Key conference and rivalry games abound as teams head for the home stretch of the 2019 college football season. Here are thumbnail looks at more 2020 Draft prospects.
BEN BREDESON #74 OG MICHIGAN 6’5/320 SR The Interior OL group looks a bit weak for the 2020 NFL Draft. BREDESON has the length of an OT, but not the feet, especially in reverse. Overall, he’s a decent athlete, and plays with an aggressive and tough personality. In fact, one might easily draw the conclusion after watching him in action that he plays through the whistle. He seems to absolutely delight in blocking defenders to the ground. His best fit in the NFL will be for a team that still favors a power running game like JACKSONVILLE or WASHINGTON. He is certainly athletic enough to earn a starting OG spot in the NFL sometime early in his career. In an emergency, he might be able to swing out to a OT slot, but not on the QB’s blind-side. I see him as an early Day 3 draftee.
ALARIC JACKSON #77 LT IOWA 6’6/320 JR I have read and seen a lot of praise heaped on IOWA’s other OT, TRISTAN WIRFS. I have watched IOWA against WISCONSIN, and then MINNESOTA, the past few weeks. I took turns isolating my watch on WIRFS, then JACKSON, and for my Draft capital, I prefer the work of JACKSON. JACKSON is a very alert, active, and athletic player who blocks to the whistle, whether it’s in pass-pro or the run game. He has very active and agile footwork and combines technique with good natural strength and power. I felt that when he was blocking in pass-pro, he got off the snap quickly and retreated a little, but not much before throwing his first hand punch. He certainly looked to me like a natural knee bender. When not matching up with a speed rusher, I liked the way he held his ground and attacked the defender. Against MINNESOTA, I made a note on a run play where he blocked down on the DT, but when he saw a DE/LB make a quick move to gain position to come down the line-of-scrimmage, he spun around and blocked that player. He seems always ready to help line-mates if his assignment is taken care of, or detaining their defensive opponent is more critical to the play at hand than his. If he comes out early, I see him being an early 2nd Round Pick at the very least.
DANE JACKSON #11 CB PITT 6’0/190 SR I think it is safe to say that when the college season began, PITT was not a highly regarded team for this season, but HC PAT NARDUZZI seems to have a knack for living on his defenses and getting just enough out of his offense to go bowling most years. The team is currently 7-3, with another Bowl game in sight for December. I think that CB JACKSON, who is a team Captain, is a solid NFL prospect. His size is solid by pro standards, and he plays a well rounded game in their secondary. In a close win over UNC JACKSON was credited with 4 tackles and 1 PD. For the season, he has 22 solo tackles, along with 1 INT and 11 PD through 10 games. Last season, he had 14 PD for the PANTHERS. Many coaches feel that the INT count is as much good fortune, as it is smart coverage work. Of more importance is the Passes Defensed numbers in CB coverage. He’s sitting at 25 total PD in the past two seasons with likely 3 more games to play this year. Throw in the ability to make one-on-one tackles in the open field, which I saw twice in the UNC game, I would expect that JACKSON will be drafted, and at the least, be used in Nickel and Dime coverage alignments. Watch for his name on Day 3 of the Draft.
JUWAN JOHNSON #6 WR OREGON 6’4/231 SR Keep your eyes peeled on the work of this young man between now and April. After a somewhat disappointing career at PENN STATE, JOHNSON took the grad transfer route and moved across the country to OREGON to join a more wide open passing attack with proven pro QB prospect, JUSTIN HERBERT. Unfortunately, injury shelved him pretty much until late October. He’s now healthy and adding a much needed, good-hands option to HERBERT’s receiving group. Versus ARIZONA, JOHNSON pulled in 5 catches for 93-yards and a TD, on a 53-yard flea-flicker play. Since returning to action, he now has 18 receptions for 299 yards and 4 TD’s. His size makes him a potential match-up challenge, even at the NFL level. He could even add 10 lbs. and be used as an H-B receiving TE at the next level. My guess is that he shows enough to get himself drafted on Day Three, with a solid chance to be playing in the NFL at this time next year.
DENZEL MIMS #5 WR BAYLOR 6’3/208 SR Last weekend was my first watch of BAYLOR for a complete game this season. I was impressed with their overall team speed, but also the fact that they are not just a squad of small fast guys. They have some impressive size, and MIMS was an example of that. He looks even longer than 6’3, and has a solid looking frame, but he can beat opposing S’s downfield and use his reliable hands to haul in throws that are out away from his body. In the loss to OKLAHOMA, he caught 6 balls for 92-yards and 2 TD’s. His first TD catch was on a deep ball that went for a 30-yard TD. He had 55 catches in 2018, which was second only to 49’ers draftee JALEN HURD. He missed time late in this game with an injury. He’s clearly an NFL prospect, but I don’t see him in my Top 100. Players like MIMS are likely to make the 2020 Draft WR class very deep indeed.
