Inside the War Room Week 14
This week’s Inside the War Room focuses on the small school playoffs. I name the top ten players in the FCS playoffs, and also tell you a couple of prospects to keep an eye on in the Division II, Division III, and NAIA playoffs. I also talk about the first underclassmen to declare for the draft, and why he might be a little overrated currently. We also do our regular top ten prospect performances from last week, and our ten football thoughts.
Top Ten Players in FCS Playoffs
This weekend the FCS playoffs start, and there are several outstanding senior prospects who will be playing in these games. While you might not have heard of these prospects yet, I guarantee you they are prospects scouts are well aware of, and that have a strong chance of getting drafted in the 2015 NFL Draft.
1. David Johnson UNI #4 Senior RB
Johnson is the top player in the playoffs this year, and is also one of the top small school players on my draft board. Johnson is an outstanding multidimensional back who can be a power runner, yet still has the hands to catch the ball out of the backfield. I look for Johnson to be third or fourth round draft pick.
2. Bryan Bennett Southeastern Louisiana #5 Senior QB
Bennett has had somewhat of a tough season battling a shoulder, and foot injury. Yet he still lead Southeastern Louisiana to a Southland Conference championship, while leading the team in both passing and rushing this season. Bennett is a developmental prospect, who will need to go to the right quarterback coach to develop his talent at the NFL level.
3. Xavier Williams UNI #10 Senior DT
Williams is one of the most productive defensive tackles in college football this year registering 83 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 8 sacks on the season. He shows excellent athletic ability for a player with his tremendous size (6-2 309 pounds). Look for him to see his draft stock improve significantly during the East-West Shrine game later this year.
4. R.J. Harris New Hampshire #17 WR
Harris is one of the more underrated receivers in this year’s draft class. He lead the team in receptions by 30 catches this year recording 79 receptions for 1,220 and 13 touchdowns.
5. Kyle Emanuel North Dakota State #14 Senior DE
Emanuel is one of the top small school defensive prospects in this year’s draft class. This season he has recorded 27 tackles for loss, and 16.5 sacks which is unbelievable production for a DE who plays in one of the top conferences in FCS football.
6. Zach Zenner South Dakota State #2 Senior Fullback
Zenner play running back for the Jackrabbits, but due to a lack of outstanding speed, and agility projects to fullback in the NFL. The biggest adjustment for him, and one he must make if he wants to stick in the NFL is learning how to be a lead blocker.
7. Jermaine Barton Illinois State #17 Senior OT
Barton started his career off at Miami, but transferred to Illinois State as a redshirt freshman. He has since established himself as one of the top lineman in FCS football, and currently ranks as a fifth round prospect on my draft board.
8. Carlton Littlejohn North Dakota State #18 Senior OLB
Littlejohn is an undersized, quick outside linebacker who has established himself as one of the top small school linebackers in the 2015 NFL Draft. He has led the Bison in tackles for two straight years, and has played both middle and outside linebacker at North Dakota State. His size will force him down the draft board, of most clubs, but look for him to make an impact once he gets into the NFL.
9. Zach Wagenmann Montana #15 Senior DE
Wagenmann is another FCS DE putting up outstanding numbers this season. He recorded 18.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks this season. He also led the defensive line in tackles with 66 tackles.
10. Austin Gund Richmond #16 Senior C
Gund is the top small school center in this year’s draft. He is a very consistent player who shows great intelligence, and leadership ability
Other Player to Keep an Eye On
DT Derrick Lott Chattanooga
TE Faysal Shafaat Tennessee Chattanooga
QB Austin Sumner South Dakota State
QB Michael Nebrich Fordham
QB Michael Strauss Richmond
WR Sam Ajala Fordham
First Underclassmen to Declare
Last week we saw the first underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft when Florida DE Dante Fowler decided to go pro. Fowler is one of the more disruptive pass rushers in this year’s draft, and according to many people in the draft community carries a first round grade.
When scouting Fowler the first thing that stands out to me is his ability to rush the passer. He has good quickness, and has a variety of pass rushing moves that allows him to get to the passer. He is a versatile player as well playing both OLB, and DE for the Gators.
While a lot of people are very high on Fowler I have some pressing concerns about him, that will need to be answered before the draft if he is to earn a first round draft grade from me. My biggest concern is what position will he play in the NFL in a 4-3 defense. He lacks the power to be a defensive end in this system. He is routinely overpowered at the point of attack against bigger offensive tackles, and I question how well he will be able to hold up vs. the run. I also have some concerns about how well he could hold up as an OLB. He lacks the fluidity to hold up in pass coverage, and is not used much as a coverage linebacker at Florida. When he is used in coverage he looks lost at times, and I question if he has the speed to stay with the quicker running backs or slot receivers.
I currently project Fowler to go in the late part of round one of the draft. However, I only grade him out as a second round draft prospect because I think he has to be in a 3-4 defense to reach his potential in the NFL.
Top 10 Prospect Performances from Week 13
1. Dee Hart RB Colorado State
One of the most overlooked performances last weekend was put on by Colorado State RB Dee Hart. Against New Mexico State he accounted for 272 total yards of offense, and six touchdowns. Hart will get serious attention on day three of the NFL Draft.
2. Brett Hundley QB UCLA
Hundley is finally starting to play like a first round draft pick, and his play is one of the major reasons UCLA looks like a threat to win the Pac-12 this year. Against USC, he threw for 326 yards, and three touchdowns while completing 71% of his passes.
