SAQUON BARKLEY/RB #26 PENN STATE 5’11/228 JR. My first thought watching the Iowa game was what a great player BARKLEY is. My second thought was that JAMES FRANKLIN is going to use him up by sometime in late October. How can BARKLEY not declare for the 2018 NFL Draft before he’s beaten to a pulp? This guy is really special. He has speed, size and clearly a high FBI. Early in the game I was a bit peeved that he had a tendency to go out of bounds rather than lower his pads for another couple of yards, ala FRANCO HARRIS. When he had 30 touches by halftime I realized it was just a matter of self-preservation for the 4th Quarter. BARKLEY ended up with 358 total yards in the game, including 211 rushing at a 7.5ypc clip. he just missed 100-yards receiving at 94. He ran around, through and over people with the ball in his hands. It was reported that during Penn State summer camp testing he recorded a 4.33/40, 38″ vertical & had a 10’10” broad jump. This guy is a Penn State combination of LYDELL MITCHELL/CURT WARNER/KI-JANA CARTER. If you missed the game with Iowa try to find a replay somewhere this week. This man is a Top 5 draftee, and now my top ranked prospect overall. Yes, even above my beloved SAM DARNOLD/QB/USC!
KURT BENKERT/QB #6 VIRGINIA 6’4/220 In an NFL where there just aren’t enough QB to go around for 32 teams, most teams are at least in the search for solid back-up talent just about every Draft. BENKERT got a taste of game action last season when he started 10 games for the hapless, 2-10 Cavaliers. But things are turning around for HC BRONCO MENDENHALL in his second season for the currently 3-1, 2017 Virginia team. As evidenced in their solid win over Boise State, BENKERT is a big part of the UVA resurgence. BENKERT has a strong arm, and throws a really pretty deep ball. He is mobile enough to extend plays and looks to be improving in his reads as he plays more. Watching his receivers versus Boise he appears to have nice touch and his throws look very catchable, with touch on them. Against Boise he was 19/29- 66%- 273 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT. Before the year started I would have said BENKERT was likely to be an URFA next Spring. If he keeps up the level of his current play he’s a late draftable prospect.
BRADLEY CHUBB/DE #9 NC STATE 6’4/275 I have been a fan of CHUBB for several years now. He’s an old-fashioned do everything DE for a 4-3 scheme. His motor is relentless and he should challenge to be a double-digit every season in the NFL. He has one of, if not The Best, inside pass rush moves in the country. He plays the run like a DE should, but is a bit light in the pants to hold up in a 3-4 scheme. He had a punch-out forced fumble inside the 5 yard line to thwart an early FSU scoring drive. He also had a red zone sack just before halftime. He finished up the game with 7 tackles (5 solo), 2 sacks, 2 TFL. Not surprisingly he wears the Captain’s C on his uniform jersey. To my eyes this high motor guy, who plays with high accountability, is a First Round possibility and an elite senior prospect. He has the size to be more than just an edge-rusher in the right pro scheme.
KEITH FORD/RB #7 TEXAS A&M 5’11/215 FORD is a transfer from Oklahoma who shares time and carries with speedster TRAYVEON WILLIAMS for the Aggies. Though not listed as the starting RB he sees plenty of action and did so in the win over Arkansas. He’s the kind of RB who gets what is blocked for him, and maybe then some. He explodes through holes and punishes tacklers in the secondary. He had a big day last Saturday especially in the second half where he got most of the carries. On the day he carried the ball 14 times for 102 yards and 2 TD. He runs hard, beneath his pads and does not go down on first contact. He scored a big TD on a 44-yard jaunt, in the 4th quarter. I like FORD as a late round draftee R5/6 who can round out a 3-back rotation as well as play Special Teams as a pro.
JOSEY JEWELL/IB #43 IOWA 6’2/235 JOSEY is typical of a lot of Iowa players who respond to solid coaching from HC KIRK FERENTZ and his staff, and are NFL prospects by the end of their career in Iowa City. JEWELL was a local boy, walk-on and now is wrapping up a stellar career, looking for his 3rd straight 100+ tackle season for the Hawkeyes. He’s a sideline to sideline hustler, who finds the ball constantly. In Iowa’s almost-upset of Penn State JEWELL was a do it all defender. He was credited with 16 tackles (11 solo), 3 TFL and 1 INT. As impressive as those numbers are they still don’t tell the full story of his impact on the game. He’s a high FBI player who leaves it all out on the grass every weekend. If he keeps up his current level of play it is going to be very hard not to have him in my Top 100 prospects list. It seems almost unfair, but I have a feeling his Combine work will greatly influence his final draft status. He could play for my team in a heart beat.
