Welcome back for another year – as ever, thanks for reading! Last year these in-season posts drew a fairly low readership (average was about 60 reads) – but the week of the draft, my reads suddenly shot up to 4 figure numbers! So, content wise, I’ll have to see how this year goes. I’m not 100% sure how much time I will put in this season – again, I’m going to see how it goes. Unfortunately, the day job can and does get in the way – although this is a good thing to help me unwind!
I’ll probably be a little later getting together an initial top 100, but hopefully by the end of November. Rankings wise, I’ll think on them. I focussed on them last year and my top 100 score suffered – it is such a different discipline. If you think otherwise, think on Cameron Erving – I wasn’t a fan, so he wasn’t high in my rankings – yet he was a first round pick. Turns out I was right (not claiming to get every one right – no one does – it’s the beauty of this!) – but if I leave guys I don’t personally rate out of a top 100 but are going high, you cost yourself a point. It’s always been a bug-bear and perhaps I might not do a top 100 this year. We’ll see – usually my competive nature kicks in as I try to beat Mike Mayock – despite having no right to even get close to him. Anyway – there will be no mock on the site this year. I flat out stink at them and can’t say I like doing them – so time to can them. Enough of this – on with the season.
I didn’t learn much from the “Week 0” Stanford/Rice game outside of that was a long way to go for Rice to get it handed to them. RB Bryce Love is one I want to watch again – he was dominant – let’s see if he can it against better competition.
Last year Indiana WR Simmie Cobbs Jr. missed the year with injury. He reminded scouts he can play – with two one handed grabs on his way to a big night against a young, but talented Ohio State secondary. He’s not a top athlete, but he was able to get separation – including on a couple of nice curl routes. I liked his feel against zone coverage. Hopefully he can stay injury clear this year – if so, he’ll put up big numbers and be in top 100 contention.
I liked Ohio State’s Billy Price last year – I had him as a late one. Returning, he moved inside to center and I didn’t think he had a great game. I’m not going to slate him – let’s see him get used to the position and if he can get out of waist bending post-snap.
There were flashes from Ohio State’s D-Line. Sam Hubbard is still a junior (he was on some top 100’s last year as a redshirt sophomore) – he has the length many NFL teams covet and he showed up rushing the passer, impressive against a QB who was getting the ball out of his hands quickly. Tyquan Lewis had a sack and a pressure – he drops down inside where his quickness will always give interior O-Lineman problems.
For “off the line” linebackers, coverage ability plays a massive part in your stock. Jerome Baker was tested and had a mixed night. He was beaten for a score – but did learn the lesson and did better on a similar, but shorter, route – breaking up the pass. He have up another TD later in the game, but it looked like a pick. He’ll need to be better if he wants to declare early and expects to be a day two pick.
Wisconsin TE Troy Fumagalli is a good receiver – he has a smoothness to him and can run sharp routes, although one come back type route I thought he drifted a little. As a blocker, he isn’t as good. He gives effort, but his frame doesn’t help him. He has to bend at the waist too often and spends a lot of time on the ground. When kept in for pass protection, he lacked “sand in his pants” and struggled. Still, it’s as a receiver that he’ll make his cash and he has top 100 talent.
Two prospects playing left tackle in the Florida/Michigan game struggled. Mason Cole (Michigan) could have declared early, but elected to return in 2017 – where he moved back to LT after playing C last year. He’ll be hoping to win a National Championship – but I can’t see his Draft stock coming up playing at LT as he struggles against edge speed. His ability to get to the second level was on display, but from a football sense, he may as well have headed to the league. Florida’s Martez Ivey is a big man, but he can’t bend. Some NFL teams still like the big tackles, but for me he’s a right tackle only as I don’t think he can get low enough to play inside.
I was impressed with Michigan DT Maurice Hurst who lined up both as a 3 man front NT and 4 man front DT. He has good quickness for a big man and isn’t an old school two down two gapper – he can move outside the box. I love his motor, he feels screens well and has obvious raw power. I couldn’t take my eyes from him.
If you like the Alabama NT’s of the past few years, you’ll like Da’Ron Payne – he’s not a dynamic pass rusher – but he’s strong and he can two gap, which is far from an easy skill.
Florida State QB Deondre Francois‘ is out for the year with injury. Before he suffered it, I noted his thin frame as a concern (Teddy Bridgewater). It’s the first time I’ve watched him closely, and unfortunately the last this season, but here are my observations. There were elements I liked – his ability to keep his eyes down the field; his feel of pressure and his ability to climb the pocket. My main concern is that he stays on his first read too long – and you saw Alabama figure that out. He didn’t see underneath coverage, or feel a bail by a CB one time. His arm is good, but he needs to clean up his ball placement. First and foremost is that he’s not badly hurt.
Florida State DE Josh Sweat flashed against Alabama – he has long arms and speed off the edge, so he will cause average-poor college OTs problems. He needs refinement, but he has all the tools to push his way up boards in time.
I don’t think LSU RB Derrius Guice was 100% healthy – so look out when he is. There’s no point in typing too much – he’s highly talented.
Virginia Tech have put a lot of CBs into the league and Adonis Alexander might be the next if you believe CBS Draft who have him ranked at #60 overall. His frame is exactly what the NFL loves – but I’d like to see him use it more to his advantage. He gave up some slants – giving up the inside without a jam. You can’t let the WR take the inside without a fight. He was more often in bail, being more physical down the field than he was at the line – and I’d rather see a college CB be the other way around to help adjust to the NFL 5 yard contact rule. When in zone, he had some FS to him in terms of range and tracking the ball – but his tackling would need to improve. He missed a tackle on a run after the catch and other efforts needed to be better for a CB with good size. There were flashes of “plus” man coverage skills, but he’ll need to develop a little more – and I’d love to see him press more.
I’m waiting for CBS/NFL Draft Scout to release their top 1000, which always form the backbone of who I watch – at the moment they only have a top 100 up on their site. Tennessee DT Reginald McKenenzie Jr. is #93, but I don’t know if he’s a day two type. He’s big and can two gap, but he will need to show up as a pass rusher. Clearly, against Georgia Tech, it wasn’t the best game to watch – but he did show good hustle outside the box, despite not being a “plus” athlete. He struggled with the cut blocks at times, although did improve as the game went on. I’ll give him another look against a more regulation offense later in the season.
Prospect of the Week: A tie for week one – Indiana WR Simmie Cobbs Jr. and Michigan DT Maurice Hurst