Texas A&M tight end Jalen Wydermyer is in the running to be the top tight end prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft, and in this game, he had to persevere through a backup quarterback who really struggled to throw accurate passes. If Wydermyer had played with a competent quarterback, he would have put up a huge game against Colorado because he was consistently open throughout the game.
In the second quarter, Wydermyer got open running a post and the quarterback finally made an accurate throw to get him a gain of 16 yards. On the next play, Wydermyer was open in zone for a gain of about 20, but the pass was too high and hit off his finger tips. It was more of a bad pass than mistake by Wydermyer. Wydermyer came back to make some more difficult catches, using his big frame and wide catch radius. He totaled four catches for 66 yards.
Wydermyer is a big tight end who has quality speed and athleticism. He also possesses the size and strength to become a good blocker. While he is not a fast, crazy athlete like Kyle Pitts, Wydermyer has the skill set to be a NFL starter. He is a smooth route-runner who could provide mismatch potential for his pro offense.
In speaking to multiple team sources, they believe Wydermyer could be at least a second-round pick, as it stands right now at the beginning of his junior season. "He has some similarities to O.J. Howard," said an NFC director of player personnel. "O.J. was more athletic, and the 40 time from Jalen might not be as good, but there are some similarities between the two as receivers."
"O.J. Howard is a good comp on Wydermyer," said an AFC director of college scouting. "They're different types of athletes. Wydermyer is probably not as explosive or smooth as O.J., but [Wydermyer] still has mismatch ability at the position. The second round is a good starting point for him, but it depends on the overall depth at the position shapes out." It's the very beginning of the draft process, so Wydermyer could rise or slide in the months to come, but he has made a favorable early impression on NFL teams.
Texas A&M power back Isaiah Spiller was also held back by his team's quarterback play. With the Aggies struggling to complete passes downfield, the Buffaloes loaded the box and filled running lanes and dared the quarterback to beat them. While Spiller had no running looks, this was an impressive game for him, as the power back did a fabulous job as a receiver. Showing that versatility is huge for pro evaluators.
At the end of the second quarter, Spiller caught a pass in the flat, juked a tackler and darted downfield for a gain of 10 yards. Later on, he had another reception of other 10 yards where he caught the pass in the flat and exploded downfield.
Late in the fourth quarter, Spiller made an incredible diving catch to convert a third-and-long. Spiller was being interfered with and still came down with a huge reception to move that inside the Colorado 20. A few plays later on a third-and-9, Spiller ran a wheel route and got open running into the end zone. With the defender slapping at him and the pass slightly behind, Spiller managed to trap the ball against his chest to provide the game-winning score for the Aggies. Spiller totaled 20 yards on eight carries, but his eight receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown ended up being the difference in the game.
NFL teams want running backs who can function in the passing game via quality route-running, hands, and size to block. Spiller provided a tape that checks all of those boxes, and this performance will really help him in the months to come.
Florida wide receiver Jacob Copeland went under the radar last year because the Gators featured dynamic play-makers legendary tight end Kyle Pitts and play-making receiver Kadarius Toney. With those two now in the NFL, Copeland has taken over as the No. 1 receiver, and he had a breakout game against South Florida.
In the first quarter, Copeland burned the Bulls' coverage with a deep post and hauled in the pass before racing down the field for a 75-yard touchdown. Shortly later, Copeland got wide open running down the field when South Florida bit on a fake quarterback draw, and freshman quarterback Anthony Richardson lofted in a 41-yard touchdown pass to the uncovered Copeland. Copeland finished the day with five receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns. It could have been even bigger, but Florida had a huge lead and ran the ball a lot to kill the clock.
Copeland helped his draft grade with this tape. He showed the speed to past defenders, the ability to create separation deep down the field, and the concentration to make over-the-shoulder receptions while running at full speed. While Copeland may not be a first-rounder like Pitts or Toney were, this tape could help Copeland to get mid-round consideration next April in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Florida junior cornerback Kaiir Elam was a preseason All-American, and he looks to keep the Gators' tradition of "DB U" alive. Elam cruised versus South Florida, showing the ability to run the route and prevent separation. In the second quarter, Elam flowed in zone coverage, policing a receiver while reading the eyes of the quarterback. He broke on the pass downfield to make a remarkable interception with a difficult catch. This was a good tape that will help Elam's grade, but the big test will come next week against Alabama.
NFL advance scouts gave Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett a draft-able grade entering the season, and Pickett supported that projection by leading the Panthers to an impressive road victory at Tennessee. Pickett used his arm, legs, vision and intelligence to pick apart the Volunteers' defense. It was an excellent performance that will really help his draft grade.
