Primetime Prospects to Watch: Week 7

NEPD Staff Writer CJ Sousa

We have reached Week 7 of the College Football schedule, also known as the unofficial halfway point of the season. Let’s take a peak of my personal top 4, as well as the most important games this weekend impacting the NFL Draft

Playoff Chase:

  1. Ohio State: I wonder, is anybody truly impressed with Ohio State this season?  Their toughest test, Virginia Tech, lost their quarterback halfway through what was a dog fight.  Ohio State has since beat Hawaii and Western Michigan soundly, squeaked by Northern Illinois and Indiana and looked largely unimpressive last week in a 21 point home win vs Maryland.  They do remain #1, but aren’t as rock solid as they seem.
  2. LSU: They rank 6th in total defense, 5th in total run defense. Combine that with the best player in College Football in Leonard Fournette, and you have a winning combination. Quarterback Brandon Harris hasn’t been awful either.  His stats aren’t amazing by any stretch but he has yet to throw an interception this year.  My eyes tell me LSU is better than some of these offensive juggernauts.
  3. Utah: The Michigan win suddenly looks better and better, as Utah continues to handle their schedule behind one of the best backs in the country, Devontae Booker.  Up next for the Utes, home games vs Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA and Colorado and road trips to USC, Washington and Arizona.  An undefeated season is looking more and more possible.
  4. Clemson: I know, the Big 12 powers (TCU, Baylor) aren’t listed. Fact is, Clemson has quality wins on their resume in a way neither TCU or Baylor does.  I’ve been impressed with Deshaun Watson as well.  He has turned it over some, sure.  However he’s completing 69% of his throws and has been a dual threat as well.  As of right now, they get my slightest of slight nods.

Just missed the cut: 5)TCU 6)Baylor 7)Alabama

#10 Alabama vs #9 Texas A&M 3:30 CBS

The first of two major SEC tilts Saturday.  The traditional, bruising Crimson Tide clash with what seems to be the only team in the SEC capable of a passing offense, Texas A&M.  People seem down on ‘Bama, and I’m not sure why just yet.  Their lone loss, a flukey-esque loss at home vs a very talented Ole Miss squad, and now all of a sudden the ‘Alabama Dynasty’ is over.  Not so fast.  There may not be a better front 7 in the country on defense, and the stable of backs with young play makers on the perimeter keep the offense capable.  The positives for A&M, the Aggies had a bye week to prepare for the Tide.   Conspiracy? Alabama fans think so.  Since 2007 Alabama has played 25 teams coming off a bye (10 more than any other team in the country).  Up next for Bama? Tennessee.  You guessed it, the Vols are off this week.  Nonetheless, I’ll take the road grader offense of Bama to wear down this Aggie front, and maul the Aggies offense.  I’ll take Alabama in a close, lower scoring game than people would expect.  23-20.

Alabama prospects

DT/DE A’Shawn Robinson: When reviewing his Georgia tape, it was evident that the Bulldogs’ front actually did a pretty nice job on Robinson.  He was all too often stood up at the point of attack, but displayed good ability at times to continue to flow down the line and chase down Nick Chubb.  He had a better performance last week vs Arkansas, and remains a dominant force as is the headliner of a stellar group up front for the Crimson Tide.

RB Derrick Henry: Henry has now rushed for a touchdown in 11 straight games, an Alabama record.  He runs hard, physical and has deceptive speed in the open field.  He has all the makings to be a productive back at the next level.

TE O.J. Howard: After being shut out vs Georgia, Howard caught 3 passes for 17 yards last week.  The production isn’t there in the offense, but the overall talent and potential is.

ILB Reggie Ragland: He’s been all over the field. Similar to Patriots’ LB Dont’a Hightower, Ragland is an explosive tackler, he finishes who he hits and pays very smart and instinctive.  One of my personal favorites.

Other prospects: DE Jonathan Allen, RB Kenyan Drake, OLB Ryan Anderson, CB Cyrus Jones , DL Jarran Reed C Ryan Kelly

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: He’s played well this year, but has yet to face a defensive front as talented as Alabama.  Worth a close watch Saturday.

WR Ricky Seals-Jones: Great size (6’5 235) and athleticism, but the redshirt sophomore just hasn’t been able to put it all together yet.  He caught 5 passes for 34 yards last week, and really needs to play to his potential to help the Aggies pull one off this week.

