It was a huge week for NFL Draft prospects even if it wasn’t for college football. Multiple top QB prospects struggled on big stages and created more questions than answers for NFL teams in attendance at their games. Nearly halfway into the college football season and the playoff landscape is starting to look clearer, but the top picks in the NFL Draft are still a mystery. It’s all about these QBs making a final push down to stretch to prove their worth as first-round picks. Could as many as seven QBs go on Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft? It seems unlikely, especially the way some of them are playing, but there’s no denying they’re driving the draft narrative this college football season.
Tweet of the Week
The constant mismanagement of the Washington NFL franchise continues at the hands of Dan Snyder and Bruce Allen. There might not be a worse owner-president/GM combo in all of major sports. Jay Gruden was the scapegoat for the duo and now Dwayne Haskins is in a sticky situation because of the constant chaos in DC. That’s why when drafting a QB in the first-round it’s important everybody is on the same page from the owner to the front office to the coaching staff. Washington took him 15th overall despite Gruden reportedly not being enamored with him. The move put Haskins in a poor spot right off the bat and he’s already going to be onto his second NFL head coach in as many seasons.
Haskins has the tools to succeed in the NFL, it’s more about the experience with him. He only started for one season at Ohio State and Gruden repeatedly said he wasn’t ready yet, yet he was thrown in unprepared against the Giants. Bringing Haskins along slowly could work, but he needs live experience to get better. Hopefully, with Gruden out he’ll be named starter sooner and under OC Kevin O’Connell there could be some creativity to the offense. The key going forward is to tailor the offense to Haskins strengths. He’s a quick decision-maker who thrives from the pocket with short crossers and the play-action pass. If they can mix in what he does well and build his confidence, it will do wonders.
As for the future, they need to hire an offensive mind who is all in on Haskins development, similar to what the Rams did in hiring Sean McVay for Jared Goff. The future of the franchise is tied to Haskins now for it to work they need to hire someone who sees him as the guy.
In the News
By now everybody knows about the XFL reboot. Vince McMahon’s new old football league that begins play in February. What everybody might not know is that there’s a real NFL talent with college eligibility remaining whose name is in the XFL Draft pool next week, Kenny Robinson. The former West Virginia safety and first-team All-Big 12 selection was kicked off the team over the summer for academic fraud. Instead of transferring to another FBS school and sitting out the year or to an FCS school for immediate eligibility, he’s going the pro football route, just not in the league most expect him to eventually play in.
It’s a very interesting case and Robinson could set the precedent for players who are either suspended or just want a chance to get on the field somewhere that will compensate them. It’s not conventional and it’s riskier betting on the XFL then say transferring to a Big Ten or Pac-12 school to sit out the year and play the following season with hopes to be selected come 2021. Robinson provides a real reason to pay attention to the XFL, other than for the pure love of football.
It’s not the same as a high school basketball player going overseas instead of the NCAA route, but it could have a similar effect. Everybody remembers when Brandon Jennings chose to play professionally in Italy instead of for Arizona and he still managed to be a lottery pick. That proved you could make the NBA a different way and Emmanuel Mudiay, Terrance Ferguson and now RJ Hampton followed in his footsteps. Could Robinson’s route to the NFL through the XFL provide another real option for players? It’s not orthodox, but it could pay off, literally.
Star: Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn
After a strong junior season, there was a good chance Derrick Brown would declare for the 2019 NFL Draft with a chance at being a first-round pick. Instead, he returned to Auburn to help his draft stock and fight to be the top interior defensive line prospect. So far this season he has accomplished his mission. Brown has been one of the most dominant defensive players in the country and each week his name comes up as a potential top pick. He’s even begun to distance himself from Raekwon Davis as the best defensive tackle in the country. So far this season in six games he has 17 tackles, 4 TFLs, 3 sacks, 3 PBUs, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. He’s been an absolute disruptive monster.
If Brown continues to dominate the game the SEC, then being a top 10 pick feels quite possible. Brown has a ton of size at 6-4, 320 pounds and is rumored to have an 83-inch wingspan, a monstrous number for an interior player. That length with his power makes him unblockable. Brown has the athleticism and power to play 1-Tech, 3-Tech, or 5-Tech. That versatility is huge and he should be a top-notch run defender. He plays with a strong anchor, heavy hands, and elite leverage despite his height. It allows him to occupy blocks or use his length and hands to make a play in the backfield. As a pass rusher, he’s a nice athlete, but it’s really his power that allows him to push the pocket. He’s a complete defensive tackle.
