The schedule for Week 13 doesn’t feature many exciting match-ups as most teams are readying themselves for rivalry weekend next Saturday. As we have during the initial 12 weeks of the college season, PFN will be here all day from 11:30 AM – 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 guest co-host Matt Cannata and me, where we provide the latest inside information from around the NFL and preview today’s action.
The most recent episode also includes the latest on Tua Tagovailoa and his status for the 2020 NFL Draft. Additionally, we discussed my first mock draft of the season, where I had five quarterbacks being taken in the first round.
Updates throughout the day are followed by initials. TP is me (Tony Pauline), AJ is AJ Schulte, and NF is Nick Farabaugh. Don’t forget to visit and bookmark our 2020 NFL Draft Underclassmen Tracker. Let’s get started!
I continue to struggle with Jordan Love. He makes some very, very bad throws and decisions, such as his interception tonight. However, he has some extremely special plays. Love is that ultimate pull you back in guy because his ability to make magic happen outside of the pocket is a special trait with his arm talent.
Love has to stop playing so much hero ball to overcome the shortcomings of the team around him and has to make better decisions post-snap once the look changes from the pre-snap look the defenses give him. Love has a massive ceiling, but he will only reach it if he improves that mental game and his decision making. NF
Colorado wide receiver Laviska Shenault made an acrobatic combat catch tonight and has shown off just why there is so much love for him as a potential first-round prospect. It is rather rare when you see Shenault’s combination of height, weight, and speed and that makes him such a unique and fascinating prospect.
Shenault is not a great route runner by any means, but he has all the goods to be a special receiver in the NFL and all he does is continue to grow each game and each season. Shenault has only continued to reaffirm his positioning from the Summer with another stellar year. NF
Fresno State has an underrated guard by the name of Netane Muti. Do you want to talk about traits? This guy has some serious traits. He has incredible movement abilities in space and great footwork to aid himself in getting around on those pulls and reach blocks with the ability to climb to the second level.
Muti has a serious mauling style to him that you love to see. He gets after it on every snap. add in great power and strength and he can create some pancakes out there on the field. Even though he is out for the year with an injury, Muti’s tape already speaks for itself. Muti is going to be either a day two pick or a day three gem when it is all said and done. NF
I know Harrison Bryant has gained a lot of fans from the start of the season due to his flashy showings at tight end this season. Today, he went for 182 receiving yards and a touchdown in a win over UTSA. In a weak tight end class, Bryant continues to rise up draft boards in the eyes of fans and perhaps scouts.
Helping his cause is a weak 2020 tight end NFL Draft class. Simply, if you’re a tight end and can both stretch the field and block upfront, you’re going to get noticed. Given his growth, Bryant looks like he could be one of the first tight ends taken in April.
Back in September, Tony highlighted Bryant and named him his C-USA Prospect of the Week. NF
I continue to be impressed by Boise State wide receiver John Hightower. Hightower is another speedy receiver that wins through speed and releases off the line of scrimmage. He understands the technical parts of the game, which allows him to be the dangerous deep threat that he is so capable of.
After the catch, he is just as good too. Hightower is a dynamic player who I believe could rise throughout the draft process as NFL teams continue to value speed at the wide receiver position. NF
I am a huge Bradlee Anae fan and love what he brings as either a 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 defensive end. Anae just picked up his 11th sack of the season for the Utes as he continues a breakout year, which includes him getting an invite from Jim Nagy and the Senior Bowl.
Anae is a power rusher that has violent hands. He has dominated everyone that he has faced thus far on the year, and that includes USC Tackle Austin Jackson and Washington Tackle Trey Adams.
Combine that power with a super quick first step. He has a surprising amount of fluidity and is used in drop zones a ton. But he looks super smooth and has a great motor in space. Anae is a guy that is a consistent riser on my board. NF
Brandon Aiyuk has been huge for the Arizona State Sun Devils all season and he continues to be just that tonight as well. He just had a huge 81-yard touchdown that was completely created off of his speed and ability to make magic happen after the catch.
