The college football season is flying by and the playoff rankings are here with Alabama, Clemson, LSU, and Notre Dame coming in as the initial four. We’ve got a massive slate of games ahead of us in Week 10, but before that a lot of prospects helped and hurt their stock this week.
Tweet of the Week
Harry Houdini. Real Deal N'Keal. Dirty Harry.
On Thursday Nigh Football Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins made an all-time one-handed between the legs catch. Unfortunately, it was called back due to off-setting penalties. Luckily, on Saturday Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry made an insane one-handed catch of his own that actually counted. The grab from Harry basically broke Twitter.
On top of the one-handed catch, Harry had a dominant performance with four receptions for 95 yards, a 44-yard TD grab, and a 92-yard punt return touchdown in the Sun Devils win over USC. It was one of the most dynamic games of his career. It’ll be an interesting draft evaluation with Harry. He’s a polarizing prospect known for making insane plays, but not for being a consistent or refined receiver along with some athleticism questions. He currently sits as my #2 WR prospect.
In the News
It looks like the NFL might do it again. They might go ahead and mess up drafting a stud interior defensive lineman because of size questions. Houston’s Ed Oliver is a consensus top three prospect, but the buzz around his size has gotten louder in recent weeks. Oliver is listed at 6-3, 292 pounds by the Houston Cougars website, but word is that he’s closer to 6-0, 275 pounds. That’s not great news but it also shouldn’t mean he’s no longer an elite prospect. We’ve seen the NFL look too much into a lack of size with interior defensive linemen before. Tape should always outweigh everything else, get it?
In recent years’ interior defensive linemen with fantastic tape slide down the draft board because they’re labeled as undersized. Three big names this has happened to are Aaron Donald, Geno Atkins, and Grady Jarrett. All three of them are top 10 interior defensive linemen. Oliver is a freak on tape who consistently wins with leverage and athleticism while taking on double and even triple teams. He’s a dominant force and he’s racked up 189 tackles, 52 TFLs, and 13.5 sacks in 31 games at Houston. For those who would argue it’s because he’s playing lesser competition in the AAC, against Power 5 schools he’s put up 40 tackles, 8 TFLs, 4 sacks, 3 PBU’s, and 2 forced fumbles in just 6 games. Don’t overthink this one NFL; Oliver is a freak prospect.
Star: Josh Allen, EDGE/LB, Kentucky (6-5, 260 pounds)
One of the most impressive risers of the college football season in terms of NFL Draft stock has been Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen. Last year Allen played like a raw athlete who was stuck between finding his way as an off-ball linebacker and edge rusher. This year he’s excelled in both roles and looks like a completely different player when rushing the passer.
Allen has added 20 pounds this season and looks like a far more NFL-ready edge player. In just eight games this season, Allen has racked up 56 tackles, 14.5 TFLs, 10 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles. Prior to the season I believed he would have to find his home as an off-ball linebacker because of lack of pass rush skill. Now, I think he can be a first-round pick.
In terms of size and athleticism Josh Allen is going to have teams salivating. He’s got ideal length for an edge as well as impressive explosion off the line. This season he’s added a lot more to his pass rush game after just trying to win with athleticism in previous seasons. Allen’s got enough bend to turn the corner on offensive tackles while attacking the outside. This season he’s also added far more violent hand use to his game. He’s using the rip, chop, and swipe moves far more effectively this season. With his get off, ability to run the arc, and use his hands he’s turned into one of the best pass rushers in the country, but he can do more than just attack quarterbacks off the edge.
One of my favorite plays of the college football season:
Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen running with TE Jace Sternberger and breaking up the pass
As previously mentioned, I thought Allen was better suited as an off-ball linebacker in the NFL prior to developing his pass rushing ability. A large part of that had to do with how Allen is used at Kentucky. He’s not only asked to get after quarterbacks, Kentucky HC Mark Stoops and DC Matt House are comfortable asking Allen to drop into coverage on tight ends and running backs. For a bigger guy, Allen is damn good at it. He uses his length, athleticism, and physicality to make impressive plays downfield when he needs to, that’s a rare ability for a guy of his size and skill set. In the right NFL defensive system, having a guy of Allen’s size, athleticism, and versatility can be a cheat code.
