a nice TD grab in the middle of the End Zone. Though he’s not going to be a key component of anyone’s goal line Jumbo Package he is willing to put his pads to use and try to block on running plays. He shows good hands when he gets his body turned properly and the pass is thrown accurately. McGEE has a chance to be drafted if the Florida Offense continues to progress and his part in it is good for 5-6 catches per game. Should have a chance as a passing down, extra TE in a short passing game offense in the NFL.

MEKALE McKAY/WR/CINCINNATI 6’6/210 #2
If you are looking for a double digit pass catcher in game action then this is not your man. But the long, lean tall man is dynamic in high pointing the ball especially on the sidelines and in the end zone. Despite his lack of bulk it should be noted that he is reported to be playing at about 210 lbs. now, and does not look like a stick figure with pads on. Against MIAMI he had his typical complimentary game with 4 catches, for 91 yards and 1 TD. His 40-time may not be super impressive, as is often the case with these long-legged guys, but his long strides eat up big chunks of yardage quickly. He’s a tough guy to cover if his QB has confidence in him and is willing to throw the ball up to let him outstretch 5’11 Corners. I also like the fact that more often than not he is snatching the ball out of the air with his hands, instead of cradling throws against his body. He’s a potential Day 3 draftee with the chance to be a No. 3 wideout on an NFL team that likes to throw deep.

SHAWN OAKMAN/DE/BAYLOR 6’9/280 #2
OAKMAN should be the second coming of ED ‘TOO TALL’ JONES, but that is based on potential, not the guy I saw playing against TEXAS TECH. I saw very little separation by OAKMAN in his battles with pro-prospect OT/LaRAVEN CLARK. His length and agility are hard to miss, but so is his apparent lack of power in this upper body. I was also bothered by his lack of hustle to help finish plays. Once the ball moved past him and his assignment was over, he pretty much jogged around the field. Please tell me why at his height and length TECH QB/MAHOMES was able to pump fake him into leaving his feet to swat at the non-throw in the 3rd Quarter. MAHOMES pulled the ball down and scooted past the flying OAKMAN for a TD. Occasionally he flashed, but if I had not been watching him because of his “high” prospect status I would not have noticed his actual play much at all in this game. IMO, he’s going to need to blow up the Combine in February to be highly regarded for the 2016 NFL Draft. Buyer beware with this guy, because you’ll be taking a chance on potential vis-à-vis productivity.

SHELDON RANKINS/DL/LOUISVILLE 6’2/303 #98
It might have been subliminal, but it seemed to me that DL play really stood out to me in watching games last weekend. RANKINS had an excellent, productive game for the Cardinals in their win at NC State. Like DAY, mentioned above, he’s a bit short for some peoples’ taste, but he’s very athletic and highly productive. What stands out along with his athleticism, is his FBI. He sees what is going on around him and reacts accordingly. He is also tough to move out of position for opposing blockers. He made a marvelous play in the 2nd quarter vs.the Wolfpack, slipping a block and creating a TFL on a short screen pass. He’s no edge-rusher, but he penetrates well through gaps. Take a look at his 2014 stats: 53 tackles, 8 sacks, 5.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 2 INT, 2 QBH. And those numbers were generated while playing with 5 NFL Draftees around him to suck up stats. An NFL team will have to look past his lack of length and appreciate his versatility and smarts. He may earn solid Draft Prospect points in Mobile and Indy in the 2015 post season.

BRANDON SHELL/OT/SOUTH CAROLINA 6’6/325 #71
The gene pool runs deep here, as he is indeed a great nephew to former NFL great ART SHELL. I am old enough to say that he’s not all that dissimilar to ART. A wide body, with long arms he’s actually fairly athletic. More so, than COREY ROBINSON, who he replaced at LT for this season. He has started since his true freshman season, but missed 2014 with a shoulder injury. Might not have ideal quickness for an NFL LT, but could look very effective on the right side. He can move his feet pretty well for his girth. That mobility and his long arms force speed rushers to go go a long way to get around him. Not only does he have long arms, but his initial hand punch can rock defenders back. I’m not convinced he’s Top 100 at this point. Belongs with a pro team that still professes a desire to run first, pass second like the CHARGERS.