Aiyuk has 161 yards receiving now and he is looking to really raise his stock into the middle of day two of the NFL Draft. With his dynamic ability to change games, he has a good chance to do just that. I currently have a third-round pick on Aiyuk and he is a top fifteen receiver for me due to his great skillset. NF
Quite the up and down game for Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. He has been solid on the ground again and shown his ability to escape, but overall, he has not had a great game. He has missed reads throughout the game has been a big reason why TCU has been able to crawl back into this game.
The intangibles are great with Hurts, but his mental game has a long way to go before it is franchise QB material. He has to get sharper post-snap at reading the defense, but perhaps even more important is that he just learns to make better decisions. Hurts has hurt his stock over the past three weeks by showcasing these clear mental errors. NF
While Pitt ended up getting absolutely crushed by Virginia Tech today in Blacksburg, safety Paris Ford continued to show why he is one of the most underrated safety prospects in the nation. Ford had 10 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, and a pass deflection.
Ford’s athleticism, aggressiveness, versatility, and instincts make him play at incredible game speed and he has the ability to make a significant impact any time he is out there. His three interceptions and eight pass deflections show off his ball skills as well. He is only a redshirt sophomore, but Ford is a name to watch as a big riser if he declares. NF
In days gone by, the University of Miami would fire their head coach after a loss like the one they are about to experience. Yet we’ll hear in the post-game press conference about “regrouping” and “working to get better,” a sign of just how far this once-mighty program has fallen. TP
Yet another pass where Justin Hebert is staring down the primary receiver except this time, it cost him and Arizona State could be headed into the end zone for the kill shot.
It is obvious to me Herbert MUST attend the Senior Bowl and have a knockout week as well as impress people during interviews. Whichever agent signs Herbert and advises the quarterback not to attend the Senior Bowl is doing him a disservice. TP
I’m not a big Cohl Cabral guy as I think the Arizona State center has athletic and mobility limitations but you have to love his tenacity and football intellect. He gets the most from his ability and he will be an inexpensive utility blocker for the next level who can back-up at a number of positions on the offensive line. TP
Over the past few weeks, I’ve mentioned in podcasts and in this blog that Baylor head coach Matt Rhule will be one of the hottest NFL coaching candidates once the season is over.
And while Luke Fickell of Cincinnati isn’t getting any talk on being offered a head coaching job in the NFL as far as I know, any major CFB program (Tennessee? UCLA? South Carolina? maybe Notre Dame?) who will be looking for a new head coach in 2020 would be foolish not to consider Fickell. His teams constantly come prepared to play and he gets the most from his players’ ability, regularly getting them to overachieve.
Pure speculation but imagine with me if you will – Ohio State blows out Michigan next week, the Wolverines then lose in the bowl game and fire Jim Harbaugh. They then announce former Buckeye Luke Fickell as their new head coach- oh, my!! TP
TCU is making a game of it against Oklahoma. After being down 21-0 the defense stiffened and their offense was finally able to move the ball. Linebacker Garret Wallow, a Week 11 Riser, is having a terrific game accounting for 7 tackles and 1 TFL at halftime. TP
You have to love the poise that FIU quarterback James Morgan is displaying in this game against Miami. He’s remained incredibly patient in the pocket, keeps his eyes downfield in the face of the rush and does not look intimidated against the Hurricane defense. If his receivers made a few plays for him this game would be a blowout. As it stands, FIU is on top 16-0. TP
Miami Hurricane running back DeeJay Dallas just left the game at the start of the second half with an injury. He’s been about the only offense the Hurricanes have been able to muster this evening, rushing for 50 yards on 8 carries.
