The weekend prior to the conference title games saw one of the great Michigan-Ohio State games of all time, a contest which ended in controversy but gave us two risers. Here are the Risers & Sliders for week thirteen.
Ryan Glasgow/DT/Michigan: It was a game for the ages as OSU pulled out a controversial victory in double OT. And while there were plenty of risers on the Michigan side I was most impressed with Glasgow. He posted 2 tackles but also recorded 1.5 tackles for loss and came up with a big sack. What stood out was not recorded on the stat sheet; the way Glasgow attracted the attention of multiple Buckeye blockers on the inside, holding the point and occupying the gaps as well as making plays during important moments of the game. Last year Glasgow’s brother made a mad dash up draft boards during Shrine week and the Senior Bowl but Ryan already has a head start.
Raekwon McMillan/LB/Ohio State: Though I don’t grade McMillan as highly as former teammate Darron Lee at equal points in their careers there’s no denying the junior linebacker is the real deal. In the midst of a terrific season, McMillan was all over the field making plays against the Wolverines and finished the contest with 16 tackles. He needs a little polish on his game and must improve his coverage skills but McMillan is set to be the next Buckeye defender to land in round one.
Adoree’ Jackson/CB-RS/USC: Jackson often takes a backseat to Jabrill Peppers and many, including myself, feel its unjustified. The USC junior is just as explosive and as much a play maker as his Wolverine counterpart, something he proved against Notre Dame. Jackson scored three times against the Irish, the first time on a 55-yard punt return then catching a 52-yard touchdown pass and finally bringing a kick back 97-yards. He also broke up a pair of throws. Jackson has home run hitting speed, comes with rare athleticism and is a developing cornerback who shuts down opponents. I stamped him with a first round grade prior to the season and feel Jackson has only improved his game in 2016.
Stacey Coley/WR/Miami-Fl: Coley has been productive all season long and is the workhorse of the Hurricane receiver corp. He lead the team with 49 reception while also posting 585-receiving yards and 8 TD’s. Though slightly disappointed in his yards per catch average, scouts are impressed with Coley’s ability to control games as well as his nose for the end zone. Several teams have stamped Coley as a second day pick.
Dante Barnett/S/Kansas State: After his junior season of 2014 I graded Barnett as a late round prospect before he was sidelined with a shoulder injury in 2015. Stamped as roster fodder by scouts before the 2016 campaign, Barnett has played productive football all season long. He ranks fourth on the K-State defense with 58 tackles and has displayed himself as a forceful run defender. Pre-draft workouts are important but Barnett has the skill set to line-up as a strong safety/special teams player.
Jahad Thomas/RB/Temple: Once the doormat of IA football, Temple has developed into a consistent bowl team and this year is no different. For the second consecutive season the Owls will be playing in the AAC title game and the versatile Thomas has been key on offense. A threat every time he handles the ball, he’s posted 856-rushing yards this season, scoring 12 times while adding 402 receiving yards on 30 receptions with 6 more touchdowns. Thomas lacks classic next level size (5-feet/10-inches, 185-pounds) but has the ability to line up as a third down back on Sunday.
Sleeper Prospect- Forrest Lamp/OL/Western Kentucky: Entering the season graded as an undrafted free agent by scouts, Lamp has been on a straight shot north up draft boards and is now being talked about as an early third day pick. Lining up at tackle for the Hilltoppers, Lamp blocks with solid fundamentals and does a great job protecting his passer. He has the movement skills to line-up in a zone blocking system on Sunday, where I expect Lamp will move inside to guard.
Small School Prospect- Chad Williams/WR/Grambling: Barely three years ago the Grambling program was in distress as the team boycotted practice and subsequently forfeited a game due to a variety of issues. Things quickly turned around and after demolishing Southern in the Bayou Classic the team will be playing for the SWAC Championship this weekend. Williams is a player I’ve pegged as a next level prospect all along and the junior has continually improved his game. At the completion of the season Williams lead the SWAC in receptions (80), receiving yards (1191) and posted 10 TD’s. He’s a nice sized receiver with sure hands and solid run after the catch skill. I would expect Williams to receive a draftable grade from scouts moving into his senior season then slide into the middle rounds if he continues to progress on the field.
Devonte’ Fields/DE-OLB/Louisville: The pass rush specialist entered the season stamped as a second day prospect but has fallen short of expectations. For the season Fields finished with 5 sacks, three which came in one game, as well as 8 tackles for loss. During the final two games of the season, both devastating losses for Louisville, he combined for 3 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.
An entertaining week twelve on the college gridiron sets us up for showdown Saturday on this holiday weekend. On the prospect front scouts are keeping close watch on a sleeper quarterback from the Mountain West quickly rising up draft board while yet another Washington Husky defender makes our list.
