Now that Hurricane Matthew has ended his unwelcome visit to Florida I am getting back on track and giving you 2 weeks of thumbnails in one column. I have indicated in each instance what game performance I am referring to.
BEN BOULWARE/ILB/CLEMSON #10 5’11/235 Another example of a less than ideal athlete who is too hard core of a ‘baller to be ignored. Just look at the tape from Clemson’s big W over Louisville. If you don’t have time to watch let me tell you his stat line for that game. 18, yes 18, Tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU, Fumble recovery. I don’t care what size he is he can play for my team any day. He makes up for a lack of height and foot speed with a very high FBI and unbelievable energy level. He is also tough as nails and hurts people with his hard hits. Gotta be a great locker room influence as well. I’d draft him in Round 4 without hesitation.
EVAN ENGRAM/TE/H-B/OLE MISS #17 6’3/227 It’s still not clearly defined where his game will translate to as a pro, from a positional perspective. But it is clear that he is a smart, hard working player who is a good athlete. He’s not really fast enough to be a full-time WR, and not big enough to be an inline TE. But he can flat out catch, and gain extra yards. He’s a very good leaper and will win most high-point battles for catches. He has been CHAD KELLY’s go-to guy the past two seasons. Despite team losses he has come up big in the Rebels two biggest contests of the season so far. He had 9 catch games against both Florida State and Alabama. In today’s pass happy NFL there will be a spot for him in multiple roles on Offense. He may be athletic enough to really impress at the Combine and push his stock upward.
JORDAN EVANS/LB/OKLAHOMA #26 6’2/233 EVen though it wasn’t pretty at times the victory last week over Texas might just serve as a springboard to a more successful second half of the season for the 3-2 Sooners. One of their leaders on D is EVANS, who can do it all. He may play inside or outside in the pros depending upon base schemes/ But his biggest potential pro attribute is that he is effective at dropping into coverage. He is also active as a zone blitzer and spends a good deal of time on opponents’ side of the line of scrimmage. Against Texas EVANS was credited with 10 tackles, 1 1/2TFL & 1/2 sack. He appears to be a smart player with multiple skills. He was the team’s leading returning tackler with 83 in 2015. Given his athleticism he should make an interesting project for some NFL team next year, with immediate dividends yielded on Special Teams units. Looks mid-Round draftable to me.
JON HECK/OT/UNC #71 6’7/300 Notes from game action vs. VA Tech. Son of former NFLer ANDY HECK. JON is not quite the athlete his dad was, but has been a solid starter for Tar Heels since his frosh year. He has good size and excellent length, but looks like a RT to me, which is his college position. He is agile, but not terribly quick afoot. He shows fairly active hand and arm use in pass pro and shows good quickness off the snap. Can get to second level blocks quickly in run game. Let’s call him a good prospect, with lots of useful playing experience at high level of competition. IMO, he looks very similar to JOHN THEUS out of UGA last year, who did make the 49’ers roster this year. I’d plug him somewhere between Rounds 4 & 5.
JOHN JOHNSON/FS/BOSTON COLLEGE #9 6’0/200 THis guy looks to me to be almost the spitting image of JASON SIMMONS, who was drafted coming out of BC this past April. He plays the run and pass equally well, and never gives up on a play. He had 63 tackles and 3 INT in 2015 for the Eagles. He put up a valiant effort in a beat down by Clemson last week with 4 tackles and a fumble recovery. But the BC D kept them in the game into the 2nd half, when their hapless Offense sputtered, then completely shut down. I expect more of the same from BC on the second half of the season, so to some extent JOHNSON’s pro prospects may be decided at the Combine and All-STar games come January. A former CB, JOHNSON serves as the squad’s defensive signal caller from his S spot.