Pro Comparison: Anthony Barr
Sleeper: Olamide Zaccheaus, WR, Virginia (5-8, 190 pounds)
The NFL has evolved into an offensive heavy league. They’ve taken schemes and concepts from college football to spread out defenses and create mismatches. One of the more noticeable offensive trends in today’s NFL is the importance of having a motion man at wide receiver. Team’s like the Rams, Chiefs, and Bears use this type of player heavily to create misdirection, move defenders out of the box, and create mismatches in coverage. We’re going to see more and more wide outs who fit the “jet sweep” role get drafted from college football. One of the most entertaining pass catchers in college football fits that role in the NFL to perfection, it’s Virginia’s Olamide Zaccheaus.
By no means is Olamide Zaccheaus going to be a guy teams look at as a premier pass catcher, but more as a versatile offensive contributor. He has a similar skill set and will fit a similar role to Texans’ rookie Keke Coutee. In the right offense Zaccheaus can be a slot wide receiver/motion man/pass catcher out of the backfield. He’s played those roles throughout his career at Virginia. In 45 games with the Cavaliers he’s put up 2,911 yards from scrimmage and 21 TDs while averaging 10.2 an offensive touch. The key to getting the most out of Zaccheaus is understanding his skill-set.
The little jitterbug at receiver is a crisp route runner with quick feet to beat most cornerbacks that tried to beat him with physicality. That’s a key to his game. With undersize pass catchers you need them to be able to win with route running to make up for their size. Zaccheaus has a nasty start-stop ability that makes him a YAC threat whether it be on a pass downfield or on a pop pass/jet sweep. Not only does he have the star-stop quickness, but he has the burst and long speed to finish plays. Every team needs a player in their offense with the skill set of Zaccheaus.
Pro Comparison: Taylor Gabriel
Overrated: Nathan Stanley, QB, Iowa (6-4, 242 pounds)
Is Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley overrated? That depends on what you think of the Junior signal caller. Some people see hip as a top five QB and a potential developmental starter in the NFL. That’s ludicrous. Realistically, Stanley should return to Iowa for another season. He’s a mid-to-late Day 3 pick at best right now and this season is not going overly well for him. There are some traits in his game to like. He has an NFL arm, he’s not afraid to push the ball downfield, and he’s got the size desired by NFL teams for the position. But he’s not NFL-ready.
A quarterback like Stanley should be better with what’s around him at Iowa. He’s got maybe the two best tight end prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft with Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson as well as a strong offensive line. Yet he’s completing just 55.9% of his throws and has thrown at least one interception in all but one game. Ultimately, Stanley just isn’t an accurate passer. His ball placement is rarely in the best spot and he misses high or outside far too frequently. Not only that, but he stares down his receivers more often than not. At first glance Stanley may seem like an intriguing quarterback prospect, but he’s not ready for the NFL. He needs another season at Iowa.
Pro Comparison: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Risers and Sliders
Hakeem Butler, WR, Iowa State
- There’s been a bit of a void at the top of this wide receiver class ever since Ole Miss’ DK Metcalf went down for the season. There’s a ton of talk around this wide receiver class and one of the names heating up is Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler. Against Oklahoma earlier this season Butler put on a show. Then against Texas Tech this past Saturday he did it again. Butler’s got a rare combo of size and speed. He’s a monstrous 6-6, 225 pounds, but has dynamic downfield ability. Butler has a knack for making circus catches and although he’s raw, he’s a freaky prospect. He torched the Red Raiders for 148 yards and a score on just four receptions. Butler could be a rare talent.
Kelvin Harmon, WR, NC State
- Another wide receiver who’s got clear first-round ability is NC State’s Kelvin Harmon. Despite losing 51-41 to Syracuse, Harmon was unstoppable. He put up 11 receptions for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Harmon showcased his size, downfield playmaking, and ball adjustment ability throughout the game. With a deep wide receiver class, but no clear-cut WR2 at the moment, Harmon is right back in the conversation after a slow start to the season. He has a ton of Alshon Jeffery to his game.
Zack Moss, RB, Utah
- After a few impressive running back classes in a row, the 2019 class is lacking top-end talent and depth. There aren’t many running backs that look like they have potential bell-cow ability. The emergence of Utah’s Zack Moss has been huge for the class. He looked like a Day 3 prospect as a sophomore, but could be a top five RB the way he’s played as a junior. He was fantastic against UCLA running for 211 yards and 3 TDs. Moss has the contact balance, vision, and one-cut and hit it ability to be a starting running back in the NFL.
