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Inside the War Room Week Seven

Inside the War Room Week Seven

In this week’s Inside the War Room I talk about one of the top lineman in college football, point out the prospects who stood out in last week’s big upsets, name the top ten prospect performances from week six, and much more.

Iowa Strong

One of the top rated senior prospects in this year’s senior class is Iowa LT Brandon Scherff. However, Scherff didn’t take the normal route to being regarded as one of the top offensive linemen prospects. He started his high school career off at Denison High School playing quarterback, and was also a member of the tennis team. He then was a lightly recruited prospect coming out of high school only earning a three star rating from Rivals. Yet he has established himself as one of the top lineman in college football with his strong work ethic both on the football field and in the weight room.

When evaluating Scherff the first thing that stands out is his outstanding strength. On a consistent basis, he moves defenders off the line of scrimmage, and on numerous occasions stays on his blocks long enough to push the defender five yards off the line scrimmage. He has excelled in the weight room as well posting a 443 pound power clean for three reps this summer. He should also post a very good bench press at the NFL combine from what I have been told. Another area that stands out to me about him is his great technique. He usually keeps his hands inside the defender, which allows him to control the defensive lineman. He has excellent footwork, and keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage most of the time. The last area of his game that stands out to me is overall ability as a run blocker. He is a much better run blocker then pass blocker, and I think with this being his top asset his best position in the NFL will be RT or OG.

The biggest concern I have with him is that he seems somewhat stiff. He has a very hard time lowering his hips which causes him to have poor pad level at times. He lacks the elite athleticism you want to see in an NFL LT to keep up with the quick pass rushers he will see at that level. I also have some concern that he has slow feet, which is another thing that will put him at a disadvantage vs. NFL speed rushers.

When projecting how Scherff will project to the NFL I definitely think his best bet will be as a right tackle, or even as an offensive guard in the NFL due to a lack of elite athletic ability. With that being said, I do think Scherff will have a long career in the NFL, and could see him making several Pro Bowls if he is put in the right position. Unfortunately for Scherff though most teams will not take a right tackle in the top ten in the draft, and I look for him to go in the teens of this year’s draft.

Upset Weekend

This past weekend we saw four of the six top AP teams defeated. Several prospects showed up big in these contests. The biggest upset of the weekend might have happened when TCU knocked off Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs were led by one of the fastest rising senior linebackers in Paul Dawson. Dawson recorded 11 tackles on the day and made one of the biggest plays of the game when he picked Trevor Knight in the 4th quarter, and returned the interception for a touchdown. On the offensive side of the ball TCU was led by junior WR Kolby Listenbee who averaged 20.6 yards on 5 catches.

Ole Miss was able to pull off the upset last week as well as beating Alabama. This was partially due to the performance put on by quarterback Bo Wallace who threw for 251 yards and three touchdowns vs. the Tide. Another prospect who had a hand in this upset is CB Senquez Golson who made an interception to seal the game for the Rebels.

The last major upset where draft prospects showed up big was Mississippi State’s victory over Texas A&M. In this game junior quarterback Dak Prescott showed up big passing for 259 yards, and rushing for 77 yards while scoring a total of five touchdowns. Prescott should be one of the top quarterbacks in the 2016 draft if he stays for his senior season.

Top 10 Performances from Week Six

1. Paul Dawson OLB TCU
Dawson had an outstanding performance against TCU last week recording 11 tackles, and coming up with a key interception in the fourth quarter which he returned for a touchdown. Dawson has improved his draft stock significantly this season. He came into the season with a free agent grade, and now carries a high day three draft grade. If he can continue the success he has had this season, and tests well at the combine he could earn a day two grade when it is all said and done.

2. Connor Halilday QB Washington State
Halilday set an FBS record last weekend vs. California throwing for 734 yards. He was also able to put up six touchdowns and no interceptions. If he would have been able to pull out the victory vs. California he more than likely would have been the top performing prospect from last week.

3. Jaelen Strong WR Arizona State
One of the fastest rising junior wide receivers has to be Jalen Strong of Arizona State. Last week in the team’s big win over USC, he caught 10 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns, I hope Strong returns for his senior season, but if he doesn’t I could see him going in the second or third round of the draft.

4. Dak Prescott QB Mississippi State
Prescott was another prospect who made a big impact in a big game last week. He threw for 259 yards, rushed for 77 yards, and scored a total of five touchdowns. I think Prescott is another player who would benefit by returning to school for his senior season so he can develop into a more polished passer.

5. Vince Mayle WR Washington State
Mayle was Halilday’s favorite target last week hauling in 11 receptions for 263 yards and one touchdown. Mayle is a good sized receiver who has has already recorded 51 catches and six touchdowns this season.

6. Nate Orchard DE Utah
Orchard is having one of the best seasons of any pass rusher in college football this season leading the FBS in sacks this season with 8.5. He also had the best game of any defensive end prospect last week recording four sacks against UCLA.

