John Blair

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  1. Not sure if Kaaya is coming back and it really all depends on how well Jackson develops as a passer. Jackson has more upside
  2. In this week’s 'Scouting Notes,' we take a look at a Big Ten defensive back who is currently being overrated and one who is being underrated. We also highlight several players who could make an impact on special teams in the NFL. Then, in 'Draft Stock Market,' we talk about how one small-school cornerback has helped his stock with a strong FCS Bowl, and how one top-five prospect might see his draft stock fall if he declares for the draft. We also bring back 'NFL Notes', when we talk about where DeShone Kizer’s best fit in the NFL might be. To finish up this week’s article, we look at 12 players who could see their draft stock rise significantly this offseason. SCOUTING NOTES A player that I like but think might be a little overrated at the time is Iowa cornerback Desmond King. Despite being named to the Walter Camp All-American team for the second consecutive year and being projected to go in the first round by several NFL Draft sites, including CBS Sports, I project King to be more of a late second or third-round draft pick. One of the main reasons I think he is overrated is that he lacks first-round speed, as I projected him to run around a 4.5 40-yard dash. The other reason why I have a hard time seeing him going in the first round is that he lacks ideal size. Even though Iowa lists him at 5'11", I think he will come in closer to 5'10" at the NFL Combine. With that being said, I do love his ball skills, as he has 13 interceptions in his career and plays the ball extremely well in the air. His fundamentally-sound play is another reason why I think he will be a good second or third-round pick. While I think King might be slightly overrated, I think another Big Ten cornerback in Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis is the most underrated senior cornerback. What impresses me so much with Lewis is his ability to play tight coverage, especially when playing man-to-man. He shows excellent quickness and fluid hips in coverage, which allows him to hold up against any player he has gone up against in college. His aggressive play is another asset I like, as he does a great job of making plays on the ball, as he is Michigan’s all-time leader in pass deflections. He is aggressive vs. the run as well, even though he is only 5'11" and 186lbs. If Lewis falls to the end of the second round, look for him to be one of the biggest steals in the draft, as he has the ability to start as a rookie or at least be a nickel cornerback. Last week, DeShone Kizer announced he would enter the draft, and he should be one of the most interesting prospects. Part of the reason he is such an intriguing prospect is that he has all the natural skills to play in the NFL, including a strong arm, NFL size and the mobility to be a threat in the pocket. While he has the skill set to be a high first-round draft pick, he does have several concerns which could force him down the draft board, with one of these being only average accuracy, as he makes his receivers adjust to his passes on a regular basis. I also have concerns about his football intelligence, as he has struggled with game management and reads at times during his Notre Dame career. I absolutely hate the decision that running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey made to skip their teams' bowl games. While both of these players are extremely talented players who have first-round ability, I don’t like the fact they put themselves above the team. Another reason I don’t like this decision is that it makes me question how competitive and driven they are, as most players you have to fight to keep off the field even when injured, yet these two are healthy enough to play but decided it is in their best interest to leave their team high and dry. Due to the decisions both of these running backs made, I personally have Dalvin Cook rated as the top running back in the 2017 class. Even though I hate the decision McCaffrey made, I think he could be a good value pick if he falls to the second round due to his outstanding versatility. As a runner, he shows the explosiveness to take any play the distance, and the patience to wait for his blocks to set up. He shows impressive vision to go with his patience as a runner as well. McCaffrey also has the ability to help in the passing game, evident by him catching 82 passes over the last two seasons. He has proven to be a reliable check-down receiver and a player who can create mismatches downfield. One area I would like to see him improve as a receiver, though, is to catch the ball more with his hands instead of allowing the ball to get to his body. One more area McCaffery could help an NFL team is returning kicks, as he has done this at Stanford for the past three seasons. A prospect who is being rated higher by other NFL Draft pundits is Western Kentucky offensive tackle Forrest Lamp, who recently received a second-round draft grade by Mel Kiper Jr. While Lamp plays with good technique, I am not sure if he has the physical skills to earn anything more than a third or fourth-round draft grade. He lacks the footwork to play offensive tackle in the NFL, which will force him to slide inside, which is a concern for me since he lacks outstanding strength. He will need to prove at the Senior Bowl that he has the ability to hold up against NFL-caliber talent at the offensive guard position. Two underclassmen who have decided to stay in school are Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Georgia running back Nick Chubb. While Mayfield may be on the small side, he is a player that I think might be being underrated. As a passer, he shows okay arm strength but is one of the more accurate passers in college football. I look for Mayfield to enter the 2017 season with a high Day 3 grade. In my opinion, Chubb made a smart move by returning to Georgia for another season, as he would have been a late-round draft pick in this year’s deep running back class. North Carolina wide receiver Mack Hollins will attract scouts' attention with his strong play on special teams. He does an excellent job of covering kicks and has been named a special teams captain for three straight seasons. To go along with his strong special teams ability, Hollins offers intriguing potential at the wide receiver position, as he has great size at 6'4", 210lbs and impressive speed for someone his size. The biggest obstacle Hollins will have to overcome is the broken collarbone he suffered against Miami on October 15, which caused him to miss the rest of the season. Speaking of players who could make an impact on special teams, Maryland cornerback William Likely fits this bill as well. Likely finished third in the nation in 2015 in punt return average with 17.7 and also scored two touchdowns. He made an impact on kickoff returns as well when he averaged 22.5 yards on 35 returns. Likely has shown the ability to hold up as a cornerback, although the fact he is only 5'7" will hurt his chance of being a cornerback in the NFL. While he is an impact player, he will probably fall to the late part of the draft for a couple of reasons, including his lack of ideal height and that he is coming off a torn ACL which caused him to miss the majority of the 2016 season. One interesting option for this prospect is to allow him to return kicks and find a way to get his hands on the ball on offense, similar to what the Kansas City Chiefs are doing with Tyreek Hill. DRAFT STOCK MARKET Stock Up Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama Allen became the first player in Alabama history to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the best defensive player in college football. This season, Allen led the Tide in hurries with 15 and also tied with Tim Williams for second on the team in sacks with 8.5. With his strong senior season, Allen was able to finish second in Alabama history with 26.5 sacks behind only NFL Hall-of-Famer Derrick Thomas. Look for him to be a top-five pick come April. Daquan Holmes, CB, American International A player who raised his stock recently at the FCS Bowl is American International cornerback Daquan Holmes, who was named MVP of the game. Holmes has had a productive college career as he set a Northeast-10 Conference record with 20 career interceptions. While the level of competition and speed are question marks with Holmes teams could bring Holmes in as a free agent if he posts solid numbers at an NFL Regional Combine. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Conner might be the most inspiring story in the 2017 draft, as he missed most of last season with a knee injury and Hodgkin Lymphoma. Despite having to overcome the incredible obstacle of cancer, he was able to rush for 1,060 yards and 16 touchdowns. Conner also produced in the passing game, as he recorded 20 receptions on the season for an average of 15 yards per reception. When scouting Conner, I am impressed with his explosiveness, especially for a back who comes in at 6'2", 235lbs, and unlike some other bigger backs in the draft, I like how Conner has nice, soft hands in the passing game and is a willing pass blocker. I currently have a second-round grade on Conner. Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington Last week, Kupp became the all-time leading receiver in college football with 6,284 yards during his career. He has also accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, which should help prove that he is not just a small-school prospect who puts up big numbers. While there are numerous things to like about Kupp, such as outstanding hands, route running ability and punt return ability I do have some concerns about his speed and ability to separate vs. NFL-caliber defensive backs Stock Down George Kittle, TE, Iowa Kittle is a player who came into the season with high expectations, as he was rated as the top returning player going into the 2016 season by Pro Football Focus. Unfortunately, Kittle suffered a foot injury on October 15, which caused him to miss two games and see limited action in several others. Despite this, I could see Kittle being a nice Day 3 draft pick, as he shows good hands and is still one of the top blocking tight ends in college football. Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan Peppers is a player that presently carries a top-five draft grade according to numerous draft experts, and while I think he is a high draft pick, I would have a hard time taking him in the in top five for a couple of reasons. One of these is, what position does he play in the NFL? He lacks the size to play linebacker, which is the position he plays at Michigan, and I am not sure how smooth his hips are or how well he can hold up in coverage to play safety. I also would like to see him be more of a playmaker on defense, as he only had one career interception. Tommy Armstrong, QB, Nebraska Armstrong may miss the team’s bowl game against Tennessee due to a hamstring injury which has affected him since the November 12 game against Minnesota. Even if he is able to play in the Music City Bowl, he faces a major uphill battle to find a spot in the NFL. He lacks the passing skills, especially accuracy, to play in the NFL and is on the smaller side as well, as he comes in at 6'1". While Armstrong has been a running threat during his time with the Cornhuskers, I don’t see him showing the natural athletic ability to play another position in the NFL either. Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma While running back Joe Mixon gets most of the attention when it comes to players with troubled backgrounds, wide receiver Dede Westbrook may even have a worse background, which the Tulsa World does a great job of detailing. Some of the more concerning issues with him involve two incidents he was around with, one being when was accused of throwing the mother of two of his children to the ground. He was involved in another situation with this woman in 2013 when he was accused of punching her in the face and biting her. The article also details some of the issues he has academically and a few other issues that will raise concerns with scouts. With Westbrook's background, lack of size and durability issues, I project him to be a late-round pick. NFL NOTES Earlier in this article, I gave a scouting report on Kizer and I think the perfect team for him would be the Arizona Cardinals. One of the reasons I think he would be a good fit in Arizona is he would be coached by Bruce Arians, who is one of the better coaches in the NFL when it comes to developing quarterbacks. Another reason I like this fit is that he has the strong arm that is required to succeed in this offense. The last reason I think he would fit with the Cardinals is that he would have at least a year to develop under a veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer. A surprise top-10 pick might be Alabama tight end OJ Howard, who could make sense for the Chicago Bears. While the Bears might be picking a little high for Howard if Chicago wins one of their next two games, he would make sense for the team. He would give the team an immediate playmaker and a player who can create mismatches on a regular basis in the passing game. Howard would also be a good fit in Chicago, as he would be one of the better run-blocking tight ends, which is a plus for Chicago as John Fox tries to establish a more dominant running game in the Windy City. If the Bears pass on Howard, he would make sense for the Tennessee Titans, as he would give quarterback Marcus Mariota a great young target in the passing game, something he is currently lacking. Last week, the Los Angeles Rams fired coach Jeff Fisher, and whoever takes over as head coach next year will need to improve an offense which currently ranks dead last in the NFL in scoring, averaging only 14.1 points per game. The team has some interesting building blocks already on the offense, including quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley but will need to address its offensive line and find a playmaker receiver to not be one of the worst offenses in 2017. An offensive lineman who would make sense is Dan Feeney of Indiana who could start from Day 1. If the team decides to try and add a wide receiver, they will have to hope a player like JuJu Smith-Schuster or Mike Williams falls out of the first round. On a side note, the team should receive some compensation picks possibly as high as the third round after losing key free agents like Janoris Jenkins last year. Pro Football Spot’s Mike Walker wrote an interesting article titled Defensive End Prospect Could Bring a New Dynamic to Cowboys Defense. In it, he details why Missouri defensive end Charles Harris would be ideal for the Cowboys' first-round selection. If you have an interest in the Cowboys, I highly recommend you read it. THE LIST The following is a list of players I expect to make significant moves up teams' draft boards before the draft. Some of these players may see their stock increase due to strong all-star performances, while others may see their stock go up due to strong testing numbers. Davis Webb, QB, California James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas Vince Biegel, OLB, Wisconsin Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan Keionta Davis, DE, Chattanooga Julien Davenport, OT, Bucknell Tanner Vallejo, MLB, Boise State Collin Bevins, DE, Northwest Missouri State Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado Karter Schult, DE, UNI Check out previous editions of Inside the War Room: Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 12, Week 13, Week 14 View full article
  3. Inside the War Room: Week 16

    In this week’s 'Scouting Notes,' we take a look at a Big Ten defensive back who is currently being overrated and one who is being underrated. We also highlight several players who could make an impact on special teams in the NFL. Then, in 'Draft Stock Market,' we talk about how one small-school cornerback has helped his stock with a strong FCS Bowl, and how one top-five prospect might see his draft stock fall if he declares for the draft. We also bring back 'NFL Notes', when we talk about where DeShone Kizer’s best fit in the NFL might be. To finish up this week’s article, we look at 12 players who could see their draft stock rise significantly this offseason. SCOUTING NOTES A player that I like but think might be a little overrated at the time is Iowa cornerback Desmond King. Despite being named to the Walter Camp All-American team for the second consecutive year and being projected to go in the first round by several NFL Draft sites, including CBS Sports, I project King to be more of a late second or third-round draft pick. One of the main reasons I think he is overrated is that he lacks first-round speed, as I projected him to run around a 4.5 40-yard dash. The other reason why I have a hard time seeing him going in the first round is that he lacks ideal size. Even though Iowa lists him at 5'11", I think he will come in closer to 5'10" at the NFL Combine. With that being said, I do love his ball skills, as he has 13 interceptions in his career and plays the ball extremely well in the air. His fundamentally-sound play is another reason why I think he will be a good second or third-round pick. While I think King might be slightly overrated, I think another Big Ten cornerback in Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis is the most underrated senior cornerback. What impresses me so much with Lewis is his ability to play tight coverage, especially when playing man-to-man. He shows excellent quickness and fluid hips in coverage, which allows him to hold up against any player he has gone up against in college. His aggressive play is another asset I like, as he does a great job of making plays on the ball, as he is Michigan’s all-time leader in pass deflections. He is aggressive vs. the run as well, even though he is only 5'11" and 186lbs. If Lewis falls to the end of the second round, look for him to be one of the biggest steals in the draft, as he has the ability to start as a rookie or at least be a nickel cornerback. Last week, DeShone Kizer announced he would enter the draft, and he should be one of the most interesting prospects. Part of the reason he is such an intriguing prospect is that he has all the natural skills to play in the NFL, including a strong arm, NFL size and the mobility to be a threat in the pocket. While he has the skill set to be a high first-round draft pick, he does have several concerns which could force him down the draft board, with one of these being only average accuracy, as he makes his receivers adjust to his passes on a regular basis. I also have concerns about his football intelligence, as he has struggled with game management and reads at times during his Notre Dame career. I absolutely hate the decision that running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey made to skip their teams' bowl games. While both of these players are extremely talented players who have first-round ability, I don’t like the fact they put themselves above the team. Another reason I don’t like this decision is that it makes me question how competitive and driven they are, as most players you have to fight to keep off the field even when injured, yet these two are healthy enough to play but decided it is in their best interest to leave their team high and dry. Due to the decisions both of these running backs made, I personally have Dalvin Cook rated as the top running back in the 2017 class. Even though I hate the decision McCaffrey made, I think he could be a good value pick if he falls to the second round due to his outstanding versatility. As a runner, he shows the explosiveness to take any play the distance, and the patience to wait for his blocks to set up. He shows impressive vision to go with his patience as a runner as well. McCaffrey also has the ability to help in the passing game, evident by him catching 82 passes over the last two seasons. He has proven to be a reliable check-down receiver and a player who can create mismatches downfield. One area I would like to see him improve as a receiver, though, is to catch the ball more with his hands instead of allowing the ball to get to his body. One more area McCaffery could help an NFL team is returning kicks, as he has done this at Stanford for the past three seasons. A prospect who is being rated higher by other NFL Draft pundits is Western Kentucky offensive tackle Forrest Lamp, who recently received a second-round draft grade by Mel Kiper Jr. While Lamp plays with good technique, I am not sure if he has the physical skills to earn anything more than a third or fourth-round draft grade. He lacks the footwork to play offensive tackle in the NFL, which will force him to slide inside, which is a concern for me since he lacks outstanding strength. He will need to prove at the Senior Bowl that he has the ability to hold up against NFL-caliber talent at the offensive guard position. Two underclassmen who have decided to stay in school are Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Georgia running back Nick Chubb. While Mayfield may be on the small side, he is a player that I think might be being underrated. As a passer, he shows okay arm strength but is one of the more accurate passers in college football. I look for Mayfield to enter the 2017 season with a high Day 3 grade. In my opinion, Chubb made a smart move by returning to Georgia for another season, as he would have been a late-round draft pick in this year’s deep running back class. North Carolina wide receiver Mack Hollins will attract scouts' attention with his strong play on special teams. He does an excellent job of covering kicks and has been named a special teams captain for three straight seasons. To go along with his strong special teams ability, Hollins offers intriguing potential at the wide receiver position, as he has great size at 6'4", 210lbs and impressive speed for someone his size. The biggest obstacle Hollins will have to overcome is the broken collarbone he suffered against Miami on October 15, which caused him to miss the rest of the season. Speaking of players who could make an impact on special teams, Maryland cornerback William Likely fits this bill as well. Likely finished third in the nation in 2015 in punt return average with 17.7 and also scored two touchdowns. He made an impact on kickoff returns as well when he averaged 22.5 yards on 35 returns. Likely has shown the ability to hold up as a cornerback, although the fact he is only 5'7" will hurt his chance of being a cornerback in the NFL. While he is an impact player, he will probably fall to the late part of the draft for a couple of reasons, including his lack of ideal height and that he is coming off a torn ACL which caused him to miss the majority of the 2016 season. One interesting option for this prospect is to allow him to return kicks and find a way to get his hands on the ball on offense, similar to what the Kansas City Chiefs are doing with Tyreek Hill. DRAFT STOCK MARKET Stock Up Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama Allen became the first player in Alabama history to win the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which goes to the best defensive player in college football. This season, Allen led the Tide in hurries with 15 and also tied with Tim Williams for second on the team in sacks with 8.5. With his strong senior season, Allen was able to finish second in Alabama history with 26.5 sacks behind only NFL Hall-of-Famer Derrick Thomas. Look for him to be a top-five pick come April. Daquan Holmes, CB, American International A player who raised his stock recently at the FCS Bowl is American International cornerback Daquan Holmes, who was named MVP of the game. Holmes has had a productive college career as he set a Northeast-10 Conference record with 20 career interceptions. While the level of competition and speed are question marks with Holmes teams could bring Holmes in as a free agent if he posts solid numbers at an NFL Regional Combine. James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Conner might be the most inspiring story in the 2017 draft, as he missed most of last season with a knee injury and Hodgkin Lymphoma. Despite having to overcome the incredible obstacle of cancer, he was able to rush for 1,060 yards and 16 touchdowns. Conner also produced in the passing game, as he recorded 20 receptions on the season for an average of 15 yards per reception. When scouting Conner, I am impressed with his explosiveness, especially for a back who comes in at 6'2", 235lbs, and unlike some other bigger backs in the draft, I like how Conner has nice, soft hands in the passing game and is a willing pass blocker. I currently have a second-round grade on Conner. Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington Last week, Kupp became the all-time leading receiver in college football with 6,284 yards during his career. He has also accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl, which should help prove that he is not just a small-school prospect who puts up big numbers. While there are numerous things to like about Kupp, such as outstanding hands, route running ability and punt return ability I do have some concerns about his speed and ability to separate vs. NFL-caliber defensive backs Stock Down George Kittle, TE, Iowa Kittle is a player who came into the season with high expectations, as he was rated as the top returning player going into the 2016 season by Pro Football Focus. Unfortunately, Kittle suffered a foot injury on October 15, which caused him to miss two games and see limited action in several others. Despite this, I could see Kittle being a nice Day 3 draft pick, as he shows good hands and is still one of the top blocking tight ends in college football. Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan Peppers is a player that presently carries a top-five draft grade according to numerous draft experts, and while I think he is a high draft pick, I would have a hard time taking him in the in top five for a couple of reasons. One of these is, what position does he play in the NFL? He lacks the size to play linebacker, which is the position he plays at Michigan, and I am not sure how smooth his hips are or how well he can hold up in coverage to play safety. I also would like to see him be more of a playmaker on defense, as he only had one career interception. Tommy Armstrong, QB, Nebraska Armstrong may miss the team’s bowl game against Tennessee due to a hamstring injury which has affected him since the November 12 game against Minnesota. Even if he is able to play in the Music City Bowl, he faces a major uphill battle to find a spot in the NFL. He lacks the passing skills, especially accuracy, to play in the NFL and is on the smaller side as well, as he comes in at 6'1". While Armstrong has been a running threat during his time with the Cornhuskers, I don’t see him showing the natural athletic ability to play another position in the NFL either. Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma While running back Joe Mixon gets most of the attention when it comes to players with troubled backgrounds, wide receiver Dede Westbrook may even have a worse background, which the Tulsa World does a great job of detailing. Some of the more concerning issues with him involve two incidents he was around with, one being when was accused of throwing the mother of two of his children to the ground. He was involved in another situation with this woman in 2013 when he was accused of punching her in the face and biting her. The article also details some of the issues he has academically and a few other issues that will raise concerns with scouts. With Westbrook's background, lack of size and durability issues, I project him to be a late-round pick. NFL NOTES Earlier in this article, I gave a scouting report on Kizer and I think the perfect team for him would be the Arizona Cardinals. One of the reasons I think he would be a good fit in Arizona is he would be coached by Bruce Arians, who is one of the better coaches in the NFL when it comes to developing quarterbacks. Another reason I like this fit is that he has the strong arm that is required to succeed in this offense. The last reason I think he would fit with the Cardinals is that he would have at least a year to develop under a veteran quarterback in Carson Palmer. A surprise top-10 pick might be Alabama tight end OJ Howard, who could make sense for the Chicago Bears. While the Bears might be picking a little high for Howard if Chicago wins one of their next two games, he would make sense for the team. He would give the team an immediate playmaker and a player who can create mismatches on a regular basis in the passing game. Howard would also be a good fit in Chicago, as he would be one of the better run-blocking tight ends, which is a plus for Chicago as John Fox tries to establish a more dominant running game in the Windy City. If the Bears pass on Howard, he would make sense for the Tennessee Titans, as he would give quarterback Marcus Mariota a great young target in the passing game, something he is currently lacking. Last week, the Los Angeles Rams fired coach Jeff Fisher, and whoever takes over as head coach next year will need to improve an offense which currently ranks dead last in the NFL in scoring, averaging only 14.1 points per game. The team has some interesting building blocks already on the offense, including quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley but will need to address its offensive line and find a playmaker receiver to not be one of the worst offenses in 2017. An offensive lineman who would make sense is Dan Feeney of Indiana who could start from Day 1. If the team decides to try and add a wide receiver, they will have to hope a player like JuJu Smith-Schuster or Mike Williams falls out of the first round. On a side note, the team should receive some compensation picks possibly as high as the third round after losing key free agents like Janoris Jenkins last year. Pro Football Spot’s Mike Walker wrote an interesting article titled Defensive End Prospect Could Bring a New Dynamic to Cowboys Defense. In it, he details why Missouri defensive end Charles Harris would be ideal for the Cowboys' first-round selection. If you have an interest in the Cowboys, I highly recommend you read it. THE LIST The following is a list of players I expect to make significant moves up teams' draft boards before the draft. Some of these players may see their stock increase due to strong all-star performances, while others may see their stock go up due to strong testing numbers. Davis Webb, QB, California James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas Vince Biegel, OLB, Wisconsin Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan Keionta Davis, DE, Chattanooga Julien Davenport, OT, Bucknell Tanner Vallejo, MLB, Boise State Collin Bevins, DE, Northwest Missouri State Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado Karter Schult, DE, UNI Check out previous editions of Inside the War Room: Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 12, Week 13, Week 14
  4. Inside the War Room: Week 14

    In this week’s Inside the War Room, we take a look at some of the most interesting underclassmen and what choices they have made or should make when it comes to the NFL Draft. Then, we take a look at whose stock is rising or falling in the NFL Draft Stock Market. We wrap up this week's article by listing the top 32 seniors in the draft. SCOUTING NOTES Texas running back D'Onta Foreman decided to enter the draft last week, and while he has been projected as a first-round pick by many people, I am not as high on him. One of the reasons I am not sold on him is that he offers very little in the passing game, as he only caught 13 passes during his career at Texas and has had numerous drops. Another reason I am not sold on Foreman is because I worry about how many times he has fumbled during his time at Texas. Yet another reason is that he is kind of a one-year wonder, as he has never rushed for over 700 yards in a season before he rushed for 2,208 yards this year. The last concern I have with him is how much he was used this season, as he led the FBS in carries with 323 rushes, which is the main reason he was able to put up such impressive stats, as he only finished 27th in yards per carry in the FBS this season. Due to these concerns, I would have a very hard time taking Foreman before the third round. While Foreman has decided to enter the draft, one player who looks to be staying in school for at least another year is Ohio State third-year sophomore safety Malik Hooker. In his first year as a starter at Ohio State, Hooker set an Ohio State season record with 6 interceptions on the season, which also led the Big Ten. While he could have been a late first-round draft pick in the 2017 draft, if he has a strong junior season, he could be a top-10 pick in 2018. A player who would be best off by staying in school for another year is Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, who was recently projected as a late-round draft pick by one scout according to Matt Miller. While I like the raw tools Rudolph shows, including great size (6'5", 235lbs), NFL-caliber arm strength and nice athletic ability for a pocket passer, I think he would be best off returning for his senior season for a couple of reasons. One area he could improve on as a senior is his accuracy, as he is only average in this area right now. He tends to rush his delivery at times, which forces him to be inaccurate at times, especially on short passes. Another area he could work on is making better reads in the passing game. While he did only throw 4 interceptions this season, he did force some passes and at times looks to lock onto his receivers. One of the bigger questions at the tight end position in this year’s draft is where Ole Miss TE Evan Engram fit in. While he has put up outstanding numbers this year, including 65 receptions for 926 yards and 8 touchdowns, I am not sure where he fits at the next level. Even though he is listed as a tight end by Mississippi, I have a hard time seeing him play this position in the NFL. I think it will be hard for him to be a tight end at the next level due to a lack of size, as he is listed at 6'3", 227lbs and is a below-average blocker at best. Some people project Engram as a wide receiver at the next level, and while he did line up in the slot a lot this year, I have questions about his speed allowing him to play this position in the NFL. I also question his hands, even though he was able to put up strong receiving numbers this year he also had his share of drops, especially in the Florida State game. Hopefully, we will be able to get more of an idea of where teams project him by seeing where they line him up during Senior Bowl week. While some Chicago Bears fans are high on quarterback Matt Barkley, who had a solid performance against the San Francisco 49ers and a strong fourth quarter versus the Tennessee Titans, I don’t expect it to change the Bears' plans to draft a quarterback early next year. While I do expect them to draft a quarterback high, I think their best option would be to wait until the second round and take the best quarterback left on the board. A prospect who the Bears have shown a strong interest in who could be available in the second round is Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya if he declares for the draft. A small-school quarterback starting to get some attention is Tiffin’s Antonio Pipkin. He is a good athlete who can win both in the pocket and on the run. As a passer, he shows impressive arm strength, as he should have no trouble throwing any pass in an NFL offense. He has the speed to make plays with his feet as well, as he runs a 4.55 40-yard dash and rushed for 905 yards this season. While I do like his potential, I do have some concerns with him, including that he is still very raw and must show better pocket presence. I also worry about his ball security, especially when scrambling, as he holds the ball low and with one hand. Then you have the obvious concern of him coming from a small school. If Pipkin can impress at the Senior Bowl, he should have a shot at being a late-round draft pick. NFL DRAFT STOCK MARKET STOCK UP Jamal Adams, S, LSU While Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers gets most of the hype when it comes to the safety position, I expect LSU’s Jamal Adams to be the first safety taken off the board. What is so impressive with Adams is that he has the ability to play the run and pass at a high level. He is an extremely smart player and is widely considered the smartest player on the LSU defense. Adams shows great aggression vs. the run as well and has no trouble coming down and supporting the run, although he does duck his head at times which leads to missed tackles. Adams shows the athletic ability and smooth hips to play in the NFL as well. Look for Adams to earn a top-10 draft grade and he could even earn a top-5 grade if he tests well. Eric Saubert, TE, Drake A small-school player that reminds me of Engram is Drake tight end Eric Saubert, who recently accepted an invite to the East-West Shrine game. Saubert is an athletic tight end who should be one of the better pass-catchers available late in the draft. This season, he caught 56 receptions for 776 yards and 10 touchdowns. When projecting him to the NFL, he shows several positive traits, with the first one being his athletic ability. He ran a 4.69 40-yard dash going into his senior season, and shows the speed to get downfield. Saubert shows wide receiver-type body control as well, as he can make the diving catch or go up and get the jump ball. He has the size to catch scouts' eyes as well, as he comes in at 6'5" and 250lbs. On the downside, he does not offer much as a blocker and has played at a non-scholarship level of football. Brendan Langley, CB, Lamar Brendan Langley started his career off at Georgia before transferring to Lamar for the 2015 season. In his one season of starting, he posted 43 tackles and 6 interceptions, showing off the hands that allowed him to start his career as a wide receiver. Langley also has impressed scouts with his ability to return punts, as he finished 12th in the FCS in punt return average and second in the FCS in punts returned for touchdowns with 2. Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado Another secondary player that has impressed this year is Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. This season, he was a leader of a secondary that led the Pac-12 in pass efficiency and pass defense. One thing that impresses me so much with this prospect is his excellent versatility, as he has the ability to play cornerback, nickel back and even safety, which is the position I project him to play in the NFL. It would not surprise me if a team picked Awuzie at the end of the second round. STOCK DOWN Wes Lunt, QB, Illinois A player who did not live up to the expectations I had for him going into the year is Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt, who I had rated as the third-best senior quarterback going into the season. Lunt set a career-low in completion percentage this year, completing only 55% of his passes, although that is significantly better than his backup Jeff George Jr., who only completed 40% of his passes. Lunt also had his lowest totals as a starter in passing yards and touchdowns this season. Part of the reason he had such low production is that he missed four games with a back injury, and another reason his production was down is his poor supporting cast. Even though Lunt has had a disappointing senior season, he could earn a draftable grade if he has a standout East-West Shrine game. Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado Sefo Liufau was starting to earn praise from draft experts until his last outing of the season against Washington. Versus the Huskies, he completed only 23% of his passes and completed as many passes to his own team as he did to his opponent, as he completed 3 passes and also threw 3 interceptions on the day. While I do like the leadership and toughness Liufau shows, I can’t see him being anything more than a free agent signing, as he lacks the natural passing skills to be anything more than a longshot to make an NFL roster. Damore'ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss Damore'ea Stringfellow is a player who I think would have been best served by returning for his senior season, as he has questionable production, character and is still raw in a variety of places. This season, he only finished third on the team in receptions with 46 and has never had a season with over 50 receptions or 716 yards. Stringfellow has questionable character as well, as he left the Washington football team in 2014 after he was involved in an off-field incident. One more concern I have with him is that he is still raw when it comes to running routes and has dropped his share of passes this season. With all that being said, I could see a team picking Stringfellow on the third day of the draft due to his nice size and athletic ability. Seth Russell, QB, Baylor Seth Russell has had his last two seasons cut short by injuries. In 2015, he suffered a neck injury against Iowa State, and in 2016, he suffered a season-ending ankle injury against Oklahoma. Russell had a down season before his injury this year, as he showed spotty accuracy, completing only 55% of his passes and also threw a career-high 8 interceptions. Even though Russell has struggled over the past couple of seasons, if he can post impressive numbers like he did last July when he ran a 4.40 40-yard dash and had a 40" vertical jump, he could hear his name called in the sixth or seventh round. THE LIST Now that the college football season has wrapped up, it is time to release my first big board of the top 32 seniors in the NFL Draft. Please note just because I have a senior listed among the top 32 prospects doesn’t mean they will be first-round picks, as they will likely fall down the draft board after we see which underclassmen declare for the draft. Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama Jake Butt, TE, Michigan Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama Vince Biegel, OLB, Wisconsin Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado Marcus Maye, S, Florida Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan Desmond King, CB, Iowa Jarrad Davis, MLB, Florida DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan Davis Webb, QB, California Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa Kevin King, CB, Washington Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado Tanner Vallejo, MLB, Boise State Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma Ethan Pocic, C, LSU Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State Check out previous editions of Inside the War Room: Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 12 Week 13