Over the past several weeks I’ve heard from a number of sources Dallas will bolt for the NFL Draft after the season- which seems to be an annual event for underclassmen running backs on the Miami roster. TP
This is what scares me about Justin Herbert- too much inconsistency, a lot of stagnant play and a physically gifted passer who seems unable to carry his offense…and I dare say underachieve at times. The numbers are efficient with 2 minutes left in the first half; 8 of 14 passing for 111 yards, but there have been a lot of missed opportunities.
It’s well past time for Herbert to step up and show he can carry his team, which is in the hunt for a spot in the CFB playoffs. TP
Don’t look now but Florida International leads Miami by a score of 13-0 as the second half is set to begin. Yesterday during my Friday preview, I highlighted two Panthers players in anticipation of tonight’s game – quarterback James Morgan and linebacker Sage Lewis. Both are playing exceptionally well.
Morgan completed 13 of 20 passes (65%) for 125 yards with 1 score during the first half while Lewis leads all FIU defenders with 6 tackles. TP
Portland State finished its regular season today with a loss to Eastern Washington, and so ends the college career of tight end Charlie Taumoepeau. Entering the season graded by scouts as the third-highest rated tight end from the senior class, Taumoepeau started the season hot with 4 receptions for 56 yards and 1 TD against Arkansas.
I wondered why Taumoepeau has yet to receive an invitation to a post-season All-Star game, specifically the Senior Bowl, who has already invited Adam Trautman of Dayton.
I’m told Taumoepeau has taken a big drop down draft boards and is presently graded as a free agent by a number of scouts. Since the Arkansas game, he’s added just 32 receptions and really didn’t dominate the way scouts thought he should. There’s also some concern around his speed as Taumoepeau looks like a one-gear tight end who cannot split the seam. Additionally, there is some talk about moving Taumoepeau from tight end to fullback. TP
Though the Florida Gators are not on the schedule this weekend, I have a bit of news on their prospects.
When I listed pass rusher Jonathan Greenard as a late first-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens in my recent mock draft, I prefaced it by stating: “Greenard’s draft positioning will hinge on his workouts but he’s playing like a first-round prospect.”
I can tell you there are many in the scouting community who feel Greenard won’t test well and will fall into the third round. He was estimated to be a 4.8 second-forty guy, and the belief is the rest of his numbers will fall in line with that number.
The other news coming out of Gainesville has cornerback C.J. Henderson entering the draft. While no final decision has been made, I’m told Henderson is heavily leaning towards entering the draft and UF has a history of losing a lot of juniors. TP
Another great matchup during the night games is Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb against TCU corner Jeff Gladney. Lamb has been on fire this season, but Gladney has a LOT of supporters in the scouting community. He came into the season graded as one of the highest-rated cornerbacks in the senior class, and except for one poor game against Colin Johnson of Texas, he’s played well this season. TP
When Arizona State has the ball tonight against Oregon, watch the matchup between center Cohl Cabral of the Sun Devils and Ducks nose tackle Jordon Scott. Cabral is a tough, slug-it-out blocker with average size and athleticism, but great intensity. Scott is a massive space-eater with great power who takes on, then collapses double team blocks. TP
Temple linebacker Shaun Bradley continues to impress me. He was graded as a late-round pick entering the season behind teammate Chapelle Russell, and yet Bradley has been terrific all season; he’s been the leader on the Owls defense. He’s a heady defender who stays within assignments and does not have mental lapses on the field.
