Who Caught My Eye Week 15

By | December 12, 2019

 

It was conference championship weekend and per usual, it featured a minimum of surprises, except perhaps the Friday night dominance of Oregon against Utah. Let’s just say that the Final 4 matchups are a bit less than surprising with LSU, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma topping the field. Somehow that has a familiar ring to it. The other non-surprise of the weekend was the plethora of pro prospects in action. Here are some of the top players that got my attention.

TREMAYNE ANCHRUM   #73   Clemson   OT/G   6’2/310   Sr     ANCHRUM has been a stalwart along the OL for the Tigers his entire 4 years at Clemson. The most amazing part of his story is that despite a squat, bulky frame, he has the feet to play out at OT.  He is primarily projected for a move inside to OG for his pro career, but his mobility to play out at OT is amazing to this observer. His foot quickness off the snap is exceptional, and he did a lot of pulling work in run blocking against Virginia. Despite his lack of height, he mirrors defenders well with his quick feet in pass pro. He’s tough to get around, and drives defenders off the line with his brute strength and leverage.  My curiosity is high as to his arm length. He is currently listed as a participant in the Senior Bowl. This player intrigues me because his play defies his body build, as it did ISAIAH WYNN of Georgia two years ago.

JULIAN BLACKMON   #23    Utah    S   6’1/205    Sr     This former CB made a smooth transition to S for his senior season. BLACKMON had been hailed as the QB of the Defense in his play this past Fall. He combines CB coverage skills, as well as an aggressive, run stopping demeanor. Unfortunately against Oregon, he was put out of action with a non-contact leg injury. On the play immediately after his departure from the game, HERBERT went deep against his replacement for a 45-yard TD pass.  Until that injury, he had been handing out contact punishment to Oregon runners and receivers. He left the game with 4 Tackles already to his credit. BLACKMON’s 2018 season stats give a clear picture of his value and versatility; 60 T’s, 1.5 Sacks, 2 FF, 4 INT’s, and 4 PD. Depending upon the severity of his injury, BLACKMON has already accepted an invite to play in the Senior Bowl.

KEVIN DOTSON    #75    Louisiana/Lafayette   OG   6’4/325     Sr      The Ragin’ Cajuns football program has made great strides in its first two seasons under new Head Coach BILLY NAPIER. Last weekend, they faced conference powerhouse App State in the Conference Championship game. The Mountaineers prevailed, but the boys from Louisiana made them work for the win. From a purely NFL Draft standpoint, DOTSON is perhaps  their best prospect for the 2020 Draft. DOTSON has been a starter since his freshman season. He has nice size for an Interior OL and plays with confidence. He displays good agility for his size and can pull effectively to lead the way for a trio of solid RB’s on this year’s roster. He also shows agility and power in his pass pro. If he fails to get a Combine invite, I would expect him to make a solid showing at his Pro Day.  His name currently appears on the acceptance list for the 2020 Shrine Bowl. I believe he has what it takes to play in the NFL, and expect him to end up as a mid-Round draftee next April, Round 5.

HASISE DUBOIS    #8     Virginia    WR    6’3/215     Sr       Much as expected, the Cavaliers were pretty much trampled by a peaking at the right time, Clemson squad last Saturday. The Cavs Defense was no match at all for the Clemson Offense, but their Offense put up a struggle and got some points on the board. DUBOIS, their unsung wideout, was forced to shoulder a bigger load than ever because injuries to their other fine senior, WR JOE REED, kept him off the field for this contest. And DUBOIS made quite an impression on yours truly, and I am sure on other personnel folks as well, with a big night as their top weapon. The big, strong receiver caught 10 balls on the evening for 130 yards and a TD. He’s not a speedster, but is fast enough, in combination with some nice route running and a willingness to fight for the ball in traffic, to get his share of receptions. He was the victor in fighting for 50/50 balls several times against a solid, veteran Clemson secondary. On the season, he had 65 catches for 979 yards and 4 TD’s. With the NFL’s constant need for more quality,  young WR’s every year, I expect DUBOIS to be drafted late on Day 3. Combine and/or Pro Day workout numbers will be important for DUBOIS.

DARRYNTON EVANS   #3   Appalachian State   RB   5’11/200    Jr      I can’t tell you that I am convinced that he’ll come out early for the 2020 Draft, but he certainly has the resume’ and tools to do so. I don’t know what his 40-time is, but he certainly looks fast enough with pads on for a pro career. He also displays nice lateral agility and good field vision to elude tacklers once past the line of scrimmage. For the day, against Louisiana, he carried the ball 19 times for 73 yards and 1 TD. However, he did even more damage catching some screens and dump-downs, which he turned into big yardage and scores with his elusiveness and speed. He caught 2 balls for 63 yards and 2 TD’s. He scored State’s first TD on a short screen that he took 58 yards to the house. His frame is a bit light, so I look for him to be the change of pace, long yardage RB in the NFL.  I see him as a Gio Bernard, No. 2 RB for some team. He rushed for 1,187 yards and 7 TD’s in 2018, and has posted 1,323 rush yards this season, at 5.6 ypc, while scoring a whopping 17 TD’s.  He’s a Round 3/4 guy if he comes out early, IMO.

