Who Caught My Eye. Week 6

By | October 11, 2017

#8 BRAXTON BERRIOS WR/RS MIAMI (F). 5’9/186 The time has come to accept the reality that between quickness and good hands almost every NFL roster has room for 1 or 2 “slot-type” receivers/return men on their roster. Used in a creative scheme they are just too productive and clutch to discount because they are 5’11 or shorter. BERRIOS seems to be finishing his career at ‘The-U’ with a flourish. He’s just too quick and elusive not to target. He had quite a day against arch-rival FSU, topping it off with the winning TD catch with time running out. On the day BERRIOS caught 8 balls, for 90 yards and 2 TD. He also had 2 punt returns for 38 yards. He’s tough as nails and quick as a hiccup. His work load may even pick up now that star RB MAEK WLATON has been lost for the remainder of the season. He reminds me of URFA COLE BEASLEY, who has parlayed undrafted Rookie status into a clutch receiving threat for the Cowboys. However, do not be surprised if he too does go undrafted next Spring.

#3 QUIN BLANDING FS VIRGINIA 6’2/215 BLANDING. is another player that many thought would come out for the 2017 Draft. That seems only natural given the 2016 season stats he put up. He had 120 tackles last season with 2 INT. He and LB/KISER (SEE BELOW) are the stars of a resurgent UVA defensive unit this season. It wasn’t long into the game with Duke that I was able to put a star beside my notes on him when he made an INT on a deflected pass off a receiver and scooted 58 yards for a TD. He motored faster than I thought he could with the goal line in his sights. By the end of the game, a UVA Win on the road, he had posted pretty typical numbers for himself; 8T- 3 solo- 1 PD- 1 INT- 1 TD. He luvs to spend his time in-the-box but does have good coverage skills. His Combine numbers could go a long way pushing up his draft status if he shows speed and quickness. He is another S who is just big enough to play the role of hybrid LB in current NFL sub-packages on passing downs. He is clearly a Top 100 prospect on my list.

#75 BRADLEY BOZEMAN OC ALABAMA 6’5/315 Let’s get this straight away; BOZEMAN ain’t no RYAN KELLY folks. But by the same token, I think he has more athletic talent than BARRETT JONES who was not able to forge an NFL career coming out of Tuscaloosa. BOZEMAN is clearly the leader of the 2017 Tide OL. He’s making line calls and leading a solid if unspectacular OL group this season. He’s longer than your average OC, but lacks the ideal bulk to handle the strongest Nose Tackles in the SEC. He can get to second level blocks, when he doesn’t get his feet tangled up. He does show good awareness in pass-pro when deciding which way to slide and who to help on double-team blocks. It seems to me that his length may help him be an adequate back-up for the pro game as a multi-position guy. He’s likely to start a pro career as a back-up, with hopes he can capture a starting slot in time. Looks draftable to me, but not until Round 5 or later.

#4 RILEY FERGUSON QB MEMPHIS 6’4/210 Lots of folks will pooh-pooh FERGUSON’s stats in the win over UCONN as a mismatch of a good team against a bottom feeder. But even in their losing efforts the Huskies have had decent defenses in recent years, while their Offense was pretty much nonexistent. But FERGUSON, in combination with a very good receiving corps just shredded a UCONN defense that has several solid pro prospects on it. This is not a misprint, FERGUSON’s numbers were as follows; 34/48- 71%- 431 yards- 7TD- 0 INT. He reads the field well, and is likely to break more than a few PAXTON LYNCH passing records at Memphis. As the game wore on and the only thing left in doubt was the final margin of victory, I began watching his mechanics more carefully. Late in the 3rd Quarter it finally hit me that even though not a carbon copy, his throwing motion and normal delivery of the ball remind me a lot of PHILLIP RIVERS. Like RIVERS he “slings” the ball much of the time. That will be a much talked about issue for NFL scouts going forward because of that throwing motion, but RIVERS has shown that style can work pretty well. My gut tells me there will be some serious debate about his NFL prospects going forward. I’ll be an optimist and say he could well be a 3rd Rounder.

#29 MINKAH FITZPATRICK FS ALABAMA 6’1/201 JR Special athlete even by ‘Bama standards. Has excellent closing speed and great ball instincts. Could probably play CB if needed. Is a willing tackler. His goal line INT late in the 4th Quarter pretty much sealed victory for the Tide as A&M seemed to have gained late game momentum. It seems like every time I watch an Alabama game this guy makes 2-3 big plays just when the Defense needs a pick me up. His stats don’t begin to tell the whole story of how much he means to his team. Against A&M Minkah had 5 tackles, 3 solo, including 2TFL. Also remember to throw in the above mentioned INT. This young man has excellent deep speed and short area quickness to stay with receivers even if he takes a miss-step on initial coverage. Some folks compare his athleticism and versatility to MARLON HUMPHREY who was a Round 1 Draftee last April. The difference is that FITZPATRICK has delivered the goods more often during game action. He’s a productive performer with impact potential in every game. If he comes out early for the 2018 Draft I can’t see how he’s not taken in the first half of Round 1.

