It seems quite clear to me, as we almost reach the halfway mark of the 2021 Collegiate Football season, that ALABAMA and GEORGIA are clearly 1 & 1A in whichever order you prefer. Georgia handled Arkansas, who was coming off of their big win over QB-less Texas A&M, with their own backup at the helm, while Alabama ran all over Ole Miss and made MATT CORRAL into another “pretender” to the throne of top ranked QB for the 2022 NFL Draft. There’s still plenty of time before we get to the end of the regular season, but the SEC Title game should be a match to remember with these two powerhouses squaring off.
#19 ADAM ANDERSON OLB Georgia 6’5/230 One of the legion of stud, pro prospect defenders playing for Kirby Smart in Athens, GA. With 3 years under his belt, he has emerged as the team’s most athletic edge-rusher. He made only 14 tackles in the ‘Dawgs 10 game 2020 season. However, of those 14 stops, 6.5 of them were Sacks. He also was credited with an amazing 24 QBH’s. In other words, he is an absolute demon opponent for SEC QB’s. Teams move away from him, but pro scouts know raw talent and athleticism when they see it. In the Georgia romp over previously unbeaten Arkansas, he was credited with 5 tackles, 1.5 TFL, which included, of course, one Sack. Remember to also keep in mind that even though he is an elite player, he still has to share time with the seemingly endless supply of UGA defensive stars. Should ANDERSON head for the NFL Draft, he is almost a sure thing to be taken in Round One.
#29 JOEY BLOUNT S Virginia 6’1/205 One of those guys you feel like has been playing for his college about 6 years already. That is not true, however. It is his 5th season, and the game with Miami was his 27th start for the Cavaliers. BLOUNT is a multi-talented player who is strong in run support, solid in deep coverage zone, and has been used as an effective zone blitzer. He is not a super ball hawk, but he is an all-around defender. Against the Hurricanes, he was credited with being in on 8 tackles, 6 of them solo efforts. I would also expect that he will serve as a capable Special Teamer as a pro. I would expect BLOUNT to be a solid mid-Round Pick next Draft.
#3 ANDREW BOOTH CB Clemson 6’/200 This was the second week in a row where BOOTH was impossible to ignore, even though, like most teams, B.C. did not attack him directly thru the air much at all last Saturday night. However, I could not keep my eyes off of him as he was once again a willing, aggressive tackling machine in controlling the B.C. running game to the outside. He showed some very solid man-press cover on occasion, but what impressed me most was the 7 solo tackles he made, including 1 TFL. The NFL requires more tackling from their Corners than they did 10 years ago. And BOOTH absolutely handles that job. He is not ever going to lead the League in INT’s in a given year, but he has enough ball skills and athleticism, combined with his tackling willingness to hover in the late First, early Second range of the 2022 Draft.
#1 JALEN CATALON S Arkansas 5’10/200 This young man reminds me a bit of the Honey Badger in his LSU days. I want to be careful here, and quite specific, that CATALON is not the second coming of MATHIEU in my estimation, but he plays with a similar energy and athleticism. A better overall comparison, now that I have your attention, might be to RICHARD LeCOUNTE, ex-Georgia, who is now with the BROWNS. His height is less than ideal, but his athleticism and enthusiasm for the game of football are at elite levels. He also seems to have a high FBI for his age. Even tho UGA laid a licking on the previously unbeaten Razorbacks, CATALON was active and effective, registering 7 Tackles, 4 of them solo. Even tho he did the bulk of his work in run-D support, you must also be aware that UGA only attempted 11 passes, with 7 completions. Just remember, that in 2020 he recorded 4 PBU’s and had 3 INT’s in the team’s 10 games. He sure looks like a Day 2 guy to my eyes.
#15 TYLER GOODSON RB Iowa 5’10/200 The FERENTZ football machine continues to grind on. They now sit at 5-0, comfortably atop of the Big Ten, West. As usual, they are doing so with a solid balance of aggressive Defense and a ball control Offense. The usual Iowa running attack, behind their always solid OL group, is spearheaded by a special RB in GOODSON. He may not be as spectacular as ROBINSON/Texas or SPILLER/TX A&M, but when it comes to running with power, vision, and patience, he is a legit pro prospect. He also has proven to be a very reliable, productive receiver out of the backfield. He was the Hawkeyes leading weapon on Offense, making the Terps Defense look hapless and helpless most of the 51-14 Iowa victory. His numbers speak volumes about his willingness to sacrifice his body, while running primarily between the tackles and controlling the game clock. He carried 19 times for 66 yards and 3 TD’s. He also caught 2 balls for 85 yards and a TD. He shows excellent drive and balance. My one criticism might be a concern that he uses spin moves to avoid tacklers and gain extra yards too often. Historically, that approach does not work consistently in the pro game where all the defensive guys are good athletes. It may also affect his ball security at the next level. That being said, GOODSON is likely to be one of the top 5 RB’s in the 2022 Draft. Expect a 1,000+ yard rushing number if he stays healthy for the entire season. He is solidly in my Top 100 Prospect list with a late second, early third round Pick projection!
#77 ZION JOHNSON OG Boston College 6’3/310 A guy that has been so good of a “team” player that it may cost him a round or two in the 2022 Draft. He has played outside at OT on many occasions for the Eagles, but OG is clearly his best spot for future pro employment. He moved outside to LT in the pandemic 2020 season, and was still named 2nd Team All-ACC. I think he is the best overall OG for the 2022 Draft. He has a wide, solid base and uses leverage, as well as brute strength, to lead the run game. I also like his hand punch strength in pass pro. Though he may get beaten to the outside in pass pro as an OT, he has no problem controlling his opponents on the Interior. I feel he is just as good as KENYON GREEN/TX A&M and should be an easy Pick in the Top 100 players. He should be an NFL Rookie starter, especially for a team that still luvs to use a power running game to anchor their Offense.
