ZACK BAUN #56 OB WISCONSIN 6’3/225
The BADGERS football program is known primarily for its OL and RB contributions to the NFL, but you’re not paying close attention if you haven’t noticed the infusion of LB prospects into the NFL from Madison’s beloved football program. 3 new LB’s from the BADGERS program dot 2019 NFL rosters. ANDREW VAN GINKEL/DOLPHINS, RYAN CONNELLY/GIANTS and T.J. EDWARDS/EAGLES are all NFL Rookie LB’s. JOE SCHOBERT in CLEVELAND has led the BROWNS in tackles for several years now. I think you get the picture. Well, here comes another mid-Round draftee for 2020 in BAUN, who was the team’s 3rd leading tackler last season after EDWARDS and CONNELLY, with 63 tackles. BAUN can do a bit of everything, including drop into coverage, which is critical for a LB in today’s NFL defenses. Once again, BAUN was all over the field in the big win vs. MICHIGAN last Saturday. His final stats read as follows; 7 Tackles, 4 solo, 1 sack, 2 TFL, and 2 QBH’s. Those numbers do not even reflect some nice work in underneath coverage, as well. I think a bunch of folks are sleeping on this guy, but with every W for UW this season, he will be picked up by more folks on the scouting radar. I feel that he has a chance to crack the Top 100 prospect rankings. He’s in mine already.
RODRIGO BLANKENSHIP #98 K GEORGIA 6’1/190
Forget the “nerdy” glasses and the long lanky frame. Blankenship is in his 4th season as the Bulldogs place kicker. And after the Bulldogs W over Notre Day Saturday night he is now 8 for 8 on field goal attempts for the season. He was 3/3 against the Fighting Irish with a long kick of 43-yards. In his career he has now attempted 5-50 yards, or longer, FG and made 4 of them. He can reach the end zone on his kick-offs. Despite the fact that he already has a degree, and is working on his Masters Degree, his 3.71 GPA has not held back his popularity in the Georgia locker room. In the Athens area it might be safe to say that he has achieved celebrity status. There are still handful of NFL teams every season that are on the lookout for Kickers and/or Punters when the Draft rolls around. I expect Blankenship to be in the battle as first to be selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
GABRIEL DAVIS #13 WR UCF 6’3/212 JR
The passing attack of the UCF program is a serious college football entity which has been producing some very nice receiving prospects in recent years. The latest of that group of prospects is this fine Junior prospect who is working with a new frosh QB, and doing his very best to nurture his young QB along. Needless to say his nice size makes him an easy to locate receiver in traffic. DAVIS also has shown excellent hands and good ball skills. He seems especially adept at making the catch on throws coming in directly over his head. That is a highly desirable skill for receivers deemed to be deep ball threats, which he clearly is. His coaches also praise him for being true devotee’ of film study. In the disappointing loss to PITT, DAVIS did as much, or more, as anyone on the team to manufacture (in vain) another W. DAVIS had 10 catches for 151 yards and 2 TD. Given the level at which he is currently performing, I would expect him to rank as a Second or Third Round pick in the 2020 Draft. Expect him to declare or early entry into said Draft.
NICK EUBANKS #82 TE MICHIGAN 6’5/252
EUBANKS seems to fit into that category of a guy whose athleticism seems to exceed his productivity so far in his actual collegiate career. He’s a physical specimen who excels at blocking, but also shows some flashes as a receiver. He shows good hand/eye coordination and natural hands. TE’s of his physical type are not thrown to a lot in the HARBAUGH offensive scheme, traditionally. Run first is the basis of a HARBAUGH offense, and EUBANKS excels in that role as an inline blocker. But with loss of last year’s starter (GENTRY), and an injury to current fellow TE McKEON, chances are that EUBANKS may see a few more throws come his way. I am not going to proclaim him as a leading pass catcher just yet, but with more targets, his catch count will go up, of course. Against WISCONSIN, he caught 3 balls for 20 yards. Last season, he caught 8 balls. He has 7 this year through 3 games. He will see more chances with the ball going forward, but keep in mind that ZACH GENTRY, their top TE last season, caught only 32 balls himself. I will just say that I believe he is enough of a natural athlete to be in the running for a late round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft.
LEKI FOTU #99 DT UTAH 6’5/330
The size of this prospect is almost incomprehensible. To me, he looks even larger than 6’5/330. And perhaps the most amazing thing about him, when watching game action, is how well he runs, and how much ground he covers for his size. And if you doubt his power, just find some game tape. In the UTES loss last Saturday evening, the TROJANS coaches were wise enough to have him double team blocked from the get-go. Triple teaming seemed to result from his hit on QB SLOVIS that knocked him out of the game after the first offensive series for USC, yet he still held his spot and/or worked his way to the ball the rest of the evening. He only recorded 2 tackles for the night with one being that TFL, but he spent an awful lot of time time pressuring the pocket and trolling along the line of scrimmage. For some NFL team that lacks an anchor for their DL, I would surmise that FOTU has late first round value. Gargantuan is my single word description of his frame and his style of play. It is also worth noting that he has a “C” on the chest area of his uniform. I firmly believe that this is one of those guys BILL PARCELLS had in mind, when he talked about God only making a limited number of truly big bodies to walk on this earth!
