Inside the War Room Week Six
In this week’s Inside the War Room I give out our September awards, name our prospect of the week, rank the top ten performances from draft prospects from last weekend, and much more.
Most Impressive Prospect Marcus Mariota QB Oregon
Mariota had a great first month of the season throwing an impressive 13 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He has stood out against top level competition throwing for 318 yards against Michigan State, and completing 84% of his passes in a close game against Washington State. As it stands now I would be shocked if Mariota is not the top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Top Defensive Prospect Randy Gregory DE Nebraska
Gregory is the most dominate defensive player in college football, and plays a position that is in high demand in the NFL. He has the type of athletic ability that rivals Jadeveon Clowny, and unlike Clowney goes hard every play. So far this season he has recorded 4.5 sacks in only four games. I project Gregory as a top-10 pick in the draft, and likely a top-five pick.
Least Impressive Prospect Jameis Winston QB Florida State
Winston wins this award based solely on stupidity. The comments he made earlier this month raises major questions, and then when you factor in his previous troubles you have to seriously question if you want Winston as the face of the franchise.
Most Improved Prospect Kevin White WR West Virginia
In only four games this year White has produced more than did last season. He has recorded double digits in receptions in three of the four games he has played in, and has over 100 yards receiving in each game this season including a 216 yard day against Maryland.
Most Underrated Prospect John Crockett RB North Dakota State
Crockett started his season off with a bang rushing for 139 yards vs. Iowa State, and has since put up at least 120 yards in three of the four games he has played in. The only game he did not rush for at least 120 yards was vs. Incarnate Word since North Dakota State blew them out. Despite his excellent production, and physical skills he is still vastly underrated with most people in the draft community projecting him to go undrafted.
Top Special Teams Prospect Adam Keller K North Dakota State
Keller was a prospect who wasn’t even on my board entering the season, but his excellent production has caught my eye. So far this year he has gone nine for nine on field goals including going five for five vs. Montana. He has also shown nice power kicking field goals over 40 yards vs. Incarnation Wood, and Montana.
This week’s Prospect of the Week is one of the most underrated pass rushers in college football in Harvard DE Zach Hodges. Last season Hodges recorded 6.5 sacks which was the top mark of any player in the Ivy League. This season he has already recorded two sacks which ties him for the school all-time sack record. His performance has allowed him to earn honors including being named 2013 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year, and making the 2014 Inside the War Room All-Small School Defensive Team.
The top asset Hodges is his excellent pass rushing skills. He has a quick first step, and can beat most offensive tackles off the line of scrimmage. He defiantly has some things he can work as a pass rusher such as pass rushing moves, and using power to beat offensive tackles instead of relying solely on speed but this is by far his top asset. He is a natural athlete as well who should be able to make the transition to OLB in the NFL. He shows the ability to drop into coverage on the few occasions he has done this. I also like the character this prospect shows., He is obviously a smart player being that he is from Harvard so picking up an NFL playbook should not be an issue. He is a very competitive person which I love to see from an NFL Draft prospects since it shows me he will not settle for just cashing a paycheck in the NFL.
The biggest question surrounding him will be his ability to move from college DE to NFL OLB. As I stated earlier his athletic ability will help in this transition, as will the fact he has played some MLB and OLB at Harvard. I would like to see him get off blocks better as well, which he should be able to do if he uses his hands better. He needs to be a more consistent tackler since he misses a few too many tackles for my liking. He needs to break down, and keep his feet moving in order to be a more consistent tackler. One other concern NFL teams will have with him is the fact he plays at a low level FCS school. He can make up for this by playing in a game such as the Senior Bowl where he can show he has the ability to play against top level prospects.
When grading Hodges as a pro prospect you have to figure in that he will be playing a new position in the NFL so how he performs in All-Star games and testing will play a bigger impact than normal in his final draft grade. If he performs at the level I expect in these showcases look for him to go in the fourth round area of the draft.
Top 10 Performances from Week Five
1. Rob Hollomon RB Central Connecticut State
Holloman had the top performance of any draft prospect last week rushing for 236 yards and two touchdowns vs. Rhode Island last week. Holloman is a homerun threat who is capable of breaking the long run at any time, and he did this twice last week having one rush for 74 yards, and another for 54 yards. He will most likely be a change-of-pace back in the NFL since he lacks the power, and size to be an every down back.
2. Ameer Abdullah RB Nebraska
Abdullah was named Prospect of the Week last week, and he sure lived up to that billing rushing for 208 yards and scoring three times vs. Illinois. He is defiantly showing why he is the top senior running back on my board, and a Heisman candidate.
3. Todd Gurley RB Georgia
It’s almost scary to think where Georgia would be without Gurley who has rushed for over 130 yards in all three of Georgia’s close games this season. He posted 208 yards vs. Tennessee in the team’s close three point win. If he declares for the draft which I am sure he will look for him to be the first running back drafted, and the first running back since 2012 to be drafted in the first round.
4. Ben Heeney MLB Kansas
Heeney had the top defensive performance of any draft prospect last weekend recording ten tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, and a fumble recovery vs. Texas. He has had an outstanding year as well leading the team in tackles by 20 tackles, and also recording 4.5 tackles for loss this season.
5. Lorenzo Mauldin OLB Louisville
Mauldin had an excellent day rushing the passer vs. Wake Forest. He recorded three sacks, and also forced one fumble. I currently have Maulding rated as the 11th best senior outside linebacker, but look for him to move up my board if he continues to produce like he did vs. Wake Forest.
6. Brett Hundley QB UCLA
Hundley came back from injury to have an outstanding performance vs. Arizona State last week. Against the Sun Devils he completed 78% of his passes for 355 yards, and four touchdowns. I think it will be in Hundley’s best interest to return to UCLA next season, so he can become a more polished pocket passer.