#65 TYLER LINDERBAUM OC Iowa 6’3/290 Anyone who worries, that at 290 TYLER is a bit small for the NFL wars, needs to watch more game film on him. He is naturally strong, even at his current weight, and he covers a lot of ground for an IOL. He might need some help from his OG mates as a pro when facing a massive NT like Linval Joseph, but his athleticism and fundamentally sound technique give him an edge to compensate for his overall size. Playing for, and working under, the FERENTZ coaching family, you know he is as fundamentally sound as can be. He led the run game between the Tackles, and stonewalled would be pass rushers trying collapse the pocket in QB PETRAS’ face as the Hawkeyes overpowered the Terps. This guy is going Round One if he’s in the 2022 Draft.
#33 RILEY MOSS CB Iowa 6’1/195 One of the most active defenders I have seen so far this season, and is underrated as an athlete, as offenses around the Big Ten are finding out the hard way. On their way to pounding Maryland, and going to 5-0 on the season, MOSS was all over the secondary and supporting the run D, per usual. If you watch him carefully, you begin to see what a good athlete he is. His ability to go vertical for 50/50 balls is fun to watch. He tackles like a guy 10 lbs. heavier than he actually is. His ball awareness and reactions border on elite. For the game, he had 5 Tackles and recorded 1 more INT. He is steady and productive, just like many Iowa players show out as. His surprising athleticism, versatility, and productivity will surprise in a Combine setting, I believe. A Day 3 Prospect that I will be expecting a solid pro career from.
#9 ZACH PASCHAL DE Kentucky 6’3/278 Has been a Wildcats Captain since 2019, when he returned to the team after missing all of the 2018 season fighting cancer. Most of the time he’s NOT a flashy guy, but he gets his job done and inspires those playing with him. He shows some pass-rush traits, but shows out best for his abilities to set the edge against the run game and gadget plays. I think he can handle work in either a 3-4 or 4-3 base set. I’ve watched 3 Kentucky games already this season, and two things seem clear to me. First, the Wildcats D has to carry this team overall on a weekly basis. Their Offense is functional, but lacks much of a passing attack with WILL LEVIS at QB. He is more of a run threat than a passing one. The Defense relies on PASCHAL for his steadiness and clutch playmaking ability. And he usually delivers on both counts. Last weekend’s Win over Florida was huge for the Wildcats. Wanna talk about what an impact player does for his team? How are these numbers…7 Tackles, 4 of them solo, 2.5 TFL and a blocked FG, which they returned 76-yards for a TD. Way to go, Captain Kentucky! Look for PASCHAL sometime early on Day 3 of the Draft, Round 4/5 area. Nice work big fella! Rooting for my fellow cancer survivor to show out more in the weeks ahead.
#4 BRIAN ROBINSON RB Alabama 6’1/225 As I said in a tweet Saturday night about ROBINSON, ‘Good things come to those who work hard and wait their turn.’ While NICK SABAN waits for 2 Soph’s and 1 RS Soph to come forward as the next “great” RB for the Tide, the hard working back-up to NAJEE HARRIS last season, ROBINSON, is pounding defenses with primarily between the Tackles running. He’s not fancy, but has been highly effective. Rather than get caught up in an all out shootout with OLE MISS in a passing contest, ROBINSON was handed the ball 36 times, with which he produced 171 yards and 4 TD’s. He’s a patient, one cut runner, that runs primarily over and thru defenders. ROBINSON physically punished multiple Arkansas defenders with his bullish, power running style. He does the little things well, and makes plays when needed. If he can carve out a couple of roles in NFL Special teams units, he could have a nice career as a pro. Another Day 3 prospect for me, in the Middle Rounds.
#7 NOAH TAYLOR OLB Virginia A physical look alike for Charles Snowden, now in the NFL, with a more aggressive playing style. He had 6 Tackles and 1 Sack in UVA’s big win over Miami.
#3 OTIS REESE SS/LB Ole Miss Another transfer (UGA) who is a very active and productive hybrid style player, which will intrigue some NFL scouts.
#10 BRANDON SEBASTIAN CB Boston College Solid, vet CB who showed well in man-coverage against Clemson. Nice size (6’/180), but is way too grabby right now. Will need coaching badly at the next level.
#10 J.D. SPIELMAN RS/WR TCU Nebraska transfer, who is speed and quickness personified. Pretty small frame (5’9/170) but can be dynamic with limited touches to preserve his body. Started game against Texas with an 87-yard Kick-Off return. Last name look familiar? He’s one of 6 adopted children of Vikings GM Rick Spielman and his wife, Michele. Bless you Rick and Michele!
Getting back to the Draftable QB group, which I mentioned in the beginning of this piece. Alabama handled Ole Miss without very much fuss. But without doing a thumbnail of MATT CORRAL in such a one-sided contest, in which his own personnel were overmatched against SABAN’s machine from Tuscaloosa, I want to mention a little something that did impress me. CORRAL was controlled by a superior Tide D, but his final stats were not terrible. He went 21/29- 72.4%- 213 yards- 1 TD- 0 INT’s. The 0 Interceptions was the most eye-catching number there for me. Despite the frustration that CORRAL must have been feeling, he contained himself and did not give away the game. As many of the “top” QB candidates are flaming out, (just MY opinion), CORRAL might be the most viable candidate to go in Round 1 if he declares for the 2022 Draft. That’s a good thing for NFL teams expecting another 5 QB First Round next Spring, that is looking more and more like potential buying panic to my eyes.