Before diving into this column you need to know, most of it is about ripping down the 2019 NFL Draft’s QB class. It’s brutal. All the big names that were hyped before the season are beginning to falter and show who they really are. Week 6 of the 2018 college football season can be described as the week everybody realized this quarterback class is going to suck, outside of a few guys who might not even declare. So if your team needs a quarterback you better hope guys like Justin Herbert, Dwayne Haskins, Daniel Jones, and Brian Lewerke declare.
Tweet of the Week
Every weekend during the college football season someone makes some mind-boggling play and Twitter blows up. Well this is the second time Alabama safety Deionte Thompson was that person. Against Arkansas he once again showed off his elite range in coverage. Moving from the centerfield like that to pick up the running back on the backside wheel route is absurd. Not only does he recognize and diagnose the play almost immediately, but his ability to get all the way there and break up the pass shows how talented he is. This isn’t the best safety class in the world, but Deionte Thompson is a stud and if he falls out of the top 10 some team is getting a steal.
In the News
Top 5 plays from 2016 for @CanesFootball WR Ahmmon Richards.
The worst news of the week is that Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Ahmmon Richards career is over due to a neck injury. News of this came kind of out of the blue. Richards hasn’t plated since the season opener and was reportedly dealing with a hamstring issue. There was word he would redshirt and return to Miami next season, but then this news came out. Richards entered the season with some first-round hype due to his elite ability to separate downfield and make big plays. In 21 games at the U, he racked up 74 receptions for 1,382 yards (18.7 AVG), and six touchdowns. It’s a damn shame that his career is over. On the bright side, Richards is expected to live a normal life and Miami is going to honor his athletic scholarship.
Star: Devin White, LB, LSU (6-1, 240 pounds)
As the NFL becomes more open, up-tempo, and play-calling gets more creative, freaky athletes have never been more important to have on defense. The linebacker position has been affected more than most. Gone are the days of linebackers being run first defenders who don’t need to be great in coverage. Now, you don’t mean much to the NFL at linebacker unless you’re athletic and can cover tight ends and running backs. 15 years ago a guy like Telvin Smith would be an NFL safety. Instead he’s an All-Pro linebacker. The point is, there’s no reason to draft a linebacker early unless he’s an elite athlete. Luckily for linebacker needy teams in the 2019 NFL Draft, guys like Devin White and Mack Wilson exist.
There’s no off-ball linebacker in the country making as many splash plays each week as Devin White. After a big sophomore season he has taken another step forward as a junior. White has everything needed to be a three down linebacker in today’s NFL. His explosion and burst are second to none in this class. Coming forward he’s a freak. It’s evident when he blitzes and it looks like he’s shot out of a cannon. His ability as a blitzer is impressive. Being as thick as he is with that kind of explosion is extremely rare. He’s built like an old-school linebacker with new-school athleticism. He’s not shy about hitting either, he’s vicious. When he hits it’s like getting hit by a truck. The NFL is going to love his aggressiveness.
A big reason I've had Devin White so high on my board is the athleticism and aggressiveness. He's got freak explosiveness and plays with such energy. pic.twitter.com/lTKBOA9dw0
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) September 21, 2018
Okay so White is an explosive, thick, run stopped, but what about his range and ability in coverage? LSU doesn’t ask him to do a ton in coverage, but when asked to cover he’s shown the traits to expect him to be competent or better in the NFL. White has big time speed/range to cover running backs out of the backfield or tight ends down the seam. He’s also not afraid to use his hands to chuck them to give himself an edge.
With the athleticism he possesses he doesn’t play scared that he’ll get beat, which is an underrated aspect of coverage especially for linebackers. When playing zone coverage, he has good enough instincts to know where to be and how to read the quarterback to make a play. White is the perfect combination of aggression, athleticism, and skill for today’s NFL.
Here's Devin White getting involved in coverage. Breaks up a pass on 4th down vs Florida to seal the win for LSU. White is a complete LB and looks like a future top 15 pick… pic.twitter.com/UuBtWWv6ob
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) May 4, 2018
Pro Comparison: Bobby Wagner
Sleeper: Jakobi Meyers, WR, North Carolina State (6-2, 203 pounds)
As important as it is to have height-weight-speed freaks at receiver on the outside, it’s extremely important for NFL teams to have a trustworthy playmaker who can do damage on short routes too. Guys like Julian Edelman, Cooper Kupp, and Tyler Boyd might not be the best athletes, but they know how to get open and convert 3rd downs. What do those guys have in common? Strong hands, an understanding of how to get open with route running and reading coverages, and the trust of their quarterbacks. North Carolina State has a stud in Kelvin Harmon at receiver, but they also have the chain mover in Jakobi Meyers.
For NC State Kelvin Harmon is the dynamic playmaker, but damn Jakobi Meyers has trustworthy hands. Seems to be the guy Ryan Finley looks to when they need to covert a third down. pic.twitter.com/X47Umc1cP7
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) July 31, 2018
For NC State they use Harmon as their 50/50 playmaker who can rip open a game, but Meyers is the possession guy. He does his work underneath winning with technique more than athleticism. It’s rare to see Meyers drop a pass and that’s why he has earned quarterback Ryan Finley’s trust on 3rd downs. Having a chain mover like Meyers is the perfect complement for a stud on the outside. Meyer’s isn’t going to do much downfield, but knowing he’ll get open and pick up six yards when you need five on 3rd down is an important skill in the NFL. Every offense needs a player like Meyers.
