Ouch, Week 10 already in the books for the 2016 college football season. That hurts. That being said, the only positive side is that we’re only a touch away from two months until SHRINE GAME & SENIOR BOWL weeks… also known as Pigskin Paul’s Festivus Celebrations. Now for some players that got my attention in last week’s action.
JAMAL ADAMS/S/LSU 6’0/210 #33 JR An exciting prospect who some of his coaches compare to TROY POLAMALU. But ADAMS is a full sized thumper who already has better cover skills than TROY HAIR ever did IMO. Those coaches were primarily referring to his ability to cover the field and make big plays. But he is more disciplined player who can cover receivers downfield. He was outstanding against ‘Bama, which only managed 10 points against LSU. ADAMS has a high FBI and is considered a team leader. He jumped a throw on Alabama’s first possession and gave them a chance to draw first blood in the Red Zone. His offensive mates came up short. Late in the 1st Quarter, ADAMS downed a Punt inside the ‘Bama 5-yard line, on the Special Teams punt coverage unit. For the game he totaled 6 tackles, 1 TFL & 1 INT. I would expect him to declare for the 2017 Draft, and be the first true S taken, maybe even ahead of any of the CB prospects.
MONTRAVIUS ADAMS/DT/AUBURN 6’4/305 #1 I’ve had my eye on ADAMS since the 2014 season. His length and overall size make him look like a potential star. But he just doesn’t play with the fire or hustle often enough to be an impact player. It looked like he was progressing last season under DC WILL MUSCHAMP, but with WILL departed to South Carolina as head man, I see ADAMS out there taking up space much of the time. I feel like I see him way too often jogging along the line of scrimmage “in pursuit” of the ball as it moves away from his side of the field. But he very seldom gets to the ball carrier, unless the play is right at him. He fails to stay low off the snap and rises up to make a big blocking target for the OL. In the W over Vandy, he had 2 tackles, and 2 QBH. His appearance makes me think he should have another couple of tackles and perhaps a sack to add to that stat line. His apparent lackadaisical attitude tells me he will not be a Top 100 prospect, and may be a player who never lives up to his potential.
PHARAOH BROWN/TE/OREGON 6’6/245 #85 Two seasons ago as a Soph, BROWN was part of the high-flying DUCKS Offense under the direction of MARCUS MARIOTA, BROWN was voted first team PAC-12. His leg injury that cost him all of 2015 was pretty horrific and many questioned his return to the football wars. But here he is in 2016 looking almost as dynamic as his previous self and seemingly getting healthier and more productive every week. It’s been a tough season for the Ducks and in their effort to keep up with a surging USC team BROWN hauled in 5 catches for 30-yards and a TD. BROWN has a pretty lean body and I doubt he will ever be much of an inline blocking TE, but today’s NFL features more than a few long, lean pass catching TE, who are almost as fast at getting downfield as their WR counterparts. If he’s not dinged up, I would expect BROWN to get invited to an All-Star venue. But probably more important to his potential pro career will be his days at he Combine including the medical component, interview process and on-field measurables. A healthy, enthusiastic BROWN could make an interesting addition for a team like the CARDINALS, whose HC BRUCE ARIANS, collects TE as a hobby. Or in Green Bay, where a downfield threat at TE for AARON RODGERS could be just what the football doctor ordered.
ZACH CUNINGHAM/ILB/VANDERBILT 6’4/230 #41 JR Yep, add CUNINGHAM to the list of tackling machines playing LB in college these days, but don’t stop there in analyzing his pro potential. More than a few of his plays are impactful on the game’s outcome, and he’s one of the key components of a resurgent Vandy program. In 2015 he led the Commodores in tackles with 103. Vandy slugged it out with a solid Auburn team last weekend and CUNINGHAM was a major player in their tough defensive effort. He finished the contest with 9 tackles. He also appeared to have created a key fumble in the 3rd Quarter, but a questionable replay overrule wiped that play out. Earlier in the 1st Quarter he was Johnny-on-the-spot with a fumble recovery. He saved his best heroics for late in the day. With 1:41 left to play, and Auburn trying to stretch a 23-16 lead to 2 scores, he leaped high over the interior OL and blocked a FG to give Vandy one last shot to score. He’s a long, lean athlete who I think will play outside in a 4-3 scheme, or perhaps inside in a 3-4 ala RYAN SHAZIER. I expect him to declare for the 2017 Draft and be a first rounder. This elite athlete is also a great performer out on the grass.
KAREEM HUNT/RB/TOLEDO 5’11/225 #3 HUNT may be one of the most underrated prospects for the 2017 Draft. Its likely because he plays in the MAC, where many defenses are suspect to scouts. It could also be that he’s not a big guy with dazzling physical skill sets. But what he is, is a multi-purpose R who can get tough yards, catches well out in space and can pass-pro better than most RG coming out of college. The Rockets are blessed to have 3 quality RB in this year’s rotation so HUNT must share touches. But in the clutch this is their go-to guy. He has excellent balance which in great part accounts for his ability to get yards after first contact. He also has a nice spin move, which combined with his balance allows him to gain more yards if tacklers don’t wrap him up. As of their most recent game with Ohio, HUNT had over 700 carries in his Toledo career with only 1 recorded fumble, which he recovered. Can you think of an NFL Coach that won’t be impressed with that stat?! In the loss to Ohio, HUNT did his usual best to secure a Rockets victory with 17 carries, for 136 yards and a TD. He also had 2 receptions for an additional 21 yards. I believe he will make a very solid No 2 RB as a pro, and should be drafted early in Round 4 if not a bit earlier.