P Drew Kaser, OGJoseph Cheek,RB Tra Carson

#7 Michigan State vs #12 Michigan 3:30 ESPN

Undefeated Michigan State heads to the big house as 6 point underdogs to face #12 Michigan.  The fighting Harbaugh’s have been arguably the most impressive team in the country this season, and looks to keep that train rolling vs top quarterback prospect Connor Cook.  Michigan from a prospect standpoint is truly astonishing.  At the start of the season, there wasn’t much to get excited about.  Now?  They arguably have the top cornerback and top tight end in the country.  Harbaugh effect? Maybe.  Michigan State I believe is the much more talented team, but I’m struggling to bet against Michigan this year.  This is the most relevant game The Big House will host in an awful long time, and I’m going to drink the Harbaugh Kool-Aid.  Fun betting sidenote, Michigan State is 0-6 this season against the spread.  Do with that what you may.  Give me Michigan by 3.

Michigan State prospects

LT Jack Conklin: It is possible he plays vs Michigan, and if he does it would be huge.  The Spartans have desperately missed their star LT, and Michigan can pose a big pass rush threat.

QB Connor Cook: At times this year his offensive line has been overwhelmed, making him look like he is overwhelmed.  I think he needs to diagnose the blitz better, but at the end of the day the offensive line needs to stand tall for Cook to improve his play.  His completion percentage may not be jaw dropping at 59.9% (has been under 60% all four years at MSU) but still has a solid touchdown to interception ratio at 6:1.

DE Shilique Calhoun: Shows good recognition skills, has a pretty solid get off and has excellent hand placement.  His combination of rush attacks has led to 5 sacks thus far, and looks to build on his rising draft stock.

Other prospects: OT/C/OG Jack Allen, WR Aaron Burbridge, CB/S Demetrious Cox, DE Lawrence Thomas,TE Josiah Price

Michigan prospects

CB Jourdan Lewis: He’s played as well as any cornerback in the country so far.  He’s holding opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of just 23% when targeted.  Point blank, he’s a phenomenal athlete who plays with a high football IQ.  He’s been one of the fastest risers this season.

LB Desmond Morgan: A good at most, not great at anything type of player.  Nonetheless, Morgan has been very solid for the Michigan defense this season bringing a pretty well rounded skill set to the table.  His leadership is one of his best attributes.

TE Jake Butt: He’s been one of the biggest risers this season as well.  Butt went from a prospect off the draft radar to a potential TE1 come spring time.  He’s big 6’6 250lbs, quick for his size and catches the ball with soft hands.  He also can be a force in the run game – without question a top prospect to watch.

Other prospects: DE Chris Wormley

#8 Florida vs #6 LSU 7:00 ESPN

For as long as cross division rivalry’s have existed, this game is the one that always leads to issues.  The Gators and Tigers (not really rivals at all) are stuck playing each other every year. Like most, this match up pits two of the top SEC teams against one another.  This week has been brutal for Florida.  First, they lost starting quarterback Will Grier for the season due to a suspension, and then in more ugly fashion lost redshirt freshmen defensive back Deiondre Porter for good after he was arrested on felony charges.  And after all that – we still have a football game to play.  We know Leonard Fournette will see 25+ touches.  We also know, Florida will run run and run some more until new starting quarterback Treon Harris gets comfortable in Death Valley.  I don’t think Florida is good enough to beat LSU, in Death Valley, at Night, at their own game.  I’ll take LSU 27-17.

Florida prospects

CB Vernon Hargreaves III:  He’s  been noticeably off so far this season, hampered by a hamstring injury.  Nonetheless still shows he is one of the most complete cornerbacks in the country.  I’d expect him to move around a little bit vs LSU and not stay locked in on one man.

WR Demarcus Robinson: After some early season woes, and a demotion, Robinson has turned it on lately catching 20 passes combined these last 3 weeks.  If Florida does threaten the ball deep he could be the top option.

DE/DT Jonathan Bullard: Florida’s best defensive linemen added to the season long chatter (myth) that his team can stop Leonard Fournette.  Although I don’t believe Florida is capable of doing so, Bullard would be the one that would have to step up and play out of his mind to stop #7.

LSU prospects

*RB Leonard Fournette: At this point, what more can you say?  He’s averaging 8.6 ypc, has scored 12 touchdowns and has over 1,000 yards already.

OG/OT Vadal Alexander: All the talk is about Leonard Fournette, but Alexander has been stellar as well this season and has a chance to be a top 15 prospect this spring.

CB TreDavious White: One of the ball hawks and arguably the best cover back LSU has had since the departures of Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, White is arguably (gasp) the top cornerback to watch in this game in regards to the 2016 NFL Draft.

ILB Kendell Beckwith: An every down linebacker who seems to be in on every tackle for the Tigers.  He excels at filling and finishing, and rarely is caught out of position.  A top ILB prospect.

