Inside the War Room Week 13
In this week’s Inside the War Room I talk about the best running back at the FCS level, talk about a running back who suffered a devastating injury last, highlight several running backs who stood out last week, and much more.
Top Small School Back in College Football
This week’s prospect of the week is also the top small school running back in college football in UNI RB David Johnson. He is also one of the main reasons UNI has won four games in a row, including a win over North Dakota State who had won 33 games in a row going into this game. In these four games he has rushed for 524 yards, including 160 against Western Illinois, and 141 yards against North Dakota State.
When evaluating him the first thing that stands out to me is how multidimensional he is. He is a very capable receiver out of the backfield and is currently second on the team in receptions with 30. He also shows the running back skills to play in the NFL. He is the only player in UNI history to have over 1,000 yards rushing for three straight years, and is also UNI’s all-time leading rusher. He has the power to run between the tackles in the NFL, and the ability to make quick cuts for a bigger back. One other thing that stands out to me about this prospect is his character. Everyone I have talked to raves about how good a kid Johnson is, and he also takes care of business in the classroom earning a spot on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll while at UNI.
The biggest concern I have with Johnson is durability. He is a bigger running back who takes his share of big hits. This has led to him battling injuries, including missing significant time last season with an ankle injury. He also has been limited on the amount of carries he saw earlier this year due to injury concerns, as well as being limited to the amount of contact he takes in practice. I am afraid this will be a significant concern in the NFL, especially when you consider he is an upright runner who leaves his body exposed at times. The other concern I have with him is the fact he is not a burner, he will most likely run the 40-yard dash in the 4.5 range.
I currently project Johnson as a mid-round draft prospect at this time, but he could improve his stock if he has a big Senior Bowl week. I also want to see how fast he runs at the NFL Combine, and how he checks out medically before giving him a final draft grade.
This week we saw one of the biggest injuries of the season happen when Georgia RB Todd Gurley tore his ACL. Gurley suffered this injury in the closing moments of Georgia’s big win over Auburn. Before suffering this injury he had rushed for 138 yards, and showed nice explosion even after missing four weeks of action.
Gurley likely would have been a top 20 selection in the 2015 draft, before the injury was suffered. Now that he has suffered this injury, and has a long rehabilitation process in front of him this will affect his draft stock. Then when you factor in he is an extremely deep and talented running back class, and is no longer the front runner to be the top back selected I could see him slide even further in the draft. I think when it is all said and done we will see Gurley be a late second or early third round draft pick, and he will end up being a steal for whoever takes him in two or three years.
The other issue I think that deserves to be mentioned with Gurley is how he should have just sat out the rest of the season. I really have to wonder if the people who are making this argument have played football in their life. For someone to just sit out, and not help his teammates achieve the most success they can possibly achieve would be an extremely selfish decision, and one no proud competitive athlete would make.
Top 10 from Week 12
1. Melvin Gordon RB Wisconsin
It should come to no one’s surprise that last week’s top performing pro prospect is Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon. He rushed for 408 yards, and four touchdowns in only three quarters of action vs. Nebraska. He also averaged 16.3 yards per carry in this game.
2. Terrell Watson RB Azusa Pacific
Azusa Pacific ran the heck of Watson giving him 40 carries on the day. He made the most of these carries rushing for 338 yards, and scoring five touchdowns. Watson is a player that should get some looks from All-Star games, and if he can produce vs. NFL caliber talent he could see his name called in the seventh round.
3. Tevin Coleman RB Indiana
Coleman is yet another NFL prospect who rushed for over 300 yards last Saturday. On the day he rushed for 307 yards with an average of 9.6 yards per carry, and scored one touchdown. If Coleman declares for the draft look for him to go in the second or third round area of the draft.
4. Nelson Agholor WR USC
Agholor is having an outstanding season already recording 26 more receptions than he had last season. In his latest game against California he recorded 16 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns. If he declares for the draft look for him to go in the second round area, however if he decides to return to USC he could be a first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
5. Nate Orchard DE Utah
Orchard continues to see his draft stock rise on a weekly bases due to his outstanding pass rushing production. Last week he posted four sacks, which gave him 16.5 sacks on the season. He is a player who could sneak into round one if he tests well at the NFL Combine.
6. Austin Sumner QB South Dakota State
Sumner had one of the best games of his career, and definitely one of his best games since coming back from injury. Against Western Illinois he threw for six touchdowns which allowed him to become the school’s all-time touchdown passing leader. He also managed to throw for 366 yards in the team’s 59-24 win.
7. David Cobb RB Minnesota
Cobb is another running back that had a big game last weekend. Against a very tough Ohio State defense he rushed for 145 yards, and three touchdowns.
