The college football Week 7 slate is upon us, and the team of draft evaluators and CFB analysts at Pro Football Network are here with instant takeaways from the weekend slate. Find our immediate reactions to all the action from start to finish in college football’s Week 7 Saturday games.
College Football Week 7 Live Blog
Taking into account all of the weekend’s slate of action, our CFB/Draft department will all be on hand for their instant reactions as they come in.
For clarity’s sake, each takeaway, reaction, and result will be culminated by the initials of the analyst responsible: TP for Tony Pauline, CM for Cam Mellor, IC for Ian Cummings, OH for Oliver Hodgkinson, and JF for James Fragoza.
Daniels Another Impressive Tiger This Evening
It’s probably no coincidence the resurrection of Kayshon Boutte coincides with the best game of the year from Jayden Daniels. Going back to his freshman season at Arizona State, Daniels was known as a good athlete trying to become a passer. Yet tonight he looks terrific against Florida, and has shown great command of the offense. LSU leads the Gators 42-21 as the third quarter closes out and Daniels is 19 of 25 passing for 313 yards with 3 TD’s and no interceptions. TP
Kayson Boutte No Longer MIA
9:25 p.m. — Credit to LSU receiver Kayshon Boutte, a Week 6 slider, who has really kicked it into gear this evening. After a horrendously slow start to the season and all the criticism thrown in his direction, Boutte is showing the playmaking ability we expected entering the season when the junior receiver was graded as a top 45 prospect. Thus far, Boutte has accumulated five receptions for 102 yards as the third quarter is closing out against Florida — and many of those were critical catches in crowded areas. TP
Tanner McKee — Stanford’s Next Sunday Passer
9:05 p.m. — Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee has been impressive during the first half of the game against Notre Dame as the Cardinal leads 10-0. McKee is 15 of 21 passing for 137 yards and has been very efficient. He does a great job leading Stanford’s pro-style offense, protecting the football and using all his targets. In many ways, McKee is ahead of Davis Mills, the former Stanford signal-caller now starting for the Houston Texans, at equal points in their college careers. Entering the season, I gave McKee a third-round grade. TP
Jones Standing Out for Purdue
9 p.m. — Purdue receiver Charlie Jones is finally coming of age and NFL scouts are taking notice. Arriving at Purdue by way of Buffalo and Iowa, with a two-year break in-between, Jones has 50 receptions and seven TDs in seven games this season. Against Nebraska this evening, he’s added 6 more receptions and a touchdown at halftime. His play this season is even more impressive when you consider Jones had 39 career receptions coming into the year.
Jones has made a name for himself, as he’s become the most reliable target for Aidan O’Connell and consistently comes away with the difficult catch during the game’s critical moments. Entering the season graded as a UDFA, Jones is drawing comparisons to Las Vegas Raiders receiver Hunter Renfrow. Yet, unlike Renfrow, who was a fifth-round pick, Jones could end up a Day 2 selection. TP
Next-Level Prospects From USC? Don’t Forget Travis Dye
8:35 p.m. — When talking about next-level prospects from USC, most start the conversation with receiver Jordan Addison and sprinkle in quarterback Caleb Williams, who’s not eligible for the 2023 NFL Draft. Running back Travis Dye will be an afterthought for most, and that’s a shame.
Dye is a complete player at the running back position. He’s a terrific ball carrier, an outstanding pass catcher, blocks well, and he’s a magician helping the quarterback sell ball fakes. He’s really under-appreciated and will be under-drafted, but I have no doubt Dye will be a great situational back/part-time starter on Sunday.
I presently have a third-round grade on Dye — two rounds earlier than the scouts I’ve spoken with. Tonight against Utah, the numbers read 18 yards on three carries with one TD and one reception for 18 yards with five minutes left in the opening quarter. TP
Change of Scenery Working for Byrd
8:20 p.m. — Solomon Byrd is starting to realize the potential I saw in him as a redshirt freshman for Wyoming back in 2019. He’s a long, thin athletic pass rusher with the ability to drop off the line, then play in space. And that’s exactly how the Trojans are using him.
