The first Saturday with a full slate of games kicks-off at noon and Pro Football Network will be running a live gameday blog from start to finish. We’ll have observations, opinions as well as any news from this weekends games which could impact the 2020 NFL Draft. Click here for all of my grades and projected draft rounds leading into the 2019 season.
USC’s hire of Air Raid guru Graham Harrell started off strong, but the Fresno State secondary led by Cornerback Jaron Bryant and safety JuJu Hughes has adjusted well on the last few drives. Unfortunately, Fresno State linebacker Mykal Walker, who Tony Pauline highlighted as a fourth-round prospect below, just exited with an injury.
Speaking of, what a clunker of an opening weekend for the Pac 12. Washington started off explosive out of the gate led by Jacob Eason‘s four touchdown passes. Colorado and Utah beat their rivals handily as well, but the rest of the big matchups the conference had were rather unconvincing. Stanford plodded their way to a 17-7 victory that was 10-7 until 33 seconds left. Oregon had Auburn dead to rights multiple times and blew the game. UCLA got crushed by Cincinnati, and Hawaii outdueled Arizona to pull off the win at home. Not a great start for the Pac 12. -AJ Schulte
What a week for the Mountain West Conference. Hawaii kicked it off with the upset of Arizona, Boise State pulled off the comeback against Florida State, Nevada upset Purdue, and Wyoming just pulled out the upset against Missouri.
It was a relatively quiet game for Boise State edge rusher Curtis Weaver, but he did record a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Florida State’s individual talent shined through more so than the team did. RB Cam Akers had a great game with 116 yards and a touchdown. WR Tamorrion Terry posted a 4-99-1 stat line as well. Hybrid linebacker/safety Hamsah Nasirildeen recorded 12 total tackles and a pass breakup. –AJ Schulte
What an ending to the Oregon-Auburn game tonight. The headline debut of Justin Herbert didn’t exactly go as planned for the Ducks, as they dropped the game 27-21. His stats wrapped up at 28-37, 242 yards, and 1 TD. This game had a couple of high notes for Herbert, but this did not answer any questions about him. It isn’t entirely Herbert’s fault, as the Oregon receivers were injury-riddled and the Oregon playcalling was atrocious. Questions about his ability in big games are likely going to continue.
The Oregon offensive line vs Auburn defensive line matchup lived up to the hype. Oregon senior guard Shane Lemieux made himself some money tonight, but the matchup in the trenches went both ways between the two teams as the game went on.
Texas wrapped up their warmup game against Louisiana Tech 45-14. WR Collin Johnson had a touchdown reception, and QB Sam Ehlinger tied a career-high with 4 touchdown passes. Texas gets LSU at home next week. Scouts will be paying attention to the matchup between Johnson and LSU Cornerback Kristian Fulton, who many have as a first-round prospect. -AJ Schulte
Before the BYU-Utah game, I mentioned the name of a sleeper linebacker, the Utes Francis Bernard, who went on to have a terrific game.
The Fresno State-USC contest also includes a terrific linebacker prospect few talks about, Mykal Walker of the Bulldogs.
Presently graded as a fourth-rounder on my board, Walker is incredibly athletic, very strong for his size and a constant playmaker. He was primarily used at the line of scrimmage last season, standing over tackle, but will move to middle linebacker this season.
Earlier I mentioned this could be a statement game for Oregon guard Shane Lemieux.
I sold the Ducks offensive line short as this has been a statement game for all of them, including Calvin Throckmorton, Jake Hanson, and Dallas Warmack, who was not ever graded by scouts (or myself for that matter).
The talented Auburn defensive line does not have a sack as the third quarter closes out. Derrick Brown has been held in check while Nick Coe and Marlon Davidson have been pretty much invisible from the get-go.
Two things stand out to me about the 7:30 games:
1- I never expected the Oregon offensive line to handle the Auburn defensive line with such ease.
2- The Vanderbilt offense looks awful, despite the talent at the skill positions.
Keep this in the back of your mind- I reported on Thursday during the CFB game day blog, receiver Gabe Davis of Central Florida is very likely to enter the 2020 draft. I received further confirmation of this today, and many think the Davis team has narrowed down the choice of agents.
I’m also told Carlos Basham Jr., my highest rated next level prospect from Wake Forest, is seriously considering entering the draft at this point. If he gets a top 75 grade at the end of the season expect Bashem to declare.
I continue to believe Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fisher, graded as a top 75 selection by some, is overrated while his teammate Blake Gallagher is underrated. Watching the game today Gallagher is outplaying Fisher despite the fact both finished with 6 tackles each.
I gave the reasons for my opinion during my Northwestern preview.
Obviously, the big news at the end of the game was Walker Little being helped off the field with what seemed to be a concerning knee injury.
The situation needs to be monitored, but if the injury is serious, it will affect the offensive tackle board for the 2020 draft.
Oregon vs Auburn is possibly the most important game on the first full weekend of college football and very likely a tone-setter for both teams. Gus Malzahn is in a must-win situation almost every weekend while the Ducks want to stamp themselves as a legitimate top ten team.
