Week 10 on the college football schedule was a doozy both for teams and 2023 NFL Draft prospects. Alabama and Clemson all but sealed their fates for the title hunt this season, while Georgia again proved it is the supreme program in the country.
And several defenders, as well as skill players, are having terrific seasons and watching their draft stock move north. Here are our Big Board Risers and Sliders for Week 10.
Risers: Josh Downs, Kris Abrams-Draine Headline Group
Tyrus Wheat, DL, Mississippi State
During Saturday’s live game day blog, I spoke about Wheat and my expectations that he would blow up the combine. The fireworks started much earlier than I expected, as Wheat blew up the Auburn offense that same evening.
Wheat finished the game with six tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, and two hurries. He’s also broken up a pair of passes this season. Wheat is a terrific athlete who I’m told will test through the roof prior to the 2023 NFL Draft.
At 6’2″ and 270 pounds, he has the ability to come out of a three-point stance in a four-man front or stand-over tackle. Wheat will need some coaching and development, but his upside is enormous.
Kris Abrams-Draine, CB, Missouri
Abrams-Draine is someone I’ve been writing about all season long, as scouts have been raving about the junior corner. Facing the much-discussed Will Levis of Kentucky, Abrams-Draine finished the day with two pass breakups, yet stats told just a fraction of the story.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
When the ball was thrown in the direction of Abrams-Draine, receivers had no chance of making the reception, as he covered them like a blanket. For much of the game, Levis did not look in the direction of Abrams-Draine, and when he did late in the game, the coverage was so good that the UK quarterback was forced to pull the ball down and then got sacked.
Despite receiving little mention in the draft Twitter world, NFL decision-makers love Abrams-Draine, who will end up as a top-60 NFL draft prospect next April.
Myles Brooks, CB, Louisiana Tech
Brooks is another cornerback I’ve been writing a lot about recently. The transfer from Stephen F. Austin caught scouts’ eyes with his size and skill, so much so that they spoke about Brooks being a potential top-75 pick.
The junior looked every bit a Day 2 choice during the victory over Middle Tennessee. Brooks intercepted two passes for 50 yards and broke up another throw.
In the previous game, Brooks totaled four PBUs against Florida International. He measures over six feet tall, has shown the ability to consistently shut down opposing receivers, and comes with a large upside.
As I’ve reported on a number of occasions, Brooks is expected to enter the draft and has told people he’s already decided on an agent.
Josh Downs, WR, North Carolina
Hopes were high for Josh Downs coming into the season, as over the summer, I graded the UNC receiver as a third-round pick. Downs got off to a slow start and missed most of September after suffering a leg injury during the season’s first game.
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Since returning, Downs has played progressively better and turned in a career performance against Virginia, finishing with 15 receptions for 166 yards and one TD. In five games since the start of October, Downs has a combined 49 receptions. He’s a smaller, swifter wideout who has shown consistent progress over the past two seasons.
His true height and weight will be critical in determining where Downs ends up in the draft, but he’s cemented himself as a top-75 selection.
Deslin Alexandre, DE, Pittsburgh
The Panthers pulled a minor upset, defeating Syracuse on Saturday by shutting down the potent Orange offense. And once again, Alexandre made an impact on the Pitt defense.
The senior finished with seven tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. Alexandre, who injured his arm during the first game of the season and missed almost the entire month of September, has five tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and six hurries in six games this season.
The senior is an athletic pass rusher with a nice size (6’3″, 278 pounds) and long arms (34 inches). I have a sixth-round grade on Alexandre, who should begin his NFL career as a pass-rush specialist while he develops a complete game.
Jayshon Jackson, WR, Ball State
Jackson was initially graded as a fringe late-round prospect, but his play this season may have cemented him a spot in the late part of Day 3. Jackson is incredibly quick and reliable and is the go-to receiver opponents can’t stop.
He caught 10 passes for 102 yards with one TD during the victory over Kent State, the third time this season Jackson has registered double-digit receptions in a game. He’s a smaller wideout who can line up in the slot or on the outside and double as a return specialist.
Predraft workouts will be critical, as Jackson must test well, but from a performance point of view, he’s definitely draftable.
Sleeper Prospect: Karl Brooks, DL, Bowling Green
For the past three seasons, Brooks has been one of my favorite defenders and a prospect who defines the category of sleeper. Despite scouts dismissing him, the super senior has done nothing but produce on the field and disrupt opposing game plans.
Take this season, for example. In nine games, his stat line reads 35 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and two pass breakups. One year ago, Brooks was credited with 12.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
Brooks is an athletic and intense 6-foot-2, a 310-pound defensive lineman with scheme versatility. Scouts I’ve spoken with say he’s a fringe UDFA, but I disagree and have a late-round grade on Brooks.
Small School Prospect: Emanuel Wilson, RB, Fort Valley State
It seems Wilson turns in a wow performance each week, and this past Saturday was no different. Against Albany State, the senior rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. It was his most productive game since the season opener, where he totaled 262 yards on 20 carries.
For the season, Wilson has 1,252 rushing yards and 15 rushing TDs in eight games. Stats aside, Wilson is a large 225-pound ball carrier who runs with exceptional balance and power. He also shows a good degree of short-area quickness and the ability to avoid piles and defenders.
His pass-catching skills are above average as well. And while he doesn’t necessarily fit in today’s NFL, there’s definitely a place for Wilson late in the draft and on a Sunday roster in 2023.
Sliders: Tanner Morgan Heading in the Wrong Direction
Tanner Morgan, QB, Minnesota
Tanner Morgan has always been a terrific college quarterback, combining toughness and intellect to lead the Gophers. Yet peering through the lens of next-level prospects, Morgan is limited. He’s a solid short-yardage passer, but he struggles in the intermediate game and has no ability to be used in a vertical passing game.
He was pulled out of the game against Nebraska after going 6-for-8 passing for 38 yards in favor of Athan Kaliakmanis. The tone of the game changed immediately as Kaliakmanis threw a 45-yard strike down the field and led Minnesota to a come-from-behind victory.
Morgan’s inability to throw the ball deep is a limiting factor that I suspect leaves him on the outside looking in during next April’s draft.
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