First up, it’s North Carolina and CB M.J. Stewart, listed at 5’11” – but he’s not small as he is almost built like a RB. He’s not afraid to press or tackle, so plays bigger than his size. The only question I had from watching him, is top end speed – I think he might be a 4.6 guy – so I’ll need to see his Combine 40 time before I decide if he’ll be in my final top 100. They do some different things defensively, so can fit any scheme – as long as his 40 time is solid. He also returns punts, where he’s solid rather than spectacular. If he was faster I would say day two for sure, but 40 time is so important I’ll hold on that prediction.
Another DB on show was Pitt safety Jordan Whitehead. As with Stewart, he’s 5’11”, but he’s thinner,with a wiry build. He played some single high and also some quarters coverage. When he’s a single high, his first movement is back – and outside of the trick play (reverse pass) nothing got behind him. Despite his first movement being back, he’s around the ball a lot – and he looked a solid tackler. His angles are excellent and I liked how he funneled people into his support as a tackler. I’ll need to see again, but he looks talented.
Temple FS Sean Chandler was a good watch. He has a nice transition from his backpedal on plays in front of him, be that pass or run. He was active throughout – his angles were solid, but there were a couple of missed tackles and I’d like to see him clean that up. He tended to be used as either a single high or two deep safety – his athletic ability/range looks good, but I thought he was a little passive when the ball was in the air. There were a couple of times he let the CB deal with the situation, whereas I would have liked to have seen him break up the play and if he took his guy out when doing so, so be it. From first watch, I would say borderline top 100, but I will watch at least two more times.
Cincinnati DL Cortez Broughton is a junior, and ideally one would like to see him return in 2018. He played DE in a hybrid 3-4, much of the time being on the tackle’s outside shoulder. At 297 lbs, I think he would be better as a classic three technique. There were flashes of athletic ability on show, but he must learn to play lower. The word I wrote in my notes was “unrefined” – I’ve seen this type of prospect declare early and bust out in the NFL a bunch, so fingers crossed his financial/family situation allows him to do so.
I’ve seen BYU LB Fred Warner before and came away impressed. He’s not 100% healthy, and indeed doesn’t practise, just playing in the games the last couple of weeks. As such, I think we can excuse him being quieter – although it’s still noteworthy he made a big INT where he got excellent depth in a zone drop and made a nice play on the ball. Check the toughness box.
I’ve been aware of UNLV WR Devonte Boyd for a while now – as he had a 65 catch freshman year. His production has gone down every year since then, partly because of the team’s struggles. Watching this game, it was clear they have several talented WRs, but also a QB who was playing LB earlier in the year – so I think we can understand lower production. Boyd will need to add bulk to his frame as he looks thin – but he’s athletic and catches the ball smoothly away from his body. He’s draftable, for me, there’s some talent there – and on a good team with a decent QB, he might be a day three gem. As day three ticks on, at some point he’ll be too good to pass up.
It’s always worth paying attention to Iowa OL prospects – there are well coached and many have been drafted late, but found a home in the league. Sean Welsh is the latest, he has experience at C, but is playing right guard. When he’s in a phone booth (i.e. not asked to move outside a small area) he looks good – he’s a touch high in pass protection, but his hand placement is good and he tends to win. He’s skilled in the zone blocking game, and he can get movement, so he’s not just a finesse guy. The problem comes when he has to move – I worry about his lack of foot speed. But I would expect him to be drafted.
In some ways, this was a better game that Penn State for Iowa LB Josey Jewell, but although he was active – a lot of his tackles came after solid gains. He struggled to get off blocks, other than peel back off them. Now, he’s smart and makes positive plays because he reads the game well, but as soon as he needs the physical element to win (speed or strength to get off blocks), I’m afraid it’s not really there. He’s a fine college player, but I’m uncertain as to his pro prospects.
Clearly, the pressure of being featured on UK TV for the first time this season was too much for Notre Dame as they were spanked by the U. It was my first full game watch of RB Josh Adams this season, and with 40 yards from 16 carries, it was tough sledding for him. I will say, the game plan wasn’t great – too much in the way of slow developing plays – he showed patience, but the Miami defense was too fast overall. Outside of one backside cut, I didn’t see him exploding out of his breaks – but from highlights I know he does have this in his locker. The loss likely means the Stanford game won’t be on TV here (we don’t get NBC games, only ESPN) – so I might have to rely on YouTube.
I watched Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey a lot last year and he’s the same player. Very good technically, but struggles against top edge speed. I can’t see him being a top 10 pick, but a team needing a RT could take him in the first. As for OG Quenton Nelson – I’ve heard some top 5 overall buzz for him, but I didn’t think he looked great. I thought in pass protection he was a little upright – and his feet went back and out to help him anchor. He also “caught” his man, before working to extend his arms – where he should be getting his strike in earlier. Now, he got plus movement in the running game and there were some nice moments, including handling stunts well. Top 100 – yes; top 5 – no. But I need to watch at least twice more.
Last year Jarron Jones was a tall NT and Jerry Tillery is the same at 6’6″. At times the height works against him, because shorter interior OL can get under him. However, in a one gap system at five technique I think he has top 100 potential. There were flashes of penetration – clearly it wasn’t a dominant game, but there was something there. Hopefully, he’ll return next year – but as with Broughton above, I have seen this type of prospect declare early – so we’ll wait and see.
While I’ve been critical of Notre Dame not being on UK TV until this week, Wyoming is a different story. I wouldn’t expect them to be on, unless they were on a Thursday/Friday night ESPN matchup – or undefeated. As such, I watched two Draft Breakdown games, plus I’ll have the Bowl game, for QB Josh Allen. Looking back at the last two drafts, two big armed, but raw QBs have been first round picks – Paxton Lynch and Patrick Mahomes II. Allen is that type of arm talent – the ball gets there in a hurry. He can escape and create when he gets flushed out of the pocket, and his sandlot skills are exciting. He’ll make simply elite throws – zing and it’s right on the money. When in the pocket, his feet are a bit too static – he can get a bit chest on and accuracy suffers. He can get through progressions, but at times he’ll take off a bit too soon, and his eyes can drop to the rush – although he does make an effort to pick them up again. I would say he’s a first round talent because someone will love the arm. He hurt his shoulder on Saturday, so hopefully that’s not too serious and he can return soon.
Finally this week I want to mention a small schooler – Jacksonville State Edge Rusher Darius Jackson. He plays the “Bandit LB” in a hybrid base, but they are often in the nickel with two edge rushers stood up. Jackson is not a one trick pony, which is highly encouraging. He can win with pure speed and dip around the edge, but I saw speed, rip, inside move, spin and speed to power from him. he’s most effective when he attacks half of the OT – either outside or inside. When he does go speed to power and attacks square on, he’s more likely to be controlled. Jackson has “plus” quickness – he beat a tackle with a step outside, then a jump back inside. I loved his motor and he also felt a middle screen and made the tackle for only a short gain. It looks like JSU will be on the playoffs, so I may well get the chance to see him on UK TV at that point – for sure he has a shot for the middle rounds, and indeed if he got a Senior Bowl invitation and did well, it wouldn’t shock me if he got top 100 looks.