3. Tevin Coleman RB Indiana
Coleman had another big performance last week, which shows why the Big Ten has the best running backs in college football. Against Ohio State he rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns, including one he took 90-yards. I am hearing that Coleman is strongly leaning towards entering the draft, and if he does look for him to earn a late second or early third round grade.
4. Vince Mayle WR Washington State
One player that I look to make a significant rise up the draft board this year is Washington State WR Vince Mayle. His play last weekend against Arizona State shows why I am so high on him. In this game he hauled in 15 passes for 252 yards. If he can be this dominate come All-Star game season, look for him to see his name fly up draft boards.
5. David Johnson RB UNI
Johnson was last week’s prospect of the week due to the outstanding performances he has put up over the last couple of weeks. His trend of outstanding games continued last weekend when he rushed for 205 yards, and three touchdowns against Missouri State.
6. Tyler Lockett WR Kansas State
Lockett had one of the best all-around games last week. He hauled in 10 passes for 196 yards, returned three kickoffs for 59 yards, and had two punt returns for 66 yards, including one punt return for a touchdown.
7. Garrett Grayson QB Colorado State
One quarterback who is getting his share of late round attention is Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson. He has been very productive this season, and in his latest game against New Mexico State he threw for 389 yards and three touchdowns.
8. Joey Isoefa RB Hawaii
Isoefa has missed most of this season with a foot injury, and due to a suspension for drunk driving. However, he had his best game of the season last week against UNLV when he rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns.
9. Marcus Mariota QB Oregon
Mariota again showed why he is the top quarterback on my board with his performance last week. Against Colorado he passed for 323 yards, rushed for 73 yards and scored a total of four touchdowns.
10. Melvin Gordon RB Wisconsin
Gordon had somewhat of a down game last week only rushing for 200 yards, after rushing for 408 yards two weeks ago. Of course a 200 yard day is still an outstanding performance which allows him to make the top-10 prospect performances from last week.
Markus Golden DE Missouri
Devante Davis WR UNLV
John Crockett RB North Dakota State
Taylor Kelly QB Arizona State
Tommy Shuler WR Marshall
MyCole Pruitt Southern Illinois
Jeremy Langford RB Michigan State
Jake Waters QB Kansas State
Ten Football Thoughts
1. There are several players who are worth keeping an eye on in the Division II playoffs, including Colorado State Pueblo QB and OLB Darius Allen. ,and Pittsburg State CB DeVante Bausby, and S Keeston Terry.
2. The top Division III player left in the playoff has to Jake Kumerow of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Unfortunately for Jake has been out for four straight games with an ankle injury, but he could be back this weekend. In only seven games this season he has caught 10 touchdown passes, and 44 passes overall.
3. A pro prospect to keep an eye on in the NAIA playoffs is RB Brandon Wegher who has rushed for 2,148 yards, and 34 touchdowns this season. I doubt Wegher gets drafted, but he could impress people once he gets into an NFL camp.
4. One player that declared for the draft that I would have liked to seen come back for his senior season is Florida OG Tyler Moore. I doubt he gets drafted this year, and think he could have definitely improved his stock by coming back for his senior season. I have been told Moore left for financial reasons.
5. Speaking of underclassmen I have heard Miami RB Duke Johnson is leaning strongly towards entering the draft. I am a fan of Johnson’s, and think he has a bright future in the NFL. I currently project him to be a late second, or third round draft pick.
6. One more underclassmen who will probably turn pro after the year is UCLA QB Brett Hundley. This is another player who I think would be making a mistake by turning pro early. This is due to the fact he is far from a polished pocket passer, and a player who I think needs to improve his football intelligence in order to succeed in the NFL.
7. One thing that is really starting to tick me off is these journalists telling draft prospects to quit on their team, and teammates. The latest example of this is when Marc Edelman wrote in Forbes that Dante Fowler Jr. should leave the Florida football team right away. This just goes to show how out of touch some journalists are with the actual game. If a player left his team in the middle of the season it would be an extremely selfish decision, and would raise a lot of red flags with NFL decision makers.
8. One player that has been flying up the draft board is Miami of Ohio CB Quinten Rollins. On Tuesday he picked off two passes against Ohio, and returned one for a touchdown. Overall, this season Rollins picked off seven passes which is outstanding when you consider this is Rollins first year of college football.
9. I think it is both a shame and scouting lesson to see what is happening to Robert Griffin III. The lesson to learn from this is to be wary of players who don’t come from a pro style offense. At Baylor Griffin played in an offense that focused on making one read, and getting rid of the ball. He also was not forced to throw on rhythm as often as most quarterbacks. The fact he was not asked to do this much in college is definitely affecting him in the NFL.
10.I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a late Thanksgiving.
East Carolina WR Justin Hardy became the FBS all-time leader in receptions. … David Cobb suffered a strained left hamstring against Nebraska, and may miss this week’s game against Wisconsin. … Stanford WR Ty Montgomery will miss this week’s game against UCLA with a shoulder injury. … Kyle Emanuel of North Dakota State was named Missouri Valley Football Defensive Player of the Year. … Southeastern Louisiana QB Bryan Bennett was named Southland Offensive Player of the Year. …Montana DE Zack Wagenmann was named Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year. … Fordham QB Mike Nebrich was named Patriot Offensive Player of the Year. … Chattanooga DE Davis Tull was named the SoCon Defensive Player of the Year for the third time in a row. … Former Ohio State DE Noah Spence has declared for the NFL Draft. …