HOSEY WILLIAMS/RB/CINCINNATI 5’9/199 #4
I’m always on the lookout for shorter RB who make small targets and run hard. HOSEY seems to fit that bill. He never stops churning and is hard to drag down in a pile. His TD run vs. Miami is a great illustration of that strength and determination to finish every carry. He finished that game with 11 carries for 80 yards and a TD. He also makes a nice dump-off safety valve receiver, with two catches in that game. His running style, and pro potential remind me of a forgotten player on Draft weekend 2014 by the name of BRANDEN OLIVER, who has turned out quite nicely for the Chargers. If he can get an invite to say the Shrine venue in January he could be late draftable, or a priority URFA come April.

Who Caught My Eye Week 4

BRANDON ALLEN/QB/ARKANSAS 6’3/210 #10
As we all know BRET BIELEMA wants to pound opponents into submission with the biggest OL in captivity and a parade of stout RB. But as most of us realize in this day and age passing the ball is a must at the collegiate level of play. Lost in all the ground and pound that goes on here is the fact that Arkansas has a very solid QB who has legit pro potential. BRANDON ALLEN is legit and should earn himself a draftable grade this season. In the tough loss to A&M, ALLEN helped provide some balance to the run game (see below). ALLEN was 20/25, 80%, 225 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. He’s a solid athlete who can run to get out of trouble with average arm strength. He throws some INT at bad times, but is not careless with the ball overall. I think some work with an NFL QB Coach could tighten up some mechanics and improve his reading of the field. He’s not special, but could turn in ANDY DALTON type performances in the NFL with time.

JONATHAN BULLARD/DL/FLORIDA 6’3/283 #90
BULLARD is a slashing player whose claim to fame is penetration into opponents backfields. He’s a bit light in the pants, but if surrounded by some beefy teammates his lack of girth could be tolerated. He did gain about 7 lbs. last off-season. He spent some serious time in the Tennessee backfield last weekend and is always a threat to shoot a gap and create a TFL. In 2014 he was credited with 12 QB Hurries, which led the GATORS D. I see him in an NFL DL rotation, playing inside in a 4-3 scheme. He looks late draftable to me right now.

MAURICE CANADY/CB/VIRGINIA 6’2/185 #26
CANADY is a nice looking athlete out on the playing field. He’s a smooth runner with good speed. I do not see him being terribly aggressive in run support, however. He did lead UVA in both PBU (12) and INT (3) in 2014, so he clearly has some cover skills. He has the height a lot of pro teams look for, but is thin compared to the rough/tough RICHARD SHERMAN type of Corners. He provided some nice coverage in the loss to BOISE, but is not a game changer in any sense of the word. He might show well at the Combine with some solid numbers in his underwear, but I don’t see him being more than a sub-package CB as a pro. The catch with him is that he may lack the aggressiveness to hold down a Special Teams job, which would be critical. He has to show more the rest of the year to cement himself a draftable grade.

LeRAVEN CLARK/OT/TEXAS TECH 6’6/315 #62
The bell cow LT for the Red Raiders surprised more than a few personnel people when he stayed in school for his senior season in Lubbock. He’s a fit looking big man, who might get stronger in an NFL weight room. He’s more of a dancing elephant than a road grader right now. He’s not a ballet dancer, but he moves his feet well enough to set up in pass pro and get downfield to second level blocks, even if it’s not pretty at times. His arms are very long but he needs more shock in his initial hand punch. Keeps his balance well when catching the blows from defenders. He does not look elite to me, but is certainly a Top 100 Prospect.

ALEX COLLINS/RB/ARKANSAS JR 5’11/224 #3
With the pre-season injury to JONATHAN WILLIAMS, COLLINS is getting the majority of the carries for the Razorbacks this season. Because of that I would suspect he may now be looking at being in the 2016 Draft. He’s a powerful guy who runs very low to the ground. On multiple occasions I saw him disappear into a pile of blockers and defenders and come out another five yards downfield from the initial collision. He seldom goes down on first contact. We won’t really know if he can catch out of the backfield until workouts after the season. He’s a tough kid, who sees the holes and creases well. Against a very tough A&M Defense he carried 26 times for 151 yards (that’s 5.8 ypc) and a TD. He’s well on his way to another 1000-yard season. He’s going to be in my first TOP 100 list at the end of October if he keeps this up.