  5. In this week’s Inside the War Room, we take a look at some of the most interesting underclassmen and what choices they have made or should make when it comes to the NFL Draft. Then, we take a look at whose stock is rising or falling in the NFL Draft Stock Market. We wrap up this week's article by listing the top 32 seniors in the draft. SCOUTING NOTES Texas running back D'Onta Foreman decided to enter the draft last week, and while he has been projected as a first-round pick by many people, I am not as high on him. One of the reasons I am not sold on him is that he offers very little in the passing game, as he only caught 13 passes during his career at Texas and has had numerous drops. Another reason I am not sold on Foreman is because I worry about how many times he has fumbled during his time at Texas. Yet another reason is that he is kind of a one-year wonder, as he has never rushed for over 700 yards in a season before he rushed for 2,208 yards this year. The last concern I have with him is how much he was used this season, as he led the FBS in carries with 323 rushes, which is the main reason he was able to put up such impressive stats, as he only finished 27th in yards per carry in the FBS this season. Due to these concerns, I would have a very hard time taking Foreman before the third round. While Foreman has decided to enter the draft, one player who looks to be staying in school for at least another year is Ohio State third-year sophomore safety Malik Hooker. In his first year as a starter at Ohio State, Hooker set an Ohio State season record with 6 interceptions on the season, which also led the Big Ten. While he could have been a late first-round draft pick in the 2017 draft, if he has a strong junior season, he could be a top-10 pick in 2018. A player who would be best off by staying in school for another year is Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, who was recently projected as a late-round draft pick by one scout according to Matt Miller. While I like the raw tools Rudolph shows, including great size (6'5", 235lbs), NFL-caliber arm strength and nice athletic ability for a pocket passer, I think he would be best off returning for his senior season for a couple of reasons. One area he could improve on as a senior is his accuracy, as he is only average in this area right now. He tends to rush his delivery at times, which forces him to be inaccurate at times, especially on short passes. Another area he could work on is making better reads in the passing game. While he did only throw 4 interceptions this season, he did force some passes and at times looks to lock onto his receivers. One of the bigger questions at the tight end position in this year’s draft is where Ole Miss TE Evan Engram fit in. While he has put up outstanding numbers this year, including 65 receptions for 926 yards and 8 touchdowns, I am not sure where he fits at the next level. Even though he is listed as a tight end by Mississippi, I have a hard time seeing him play this position in the NFL. I think it will be hard for him to be a tight end at the next level due to a lack of size, as he is listed at 6'3", 227lbs and is a below-average blocker at best. Some people project Engram as a wide receiver at the next level, and while he did line up in the slot a lot this year, I have questions about his speed allowing him to play this position in the NFL. I also question his hands, even though he was able to put up strong receiving numbers this year he also had his share of drops, especially in the Florida State game. Hopefully, we will be able to get more of an idea of where teams project him by seeing where they line him up during Senior Bowl week. While some Chicago Bears fans are high on quarterback Matt Barkley, who had a solid performance against the San Francisco 49ers and a strong fourth quarter versus the Tennessee Titans, I don’t expect it to change the Bears' plans to draft a quarterback early next year. While I do expect them to draft a quarterback high, I think their best option would be to wait until the second round and take the best quarterback left on the board. A prospect who the Bears have shown a strong interest in who could be available in the second round is Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya if he declares for the draft. A small-school quarterback starting to get some attention is Tiffin’s Antonio Pipkin. He is a good athlete who can win both in the pocket and on the run. As a passer, he shows impressive arm strength, as he should have no trouble throwing any pass in an NFL offense. He has the speed to make plays with his feet as well, as he runs a 4.55 40-yard dash and rushed for 905 yards this season. While I do like his potential, I do have some concerns with him, including that he is still very raw and must show better pocket presence. I also worry about his ball security, especially when scrambling, as he holds the ball low and with one hand. Then you have the obvious concern of him coming from a small school. If Pipkin can impress at the Senior Bowl, he should have a shot at being a late-round draft pick. NFL DRAFT STOCK MARKET STOCK UP Jamal Adams, S, LSU While Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers gets most of the hype when it comes to the safety position, I expect LSU’s Jamal Adams to be the first safety taken off the board. What is so impressive with Adams is that he has the ability to play the run and pass at a high level. He is an extremely smart player and is widely considered the smartest player on the LSU defense. Adams shows great aggression vs. the run as well and has no trouble coming down and supporting the run, although he does duck his head at times which leads to missed tackles. Adams shows the athletic ability and smooth hips to play in the NFL as well. Look for Adams to earn a top-10 draft grade and he could even earn a top-5 grade if he tests well. Eric Saubert, TE, Drake A small-school player that reminds me of Engram is Drake tight end Eric Saubert, who recently accepted an invite to the East-West Shrine game. Saubert is an athletic tight end who should be one of the better pass-catchers available late in the draft. This season, he caught 56 receptions for 776 yards and 10 touchdowns. When projecting him to the NFL, he shows several positive traits, with the first one being his athletic ability. He ran a 4.69 40-yard dash going into his senior season, and shows the speed to get downfield. Saubert shows wide receiver-type body control as well, as he can make the diving catch or go up and get the jump ball. He has the size to catch scouts' eyes as well, as he comes in at 6'5" and 250lbs. On the downside, he does not offer much as a blocker and has played at a non-scholarship level of football. Brendan Langley, CB, Lamar Brendan Langley started his career off at Georgia before transferring to Lamar for the 2015 season. In his one season of starting, he posted 43 tackles and 6 interceptions, showing off the hands that allowed him to start his career as a wide receiver. Langley also has impressed scouts with his ability to return punts, as he finished 12th in the FCS in punt return average and second in the FCS in punts returned for touchdowns with 2. Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado Another secondary player that has impressed this year is Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. This season, he was a leader of a secondary that led the Pac-12 in pass efficiency and pass defense. One thing that impresses me so much with this prospect is his excellent versatility, as he has the ability to play cornerback, nickel back and even safety, which is the position I project him to play in the NFL. It would not surprise me if a team picked Awuzie at the end of the second round. STOCK DOWN Wes Lunt, QB, Illinois A player who did not live up to the expectations I had for him going into the year is Illinois quarterback Wes Lunt, who I had rated as the third-best senior quarterback going into the season. Lunt set a career-low in completion percentage this year, completing only 55% of his passes, although that is significantly better than his backup Jeff George Jr., who only completed 40% of his passes. Lunt also had his lowest totals as a starter in passing yards and touchdowns this season. Part of the reason he had such low production is that he missed four games with a back injury, and another reason his production was down is his poor supporting cast. Even though Lunt has had a disappointing senior season, he could earn a draftable grade if he has a standout East-West Shrine game. Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado Sefo Liufau was starting to earn praise from draft experts until his last outing of the season against Washington. Versus the Huskies, he completed only 23% of his passes and completed as many passes to his own team as he did to his opponent, as he completed 3 passes and also threw 3 interceptions on the day. While I do like the leadership and toughness Liufau shows, I can’t see him being anything more than a free agent signing, as he lacks the natural passing skills to be anything more than a longshot to make an NFL roster. Damore'ea Stringfellow, WR, Ole Miss Damore'ea Stringfellow is a player who I think would have been best served by returning for his senior season, as he has questionable production, character and is still raw in a variety of places. This season, he only finished third on the team in receptions with 46 and has never had a season with over 50 receptions or 716 yards. Stringfellow has questionable character as well, as he left the Washington football team in 2014 after he was involved in an off-field incident. One more concern I have with him is that he is still raw when it comes to running routes and has dropped his share of passes this season. With all that being said, I could see a team picking Stringfellow on the third day of the draft due to his nice size and athletic ability. Seth Russell, QB, Baylor Seth Russell has had his last two seasons cut short by injuries. In 2015, he suffered a neck injury against Iowa State, and in 2016, he suffered a season-ending ankle injury against Oklahoma. Russell had a down season before his injury this year, as he showed spotty accuracy, completing only 55% of his passes and also threw a career-high 8 interceptions. Even though Russell has struggled over the past couple of seasons, if he can post impressive numbers like he did last July when he ran a 4.40 40-yard dash and had a 40" vertical jump, he could hear his name called in the sixth or seventh round. THE LIST Now that the college football season has wrapped up, it is time to release my first big board of the top 32 seniors in the NFL Draft. Please note just because I have a senior listed among the top 32 prospects doesn’t mean they will be first-round picks, as they will likely fall down the draft board after we see which underclassmen declare for the draft. Reuben Foster, MLB, Alabama Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama Jake Butt, TE, Michigan Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama Vince Biegel, OLB, Wisconsin Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado Marcus Maye, S, Florida Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan Desmond King, CB, Iowa Jarrad Davis, MLB, Florida DeMarcus Walker, DE, Florida State Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson Dan Feeney, OG, Indiana Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan Davis Webb, QB, California Pat Elflein, C, Ohio State Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan Jaleel Johnson, DT, Iowa Kevin King, CB, Washington Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado Tanner Vallejo, MLB, Boise State Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma Ethan Pocic, C, LSU Eddie Jackson, S, Alabama Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State Check out previous editions of Inside the War Room: Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 12 Week 13 View full article
  6. Thanks yeah they take a lot of time so sometimes hard to get one done each week.
  7. Inside the War Room: Week 13

    As the college football regular season wraps up, it is time to take a close look at some NFL Draft sleepers including Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette, Northern Iowa defensive end Karter Schult, Ball State linebacker Sean Wiggins and Simon Fraser linebacker Jordan Herdman. After we take a look at these underrated prospects for the final time this season, we list the top 10 performances from draft prospects in college football from last week. We then address what the possible team needs are for the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders. We wrap up this week’s article by listing the top senior linebackers in college football led by two SEC prospects. SCOUTING NOTES Last weekend, I took a trip up to Colorado Springs to scout the Air Force vs. Boise State game. The top prospect in this game was running back Jeremy McNichols, who other than a 56-yard run in the first quarter, was held in check by the Air Force defense. He did show nice quickness, though, and impressed me with how well put-together he is. A running back that McNichols reminded me of is current Denver Bronco Devontae Booker, and I could see him carrying a similar draft grade to Booker, who went in the fourth round this year. A player from Air Force who impressed me was wide receiver Jalen Robinette, who has already accepted his invite to the East-West Shrine game. Robinette has impressive size as he comes in at 6'4" and 215lbs and shows impressive athletic ability and speed for someone his size. The biggest downfall with Robinette is that he plays in an option offense, which doesn’t ask him to run pro-caliber routes and does not give him many opportunities to shine in the passing game. The only NFL team that had a scout at this game was the Carolina Panthers. For the second year in a row, California could have a quarterback drafted in the first round. In the 2016 NFL Draft, the Golden Bears saw quarterback Jared Goff go No. 1, and this year Davis Webb could hear his name called in the first round if he moves up teams' draft boards like I expect him to. Webb should see his draft stock improve at the Senior Bowl and at the NFL Combine for a couple of reasons, including his outstanding arm strength. He throws a great deep ball and has one of the top arms in this year’s draft class. His size will impress teams as well, as he is one of the bigger quarterbacks in the class, coming in at 6'5" and 230lbs. He moves well for someone his size as well, which is another thing working in his favor. While his size and arm strength will surely impress scouts, they could have concerns about how long he hangs onto the ball in the pocket and how he will make some poor choices when throwing the ball. Sean Wiggins of Ball State might be one of the more underrated middle linebackers in this year's draft class. One of the reasons I am high on him is that he has outstanding size for a middle linebacker, listed at 6'3" and 232lbs by Ball State, which would make him one of the bigger middle linebackers in the draft. Another reason I am high on him is that, while he might not run the fastest 40-yard dash, he does have the speed to hold up in coverage and has the ability to chase down most run plays. The last reason I am high on Wiggins is that he keeps improving during his time at BSU. In 2015, he was named the team’s most improved player, and then this year lead the team in tackles with 109. Wiggins most likely carries a free agent grade with most scouts, but I would strongly consider taking him in the seventh round due to the reasons mentioned above. While Wiggins might be an underrated player at his position, the most underrated player in the whole draft is Northern Iowa defensive end Karter Schult, who was recently named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year. This season, Schult was able to lead Division I (both FBS and FCS) in sacks with 17.0 despite playing in the toughest conference in the FCS. To go along with his 17.0 sacks, he was also able to finish second in the FCS in tackles for loss. The main reason he is being underrated is that he lacks outstanding athletic ability and is on the shorter side, as he is listed at 6'2" by Northern Iowa. While he may lack the measurables to blow scouts away, I would be very surprised if he did not make a team due to the fact he is one of the more fundamentally-sound defensive ends in the draft and is also one of the hardest workers in the draft. Simon Fraser middle linebacker Jordan Herdman is an intriguing player to keep an eye on during the months leading up to the draft. When evaluating Herdman, several things stand out about him, including his production, strength, intelligence and work ethic. This past season, he set the GNAC career record with 428 tackles including 113 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss this season. His outstanding production allowed him to make the GNAC All-Conference team for three straight seasons including being named GNAC Defensive Player of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. When projecting him to the NFL, several things work in his favor. One of these is his impressive strength, as he holds up at the point of attack well and can use his strength to get off blocks. His strength is evident in the weight room also, as he is able to bench 225 pounds 28 times. To go along with his strength, he has the intelligence to play at the next level. He is rarely out of position on the field and does a great job of carrying out his assignment on a consistent basis. His high football IQ should not come as a surprise, though, as he is majoring in Biomedical Physiology Kinesiology and carries a 3.90 GPA. If this were not enough to get him a strong look as a free agent, his work ethic should, as he is one of the hardest workers on the Simon Fraser football team. On the downside, Herdman lacks great size and is a bit stiff, which hurts him in coverage at times. Next week, with the college football season over, we will go back to doing the Draft Stock Market, which profiles whose draft stock is rising and whose is falling. One player that would have made the "Stock Down" list this week is Washington State quarterback Luke Falk. Last week, I mentioned that it was in Falk’s best interest to return to school after watching him live against Colorado, and Falk again proved last Saturday why he is better off returning for his senior season. Against one of the top defenses he faced all year in the Washington Huskies, he threw 3 interceptions, which now gives him 4 picks in the last two games. While I think a quarterback-needy team could take Falk in the mid-to-late part of the first round, his footwork and the fact he comes from an Air Raid offense would make me put a second-round grade on him. TOP PROSPECT PERFORMANCES FROM WEEK 13 Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech In possibly his last game at Texas Tech, Patrick Mahomes finished with an outstanding performance, as he threw for 586 yards and 6 touchdowns on the day. His strong day against Baylor allowed him to finish the season with 5,052 passing yards and 41 touchdowns despite playing with a messed-up shoulder most of the year. Even though Mahomes said in his postgame press conference that as of now he expects to return to Texas Tech, I could see that changing if he is projected as a first or second-round draft pick. Aaron Jones, RB, UTEP Aaron Jones has quietly had an outstanding season this year after only rushing for 209 yards in an injury-riddled 2015 season. This season, he has rushed for 1,773 yards and 17 touchdowns, including 301 yards and 4 touchdowns last week against North Texas. His strong performance against the Mean Green allowed Jones to be highest-graded player by Pro Football Focus, as the site was impressed with how Jones forced 20 total missed tackles during the game. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson Deshaun Watson had his strongest game of the year last week against South Carolina when he posted season highs in touchdowns with 6 and in completion percentage, as he completed 82% of his passes. If Watson has a strong ACC Championship game, playoff run and NFL Combine, he should be able to reestablish himself as a first-round draft pick. Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse One of the players to benefit the most from the graduate transfer rule is Syracuse wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawon. In his three seasons at Maryland, he only had 61 career receptions and 3 touchdowns, and in his one season at Syracuse, he was able to post more receptions, yards and touchdowns than he did during his entire career at Maryland. His outstanding senior season allowed Etta-Tawo to earn an invite to the Senior Bowl and should allow him to go from a free agent prospect to a player who will likely get drafted. Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado Tedric Thompson is quietly having one of the best seasons of any safety in college football as he ranks third in the nation with 7 interceptions on the season. In his latest game of the season, Thompson picked off 2 passes and only allowed 2 receptions against him. Billy Brown, WR, Shepherd This is the second week in a row that Billy Brown has come out as the top-rated small-school performer in college football. This is also the second week in a row that Brown has come away with 3 touchdown receptions in a game, which gives him 20 touchdowns on the season. Brown is able to use his impressive size (6'4", 241lbs) to be a nightmare matchup for opposing Division II defenses. If he is able to show he has the speed to play wide receiver or strength to play tight end in the NFL, he could be an interesting Day 3 draft pick. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College Boston College junior defensive end Harold Landry posted his second best game of the year statistically against Wake Forest when he posted 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks on the day. He was also able to set a school record for sacks in a season with 15.0. If Landry enters the draft, he could go as high as the second round, but he may be better off returning for his senior season where he could earn a first-round draft grade if he has another outstanding year. Collin Bevins, DE, Northwest Missouri State Collin Bevins is a player that I highlighted in Week 8 of Inside the War Room as an intriguing 3-4 defensive end prospect, and his latest game against Emporia State showed why I am so high on this small-school prospect. Against ESU, Bevins finished with 8 tackles and 3.5 sacks on the day, which gives him 33.0 sacks for his college career, a Northwest Missouri State school record. Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC Adoree' Jackson had an all-around outstanding effort against Notre Dame last week as he scored 3 touchdowns, including two on special teams and one on offense. On the negative side, he did give up a touchdown reception. The super-athletic junior defensive back was also named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year this week. Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State Raekwon McMillan was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week last week for his strong performance against Michigan as he recorded 16 tackles on the day. If he decides to enter the draft, he should carry a late first-round draft grade. Honorable Mention K.D. Cannon, WR, Baylor Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State Sam Rodgers, FB, Virginia Tech Greg Ward Jr., QB, Houston Dalton Crossan, RB, New Hampshire Sojourn Shelton, CB, Wisconsin Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova Anthony Warrum, WR, Illinois State Derrick Craine, RB, Chattanooga De'Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina NFL NOTES Even though the Raiders are atop the AFC standings, their average-at-best secondary could be a concern come playoff time. The team currently ranks 28th in passing yards allowed, which should be a major concern when you have to go up against quarterbacks like Tom Brady in the playoffs. Due to these concerns, the team could look to find a starter to replace either cornerback DJ Hayden or safety Reggie Nelson in the draft. A cornerback who could make sense in the first round is Washington’s Sidney Jones, or if the team chose to add a safety in the first round, Ohio State’s Malik Hooker would be a solid pickup to go with last year’s first-round draft pick, Karl Joseph. The Packers are one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL, as they were predicted to go 12-4 on the season by USA Today, yet currently sit third in the NFC North and are pretty much assured of not making the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Part of the reason the team is seeing their worst season in at least eight years is due to a lack of offensive playmakers, which the team will need to address this offseason. The team’s biggest need when it comes to offensive skill players might be at running back, as no running back has over 400 yards on the season, and the team’s top rusher, Eddie Lacy, might not even be on the team next season. A player who would make a great selection in the first round is Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, as he would be a perfect fit in the Green Bay version of the West Coast offense. Cook can help in both the running game and be a good outlet receiver for Aaron Rodgers. The team could also look to address its need for the playmakers later in the draft by adding a tight end, and a player that I think would make sense on the second day of the draft is Arkansas's Jeremy Sprinkle. I would also like to see the Packers add a wide receiver who can actually get separation in the NFL, and the team would be wise to consider a prospect like North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer on Day 3 of the draft. Of course, the Packers have plenty of other draft needs, including on the offensive line and in the secondary, so they might not be able to add as many playmakers in the draft as I would like to see them add. The Philadelphia Eagles may have made the smartest move of the offseason last September when they traded quarterback Sam Bradford for a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick. While the trade was highly questionable when it happened, it now looks like one of the Vikings' biggest mistakes this decade. This season, Bradford is ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in quarterback rating with a 98.3 and does not look like the long-term answer for the Vikings, especially if Teddy Bridgewater returns from his injury next season. Another reason this is such a poor trade is that the Vikings will most likely have to rebuild this season, as their only proven playmaker, Adrian Peterson, is over 30 years old, has a large contract and is coming off of a season-ending injury. While this was a poor move for the Vikings, it should allow the Eagles to add another young building block in this year’s draft to go along with Carson Wentz, Jordan Matthews, Lane Johnson and Fletcher Cox. Last week, I talked about what the Cleveland Browns might do in the draft, and one option I forgot to mention is that they could take the top player in the draft and then trade the first-round pick that they received from the Wentz trade for a veteran quarterback. The quarterback who would make a lot of sense for this pick would be New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who has done well in his limited playing time. In his two starts this season, he completed 70% of his passes and threw 4 touchdowns with no interceptions. He also had a quarterback rating of 117, which is the highest mark in the NFL this season. Garoppolo is a young quarterback, as he is only 25, which is another reason I would take him over any quarterback in this draft. The biggest problem with the Browns' possible acquisition of Garoppolo for the Eagles' first-round draft pick is that other teams like the New Orleans Saints have shown an interest in him. TOP SENIOR INSIDE LINEBACKERS The following list is a rating of the top senior inside linebackers in the 2017 NFL Draft. The class is led by Reuben Foster, who is also the top-rated overall linebacker on my board. While Foster should be a first-round draft pick, I don’t see any other senior middle linebacker carrying a first-round grade. A couple of players I am higher on than other people are include Cincinnati’s Eric Wilson, Wiggins and Herdman. On the other hand, a few inside linebackers that I think are currently being overrated are Keith Kelsey of Louisville, Hardy Nickerson of Illinois and Connor Harris of Lindenwood. Reuben Foster, Alabama Kendell Beckwith, LSU Tanner Vallejo, Boise State Riley Bullough, Michigan State Keith Kelsey, Louisville Ben Boulware, Clemson Eric Wilson, Cincinnati Sean Wiggins, Ball State Ben Gedeon, Michigan Hardy Nickerson, Illinois Richie Brown, Mississippi State Michael Scherer, Missouri Michael Barton, Arizona Kevin Davis, Colorado State Chase Allen, Southern Illinois Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga, Maine Brooks Ellis, Arkansas Matt Galambos, Pittsburgh Marquel Lee, Wake Forest Xavier Woodson-Luster, Arkansas State Connor Harris, Lindenwood Jordan Herdman, Simon Fraser Chad Geter, Gardner-Webb Nyeem Wartman-White Penn State Austin Calitro Villanova Check out previous editions of Inside the War Room: Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 12
  8. As the college football regular season wraps up, it is time to take a close look at some NFL Draft sleepers including Air Force wide receiver Jalen Robinette, Northern Iowa defensive end Karter Schult, Ball State linebacker Sean Wiggins and Simon Fraser linebacker Jordan Herdman. After we take a look at these underrated prospects for the final time this season, we list the top 10 performances from draft prospects in college football from last week. We then address what the possible team needs are for the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders. We wrap up this week’s article by listing the top senior linebackers in college football led by two SEC prospects. SCOUTING NOTES Last weekend, I took a trip up to Colorado Springs to scout the Air Force vs. Boise State game. The top prospect in this game was running back Jeremy McNichols, who other than a 56-yard run in the first quarter, was held in check by the Air Force defense. He did show nice quickness, though, and impressed me with how well put-together he is. A running back that McNichols reminded me of is current Denver Bronco Devontae Booker, and I could see him carrying a similar draft grade to Booker, who went in the fourth round this year. A player from Air Force who impressed me was wide receiver Jalen Robinette, who has already accepted his invite to the East-West Shrine game. Robinette has impressive size as he comes in at 6'4" and 215lbs and shows impressive athletic ability and speed for someone his size. The biggest downfall with Robinette is that he plays in an option offense, which doesn’t ask him to run pro-caliber routes and does not give him many opportunities to shine in the passing game. The only NFL team that had a scout at this game was the Carolina Panthers. For the second year in a row, California could have a quarterback drafted in the first round. In the 2016 NFL Draft, the Golden Bears saw quarterback Jared Goff go No. 1, and this year Davis Webb could hear his name called in the first round if he moves up teams' draft boards like I expect him to. Webb should see his draft stock improve at the Senior Bowl and at the NFL Combine for a couple of reasons, including his outstanding arm strength. He throws a great deep ball and has one of the top arms in this year’s draft class. His size will impress teams as well, as he is one of the bigger quarterbacks in the class, coming in at 6'5" and 230lbs. He moves well for someone his size as well, which is another thing working in his favor. While his size and arm strength will surely impress scouts, they could have concerns about how long he hangs onto the ball in the pocket and how he will make some poor choices when throwing the ball. Sean Wiggins of Ball State might be one of the more underrated middle linebackers in this year's draft class. One of the reasons I am high on him is that he has outstanding size for a middle linebacker, listed at 6'3" and 232lbs by Ball State, which would make him one of the bigger middle linebackers in the draft. Another reason I am high on him is that, while he might not run the fastest 40-yard dash, he does have the speed to hold up in coverage and has the ability to chase down most run plays. The last reason I am high on Wiggins is that he keeps improving during his time at BSU. In 2015, he was named the team’s most improved player, and then this year lead the team in tackles with 109. Wiggins most likely carries a free agent grade with most scouts, but I would strongly consider taking him in the seventh round due to the reasons mentioned above. While Wiggins might be an underrated player at his position, the most underrated player in the whole draft is Northern Iowa defensive end Karter Schult, who was recently named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year. This season, Schult was able to lead Division I (both FBS and FCS) in sacks with 17.0 despite playing in the toughest conference in the FCS. To go along with his 17.0 sacks, he was also able to finish second in the FCS in tackles for loss. The main reason he is being underrated is that he lacks outstanding athletic ability and is on the shorter side, as he is listed at 6'2" by Northern Iowa. While he may lack the measurables to blow scouts away, I would be very surprised if he did not make a team due to the fact he is one of the more fundamentally-sound defensive ends in the draft and is also one of the hardest workers in the draft. Simon Fraser middle linebacker Jordan Herdman is an intriguing player to keep an eye on during the months leading up to the draft. When evaluating Herdman, several things stand out about him, including his production, strength, intelligence and work ethic. This past season, he set the GNAC career record with 428 tackles including 113 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss this season. His outstanding production allowed him to make the GNAC All-Conference team for three straight seasons including being named GNAC Defensive Player of the Year in both 2014 and 2015. When projecting him to the NFL, several things work in his favor. One of these is his impressive strength, as he holds up at the point of attack well and can use his strength to get off blocks. His strength is evident in the weight room also, as he is able to bench 225 pounds 28 times. To go along with his strength, he has the intelligence to play at the next level. He is rarely out of position on the field and does a great job of carrying out his assignment on a consistent basis. His high football IQ should not come as a surprise, though, as he is majoring in Biomedical Physiology Kinesiology and carries a 3.90 GPA. If this were not enough to get him a strong look as a free agent, his work ethic should, as he is one of the hardest workers on the Simon Fraser football team. On the downside, Herdman lacks great size and is a bit stiff, which hurts him in coverage at times. Next week, with the college football season over, we will go back to doing the Draft Stock Market, which profiles whose draft stock is rising and whose is falling. One player that would have made the "Stock Down" list this week is Washington State quarterback Luke Falk. Last week, I mentioned that it was in Falk’s best interest to return to school after watching him live against Colorado, and Falk again proved last Saturday why he is better off returning for his senior season. Against one of the top defenses he faced all year in the Washington Huskies, he threw 3 interceptions, which now gives him 4 picks in the last two games. While I think a quarterback-needy team could take Falk in the mid-to-late part of the first round, his footwork and the fact he comes from an Air Raid offense would make me put a second-round grade on him. TOP PROSPECT PERFORMANCES FROM WEEK 13 Patrick Mahomes II, QB, Texas Tech In possibly his last game at Texas Tech, Patrick Mahomes finished with an outstanding performance, as he threw for 586 yards and 6 touchdowns on the day. His strong day against Baylor allowed him to finish the season with 5,052 passing yards and 41 touchdowns despite playing with a messed-up shoulder most of the year. Even though Mahomes said in his postgame press conference that as of now he expects to return to Texas Tech, I could see that changing if he is projected as a first or second-round draft pick. Aaron Jones, RB, UTEP Aaron Jones has quietly had an outstanding season this year after only rushing for 209 yards in an injury-riddled 2015 season. This season, he has rushed for 1,773 yards and 17 touchdowns, including 301 yards and 4 touchdowns last week against North Texas. His strong performance against the Mean Green allowed Jones to be highest-graded player by Pro Football Focus, as the site was impressed with how Jones forced 20 total missed tackles during the game. Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson Deshaun Watson had his strongest game of the year last week against South Carolina when he posted season highs in touchdowns with 6 and in completion percentage, as he completed 82% of his passes. If Watson has a strong ACC Championship game, playoff run and NFL Combine, he should be able to reestablish himself as a first-round draft pick. Amba Etta-Tawo, WR, Syracuse One of the players to benefit the most from the graduate transfer rule is Syracuse wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawon. In his three seasons at Maryland, he only had 61 career receptions and 3 touchdowns, and in his one season at Syracuse, he was able to post more receptions, yards and touchdowns than he did during his entire career at Maryland. His outstanding senior season allowed Etta-Tawo to earn an invite to the Senior Bowl and should allow him to go from a free agent prospect to a player who will likely get drafted. Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado Tedric Thompson is quietly having one of the best seasons of any safety in college football as he ranks third in the nation with 7 interceptions on the season. In his latest game of the season, Thompson picked off 2 passes and only allowed 2 receptions against him. Billy Brown, WR, Shepherd This is the second week in a row that Billy Brown has come out as the top-rated small-school performer in college football. This is also the second week in a row that Brown has come away with 3 touchdown receptions in a game, which gives him 20 touchdowns on the season. Brown is able to use his impressive size (6'4", 241lbs) to be a nightmare matchup for opposing Division II defenses. If he is able to show he has the speed to play wide receiver or strength to play tight end in the NFL, he could be an interesting Day 3 draft pick. Harold Landry, DE, Boston College Boston College junior defensive end Harold Landry posted his second best game of the year statistically against Wake Forest when he posted 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks on the day. He was also able to set a school record for sacks in a season with 15.0. If Landry enters the draft, he could go as high as the second round, but he may be better off returning for his senior season where he could earn a first-round draft grade if he has another outstanding year. Collin Bevins, DE, Northwest Missouri State Collin Bevins is a player that I highlighted in Week 8 of Inside the War Room as an intriguing 3-4 defensive end prospect, and his latest game against Emporia State showed why I am so high on this small-school prospect. Against ESU, Bevins finished with 8 tackles and 3.5 sacks on the day, which gives him 33.0 sacks for his college career, a Northwest Missouri State school record. Adoree' Jackson, CB, USC Adoree' Jackson had an all-around outstanding effort against Notre Dame last week as he scored 3 touchdowns, including two on special teams and one on offense. On the negative side, he did give up a touchdown reception. The super-athletic junior defensive back was also named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year this week. Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State Raekwon McMillan was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week last week for his strong performance against Michigan as he recorded 16 tackles on the day. If he decides to enter the draft, he should carry a late first-round draft grade. Honorable Mention K.D. Cannon, WR, Baylor Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State Sam Rodgers, FB, Virginia Tech Greg Ward Jr., QB, Houston Dalton Crossan, RB, New Hampshire Sojourn Shelton, CB, Wisconsin Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova Anthony Warrum, WR, Illinois State Derrick Craine, RB, Chattanooga De'Angelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina NFL NOTES Even though the Raiders are atop the AFC standings, their average-at-best secondary could be a concern come playoff time. The team currently ranks 28th in passing yards allowed, which should be a major concern when you have to go up against quarterbacks like Tom Brady in the playoffs. Due to these concerns, the team could look to find a starter to replace either cornerback DJ Hayden or safety Reggie Nelson in the draft. A cornerback who could make sense in the first round is Washington’s Sidney Jones, or if the team chose to add a safety in the first round, Ohio State’s Malik Hooker would be a solid pickup to go with last year’s first-round draft pick, Karl Joseph. The Packers are one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL, as they were predicted to go 12-4 on the season by USA Today, yet currently sit third in the NFC North and are pretty much assured of not making the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Part of the reason the team is seeing their worst season in at least eight years is due to a lack of offensive playmakers, which the team will need to address this offseason. The team’s biggest need when it comes to offensive skill players might be at running back, as no running back has over 400 yards on the season, and the team’s top rusher, Eddie Lacy, might not even be on the team next season. A player who would make a great selection in the first round is Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, as he would be a perfect fit in the Green Bay version of the West Coast offense. Cook can help in both the running game and be a good outlet receiver for Aaron Rodgers. The team could also look to address its need for the playmakers later in the draft by adding a tight end, and a player that I think would make sense on the second day of the draft is Arkansas's Jeremy Sprinkle. I would also like to see the Packers add a wide receiver who can actually get separation in the NFL, and the team would be wise to consider a prospect like North Carolina’s Ryan Switzer on Day 3 of the draft. Of course, the Packers have plenty of other draft needs, including on the offensive line and in the secondary, so they might not be able to add as many playmakers in the draft as I would like to see them add. The Philadelphia Eagles may have made the smartest move of the offseason last September when they traded quarterback Sam Bradford for a 2017 first-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick. While the trade was highly questionable when it happened, it now looks like one of the Vikings' biggest mistakes this decade. This season, Bradford is ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in quarterback rating with a 98.3 and does not look like the long-term answer for the Vikings, especially if Teddy Bridgewater returns from his injury next season. Another reason this is such a poor trade is that the Vikings will most likely have to rebuild this season, as their only proven playmaker, Adrian Peterson, is over 30 years old, has a large contract and is coming off of a season-ending injury. While this was a poor move for the Vikings, it should allow the Eagles to add another young building block in this year’s draft to go along with Carson Wentz, Jordan Matthews, Lane Johnson and Fletcher Cox. Last week, I talked about what the Cleveland Browns might do in the draft, and one option I forgot to mention is that they could take the top player in the draft and then trade the first-round pick that they received from the Wentz trade for a veteran quarterback. The quarterback who would make a lot of sense for this pick would be New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who has done well in his limited playing time. In his two starts this season, he completed 70% of his passes and threw 4 touchdowns with no interceptions. He also had a quarterback rating of 117, which is the highest mark in the NFL this season. Garoppolo is a young quarterback, as he is only 25, which is another reason I would take him over any quarterback in this draft. The biggest problem with the Browns' possible acquisition of Garoppolo for the Eagles' first-round draft pick is that other teams like the New Orleans Saints have shown an interest in him. TOP SENIOR INSIDE LINEBACKERS The following list is a rating of the top senior inside linebackers in the 2017 NFL Draft. The class is led by Reuben Foster, who is also the top-rated overall linebacker on my board. While Foster should be a first-round draft pick, I don’t see any other senior middle linebacker carrying a first-round grade. A couple of players I am higher on than other people are include Cincinnati’s Eric Wilson, Wiggins and Herdman. On the other hand, a few inside linebackers that I think are currently being overrated are Keith Kelsey of Louisville, Hardy Nickerson of Illinois and Connor Harris of Lindenwood. Reuben Foster, Alabama Kendell Beckwith, LSU Tanner Vallejo, Boise State Riley Bullough, Michigan State Keith Kelsey, Louisville Ben Boulware, Clemson Eric Wilson, Cincinnati Sean Wiggins, Ball State Ben Gedeon, Michigan Hardy Nickerson, Illinois Richie Brown, Mississippi State Michael Scherer, Missouri Michael Barton, Arizona Kevin Davis, Colorado State Chase Allen, Southern Illinois Christophe Mulumba Tshimanga, Maine Brooks Ellis, Arkansas Matt Galambos, Pittsburgh Marquel Lee, Wake Forest Xavier Woodson-Luster, Arkansas State Connor Harris, Lindenwood Jordan Herdman, Simon Fraser Chad Geter, Gardner-Webb Nyeem Wartman-White Penn State Austin Calitro Villanova Check out previous editions of Inside the War Room: Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 12 View full article
