A mild upset in the top 10 was followed by a reshuffling of rankings for the nation’s top three teams after this weekends college football results. On the field a number of lesser-known, under the radar prospects really improved their draft grades. Here are the Risers and Sliders for Week 9.
Kelcy Quarles/DT/South Carolina: With all the attention paid to Jadeveon Clowney others will mistakenly fall by the wayside of getting the attention they deserve. On the Gamecock defense possibly no player is more deserving than Quarles. The junior is in the midst of a sensational season, a campaign few have noticed. During the comeback win over Missouri he came up big, leading the defense with 6 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and two sacks. Thus far Quarles leads the team with 10 tackles for loss and 7 sacks from his defensive tackle position. Slightly undersized, he’s a mobile athlete with the ability to line-up as a 3-technique tackle or two-gap lineman in the NFL. The bottom line is Quarles has moved into the draft’s initial 75 picks based on his play the past two seasons. Join Jon Dove and Tony Pauline for the TFY Draft Insider podcast on Tuesday night where we will have a lot more information on Quarles.
Uani’ Unga/LB/BYU: Overshadowed by All American Kyle Van Noy, the Cougars other linebacker is also a legitimate NFL prospect. Though not as well rounded compared to his more famous teammate, Unga is a better run defender in the middle. He posted 15 tackles during the victory over Boise State last week, which increased his season total to 84 tackles, almost forty more than any other Cougar. Graded as a potential late round pick, Unga is a legitimate back-up inside/middle linebacker for the next level.
Deontae Skinner/LB/Mississippi State: Skinner has also fallen under the scouting radar yet he’s a smart, tough linebacker who gets the most from his talent. He too was graded as a last round pick like Unga yet comes to play every week and consistently produces on the field. Skinner lead the Bulldogs with 11 tackles in the victory over Kentucky and sits second on the team with 45 tackles this season. He’s a bit more complete when compared to Unga and is another who offers potential as a back-up in the NFL.
Avery Patterson/DB/Oregon: Patterson was a player who jumped out to me during his sophomore season of 2011 when he primarily lined-up at cornerback. The following year he struggled as a junior after being kicked inside to safety but is back on top of his game this season. Patterson presently ranks second amongst Oregon defensive backs with 42 tackles as well as 6 pass defenses. In the hotly contested contest against PAC 12 foe UCLA his numbers read 7 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and one interception. He lacks classic height (5-feet, 8.5-inches) for safety and speed (4.53) for cornerback yet Patterson is a tough secondary prospect with good ball skills. He’s worthy of a late round selection and would be a fine addition as a dime back/special teams player at the next level.
Marcus Hall/G/Ohio State: With the headlining talent on the Ohio State offense, much of it coming from the line, Hall is a prospect people are sleeping on. He’s a big-bodied blocker strong on the line of scrimmage yet also nimble enough to get out front and block in motion. He threw several impressive blocks during the Buckeye’s slaughter of Penn State when asked to pull across the line of scrimmage then hit a moving target. Though he’ll end up as a last day pick, Hall can start at the next level in the right system.
Ed Olson/OL/Minnesota: Olson is another Big Ten lineman people have underrated. Barely considered camp worthy by scouts, Olson has been a four year starter at left tackle and has been solid throughout his college career. He has a long, lean build and blocks with solid fundamentals to keep opponents at bay. Olson rarely makes mistakes and is worth consideration in the late rounds as a back-up, swing lineman in the NFL.
Takoby Cofield/OL/Duke: During our preview of ACC prospects in August, Cofield was described as an “athletic tackle prospect with a good degree of upside”. Slowly the junior is rounding his game and fulfilling the promise we saw in 2012. The Blue Devils held Virginia Tech to just a single sack during their upset victory on Saturday. Coefield helped keep senior defensive end James Gayle to just one quarterback hurry. Listed at 6-feet, 4-inches, Coefield may be better suited for offensive guard rather than the left tackle position he’s started the past two seasons, but the junior definitely offers NFL possibilities.
Jalen Saunders/WR/Oklahoma: Its been a tough go of it for Saunders since transferring from Fresno State, much of the problem being inconsistency at the quarterback position for the Sooners. Saunders turned in what many hope will be a breakout performance against Texas Tech on Saturday. The senior posted 6 receptions for 153 receiving yards and two scores. His game was highlighted by a 76-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter, a catch where Saunders ran away from the Texas Tech secondary, displaying a great burst and breakaway speed. A second day calling of his name is unlikely to happen at this point but if Saunders can build upon this performance he’d be a terrific choice at the start of day three as a slot receiver/return specialist.
Jamal Robinson/WR/La-Lafayette: The big-bodied junior is in the midst of a big season and kept the momentum going with a solid performance in the victory over Arkansas State. Robinson’s 7 receptions for 104-yards represents the second time this season he’s broken the century mark in receiving yards. The lanky wide out possesses solid hands and flashes the ability to get downfield. Keep Robinson on the radar moving forward.
David Irving/DE/Iowa State: Put Irving in the category of “looks the part yet only plays to it occasionally”. A defensive lineman who looks like he could line up as a power forward in the NBA, Irving has yet to tap into the potential he flashed early in his Iowa State career. He barely got a sniff of the action in the teams blowout loss to Oklahoma State and finished with zero’s across the stats line. The move inside to defensive tackle this season has hurt his development yet Irving must start making more plays on the field.
D.J. Coles/WR/Virginia Tech: Despite struggling with a knee injury the past two seasons Coles was given a solid last day grade by scouts, something completely understandable based off sophomore film. Yet his play this year has been pedestrian at best. In eight games Coles has totaled 14 receptions for 202 yards and has never caught more than three passes in any single game. At this pace it would be a surprised if Coles is selected even in the final round.
Notes: Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley had another solid performance this weekend. During the win over Boston College the junior posted 4 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack and forced a fumble. His totals for the season now rest at 15 tackles for loss and 10 sacks. Last week several sources told us Beasley will enter next April’s draft. Tune into Tuesday evening’s podcast for more.
Ra’Shede Hageman turned it up a notch against Nebraska posting 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack. The match-up against Wisconsin on November 23rd is one to circle.