K.J. DILLON/SS/WEST VIRGINIA 6’1/205 #9
DILLON plays the SPUR position in the Mountaineers Defense, but it will translate to a S slot in the pros. He’s as productive as KARL JOSEPH, who is the big name in the WVU secondary. He is so athletic, that the team is now using him for Return Work. I suspect that when the COMBINE rolls around he’s going to produce some speed numbers that look like he belongs in the CB group. Against Maryland last weekend he came up with a nice 2nd Quarter INT to halt a drive. Even tough he flies around the field, as defined by his position, he is aware of his assignments and keeps his head on a swivel. He recorded 62 tackles and 3 INT during the 2014 season. He could really impress with some All-Star action like the Senior Bowl in January.

JOSH DOCTSON/WR/TCU 6’4/195 #9
I intended to profile DOCTSON sometime soon and when I saw his production against TEXAS TECH I decided that he had earned a spot right now. He’s a lanky guy with long arms and sure hands. His catch radius is mind boggling. If you watch carefully, he plucks the ball out of the air with his hands, not needing his body to cradle throws. That allowed him to catch a couple of seriously contended throws against Tech. He’ll likely need to add another 10 lbs. to survive the punishment of the NFL, but a training regimen and diet should get that done. Let’s get those game numbers out there: 18 catches, 267 yards & 3 TD. And, perhaps his best play of the day wasn’t even a catch. On the final drive for TCU he went high in the end zone to get a ball thrown way over his head by BOYKIN, tipping it back into play for a teammate to catch for the game winning TD. After spotlighting his play in this shootout I believe he’s comparable to A.J. GREEN coming out of Georgia. If he shows well at the Combine he’s a serious Round 1 prospect next April.

KEVIN HOGAN/QB/STANFORD 6’4/225 #8
I wasn’t planning on featuring HOGAN this week, but after a sad effort in Week 1 and than a super day against USC in Week 2, I thought the Win over Oregon State truly showed what HOGAN is about as a prospect. HOGAN posted his 27th collegiate W in this game. He was also playing on a tender ankle throughout, which limited his mobility. He was the consummate game manager, which is how I see him as an NFL prospect. He was 9/14, 64%, 163 yds, 2 TD & 1 INT. When not hobbling he can escape the pocket for some yardage as needed. In 2014 he rushed for 400+ yards, before subtracting Sack yardage. It seems to me he has really improved in his decision making the past year plus, as evidenced by his TD/INT ratio which was 19/8. Not great, but acceptable. He’s become a good field general and has respect in that huddle. Not Top 100, but draftable. I don not see him as the dead weight of this team, as some do.

WILL MONDAY/P/DUKE 6’4/210 #41
MONDAY looks to be redeeming himself after a fairly mediocre Junior season in 2014. He’s a good sized guy, who actually looks like an athlete in pads and can run around on a bad snap to avoid the block. He is also the holder on placements. His hang time is good and his distance can be very good. He has a strong leg and when his drop is in rhythm he can boom it. Looks to have improved in his placement of his punts. He is able to kick away from the middle of the field, thus limiting options for return men. In the bounce back win over Ga Tech MONDAY kept Tech backed up with 7 punts for an average of 45.3 yards. He may not get drafted, few Punters do, but his agent’s phone is likely to be ringing when the 2016 NFL Draft concludes.

MATT SKURA/OC/DUKE 6’4/305 #62
It looks as though the OC group for the 2016 NFL Draft is going to be deep and solid, though not elite. SKURA has been starting since his soph season and HC DAVID CUTCLIFFE says he wouldn’t trade him for anyone in college football. He has nice size and is solidly built. He can run a bit and looks to have a strong hand punch. We won’t call it holding, but he can latch onto defenders and they don’t get away from his grip. Chances are that after playing in the CUTCLIFFE/DUKE offensive scheme he’s mentally ready for OL calls at the pro level. Like most OC he’s not likely to blow up the Combine in February, but he may really be able to help himself with a strong week at All-Star venue. Right now he’s in my Top 250 players.