It’s that time of year again! As college football kicked off a full slate of games this weekend, several prospects gave notice that they are ready to take their games to the next level and improve their NFL Draft stock. Here are the college football risers and sliders for Week 1.
College football Week 1 risers
Here’s a look at this week’s risers following Week 1 action in college football.
Jaylon Robinson, WR, Central Florida
The UCF-Boise State contest was a highly anticipated matchup between a pair of non-Power Five conference teams. It was also a game Boise controlled for almost three quarters — then Jaylon Robinson took over.
Robinson led the game with 6 receptions and 140 receiving yards, averaging 23.3 yards per catch. His lone TD reception with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter put UCF ahead for the first time in the bout.
As I mentioned during my Central Florida write-up this past June, Robinson has Kadarius Toney-type playmaking ability. And like Toney, he could move up draft boards with a big season. Presently graded as a third-round prospect on my board, I am told expectations are Robinson will enter the 2022 NFL Draft.
Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia
Entering the season, I stamped Nakobe Dean as a sixth-round prospect, a full round earlier than scouts who graded him as a seventh-rounder. It looks like we all sold him too short, as Dean played like a Day 2 linebacker during the win over Clemson.
The junior was omnipresent all game, collecting 5 tackles, including 2 tackles for loss and an additional 2 sacks, which shut down Clemson drives. Despite his smallish stature, Dean played big football, sacrificing his body to make the stop as well as the sack. He stacked well against the run and forced the action on the blitz.
His true size and speed will be a determining factor on where he’s drafted, but Dean absolutely made scouts take notice. He’s headed in the right direction.
Ellis Brooks, LB, Penn State
I mentioned Ellis Brooks during my noon game write-up on Saturday. The senior linebacker was a catalyst for Penn State during a mostly defensive affair against Wisconsin. Despite being ejected from the game at the tail end of the fourth quarter on a very questionable call, Brooks led all defenders with 11 tackles, including 1 tackle for loss and a sack.
Brooks was all over the field making plays — displaying instincts, athleticism, and intensity. Despite receiving primarily free-agent grades from scouts coming into the season, I saw enough from Brooks to give him a sixth-round grade. He’s proven me correct in the early going of 2021.
Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
The Gophers fought hard against Ohio State, but in the end, they couldn’t keep the explosive Buckeye offense in check. But don’t blame Mohamed Ibrahim, who accounted for almost 50% of the Gophers’ offense.
The workhorse back carried the ball 30 times during the season opener for 164 yards and 2 TDs. He ran hard on the inside, breaking tackles or making defenders miss, and effectively blocked when called upon.
Scouts I’ve spoken with have wide-ranging views of Ibrahim, grading him everywhere from as early as Round 4 to stamping him as a street free agent. Ibrahim resides as a sixth-round prospect on my board, as I feel he’ll be a terrific interior ball carrier off the bench in the NFL.
Unfortunately, all is not well for Ibrahim who will miss the rest of the season after suffering a lower leg injury which will require surgery. Whether or not Ibrahim enters the draft or applies for a sixth season of eligibility remains to be seen.
Josh Rivas, G, Kansas State
The game was never in doubt as Kansas State outrushed Stanford by a 5-to-1 margin during the Wildcats’ 17-point victory. Much of the yardage came behind Josh Rivas, the Wildcats’ dominant offensive lineman.
Rivas won his head-to-head matchups against Cardinal defensive tackle Thomas Booker, stamped as a potential fourth-round prospect by scouts. Booker finished the day with 1 solo tackle and .5 tackles for loss.
Rivas is a large (6’5 1/2″, 325 pounds), dominant blocker who blows open running lanes while also holding the point in pass protection. He’s a bit heavy-footed and would not fit a zone-blocking system, but teams needing a powerful run-blocking lineman will look his way in the late rounds next April.
Sleeper Prospect | Dorian Williams, LB, Tulane
Tulane held tough against one of the better teams and better quarterbacks in the nation, losing to Oklahoma by the thin margin of 40-35. And though the Sooners put up 430 yards of offense, several Tulane defenders played well, including Dorian Williams.
The explosive junior linebacker showed great speed, going sideline to sideline, and finished with 8 tackles. He was also effective in getting depth on pass drops against the lethal Sooner aerial attack. An undersized run-and-chase linebacker, Williams comes with a scheme-versatile game that will allow him to play multiple linebacker positions on Sunday.
Small School Prospect | Pierre Strong, RB, South Dakota State
Several FCS schools turned in upsets over FBS opponents, including South Dakota State, who led Colorado State from the get-go and ended up with a 19-point victory. It was a victory fueled by Pierre Strong and his 138 rushing yards on 13 carries. Strong added 3 receptions and had 2 scores on the evening.
Highly considered in the scouting community, Strong received middle-round grades entering the season. He’s a well-built ball carrier with terrific vision, quickness, and the ability to create yardage. Very productive, Strong has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons. There’s a real chance Strong ends up playing in the Senior Bowl next year. Teams are looking at him as a change-of-pace runner for the next level.
College football Week 1 sliders
Who is this week’s slider following Week 1 of the college football season?
Jordan McFadden, OT, Clemson
While Jordan McFadden had his moments on Saturday night, overall it was a bad outing for the former right tackle who moved to the left side. He was beaten by inside moves, outside speed, or bull-rushed by power. McFadden’s inability to slow down Georgia defenders had quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei looking out for Georgia pass rushers almost as much as he was looking for Clemson receivers.