Week 11 in the College Football world started early with a pair of games from the MAC kicking off on Tuesday but it’s the much-anticipated match-up of LSU vs Alabama everyone is eagerly awaiting. While there are plenty of 2020 NFL Draft prospects playing in this game, all eyes will be on quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa. Of course, some members of the media are hyping this game to be the battle for QB1. I explained why this would be, as some scouts would say, insane.
As we have during the initial 10 weeks of the college season, PFN will be here all day from 11:30 AM to Midnight EST with analysis, opinion and breaking news in our CFB game day blog. Keep up with stories and analysis from the PFN 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.
Before this wonderful night ends, I just want to give one more quick shoutout to the SMU wide receiver who stole my heart this summer, James Proche. He had another stellar performance today against East Carolina as he put up 167 receiving yards and two touchdowns today.
Proche continues to make strides as a player this year, and his insane ball skills and body control are two of the main traits that should see an NFL team write his name down on a card on Day 3 of the draft. Proche the technical ability to be a solid NFL wide receiver, even if he is lacking the athleticism that is desired. NF
Iowa State did not end up finishing the upset job, but they almost did with the help of Redshirt Sophomore Tight End Charlie Kolar, who continues to impress me every time I watch Iowa State play. Kolar now has over 500 yards receiving on the year and six touchdowns to boot on that. He is fantastic above the rim and can really stretch the field.
Kolar might not be the most polished blocking tight end the world, but he has a nasty mentality in the blocking department. His hands are violent. If he, by some chance, decides to declare and come out, Kolar has a good chance to be in my top-5 tight ends. NF
So, Iowa State has fought right back into this game with Oklahoma. It was largely due to two massive mistakes in a Ceedee Lamb fumble, but even more so, an errant Jalen Hurts pass that was intercepted.
Hurts has been on and off in this fourth quarter, and in the face of pressure, he has some rather poor decision making that keeps rearing its ugly head around too often this season. He has made strides as a passer, especially with his accuracy, but Hurts has to learn to be poised under pressure and learn how to eat plays. It will be his undoing if he can not learn to fix that fatal flaw. NF
I said I would be revealing sleepers tonight, and so, as promised I will be. A sleeper for every position, because I absolutely love the guys that don’t get enough love!
QB: Jalen Morton, Prarie View A&M
RB: Tra Barnett, Georgia State
WR: Warren Jackson, Colorado State
TE: Armani Levias, Marshall
OL: Kyle Murphy, Rhode Island
IDL: Kendall Futrell, East Carolina
EDGE: Hamilcar Rashard Jr, Oregon State
ILB: Dele Harding, Illinois
CB: Amik Robertson, Louisiana Tech
S: Luther Kirk, Illinois State
Obviously, there are bigger names to watch than others. I would especially circle Harding, Robertson, Murphy, and Jackson has names who could absolutely hear their names called on draft day. Robertson and Harding I have talked about at length, they are playmakers who are just not being talked about enough. Murphy recently got invited to the NFLPA game and he is a massive mauler with good footwork. Jackson is a guy who got a ton of love in the preseason but has since faded. Jackson is still a very, very good receiver with great athletic tools that people need to pay attention to moving forward. NF
There have to be some props given to Anthony Gordon, who had yet another game where he eclipsed 400 yards passing and two touchdowns against California. The Cougars dropped the game, but Gordon continues to show that he has some intriguing traits to his game, especially with his accuracy and ability to create some magic outside of structure.
Gordon now has 32 touchdowns to nine interceptions and 3,387 passing yards. With his accuracy, arm talent, and improvisation ability, Gordon may be earning himself a look in the Senior Bowl this year, and he could be a name to watch as the process carries on. NF
Wyoming linebacker Logan Wilson is the leader of this Wyoming defense and he is simply a playmaker. He just made two great sacks on Chase Cord by having fantastic closing speed and great pursuit angles. Wilson is all over the field and you see him near the ball every single play.
