NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa
Not all that interested in Bills/Jets Thursday Night Football? Or just want to get a jump on the weekend? No matter the case, NEPD has your viewers’ guide for the key prospects to watch in the prime time match ups, as well as a quick stock check on prospects moving up and down the draft board.
Entire Alabama Front 7: I’m kind of kidding here, kind of not. Alabama has dominated all season long led by DT’s A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed. Last Saturday night, LSU got a front row seat. The defensive front bottled up Leonard Fournette all game long, embarrassing a talent laden LSU offensive line along the way. Robinson, Reed, DE Jonathan Allen and ILB Reggie Ragland all stood out all game long.
Alabama RB Derrick Henry: Henry’s draft stock is really catching steam. Alabama rode Henry to the Promised Land last week by the tune of 38 carries, 210 yards and 3 touchdowns. A physical specimen who can carry the load for four quarters, I believe Henry could be productive on a NFL roster today.
Baylor WR Corey Coleman: A 12 year old kid playing NCAA Football would have issues matching Corey Coleman’s stats. In a hostile Manhattan, Kansas, Coleman hauled in 11 passes for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns. His route running is improving every week and is a fluent pass catcher.
Arkansas RB Alex Collins: In a jumbled running back class, Alex Collins is starting to separate himself. On fourth down last week with the game on the line, he caught a backwards lateral and scampered 30 yards for a game saving first down. A solid and tough runner, Collins’ deceptive quickness through the hole leads me to believe his NFL ceiling is as high as any in this class.
LSU OG/T Vadal Alexander: It wasn’t just Alexander for LSU, but because he’s the leader of the group I focused my attention there. They were bullied over Saturday night. In the first half Alexander wasn’t all that bad, but did get beat a few times off the snap and really struggled with speed. But in the second half when things started to get away from LSU, Alabama unleashed the pass rush and surprisingly exposed some flaws in footwork and hand placement that I haven’t before seen with Alexander.
Memphis QB Paxton Lynch: Two weeks ago he was featured on the ‘Who’s Up’ list, but when you get exposed by Navy that can crash and burn in a hurry. He looked uncomfortable most of the night and made multiple questionable decisions. Was this one game a fluke? Maybe. But in a class where no one QB prospect stands out, any very good (or in this case extremely bad) game can see volatile movement up or down the board.
TCU QB Trevon Boykin: He had some believers, but he’s starting to show exactly what he is: a great athlete, dual threat, COLLEGE quarterback. Forget the 445 yards last week, Boykin made terrible decisions for four quarters, showed his weak arm strength, and struggles on non-designed easy throws. The Cowboys got him for four picks last week, and quite frankly could have had a few more. Boykin isn’t a NFL quarterback.
Top Prospects to circle this weekend:
#2 Alabama vs #17 Mississippi State 3:30 CBS
ILB Reggie Ragland: With MSU’s physical downhill attack, keep a close eye on Ragland as he continues to thrive finishing downhill exploding to the ball carrier.
DT A’Shawn Robinson: Robinson established the line of scrimmage all game vs Alabama, allowing the linebackers to swoop in and bottle up the best player in the country for four quarters. If he establishes the line of scrimmage as he did last week, MSU won’t stand a chance.
RB Derrick Henry: He should see a bunch of touches early to quiet the cow bells as I expect ‘Bama to grind MSU all game long. Henry could arguably be the top back in this class at the moment.
Other prospects: DT Jarran Reed, DE Jonathan Allen, RB Kenyan Drake, C Ryan Kelly, TE O.J. Howard
QB Dak Prescott: The hopes of MSU reside with their senior signal caller. Prescott has come off the NFL radar and is front and center in the NFL conversation. He’s far from a finished product, but Prescott has improved as a thrower but more importantly as an overall quarterback. His anticipation, awareness and speed through his progressions are generating some real NFL talk. I expect Saban to load the box, stress the edges of the pocket and make Prescott beat him with his arm. If he does? He’ll shoot up draft rankings.
Other prospects: CB Will Redmond, WR De’Runnya Wilson, DT Chris Jones
Oregon vs #7 Stanford 7:30 FOX
OT Kyle Murphy, ILB Blake Martinez, QB Kevin Hogan, WR Devon Cajuste
DE DeForest Buckner: A monstrous sized human being at 6’7 290lbs, Buckner has made a living in the backfield totaling 12 TFL and 7 sacks this season so far. His immense power with impressive burst has most offensive tackles beat at the snap.
Other prospects: WR Bralon Addison, WR Byron Marshall, OT Tyler Johnstone
#12 Oklahoma vs #6 Baylor 8:00 ABC
OLB Eric Striker: This is a huge week for the underachieving Striker. If he can show up vs a top offensive line and disrupt the high flying attack, it could launch him back on the radar.
WR Sterling Sheppard: One of my favorite players in this draft. He needs to get more consistent, but when Sheppard gets involved – good things happen for Oklahoma. He’s small for the next level, but his route running and quickness can carve out a roster spot for him at the next level.
ILB Dominique Alexander, DE Charles Tapper, ILB Frank Shannon
DT Andrew Billings: He’s my top DT in the draft. He’s disruptive, sheds block and takes on double teams with ease. Billings has shined along the defensive front all year.
WR Corey Coleman: Will this be the week Coleman is held out of the end zone? Doubt it.
OG Spencer Drango, DE Shawn Oakman
#10 Utah vs Arizona 10:00 FS1
RB Devontae Booker: He’s been as solid as any all season long. A stocky, compact runner easy on his feet, Booker makes up for his lack of top end speed with decisiveness and fearlessness. He’s a 4-5 yard per carry runner, and is the absolute workhorse of the offense.
ILB Jared Norris, DE Jason Fanaika, OLB Hionni Paul, C Sioasi Aiono
OT Lene Maiava, DE Reggie Gilbert, WR Cayleb Jones