MARCEL ATEMAN WR #3 OKLAHOMA STATE 6’3/220 The number one wideout for the Cowboys is clearly JAMES WASHINGTON. But Okie State also has a full stable of thoroughbred wideouts for Mason Rudolph to throw to. For my money the clear No. 2 is MARCEL ATEMAN, who is having a great season after missing all of 2016 to a foot injury. ATEMAN is almost 6’4 and his long legs can really cover a lot of ground as he stretches the limits of secondaries. He has been especially adept at using the sidelines to his advantage. He shows great hands and excellent footwork along the boundaries. He is also excellent at high-pointing throws over shorter DB. RUDOLPH really spreads the ball around, but ATEMAN seems to be one of his favorites on third down throws. He clearly would be the No. 1 option on a lot of big time football programs this season. Against Oklahoma ATEMAN had 6 catches for 64 yards and 2 TD. He is firmly in my Top 100 prospect list, in what has developed into another very solid WR Draft class. MARCEL is likely destined for Round 3, assuming a large number of underclassmen come out again for the 2018 Draft. He reminds me a bit of ALSHON JEFFERY, now with the Eagles, and should be an instant contributor to his NFL team next season as a Rookie.
DeANGELO BREWER RB #4 TULSA 5’9/190 I am now getting comfortable with the seeming plethora of short, rotation bound RB prospects for the pro game coming out of college each year. BREWER showed great explosiveness and acceleration to-and-thru the hole against Memphis last Friday night. When the gun sounded to end a resounding Memphis win BREWER and his outmanned team-mates had fought the good fight and made the Tigers sweat a bit through 3 quarters. BERWER carried the ball 21 times for 119 yards, with a long run of 30 yards. For his size he’s a tough guy, who gets a lot of his carries inside the tackles. The Golden Hurricanes don’t pass a lot to their RB, but BREWER looks to me like he could handle dump down throws at the pro level. I won’t proclaim to him to be a great protector in pass-pro, because he can be run over by the big guys, but he will get in their way and buy at least another half-second of pocket time for his QB. No ole’ blocks for BREWER. Not a home run threat, but I will also say he seems to get at least what is blocked most of the time, if not more. Look for this man to be drafted, though probably not until Round 5 or later.
JESSE BRUBAKER DE/OB #8 TULSA 6’3/270 Here is another mystery man projection for NFL personnel departments to figure out by April, 2018. JESSE was a QB in High School, then grew and was moved to DT s a frosh at Tulsa. Now he’s listed as a DE, but plays quite a bit like a stand-up OB. He isn’t really strong enough to set the edge versus the running game all night, but can and will mix it up in that role. Watching him against the wide open Memphis attack I felt he played well against the run, provided some edge rush and pocket pressure and was adequate dropping off into coverage against the pass. He looked to be covering the TE a lot in that role. His stats for the night were 5 tackles- 4 solo- 2 TFL and 1 QBH. Given his versatility that 270 lb. frame also got my attention. I have to believe he can find himself a spot or two on an NFL roster in Special Teams roles as well as some sub-package defensive roles. After we get a look at his workout numbers on his Pro Day we’ll see if he’s draftable or a solid Rookie Free Agent candidate for a Training Camp roster.
TYRELL CROSBY OT #73 OREGON 6’5/320 This agile footed big fella has started for the Ducks since his true freshman season in 2014. But he lost his 2016 season to a medical redshirt when he suffered a serious foot injury. He is back on the field and firmly reestablished as the team’s LT. He has the dancing feet in pass-pro to fit most pro schemes. What impressed me against Washington last Saturday night was his ability to slug it out with Huskies earth mover DL VITA VEA and all of his low slung 340 lb. frame. I would actually rate their duel as a tie most of the evening. Don’t be misled by the Ducks ability to only score 3 points in this contest. They are down to their 3rd string QB, who is a true freshman. Although he held up well overall it still made for a tough night along the OL in blocking assignments. And most of the time CROSBY’s line-mates were all sophomores with very limited varsity starts. CROSBY’s footwork is smooth and his balance is good going any direction. He also looks like a natural knee bender which bodes well for the NFL. I think he will head into the 2018 NFL Draft as one of the Top 5 OT available, and a more game ready for the NFL wars than a former Duck named JAKE FISHER, who is now starting for the Bengals. Look for him around late Round 2 or 3!
ZAYCOVEN HENDERSON DT #92 TEXAS A&M 6’2/310 This guy could be a solid mid-round pick for an NFL team in need of some depth in their DL rotation. He has a low to the ground frame and plays that way. He can be quick off the snap and covers a lot of ground at the line-of-scrimmage. He also gets good pressure on the pocket, whether it’s shooting a gap or circling around the end of the line to sneak up on the QB from the blind side. He looks faster than he probably is, and will pursue from sideline to sideline, though he’s not likely to catch up with too many runners. He will have to keep his weight in check so as not to lose some of that quickness and energy. For an interior DL he had a extremely productive game against Auburn Saturday afternoon. He recorded 7 tackles, 2 of them solo. I’d project him as a Round 4/5 Pick primarily for a team with a 4-3 base scheme. HENDERSON should play in the NFL for as long as he wants to stay in shape and work hard.
