Who Caught My Eye Week 10

November 8, 2018

Always a bit scary to me when I see double digits show up behind the word Week… on any of these football reports. Plus it gets a bit frustrating trying to scout the prospects when so many are out, or not playing at peak efficiency, because of injuries. And this is certainly one of those years. So, I just dig a little deeper and away we go…

It is my take that the AAC has really raised its level of play and on-field talent in the past 5 years. And part of that has clearly been attributable to an overall upgrade in player talent on member teams. Without a doubt the gutsiest performance that I saw last week was that of ARMSTEAD as Temple traveled to Mouse-House land to take on UCF. Temple led this contest at halftime before UCF pulled out a hard fought win. ARMSTEAD came into the game already nursing a banged up left ankle. After every series he was being re-taped or receiving some kind of medical attention. And when Temple got the ball back he gingerly went back out on the field. And he was not babied. He carried the ball 27 times, for 142 yards, before finally sitting on the bench with his bare foot iced down as UCF sewed up another Win. I felt like I was watching a throwback game when guys like BROWN, TAYLOR, WEBSTER, CROW dragged their banged up bodies around the field until the final gun sounded. ARMSTEAD is a physical back who will block and run for the tough yards between the tackles. He does not go down easily and dishes out almost as much punishment as he receives. He may get drafted late, but will certainly be on an NFL Training Camp roster next Summer.

We still have way too many teams who have phased out the true FB position on their roster, and then wonder why they can’t run much down in the red one. Silly situation says I. But for the teams who still value the tough guy FB may I present ASTON as perhaps the top pure FB in the 2019 NFL Draft class. ASTON is proclaimed by HC PAT NARDUZZI as being his favorite Panther player. He’s a versatile, smart athlete whose value cannot be judged on his stats. He just doesn’t touch the ball much, although back in 2016 he was getting carries on the goal line and scored 8 rushing TD that season. He blocks like a lineman and opened many holes for his runners in the Win over Virginia, including some crucial blocks down near that goal line. He’s also going to b a stud on Special Teams at the next level. If a true FB gets drafted in 2019 ASTON should be the one. If he does it will be late because so few teams are looking for his skillset any more… or at least they think they aren’t.

Despite a serious lack of pub and recognition one of the top senior TE prospects I have seen this year is BECK. He is not the offensive weapon that Mark Andrews was last year in the Big-12, but he is a solid all around TE who can lineup inline or in the slot. He is an athletic blocker who can also get downfield and catch the football. He serves as nice big target drifting across the middle if defensive pressure indicates his QB needs to dump-it-down to avoid a sack. I’ve also seen him line-up as a I-Back and play the role of a de-facto FB. Against WVU he caught 3 balls for 28 yards. He’s not a break away threat after the catch by any means, but he will bulldoze over smaller DB and punish them for a few extra yards after the catch. he displays good, not great hands, and in watching 4 Texas games this year I have seen him slip out into the secondary and present an intermediate target to his QB. He was a medical Red Shirt in 2017 but looks healthy to me, with no loss of ability coming off his injury. I like this guy in the late Rounds (6/7) for a team needing an old-school TE, who blocks first and catches second.

BUGGS is an active and incredibly energetic force along that ‘Bama DL. He is not always exceptional in his burst off the snap. But once in motion he accelerates quickly and seems to run all day. In some games he puts up big time stats, and in others the stat sheet doesn’t impress but his actual intensity and activity levels do. He was very active and effective against LSU last Saturday night but his stat sheet was just solid; 2 tackles, 1 TFL, 1/2 sack, 2 QBH. My eyes saw him also deflect a pass in the 2nd Quarter. On the season BUGGS now has 8 1/2 sacks in 9 games. As I always remind people, before you pooh-pooh a ‘Bama players defensive stats please remember how many future pro players are dividing up the available tackles. The caveat to BUGGS game may be that he has been measured to have shorter than ideal arms for a pass-rusher. Last Spring during ‘Bama Pro Days some numbers were accumulated on Tide underclassmen. BUGGS arms measured 30 5/8″, which is well below the desired 33/34″ bench mark. His 75 1/8″ wingspan was also below the 78/79″ bench mark, but he gets the job done and is also excellent at running the ball down in pursuit. He also seems to be able to stay on his feet and not get tangled up in the interior garbage. The end result seems to be that he’s not elite, but is on the border between a Round 3, Round 4 prospect, who will contribute to a DL rotation at the pro level.

L.J. COLLIER #91 DE 6’4/275 T.C.U.
Due to some lackluster action in a couple of other games I had taped, and watched, I happened to catch a significant portion of the TCU/K-State game. Overall it was a pretty lackluster game, based in good part to pretty mediocre QB play on both sides. But I did notice a good sized DL for TCU, #91, crashing the pocket on multiple occasions. Upon further research it turned out to be COLLIER, who looked even stouter than 275 to me. He is clearly TCU’s top DL this year, and has the tape and numbers to prove it. I know that BANOGU gets more pub, but he sure looks to me like an OLB convert project and edge rusher. Another story, for another day. COLLIER was a big part of the Horned Frogs success with 8 tackles, 6 of them solo, and 2 sacks. I felt like I also saw a couple of QBH on his part. This has the feel of a breakout year, for a previously solid but unheralded player on Collier’s part. He has a tough demeanor about him and I liked the way he battles people, seemingly looking for contact. Right now there is more research to be done on him and more film to watch, but this late in the season I always get a bit excited when I “discover” a player who I was pretty much unaware of previously. Stay tuned for more on Collier methinks.