JUSTIN HERBERT #10 QB OREGON 6’6/235
HERBERT, and the DUCKS, are off to a solid start to the 2019 season, despite an opening game loss to AUBURN. For the night against STANFORD, HERBERT went 19/24- 79%- 259 yards- 3 TD’s- and 0 INT’s. And I might suggest that his receiving corps leaves a bit to be desired in the “hands” department. I saw way too many drops on fairly routine throws both times that I have watched him this season. That’s a big surprise given that his receiving corps dropped over 50 balls last season! I also sense a bit more maturity and calmness in his demeanor out on the field. He has a strong arm and good mobility in the pocket to extend plays by moving around. He doesn’t throw BB’s, but he can go deep with accuracy. I can guarantee you, that like me, what pro scouts are most excited about is that he has his team at 3-1, and has yet to throw an INT. Since his receiving corps is still far from being an elite group, this year’s numbers are pretty special, especially the 74.4% completion percentage and his 14/0, TD/INT ratio. I’m just not sure he’s Top 10 timber for the 2020 Draft right now, but I will say that he’s on his way to improving his Draft stock significantly if he keeps this pattern of play up. He has the potential to be a Top 10 draftee with a standout 2019 season.
MICHAEL PITTMAN #6 WR SOUTHERN CAL 6’4/220
The senior Captain looks be primed for a big season for the 2019 TROJANS, despite being down to their 3rd string QB after the big win over UTAH. He isn’t a speedster, but for his size, once he gets going downfield he is hard to catch. He showed good concentration, excellent balance and power, and enough speed to outrun the UTAH secondary for a 77-yard catch and run TD, as the highlight play in his 10-catch, 232 yard evening. An impressive aspect of his game is his work as a tireless, aggressive blocker for his teammates. In an earlier game against Stanford, PITTMAN went without a first half catch. Though he seemed to be being used initially as a decoy, I saw him making block after block. In today’s world of receiver divas, PITTMAN appears to be a level headed team guy. He should be a welcome addition to somebody’s locker room next season. He wins most jump-ball situations against most defenders. I can see him eventually becoming someone’s No. 2 receiver.
CAMERON SCARLETT #22 STANFORD 6’1/216
It can get pretty frustrating having to sit behind first CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY, and then BRYCE LOVE, to start your collegiate career as a RB. But SCARLETT stuck it out on “the Farm” and now it’s his turn to be No. 1 on the RB depth chart. He’s trying to make the most of it, but his OL is badly banged up, and most of the backups are Freshmen. SCARLETT will get what is blocked for him, and then a couple more yards with forward lean and leg drive. He’s not the home run threat that both his RB predecessors were, but he gets yards and leads the team in effort. Quite a bit of his pro potential is going to depend upon his potential as a receiver, which looks pretty good right now. His biggest challenge will be to rise above expectations when compared to two Heisman contenders, which be played behind. My guess is that he will be, at best, a late round pick, but if he winds up on a roster needing RB depth, he will have a chance to make an NFL roster in 2020. Another asset for him is his willingness and ability to block for his QB against the blitz. That is a big deal in the pro game. Again Oregon, he carried 19 times for 97 yards. So far on the season, he has 321-yards rushing, at 4.6 ypc with 1 TD. He has also gathered in 10 receptions for another 88 yards. What Scarlett needs is a big statistical game in a late season contest against a decent opponent. Look for him at the Shrine Game or Senior Bowl venue.
ANDREW THOMAS #71 LT GEORGIA 6’5/320 JR
Right now, I would wholeheartedly rank THOMAS as the best natural LT prospect for the 2020 Draft. His big frame comes with a lethal combination of athleticism and power. I luv how low he stays in his stance while in pass-pro. He moves his feet well, but does not waste a lot of energy on extra steps. In the old vernacular, he is a natural knee bender. He gets to second level blocks with ease. When he’s called upon to execute a seal block, especially to the inside, he just walls the play off, like an eclipse blotting out the sun. In watching him, I felt that he did a very nice job making an extra block once his assignment was taken care of. Making that extra block, by playing to the whistle, excites most scouts, as it should. I’m anxious to find out his arm length, out of curiosity, not from any concern. I do not see any blatant flaws in his game right now. Assuming that he leaves school early for the 2020 Draft, I can’t see him getting past a Top 10 Draft slot. This is the kind of player you build an OL unit around for a decade or more. All you NFL teams without a franchise LT, pay attention to this player from this point on.
STANLEY THOMAS-OLIVER #21 CB FIU 6’2/185
If you’re looking for a solid prospect to keep an eye on for the remainder of this season, then look no further than THOMAS-OLIVER. He has that long frame that you look for at the Corner spots, and best of all, he is a weapon in run support. Against LA TECH last Friday night, he was credited with 9 Tackles, 8 of them solo, and 1 TFL. Even though he had no stats as a pass defender I think we can point to 1 Int and 10 PD in the 2018 season as a clear indication that he has some solid ball skills. I didn’t notice any skills that would rank him as a Top 100 prospect, but he should be able to garner some support as a late round pick by the end of the 2019 season.