Once again some rather surprising results came rolling in off the scoreboard wire this week in College Football. Notre Dame & Oklahoma can be crossed off your Top 10 list for this season. And when was the last time that all 3 service academies were undefeated thru Week 3? Now let’s get on to some player evaluation thumb-nails.
KAREEM ARE/OG/FLORIDA STATE #72 6’6/333 ARE played up to his pre-game hype even in a blow-out loss to Louisville. He is agile on his feet enough to handle himself in pass pro, and has good vision and awareness. On multiple occasions when the OT slid out to pick up a blitzer AYERS was alert and quick enough to slide over and pick up the DE who the LT let go. He also looked good pushing the line of scrimmage on run plays and getting to second level blocks with relative ease. ARE does NOT pop up out of his stance, keeping good pad level most of the time and looks like a natural knee bender. If he can’t win a starting slot right away in the NFL I’m thinking he might be able to serve as a multi-purpose backup all along the OL. Similar in that regard to former teammate CAM ERVING, now with the BROWNS.
ZACH BANNER/OT/SOUTHERN CAL #73 6’9/370 #73 Larger than life (almost) but more amazingly a true athlete. He played in the USC basketball program as a freshman. But he’s all football now, starting at RT, and carrying the Captain’s C on his jersey. My first notes refer to him as a giant, with good athleticism. He has super long arms, of course, and uses them well to re-direct defenders. He’s adequate in pass pro cause he can move his feet like he was only 6’6. He stays on his feet and is solid in getting seal blocks in the run game. He does not have the foot speed to dance with edge rushers, but as he showed against Stanford he keeps them to the outside and pushes them back, forcing them to go around and past his QB before getting a shot at him in the pocket. He’s the most mobile really big man since I saw FLUKER from Alabama. Would luv to see him in Mobile next January under pro coaching for a full week. MIght sneak into Round 3 in the 2017 Draft.
COREY DAVIS/WR/WESTERN MICHIGAN #84 6’3/205 DAVIS uses his length and speed, as well as marvelous catching ability to really stretch the field for the Chippewas offense. Against Illinois he was the deep threat to balance out their attack. On deep routes he locates the ball coming over the top very well and looks smooth bringing the ball into his extended hands in full stride. Against Illinois he caught 4 balls for 97 yards. He is also dangerous running out-routes and works the sidelines as his best friends. He’s not really skilled at routes over the middle, but the deep threat aspect of his game more than makes up for that. He has the potential to stretch the field for an NFL offense just like JORDY NELSON has done for AARON RODGERS in Green Bay. At the very least I see him in Round 2. DAVIS has home run potential and that has great value in a League filled with quick possession receivers.
CHAD KELLY/QB/OLE MISS #10 6’2/225 JUst like in their opener against FSU Ole Miss started strong against Alabama but could not hold up long term. But don’t blame the versatile, gritty KELLY who reminds me more than a bit of his uncle JIM KELLY. He has an above average arm and is tough as nails, never hesitating to take off on the run if the pocket collapses and/or his receivers are covered. He is reasonably accurate, but has a tendency to force some throws into traffic. He is very effective throwing the deep ball so that his receivers can either run under them or out-leap defenders on jump balls. He has some nice weapons to throw to, but his guys drop more than a few catchable throws. In the loss to Alabama KELLY WAS 26/41- 63.4%- 421 YARDS- 3 TD- 1 INT. He also scrambled and rushed his way to 48 yards net after sack losses. I might note I think he is often the victim of poor play calling by his co-OC’s, which obviously cuts into his productivity. I am not on the First Round bandwagon, but if he doesn’t implode under stress I could see him as a 2nd Round Draftee. Please show up for the Senior Bowl CHAD.
WES LUNT/QB/ILLINOIS #12 6’5/225 Seems like the NCAA is full of TX TECH and OKLA ST transfer QB, starting for other teams as seniors. This is LUNT’s second season at the helm for the Illini, but I believe he is on his 4th OC of his college career. So in essence much of what he learned last season is irrelevant to 2016. He’s a tall rangy guy with a decent arm and some nice touch on his throws. He’s not great at extending plays and not a running threat. He looked way too willing to resort to safe dump-off throws against WMU, but then again his OL is not top notch this season, and his receivers dropped more than a few decent throws downfield. His game stats ended up at; 29/42- 69%- 312 yards- 1 INT- 1 TD. My wrap-up comment of LUNT would be that he is not an exciting prospect, but he could be the NATE SUDFELD project of 2017 for some NFL team. Could be one of the QB prospect group at the Shrine Game next January.