BRAVVION ROY #99 DT BAYLOR 6’1/330 SR I was most anxious to watch BAYLOR lock horns with OKLAHOMA last weekend. I had not watched them previously, and was still wondering who their legit pro prospects might be. As most of you know, my eye is always drawn to the big uglies when they show a size/athleticism combination to their game. It was still the first OKLAHOMA possession of the game when I noticed this big bull of a man in the DL interior pushing his way into the SOONERS backfield to put heat, right up the middle, on JALEN HURTS. By the end of the game, I was still marveling at the energy and athleticism of such a big man. BAYLOR was able to display a two-deep DL rotation and it showed ROY still having gas in the 4th Quarter. So remembering that he plays right on the Nose over the OC most of the time, and is playing the majority of the snaps defensively, his final game stats were; 8 Tackles- 4 solo- 1 TFL- 1 Sack. Much of that work is against SOONER OC CREED HUMPHREY, who many see as the best OC in the country. This guy is definitely draftable, and may be flying beneath the radar right now. He didn’t even make the expansive Senior Bowl prospect Watch List in August. Something is wrong if he’s not at one of the 3 big Star Games in January.
NATHAN STANLEY #4 QB IOWA 6’4/242 SR Overall, the history of IOWA QB prospects actually succeeding in the NFL is not very good, especially in recent history. STANLEY may be their best shot to make a mark in the NFL in quite some time. My first impression of STANLEY, even in warm-ups, is that he looks like a shorter version of Big BEN ROETHLISBERGER, with a husky LB body. I saw some good from STANLEY against MINNESOTA, but still have some serious concerns about his pro potential. Overall, he has good accuracy on short and intermediate throws, but not so much when he goes deep. Surely, the IOWA receivers are a step down this season after losing both FANT & HOCKENSON to the NFL in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but by this stage of the season even a conservative Offense like IOWA runs enough deep routes to work out timing and touch between a QB and his receivers. STANLEY is heavy legged and not much of a running threat, but he can move enough to extend plays by getting out of a collapsing pocket. His rep from the IOWA coaches is that he’s a tireless worker in practice and film study. Against MINNESOTA, in victory, STANLEY was 14/23, 173 yards, 2 TD’s, and 0 INT’s. For the season, he is completing 60.7% of his throws, with 14 TD’s/5 INT’s. I think it’s safe to say that he has slowly but steadily improved his play all 4 years of his HAWKEYES career. I have serious concerns about his pro potential, but can certainly see him being drafted on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. I feel that the important factor for any pro potential that he has to develop in the League will lie in time in the pocket that can be provided for him. If he’s under heavy pressure, I would expect too many bad decisions to be made on his part. In a pro offense, and with advanced coaching, he may be able to develop quite a bit with time and patience.
TERENCE STEELE #78 OT TEXAS TECH 6’6/305 SR STEELE is a highly regarded prospect, who has the ideal build for today’s pro game. He’s long and lean looking, with long arms. I missed him in the first quarter and feared injury, but at the start of the 2nd Quarter he was out at RT, so I surmise that he was being met with some punishment by the coaching staff. I like the way he used his arms/hands to keep jabbing at defenders in pass pro. He kept them from getting into his body quite well. However, I did not like his waist bending. By the second half, I was firm in my belief that he is not a natural knee bender, and his forward lean will be an issue against outside pass rushers in the NFL. In multiple ways, he reminds me of an ex-RED RAIDERS OL who I fell in luv with at the Senior Bowl, but who still sits the bench as a back-up for the COLTS, by the name of LE’RAVEN CLARK. Despite his reputation, I thought that he was too quick to fall off his block and let his man get back into the flow of action on some plays. I have to say I give him a mixed review, that may be tainted by my apparent misguided optimism about CLARK.
KRISTIAN WELCH #34 IB IOWA 6’3/238 SR The role of an NFL LB has been evolving rapidly in recent years with the preponderance of passing attacks and RPO style plays. More often than not, most teams will have 2 LB’s and 5 DB’s on the field the majority of the time, with 6 DB’s on 3rd Down. It seems like every week in these thumbnails, I talk about the pro potential of what is generally called the hybrid LB/DB spot. WELCH is ahold fashioned LB with various skills. Against MINNESOTA, he was returning from a 3-game absence due to injury. He. was clearly ready to go, and was an omni-present defensive force for the HAWKEYES. He has nice size and above average athleticism, as was demonstrated with his multi-dimensional play. He plays the pass fairly well, with enough athleticism to cover TE’s/RB’s over the middle of the field for 10-yards or so. He also has shown some blitz skills, as he reads the Offense pre-snap. On the game, he recorded 11 Tackles- 6 solo- 1.5 TFL- 1 sack. I think he has pro potential if he can carve out a significant role on Special Teams to build from. He believes what he sees once the ball is snapped, and is right more often than wrong. We will find out how much athleticism he has at the Combine, and/or his Pro Day. I am hoping that Mr. SHONKA has him targeted for an appearance in the Shrine Bowl, come January.
I was very disappointed when TEXAS TECH star LB JORDYN BROOKS was pulled from the game with TCU, late in the first quarter, with what was termed as an aggravation of an upper body injury. BROOKS is an absolute tackling machine who also can provide coverage on passing downs. Hopefully, he will be healthy and can participate in an All-Star game come January.
The most recent injury, (hip), to TUA of ‘BAMA is going to put the emphasis on his Draft ranking squarely on the shoulders of a positive medical report from Combine physical exams and testing. I think any team looking for him as their high draft pick, Franchise QB prospect, has to be concerned about durability, ala SAM BRADFORD, earlier this millennium.
I continue to be impressed by the versatility and quality work of LAMICAL PERINE/RB/FLORIDA. He may not be a star, but he runs, blocks, and catches the ball very well. Many NFL teams could use such a versatile back in their RB stable. Some team should grab him as a very nice Day 3 draftee, come April.