SAMAJE PERINE/RB/OKLAHOMA JR #32 5’10/235 PERINE was a revelation as a true freshman with over 1300 rushing yards. He topped the 1300-yard mark again as a soph. Behind a mediocre OL this season he has come on strong after a modest start. In the big win over Texas last Saturday he carried the Sooners on his broad shoulders with 214 yards on 35 carries, 6.1 ypc, and 2 very important TDs. The front seven of the Longhorns is a talented group to post those numbers against. He reminds me quite a bit of Jerome Bettis as a tough inside runner, who often dishes out more punishment than he takes. He runs through, and occasionally around defenders, showing good balance to pick up those yards after contact. He also shows good initial burst to and through creases in the Defense. Gets dinged up because of his style of running, but usually bounces back after a bit of rest and medical attention on the sidelines. Expect him to come out for the 2017 Draft, and be very attractive to an NFL team that likes a power running game. Looks like a Round 2 guy to me.
CAM ROBINSON/OT/ALABAMA JR #74 6’6/325 May just be the best overall OT in college football who is Draft eligible in 2017. He has monster size and decent mobility to go with it. He really does remind me of D.J. FLUKER, when he was at Alabama. He is a good pass protector, but will probably have some issues with the elite speed rushers in the NFL. Once he gets rolling secondary defenders look for a place to hide. Early in the Arkansas game he pulled all the way from LT to block on the right side of the formation. He got there before the RB although he was off-balance when he attempted to execute a block on the LB. Spent a little more time on the ground than I want from my elite LT. I jotted down a note at one point as he missed a second level block despite getting to his man. A play later though he shot off the snap of the ball and executed a devastating seal block on a LB. The talent is clearly there and he should start for a long time as a pro. If ‘Bama wins another national title expect him to start making big bucks as a pro by leaving school a year early. A sure thing 1st Rounder.
JORDAN STERNS/S/OKLAHOMA STATE #13 6’0/200 There seems to be a shortage of elite S prospects for most Drafts, and I think a big part of the reason or that is that so much is expected of today’s S. STRENS looks to have all the tools to excel as a pro. In 2015 he was credited with 108 tackles and 2 INT. He covers a lot of ground and has good ball skills, in addition to be a heavy hitting tackler. He was one of the big play stars against Texas 2 weeks ago. In the 3rd Quarter he had a red zone INT at the Cowboys 15 yard line to end a Longhorns drive. Later in the 3rd Q, he diagnosed the play and had a TFL to foil a Texas 2-point conversion attempt. He is a solid team leader, on and off the field. Looks to have a very high FBI. On my Big Board he’s a Top 100 senior prospect, who we should see in detail at the Senior Bowl.
CORDREA TANKERSLEY/CB/CLEMSON #25 6’1/200 I have mixed emotions about this player short term, but he has the ability to start in the NFL with extra coaching. In games against both Louisville and B.C. he could have been called for multiple PI and holding penalties because he’s grabby and not as subtle about it as he thinks he is. I expect him to have the same penalty issues early in his pro career as TRAE WAYNES, who seems to be improving in his technique this year. He has nice size and likes to throw himself around the field and be physical. He is willing in run support, and also plays Special Teams coverage units. He also has shown some ball skills and is able to locate the ball for INT on a regular basis. He had 5 Picks and 9 PBU in 2015. He surely should end up a Top 100 prospect for the 2017 Draft.
JAHAD THOMAS/RB/RS/TEMPLE #5 5’10/188 Certainly he’s a bit small to be your No. 1 RB option at the pro level, but he can do so many things that he should make a nice change of pace guy for today’s NFL. He is fast (though not a blazer) and strong for his size. He rushed for over 1200 yards and 17 TD last season, as well as catching 22 balls. To illustrate his versatility and productivity let’s go back to Temple’s battle with Memphis. He rushed for 37 yards and caught 6 balls for 121 yards. One of those catches as a 61 yard catch and run TD. He also had a 37 yard Punt Return in that contest. He has that explosive, jitter-bug running style with the ball in his hands. Lots of tacklers are left grasping at air when he gets in the open field. There will be no interest in him from teams who want their RB group to all be over 200 lbs., but plenty of teams will luv his versatility. We should see him in Mobile or St Pete come January.
