The spread offense is clearly impacting the quality of QBs coming into the NFL. You are now given guys with tools, but the old-fashioned college signal caller who can get through progressions are a dying, if not dead breed. However, it’s not all bad news – because in defending the spread the college safety is generally a lot more versatile than old-fashioned Cover-2 downhill thumpers, in the box guys or single high. South Alabama’s Jeremy Reaves might not be a top pick – as he’s short (listed at 5’11”, but looks shorter) he might not be drafted – but looking at his skill set against Troy, I thought he has a chance. He played single high, boundary, field, in the box and also some nickel CB – showing ability in both man (where he needs to learn to get his head around to find the ball better) and zone coverage. He had a nice diving interception and was active throughout. If he runs fast at his pro day, he has a shot to be drafted, but I’d want a guy like this in my camp because he can do so much.
I watched the Michigan/Indiana game more for WR Simmie Cobbs than Michigan prospects. Cobbs wasn’t as impressive as when I watched him earlier in the season, in this one he wasn’t featured as much. However, even on a play which was called back due to a penalty, he still showed he’s a top 100 level talent – moving well after the catch. He had good quickness at the line to help against press coverage, and he was able to get inside the CB frequently – it’s just his QB looked elsewhere. He was close to two big plays, but unfortunately it didn’t pan out for him.
I watched Utah DT Lowell Lotulelei a bunch last year. In flashes he looked like a first round prospect, but there were large stretches of games where he didn’t do much. Against USC in the Saturday night game, if you just watched the game you wouldn’t have known he was playing. He was doubled at times, but even when he wasn’t, he struggled to make an impact. As the game went into the fourth quarter, he looked tired, despite being spelled. In scouting, you are taught to “grade the flashes” or to put it another way, focus on what a player can do, rather than can’t. I know Lotulelei can be dominant, but when you don’t see it enough you have to dig. From a distance/TV scouting as I am, I can’t speak to his coaches and do background work on why you don’t see it enough – but I suspect despite some average tape, an NFL team will take a gamble and hope they can get the light to come on – and stay on.
USC QB Sam Darnold played better than the Washington State game, but I’m still holding on ranking him. I strongly believe he needs to return for another year (he’s only a redshirt sophomore). However, in that offense, I would understand if he declared – as he’s not going to learn too much in terms of what NFL teams will want him to. In the league he will have to make pre-snap reads – not look over to the sideline and have the coaching staff do it. I did like how he battled back after two turnovers, but the accuracy issue was still evident. He’s got a nice arm and can make some wow throws, but he needs greater consistency and that’s where the extra year would come in.
For whatever reason, every year you watch prospects and some you just click with. I’m that way this year with USC WR Deontay Burnett. I love the way he catches the ball naturally away from his frame and then gets into after catch mode immediately with zero wasted motion. He’s not the biggest, but I really like him.
It was fun to watch USC RB Ronald Jones II – he was hitting the hole with authority and also contributing as a receiver. He’s not the biggest – and this is an issue in terms of pass protection, where he looks weak, but there’s enough there to think top 100.
Finally for USC, DL Rasheem Green is likely to be someone who gets the league interested, either the 2018 Draft if he leaves early – or 2019. He has length and a number of teams want that frame on the D-Line. He also has pass rush ability (4 sacks so far this year). However, in all, he was pretty quiet in this one. Playing at DT in a 4 man front, his length works against him a bit – he was too upright and then controlled easily. He struggled to find a counter when his man got into his chest plate. Right now, he looks like a one gap only system fit – but on passing downs in the NFL, does anyone really want a two gap guy anymore? Probably not.
I hadn’t planned on another Washington State game, but they were on UK TV and the slate was pretty weak (worse next week), so I gave it a go. QB Luke Falk had a game to forget. There are two things that are clear from my third game this season, and several last year: 1) he lacks a top arm; 2) he must get the ball out quicker. There’s no way he can get away with throws like the one on his first INT – he stared his receiver down, held the ball too long and then floated out a ball without stepping into the throw – the result was an easy pick. He’s not going to fit a vertical offense, but in a West coast system he’s not making quick enough decisions. He took too many sacks and it was a little like the USC game, where he struggled. If he landed on an NFL team with a good supporting cast, including an O-Line which kept him clean, he has a shot. However, if you put him on a struggling team, I think he might struggle big time.
To finish off this week, I want to feature a small school prospect. Weber State TE/HB Andrew Vollert is listed at 6’5″ 245 lbs, looking lean and athletic. He spent most of his time at HB, in the slot or out wide. If you are looking for a blocking TE, Vollert is not your man. He gives effort on stalk blocks when out wide, but inside he’s a square and seal guy only. He only caught three balls in the game I watched (Southern Utah from Saturday), but on one they managed to sneak him across the formation and into the flat, and he looked dangerous after the catch. His first reception was on a real duck, and he did a nice job adjusting. I would need to watch him again to check his route running – he has a nice feel in zone coverage, but I’m not sure he can consistently separate right now in man. The athletic ability is there, so he may need a little time to learn the subtleties of route running. I think he’s draftable, but I don’t know he screamed day two. But, it’s just one watch and it’s early days in the process, so as always – we’ll see.