In what is the penultimate weekend of the college football regular season, a top ten shake-up is in the offing. And while a number of sleeper prospects are rising up draft boards one big named player makes our Sliders list.
Word from the PAC 12 has two cornerbacks moving in opposite directions.
I continue to hear a lot of good things on Steve Nelson of Oregon State. The senior entered the year with free agent grades but has elevated himself into the middle rounds. Sized well at just under 5-feet/11-inches and 200-pounds, he could elevate to a top 100 pick with a good post-season showing.
On the other hand the flow of information on Marcus Peters has gone from bad to worse. The issues which led to his dismissal from the Washington football program are well documented but several area scouts say it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
On Saturday I closely watched Florida Gators defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard and have to say he was relatively impressive. The junior plays with leverage, quickness and shows good movement skills. He looks as though he’ll be a solid three-technique prospect and possibly defensive end in a three man line/one-gap system. Bullard is expected to enter the draft but the consensus in the scouting community is he’d really benefit from another season in college.
Antonio Morrison/LB/Florida: Slightly undersized but swift and explosive, Morrison is very much a linebacker in the body of a safety and a defender who makes plays sideline to sideline. Prior to the Florida State contest Morrison led all Gator defenders with 98 tackles, 40 more than his nearest teammate. He added 5 more during the loss to the Seminoles. He’ll be looked upon as a natural fit at weak side linebacker yet considering the multiple fronts used in today’s NFL, Morrison will also be given consideration on the inside of a 3-4 alignment which allows him to freely run to the action.
Brandon Doughty/QB/Western Kentucky: For the moment let’s dismiss the fact Doughty threw for 491-yards and 8 touchdowns during the Hilltoppers victory over Marshall this weekend. Rather look at the accuracy and timing of Doughty’s throws, as well as his completion percentage. I first mentioned Doughty last season and was surprised he never received as much as a mention from scouts entering the 2014 campaign. He does not possesses a big arm but Doughty’s ability to run a timing/west coast offense should at the very least, get him into a camp next summer.
Jermauria Rasco/DE/LSU: Fact is I was never very high on Rasco entering the season and neither were NFL scouts, who expected him to be a mini-camp casualty. But give credit where its’ due as the senior has played consistently productive football this season. He finished the year with 8 tackles and 1 sack during the LSU victory over Texas A&M, and finishes the season atop the team with 4 sacks. Rasco does not possesses the upside of teammate Danielle Hunter who holds a 2nd/3rd round grade, but at the same time he does not disappear for stretches as the junior does.
Laken Tomlinson/OL/Duke: Four years a starter on the Duke offensive line, Tomlinson has been a consistent blocker in college and intrigues NFL scouts. He’s a wide bodied lineman at 6-feet/3-inches and 325lbs, strong enough to open holes on the line of scrimmage and nimble enough to remove defenders on the second level. He’s not expected to wow anyone in pre-draft testing rather Tomlinson will be a name that slips into the later rounds of the draft then fights for a starting role at the next level.
Willie Beavers/OL/Western Michigan: I continue to be impressed by Beavers, the collegiate left tackle who projects to guard on Sunday’s. The junior hits the tape under 6-feet/4-inches yet moves well off the edge and easily adjusts to cover a lot of area. He’s shown improvement in each of the three years he’s started at WMU and is another wide bodied blocker that jumps out on film.
Doran Grant/CB/Ohio State: Entering the season I was of the opinion that Grant, stamped as a late round pick by scouts, was overrated yet his play this season has impressed me. Its as much his consistency on the field and ability to stay away from mental mistakes as much as anything else. Grant has a knack for staying on receivers hips out of breaks then making plays on the ball. He’ll be a solid nickel back/special teams player on Sunday’s.
Sleeper Prospect: Chris Conley/WR/Georgia: The Bulldogs have found ways to slip receivers into the late part of the draft. Receivers who then go on to have moderate success on Sunday. Kris Durham immediately comes to mind and Conley could be next. The sure handed pass catcher is a consistent underneath target who finds ways to get open or wins out in battles. Though his production has been slightly down this season the senior comes through for Georgia during important moments, including late in the Georgia Tech game on Saturday. His pre-draft workouts won’t excite anyone but his work ethic and personality will surely be embraced by NFL coaches and will help him stick as a fifth receiver.
Small School Prospect: Chris Bonner/WR/CSU-Pueblo: Bonner is the fourth CSU-Pueblo player written about this year and like his cornerback teammates, another one overlooked by scouts. Watch the game film and you can’t help but be impressed. He’s a tall signal caller with impressive pocket stature and a rocket arm. Bonner easily delivers all the throws and does so with a nice degree of accuracy. Relatively nimble, he can escape the rush and connects with receivers throwing on the move. I find his physical skills favorable to those of Mike Glennon, another tall and rangy quarterback, and feel Bonner is a terrific developmental prospect at the position.
Jameis Winston/QB/Florida State: Two years ago at this time when many were anointing Geno Smith as the top pick in the 2013 draft I watched the film and thought “no way.” It was a similar feeling with Johnny Manziel a year ago when most positioned him as a top ten selection. Watching Winston, whom I grade a much better prospect than Smith or Manziel, I feel much the same. Off the field transgressions aside, his play on Saturday’s has been exciting but not the caliber of an early first round pick. His ability to bring the Seminoles from behind is becoming legendary yet many gloss over the fact his mistakes force FSU to play catch-up or kept opponents in the contest. Take a look at the last five games. Four interceptions against Florida on Saturday. An interception against Boston College the prior week which led to game-tying points for the Eagles. A drive killing interception at the end of the first half against Miami. Interceptions thrown on consecutive series against Virginia which the Cavaliers converted into touchdowns. Three interceptions against Louisville. In the end Florida State won all those contests, which was most important for the team, its fans and the national rankings. Yet talk with scouts or next level decision makers who watch the film in its entirety rather than the highlights and they’ll tell you Winston’s penchant for turning the ball over very disconcerting. Talent? Lots of it. Upside? An enormous amount. But also an equal amount of downside risk which is dangerous for any signal caller, especially one who seems to struggle controlling himself off the field.
Eric Lefeld/OL/Cincinnati: Lefeld was highly rated by many entering the season except league scouts, who were proven correct. He’s a solid college tackle but lacks the balance, athleticism and necessary skills to be anything other than a small area blocker at the next level.