ARDEN KEY DE #49 L.S.U. 6’6/255 JR It has been hard to get a good feel for KEY at his best because of some discipline related time off as well as some nicks and bruises during his LSU career. But he looks to be back in the swing of things based on his work against Alabama Saturday. Trying to keep up with KEY for offenses is like playing a game of Wheres Waldo. Wisely, LSU defensive coaches do move KEY around looking to confuse blocking assignments. He is simply monster with his speed and quickness around blockers and to the QB. His generation of pressure makes him a pure MONSTER defender, who is a huge impact player when healthy. He’s now a legit 255 lbs. and can play the run in his spare time. Against Alabama KEY was credited with 8 Tackles- 4 solo- 1/2 sack- 1.5 TFL and 2 QBH. Keep in mind fans that ‘Bama runs the ball a lot more than they pass it. For the whole game the Tide passed only 24 times. That means KEY was doing his best work in a small window of opportunity. This man is an elite edge-rush prospect. Likely the best in the 2018 Draft! He could be a Top 10 Pick if he comes out and blows up the Combine with his workout.
JAMARCUS KING CB #7 SOUTH CAROLINA 6’2/186 This was my first watch of the Gamecocks this season. It didn’t take me long to notice KING, and my first thought was that he looked an awful lot like former Gamecock STEPHON GILMORE, now with the Pats. He’s a long, lean guy who looks very fluid running at full speed chasing receivers downfield. Let me be quick to point out that his biggest flaw is a seeming lack of enthusiasm for sticking his nose into the action in support on run defense. Though he was around the pile on multiple occasions he was credited with only 2 tackles for the game. He did however, show some solid leadership, and a cool demeanor, when a few teammates got overheated at the officials early in the contest, trying to talk them down from their misdirected emotion. He seems to have that short term memory needed when you play CB out on an island. He can ballhawk back there as indicated by his 9 PBU and 3 INT in 2016. This is one player I would luv to see at the Senior Bowl practicing under NFL coaching all week. KING certainly has Day Two ability, if only he would show more aggression as a tackler.
CHUKWUMA OKORAFOR OT #77 WESTERN MICHIGAN 6’6/330 For NFL teams needing an immovable force on their OL then this guy should be high on their draft list. But I would suggest that he is not ready to jump into a starting OL unit just yet. As BILL PARCELLS used to say, God only puts so many really big men on this planet. So it would seem logical that more than a few NFL teams, with a true teaching OL coach, would be glad to nurture this giant of a man for a season or two. I see him as a RT because those speed rushers on the QB blindside are likely to give him trouble. You just can’t get this big of a body up to top speed in the wink of an eye. But his 84″ wingspan would indicate that he will be tough to pass rush to the outside by anyone. He needs to work on his knee bend a bit in pass pro, but most of his basic tendencies are acceptable. He stays on his feet well, though he tends to panic at times and dives into cut-blocks, instead of continuing to run and bury defenders. As you would expect looking at his measurables he’s a large lump of clay only partially molded at this point. He’d make a great study at the Senior Bowl working with NFL coaches. Most folks consider OKORAFOR to have more long term pro potential than former teammate TAYLOR MOTON, who is polishing his craft with the Panthers this season. I see a Round 3 guy here, with huge upside.
DANTE PETTIS WR/RS #8 WASHINGTON 6’1/192 It can be very frustrating to try to base a one game thumbnail on a player whose top talent may lie in big play ability in the return game.
But PETTIS did not disappoint me in the signature win over Oregon last Saturday night. On a typical rainy night in the Pacific Northwest the Huskies totally dominated the game after the Ducks took the opening possession and marched down the field for a quick Field Goal. Early in the second quarter PETTIS retuned a punt 64 yards for his 4th Punt Return TD of the season. It was also his 9th career Punt Return TD which is a new D1 college football record. This was also the play that got the Huskies rolling in a blowout victory. It should also be noted that PETTIS also has 5 Kick-off return TD as well in his college career. He topped off his night with a 47 yard TD reception in the 3rd Quarter. So what we have here, IMO, is a very talented player, who is dependable from week to week, but also flashes big play ability on a regular basis. Did I mention yet that his dad is GARRY PETTIS, who roamed the Outfield at the MLB level for more than a decade. And you should know by now how much Pigskin Paul luvs that genetic tree. He finished the lopsided win with 4 receptions for 87 yards and 1 TD. Throw that in with the Punt Return and you see the game day value of this guy. Looks to me like a First Rounder, and I expect his Combine numbers to reflect his explosiveness.
