There was a good draft matchup in this game with Kentucky right tackle Darian Kinnard taking on some quality Gator defensive linemen. Florida defensive lineman Zachary Carter is having a good senior season that is helping his draft stock. After an impressive performance versus Alabama, Carter played well against Tennessee. Brenton Cox has been a strong edge rusher for Florida as well, so either edge lineman would be a good challenge for Kinnard regardless of who lined up where.
Overall, Kinnard had a good showing against the Gators. He was tough in the ground game and did a steady job in pass protection. Kinnard allowed some penetration to Cox on a few plays when Kinnard bent at the waist. That led to Kinnard reaching after Cox and the Gator edge rusher closing in the pocket. Kinnard does not have the feet and agility of a left tackle in the NFL, but he could be a quality starting right tackle or very good guard.
Florida defensive lineman Carter is having an excellent senior year, and that continued against Kentucky. In the second quarter, Carter bull rushed through the left tackle to sack quarterback Will Levis. Throughout the night, Carter was a force in the ground game and got the better of the Wildcats' left tackle.
Carter (6-4, 285) is similar to former Gators defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard. They both are tweener defensive end/tackles. Bullard was drafted into the wrong scheme as a 3-4 defensive end, and that led to him not panning out for the Chicago Bears. Both players have the weight of a defensive end and the height of a defensive tackle. Carter has some quickness, functional strength, and plays hard. Some area scouts have told me they think for the NFL his best fit would be to continue to add some weight and be a three-technique tackle in a 4-3 defense. Carter could be a second-day pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder and wide receiver Alec Pierce had a big opportunity to help their draft grades, and they seized it by leading the Bearcats to an impressive road win versus Notre Dame.
In the first quarter, Ridder threw a rope to Pierce on a deep curl to move the chains on a nice route and pass. Pierce could not get open against Kyle Hamilton at the end of the drive, and after dodging a sack, Ridder threw a pass short that he was fortunate didn't get picked off. After a Notre Dame interception, Ridder threw a one-yard touchdown to a wide open receiver in the back of the end zone.
Ridder continued to locate passes well in zone coverage, but late in the first half, he was lucky not to have thrown a pick-six in the flat when he telegraphed the throw, which barely sailed over the cornerback. Ridder took advantage of the break by lofting in a corner post to his receiver for a touchdown just before halftime.
To start the third quarter, Pierce ran a go route down the field to get separation from the cornerback, and he made a leaping grab over the free safety for a gain of 45 yards. To end the drive on a third-and-goal, Ridder made a bad decision, throwing a ball up for grabs to one receiver with three defenders surrounding him, and Ridder was lucky the ball fell incomplete.
Things got worse for Ridder when he held onto the ball too long and double clutched a throw before losing the ball on a strip-sack. He had the rush bearing down on him and made a bad decision.
Ridder bounced back to hook up with Pierce again on a go route down the sideline for another big play of about 45 yards. It was an impressive display of speed from Pierce to create two steps of separation on the cornerback to get wide open for Ridder to loft in the completion. The Bearcats missed another field goal, which squandered the yardage produced by Ridder and Pierce, but midway through the fourth quarter, Ridder moved coverage with his eyes to throw a strike to his tight end down the seam for a chunk gain. To end the drive, Ridder ran into the end zone from six yards out.
Ridder completed 19-of-32 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns passing. He rushed for another score and also lost a turnover. Overall, the Notre Dame game will help Ridder's draft grade, as he showed field vision to work through progressions with the ability to manipulate coverage with his eyes. Ridder used his feet to extend some plays and lofted in some accurate passes downfield. Leading his team to a tough road win over a good team will not be lost on pro evaluators, and this tape could help Ridder to rise give the weak quarterback class.