That speaks to Wilson’s instincts, but he also has some underrated coverage ability over the middle. Not enough people are talking about how good Wilson has been this season and the season he is putting together. He could be that Day 3 guy who has a bigger impact than people think. His mentality, motor, and intangibles should make him a favorite of teams throughout the process, and that could lead to opportunity. NF
To the shock of no one, Oklahoma wide receiver Ceedee Lamb is having himself yet another fantastic game tonight. He has amassed 155 receiving yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions as he continues to put together a fantastic Junior season as he looks towards likely entering the draft this season.
It is no secret that Lamb is a route running maestro with all the gifts athletically as well. Lamb is firmly a top-10 player on my board with a first-round grade and he is battling in a very close race for my top overall receiver slot with Jerry Jeudy. NF
The lion sleeps tonight…….because I’m throwing out sleepers. Weber State has a sleeper to pay attention to in defensive end Jonah Williams, who has been showing out as of recent. He has 6.5 sacks on the here and his raw power is fantastic. He reminds me a lot of Darryl Williams from last year in that he is raw, but Williams has traits. The explosiveness off the snap, that strength and power, and his hot motor are traits to watch.
Williams should test well, and it should give him the opportunity to potentially get his name called late on Day 3. NF
Notre Dame receiver Chris Finke often loses out in the headlines to Chase Claypool and Cole Kmet but he’s a legitimate next-level prospect like his teammates.
Finke is very quick, finds ways to separate from opponents and shows dependable hands. We’ve seen his type before; except it was in a Clemson Tiger uniform with the name Renfro on the back. In the game against Duke tonight Finke has accounted for 5 receptions, 49 yards, and 2 TDs. He’ll be a good number five receiver at the next level who can double as a punt returner.
Once upon a time Tennessee and Kentucky would always finish the regular season in a game called the Beer Barrel. Tonight they are locked in a tight contest which the Wildcats need to keep their bowl hopes alive.
If you tune into the game keep an eye on Kentucky nose tackle Quinton Bohanna. He’s a massive space-eater who moves well for someone who reportedly tips the scales at 350 pounds. His foot quickness, agility and ability to redirect is impressive for a man so big.
The second half is underway in South Carolina and Appalachian State is holding on to a thin lead of 13 – 9. Running back Darrynton Evans has been the offense for the Mountaineers, posting 63 yards on 15 carries and catching 2 passes for 32 yards. Several area scouts passed on to me they like Evans and believe he is one of the better next level prospects on the App State roster.
Speaking of quarterbacks that will be available in round one, Jordan Love is having a terrific game against Fresno State.
Love has been frustrating at times this season and his decision making has been justifiably questioned. Yet when he’s on his game, Love can take over a contest. He’s completed 15 of 19 passes during the first half for two scores, including one magnificent pass in the corner of the end zone.
If Love gets coupled with a good quarterback coach the sky is the limit.
It’s still very early in the process but keep this in the back of your mind; the Los Angeles Chargers have drafted just three quarterbacks over the past 12 years. Two were selected in the fifth round, including Easton Stick last year, and one in the sixth round. People familiar with the situation tell me 2020 will be different and the Chargers will address the quarterback position in the early rounds.
This makes a ton of sense as:
A- the team is not playing as well as expected.
B- good quarterback prospects are expected to be available throughout the first round.
There is no indication they are ready to move on from Phillip Rivers rather it’s time to start thinking about the position’s future. TP
I love keeping an eye on sleeper prospects, especially from the small-school ranks. This week’s version comes courtesy of undefeated Tarleton State, presently ranked #3 in Division II. Their star defender, cornerback Prince Robinson, is getting a lot of chatter in the scouting community.
In addition to his 43 tackles, this season Robinson has intercepted 4 passes and has 12 PBU’s to his credit. He’s an explosive corner with decent size, (5-feet-10-inches and 190 pounds) and next-level ball skills. TP
There’s a little extra energy in Athens tonight for the Missouri-Georgia game as the Bulldogs national title hopes have been resuscitated by virtue of Alabama’s loss.
Georgia outclasses Missouri but keep an eye on Tigers big defensive tackle Jordan Elliott- he’s impossible to miss in the middle of the line. In the early going, Georgia has been double-teaming Jordan but he’s getting a ton of pressure up the field. As I reported in last week’s CFB Game Day blog, the word is Elliott will enter the 2020 NFL Draft. TP
As we start the final month of the season here’s my board of the top 32 draft-eligible players.
