A week schedule on Saturday eventually saw a number of terrific performances from NFL prospects whose teams were on the losing end. Offensive linemen head the list of Risers in week four as well as notable performances from several receivers.
David Yankey/G/Stanford: Yankey was high on everyone’s list after playing well at left tackle as a sophomore. But the film, specifically game film from his freshman campaign of 2011, showed guard is his natural position. He proved as much in Stanford’s victory over Arizona State. Yankey combines athleticism and fundamentals to dominate defenders on the line of scrimmage or in motion. He easily turned ASU defensive linemen from the action and also looked flawless annihilating linebackers on the second level. Yankey comes with a complete game as well as top 35 potential.
Jonotthan Harrison/C/Florida: There were a number of reasons to be impressed with Harrison during the Gators victory over Tennessee. Foremost is the power and ability to control the middle of the field he showed all game. Fundamentally sound, Harrison is an immovable object who easily controls opponents once engaged in a block. The fact Harrison was seamless in transition after Florida’s starting quarterback left the game was another intangible to appreciate. Harrison won’t fit a zone blocking scheme yet a ball control offense will fall in love with him next April.
James Hurst/T/North Carolina: Despite a difficult loss to conference foe Georgia Tech, Hurst played well during Saturday’s contest. The Yellow Jackets struggled getting pressure off the left side, which Hurst protected, and more times than not were forced to send defenders off right tackle. Hurst is not always pretty getting the job done but he effectively uses blocking angles and body positioning to seal the edge and protect his passer.
Devin Street/WR/Pittsburgh: It should not have been this easy for Street, who was playing with a struggling quarterback and against a cornerback stamped by scouts as mid-round talent. Yet Street owned the day, displaying himself as a possession wide out who can control the action. The senior receiver hauled in 6 receptions for 166 receiving yards with 2 scores. Much of the production came against Duke cornerback Ross Cockrell, graded by scouts anywhere between rounds three-to-five. Street is not a blazer rather a sure handed pass catcher who could line up in the NFL as a fourth wide out.
Vic Beasley/DE-OLB/Clemson: Beasley was a thorn in the side of North Carolina State’s offense on Thursday. The red-shirt junior led Clemson with 3 sacks, 3 tackles for loss and also broke up 2 passes. In Clemson’s three games his total stands at 5 sacks. The undersized defensive end is a natural pass rusher who beats opponents off the snap then around the edge. Its unlikely he’ll stay in a three point stance in the NFL as Beasley projects to 3-4 outside linebacker in the Elvis Dumervil mold.
Trey Flowers/DE/Arkansas: The Razorbacks lost to Rutgers despite the efforts of Flowers. The junior defensive end recorded one sack, one tackle for loss, broke up a pass and forced a fumble. Arkansas converted fumble Flowers forced into a touchdown, giving them a 17-point lead which they could not hold. Flowers takes a back seat to highly regarded teammate Chris Smith yet offers a well rounded game with next level skills.
Brandin Cooks/WR/Oregon State: Cooks accounted for more than 40% of Oregon State’s offensive production during their come from behind victory over San Diego State. The Beavers were reliant on the passing game for much of the contest and Cooks finished the day with 14 receptions for 141 yards. The junior was impossible to stop and made long receptions down the field or beat defenders in underneath coverage. We’ll have a lot more on Cooks during Tuesday night’s podcast, so tune in!!
Yawin Smallwood/LB/Connecticut: Smallwood has been one of the few positives in what’s been a miserable season at UConn thus far. He again proved his fortitude during the Huskies tight loss to Michigan. Smallwood lead all defenders with 13 tackles while registering 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack. He also forced a fumble and broke up one pass. One of his bigger stops came late in the game when Smallwood stuffed Michigan’s attempt to pick up a first down on fourth and short. The Connecticut offense was unable to convert when given possession of the ball. Smallwood lacks classic size/speed numbers rather is a tough, instinctive linebacker that will develop into a starter on Sunday’s.
Ross Cockrell/CB/Duke: Cockrell entered the season graded by scouts as a potential middle round pick round pick. Against Pittsburgh he looked like a free agent prospect at times. Cockrell was victimized on a number of occasions by Panthers receiver Devin Street, and that included receptions in the end zone. Bothersome was the fact Cockrell could not stay step-for-step with a receiver not known for his speed as well as the number of times he struggled making plays with his back to the ball.
Bruce Gaston/DT/Purdue: Five tackles against Wisconsin was not a bad result for Gaston but the film tells a different story. He was consistently handled in one-on-one blocking by the Badgers offensive line and easily neutralize at the point of attack. Gaston has an upside and shows flashes of skill but is yet to play at the level he’s capable of for four quarters.
Notes: Jackson Jeffcoat/DE/Texas played well during the Longhorns victory over Kansas State as he posted two sacks and added two quarterback hurries. Hopefully is a sign of things to come from Jeffcoat.
And since we are handing out credit, week on Slider Tom Savage must be mentioned. The Pittsburgh quarterback threw for a career best 424-yards and 6 touchdowns on 23-of-33 passing with no interceptions. The match-up against Virginia Tech on October 12th, in Blacksburg, will be a measuring stick to determine if Savage is turning the corner.
The play of Jon Halapio/G/Florida on Saturday is sure to impress NFL scouts. The senior missed the first two games of the season with a torn pectoral muscle and played well early against Tennessee in his return. He seemingly reinjured himself in the second quarter and left the game (with what turned out to be an eye injury), but returned and help the Gators to victory. That sort of mentality, “willing to play with pain” as the immortal Joel Buchsbaum would say, goes a long way with next level decision makers.