#38 DANIEL CARLSON K AUBURN 6’4/218 Great kickers come along about once a decade, if that. Just look around the NFL at the multiple teams who bring in 2-3 kickers per season in an attempt to shore up their K slot. CARLSON is this decade’s Star Kicker. He has the leg, the form, the psyche to withstand the rigors and pressure of his job. His day’s work against LSU, albeit in a losing cause, was an example of his excellence. He went 3 for 3 with his FG attempts of 42,48 and 26 yards. He was also 3/3 on Xtra Points. In the first half, on kick-offs, he put 4 in the end zone for touchbacks and one only went to the goal line and was returned. In 2016 CARLSON went 28 for 32 with 3 of his 4 misses coming from beyond 50-yards. I felt he could have declared for the 2017 Draft and been Top 100. He will certainly be that next Spring. First Round Kickers are few and far between, but this guy may tempt someone with a strong kicking need by late first round.
#16 RASHARD FANT CB INDIANA 5’10/175 As mentioned elsewhere in this report the NFL has found more and more ways to utilize smaller, quick players in the slot to open up the field. This trend has pushed the need for more quick slot Corners to handle these extra receivers. It is a reality that almost every NFL Defense spends more than 50% of their snaps out of their base D design, with extra DB on the field. FANT looks like a model for what an NFL slot-Corner looks like and plays like. He’s an active young man as he demonstrated against Michigan, though he played as a standard CB against the conservative, run dominated Michigan Offense. He’s quicker than fast, but has the ability to handle man-cover. Despite his lack of size he was totally committed to helping come up for tackles on the edge. On several occasions I saw him sacrifice his body to take out blockers if not the ball carrier. For the OT game he was credited with 4 tackles, 3 of them solo, including 1/2 of a TFL on a Corner blitz. I also counted at least 2 pass break-outs for him. Lots of WR and DB get taken on Day 3 of the NFL Draft and I think FANT is likely to be an early Saturday Draft Pick. Watch his work at the Combine to possibly push up his Draft stock.
#98 JOSH FATU DT SOUTHERN CAL 6’3/315 Besides turning out many elite players for the pro game, the Trojans program has also had a lot of success lately with transfer and JC program guys sprinkled around that roster of primarily 4/5 Star recruits. FATU came to USC via the JC route last season and played sparingly, mostly behind STEVIE T., now of the BUCS. He’s gotten himself up to about 315 lbs. and looks even bigger than that. He has very good strength and has been getting solid push up the middle to disrupt opposing team passing games. His DT teammate RASHEEM GREEN, is a speed guy, so FATU provides the bulk and pure power. He has played his way ahead of 2 guys on the depth chart since last Spring’s practices. I thought I saw him in on a lot of tackles for an interior guy last Saturday in the win over Utah. Sure enough, when I checked the final stat sheet he had been credited with 7 tackles, 4 solo, 1 Sack and 2 TFL. That is a full night’s work for a big guy like him. If he keeps this up I would guess he will very hard for the entire NFL to pass up through a full 7 Round Draft. I look for him to make the end of the draft next year.
#99 CLELIN FERRELL DE CLEMSON 6’5/265 RSO Even though Clemson fell on the road last Friday night it was NOT because this guy failed to impact the game. FERRELL was in the ‘Cuse backfield all night long. He is a true down-DE who uses length, natural power and athleticism to dominate would-be blockers either going around them or through them. His stat sheet read 9 Tackles- 7 solo- 3.5 sacks- 5.5 TFL. He could not, would not be blocked folks. I also saw him downfield on multiple occasions providing 1-on-1 coverage on receivers. I mean 20-yards downfield. He has great ball awareness and stays in plays by knowing where to be. He also threw a key open-field block on an INT return by a teammate. DOMINANT is the best word to describe him. He also seems to have limitless energy. Even though his frame is long and lean, he is very strong when latching onto a blocker or a ball carrier. He reminds me of Jadeveon Clowney when he was a collegian! Like Clowney, I would expect FERRELL to be an absolute monster at the NFL Combine. He can do anything you ask of him out on the field. Assuming the Redshirt Soph comes out for the Draft I don’t see how he isn’t a Top 10 Pick.
