Week five on the college schedule ended with two coaches losing their jobs, Alabama affirming their supremacy and a major injury scare to one of the nation’s best receiver prospects. There was also several brilliant performances from players who will be scattered throughout the draft’s seven rounds next April. Here are the Risers-Sliders for week five.
Jake Matthews/T/Texas A&M: Matthews has played well all season long but his performance against Arkansas and their speedy pass rushers was most impressive. Matthews is a terrific pass protector and he controlled the Razorback linemen while quarterback Johnny Manziel free lanced behind the line of scrimmage and did his thing. The one sack allowed was as much the fault of Manziel as it was Matthews, who also stood out run blocking during the A&M victory. Next week Matthews faces the athletic pass rushers from Mississippi but four games into the season it looks as though A&M will place another offensive tackle into the early part of the draft.
Jared Abbrederis/WR/Wisconsin: Ordinarily catching 10 passes for 207-yards with 1 score is an achievement for any receiver. Yet what makes this performance even more noteworthy is Abbrederis did it against one of the best defensive backfields in the nation and possibly the best cornerback in the country. His battle against Bradley Roby of Ohio State was hotly contested and Abbrederis came out on top a number of times. His lone touchdown reception was a 36-yard completion yet Abbrederis added catches of 64-yards, 33-yards and 23-yards against a Buckeye secondary which possesses four NFL prospects. He’s always been a reliable pass catcher for the Badgers and now Abbrederis is displaying big play ability on a consistent basis.
Jaelen Strong/WR/Arizona State: Strong adds yet another name to the list of talented receivers from the PAC 12 who are draft eligible in 2014. The red-shirt sophomore has posted three consecutive games of 100+ receiving yards, completing the feat against Wisconsin, Stanford and most recently, USC. During this span his per catch average stands at 15-yards each reception. Strong is a tall (6-feet/3-inches) receiver with reliable hands and enough ability to develop into a second wide out on the NFL level.
Derrick Hopkins/DT/Virginia Tech: Hopkins was a busy man during the Hokies seven point victory over Georgia Tech as he lead the defense with seven tackles. His performance against the quick, nimble Jackets line, one which relies on cut blocks, really stood out. Hopkins’ ability to keep his feet, play with balance and quickly get to the ball is something scouts are sure to point to if the junior enters the draft.
Jimmie Ward/DB/Northern Illinois: Entering the season Ward was stamped as a priority free agent by scouts yet the past few weeks he’s played more like a mid-round choice. In the blowout win over Purdue, Ward lead the team in tackles (9) besides returning an interception 62-yards for a touchdown. For the season Ward leads the NIU defense in tackles (39), interceptions (3) and pass defenses (4). He looks natural since moving to the safety position after starting at cornerback and combines solid ball skills with run stopping ability. His ordinary size/speed numbers (5-feet, 10-inches, 195-pounds, 4.55-forty) will depress Ward’s draft grade yet he’ll be playing on Sunday’s in 2014 as a dime back/special teamer.
Sam Carter/S/TCU: In August we graded Carter as a potential late round pick, mentioning his ability to stop the run as well as his ball skills in coverage. Against SMU he put both pieces of his game together, registering 5 tackles, forcing 1 fumble and intercepting two passes, one which he brought back 66 yards for a score. Carter has NFL size and the playmaking abilities to match. Hopefully Saturday’s game is a glimpse of what Carter will produce on a consistent basis.
Jeremiah Attaochu/OLB/Georgia Tech: The scoreboard on Thursday showed Georgia Tech on the short end of the stick and the stats for Attaochu (3 tackles, 1TFL) were nothing extraordinary. The film on the other hand told a different story. Attaochu got pressure up the field throughout the game out of a three point stance and more importantly, looked fluid and natural the many times he dropped off the line and played in space. The senior did well in coverage, displaying good instincts and almost cME up with an interception late in the game. Moving towards next April’s draft Attaochu grades as one of the more complete and versatile 3-4 outside linebackers available.
Louis Nix/DL/Notre Dame: Its time to be honest and admit Nix is falling to meet expectations this season. After bypassing last April’s draft Nix has not been the playmaker or dominant force on the inside as he was in 2012. Some attribute his pedestrian results to off season weight gain but whatever the reason, Nix best kick his game into high gear soon.
David Fales/QB/San Jose State: I never bought into the Fales hype and though I consider him a good college signal caller, he’s just not the NFL prospect many are making him out to be. He’s a smart and accurate passer yet possesses little in the way of arm strength or athleticism. Fales struggled in the loss to Utah State, ranked as the top defense in the Mountain West Conference, barely completing 50% of his passes and throwing two picks. I’d expect Fales to receive an invite to the Shrine Game and at best, be a late round pick next April.
Cody Green/QB/Tulsa: Unlike Fales, Green has the ability to throw the ball a country mile. Where it ends up is anybody’s guess. On film he shows enormous physical skills and upside potential but has never showed consistent progress on the field. In his last two games against Oklahoma and Iowa State, Green has completed slightly more than 50% of his passes with two interceptions. Its understandable why Green, who began his college career at Nebraska, was not rated by scouts.
Notes: You had to like what the way Kyle Fuller played against Georgia Tech. The Virginia Tech senior posted 3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and forced a fumble. I’ve always been high on Fuller’s ball skills and the aggressive run support will only help his cause.
Kyle Van Noy of BYU is off to a hot start this season. His numbers include 29 tackles, 3 pass break-ups and 9 quarterback hurries. During the month of October the Cougars have Utah State and Georgia Tech on the schedule followed by Wisconsin and Notre Dame in November. These games will be better measuring sticks for Van Noy. It should be noted, there is a narrative in some areas that I excoriated and lampooned Van Noy’s decision to stay at BYU for another season. Nothing could be further from the truth. My exact quote was the following; “Never want to say a player made a mistake returning to school yet everyone I speak w/thinks Kyle Van Noy/LB//BYU should’ve entered ’13 draft“. I was alerted last year by those close to the situation Van Noy’s reasons for staying at BYU were 1) he felt if he left early he’d never return to college and complete his degree, which is important to him 2) he’s extraordinarily close with coach Bronco Mendenhall.
Week Two Riser Vintavious Cooper had another monster game, this time against the talent laden North Carolina defense. Cooper was a one man show netting 186 yards rushing on 35 carries and adding 8 receptions for 70 yards.