Any team looking for a well-rounded disruptive player on the inside of their D-line should look to Brown. He’s got a similar game to Bears Pro Bowler Akiem Hicks and can thrive as a one-gap penetrator.
Sleeper: Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee
The SEC is full of rare athletes on the defensive side of the football that will be playing on Sunday’s. One of those guys is Darrell Taylor and because of Tennessee’s poor play, it feels as if Taylor is being somewhat forgotten about this season. The pass rusher hasn’t put up gaudy numbers in 2019 because he’s constantly being keyed in on by offenses, but when watching the games, you can see the effect he has with his ability. Taylor has just 2 TFLs and 1 sack through 5 games this season, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story and he should still be viewed as a potential Day 2 pick.
Tennessee EDGE Darrell Taylor played like a mad man vs. BYU. Dip and rip here to draw the hold and still gets a shot on the QB hit. His motor runs hot. pic.twitter.com/d8KAkaww1O
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) October 4, 2019
When you’re the best player on a bad team the opponent tends to focus on shutting you down and making the guys around you step up. That’s what’s happening with Taylor. The 6-4, 255-pound Taylor plays with his head on fire. He’s going his absolute hardest no matter the score and NFL scouts will love it. What’s going to get him drafted though is his explosive first step paired with his ability to dip and bend the edge as a speed rusher. He’s beginning to get more violent with his hands and win with counter moves when speed doesn’t work, but speed and bend will get him paid. For Taylor to really help his stock he needs to play with more power behind his hands and strength his anchor and edge setting ability vs. the run.
Tennessee EDGE Darrell Taylor is one of the best pass rushers in the SEC. Explosive get off and the flexibility to bend and run the arc. A top name to watch in the 2020 NFL Draft. pic.twitter.com/F3oC16PjZe
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) May 13, 2019
At the end of the day pure pass rushers get drafted high in the NFL and that’s what Taylor is and will be at the next level. A smart team will use him early on as a situational rusher while they develop his game. Don’t overthink Darrell Taylor.
Overrated: CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Before the season there was a ton of talk about how impressive the 2020 NFL Draft would be at cornerback. Plenty of talent up top and a deep group, particularly the SEC guys. Well, one of those SEC guys has fallen off the map a bit and rightfully so. CJ Henderson hasn’t taken the step forward yet that he needs to if he wants to be a first-round pick. Henderson has the raw athleticism and smooth fluidity to succeed at the next level, but he makes far too many mistakes. It’s a very similar situation to Greedy Williams at LSU last season.
The biggest problem right now is that Henderson continues to show a lack of interest in tackling. If a ball carrier gets near him they’re either going through him or he’s not putting in enough effort to give them the chance. In today’s NFL, if a CB can’t tackle an offense will attack him and expose him, it’s a major flaw. In coverage, he can get caught biting on play-action and get burned or guess on a route and give up a big play. His instincts are just too iffy for him to be guessing. Ultimately if he can mature his game and play more physical football he has NFL starter tools. It’s just going to be hard to convince an NFL front office to bet on a guy early who doesn’t always play hard or smart.
Risers and Sliders
Ashtyn Davis, S, Cal
- Even in a loss to Oregon the Cal defense showed up and made the Ducks work for their win. The star of the Golden Bears defense was clearly safety Ashtyn Davis. It was a big bounce back for Davis after an up and down performance against Arizona State the week before. Davis made his presence felt early with a great read and react play on a Justin Herbert pass into traffic. Davis picked off the pass and flashed his return ability. Later in the game, he showed the range NFL scouts are in love with by coming from center field and laying out a Ducks receiver to break up a pass. His athleticism, physicality, and IQ are everything you want in a safety. If Davis continues this type of play he has a real chance to be a top 50 pick.
Jeff Thomas, WR, Miami
- Every week there’s a different WR with top 100 potential creating buzz for themselves. After some huge performance, last season as a sophomore Jeff Thomas had big hype but was later kicked off the Miami team before rejoining it under new head coach Manny Diaz. He hadn’t done much this season, due to poor QB play, until the Hurricanes 42-35 loss to Virginia Tech. Thomas had 181 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs on 9 touches and was Miami’s biggest weapon. His body control, stop-start ability, crisp route running, and deep speed are a big reason he could still be a Day 2 pick despite off-field issues. A couple more games like this and his name will start to heat up again.
