JEFF ALLISON #9 IB FRESNO STATE 6’0/242 JR
The Bulldogs are currently enjoying a program resurgence under HC JEFF TEDFORD, who has now led his team to double digit win totals in both of his first two seasons in charge of the program. ALLISON, who is expected to announce his intention to enter the 2019 NFL Draft very soon, has been the defensive leader of the team for the past two seasons. In 2017, he had 126 tackles, and followed that up with over 130 this season. In the Las Vegas Bowl against Arizona State, he hit double digit tackles again with 11, 6 of them solo. He packs a solid 242 lbs on his 6’0 frame. That height is not ideal, and will likely push him into Day Three of the Draft, but he has decent speed to run sideline to sideline and drop into shallow pass coverage. Look for him to stand out on Special Teams coverage units.
NATE BROOKS #9 CB NORTH TEXAS 6’0/190
North Texas was clearly overwhelmed in their New Mexico Bowl loss to Utah State. The outcome did not surprise me, because I felt Utah State has been underrated most of 2018. But as always, even the losing team features a handful of players who surprisingly stand out. The most pleasant surprise of the game for the Mean Green was the outstanding work of CB NATE BROOKS. Brooks has nice size, and more than adequate speed, to keep up with most receivers. In addition to overall athleticism, he also has really good ball awareness. He also showed solid tackling form. For the game, he had 6 tackles, 5 of them solo, and including a TFL. He also recorded an INT, which was his 6th of the 2018 season. Overall, in 13 games, BROOKS recorded 67 tackles, was credited with 10 PD, plus the aforementioned 6 Picks. He looked to me like an athlete that would test well at the Combine. I am having trouble trying to understand why he is not currently listed on a Star Game roster. This guy has multiple assets which make me believe he can play at the NFL level. Watch for him being drafted, perhaps as early as Round 5.
E.J. EJIYA #22 LB NORTH TEXAS 6’2/230
I never saw North Texas play during the 2018 regular season, so watching them play Utah State in the New Mexico Bowl was a bonus to my scouting efforts. The Mean Green were overmatched against the underrated Aggies, but I thought that several defensive players stood out for them. ILB EJIYA, who will be playing in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, was one of them. In 2018, he posted his second straight 100-plus tackle season, with 121 in 13 games. For the day against Utah State, he posted 8 tackles, 5 solo, and 2 of them TFL. This multiple TFL game was consistent with his regular season, when he finished 4th in in FBS with 23 TFL. The aspect of his game that should appeal to NFL personnel people, is that he gets a fair share of those by diagnosing and getting to receivers making quick throws out in space, which he diagnoses and gets a running start to a tackle before the receiver even has the ball. He fits the evolving role of NFL LB play nicely. He also shows some tendencies that mark him as a developing pass rusher. Arm length, or lack thereof, might be his biggest negative. He’s currently scheduled to play in the NFLPA game in January. He might go as high as Round 5 in the 2019 NFL Draft.
JALEN GREENE #21 WR UTAH STATE 6’2/205
GREENE saw very limited playing time as a young player at Southern Cal. But after an adjustment period to his new offense at Utah State, he has really come on to show real pro potential. He had a decent 2018 season as a complimentary receiver option to top dog Ron’Quavion Tarver, with 44 catches for 15.7 ypc and 6 TD’s. He really took it up a notch against North Texas in the Las Vegas Bowl. He opened the scoring with a catch on the sideline that he took in full stride, and ended up in the end zone 67-yards later. He has nice size, good hands and deep speed. No one was catching him on that TD catch. For the game, he had 6 catches for 151 yards, and the aforementioned TD. IF he posts good speed and quickness numbers at the Combine or his Pro Day, I see him as draftable by Round 5, or later.
TAE HAYES #17 CB APPALACHIAN STATE 5/11/185
An interesting player for the Mountaineers. He lost his starting CB job to future NFL’er CLIFTON DUCK, so he sucked it up, went back to work, and won job on the other Corner. He is a very smart player, and has a nose for the ball, plus enough tools to keep up with most receivers. He’s also feisty when fighting for the ball with receivers. He had his usual solid game against MTSU, with 4 tackles, all solo, and 1 INT. This guy should fit very nicely into an NFL defense as a nickel/dime Corner. He has a nice combination of high FBI and positive mental approach to the game. He seems like a very solid team guy, and positive mental attitude type. He is the kind of guy that teams look for to add to their locker room. He looks like a Day 3, middle round draftee.