Top 32 Prospects
|4.45||1st||Chase Young||Ohio State||3Jr||DE|
|4.24||1st||Jeffery Okudah||Ohio State||3Jr||CB|
|4.12||1st||Javon Kinlaw||South Carolina||4Sr||DT|
|4.05||1st||Jordan Love||Utah State||3Jr||QB|
|4.05||1st||Laviska Shenault Jr.||Colorado||3Jr||WR|
|4.04||1st||Yetur Gross-Matos||Penn State||3Jr||DE|
|4.00||1-2||J.K. Dobbins||Ohio State||3Jr||RB|
|3.99||1-2||Julian Okwara||Notre Dame||4Sr||DE|
|3.96||1-2||Prince Tega Wanogho||Auburn||5Sr||T|
USC put on an offensive show today with 550 yards of total offense. Michael Pittman had a huge day with 13 receptions for 146 yards.
Earlier I mentioned how impressive I thought Trojans left tackle Austin Jackson looked. I was told by sources while there’s nothing concrete just yet, it looks very much as though Jackson will enter the draft after the season.
Junior receiver Tyler Vaughns will go through the process of getting a grade from the advisory committee and collecting information as to where he may land in the draft before making a final decision. TP
What a great day of college football!!!
The noon contest between Penn State – Minnesota was incredible but bettered by LSU – Alabama. I could fill my entire risers column on Monday with players from the latter game. And if you were not paying attention Illinois – Michigan State was another classic while USC -Arizona State was also great! TP
If you ever had any doubt that Jonathan Taylor was not a top running back prospect, his 250-yard performance against Iowa just cemented that even more so. He did not register a single touchdown, but he was the cog that made the Badgers offense move all day long.
His ability to create yards for himself both through his elusiveness and ability to press the line and manipulate defenders are undeniable. He has been showing off his hands all season long and leaves no doubt that he can become an adept receiver in the NFL. Not to mention his freakish athleticism. Taylor is a great running back prospect and continues to prove that. NF
While LSU-Alabama continues to hold the eyes of America, there is a battle between USC and Arizona State going out in the West right now and USC EDGE prospect Christian Rector just made a phenomenal play to bat a pass and keep the wherewithal to stay with it and intercept the ball to really seal the fate of the Sun Devils.
Rector has incredible length on his frame and some serious power and hand usage to his namesake. The flexibility and lack of explosiveness are issues for Rector, but he has the makings to be a good 4-3 defensive end prospect on Day 3. NF
There is so much to talk about with this LSU-Alabama game, but Kristian Fulton has risen to the challenge of really anyone he has been covering today. Against top talent like this, for Fulton to only have one or two slip-ups is fantastic and he has been manning his guys extremely well all day today.
Fulton’s ball skills, silky smooth hips, and physicality were reasons I am a big fan of his even though he has had some down moments this season, and he continues to prove that. Fulton is having a strong, strong game tonight and that will only help his draft stock moving forward. NF
Did Arkansas have one ugly loss today to Western Kentucky? You bet they did. But Arkansas RB Rakeem Boyd continues to be a massive bright spot on this team. He only had eight carries today but he went off for 185 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Talk about making your touches count.
Boyd’s been a big-play machine all season and that has not changed regardless of the level of competition. The former Last Chance U star looks really good, but it might be his athletic gifts that will make him an appealing running back for some team. NF
An FCS player that everyone needs to pay attention to is Illinois State RB, James Robinson. I am not sure if he will get that Senior Bowl call, but he will most certainly have his opportunity either at the Shrine Game or at the NFLPA Bowl. Robinson helped power Illinois State to a big win over South Dakota State today with his two touchdown runs.
He now has 14 touchdowns on the season. Robinson’s cutting ability, contact balance, and receiving ability are really, really impressive. He is split out wide in the Illinois State system and used. They have confidence in him running routes and catching the football and that speaks volumes about his ability. Keep an eye on him, he could have his name called on draft day. NF
Devonta Smith is pretty good, huh? That was a really nice throw by Tua Tagovailoa, but Smith made an excellent adjustment on that deep throw and showcased excellent body control and awareness with the toe tap.
