College football games today began at Noon as Week 2 kicked off with a much larger slate than we saw seven days ago, though it’s still depleted compared to the norm. While there are no games of national prominence, something that will be tough to come by in 2020, there are several contests NFL scouts will have their eyes on. Here at Pro Football Network, we’ll have updates on the Week 2 college football games today, with analysis, opinion, and breaking news from 12:00 Noon to Midnight ET in our College Football Live Game Day Blog.
Keep up with NFL Draft stories and analysis from the PFN NFL Draft Crew daily here at PFN, and be sure to check out the latest edition of the PFN Draft Insiders Podcast with Andy Herman and me, where we provide the latest inside information from around the NFL and preview today’s action.
College Football Games Today: Week 2 Live Blog with Tony Pauline and Nick Farabaugh
Oklahoma receiver duo makes their mark (12:30 ET)
Oklahoma simply cruised to a 48-0 victory over Missouri State. Part of that victory was the efficiency of their experienced receiving duo. Theo Howard and Charleston Rambo did not play a ton, but when they were out there, they made plays.
Rambo had a big 53-yard touchdown. As far as the next big Oklahoma receiver, Rambo could be that next candidate. He is walking home run. Rambo’s elite deep speed and exceptional explosiveness in and out of his breaks make him a great Z-receiver at the next level. Rambo could catapult up boards this year.
Howard, a UCLA transfer, is a bit more about finesse. The immediate trait that sticks in his film is his savviness. Finding wide-open spots in zones, stemming his routes well, having great deceptiveness in those routes, and high-level awareness are the peak of Howard’s game. That technical ability makes him a nice mid-round prospect chain mover for teams that need the big possession receiver on their team.
Kansas is down, but it’s not because of Pooka Willaims (12:20 ET)
Kansas is taking a shellacking currently at the start of the third quarter, and one thing that has been odd has been that their star running back Pooka Williams only has eight touches. On those touches, he has 44 yards. To say the least, it is far from his fault that the Jayhawks are down 28-3 right now.
Williams is a shifty, quick runner that will mesh extremely well with zone oriented running schemes at the next level. His burst and competitive spirit as a runner are commendable. Despite his slighter frame, Williams is one of the tougher runners in the 2021 NFL Draft.
He is at his best when reading the defensive flow and makes quick cuts with his lateral agility. Williams is still a good mid-round running back prospect. The Jayhawks’ failure to utilize him thus far is head-scratching at the very least.
Bailey Zappe and Houston Baptist take Texas Tech to the breaking point (11:55 ET)
Houston Baptist took the Texas Tech Red Raiders down to the wire. While the Huskies took a close 35-33 loss, it was not all bad for the team. Most importantly, their quarterback Bailey Zappe made quite an impression on the national audience. Throwing for 567 passing yards and four touchdowns, Zappe was impressive.
If tonight was any indication, Zappe is an absolute gunslinger. He airs it out and makes some fantastic deep throws. Zappe’s ability to switch between speeds was exceptional. At times, the touch on passes was perfect to fit it over defenders. At other times, the mustard he put on the ball made it a virtual rocket into a tight window.
The sense of rhythm he plays with might be the most impressive thing. Zappe was anticipating throws well against Texas Tech. He was also throwing receivers open at times. When things broke down, Zappe illustrated an ability to extend the play with legs, keep his eyes downfield, and find the open man.
It was a great showing for Zappe, who gave NFL scouts a lot of quality tape to digest tonight.
Jeffrey Gunter raises my eyebrow (11:45 ET)
Coastal Carolina is currently dominating Kansas, and the defense has been swarming to the football. Tarron Johnson stands out in a good way today as expected, but it was the linebacker of his other side, Jeffrey Gunter, who has been eyebrow-raising. In 2018, Gunter registered 14 tackles for loss and five sacks. After transferring to NC State prior to the 2019 season, he decided to return to Coastal Carolina for 2020.
Gunter is a redshirt junior who has long, lengthy arms. The 6’4″, 260-pound edge rusher is an imposing physical force. He has a sturdy frame paired with that length. Coming out of his stance, there is some explosiveness there too. Gunter has been in the backfield a good deal tonight. Quick, active hands have been the main reason why he has had such success. Gunter also used those long arms to jump up and grab an interception after dropping back in coverage.
Gunter’s statistically impressive 2018 season and a strong start to the game against the Jayhawks, make him only a name to markdown right now, but it is an outstanding first impression in 2020 from Gunter.