TAYLOR MOTON/OL/WESTERN MICHIGAN #72 6’5/328 I started watching the WMU/Illinois game with the name of Illini DE/DAWUANE SMOOT written down on my scouting note pad. But by the second quarter it was clear that SMOOT was being handled almost every snap whether in the run game or passing attack. He overpowered SMOOT and pushed him away from the ball and his QB. This basically continued all game. His arms look long and he seems to pack a wallop with his initial hand punch. I wrote down MOTON’s number and his size numbers. It looks to me like he will likely have to switch inside to OG for the NFL game. He is reasonably mobile for his size but I am pretty sure NFL level speed-rushers would eat him up with their quickness and speed moves in pass-pro. Inside most of his shortcomings will be mitigated because of the smaller area he has to function in.
JAMES QUICK/WR/LOUISVILLE #17 6’1/180 He is not elite, nor is he a burner. But he has good hands and runs some nice routes. He uses the sidelines well as an ally against CB coverage and can get you Yards After Catch. He also shows better concentration on the ball than many of today’s wideouts. In the 2nd Quarter he made a marvelous catch on a ball deflected by the CB, which he cradled into his body well downfield. It was highlight type stuff. He may be the most consistently productive receiver in this wide open Cardinals offense. He finished the whipping of FSU with 7 catches for 122 yards. The way this team is functioning right now I expect he will keep up his current catch rate and come close to 100 receptions for the season. He might crack the Top 100 list for next year’s Draft, and should make a solid No. 3 wideout on an NFL depth chart.
STEVEN TAYLOR/LB/HOUSTON #41 6’1/225 There are plenty of tackling machines in college football and coming off 92 stops last season TAYLOR is the team leader of the Cougars D. But he shows much more to his game than just getting to the ball carrier. After battling back and forth against Cincinnati last Thursday TAYLOR helped break the game wide open. Early in the 4th Quarter he broke on a thrown ball and returned it 74 yards for a Pick-6. For the game he totaled 9 Tackles, 2 TFL & 2 Sacks. Even mentioning all of those specifics he means even more to his D than his stats. He is disruptive on delayed blitzes. His savvy and instincts are surely superior to those around them. I would also expect that he would be an immediate contributor on Special Teams for his pro team. He is clearly a player who forces us to look past his marginal height/weight numbers.In the pass-heavy NFL TAYLOR looks like a LB who could stay on the field for most passing downs. See you in Mobile Mr. Taylor.
MIKE TYSON/DB/CINCINNATI #5 6’2/206 TYSON was one of the main reasons I grabbed my notebook out last Thursday night to watch CINCY/HOUSTON. Seems like I missed his performance in Week 2 when he had 3 INT against Purdue. Now I’d be among the first to sat many INT are the residue of effort and good luck, perhaps in equal measure. But 3 at once from a guy who wasn’t on my watch list? I liked what I saw from TYSON. He’s a nice looking, long athlete who runs well. He also looks to have a high FBI based on his constantly being around the ball. He should be a nice addition on Special Teams units in the NFL and with much of weekly game time featuring 6 or more DB I can see him playing in some sub-packages. He had several PBU against Houston as well as a couple of nice open field tackles. He might be a late round Draft selection if he continues to display multiple skills for the rest of the season.
JORDAN WESTERKAMP/WR/NEBRASKA #1 6’0/200 I am often amazed at sports fans who decry athletes who transfer out of football programs as traitors and mercenaries. WESTERKAMP is an example of a kid who stayed put and has seen his playing time diminish even though his skills have not. He’s not an elite athlete, but like ALEX ERICKSON/WR/UW, who cracked the BENGALS roster this year, he is good at a lot of things and willing to do the dirty work. His play against Oregon exemplifies his type of player. Despite diminished snaps he hauled in 3 catches last Saturday, with 2 of them being TD grabs. Other receivers were struggling to get separation and failing to make tough catches, but still he stood watching way too much. He is a willing blocker and I am sure could be an enthusiastic and productive Special Teamer as a pro. After 65 catches last season it would seem he has earned more reps on the grass, but does not pout or sulk. I hope he somehow gets playing time back and is able to further display his potential value to a pro team.
Ta-Ta for now.