Who Caught My Eye Week 14

December 7, 2018

One has to be impressed with the resume’ of GASKIN as he prepares to leave the Huskies and move on to a pro career. 2018 was his 4th year with over 1,000 yards rushing. That has never been done before in Washington football history. He’s a sneaky runner who clearly has the vision to take advantage of holes created by a solid OL group. In the PAC-12 Championship Win over Utah, he gained 71 yards on 23 carries, and grabbed 3 pass receptions to keep the Utes Defense guessing what he would do next. In addition to the field vision, he does show very quick feet and can change direction in a flash. But I do not think his college success is going to translate to the NFL. I say that because I do not see the burst and acceleration to get upfield unless a hole is obvious. He also shows no power to push through heavy traffic, which is no surprise, given his size and frame. I also don’t see him break many tackles, again probably due to his frame. In the NFL, a ball carrier either needs to bull through, or zip past potential tacklers. I am not sure GASKIN will be able to do either often enough to succeed at the next level. We’ll see what kind of speed/quickness/explosion numbers he puts up at the Combine, but I would likely not have this fine college player on my team’s Draft Board. Not all college standouts make the grade as a pro. Likely, some team will take him by Round 5/6.

Each year the Ohio State football team is at, or near the top, of the list of teams with the most Underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft. One of the results from this phenomenon is that multiple returning underclassmen are pushed up the depth chart and into a high profile role for the next season. Because of the ongoing quality of players, many of these promoted players shine brightly. One of the more bright “new stars” on the 2018 Buckeyes team has been Mr. Harrison, who had one start on his resume’ coming into the 2018 season, but he had shown his potential the previous two seasons in back-up appearances. Most of the Buckeyes games I watched in 2018 prominently featured this gifted athlete. His chiseled physique and ability to cover the field are impressive. He has been one of their defenders in on the action all game long. He seems to see the field really well, and is able to quickly gauge where the play is going, and where he needs to be. In Ohio State’s conference championship win over Northwestern, HARRISON was credited with 10 tackles, 6 of them solo, as well as 2 QBH. On the season, his stat sheet is very impressive; 74 T’s, 8.5 TFL, 2.5 S’s, 1 INT, 3 PBU’s, and 1 FR. That tackle total did LEAD the team! Based on what I have seen of him, I fear the Buckeyes will be breaking in a newbie to replace him in 2019. He is already a top notch player, and still has tremendous upside, IMO. I would project HARRISON to go as early as Round 2, if he does declare.

For those fans looking for more Offense in the PAC-12 Championship tilt, I am sure disappointment reigned supreme in the 10-3 defensive struggle, which was as expected by the experts and odds-makers. Both Offenses tried to rev it up, but the flat out truth is that the two Defenses were just too good to overwhelm. MILLER has been a solid CB for the Huskies since his frosh season, and showed up well against Utah. He ranges well as a cover, or zone, Corner, and is surprisingly aggressive in run D support, considering his relatively lean frame. He displays nice body flexibility out in space, and can turn on a dime. I also like his length and leaping ability. He recorded 3 tackles, all solo, including a TFL in that contest. His play is very consistent, as you can tell by comparing some of his stats. In 2017, he played in 7 games, with 2 INT’s and 4 PD. In 2018, he was in 11 games, with 2 INT’s and 5 PD. He brings some very desirable traits to the table, and I would expect a solid Combine/Pro Day effort from him. I could see him as an early Day 3 Draftee, as most NFL teams try to find 11-12 DB’s for their roster in today’s pass-happy NFL game.

I find this to be a very interesting player, that I felt was under-appreciated by his college Head Coach PAT NARDUZZI. He shows bursts of unique power and straight ahead speed, but his coaches never seemed confident enough in him to feed him the ball for long stretches of the game. In the ACC Championship game, dominated of course by Clemson, Ollison had a couple of solid, punishing runs, including a long of 26 yards. I thought I also saw him deliver a couple of blocks while on the field, yet he split time with several other backs, and wound up with only 13 carries for 56 yards and 1 TD. What did he do wrong to be on the bench so much? He quietly had a very solid senior season for PITT overall, with 1,190 yards rushing at 6.3 ypc and 11 TD’s. He also caught 11 passes. That’s a pretty nice year. I certainly hope that he gets a Combine invite so that we can see him compete in an equal opportunity setting. Unless I see something really disappointing at the Combine and/or Pro Day, I see him as a mid-round draftee.

