Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler is one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft. While Rattler was solid against Nebraska, he wasn't overly impressive in this rivalry renewal.
On the first drive of the game, Rattler threw some short passes to set him up for a goal line plunge into the end zone. His best play came on a third-and-11 when he had plenty of time, rolled out, and then fired a missile to the sideline to get the first down.
Later in the first quarter, Rattler forced a pass into double coverage, and was he lucky it wasn't intercepted by the safety, who couldn't control the catch. It actually was the second time in the quarter that Rattler threw a pass into a crowd. For a lot of the game, the Nebraska defense did a solid job of limiting Oklahoma's explosive offense. Rattler later threw a short touchdown pass, and in the fourth quarter, he used his legs for a run of 20 yards to set up a short rushing touchdown that gave the Sooners a commanding lead. Rattler completed 24-of-34 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown against the Cornhuskers.
For the NFL, Rattler has a good skill set with a quality arm, mobility, patience in the pocket, and the ability to avoid the rush to extend plays. However, he makes some young mistakes with his decision-making, forcing passes into coverage and making some risky throws. Rattler will need to work on that in the weeks to come.
Oklahoma defenive tackle Perrion Winfrey is a talented defensive lineman, but the Sooners aren't doing a good job of letting Winfrey show what he is capable of. Throughout this game, they had the speedy and athletic Winfrey playing a lot of nose tackle as a zero-technique even though he is at his best using his speed to fire a gap and cause havoc in the backfield.
In the first quarter, Winfrey did a nice job of getting off blocks and snuffing a quarterback draw on a third down, which forced a field goal attempt from Nebraska. Otherwise, he did a solid job of holding his ground at the line, but was not making big plays. Oklahoma let Winfrey rush late in the fourth quarter, and he bulldozed his way down the pocket with his bull rush to take down Adrian Martinez for a game-clinching sack in the final minute of the game.
Here is what an area scout texted me about Winfrey during this game, "Winfrey is a pure three-technique. He'll get better usage of his skill set in the NFL. They play him as a 0 or 4i primarily in their scheme. He's better when they let him tee off and 1-gap. His production gets hit taking so many base reps. They're doing what they need to in order to win. It's our job as scouts to project him properly.”
Winfrey has an early-round skill set, and it will be interesting to see if Oklahoma lets him put that on display this season.
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton entered the 2021 season as the consensus top safety prospect and a future first-round pick. Thus far, he has lived up to the hype, producing a two-interception game against Florida State and now another impressive tape in Week 3 against Purdue.
Hamilton made his presence felt in the early going of the afternoon with some tackles in the run game and a leaping pass breakup. At the end of the first quarter, Purdue went for it on fourth-and-1 with a stretch run. Hamilton came downhill in blur to make a tackle for a loss and get his defense off the field. It was a tremendous play on which Hamilton came from about 15 yards downfield, and it displayed his phenomenal speed. To close out the win, Hamilton was in good position at the back of the end zone to catch a tipped pass for a game-clinching interception.
Throughout the day, Hamilton flew around the field, making tackles in run support and covering up receivers downfield. In the third quarter, Hamilton again flew to the flat to snuff out a short pass for a little gain. He clearly has a different caliber of speed and athleticism than the rest of the players on the field. Hamilton recorded 10 tackles and two passes defended against the Boilermakers.
Hamilton is a well-rounded safety who can play free or strong safety, is able to handle some man coverage, and has ball skills. Hamilton could be an impactful starter early on in his NFL career. He looks like he is on track to be a pick in the top half of the first round next April in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Purdue defensive end George Karlaftis was taking on a revamped Notre Dame offensive line that struggled against Florida State edge rusher Jermaine Johnson to open the season. Karlaftis had some good moments, but he was not as impactful as Johnson was a few weeks ago.
Karlaftis made a nice play early in the second quarter when he swam past the right tackle to notch a tackle for a loss in run support. Karlaftis was effective getting off blocks and making his presence felt. He used a bull rush to go through the right tackle to combine with a teammate for a sack. Karlaftis should have drawn some holding calls, but the officials were incompetent. Just before halftime, Karlaftis used an excellent spin move against the right guard, and Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan was just barely able to avoid the hands of Karlaftis while scrambling away. Early in the fourth quarter, Karlaftis helped create a sack by bulling the Fighting Irish left tackle into the quarterback and taking away Coan's ability to escape from the other Purdue defensive end.
