Pigskins Weekly Prospects Preview

Pigskin Paul Guillemette, GBN Associate Editor, previews the players he will be watching in college football this weekend ….

What Caught My Eye Week 10

The big game for last weekend caused some question marks to go as the lights were fading in South Bend, IN last Saturday, as Notre Dame toppled top ranked Clemson in OT, 47-40. Arguably the top college QB in the country, by the name of TREVOR LAWRENCE, fell victim to Covid-19 and missed the game. However, the question really is how much that impacted Clemson’s Offense, if at all. Super Frosh D.J. UIAGALELEI/QB, started his second straight game in place of virus victim LAWRENCE. And his numbers at the end of the game were at the least, Lawrence-esque, to put it mildly. D.J., who stands 6’4 and weighs 250 lbs. and looks like an NFL TE, threw for 439 yards and 2 TD’s, on 65.9% passing accuracy (29/44). He also rushed for 1 TD, as well. To my eyes, the biggest impediment to Clemson’s demise, other than a very solid Notre Dame team, were some key injuries in their Defense. Now that Notre Dame should emerge only behind an unbeaten Alabama team in the college football rankings, the question becomes can those two teams “hold serve” and face off as unbeatens in an NCAA Championship game in January. Covid-19 allowing, we could be in for some real fireworks at the end of the convoluted, Covid-19, 2020 college football season.

Having just mentioned the Clemson/Notre Dame game, this might be the time to talk about some serious prospects coming from these two teams. Let’s start with a seriously underrated prospect from Clemson by the name of AMARI RODGERS/ WR (#3). RODGERS is not the jumbo sized wideout we have grown accustomed to coming out of the Tigers program under the DABO regime. Guys like TEE HIGGINS and MIKE WILLIAMS are well over 6’0/200 and play accordingly. RODGERS fits into that profile of WR’s that look like RB’s, with sub-6″ height and muscular looking frames. RODGERS is listed at 5’10/210, and looks like a solid candidate for a slot receiver as a pro. He’s faster than you might expect at first glance and is explosive with the ball in his hands. And speaking of hands, he has proven to be a very reliable catcher of the football. He’s also a load to bring down once into an opponent’s secondary. Thus, he gains lots of yards after the catch. Against Notre Dame, he snagged 8 receptions for 134 yards… that’s 26.8 yards per catch. RODGERS now has 48 catches on the season after settling for 30 all of the 2019 season. I don’t think he’s going to be ranked in very many Top 100 prospect lists, and if that turns out to be true, then IMO some team will get a real bargain in Round 4 next Draft.

On the other side of the coin, probably the top pro prospect on the Notre Dame roster is JEREMIAH OWUSU-KORAMOAH (#6), a hybrid LB/S prospect. OWUSU-KORAMOAH is listed at 6’1/215 and covers the field for the Irish defense. He led the team with 80 tackles in 2019 and may be on his way to doing so again. Against Clemson, he recorded 9 tackles, 7 of them solo, including 2 1/2-TFL, with 1/2 Sack. In watching the game, I felt like I saw OWUSU-KORAMOAH all over the place. One play he’d pressure the QB in the pocket, on the next I’d see him dropping into coverage, then he’d make a tackle on a RB. That’s his game. He is also kept in coverage situations, having no problems running with most TE and RB prospects. His versatility and athleticism are in high demand amongst NFL defenses these days. If he decides to declare for the 2021 Draft, he has a shot at the First Round, especially if he declares and posts workout numbers as scouts expect him to at the Combine.

Jumping back to the Clemson prospect band wagon, I want to heap some praise on JACKSON CARMAN (#79), a hulking LT who stands 6’6 and weighs 335 lbs. Yes, he’s massive, with long, strong arms to keep defenders off of his body, especially in pass-pro. I have watched him in 3 of Clemson’s games this season, including Notre Dame, and he can handle edge-rushers as well as overpower DL trying to set the edge against him in the run game. He has a nice wide base and anchors well, but he also shows nice footwork when he dances one-on-one with unlucky defenders. I also like the way he stays on his feet, no matter what his blocking assignment. He a Junior, with 2020 being his second year starting out at LT.  As you will see below, he is my 4th ranked OT overall and to my eyes, he is Round 1 worthy if he enters the 2021 Draft.

 

Let’s take a brief break from the prospect thumbnails and present you with Pigskin’s list of Top 10 OT prospects.