This contest also offers some great next level match-ups. Here are a few to keep an eye on:
- There’s no denying Auburn’s Derrick Brown is one of the most complete defensive tackles who will be available in next April’s draft. There’s a real good chance Brown would’ve been a top 12 pick had he entered the 2019 draft. Shane Lemieux of Oregon is graded as a potential second-day draft pick in scouting circles. Lemieux is a tough, slug it out lineman, but he’s stiff and struggles with athletic opponents. Tonight can be a statement game for Lemieux.
- Oregon has a pair of good pass-catchers in Penn State transfer receiver Juwan Johnson and tight end Jake Breeland. Auburn has a pair of very good corners in Noah Igbinoghene and Javaris Davis. Breeland won’t see much of the corners but Johnson, assuming he’s healthy and on the field, will.
- Keep an eye on Jordan Scott. He’s a massive nose tackle with surprising athleticism and movement skills. Auburn will have a difficult time stopping Scott, who can collapse the pocket and blow up the action.
Oregon vs Auburn Draft Board
|Auburn||4.01||1st||Prince Tega Wanogho||T||76||5Sr|
|Oregon||3.41||5th||Thomas Graham, Jr.||CB||4||3Jr|
|Oregon||3.37||6th||LaMar Winston, Jr.||OLB||32||4Sr|
|Auburn||3.00||FA||Big Kat Bryant||DE||1||3Jr|
Another player that’s done well today in his return to the field after missing most of 2018 with injury is D.J. Wonnum of South Carolina.
Scouts gave Wonnum a third-round grade entering the season while I stated I wanted to wait and see how he responded from his injury of a year ago.
Well- it looks like the injury did not affect Wonnum much as he finished the game with 7 tackles including and 3 tackles for loss, showing terrific athleticism, forcing the action up the field or getting out into space to make plays in pursuit.
Alabama wide receiver Jerry Juedy is widely considered the nation’s best receiver, and arguably the best player in the 2020 NFL Draft. Juedy has been dominant since stepping on the field at Alabama, and he started this season no different. Juedy, thus far, has caught 10 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown coming on a 21-yard screen pass where he makes the first defender miss, accelerates through traffic and scores. Juedy is a true threat at all facets of the passing game, especially with the ball in his hands.
Breaking news has just been announced the Dolphins star left tackle Laremy Tunsil has been traded to the Houston Texans. The Dolphins received huge compensation in the form of draft capital. One of those picks they should look to use on their next franchise left tackle. Some players to keep an eye on: Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs and Georgia’s Andrew Thomas.
Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo is my highest graded Cardinal prospect. Adebo led the country in pass deflections last season, and on 76 targets gave up just one touchdown. Adebo has plus size for the position at 6’1, 190, and is a technician in coverage. He has flexible hips and has issues in turn and run coverage. Combined with elite ball skills, Adebo has a legitimate bid as the nation’s best corner, and maybe the best corner in this draft class. -MV
Jacob Eason‘s favorite target this year figures to be wide receiver, Aaron Fuller. Fuller possesses elite hand strength, body control, and tracks the ball very well. Fuller stands at only 5’11 but is a strong athlete and has shown a natural feel for separation. I currently have Fuller ranked as a top ten receiver in this class, and Day 2 grade. -MV
Washington QB Jason Eason was a highly touted recruit in high school and was a starter as a true freshman for Georgia. As a sophomore, he was injured early in the season and lost the starting job to Jake Fromm who caught fire. Eason then transferred to Washington and sat out the 2018 season.
Eason was a bit of an enigma coming into the season. Looked like an NFL QB at Georgia, but what kind of player would he be for the Huskies? So far, he’s answered the questions. Through just over a half, Eason has thrown 19/26 for 276 yards and 4 touchdowns. Eason has elite arm talent and excellent size. He’s a quiet contender for QB1, and with a big season at UW, he’ll firmly entrench himself in the first-round conversation. -MV
When the conversation circles around to the top defensive tackle prospects in college football not many mention Javon Kinlaw, but if you are watching the South Carolina-North Carolina contest you just saw why some scouts grade him as a top-five senior prospect in the nation regardless of position.
Kinlaw, who just blocked a field goal, is incredibly athletic and a big man in the middle who makes a lot of plays as a run stuffer, pass rusher and now, special teams player.
Unfortunate for Kinlaw but he plays in the same conference as Derrick Brown and Raekwon Davis.
I highlighted Patrick Taylor to start the day, and the Memphis running back responded with a terrific performance. He finished the day with 128 rushing yards and 1 TD on 27 carries (4.7 yards per carry) and added four receptions.
The case can be made Mississippi will be the toughest defense Memphis will face this year and Taylor shred them to pieces. He was stamped by scouts as a fifth-round prospect entering the season, but you can bet that guesstimate will be changed soon.
Though the outcome of the game is yet to be determined, it’s been a disappointing performance by Florida State despite the play of Marvin Wilson, whom I spoke about earlier.
