Primetime Prospects to Watch: Week 1

NEPD Staff Writer CJ Sousa

College Football is here (at last)! Opening weekend is full of cupcakes, unknowns, and major point spreads. However, these four games loaded with 2016 NFL Draft prospects will be worth your attention.

UNC vs South Carolina THURSDAY SEPT 3 ESPN 6:00 Charlotte, NC

In years past, UNC has been overwhelmed in this matchup – that won’t be the case Thursday. South Carolina is only returning 12 starters from last year’s 7-6 squad (maybe a good thing), and is a team I’m quite frankly not high on in ’15. Quarterback concerns, defensive worries, and relatively unknown faces in key positions – that describes South Carolina in a nut shell. I expect a shootout, and I’ll take the Tar Heels (+2) to win a close one. 34-30.

North Carolina Prospects

OG Landon Turner : Dominant in short spaces, struggles with flexibility in space. Great frame, but needs to work on technique. Shows good explosion at the point of attack.  Turner should have his way vs the Gamecocks.

OG Caleb Peterson – Inconsistent at times, but can be just as good if not better than turner. Holding has been an issue , mainly because of overall inconsistent technique with his hands.

WR Ryan Switzer: (5’10, 185) 5 PR TD as a freshmen, 0 last season. Lined up all over the field last year and caught 61 passes for over 750 yards and 4 touchdowns. Projects as a slot guy. Lacks ideal size but makes up for it with unique

WR Quinshad Davis (6’3 210) Waiting for a leap here. Had 41 catches for 470 yards and 6 touchdowns in ’14. Large catch radius, has legitimate 4.6 speed, and good at high pointing the ball. He isn’t the best route runner, and overall needs to polish up his game, but Davis has immense potential.

RB Romar Morris DE Jessie Rogers LB Jeff Schoettmer, QB Marquise Williams

South Carolina Prospects

WR Pharoh Cooper: It all starts with Cooper for the Gamecocks. One of my favorite players in college football, Cooper is lethal from any spot on the field. Last season in the SEC he was second in receiving yards (1,136), third in receptions (69) and ninth in all-purpose yards per game (108.5).Cooper wasn’t asked to run a huge variety of routes in ’14, which I look to change this year. Another year developing as a true wide receiver could do wonders for Cooper, and he is the main guy to watch for South Carolina in 2015.

ILB Skai Moore : A lethal weapon in the middle of the field for the Gamecocks. I doubt he stays at ILB, or even LB for that matter at the next level, but Moore will likely find work on Sundays. His quickness seperates him, and is rarely squared up on by an incoming blocker. He excels in coverage which leads me to think he could possibly be a safety at the next level, time will tell.

RB Brandon Wilds: I feel like he’s been at South Carolina for a decade, and I also think he’s one of the more underappreciated players in college football. He’s averaged 5.0 ypc throughout his career, although in limited touches. He’s the guy now (Marcus Lattimore, Mike Davis) and should thrive in the spotlight. He’s out of the draft picture for now, but if Wilds can remain healthy he can catch steam throughout the season.

OT Brandon Shell: Most experienced Gamecock lineman, and is switching from RT to LT this season. Better in the run game, Shell has struggled in the past against explosive edge rushers. Plays too tall and has lazy feet, however the move to the blindside as well as another year in college could help fix these issues.

TE Jerell Adams,DT Phillip Dukes, DT Gerald Dixon, SS TJ Gurley

Louisville @ 6 Auburn 3:30 CBS Georgia Dome

Will Muschamp : Average head coach, top tier defensive coordinator. Unlike Texas A&M (Chavis, discussed later) Auburn has athletes on the defensive side of the ball. Muschamp’s arrival, combined with Malzahn’s offense (led by my Heisman pick Jeremy Johnson) should be a major player in the playoff chase. I don’t think this will be a game, so I won’t even discuss Louisville as a team. I will watch Sheldon Rankins however to see how he handles the relentless dive/zone read attack. Auburn, points. Louisville, far less points.

Louisville Prospects

DT Sheldon Rankins: Led the Cardinals in tackles for loss (13.5) as well as sacks (8) in 2014, although his teammate Lorenzo Mauldin was much more talked about. He has the ability to clog the hole as well as penetrate, something he must do early and often against Auburn. He must show up big for Louisville to have a shot.

DE Devonte Fields: Similar to Rankins, Fields must have a supreme effort for the upset. I expect Auburn’s relentless downhill rushing attack as well as quick-hitch passing game to stunt Field’s stats in this one, nonetheless Fields must impact this game one way or another. A TCU transfer, all eyes will be on Fields to see how he does in his debut.

