Michigan State’s safety Kurtis Drummond has really turned it up after a tough outing against Oregon. He was splendid against Nebraska, tallying 9 tackles, breaking up 1 pass and blowing up a play late in the first half which resulted in Ameer Abdullah fumbling the ball and ending a Cornhusker scoring drive. Questions surround Drummond’s skill in man coverage and his ability to play over the slot receiver. Its something that may not be answered until the Senior Bowl, assuming Drummond receives then accepts an invitation.
Chaz Green seems a bit dinged up from his ankle injury several weeks ago but the Florida tackle displayed his versatility against Tennessee. Usually lining up on the left side, Green moved to the strong side and did a solid job run blocking.
After Michael Dyer rushed for 1242-yards as a sophomore during the 2011 campaign, which came on the heels of his record setting 1093-yard freshman season, many pegged him as a first rounder. I never bought into that opinion. Dyer was eventually dismissed from the Auburn program, transferred to Louisville and for a variety of reasons has never regained a starting job. He’s carried the ball 26 times for 65-yards (2.5-yard average) in three games this season. Dyer was a wait for the hole to open ball carrier with average physical skills and was never anything more than late round material on a good day.
Jaelen Strong/WR/Arizona State: I was cool towards Strong entering the season as I saw no single distinguishing skill in his game yet the junior has put together a string of dominating performances in the early going. The latest was against USC in which Strong caught 10 passes for 202-yards and 3-touchdowns, the last score being the game clinching 46-yard Hail Mary. Strong is not a true deep threat but catches the ball well and wins out for contested passes. I’ll hold final judgment until his true size/speed numbers are recorded but must admit Strong has definitely improved his draft stock this season.
Josh Harper/WR/Fresno State: Harper entered the season stamped as an early round prospect and thus far the senior has lived up to expectations. His numbers during the Bulldogs victory over San Diego State included 5 receptions for 76 yards. Harper has performed well against top competition in the early going including USC (6 receptions), Utah (6 receptions) and Nebraska (9 receptions). He’s accounted for almost 30% of Fresno State’s receiving production and is presently graded as a third round prospect.
Sammie Coates/WR/Auburn: Despite struggling with a knee injury Coates has excited scouts with his big play ability in 2014. Sized well, the junior plays strong as well as fast, winning out in battles but at the same time beating opponents down field for long gainers. He tallied 4 receptions for 144-yards (36-yards per catch) with one score in his most recent effort against LSU. Coates is fluid on the field and deceptively fast. He has the physical skills and upside to develop into a second receiver for an NFL team.
Akeem Hunt/RB/Purdue: During my Big Ten rankings I described Hunt as a diminutive ball carrier but a gamer with home run hitting speed. Illinois experienced what I was talking about on Saturday as Hunt burnt the Illini for 177-rushing yards and 1 score while also leading Purdue with 4 receptions. Hunt is averaging 5.9-yards per carry this season, leads the Boilermakers with 22 catches and has seen duty returning kicks. He’s not very tall (5-feet/8-inches and 185 pounds) but plays big and has a style similar to Darren Sproles.
Benardrick McKinney/LB/Mississippi State: The stats were nothing spectacular as McKinney recorded 9 tackles including one for a loss, posted 1 sack and broke up a single pass. What was impressive Saturday was his play in space, the was he played assignment football and how McKinney was never caught out of position. He did well in the middle, on the outside in two linebacker sets and oozed an understanding of what was happening during the Bulldogs blowout victory over Texas A&M. McKinney is more forceful than fast and a difference maker in the front seven. When asked if McKinney will enter the draft sources tell me, “he’s gone.”
Taiwan Jones/LB/Michigan State: Prior to the season I raved about Jones, referring to him as the hidden gem on the Spartans defense. The senior is a secret no more and looked outstanding during State’s win over Nebraska. He led the team with 10 tackles, including 3 for loss and added a sack. More importantly Jones was the main ingredient in holding the Cornhuskers Ameer Abdullah to just 45 yards. Abdullah had averaged 166-yards in Nebraska’s first five games this year. Jones displayed great skill in space last season when he lined up on the outside and the ability he’s showing as an interior run defender in 2014 is only improving his draft stock.
Bobby McCain/CB/Memphis: Looking for a sleeper at the cornerback position? Keep an eye on Bobby McCain of Memphis. To date McCain has recorded 3 interceptions and another 3 pass break-ups in the Tigers five games. Included is a 2 INT performance against Mississippi. He’s a feisty 195-pound corner with excellent ball skills but average height (under 5-feet/10-inches) and ordinary speed (4.5s). McCain is a late round prospect with potential as a nickel/dime back in the NFL.
Sleeper- Clayton Geathers/S/Central Florida: Geathers entered the season stamped as a free agent prospect by scouts but has since elevated his game. In four games this year the senior posted 35 tackles and during UCF’s conference victory over Houston last week he intercepted 1 pass while breaking up 2 more. He’s a forceful safety best in the box and plays with a special teams mentality.
Small School Prospect- Darius Allen/OLB-DPR/CSU-Pueblo: Allen was graded as a street free agent by scouts but they may want to rethink that opinion. In five games this season Allen has registered 4.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss. He small (under 6-feet/2-inches and 240-pounds) yet has shown the ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage throughout his college career. I’m still not sure Allen gets drafted but feel he could make a roster as a designated pass rusher/special teams player.
Jeff Driskel/QB/Florida: Driskel was the number one rated high school quarterback prospect out of high school and displayed next level skill early in his Gator career but its been all downhill since his injury last season. The most recent evidence was Saturday as Driskel could not move the Gators offense and was pulled from the game after completing under 50% of his passes, throwing three pick and getting sacked three times. He has the necessary physical skills to play in the NFL but the intangibles and signal caller intelligence are lacking.
Thomas Teal/DT/North Carolina State: Early in his career Teal looked like a legitimate next level prospect but his game has leveled off the past two seasons and in some ways regressed. He was dominated during the Florida State game, finishing with one tackle. Teal flashes ability but need to consistently play at a high level for any chance of making a roster.