Karlaftis recorded two tackles, .5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for a loss against Notre Dame. He also had quarterback hits and pressures. Karlaftis showed strength to bull rush through offensive linemen, the speed to get around them, and stoutness in the ground game. This was a very good tape that will help his draft grade.
Alabama moved junior Evan Neal from right tackle to the left side for the 2021 season because Alex Leatherwood left for NFL. The 6-foot-7, 350-pound Neal is a massive blocker who is tough in the ground game and moves well for his size. He played at guard as a freshman in 2019, and then last year, he was the starting right tackle. Neal put together an excellent sophomore season, with the one exception being the SEC Championship Game, in which Florida's fast edge rushers had a good game against him and he had lot of problems keeping them out of the backfield. There was interest coming into this rematch as to how Neal would performed while also being at his new position on the blind side.
Gators edge rusher Brenton Cox and defensive end Zachary Carter are future pros who were there to challenge Neal. On the first drive of the game, Neal was flawless, notching wins versus Carter, but on the second drive, a young speed rusher flew by Neal on a third down to force a throw. Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien tried to protect Neal by calling a lot of quick passes and not giving Florida's rushers time. At different points during the afternoon, some speed rushers, including Carter, managed to blow by Neal and he was bailed out by quarterback Bryce Young. Neal was effective as a run blocker though, tying up his defenders and creating some push at the line.
Overall, the tape of this contest would suggest that Neal is a better fit for right tackle in the NFL. He has shocking speed and athleticism for such a massive blocker, but his feet can sometimes get stuck in the ground, which allows speed rushers to work upfield while he's not getting depth in his drop. That could be a problem as a blind-side protector in the NFL. Instead, he could be a very good pro right tackle. Neal looks like a future top-20 pick.
Both Carter and Cox played well in this game. Carter was a presence in the backfield and did a nice job of defending against the run. This tape gave Carter the look of a potential second-round pick, but some teams might give him consideration late in Round 1.
Cox was very good for Florida, notching a coverage sack and coming close to other sacks thanks to blowing by the Alabama right tackle. Cox collapsed the line for some run stuffs and almost made a difficult interception when he dropped into coverage on a zone blitz. Cox's performance against the Crimson Tide will help his draft grade, and he looks like a good fit as a potential 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam is a potential early-round pick, and he was seeing a dangerous set of Alabama receivers. In the first half, Elam was excellent. He had tight coverage on Jamison Williams and broke up a pass downfield. Shortly later, Elam had John Metchie blanketed to force a third-down incompletion, but the officials blew the play by calling Elam for a holding when replays showed that Metchie was trying to push off Elam. It should have been offensive pass interference. Elam added another third-down pass breakup to finally get the Gators' defense to force a punt. In the second quarter, Elam was running with Metchie on a deep route and got a hand in there late to force another incompletion.
This tape will definitely help Elam, who excelled against some future NFL receivers. Elam ran the route to prevent separation, and he used his size to get in good position while showing good timing to break up passes.
There was the potential for a good draft matchup with Washington right tackle Abraham Lucas going against USC edge defender Drake Jackson. Lucas and Jackson could both be early-round picks, and Cougars left tackle Liam Ryan has mid-round potential.
For a lot of the first half, the Washington State tackles got the better of Jackson. Early in the first quarter, Lucas tied up Jackson to let Max Borghi burst downfield for a gain of about 15 yards. Ryan did a similar thing, pushing Jackson to the inside to open a big hole on the edge of the line. Jackson was struggling to get off blocks in the ground game, but was hustling to make tackles downfield in pursuit. Late in the first half, Jackson got going when he stuffed a goal-line run for no gain after darting past the guard.
Late in the third quarter with the Cougars passing out of their own end zone, Jackson used speed to get around Ryan and maul the quarterback for a strip-sack that USC recovered for a touchdown.
Overall, Jackson and Lucas represented themselves well. Jackson showed the has speed and athleticism to rush the passer off the edge. He needs to get stronger in the ground game for the NFL, but the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder has the potential to be a starting defensive end.
Lucas looks like a starting right tackle in the NFL. He has quality length, strength and athleticism. While Lucas may not have elite speed and footwork to move to left tackle, he has size and an ability to bend at the knee. Lucas could be an early-round pick who works his way into a starting role early in his pro career.
Ryan looks like a mid-round candidate who could be a future backup.
