There’s a change at the top of the college football rankings as number one Mississippi State fell to conference rival Alabama. Florida State’s late game rally to defeat interstate rival Miami could further shake things up. Besides the exciting on field action a number of offensive line prospects have been impressing scouts while one sleeper cornerback has them intrigued.
I’m told the injury suffered by Oregon tight end Pharaoh Brown during the Utah game two Saturday’s ago may be career threatening. Brown was hospitalized through the late part of last week before returning home to Cleveland. Sources tell me Brown’s knee suffered significant damage.
On the other hand the season ending knee injury suffered by Dres Anderson at the end of October was not of the serious variety and a quick recovery is expected.
I’ve asked a few people from the PAC 12 what’s happened to USC offensive line prospect Aundrey Walker? After a terrific sophomore season at left tackle Walker moved to the guard spot in 2013 then suffered a serious ankle injury late in the year. He’s been slow to recover and has played in only five games this season. Several area scouts have questioned Walker’s passion for football which is disconcerting considering the ability he showed early in his career. Stamped as a middle round prospect entering the season, the more likely scenario has Walker falling out of the draft entirely.
Nelson Agholor/WR/USC: Entering the season I gave Agholor a very low grade and have been proven wrong. The dynamic receiver has impressed scouts all season long and he turned in a career performance against Cal last week with 16 receptions for 216-yards and 2-scores. Though not a true deep threat Agholor is a terrific timing receiver who creates after the catch and has a nose for the end zone (10 TDs this year). He is expected to enter the draft and fits into the initial 80 picks.
Laurence Gibson/T/Virginia Tech: Scouts speak highly of Gibson, whose game has vastly improved the past two years. The fulltime starter at left tackle for the Hokies combines athleticism, good movement skills as well as growth potential. He entered the season stamped as a street free agent but is expected to play in the Senior Bowl then have his name called in the middle rounds of next year’s draft.
Mickey Baucus/T/Arizona: Baucus is another left tackle prospect exceeding the expectations of NFL scouts. Entering the year with late round grades, Baucus has developed his game and slowly transitioned from big-bodied lineman into an NFL caliber tackle. Consider this; during the game against Washington he held Hau’Oli Kikaha, a week three riser with totals of 16.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss this season, to just 3 tackles. Many wonder if a move to the right side is in the offing for Baucus but few debate the fact he’s moved into the middle rounds.
Al Bond/OL/Memphis: Bond represents the third player from Memphis making the Risers list this season. The senior right tackle plays strong, athletic football. He controls defenders at the line of scrimmage and easily gets out to the second level then annihilates linebackers. Built more like a guard, Bond is a late round prospect who will be playing on Sunday’s.
Brian Randolph/S/Tennessee: I ranked Randolph near the top of the safety list entering the season but after a slow start to the campaign he’s recently picked up the pace. The past two weeks he’s led Tennessee in tackles posting 14 during the overtime loss to South Carolina and 8 in the team’s blowout victory over Kentucky. Randolph also scored his first interception of the year against the Wildcats. The rangy safety offers good size, ball skills and play aggressive football. He’ll do well at the next level in a zone system.
Sleeper of the Week- Quinten Rollins/CB/Miami (Oh): Entering the season no scout listed Rollins as a next level prospect which its understandable considering he never played football in college rather served as the starting guard for the Miami basketball team. Rollins’ move to football was seamless and he’s developed into one of the most intriguing cornerback prospects in the nation. Eleven games into his first season on the football field he’s picked off 5 passes, broke up an additional 9 and also averaged 6 tackles per game. A terrific athlete with a smooth, natural style, Rollins is flying up draft boards and is headed to the Senior Bowl this January. The middle rounds are now a real possibility which is rather incredible considering eight months ago no one thought Rollins had any future in the NFL.
Small School Prospect: Jacob Hagen/S/Liberty: Hagen was graded as roster fodder by scouts but the numbers don’t lie. Eleven games into the season he leads Liberty with 87 tackles, 8 interceptions, 5 PBU’s and 3 forced fumbles. Hagen is not a great athlete rather a terrific football player constantly around the action. He needs to run well prior to the draft in order to slide into the late rounds but his play making skill, instincts and discipline could help him catch on as a fourth safety in the NFL.
Anthony Boone/QB/Duke: Boone was stamped as a possible late round pick entering the season but I struggle to see him as anything other than a free agent. During the first half of the Blue Devils loss to Virginia Tech he missed three wide open receivers which would’ve put the game out of reach for Duke. For the day he completed 45% of his throws, the third time this year he’s been under 50% while his touchdown-to-interception ratio stands near 2-to-1. If I was to make a comparison for Boone it would be former Georgia Tech signal caller Joe Hamilton.
Corey Crawford/DE/Clemson: Crawford was graded as early as a third round prospect by a number of scouts yet his play this year leaves a lot to be desired. The senior has been invisible since returning from a one game suspension, posting 2 sacks and 21 tackles in 9 games. Combining nice length and athleticism, Crawford is in danger of falling into the very late rounds unless he somehow reverses course pronto.
Ronald Darby/CB/Florida State: While I like Darby as a prospect the fact remains Saturday night was the second time this month he’s been badly exploited by the competition. He struggled against Devante Parker of Louisville two weeks ago and was beaten badly by Phillip Dorsett from Miami on Saturday. Darby is a solid corner with a great deal of upside but there will be numerous bumps on the road before he’s NFL ready.