Week six on the college schedule saw a number of highly ranked teams affirm their superiority by thrashing opponents. It also saw terrific performance from NFL prospects in the defensive back seven as well as a pair of skill players from the MAC. Here are the Risers/Sliders for week six.
Darqueze Dennard/CB/Michigan State: Coming into the season I raved about Dennard, grading the cornerback as a potential second round choice. He’s a total player at the position and proved as much against Iowa, leading the Spartans defense with 8 tackles as well as intercepting 2 passes. Dennard is a physical corner with terrific ball skills and a defender who rarely makes mental mistakes. Pre-draft forty times will ultimately dictate where he ends up in next April but their no doubting his stock has improved.
Deone Bucannon/DB/Wash State: There are a number of underrated defensive backs people are sleeping on, Bucannon being one of them. The hard-hitting safety has upped his game this season and put it all together in the win over California. Bucannon led the Cougars with 12 tackles while also intercepting a pass and breaking up another. Six games into the season Bucannon leads Washington State in tackles (56) and interceptions (4). The next three games on the Wazzu schedule include Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona State; three teams with legitimate NFL prospects at receiver. Bucannon lacks classic size/speed numbers yet will be a steal on the draft’s final day.
Trent Murphy/LB/Stanford: Murphy has stepped up in big spots this season and Saturday’s game against Washington was no exception. He finished the contest with 2 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and deflected a pass which teammate AJ Tarpley intercepted as Washington was marching towards the end zone. Five games into the season Murphy has a combined 10 sacks/tackles for loss and another three quarterback hurries. He’s proven himself to be a force on the field and deserving of the top 75-selection scouts project him to be.
Cyril Richardson/G/Baylor: There were a number of stars from the Baylor offense after the team posted 73-points and 864-yards of offense, including 617 in the first half alone, against West Virginia. Yet considering Baylor’s balanced attack (468-yards rushing, 396-yards passing) the offensive line, specifically Richardson, deserves much of the credit. The highly rated guard was dominant in all aspects of the game, plowing open large holes for the running game and easily protecting his passer. Baylor still has Oklahoma, one of the better defenses in the Big 12, on the schedule, but Richardson’s performance against WVU will only enhance his already high draft ranking.
Jeremiah George/LB/Iowa State: Despite a controversial loss to Big 12 foe Texas, George played well and was a force all game long. He lead the Cyclones with 13 tackles in the contest and added 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss as well as one pass defended. George was front and center in both controversial calls on the goal line, jarring the ball loose then recovering the fumble on the first play. Entering the season scouts stamped George as a potential middle round choice despite his measurements (5-feet, 11-inches and 220-pounds). He’s a scheme-specific defender for the next level and any team needing a one-gap linebacker/special teams player should look at George on the draft’s final day.
Brandon Oliver/RB/Buffalo: Prior to the season we alerted readers that Khalil Mack was not the only player on the Buffalo roster scouts were keen to watch. Oliver was the other and he’s proven his worth this season. During Saturday’s blowout victory over Eastern Michigan the senior posted 150 yards rushing on 25 carries with two scores. The prior week against a UConn defense loaded with NFL prospects, Oliver totaled 90-yards on 23 carries. Oliver fits as a third down back/change of pace ball carrier in the NFL and offers the skill set necessary to help out returning punts.
David Fluellen/RB/Toledo: Fluellen showed flashes of being a serious NFL prospect as a sophomore in 2011 then battled an injured ankle last. He still finished two-yards shy of 1500-yards on the ground during his junior campaign. This season Fluellen has broken the century mark in five of six games, most recently posting 220 yards on 23 carries against Western Michigan. This came a week after performances of 129 and 197 yards on the ground against Ball State and Central Michigan respectively. Not just a one-dimensional skill player, Fluellen has added 22 receptions to his tally this season. At 5-feet, 11-inches and 215-pounds, Fluellen is a grind it out ball carrier with enough agility to run around tackle. Entering the season with a 7th round grade his performances have pushed him into the middle rounds in what’s shaping up to be a mediocre ball carrier draft.
Morgan Moses/T/Virginia: Moses looked like a star in the making as a sophomore in 2011 but his game never progressed. Stamped as a mid-round pick by scouts entering his senior campaign, Moses looks overweight, sloppy and plays fundamentally poor football. From a size and athleticism perspective Moses should be a top 100 pick yet he plays with minimal knee bend, does too much leaning on opponents and seems content to get by on natural talent rather than actually improving his craft.
Brandon Coleman/WR/Rutgers: Prior to the start of the season it was told to us Coleman planned to go pro after his junior campaign. Based on his results this year its a decision he must rethink. Six games into the season Coleman has totaled just 15 receptions for 220-yards. Included were games against Norfolk State and Eastern Michigan when he registered a combined 3 receptions. In yesterday’s offensive free-for-all against SMU, a game which Rutgers put up 55-points and 283-yard passing, Coleman could only muster 2 catches for 56 yards. There’s some thought he’s not be fully healthy after undergoing knee surgery earlier this year which caused him to miss most of pre-season camp. Whatever the reason, Coleman’s draft grade has taken a tumble and the big receiver must quickly right the ship.
Tre Boston/DB/North Carolina: It was a struggle for Boston against Virginia Tech as the safety gave up several long receptions and finished the day with one assisted tackle. Boston has flashed skill the past two years yet has done nothing to make scouts think he deserves anything other than the free agent grade he was stamped with prior to the season.
Notes: The Michigan State-Iowa game saw several terrific performances from the losing side as Hawkeye linebackers Anthony Hitchens and James Morris played well. Morris was his usual steady self, leading the team with 12 tackles and intercepting 1 pass. Hitchens was right there with him, also posting 12 tackles and making several nice plays in space and pursuit. While Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough gets most of the ink in the conference, I’ve been on record saying Morris is just as legitimate as a potential starter at the next level. For his part Hitchens is playing at a much higher level than the street free agent prospect scouts projected him to be prior to the season.
Shayne Skov is back to fine form after missing last season with a knee injury. He’s been a force every game this season and looks on top of his game. While Skov is playing like a top 60 choice his draft stock will be determined by the medical exams and MRI’s on his surgically repaired knee; don’t doubt it for a second.