CHRISTIAN KIRK/WR/RS #3 TEXAS A&M 5’11/200 JR I believe there might be a picture of KIRK in the dictionary right beside the word Explosive. He was the primary impact player for the Aggies in their OT victory over Arkansas. He’s built more like a RB than your average receiver, which may make the slot position his most natural as a pro. He showed his flat-out speed all day long but especially on his 100-yard Kick-off return to put A&M ahead in the 4th quarter. He had two more TD on the day with his 5 catch, 110-yard receiving day. Get this guy the ball in the open field and the D is in big trouble. he is elusive and can also break tackles. Another true star, who if he comes out is very likely to be a first rounder. Expect him to blow up the NFL Combine working out in his shorts. His athleticism is elite.
FRANK RAGNOW/OC #72 ARKANSAS 6’5/319 A big strong mauler, who has enough athleticism to carry out any task given to him in the middle of that OL. 2017 is his 3rd straight season as the full-time OC of the Razorbacks OL. There are a lot of new faces along that line, so he’s the clear leader, as evidenced by that C on his chest. He shows good feet for an interior OL and can pull and slide to lead downfield or wide blocking assignments. He spent a lot of time sliding back and forth to help out is less experienced line mates as Arkansas made A&M sweat it out to gain an overtime W. He uses his hands well to fend of opponents and keep them off his body. Finishes his blocks and plays to the whistle. A Top 100 prospect who is likely to be a 3rd Round draftee. Could be the first OC taken, depending upon underclassmen declaring.
JAYLEN SAMUELS/H-B #1 NC STATE 5’11/223 Let me introduce you to this year’s top senior “Swedish Army Knife” player. SAMUELS will not fit the perfect mold for any one position at the NFL level, but he is an excellent athlete, and a pure pain-in-the-ass for opposing defenses to try to match up with. Let’s call him an H-B for now. If you watched the Wolfpack win over FSU last Saturday you saw exactly how damaging he can be from multiple sets and in multiple roles. He has excellent hands as a receiver and the speed to get open on various routes. He’s hard to bring down once the ball is in his hands based on shifty feet, good balance and physical toughness. Lined up in multiple spots he finished the game with 12 receptions for 64 yards and a TD. He completed an option pass in the first quarter. He ran the ball 5 times for 11 yards, which included a TD run in the 1st Quarter. I’m not sure if he gets into the first 3 rounds of the next Draft, but I will assure you some NFL team will be mesmerized by his athleticism/versatility and grab him by Round 4. He also looks to have the potential to be a Special Teams Captain at the pro level.
CAMERON SMITH/IB #35 SOUTHERN CAL 6’2/245 JR. WE’ve been watching this guy since he was a true frosh starting at IB for the Trojans. And he just keeps getting a bit better with every passing year. He can do it all with the toughness to take on the running game right up the middle, as well as drop into pass coverage both inside and outside the hash marks. His numbers against CAL were pretty typical for a day’s work with his pads on. He was in on 12 tackles, including 1.5 TFL and 1 QBH. SMITH was also able to recover a fumble in the contest. He clearly has all the skills to be a 3-down LB with a high FBI and a nose for the ball. From what I have seen he appears capable of handling the middle in either a 4-3 or 3-4 base scheme. If he’s not a first rounder it’s only because teams don’t place a high enough value on the inside LB slots. Another team leader who wears the Captain’s C on his jersey.
ARMANI WATTS/FS #23 TEXAS A&M 5’11/205 WATTS had 30 starts going into 2017, during his career with the Aggies. He is a solid combination of a tough, physical guy with very solid ball skills. He’s very aggressive in run support, but plays his position with accountability. Against Arkansas he totaled 8 tackles, 5 of them solo, including a TFL. IMO his best bet for success as a pro would be to go to a team that likes to play press coverage, as opposed to mainly zone. That would allow him to line up in-the-box to play the run. But, he does not lack coverage ability. He locates the ball well and moves to it. He secured the Aggies victory with an end zone INT on Arkansas’ first OT possession. I like him as a mid-round prospect who will fill multiple roles for his team even if not a full-time starter.
CEDRICK WILSON/WR #1 BOISE STATE 6’3/188 Please meet Mr. Wilson, who is not the household he should be because many of us are in bed when he plays a lot of his games in Boise, Idaho. But I am here to tell you I was in total awe last weekend watching him almost single handedly keep his team in the contest with a very solid Virginia team. Wilson is a JC transfer, who broke into the big time with Boise last season when he caught 56 balls for over 1,000-yards and a 20.2 ypc average. He also excels as a return specialist, which clearly will help his NFL prospects. He’s a long striding speedster who absorbs more hits than you might expect for his lean frame. He runs crossing patterns and tip toes along the sidelines. He caught 13 balls, for 273 yards and 1 TD. The Cavs secondary just could not cover him, or tackle him after he made the catch. Once again his average per catch was just above 20 yards, for the game. This was my first real “watch” of WILSON, and he literally caught my eye before the first quarter was even over. Remember his name and try to catch a Boise game before bedtime this season. I don’t think you will be disappointed.