RB Brandon Radcliff : It’s simple here. There were many mouths to feed last year (Michael Dyer, Dominique Brown) and now Radcliff is the last one still at the table. A bowling ball style runner (5’9, 214), Radcliff will get fed early and often as ball control is critical against the Tigers.

WR James Quick, WR Kai De La Cruz, QB Will Gardner, ILB Stacy Thomas ILB James Burgess

Auburn Prospects

QB Jeremy Johnson:   Let’s get the ball rolling with Johnson. As Nick Marshall was great for the Tigers for multiple seasons, Johnson gives the Tigers a significant boost. He’s had limited opportunities, but the overall arm talent combined with outstanding athleticism (6’5 240, 4.7-8 40) leads me to believe Johnson will have a monster season. Gus Malzahn will have Johnson put up unreal numbers, but I’ll be watching to see if Johnson can develop into a true pro prospect.

WR Duke Williams: He’s raw, and it was probably a wise decision to return to school for his senior year. However, I struggle to name too many receivers better than Williams in college football. He lined up mainly inside last year, but I expect that to change. Look for a big day / year from Williams.

DE/OLB Carl Lawson:  Did you forget about him? A freshmen All-American in 2013, Lawson tore his ACL in the following spring and missed the 2014 season. Phenomenal get-off as well as fluid through blockers, Lawson could shoot up draft boards. I’d like to see him hold the point of attack against the run better, but overall there isn’t much to complain about with this top tier pass rusher.

ILB Cassanova McKinzy: One of my overall favorite players in college football. Always around the ball, and has played a variety of roles for the Tigers through his career. He’ll be inside this year, and therefore will be considered undersized. Keep an eye on McKinzy, as I see him being one of the more talked about prospects next spring.

OLB Kris Frost,RB Jovon Robinson, DT Montravius Adams, OT Avery Young

15 Arizona State vs Texas A&M 7:00 ESPN – Houston, TX

This will be a track meet. Longtime SEC defensive coordinator will improve A&M’s defense immensely, I just don’t see it happening on opening night. Point blank: They both will score a bunch, but Arizona State will stop A&M more than A&M can stop Arizona State. No need to overthink it here. The Sun Devils are actually an underdog in this game, so I’ll take the ‘upset’. ASU 41 A&M 31.

Arizona State Prospects

WR DJ Foster: One of the more versatile players in college football, Foster (former RB) will be the main playmaker to watch in this up and down shootout. He needs to touch up his route running and ball tracking abilities to be a NFL receiver, but Foster is certainly worth a look. Expect a big night.

CB Lloyd Carrington:  A versatile player with an aggressive style, Carrington has a shot to be a solid pro. A&M can be a nightmare for cornerbacks, but Carrington’s ability to come up through blocks and make tackles leads me to believe he will do well Saturday.

C Nick Kelly, OG Christian Westerman, OG Vi Teofilo, ILB Salamo Fiso

A&M Prospects

C Mike Matthews: A strong centerpiece to the offensive line, although undersized. He is athletic in tight spaces and can hold his own against bigger defenders. He is key to A&M’s attack.

OT Germain Ifedi: Great build, long arms and can be punishing while run blocking. Needs to improve overall hand placement/skills.

WR Ricky Seals-Jones :Great size (6’5 235) and good enough athleticism, Ricky Seals-Jones looks to improve on what can be considered an up and down year. He is Kevin Sumlin’s best weapon outside of sophomore Speedy Noil, and should have a big year if healthy. Needs to get more consistent catching the ball, and could polish up the route running (not sure if that will happen while in A&M’s system).

P Drew Kaser, OGJoseph Cheek,RB Tra Carson

#20 Wisconsin vs #3 Alabama 8:00 PM ABC Arlington, Texas

The marquee game of the weekend. The last time we saw the Crimson Tide they were defeated by eventual National Champion and Big 10 opponent Ohio State. The last time we saw Wisconsin they beat up on SEC foe Auburn. What do I make of this? Not much. Bowls are fluky, but it does show that Big 10 teams can stand up every now and then against the SEC. The main prospect matchup I’ll be keeping my eyes on are Badgers’ C Dan Voltz and RB Corey Clement vs the interior of the Alabama front (A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed). This will be a major key to the game, and a matchup I believe Alabama will win. I’ll probably be taking the points (WIS +10), but I do see Alabama winning this one. I’ll say 27-24.

Alabama Prospects

DT A’Shawn Robinson: Versatile defender best suited for the inside, but can play anywhere along the line. Can’t wait to see his matchup vs the Wisconsin line, particularly Dan Voltz.