CALVIN RIDLEY WR #3 ALABAMA 6’1/190 Alabama has such a heavy emphasis on their run Offense that it can be hard to truly evaluate how good RIDLEY is. He led the team last year as a Soph, with 72 catches, including 7 TD. But with former OC now doing his work in Florida NICK SABAN is back to running his way to victory almost every week. RIDLEY was able to pull in 3 receptions for 61 yards, which sounds puny, but remember ‘Bama only had 11 completed passes for the entire game. RIDLEY is more like Amari Cooper (who he basically replaced as the teams top wideout) than he’s given credit for. He is a great route runner and can take the top off a defense with his run after catch ability. He does not have Cooper’s overall ability, but may be more dependable in his ability to get separation from defenders as well as more reliable hands than Amari. He also draws so much attention that it allows his teammates to pop open against looser coverage schemes. I would expect him to declare for the 2018 Draft, but it’s not a sure thing. If he does come out I would expect him to likely be a Round 2 draftee. He looks to me like a really solid No.2 WR prospect, with not much more to learn or accomplish at Alabama if he stays in school for his senior season in 2018. He may become a more productive receiver as a pro than he has for the run heavy Alabama offense of Nick Saban.
TAGRAY SCALES LB #8 6’0/230 INDIANA I had mentioned just as the colLege season began that SCALES was one of the most productive LB in the nation and would be an early Saturday draftee next Spring. I just finished watching tape of the Wisconsin/IU game, which was a lot closer for 3 Quarters than the final score indicated. And SCALES was all over the field. When the game ended SCALES had been credited with 12 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1 sack and an INT. The INT was on a deflected ball in the end zone to thwart the Badgers first would-be TD drive. SCALES flies around all over the field in relentless pursuit of the football. Sometimes that doesn’t pay off as was shown on the Badgers first TD pass where SCALES (and others) bit on the run fake to leave the UW FB standing alone inside the 5-yard line to catch a lob pass and back into the end zone for a score. Actually my biggest concern for SCALES is his lack of size for the pro game. To succeed the way he plays now he would have to play in a scheme, likely a 3-4 base, where the DL eats blockers and keeps them off the LB corps as much as possible. He just isn’t strong/big enough to fight through a bunch of blocks. Harnessing his speed to provide shallow coverage against the TE/RB coming across the shallow middle of the field will be key to his pro success. I have little doubt he will be a Special Teams demon, especially on coverage units. A team in need of LB help should be willing to look at him by Draft Saturday, fairly early. Then time will tell how much his big heart can make up for his slight frame.
BRADEN SMITH OG #71 AUBURN 6’6/305 Auburn is a very fundamentally sound team this season, which just luvs to run the ball down opponents throats, which is a staple of the MALZAHN Offensive schemes. SMITH now has over 30 starts for the Tigers, pretty much all of them at OG. He was scheduled to move out to RT during Spring Practice, but it worked out that he could remain inside at OG. I do however have a feeling that as an NFL back-up initially, he could be groomed to spend some time outside to add to his versatility and thus his roster value. He will be among the most athletic Interior Linemen in the 2018 Draft Class. He displays agile feet and good balance, which aids him in pass pro. I would guess that his NFL team will work with him a bit in the weight room. He does not look like he has the frame to add a lot of bulk, but another 10 lbs and muscle firming might be manageable. No surprise SMITH is adept at getting to second level blocks, which he demonstrated on multiple occasions against A&M. Now that the team is blessed with a good passing QB in STIDHAM it gives the OL more chances to demonstrate their pass-pro ability. SMITH is doing that well and that can only add to his pro potential. I like this savvy young man and what he brings to his OL. I’d expect him to maybe sneak into Round 3, but if not should be highly coveted on Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft.
DARREL WILLIAMS RB #28 LSU 6’1/225 It’s not a direct reflection of his Draft status, but if I had a vote today I would name WILLIAMS as the LSU Offensive MVP for the 2017 season. With nagging injuries most of the season so far to projected RB star DERRIUS GUICE, WILLIAMS has been the real workhorse and leader of the LSU resurgence as a competitive team that may still get themselves to a nice Bowl Game to end their season. Just before their BYE Week WILLIAMS was almost a one-man army against Ole Miss with over 100 yards gained rushing and receiving in a 40-24 W. He scored the only TD against ‘Bama, which he set up with long run to the 2 yard-line out of the Wildcat set. For the game WILLIAMS rushed 7 times for 83 yards and 1 TD. He also caught 2 balls on the night. As you can see above, he has nice size and runs with power, and speed for his size. If I’m an NFL team in need of some RB depth as Day 3 of the 2018 Draft rolls around I’m looking hard at this versatile, tough competitor. Are you paying attention Dolphins?