Smith’s athleticism, footwork, route running, and suddenness were already traits that were known to truly be great as a prospect, but he is showing off some stuff we have not seen him show off really all season long. Smith will be the unheralded guy of this Alabama wide receiver group, but he still is a Top 75 talent in this class. His skill set is made for the NFL. NF
It’s time to talk about the show that Najee Harris and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are putting on today. Both are running back prospects that have kinda slipped under the radar as the season has gone on, but they should be taken very seriously as running back prospects in this class.
Edwards-Helaire is tough as nails and has some juice in his step. His lateral agility and short-area burst are where he really wins. He’s not fast, but he’s quick, strong, decisive, and has great hands. Edwards-Helaire is just producing tonight.
Harris has come alive in this third quarter. His cuts and agility are much improved from last year. He might still not be on the top level of D’Andre Swift or Jonathan Taylor, but he is a playmaker who can create yards for himself through his agility and contact balance. NF
Last week, I covered Texas State ILB Bryan London as a sleeper to watch moving forward and tonight against South Alabama he was sensational. London already had 80 tackles on the season, but today he added 18 more tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, and essentially caused two turnovers by tipping a ball over the middle causing it to be intercepted and by shedding a block on 4th and 1 to stop the Jaguars in a key stand in the third quarter.
London is not the flashiest name, but his tape is all flashy. He showed out against Texas A&M and he continues to improve over the course of the season. He’s a name to watch. NF
A sleeper running back prospect is Georgia Tech RB Jordan Mason. While Mason is only a redshirt sophomore, he has been the heart of the Georgia Tech offense and ran for 94 yards and a touchdown today. He has 622 rushing yards for eight touchdowns this year and he has shown his contact balance and vision all season long.
It might not be likely that Mason declares, but going forward he is a name to watch as he perhaps comes out of Georgia Tech. Mason will never be the most athletically gifted, but his footwork, toughness, and overall attention to the technical craft of being a running back are things that should be attractive to NFL teams throughout the process. NF
A guy who our own Tony Pauline gave a 5th round grade to that might have just improved that this year? Baylor Senior wide receiver Denzel Mims, who has been fantastic this year. He caught two more touchdowns today for in a massive win for Baylor over TCU.
I was skeptical of Mims because of his rawness in route running and releases coming into the season, but he looks much better this year in both of those departments. Add in the fact that he already was an incredible height-weight-speed monster, and Mims looks to be a slam dunk to be drafted and he could sneak his way even further up the board. Mims is a Top 100 player on my board this year and for all the right reasons. He’s an explosive player. NF
I mentioned Levante Bellamy last week as a name to keep an eye on and he just keeps proving everything I said right. This week against Ball State was nothing but highlight-reel runs as Bellamy amassed 157 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in a 35-31 win over the Cardinals.
Bellamy’s big-play ability and speed with at the very least get him an invite to the Shrine Game, but he could very well see himself end up at the Senior Bowl with how is skillset of speed, elusiveness, and contact balance will look to NFL scouts. He’s one of the sleepers that could rise quickly. NF
On the other hand, there still have been some standouts in this LSU-Alabama game as well. Just before the half, LSU ILB Patrick Queen got an interception. He’s an athletic linebacker trying to learn everything above the neck, but he has looked good so far today.
Three pass rushers in LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson and Alabama’s Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings have been making Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow feel them respectively. All three of them are top 100 prospects on my board right now and see to be contributors in their very first year in the league with their skillsets. Chaisson is a dynamite rusher with some serious juice in his first step. Jennings has all the power in the world and his hands are violent. Lewis has great flexibility, bend, and cornering ability, but his hands and the upper body aspect of his game are still developing. Still, this is a promising game for all three. NF
It has not been a defensive showing thus far in the LSU-Alabama game, and the defensive players have struggled, especially top safety prospect Grant Delpit and top cornerback prospect Trevon Diggs.
