Week 8 on the college football schedule saw unbeaten Wisconsin go down to defeat after a furious comeback by the lowly Fighting Illini. The struggling Tennessee Volunteers made a game out of it against number one rated Alabama – for a while anyway. It was also a weekend where four 2019 NFL Draft prospects from the defensive front seven impressed next level decision-makers. College Football Week 8’s Risers and Sliders list is headlined by Carlos Basham and David Woodward:
NFL Draft – Week 7 Risers
Carlos Basham Jr/Edge/Wake Forest: Basham is a player I gushed over during the summer, grading him as the top prospect from Wake Forest and a potential third-round pick. Thus far, he’s lived up to many of my expectations this season.
Against Florida State, he finished with 3 tackles and 3 quarterback hits, the latter which changed the momentum of the game in Wake’s favor. He’s an athletic prospect who wreaks havoc out of a three-point stance or standing over tackle. Halfway through the 2019 college football season, Basham has already matched his total from a year ago with 4.5 sacks and has 10.5 TFL’s as well as 9 QBH’s to his credit.
As mentioned during this past week’s College Football Week 8’s blog, the Demon Deacons’ defensive star is giving serious consideration to entering the 2020 NFL Draft, something I expect he will follow through on if he receives a top-90 grade.
David Woodward/LB/Utah State: Woodward was someone I graded as a middle-round pick during the summer of 2018, and he’s only improved his game ever since. He was credited with 11 tackles and 2 PBU’s during the victory over Nevada, which brings his total to 82 tackles in 6 games this season. Woodward also has 4 forced fumbles this year. He’s a traditional three-down linebacker who effectively stuffs the run, covers the pass and blitzes on occasion.
I mentioned Woodward’s play during our Week 6 college football blog, as the junior finished with 16 tackles during the loss to LSU. He’s an instinctive linebacker who plays with excellent toughness and offers starting potential in a variety of NFL schemes.
Marlon Davidson/DL/Auburn: With all the attention centering on Derrick Brown, both in the scouting community and on the field, Davidson often gets lost in the shuffle even though he’s having a terrific season. He finished with 5 tackles, 3 TFL’s and 2 sacks during Auburn’s blowout victory over Arkansas. While some of his play-making can be attributed to opponents double-teaming Brown, Davidson is an explosive defender who will receive day two consideration in next year’s draft. He’s athletic and can line up in a variety of schemes at the next level.
Bravvion Roy/NT/Baylor: Roy is a prototypical nose tackle prospect; built low to the ground with tremendous width and a good amount of power. This year, he’s starting to add the element of play-making to his game. He posted 7 tackles with 1 TFL and 1 sack against Oklahoma State, which gives him 30 tackles for the season. Roy has limitations, but teams needing a two down, run stuffer at nose tackle could look his way late in the draft.
Maurice Ffrench/WR/Pittsburgh: Ffrench entered the season graded as a PFA but has done enough since September to garner a combine invitation and receive late-round consideration. He totaled 6 receptions for 92 yards and 1 TD during the victory over Syracuse, and for the year, Ffrench has 56 receptions, well ahead of last year’s total of 35. He’s a slot receiver type with next-level speed, solid hands, and the versatility to line up as a punt or kick returner.
Reggie Corbin/RB/Illinois: The Fighting Illini came away with one of the biggest upsets of the season, thus shaking up the top-25 as a result when they beat formerly undefeated Wisconsin, who takes on Ohio State on Saturday, on a last-second field goal. Corbin was the driving force on offense, as he’s been the past two seasons. He finished the game with 83 yards on 17 carries, for an average of 4.9 yards per attempt, which bettered Jonathan Taylor of the Badgers. Included was a 43-yard touchdown run late in the game.
Corbin is averaging 5.9 yards per carry this year after averaging 8.5 yards each carry in 2018. Though he must improve his pass-catching production, Corbin possesses the style and ability to line up as a third-down back/situational runner at the next level and is worth considering in the later rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Sleeper Prospect- Omari Cobb/LB/Marshall: Despite outstanding size/speed numbers (6-feet-4-inches, 225 pounds, 4.75s/forty), Cobb was graded as a free agent prospect by scouts, yet his play on the field screams draftable linebacker.
During Marshall’s vital conference win over Florida Atlantic, Cobb led the Herd with 11 tackles, 1.5 TFL’s, 1 sack, and 1 PBU. In seven games this season, he’s totaled 57 tackles; just four shy of his number from all of last season. Cobb is a terrific run and chase linebacker who stands out in pursuit and offers potential on special teams at the next level.
Small School Prospect- Isaiah Weston/WR/Northern Iowa: While Jaylin James was the receiver from Northern Iowa scouts graded before the season, Weston has been the prospect standing out this year. The fourth-year sophomore (Weston did not play in 2018 and redshirted in 2016) has caught 27 passes for 699 yards and 8 TDs in 7 games this season.
The big play wideout, who measures 6-feet-3-inches and 205 pounds, is averaging 26 yards per reception in 2019. Weston is in the midst of a breakout campaign after performing well as a redshirt freshman in 2017. While he needs to show a bigger body of work, the dynamic receiver must be kept on the scouting radar.
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Lawrence Cager/WR/Georgia: The Miami Hurricane transfer was graded as a “wait and see” prospect for 2019, and scouts are still waiting. With an incredible opportunity in front of him, Cager has played uninspired, marginally productive football this season. He has the size and skill to make a depth chart at the next level, but Cager must quickly kick his game into gear.
Kirk Merritt/WR/Arkansas State: You wouldn’t think a receiver from the Sun Belt Conference would warrant slider status, but Merritt’s play has been disappointing this season. The senior started his career at Texas A&M before being dismissed from the program and was graded as a potential late-round pick entering the season but is playing far below his 2018 form.
Although Merritt does have 7 TDs this season, he’s been significantly out produced by teammate Omar Bayless, graded by scouts as a street free agent.