I spoke at length with Bradley over the summer and he told me as a former track sprinter, he expected to run in the low 4.5’s and possibly high 4.4’s during pre-draft workouts. TP
Everything about Joe Burrow has been impressive this season, yet his poise has stood out to me more than any other area of his game. Several times this evening against Arkansas, the pocket has collapsed around Burrow. While most quarterbacks would take off up the field, Burrow remained steady, kept his eyes downfield, and got the pass away. TP
Texas Tech and Kansas State are currently battling it out on FS1 in a physical game so far. Keep an eye on Kansas State OT Scott Frantz and Kansas State center Adam Holtorf in this one. Frantz is a Day 3 OT prospect for me, but is an experienced and strong tackle. This OT class is deep and Frantz could be a solid depth piece for a team to target in those later rounds. AJ
It did not take long for LSU to score against Arkansas. Joe Burrow underthrew a deep ball earlier but followed it up with a 37-yard strike to star receiver Ja’Marr Chase. That deep ball play will likely sum up many people’s scouting report on Burrow, as he made a great play in the pocket but the throw faded as it went downfield. His arm strength will be a hotly-debated issue, but personally, I think it certainly passes the threshold. AJ
USC & UCLA are in a back and forth shootout at the moment in this heated rivalry thanks to the part of some standout play by the skill positions. UCLA junior tight end Devin Asiasi has been a quietly effective weapon for the Bruins in replacing Caleb Wilson, and he’s got 141 yards and a touchdown on just 5 catches.
USC has three receivers over 100 yards receiving, and another one is currently at 97 yards. Michael Pittman has had two touchdown catches on the year, while Tyler Vaughns (who Tony highlighted below) has 106 yards and a touchdown catch today. USC OC Graham Harrell and freshman QB Kedon Slovis have this offense humming. AJ
Remember the high-flying offenses of Cal when they were led by Jared Goff and Davis Webb? Those days seem like they were so long ago, as Cal is currently ranked 111th in passing offense, and they are struggling to score on Stanford tonight.
The good news is they have an extremely talented defense led by LB Evan Weaver, FS Ashtyn Davis, and CB Camryn Bynum. Each of these guys is NFL-bound and are all definitely draftable. Weaver and Davis are both Senior Bowl players. AJ
Texas WR Devin Duvernay has stepped up with Collin Johnson out once more. He’s an electric playmaker with great hands and route-running skills and will make some noise for himself in the Senior Bowl. I’ve constantly labeled him as the WR to make a McLaurin-level rise in the offseason, and he should be drafted high come the 2020 NFL Draft. AJ
Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike just got to Jake Fromm on a sack to force 4th down. Madubuike has had a quiet season with only 3.5 sacks on the year, but I like his play strength and motor on the interior.
Because it just happened on my screen, that catch by Baylor WR Denzel Mims was incredible, showing off his length and body control. He has a way of making crazy contested catches, but dropping the easy ones. Increasing his consistency will be key for his NFL stock. AJ
I think Tony’s done enough on Jake Fromm for this blog (and I concur with his thoughts), but A&M QB Kellen Mond is also in need of some serious development. His decision-making can be best described as a work in progress, and his mechanics look clunky. He’s got a strong arm and some athletic ability, but that’s it at the moment. I expect him to stay in school this year, despite being draft-eligible. AJ
Baylor junior defensive lineman James Lynch just broke Shawn Oakman’s record for most sacks by a Baylor player in his career. Lynch is a disruptive force on the Baylor defensive line, and he’s a pure power rusher with “sneaky” athleticism. The Baylor team has some unheralded stars on that defense, and James Lynch is one of them. AJ
Georgia running back D’Andre Swift just broke loose for a 25-yard run, one of the reasons why I had him listed in the first round of my recent mock draft. Swift constantly shows the ability to blow open blase games with huge runs from the line of scrimmage. He combines big-play ability while paying attention to the details of the game.
Earlier in the game, he was on the sidelines exhorting quarterback Jake Fromm – who has not played well today – to get his head in the game. TP
There’s still 10 minutes left in the first half, but it’s been another underwhelming performance from Georgia signal-caller Jake Fromm. Thus far, Fromm has completed 1 of 7 passes for 7 yards.
In his defense, the weather is less than optimal, and the Texas A&M defense Fromm is facing is one of the best against the pass in the SEC. However, this is on the heels of 11 of 28 passing for 110 yards against Auburn a week ago and 13 of 29 passing for 173 against Missouri the prior game. TP
Indiana is making a game of it early against Michigan, who may be looking ahead to Ohio State next week. Keep an eye on Hoosier right guard Simon Stepaniak, a tough, small area mauler who will be participating in the Shrine Game.