Delpit, who is a top ten player on many boards including my own, is playing on a hurt ankle, but his tackling today and really all season continues to be suspect at best. He has not improved in man coverage as an overhang of slot defender either, and it is drawing his value further down my board.
Diggs, who is actually my top-rated cornerback and another top ten player on my board, has drawn the attention of star LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and has just been bodied out of a lot of catches and plays. He looks undisciplined and is clearly frustrated. This is by far his worst game of the season thus far, and not just due to the talent level of Chase, but also the lackadaisicalness of Diggs himself. NF
What’s impressed me most about Joe Burrow is he’s taking what the defense gives him. Burrow is not pressing, nor does he looked overwhelmed by the situation. He also doesn’t have “big play-itis”, but is doing a great job commanding the offense. Last week, PFN Draft Writer AJ Schulte wrote a piece on Burrow and what he can bring to the NFL.
And almost on cue, Rashard Lawrence makes a huge play, pushing Evan Neal back off the line and allowing the linebackers to fill and stop Bama on a 4th and 1. Play is under review as I type this. TP
Rashard Lawrence is playing well and although he’s not showing up much on the stat sheet (1 PBU), his ability to get penetration is creating opportunities for teammates. When they stymie Lawrence, Alabama is picking up positive yardage.
Lawrence has been getting a lot of positive talk in scouting circles the past two months. In a mock draft that was done by PFN Draft Writer Matt Valdovinos, Lawrence was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round. TP
This is really a well-coached game by Ed Orgeron and LSU. Too many mistakes by Saban’s team. TP
I continue to be very impressed with USC left tackle Austin Jackson, who has shown a lot of improvement this season after a shaky start. He displays outstanding footwork, agility, and blocks with terrific fundamentals. The way he handles speed rushers is very impressive. TP
You have to be impressed with the way LSU’s defensive front seven is playing and getting pressure up the field. They have not been a big pressure or sack defense this year, but they have Tua Tagovailoa running for his life in the early goings. TP
I’ve mentioned numerous times that Matt Rhule will be one of the hottest coaching candidates in the offseason. I’m told NFL teams love him and those looking for a HC in the offseason will line up for a chance to hire him.
I also expect PJ Fleck of Minnesota to get a lot of interest by NFL teams looking for a new head coach.
After his banner undefeated season with Western Michigan, several teams spoke positively about Fleck as an NFL head coach and there was some thought of hiring him. What he’s doing in Minnesota will only enhance his appeal and while he signed a long-term deal to stay with the Gophers, I have to assume there’s a clause that allows him to leave if an NFL team comes calling. TP
The contest everyone has been anticipating the past two weeks is about to kick off. Here are the numbers on my prospect board:
- 28 draftable players
- 17 top 90 prospects
- 10 potential 1st round picks TP
LSU vs Alabama
|3.85||2nd||Jedrick Wills Jr.||Alabama||T||3Jr|
|3.83||2nd||Kary Vincent Jr.||LSU||CB||3Jr|
|3.64||3rd||Henry Ruggs III||Alabama||WR||3Jr|
FSU receiver Tamorrion Terry has been a force this season. He’s only a redshirt sophomore, however, with how porous FSU’s offense has been, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him declare this season. Terry has dominate physical traits and could be a mid-round steal for a team needing boundary receiver help. Read more of what I thought about him in my Summer Scouting Series. TP
Have to hand it to the entire Minnesota offensive line, with seven minutes left in the game Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney have just two tackles each, while Robert Windsor has four. PSU has not recorded a sack all game. Here’s more on Gross-Matos from my Summer Scouting Series. TP
While Todd Blackledge gushes over the block by tight end Ko Kieft on that touchdown run, Connor Olson, who was lined up at left guard opened the hole and sealed the defensive tackle from the action. Olson is having a tremendous contest today. TP
How bad is Arkansas? And why are they so bad?
The team has won just two games this season, was blown out the past four weeks and is presently down 38-7 to a Western Kentucky squad that’s just 5-4. Tight end Cheyenne O’Grady, the team’s leading receiver, recently left the program, linebacker De’Jon Harris and defensive tackle McTelvin Agim have both played reasonably well and the defense, in general, has held its own. They have two games left, the traditional battle against LSU then Missouri to end the season. TP
The talk on the Florida defense understandably focuses on Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga this season with a smattering of CJ Henderson, but don’t leave linebacker David Reese out of the conversation.