Josh Allen/QB/Wyoming: The Cowboys are one of the better stories from the 2016 season and a team I’ve enjoyed watching since September. And the more I watch the more I’m impressed by Allen who again showcased his awesome next level potential against San Diego State. The Aztecs defensive back seven possess near a handful of NFL prospects yet Allen sliced them up, throwing a pair of fourth quarter touchdown passes of 30 and 29 yards, which gave Wyoming the lead for good. Allen has next level size, arm strength, intelligence and poise. He can play the vertical game from the pocket and just as easily makes positive passes on the move. I presently grade Allen as a second round choice but unflinchingly believe he offers first round potential down the road.
Kevin King/CB/Washington: King is the fourth Washington defender to make the risers list this season and with good reason. The big corner made an interception during the victory over Arizona State, a play which will be shown on highlight reels for the next week. For the season King has broken up 10 passes, four more than week nine riser Sidney Jones. One of the bigger cornerback prospects in the nation, King measures 6-feet/3.5-inches and just about 190lbs. NFL teams are salivating over his measurables and King plays to them, physically beating down opponents to defend passes. Long speed is a concern and pre-draft forty times are critical but as told to me by one insider, King is a typical Seattle Seahawks type of cornerback who will be selected during the second day of the draft.
Caleb Brantley/DT/Florida: On a Gators defense stacked with next level talent Brantley is often overlooked but the junior turned in a standout performance during the victory over LSU. The explosive defender totaled 5 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and forced a fumble when it looked like the Tigers were going in for a touchdown. More importantly Brantley beat up the very talented interior offensive line of LSU. Slightly undersized, he comes off the ball with a great first step and easily moves in every direction of the field. Should Brantley enter the draft I doubt he makes it out of the second round.
Jaleel Johnson/DT/Iowa: In last August I suggested Johnson, then rated by scouts as a last day pick, could make a big move up draft boards and the senior has followed through. He’s been consistently productive and has quietly turned in a terrific campaign. Eleven games into the season he’s totaled 51 tackles, 10 tackles for loss as well as 7.5 sacks. The numbers during the victory over Illinois read 4/1.5/1. Johnson is a terrific athlete with size, growth potential and possibilities in a variety of defensive schemes. He’s improved his draft stock at least two rounds and presently grades as a second day selection.
BJ Hill/DT/North Carolina State: I’ve fawned over Hill since the summer and he continues to impress me, even during games the Wolfpack lose. His numbers against Miami included 4 tackles and a quarterback hurry, nothing spectacular. Yet his ability to hold the point, get pressure up the field and force running backs to reroute or quarterbacks to avoid his rush were impressive. I love the fundamentals Hill plays with and feel he’s another defensive lineman with second day potential.
Steven Taylor/LB/Houston: I followed along with scouts prior to the season stamping Taylor as a late round choice yet the athletic linebacker has exceeded expectations. The senior leads the Cougars defense in tackles (64) as well as tackles for loss (11) and also has 8.5 sacks to his credit. He had a standout game last week when the Cougars upset Louisville, posting 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks while forcing 1 fumble. Taylor lacks great measurables (6-feet/225lbs) but plays smart, intense football and nicely projects as a back-up inside linebacker and a special teams ace.
Sleeper Prospect- Patrick O’Connor/DE-OLB/Eastern Michigan: Prior to the 2015 season scouts graded O’Connor as a priority free agent but a shoulder injury sidelined him for the season. He returned this year to a similar grade and has rewarded scouts for their faith. The senior has posted 7 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss while forcing 4 fumbles. He’s shown a lot of athleticism in his game and consistently gets pressure up the field, forcing the action. O’Connor offers nice height (6-feet/4-inches), size (280lbs) and athleticism. Strong pre-draft workouts could push him into the late rounds and I definitely envision O’Connor lining up as a designated pass rusher on Sunday’s.
Small School Prospect- Jordan Morgan/OL/Kutztown: Despite being a four year starter and three time All American, Morgan was not graded by scouts entering the season but that’s been rectified. Lining up at left tackle for Kutztown, Morgan is explosive, athletic and powerful. He annihilates defenders at the line of scrimmage while also showing a lot of skill blocking in motion. He displays good instinct and a feel for blocking. He definitely needs to improve the consistency of his fundamentals as Morgan gets upright in his stance and he’s often late with his hands. He’ll have the opportunity of a lifetime for a small school blocker as Morgan will be participating in the Senior Bowl this January where he’ll likely line up at guard. I presently grade him as a fifth/sixth round choice but he offers tremendous upside which, if met, could result in Morgan eventually starting on Sunday’s.
