The Week 3 game schedule was a bit weak, as many teams prepped for their pending Conference schedules with cup-cake tune ups. Then again there were more than enough solid matchups to view, with pro prospect status in mind. So once again let me share with you some thumb-nail sketches of players Who Caught My Eye!
SQALLY CANADA #22 RB BYU 5’11/210
It does not look like a stellar year for the RB position relative to elite pro prospects like BARKLEY this year. The only two guys I even see as potential late first rounders would be BRYCE LOVE and DAMIEN HARRIS, what with RODNEY ANDERSON/Oklahoma out for the season with a blown knee, and likely to return for a 2019 season. But there seems to be no shortage of Day 3, role filling RB candidates. And a fast riser, on a resurgent 2-1 BYU team is CANADA. He’s not a special player, but he’s versatile and works hard. It may surprise most of you to know that he led the Cougars in rushing last season with 710 yards, at 5.9 yards/carry, and 6 TD. He’s off to an even better start this season following an 11 carry, 118 yard, 2 TD performance in the Cougars upset win over Wisconsin. That was his second straight 100-yards+ game. He runs low and hard. He still has to show that he can catch the ball on a regular basis. If he keeps his current pace up, he may earn himself a late round Draft slot in 2019. Just a relatively obscure performer entering the 2018 season, whom you may hear more from this season. I like this guy and his positive, play hard attitude.
CHANDLER COX #27 FB/H-B AUBURN 6’1/240
As most of you know, I am an old fashioned believer in the FB position in football. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that so many NFL teams, without a single FB on their depth chart, struggle mightily to run in the Red Zone. They also come in handy in pass-pro against a heavy-blitz D. COX is a guy who doesn’t carry that position title for Auburn, but if he runs like a FB, blocks like a FB and catches like a FB, he’s a FB to me. COX is a hard nosed guy, who plays with toughness and passion. He was targeted on multiple occasions Saturday, especially on 3rd down, and had 3 receptions for 20 yards. Much of what he does never shows up in a box score, but his coaches appreciate his efforts. I find it hard to believe that COX would not also make a significant contribution on Special Teams units as a pro as well. I’d draft this guy in Round 7, if my team used a FB (which it would), but I suspect he will have to earn a roster spot next season as an URFA.
DESHAUN DAVIS #57 LB AUBURN 5’11/233
Auburn’s Defense is well stocked again this season. Their most impressive senior defender to my eyes is DAVIS, who plays IB with aggressiveness and high energy. Most importantly he’s also highly productive. The surprising part of his game to me is his ability to drop into pass coverage for a guy of his build. I really don’t think being just under 6′ tall is going to matter much if he is used correctly as a pro. Not only does he pursue and catch runners, but he quite often punishes them physically. He did so all day long in the SEC slugfest between Auburn and LSU. DAVIS finished the day with 13 tackles, 6 solo. He also had 4 TFL, including one QB Sack. His stat sheet also said 1 PBU and 1 QBH. That is exactly the kind of full day’s work I see almost every time I watch an Auburn game. DAVIS led the Tigers with 82 tackles last season. DAVIS reminds me quite a bit of a guy named MIKE SINGLETARY in his build and style of play. But don’t look for him to be drafted until Round 4. IMO, some team will get quite a bargain.
DRE’MONT JONES #86 DT OHIO STATE 6’3/285 JR
In some ways JONES is a little over-hyped because he’s a Buckeye, but then again he gets a lot done considering he plays in a DL rotation because of excellent DL depth in Columbus. He’s a very active guy and makes up for his lack of girth with relentless work shooting gaps and playing behind the opponents’ line. It turned out to be a good game (vs. TCU) for me to be focusing on his play, because once NICK BOSA left with a groin injury, it seemed to me that JONES really stepped up his intensity. On the night JONES recorded 6 tackles, 4 of them solo. He had 2 TFL, including a sack. He also blocked a pass attempt and intercepted an ill-advised shuttle pass, which he returned for a TD. He has good functional strength and quickness off the snap. He also uses his hands well to shed blockers, as well as latch on to runners. I find his game play reminiscent of GENO ATKINS of the Bengals and formerly of UGA. As long as he’s placed alongside a big body DT mate, as a pro, I think he’ll do just fine. He needs to play in a base 4-3 scheme for best results, IMO. If he comes out early for the 2019 Draft, I see him being a late 2nd Rounder. That’s a solid spot in a Draft that should easily feature a half-dozen-plus DL in Round 1.
MARCUS KEYES #75 OG OKLAHOMA STATE 6’3/300 JR
Glad I eyeballed KEYES against Boise. He may come out early, and if he does he’s likely to be drafted on Day 3. He has a nice body size, with a wide base. Playing for the Cowboys he gets a good mix of both run blocking and pass pro. He has very active legs and feet. Most plays I watched, he seldom stopped moving his feet, which most OL coaches really like to stress. He also shows some better than average lateral movement. In fact, he looks more natural shuffling his feet side to side, than he does charging straight forward. Not a jarring blocker, but shows the ability to stay locked into his defender. But he also did a nice job of using peripheral vision to find a loose defender and slide over to help block him. His head is on a swivel looking to help out. Has solid power for his size. He might be able to mirror the solid pro career of another former Oklahoma State OL named LANE TAYLOR, who now starts in Green Bay. Might need another 10+ pounds for the NFL interior OL game. Looks solid enough to be drafted when he leaves school, but I’ve seen some folks put him in their Top 100 prospects lists. That I don’t see right now. He’s a middle round prospect to my eyes.