7. Shaq Thompson OLB Washington
Thompson had a great all around day last Saturday recording seven tackles, one tackle for loss, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. His effort allowed him to be named Defensive Player of the Week by College Performance Football Awards, and definitely drew the attention of NFL scouts. If he decides to declare for the draft he should earn a late first round grade on my board.
8. David Cobb RB Minnesota
Cobb is one of the main reasons Minnesota is off to a hot start this season. He outgained Michigan’s offense recording 233 all-purpose yards including 183 rushing yards. If he continues to produce at the level he has this season look for him to fly up the draft board.
9. Zach Wagenmann DE Montana
Wagenmann is quickly becoming one of the top defensive players in FCS football this season. He had another stellar game vs. South Dakota last weekend recording three sacks, and six total tackles.
10. De’Ante Saunders CB Tennessee State:
Another FCS standout defensive player is Tennessee State CB De’Ante Saunders who picked off two passes last weekend vs. Jackson State. Saunders is a transfer from the University of Florida who definitely has the talent to play at the NFL level. Look for him to go in fifth or sixth round area of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Preston Smith DE Mississippi State
Melvin Gordon RB Wisconsin
MyCole Pruitt TE Southern Illinois
Tyler Lockett WR Kansas State
David Johnson RB UNI
Denzel Perryman MLB Miami
Mike Nebrich QB Fordham
Antwan Goodley WR Baylor
R.J. Harris WR New Hampshire
Duke Johnson RB Miami
Rashad Greene WR FSU
Quinn Backus S Coastal Carolina
Ten Football Thoughts
1. One of the most underrated running backs in this year’s draft class has to be Minnesota RB David Cobb. Cobb is a bigger back coming in at 5-11 220 pounds, and he defiantly shows the power that goes with this size. He also has nice quickness for a bigger back, and can make the defender miss as well as running them over. Look for Cobb to be a third or fourth round draft pick.
2. It looks like Florida State RB Karlos Williams is finally getting on track after rushing for 126 yards and three touchdowns vs. North Carolina State last week. His biggest game of the season before last weekend was vs. the Citadel where he rushed for 66 yards. He will need to keep producing like he did vs. North Carolina State if he wants to earn a second day draft grade.
3. One of the most disappointing players of the season so far has to be Penn State QB Christian Hackenberg. He has thrown more interceptions (six), than he has touchdown passes this season (four), and has missed on several throws showing less than stellar accuracy. One of the major reasons he has so much trouble this season is that he is playing behind a less than stellar offensive line, and I also think the loss of head coach Bill O’Brian has hurt.
4. The more I watch of Florida State WR Rashad Greene the more he reminds me of Marqise Lee. He shows an excellent ability to run after the catch, and is a proven playmaker two traits that made Lee standout as well. Look for Greene to earn a similar grade to Lee as well who went to Jacksonville with the 39th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
5. One player who made a smart choice this offseason is former Alabama RB Dee Hart who transferred to Colorado State this offseason. He has almost doubled his career production rushing for 310 yards this season after rushing for only 166 yards in his career at Alabama. He has rushed for over 100 yards in two games this season as well, after not ever recording a 100 yard season at Alabama.
6. One player that has found his way onto my draft board this week is Mississippi State DE Preston Smith. He has had an outstanding season so far being named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week on three different occasions. He is a good sized defensive end coming in at 6-5 270 pounds who is proving to be a pass rushing threat already recording three sacks on the season. He will need to prove he is not a one year wonder due to the fact he only recorded seven sacks going into this season, and was considered somewhat of an underachiever.
7. After watching Sean Mannion struggle vs. USC I have to move Baylor QB Bryce Petty up to my highest rated senior quarterback. I still have some concerns about Petty being a system quarterback but he has looked much better then Mannion so far this season. I don’t see either one of these quarterbacks going in the first round, and would not be surprised if they fell to the third round area.
8. One of the most disappointing offensive linemen I have seen this year is Florida State right tackle Bobby Hart. Hart looks sluggish, and overall out of shape. This causes him to lack mobility, and he has trouble with quick pass rushers and even with down blocking at times. His lack of mobility will force him to move to offensive guard in the NFL, and if he doesn’t improve look for him to go undrafted.
9. The top matchup of this weekend takes place in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium where Ole Miss takes on Alabama. Both teams are undefeated and have several NFL prospects with the top matchup being Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace and the 13th best pass offenses in FBS football going up against one of the best defenses in football.
10. The best matchup in FCS football this weekend is between South Dakota State running back Zach Zenner, and Illinois State’s defense. So far this year Zenner has rushed for over 100 yards in every game he has played, and has two games where he rushed for over 200 yards. Illinois State might be able to put an end to this streak as they are currently the fourth ranked defense in FCS, and only allow 246 total yards per game.
Florida State DE Mario Edwards missed the NC State game due to a concussion. … Alabama OG Arie Kouandjio has been nominated for the Campbell Trophy which according to Christopher Walsh is the academic version of the Heisman Trophy. … Duke OG Laken Tomlinson was named to the AFCA All-State Good Works Team for the third consecutive season. … Florida OT D.J. Humphries will return to action this week after missing time due to a high ankle sprain while DT Leon Orr will miss the game due to a torn meniscus. … Utah State QB Chuckie Keeton will most likely miss the remainder of the season due to the torn ACL, and MCL he suffered last season. … Colorado State TE Kivon Cartwright will miss the remainder of the season due to an ankle injury. … Devin Gardner will start at quarterback this weekend for Michigan. …
John Blair put together this Inside the War Room so make sure you follow him @NFLDraftITWR
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