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Inside the War Room: Week 10


John Blair
Western Michigan Wide Receiver Corey Davis was this week's top performer. | Photo Credit: NFL.com

In this week’s Inside the War Room, we take an in-depth look at the wide receiver position. We start off by looking at one of the most productive receivers in college football in Corey Davis. Then we highlight two receivers who led our weekly list of top ten performances of the week. We wrap up this week’s article by taking a look at two defenders who are having outstanding rookies seasons, and by listing our top senior outside linebackers led by a pair of Alabama teammates.   

 

Scouting Notes

  • A player that is moving up my draft board is Western Michigan wide receiver, Corey Davis. Part of the reason he is moving up my rankings is because of how natural a receiver he is. He runs smooth routes and moves very fluidly in and out of his routes. He shows great body control as well which allows him to make the tough catch on a regular basis. One area I would like to see him improve on is his physicality as he rarely outmuscles defenders for the ball and has trouble catching the ball when in traffic, especially against physical cornerbacks. While he carries a second-round draft grade on my board currently I could see a team like the Green Bay Packers take him late in the first round.   

  • Duquesne linebacker Christian Kuntz has been one of the most productive linebackers in college football over the past couple of seasons. So far this season he has 51 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks and this is after he led Duquesne in tackles for loss, interceptions and sacks in 2015. When projecting Kuntz to the next level the first thing that stands out is how relentless he is, play after play. His outstanding work ethic on the field is the major reason he has been so productive during his career. Another positive with him is how smart he plays as he plays fundamentally sound football and is rarely fooled when reading plays. While I like Kuntz's production, work ethic, and football IQ, I do have some concerns with him. The first one being how athletic and quick he is overall. While he has proven to be a threat getting after the passer I don’t see that outstanding first step or overall agility that makes me think he will be able to make a smooth transition to the NFL. He has also seen his share of major injuries as he missed the 2014 season due to a knee injury and missed his senior high school football season due to a ruptured spleen. Despite these concerns, I would consider taking Kuntz in the seventh round of the draft.

  • Two Big Ten quarterbacks that came in with high grades this season that have failed to live up to expectations are Iowa’s C.J. Beathard and Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner. Going into the season I had Beathard rated as the number one senior quarterback in the draft but now doubt he will go any higher than late day three for a couple of reasons. The first reason being that he lacks the arm strength to earn a starting position in the NFL. I also have concerns about his ability to stay healthy in the NFL and his footwork. While I was never overly high on Leidner he earned a first round grade by Todd McShay going into the season. Even though Leidner has NFL size at six-foot-four and 230 pounds and a strong arm he is another player I could not see going before the third round. This is due to his average at best accuracy and due to his high turnover ratio as he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns this season.

  • This past weekend I went to Valor Christian High School to look at one of the top high school quarterbacks in college football in Michigan recruit Dylan McCaffrey. ESPN currently has McCaffrey rated as the best player in the state of Colorado and as the second best quarterback in this year’s recruiting class. When watching McCaffrey it was easy to see why people are so high on him as he shows nice accuracy and good athletic ability for a pocket passer. The only real concern I have with him is that he did force some passes into coverage. While I can’t see McCaffrey ever starting over Wilton Speight he should have a solid chance to earn the starting job once Speight leaves Michigan.

 

Top Senior Performers for Week 10

1. Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

The top performance of the week came early in the week when Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis put up 272 yards and three touchdowns against Ball State on Tuesday. He also accounted for 74% of the team’s passing yards and was uncoverable at times against the Cardinals.

2. John Ross, WR, Washington

Ross is a player who has exploded this season as he is tied for second in the FBS in touchdowns with 14 after missing the 2015 season with a torn ACL and only posting 14 receptions in 2014. In his latest game against California he had 6 receptions for 208 yards and three touchdowns and again proved he is one of the biggest deep threats in college football.

3. Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

The stats Falk put up against Arizona in only three quarters were impressive, to say the least. He was able to complete 91% of his passes against the Wildcats defense including 22 straight passes. He was also able to throw for 311 yards and four touchdowns. If Falk does indeed go pro after the season like Matt Miller of Bleacher Report says he will it will be interesting to see where teams grade him at as he comes from an Air Raid offense which very few quarterbacks are able to make a smooth transition from this offense to the NFL.

4. Brandon Shed, WR, Hobart

The top small school performance came from Hobart wide receiver Brandon Shed who had 12 receptions for 241 yards and two touchdowns against St. Lawrence. While Shed is only a junior he is a player to keep an eye on as he should be one of the top small school wide receivers in college football next season.

5. D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas

Foreman is the only player to make the top ten pro prospect performers two weeks in a row as he was able to rush for 341 yards this week against Texas Tech after he rushed for 250 yards last week against Baylor two weeks ago. While I am not a big fan of Foreman, I would like to see him more involved in the passing game he has drawn high praise from Texas fans as Burnt Orange Nation named him the best player in Texas football this decade.

6. Aaron Jones, RB, UTEP

Jones is a running back who has been producing solid number this year yet is flying under the radar. In his latest game against Houston Baptist, he rushed for 228 yards on only 14 carries. He easily could have rushed for over 300 yards in this game if he had played the entire game instead of being pulled after the first drive in the third quarter due to the large lead UTEP had at the time. What might be most impressive so far this year for Jones is that he has been held under 4.5 yards per carry only once this season and has over six yards per carry in six games this year.

7. Joel Bouagnon, RB, Northern Illinois

Bouagnon is having a down season this year as he only had 510 yards and one touchdown going into last week’s game against Bowling Green. Thankfully, he was able to have one of the better games of his career against the Falcons though as he rushed for 134 yards and five touchdowns on the day. However, due to his lackluster senior season, I have a very hard time seeing a team selecting him in the 2017 NFL Draft.   

8. Karter Schult, DE, UNI

One of my biggest sleepers in this year’s draft in Northern Iowa defensive end Karter Schult who is leading Division one in sacks with 13 and is second in the FCS with 18.5 tackles for loss. Schult proved how much of a pass rushing threat he can be against Indiana State when he was able to pick up 2.5 sacks and eight tackles on the day. While Schult might be on the shorter side and lack great athletic ability I would take him any day on my team as very few players will outwork him.

9. Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

The highest rated draft prospect to make this list is Washington cornerback Sidney Jones who has been a shutdown corner all year. While Jones is rarely tested when he is he comes up big like he did last week against California when he intercepted two passes and broke up two more. He has impressed NFL scouts as well this season as one scout told NFL.com that he shows the  competitiveness, athleticism, and technical skills to play at the next level. If Jones enters the draft look for him to earn a mid to late round one draft grade.

10. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

A quarterback that I think could be great value on the second day of the draft if he declares for the draft is Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph who had one of his best road games of the season last week against Kansas State. While he posted impressive stats again this week including throwing for 457 yards and five touchdowns I was most impressed with how he overcame adversity. After not throwing an interception in his last four games he threw 2 picks against Kansas State which was one of the reasons the Wildcats had a nine-point lead in the second half. However, Rudolph was able to overcome this tough start and led the Cowboys to a come from behind win which is the eighth time in his career he has led the team to a comeback win the second half.

 

Honorable Mention

Patrick Ricard, DE, Maine

Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

Zach Cunningham, OLB, Vanderbilt

Zach Terrell, QB, Western Michigan

Krishawn Hogan, WR, Marian

Javancy Jones, OLB, Jackson State

Brendan Flaherty, WR, Holy Cross

Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina

Dylan Cole, OLB, Missouri State

Anthony Warrum, WR, Illinois State

Anthony Firkser, TE, Harvard

 

NFL Notes

  • Last week, the New England Patriots surprised the football world when they traded away linebacker Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns for a conditional draft pick. While it makes sense for the Patriots to trade away Collins for what could be a high third round draft pick as he will be a free agent this year and is not the most disciplined player in the game the team would not have made this trade if they did have confidence in sixth round draft pick Elandon Roberts. In limited playing time this year, Roberts has produced at a high level as he has recorded over four tackles in three games already this season including six tackles in only 31 snaps against the Cleveland Browns. While Roberts might not have been the highest drafted player this year his strong play this season should come as no surprise to people who followed Inside the War Room last year as we had him rated as the 82nd best player in the draft and named him one of our Sleepers of the Week.