7. Terrell Watson RB Azusa Pacific
Watson had the best game of any small school draft prospect rushing for 256 yards and three touchdowns vs. Central Washington. Watson is a good sized running back who could significantly help his stock if he proves he can play well vs. FBS competition in an All-Star game.

8. Jake Waters QB Kansas State
Water had a great all-around game in the Wildcats win over Texas Tech. He threw for 290 yards and four touchdowns, and also rushed for 105 yards and one touchdown. He currently carries a priority free agent grade on my board, but he could possibly make a team as a developmental quarterback.

9. Justin Hardy WR East Carolina
Hardy had his third game of the season where he has caught at least eight passes in a game when he recorded 8 catches for 120 yards and 3 touchdowns. Hardy is another prospect who carries a day three grade on my board, but who could make a team if he goes to the correct situation.

10. Titus Davis WR Central Michigan
Davis had a breakout game vs. Ohio last week recording ten receptions for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Unfortunately this had not been a stellar season for Davis going into the game he only had seven receptions for 139 yards. One of the major reasons he has such a down season before last week was due to the fact he missed three games with a knee injury.

Honorable Mention
Bo Wallace QB Ole Miss
Jay Ajayi RB Boise State
Mike Davis RB South Carolina
Dee Hart RB Colorado State
Melvin Gordon RB Wisconsin
Shane Carden QB East Carolina
MyCole Pruitt TE Southern Illinois
Brandon Bridge QB South Alabama
Akeem Hunt RB Purdue
Kevin Parks RB Virginia
E.J. Bibbs TE Iowa State
Kevin Parks RB Virginia
Dezmin Lewis WR Central Arkansas

Ten Football Thoughts

1. One of the biggest concerns Marcus Mariota will face going into the draft is his injury history. He has battled injuries over the last couple of seasons including a partial tear of his MCL in 2013, and according to the Scott Frost Oregon’s offensive coordinator he was not 100% in last week’s loss to Arizona. His lack of ideal size also raises some injury concerns. He is listed at 6-4 219 pounds which is lighter than you would like to see from a potential franchise quarterback, and there will be some questions if he can hold up to an NFL pounding.

2. One offensive guard that has impressed me so far this season is Junior Salt of Utah. He shows nice power, and has an excellent punch when blocking. He should be a good fit in a power running scheme, but might struggle in an offense that requires it’s guards to pull a lot due to his lack of great mobility.

3. It looks like the Florida Gators may be in some trouble at the quarterback position with Jeff Driskel being benched in favor of Treon Harris who has since been suspended from the team. This could be a long year in Gainesville for the Gators, and one that might end up with them having a new head coach next season.

4, One offensive guard that is sliding on my draft board is Tre Jackson. Going into the season he was regarded as one of the top offensive guards in the draft, but has looked sluggish and out of shape this season. If he doesn’t turn around his season he could end up going on day three of the draft.

5. Georgia running back Todd Gurley was suspended indefinitely after he supposedly made four hundred dollars for signing memorabilia. This raises some questions about his decision making skills if he did this due to the fact he violated NCAA rules, and jeopardized his eligibility for a measly four hundred dollars. While Gurley will miss some time this season due to this incident, I really don’t see it affecting his draft status.

6. Speaking of the Utah, UCLA game the fact that Brett Hundley was sacked ten times raises some concerns with me. The first concern I have with him is that he tended to hang onto the ball way too long. I think the fact he held onto the ball for too long could have been due to the fact he was having trouble reading Utah’s defense. If he has trouble reading a college defense he might have a harder then expected time adjusting to the NFL.

7 For the first time in 47 years Michigan is 0-2 in Big Ten play. I look for them to go 0-4 in Big Ten play before finally beating Indiana on November 1st. I also think this will be Brady Hoke’s last season at Michigan.

8. One team that was hit by the injury bug last week was Florida State. In their game against Wake Forest center Austin Barron broke his arm, WR Rashad Greene suffered a concussion, and RB Karlos Williams hurt his ankle. All three of these players could miss this week’s game against Syracuse.

9. One high level prospect that is expected to return this week is Louisville WR DeVante Parker. Parker has yet to play in a game this season since he was recovering from a foot injury. Parker is competing with Rashad Greene and Kevin White for the top spot in my senior wide receiver rankings.

10. The biggest matchup in football this weekend is between second ranked Auburn, and third ranked Mississippi State. One matchup I will be looking forward to seeing in this game is how Mississippis State LB Benardrick McKinney matches up vs. Auburn’s powerful running game. McKinney is one of the top junior outside linebackers, and if he decides to declare for the draft he should be a second or third round draft pick. While Auburn’s 15th ranked running game is lead by RB Cameron Artis-Payne who is averaging 5.4 yards per rush.

Harvard DE Zach Hodges has been contacted by three different All-Star games already this season. … Alabama RB Kenyan Drake will miss the remainder of the season due to a broken ankle. … Virginia CB Demetrious Nicholson will miss the rest of the season due to turf toe, and will seek a medical redshirt. … USC LB Lamar Dawson will miss the remainder of the season, and will likely seek a medical redshirt.

Make sure you follow John Blair on twitter @NFLDraftITWR

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