There was so much hype surrounding the potential of Week 7 in college football that it felt like it would more likely be a letdown than live up to it all. Somehow it exceeded all expectations and was jam-packed with everything, a great week in college football needs to get the juices flowing. Seeing #3 Georgia get taken down in a messy double OT game against South Carolina had most of the country in tears of joy. Then, there was the Red River Rivalry where Oklahoma proved they’re worthy of consideration for the College Football Playoff. Mix in #9 Notre Dame almost losing at home to a bad USC team, #10 Penn State edging out #17 Iowa in a classic mind-numbing Big Ten football battle, and sprinkle in plenty of other interesting games and you’ve got a perfect cocktail of a college football week.
Tweet of the Week
"He'll get someone fired."
As the NFL Draft approaches get ready for all kinds of anonymous quotes from evaluators on kids. Per Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller an NFL scout had plenty of negatives to say about Oregon QB Justin Herbert. “Will get someone fired,” is a big one that stands out. Sure, Herbert is raw right now and will take development, but the physical traits and ball placement he brings to the table are exactly what NFL teams usually fawn over. Also said about Herbert, “lacks a killer mentality,” and, “I’ve never understood the love with this kid.” The killer mentality quote is going to be overused when it comes to Herbert. He’s a quiet leader and the NFL loves to get overly obsessed with little things like that when it comes to QBs.
At the end of the day just watch the Herbert tape and evaluate the kid. Stop going after these guys anonymously through media outlets. There’s nothing wrong with talking about the negatives of his game like his lack of consistency, his injury history, and never getting the chance to take over games because of the offense he plays in. But to come after a kid with nothing truly backing up your empty negative statements just seems cowardly. Herbert is clearly a top QB talent and likely won’t get out of the top five, but now these quotes will follow him the rest of the season. Welcome to the NFL and buckle in folks, there’s going to be a lot more quotes like this on prospects.
In the News
Recently the NFL has followed in the footsteps of the NBA by making massive trades that involve stars. Just five years ago stuff like this never ever would have been fathomable. Welcome to the player empowerment era. Not only is this a good thing for the players, but it makes the game so much more interesting as a fan. Seeing stars get flipped for huge picks is exciting for both sides. This week Rams GM Les Snead, a known tradesman, shipped off two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick for Jaguars All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey. That’s the fifth trade in the NFL since the end of August that’s either included a first-round pick or a Pro Bowl player. It’s glorious chaos and there’s more on the way as the trade deadline approaches.
All these blockbuster trades bring up the thought of how important is the now vs. the future for an NFL GM? Usually, it’s said that the head coach cares about winning now while the GM cares about building the future. We’ve seen trades that would say otherwise as of late though, are GMs selling the future to salvage the now? It certainly seems like Les Snead made a blockbuster move to try and jumpstart the struggling Rams. He’s never been one to shy away from trading first-round picks. The Rams will have gone five straight drafts without one now that the 2020 and 2021 firsts are gone.
There’s more player movement than ever, every new QB contract is more expensive than the last, and job security is about as secure as the lyrics off of a track from Pinkerton, GMs roles have evolved. It’s a win-now league and most ownership, front offices, coaching staffs, players, and fans would throw away their future for one shot at the Lombardi.
Star: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Prior to the season the vast majority of NFL Draft analysts had LSU safety Grant Delpit as a top-five prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. Although he hasn’t been talked about nearly as much as other top prospects like Chase Young, Andrew Thomas, and Jerry Jeudy, he’s still very much in the conversation. Has Delpit had a Heisman type of season for a DB? No, but he’s been impressive and is still a clear first-round lock. Really what works against him is the position he plays. Derwin James, a similar type of versatile safety, slid to the 17th pick and the Chargers got a steal. In LSU’s biggest game of the season so far, the win over Florida Delpit reminded the country he’s an elite player.
The key to getting the most out of Delpit will be using him in all kinds of ways. He’s a defensive chess piece so why pigeonhole him into playing one spot when he’s at his most valuable doing a bit of everything, similar to James. He’s got great size at 6-3, 203 pounds and the easy moving smoothness to play anywhere in the defensive backfield. Delpit consistently shows the range and instincts to play single-high and make plays. He’s also shown the ability to man up on tight ends down the seam and slots while lined up at nickel. If a team wants a do it all cover man, then Delpit is the dude. At the same time, he’s got the physicality and explosiveness to be a violent run defender from the box and can even blitz off the edge. He does it all.