C.J. Marable standing out early (11:15 ET)
Coastal Carolina has jumped out to a 21-0 early lead over the Kansas Jayhawks, and standout running back C.J. Marable has his fingerprints all over the early lead that the Chanticleers have built.
With nine rushes for 47 rushing yards on the day thus far, Marable has run tough and is a running back who is compact and tough to bring down. Marable had over 1,000 rushing yards last season, and his success is carrying over to this season. The biggest skill in his game is his vision, which is superb. Marable does a great job of manipulating linebackers at the second level. Marable has terrific burst and shiftiness within his frame.
A weapon in the passing game as well, Marable is a late-round pick right now, but if he has an even better year in 2020 than he did in 2019, Marable can rise up boards to be a mid-round sleeper pick.
Another terrific game for Travis Etienne (10:55 ET)
Another Clemson Tigers game and Travis Etienne comes out of the game with multiple electric plays on tape once again. It was no surprise to see the star running back torch the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
The Demon Deacons had no answer for Etienne once he got into the open field. He consistently forced two or three missed tackles due to his fantastic agility and contact balance. The top-end speed did not need to show up tonight all that much, but it is clear how easy Etienne’s speed is as he glides and eats up ground quickly.
It was encouraging to see Etienne’s receiving ability continue to grow. I highlighted last year how it took a jump in 2019, but it continues to look better this year as an extension of the running game for the Tigers offense. Etienne’s strengths were clearly on display in the first game of his senior season. If he keeps it up, Etienne has a chance to be the first running back off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Micale Cunningham is the ACC’s best-kept secret (10:45 ET)
Lousiville is currently cruising over Western Kentucky, and it is in large part due to the play of their quarterback Micale Cunningham. With four total touchdowns today, Cunningham has had quite the day.
Cunningham’s arm is live. The ball flies out of his hand differently than it does most people’s. His natural ability to engage his torso to push the ball down the field accurately is quite impressive. His 70-yard touchdown pass to Dez Fitzpatrick showcased his impressive deep ball.
On a day where he has set a career-high in passing yards, it is easy to forget about his legs, but Cunningham has impressive mobility and improvisation ability outside the pocket. Cunningham could end up being the big riser out of the crop of quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft class. NF
Keep an eye on the sleepers from Coastal Carolina (9:45 pm ET)
I fully expect Kansas running back Pooka Williams to run roughshod over Coastal Carolina, as the day’s final game is set to kick-off in about 20 minutes. But Coastal has two NFL sleepers to keep an eye on.
The first would be defensive lineman Tarron Jackson, an explosive end who plays with outstanding fundamentals and leverage. The other would be Kameron Brown, a big-bodied receiver who transferred from College of Charleston.
Both players could end up in the late rounds of the draft or be signed as priority free agents if they turn in productive campaigns.
Trevor Lawrence – What can you say? (9:15 pm ET)
Carlos Basham Jr aside, I really wasn’t expecting much from a Wake Forest squad depleted by graduation, transfers, and opt-outs. And as expected, they are getting pummeled. Yet, you have to be impressed with Trevor Lawrence despite the fact he’s playing against inferior competition.
His command and control of the offense, physical skills, and passing ability has got to make next-level decision makers excited. There was “Suck for Sam,” a few years ago then “Tank for Tua,” last year.
Will the chant this year be “Lose for Lawrence”??
Terry’s next level potential?? (9:05 pm ET)
While some like him as an NFL prospect, I’m not impressed with the next level potential of Florida State receiver Tamorrion Terry. He’s an impressive looking specimen but when you boil it down he shows little in the way of speed, quickness, or ability to separate. Big, stiff, and slow, the same words a league insider used when describing Hakeem Butler to me.
Michigan transfer Sims impressive (8:05 pm ET)
Myles Sims was not listed as a starter on the Georgia Tech depth chart this season and with good reason. After transferring from Michigan, Sims was nothing more than a reserve for the Yellow Jackets last year. Yet, he’s had a hell of a game against Florida State, a game going on five hours long.
Sims, who has terrific size, has had several impressive pass defenses and is going up against the Seminoles’ main target, receiver Tamorrion Terry.
Basham makes his presence felt- early!! (7:55 pm ET)
Carlos Basham Jr was a player I highlighted during this morning’s intro, and you just saw why. The fierce defender sacked Trevor Lawrence on Clemson’s first possession of the game.
