What a slate of games we saw during Week 4 of the college football season. Games of national prominence went down to the wire, and many were competitive from start to finish. We also saw several terrific performances from NFL Draft prospects on both sides of the ball. Here are the Risers & Sliders from Week 4.
NFL Draft Risers
Tyler Biadasz, C Wisconsin: Biadasz is my highest-rated center, and once again he proved his worth during the Badgers thrashing of Michigan. Biadasz is tough, fundamentally sound, and blocks with great intellect. He fires off the snap, explodes into the point of attack, and is very effective in motion. While he needs to improve his playing strength, Biadasz does a great job as a position blocker, sealing defenders from the action at the line of scrimmage or on the second level. I fully expect he will be a first-round pick in next April’s NFL Draft.
Joe Bachie, LB Michigan State: Although Northwestern does not have an explosive offense, Bachie still displayed why he can be a three-down defender at the next level. Consider his stat line: 14 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack, 1 QBH, 2 PBUs, and 1 interception. Bachie is tough, incredibly instinctive, and offers the versatility to play in a variety of schemes in the NFL.
Michael Pittman Jr., WR USC: I gave Pittman a last day grade entering the season, which is about two rounds later than scouts. While I like his pass-catching skills, his speed, quickness, and ability to separate from defenders concerns me.
However, I am told scouts on hand for the Trojans game Friday night do not share my concern after watching the big-bodied receiver. Pittman blasted a talented Utah secondary for 10 receptions, 232 receiving yards, and 1 TD. He beat down opponents and found ways to separate on the field. I am told he is faster in the forty than the 4.6-second time scouts have estimated. If that’s true, Pittman could land in the second day of the draft.
Chase Garbers, QB Cal: I spoke highly of Garbers entering the season and compared many aspects of his game to former Cal signal caller Jared Goff. The redshirt sophomore looked very Goff-like during the Bears victory over Ole Miss in Oxford. Cal controlled the game for three and a half quarters with Garbers leading the way. Completing 23 of 35 passes for 357 yards, Garbers accounted for all of Cal’s 28 points with 4 passing TDs. He is a smart, poised quarterback that has already shown a lot of improvement from the 2018 film.
Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB Appalachian State: Looking for a sleeper at the linebacker position? How about a smallish run-and-chase linebacker with next-level speed and athleticism? Look to Appalachian State’s Davis-Gaither.
Graded as a potential second-day pick by a number of scouts, he possesses safety size (6-feet-2, 218 pounds) but brings the speed of a defensive back to the linebacker position. Davis-Gaither shows great range, covers a tremendous amount of area, and plays with good instincts. During the Mountaineers upset victory over North Carolina, Davis-Gaither finished with 8 tackles and an interception. He is more of a scheme-specific pursuit linebacker and can play special teams in the NFL.
Jacob Breeland, TE Oregon: I mentioned Breeland as a tight end sleeper during my Oregon write up, and the senior is putting the pieces together this season. Breeland led all pass-catchers during the Ducks victory over Stanford, totaling 5 receptions for 78 yards with 2 TDs. Just four games into the season, he has caught 18 passes, 6 fewer than he caught all of 2018. Despite possessing next-level computer numbers, Breeland was graded as a street free agent by scouts. However, watching the 2018 film, you could see flashes of next-level football ability. It was just a matter of Breeland getting an opportunity and taking advantage of that opportunity, which is what he is presently doing.
Sleeper Prospect – Darius Bradwell, RB Tulane: The Green Wave’s victory over Houston was possibly their most important conference win and sets them up for the rest of the season. Bradwell, stamped as a potential late-round NFL Draft choice by scouts, came up huge in the victory. The big ball carrier finished with 113 yards on 20 carries, posting a 5.7 yard average per attempt. That is a terrific number for a running back who tips the scales at 240 pounds. Bradwell is a downhill grinder who will be a terrific short-yardage ball carrier in the NFL.
Small School Prospect – Dante Olson, LB Montana: Olson was handed a late-round grade from scouts and has lived up to expectations thus far. He’s a tough, blue-collar middle linebacker that has been a tackling machine for Montana. Four games into the season, he has totaled 43 tackles, including 14 tackles against Oregon two weeks ago and 13 against Monmouth on Saturday. As a junior in 2018, Olson had a breakout season posting 151 tackles and 11 tackles for loss. Olson is a classic run-stuffing middle/inside linebacker with starting potential at the next level.
Julian Blackmon, DB Utah: I gave Blackmon a middle-round grade entering the season, but he has struggled this year and did not look good against USC. Beaten on more than one occasion, Blackmon was consistently a half step late arriving to the action and could not finish plays. His play this season has followed along with his disappointing stats line (16 tackles/2 PBUs/2 INTs).
Jared Pinkney, TE Vanderbilt: Entering the season, Pinkney was considered far and away the top tight end from the senior class. Many scouts stamped him as a first-round prospect. This season has been a slog for the entire Vanderbilt offense, but no one has struggled more than Pinkney. Considered first and foremost a pass-catching tight end, Pinkney has posted a pedestrian 9 receptions for 119 yards with no touchdowns in three games. While all is not lost, he must quickly turn the tide of his season and meet the expectations placed upon him.
Tony Pauline is PFN’s lead NFL Draft analyst. You can follow him on Twitter: @TonyPauline.