This college football season is flying by with Week Two already in the books. Like every great college football week, we had upsets, Heisman performances and a lot of Imagine Dragon songs. Herm Edwards is already the King of Tempe, Florida is already a disappointment, and Jimbo Fisher already has Texas A&M looking like they’ve turned it around. Now without further ado it’s time to take a look at the week that was in college football from an NFL Draft standpoint. Oh yes here’s a shameless plug, tune into Armchair’s NFL Draft podcast Seven Rounds in Heaven, hosted by me.
Tweet of the Week
Is Kyler Murray going to end up being this generations Charlie Ward? Win the Heisman and go on to have a successful career in a different sport.
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) September 8, 2018
It might be a cop-out to use my own tweet, but this is something to legitimately consider. Oklahoma starting QB Kyler Murray was the ninth overall pick by the Oakland A’s in the 2018 MLB Draft. He gets this one season to start as the Sooners quarterback before reporting to Oakland for his baseball career. So far through two games (more like one and a half because OU was up by so much they pulled him in the game against FAU), Murray has 608 total yards and seven TDs while averaging 10.5 yards per play. Those aren’t out of these world numbers, but they’re strong and with the weapons around him in Lincoln Riley’s offense, he should be able to contend for the Heisman. The last guy to win the Heisman and go pro in another sport was former Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward. In 1993, Ward won the Heisman and Florida State’s first National Championship before going on to play 11 years in the NBA. All I’m saying is, Murray is in a decent position to make similar history.
In the News
There was unfortunate news in college football this week that will have a major effect on the NFL Draft. Oklahoma starting running back Rodney Anderson is going to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury. Anderson was one of the top, if not the #1 running back prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft class. It’s a big blow to Oklahoma, Anderson had 1,442 yards from scrimmage and 18 total TDs last season. This also creates more questions about Anderson’s health for an NFL team.
He missed all but two games in 2015 with a knee injury and all of 2016 with a neck injury. Three lost seasons in four years is concerning for a running back. He has one year of eligibility remaining after this season and he might need to use it to prove to NFL teams that he can stay healthy. On the other hand, his 2017 tape showed a first-round type of running back, so why put more tread on the tires and risk more injuries by going back to OU?
Star: Brian Lewerke, QB, Michigan State (6-2, 212 pounds)
The more I see of Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke the more I like. His poise was awesome as just a sophomore. Has a good chance to get his name buzzing for the 2019 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/skdB1F2WuB
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) June 20, 2018
Everybody is still searching for the clear cut QB1 for the 2019 NFL Draft. There are a few names consistently in the talk, Drew Lock, Justin Herbert and Brian Lewerke. Nobody else dazzles like Lewerke does though. He’s a magician. The same “It” factor that Sam Darnold had last year, Lewerke seems to possess. When the play breaks down Lewerke consistently uses his legs to keep it alive while keeping his eyes downfield. Nobody passes on the move better than him because of his ability to always get his hips around and put his lower body torque into his throws.
It’s rare to see Lewerke flustered under pressure. He has such a feel for the game you’ll see him even turn his back to the defense before flipping back around to make a big time throw. He makes at least three “WOW!” plays like this per game. The defense has to respect his mobility because he’s such a dangerous runner when the passing play isn’t there.
Like Darnold he has an elongated throwing motion, but his release is still quick, making it less of an issue. At times when dropping back his footwork can get messy which can effect his accuracy on quick throws. Despite mechanical questions Lewerke has shown he has everything else the NFL wants. There are some deep outside throws Lewerke makes that NFL quarterbacks can’t make and he has the zip to make tight window throws. His accuracy is pretty consistent from short to intermediate to deep. The “It” factor is real and Lewerke has it. Even in their loss to Arizona State on the road Lewerke played well. Making his signature wow plays and essentially carrying the Spartans in the game.
Pro Comparison: Sam Darnold
Sleeper: Darryl Williams, IOL, Mississippi State (6-2, 305 pounds)
We need to talk about Mississippi States trench play more. Defensively they have studs in Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat. Offensively Elgton Jenkins, Deion Calhoun, and Darryl Williams makeup one of the best interior O-lines in the country. Of the offensive group, Williams is the guy. He isn’t the biggest guard in the world, but he makes up for it by playing like an absolute jackal. Williams is grown man strong and plays through the whistle because he doesn’t give a damn. The play is over when he decides it’s over. His strong hands and low center of gravity make him a menace in the run game. Williams is a big reason the Bulldogs run the ball so well inside. He’s the type of guard you run behind on a third and inches to make sure you convert.
In pass protection Darryl Williams can struggle at times. His lack of length gives him trouble when facing a longer interior defensive lineman. If he doesn’t lock his hands in on his initial punch he doesn’t have great athleticism so it can be hard for him to quickly reset. Usually, he handles power rushers well thanks to a strong anchor and his hand use. Williams needs to get better at run blocking on pulls. His lack of quickness has something to do with this. All in all he looks like a starting left guard at the next level who with coaching can become an above-average starter.