  9. This week’s Inside the War Room might be the most jam-packed edition of the season. Some of the things we highlight include why LSU running back Leonard Fournette might be a little overrated, my take on Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, who I saw up close last week, what the Cleveland Browns might do with the first pick, and the top players in the small-school playoffs. SCOUTING NOTES This past weekend, I attended the Washington State vs. Colorado football game to see some of the better prospects in the Pac-12, including quarterback Luke Falk, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and wide receiver Gabe Marks. While Falk showed impressive arm strength and good accuracy when his feet were set, he tended to show poor footwork, especially in the first half more than I would like. I think it is in Falk’s best interest to return to Washington State next season, as I have a hard time seeing him being a first-round draft pick. The player that impressed me more than I thought he would is Awuzie. He is a very fundamentally sound football player who has the ability to play either cornerback or safety in the NFL. While Awuzie impressed me, I cannot say the same for Marks, who dropped his share of passes and looked like a Day 3 draft pick. Several teams were also in attendance at this game, including the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers. One of the main reasons the Alabama Crimson Tide are ranked No. 1 in the nation is their outstanding linebacker corp, which is led by the top three senior linebackers on my draft board. The top outside linebacker on my board is Tim Williams, who is one of the best pass rushers in the 2017 NFL Draft. The second-highest-rated outside linebacker on my board is Ryan Anderson, who might be a more complete player than Williams but lacks the lightning-fast quick step and overall pass rushing ability that Williams has. The highest-rated inside linebacker on my board and possibly the top overall senior linebacker in the draft is Reuben Foster, who has the ability to play sideline-to-sideline vs. the run and also holds up well in coverage for a middle linebacker. A safety who has intriguing potential is UConn’s Obi Melifonwu. In fact, one scout told NFL.com that Melifonwu has the most upside in this year’s draft class, which is backed up by the fact that he runs the 40-yard dash in the low 4.4’s, has over a 40-inch vertical jump and is 6'3". While some players that put up these testing numbers are just good athletes, Melifonwu shows the skills on the field to be a good prospect as well. He shows excellent agility, especially for someone his size, and has the hips to cover slot receivers in the NFL. His cover skills and athletic ability make him a very intriguing free safety prospect as does his lack of aggression in the running game. One prospect who I think might be slightly overrated is LSU running back Leonard Fournette. One of the reasons I think he is not worth a top-five pick is due to his injury history, as he has missed several games this season due to injury. I have questions about his off-the-field behavior as well, especially after he shoved a Florida coach and then demanded to play. Both of these actions give me the impression that he is a self-entitled player who is used to being pampered. One more reason I don’t have a top-five grade on him is that he is only average in the passing game, as he is not a dominant pass blocker like Ezekiel Elliott, and has never had over 20 receptions in a season. Austin Carr might lack the physical skills to be anything more than a late-round draft pick, but he is the type of player coaches will love due to his character and production. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald raves about how humble and well-rounded he is and how he sets an example for his teammates on a regular basis, which will be a positive in NFL scouts' eyes. He has had outstanding production this season as well as he leads the Big Ten in receptions per game, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns this season and has had over 120 receiving yards five times this season. Even if Carr does not make it in the NFL, he has definitely done better than most people expected him to when he came to Northwestern as a walk-on and missed time as a freshman due to an injury caused by a butter knife. Michigan State middle linebacker Riley Bullough has come on strong in the late part of the season. In the first six games of the season, he only had 26 tackles, as he missed three games due to an injury, and only put up average stats in two of the other games. However, he has come on strong lately, as he has recorded 42 tackles over the last month including 14 vs. Michigan, 11 vs. Illinois and 11 vs. Ohio State. While Bullough might carry a Day 3 draft grade by most scouts, I do like several things about his game. One of these things is his ability to play both the pass and run. He shows the athletic ability to drop into coverage and should have no trouble playing in zone coverage at the NFL level. He is strong vs. the run as well, as he does a good job of diagnosing plays especially for someone who began his college career as a fullback. Bullough shows the intensity that I like to see out of a linebacker as well as he is one of the most intense players on the Michigan State football team, and is also one of the Spartans' team captains this year. The hits keep coming for Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly, who came into the season projected to be the second overall draft pick by CBSSports.com to a player who could go undrafted. The latest blow for Kelly is a torn ACL, which will cost him the rest of the season. He has been in off-the-field trouble as well this year when he got involved in a high school football game brawl which unfortunately is not the first time he has been in trouble off the field. Then when you factor in that he has a poor throwing motion and forces his share of passes, it should come as no surprise if he goes undrafted and does not even make an NFL team next season. Another quarterback who will miss the rest of the regular season is Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight, who suffered a shoulder injury two weeks ago. While Knight has a chance to be ready for the team’s bowl game, he will need a big All-Star game performance to be anything more than a free agent signing. The reason I have such a low grade on Knight is because he is more of an athlete than a quarterback, as he lacks great accuracy, pocket presence and size. Speaking of quarterbacks who have seen their stock fall this season, a player who was widely considered the top prospect heading into the season to now a possible second-round draft pick is Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. Watson has struggled in a variety of areas, with the first one being accuracy. He has struggled as a downfield passer and at times looks to be aiming his passes. His footwork is a concern for me as well, as he struggles stepping into his throws on a consistent basis. Then, when you factor in his questionable decision-making skills, especially in the red zone, it is easy to see why so many people predict him to go in the second round of the draft. Charlotte defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi recently accepted his invitation to the Senior Bowl. He is one of the top "Group of Five" players in college football, as he has put up impressive stats this season and has the physical traits to make the move to the NFL. This season, he leads Charlotte in tackles for loss with 13 and in sacks with 2.5 and is third on the team in tackles. In terms of his physical ability, his quick first step and agility is the first thing that sticks out to me. Another thing that sticks out to me about Ogunjobi is his high IQ, as he double-majors in computer science and biology at Charlotte and has made both the Dean’s List Athletic Director's during his time with the 49ers. While I do like his quickness and overall agility, I would like to see him get a little stronger, as he can be beat at the point of attack at times. I currently have Ogunjobi rated as the eight-best senior defensive tackle in the class and expect him to go high on Day 3 of the draft. Jordan Morgan is the first Division II player to accept an invite to the Senior Bowl. He is an intriguing offensive guard prospect in this year’s draft who shows outstanding strength, as he routinely destroys defenders at the Division II level. While Morgan did play offensive tackle at Kutztown, I doubt he has the feet to play that position in the NFL, but I do think he has solid athletic ability for an offensive guard at the next level. It is also worth noting that Morgan was the first player PSAC history to be named Offensive Player of the Year. Recently, Oklahoma defensive tackle Charles Walker quit the Oklahoma football team to focus on the NFL Draft. This is a highly questionable decision and I can’t see it sitting well with NFL decision-makers. To me, and I guarantee you to NFL personnel, this will be a decision that is looked on as a selfish choice that puts Walker above the team. Even if he was worried about a concussion and was not cleared to play, he should have remained part of the team and showed support for his teammates who are still busting their butts to make this a successful season for the Sooners. I would have a hard time drafting Walker in this year’s draft and instead would rather spend my draft picks on players that are willing to put the team first. TOP PROSPECT PERFORMERS FOR WEEK 12 1. Zach Terrell, QB, Western Michigan While wide receiver Corey Davis gets most of the attention when it comes to Western Michigan’s offense, another player who has been putting up impressive numbers is quarterback Zach Terrell, who has thrown for 2,890 yards, 27 touchdowns and only 1 interception. In his latest game against Buffalo, he threw for 445 yards and 4 touchdowns with his 445 passing yards, leading the FBS in passing yards last week. While Terrell may lack classic size, his intelligence and accuracy should allow him to get looks late in the draft. 2. David Washington, QB, Old Dominion Another quarterback who put up strong numbers last week is David Washington of Old Dominion. Against Florida Atlantic, he threw for 416 yards and 5 touchdowns. While it is highly unlikely Washington gets drafted, he could be an interesting free agent pickup. 3. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU It should be interesting to see if redshirt sophomore Courtland Sutton enters the draft after the season. He may choose to enter the draft, as he has the production to draw scouts' interest, as he has 70 receptions for 1,186 yards and 9 touchdowns already this season. Two of his strongest games have come in the last two weeks, as he was able to record 166 receiving yards against East Carolina on November 12 and 252 yards against South Florida last week. To go along with his production, teams will love his size, as he is listed at 6'4" and 215lbs. 4. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford Even though Christian McCaffrey has fewer yards than he did in 2015, it might surprise people that he has a higher yards-per-carry average and rushing touchdowns than he did last year. These stats were helped by his best performance of the year last week when he averaged 9.2 yards per carry on 31 carries and scored 3 touchdowns against California. It should be interesting to see where McCaffrey is drafted this year, as a I look at him as a poor man’s Reggie Bush and would have a hard time taking him before the third round of the draft. 5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State Against Syracuse last week, Dalvin Cook broke Warrick Dunn’s school record for career rushing yards when he rushed for 225 yards and 4 touchdowns on the day. I am becoming a bigger fan each week of Cook as well as he shows he has the quickness and vision to be a threat carrying the ball at the NFL. However, the thing I like about him the most is his ability to be a threat in both the passing game and running game. He does an excellent job of catching the ball out of the backfield and is an open-field threat after the catch. Due to his versatility and overall playmaking ability, I would strongly consider taking Cook in the middle of the first round. 6. Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee The Tennessee quarterback was someone I was very high on going into the season, as I had him rated as the second-best senior quarterback. Unfortunately, Joshua Dobbs was never able to develop as a passer and will be a late-round draft pick if he is lucky. However, he did have a strong game against the Missouri Tigers as he threw for 223 yards and rushed for 190 yards. 7. Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina Zay Jones became the school leader in career receptions last Saturday when he recorded his 388th catch against Navy. Overall, on the day Jones brought in 12 passes for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns, which allowed him to rank second in the FBS last week in receiving yards behind only Sutton, who comes in at No. 3 on this list. While Jones has been ultra productive this season, he will need to put up strong testing numbers to be anything more than a late-round draft pick. 8. Billy Brown, WR, Shepard Billy Brown might be one of the bigger tweeners in this year’s draft, as he is 6'4" and 241lbs, yet plays wide receiver at Shepard. Even though Brown plays receiver, I doubt he has the speed and athletic ability to play the position in the NFL, and I also doubt he has the size and strength to hold up as a tight end at the next level, which might force him to play a situational position in the NFL, like H-back. While I am unsure of where Brown will play at the next level, he does have the stats that should allow him to get a look, as he posted 77 receptions for 1,202 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, including 12 receptions for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns last week. 9. Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State Jeremy McNichols is one of the most productive running backs in college football, as he currently ranks third in the nation in rushing yards with 1,575 yards. In his last six games, he has rushed for over 140 yards in each game, including 206 yards last week against UNLV. He also was able to score four times against the Rebels, which gave him 22 rushing touchdowns on the season. I will be able to get an up close look at McNichols when I attend the Boise State vs. Air Force game this week. 10. Ryan Johnson, DE, Montana Even though Ryan Johnson most likely won’t get drafted, he has put up solid stats including last weekend when he recorded 15 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss against Montana State. Overall, on the season he has 15 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Honorable Mention Fred Ross, WR, Mississippi State Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan Kendell Anderson, RB, William & Mary D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas DeAngelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina NFL NOTES It is starting to look like the Browns will have the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. They could do several things with this pick including picking a quarterback, taking a star defensive player or trading down. Their first option might be the least appealing as no quarterback in this draft class has established himself as a true franchise quarterback. Instead, it looks like we will have several quarterbacks who carry a mid-first to second-round draft grade including Mitch Trubisky, Watson, DeShone Kizer, Brad Kaaya and Mason Rudolph. The top-rated player going into the draft will likely be defensive end Myles Garrett of Texas A&M, but the team may decide that he is not worth the No. 1 pick and continue to accumulate picks in the draft and trade down so they can fill more of their needs this year. A player who will have a tough decision to make this offseason is Miami quarterback Kaaya, who will have to decide if he should turn pro or return to Miami for one more season. According to the Palm Beach Post, there are several reasons why he could return for his senior season including that he does not come from a “background of great financial need”, and also due to the fact he thinks Miami should be a contender in the ACC next year. However, if he thinks he is sure shot to be a first-round draft pick, he will likely enter the draft. I personally see him as a prospect who carries a mid-to-late first-round draft grade and think he would be best off returning to school as a senior where he can have another year of coaching under Mark Richt, who is one of the better quarterback coaches in college football. It was also interesting to note from the Palm Beach Post story that the six NFL teams that have shown the most interest in Kaaya are the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins. The NFL is proving again this year how important the running game is for the development of a young quarterback. The top rookie quarterback this year is Dak Prescott and part of the reason he has had such success is due to a strong running game which ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Some other young quarterbacks that also benefit from a strong running game are Marcus Mariota (third in the NFL) and Derek Carr (ninth in the NFL). This shows that developing a well-rounded offense should be the primary focus for any team with a young quarterback as it takes pressure off of these quarterbacks to be the focal point of their offense. It will be interesting to see if Jacksonville follows this method and takes a running back like Fournette high in the draft to take some of the pressure off of Blake Bortles, who is having a difficult time this year partially due to the fact the Jaguars rank 26th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. TOP PLAYERS IN SMALL-SCHOOL PLAYOFFS While the FBS only has a four-team playoff, every other level of college football has a much more inclusive playoff system, and with the FCS starting their playoffs next week, we are in the full swing of the playoffs. Below, you will find the top players in the small school playoffs which includes the FCS, Division II, Division III and the NAIA. Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington David Jones, S, Richmond Keionta Davis, DE, Chattanooga Lorenzo Jerome, S, Saint Francis (PA) Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T Billy Brown, WR, Shepherd Krishawn Hogan, WR, Marian Nolan Saraceni, RB, Montana Tech Karel Hamilton, WR, Samford Casey DeAndrade, S, New Hampshire Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova Matt Davis, K, UNC-Pembroke Samson Ebukam, OLB, Eastern Washington Corey Levin, OG, Chattanooga Luke Papilion, QB/TE, Sioux Falls Colin Buck, CB, Wisconsin-Whitewater Casey Dunn, C, Jacksonville State Desmond Smith, WR, Central Arkansas Will Ratelle, FB, North Dakota Check out previous editions of Inside the War Room: Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 View full article
  10. Inside the War Room: Week 12

    This week’s Inside the War Room might be the most jam-packed edition of the season. Some of the things we highlight include why LSU running back Leonard Fournette might be a little overrated, my take on Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, who I saw up close last week, what the Cleveland Browns might do with the first pick, and the top players in the small-school playoffs. SCOUTING NOTES This past weekend, I attended the Washington State vs. Colorado football game to see some of the better prospects in the Pac-12, including quarterback Luke Falk, cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and wide receiver Gabe Marks. While Falk showed impressive arm strength and good accuracy when his feet were set, he tended to show poor footwork, especially in the first half more than I would like. I think it is in Falk’s best interest to return to Washington State next season, as I have a hard time seeing him being a first-round draft pick. The player that impressed me more than I thought he would is Awuzie. He is a very fundamentally sound football player who has the ability to play either cornerback or safety in the NFL. While Awuzie impressed me, I cannot say the same for Marks, who dropped his share of passes and looked like a Day 3 draft pick. Several teams were also in attendance at this game, including the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers. One of the main reasons the Alabama Crimson Tide are ranked No. 1 in the nation is their outstanding linebacker corp, which is led by the top three senior linebackers on my draft board. The top outside linebacker on my board is Tim Williams, who is one of the best pass rushers in the 2017 NFL Draft. The second-highest-rated outside linebacker on my board is Ryan Anderson, who might be a more complete player than Williams but lacks the lightning-fast quick step and overall pass rushing ability that Williams has. The highest-rated inside linebacker on my board and possibly the top overall senior linebacker in the draft is Reuben Foster, who has the ability to play sideline-to-sideline vs. the run and also holds up well in coverage for a middle linebacker. A safety who has intriguing potential is UConn’s Obi Melifonwu. In fact, one scout told NFL.com that Melifonwu has the most upside in this year’s draft class, which is backed up by the fact that he runs the 40-yard dash in the low 4.4’s, has over a 40-inch vertical jump and is 6'3". While some players that put up these testing numbers are just good athletes, Melifonwu shows the skills on the field to be a good prospect as well. He shows excellent agility, especially for someone his size, and has the hips to cover slot receivers in the NFL. His cover skills and athletic ability make him a very intriguing free safety prospect as does his lack of aggression in the running game. One prospect who I think might be slightly overrated is LSU running back Leonard Fournette. One of the reasons I think he is not worth a top-five pick is due to his injury history, as he has missed several games this season due to injury. I have questions about his off-the-field behavior as well, especially after he shoved a Florida coach and then demanded to play. Both of these actions give me the impression that he is a self-entitled player who is used to being pampered. One more reason I don’t have a top-five grade on him is that he is only average in the passing game, as he is not a dominant pass blocker like Ezekiel Elliott, and has never had over 20 receptions in a season. Austin Carr might lack the physical skills to be anything more than a late-round draft pick, but he is the type of player coaches will love due to his character and production. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald raves about how humble and well-rounded he is and how he sets an example for his teammates on a regular basis, which will be a positive in NFL scouts' eyes. He has had outstanding production this season as well as he leads the Big Ten in receptions per game, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns this season and has had over 120 receiving yards five times this season. Even if Carr does not make it in the NFL, he has definitely done better than most people expected him to when he came to Northwestern as a walk-on and missed time as a freshman due to an injury caused by a butter knife. Michigan State middle linebacker Riley Bullough has come on strong in the late part of the season. In the first six games of the season, he only had 26 tackles, as he missed three games due to an injury, and only put up average stats in two of the other games. However, he has come on strong lately, as he has recorded 42 tackles over the last month including 14 vs. Michigan, 11 vs. Illinois and 11 vs. Ohio State. While Bullough might carry a Day 3 draft grade by most scouts, I do like several things about his game. One of these things is his ability to play both the pass and run. He shows the athletic ability to drop into coverage and should have no trouble playing in zone coverage at the NFL level. He is strong vs. the run as well, as he does a good job of diagnosing plays especially for someone who began his college career as a fullback. Bullough shows the intensity that I like to see out of a linebacker as well as he is one of the most intense players on the Michigan State football team, and is also one of the Spartans' team captains this year. The hits keep coming for Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly, who came into the season projected to be the second overall draft pick by CBSSports.com to a player who could go undrafted. The latest blow for Kelly is a torn ACL, which will cost him the rest of the season. He has been in off-the-field trouble as well this year when he got involved in a high school football game brawl which unfortunately is not the first time he has been in trouble off the field. Then when you factor in that he has a poor throwing motion and forces his share of passes, it should come as no surprise if he goes undrafted and does not even make an NFL team next season. Another quarterback who will miss the rest of the regular season is Texas A&M’s Trevor Knight, who suffered a shoulder injury two weeks ago. While Knight has a chance to be ready for the team’s bowl game, he will need a big All-Star game performance to be anything more than a free agent signing. The reason I have such a low grade on Knight is because he is more of an athlete than a quarterback, as he lacks great accuracy, pocket presence and size. Speaking of quarterbacks who have seen their stock fall this season, a player who was widely considered the top prospect heading into the season to now a possible second-round draft pick is Clemson’s Deshaun Watson. Watson has struggled in a variety of areas, with the first one being accuracy. He has struggled as a downfield passer and at times looks to be aiming his passes. His footwork is a concern for me as well, as he struggles stepping into his throws on a consistent basis. Then, when you factor in his questionable decision-making skills, especially in the red zone, it is easy to see why so many people predict him to go in the second round of the draft. Charlotte defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi recently accepted his invitation to the Senior Bowl. He is one of the top "Group of Five" players in college football, as he has put up impressive stats this season and has the physical traits to make the move to the NFL. This season, he leads Charlotte in tackles for loss with 13 and in sacks with 2.5 and is third on the team in tackles. In terms of his physical ability, his quick first step and agility is the first thing that sticks out to me. Another thing that sticks out to me about Ogunjobi is his high IQ, as he double-majors in computer science and biology at Charlotte and has made both the Dean’s List Athletic Director's during his time with the 49ers. While I do like his quickness and overall agility, I would like to see him get a little stronger, as he can be beat at the point of attack at times. I currently have Ogunjobi rated as the eight-best senior defensive tackle in the class and expect him to go high on Day 3 of the draft. Jordan Morgan is the first Division II player to accept an invite to the Senior Bowl. He is an intriguing offensive guard prospect in this year’s draft who shows outstanding strength, as he routinely destroys defenders at the Division II level. While Morgan did play offensive tackle at Kutztown, I doubt he has the feet to play that position in the NFL, but I do think he has solid athletic ability for an offensive guard at the next level. It is also worth noting that Morgan was the first player PSAC history to be named Offensive Player of the Year. Recently, Oklahoma defensive tackle Charles Walker quit the Oklahoma football team to focus on the NFL Draft. This is a highly questionable decision and I can’t see it sitting well with NFL decision-makers. To me, and I guarantee you to NFL personnel, this will be a decision that is looked on as a selfish choice that puts Walker above the team. Even if he was worried about a concussion and was not cleared to play, he should have remained part of the team and showed support for his teammates who are still busting their butts to make this a successful season for the Sooners. I would have a hard time drafting Walker in this year’s draft and instead would rather spend my draft picks on players that are willing to put the team first. TOP PROSPECT PERFORMERS FOR WEEK 12 1. Zach Terrell, QB, Western Michigan While wide receiver Corey Davis gets most of the attention when it comes to Western Michigan’s offense, another player who has been putting up impressive numbers is quarterback Zach Terrell, who has thrown for 2,890 yards, 27 touchdowns and only 1 interception. In his latest game against Buffalo, he threw for 445 yards and 4 touchdowns with his 445 passing yards, leading the FBS in passing yards last week. While Terrell may lack classic size, his intelligence and accuracy should allow him to get looks late in the draft. 2. David Washington, QB, Old Dominion Another quarterback who put up strong numbers last week is David Washington of Old Dominion. Against Florida Atlantic, he threw for 416 yards and 5 touchdowns. While it is highly unlikely Washington gets drafted, he could be an interesting free agent pickup. 3. Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU It should be interesting to see if redshirt sophomore Courtland Sutton enters the draft after the season. He may choose to enter the draft, as he has the production to draw scouts' interest, as he has 70 receptions for 1,186 yards and 9 touchdowns already this season. Two of his strongest games have come in the last two weeks, as he was able to record 166 receiving yards against East Carolina on November 12 and 252 yards against South Florida last week. To go along with his production, teams will love his size, as he is listed at 6'4" and 215lbs. 4. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford Even though Christian McCaffrey has fewer yards than he did in 2015, it might surprise people that he has a higher yards-per-carry average and rushing touchdowns than he did last year. These stats were helped by his best performance of the year last week when he averaged 9.2 yards per carry on 31 carries and scored 3 touchdowns against California. It should be interesting to see where McCaffrey is drafted this year, as a I look at him as a poor man’s Reggie Bush and would have a hard time taking him before the third round of the draft. 5. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State Against Syracuse last week, Dalvin Cook broke Warrick Dunn’s school record for career rushing yards when he rushed for 225 yards and 4 touchdowns on the day. I am becoming a bigger fan each week of Cook as well as he shows he has the quickness and vision to be a threat carrying the ball at the NFL. However, the thing I like about him the most is his ability to be a threat in both the passing game and running game. He does an excellent job of catching the ball out of the backfield and is an open-field threat after the catch. Due to his versatility and overall playmaking ability, I would strongly consider taking Cook in the middle of the first round. 6. Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee The Tennessee quarterback was someone I was very high on going into the season, as I had him rated as the second-best senior quarterback. Unfortunately, Joshua Dobbs was never able to develop as a passer and will be a late-round draft pick if he is lucky. However, he did have a strong game against the Missouri Tigers as he threw for 223 yards and rushed for 190 yards. 7. Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina Zay Jones became the school leader in career receptions last Saturday when he recorded his 388th catch against Navy. Overall, on the day Jones brought in 12 passes for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns, which allowed him to rank second in the FBS last week in receiving yards behind only Sutton, who comes in at No. 3 on this list. While Jones has been ultra productive this season, he will need to put up strong testing numbers to be anything more than a late-round draft pick. 8. Billy Brown, WR, Shepard Billy Brown might be one of the bigger tweeners in this year’s draft, as he is 6'4" and 241lbs, yet plays wide receiver at Shepard. Even though Brown plays receiver, I doubt he has the speed and athletic ability to play the position in the NFL, and I also doubt he has the size and strength to hold up as a tight end at the next level, which might force him to play a situational position in the NFL, like H-back. While I am unsure of where Brown will play at the next level, he does have the stats that should allow him to get a look, as he posted 77 receptions for 1,202 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, including 12 receptions for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns last week. 9. Jeremy McNichols, RB, Boise State Jeremy McNichols is one of the most productive running backs in college football, as he currently ranks third in the nation in rushing yards with 1,575 yards. In his last six games, he has rushed for over 140 yards in each game, including 206 yards last week against UNLV. He also was able to score four times against the Rebels, which gave him 22 rushing touchdowns on the season. I will be able to get an up close look at McNichols when I attend the Boise State vs. Air Force game this week. 10. Ryan Johnson, DE, Montana Even though Ryan Johnson most likely won’t get drafted, he has put up solid stats including last weekend when he recorded 15 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss against Montana State. Overall, on the season he has 15 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. Honorable Mention Fred Ross, WR, Mississippi State Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan Kendell Anderson, RB, William & Mary D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas DeAngelo Henderson, RB, Coastal Carolina NFL NOTES It is starting to look like the Browns will have the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. They could do several things with this pick including picking a quarterback, taking a star defensive player or trading down. Their first option might be the least appealing as no quarterback in this draft class has established himself as a true franchise quarterback. Instead, it looks like we will have several quarterbacks who carry a mid-first to second-round draft grade including Mitch Trubisky, Watson, DeShone Kizer, Brad Kaaya and Mason Rudolph. The top-rated player going into the draft will likely be defensive end Myles Garrett of Texas A&M, but the team may decide that he is not worth the No. 1 pick and continue to accumulate picks in the draft and trade down so they can fill more of their needs this year. A player who will have a tough decision to make this offseason is Miami quarterback Kaaya, who will have to decide if he should turn pro or return to Miami for one more season. According to the Palm Beach Post, there are several reasons why he could return for his senior season including that he does not come from a “background of great financial need”, and also due to the fact he thinks Miami should be a contender in the ACC next year. However, if he thinks he is sure shot to be a first-round draft pick, he will likely enter the draft. I personally see him as a prospect who carries a mid-to-late first-round draft grade and think he would be best off returning to school as a senior where he can have another year of coaching under Mark Richt, who is one of the better quarterback coaches in college football. It was also interesting to note from the Palm Beach Post story that the six NFL teams that have shown the most interest in Kaaya are the Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins. The NFL is proving again this year how important the running game is for the development of a young quarterback. The top rookie quarterback this year is Dak Prescott and part of the reason he has had such success is due to a strong running game which ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Some other young quarterbacks that also benefit from a strong running game are Marcus Mariota (third in the NFL) and Derek Carr (ninth in the NFL). This shows that developing a well-rounded offense should be the primary focus for any team with a young quarterback as it takes pressure off of these quarterbacks to be the focal point of their offense. It will be interesting to see if Jacksonville follows this method and takes a running back like Fournette high in the draft to take some of the pressure off of Blake Bortles, who is having a difficult time this year partially due to the fact the Jaguars rank 26th in the NFL in rushing yards per game. TOP PLAYERS IN SMALL-SCHOOL PLAYOFFS While the FBS only has a four-team playoff, every other level of college football has a much more inclusive playoff system, and with the FCS starting their playoffs next week, we are in the full swing of the playoffs. Below, you will find the top players in the small school playoffs which includes the FCS, Division II, Division III and the NAIA. Derek Rivers, DE, Youngstown State Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington David Jones, S, Richmond Keionta Davis, DE, Chattanooga Lorenzo Jerome, S, Saint Francis (PA) Tarik Cohen, RB, North Carolina A&T Billy Brown, WR, Shepherd Krishawn Hogan, WR, Marian Nolan Saraceni, RB, Montana Tech Karel Hamilton, WR, Samford Casey DeAndrade, S, New Hampshire Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova Matt Davis, K, UNC-Pembroke Samson Ebukam, OLB, Eastern Washington Corey Levin, OG, Chattanooga Luke Papilion, QB/TE, Sioux Falls Colin Buck, CB, Wisconsin-Whitewater Casey Dunn, C, Jacksonville State Desmond Smith, WR, Central Arkansas Will Ratelle, FB, North Dakota Check out previous editions of Inside the War Room: Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10
  11. Inside the War Room: Week 10

    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
  12. 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 View full article
  13. Inside the War Room: Week 9

    In this week’s Inside the War Room John Blair highlights several small school prospects in his weekly scouting notes. He then lists the top senior performers in college football last week led by a small school prospect for the first time this year. To wrap up his weekly article he talks about how it looks like the Titans have won the blockbuster trade for the 2016 first overall draft pick this year and how some teams might approach this year’s draft. Scouting Notes The reports coming in on Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson off the field behavior have been less than stellar as a scout told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report that he is a nightmare off the field. Robinson has also been in trouble with the law as he was arrested last summer on gun and marijuana charges although the case was later dismissed. He has also had troubles this season on the field especially with quick pass rushers and there are concerns about him having the quickness and athletic ability to play left tackle in the NFL. Due to these concerns, it should not come as a big surprise if he slips to the second round if the top junior offensive tackles enter the draft. Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs is one of the prospects who has seen his stock fall the most this season. Going into the year he was rated as Inside the War Room’s second best senior quarterback and a player carrying a mid-round draft grade but now looks like a player who will be very lucky to get drafted. In his latest performance against South Carolina, he completed 46% of his passes and threw two interceptions. This is just not one bad game for Dobbs either as he has completed under 60% of his passes in six of his eight games and has also thrown 11 interceptions on the season. Part of the reason he has struggled so much this season is due to the fact that he is more of an athlete than a quarterback as he lacks the accuracy, and coverage reading ability to play at the next level. Western Kentucky’s Keith Brown has to be happy with the way his graduate transfer has seen his production increase this year. Last year at Louisville he only recorded 33 tackles yet this season he has established himself as one of the leading tacklers in college football as he has recorded 87 tackles already this season. He has been able to produce in the passing game as well as the running game this year as he has recorded 2.5 sacks and one interception to go along with his seven tackles for loss. When watching film of Brown the first thing that sticks out is his athletic ability as he is able to play sideline to sideline. While he has put up solid numbers and shows the athletic ability I like, I would like to see him do a better job of getting off blocks. Speaking of players putting up impressive tackle totals this year another player putting up impressive stats is safety Nate Holley of Kent State. So far this season he has recorded 111 tackles and has already become the first player since 1993 to reach over 400 tackles during his career at Kent State. While Holley might not be the highest regarded safety in the class due to a lack of cover skills he does have the aggressive approach to possibly make an impact on special teams at the next level. Bucknell offensive tackle Julie’n Davenport is starting to draw his share of NFL interest. Recently Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage visited Bucknell to get an up-close look at him and it would come as a surprise if an invite was not coming for Davenport to the premier all-star game. To go along with the interest he has drawn from the Senior Bowl scouts have also been high on him as he shows excellent quickness and an overall athletic ability for someone six-foot-seven and 315 pounds. While he possesses the feet and agility to play left tackle in the NFL he will most likely need some time to adjust to the NFL as he lacks great power and will need to spend plenty of time in the weight room before he can hold up at the NFL level. With that being said I could see a team taking Davenport in the late second round as he shows promising potential and because it is a weak offensive tackle class. Even though Pittsburgh defensive end Ejuan Price is one of the most productive players in college football he lacks the pro potential to be anything more than a fifth-round draft pick. When looking at his pro potential several things raises a concern with me including his lack of size as he is only six-foot 255 pounds. He lacks the athleticism and overall speed to move to outside linebacker as well. On the positive side, he has produced at a very high level as he is second in the FBS in sacks per game and has also forced three fumbles this year. He shows a nice first step off the line of scrimmage as well and has a variety of pass-rushing moves. While I have a hard time seeing him earning a starting job he might be able to find a spot on a roster as a situational pass rusher. Jackson State linebacker Javancy Jones has been one of the most productive players in college football over the past two season. He currently ranks eighth in the FCS in tackles for loss with 13 and last season led the FCS with 24 tackles for loss. He has proven to be a pass rushing threat as well as he finished with nine sacks last year. While he has the ability to get after the passer teams will also like the versatility he has shown as he has played all four linebacker positions in the Tigers 3-4 defense and has even lined up as a defensive end at times. Another positive with Jones is his size as Jackson State lists him at six-foot-two and 245 pounds and he shows solid athletic ability for someone his size. He has seen his share of NFL interest with the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and New York Jets having shown a strong interest in him. His stock could rise even more if he impresses at an all-star game like the Dream Bowl, FCS Bowl, or HBCU All-Star Game as all three of these all-star games have shown an interest in him. UNC Pembroke kicker Matt Davis is quickly becoming one of my favorite sleepers in this year’s draft. In last week’s Inside the War Room, I highlighted how Davis has excelled at the Division II level and has the tools to get NFL looks. Davis had another strong week last week when he converted on his two field goal attempts including a 58 yarder which would have been the second-longest field goal in the NFL this year. In addition to his impressive work kicking field goals he also had four of his eight kickoffs go for touchbacks and averaged 64 yards on his kickoffs. This past weekend I went to the Colorado School of Mines to check out one of the top quarterbacks in Division II in Justin Dvorak and while he may have a hard time making the move to the NFL due to size concerns I did come away thinking left tackle Justin Traxinger has a shot of making it into an NFL camp. The first thing that stood out to me with him is his size as he is listed at six-foot-seven and 310 pounds and while I can’t see him playing left tackle in the NFL due to a lack of quick feet he should get looks as an offensive guard. One thing that concerns me with Traxinger is that he is rarely asked to run block and plays mainly in a two-point stance. A player to watch for the future from Colorado School of the Mines is sophomore wide receiver Brody Oliver who has 61 receptions, 1,197 yards, and 20 touchdowns on the season and has the size (6-3 195) to catch NFL scouts attention as well. Top Senior Performers for Week 9 1. Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington Kupp is the top small school receiver in this class and one of the top small school players overall. This season he is leading the FCS in receiving yards per game and is tied for first in receptions per game. In his latest game against Montana he recorded 8 receptions for 140 yards and three touchdowns, he was also able to throw for 54 yards as he threw one pass in a throwback to his quarterback. Look for Kupp to be a late third or fourth round draft pick. 2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State Cook is making a strong argument on why he should be the first running back drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft. Against Clemson last Saturday, he set career highs in rushing yards with 169 and in touchdowns with four. His game against the Tigers is his fifth straight game of over 100 yards and he has over 150 yards in three of those five games. While I personally would take Leonard Fournette over Cook it should not come as a major shock if a wider open passing team picked Cook before Fournette is off the board. 3. Jarron Jones, DT, Notre Dame Jones had by far the best game of his career as he was able to register six tackles for loss and one sack against Miami and was able to post these stats despite not doing much in the second or third quarter of the game. While these are impressive numbers look for Jones to draw his share of concern from scouts as he missed part of the 2014 season and all of the 2015 season due to injury. He has also only had one great game this year as he had only 2.5 tackles for loss and 1 sack before the Miami game. Due to these concerns I look for Jones to be a third-day draft pick. 4. D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas Foreman has burst onto the scene this year as he is currently second in the FBS in rushing yards per game after only having 754 yards going into the season. In his most impressive game of the season against Baylor, he rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns which allowed him to be the first Texas running back since Jamaal Charles in 2007 to rush for over 1,000 yards on the season. While I love the production I have seen from Foreman this year I would have a hard time spending a high pick on him if he entered the 2017 NFL Draft due to a lack of explosion and questionable hands in the passing game. 5. Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska Nate Gerry was named to Pro Football Focus's Midseason All-American team last week as he was graded as the top cover safety in college football. His grade should only go up after his strong performance against Wisconsin last week as he was able to come away with two critical interceptions in the fourth quarter which allowed Nebraska to take Wisconsin into overtime. 6. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State It is more of a surprise when Pumphrey doesn’t make this list then when he does as he is one of the most productive players in football and is the leading rusher in the FBS. This week he was able to rush for 223 yards against Utah State which allowed him to crack the top five of all-time leading rushers in the FBS. If Pumphrey continues on his current pass he should have an outstanding shot of becoming the FBS all-time leading rusher as he is only 656 yards away from breaking Ron Dayne’s record. 7. Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan The most versatile player in college football has to be Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers who has lined up at linebacker, safety, cornerback, running back, quarterback, wide receiver, punt returner and kick returner this year. To go along with his versatility is excellent production as he was able to record seven tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, and one rushing touchdown against Michigan State last week. If Peppers comes out this year it should be very interesting to see what position NFL teams project him at. 8. Jahad Thomas, RB, Temple While Thomas may not be living up the expectations people had for him entering the season after he rushed for 1,262 yards as a junior he has had his moments this year. One of these moments came last week when he rushed for 151 yards on only 17 carries against Cincinnati. Even though he has had a down year this year I still would bring him in as a priority free agent due to the quickness he shows and because of his ability to be productive in the passing game. 9. Nolan Saraceni, RB, Montana Tech I currently have two offensive players on my board from the NAIA ranks and Montana Tech running back Nolan Saraceni is one of those players. While he may play at a low level of competition his size, speed and vision make him a viable prospect for the NFL. Teams will also love his production as he leads the NAIA in rushing last season with 1,683 yards and in his latest game rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns on only 14 carries. 10. Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina Despite playing in only three and a half quarters against Connecticut, Jones was able to catch 19 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown. He was also able to throw one touchdown in the game. His strong game against the Huskies is only the latest impressive performance of the season for Jones as he currently leads the FBS in receptions per game by four catches a game and is only 32 receptions away from breaking the NCAA career record for receptions. Honorable Mention Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford Joe Williams, RB, Utah Pharaoh Brown, TE, Oregon Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan Dylan Cole, OLB, Missouri State Adam Brenerman, TE, UMass Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech Raven Greene, S, James Madison Donald Payne, S, Stetson Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech Austin Carr, WR, Northwestern Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State Micah Kiser, MLB, Virginia Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson KD Humphries, QB, Murray State Justin Dvorak, QB, Colorado Mines NFL Notes It should be interesting to see if teams are scared off of taking an Air Raid quarterback high in the draft with the lack of success Jared Goff is having. While Goff still has intriguing potential he is showing that making the transition from an Air Raid offense to a pro style offense is a big adjustment. While there're obvious changes when it comes to footwork from being in the shotgun compared to under center it is also a big adjustment for players coming from this offense when it comes to reading a defense and understanding the verbiage of an NFL offense. Tennessee Titans rookie offensive tackle Jack Conklin is quietly having an outstanding rookie season as he had yet to allow a sack this season and has proven to be a solid run blocker. It is definitely looking like the Titans have come out the early winner of the trade for last year's first overall draft pick as Conklin has been one of the best rookies in the class and Jared Goff has yet to see any playing time. Then when you factor in Tennessee was able to pick up Derrick Henry who is averaging over four yards per carry and a first round pick in 2017 the trade looks even better for the Titans. Now that the Denver Broncos have placed C.J. Anderson on injured reserve it will be up to rookie running back Devontae Booker to fill the void. Booker was named one of Inside the War Room’s best value picks after the 2016 draft and Booker has lived up to this billing so far as he has been able to contribute in both the running game and pass game. If Denver is to make the playoffs this year they will need to continue to see the solid play out of Booker as he will need to take some of the pressure off of second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian. Another rookie running back Inside the War Room was high on who is being counted on more as we enter the second part of the season is Daniel Lasco of the New Orleans Saints. In a recent New Orleans Times-Picayune article, Saint’s head coach Sean Payton said he has been extremely impressed with the progress Lasco has made this year and Lasco has seen increased playing time over the past few weeks as well including a career high in carries last week. In addition, to seeing more playing time on offense Lasco has played an important role on the team’s special teams unit. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has to be one of the most disappointing players in the NFL this year. After a promising season in 2015 when he set team records for touchdowns and passing yards he has seen his share of struggles this season with accuracy, decision making, and mechanics. Due to his struggles this season the team could look to take a quarterback in the mid-rounds, especially when you see the lack of potential behind Bortles as Chad Henne and last year's sixth-round draft pick Brandon Allen are his backups. One of the most disappointing first round draft picks in this year’s class has to be New York Jets linebacker Darron Lee. In his first seven weeks of action Lee has allowed three passing touchdowns and according to Pro Football Focus has allowed the most receiving yards of any linebacker in coverage so far this year. While he has yet to live up to expectations it has also been a relatively weak outside linebacker class as both Leonard Floyd and Myles Jack have underperformed this year. This past week I took a look at how the players that were named to the Inside the War Room All-Undrafted Team are doing and the results were mixed with 59% of the player making an NFL team’s active roster or practice squad. Overall, seven players made their team’s active roster while five are on team’s practice squads. The position I missed on the most with this team was the offensive line as three of the five players who made the team are no longer in the NFL and only one player is on a team’s active roster. The breakdown is listed below Offense Jake Coker, QB, Alabama not in the NFL Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois, On the Colts roster Dakota Gordon, FB, San Diego State, not in the NFL Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa, on the Panthers practice squad Geronimo Allison, WR, Illinois, on the Packers roster Henry Krieger Coble, TE, Iowa, on the Broncos practice squad Dominique Robertson, OT, West Georgia, not in the NFL Landon Turner, OG, North Carolina, on the Saints roster Jack Allen, C, Michigan State, not in the NFL Darrell Greene, OG, San Diego State, not in the NFL Tyler Marz, OT, Wisconsin, on the Titans practice squad Defense Drew Ott, DE, Iowa, not in the NFL Lawrence Thomas, DT, Michigan State, on Jets IR Darius Latham, DT, Indiana, on the Raiders roster James Cowser, DE, Southern Utah, On the Raiders practice squad Eric Striker, OLB, Oklahoma, not in the NFL Dominique Alexander, MLB, Oklahoma, on the Browns roster David Perkins, OLB, Illinois State, not in the NFL Michael Jordan, CB, Missouri Western, on the Rams practice squad Okezie Alozie, S, Buffalo not in the NFL Jeremy Cash, S, Duke, on the Panthers roster Jonathan Jones, CB, Auburn, on the Patriots roster
  14. In this week’s Inside the War Room John Blair highlights several small school prospects in his weekly scouting notes. He then lists the top senior performers in college football last week led by a small school prospect for the first time this year. To wrap up his weekly article he talks about how it looks like the Titans have won the blockbuster trade for the 2016 first overall draft pick this year and how some teams might approach this year’s draft. Scouting Notes The reports coming in on Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson off the field behavior have been less than stellar as a scout told Matt Miller of Bleacher Report that he is a nightmare off the field. Robinson has also been in trouble with the law as he was arrested last summer on gun and marijuana charges although the case was later dismissed. He has also had troubles this season on the field especially with quick pass rushers and there are concerns about him having the quickness and athletic ability to play left tackle in the NFL. Due to these concerns, it should not come as a big surprise if he slips to the second round if the top junior offensive tackles enter the draft. Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs is one of the prospects who has seen his stock fall the most this season. Going into the year he was rated as Inside the War Room’s second best senior quarterback and a player carrying a mid-round draft grade but now looks like a player who will be very lucky to get drafted. In his latest performance against South Carolina, he completed 46% of his passes and threw two interceptions. This is just not one bad game for Dobbs either as he has completed under 60% of his passes in six of his eight games and has also thrown 11 interceptions on the season. Part of the reason he has struggled so much this season is due to the fact that he is more of an athlete than a quarterback as he lacks the accuracy, and coverage reading ability to play at the next level. Western Kentucky’s Keith Brown has to be happy with the way his graduate transfer has seen his production increase this year. Last year at Louisville he only recorded 33 tackles yet this season he has established himself as one of the leading tacklers in college football as he has recorded 87 tackles already this season. He has been able to produce in the passing game as well as the running game this year as he has recorded 2.5 sacks and one interception to go along with his seven tackles for loss. When watching film of Brown the first thing that sticks out is his athletic ability as he is able to play sideline to sideline. While he has put up solid numbers and shows the athletic ability I like, I would like to see him do a better job of getting off blocks. Speaking of players putting up impressive tackle totals this year another player putting up impressive stats is safety Nate Holley of Kent State. So far this season he has recorded 111 tackles and has already become the first player since 1993 to reach over 400 tackles during his career at Kent State. While Holley might not be the highest regarded safety in the class due to a lack of cover skills he does have the aggressive approach to possibly make an impact on special teams at the next level. Bucknell offensive tackle Julie’n Davenport is starting to draw his share of NFL interest. Recently Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage visited Bucknell to get an up-close look at him and it would come as a surprise if an invite was not coming for Davenport to the premier all-star game. To go along with the interest he has drawn from the Senior Bowl scouts have also been high on him as he shows excellent quickness and an overall athletic ability for someone six-foot-seven and 315 pounds. While he possesses the feet and agility to play left tackle in the NFL he will most likely need some time to adjust to the NFL as he lacks great power and will need to spend plenty of time in the weight room before he can hold up at the NFL level. With that being said I could see a team taking Davenport in the late second round as he shows promising potential and because it is a weak offensive tackle class. Even though Pittsburgh defensive end Ejuan Price is one of the most productive players in college football he lacks the pro potential to be anything more than a fifth-round draft pick. When looking at his pro potential several things raises a concern with me including his lack of size as he is only six-foot 255 pounds. He lacks the athleticism and overall speed to move to outside linebacker as well. On the positive side, he has produced at a very high level as he is second in the FBS in sacks per game and has also forced three fumbles this year. He shows a nice first step off the line of scrimmage as well and has a variety of pass-rushing moves. While I have a hard time seeing him earning a starting job he might be able to find a spot on a roster as a situational pass rusher. Jackson State linebacker Javancy Jones has been one of the most productive players in college football over the past two season. He currently ranks eighth in the FCS in tackles for loss with 13 and last season led the FCS with 24 tackles for loss. He has proven to be a pass rushing threat as well as he finished with nine sacks last year. While he has the ability to get after the passer teams will also like the versatility he has shown as he has played all four linebacker positions in the Tigers 3-4 defense and has even lined up as a defensive end at times. Another positive with Jones is his size as Jackson State lists him at six-foot-two and 245 pounds and he shows solid athletic ability for someone his size. He has seen his share of NFL interest with the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, and New York Jets having shown a strong interest in him. His stock could rise even more if he impresses at an all-star game like the Dream Bowl, FCS Bowl, or HBCU All-Star Game as all three of these all-star games have shown an interest in him. UNC Pembroke kicker Matt Davis is quickly becoming one of my favorite sleepers in this year’s draft. In last week’s Inside the War Room, I highlighted how Davis has excelled at the Division II level and has the tools to get NFL looks. Davis had another strong week last week when he converted on his two field goal attempts including a 58 yarder which would have been the second-longest field goal in the NFL this year. In addition to his impressive work kicking field goals he also had four of his eight kickoffs go for touchbacks and averaged 64 yards on his kickoffs. This past weekend I went to the Colorado School of Mines to check out one of the top quarterbacks in Division II in Justin Dvorak and while he may have a hard time making the move to the NFL due to size concerns I did come away thinking left tackle Justin Traxinger has a shot of making it into an NFL camp. The first thing that stood out to me with him is his size as he is listed at six-foot-seven and 310 pounds and while I can’t see him playing left tackle in the NFL due to a lack of quick feet he should get looks as an offensive guard. One thing that concerns me with Traxinger is that he is rarely asked to run block and plays mainly in a two-point stance. A player to watch for the future from Colorado School of the Mines is sophomore wide receiver Brody Oliver who has 61 receptions, 1,197 yards, and 20 touchdowns on the season and has the size (6-3 195) to catch NFL scouts attention as well. Top Senior Performers for Week 9 1. Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington Kupp is the top small school receiver in this class and one of the top small school players overall. This season he is leading the FCS in receiving yards per game and is tied for first in receptions per game. In his latest game against Montana he recorded 8 receptions for 140 yards and three touchdowns, he was also able to throw for 54 yards as he threw one pass in a throwback to his quarterback. Look for Kupp to be a late third or fourth round draft pick. 2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State Cook is making a strong argument on why he should be the first running back drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft. Against Clemson last Saturday, he set career highs in rushing yards with 169 and in touchdowns with four. His game against the Tigers is his fifth straight game of over 100 yards and he has over 150 yards in three of those five games. While I personally would take Leonard Fournette over Cook it should not come as a major shock if a wider open passing team picked Cook before Fournette is off the board. 3. Jarron Jones, DT, Notre Dame Jones had by far the best game of his career as he was able to register six tackles for loss and one sack against Miami and was able to post these stats despite not doing much in the second or third quarter of the game. While these are impressive numbers look for Jones to draw his share of concern from scouts as he missed part of the 2014 season and all of the 2015 season due to injury. He has also only had one great game this year as he had only 2.5 tackles for loss and 1 sack before the Miami game. Due to these concerns I look for Jones to be a third-day draft pick. 4. D'Onta Foreman, RB, Texas Foreman has burst onto the scene this year as he is currently second in the FBS in rushing yards per game after only having 754 yards going into the season. In his most impressive game of the season against Baylor, he rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns which allowed him to be the first Texas running back since Jamaal Charles in 2007 to rush for over 1,000 yards on the season. While I love the production I have seen from Foreman this year I would have a hard time spending a high pick on him if he entered the 2017 NFL Draft due to a lack of explosion and questionable hands in the passing game. 5. Nate Gerry, S, Nebraska Nate Gerry was named to Pro Football Focus's Midseason All-American team last week as he was graded as the top cover safety in college football. His grade should only go up after his strong performance against Wisconsin last week as he was able to come away with two critical interceptions in the fourth quarter which allowed Nebraska to take Wisconsin into overtime. 6. Donnel Pumphrey, RB, San Diego State It is more of a surprise when Pumphrey doesn’t make this list then when he does as he is one of the most productive players in football and is the leading rusher in the FBS. This week he was able to rush for 223 yards against Utah State which allowed him to crack the top five of all-time leading rushers in the FBS. If Pumphrey continues on his current pass he should have an outstanding shot of becoming the FBS all-time leading rusher as he is only 656 yards away from breaking Ron Dayne’s record. 7. Jabrill Peppers, LB, Michigan The most versatile player in college football has to be Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers who has lined up at linebacker, safety, cornerback, running back, quarterback, wide receiver, punt returner and kick returner this year. To go along with his versatility is excellent production as he was able to record seven tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, and one rushing touchdown against Michigan State last week. If Peppers comes out this year it should be very interesting to see what position NFL teams project him at. 8. Jahad Thomas, RB, Temple While Thomas may not be living up the expectations people had for him entering the season after he rushed for 1,262 yards as a junior he has had his moments this year. One of these moments came last week when he rushed for 151 yards on only 17 carries against Cincinnati. Even though he has had a down year this year I still would bring him in as a priority free agent due to the quickness he shows and because of his ability to be productive in the passing game. 9. Nolan Saraceni, RB, Montana Tech I currently have two offensive players on my board from the NAIA ranks and Montana Tech running back Nolan Saraceni is one of those players. While he may play at a low level of competition his size, speed and vision make him a viable prospect for the NFL. Teams will also love his production as he leads the NAIA in rushing last season with 1,683 yards and in his latest game rushed for 197 yards and three touchdowns on only 14 carries. 10. Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina Despite playing in only three and a half quarters against Connecticut, Jones was able to catch 19 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown. He was also able to throw one touchdown in the game. His strong game against the Huskies is only the latest impressive performance of the season for Jones as he currently leads the FBS in receptions per game by four catches a game and is only 32 receptions away from breaking the NCAA career record for receptions. Honorable Mention Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford Joe Williams, RB, Utah Pharaoh Brown, TE, Oregon Amara Darboh, WR, Michigan Dylan Cole, OLB, Missouri State Adam Brenerman, TE, UMass Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida Chad Kelly, QB, Ole Miss Isaiah Ford, WR, Virginia Tech Raven Greene, S, James Madison Donald Payne, S, Stetson Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech Austin Carr, WR, Northwestern Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State Micah Kiser, MLB, Virginia Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson KD Humphries, QB, Murray State Justin Dvorak, QB, Colorado Mines NFL Notes It should be interesting to see if teams are scared off of taking an Air Raid quarterback high in the draft with the lack of success Jared Goff is having. While Goff still has intriguing potential he is showing that making the transition from an Air Raid offense to a pro style offense is a big adjustment. While there're obvious changes when it comes to footwork from being in the shotgun compared to under center it is also a big adjustment for players coming from this offense when it comes to reading a defense and understanding the verbiage of an NFL offense. Tennessee Titans rookie offensive tackle Jack Conklin is quietly having an outstanding rookie season as he had yet to allow a sack this season and has proven to be a solid run blocker. It is definitely looking like the Titans have come out the early winner of the trade for last year's first overall draft pick as Conklin has been one of the best rookies in the class and Jared Goff has yet to see any playing time. Then when you factor in Tennessee was able to pick up Derrick Henry who is averaging over four yards per carry and a first round pick in 2017 the trade looks even better for the Titans. Now that the Denver Broncos have placed C.J. Anderson on injured reserve it will be up to rookie running back Devontae Booker to fill the void. Booker was named one of Inside the War Room’s best value picks after the 2016 draft and Booker has lived up to this billing so far as he has been able to contribute in both the running game and pass game. If Denver is to make the playoffs this year they will need to continue to see the solid play out of Booker as he will need to take some of the pressure off of second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian. Another rookie running back Inside the War Room was high on who is being counted on more as we enter the second part of the season is Daniel Lasco of the New Orleans Saints. In a recent New Orleans Times-Picayune article, Saint’s head coach Sean Payton said he has been extremely impressed with the progress Lasco has made this year and Lasco has seen increased playing time over the past few weeks as well including a career high in carries last week. In addition, to seeing more playing time on offense Lasco has played an important role on the team’s special teams unit. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has to be one of the most disappointing players in the NFL this year. After a promising season in 2015 when he set team records for touchdowns and passing yards he has seen his share of struggles this season with accuracy, decision making, and mechanics. Due to his struggles this season the team could look to take a quarterback in the mid-rounds, especially when you see the lack of potential behind Bortles as Chad Henne and last year's sixth-round draft pick Brandon Allen are his backups. One of the most disappointing first round draft picks in this year’s class has to be New York Jets linebacker Darron Lee. In his first seven weeks of action Lee has allowed three passing touchdowns and according to Pro Football Focus has allowed the most receiving yards of any linebacker in coverage so far this year. While he has yet to live up to expectations it has also been a relatively weak outside linebacker class as both Leonard Floyd and Myles Jack have underperformed this year. This past week I took a look at how the players that were named to the Inside the War Room All-Undrafted Team are doing and the results were mixed with 59% of the player making an NFL team’s active roster or practice squad. Overall, seven players made their team’s active roster while five are on team’s practice squads. The position I missed on the most with this team was the offensive line as three of the five players who made the team are no longer in the NFL and only one player is on a team’s active roster. The breakdown is listed below Offense Jake Coker, QB, Alabama not in the NFL Josh Ferguson, RB, Illinois, On the Colts roster Dakota Gordon, FB, San Diego State, not in the NFL Keyarris Garrett, WR, Tulsa, on the Panthers practice squad Geronimo Allison, WR, Illinois, on the Packers roster Henry Krieger Coble, TE, Iowa, on the Broncos practice squad Dominique Robertson, OT, West Georgia, not in the NFL Landon Turner, OG, North Carolina, on the Saints roster Jack Allen, C, Michigan State, not in the NFL Darrell Greene, OG, San Diego State, not in the NFL Tyler Marz, OT, Wisconsin, on the Titans practice squad Defense Drew Ott, DE, Iowa, not in the NFL Lawrence Thomas, DT, Michigan State, on Jets IR Darius Latham, DT, Indiana, on the Raiders roster James Cowser, DE, Southern Utah, On the Raiders practice squad Eric Striker, OLB, Oklahoma, not in the NFL Dominique Alexander, MLB, Oklahoma, on the Browns roster David Perkins, OLB, Illinois State, not in the NFL Michael Jordan, CB, Missouri Western, on the Rams practice squad Okezie Alozie, S, Buffalo not in the NFL Jeremy Cash, S, Duke, on the Panthers roster Jonathan Jones, CB, Auburn, on the Patriots roster View full article
  15. In this week’s Inside the War Room, John Blair highlights some players that will likely fall to the third day of the draft but could still make an impact at the next level. He then lists the top 10 performances of draft prospects in last week’s college football action. He wraps up his weekly article by unveiling the "Rookie Report" which discusses how rookies are doing this year and spotlights one undrafted free agent who is opening up eyes this year. SCOUTING NOTES One of my favorite outside linebackers in this draft who will be a Day 3 pick has to be Haason Reddick of Temple. When evaluating Reddick several things stand out including a high motor, toughness and playmaking ability. Reddick is one of the most tenacious players in the 2017 draft as he never gives up on plays, which is one of the main reasons he is leading the FCS in tackles for loss with 15.5 on the season. His tenacity and athletic ability have also allowed him to record 6.5 sacks in only eight games this season. One more thing that impresses me with Reddick is that he has been named one of the toughest players on the Temple football team. One reason Reddick will fall in the draft is due to a lack of size as he is only 6'1". It will be interesting to see what position NFL teams project Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett at if he does indeed go pro after the season like Eric Galko of The Sporting News is projecting him to do. While he has been one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football during his time at Ohio State he lacks the skills NFL teams want to see out of a pro quarterback prospect. For example, he lacks the accuracy from the pocket to succeed at the next level and also lacks the feel in the pocket to make a smooth transition from a spread offense to a more traditional pro-style offense. With that being said he may make the move to wide receiver like former Ohio State quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Terrelle Pryor have although he lacks the quickness both of these players possess. Since he is a prospect who is a project no matter what position he plays I would have a hard time seeing him get drafted before the late portions of Day 3 of the draft. A player that has played his way into a likely first-round draft pick is Alabama linebacker Tim Williams. Even though Williams is a one-dimensional player who offers little against the run I would be surprised if some team did not draft Williams in the first round due to his pass rushing ability. He shows exceptional quickness off the line of scrimmage and is one of the top prospects in the draft when it comes to getting around the corner. He shows a variety of pass rush moves as well which has helped him record 6.5 sacks this season. While he shows an impressive ability to get after the passer I would like to see him play more in coverage to see if he could possibly play outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. In the defensive end edition of Inside the War Room that was published in July, we highlighted UCLA defensive end Takkarist McKinley as our preseason defensive end sleeper of the year and it looks like scouts are finally taking notice of his play. In a recent Monday Morning Quarterback article, a scout called McKinley a freak athlete that could be the next DeMarcus Ware. While the Ware comparison might be a little high he impressed me this summer with his speed and agility and is definitely a pass rushing threat who should be able to hold up as a 3-4 outside linebacker or 4-3 situational pass rusher. A small school cornerback you have to root for is Obi Etuka of Western New England who has overcome a rough background to become one of the top small school cornerbacks in Division III. He has already broken the school record for interceptions despite not being thrown at often this year and is a player who could get an invite to an NFL camp if he is able to post strong testing numbers. One measurable that works in his favor already is his size as he comes in at 6'0" and 190lbs. Speaking of small school players who are setting records another draft prospect establishing himself as one of the best small school players in college football is Northwest Missouri State Collin Bevins who has set the school record for tackles for loss. Bevins was also able to set the school record for sacks in a season last year when he recorded 15.5 sacks on the season. He has already drawn his share of NFL interest as well as the News Press Now reports that the Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers have already shown a strong interest in Bevins. It makes sense that two 3-4 teams have shown an interest in Bevins as he has both the size and athletic ability to play defensive end in this defense. The Jim Thorpe Award watch list was announced this week and one player who caught my eye was Louisiana Tech safety Xavier Woods. While most college football fans don’t know who Woods is you can bet NFL teams are more than aware of him. He has attracted plenty of interest from scouts this year due to his coverage ability and impressive ball skills. He has already picked off 13 interceptions during his career with the Bulldogs including four this year. He shows great fluidity in coverage as well and can hold up versus most slot receivers or tight ends he has gone up against at the college level. Unfortunately, his lack of height (5'11") could cause him to slip in the 2016 draft. Miami wide receiver Stacy Coley won’t hear his name called on the first day of the draft but he is the type of prospect that could be a great value pick on Day 2 or Day 3 of the draft. Several of his traits make me think he has the potential to be a solid player at the next level including his overall quickness, athletic ability and aggressive play. While Coley might not run the fastest 40-yard dash at the combine he shows nice quickness and does a good job of getting out of his breaks when running routes. He has also shown the ability to be a dangerous open field runner on a consistent basis. Coley shows nice athletic ability and body control as well which allows him to make the tough catch like he did against Virginia Tech at the end of the first half last Thursday. The last area that impresses me with Coley is that he will go get the ball in traffic and is not afraid to fight defensive backs for the football. The reports coming out about Iowa State’s Jhaustin Thomas work ethic have left a sour taste in a lot of team’s mouths. According to some teams he tends to be on the lazy side and might not have the drive to succeed at the next level. While that may be the case he does have the size and athletic ability to get invited to an NFL camp as he comes in at 6'6" and 275lbs. His athletic ability is also impressive as he was a highly regarded basketball recruit coming out of high school who originally committed to play basketball at South Carolina before going to Trinity Valley Community College to play basketball and football. While Jalen Reeves-Maybin has impressive game film he is a player who could fall in the draft due to a lack of size and his injury history. Tennessee lists Reeves-Maybin at only 6'0" which would make him one of the smaller linebackers in the draft. He has also battled his share of injuries including the shoulder injury which is keeping him out for the rest of the season and which also will be his second shoulder surgery of the year. What has impressed me with Reeves-Maybin is his ability to be an all-around player as he can hold up in coverage, be a force vs. the run, and get after the passer. This is a major plus for him as several of the top outside linebackers in this class are used primarily as pass rushers and lack the experience Reeves-Maybin has in coverage. I also am impressed with his football intelligence as he shows the ability to diagnose plays at a high level. While his size and injury history will likely cause him to fall to the third day of the draft he is a player who could earn a starting job once he is in the NFL. A small school kicker putting up NFL caliber numbers is Matt Davis of UNC-Pembroke. So far this season he has converted on 86% of his field goals with four kicks of 50 yards or more. He has also been effective on kickoffs as 46% of his kickoffs have been touchbacks. TOP PERFORMANCES FOR WEEK 8 1. Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU In his first game back since September 24, Fournette set a school record for rushing yards as he finished the day with 16 rushes for 284 yards which averaged out to 17.8 yards per carry. He also was able to find the end zone three times on runs of 78, 76 and 59 yards. If Fournette can stay healthy the rest of the season and shows he has the change of direction skills needed in the NFL look for him to earn a high first round draft grade. 2. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma Mayfield is one of four offensive players to make the top performers list from the shootout that took place in Lubbock, Texas last week. Mayfield threw for 545 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 75% of his passes against the Red Raiders. This is also the sixth game of the season where Mayfield has completed over 70% of his passes. In all likelihood, Mayfield will return to Oklahoma for his senior season as he carries a Day 3 draft grade at best. 3. Patrick Mahomes, QB, Texas Tech The other quarterback to shine in the Oklahoma - Texas Tech game is Mahomes of Texas Tech. Mahomes set an FCS record in this game for both pass attempts with 88 and passing yards with 734. Mahomes also scored six touchdowns in the game as he threw for five touchdowns and rushed for one. While Mayfield may have had the better game as he came out on the winning end Mahomes will probably be the higher drafted player. 4. Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma In Mixon’s first chance to shine this year as Samaje Perine was out an injury, Mixon came through with flying colors. Mixon became the first Sooner to have over 200 rushing yards and 100 yards receiving yards in a game in school history. He also was able to record five touchdowns against the Red Raiders with three coming through the air and two on the ground. While Mixon has the talent to play in the NFL his background off the field could scare off some teams. 5. Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA McKinley is a player I highlighted earlier in this article as a player whose stock is flying up the draft board. In his last game against Utah, he came away with five tackles for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles, two pass breakups and one fumble recovery. 6. Fish Smithson, S, Kansas One of the few bright spots for Kansas last week against Oklahoma State was the play of safety Smithson who recorded 16 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. This was Smithson’s best game of the season by far as he only had 32 tackles in his previous six games. If Smithson wants to be drafted in the 2017 draft he will have to keep producing like he did last Saturday and put up strong testing numbers. 7. Davis Webb, QB, California Webb is starting to establish himself as the top senior quarterback in the 2017 draft despite only playing one year for the California Golden Bears. He proved yet again last week why he is so highly regarded as he threw for 325 yards and five touchdowns against Oregon. While he likely won’t be a high first round draft pick he could be drafted in the later portion of the first round due to his strong arm and excellent size. 8. Joe Williams, RB, Utah One of the best stories of the 2016 season might be Utah running back Williams who gave up football in September only to come back in October. In his two games since returning to the team, Williams has rushed for 511 yards and has set the Utah school record for rushing yards in a game which he did last week against UCLA. Overall, in the game against the Bruins he rushed for 332 yards and four touchdowns which is the most from an FCS back since Perine ran for 427 yards against Kansas in 2014. 9. Karel Hamilton, WR, Samford The only small school player to crack the top 10 this week is Samford wide receiver Hamilton who recorded 16 receptions for 208 yards and two touchdowns against West Carolina. While Hamilton does not carry a draftable grade his production and size could draw the attention of NFL teams with one likely to bring him in as an undrafted free agent. 10. Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma This is the second week in a row that Westbrook has made the top 10 as he came in at No. 3 last week after his strong performance against Kansas State. In his latest impressive performance against Texas Tech, he lead the FCS in receiving yards with 202 yards and also caught two touchdowns. Honorable Mention Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama Tedric Thompson, CB, Colorado Trey Heid, QB, Augustana Woody Baron, DT, Virginia Tech I'Tavius Mathers, RB, Western Michigan Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech Alek Torgersen, QB, Penn Nate Iese, TE, UCLA Trent Cowan, TE, Idaho Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama ROOKIE REPORT One prospect people thought I had rated too high in the 2016 NFL Draft was Florida safety Keanu Neal who I had rated as the No. 1 safety in the class and the 12th best player in the draft. However, Neal is living up to this high-ranking as he is showing he has the intensity to be a physical presence in the Falcons secondary and has even drawn comparisons to five-time Pro Bowler Earl Thomas. If Neal continues to play at his current rate he should be a contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Speaking of defensive backs making an impact as a rookie another player doing this is Chicago Bear cornerback Cre’von Leblanc. Leblanc was undrafted coming out of Florida Atlantic and was originally signed by the Patriots before they released him. He then signed with the Bears where he has established himself as one of the top undrafted free agents in the 2016 class. In his latest game against the Packers, he had his best game of the season as he broke up two touchdown passes and showed tight physical coverage all night long. Another Chicago Bear rookie who showed up big last week is first round draft pick Leonard Floyd who recorded two sacks, one forced fumble and recovered a fumble against the Packers. Floyd needed a big week last week as he had been a major disappointment before this game as he only had one tackle and two hurries in his previous four games. If Floyd wants to live up to expectations the Bears had for him when they drafted him with ninth pick in the draft he will need to continually play like he did vs. the Packers So far the biggest steal of the draft has to be Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott who has filled in for an injured Tony Romo and take the Cowboys to a 5-1 record. Prescott has shown great poise and command of the team despite being a rookie fourth-round draft pick. In fact, he has played so well many people are calling for him to be the starting quarterback even when Romo returns from injury. Yannick Ngakoue might be in the running for the defensive steal of the draft. In only six games this season he has recorded 13 tackles, four sacks and an interception which has allowed him to be only one of two rookies in NFL history to have four sacks and an interception in the first five games of his career with the other one being six-time Pro Bowler Terrell Suggs. It should be interesting to see how close Ngakoue gets to breaking the rookie record of 14.5 sacks in a season. A player who is exceeding my expectations is San Francisco 49ers fourth round draft pick Rashard Robinson who I had rated as the 23rd best cornerback in the draft. Robinson fell in the draft due to off the field concerns that caused him to be kicked off the LSU football team in 2014, which is the last time he played college football. So far this season Robinson has been one of the better players on the 49ers defense and has done an excellent job of shutting down any receiver he has gone up against. Check out previous editions of Inside the War Room: Week 7 View full article