Other prospects: FS Jalen Mills (questionable), WR Travin Dural, TE Dillon Gordon, P Jamie Keehn, OLB Lamar Louis

Other prospect laden games to keep an eye on:

THURS #18 UCLA vs #15 Stanford 10:30 ESPN, FRI #21 Boise State vs Utah State 9:00 CBSSN, SAT West Virginia vs #2 Baylor 12:00 FOX, Louisville vs #11 Florida State 12:00 ESPN, USC vs #14 Notre Dame 7:30 NBC, Penn State vs #1 Ohio State 8:00 ABC, Arizona State vs #4 Utah 10:00 ESPN

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21 Responses to “Primetime Prospects to Watch: Week 7”

  1. Daniel R. Martin says:

    “Patriots Work Out Veteran Cornerback Cortland Finnegan”

  2. Russell says:

    Patriots add OT Brennan Williams 6’6″ 315 LBS , a 3d round draft pick by the Texans in 2013. He was cut late 2014 by Houston. The former North Carolina player has had injury issues. Coach Belichick adds Williams to the P-Squad.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      This seems like pretty good timing on the Patriots’ part. Brennan Williams was drafted with the potential to be a starter, has lots of NFL camp experience, but got waived/Injured 2 months ago with an injury that usually takes about 2 months to heal. If he gets back on track, he’d be the third highest drafted lineman the Pats have, I think.

      • Kevan says:

        He got released today, according to nesn he is gonna try his hand at wrestling. Pats Oline better be ready because the front four of the jets is no joke.

  3. Russell says:

    Dax Swanson CB signed with Tampa Bay…………

  4. Russell says:

    Patriots should consider OT Tyson Clabo, active 16 games last year (101 snaps) for the Texans. Clabo is 6’6″ 315lb and played for $900K last year. Six time pro-bowler, But at 34 a back-up, but experinced. Also a nieghbor of mine !!

    • Philip says:

      I’d say it depends on Cannons health. If he won’t miss any time, they’re set with.
      Flem. at right and Cannon and Vollmer able to play at both sides, there is no need to give up a roster spot.

  5. Dan Sullivan says:

    My five Patriots that given more playing time will pay off big for Patriots.

    1 Cameron Fleming OT
    2 Aaron Dobson WR
    3 Jon Bostic ILB
    4 Akiem Hicks DT
    5 Malcolm Brown DT

    I believe this will be a close game but Patriots show no mercy get after them Colts!

  6. Russell says:

    Tarell Brown for the year, on IR. Bring Back Daxton Swanson !!!!!!!!

    • Ryan says:

      Agreed, Swanson deserves another shot. His playmaking ability showed up in the preseason. Pats may want to trade for another player, though.

      Here’s my preliminary list of trade targets:
      Cleveland: Pierre Desir
      Dallas: Morris Claiborne
      Houston: Johnathan Joseph
      Kansas City: Marcus Cooper
      Minnesota: Antone Exum Jr.
      New Orleans: Keenan Lewis
      Oakland: Keith McGill
      San Francisco: Tramaine Brock
      St. Louis: Marcus Roberson
      Tampa Bay: Alterraun Verner
      Tennessee: Jason McCourty and Blidi Wreh-Wilson

  7. Russell says:

    FIRST Patriot draft look;

    2d- OL Max Tuerk 6’6″ 290 lbs, missed the rest of the year with a knee. Played OC, but I think a better OT. Long arms, trim body, light feet moves, well almost like a TE. A Nate Solder Clone.
    3d- CB, Cameron Sutton, 6′ 190 lbs, Maybe to late in the draft, Solid cover guy, great ball skills as punt returner.
    3d- (loss of Revis)- DE Dean Lowery, 6’6″ 285 lbs, 4.95-40 yd, very quick, long arms, VERY hard worker off the field.
    4th- OLB Curt Maggett 6’3″ 253lbs 4.73-40yd, injuries during his career, but solid player, leader on/off the field, similar to SS Richards last year.
    6th- (loss of Vereen)- WR Tevan Smith 6’1″ 205lbs, 4.45-40yd. missed a few games this year, but great hands/ speed.
    6th- (loss of Wilfork)- OLB – Joe Schobert 6’2″ 241 lbs , great husle player,always around the ball, blitzer, not Belichick size but high motor guy, special teams to start.

    • Russell says:

      I think, Hightower and Collins are resigned, and Chandler Jones is not. The loss of Jones gives the Patriots a 3-4th Compensatory pick in 2017. Flowers and my pick Lowery are set to replace Jones, and Ninkovich isn’t getting any younger.
      My pick of Max Tuerk is to replace Vollmer at ROT in the future, knowing he may miss training camp rehabing.