JAKE HANSON   #55    Oregon    6’5/297   OC    Sr.    I found Oregon’s convincing W over Utah to be a surprise, given the overall dominance by the Ducks. The Oregon OL played a huge role in the victory. Even though he’s not the best overall athlete of the group, HANSON is the glue that held this line together. He missed a couple of games later in the regular season, but his return provided a security blanket effect for QB JUSTIN HERBERT. HANSON is not an overpowering presence. He gets his job done with athleticism, solid technique and FBI. He does not dominate DL opponents, but he cleverly uses technique to move his opponents away from the action. His footwork is outstanding, especially in pass-pro, where his technique allows him to handle bigger defenders. Leverage and mobility are his two biggest weapons. Overall, he is well suited for the current NFL offensive styles which feature RPO and moving pockets and free-flow QB play.  I think he can have a solid pro career much along the lines of another Oregon OC named MAX UNGER.

JUSTIN JEFFERSON    #2     LSU    6’3/195     WR    Jr      There have been so many heroes for the Bayou Bengals this season that it’s hard to find space and time to extol the virtues of all their pro potential players. Their passing attack soared this season, due in great part to the pairing of QB/JOE BURROW and former Saints coach JOE BRADY, the new Co-Coordinator of the Offense. But let it be noted that a plethora of talented receivers had a lot to do with their offensive surge, and chief amongst those receivers was JUSTIN JEFFERSON, whose speed, improved route running, and catching ability led the way in many games. JEFFERSON emerged in 2018, catching 54 balls for 875 yards and 6 TD’s, but he took it to a new level this season. With the Final Four still to be played, JEFFERSON now has 88 catches for 1,207 yards and 14 TD’s. He held his own in the SEC Title game win over Georgia with 7 catches for 115 yards and a TD. Sorry LSU fans, but I just don’t see how Jefferson doesn’t go pro after this season. His QB graduates and the receiver group in Baton Rouge is loaded. Even before we see him workout at the Combine, he sure looks like a 2nd Round Pick to me, with the arrow pointing up.

VICTOR JOHNSON    #75    Appalachian State     OT    6’5/295     Sr      This long, athletic looking OT is very likely to be moving up Prospect ranking lists in the months ahead. After the Mountaineers Bowl appearance, he is next scheduled to appear at the NFLPA star game. JOHNSON has been a Sun Belt 1st Teamer for the past 3 seasons.  The game with Louisiana/Lafayette was my first chance to watch him this season. He’s athletic, with excellent footwork. He also appears to be a natural knee bender and thus excels in pass-pro. He also does a nice job of staying low out of his stance and uses very long-looking arms to jolt and keep defenders from getting into his body. He runs his feet well, but occasionally gets nervous and reaches for his block. He could use a bit more bulk and brute strength on his frame, which I am pretty sure some NFL team will address with diet and more weight room training. He is really good already, and looks to have the tools to refine his technique, as he is coached up. I have him in my Top 100 prospect list and he’s likely to remain there, even as underclassmen make their declarations to leave school early.

 JAMES LYNCH   #93   Baylor   DE   6’4/295   Jr    Without a doubt, this young man has been the biggest eye-opening performer of the past month of my viewing and scouting. He grabbed my attention a bit in mid-November when Baylor was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten by Oklahoma. So I was primed to make him a key watch in the rematch last Saturday. At the end of the regular season, he was anointed as the Big 12,  2019 Defensive Player of the Year. The selection was based in great part on his 12 1/2 sacks and constant pass-rush pressure on Baylor’s opponents.  But as I watched him closely against the Sooners last Saturday, his all around play stood out. He plays most of the time as a DE in a 3-4 base scheme, yet still defeats multiple double-team blocks to disrupt the opponents backfield and pocket. Although his forte’ is pass rush, he also is stout enough to stop the run at him, set the edge, or pursue the RB to the opposite side of the field. On the Sooners first possession of the 2nd Quarter, LYNCH got to QB HURTS and recorded a strip/sack which ended in a Bears recovery. For the game, he recorded 5 tackles, 3 TFL, 2 Sacks, and 1 FF. I would also claim several QBH’s to his credit on the day. A lot of folks still don’t realize what a gem this young man is. At his size, with athleticism and a non-stop motor, I cannot help but compare him to what I saw from a guy named J.J. Watt when he played for Wisconsin. I have no doubt LYNCH is ready for NFL play, and should declare for the 2020 Draft. He is a clear first round talent in my eyes.