Anthony Nelson, EDGE, Iowa
- It’s a deep edge rusher class full of impressive athletes. One guy being slept on a bit is Iowa’s Anthony Nelson. Nelson isn’t the twitchy athlete some of these other guys are. He’s 6-7, 271 pounds and wins with power and heavy hands. Against Penn State, Nelson even showed some bend and the athleticism to run the arc. He posted 5 tackles, 1.5 TFLs, and 1.5 sacks in the game. With his frame, strength, hand use, and ability as a pass rusher and run defender Nelson could be a Day 2 pick if he declares.
Matt Colburn, RB, Wake Forest
- The best story of the weekend was Matt Colburn’s. Wake Forest and Colburn defeated Louisville 56-35. When Colburn was being recruited, Louisville pulled his scholarship 48 hours before signing day and he ended up walking on at Wake. As revenge he ran for 243 yards and 3 TDs in the Demon Deacons win. Colburn looks like a Day 3 running back with legitimate starting ability. He’s another guy who helps with not drafting a running back in the first-round. Colburn is a compact physical runner with the quickness to hit holes as they develop. Think Doug Martin.
Denzel Mims, WR, Baylor
- There’s a lot of talent in the wide receiver class as previously mentioned, but it’s inconsistent. There’s more than five WRs who have top five talent in this class and Denzel Mims is one of those guys. He hurt his stock badly with his performance against West Virginia. Mims had just 2 receptions for 29 yards and had very little impact on the game. To make matters worse he had two drops, one of which ended up as a WVU interception. Mims is a tall twitchy athlete with an impressive catch radius, but he needs to clean up his game.
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
- Justin Herbert is the clear QB1 in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he’s nowhere near a perfect prospect. He’s not on the level that Rosen, Mayfield, or Darnold were on last year. That showed in Oregon’s 44-15 loss to Arizona. Herbert had his worst game of the season throwing for only 186 yards with two touchdowns and an interception and completing just 50% of his passes on an awful 3.9 YPA. The consistency in Herbert’s game is not yet there and although he has flashes of brilliant ball placement, he too often forces throws into tight coverage. Herbert has the physical tools and ball placement to develop into a franchise quarterback, but he’s not a finished product.
Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M
- This tight end class could be one of the best of the decade if all the talented juniors declare. One of those talented juniors is Jace Sternberger. After dominant performances against Kentucky and South Carolina, Sternberger had his worst game of the season in the loss to Mississippi State. He caught just 2 passes for 13 yards and had 2 drops. With the depth in this class having a performance like this could be rough for his stock. His ability to play above the rim and make plays downfield is impressive, but drops are scary.
D’Andre Walker, EDGE, Georgia
- It was a big win for Georgia over Florida in the SEC, but not such a great performance for edge rusher D’Andre Walker. Walker was handled by Gators right tackle Jawaan Taylor for most of the game. He ended up with 5 tackles and a 0.5 TFL, but he couldn’t get any pressure. Multiple times Taylor just outmuscled him. In a deep edge class Walker disappearing in one of Georgia’s marquee games isn’t good. After this performance there will be athleticism and strength questions.
Levonta Taylor, CB, Florida State
- In general Florida State’s big names have all had poor seasons, other than Brian Burns who is a stud. The biggest slider from Florida State is cornerback Levonta Taylor. He was competing to be a top five cornerback in this class, but has had a rough year. Against Clemson, Taylor’s lack of size and physicality were exposed repeatedly. It doesn’t help that his technique seems to have gotten worse this season. Taylor should probably return to Florida State for another season.
Game of the Week
A top ranked Alabama going into Baton Rouge at night with LSU ranked #4? Inject this game into my veins for the numerous NFL Draft prospects playing, the pageantry of this kind of game, and for all the hard-nosed football a person could ask for. This could be the game of the season, or it could be another Alabama blowout. Either way tune in for all the future NFL players that’ll be playing in it.
Unfortunately, LSU linebacker Devin White will miss the first half of the game for a bogus targeting call. Seeing how he takes on a strong Alabama O-line against the run and as a blitzer in the second half will be important to his draft stock. Another LSU defender to pay close attention to will be cornerback Greedy Williams as he takes on the best quarterback in the country and all his talented sophomore pass catchers. In the trenches for LSU watch guard Garrett Brumfield’s return from injury in the biggest game for his draft stock. Also checkout interior defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence who will battle with a few future NFL offensive linemen.
