NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa
And the capital of the college football world is…Mississippi? Huh? You may have never thought it was possible, but the two best teams in the country are Ole Miss and Mississippi State. I thought Ole Miss would struggle last week…quite the contrary. They took care of Texas A&M rather easily. Get out your 2017 NFL draft big board’s however, A&M true freshmen WR Speedy Noil will be at the top of the list. Reminds me of Sammy Watkins, except I think Noil is farther along than Watkins was his freshmen year at Clemson.
Autograph Gate: Week 7 saw my number 1 overall prospect, Todd Gurley, suspended indefinitely for receiving compensation for his autographs. I know what you’re saying, number 1 overall for a RB is insane. I agree, and if I was on the clock at No. 1 I wouldn’t be taking Gurley. But to me he’s the best player in all of college football, so that ranking is justified. I actually think him being suspended is a positive for Gurley. NFL evaluators have seen more than enough to know Gurley’s once-a-decade ability, and this suspension (if he doesn’t play another snap this year) all but guarantees he will be healthy for the NFL combine. I see Gurley as a top 5 talent, and I don’t see the Vikings (wherever they end up) passing up the opportunity to draft the best RB prospect since…well… Adrian Peterson. But it’s too early for that talk. Also in autograph gate, the ‘always something’ Jameis Winston. Seriously, if it isn’t one thing its’ another. As of 10/15 he is still clear to play, but the future looks shaky. Not playing the rest of the year could hurt Winston, and maybe even see him fall out of the top 3-5 picks where he seemed to be all but a lock.
Heisman watch: With Todd Gurley out, the Heisman race is wide, and I mean wide open. Cases can be made for multiple players, I’ll make mine for MSU QB Dak Prescott. 3,000 passing yards, 1,000 rushing yards, 30 passing TDs and 15 rushing TDs are looking very realistic for the senior. He’s also my fastest rising draftable player. He started the year outside of my top 15 QBs, now he sits at 5. On my sheet Prescott is followed by WIS RB Melvin Gordon, ORE QB Marcus Mariota, (much distance, then) BAMA WR Amari Cooper, and ND QB Everett Golson.
#14 Kansas State vs #11 Oklahoma Noon ESPN
Through the first month of the season, Oklahoma looked like the best team in the country. After an upset loss at TCU, the Sooners followed it up by almost blowing it vs a completely under-matched Texas team. Freshmen RB Samaje Perine has been held in check the last two weeks, which in my opinion is a ripple effect causing the Oklahoma offense to struggle. Another issue I have with Oklahoma is their defensive scheme. Their asking great pass rushers like OLB Eric Striker to be in pass coverage way too much. I like Striker a lot as an all-around player, and although he is very good on film in pass coverage, I don’t understand why Oklahoma continues to take their best playmakers away from what they do best. My Oklahoma rant is done for now, it’s just frustrating to watch a team who is as talented as any struggle the way they have. If the game was in the little apple I’d be more inclined to think it would be close, but it’s in Norman…give me the Sooners by 14.
OLB Eric Striker: First round pick on my board. Not being used in my opinion to his best personal strengths at the moment. Big time upside. Flew around last week all game vs Texas and is one of my favorite prospects to watch.
OG Adam Shead: Good arm length and quickness, needs to work on his feet though. Can tend to have bad technique at the point of attack up field.
DE Charles Tapper: Tapper has day 1 talent but he may end up being a day 3 pick. Hasn’t had the stellar season some envisioned him having just yet, but there’s still plenty of time to turn some heads with his unique combination of size and quickness.
Other prospects: OT Daryl Williams, OT Tyrus Thompson, ILB Frank Shannon, K Michael Hunnicutt, TE Blake Bell, CB Julian Wilson, DT Chuka Ndulue, DE Geneo Grissom
Kansas State prospects
WR Tyler Lockett: One of the better WR prospects in the Big 12. Smaller receiver with great quickness and decisiveness. On film he tends to catch the ball with his pads sometimes (biggest pet peeve) and doesn’t exactly present a huge catch radius. Watch him on film and you’ll see a bunch of Go’s and Stop & Go’s. Broke out last week vs Texas Tech with 12 catches 125 yards & 2 TDs
OLB Ryan Mueller: Good size, not ideal speed. Has been a DE and a OLB in college, I see him more as a stand-up LB prospect. Good pursuit skills and a great motor, but I could see his overall lack of pure sideline-to-sideline speed hurt him at the next level.
