Though there were few games of national importance, week nine on the college schedule saw a number of close contests and wild finishes. Here are the Risers and Sliders from this weekends schedule including major news on several highly rated underclassmen.
Jacoby Brissett/QB/North Carolina State: I labeled Brissett as the most underrated signal caller from the senior class prior to the Clemson game and his performance against the Tigers impressed NFL scouts. Despite the Wolfpack coming up short on the scoreboard, Brissett registered 254-yards passing with 3 scores and no interceptions against the top pass defense in the ACC. Brissett’s command of the offense was impressive as were the array of passes he delivered. He has a big league arm and easily drives the ball downfield with speed yet at the same time displayed feather like touch when necessary. He needs to be more consistent with his mechanics which will improve his accuracy but considering the upside Brissett brings, coupled with the sad state of the quarterback position moving towards April’s draft, a second day pick is in the offing.
Brandon Doughty/QB/Western Kentucky: I initially mentioned Doughty back in 2013 when he looked like an up and coming prospect under then head coach Bobby Petrino yet despite a change in coaches Doughty’s game has improved. He’s been on a tear this season completing almost 72% of his throws for 3310-yards and 30 TD’s (5 INTs) in just eight games. Doughty lacks great physical skills and is more of an underneath passer but shows a command of the offense as well as the ability to move the chains. He projects as a late round pick and should make a roster for a timing or west coast offense.
Travis Feeney/OLB/Washington: Area scouts stamped Feeney as a late round pick entering the year, an opinion I disagreed with back in August. And from what I’m told scouts are now starting to believe he’s top 100 material. Freeney turned in a dominant performance against Arizona posting 11 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks as well as forcing a pair of fumbles and breaking up a pass. Freeney lines up at the Huskies “Buck” position, which he’s not really suited for, yet he’s found ways to produce. He displayed exceptional skill playing in space as a junior, proving to be a complete three down defender and now he’s making plays in the opponents backfield coming off the line of scrimmage. Good workouts and clean medical reports prior to the draft coupled with his play the past two seasons should solidify him as a third round pick.
Nick Martin/C/Notre Dame: Except for one poor penalty Martin did a terrific job against Temple’s pair of interior defensive tackles during Notre Dame’s victory. He effectively protected his quarterback all game as well as opened holes for the running backs. Martin is a nasty defender who plays fundamentally sound football and has made a major move up draft boards as many scouts now stamp the senior as a top 42 selection.
Ryan Switzer/WR/North Carolina: The junior is considered by Tar Heel coaches as the top receiver prospect on the roster and he proved as much against Pittsburgh. Switzer finished the contest with 5 receptions for 126 yards and 1 score. For the season he’s averaged 14.3-yards on 30 receptions and found the end zone three times. Though more of a late round prospect Switzer is a consistent underneath target with sneaky deep speed.
*Sleeper Prospect* Antwione Williams/LB/Georgia Southern: The Eagles are one of the better stories in college football as the former IAA program are on their way to a second consecutive nine win season. They’ve also had a fair number of middle round picks in recent draft’s and Williams could be next. There’s been a lot of recent chatter about the linebacker who measures 6-feet/2.5-inches, 250-pounds and times 4.7s in the forty. Williams leads the defense in tackles (67), tackles for loss (7) and has added 2.5 sacks. Though more of a two down defender, he’ll be a solid fit on the inside of a 3-4 alignment come Sunday afternoon.
*Small School Prospect* Tyrone Holmes/DE-OLB/Montana: Last year former Grizzly Zack Wagenmann earned a free agent contract after terrorizing quarterbacks on the college level and Holmes will likely follow suit. Eight games into the season he’s already totaled 11 sacks and 15 tackles for loss as well as 64 total tackles. He’s a slug it out lineman that finds ways to make plays and offers possibilities as a situational pass rusher.
Jerell Adams/TE/South Carolina: Despite starting just six games prior to his senior season Adams was considered a potential middle round pick by area scouts in large part due to measurables. Adams measures 6-feet/5-inches, 240-pounds and times in the 4.6s-area but he’s still more size/speed than football player. Adams has 16 receptions in 8 games this season and caught just a single pass against a porous Texas A&M defense. He’s a physically imposing prospect but must quickly transfer his athletic ability into football production.
Le’Raven Clark/T/Texas Tech: Many rated Clark as a potential late round pick entering the season but the big bodied lineman has yet to prove he’s anything other than a size prospect. Clark lacks balance, does not play with body control and all to often get beat by opponents. Late in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma State as Texas Tech was driving for the game tying score, Clark was beaten badly by Jarrell Owens, a back-up filling in for the injured Jimmy Bean. The result was not only a sack but a fumble which ended the drive and the Red Raiders hopes.
Word in the scouting community is Notre Dame could have as many as four first round picks coming from the 2016 draft. Nick Martin is the surprise senior projecting as a potential top 32 selection along with Ronnie Stanley as well as juniors Jaylon Smith and Will Fuller. The most recent word is both underclassmen will enter the draft. I’ve been told for a while Smith will opt for the NFL once the season is complete and recently heard the same on Fuller.
Will Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch declare for the draft? I’d say its about 95% “go” for Lynch at this point and that’s being cautious. I’m told members of Lynch’s inner circle have been meeting extensively with agents and its just a matter of the quarterback staying healthy for the rest of the season.
Sources tell me barring injury offensive tackle Germain Ifedi will likely enter the draft. I rank the Texas A&M junior higher than most and at this point grade him as a mid-to-late first round pick.