The start of the final month of college football’s regular season saw Georgia easily win the World’s Largest Cocktail Party while Wake Forest continues to impress on the field. It was also a week where the top offensive tackle in the land, Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, showed why he’ll be an early pick in the 2020 NFL Draft next April. Here are my Risers & Sliders for Week 10 in college football.
2020 NFL Draft Risers
Andrew Thomas/T/Georgia: I presently grade Thomas as my number one rated offensive tackle and he proved why during the victory over Florida, which kept the Georgia Bulldogs’ college football playoff and national title hopes alive. Thomas helped keep the pocket clean and the quarterback upright as the Gators did not record a sack. Their pass-rushing duo of Jonathan Greenard and Jabari Zuniga were held in check all game. Thomas, whom I’m told will enter the draft, will be the purest left tackle prospect available in 2020.
Hunter Bryant/TE/Washington: Though it was a tough loss for the Washington Huskies, it was a bit of coming out party for Bryant who caught 6 passes for 105 yards and 2 TD’s against the very tough Utah defense. Bryant has 36 receptions this season, averaging 15.5 yards per reception, a testament to his field-stretching and big play ability.
I gave Bryant a fifth round grade entering the season simply due to the fact he wasn’t the featured tight end for Washington last season. Considering his play this year and the ability shown, a second day calling of his name is in line for Bryant if he enters the draft.
Khaleke Hudson/S-OLB/Michigan: Hudson came up big on several occasions during the Wolverines 38-7 victory over Maryland, a game much closer than the scoreboard read. The senior finished with 8 tackles, 1 PBU, and .5 sack. He was all over the field and made several impact plays as Maryland was driving towards the end zone. Hudson is a terrific athlete and an explosive defender, but it will be interesting to see where he lines up on Sunday. He measures 5-feet-11-inches, 215 pounds and while listed as a safety on my board, some feel Hudson will play linebacker at the next level.
Jamie Newman/QB/Wake Forest: It’s been a tremendous campaign for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, and they are on a collision course with the Clemson Tigers for supremacy in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. Newman is just the latest Demon Deacon mentioned in this column due to his outstanding play, and the athletic quarterback has really stepped up his game.
He’s completing 67.5% of his throws and has tossed 17 touchdowns in eight games. Newman is smart, poised and shows great accuracy as well as solid decision making. He’s a nice sized passer who makes plays in the pocket or on the move and possesses a large degree of upside.
Chase Claypool/WR/Notre Dame: I was not as high on Claypool as others coming into the season but the big receiver has shown flashes of dominance throughout 2019. Most recently, Claypool caught 8 passes for 118 yards during the victory over Virginia Tech and two of those receptions came during Notre Dame’s game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter.
Claypool needs to be more productive on a consistent basis. He has just 29 receptions this season, but he possesses the size and ability to be a late-round selection and fourth receiver at the next level.
Sleeper Prospect- James Morgan/QB/Florida International: Morgan, a Bowling Green transfer, is one of the hidden secrets at the quarterback position. He’s completing just under 60% of his throws this season for 1400 yards with 10 TD’s and just 2 INT’s. Morgan, a nice sized passer with a next level arm and a potential late round pick, could make a roster as a third signal caller.
Small School Prospect- Chris Williams/DT/Wagner: It’s been a miserable season for Wagner, whose record sits at 1-8. However, Williams has been a star in the scouting community. Entering the season graded as a street free agent, Williams has been an incredible force on the defensive line posting 50 tackles and 8.5 TFL’s. He measures 6-feet-2.5-inches, 310 pounds and plays to that size. Williams needs to polish his game but offers scheme versatility and is worth considering in the late rounds.
2020 NFL Draft Sliders
Troy Pride Jr/CB/Notre Dame: Scouts gave Pride an early round grade coming into the season as I also did, but the senior really hasn’t improved his game this year. Against Virginia Tech, he was beaten on the only two touchdowns the Hokies scored and seemed intimidated. Pride’s situation is very similar to former teammate Julian Love, the fourth-round pick of the New York Giants last April; he’s a player many believed to be a first round prospect who failed to meet expectations.
Eno Benjamin/RB/Arizona State: Before the season began, there was a belief in the scouting community that running back Eno Benjamin was a second-round prospect if he entered the draft. From all the information I’m receiving, Benjamin will make himself eligible for the draft but will be a midround pick next April.
Benjamin has been minimally effective most of the season and has not improved his game. He’s averaging 4.4 yards per carry this year compared to 5.5 yards last season, and he’ll fall well short of the 1642 yards and 16 TD’s he produced in 2018. Several scouts also wonder how Benjamin’s pounding and grinding style will hold up at the next level, being he’s likely to tip the scales at 200 pounds.
Tony Pauline is Pro Football Network’s NFL Draft Analyst and Insider. Follow him on Twitter @TonyPauline. Follow PFN on Twitter @PFN365. For more of Tony Pauline’s Risers & Sliders, check out our archives.
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