Other prospects: OG Cody Whitehair, C B.J. Finney
#21 Texas A&M vs #7 Alabama 3:30 CBS
This is truly an elimination game in the SEC West (A&M may already be out, but crazier things have happened). Alabama survived last week, barely, by fighting off Arkansas 14-13. Amari Cooper was held in check for the first time all year, and the Alabama offense really struggled to adapt. Check this out: Alabama’s 227 yards of offense was the fifth-lowest total in Saban’s 100 games as the head man in Tuscaloosa. That MUST improve, because even though they are struggling, A&M can explode at any time. Kenny Hill isn’t having an as easy time lately as he did in the first few weeks of the season, but I believe Coach Sumlin will dial up a plan to put up points. The Aggies’ last trip into T-Town ended with a W, thanks to a certain quarterback who’s now on the Cleveland Browns. That QB won’t be suiting up for the Aggies this Saturday, and I don’t see A&M winning back-to-back in Bryant-Denny Stadium. I’ll take the Tide, but I think they will have to work for it. 31-27.
SS Landon Collins: He’s been a baller this year, and I still have him as my top overall safety in the 2015 draft. He’s in the box hitting people and he’s outside making plays. He isn’t Eric Berry or Earl Thomas, but he is the best pure safety in America as far as I can see (Ole Miss’ Cody Prewitt has impressed me a lot of late, and is slowly closing the gap, just isn’t the pure athlete Collins is).
WR Amari Cooper: Struggled last week for the first time all season with only 2 catches. Look out for Cooper to have a big game this week in T-Town. My number 1 overall WR prospect.
RB Derrick Henry*: The only RB situation more frustrating to try and figure out other than the New England Patriots (when everyone is healthy) is Alabama. One week it’s Henry, one week it’s Yeldon. Both are very good, but I still have Henry as the higher upside player. Closest thing to Todd Gurley in college as far as size, speed, and strength.
RB T.J. Yeldon: Like the rest of the Alabama offense, Yeldon was held in check last week averaging less than 3 yards per carry. I see him as a late day 2 draft pick at this point.
Other prospects: OG Arie Kouandjio , DT Brandon Ivory, OT Austin Sheppard, WR Christion Jones, RB Kenyan Drake, C Ryan Kelly, DT Darren Lake, ILB Trey DePriest, ILB Denzel Devall
OT Cedric Ogbuehi: Currently my 3rd OT prospect behind Stanford’s Andrus Peat and LSU’s La’el Collins. Has played well this year and still on track to be a first rounder.
OG Jarvis Harrison: A versatile guard who can play any of the interior positions, he should project as a mid-round prospect.
WR Malcome Kennedy: A&M’s most reliable receiver. Has had injury issues this year, and some scouts say he’s too slow. I say he will be on a NFL roster come 2015 opening day, probably a day 3 draft pick.
WR Speedy Noil**: The recruiting hype surrounding Speedy is starting to be justified. A quiet start to his career (Just a true Fr.) was ended last week as he burst onto the scene against one of the best secondary’s in America. Learn the name, I’ll go on record now and say if he stays out of trouble and healthy he will be a 2017 top 3 WR prospect.
Other prospects: DE Myles Garrett** FR, RB Trey Williams, TE Cam Clear, DB Deshazor Everett, FS Floyd Raven Jr.
*2016 prospect / ** 2017 prospect
#15 Oklahoma State vs #12 TCU 4:00 Fox Sports 1
What a wild game in Waco last week for TCU. The Horned Frogs led 58-37 in the 4th quarter, only to lose 61-58 to QB Bryce Petty and the Baylor Bears. No time for a hangover here, as the talented and capable Oklahoma State Cowboys are coming into town. Oklahoma State is still undefeated in the Big 12, but a tough schedule lies ahead. They proved back on opening night that they can play with anyone after giving Florida State all they could handle. Everyone seems to love TCU in this game, and why not? They defended home turf by beating Oklahoma a few weeks back, and looked very impressive while doing so. Oklahoma State comes in after a less then spectacular effort vs Kansas, 27-20. This is more of a feeling pick for me, I’m taking the upset. Cowboys by a field goal.