Byrd’s had several pressures and one TFL in the early going this evening. The change of scenery has been good for Byrd, who sat out the Covid season of 2020 after a terrific freshman campaign, then was a non-factor for Wyoming last year. His freshman film of 2019 was so good and showed so much promise, I handed Byrd a sixth-round grade entering the season despite basically two years of inactivity. TP
Another Junior Corner on His Way to the NFL?
8 p.m. — USC-Utah will kick off in a few minutes in what is a must-win situation for the Utes as they try and keep pace with the Trojans. Caleb Williams has the hot hand for USC since transferring from Oklahoma and is receiving a bit of Heisman consideration. It will be up to the Utah secondary to find a way to shut Williams down.
That means keep an eye on Clark Phillips III, Utah’s shutdown corner. Earlier this week, people on the West Coast told me Phillips, a true junior, will enter the 2023 NFL Draft. One source on the West Coast told me Phillips is “definitely entering,” though I’m sure Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham will make a big push to keep the corner.
Where will Phillips end up in the 2023 NFL Draft? While teams love his ball skills, his height — specifically lack of length — is a red flag. People tell me they would be surprised if Phillips measures 5-feet-10 inches and believe he’ll be in the 5-foot-9 range. That being the case, scouts tell me Phillips ends up as a late second/early third-round pick.
One for the Ages in the SEC
7:50 p.m. — Alabama-Tennessee was one for the ages and a slugfest where neither team deserved to lose.
I’ve been told and have reported here at PFN, that those in the league are not as high on Bryce Young compared to those on the outside. But man — you cannot help but be impressed with the way the Heisman Trophy winner played today — even in defeat.
Young oozes football intellect as well as incredible toughness. He got the snot beat out of him today but surgically sliced up Tennessee, more so than he did against Texas at the start of the season. Teams will downgrade Young because he’s small and has an average arm, but he has a huge football brain.
For his part, Hendon Hooker also played incredibly well. I don’t see a Kenny Pickett-charge up draft boards, but Hooker entered the season as a fifth-round prospect and has moved into the late part of Day 2.
Finally, receiver Jalin Hyatt continues to prove he is a big-time next-level prospect. Putting aside his play-making skills for a second, the fact Hyatt has stepped in to fill the shoes of the injured Cedric Tillman makes his performance even more impressive. TP
Darnell Washington Makes Smooth One-Handed Catch
5:15 p.m. — With his size and limited lateral agility, Darnell Washington won’t always command the volume you like to see from top-tier TE prospects. But Washington is undoubtedly a venerable seam and red-zone threat, as he showed earlier today with a smooth one-handed catch at the second level.
Not only does Washington have the frame to box defenders out and the length to outreach them, but he’s also very natural at adjusting for passes. He’ll be coveted with his size and physicality at the next level. IC
Kody Epps a Star in the Making for BYU
4:45 p.m. — He’s only a redshirt freshman, but keep an eye on Kody Epps for future cycles, because the 5’11”, 185-pound receiver is a star in the making for the Cougars. He’s coming off a 100-yard, two-touchdown performance, and today, he already has four catches for 66 yards and an additional score.
Epps’ run-after-catch ability is extraordinary. He’s a loose-hipped, twitchy runner who can explode out of cuts and quickly adjust his stride lengths to offset defenders. He also has the energy and physicality to shake through arm tackles. For the 2024 and 2025 cycles, Epps will be a name to know. IC
Byron Young Wreaking Havoc as a Pass Rusher for Tennessee
4:40 p.m. — JUCO product Byron Young has been exceptional this season. He’s the highlight of Tennessee’s menacing pass rush, and he’s played a large part in making Bryce Young uncomfortable today. Young has excellent proportional length for his 6’3″ frame, but his explosiveness, twitch, and bend are what allow him to put so much pressure on tackles off the snap. Combine that with his red-hot motor, and you have a constant disruptor off the edge.