Pro Comparison: Trai Turner
Overrated: Nick Fitzgerald, QB, Mississippi State (6-4, 230 pounds)
No no no no no. People who make mock drafts crazy early and don’t watch any tape before doing so need to stop. It’s so bad. It’s bad for the readers and could potentially give players false hope. That’s how players like Nick Fitzgerald get this false hype. Seeing Nick Fitgerald in a first-round mock draft is borderline insane. He isn’t an NFL starting quarterback and probably isn’t even an NFL quarterback at all.
Fitzgerald is a big athlete in the perfect system for his skill-set, but that doesn’t make him an NFL passer. He’s a great runner and does a good job with the talent he has but other than a solid arm there isn’t much there. Awful deep accuracy and barely better short to intermediate accuracy will likely kill his shot at being drafted. His footwork is a mess and he lacks poise and touch. A positon switch to tight end should be considered for Fitzgerald in the NFL.
Pro Comparison: Blaine Gabbert
Risers and Sliders
Jeffery Simmons, IDL, Mississippi State
- No player helped their draft stock more in Week Two than Jeffery Simmons. Taking on a stacked Kansas State O-line, Simmons was unstoppable. He anchored the Bulldogs defense picking up two TFLs, but making even more plays than that. Multiple times he bull rushed linemen into the K-State quarterback. Other times he ate space so others could make plays. Simmons is playing himself into top 10 pick potential in the 2019 NFL Draft.
- There wasn’t a better game than Clemson’s win over Texas A&M and the best player in that game was Clelin Ferrell. Ferrell constantly wreaked havoc as both a pass rusher and run stuffer. He picked up three TFLs and two sacks in the game by beating linemen with veteran hand use. They couldn’t stop his club move. He’s the best Clemson defensive lineman and looks worthy of a top 20 pick.
Renell Wren, IDL, Arizona State
Arizona State defensive lineman Renell Wren with a nasty bull rush vs Washington. Wren is a powerful versatile player who plays with nice leverage and a non-stop motor. pic.twitter.com/sD5otbffa1
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) July 19, 2018
- Don’t box score scout because if you do, you’ll miss gems like Renell Wren. Against Michigan State Wren was dominant despite a lack of stats. He was using leverage and strength to bully linemen. More than once he threw the Michigan State center into the backfield. His combination of length, leverage, and athleticism should have him being talked about as a day two pick.
Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
Stab -> Club -> Rip -> Work the hips around = pressure
- Want to see two players go at it non-stop for four quarters? Watch Montez Sweat vs Kansas State. He and Dalton Risner battled all day long and it was magnificent. Risner is a top tackle prospect and Sweat gave him all he could handle. Both players played great. Sweat managed two TFLs and a sack thanks to his motor and use of his length. Playing as well as he did versus Risner should garner him more first-round talk.
Benny Snell had one of the best games of his career vs Florida. Showed good vision and patience, contact balance, and improved burst. pic.twitter.com/1xMWoj6Y5l
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) September 11, 2018
- It’s not everyday Kentucky beats Florida but the Wildcats defeated the Gators for the first time since 1986 in Week Two. One of the biggest reasons for the win was running back Benny Snell’s 175 yard rushing performance. Snell chipped away all game at the Florida defense, playing with good vision and contact balance. With the Rodney Anderson injury, Snell could be a top five running back prospect.
- Needing a big performance against Georgia to generate some draft hype, Jake Bentley fell on his face. He wasn’t bad, he was god awful. At no point did he look poised or get into a rhythm. With two legit NFL talents at wide receiver, he struggled to get them the ball even within their catch radius. His lack of accuracy was getting his own players killed. No way Bentley turns pro after this season. He needs to improve his accuracy on all levels, decision making and poise.
- Penn State has quietly been producing a ton of wide receiver talent and Juwan Johnson looks like the next in line. The problem is he has been terrible to start the season. Through two games he has just 90 yards and a handful of drops. Against Pitt he was basically irrelevant and the drops were bad. He needs to clean up the drops and show the same explosion he did as a Sophomore.
Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
- In a weaker running back class Trayveon Williams has a chance to emerge, but his performance against Clemson won’t help his cause. Williams couldn’t do anything. He was swallowed up consistently and wasn’t breaking any tackles or making defenders miss. On top of that he had a fumble and dropped a pass. He’ll need to show he can break first contact if he wants to be a top five player at his position.
- There’s always college linebackers who rack up tackles and play forever, so the narrative is built that they are legit NFL talents. Cameron Smith has been around forever but his lack of athleticism was exposed against Stanford. Smith couldn’t make plays in space and struggled with his lateral movements. He’s will not be able to play on passing downs in the NFL. Special teams look like his way into the league.