OBI MELIFONWI/FS/UCONN 6’3/216 #20 OBI is one of the prettiest athletes you will ever see in uniform and pads. He looks like the son of a Greek God came down to play with the mortals. And his production is super-human as well. This guy is gonna “rock it” at the Combine next Feb. He plays his deep S slot with great anticipation, FBI and execution. He had an average game for himself with 9 total tackles. He totaled 88 for the 2015 season. When you consider how feeble the UCONN offense is you appreciate the work of OBI and his mates even more. This guy was responsible for keeping 2 TD off the board by Temple, with two red zone Picks. The 2nd Quarter INT was made at the Huskies 1-yard line to stop a drive, while the 4th Quarter Pick was made in the UCONN end zone. If you have never seen MELIFONWI in action take the time to watch one of his final two games. And stay tuned, I will be shocked if he’s not in Mobile for Senior Bowl week. We’re talking a 2nd Round Draftee here, who his coaches compare to TROY POLAMALU in his impactful play. But this guy is a full sized model of he Steelers great.
JOSIAH PRICE/TE/MICHIGAN STATE 6’4/260 #82 The 2016 Draft was almost bereft of prospects at the TE position. This year PRICE is in the middle tier of a much better group. He’s a full service TE who can block and catch the ball. I have seen him make some very acrobatic catches this season, for a pretty poor Spartans club. In the disappointing loss to Illinois PRICE pulled in 6 balls for 65 yards. He shows good hands and has some elevation to contend for jump ball throws. His good body flexibility makes his catch radius appealing to his QB. Will get a few yards after the catch with a spin move, and can run over smaller DB, but he’s not eluding or outrunning anyone in the secondary. Because of his ability to do everything you want as an inline TE, he can stay on the field for 4-downs. For an NFL team that needs a back-up TE I could see PRICE being an early Day 3 Draftee.
HASSON REDDICK/OLB/ER/TEMPLE 6’1/230 #7 I spent almost a quarter cursing my luck that REDDICK was not playing in this game against UCONN for the Owls. Then I realized that he was out there, but with a new number for his senior campaign. You see HC MATT RUHLE has a tradition that the team votes for the hardest working players to get all the single digit numbers and REDDICK was voted one of those guys, so his number 58 turned into 7. Sure enough once I got that straight there was REDDICK flying around the field and exerting QB pressure with his pass rush ability and speed. He’s technically a DE, but they do move him around. He will face the difficult transition to OLB, but while he learns his craft he will certainly make someone an effective speed/edge rusher for passing downs, not to mention a likely Special Teams standout. By games end the stats for No. 7 did indeed look like those of old No. 58. He tallied 8 tackles, which included 1 sack, 1 QBH and 1.5 TFL, in helping the Owls D pitch a shutout of UCONN. REDDICK will face that challenge of converting to a stand-up player, but I think the Combine will give every indication he has the athleticism to do so.
MICHAEL ROBERTS/TE/TOLEDO 6’5/260 #80 In this day and age late bloomers are few and far between. But ROBERTS may just be the real deal. He only caught 21 balls in 2015 playing part time. But he has emerged big time this season. He is not only a weapon for QB/LOGAN WOODSIDE, but a downfield threat given his speed and huge catching radius. Word is that last spring when NFL personnel people visited Toledo for a Pro Day, ROBERTS was one of the juniors allowed to participate. Eyes popped when they put the tape to his hands and measured 12″. That is perhaps the largest hand spread ever measured by NFL folks. And he uses those big mitts well. His huge frame presents a dynamic catch radius that any QB would be glad to throw to. Against Ohio he caught 4 balls for 54 yards and a TD. His TD catch was a gorgeous sideline, goal line catch in double coverage. He needs to improve his run blocking, but he’s not terrible by any means. Expect him at an All-Star venue and he looks like one of those guys who could absolutely be a star at the Combine. I truly believe he has a shot to crack a Top 100 prospect ranking by April. If you are a true Draftnik, make yourself a note to keep watching for his name in Draft talk over the coming months.
ZACH TERRELL/QB/WESTERN MICHIGAN 6’2/205 #11 What makes TERELL so enticing is his high FBI and ability to play within his limitations. He’s a decent athlete, with an average arm. He’s clearly a big part of his team’s being undefeated after humbling Ball State 52-20 last week. ZACH went 23/34- 367 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT for that game. He makes very good decisions and can extend plays outside the pocket. He is even athletic enough to tuck the ball and gain valuable yards at times. The total package that he represents just screams out, to me at least, that he may make a very solid NFL back-up QB. Every time his name comes up in Draft talk, his high FBI is always mentioned. He makes good decisions and few mistakes. That kind of discussion is quite common for pro back-up potential QB. The only real question in my mind is whether he gets drafted late of will have to sign as an URFA. Remember we had a record number of QB draftees in the 2016 Draft, most of them on Draft Saturday. Either way I look for him to make an NFL team next Summer.
CHRIS WORMLEY/DL/MICHIGAN 6’5/303 #43 I was so impressed with the solid, heady play of WORMLEY that I profiled him as a guy who would come out for the 2016 Draft. And to the delight of Wolverine fans he stayed in school to be part of the HARBAUGH magic that is now Michigan. He is a long, gifted player who may be best suited to play the 5-Technique in an NFL scheme. He’s not a speed rusher but has decent quickness and gets to the ball. He’s very versatile and would be a good scheme fit for a team like the PACKERS, who use their DL in multiple formations and roles. In fact he reminds me of a longer version of DEAN LOWRY, who the PACK drafted this year out of Northwestern. Potential Pro Bowler… No. But a very useful, versatile player who could be a big boost to an NFL DL.