Young will be a 25-year-old rookie, so that may dilute his stock a bit. But with how productive he’s been, and with the traits he has, Day 2 can’t be ruled out. IC
Jalin Hyatt Has Next-Level Dynamism
4:25 p.m. — Cedric Tillman is a loss for the Tennessee offense, but Hooker and Josh Heupel seem to be getting along just fine with true junior Jalin Hyatt. Hyatt has been a consistent producer in recent weeks, and today, he already has two touchdowns for the Volunteers. One came on a seam route stretching vertical, while another just came on a designed motion and dump-off in the red zone.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Hyatt’s sheer degree of speed and explosiveness is what allows him to be so dynamic for Tennessee. He has high-end burst and accelerative capacity, but he can also track throws and adjust for RAC yards mid-stride. He’s a legitimate talent, and at this point, he needs more 2023 NFL Draft hype. IC
Jaren Hall and Puka Nacua Connect for a Big Play
4:20 p.m. — The BYU Cougars have missed Puka Nacua this year, with the 6’2″ receiver missing time due to injury. But Nacua’s on the field today, and he’s already making an impact by generating big plays. Moments ago, Jaren Hall connected with Nacua on a 31-yard pass down the sideline, on which Nacua displayed absurd focus, coordination, and ball skills at the catch point.
Also impressive is Hall’s precision and ball placement — a general strength of his in 2022. He’s incredibly adept at placing back-shoulder throws, a translatable pass to the NFL level. IC
Hendon Hooker Puts Volunteers Ahead With Downfield Touch
4:15 p.m. — Hendon Hooker’s downfield touch is a well-advertised strength of his game, and it’s the reason his Volunteers are currently up 14-7 on the Crimson Tide. On Tennessee’s previous drive, Hooker stepped back into the pocket, stood tall as rushers wrapped around him, then identified a seam WR breaking open downfield and fluttered a perfect touch pass into the end zone.
Hooker has looked much more controlled and consistent so far this year, and early on, he’s passing the test against Alabama. A win directed by Hooker could be the jolt he needs to truly enter the first-round conversation. IC
Quentin Johnston Continues To Dominate
4:10 p.m. — After a 14-reception, 200-yard explosion against Kansas in Week 6, Quentin Johnston is back on the national radar as a potential WR1 candidate. The 6’4″, 215-pound receiver has elite size and length, as well as otherworldly twitch and explosiveness for his size. He’s getting involved early against Oklahoma State. On TCU’s most recent drive, he accrued three first downs — one on a comeback route, another on a quick bubble screen, and a third big play in which he mossed a defender in the red zone.
Johnston’s three-level framework is enticing for a WR of his stature. He has the quickness and control to separate on comebacks and hitches, and he has the lateral twitch, suddenness, and physicality to scrape out extra yards after the catch. And he’s a field-stretching alpha in contested situations as well. Johnston is starting to catch fire. For my money, he’s WR1. IC
Jahmyr Gibbs’ Dynamic Ability Is Easy To Love
4 p.m. — Running outside zone with Jahmyr Gibbs could be considered illegal. The Georgia Tech transfer and emergent Alabama star is one of the most explosive and shifty ball carriers in college football. He gears up with incredible suddenness but also has the elite lateral twitch and flexibility to displace surging defenders with brutal shakes and juke moves. Gibbs’ ability to quickly feel space, stack moves, and accelerate in succession is rare, and it’s what helped him earn Alabama’s first touchdown of the day.
With his elite finesse and twitch as a runner, and his high-end versatility as a receiver, Gibbs has drawn comparisons to Alvin Kamara and Jamaal Charles. It’s no surprise he’s a consensus early-round prospect. IC
Darnell Wright Looks Locked in Early on Against Alabama
3:50 p.m.- Aside from Hooker, one of Tennessee’s premier 2023 NFL Draft prospects is Darnell Wright — the team’s mammoth 6’6″, 330-pound right tackle, who has experience on both sides of the line. It’s only the Volunteers’ first drive right now, but Wright has already put up some impressive moments.
Wright has surprising quickness off the line for his size and is acquiring leverage well. He’s a natural displacer on the ground, and he just won a pass protection rep against Will Anderson Jr. with smooth footwork and vice-grip hands.