During the first half, Pickett fired some bullets into windows in the short to intermediate part of the field. He was very accurate, throwing some ropes past defenders to move the ball down the field. To swing the momentum to Pittsburgh, Pickett's first score was a nice play on which he rolled out to his right and before slinging a frozen rope to the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Pickett was superb on third down, including on one phenomenal play where he worked through his progressions, moved in the pocket to buy time, reset his feet, and then threw a strike to move the chains.
In the second half, Pickett used his feet to make some big plays, converting a third-and-mangeable when nothing was open. On a fourth-and-2, Pickett broke a sack in the pocket and then rolled out before taking off to get first-down yardage while taking a hard hit from two defenders. Pickett finished that drive by converting a fourth-and-goal with a sneak to dive into the end zone.
Pickett put the game away in the fourth quarter with a perfectly placed pass to Jordan Addison that put Pittsburgh up 41-27. Pickett completed 24-of-36 passes on the day for 285 yards with two touchdowns. He ran for 19 yards and another score as well.
This performance is really going to help Pickett. He was accurate as a passer, showing a quality arm and the ability to throw a very catchable ball. His field vision to work through progressions, his usage of his feet to buy time, and his ability to make plays off schedule were also very impressive. Pickett used his feet when he had to and didn't panic in the face the rush. While Pickett may not have an elite arm, size, or running ability, he looked like a potential second-day or mid-round candidate against the Volunteers.
Tennessee cornerback Alontae Taylor had some favorable grades by NFL advance scouts, and how he would perform while going against a quality quarterback like Pickett was of interest. In the first quarter, Taylor showed good effort to run across the field and get in on a third-down tackle to force a punt. Shortly later though, a comeback route got Taylor turned around and he gave up a reception of around 15 yards.
Overall, Taylor looks like a solid corner, but he lacks rare size, speed, or athleticism. He could maybe turn into a corner worthy of late first-round consideration, but might be more of a second-day talent for the NFL. The season is still very young, so it will be interesting to see if Taylor rises or slides when going against the tough SEC competition.
Unfortunately, Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux missed this game with an ankle injury he suffered in Week 1. Thibodeaux is one of the top prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft, and his absence was a disappointing lost opportunity to take on some future NFL offensive linemen. Hopefully, Thibodeaux can return to the field quickly.
Oregon running back C.J. Verdell was taking on a defense with a lot of future NFL talent, and Verdell came through with a phenomenal game that showed he is a future NFL back. From the very beginning, Verdell was running hard and taking it to the Buckeyes' defense.
At the start of the second quarter, Verdell went around the left side of the line and coasted into end zone, untouched, from 14 yards out. He followed that up with a 14-yard touchdown catch. Late in the second quarter on a fourth-and-1 from the 13-yard line, Oregon ran almost the same play to achieve the same result, except this time Verdell powered through a tackle at the one-yard line to fall into the end zone.
Early in the third quarter, Verdell exploded down the field through a huge hole up the middle. He dodged a safety and then accelerated into open space. Verdell broke a tackle and kept his feet around the 10-yard line to score a 77-yard touchdown.
Early in the fourth quarter, Verdell converted a huge third-and-6 with another run around the right side. That set up the Ducks inside the 15-yard line, and on the next play, they scored a huge touchdown to go up 35-21. Verdell rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns and made three receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown.
For the NFL, Verdell is a downhill runner with a burst to hit the hole and an ability to accelerate to the second level. He shows nice cutting ability and knee bend to run behind his pads. As a pro, Verdell could play in a power-man or a zone scheme, but the latter might be a great fit for the one-cut down-hill runner. This tape could help Verdell to get second-day consideration in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Ohio State wide receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson are early-round prospects for the NFL, and both of them played well against Oregon. In the early going, Olave caught a lot of short passes while Wilson came through with some plays, including getting wide open for a touchdown from 24 yards out. Wilson totaled eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. The 6-foot, 188-pound Wilson has quality speed and smooth athleticism to run routes.
In the fourth quarter, Olave made a phenomenal over-the-shoulder catch, showing late hands to not tip off the cornerback and then hauling in a difficult 34-yard reception. Olave recorded 12 receptions for 126 yards versus the Ducks.
This tape shows that Olave is a versatile receiver who can function as a short and intermediate weapon to move the chains as a possessional wideout. Olave has speed and downfield ability, and this performance shows he can function in a variety of ways. He is a quick wide receiver who possesses speed through his route and sudden cutting ability to create separation. While Olave is not a big receiver, he is well rounded and has good technique. Olave might be a Calvin Ridley-style receiver in the NFL.