NOEL THOMAS/WR/UCONN #5 6’1/200 Some players fly under the radar primarily because of the team they play for. NOEL may fit that scenario as UCONN struggles to achieve competitive respectability. This past weekend they had a solid upset win over Cincinnati. The Huskies have had a solid defense pretty much since their entry into D1 football. Bt scoring has often been a challenge. THOMAS has emerged as a legit prospect after a 54 catch season in 2015. This year he has actually led the nation in catches for a few weeks. He rang the bell again last weekend with 9 catches for 135 yards and 1 TD. His long gain was 62 yards. He’s not a burner, but has good size and reliable hands. He runs solid patterns and gets yards after the catch if the throw is placed properly. He is also not afraid to work the middle and will make catches in a crowd. He’s also considered a fiery competitor. I like what I see in him and though I doubt he cracks the Top 100 as a prospect he surely in draftable, likely in the middle rounds.
GREG WARD/QB/HOUSTON #1 5’11/185 Here we go again, with a superior athlete, who is a natural born leader, but has very questionable size for the NFL. WARD has a very high FBI and displays pretty good throwing accuracy. But I do NOT see him as the next RUSSELL WILSON in the NFL.He’s about 20 lbs. lighter than WILSON and doesn’t seem to have 10″+ hands. I’ve watched 5 Houston games this season and he has starred in each one. Against a tough UCONN D two weeks ago he was superlative in all aspects of play. He passed for 389 yards and 3 TD, on 32/38, 84% completion percentage. When he needed he tucked the ball and scooted 12 times or 65 yards and another TD. THat’s what he does just about every week. He was even playing in that contest with an injured throwing arm that required training staff attention between every Houston possession. He has WILSON speed and elusiveness to keep plays alive. He’s gonna be tough for teams to pass on. I’d say expect middle rounds as a multi-purpose athlete for some creative offensive team. IMO, he could star in the CFL as a QB. I’d advise you to watch a Cougars game soon and catch this guy in action. You’ll likely be impressed.
JAMAAL WILLIAMS/RB/BYU #21 6’2/220 Expectations were high when WILLIAMS signed on with BYU, but injuries and personal issues derailed his past two seasons. He’s back for a senior year and is displaying the running ability experts always felt he had. He has an excellent combination of size and speed, actually reminding me a bit of ARIAN FOSTER in those regards. He rang the bell in a high scoring shootout with MAC Conference power TOLEDO. In that game he carried the ball for 286 yards and 5 TD. He ran through, around and past defenders all game long. He combines good field vision with quick cut and explosion through defenses. Just to prove it was no fluke he came back last week against Michigan State with 30 carries for 163 yards and 2 TD. With injuries to guys like FOURNETTE & McCAFFREY the door is wide open for WILLIAMS to post big numbers for the balance of the season and boost his Draft stock.
TIM WILLIAMS/OLB/ALABAMA #56 6’4/237 I am a sucker for full sized, athletic athletes in football uniforms. Mark me down for a man-crush on WILLIAMs. He does not ring the bell with big stat numbers, in great part because of the talent level of his teammates. There are only so many tackles to go around folks. But watching him in action as ‘Bama rolled over a solid Arkansas team was pure delight. WILLIAMS was a highlight reel star in the contest. He owned a couple of possessions in the 2nd Quarter. First he parlayed a fumble into a scoop and score on his part from 25 yards out. He also showed speed, and a great inside spin move to sack QB/AUSTIN ALLEN in that quarter as well. He also added a QBH in that quarter. This guy is likely to blow up the Combine and hopefully will show his wares in Mobile as well. Looks like a First Rounder to me. He can do it all!
That’s a wrap for my post-hurricane coverage. I hope to get back into a normal schedule this weekend.