The leading tackler on the Florida defense by almost a 2-to-1 margin, Reese is a terrific run defender who possesses great instincts and toughness. His lack of pure speed is likely to push him out of the draft but Reese will be a PFA and could make a roster as a back-up MLB if he plays well on special teams. For more on how I view the Gators 2020 NFL Draft prospects, click here for my Summer Scouting Series piece. TP
TCU linebacker Garret Wallow was someone I mentioned during my preview of the Horned Frogs over the summer and he’s really turned up his play this season. Coming into the season he was leading the defense with 83 tackles and 12 TFL’s.
As the second half of today’s game commences TCU leads Baylor 9-3 and again Wallow is stepping up; during the first half he tallied eight tackles. Wallow is a smallish, run and chase linebacker with great instincts. TP
I mentioned Antoine Winfield Jr. during today’s intro and man oh man, how impressive is the cornerback? Two more interceptions during the first half of today’s game against Penn State, helping turn back the Nittany Lions offense. Winfield Jr. will have a big decision to make once the season is complete. TP
Coming into the season, just a single WVU senior received a draftable grade, offensive tackle Colton McKivitz who received a mid-round grade from scouts while I stamped him as a top 100 pick. You can see the results on the field. The Mountaineers are down double-digits to a mediocre Texas Tech squad and if they lose there bowl hopes will go out the window.
I’ve stamped three WVU underclassmen with draftable grades; receiver T.J. Simmons, safety Kenny Robinson and tight end Jovani Haskins. Robinson has played well this season, Simmons has been nothing special while Haskins has played in just a single game and was charged with reckless driving in August. TP
There are a lot of scouts who like Penn State corner Tariq Castro-Fields, who just broke up that pass intended for Tyler Johnson on third down. He has nice size but needs a lot of work on his game, especially making plays with his back to the ball. While I’ve heard some third-round grades on the junior inside the scouting community, I stamped Castro-Fields as a fourth-round prospect. TP
Minnesota linebacker Thomas Barber is a tough, instinctive linebacker with great bloodlines. He also lacks any semblance of speed in his game. Barber won’t get drafted but I think he could make a roster as a backup inside linebacker/special teams prospect if he wants a play football on Sunday. TP
Speaking of underclassmen centers, I’ve written about Cesar Ruiz of Michigan a number of times during the game day blog and the junior was a Week 9 Riser. I am told Ruiz is definitely leaning towards entering the draft and will go through the process of gathering information and getting a grade from the advisory committee as the season comes to a close. I presently grade Ruiz as a second-day selection. TP
Keep an eye on Minnesota center Conner Olson, another terrific underclassman at the position from the Big 10. I gave him a 4th round grade coming into the season off his 2018 film when he lined up at guard for the Gophers and he’s taken well to the new position. The match-up against Penn State DT Robert Windsor will be fun to watch today. TP
There are several Big Ten match-ups to start the day including Ohio State taking on Maryland in Columbus. The big story here is the saga surrounding Chase Young, the Buckeyes’ sack machine who will be an early pick in next April’s draft. Last night, I confirmed much of the information which had been reported throughout the day and my belief is the story won’t be going away any time soon.
While Young will occupy much of the conversation, I continue to hear Terps running back Anthony McFarland will enter the draft after the season. I presently grade McFarland as a third-round prospect.
Another underclassman from the Big 10 who I continue to hear will enter the draft is Penn State’s KJ Hamler, the home run hitting receiver who I grade as a second-day pick.
The Nittany Lions are involved in a huge contest against unbeaten Minnesota and the battle between Hamler and Antoine Winfield Jr., which could be one for the ages. Winfield Jr has been playing lights out this season and has five INTs to his credit.
Red Raiders receiver TJ Vasher, who is having a solid season, has come up big for Texas Tech a number of times. Vasher is doing a lot of exploratory work to make a decision at the end of the year on where he’ll be playing football in 2020. I’m told he’s leaning towards entering the draft.