Kentucky right tackle Darian Kinnard received a favorable preseasongrade from NFL advance scouts after an impressive 2020 season. Kinnard played well overall against Missouri and looks improved over 2020. Early in the game, Kinnard made an impact by opening holes in the ground game and doing a good job in pass protection. He showed nice vision and the ability to adjust to blitzes off the edge, peeling off to hit two blocks and give his quarterback time to get the ball out.
Kinnard is a huge right tackle who has real power at the point of attack. He is physical and gets nasty with defenders, pushing them around in the ground game and imposing his will on defensive ends. While Kinnard does not look like a smooth mover via the eyeball test, he is more athletic than one would expect and has some quickness ans agility for such a large right tackle. Kinnard fires out to the second level and pulls pretty rapidly.
It looks like Kinnard has dropped some weight and is in better shape than he was in 2020. He could use some development with his technique, but he has talent and could be a starting right tackle or right guard in the NFL. It would not be a surprise if Kinnard ends up as a second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez is a power back who could be a riser during the 2021 season. He got this game started well, catching a short pass in the flat and coasting into the end zone. Later in the first half, he had a short rushing touchdown after running well to move the ball down the field. Just before halftime, Rodriguez went through the line before a hard hit at the three-yard line cause him to fumble the ball into the end zone. Missouri recovered the loose ball.
Rodriguez ran angry in the third quarter, powering through tacklers and delivering some violent hits to defenders. He broke off a long run early after halftime and then finished the drive by powering into the end zone. Versus Missouri, Rodriguez toted the ball 27 times for 206 yards and three touchdowns.
Rodriguez is a tough, powerful and violent runner who shows real physicality. He may lack the speed to be an elite running back, but over the course of this season, he has a chance to become a mid-round prospect who could serve as a rotational contributor in the NFL.
Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was one of the top defensive prospects entering this season even though an injury limited him to only two or three games in 2020. In Week 1, Hutchinson looked rusty to start the game, but he heated up as the game went on and recorded a strip sack in the second half. Hutchinson was seeing a quality Washington offensive line including left tackle Jaxon Kirkland, and Hutchinson was even better in Week 2.
In the first quarter, Hutchinson had a third-down rush and was unable to get around Kirkland with speed, but Hutchinson kept fighting and as the quarterback stepped up, Hutchinson worked back toward the line of scrimmage and tracked him down for a coverage sack, being joined by a teammate.
On the next drive, Hutchinson got in on a tackle in run support that helped force a three-and-out. Later in the second quarter on a fourth-and-4, Hutchinson came unblocked off the edge to dart into the backfield. Hutchinson slammed down the back and ripped the ball out for his second forced fumble of the season.
Just before halftime, Hutchinson bull rushed through Kirkland and dragged the quarterback down for his second sack of the game. On the next snap, Hutchinson split a double team and pressured the signal-caller out of the pocket. After his second sack, Hutchinson received extra attention, with guards joining in or running backs chipping him. In the third quarter on a second-and-goal, Hutchinson shed a block from tight end Cade Otton to chase down the quarterback for a sack. Kirland came back to have some one-on-one wins against Hutchinson, but overall, Hutchinson was very good in his second game back from injury.
Hutchinson collected four tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble against the Huskies. This was an excellent tape from Hutchinson that displayed his nonstop motor and relentless energy at the point of attack. Hutchinson used his power to fight through blocks, showed the quickness to get upfield, and displayed his unwillingness to quit on plays, which let him make plays off of his effort. As usual, he held his ground in the rushing attack. This game will help Hutchinson to be a first-round pick next April in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Kirkland has some ability for the next level, and he could end up being a competitor at guard or right tackle. Guard might be his best fit, but he looks like he possesses sufficient quickness, feet and athleticism to play right tackle. To start out his career, Kirkland might be a valuable sixth offensive lineman to be swing backup at guard and tackle while he develops. He could have a shot to develop into a decent starter with time, and left guard might be the position where he fits best.
Washington cornerbacks Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon are future NFL cornerbacks, and they both played well against Michigan. The Huskies secondary completely shut down the Wolverines passing attack which was without top receiver Ronnie Bell. Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara completed only 7-of-15 passes for 44 yards in the game thanks to McDuffie and Gordon smothering his receivers.
In the first quarter .Gordon showed nice speed to run with a receiver vertically down the sideline and maintain tight coverage. Gordon didn't panic when the ball came his way and timed his slap perfectly to force a third-down incompletion. McDuffie did a really nice job in run support, contributing six tackles and a tackle for a loss.
Team sources believe McDuffie could end up being a first-round pick and think Gordon has second-day potential. This tape will help the draft grades of both prospects.