Pierce definitely helped himself versus Notre Dame by catching six passes for 144 yards. The 6-foot-3, 213-pounder has good size, and the question with big receivers is always whether they have the speed to create separation. Pierce did that against Notre Dame running past defenders and getting open on go routes that were a pure foot race. He showed good hands, concentration, and size downfield. This tape will really help his draft grade for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton entered the season as the consensus top safety prospect and a future first-round pick. Hamilton has only improved upon that in 2021, being tremendously helpful to the Fighting Irish in their tough wins over Florida State and Purdue. Hamilton had three interceptions in those games, made a lot of clutch tackles, and flew around the field showing his phenomenal skill set of size, speed and athleticism. Cincinnati, however, was Hamilton's worst game of the year - by his standards. It was still a solid performance for pro evaluators.
In the first quarter, Hamilton made his presence felt when he blitzed off the edge and leapt to bat down a pass. Hamilton also did a nice job in coverage covering up targets downfield, but late in the first half while in man coverage on a slot receiver, Hamilton got turned around with a mistimed jump, and that let a pass float by him for a touchdown. That was the one really bad play for Hamilton, but it only confirmed what was seen on his sophomore year tape, which is that Hamilton is not a slot corner who can play man coverage on slot receivers in the NFL.
Hamilton has been tremendous this season, dominating the competition. For the NFL, Hamilton is a well-rounded safety who can play free or strong safety, is able to play some man coverage, and has ball skills. He could be an impactful starter early in his NFL career. Hamilton 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.
After Arkansas dropped Texas A&M, this looked like a great opportunity to evaluate the Georgia defense, but unfortunately the game quickly got out of hand. The Bulldogs' offense dominated the time of possession. As a result, Georgia's defense was not on the field much in the first half and we did not get a lot of looks at the team's star defensive linemen.
Bulldogs inside linebacker Nakobe Dean was the defender who had the biggest game. In the first quarter, Dean came on an interior blitz and snuffed out a quarterback draw for a tackle for a loss. In the third quarter, Dean blitzed up the middle and powered through a running back to start a sack. Dean added another sack a short time later thanks to an interior blitz that went through a blocker.
For the NFL, Dean is a fast linebacker who is physical and a dangerous blitzer. His blitzing ability will get diminished as a pro because teams more often have inside linebackers drop into coverage and Dean is not big enough to be a designated pass rusher at the pro level. Some team sources told me they thought Dean could go on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft and should go in the early rounds of Day 3 if he slips that far.
Georgia nose tackle Jordan Davis looks like a future top-20 pick. He flashed versus Arkansas on a few plays. He snuffed out a quarterback draw on a third-and-5 and showed good speed to run down the line and get a takedown off tackle. Davis is a first-round nose tackle who is a prospect similar to the Giants' Dexter Lawrence or Washington's Da'Ron Payne, both went as top-20 picks.
Once again, Georgia outside linebacker Adam Anderson got very little playing time, but he flashed his first-round ability in limited opportunities. In the first quarter, Anderson stayed home on a quarterback draw and got in on a tackle for a loss with linebacker Nakobe Dean. In the fourth quarter, Anderson got upfield against the right tackle and chased down the quarterback for a sack when he scrambled. Anderson is a fast edge rusher who can bend and really hunt down the quarterback. He looks like a future first-round pick with upside to be a better pro than college player.
Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was taking on a Wisconsin line that hasn't been as good as it was in past years, but it still could be one of the better offensive lines Hutchinson will see this season. The Badgers made a concerted effort to not let Hutchinson wreck their game plan, but the rest of the Michigan defenders stepped up to shut down the struggling the Badgers offense. Early in the game, Wisconsin called a number of plays that rolled the pocket away from Hutchinson, and throughout the game, Wisconsin sent some double teams his direction.
In the first quarter, Hutchinson powered through the right tackle and right guard to come close to a sack, but the offensive lineman resorted to tackling Hutchinson. Shortly later, Hutchinson almost had a sack, but the ball got out just before made the tackle. Midway through the second half, Hutchinson broke through a double team from the right side to get pressure, but a single-blocked teammate got to the quarterback a hair quicker for a strip-sack.
This was a solid tape from Hutchinson that NFL evaluators will like even though he did not produce a huge stat line. He was tough against the run, holding his gap and continuing to produce pressure on the quarterback even though he saw double-team attention. Hutchinson has imposing size, functional strength, good hands to fight through blocks, enough quickness, a relentless motor and can use his hands and feet at the same time. Hutchinson displays developed technique as well. The only thing missing is that he is not particularly explosive off the ball or a lighting fast speed rusher around the edge. Hutchinson looks like a future first-round pick. How high he goes will depend on how much teams hold his lack of speed against him.