Stepaniak is a wide-bodied blocker with terrific power and the ability to engulf opponents altogether. He’s not the most nimble or agile blocker but could be an inexpensive back-up in a scheme that does not call for zone blocks. TP
Everyone has a crush on Baylor receiver Denzel Mims, but don’t dismiss teammate Chris Platt despite the fact he’s in the middle of a disappointing campaign. Entering the season with late-round grades, Platt offers potential as a slot receiver and return specialist. He has home run hitting speed and can score from any point on the field.
Early in the game against Texas, Platt already has 2 receptions for 53 yards. Platt shows flashes rather than regular consistency but comes with athleticism and upside. TP
Bruins linebacker Krys Barnes has shown flashes the past three seasons yet never really elevated his game and seems to have plateaued. He has average size/speed numbers and I doubt Barnes gets drafted next year but in the right system, he could back-up in a 34 alignment and play special teams. TP
USC vs UCLA is ready to kick-off, a storied rivalry which takes place a week earlier than usual. The Trojans hope to keep their top 25 ranking while the Bruins need a win in order not to guarantee another losing season in what could be the final year for Chip Kelly in Westwood. The game doesn’t have all that many next level match-ups as the talent on the UCLA roster is thin at best.
I continue to hear USC receiver Tyler Vaughns, who I’ve spoken about in glowing terms all season, is very likely to enter the draft. I’m also told UCLA cornerback Darnay Holmes, a fourth-year junior on course to graduate, will also enter the draft despite a somewhat disappointing season.
Keep track of the underclassmen declarations by visiting our tracker page. Be sure to bookmark it as we update it with the latest information as it comes in. TP
Ohio State RS SO CB Shaun Wade has been a pleasant surprise all season long and just came up with a clutch PBU on 4th down for the Buckeyes. There’s a legit chance that we could see three Ohio State defensive backs drafted high, as teammates Jeffrey Okudah and Damon Arnette are also talented corner prospects. AJ
Texas and Baylor are getting set to kick-off, but Texas will be without two senior standouts. WR Collin Johnson and LB BJ Foster are both out for this huge showdown.
I think Johnson has taken his final snap in a Longhorn uniform and will likely just shut it down for the draft. He’s been banged up all season long and I doubt he wants to risk further injury. AJ
Tony highlighted Iowa State S Greg Eisworth just below, but I’m also a fan of RS SO TE Charlie Kolar. He’s an underrated weapon in the Big 12, and he has my vote for Big 12 first-team at tight end. He doesn’t fill up the stat sheet, but he’s a talented receiving option for the Cyclones. AJ
I continue to be impressed with Greg Eisworth, my highest rated Iowa State prospect coming into the season. He’s a tough safety who really stands out against the run while displaying skill in coverage.
Cyclones linebacker Marcel Spears is another that’s having an impressive season. Though a bit undersized, Spears is constantly flying around the action making plays. TP
The struggles of Penn State Will Fries continues; he’s playing back on his heels, looks completely intimidated and after getting called for a motion penalty in an attempt to get a jump start on Chase Young, Fries got burnt around the edge from said pass rusher. TP
Here are a few updates from Iowa.
Sources close to the program tell me they still believe Tristan Wirfs will return to school after the season, despite being graded as a top half of round one prospect. I’m told the situation is similar for A.J. Epenesa- the feeling around the program is Epenesa will be back in 2020. While this may change, Iowa has done a good job of retaining highly rated underclassmen in the past; sometimes to the detriment of the player (think Desmond King).
Epenesa is an interesting case. Some people were surprised when I left him out of the first round in my recent mock draft. Yet, when speaking to sources, the feeling is Epenesa is not having a good season and it’s in his best interest to return.
