Who Caught My Eye Week 13

November 29, 2018

ASKEW-HENRY plays the prestigious SPUR position in the WVU defense. It is basically a hybrid SS/LB role with a good amount of time lining up in-the-box. But it does require the player in that position to have coverage responsibility on a regular basis. DRAVON had big shoes to fill this season replacing KYZIR WHITE, who is now plying his wares with the Chargers, and he has filled them admirably. Against Oklahoma, in a losing effort, DRAVON had 8 tackles, 7 solo, including a TFL. On the season, with a Bowl Game yet to be played, ASKEW-HENRY has recorded 48 Tackles, as well as having 2 INT’s to his credit. He has a chance to fit in very nicely in most of today’s NFL defenses as that hybrid defender. He has a chance to play at the next level, but I don’t think he gets drafted until the mid/late rounds, say 5/6.

It’s always a bit more than disconcerting when I see a skill position player with BROWN’s diminutive size. My first thought is always putting into perspective the likelihood that his touches will have to be carefully limited, in an effort to keep him healthy. So then the question becomes, what can he do that makes him worth having on my team, with a ‘touch-count’ in play? But when I hear that word is, he runs a 4.3?/40, my interest grows. Then you watch him play in a game, like the showdown in Morgantown last week, and you get some firm answers to your concerns. The super fast, and quick BROWN, caught 11 receptions for 243 yards and 2 TD’s, with a long twisting run-after-catch play of 65 yards. On the season, he has 70 receptions for 1,264 yards and 10 TD’s. Folks, this guy is a big play waiting to happen every time he touches the ball. How about Punt Returns, and jet sweeps at the pro level?! Most teams in the NFL have 1 or 2 guys built like him, who run like the wind on their roster. If he comes out, (and if he has serious pro aspirations, he should), I can’t see him lasting thru Round 3.

BROWNING is an interesting evaluation, relative to a transition from college to pro. He’s an old school QB, in the sense that he has started for all 4 years of eligibility, having started since his frosh year. You just don’t see that kind of longevity in college football anymore, especially in a QB. He is a cerebral leader with decent athleticism, and maybe a slightly above average arm, wherein the problems arise, relative to pro potential. He’s going to win with his brain, not his arm, ala PEYTON MANNING. He has reasonable athleticism and can extend plays with his legs. But he certainly is not going to scramble around and then heave a long throw downfield. He pretty much has to dump the ball off without resetting his feet, an issue that I think we have seen in JOE FLACCO’s pro career. He can make a 20-25 yard throw downfield, as he did against Washington State in the snow, but his receivers will need some serious separation. Otherwise, every deep throw becomes a 50/50 ball. I thought the upset win over Washington State last weekend was the epitome of the kind of field general BROWNING can be. In the elements, he showed judgement and restraint in his throwing. He passed 11/14 for 207 yards, 0 TD’s, and 1 INT. He also had a fumble in the 3rd Quarter when being sacked. But the weather conditions were just short of blizzard proportions by then, although the fumble made me wonder about his hand size, to be honest. He has had an up and down senior season, completing 65.1% of his throws for 2,692 yards and 16 TD’s. Those 16 TD’s are not impressive when you consider his 9 INT’s. My final take on JAKE, is that I see potential pro value as a career back-up, not a franchise QB. If my team did not have a young QB, I might draft him in Round 4 as a back-up. He likely won’t lose games for his team when called upon, assuming his coaches don’t expect more than he can deliver physically.

I have always been conflicted on my ranking of CAMPBELL as a prospect. He is physically gifted and clearly has the speed to run past most defenders he faces. The COMBINE, and his 40-time there, could be a very big deal for him when it comes to Draft position in April. I also like his body build and size, and yet going into the 2018 season, it seemed like he often disappeared on game day, and that his stats were pretty pedestrian. I am happy to say 2018 has unclouded my mind on him. He has had a very productive senior season. In 2017, he recorded 40 catches for 584 yards and 10 TD’s. But in 2018, working full-time with QB HASKINS, CAMPBELL has 72 catches for 825 yards and 10 TD’s, with 2 games yet to be played. Quite often, he literally runs away from defenders. In the big Win over Michigan, he had 5 catches for 114 yards and 1 TD. He also was handed the ball on a misdirection play, on which he sprinted 78 yards for another TD. For his career as a Buckeye, he has averaged better than 10 yards per carry on sweeps, reverses and the like. I think that a big part of his explosive numbers this season, is having DWAYNE HASKINS as his QB. HASKINS is a pro style QB, with a very strong arm. CAMPBELL’s work with him at the helm is very encouraging for NFL personnel people to see. CAMPBELL could be one of three Buckeyes wideouts to be on Training Camp rosters next Summer around the League. With his performance this season, I now feel pretty good about CAMPBELL’s chances of being a late first round, early second round 2019 Draftee.

Right after the GATORS big Win over FSU, Chauncey announced his intention to enter the 2019 NFL Draft. I’ve had my eyes on this guy since his freshman year, when he saw extensive playing time, and ended up starting 3 games. He’s been on the field full-time ever since. In 2017, he was moved to the STAR position, which is basically a SS/LB hybrid spot. He is a very physical player, who likes to hit people almost as much as play in coverage and rack up INT’s. In the showdown in Tallahassee, GARDNER was everywhere, filling all kinds of roles for the Gators D. On multiple occasions, I noticed him lined up on the line of scrimmage when FSU had a cluster of 3 wideouts together. CHAUNCEY was charged with chipping a guy or two as they started their routes, and then hanging around at the line with the final wideout, who always played the role of a safety valve dump-off option for his QB. So much for that option, with the sure tackling GARDNER-JOHNSON around. His 2018 stats give you an idea of what an all-around DB performer this guy is: 66 T’s, 9 TFL, 2 INT’s. I’m not sure how many pass break-ups he has. I felt like I saw 5 in the W at FSU. I’ve liked this guy since watching him as a frosh. He’s a good athlete, with skills as a tackler, and in pass coverage.