Pro Comparison: Cooper Kupp
Overrated: Ryan Finley, QB, North Carolina State (6-4, 212 pounds)
This is the beginning of the 2019 NFL Draft quarterback tear down in this column. Ryan Finley was on the NFL Draft radar last year and returning to school for his Senior season put him as a potential first-round quarterback in 2019. I mean, yeah I guess if he got way way way better then yes, he would have been a potential first-round quarterback. But he didn’t, yet Todd McShay has him as his QB1? That’s crazy talk. Ryan Finley has been a good quarterback for NC State for three seasons now and he’s for sure a potential draftable quarterback, but nothing about his game screams first-round.
The things to like about Ryan Finley’s game are his poise and solid short accuracy. Neither are anywhere close to elite and both waiver at times. But just trying to be positive, those things do standout sometimes. Finley has solid ball placement on short to intermediate throws and clean throwing mechanics. He’s the type of guy who has a solid Senior Bowl, gets drafted in the sixth-round and ends up as an NFL backup for awhile. He just doesn’t have the arm talent to be a legit QB1. His velocity isn’t impressive and nobody fears his deep ball. It doesn’t help that he’s never going to extend plays because of his lack of escapability. I suspect he won’t be on McShay and Mel Kiper’s top quarterback lists much longer.
Pro Comparison: Nathan Peterman
Risers and Sliders
Jachai Polite, EDGE, Florida
- Nobody has done more for their draft stock this season then Jachai Polite. That sounds like hyperbole, but it honestly true. Polite has gone from the third guy to talk about at edge rusher for Florida to a first-round talent and he’s not done yet. Don’t be surprised if Polite ends up being considered a top 10 talent. He’s that good. In Florida’s upset win over LSU, Polite was the best Gator on the field. He was constantly in Joe Burrow’s face and making plays against the run. Over his last four games he has six sacks. His ability to bend and dip around the edge with his get off and motor is so much fun.
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, WR, Oklahoma
- You don’t get the nickname Hollywood by not being an exciting playmaker. Everybody in the country knows how dynamic Hollywood Brown is as a deep-threat, but he’s proven this year that he’s not just a one-trick pony. Brown has become a far more complete receiver this season using his speed and start-stop ability to become a better route runners and create YAC. Against Texas, Brown helped carry the offense with Kyler Murray. He made big plays and also became Murray’s clutch playmaker. With the need for speed in today’s NFL, Brown could very well end up a first-round pick.
Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
- A few weeks ago it looked like a weak tight end class and now, it looks pretty loaded. Noah Fant is the clear dude on top, but it’s wide open after him. Against Arkansas Irv Smith Jr. made his case for TE2. Smith Jr. caught just two passes, but put up 123 yards and a score. On both plays he showed elite ability after the catch rumbling down the field using his tackle breaking ability and athleticism. Other then his fumble it was a huge day for him.
Collin Johnson/Lil’Jordan Humphrey, WRs, Texas
- There’s no denying Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger stepped up to the plate and balled against Oklahoma to pullout the win. But having wide receivers like Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey sure did help. Both were too big and athletic and too much to handle for the Oklahoma defense. They combined for 15 receptions for 214 yards and Humphrey even threw a touchdown to Johnson. Johnson is listed at 6-6, 220 pounds and Humphrey is listed at 6-4, 225 pounds. That size is such a mismatch on the outside with their catch radius and ability on 50/50 balls. Both have played themselves up the board.
Anthony Nelson, EDGE, Iowa
Anthony Nelson had the kind of performance today that gives the QB nightmares.
- A lot of the time we swoon over freaky athletes on the edge who test well and that puts technically sound pass rushers on the back-burner. The ability Iowa’s 6-7, 271 pound Anthony Nelson showed against Minnesota was too impressive not to mention. Nelson racked up three sacks using his power and heavy hands. He might not be a terrific athlete, but his size and strength are impressive.
Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
- Nobody has hurt their stock more this season at quarterback than Jarrett Stidham. He came into the season with big time first-round talk and was apparently the favorite quarterback of most NFL teams. Each week he shows that he’s going to be nothing more than an NFL backup. He just doesn’t have it and is far more likely to be a day three pick than a first-round pick. Mississippi State exposed Stidham’s lack of poise and struggles with accuracy. The arm talent is there, but not much else is. He should return to Auburn for his final year of eligibility.
Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
Wasn't all sunshine and daisies for Will Grier and @WVUFootball. The Heisman Trophy candidate threw 3️⃣ redzone INTs in today's win over Kansas. #HailWV pic.twitter.com/F5nk5eZVfI
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) October 6, 2018
- With the QB2 spot up for grabs and Will Grier playing so well this season he looked poised to put himself firmly into the conversation. Instead against Kansas, the 83rd ranked defense in the country, Grier had four turnovers. Three of the turnovers were interceptions in the red zone. The biggest questions with Grier are his ball placement and ability to play in structure. This was a bad showing for both of those things. Grier has the arm talent and mobility for today’s NFL, but he needs to cleanup his game.
Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State
- The season started hot for Brett Rypien with fantastic performances against Troy and UCONN. Then against Oklahoma State and Wyoming some struggles showed. This week against San Diego State was one of the worst games of his career. Throwing two interceptions, barely completing 50% of his throws, and averaging just 4.1 yards per attempt. Rypien has a chance to be the top Senior quarterback in the class with his footwork, arm strength and deep accuracy, but he needs to play more poised. Right now he looks like a day two developmental starter.
Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
- Maybe the biggest whiff of the offseason quarterback talk was Michigan QB Shea Patterson. He put up huge numbers at Ole Miss then transferred to the Wolverines finally giving them a competent quarterback. In the end there was more hype than it warranted. Patterson hasn’t been a good fit in Jim Harbaugh’s pro-style offense and his lack of tools have been evident. In their win over Maryland he was sporadic and made an awful decision than resulted in an interception. He’s not ready for the NFL and has to be heading back to Ann Arbor for another season.
Drew Lock, QB Missouri
It’s pouring in South Carolina but Missouri QB Drew Lock has to see his running back fall down on the screen pass.
- There are probably still some believers in Drew Lock because of his arm talent, but come on. Each week he’s disappointing from an NFL prospect standpoint. He’s a far less physically gifted version of Josh Allen. Lock just isn’t accurate, stares down his receivers, and takes an endless amount of time to go through his progressions. He struggled big time against Georgia, but against South Carolina he was just awful. In the rain he completed less than 50% of his throws with two interceptions. This isn’t a franchise quarterback.
Game of the Week
#7 Washington @ #17 Oregon
With the quarterback class falling apart with each passing week, the big Pac-12 matchup of Washington at Oregon will be huge. Not only do the Ducks have the clear QB1 in Justin Herbert, but the Huskies have a secondary full of NFL talent with multiple that could go in the first-round. This is the biggest test for Herbert of the season. With iffy talent around him will he be able to elevate the Ducks offense over the 13th best defense in the country?
With Herbert being the QB1 it’s also an important game for Washington’s defensive backs. This is a big matchup specifically CB Byron Murphy. Murphy has a chance to be the second cornerback off the board and playing well against the top quarterback could solidify his spot. On the other side of the ball seeing how a hefty Washington O-line fairs against Jalen Jelks and Justin Hollins will be interesting. Jelks and Hollins are super athletic pass rushers while the Huskies have a massive O-line.
Since the Pac-12 usually plays such late games this is the entire countries chance to see intriguing NFL prospects like Herbert, Murphy, Myles Gaskin, Myles Bryant, Taylor Rapp, Troy Dye, Ugo Amadi and more. Not only that, but winner of this game has the best chance to win the Pac-12 North.
|#7 Washington||#17 Oregon|
|Aaron Fuller, WR||Dillon Mitchell, WR|
|Nick Harris, C||Jake Hanson, C|
|Kaleb McGary, OT||Dallas Warmack, OG|
|Drew Sample, TE||Calvin Throckmorton, OT|
|Jake Browning, QB||Jacob Breeland, TE|
|Myles Gaskin, RB||Justin Herbert, QB|
|Greg Gaines, NT||Tony Brooks-James, RB|
|Ben Burr-Kirven, LB||Jalen Jelks, DL|
|Trevis Bartlett, LB||Justin Hollins, EDGE|
|Byron Murphy, CB||Troy Dye, LB|
|Taylor Rapp, S||Ugo Amadi, DB|
|JoJo McIntosh, S|
|Myles Bryant, NB|
|Jordan Miller, CB|
Top 10 CB Rankings
|5||Amani Oruwariye||Penn State|
|6||Levonta Taylor||Florida State|
|10||Julian Love||Notre Dame|
Underclassmen on the Radar
Freaky Frosh: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
- This is a slight copout because Texas had three different Freshman making big plays with BJ Foster, Keaontay Ingram, and of course Dicker the Kicker. But what Matt Corral did once he entered the game for Ole Miss versus ULM was damn impressive. Corral went 10-of-10 for 143 yards and 2 passing touchdowns. He also added 78 on the ground with a score. Ole Miss looks like they’ll be in good hands with Corral over the next few seasons. He’s a mobile exciting passer with a live arm.
Super Sophomore: Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
- So many sophomores flash in college football. It’s hard to pick one guy each week and it’s hard not to pick Tua Tagovailoa every time. Instead of picking Tua this week, how about his stud pass catcher Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy helped Tua toast the Arkansas secondary to the tune of four receptions for 135 yards and two touchdowns. It looks like Jeudy is the next star wide receiver at Bama with his combination of athleticism, smooth routes, and strong hands. It’s worth mentioning Jeudy’s fellow Sophomore wide receivers at Bama, Henry Ruggs III and Devonta Smith, look like studs too. Having Jeudy and Tua together is one of the most dangerous passing connection in the SEC.
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