Wright still feels underrated on the national stage, but the former five-star recruit has legitimate early-round ability and could be a solid starting RT in the NFL. IC
Talent-Packed Alabama and Tennessee Kicks Off
3:40 p.m. — Alabama and Tennessee are now on the clock in the first quarter, set to battle for SEC supremacy. This game is filled with 2023 NFL Draft talent on both sides of the ball. Bryce Young is active, but Hendon Hooker has more on the line, as a strong showing could vault him into early-round range. Hooker’s age and offensive system have been cited as question marks, but he has the athleticism and talent to suggest starting upside.
Other draft prospects in this game include Jahmyr Gibbs, Cameron Latu, Tyler Steen, Emil Ekiyor Jr., Will Anderson Jr., Byron Young, Henry To’oTo’o, and Brian Branch on Alabama’s side. Meanwhile, Tennessee has Darnell Wright, Jerome Carvin, edge rusher Byron Young, Jeremy Banks, and Tyler Baron. IC
Auburn Junior Expected To Move on to the NFL
3:05 p.m. — To their credit, Auburn did not mail it in after being down 28-0 towards the end of the first half and have made a game of it against Mississippi. Despite this, expect a lot of changes for the Tigers moving forward and one of those changes is very likely their star defensive end Colby Wooden moving on to the NFL.
Sources close to the program told me last week that Wooden has been indicating he will enter the draft after the season, and those sources believe he’ll be playing on Sunday in 2023. Wooden is someone who caught my eye with his athleticism and pass-rush ability two seasons ago, when he was a redshirt freshman. And though I’ve not witnessed the progress in his game I expected (partly due to the Auburn system), I consistently graded Wooden as a second-round prospect. He’s athletic, explosive, and comes with a good amount of growth potential. TP
Former Small-School Blocker Showing Next-Level Ability
2:40 p.m. — Penn State left guard Hunter Nourzad has acquitted himself reasonably well against Michigan today. In his first season with the Nittany Lions, Nourzad transferred from Cornell where he was a two-year starter and All-Conference performer at right tackle. You have to love the fundamentals Nourzad plays with and he’s more natural and effective at OG. It’s unlikely Nourzad is selected in the 2023 draft, but he’ll get a UDFA contract and an opportunity to compete for a roster spot next summer. TP
Edge Rusher McDonald Falling Short of Expectations
2:05 p.m. — Highly rated pass rusher Will McDonald IV of Iowa State has been off to a slow start this season and is not meeting expectations. Even before today’s Texas contest, a game in which he’s been invisible, McDonald had 3.5 sacks and 4.5 TFLs in six games, pedestrian numbers for a defender that’s known to terrorize opponents.
Part of the issue is that McDonald primarily comes out of a three-point stance in ISU’s three-man line despite weighing around 230 pounds. He’s still a legit, next-level prospect, but McDonald will have to turn up the production and do so soon if he wants to be a first-round selection next April. TP
Brown Continues To Prove Unstoppable
1:55 p.m. — The second half is underway between Minnesota and Illinois in what’s been a terrific back-and-forth affair. Illinois running back Chase Brown, a Week 6 riser, is once again having a magnificent game. At the time of posting, there were 12 minutes left in the third quarter, and Brown already has 120 rushing yards on 25 carries. He’s also added 48 yards on two receptions with a touchdown. It’s the latter category — pass catching — that Brown needs to improve to really watch his draft stock take off. TP
McCall Is One of the Most Intriguing QB Prospects in the Nation
1:15 p.m. — When Grayson McCall enters the draft, it’s going to be interesting to see where he lands. McCall has tremendous football intellect and is a surgeon the way he carves up opponents, as he just proved on Coastal’s game-tying touchdown drive as the first half against Old Dominion is coming to a close.