8. Henry Anderson DE Stanford
Anderson had by far his best game of the season when he recorded three sacks vs. Utah which gives him five sacks on the season. Anderson is a late round prospect who is better against the run than the pass.
9. Kyle Emanuel DE North Dakota State
Emanuel is quickly becoming one of my favorite small school defensive prospects. His effort last week against Missouri State showed why I regard him so highly. In this game he recorded ten tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and one interception.
10. Jay Ajayi RB Boise State
Ajayi is the fifth and final back to make this list. Against San Diego State he rushed for 134 yards, and three touchdowns. Ajayi is only a junior, and would be best served by staying at Boise State for his senior season.
Rakeem Cato QB Marshall
Justin Hardy WR East Carolina
Paul Dawson LB TCU
Clive Wilson TE Miami
Markus Golden DE Missouri
Malcom Brown DT Texas
Shane Carden QB East Carolina
Ten Football Thoughts
1. One of the top small school juniors I have ran across is UNI CB Deiondre Hall. He has outstanding size coming in at 6-2 193 pounds, and has the athletic ability to garner his share of NFL attention. He is currently tied for the team lead with four interceptions, and six pass breakups. If he continues to play at his current level, and tests well for NFL scouts this off-season look for him to be the second consecutive UNI player to earn an invite to the Senior Bowl.
2. One of the weirdest stories of the season happened two weeks ago when Florida DT Leon Orr left the Gators football team, and took a bus back to Gainesville when he found out he would not start. Orr has to be one of the biggest disappointments this season in terms of draft prospects. He entered this season as my number one rated senior DT, but spent most of the time being a backup this season, and now is off the Florida Gators football team. While he most likely won’t get drafted, I would take a flyer on him as a free agent due to his natural athletic ability.
3. It is the time of the year where players are earning invites to All-Star games, and two players that I was impressed to see the East-West Shrine game get were Washington State WR Vince Mayle, and Maryland DT Darius Kilgo. Mayle is a big receiver who has already recorded 86 receptions, and nine touchdowns this season. Kilgo is one of the most underrated defensive tackles in the year’s draft class. He shows good mobility for a NT who weighs 319 pounds, and also has the strength to hold up at the point of attack.
4. Speaking of the East-West Shrine game I love the amount of small school talent this game is getting. I could see five of the small school prospects already committed to this game being drafted.
5. One player that deserves an invite to a major All-Star game is Pitt State CB De’Vante Bausby. This season Bausby has picked off three passes, and ranks second in school history with 29 pass breakups. He was named first team All-MIAA this year as well, which is one of the top conferences in D2 football. Bausby has NFL size coming in at 6-2 179 pounds, and has the speed to go along with his outstanding size. He is definitely one of my top sleepers in this year’s draft, and a player that I think will impress people once he gets into an NFL camp.
6. One of the weakest positions in this year’s draft has to be defensive tackle. I would be surprised if any senior defensive tackle went in the first round. I also think the top senior defensive tackle Danny Shelton will be a mid-second round draft pick at best. Thankfully the defensive tackle class will be helped immensely by junior DT Leonard Williams, who is expected to be a top-10 selection.
7. One thing that has to scare you about Melvin Gordon is the lack of success Wisconsin running backs have had in the NFL. Wisconsin’s last high draft pick at running back Montee Ball has yet to live up to expectations, and the school also has produced several other busts including players such as Brian Calhoun and Ron Dayne.
8. I am starting to doubt that we will break the two year trend of no running backs drafted in the first round. This is due to the fact Todd Gurley tore his ACL, and the great depth in this year’s draft. I think teams will think they can get a similar quality running back in the second round, that they could get in the first round. With that being said I think we will see running backs flying off the board in the second and third round of the draft.
9. The information coming out on the Frank Clark situation is very concerning. According to the Sandusky Register Clark the victim says Clark punched her in the face, and according to the victim’s brother who was in the room Clark grabbed the victim by the neck and slammed her head to the ground. Needless to say this incident will greatly affect his draft status, and also caused me to take him off my draft board.
10. This week I coached in one of the biggest games of my life when Newell-Fonda won a state championship. Now that the high school football season is over I can focus all of my football attention on the NFL Draft.
Notre Dame QB Everett Golson sprained his right shoulder vs. Northwestern. … Nebraska DE Randy Gregory left the Wisconsin game with what looks like a minor leg injury. … Tennessee MLB A.J. Johnson has been suspended from the team while police investigate him for sexual assault. … Florida State will keep Cameron Erving at center for the rest of the season. … Morningside RB Brandon Wegher broke the NAIA record for touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, and total points this season. …. Florida DE Dante Fowler has declared for the draft. …USC has allowed S Josh Shaw to rejoin the football team. … Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong suffered a concussion last week, and may miss this week’s game. … It looks like South Alabama QB Brandon Bridge will miss this week’s game with an ankle injury. …
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