Lavert Hill, CB, Michigan
- Two seasons ago there was tons of talk about Lavert Hill’s NFL potential, but a down junior year led to him returning to Michigan. Now a senior Hill has a lot to prove. Early against Iowa, he had some issues, but he locked in and ended up being one of the main reasons the Wolverines won 10-3. Hill is undersized and feisty which can lead to mistakes, but he kept his game clean vs. Iowa. He came up with a clutch INT in the Michigan end where he did a great job mirroring the WR and locating the football. Hill also added a big TFL on a run play showing his willingness as a tackler. In a deep CB class, he’ll likely be a Day 3 pick, but he could potentially develop on the outside or at nickel.
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU
- It may have just been against Utah State, but Joe Burrow looked like a future NFL starter in the 42-6 win. It was also helpful that the game was full of scouts and even a few GMs because of both Burrow and Utah State QB Jordan Love. Another thing working for Burrow is in a week a lot of top QBs struggled, he continued to dominate. He just looks so much more comfortable this season and his touch throws are money. Few QBs have been better with downfield ball placement this season than Burrow. Against the Aggies, he was seeing the field well and working through his progressions consistently to get the ball to his playmakers. He might not have the physical tools the other top QBs have, but he looks like a safe bet.
Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia
- In what was supposed to be a quick and easy blowout for Georgia, they struggled early against Tennessee. They eventually found their footing and easily won 43-13, but it was scary for a second. When the offense was struggling one-man clearly was not and that was left tackle Andrew Thomas. Thomas was dominant against the Vols. He was throwing defensive linemen around in the run game and helped Georgia rush for 238 yards. What he did in pass pro was even better. He gave up absolutely nothing, including when he faced Darrell Taylor. This is a franchise left tackle with all the tools. It’s hard to see any non-QB offensive players getting drafted before Thomas.
Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
- Although Oregon ultimately beat Cal 17-7 the team struggled and their defense carried them. Justin Herbert has all the physical tools you can ask for in a QB prospect, but each week he leaves you wanting more. It’s not like he’s playing bad football, it’s just underwhelming. When will his big moment or college defining game come? Against Cal, he threw his first INT of the season and never quite got into a rhythm. The play-calling and personnel don’t help. It’s all inside runs and screens because the WRs can’t get open. Herbert has it all, but it could hurt his stock if he never is able to consistently show it.
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
- In the most important game of his college career, in terms of NFL Draft stock, Jordan Love struggled. Utah State only managed six points against LSU and Love never got into his zone. It was tough for him because the O-line and his playmakers didn’t give him much help. He did make some flashy throws showing off the unbelievable physical tools that the NFL loves. The numbers are worse than the game, to be honest. He completed just 50% of his throws for 130 yards on 4.3 YPA and 3 INTs. Awful numbers, but when they really fell behind he was trying to force big plays to get them back in. Love will be a tough evaluation because of the talent level around him and the Senior Bowl will be huge for separating himself.
Jacob Eason, QB, Washington
- There’s a chance not a lot of people saw the struggles of Jacob Eason against Stanford. It was some Pac-12 After Dark and the strong-armed transfer from Georgia didn’t help the first-round buzz that’s begun. The Huskies managed just 13 points on a bad Stanford team in an upset loss. Eason was inaccurate and poor with decision making. He just looked really raw and inexperienced for large stretches which were a reminder that he really hasn’t started that many games in college. Of course, he sprinkled in some wow NFL throws that will have scouts smiling, but the Stanford game was a reminder that he has a long way to go to be a top 10 pick despite the lovely physical tools.
Alaric Jackson, OT, Iowa
- It was an ugly day for the Iowa offense, specifically the offensive line. They allowed Nate Stanley to be sacked EIGHT times and gave up a handful more of big pressures that led to mistakes. The biggest issue up front was Alaric Jackson’s pass protection. He didn’t look healthy coming off the knee injury and Michigan’s Kwity Paye took advantage. Jackson struggled with his base and anchor in pass protection and struggled with his sets. Multiple times he overset to the outside and couldn’t work his way back when Paye went with an inside counter. Jackson has the size, physicality, and athletic tools to be an interesting NFL player, but his future might be as a guard.
