Who Caught My Eye Post Season

December 20, 2019

The College Bowl Season is about to kick-off as the cherry on the sundae that was the 2019 College Football season. As usual, I have some recorded games still in storage, as well as excess notes from the regular season.  So over the next month, leading up to the All-Star Games, I will watching those recordings and scrutinizing old notes to add more player thumbnails to our information flow to you, our readers. And of course making note of some serious prospect Bowl action.

The past two seasons, 2017 & 2018, there can little debate that the Clemson DT duo of WILKINS/LAWRENCE had no equal in college football. So I took a good look around to see if I could find a dynamic duo to take their place in this year’s list of 2020 Draft prospects. And once I put in the correct game tape to watch, I found my candidates for that honor. Whereas both WILKINS and LAWRENCE were first rounders, 13 and 17 respectively, my new duo aren’t going to be drafted anywhere near that high. But they both have what it takes to be drafted and earn roster spots in the NFL, IMO. No doubt, the fact that they play for Ole Miss, which had a losing season and is still under the spying eye of the NCAA infractions committee, helped keep them toiling in relative anonymity.

The better known of the two is BENITO JONES, who is a bit short at 6’1. He also seems to have a weight that falls into a very wide range of sizes. I have seen numbers vary from 305 to 330 on him. He is strong and can run a bit along the line-of-scrimmage, as well as push his way, or shoot gaps, to collapse the QB pocket. He is currently listed as a participant in the 2020 Senior Bowl. That being the case, we should get answers to his current weight as well as other important size numbers. He will also give us a glimpse of his work habits in pads. Amongst his 30 tackles this past season, he recorded 5 1/2 sacks, and had an INT to boot.  I don’t see him being drafted any sooner than Round 4/5, but with the Senior Bowl and Combine both on his horizon, he has the time and opportunities to make some NFL team fall in luv with him. I would not doubt that he could have a more productive pro career than his college one.

Right beside him out on the field has been a somewhat under-valued DT named JOSIAH COATNEY, a 6’4, 320 lb. senior. Float his name out there right now and you will soon find out who the diehard draftniks are. Not a lot of folks could tell you much about him. However, his work resume while in Oxford has been pretty solid, if not impressive. He really rang the bell in 2018, but still generated little buzz. As an interior L most of the time, he recorded 63 tackles in 2018. That number has fallen to 46 in 2018, including 2 sacks, and 1 FF. He is more athletic and mobile than BENITO, but not as stout. His pursuit ability is high. He showed well in the intra-state rivalry game with Miss State, recording 7 tackles, including 1/2 TFL. He also had a big fumble recovery in the 4th quarter for the Rebels. I can see him being able to fit into a 4-3 base D as the DT, but not on the nose. Or I can picture him in a 3-4 scheme at a DE slot. He too is a Day 3 Draft guy. He might have a chance to post some very good numbers at the Combine, but I do not see him boosting his draft stock significantly. I have not yet seen his name on an All-Star game list, which surprises me. I think he’s more athletic and productive than more than a few guys whose names are currently on Star Game rosters.

In that same state rivalry game, I jotted down some notes on a Bulldogs defender, who shortly thereafter declared himself to be heading for the 2020 Draft; CAMERON DANTZLER, CB, 6’2/185, Jr. DANTZLER was highly regarded heading into the 2019 season. He’s a long legged defender who can run deep with wideouts. He also shows some nice ball skills as illustrated by his 2 INT’s and 8 PD for the regular season. He is also a willing participant in run support, as evidenced by his 40 tackles. Against Ole Miss, his stat sheet for the game was 9 T’s, 1 TFL, and 1 PD.  I would expect him to be invited to the Combine, where a good 40-time and 3-Cone number could propel him toward the Top 100 draft slots. This young man is ready for the NFL, IMO, and will add some quality to the overall DB prospect list. I could see Round 3, based on what I have seen to date.