S Sam Carter: Shows good athleticism and very good ball skills on film. He struggled last week, especially in the fourth quarter. Re-watching the film he was caught out of position at times and uncharacteristically missed opportunities to make some big plays. Day 2 prospect.
DT Chucky Hunter: I thought he actually played well last week (one of the few defenders to do so). Big body who moves like a smaller linebacker… I think he has a very high ceiling and I have him as a 3rd round DT right now.
Other prospects: QB Trevone Boykin, DT Davion Pearson
Oklahoma State Prospects
DT James Castleman: Mainly a one technique DT, Castleman will have to lead the front 7 and play phenomenally if the Cowboys wish to slow down the ‘Noles O.
RB Desmond Roland: Not overly talked about, but an underrated prospect in my eyes. There’s a lot of RB Depth in the upcoming draft, but I can see Roland finding a way onto a NFL roster next year. Bigger back at 6’2 215 lbs with some decent burst to him. If he can perform vs a quality defense like Oklahoma at the end of the year he will start to see more recognition.
Other prospects: OT Dan Koenig
#5 Notre Dame vs #2 Florida State 8 pm ABC
By far the game of the weekend. ESPN’s college gameday will once again be in Tallahassee to see a potential elimination game from playoff contention. However, once again, a big time Florida State football game is overshadowed by off the field drama from Jameis Winston. The NCAA is looking into the potential illegal compensation of autographs signed by Winston over the last two years. As of 10/15 he is active and will play…however that could change and with it, change the complete complexion of the game. I’m going to assume Jameis will play in this one. Regardless of what you may hear or read, the talent gap in this game is extreme. I can see as many as 9… NINE Seminoles being drafted before we hear the first Notre Dame prospect off the board in May. It is well documented that Notre Dame tends to struggle vs athletic, speedy teams. I see a blowout coming. I think Winston will play well, and the offense will put up points. More so, I think Jimbo Fisher’s defense will dominate Everett Golson and the Irish. I’ll be a little bold, and say FSU wins this game by at least 3 scores.
QB Jameis Winston: His off the field antics takes away from his on the field greatness. He has struggled this year without question as compared to last year, but athletically he is still a player who should be taken in the top 5 next spring. I really hope he plays Saturday to see how he does vs the Irish defense.
CB Ronald Darby: One of my fastest rising players. I can see Darby along with teammate P.J. Williams both as top 25 picks at the moment. It is a treat watching both of them on the field at once. Slightly inconsistent at times, but a very high ceiling for Darby.
WR Rashad Greene: Continues to be the most reliable pass catcher on FSU’s roster. On pace for over 80 catches and 1,200 yards. High second round pick in my opinion at the worst.
DE Mario Edwards Jr.: Recently called the Notre Dame offensive line “the best he will see this year”. I still expect him to have his way, as I expect his get off and explosive first step will be too much. ND may have the best O-line Edwards Jr. will see this year, but he is the best pass rusher they will see all year as well.
CB P.J. Williams: Still my number one corner. I thought he played very well vs Syracuse last week making several nice plays on the ball.
Other prospects: OT Cameron Erving, TE Nick O’Leary, RB Karlos Williams, OG Tre Jackson, SS Tyler Hunter, DT Desmond Hollin, OG Josue Matias,
Notre Dame Prospects
CB Cody Riggs: Undersized, but very smart and versatile. Has played well this year, and with help stood his ground vs Stanford’s Ty Montgomery. He will be tested once again with Rashard Greene.
TE Ben Koyack: Has shown me he can be a NFL player, hasn’t shown me he’s a day 2 pick as most suggest. Needs to become a more consistent route runner and more consistent factor in the game.
QB Everett Golson: I still have him outside my top 12 QB’s, but boy can he make an impression by playing well vs Florida State. I see this as a make it or break it game for Golson as far as his NFL draft stock is concerned. Play big, welcome to the conversation. Don’t show up, then he is who we thought he was.
Other prospects: OG Christian Lombard, WR DaVaris Daniels, DE Ishaq Williams, CB KeiVarae Russell, DT Sheldon Day
Some other games with prospect interest : #4 Baylor vs West Virginia Noon Fox Sports 1, #8 Michigan State vs Indiana 3:30 ESPN, #10 Georgia vs Arkansas 4:00 SEC Network, Tennessee vs #3 Ole Miss 7:00 ESPN, & #23 Stanford vs #17 Arizona State 10:30 ESPN