USC wide receiver Drake London is a big receiver who is a dangerous 50-50 receiver and a physical force on the field. Even though USC starting quarterback Kedon Slovis went out with an injury, London stepped up with a huge game to help the Trojans pull off their comeback win. London totaled 13 receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
In the second quarter, London got a step on his cornerback while running a post route, and he snatched the ball for a 33-yard gain. London had some rough moments after that, including two dropped passes. In the third quarter, London was targeted in the end zone, but the pass was knocked away after London did not get good position or outfight the defender for the 50-50 pass. London made up for it later on the drive by using his big frame to box out a safety for a short touchdown catch on a slant.
On the next drive, London laid a really nice crack-back block on a linebacker who was coming in motion, which sprung the USC running back for first-down yardage. On that same drive, London caught a jump ball for 33 yards despite the cornerback draped all over him. Later in the second half, London caught a slant over the middle and was rocked by a safety with bone-rattling hit that popped his helmet off. It was a vicious blow, but London jumped up shouting and pumped up. A couple of plays later, London made a leaping grab deep down the field for a 31-yard touchdown, but on this play, London was slammed down and had his head bounce hard off the turf.
London is a big receiver who has good size, strength, and the ability to win contested catches. His stature, leaping ability and catch radius mean he is never really covered. London, however, has average speed and struggles to separate from college cornerbacks. Thus, he will have a very time getting open against NFL defensive backs. All told, London could be more of a second-day prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Penn State WR Jahan Dotson has not produced huge stat lines yet this season, but he is having a superb start to the year and has been a critical playmaker in leading the Nittany Lions to wins over Wisconsin and now Auburn. Dotson should have huge performances, but the accuracy limitations of quarterback Sean Clifford have really held back Dotson more than opposing defenses.
Dotson got wide open late in the first quarter, using his speed to run to open space in busted coverage. Running across the back of the end zone, Dotson made a phenomenal leaping grab for a touchdown on an inaccurate pass from Clifford. Dotson made another excellent leaping grab down field shortly later, and then he had him throw a good pass on a trick play for a gain of about 20 yards. Before longs Dotson made another circus catch, this time high pointing a poorly thrown ball for another chunk gain. Early in the third quarter, Dotson showed his strong hands again, snatching a pass at the five-yard line and setting up a first-and-goal. Dotson totaled 78 yards on 10 receptions and a touchdown against the Tigers, but if he didn't need to make circus catches and was hit on the run, he could have had a massive night.
Dotson is small, fast, explosive, and difficult to cover. Many smaller wideouts don't have Dotson's reliable and strong hands. Right now, he is on pace to be a candidate to go in the back half of the first-round or early in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary and safety Smoke Monday are future NFL contributors who had a solid performances against the Nittany Lions. At the end of the first half, Penn State attempted a deep pass, but Sean Clifford got blasted by Zakoby McClain as he threw. The ball was like a punt, and McCreary ran under it for an interception that denied Penn State a field goal attempt. Monday made a number of good tackles in run support and helped to cover up receivers downfield. In the third quarter, Monday got off a block from a tight end on a wide receiver screen to blow up the receiver in the backfield for a loss. Both Tigers defensive backs helped their grades with this tape.
Penn State linebacker Brandon Smith is one of the top non-pass-rushing linebacker prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft, and he had an interesting evening against a tough opponent. Early in the second quarter, Smith did a good job of staying home on an end around, and he exploded into the backfield to notch a tackle for a loss. Just before halftime, Smith did a great job of breaking on a route and almost snagged an interception, but he juggled and dropped the ball. Early in the third quarter, Smith did a nice job of getting off a block from a tight end, but running back Tank Bigsby was able to reach the ball over the goal line for a touchdown while being tackled by Smith. Smith was called for a questionable late hit in the fourth quarter over pushing Bo Nix as the Auburn quarterback was going out of bounds.
Overall, Smith had a good game that showed his speed, strength and athleticism. He also has good size and runs well. Smith's traits give him three-down starting potential for the NFL.
Penn State's Tariq Castro-Fields is a well-rounded cornerback, but this tape showed he has some areas of improvement for the NFL, mainly eye discipline. In the second quarter, Castro-Fields gave up separation after a stop-and-go route caught him by surprise. Luckily for Castro-Fields, the receiver dropped the third-down pass. Castro-Fields got lucky again in the fourth quarter when he was caught peaking into the backfield, which let a receiver run past him and get wide open running into the end zone. The pass was off the mark and the wide out couldn't locate the ball, which saved Castro-Fields from allowing a 34-yard touchdown that could have tied the game. Castro-Fields is a big corner with speed and athleticism, and he looks like a future starter. Improving his eye discipline is something NFL coaches can work with.