Martez Ivey, OT, Florida
- A lot of hype has followed Martez Ivey for years. He was a big recruit and has started since he was a Freshman, but it has never come all together for him. Against Kentucky he struggled with speed and gave up a sack to Josh Allen to lose the game. Ivey has size and athleticism, but his technique is a mess. He might need to move back inside to guard in the NFL.
Game of the Week
Not only does this game have some major recent history with three of the last four games being memorable, but it’s also absolutely stacked with prospects. I’m sure this isn’t the game of the week most would pick, but the firepower on Ole Miss’ offense and the talent all over the place for Alabama is too good to pass up. Ole Miss has arguably three top 10 wide receiving prospects, a top three tight end prospect, a top five offensive tackle prospect, an intriguing quarterback, and an out of nowhere runninng back. That’s crazy and we get to see them take on a terrifying Alabama defense.
Jonah Williams, Deionte Thompson, Mack Wilson, Raekwon Davis, Anfernee Jennings, Isaiah Buggs, and Damien Harris are all top 10 at their position for the 2019 NFL Draft. Getting to see Greg Little take on this Alabama front will be a treat. How will Alabama stop the law firm of Metcalf-Brown-Lodge? Is Jordan Ta’amu for real? We’ll get a ton answered in this one. It might not be a close game, but it has a lot of importance for NFL Draft folk.
|#1 Alabama||Ole Miss|
|Jonah Williams, OT||DK Metcalf, WR|
|Deionte Thompson, S||Greg Little, OT|
|Mack Wilson, LB||AJ Brown, WR|
|Raekwon Davis, DL||DaMarkus Lodge, WR|
|Anfernee Jennings, ED||Dawson Knox, TE|
|Isaiah Buggs, DL||Javon Patterson, OG|
|Damien Harris, RB||Jordan Ta’amu, QB|
|Quinnen Williams, DL||Sean Rawlings, C|
|Christian Miller, LB||Scottie Phillips, RB|
|Trevon Diggs, CB||Ken Webster, CB|
|Lester Cotton, OG||Zedrick Woods, S|
|Irv Smith Jr., TE||Benito Jones, DL|
|Joshua Jacobs, RB|
|Saivion Smith, CB|
|Ross Pierschbacher, OL|
|Hale Hentges, TE|
Ranking the Best QBs by Conference
Everybody always wants to talk about the top quarterbacks in the country and why wouldn’t they? Quarterback is the most important position in all of sports. Talented ones come from all over the country and it’s interesting to see which college conferences consistently have the most talent at the position. Some conferences are rich with talent while others rarely produce notable players. I thought it would be fun to take the best quarterback from every conference and rank them against each other in order to see how all over the place the talent is at the top.
|2||Brian Lewerke||Michigan State||Big Ten|
|3||Easton Stick||North Dakota State||FCS|
|7||Brett Rypien||Boise State||MWC|
|8||Will Grier||West Virginia||Big 12|
|10||Brent Stockstill||Middle Tennessee State||C-USA|
|11||Justice Hansen||Arkansas State||Sun Belt|
Underclassmen on the Radar
Freaky Frosh: Adrian Martinez, QB, Nebraska
Release the balloons. 🎈
It didn’t take long for Scott Frost to find his new quarterback at Nebraska. Freshman Adrian Martinez was the Cornhuskers offense in his first college game vs Colorado. Martinez racked up 304 total yards and three TDs and put Nebraska into position to win before leaving with an injury. Nebraska ultimately lost 33-28, but Martinez was impressive.
He’s a perfect fit for Frost’s offense with nice accuracy and supreme mobility. He has already drawn Marcus Mariota comparisons. Frost was Mariota’s OC/QB coach at Oregon, and I won’t go that far, but Martinez looks legit. Martinez was poised with strong pocket presents while putting nice zip on the ball. He was also electric as a runner in the open field making defenders miss and showing impressive burst. Nebraska is headed in the right direction.
Super Sophomore: Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
It didn’t take long for new Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorehead to make Kylin Hill his bell cow over Senior Aeris Williams. Hill is the exact player Moorehead needs to make his offense go and it showed against Kansas State. In the 31-10 win, Hill put up 227 total yards with three TDs and a ton of highlight reel plays. Hill is clearly the most talented skill player on the Bulldogs offense and should see a heavy workload going forward.
He’s built well and has no problem with running inside and through a defender if he needs to, but has that burst to break and finish big runs. In the passing game Hill looked great. He caught a pass and finished with YAC for a touchdown and showcased natural hands. Moorehead and Assistant HC/RBs coach Charles Huff come over from Penn State where they had Saquon Barkley and used him all over, expect them to use Hill similarly.
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