Kwity Payne beats Alaric Jackson easily with a little outside fake. Jackson oversets and doesn’t have the base/lateral agility to re-anchor and protect inside. pic.twitter.com/UWmvsHM6zt
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) October 5, 2019
Jordan Fuller, S, Ohio State
- Depending on who you ask, Jordan Fuller could be a top 10 safety prospect or he could be a UDFA type. Folks are all over the map on Fuller which makes sense considering his inconsistent play. Even in an Ohio State 34-10 win over Michigan State, in which Fuller had a big INT, he struggled. The range and ball skills flash at times, but he an inconsistent tackler that takes poor angles. In coverage, he guesses a lot and it results in giving up big plays over the top. Fuller is a late Day 3 type who will need a big NFL Combine.
Top 10 IDL Rankings
|3||Javon Kinlaw||South Carolina|
|4||Marvin Wilson||Florida State|
Game of the Week
#7 Florida @ #5 LSU
Week 7 is one of the first weeks that can really change the college football playoff landscape. Not only is Florida heading to Baton Rouge to take on LSU, but Oklahoma is playing Texas in the Red River rivalry and Penn State is going to Kinnick Stadium to take on Iowa. Obviously the biggest game is the battle between two unbeaten SEC schools, but this is the Sooners and the Nittany Lions first real tests of the season against fellow top 25 teams from their respective conferences. Both schools are undefeated and still fighting for their shot at the College Football Playoff. Ultimately Florida taking on LSU is the most important to college football and to the NFL Draft. Both schools are loaded with talent.
There will be plenty of NFL Scouts in Tiger Stadium to get eyes on the plethora of NFL prospects. Both defenses are loaded with potential top 100 talent. It will also be the biggest game of the season to date for Joe Burrow in terms of his draft stock. Seeing Burrow perform at a high level against a top-notch defense will help build the first-round buzz. Overall both secondaries are impressive and seeing CJ Henderson show up in a big game will help rebuild his stock. This could also be K’Lavon Chaisson’s breakout game with the poor play of the Florida O-line. Overall there are double-digit potential top 100 prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft playing in the game.
|#7 Florida||#5 LSU|
|CJ Henderson, CB||Grant Delpit, S|
|Jabari Zuniga, EDGE||Kristian Fulton, CB|
|Jonathan Greenard, EDGE||K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE|
|Ventrell Miller, LB||Joe Burrow, QB|
|Brad Stewart Jr., DB||Rashard Lawrence, IDL|
|Marco Wilson, CB||Jacob Phillips, LB|
|Lamical Perine, RB||Lloyd Cushenberry, C|
|Van Jefferson, WR||Justin Jefferson, WR|
|Tyrie Cleveland, WR||Jacoby Stevens, S|
|Jeawon Taylor, S||Patrick Queen, LB|
|Nick Buchanan, C||Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB|
|David Reese, LB||Damien Lewis, OG|
|Josh Hammond, WR||Saahdiq Charles, OT|
|Tommy Townsend, P||Adrian Magee, OG|
|Freddie Swain, WR||Kary Vincent Jr., CB|
Underclassmen on the Radar
Freaky Frosh: Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE, Oregon
- It’s rare to see a freshman who already looks physically ready for the NFL, but that’s the case with Oregon five-star Kayvon Thibodeaux. At 6-5, 242 pounds, he’s got the perfect frame to add 20 more pounds and be an absolute freak in a few years. Thibodeaux was the second overall recruit on 247Sports and has been seeing more and more action each week for the Ducks. Week 5 against Cal was his breakout game where he picked up two sacks, including a strip. The Cal O-line couldn’t handle his explosiveness and bend around the edge. The 2022 NFL Draft is a long time from now, but Thibodeaux has the physical tools to be a top pick.
Super Sophomore: Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
- One of the few bright spots in Auburn’s loss to Florida was a sophomore receiver, Seth Williams. Williams was the biggest threat for the Tigers offense and if Bo Nix gave him half decent QB play Williams would have put up bigger numbers than 4 receptions for 79 yards and a TD. The biggest play of the day for the Auburn offense should have been a 59-yard TD to him, but a poor pass from Nix led to just a 46-yard gain and later an interception. Williams is the biggest playmaker for Auburn and in his first 15 career games, he’s already got 10 TDs and is averaging nearly 20 yards per catch. His size, 6-3, 224 pounds and downfield ability is the X-factor for Auburn.
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