#21 KYLE HICKS RB TCU 5’10/210 The Big 12 showdown with West Virginia was HICKS return to action after missing a couple of weeks with a relatively minor injury. But he was clearly on a play-count from the coaching staff. Even with limited action he showed the same old quick-cut running style that gained him over 1,000-yards in 2016. For the game he gained 71 yards on only 11 carries, with a long winding run of 27 yards for the day. He accelerates to open space quickly and seems to have excellent field vision to maneuver through tacklers once to the second level and beyond. He did not have a reception on the day, but has shown clear receiving talent during his stay at TCU. In 2016 he caught 47 balls. I consider him to be underrated on a lot if watch lists this fall. His versatility will serve him well in the pro game as part of a RB tandem or trio. I think his style of running may make him a potential Return Specialist as well, but with a guy named TURPIN handling that job at TCU he has not been asked to help out in that role for TCU yet.
Expect some 100-yard rushing days in the coming weeks as he returns to full health. I’d put him on the bubble right now as a 4th Round prospect.

#53 MICAH KISER IB VIRGINIA 6’2/240 Given the nice 4-1 start to the season for the Cavaliers it makes KISER’s return for his senior season look like pretty good strategy on his part. KISER posted 134 tackles in 2016 and many thought he’d head for the 2017 NFL Draft. But he came back to play again for Bronco’s ‘Band of Brothers’ program. I see him as a kind of poor-man’s LUKE KUECHLY in his play inside. He can do a bit of everything. Against DUKE he had 10 tackles, 3 of them solo, and including a TFL. He also shows good natural ability to pick up RB/TE types slipping out of opponent’s backfields into pass patterns. In the 3 games of his that I have watched this season, he is also showing the ability to use a combination of quickness and strength to get through interior OL blocks and push inside to collapse/disrupt the opponent’s pocket. He looks like a potential 3-down pro to me. I believe his final Draft ranking will be based in large measure on how well he tests at the Combine next year. Let’s say Round 3 for now.

#3 ANTHONY MILLER WR/RS MEMPHIS While his QB was throwing up a storm, this former walk-on was dazzling us with a display pass catching second to none I have see in recent years. He looks like a potential NFL star as a slot receiver, who can pop outside and be successful there when his offense floods the field with receivers. Against UCONN he caught multiple back shoulder throws, some deep fly balls and had a crossing pattern where he reached out and caught a ball one-handed in full stride and turned it upfield. That catch reminded me of OBJ and got the second quarter off to a rousing start. For the night, against a fairly talented UCONN defensive secondary, MILLER caught 15 balls, for 224 yards and 4 TD. It also struck me that this young man is very fast, and may post an excellent 40-time at the Combine. I have “scouted” him before, but never made him a focus f my attention. He force d me to early in this game. I don’t see how some team doesn’t draft him late in Round 1 next Spring. He blew me away with his speed and receiving skills in this contest.

#11 RANTHONY TEXADA CB TCU 5’10/170 I always get a bit excited when I watch a game and someone I’ve never really heard about stands out on my TV screen. It was during the first WVU possession that I saw this feisty little guy (relatively speaking) flying around the field acting like a wild card LB. He looks the part of a slot Corner given his size and quickness, but he brings an edge to his game. He gladly blitzed, one of which resulted in a sack in the 2nd Quarter. He was also battling with receivers all over the field, especially on the sidelines. He always seemed to be around his man, even if they completed the catch. His entire game says aggression. For the game, another TCU Win, TEXADA recorded 5 tackles, 4 of them solo, and had the TFL and Sack. Other than in 2015 when he missed much of the season to injury he has been a productive starter since his freshman season. If drafted, it most likely won’t be until the last couple of rounds but from what I saw this guy can play ad may be hard to cut in a Training Camp next Summer. How about I call him a 7th rounder.

#2 KA’RAN WHITE WR WEST VIRGINIA 6’1/197 In 2015 DA BEARS drafted WR/KEVIN WHITE in Round 1. WHITE is still considered a high level talent project, but he can’t stay healthy and out on the grass. This is his younger brother, and though he isn’t as highly regarded as his older brother, he does flash NFL talent. Though not as fast as a healthy KEVIN, he has enough speed to get separation and go deep to stretch a secondary. He also shows good balance after the catch. I also thought he looked natural in adjusting his hands for the catch of the thrown ball. IMO, there are lots of receivers in today’s game who often struggle to properly position their hands for the catch, thus resulting in way too many drops at the pro level. TCU’s Defense used varied blitz packages to bring pressure on WVU QB/WILL GRIER for most of the game, which resulted in some errant throws. But WHITE accelerates kept battling and ended the evening with 6 catches for 138 yards and 1 TD. His big catch went for 76 yards. He could make a solid mid-Round pick for a team looking to add depth to their receiving corps, assuming they can identify a Special Teams fit for him.