Stanford kicked off week nine with a close win against Oregon State. NT Harrison Phillips ins’t a classic 330lb two gap run stuffer. He does some two gap work, in terms of stacking and shedding, but I projecting him forward he’s too light. However, his quickness, intelligence, motor and hand use do project to the NFL – and his ability to consistently disrupt was on show again and again. Due to an injury early in 2015, he could return next year, but he might be too good to do so.
Florida State DT Derrick Nnadi is a top 100 pick for me, but I don’t know if he’s a first round pick. I would say he’s better than Dalvin Tomlinson last year (pick 55) – but the same questions as a pass rusher might prevent some teams from taking him in the first frame. Now, against the run, he’s tough to move and shows flashes of quickness for a big man. He’s probably coming into the league at the wrong time, but with so many great RBs coming out of college at the moment, at some point someone will have to stop them – and Nnadi can help an NFL team do just that.
I had a long look at Florida State LB Matthew Thomas, a tall, thin weakside LB prospect. One thing that hurts him stock wise is he comes of the field in nickel at times – which is odd, because in space he looked good. Indeed, one zone drop was deep and he changed directions well to knock a pass down. He also showed he can cover man-to-man. Against the run, he’s disciplined – he doesn’t overpursue. He does struggle to get off blocks, but he looks athletic and I think has a top 100 chance.
Derwin James gets all the press at safety for FSU, but Trey Marshall can play as well. Marshall had a couple of missed tackles, but otherwise had a nice game. The main plus point was his ability in man coverage, something the league loves. – and he also showed his ability to sit deeper and read the QB, breaking up a crossing route. A trick play did get behind him, so he does need to remember to stay deeper than the deepest. As for James, he was better than when I saw him twice before earlier in the season. His skillset is “plus”, but he hasn’t made a massive impact on games. There’s talk he’s not fully recovered from his injury, so I think a “wait and see” with him as a redshirt sophomore. If he declares, I’ll dig into his Draft Breakdown tape.
It was interesting to see Mason Rudolph again this week after struggling against Texas. West Virginia didn’t pressure him much and he pretty much picked them apart. When they did come after him, he forced one and threw a pick six. He’s clearly got talent, but I’m a little wary of his struggles under pressure. He’s pretty used to open receivers in State’s high-powered offense, and while he can get to this second read, his eyes are slow. He’s more talented than Brock Osweiler coming out of Arizona State, but there are some things to his game which do remind me slightly of Osweiler. He may develop better, but I really wanted to see a little more from him this season.
I’m not sure if Rudolph’s #1 receiver, James Washington, is hurt, but the last two weeks separation has been a little bit of a concern. I’ll dive into some Draft Breakdown stuff after the season, but wanted to mention it to remind me, if nothing else!
On the interior of the offensive line, toughness is key. You can’t measure it at the Combine, or with analytics – so it’s right up my street of using eyes! West Virginia OG Kyle Bosch looks strong and tough. He’s a little high at times, but his heavy hands help him. He also moved well when asked to pull. I liked his hand use and think he has a chance to be drafted.
Also for West Virginia, but on the defensive side of the ball, I liked the look of safety Kyzir White (brother of Bears WR Kevin). He played as one of three safeties in the 3-3-5 defense. That involved some work over a slot receiver – in man and zone. He had excellent man coverage in the end zone on a slant, forcing Rudolph to air mail the ball. He also showed his ability as a deeper safety with excellent over the top coverage, breaking up a pass. He can get downhill with force – or mix it up in the box. I liked his skill-set and think he has a top 100 shot.
I gave the Iowa State/TCU a watch primarily because I wanted to watch the game (on “as live” in the UK on Monday morning – and I managed to avoid the score!) but also to look at Iowa State WR Allen Lazard again. When I watched him the first time this season, I said separation was the concern with him. That was on show again in this one – although he did make some catches with a DB draped all over him. He will still make those catches to a degree in the league, but against good, big NFL CBs, I think he’ll struggle. On the plus side, on shorter routes, he did separate. On a curl route, he attacked the ball to create separation and there was also separation on a couple of other shorter routes. His 40 time at the Combine is going to be huge for him. I’m thinking day three, but if he can run faster than I’m expecting, I would be willing to consider him as a borderline top 100 prospect.
I watched Arizona State/Southern Cal to see ASU RB Kalen Ballage, but he didn’t get a carry, so I’m none the wiser. It did give me the chance to zero in on Southern Cal OLB Uchenna Nwosu. Coming into the game he had 1.5 sacks – but he managed 3 in this one – all in the fourth quarter on one series. Listed at 6’2″, he looks taller – with long arms and legs. I wrote “?Explosion” in my notes – then he won with speed twice on consecutive plays. He tries to use his hands, but lacks real pop with them – but his long arms do give him an advantage. He’s disciplined as a run defender, showing an ability to set an edge. If he gets a little stronger, I think it will open up more for him. I’ll watch again, but I think he has mid round potential.
It was another mixed night for Southern Cal QB Sam Darnold. When ASU got pressure on him, his eyes dropped to the rush. Once again, a lot of passes were off high – where his base is too wide and he can’t drive the football. One replay showed the ball coming out a bit funny as well – and some out routes died on him. Playing in this spread offense is not got for him in terms of footwork and relying on his coaches to call audibles (he looks to the sideline after the defense give their initial look) – the O-Line struggles have mixed in some Brett Hundley bad habits. He’ll have to decide whether to declare early for the NFL – but I do question how much he would learn in this offense and what bad habits will be rather ingrained in him because of the spread system. The spread is great for college football – but for the NFL, it’s proving to be a QB killer and it’s why the QB play in the NFL is a concern.