#99 GREG GILMORE DT LSU 6’4/308 I wanna see this guy get on a scale in January. Because quite frankly he looks even bigger than his listed weight of just under 310. And he plays bigger. He absolutely stuffed the running game and held the line-of-scrimmage in the big LSU comeback victory over Auburn. He is the classic big body who can move, and disrupt blocking schemes on run downs. He was also pretty nifty at time shooting gaps or pushing blockers back into their QB’s pocket. LSU rotates two-deep along the DL which limits productivity stats but keeps guys fresh. GILMORE’s overall impact in the LSU victory was noteworthy. Especially when you consider he plays inside on that DL unit. He had 7 tackles (2 solo), 1.5 TFL and 1 Sack. Having waited his turn to get a starting job until this his senior season he has ground to make up for the NFL scouts, but his work the first half of this season has been well above average. I’d say he’s already draftable and still has a half season to move up to say 4th Round status.
#73 AUSTIN GOLSON OL AUBURN 6’4/315 I list him as a generalist OL instead of a specific slot, because therein lies the great added value of MR. GOLSON, who wears a captain’s C on his chest. In the first half of the LSU game alone GOLSON played T, OC and then LG. And he plays them all well. He has nice size and a high FBI. He has reasonable athleticism and is the ultimate team guy. His blocking technique is fundamentally sound and his “want to” is upper echelon. He’s a good athlete, but his mental aptitude for the game is even better. My general opinion after watching him move around the field no matter what specific slot he played, is that this man could move to the pro game and back up all 5 OL slots on game day. The value of that versatility in the NFL cannot be overstated. Between his size, attitude and versatility he has got to be a Draftee albeit late on Day 3.
#73 MAURICE HURST DT MICHIGAN 6’2/282 Being from Big Ten country most of my adult life I still watch plenty of that conference’s football games. And if HURST were 6’4/305# he’d be an elite prospect because of his hustle, desire and productivity. He is a 3-technique penetrator in the Warren Sapp mold. He has a similar build to SAPP, but is a bit lighter. He has to be rotated out for breaks because his high rev motor will not allow him to slow down when on the field. Because of the lack of a top notch QB the Wolverines are having to win almost entirely with their Defense this season, and HURST is the leader of that unit. Banging heads all day against players outweighing him significantly he uses natural strength and quickness to shoot gaps and make tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. For the IU game HURST was credited with 6 tackles, 4 of them solo, 1/2 sack and 1 1/2 TFL. Just for good measure the hustler found himself a gap to penetrate and blocked an IU field goal in the first quarter. Any points kept off the board were huge in a game that went to OT. In the right defensive scheme this guy can have some Sapp-like impact IMO. I think it important that he NOT be asked to play NT in a 3-4 scheme though. Mark him down for Round 3 for my team.
#8 STEVE ISHMAEL WR SYRACUSE 6’2/213 For the second straight year Syracuse has a senior WR who has emerged as a seriously productive player and a solid pro prospect. Last year grad transfer AMBA ETTA-TAWOH caught 94 balls for almost 1500 yards. He’s now in the NFL. This year’s emergent player is ISHMAEL. He’s a good sized, strong target who is showing the ability to get open with reliable, strong hands. Although I wouldn’t label him a speedster he can go deep as evidenced by his TD catch. He was also flagged on a couple of occasions for pushing off on his defenders. IMO, the push-offs were nothing we don’t see every weekend from NFL stars such as DEZ BRYANT. ISHMAEL may just need a savvy WR Coach at the next level who can help him refine his craft a bit. He is also willing and able to block for his mates downfield. For the game ISHMAEL had 7 catches for 73 yards and 1 TD. He was leading the nation in catches for D1 coming into the Clemson game. Now that Syracuse is looking more competitive as a team maybe more good vibes will head in Ishmael’s direction. He looks like a legit 3rd-4th Rounder to me.