DE Jonathan Allen: Can be a handful off the edge, First Team All-SEC as a sophomore. Allen is sometimes lesser talked about, but has all the tools to be a potential late day 1 pick.

RB Derrick Henry: The 6’3 240lbs back led Alabama in rushing last season with 990 yards scoring 11 touchdowns averaging 5.8 ypc. With Yeldon gone, it is truly his show now. Henry is one of the top running backs in conference loaded with top tier talent at the position.

RB Kenyan Drake: Drake (finally) will be a legitimate part of the Alabama offense as the pure RB2. He’s multi-dimensional and is an excellent complement to Derrick Henry. Whenever he’s had opportunities in the past, he’s excelled. He now will have a true chance to make a major impact.

TE O.J. Howard: He could be the nation’s top tight end. Does Alabama know he may be the nation’s top tight end? The freak athlete caught just 17 passes last season, I’m looking for Lane Kiffin to find a way to get Howard more involved in 2015.

OLB Ryan Anderson, CB Cyrus Jones, ILB Reggie Ragland, DL Jarran Reed C Ryan Kelly

Wisconsin Prospects

RB Corey Clement: It was James White, then Melvin Gordon, and now Clement. Even with Gordon’s absurd 2,587 yard season, Clement made an impact with 949 yards himself at 6.5 yards a pop. He’s a patient runner and attacks the line aggressively – something he must do to find success against the Crimson Tide.

LT Tyler Marz Has struggled in the past vs superior athletes off the edge, so I will be watching Marz closely to see how he handles the Alabama front. A solid player, however not outstanding in any one attribute.

C Dan Voltz : Will have his hands full Saturday night, as it should be a great test for the redshirt junior.   Has the perfect opportunity to elevate his stock with a solid showing vs the Crimson Tide.

TE Austin Traylor, OLB Joe Schobert, WR Alex Erickson, CB Darius Hillary, CB Sojourn Shelton


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46 Responses to “Primetime Prospects to Watch: Week 1”

  1. steve earle says:

    Hi guys, I’m still alive if anyone asked, just dormant for awhile. I too was really shocked to read Jonas Gray was cut I thought he was a lock. Did he put itching powder in BB’s jock or something? After last night Lewis took the question somewhat out of my mind. What a performance the kid looked great, better then I thought.
    Well wonder how many went into shock when Easley hobbled off the field? I was sorry to see that as he had had a really encouraging camp and pre-season but when a guy has the history he has no one should be surprised. Puts an end to that debate anyway.

    • Kevan says:

      I’ve been a big fan of Lewis since he got drafted but he had to deal with injuries himself for 2 years. I don’t really see a debate or a debate ending I just think injuries are apart of the game. Easely is in his 2nd year, has obvious ability just has to get through it, or not. Playing football at this level is a huge risk for anyone. When gronk was dealing with injury after injury I don’t think it ended any debate. Teams take calculated risks, more so when they pick at the end of each round too, sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t. I wouldn’t put a period at the end of any debate for a player in his 2nd season. I hope the guy is alright but I’m never shocked when a player goes down with an injury its just what it is.

      • steve earle says:

        Sorry took so long getting back to you Kevan still having computer problems, shopping for a new one. Well of course your right that picking at or near the bottom of the rounds every year Bill needs to take a few calculated risks but Gronk was a second rd. #42 if I recall not a 1st. Gronk had back surgery after his Sr. yr and was given a good prognosis of recovery. But a broken bone then could happen to anyone so not sure the analogy is a very good one because Easley had two knees go in different years. coming from a medical back ground, though long retired, my concern about joint injuries my be colored from dated practices. Still given the grief many of us were given over our stated questioning of BB’s selecting him I think events have justified those concerns. I do hope he makes a full and complete recovery because he did show us how effective he could be when healthy. Still understand I still think a second round for him would have been more appropriate.

  2. Russell says:

    Coach Belichick liked CB- Coleman enough to steal him off Seattles Practice Squad and put him on the roster for 3 game checks, by rule!!! Interesting with Stork on short term IR.

    • Russell says:

      Coach Belichick also grabbed LB Alex Singleton 6’2″ 245lbs, 4.65 40 yd off the Wire from seattle, who may have been trying to get him to their P-Squad!!

      • GM-in-Training says:

        According to, Singleton is more like 233 pounds, which puts him in the small, fast mold, kind of like they were hoping Mathew Wells could be. Is this supposed to be a big, slow safety or a small, fast LB?