He’s a wide-body nose tackle who does a lot more than just occupy blockers. Rather, as Wilson has shown today, he can be a playmaker in the middle. With 2 minutes left in the game, he’s already tallied 1 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 PBU, 2 QBH’s and 1 FF.
One major development of today has been the play of James Blackman. FSU’s redshirt-sophomore has looked very comfortable today, distributing the ball smoothly and pushing it down the field with pace. Blackman has thrown 19/28 for 307 yards and 3 touchdowns. At 6’5 he has excellent height for the position, but he must fill out his frame as he’s listed at only 195 pounds. Blackman has shown good accuracy and a strong arm today; he could be a sleeper quarterback to watch. – MV
Mississippi St. and Louisiana have played a pretty competitive game thus far. Miss. St. is led by two really intriguing draft prospects on both sides of the ball.
On offense, running back Kylin Hill is thunderous power back. He powers through arm tackles and will be a nice piece on a team that employs a running back by committee approach. So far, Hill has rushed for 185 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Hill currently carries a Day 3 grade from me, but can be a productive piece on an NFL offense.
On the defensive side, the Bulldogs are lead by their shutdown corner Cameron Dantzler. Dantzler has an alpha mentality when the ball is in the air and recorded an interception on the first drive of the game. He has elite length for the position but could stand to put on some weight. Dantzler is a high upside corner prospect who I expect to be selected on early day 3. – MV
Hello all, throughout the course of the day, Tony Pauline will be taking a short break. To make sure we continue giving you college football coverage, our two primary draft analysts will be taking over. Matt Valdovinos(MV) will be taking over from 3:00 pm to 3:30 pm, and 5 pm to 7 pm. AJ Schulte(AJ) will be taking over from 11 pm to midnight. Make sure to give them a follow on twitter @MVScouting and @AJDraftScout.
Earlier I mentioned the mediocre performances Ole Miss players highly rated by NFL scouts.
In direct contrast to this is the play of Memphis defender Bryce Huff today, a candidate as a 3-4 outside linebacker who primarily comes out of a three-point stance for the Tigers.
Huff is a tough, nasty defender worthy of late-round consideration.
Welcome back, Tabari Hines!!
After his junior season at Wake Forest, when he tied for the team lead with 53 receptions, I graded Hines as a potential late-round pick. The following season he transferred to Oregon, but it didn’t work out, so he moved to NC State as a graduate student for 2019.
In his opening game for the Wolfpack, he’s carried the ball once for 34 yards and totaled 4 receptions for 73 yards with 1 score as the fourth quarter opened.
His last name should ring a bell as Tabari is a cousin to former NC State star Nyheim Hines, the versatile skill player now with the Indianapolis Colts.
Like his cousin, Tabari projects as a multi-dimensional skill player who can be used out of the backfield, in the slot and as a return specialist.
Keep a close eye on North Carolina State receiver Emeka Emezie (3). While I stamped him as a UDFA, some scouts have already given the junior a fourth-round grade, and they are very high on his next-level ability.
Tamorrion Terry is my highest rated NFL prospect on the Seminoles depth chart- you just saw why.
An underrated match-up in the Boise State-Florida State contest is BSU guard John Molchon (77) versus Seminoles DT/NT Marvin Wilson (21).
Molchon is a small, slug-it-out lineman who I grade as a sixth-round prospect while Wilson, who I handed a fifth-round grade, is also strong but cat-like quick and a dancing bear.
If you check in on the Iowa State-Northern Iowa game, being shown on FS1, keep an eye on UNI receiver Jaylon James (83). He has decent size/speed numbers (6-3/206.4.52) and is graded as a priority free agent by a number of scouts.
One of the better noontime games will be the border war between Mississippi-Memphis in the Liberty Bowl.
Memphis has put a good number of running backs into the NFL draft and Patrick Taylor, who struggled to get carries last year, is getting a lot of love in the scouting community.
The same cannot be said for tight end Joey Magnifico, a 6-foot-2.5-inch tight end who tips the scales at 250-pounds and runs in the mid 4.7’s. He’s a terrific athlete who needs to step up his production, but some scouts have graded as roster fodder while I grade Magnifico as a potential fifth-round pick.
Another game of interest to scouts which starts the day is Boise State – Florida State, which moved from Orlando to Tallahassee due to the impending hurricane. In times past the Seminoles would be the focus of attention in the scouting community in a contest such as this but not today.
Boise State has two highly considered next level prospects starting with junior pass rusher Curtis Weaver. Coming out of a three-point stance as well as standing over tackle, Weaver is a terrific combination of size, athleticism, and power- all which will be on display today.
While I grade Weaver as a potential second/third-round pick, there are some in the scouting community who feel he could move into the first round. As of now, the belief is Weaver will enter the 2020 draft, assuming he’s healthy and has a good season.
Another BSU junior bares watching- left tackle Ezra Cleveland.
Off his freshman film of 2017, I stamped Cleveland as a potential second-day pick. Though I was slightly disappointed in the progress, he showed last year Cleveland is an athletic lineman who blocks with solid fundamentals and impresses in pass protection.