CHRIS MILLER   #3    Baylor    S     6’0/185    Sr      Miller is another aggressive defender that had a lot to do with the success (11-2) of  Baylor football the past two years. He is a good athlete who runs well and has a nose for the football. He also hits a ton when he closes in for a tackle. I actually worry that at only 185 lbs. he’s in danger of knocking himself out of action at times. Despite having to miss part of one possession in the Conference title game with Oklahoma because of knocking himself out, he returned to action and finished the game with 10 Tackles, which included 1 TFL. His 2019 stat sheet is very impressive with a Bowl Game still to come: 81 T’s, 2 FF’s, 3 INT’s, and 7 PD. His 40-time at post-season testing will be an important number for his profile sheet. In today’s pass-happy NFL, he should have little problem finding ways to make his way onto the playing field. I would also expect him to be a key Special Team player for his pro team. He has had a productive senior season and may have earned himself a Draft selection. I just read last night that he will participate in the NFLPA Bowl in January.

KENNETH MURRAY    #9     Oklahoma     6’2/242    Jr      I have watched at least half of the Sooners games this season, and MURRAY has been a constant focus for me. His tackle total has dropped from an incredible total of 155 in 2018. However, after the rematch with Baylor, MURRAY still leads his team again in tackles with 95 for the 2019 season. This game was also his 40th consecutive start for the Sooners. His game has been a bit more disciplined this season, with more pass coverage responsibility on his shoulders, which has reduced the amount of downs in which he can just cut loose and pursue the ball. It looked as though the coaches gave him a bit more flexibility to attack the offense this time against Baylor. In the second quarter, he recorded two straight TFL on QB/BREWER and was a primary factor in the play that knocked Brewer out of the game with concussion symptoms. Late in the 2nd quarter, he also stood out, making a leaping deflection in pass coverage. He too, was injured in the 3rd quarter, leaving the game for a series. He came back in to finish the game, but was kept off the stat sheet in the 4th quarter. For the game, he recorded 10 Tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack, and 1 PD.  I suspect that after one or two more games in the Final Four, he will declare for inclusion in he 2020 Draft. He is going to have a chance for late Round 1 status if he posts impressive numbers at the Combine. Certainly a Top 100 prospect.

MICHAEL WARREN   #3    Cincinnati    RB    5’10/222    Jr      WARREN  has been a reliable, productive performer for the Bearcats since his frosh season. He ran for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons. He carried a big load against Memphis last weekend, with 23 rushes for 99 yards and 2 TD’s, and was also on the receiving end of one pass. On the season, with a Bowl appearance to go, he has rushed for 1,160 yards and a whopping 14 TD’s, while also recording 19 receptions for another 2 TD’s. He’s a tough young man, who uses strength and balance to seldom go down on contact from the first tackler. I see him having serious pro potential as a short yardage runner. He runs low, with a forward lean. He also shows good blocking habits in pass pro, which will help keep him on the field as a pro. The two words I most often associate with his style of play are dependable and tough. I see him being a mid-round draftee if he comes out. I certainly would recommend  for him to declare for the 2020 Draft. He runs so hard and tough, that he hardly needs another 200+ touch season in college if his goal is to play pro football. A mid-Round Pick slot is likely waiting for him, by a team in need of a No.2 RB with multiple skills.

Clip notes:

Mark me down as astonished by the fact that, for the 3rd straight season, Oklahoma HC LINCOLN RILEY has his QB in the Final 4 for the Heisman Trophy. Baker Mayfield, 2017, and Kyler Murray, 2018, have won the past two trophies. This year, ‘Bama-transfer JALEN HURTS will be in NYC this Saturday. I think he’s unlikely to beat out JOE BURROW and/or CHASE YOUNG, but he was the guy that everyone said couldn’t throw very well before TUA took his job in Tuscaloosa. Good players all three, but I can’t help but think that Riley may indeed be the QB Whisperer supreme in college football today.

Too bad Georgia was so beaten up that they couldn’t give LSU a better contest last Saturday, but I had no interest to see a rematch between LSU/Georgia in the Final Four had Georgia won. IMO, the way things played out with Utah also losing, the Final Four committee got a gift from the football gods in making their choices pretty easy.

While watching App State and La/Lafayette battle it out for the Sun Belt title, I was impressed with the overall talent on both squads. And that talent was used well by the two Head Coaches, who were a combined 20-2, if you take away their head-to-head matchups.

Just a sleeper for you to watch out for in the next few months leading up to the Draft: JORDAN FEHR/LB/APP STATE. He’s 6’3/235, with good weight room strength and a supposed 40-time of under 4.50 seconds. He’s list as being on the NFLPA Bowl roster right now.

Pigskin