Want to keep track of the underclassmen who may be declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft? Visit our tracker page and check back often for the latest news and rumors. TP
I mentioned Ohio State guard Jonah Jackson earlier and the senior has thrown some crushing blocks to today, opening up lanes which have resulted in big gainers for the Buckeyes. Jackson is more of a small area blocker and not really effective on his feet. However, as he’s shown today, the big guard easily controls linebackers once he gets his hands on them. TP
Right tackle Will Fries is playing terrible for Penn State and has struggled all game long against the Buckeyes. He’s overextending into blocks, lacks any semblance of balance and tripping over his own feet. Games such as this will not only hurt Fries’ draft stock but will make scouts believe the junior will not be able to handle offensive tackle duties on Sundays and must be pushed into guard. TP
Tristan Wirfs is playing well today and handling Betiku and any other pass rusher Illinois lines up on his side. A.J. Epenesa is also having a good game and is beating up Illinois tackle Vederian Lowe, who looks intimidated. TP
Keep an eye on Illinois’ Oluwole Betiku, who’s off to a hot start this season with 8 sacks and 11.5 TFL’s. Today the pass rusher faces the Hawkeyes’ duo of Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs, his toughest task of the season. Early in the game Betiku already has an important QBH on a third-down play, which forced Stanley to throw the ball before he wanted and ended up as a change of possession. TP
Jonah Jackson made the right move taking the graduate transfer route from Rutgers to Ohio State. He entered the season with late-round grades from scouts and has shown improvement in his game.
Jackson is a dominant mauler at offensive guard and his battle against Robert Windsor, Penn State’s relentless defensive tackle who is graded as a middle-round pick, is one to watch today. TP
Ohio State left tackle Thayer Munford, whom I featured in today’s preview, shows a lot of ability and upside but bends at the wait and overextends too much. He’s strong and uses his hands very well but must improve his blocking balance and stay upright to complete his game. TP
With Chase Young and Jeffery Okudah gobbling up all the headlines on the Ohio State defense, linebacker Malik Harrison is often left out of the conversation- which is wrong.
Harrison is an athletic defender with great size (6-feet-3-inches/252 pounds), speed (4.68s) numbers and a forceful style. He offers a good degree of scheme versatility and is developing into a three-down defender. TP
The big match-up to start the day is Penn State traveling to Ohio State. The Nittany Lions desperately need a win to keep their very slim title hopes alive and this will be the toughest test of the year for Buckeyes.
There are several high profile match-ups between next level prospects to keep an eye on, with none more so than PSU receiver KJ Hamler going up against the Buckeye cornerback trio of Jeffery Okudah, Damon Arnette and Shaun Wade. This is assuming Hamler is available to play as he’s a game-time decision after suffering an injury to his back/neck area during last week’s victory over Indiana.
As mentioned several times since October, the word I am receiving is both Hamler and Okudah will enter the 2020 NFL Draft. Okudah is universally thought to be a top-10 pick while many in the scouting community believe Hamler will land in the first round. PFN Draft writer Matt Valdovinos recently highlighted Kamler and his explosive speed. Nittany Lions defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos has been a bit disappointing this season. His match-up against underrated Ohio State tackle Thayer Munford is another to watch.
Alabama will roll over Western Carolina as this is a scrimmage before next week’s showdown against Auburn.
Earlier this week, during the Draft Insiders podcast, I mentioned what quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is telling those close to him about his immediate future. Linebacker Dylan Moses, another injured underclassman from Alabama, has a decision to make. Prior to the season, I graded Moses as the top NFL prospect on the Crimson Tide roster but a knee injury in August shelved him for the year.
As of yesterday, sources tell me Moses has made no definitive decision on whether he’ll enter the draft or stay in school – it seems at this point he’s unsure what he’ll do. These same sources believe the injury to Tagovailoa will impact Moses’ final decision and send him packing to the NFL.
You can keep track of all of the rumored underclassmen declarations by visiting our tracker page. Be sure to bookmark and visit weekly as we update it with the latest information as it comes in. TP