From the Alabama perspective seeing their interior defensive linemen Quinnen Williams, Raekwon Davis, and Isaiah Buggs show up in a huge game is important. Williams and Davis could both be top 10 picks and Buggs could push himself into the first-round so seeing all three wreak havoc is key. Running back Damien Harris could end up RB1 in this class and tearing up a stout defense like LSU’s would shoot his stock up. Linebacker Mack Wilson and safety Deionte Thompson both look like first-round locks already so it’s important that they play like it.
|#1 Alabama||#4 LSU|
|Jonah Williams, OT||Garrett Brumfield, OG|
|Lester Cotton, OG||Foster Moreau, TE|
|Ross Pierschbacher, C||Joe Burrow, QB|
|Irv Smith Jr., TE||Nick Brossette, RB|
|Hale Hentges, TE||Rashard Lawrence, IDL|
|Damien Harris, RB||Devin White, LB|
|Joshua Jacobs, RB||Greedy Williams, CB|
|Isaiah Buggs, IDL||John Battle, S|
|Quinnen Williams, IDL||Kristian Fulton, CB|
|Raekwon Davis, IDL||Cole Tracy, K|
|Anfernee Jennings, EDGE|
|Christian Miller, LB/EDGE|
|Mack Wilson, LB|
|Deionte Thompson, S|
2019 NFL mid-season mock draft
|1||New York Giants||Justin Herbert, QB||Oregon|
|2||San Francisco 49ers||Nick Bosa, EDGE||Ohio State|
|3||Oakland Raiders||Ed Oliver, IDL||Houston|
|4||Buffalo Bills||Quinnen Williams, IDL||Alabama|
|5||Arizona Cardinals||Jonah Williams, OT||Alabama|
|6||Cleveland Browns||Jeffery Simmons, IDL||Mississippi State|
|7||Indianapolis Colts||Greedy Williams, CB||LSU|
|8||New York Jets||Brian Burns, EDGE||Florida State|
|9||Jacksonville Jaguars||DK Metcalf, WR||Ole Miss|
|10||Denver Broncos||David Edwards, OT||Wisconsin|
|11||Tennessee Titans||Raekwon Davis, IDL||Alabama|
|12||Oakland Raiders (from DAL)||Devin White, LB||LSU|
|13||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Deionte Thompson, S||Alabama|
|14||Detroit Lions||Clelin Ferrell, EDGE||Clemson|
|15||Atlanta Falcons||Jachai Polite, EDGE||Florida|
|16||Miami Dolphins||Montez Sweat, EDGE||Mississippi State|
|17||Philadelphia Eagles||Byron Murphy, CB||Washington|
|18||Baltimore Ravens||N’Keal Harry, WR||Arizona State|
|19||Green Bay Packers||Jerry Tillery, IDL||Notre Dame|
|20||Seattle Seahawks||Yodny Cajuste, OT||West Virginia|
|21||Oakland Raiders (from CHI)||Rashan Gary, DL||Alabama|
|22||Minnesota Vikings||Dalton Risner, OL||Kansas State|
|23||Houston Texans||Tyler Biadasz, C||Wisconsin|
|24||Cincinnati Bengals||Michael Dieter, OL||Wisconsin|
|25||Pittsburgh Steelers||Mack Wilson, LB||Alabama|
|26||Washington||JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR||Stanford|
|27||Los Angeles Chargers||Chris Lindstrom, OL||Boston College|
|28||Carolina Panthers||Hollywood Brown||Oklahoma|
|29||New England Patriots||Noah Fant, TE||Iowa|
|30||Green Bay Packers (from NO)||Kelvin Harmon, WR||NC State|
|31||Kansas City Chiefs||Amani Oruwariye, CB||Penn State|
|32||Los Angeles Rams||Josh Allen, EDGE||Kentucky|
Underclassmen on the Radar
Freaky Frosh: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
- It’s not often Clemson makes Florida State look like a Sun Belt team, but that’s what they did in their 59-10 win. A huge part of that was the performance of Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence threw for 314 yards and four TDs in the game showing off his elite arm strength. It’s early but through the first 8 games of his college career, Lawrence looks like a future first-round pick at quarterback. His arm talent is off the charts, he’s not afraid to push the ball deep, and he’s 6-6 with the frame to get up to at least 230 pounds. Clemson is set for the future with Lawrence behind center.
Super Sophomore: Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson
- In that 59-10 win over the Seminoles Lawrence did a good job spreading the ball around to different weapons. One of those weapons was Tee Higgins. The 6-4, 200-pound Sophomore looks like the next great Clemson pass catcher. Against FSU he had 6 receptions for just 62 yards, but two scores. This season he’s shown an ability to stretch the field as a dynamic playmaker and be the red zone threat a young passer like Lawrence needs. Having Lawrence, Higgins, and Travis Etienne back next year is scary.
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