J.R. REED #20 S 6’1/195 GEORGIA JR
Most of you know by now, that I am a big believer in the power of a person’s gene pool. There are no guarantees based on genetics in the sports world, but if you look around the NFL at team rosters, you will see a lot of sons, cousins, and brothers listed, who also excelled in athletic endeavors. J.R. fits that category with a direct football tie. His dad was WR receiver JAKE REED, who spent over 10-years in the NFL, mostly with the Vikings. J.R. plays the other side of the ball, in the Bulldogs secondary, where he is an exceptional performer. Against Alabama in the SEC Championship game, he led UGA with 8 tackles, 6 of them solo efforts. He also pulled down a Red Zone INT, as Georgia took the Crimson Tide to the limit. He basically pursues all game long, and shows very aggressive and sound tackling. His ball skills are good as well. On the season, REED was credited with 58 tackles and 2 INT’s. He certainly has nothing left to prove as a collegian, so keep your eyes peeled for a declaration from him to head into the 2019 NFL Draft. If he joins the flood of players coming out early, I would not doubt that he makes my Top 100 Draft Prospects list, and finds his name called in Round 3, assuming he has a solid Combine workout.

The first question in my mind was how did this Green Bay HS player end up not in Madison as a Badger? Well, the answer is that they can’t take every OL product, every year. So SCHARPING got away just a bit, south of Madison, and has started four years for the Huskies. He’s the real deal with solid athleticism to go with his mammoth size. He’s long overall, and his arms look appropriately long for an OT. I will be curious to see what his arm length is at the Senior Bowl. I don’t see him as an elite athlete, but brother, is he effective. He pancaked several Bulls players, but I never saw him on the ground himself. I watched Buffalo defeat NIU in the MAC Title Game over the weekend, and this guy is the real deal. He has good foot movement for his size, and overpowers most MAC DL. He, supposedly, has allowed only 1 sack in the past 3 seasons. It should also be noted that his start against Buffalo was his 56th straight! He’s not in my Top 100, but he is solid as a Round 4 Pick, in my eyes. An impressive showing in Mobile could raise him into Round 3. Maybe he can return to Wisconsin as an NFL Rookie in 2019.

Go ahead and pick a position designation for Sutton, but no matter how you label him, officially understand that he is an Edge Rusher, and he showed it again in the MAC Championship win by NIU over Buffalo. SMITH racked up 10 tackles, including 8 of them solo efforts, but here are the numbers from the meat and potatoes of his game: 3.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 2 QBH. He just has a knack for getting around the edge, and to the opposing QB. Dynamic is the best way to describe him. His work totally rattled Buffalo QB TYREE JACKSON, and allowed NIU to squeak out a 30-29 victory. This guy is just a natural ace when it comes to getting into the backfield, and that skill is highly coveted by the League. Whether or not he can develop into an every down player is highly debatable right now, but he has Round 4 value just for his pass-rush ability, even if he’s never more than a one-trick pony. For the record, with a Bowl Game still to come, SMITH has recorded 56 tackles, 15 sacks, and 4 Forced Fumbles for the Huskies in 2018. If he comes out, there will be some serious scrutiny given to his pro potential!

Going into Spring practice 2018, WILLIAMS was listed as a 2nd string DE behind ISAIAH BUGGS. Come the start of the season, he was the starting NG, albeit not the ideal size for the Nose, at under 300 lbs. As we have seen all season long, his lack of bulk has more than been offset by his quickness and overall strength. He is as disruptive as can be, and must be accounted for on every play. Stats don’t tell the whole story in his case, but his effort vs. UGA in the SEC Championship game was eye catching, per usual. He was credited with 8 tackles, 6 of them solo, including 2 TFL and 1 Sack. He also moved QB FROMM off his spot in the pocket on multiple occasions. He’s not quite AARON DONALD, but may he headed for the same kind of impact at the next level. If he declares for the 2019 Draft, he’ll likely be a Top 10 draftee. By the way, this “interior” DL has 66 tackles, including 8 sacks, as we head for Bowl Action. He is elite! He may be most effective at the next level playing inside at DT, in a base 4-3 scheme.