IMO, the AAC is the best overall non-Power 5 Conference in the nation, and once you get past UCF the past couple of seasons, the Memphis Tigers have been the best team in that conference. And with the graduation of QB/RILEY FERGUSON after the 2017 season, a retooling was in order on Offense. Luckily, the weapon to step up was already in the program, in the form of RB/HENDERSON. As a Soph in 2017, HENDERSON cracked the 1,000 yard mark in rushing. Although squat in stature, HENDERSON hit the weight room, and came into 2018 up to a chiseled 200 lbs on his 5’9″ frame. Mathematically speaking, were HENDERSON 6′ tall, his weight would likely be about 215 lbs. He can run over, through, and around defenders, so they feed him the ball. After battering a good Houston team last week, HENDERSON had 1,699 yards and 19 rushing TD’s, at 8.6 ypc. Against Houston, he carried 24 times on a cold, windy day, for 178 yards and 2 TD’s, one of them a 60 yard run. He also shows nice hands, providing his QB with a nice short throw option. If HENDERSON gets cranked up, with 2 games left to play, he might crack 2,000 yards. 5’9″ be damned. If this guy comes out, I’d not hesitate to draft him by Round 3. I am convinced that his game translates to the current NFL offensive schemes.

The 2018 prospect list does not offer very many, if any, star Draft candidates at OC this time around. But by the same token, it does offer a handful of draftable Day 3 guys, who have played a lot of snaps over the ball, and make up for some of their lack of elite athleticism with fundamentally sound technique and high FBI. KYSER fits that description for Memphis, as he recorded his 50th start for the Tigers in the game against Houston last Friday. He has a solid, wide base to work from, and looks bigger and stronger than he may actually be. He is reasonably athletic, and can move like some of the better OG’s, as he heads downfield to lead the running game. He is also clearly the leader of that OL group, mentally and emotionally. The Memphis O has been rolling up some heavy statistics and high scores against their opponents this season, and the KYSER-led OL is a big part of that equation. This weekend, KYSER will lead his team against undefeated UCF for the AAC title. They will likely be favored over the MILTON-less Knights. Look for KYSER on Day 3 of the NFL Draft, about Round 5, I think.

We all know that Nick Saban, annually, has a boatload of pro-ready talent, ready for the NFL to hungrily gobble up. If it seems like you’ve been watching and hearing this guy’s name forever, you are almost correct. He came to ‘Bama in 2015, and started at LG for the next 3 years. This year, he was moved to OC, because NICK likes experience in that OC slot. He has not missed a beat. To my eyes, he should be the All-SEC 1st Team OC. He is solidly built, and moves his feet well. He clearly has a high FBI. I feel like he’s better overall than last year’s starter Bradley Bozeman, who is an NFL Rookie this season with the RAVENS. My count says that his start this weekend in the SEC Championship game with Georgia, will be his 55th for the Tide. I’m not sure that we have a Top 100 OC Prospect this season, but I could see as many as 3 OC’s being drafted in Round 4. PIERSCHBACHER might be the first of them.

Recently I featured POWERS teammate, DRU SAMIA, in a prospect thumbnail. Some folks think POWERS is even better overall. I don’t see a whole lot of difference in the two players, and I mean that as a compliment, because I believe they both can become NFL starters in the near future. POWERS helped keep the inside of the OL in tight order, against a WVU Defense that had very few successful downs in trying to slow the Sooners Offense. Besides being country-strong, POWERS also shows the residual benefit of playing 30-plus games in the Sooners high octane offense, despite coming to Norman as a JC Transfer in 2016. He was voted 1st-Team All-Big 12 in 2017, and may get a shot at that again, at the end of this campaign. IMO, he and SAMIA could be the first-team conference duo this time around. He is strong as a bull, but still shows good footwork and mental awareness in his play. One of the things that I like best about his play, is his habit of looking for one more block on almost every play. Also, like his teammates along that front, he will jump in to help a linemate who may be having issues controlling his man, on a given play. He has that proverbial ‘head on a swivel’, to help find that extra block to execute. Look for POWERS to be a solid Day Three draftee next April.

I still believe it will be a cold day in hell before any NFL team is going to let one player handle all of their kicking duties. But if anyone might be able to do it, my gut and eyes say SEIBERT would be the guy. SEIBERT has been handling Punting, Field Goal, and Kickoff duties for the Sooners since his true frosh year in 2015. His number one attribute is his compact power leg motion at 207 lbs. It helps generate a lot of power on his squat 5’9″ frame. In fact, his most effective skill may be his ability to boom kickoffs for almost automatic touchbacks. His field goal accuracy has improved over time, and this season, he has been 12/14 on FG’s (86%) and 79/80 on Xtra Points. Punting is his weakest skill area overall. As if the Sooners needed another weapon in their arsenal, SEIBERT was 1/1 on FG’s, 8/8 on XP’s, and had 1 Punt for 45 yards, in the Win over West Virginia. There are always a few needy NFL teams when it comes to the kicking game, (hello Chargers), and I would not bet against some team drafting SEIBERT on Day Three of the 2019 NFL Draft.

Conference Championships and Bowl Season still ahead, with lots of prospect watching to be done.