This was an important game for the draft grade of Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, currently the consensus top quarterback prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft. He didn't play poorly against Alabama, but he was overmatched and the Crimson Tide dominated the time of possession.
On the first drive, Corral threw a rope for a first down and then used his feet to dodge a sack and scramble ahead for a gain of about six or seven yards. Later in the drive, he did a good job of throwing a pass away to avoid a sack and take a negative play. The drive stalled out on a fourth down near the end zone that was stopped, and that set the tone for the first half. Ole Miss struggled to extend drives and produce points, with three Ole Miss drives ending via fourth-down stops for turnovers on downs.
The one big mistake that Corral had was late in the second quarter when he held the ball a bit long, and Alabama defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis got by the right tackle to get a strip-sack as Corral was rearing back to pass.
Corral had an impressive play in the third quarter, dodging a sack and then throwing a bomb to the end zone, but his receiver dropped the pass on what should have been a long touchdown from an amazing throw. Corral shrugged it off and moved the ball before taking off on a 10-yard touchdown run. In garbage time, he threw another short touchdown pass.
Against Alabama, Corral completed 21-of-29 for 213 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score. The Rebels receivers dropped a number of passes which hurt their quarterback. Overall, Corral didn't harn his draft stock versus Alabama. He showed off his strong arm, his mobility, some field vision, and improved decision making compared to 2020. Corral might end up being the only quarterback who grades out as a top-10 pick for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Alabama moved junior Evan Neal from right tackle to the left side for the 2021 season now that Alex Leatherwood is in the 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. As a freshman in 2019, Neal played guard, and then last year, he was the starting right tackle. He had an excellent sophomore season, with the one exception being the SEC Championship Game when Florida's fast edge rushers had a good game against Neal. He had lot of problems keeping them out of the backfield. That happened again in Week 3 of this season when the Gators edge rushers gave Neal more problems. Ole Miss has a dangerous edge defender in lineman Sam Williams, so it would be interesting to see how Neal handled Williams in this game.
Neal won throughout the first half, giving Bryce Young plenty of time to throw and generating a push in the ground game. Williams limped off the field in the second quarter, and on the next play, Alabama went behind Neal for a goal-line touchdown after he blasted open the hole. The Crimson Tide repeated the same play with the same result at the end of the first half, and later on, Neal paved the way for another Brian Robinson touchdown. Williams would return to the game and notched a sack on a play when he went unblocked, but Neal had some wins against Williams in pass protection.
Overall, this tape will help Neal. A pro team could get away with him at left tackle, but he is a better fit at right tackle for the NFL. He has shocking speed and athleticism for such a massive blocker, but his feet can sometimes get stuck in the ground, allowing 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. Neal, however, is an absolute bull in the ground game, helping him roll defenders and create movement at the point of attack. Hence, he could be a very good right tackle. Neal looks like a future top-20 pick.
Here are some of the players at Auburn versus LSU that were on NFL team’s spring 2021 watch list for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Auburn CB Roger McCreary
Auburn FS Smoke Monday
Auburn LB Zakoby McClain
Auburn RB Shaun Shivers
Auburn NT Tyrone Truesdell
Auburn C Nick Brahms
Auburn G Brandon Council
Auburn K Anders Carlson
Auburn G Tashawn Manning
Auburn OT Brodarious Hamm
LSU DE Ali Gaye
LSU G Chasen Hines
LSU G Ed Ingram
LSU LB Micah Baskerville
LSU DE Andre Anthony
LSU OT Austin Deculus
LSU LB Damone Clark
LSU QB Myles Brennan
LSU FS Todd Harris
LSU DT Glen Logan
LSU DT Neil Farrell
LSU C Liam Shanahan
LSU WR Jontre Kirklin
Here are some of the players at Boston College versus Clemson that were on NFL team’s spring 2021 watch list for the 2022 NFL Draft.