TONY POLLARD #1 RS/WR MEMPHIS 5’11/200 JR
I felt cheated watching Memphis host Georgia State Friday night, primarily because State had figured out in advance that there was no reason to kick-off in the direction of POLLARD. And they were correct, but at the same time it deprived us all of the opportunity to see a guy do what he does better than anyone else in college football. In 2017 teams kicked off somewhere that POLLARD could get his hands on the ball and he returned 22 kick-offs. He scored 4 TD on those 22 touches and averaged 40.1 yards per return. His combination of speed, quickness, field vision, and balance are uncanny. Playing second fiddle to Anthony Miller (96 catches, and now with DA BEARS), he was limited to 36 receptions as a Wideout. This year he is more of a target, although in this contest the Panthers also locked in on him as a receiver, limiting him to 3 catches for 42 yards, and 1 TD. He is not as fast (who is) as TYREEK HILL/Chiefs, but he is a potential NFL game changer, like TYREEK. If he can get his hands on enough balls this season he could make it into the 3rd Round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
ISAIAH PRINCE #57 OT OHIO STATE 6’7/310
Because of quality recruiting in the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State, any player who starts for multiple years has to be given serious consideration as a pro prospect. Against TCU, PRINCE was starting his 30th game as an OL for the Buckeyes. His length reminds me of TYRON SMITH of the Cowboys. Just his length folks, not his overall talent. His arm length is going to be eye popping at the Combine, but his strength leaves a bit to be desired. He has a nice hand punch in pass-pro, but his feet can get tangled and he can be pushed around by real speedy, low bending DE. He is an effective player, and worked hard against the smaller, but quicker TCU edge rushers. He might be a bit more developed overall, but is similar to Jamarco Jones, last year’s LT for the Buckeyes. Based on his length and pedigree I can see early Day 3 for his draft position. He doesn’t get me excited, but with work he can play at the next level.
A.J. RICHARDSON #7 WR BOISE STATE 6’0/210
Knowing that I was thumb-nailing BRETT RYPIEN, I also kept my eyes open for his top receiver to see how much of a potential pro talent he might be throwing to. Didn’t take long to figure out his go-to guy. When Boise narrowed the score to 12-20, my notes said… WOW!!! The sideline throw was a good one from RYPIEN, but the stretching, one handed catch by RICHARDSON, was what prompted the Wow! It turned into a 34-yard catch/run TD. The top Boise receiver in 2017 was Cowboys draftee CEDRICK WILSON, who is currently on IR, but who I think will help the Dallas WR group next season. RICHARDSON was the Broncos number two wideout last season with 32 catches. He looks like he will at least double that number this season. He has a nice solid build, and looks long, with big hands. I’m not sure of his speed, but even if it is not elite, his playing speed looks fast to me. For the game RICHARDSON caught 6 balls for 70 yards and 1 TD. I am guessing that in some Mountain West conference games he will have double figure catch totals and 100-yard games. I absolutely will be watching for him later this season, and based on what I saw, hope he’ll be at an All-Star venue in January.
BRETT RYPIEN #4 QB BOISE STATE 6’3/205 After a bit of a shaky start, and poor perception on my part, I began to put RYPIEN’s performance against Okie State into perspective. The Cowboys Defense was way too fast and aggressive for the Boise OL to handle. Thusly, RYPIEN was under duress all game long. Luckily he proved athletic enough to move around and extend plays most of the game. When the day was done and Oklahoma State had a fairly easy W in hand RYPIEN had performed admirably and shown some serious pro QB traits. In his 39th start for Boise, RYPIEN was 39/56, 69.6%, 380 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT. Folks, those numbers are amazing for how overmatched his team was as indicated by a 21-44 Loss. I addition to his mobility, which helped extend plays, he showed an above average arm and some nice touch on his throws. When not scrambling around, he showed a quick release and seems to see the field well. I think the 0 INT is quite impressive if you understand what kind of pressure he faced. I am not sure he will have much left to prove by the end of this season. At the worst I feel like he has NFL back-up QB traits, and in the right system, might even gain a starting job in time. Could be a 3rd Round draftee if his play progresses this season.
DEVIN WHITE #40 IB LSU 6’1/255 JR
A lot of what I wrote above about DAVIS/Auburn would be ditto for WHITE. WHITE got the full-time IB gig for LSU last season, and led the team with 133 tackles; more than double that of the next LSU defender. He carries on the ILB tradition of former LSU greats, most recently being one KENDELL BECKWITH of the BUCS. What amazes me is the speed and agility he shows for a guy who weighs between 250-260 lbs. He’s everywhere, including pass coverage, delivering nasty blows to opposing backs and receivers. Against Auburn he was credited with 8 tackles, 5 solo and 1 TFL. I would also note that he is credited with being a film-study geek by his coaches, and it shows on game day. I saw him multiple times calling out directions to his defensive teammates regarding the play about to be run. This attribute of his brings LUKE KUECHLY to mind. It saves a lot of steps, and fractions of seconds, in getting to the ball when, as a defender, you know where the play going. And based on that extensive film study WHITE believes what he sees before the ball is snapped. A healthy WHITE will top 100 tackles again this season, declare for the 2019 Draft and be drafted by Round 2, if not before.