  • A rookie who has come out of nowhere this year to make a significant impact is Baltimore Raven nose tackle, Michael Pierce. Pierce has gone from an undrafted free agent to a player getting significant time in the Ravens defensive line rotation as he has already recorded 16 tackles and two sacks on the year. He offers intriguing potential as well as he has the size to hold up vs. the run (6-0 339 pounds) and has proven to be a pass rushing threat which is impressive for someone who plays nose tackle and is 339 pounds.  

  • With all-star game invites coming out followed soon by NFL Combine invitations a player that has proved you can make it even if you don’t get invited to the events you want is San Diego linebacker Jatavis Brown who was recently named to the Move the Sticks Midseason All-Rookie team. Despite being a three-time first-team All-MAC selection and setting an Akron record for tackles for loss as a senior Brown did not receive a Senior Bowl or combine invite. Even though he did not get the recognition he deserved coming out of college the San Diego Chargers selected him in the fifth round of the draft, and so far this season he has been one of the most productive rookies this year as he leads the team in tackles and is third on the team in sacks.

  • One of the things I like to do in this section of the article is to see how my draft rankings hold up when these players reach the NFL, and while I am happy with how my overall rankings have turned out I have missed on several prospects as well. A few players I did not have high grades on yet made the Move the Sticks Midseason All-Rookie team were Tavon Young, Tyreek Hill, and Joe Thuney. Young was a small cornerback coming out of Temple who lacked great speed yet is a player who has now started several games for the Ravens already this season. Hill is a player I did not think much of entering the draft due to his lack of production in college and due to a domestic violence conviction he had in college which caused him to be dismissed from Oklahoma State. Despite these concerns the Chiefs took him in the fifth round and have been happy with his play so far this season as he has been one of the most productive players in the NFL on his limited touches this season. Thuney is a player I had concerns about due to his lack of strength and how he would hold up as an offensive guard against the strength of NFL defensive tackles. Thuney has proven those doubts were not going to affect his play at the NFL level as he has been one of the Patriots top offensive linemen this year.   

Top Senior Outside Linebackers

This year’s senior crop of outside linebackers is led by a pair of Alabama teammates in Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. The class also has one of the biggest question marks in the draft in Devonte Fields of Louisville who has seen his share of trouble off the field including being kicked off the TCU football team. The top small school outside linebacker on my board is Dylan Cole who has been ultra-productive during his career at Missouri State.

Rank

Name

College

1

Tim Williams

Alabama

2

Ryan Anderson

Alabama

3

Vince Biegel

Wisconsin

4

Jarrad Davis

Florida

5

Jalen Reeves-Maybin

Tennessee

6

Devonte Fields

Louisville

7

Haason Reddick

Temple

8

Matt Milano

Boston College

9

James Onwualu

Notre Dame

10

Steven Taylor

Houston

11

Brandon Bell

Penn State

12

Jordan Evans

Oklahoma

13

Keith Brown

Western Kentucky

14

Dylan Cole

Missouri State

15

Samson Ebukam

Eastern Washington

16

Christian Kuntz

Duquesne

17

Javancy Jones

Jackson State

18

Paul Magloire Jr.

Arizona

19

Josh Carraway

TCU

20

Calvin Munson

San Diego State

21

Jordan Burton

Oklahoma State

22

Tyrus Bowser

Houston

23

Aaron Cooper

Kentucky Christian

24

George Dawson

Fordham

25

Alex Lyons

Rice

26

Tau Lotulelei

UNLV

27

James McFarland

TCU

28

Gary Thompson

Marshall

 

 
 

Check out previous editions of Inside the War Room:


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