NFL Draft Stock Report: LBs Joseph Ossai & Antjuan Simmons rising in Week 9

Week 9 on the college schedule saw Oklahoma State drop an overtime game to Texas to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten. Scouts also saw several linebacker prospects turn in outstanding performances to boost their NFL Draft stock in Week 9 while a popular quarterback continued to wallow in the mire. Here are this week’s risers and sliders.

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NFL Draft Stock Report: Week 9 Risers

Joseph Ossai, LB, Texas

A defensive battle it was not, as Texas defeated Oklahoma State 41-34 in overtime. But it was still an incredible performance by Joseph Ossai, as the junior linebacker finished with a jaw-dropping 12 tackles, including six tackles for loss and three sacks. Many of his plays behind the line of scrimmage came during critical moments, including his third sack, which ended the game in overtime.

Ossai is an athletic linebacker with terrific size and speed who makes plays up the field, in space and in pursuit. I graded Ossai as a second-round prospect before the season, and I feel confident in saying he’s moving towards the early part of that frame.

Antjuan Simmons, LB, Michigan State

Antjuan Simmons is someone whose play I’ve admired the past three seasons. He’s a safety-sized linebacker with great speed, ferocity and intensity. Simmons flies around the field to make plays, sells out and sacrifices his body for the benefit of the team. He did it again during the Spartans’ victory over interstate rival Michigan, totaling 11 tackles, including one for loss, and breaking up two passes.

Related | Schulte’s 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft

In many ways, Simmons reminds me of Troy Dye, the former Oregon linebacker who was selected in the fourth round of April’s draft. Simmons won’t be selected as early as Dye, and in fact, he may not be drafted at all, but I firmly believe he will be a terrific backup linebacker and special-teams player.

Isaiah McDuffie, LB, Boston College

Clemson needed a late rally to beat Boston College. But even in defeat, Isaiah McDuffie looked terrific — boosting his NFL Draft stock. The Eagles’ leading tackler entering the game, the junior added 10 tackles and one TFL to his season ledger. Though he’s slightly bigger than Antjuan Simmons, his playing style is similar, as McDuffie is a terrific run-and-chase linebacker who is most effective in pursuit. Only a junior, McDuffie comes with terrific upside.

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

I graded Christian Darrisaw as a second-day selection over the summer, and the junior left tackle has not disappointed, playing steady football and showing improvement in his game. Darrisaw is a terrific pass blocker who is also very agile and effective in motion. While he needs to improve his finishing strength, Darrisaw has big upside. The feeling I get talking with people is that Darrisaw is leaning towards entering the 2021 NFL Draft after the season.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Desmond Ridder is someone I’ve mentioned several times this season during the Live College Football Blog, as he continues to improve and raise his NFL Draft stock. He led the way again this week, helping Cincinnati remain undefeated with an important conference victory over Memphis. Ridder was efficient, completing 21 of 26 passes for 271 yards and three TDs and adding 41 yards and two more scores rushing.

Ridder has the size, athleticism and arm strength to play at the next level. He has big upside, and if he continues to improve his ball security, Ridder will move into the middle rounds.

NFL Draft CFB Week 9 Sleeper Prospect

Ronnie Rivers, RB, Fresno State

Fresno State got its record back to even after a 21-point victory over Colorado State. Ronnie Rivers, who was graded as a free agent coming into the season, led the way. He finished with 95 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 23 carries and added five receptions for 69 yards with another score.

Rivers is a smallish back at 5-foot-7.5, 180 pounds, and he’s more quick than fast. But he’s a versatile skill player who nicely projects as a third-down or change-of-pace back at the next level.

Small School Riser

Sam Webb, CB, Missouri Western

Granted, Division II Missouri Western was overmatched by I-AA opponent Central Arkansas in what was its first game of the season. And while there were a few blown assignments during the contest, you could see why scouts are so enamored with Webb, who I grade as a sixth-round prospect.

Early in the game, Central Arkansas was purposely throwing away from Webb, a smooth and fluid corner with a 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame. The athletic senior possesses the size and ball skills to get late-round consideration.

NFL Draft Stock Report: Week 9 Slider

Charlie Brewer, QB, Baylor

The consensus entering the season was that Brewer was a late-round prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft. I went against the grain and stamped the quarterback as a UDFA, and that’s what he’s looked like thus far. Brewer’s play has been underwhelming, as he’s completed barely 60 percent of his throws for 830 yards in four games. He has eight TD passes along with three INTs.

Tony Pauline is Pro Football Network’s Chief Draft Analyst and Insider. Follow him on Twitter @TonyPauline. Follow PFN on Twitter @PFN365.

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