The weekend was mixed with nail biters that went down to the wire as well as a few blowouts which disrupted the national rankings. It was also a weekend in which two SEC players took a tumble down draft boards.
Texas Christian left tackle Tayo Fabuluje, a week three riser, intrigues scouts with his size, power and movement skill. And while the reviews on Fabuluje remain generally positive there have been a few red flags. Scouts say Fabuluje added bad weight in the off season and looks poorly conditioned. I’ve been told they’ll also closely inspect the reasons that led to Fabuluje missing the entire 2013 season.
On Saturday I took in the Norfolk State-Hampton game with outside linebacker Lynden Trail (NSU) my intended focus. That quickly changed when I saw Hampton’s mammoth right tackle who showed flashes of dominance. It was none other than former UCLA tackle Torian White who was dismissed from the Bruins program earlier this year. Though he looked good at times White’s overall performance was poor as he whiffed on a number of blocks, showed poor balance and looked overweight.
For his part Trail was also a disappointment as once again he looks the part but does not play to it.
Kevin White/WR/West Virginia: The crop of senior receivers is once again watered down and White is stating his case to be tops in the class. The big bodied wide out has posted at least 100-yards receiving in every game this season while scoring against every IA opponent he’s faced. His totals include 69 receptions in seven games with an average of just under 15 yards per catch. It can be tough to predict how Mountaineer receivers will pan out at the next level but White’s size/speed numbers (6’ 3’’/210lbs and 4.45s) and pass catching skill scream top 45 pick.
Lorenzo Mauldin/DE-OLB/Louisville: Mauldin was highly regarded by scouts entering the season and has done nothing to disappoint during the first half of the year. The athletic front seven prospect has forced the action as a pass rusher, runs down ball carriers in pursuit and also lends a hand on coverage units. His most recent effort included 5 tackles with 1 for loss, 1 sack and 1 quarterback hurry during the Cardinals victory over North Carolina State. Mauldin is a prospect with the ability to make a late dash up draft boards assuming good pre-draft performances at the Senior Bowl and combine.
Paul Dawson/LB/TCU: I stamped Dawson as a free agent prospect entering the season but the senior linebacker may be playing himself into the late rounds. Undersized at 6-feet/230lbs, Dawson flies around the football making plays in pursuit as well as coverage. He posted 13 tackles during the victory over Oklahoma State, giving him a team leading 68, to go along with 2 interceptions and 3 pass defenses. Dawson is a three down defender who has a style similar to Christian Kirksey, the third round pick of the Cleveland Browns. He could back-up for a variety of NFL systems and make his mark on special teams.
Trey Depriest/LB/Alabama: There were a number of standouts during the Tides 59-point shellacking of Texas A&M but considering the circumstances Depriest must be mentioned. The senior finished with five tackles but it was his play in coverage, considered the weakest part of his game, that was most inspired. On two occasions during the games opening half Depriest made solid plays against screen passes, forcing TAMU to punt on the first occasion. Known for his toughness defending the run, the ability displayed in space against an offense which likes to put the ball in the air will only enhance his draft stock.
Drew Ott/DL/Iowa: Carl Davis, a week four slider, is graded as the top next level prospect from Iowa’s defensive line but teammate Drew Ott is having the better campaign. Fundamentally sound, the junior plays with great intensity and forces the action in every direction. During the loss to Maryland he posted 3 tackles with 2 for loss, while registering 2.5 sacks and intercepting 1 pass. By comparison Davis finished the game with 2 tackles. Ott leads the Hawkeyes in sacks (7) and tackles for loss (9.5) this season and is building a buzz for himself in scouting circles.
B.J. Finney/C/Kansas State: The center spot in next April’s draft offers several terrific senior prospects and Finney is starting to enter the conversation. During the KSU victory over Oklahoma he was efficient in all areas and easily handled his assignments. The four year starter is smart, dependable and projects as a middle round pick for a zone blocking offense.
Sleeper of the Week: Marcus Hardisen/DL/Arizona State: I mentioned Hardisen during my PAC 12 preview in July and though he’s not set the world on fire this season, there has been steady development in his game. He’s posted 19 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 2 sacks at defensive end this season and has shown flashes of brilliance. Hardisen is sized well (6’-3.5” and 305lbs) plays with proper fundamentals and shows a good degree of power in his game. He must learn the nuances of his position and develop more techniques disengaging from blocks but the junior college transfer comes with a large degree of upside.
Small School Prospect: Kenny Cook/WR/Gardner Webb: Scouts graded Cook as a marginal free agent prospect entering the season but opponents have not found a way to stop the big bodied wide out. Despite struggling with hamstring issues Cook has caught 25 passes in the four games he’s played. His most recent effort included 12 receptions for 251 yards and 2 scores during Gardner Webb’s six point victory over VMI. The sure handed Cook comes with excellent size (6-feet/3-inches and 210lbs) but marginal speed. He’ll have opportunities at the next level as a fifth receiver brought onto the field in the red zone or on third down situations.
Deshazor Everett/CB/Texas A&M: Everett receives a lot of mention in outside circles but entering the season scouts stamped him as a free agent prospect. And the scouts were proven correct this weekend. Everett looked intimated against Alabama and was beaten badly by Amari Cooper, the Tides premiere receiver. Everett gave up underneath receptions, crossing routes and was constantly playing catch-up. In the end it was a free agent performance from Everett.
Za’Darius Smith/DE/Kentucky: Though he was credited with the only sack of the night for Kentucky, Smith’s performance against LSU will raise red flags in the scouting world. Smith was exploited all night not just by the Tigers highly rated left tackle La’el Collins but also any tight end or fullback he faced. Scouts have had concerns about Smith’s overall athleticism, a weakness exploited by LSU on Saturday.