DONNIE LEWIS #1 CB TULANE 6’0/195
In the pass-happy NFL, there is a huge demand for DB, with never enough quality supply to go around. And in the RPO college game, it does not surprise me at all that many of the best programs feature some solid performers in their secondaries. Tulane topped off their first winning season since 2013 with a win in the Cure Bowl. It was a wide open affair, and the best DB in the game looked to be LEWIS, who had a solid senior season in 2018. For the game he had 2 tackles and 1 PD, as Louisiana looked to pick on others. For the 2018 season, LEWIS had 56 tackles, and in coverage he recorded 3 INT’s and 16 PD. That latter number should tell you what his cover skills are like. He is big enough to excel in press-cover at the next level, and his tackle count tells you that he’s not afraid to come up in run support. LEWIS is a a solid athlete, and should test well in the post season. He started all 4 seasons for the Green Wave. Just before we put this article to press LEWIS accepted an invite to the Shrine Game. I think this guy should be taken pretty early in Round 4.
XAVIER OBUSI #7 WR UAB 6’3/218
One has to be very careful in watching players for the first time, lest one game’s work misleads you from getting a real feel for a player’s productivity versus potential. Based on the monster game OBUSI had against NIU, I clearly need to see more film on him in action. OBUSI played with the NIU defenders all night, and finished the Boca Raton Bowl with 7 catches for 227 yards and 3 TD’s. What makes him so fascinating to me is his size. He stands 6’3, and is solid at his 220 lb playing weight. He also can motor, especially if he gets a clean jump off the snap. He could make a pro receiver who must be chipped at the line of scrimmage, to keep him under control. He looks to have a very large catch radius with his height and long looking arms. His legs look long as well, and eat up yardage as he accelerates into his routes. He only had 28 catches on the season, however. UAB was a running team on the season, but that is still a discrepancy to look into. Is his performance against NIU an outlier, or a true reflection of his potential? I sure hope he gets a late invitation to a Star Game.
A.J. OUELLETTE #45 RB OHIO 5’9/205
Every year there are a handful of players that are not the prototype pro prospects, but I just develop a man-crush on them after watching their play a few times. Wednesday night, I had the pleasure of watching OUELLETTE again, as Ohio defeated San Diego State. Based on productivity and style of play, he deserves a spot on an NFL roster, IMO. This guy would have the No. 53 roster spot on my team, if I had one. He started his career at Ohio as a walk-on. He now leaves the school with almost 4,000 yards rushing to his credit, at just over 5 yards per carry. That’s just part of the story, however, for a guy who blocks his ass off in pass-pro, and can catch coming out of the backfield. I can also see him starring on Special Teams as a pro. OUELLETTE was absolutely dynamic in pounding the rock against SDSU, carrying 29 times for 164 yards. He also caught 2 passes as a safety valve for his QB. This effort gives him 1,306 yards for the season. I’m looking for someone to grab this guy in Round 7.
ANTHONY RUSH #47 DT UAB 6’5/340
My thought on this guy, before the first quarter was over, was that he is a monster force on the interior DL. He looks as massive, or more so, than his numbers indicate, with a huge, wide base. He actually showed some push up the middle at times, that collapsed the pocket, and moved NIU QB CHILDERS off his mark. He also looked good at cleaning up Backs trying to escape up the middle. I was surprised to see him even try some pass rush from the outside, though he failed to get into the pocket soon enough to seriously impact the QB on those occasions, in general. Perhaps my biggest surprise was his ability to stay on the field and not skip possessions despite his girth. I think that he could play on the Nose in a 3-4, or DT in a 4-3 base scheme. NIU was forced to double team block him much of the night, and was not able to run a lot between the tackles. For the game, RUSH had 5 tackles, 2 of them solo, including 1.5 TFL, and 1 Sack. As Bill Parcells always said, ‘God only makes so many big guys’, and RUSH is certainly one of those. If he is not drafted, I would expect him to be a popular guy when it comes time to sign URFA.
RENELL WREN #95 DL ARIZONA STATE 6’6/297
For right now, I am going to make this a very short thumbnail. This young man looks the part of an elite football player when you see him on the sidelines. He also works to make plays when out on the field, but his results don’t add up to what, looks like, should be the sum of his parts. He’s a long guy with a solid looking frame that can run a bit, as evidenced as he chases the ball. Looking at him against Fresno, it seems to me that he gets too high, too soon, at the line-of-scrimmage, and does not move blockers with his hands and arms. Lack of technique, and perhaps functional strength, may be part of the issue. At the end of the Bowl game, he was credited with 6 tackles, 2 of them solo. I do NOT think I am alone in seeing him as a late round draftee with big upside, based on his physical attributes. I will be watching him closely at the Senior Bowl, where he is currently scheduled to play.