#46 MALIK JEFFERSON IB TEXAS 6’3/238 JR This star athlete was one of the first big recruits for Charlie Strong in his short stay in Austin. This guy has it all; size, speed, strength, etc. He stepped into a starting job as a freshman and was a star from the get-go. He led a ferocious Longhorns Defense in this contest. He did just about everything you could ask of him. For the game he had 11 T (8 solo)- 1 TFL- 1 sack- 1 QBH. He was a big part in keeping Baker Mayfield under control (relatively speaking) the entire day. He’s at his best attacking the line of scrimmage, whether in stopping the run or pressuring the passer. But he also shows the agility and speed to drop into coverage, and I mean downfield coverage at times. He can be a physical tackler, and surely more than a few Sooners bare bruises and welts from some of his tackles. Clearly the true Junior will have a big decision to make about joining the NFL sooner rather than later. HC TOM HERMAN may spend more time recruiting JEFFERSON to stay, than he does luring recruits to the program. But there can little doubt that MALIK is ready for his pro career already. If he comes out I expect him to be a Top 12 draftee!
#6 BAKER MAYFIELD QB OKLAHOMA 6’1/218 I have been fearing the day I would finally have to put my thumb print on a thumbnail of this college star and project him to the next level… gulp! The positives are hard to ignore. Talk about a team leader and Baker is your man. You watch the sideline and can see how he is accepted as a teammate but also as a leader. He clearly has a very high FBI. He’s completing over 70% of his throws, again this season. Against an athletic and nasty Texas D he went 17/27- 63%- 302 yards 2TD- 1 INT. And he played most of the second half of the game hurt. That INT was his first of the season, by the way. His mobility is exceptional. He can extend plays until the steers come home. Last season he had 40 TD passes compared to only 8 INT. But his size worries me, whether it’s his height, or his injury history. He also has had more than his share of knucklehead on/off field issues in the college ranks. Clearly he will be drafted , and should be, but how early and should we really expect him to start in the NFL? I’ll say he’s Round 3-4 timber, with a chance to lead a down-trodden franchise to respectability. But like a TYROD TAYLOR, his NFL team will always have one eye peeled for more of a prototype QB to replace him with. Luv this guy!
#42 UCHENNA NWOSU OB SOUTHERN CAL 6’3/235 This is a very good football player, with excellent quickness and desire. He plays a hybrid DE/OB role for the Trojans. I think his game will fit nicely in the NFL as an OB in a base 3-4 scheme. He sees the ball very well and seems to have a high FBI. He can run all day, but needs to add some upper body muscle to his relatively slender frame. Against Utah he was a force and threat in the Ute’s backfield all night long. He was credited with 3 Tackles and 3 QBH. But I felt he could easily have had 2-3 sacks as well had he not not failed to bring the QB down once he got his hands on him. That is where more strength would come in handy. I would guess that adding strength will be a primary goal for NWOSU at a Performance Camp in January. The NFL is all about QB pressure and he is already very good in that category. But the ability to complete the sack with a takedown separates the cream of the crop from the average defenders. I see him early on Day 3 of the Draft right now.
#7 JORDAN THOMAS CB OKLAHOMA 6’0/186 THOMAS is one of the best man-cover Corners in the 2018 Draft Class. I wish he weighed another 10 lbs. so he could safely throw his body around a bit more in run support. He’s a willing tackler when needed but he banged himself up a couple of times against Texas trying to take on their bigger wideouts/RB. I have no complaints about his coverage skills. He has the speed and quickness to keep up with his coverage duties and is very good at locating the ball in the air. He’s not a big INT guy although he had 5 picks in 2015. But he has posted some eye catching pass break-up numbers during his career in Norman. In 2016 he had 2 INT AND 17 PBU. Takeaways are important, but often more luck than skill. On the Corner most coaches will tell you that the ability to stay with the receiver and break up the catch process is a bigger key to success. Against Texas THOMAS was credited with 3 tackles, all of them of the solo variety and another 2 PBU. He should be a Day Two draftee if his Draft prep work is solid after the season.