        • steve earle says:

          Right GM, though Seattle is known as a speed def. so not surprising he’s only 233 if that is correct. I could see BB picking his spots and using him as speed rusher or cover LB or whatever. Anyway shows interesting possibility’s even if only on SpT.

  3. Ryan says:

    Something that flew under the radar with Stork heading to the IR was the signing of Justin Coleman. Seems like the Patriots are pretty attached to him.

    • Russell says:

      Patriots see somthing in Justin Coleman! I wish Coach Belichick would grab Rajion Neal RB who was cut yesterday. I tracked this guy at Tennessee a solid RB with pass catching abilities.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      Justin Coleman had a great 3-cone time. That’s like a fast 40-time; you either have it or you don’t. With good coaching, if he’s got the head for it, he could be a pretty sticky corner, probably a slot guy. My one concern is he’s a lightweight, and I keep having visions of Kyle Arrington getting pwnd in the Superbowl by Seattle’s 6’5″ rookie slot receiver, Chris Mathews.

      • Russell says:

        Coleman also had the fastest 10 yd split at the Combine !!!

      • steve earle says:

        Hi GM, Your right about size but otherwise good potential. Sure would like a nice 6-1 guy but it’s what it is I guess. Bill does get the best out of his match ups so we have to wait and see.

  4. Ryan says:

    James Morris not even on the practice squad? Wow.

    • Russell says:

      Ya Morris is a BIG surprise he’s not on the Practice_squad, VERY hard to understand that move.
      Dallas cut Lawrence Gibson OT I did a lot of work on last year from Virginia Tech. great looking prospect for the P-Squad.

  5. Dan Sullivan says:

    Players that I am thrilled about making the team.
    1 Rufus Johnson (He has some Charles Haley in him).
    2 Shaq Mason
    3 Geneo Grissom
    4 Joe Cardona
    5 Dion Lewis

    Players who I would rather see move on and use slot for free agent.
    1 Brian Stork
    2 Tavon Wilson

    Finally instead of reporters constantly talking and writing about Tom Brady lets
    give some attention of the incredible effort by over a hundred to save a beached shark.
    They had no fear and worked together unfortunetly to no avail but the effort to save
    was incredible. What “teamwork”. Great story NECN.

    • Kevan says:

      Brian stork is a boss

      • steve earle says:

        I like Brian too but injuries are a concern for me now. He is very solid when playing but had his problems last year also if I recall though don’t remember just what it was, do you?

        • Kevan says:

          Hey Steve good to see you on here man. I don’t remember what his injury was last year, concussion and neck right now. It’s a physical game.

  6. Russell says:

    Reid Fragel cut OT/TE 6’8″ 308lbs, I liked this guy last year, i just think he fits what the Patriots do, played TE for Ohio State, similar guy to Michael Williams.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      Russel, Why do you think young Fragel was cut?

      • Russell says:

        The first report I saw had him cut, but now I see he’s on the roster??
        Patriots P-Squad;
        OL-Chris Barker, TE Asante Cleveland, WR kenbrell Thompkins, WR Nathan Palmer, OT Blaine Clausell, lb xzavier Dickerson, LB Darius Fleming, CB Brandon King, CB Daton Swanson, DT Jimmy Staten

      • GM-in-Training says:

        CB Justin Coleman doesn’t fit the Seahawks. He’s 185#, on the short side, good at direction changes, but not the guy to jam a receiver at the line.

  7. Kevan says:

    KT is back! KT is back! That’s our WR! Where’s the beef! Show ponies, unicorns!

  8. Russell says:

    Patriots get DT Khyri Thornton off waivers from Green Bay, cut Cameron Fleming.

    • Kevan says:

      Dang. Well something had to be up cuz Cannon would have saved a lot more money. With 12 Dlineman on the roster right now, there has to be a trade coming up.

  9. Russell says:

    Guys I hope the Patriots take a look at are;
    WR Kenbrell Thompson
    RB Robert Turbin
    CB Jaylen Watkins
    DT Devon Stills
    OG David Yankey

    • Ryan says:

      Yeah I definitely see players who could be cut in order to sign others. How do you feel about swiping Vince Mayle from the Browns?

      • Russell says:

        I like Mayle, but it will take him to long to understand the Patriots system, now maybe after 3 games he could play. Thats why I think Thompkins, as he has been in the Patriots system

  10. Kevan says:

    If the patriots can’t make a trade soon they need to bring back Kendbrell Thompkins and see what happens untill Lafell comes off PUP.

