Several games during week two of the college season featuring highly rated teams resulted in closer than expected finishes. On the prospect front linebackers and pass catchers impressed NFL decisions makers as did one of the top guard prospects in the nation. Here are the Risers and Sliders for week two.
Dorian Johnson/G/Pittsburgh: The interstate rivalry between Pittsburgh and Penn State was one of the more enjoyable games from the weekend. The Panthers established offense dominance over Penn State’s defense from the get-go and Dorian Johnson led the way on the offensive line. Pittsburgh finished with 341-yards rushing, 226-yards coming in the first half. Johnson dominated Penn State defenders on the line of scrimmage and looked surprisingly effective as a pulling guard or blocking straight ahead on the second level. Initially graded as a potential second round pick, Johnson continues to impress next level decision makers and could break into the draft’s top 32 selectins.
Marquel Lee/OLB/Wake Forest: The athletic Lee entered the season graded by some scouts as a potential third rounder and the senior is off to a fast start. During the victory over conference foe Duke, Lee posted 10 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack. Besides forcing the action up the field Lee makes a lot of plays in space or pursuit and has the ability to develop into a three down defender.
Mike Tyson/OLB-S/Cincinnati: Tyson was surprisingly stamped as a third round prospect by a number of scouts but I was concerned about his ball skills since he primarily plays in the box despite tipping the scale under 210-pounds. This was the main reason I graded him as a late round prospect. Against Purdue the senior showed he has no issues making plays in coverage as Tyson came away with three interceptions and made a number of positive plays moving in reverse. I still feel Tyson projects as a late round pick but his play this weekend definitely helps his draft stock.
Brooks Ellis/LB/Arkansas: Ellis was graded as a street free agent entering the season but that opinion is slowly changing. Leading Arkansas with 102 tackles last season, he turned in a dominant performance during the Razorbacks hard fought victory over TCU. Ellis posted 13 tackles including 3 tackles for loss and made a key interception early in the second quarter which he returned for a score. Most impressive was the way Ellis played assignment football against a TCU offense that is lethal in the passing game, running game as well as running the option. If Ellis times faster than expected (4.7s) prior to the draft he could slip into the late rounds.
Sleeper Prospect- Nathan Cole/WR/Cincinnati: I graded Cole as a middle of the road free agent entering the season but the senior looks as though he’s turning the corner. After struggling for playing time last season due to the enormous depth at receiver on the Bearcats roster, Cole has recorded 12 receptions in two games this season, one less then he did during the entire 2015 campaign. He posted 6 receptions for 81 yards with 2 scores during the victory over Purdue, making several important 3rd down catches to keep the chains moving besides coming away with a contested pass for a score at start of fourth quarter to help seal the win. Possessing a stout build at just under 6-feet/210 pounds, Cole could sneak into the draft’s late rounds then make a roster as a fifth receiver.
Small School Prospect- Billy Brown/WR/Shepherd: Presently one of the better programs in all of Division II, Shepherd has a star in the making in Billy Brown. Possessing outrageous size/speed numbers the senior measures 6-foot, 3.5-inches and 242lbs while reportedly running the forty around 4.6s. He led the Rams last season posting 89 receptions for 1492 yards with 10 scores. Against Charleston this weekend Brown totaled 7 receptions for 94 yards and 2 scores. Entering the season with a third round grade, I would expect Brown to receive an invite to the Shrine Game if not the Senior Bowl next January, where he may be tried at tight end.
Gunner Kiel/QB/Cincinnati: Kiel entered the season stamped as a potential middle rounder by scouts but as I mentioned, there were several red flags which would result in a draft day slide. Putting that aside the strong-armed passer did not win the Bearcats starting job and is watching from the sidelines as the team has started the season undefeated. This does not bode well for Kiel to receive playing time in the near future and will adversely effect his draft grade.
Jackson Replogle/DL/Purdue: Replogle was stamped as a potential second round choice after his junior season in which he recorded 60 tackles including 14 tackles for loss. In two games this season he’s posted just 1 tackle for loss and was not much of a factor getting pressure up field against a Cincinnati Bearcat offense with two new starters at offensive tackle.