You can tell McCall gets it between the ears — he sees the field, reads the defense, and makes proper decisions. What the junior signal-caller lacks is great physical skills, as he’s small and lacks a big arm. McCall presently holds a third-round grade on my board. TP
Hutchinson Just Keeps Producing and Impressing
12:55 p.m. — In my opinion, Xavier Hutchinson is one of the most underrated next-level receiver prospects you’ll find on Saturday. The Iowa State product has done nothing but produce on the football field. After transferring from Blinn JC, Hutchinson caught 64 passes in his first season with ISU in 2020, then had 83 receptions a year ago.
Coming into today’s Texas contest, Hutchinson had totaled 57 receptions with five TDs in six games. Thus far, he has three catches against Texas today. Though not a true vertical threat, Hutchinson does measure 6-feet-2 and just under 210 pounds. He should time under 4.5 seconds prior to next year’s draft. I had Hutchinson graded as a mid-fifth-round pick entering the season, a full two rounds higher than scouts, and I may be underestimating his value. TP
Wolverines O-Line Dominating the Action
12:40 p.m. — The Wolverines’ offensive line is pushing the Penn State defense around at will, and they’ve had their way thus far, though they only have a pair of field goals to show for it. Several weeks ago, I praised tackle Ryan Hayes during the blog, but today, center Olusegun Oluwatimi, a fifth-year senior and transfer from Virginia, has really impressed. Oluwatimi possesses average size and athleticism, yet he’s a thinking man’s center with enough ability to sign as a UDFA and then make an active roster as an inexpensive backup. TP
Mike Morris With Another ‘WOW’ Moment
12:30 p.m. — Michigan defender Mike Morris just made another impressive play, this time disengaging from the tight end to stuff the running back behind the line of scrimmage for a tackle for loss on third down to end Penn State’s drive. He also made the play standing over tackle.
I’ve gushed about Morris’ pass-rush skill since September, but he’s proving to be a complete defender as he completes his game. While I have no inside information at this point, it would be a major shock if Morris does not enter the 2023 NFL Draft. TP
Yet Another Underrated Corner Intriguing NFL Scouts
12:10 p.m. — Staying on the topic of underrated cornerbacks few are talking about, keep an eye on Terell Smith of Minnesota, as the Gophers try and slow down the red-hot Fighting Illini. Smith, a redshirt senior, was ignored by scouts entering the season but has played incredibly well in 2022.
He’ll measure over 6 feet tall, weigh in the 210-pound range, and, oh yeah, he’s a sprint champion that’s timed 10.3 seconds in the 100 meters. I’m getting mid-round grades on Smith, who was a prospect non-factor just three months ago. TP
Little-Known Corner Set To Enter the Draft
We’ll bypass the previews for a bit of NFL draft news.
About a year ago, PFN was the first to report Louisiana cornerback Mekhi Garner was drawing a ton of buzz in the scouting community. Word was the junior was receiving Day 2 grades from scouts.
Garner bucked the trend by returning to school, though a different school in the state of Louisiana, transferring to LSU, and he’s playing very well this season. Another junior cornerback is knocking the socks off scouts and he plays about three hours north of the Rajun Cajuns in the town of Ruston.
The cornerback from the state of Louisiana this time around? Myles Brooks. The junior from Louisiana Tech is receiving a ton of chatter as well as praise in scouting circles.
The transfer from Stephen F. Austin has outstanding size (he’ll measure over 6’0), next-level ball skills, and has shown steady improvement in his game. He was voted Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week just five days ago. Scouts I’ve spoken with tell me they have a Day 2 grade on Brooks and some believe he could end up in the first round.
People I’ve spoken with also tell me Brooks will enter the draft. In fact, Brooks himself has told people he’s already decided on the agency for representation in the 2023 NFL Draft — and it’s one of the biggest around.
The fourth-year junior came into the season with little fanfare but is now being graded through the roof. Louisiana Tech faces off against North Texas today, a team with a potential next-level wideout in Jyaire Shorter. The big test comes in November when Louisiana Tech has consecutive games against UTSA and then Charlotte, two teams with a combined four next-level receiver prospects.
I will have more later today on underclassmen I’m told are expected to enter the draft.
Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast
Listen to the PFN Scouting Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Scouting Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms. Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review! Rather watch instead? Check out the PFN Scouting Podcast on our Scouting YouTube channel.