  11. Kevan says:

    I look for a lot of 2 TE sets on offense Thursday night. Surprised Cadet made the team over Gray but I’m surprised every year. Maybe the pats are figuring out who they want to bring in at FB, maybe Cadet being able to play WR helped him stick, pats need WR help that’s for sure. Heard they were trying to swing a trade for a big WR, we’ll see if anything comes of it. On D I expect a lot of 4-2-5 with 3 safeties on the field or 5-2-4 with 3 DEs on the field. I’m not as worried about LB depth as most, honestly Ninko should have been splitting time there all summer with the depth at DE. Pats should be able to get Justin Coleman and Daxton Swanson on the PS, it would be nice to have developing for next year with Darryl Roberts as well. Overall I like the make up of this team, on Defense pats did lose Revis,Browner,Arrington but to Tarell brown is better than Kyle and they added J.Mayo,Easely,Malcom Brown,Jabal Sheard,Trey(steal of the draft) flowers, you can even throw in Rufus Johnsons name to that mix. Bottom line is I’m lookin for around 60 sacks this year!!!!

    • Ryan says:

      60 might be a little optimistic, but I could see them doubling their 26 sacks from last year. My prediction is 46.

      • Kevan says:

        Yea your probably right, but is that all they had last year? I thought it was more than that, hey what do you think about Jameel McClain LB from the Giants, led the team in tackles and played 14 games.

        • Ryan says:

          Turns out I was wrong about the sack total. Todti says it was 40 past year. 60 doesn’t sound quite so crazy anymore!

          As for McClain, I think that he would fit right in. He’s an accomplished player and the front seven is lacking in experience, especially at the linebacker position. I don’t see a reason to keep Eric Martin over McClain long-term.

      • Todti says:

        The Patriots had 40 sacks last year. They held their opponents to 26.

      • Kevan says:

        That’s funny I was just sitting here drinking my coffee and wanted to go see last years sack total, and said 60 isn’t crazy!! I think atleast 50 is realistic at this point.

  12. Ryan says:

    My views on potential upcoming roster moves:

    Potential drops:
    RB Travaris Cadet
    LB Eric Martin
    S Tavon Wilson
    OL Josh Kline

    Potential replacements:
    DT Red Bryant/Devon Still/Kelcy Quarles/Jerel Worthy/Corey Wootton
    LB Mason Foster/Joe Mays/Jeremiah George/Max Bullough
    CB Cassius Vaughn/Jaylen Watkins
    OL David Yankey/Jah Reid/Robert Myers/Wesley Johnson

    Cadet has been injured and his skillset is redundant, Martin and Kline haven’t looked good enough to be backups, and Wilson has had enough time to prove himself worthy. Two more veterans for the front seven would do wonders for a developing defense. Also, another cornerback who can play the slot and an offensive lineman with potential on the interior would solidify the roster. It would be nice to see the Pats make a move or two.

    Look out for Belicheck to sign Browns 4th-round draft pick Vince Mayle. He’s raw, but he put up almost 1500 yards last year and he would give the Pats a chance to “steal” a draft pick away from another team.

  13. Ryan says:

    Hard to believe Eric Martin made the roster over James Morris and Tavon Wilson made it over Daxton Swanson. Not to mention Travaris Cadet over Jonas Gray. Definitely some shockers with the cuts to 53.

  14. JackT says:

    Trevor Harmon, Arizona, Jones from the Giants roster cut too.

  15. GM-in-Training says:

    Pats picked up rookie CB Justin Coleman today off waivers. He seems like Kyle Arrington 2.0, light, good at changing directions, maybe not quite as fast. That seems like a poor omen for McClain.

    • Russell says:

      Patriots surpisingly cut Morris, and Groy to move to P-Squad. Raiders cut Sio Moore LB a guy on my Patriots draft board 2013.

    • Russell says:

      Coleman had the fastest 10 yd split at the Combine.

    • Ryan says:

      Coleman was probably a 4th- or 5th-round talent who fell because of major red flags. He was just cut, so it seems like he was added so that he could join the practice squad, a shrewd move by Belicheck. Same goes for Davaris Daniels.

      I can’t believe that they cut Morris. He had a great camp and we need linebacker depth. I love the way he plays and I thought he should’ve been on the team. He might make it to the practice squad, but it’s more likely that another team picks him up.

      • Ryan says:

        Whoops, I mistook Justin Coleman for Justin Cox. I liked Coleman a lot more in the draft because of his lack of illegal activity and his combine performance overall. He seems ripe for the practice squad with a good chance to contribute next year.

  16. Dylan says:

    LOL ya’ll still calling for bills head for taking Easley instead over Luis Nicks III

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