  1. PENEI SEWELL     JR   Oregon
  2. DILLON RADUNZ    N. Dakota State
  3. ALARIC JACKSON    Iowa
  4. JACKSON CARMAN   JR   Clemson
  5. SAMUEL COSMI    JR    Texas
  6. JALEN MAYFIELD    RSO   Michigan
  7. THAYER MUNFORD     Ohio State
  8. LIAM EICHENBERG    Notre Dame
  9. SPENCER BROWN     Northern Iowa
  10. WALKER LITTLE   JR    Stanford

According to Chief Scout Larry Parker’s Opt-Out list, SEWELL, RADUNZ, BROWN, and LITTLE have all opted-out and are in performance camps prepping for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Now let’s get back to prospect discussion from last weekend. The first weekend of Pac-12 action featured several key matchups. One of them was the Saturday evening game between Stanford and Oregon. One of the key players for Stanford was their OC DREW DALMAN (#51), a Junior and a Captain for the Cardinal. DREW is the son of former Stanford and NFL OL Chris Dalman. DALMAN became their starter at OC last season (2019), earning 2nd Team All-Pac-12 honors. DALMAN is an athletic, 6’3/285 performer. Despite being on the slightly smaller side, he makes up for it with a very high FBI, energetic effort, and savvy for his age. He is also functionally strong and holds his own blocking bigger defenders. However, it is likely that he will be challenged as a pro against the bigger Nose Tackle types. He would likely be best served playing for a zone blocking scheme. He keeps his head on a swivel, and I saw him repeatedly move off his initial block to help a line-mate, or pick up a blitzer. Before you get too concerned about his lack of size, I would suggest you check out the solid NFL career of an OC by the name of Jason Kelce. They are both roughly the same size. If DALMAN comes out, I expect him to go late Round 2 or Round 3.

In the game between Stanford and Oregon, I was mildly surprised at the excellent work of Ducks WR JOHNNY JOHNSON (#3). I can’t be shocked by his effort against Stanford, especially since he caught 57 balls last season, including 7 for TD’s. JOHNSON has nice size at 6’0/200, and good speed to stretch the secondary. He showed excellent hands and great concentration to catch the ball in difficult scenarios. He made a great catch to get the Ducks down to Stanford’s 2-yard line, late in the first half. He had beaten his man in coverage, but the ball was under-thrown by new QB TYLER SHOUGH. So JOHNSON slowed to a stop, turned back to the ball, and caught it in his chest falling backwards. JOHNSON caught 4 balls in the game for 60 years. However, I also counted two other potential catches which were negated by PI against Stanford DB’s. Both did result in penalty flags flying. He also showed on several occasions during the evening that he is a willing and capable blocker for his receiver mates after they made the catch. The WR class for the 2021 Draft is very deep, (per usual lately), so I doubt JOHNSON even sniffs a draft call until Day 3, but he looks to me like he can play in the NFL.

I felt like I was watching one of the elite CB prospects in the country in the Florida/Georgia contest. Which one you will ask? That is a good question because I have become a believer that 5 or 6 Georgia DB’s are NFL worthy over the next two Drafts. But this time I am concentrating on the guy that I think is the best of them. And that guy is Junior CB ERIC STOKES (#27). STOKES starts with very nice size for a Corner at 6’1/185, although another 10 lbs. would be nice if he can gain it without losing his speed or quickness. This guy shows all the talent to be a shutdown Corner. Against KYLE TRASK, and the highly touted Gators passing attack, STOKES had a great all-around game performance. He recorded 4 tackles, along with 2 PD and an INT. His Interception was a pick-6 of 37 yards. After 9 PBU’s, but no INT’s in 2019, he now has 3 INT’s this season, with 2 of them returned for TD’s. His confidence is elite, and he backs it up with tight coverage. It is hard for an individual to stand out in that UGA secondary because of the overall quality of multiple guys in their position group. If this guy comes out for the 2021 Draft, expect to hear his name very early in the Draft proceedings.

Though clearly not an elite pro prospect, or likely to drafted before the middle rounds (4/5), I wanted to mention Gators LT STONE FORSYTHE (#72). Living in Florida, I can pretty much count on seeing a Gators game just about every weekend on regional TV coverage. Overall, that is good, because with the hiring of Dan Mullen as Head Coach, their program is back in the annual top dozen or so programs in D-1 football. FORSYTHE struggled early in his Gators career and didn’t earn a starting job until 2019, in his Junior season. He has basically gone from a liability to a solid asset protecting the blind side of QB TRASK. He is solid in pass-pro, as well as the running attack. He’s long and uses his hands and arms well to keep defenders at bay, and off his body. He’s a hard worker and a good teammate. I have a soft spot in my football heart for the guys that work their way into being solid players during their college careers. FORSYTHE has joined my list in that category. He just might make it as a pro OL.