Scouts love this kid as he’s an athletic, tough, instinctive defender who can be used in a variety of roles and lined up all over the field. Don’t dismiss the possibility Basham ends up in the first round of next April’s draft.
Two defensive sleepers on display tonight for WKU (7:50 pm ET)
The Western Kentucky-Louisville contest, which kicks off at 8 PM on the ACC Network, includes two terrific defensive prospects few are talking about, and both can be found wearing WKU jerseys.
DeAngelo Malone is an outstanding college pass rusher with next-level athleticism who already holds a day two draft grade. Though slightly undersized, he’s forceful up the field and also very effective making plays in reverse.
Juwuan Jones takes a backseat to his teammate but has many of the same skills.
Another MAC prospect on his way to the next level? (7:35 pm ET)
Though no public decision seems imminent, it’s looking more and more likely Buffalo Bulls running back Jaret Patterson will enter the draft. With the MAC postponing their season to the spring of 2021, the belief from Patterson’s camp is there’s not much value returning for another season.
Offensive tackle Tommy Doyle and cornerback Manny Rugamba of Miami (Ohio) are two MAC prospects who have already announced they’re bypassing the upcoming season to prepare for the draft.
NFL News- Jaguars confident going with Robinson (7:20 pm ET)
On the NFL front, I’m told one of the reasons the Jacksonville Jaguars are confident going with James Robinson as their starting running back tomorrow is his temperament and personality.
Despite the fact it’s the first game of the season and Robinson has been thrust into the starting role for the Jaguars, it doesn’t seem to faze him, and he’s not uncontrollably excited as many would expect.
Scouts disappointed in Sage Surratt’s decision (7:05 pm ET)
When Clemson meets Wake Forest this evening, one player that won’t take the field is Demon Deacon receiver Sage Surratt. Back on August 18, the lanky wideout announced on twitter he was opting out of the upcoming season in order to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
To date, I’ve yet to talk to anyone in the scouting community who believes this is a wise decision- quite the contrary.
Surratt had his monster season cut four games short last year after suffering a shoulder injury. He’s a big-bodied pass catcher who wins out for the contested pass but lacks any semblance of quickness or speed in his game.
Scouts felt Surratt needed to return to the field this year to prove he was healthy, prove he could be productive with a new quarterback after Jamie Newman transferred to Georgia, and show he had improved his route running. None of that’s going to happen, and it’s much more critical than Surratt running a fast forty-time next February.
During our podcast last week, I spoke at length about players who, according to scouts, were making a mistake by opting out of the season in favor of a few extra months of combine training. Surratt was one of the names passed on to me.
Louisiana ground game looks to finish off ISU (3:10 pm ET)
In what looks to be the first upset this weekend, Louisiana has taken control of the game against Iowa State on the road.
Louisiana has two running backs that will be late-round draft picks and will be relied upon during the final minutes of this contest. Elijah Mitchell and Trey Ragas are both well-sized ball carriers with downhill power who can break the long runs. Neither are creative runners, but both can line up as short-yardage ball carriers on Sunday.
Sit tight. We’ll be back at 7:00 PM EST with more updates and analysis!
Keep an eye on TE Noah Gray (2:45 pm ET)
As Duke-Notre Dame kicks off, make sure to keep on eye on Noah Gray, the Blue Devils’ starting tight end who opened the game with a nice reception. Gray entered the season graded by a number of scouts as the top senior tight end in the nation and was stamped with a second-day grade. He’s a solid pass-catching/move tight end with dependable hands, but he has a thin frame and struggles with his blocking.
RB Javonte Williams elevating his game (2:20 pm ET)
Entering the season I graded UNC running back Javonte Williams, a redshirt sophomore, as a UDFA. There were a few reasons, including the fact he was a redshirt freshman in 2019 used on a rotational basis. But Williams has stood out in what’s been a ho-hum affair between UNC and Syracuse. He’s displayed terrific power and strength in his ball carrying, as well as a violent streak. Williams must be put on the scouting radar moving forward.
S Andre Cisco adds another interception to his career tally (2:00 pm ET)
As mentioned in the preview for the college football games today, Syracuse safety Andre Cisco is expected to enter the 2021 draft and is already graded as a second-day pick, and you just saw why. While it wasn’t the most difficult of interceptions, his discipline and ability to track the deep pass, then go up and catch the ball like he was a receiver, was very impressive.