If there’s one flaw to look at with Delpit it’s over-aggression leading to missed tackles. Other than that he’s a versatile and game-changing safety. It feels more and more likely that he’ll slide in the draft due to teams having other major needs. This could be Derwin James all over again.
Sleeper: John Hightower, WR, Boise State
There’s never been a better time to be a deep threat wide receiver in the NFL than right now. These are the guys the NFL covets and that’s reflected in the way teams have drafted, just look at Hollywood Brown last year. Every team wants a guy who can run sub-4.4 and rip the heart out of a defense in a single play. The 2020 WR class is dumb deep and there are so many different types of pass catchers. For a team looking for a true burner on Day 3, or even maybe Day 2 with the way he’s been playing, look no further than Boise State’s John Hightower.
Hightower’s hype has come along somewhat slowly because he plays for a Group of 5 school, but he’s the most dangerous player on Boise State. In just 15 college games Hightower has 1,178 yards and 13 TDs on 70 touches, that’s 16.8 yards per touch. Then when you factor in how dangerous he is as a kick returner, you’ve got yourself a multidimensional playmaker. He’s long and thin at 6-2, 172 pounds, but he consistently wins with his deep separation. Hightower can play in the slot or at Z in the NFL and if he continues to improve as a route runner then his future is bright.
The Senior Bowl will be a huge test for Hightower. It will give scouts a chance to see how his speed stacks up against other top prospects. The Senior Bowl will also be a huge opportunity for him to showcase his route running and hands. If he keeps up the strong season into the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine, then he could be one of the biggest risers of the NFL Draft season.
Overrated: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
In as deep a WR class as the one coming in the 2020 NFL Draft, there will be players lost in the shuffle. There’s too much talent for it all to go in the top 100 picks and there are many different flavors of wide receiver. One guy who’s being miscast by some as a potential first-round pick right now is Texas’, Collin Johnson. Johnson is 6-6, 220 pounds and makes some incredible contested catches. At the same time, he’s created more questions than answers so far this season. Johnson has missed major time this season due to injuries and hasn’t produced consistently at the level expected out of a potential first-round pick.
What’s really going to hurt Johnson during the evaluation process is the athleticism questions. He’s a massive jump-ball receiver who makes some incredible circus catches, but he clearly struggles to separate. Having that much size is great, but when the speed isn’t there to create separation it takes away from mismatch opportunities. Then factor in his route running and there will be plenty of questions about how he will separate in the NFL. Lack of deep speed and inconsistent routes usually equals tight coverage. It hasn’t helped Johnson that he’s been struggling with drops this season either.
Overall, there’s plenty to like with Johnson. He’s got a huge catch radius makes plays through traffic, creates jaw-dropping plays, and blocks his ass off. But a lot like Hakeem Butler last season there are questions about overall athleticism and route running that will keep him from being a top 50 pick, especially in such a deep class.
Risers and Sliders
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
- For whatever reason, there are still those who doubt CeeDee Lamb as a top NFL Draft prospect. Yet, each week he shows why he should be considered in the same tier as Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs. Lamb was unstoppable against Texas in the Red River Rivalry. It felt like every time he touched the ball he was going to score. On multiple occasions, he was surrounded by Longhorns and managed to slip his way out of tackles and take the ball to the house. Lamb finished with 10 receptions for 171 yards and 3 TDs, a dominant performance. He might not be an elite athlete, but Lamb’s YAC, route running, and body control is exactly what NFL teams want in a WR1. He has shades of DeAndre Hopkins.
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
- There’s going to be constant debate until April about which QB will be selected after Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft, but Joe Burrow has made the strongest case. One again in a week where other top QBs were up and down, Burrow shined. He’s beginning to distance himself and has shown up against top-ranked teams. Against Florida, Burrow was accurate, poised, and making elite decisions. The Gators have talent all over their defense yet Burrow totaled 336 yards and 3 TDs while completing 87% of his throws for 12.2 YPA. His ball placement is deadly and touch throws are elite. Burrow isn’t the same physical specimen as some of the other QBs, but he’s proving his IQ, leadership, and accuracy are worthy of leading a franchise.