SLEEPERS

Ten years ago, this word became way overused in the Scouting/Draftnik community. Especially in light of the computer world’s development of the web and a veritable flood of sports information available to millions on a daily basis. Initially,  a lot of it (like the GBN Report) at no charge to the reader/user. Overall, it is almost unimaginable these days that a pro football prospect lies hidden under rocks. But I am happy to report that relatively speaking at least, I have uncovered a couple of legit pro prospects, in watching as much college football action as my old eyes can stand. And so we will use the “Sleepers” label for the next two thumbnails.

The biggest sleeper of them all just might be DOMINIQUE ROBINSON (#11) of Miami (O), also known historically speaking as the cradle of coaches. But this college named Miami is in Ohio and plays in the MAC. While watching the season debut of the MAC last Thursday night, especially with OL TOMMY DOYLE in action, I came across ROBINSON, who really caught my imagination, as well as my eye. You see last season, ROBINSON was in the Redhawks WR corps. In fact, he had 14 receptions for 296 yards in that role. But amidst all the chaos of a global pandemic, ROBINSON gained some weight and jumped into the team’s DL room. He is now a pass-rushing DE at 6’4, 252 lbs. He also finds time on the field in Special Teams units. He has a sculpted body and shows serious playing speed. For the game, he was credited with 4 tackles, which included 2 sacks. He also stops into short coverage a bit and got credit for a PD to boot. He picked up a RB slipping out of the backfield and dropped into coverage, getting a PD. He looks raw at times, but then will reappear a bit later putting a spin move on an OT and getting to the QB in the pocket. He also had a nice open field tackle on punt return coverage. He may not have enough of a resume’ to get drafted in 2021, or be signed as an URFA. This really is the kind of guy that Developmental Squads were created for.

On the other hand, we have players who are highly ranked coming out of high school and never get it together at the college level. There’s a guy playing for powerhouse Clemson that fits that bill, and pro scouts are watching him closely this season as a senior. CORNELL POWELL (#17)/WR has emerged from the shadows and stepped up to replace graduated Tigers receivers like TEE HIGGINS, DIONDRE OVERTON, and injured star wideout JUSTYN ROSS. After a heart to heart with HC Dabo Swinney, POWELL has stepped it up this season. He was a big factor in a losing effort to Notre Dame last Saturday night. The 6-0/210 POWELL had 6 receptions for 161 yards and 1 TD for Clemson in that game. Coming into 2020, POWELL had 40 receptions in his Clemson career. This season, he has 31 catches in 8 games, and looks to still be ascending. Jim Nagy and his Senior Bowl scouts seem to be all over this guy already, with serious thoughts of him being invited to participate in the Mobile venue.

 

Let’s flash back to that Miami/Ball State MAC contest for some talk about Miami OL TOMMY DOYLE, who generated a lot of scouting interest with his late season work last year, and in Bowl action. DOYLE (#54) is a former HS basketball star that stands 6’8 and looks almost thin at his listed 318 lbs. He is manning the LT spot for Miami, and is arguably the best OL in the MAC. He’s athletic, but will need considerable added bulk for NFL wars. His long arms help keep defenders off his body, and he has mobile feet. His legs are incredibly long, and unfortunately, he is not a natural knee bender. He looks straight and stiff much of the time. As a result, he plays way too high and has no wide base to rely on. Conversely, he ends up on the ground way too much in his attempts to run block. A guy that tall is just not meant to spend time trying to cut block defenders. He might have solid upside, but this young man is going to need a lot of coaching and strength training to get much pro playing time. I have heard talk about him moving inside to OG, but I am skeptical that he can make that switch with his long, thin legs. I will make an effort to watch him in an additional game if possible, but right now, I see him as a mid-to-late round draftee that will need years to be pro ready, if ever, as a RT.

One more note on another PAC-12 player from Southern Cal, by the name of ALIJAH VERA-TUCKER (#75). ALIJAH holds down the LT slot for the Trojans this season, but it seems pretty much unanimous that as a pro prospect he is a OG. He opted out of the 2020 season, but then opted back in and the Trojans are glad he did. He held up very well against the Sun Devils Defense on Saturday. He moves his feet well despite packing 310 lbs. on his 6’4 frame. However, it is his height and arm length that will make him better suited for an OG slot as a pro. His work out at OT in college will mark him as above average athletically if he’s moved to the Interior. He is a hard worker and clearly plays to the whistle. I was not disappointed at all with what I saw last Saturday from him. My current projection is for him to get drafted on Draft Friday, likely in the 3rd Round.

I am headed out to do some more storm prep as Central Florida girds its loins for Tropical Storm Eta.

Cheers

Pigskin

 

gabon