Who Caught My Eye Week 9

By | November 3, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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