I had the pleasure of watching the Oklahoma/Texas Tech shoot out last weekend. And I am here to tell you that there was defense being played, but they were severely outmanned by the mother lode of offensive talent in the stadium. I had no inkling of the ability and effort of DORSEY going into the game. He was NOT on my prospect watch list. In fact he’s not on very many, or maybe I should say wasn’t. When I saw DAKOTA ALLEN/LB playing with a club/cast on one hand my heart sank and I figured I would be writing about 2-3 Sooner prospects, but nothing from TECH. Before the first quarter was over I have written down DORSEY’s name and was furiously writing down notes on his efforts. He was flying around the field showing good speed and doing some savage (but clean) tackling. He put a jarring hit on a Sooners TE, who found himself catching the ball on a crossing pattern only to be blown up by DORSEY. How about him being alert and athletic enough to get two Picks against QB KYLER MURRAY, early in the game. I also made note of him making at least 2 tackles on Special Teams coverage units. This guy showed athleticism, effort and energy beyond most of the other guys on a talent laden field of play. This guy had a really big night, on a very large stage. Can’t help but believe that scouts are running to find more info on him this week and going forward.

One of the best all-around RB scheduled for the 2019 NFL Draft is the ‘Bama HARRIS RB, with the first name of DAMIEN. Dude is a special, versatile talent and a great teammate. He does not get the pub he deserves because as usual MR. SABAN has a stable of 5-star recruits in his locker room. He’s a student of the game, and translates that knowledge to exceptional al-around performance on the field. He can run, catch passes and block. He’s not a speed burner, but can get to the edge and drives hard between the tackles. He shows strong leg drive and good balance, which keeps him on his feet for extra yards. He’s been a thousand-yard rusher for the past two seasons and may get there again this season. Against the tough LSU D he carried the ball 19 times for 107 yards and 1 TD. He also caught 3 dump-down throws for 6 yards. He looks to me like a guy who will fit nicely on a team looking for a 3rd RB. I would also expect him to be the kind of guy a team can depend on in clutch situationsHe certainly has been at ‘BAMA. If he tests well at the Combine I would project him into Round 2.

The other twin tower of the Longhorns oversized WR corps. HUMPHREY may indeed be a more explosive, talented athlete than teammate JOHNSON. But he a big play just waiting to happen and has the strength to push around most S, and even smaller LB. He has amazing hands and leaping ability as was demonstrated on an amazing leaping catch inside the 5-yard line where he had to fight with a defender, make a one-handed stab and manage to get a foot inbounds for the catch. It was made on a desperation heave by QB EHLINGER, and was followed shortly by a TD. HUMPHREY also is hard for defenders to bring down, often requiring a gang tackle to accomplish. At the end of the day HUMPHREY had caught 9 balls, for 143 yards and a TD. He is an absolutely explosive player. But the caveat IMO is the reality that his temper is also explosive, and he wastes a lot of time jawing and taunting opponents. As a result he hurts his team on a weekly basis with trashy penalties. He will make a dynamic pro, and might have Round 1 talent, but his pro team will have to be patient and baby sit him I fear. When I look at LIL’JORDAN my mind conjures up both the pros and cons of another baggage laden WR named DE BRYANT. Might take a special pro locker room to put up with and nurture him to maturity.

OMENIHU has nice size numbers and makes his share of plays during Longhorns games. He seems to have really come into his own as a pass rusher this season. He failed to record a Sack against WVU but coming into that game he had recorded 6 sacks in his last 5 games. He had 2 tackles, both solo, and 1 TFL this past game. He has a very well proportioned body and should measure up nicely at the Combine. The most disconcerting observation I have of him after watching 3 Texas games is that my eyes see him doing a lot more damage in the first half, with less impact in the second half. I cannot quantify that and have to admit that I am watching multiple players in every game I watch, so I may indeed miss a few impact plays by him, or others, if something or someone else catches my eye. But my first response is that he may make a nice pro DL rotation guy, but is not a full-time dominant player. Mark him down as a nice looking middle-rounder come next April, unless he goers to Mobile or St. Pete and really impresses scouts.

Watching the Sooners OL is a treat. They are big, physical, reasonably athletic and display a mean streak in them, as encouraged by OL Coach BILL BEDENBAUGH. Of course Coach Bill will tell you right away that all 5 of his starters will play in the pros some day, and that could very well be, but to my eyes SAMIA has the most pro upside and might even start in the NFL as a rookie in 2019. He is truly athletic for an Interior O-Lineman. I particularly like his foot speed and agility, which often allows him to finish his initial block quickly. And when he does that I have noticed him with his head on a swivel looking for another defender to block, or help a line-mate who may be struggling with his man. He can pull or he can bull straight ahead. I did not look up actual stats, but I’d wager that he is the least penalized starting OL on that Oklahoma front. Right now I would say SAMIA is likely a third rounder, and ranked as such in my prospect list.