Cisco is not the tallest guy, which will knock him down some draft boards, but he’s a very good defensive back who’ll draw comparisons to Antoine Winfield Jr.
Iowa State – Tight End U? (1:30 pm ET)
Iowa State has three tight ends that will be either drafted or signed as UDFA’s over the next two years: Charlie Kolar, Dylan Soehner, and Chase Allen. All are solid pass catchers with sub-standard speed. Their real value comes as blockers, as the trio are all tall, big-bodied players with the ability to turn defenders from the action, as we just saw on the long touchdown run by ISU.
DT Forrest Merrill looks good in the early going (1:10 pm ET)
Despite the fact Kansas State just marched downfield for the go ahead touchdown, nose tackle Forrest Merrill has looked good in the early going.
Merrill is tough, intense and incredibly explosive. He was graded as draftable last season but was lost for the year after tearing a bicep muscle in September. Some scouts have predicted Merrill could land in the fourth round. I have him as a sixth-round pick primarily because he’s a gap-occupier and not a real playmaker up front. Regardless, Merrill’s intensity is infectious and will be an asset for the team which selects him in the draft.
UNC linebacker Chaz Surratt still not back on the field (12:55 pm ET)
Surratt, a terrific weak-side linebacker with a three-down game, has not been back on the field since a heavy collision in the first quarter making a tackle. I stamped Surratt as a potential third-round pick over the summer.
Jonathan Adams Jr. playing big boy football (12:30 pm ET)
Despite the fact scouts handed Adams a street free agent grade over the summer, I graded him as a priority free agent who could slide into the late rounds with good pre-draft workouts, and we just saw why.
After a terrific reception in the end zone that was called back due to a penalty, Adams out-muscled K-State corner A.J. Parker, universally graded as a late-round prospect, for a touchdown grab on the very next play.
Adams is a big, strong possession receiver who consistently wins out for the 50-50 balls. He’ll be a good addition as a fifth wide out at the next level.
Keep an eye on Romeo McKnight (12:20 pm ET)
Charlotte is taking on Appalachian State, a game that can be found on ESPN2. Keep an eye on Charlotte edge rusher Romeo McKnight, number 11. He’s a solid pass rusher who played at Illinois State last season before taking the grad-transfer route to Charlotte this year. McKnight presently grades as a PFA.
CB Ifeatu Melifonwu of Syracuse looks good in the early going (12:15 pm ET)
With so much focus on Andre Cisco and Trill Williams in the Syracuse secondary, it’s easy to forget about Ifeatu Melifonwu, who I’ve graded as a draftable prospect.
The junior is athletic, has solid ball skills and a huge upside. He also has a physical nature in his game which his brother Obi Melifonwu, a former second round pick in 2017 no longer in the league, never displayed.
WR Dyami Brown, S Andre Cisco, and DE Carlos Basham Jr. highlight today’s action (11:00 am ET)
The ACC starts off with a bang today with two important games — one at Noon followed by one later this evening. The first game pits Syracuse against North Carolina, a pair of teams in the middle of the pack in the ACC. Yet, NFL scouts will be watching several prospects with the potential to impact next year’s draft, as they go head to head.
The Tar Heels feature dynamic wideout Dyami Brown, a junior I’ve already graded as a
second-day prospect. Brown is a dependable receiver who consistently stretches the field
for the big play. You can read more about Brown and others in my 2020 ACC Preseason Summer Scouting Preview.
Trying to guard Brown will be the Syracuse duo of safety Andre Cisco, already graded as a
second-round prospect by several scouts, and cornerback Trill Williams, who has been handed a third-round grade from scouts.
And we can also include a third Syracuse defensive back, Ifeatu Melifonwu, in the conversation for good measure. Like UNC’s Brown, the Syracuse trio are all underclassmen and Cisco looks like a lock to enter the 2021 NFL Draft at this point.
Later this evening, Clemson takes on Wake Forest in what should be a lopsided affair.
Despite this, Wake Forest will have the top senior prospect on the field in pass rusher
Two defensive sleepers on display tonight for WKU (7:50 pm ET)
Basham has been productive for the past two seasons and presents a problem for opponents. This is especially true for Clemson, a team replacing four of five starters on their offensive line. Despite receiving second-round grades from the advisory committee in January, Basham chose to return for his senior campaign. Tonight’s contest gives him a chance to make a name for himself nationally. TP