Wes Lunt/QB/Illinois: Lunt is another quarterback from the senior class that’s failed to meet expectations in 2016. Stamped as a late round pick, Lunt has been forced to share duties underneath center and has looked like an ordinary game manager for most of the season.
Shake-up Saturday is the best way to describe week eleven on the college football schedule as three previously unbeaten teams went down to defeat. On the NFL prospect front the other junior cornerback at Florida is building a buzz for himself as is USC’s number two receiver. Here are the Risers and Sliders for week eleven.
Quincy Wilson/CB/Florida: Conventional wisdom says Jalen Tabor is the top cornerback prospect on the Gators roster yet there’s an undercurrent in the scouting community which believes Wilson will be the better pro. Wilson has better size then his teammate and also offers next level ball skills. He’s posted 3 interceptions and broke-up 3 additional passes this season. Big and physical, Wilson recorded 9 tackles during the victory over South Carolina. Forty times will be crucial in the run-up to the draft for Wilson, and I fully expect him to enter April’s event. He has secured himself as a top 40 selection.
Darreus Rogers/WR/USC: While teammate JuJu Smith-Schuster is the first name mentioned when people speak about next level receivers on the Trojans roster, scouts are also intrigued by Rogers. Entering the season stamped as a priority free agent, the senior showed his grit against Washington, which fields two of the best cornerbacks in the country. Rogers led the Trojans with 6 receptions, 84-yards and 1 score during the upset victory. His production has been moderate in 2016 (38/387/2) but his computer numbers (6-foot/220lbs/4.52s) plus the ability he’s displayed could push Rogers into the late rounds.
Corey Clement/RB/Wisconsin: It was easy pickings for the Badgers this weekend as they destroyed Illinois 48-3 and once again Clement shined. He posted 123-yards on 25-carries, finding the end zone 3 times. It’s the fourth time in the past five games Clement busted through the 100-yard mark, including a 164-yard performance against Ohio State. The ability to pick and chose his spots on the inside as well as turn the corner are very impressive. Clement’s injury woes are well documented and something teams will closely inspect in the lead up to the draft but when healthy and on his game he displays traits of being a feature ball carrier.
Kevonn Mabon/WR/Ball State: Scouts handed Mabon a sixth round grade prior to the season and thus far he’s met expectations. Just over 6-feet/220lbs, he offers reliable hands and the ability to control games. More of a possession wide out, he’s totaled 67 receptions for 794-yards this season but has found the end zone just twice. He has all the tools to line up as a fifth receiver at the next level.
Rashard Fant/CB/Indiana: Off his sophomore film of 2015 I graded Fant as a wait and see prospect and feel he’s worthy of mention based on his improvement. The Hoosiers defense have given up a lot of points this season but Fant has been very productive and makes positive plays on the ball. Ten games into the season he’s intercepted 2 passes while breaking up 16 more. Last season his totals included 22 pass break-ups. Fant is a smaller corner, which won’t sit well with scouts, but his ball skills and productivity are impressive and will get him looks as a nickel/dime back on Sunday.
Sleeper Prospect– Tanner Gentry/WR/Wyoming: Entering the season scouts graded Gentry as roster fodder but the senior is posting career numbers and turning heads. During the overtime loss to UNLV he registered 5 receptions for 184 yards with 3 touchdowns. Ten games into season the totals read 48 receptions, 778-yards (16.2yd average) with 8 scores. Gentry is a big bodied receiver (6-feet/1-inch, 210lbs) with sneaky speed (4.5s) and very reliable hands. He plays smart, tough football and I would expect him to land somewhere in the middle of day three.
Small School Prospect- Brady Gustafson/QB/Montana: Considered a street free agent entering the season by scouts, Gustafson has been on a straight shot north on draft boards. Measuring over 6-feet/5-inches and 240lbs, he possesses next level physical skills but also comes with a quarterback brain. Gustafson makes proper choices in the pocket, does not force throws and uses all his targets. He easily drives deep throws but is also adept at putting touch on the short passes when necessary. His accuracy and pass placement are spot on as he allows receivers the opportunity to pick up big yardage after the catch. Presently I grade him as a fourth rounder and expect Gustafson to have the opportunity to improve his draft stock even further at a post season All Star game.
DJ Dowdy/TE/Cincinnati: Scouts handed Dowdy a mid-third day grade, something I argued against after stamping him as barely draftable. Its been a miserable season for the senior as he’s caught just three passes for 39 yards and has gone without a catch in six games this season. Dowdy has the measurables but his production has been awful the past three years.