    • GM-in-Training says:

      Solder and Vollmer both go 6’8″ and 325. Giving up 2″ and 35 pounds is not a Solder clone. The agility part is good, though.

      • Russell says:

        I agree with the size of the Patriots tackles, I think Max Tuerk is the most Solder type OT in the draft, with movement, knee bend, hand use, etc. Very smart player, has played OC, OG and alittle OT.

  8. Kevan says:

    Question for the commenters here. Would you put Cannon at LT or put Vollmer at left, and cannon to the right? To me it seems that there is this popular belief that moving Vollmer to the the left side weakens 2 positions instead of one. I understand that argument in other situations but not this one. I think Vollmer is the Pats best Olineman, including Solder, move him to the most important spot. On top of that I could see Cannon doing well at RT, as a power big guy. Ideally Cannon and Tre Jackson on that right side provides a lot of beef and power, while Volmmer takes care of Brady’s blind side.

    • Russell says:

      I think Cannon plays Left tackle. TE packages will be on that side of the field. Defense’s will try to test Cannon, so the Patriots will know where the rush is coming from.

      • Kevan says:

        Yea over at that was pretty much the general consensus. After I posted this I was on football nation and read your full take, that’s cool you doing that man. I don’t know though I think I still like Vollmer on the left, for a whole season maybe not that one game. Body type and the eye test, Vollmer is longer and leaner, a little quicker. Cannon is more stout. Cannons best fit is RT in my opinion, gotta protect Brady’s blindside.

  9. YodasLlama says:

    Patriots Seven Round Mock Draft

    2. Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Georgia
    It’s not a need but Bill never really looks at needs for his top draft choices. Hightower and Collins will both be free agents after the 2016 season. Unless they are both true Patriots I don’t think they will take average contracts. We may not be able to afford both of them and even if we do we won’t have Mayo after 2015 anyway and I have no idea how good Bostic will be (but as a UF alum I hope he is awesome). Enter Jordan Jenkins. He can play DE, OLB, ILB and has the skill and intelligence that could make him a monster with Bill. He can rotate behind Collins and Hightower and possibly replace one of them if we cannot afford both. I almost went CB here but I think they may target a CB2 in free agency to mix with Justin Coleman, Darryl Roberts and Logan Ryan. I do think they will draft a CB later in rounds 3-5.

    3. Pharoh Cooper, WR, South Carolina
    Bill does look at the SEC for players and it just works out that Pharoh is the best player available at his position at this point in the draft. Subpar QB play will drop his draft stock. Maybe he will be another WR bust or maybe Bill might actually draft a solid player at the WR position for once. Cooper has the skill set and ability to possibly be an Edelman replacement in 2-3 years.

    4. Eric Murray, CB, Minnesota
    Murray is a sleeper cornerback who has really stood out the past two seasons, particularly as a tough man corner. He is a gritty defender who is physical with receivers. His 40 time may drop him on some draft boards but he could be a solid addition to our young CB rotation.

    6(Texans). Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
    Ok. Here me out. Boykin probably won’t be a QB in the NFL. However he is extremely talented and it’s the 6th round. He could be another QB to WR conversion that pays off or even move him to be a defensive back. Worst case scenario he is a camp body at QB and pushes Jimmy Garoppolo to play better his third season.

    7(Texans). Jordan Simone, S, Arizona State
    Simone is having a pretty solid season so far so he may move up and I will have to change this pick. He is a talented defensive back who sometimes plays out of position or takes risks that backfire. However he is physically talented and would replace Tavon Wilson at a minimum in the patriots safety rotation.

    • Ashley says:

      This is pretty good. Not sure if Simone and Cooper will be available when you slot them but otherwise I like all of the picks. Jenkins, Collins, Bostic, Freeny and Hightower would be a nasty group of linebackers especially since you can use Jenkins, Hightower and Collins anywhere really.

    • Jeff says:

      The Pats will probably wind up with an extra 3rd for Revis and a few extra 6th rounders for other FA losses – gotta take the compensatory picks into account in the mocks. I think the first 3 positions the Patriots would like to target will be CB, LB, and WR, so we’re on the same page about that. I think Siliga will get a deal as a restricted free agent to keep him around, and Blount, Develin, and even Gibson (as a camp body) will also be retained. While I think the Pats will be relatively quiet in free agency to save cap room for extensions, a surprise move I could see happening would be picking up Logan Mankins after he’s cut from Tampa for cap space. No signs of the Pats slowing down next year at this point, as most significant players are already locked up for next season.

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