The cupboard’s gonna seem a little bare in Starkville as Coach Moorhead and his staff come to Spring practice. Their star RB KYLIN HILL,  5’11/215, has also already declared his intention to apply for entry into the 2020 Draft. A one-cut runner with good power and average speed, HILL did something that no other Bulldogs RB has ever done, in 2019. He led the SEC in rushing for the regular season with 1,347 yards at 5.7 ypc with 10 TD’s. There isn’t much that’s fancy about HILL’s play, but he seems tireless, and will always fight for the extra yard. In their wrap-up game with Ole Miss, he carried 27 times for 132 yards (4.9 ypc). That was his 8th 100+ yard game rushing on the season. The Combine will go a long way in determining when he might go in the next Draft. I would be surprised if he’s not still around when Day 3 of the Draft starts.

I don’t know whether ILB ERROLL THOMPSON, Jr. of State is going to come out early or not, but I would be remiss if I did not comment about his play against Ole Miss. I was absolutely amazed at how often I saw #40 literally flying around the field in pursuit of the ball. And my vision was not distorting his play, as he ended up with 11 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 PD. My main reason for being so shocked was that this Tasmanian Devil stands 6’1 and weighs a full-figured 250 lbs. Someone with that body does not seem likely to be all over the field like he was. He was credited with 84 T’s this past season. In 2018, he rang up 87 tackles, finishing second on the team to a S named ABRAM, who nursed a bad shoulder thru his Rookie season in Oakland. If THOMPSON comes out for the 2020 Draft, he is going to have to demonstrate some workout numbers which prove his mobility and quickness in order to score a decent draft selection number. That body size and shape will cause most NFL scouts to question his ability to drop into effective pass coverage in today’s pro offense world. I certainly did, until I saw for myself what he was capable of. Despite questions about his all around game translating to the NFL, I am not sure what he gains from another season of college football, unless he’s having too much fun to leave school.

HARRISON BRYANT, TE, Florida Atlantic, #40, 6’5/240 Sr. was on display in the FAU game with UAB for the Conference USA Championship game. The game was a blowout in favor of FAU. BRYANT is considered one of the Top 10 TE’s for the 2020 NFL Draft, but after what I saw in this contest, I have some serious doubts about BRYANT unless he steps it up a notch under pro coaching. To my knowledge, he was marked down as dropping two throws. I am here to tell you that they were both in his hands, only to be dropped. His ability to concentrate and catch just about everything thrown his way is very important, because he is a receiving TE, playing mostly in the slot, not inline as a  blocker.  He did make some nice grabs in the game, and appears to have enough speed and moves to get separation much of the time. He shows some want-to for yards after catch. His second quarter TD catch was well executed. He seems to find the ball in the air well. This might indicate that some drops are due to concentration lapses, or then again, maybe hearing footsteps. In the game, he caught 4 balls for 39 yards and 1 TD. For the 2019 season, he recorded 65 catches for 1,004 yards and 7 TD’s. He is currently listed as a Senior Bowl participant. We should get a very good read on his mental and physical toughness in that environment.

FAU also has a fascinating Nickel-CB in MEIKO DOTSON, #15, 5’11/195, Sr., who was a JC transfer into the program in 2018. He played a little last season, then has really emerged in 2019. Though technically not a full-time starter in college, his pro role as the Nickel could almost be considered a starting job these days. DOTSON was a highlighted player coming into the game because he was leading the FBS with 8 INT’s on the season. With a minute left in the 1st Quarter, DOTSON performed his specialty with his 9th INT of the season. He is fun to watch, as he is drawn like a magnet to the ball in the air. On this INT, he cut in front of a would-be receiver, leaped high, and cleanly grabbed the ball before it got to the receiver. This is his specialty, and even though most football evaluators would say INT’s are the result of luck, I might add that good luck can also be considered the result of hard work. Post season workouts will be big for DOTSON, as teams will want to see his speed and quickness under watchful eye of the stop-watch. I doubt he’s considered draftable on very many Big Boards right now, but he will clearly garner attention over the coming months. Every NFL team can use another ball-hawking secondary talent for their roster.