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
- There might not be a defensive prospect in the country who has improved more than Oklahoma’s Kenneth Murray. Murray, the preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year put up huge numbers as a sophomore but struggled with consistent tackling, reading keys, and shedding blocks. This season he’s using all the athleticism and aggressiveness that he’s beloved for, but playing much more consistent and sound football. Against Texas, he was all over the field making plays. A handful of major run stops and explosive blitzes had his name buzzing. Murray racked up 5 tackles, 2 TFLs, and a sack in the game. He’s turned into a defensive weapon and has played himself into Day 2.
Neville Gallimore, IDL, Oklahoma
- Two Oklahoma defenders are good enough to talk about every week, boy times have changed. Like Murray, Neville Gallimore has taken all his athletic potential and turned it into production this season. He’s been one of the best interior defensive linemen in the country and isn’t slowing down anytime soon. He was a force against Texas, just throwing Longhorns center Zach Shackelford around. Gallimore’s power and athleticism make him such a dangerous interior pass rusher. There were times he won with a straight bull rush and others where he whipped out a spin move. That’s not even mentioning how much improvement he has made with his hands. The big Canadian picked up 2 sacks in the game, but added so much more as a stout run defender.
Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama
- As long as Terrell Lewis can stay healthy for the rest of the season he will be drafted high in the 2020 NFL Draft, assuming medicals are clean. Lewis is finally healthy for Alabama and looking like the pass rusher they always dreamed he could be for them. Against Texas A&M he was the most disruptive player on the Bama D. His get off, length, and power was creating fits for the Aggies right tackle. There are few players in the country as gifted athletically as Lewis. He came away with 2 sacks in the win but caused so much more pressure. This guy looks like the type of first-round edge rusher you’d create in a lab. Health is the only question right now.
Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
- It’s pretty impossible not to put Georgia’s 20-17 upset loss to South Carolina squarely on Jake Fromm’s shoulders. He threw 3 INTs and had one returned for a touchdown and all three were poor decisions from Fromm. This game is going to be constantly referenced when looking at Fromm as an NFL Draft prospect going forward. He just doesn’t have the physical tools or upside to be worthy of a high draft pick. Sure, the football IQ and accuracy are strong, but he’s a less athletic Andy Dalton. In the biggest moments of this game, he couldn’t step up and making a play for the Bulldogs. To use a first-round pick on a QB like Fromm when there are passers with much higher ceilings just seems like a recipe for disaster.
CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
- Nobody is questioning CJ Henderson’s athleticism nor if he has the tools to play on Sunday’s, but it’s hard to justify spending an early pick on him. Against LSU, Henderson flashed some of his impressive man-to-man cover ability with a few big PBUs, but it was still a messy game overshadowing the good. Once again, he looked unwilling to tackle and that doesn’t look like a problem that will be fixed. Henderson just wants no business with hitting. He also made a few mental errors and looked like he lacked effort. This led to a 54-yard TD from Ja’Marr Chase that effectively ended Florida’s chances. Henderson has the traits, but he just doesn’t seem willing.
Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
- On paper, it’s hard to argue that Jalen Hurts struggled in Oklahoma’s 34-27 win over Texas. Hurts totaled 366 yards and 4 TDs and most importantly he kept the Sooners undefeated. When you really look at the game though, he struggled. Hurts turned the ball over twice in the red zone. Once on a lost fumble and another on an awful decision to throw back across his body into traffic. He looked uncomfortable for much of the game when under pressure. It led to breakdowns in his mechanics and poor decisions. To keep his NFL Draft hype up he’s going to have to show consistency with his improved footwork, decision making, and throwing motion. Seeing it revert back in this game was worrisome.
Zach Shackelford, C, Texas
- Prior to the season, there was some major love for Zach Shackelford from some NFL Draft folk. Some believed he could be a top 100 pick and be a potential starting center in the NFL. He’s got decent size and he’s a physical run blocker, but that’s too rich for him. It was showcased against Oklahoma how much he needs to improve going forward to reach the potential some saw in him. Not only did he struggle to handle Gallimore’s pass rush, but he had an off-target snap, something that’s been recurring this season. He’s going to need to improve his anchor, leverage, and footwork a ton to make it as a starting center in the NFL.
Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
- Bryce Hall isn’t a slider this week due to play. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle in Virginia’s loss to Miami and will miss the remainder of the season. It’s tough news for any player to come away with a season-ending injury, but it’s even worse for Hall. He’s in his last year of eligibility for the Cavs and chose to return to school despite likely being the first cornerback off the board in the 2019 NFL Draft. Hall is known for his elite ball skills, crisp press technique, and great instincts. The issue is he’s also got athleticism questions and this injury is going to work against him. He might not be able to test at the NFL Combine and without the athletic testing teams will be scared off. He’s going to be a very interesting evaluation.
Top 10 S Rankings
|5||Hamsah Nasirildeen||Florida State|
|6||Alohi Gilman||Notre Dame|
|8||Reggie Floyd||Virginia Tech|
|9||Antoine Brooks Jr.||Maryland|
|10||Levonta Taylor||Florida State|
Game of the Week
#16 Michigan @ #7 Penn State
It’s going to be hard to top the slate of games in college football from Week 7. It was essentially the perfect week with everything anybody could have hoped for in multiple aspects. Week 8 isn’t too shabby itself, but you have to really look for the gems. #3 Clemson @ Louisville, #18 Baylor @ Oklahoma State, and #17 Arizona State @ #13 Utah are quietly interesting games for different reasons. Then there’s #12 Oregon @ #25 Washington, a game with huge ramifications in the Pac-12 North and a massive test for two future NFL QBs (Justin Herbert and Jacob Eason). Lots of solid football, but the game everybody will be watching, and ESPN GameDay will be attending, is #16 Michigan @ #7 Penn State.
Nobody can be certain if Penn State is for real, but they keep on winning. Heading into this game 6-0 and taking down a high profile ranked opponent like Michigan could be substantial for their resume. For Michigan, this is a chance at redemption. They’ve won three straight since the loss to Wisconsin and are now 5-1. They play three top 10 teams in their final six games and winning just one of those is important for Jim Harbaugh’s future. From a prospect perspective it’s all about the pass rushers. Michigan’s Kwity Paye and Josh Uche have come on big as of late while Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos, Shaka Toney and Robert Windsor have carried their defense. The best matchup though? It’s definitely Nittany Lions WR KJ Hamler vs. Wolverines CB Lavert Hill.
|#16 Michigan||#7 Penn State|
|Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR||Yetur Gross-Matos, EDGE|
|Nico Collins, WR||KJ Hamler, WR|
|Lavert Hill, CB||Shaka Toney, EDGE|
|Cesar Ruiz, C||Robert Windsor, IDL|
|Kwity Paye, EDGE||Cameron Brown, LB|
|Josh Uche, EDGE||Steven Gonzalez, OG|
|Tarik Black, WR||Michael Menet, C|
|Ben Bredeson, OG||Will Fries, OT|
|Khaleke Hudson, LB||Jan Johnson, LB|
|Jon Runyan, OT||John Reid, DB|
|Josh Metellus, S||Garrett Taylor, S|
|Michael Danna, EDGE|
|Michael Onwenu, OG|
|Shea Patterson, QB|
Underclassmen on the Radar
Freaky Frosh: Roschon Johnson, RB, Texas
- Despite Texas falling 34-27 to Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry, freshman RB Roschon Johnson made a name for himself. He was Texas’ most consistent playmaker throughout the day totaling 118 yards and a score on just 12 touches. He was running strong behind his pads and bouncing off tackles, but also flashed his explosiveness when he broke off a 57-yard run. Johnson is an interesting player because was originally a QB at Texas and has never played RB in his life. Due to a handful of injuries Tom Herman asked Johnson to switch positions. At 6-2, 220 pounds, Johnson brings interesting size to the position. With Sam Ehlinger likely back again next season, it will be interesting to see if Johnson sticks at RB going forward. Johnson currently leads the team in rushing with 363.
Super Sophomore: Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
- There’s been so much talk about the starting seniors along the Oregon offensive line this season. All four of them have a good chance of suiting up on Sunday’s next year, but what about their left tackle? Just a true sophomore Penei Sewell isn’t talked about nearly as much because he’s not draft eligible, but he’s the best of the bunch. Sewell is a rare combo of size and athleticism in an overly aggressive offensive lineman. He reminded the world that he’s likely a future first-round pick in the Ducks 45-3 win over Colorado. Sewell was just throwing people out of the club and helped Oregon rush for 252 yards. This is the guy in the 2021 NFL Draft that teams in search of a franchise left tackle are going to want to see.
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