It was an exciting weekend of college football which will result in a major impact on the national rankings. And while most everyone was focused on the big names from Saturday’s games we found several lesser known prospects who improved their draft stock. Here are the Risers and Sliders for week five.
Emmanuel Ogbah/DE/Oklahoma State: Ogbah was highlighted during our week five preview and the junior delivered. He was omnipresent throughout the victory over Kansas State finishing with 6 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack and a pair of quarterback hurries. Ogbah was forcing quarterbacks to move around the pocket and defeated blocks of opposing guards to stop ball handlers behind the line of scrimmage. He needs to improve his strength at the point of attack but Ogbah is developing into a fearsome front seven player.
Tra Carson/RB/Texas A&M: I previously bemoaned the fact Carson was not considered draftable by area scouts prior to the season after I stamped him as a potential sixth round choice. It looks as though I may be underrating him. The Arkansas game notwithstanding, Carson has been dominant all season long and registered another terrific outing, this time against a tough Mississippi State defense. He finished with 110-yards on 26 carries for an average of 4.1 yards per attempt. What I find most exciting about Carson is the shiftiness and agility he shows for a 230lb ball carrier. He’s much more than a downhill runner and though needing to polish his pass catching skills, he’ll receive middle round consideration for a team in search of a versatile, big bodied ball carrier.
Desmond Morgan/LB/Michigan: Morgan was another prospect dismissed as non-draftable entering the season then graded significantly lower than teammates Joe Bolden and James Ross yet he’s held his own in the early part of the campaign. He was dominant against the weak Maryland offense on Saturday, leading the Wolverines with 9 tackles as well as intercepting 1 pass and breaking up 2 more. Morgan’s built more like a classic weakside linebacker but has the wherewithal and physical skills to play three downs as a back-up in a variety of schemes at the next level.
Jake Coker/QB/Alabama: Its time scouts, who graded Coker as a street free agent entering the season, readjust their opinions on the signal caller. Coker helped pace the Tide’s victory over Georgia with an efficient, mistake free performance. He was 11 of 16 for 190 yards with one touchdown pass and was not sacked by a Bulldog defense that makes a lot of plays up the field. When considering the overall weakness of the quarterback position from the senior class, coupled with the desire to add an SEC flavor to the Senior Bowl, there’s a real chance he receives an invitation to Mobile next January.
Dean Lowry/DE/Northwestern: The Wildcats are 5-0 and field one of the better defenses in the Big Ten with Lowry being one of the main ingredients of their success. During the shutout victory over Minnesota the senior finished with 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and was constantly getting pressure off the edge. Lowry entered the season as a potential late round pick and he may slide into the last frame for a team wanting a rotational defensive end.
Rashard Higgins/WR/Colorado State: The Rams have had a tough go of it this season after a triumphant 2014 campaign but Higgins has been on fire. He posted 10 receptions for 114 yards and 1 score during CSU’s loss to Utah State, the third game in a row he’s topped the century mark in receiving yards. Higgins has already made a number of underclassmen watch lists around the league and he’s a smooth, fluid receiver that makes a large number of plays down the field.
*Sleeper* Michael Thomas/WR/Southern Mississippi: Its not surprising Thomas was considered a street free agent by scouts when the season began. He’s under 200lbs, runs in the mid 4.5’s and stands barely 6-foot/1-inch. Yet Thomas is in the midst of a career campaign and after torching the Nebraska secondary for 5-receptions and 121 yards, he followed it up with 7 catches, 155 yards and 3 touchdowns against North Texas. Good workouts prior to the draft could put him into the late part of the seventh round if he keeps performing at this level.
*Small School Prospects* Brian Brown & Reggie Diggs/WR/Richmond: The Spiders have a terrific one-two combination at the receiver position and both players are NFL prospects. Diggs, a senior, is a nice sized pass catcher that goes 6-feet/4-inches and just a shade under 210lbs. He’s a game controller who physically beats down opponents in the middle of the field to come away with the reception. Brown, just a junior, is smaller but faster and more prone to big plays down the field. Diggs deserves late round consideration while Brown could develop into an early third day pick if he continues to improve his game.
Dadi Nicholas/DE-OLB/Virginia Tech: Entering the season scouts graded Nicholas as a potential first round pick but five games into the campaign he’s played more like a late rounder. Nicholas has yet to register a single sack or tackle for loss and has just 12 tackles and 3 quarterback hurries this year.
Joel Stave/QB/Wisconsin: There are a number of scouts who feel Stave’s best possibility at the next level is at the safety position rather than the quarterback spot. It was easy to see why against Iowa. Stave deserves credit for good completion percentage (over 60%) but his touchdown-to-interception ratio raises red-flags as do many of his throws. During the loss to Iowa he tossed a pair of costly picks then late in the game as the Badgers were driving in a last ditch effort to win, Stave missed open receivers. While some whittle it down to mechanical issues Stave has never truly elevated his game at the quarterback spot.
Zack Sanchez/CB/Oklahoma: Reviewing the 2014 film this summer Sanchez was one of my favorite corners. He shut down opponents with polished ball skills yet the one blemish during the Sooners 20-point victory over West Virginia was the play of Sanchez who was beaten deep and seemed to play back on his heels. It was not the type of performance one expects from a top 40 prospect.
Junior cornerback Desmond King of Iowa, a week three riser, picked off two passes and broke up two more to go along with nine tackles during the Hawkeyes victory over Wisconsin. In conversations the past week there’s a feeling from many King has first round potential if he enters the draft. At present time most believe King will likely stay in school. From a character point of view I’ve heard nothing but positives about him.
Week four riser Shaq Washington had a major impact in Cincinnati’s victory over the Miami Hurricanes. Besides catching 8 passes for 106 yards he also had a 69-yard punt return early in the game which eventually turned into seven points for the Bearcats. Washington is considered a 4.5-second prospect by scouts but plays much faster and his pre-draft workouts will be something to keep an eye on.
Florida International is struggling through a losing campaign but scouts have shown a lot of interest in junior tight end Jonnu Smith. The athletic pass catcher has posted 19 receptions in five games and has shown marked improvement in his game.