Some in the media have pushed North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell as a high first-round pick, but multiple NFL team sources, told WalterFootball.com they don't hold Howell in that esteem. Florida State were really struggling in 2021, entering this game with 1-4 record, yet the Seminoles were able to keep Howell in check and deal the Tar Heels a surprising loss.
In the first quarter, Howell found a receiver open in the deep middle and lofted in a touchdown from about 40 yards out. Later in the first half, Howell under threw a pass in the front of the end zone and the ball was picked off by Florida State. Surprisingly, Howell had less than 80 yards passing in the first half.
In the third quarter, Howell used play-action to get a receiver running open in zone coverage along the sideline and Howell lofted in an easy 21-yard touchdown. Midway through the second half, Howell showed his athleticism with a 31-yard run on a quarterback draw. Howell ended up completing 17-of-32 passes for 203 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for 108 yards on 11 carries.
Howell did not help his draft grade, overall, against Florida State. He never got into a rhythm as a passer and showed his skill-set limitations. Howell was able to run well on the ground, but he was ineffective at maintaining drives. Some team sources have called Howell a poor-man's version of Baker Mayfield, and that is how he looked in this outing. Howell looks like a second-day talent for the 2022 NFL Draft, and it will be interesting to see if a team reaches and takes him earlier than that.
Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson is having an excellent season, genertaing a lot of production as a pass rusher and run defender. North Carolina did a nice job of keeping Johnson quiet for three quarters. He was holding his ground, but not making big plays in run defense.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Johnson used his speed to get by the North Carolina defensive end, bounced off the running back, and worked back to the line of scrimmage to chase down Howell for a sack. Later in the fourth quarter though, the Tar Heels ran at Johnson for a short touchdown. Overall, this tape should not hurt or help Johnson's draft grade.
This was an important game for the draft grade of Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral, who is currently the consensus top quarterback prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft. Against Alabama, Corral didn't play poorly, but he was overmatched and the Crimson Tide dominated the time of possession. So to a degree, Corral needed a bounce-back performance versus a tough opponent like Arkansas, which entered the game ranked 13th overall in the nation.
On an early third down, Corral hesitated and ran when he didn't need to because he had plenty of time to let his receivers come open, but after that mistake, Corral came back with a quick strike on fourth down to move the chains. Later on the drive, Corral used his legs for good yardage and then ran into the end zone from five yards out. Shortly later, Corral found a receiver wide open in busted coverage. Corral underthrew the ball a little, but it ensured a completion and Dontario Drummond was all alone to coast down the field about 30 yards for a 67-yard touchdown. Corral showed his toughness on the next snap when he took a hard knee to the helmet but managed tp push through defenders for the two-point conversion.
Corral later laid out a nice deep ball that was a 50-50 pass, and the defensive back almost intercepted it, but the pass was broken up. It wasn't a good throw from Corral, as it was slightly to the inside and the defensive back outplayed the receiver on the pass while starting out in better position thanks to Corral's ball placement. Later on the drive though, Corral made a pretty pass downfield on which he threw his receiver open along the sideline for a gain of about 30 yards. Corral showed excellent placement, leading his wideout to dart to the inside of a corner to get the completion. A few plays later, Corral showed his toughness again by pushing through a tackle and diving across the goal line on a seven-yard touchdown.
In the third quarter, Corral threw a ball up for grabs and was fortunate that an Arkansas safety didn't control the pass for an interception in the end zone. Corral came back to throw some superb fastballs into tight windows and used his feet to move the ball. Early in the fourth quarter, Corral laid out a beautiful deep ball for a 59-yard reception. Midway through the fourth, Corral completed a beautiful pass, throwing Drummond open for a critical third-down conversion, but it was called back on a penalty. With the score tied at 45 with just over a minute remaining, Braylon Sanders got open in busted coverage on a double move and was wide open for a 68-yard touchdown. Corral finished completing 14-of-21 passes for 287 yards and two touchdown passes He also notched two rushing touchdowns and 94 yards on the ground.
Overall, Corral's performance against the Razorbacks was mixed. On the plus side, he showed off his strong arm, mobility, toughness as a runner, and some field vision. On the flip side, he threw some balls up for grabs and was fortunate that he didn't end up with a multi-interception game. A lot of Corral's big passes came from blown coverage with wide open receivers. This tape won't move the needle Corral's draft grade.
Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks is one of the top receiver prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft, and he showed why with a huge second half against Ole Miss. The Rebels did a nice job of holding him to shorter receptions for gains that totaled in the 20s, but the Razorbacks finally started giving him opportunities in the second half, and Burks rewarded his quarterback with a trio of huge catches.
In the third quarter on back-to-back plays, Burks made superb leaping catches over the cornerback to set up an Arkansas touchdown. Those two receptions were each for 37 yards and showed Burks' combination of size, strength, and ability to make circus catches along the sideline. Shortly later, Burks found the end zone on a 20-yard touchdown. He caught a wide receiver screen at the line of scrimmage and turned the corner to run down the sideline for the score. Burks finished with seven receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Burks is more of a possessional receiver for the next level. He has mismatch size to outposition defensive backs, is tough after the catch, runs good routes, and has strong, massive hands to help him control the ball on acrobatic catches. While he is not a blazer, he has the ability to achieve some late separation at times. Separating from NFL defensive backs a question, but Burks has starter ability for the next level. He could be a pick in the back half of the first round or the second round in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal is likely to be the first offensive lineman drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft. He has played well in 2020 and 2021 except for struggling with Florida's edge rushers in the 2020 SEC Championship and game in the Swamp in September. Taking on some talented Aggie defensive lineman, Neal had a respectable outing for Alabama.
In the second quarter, Neal blew a blocking assignment which allowed Tyree Johnson to sack Bryce Young. There were a few other plays where Neal allowed his rusher to get upfield, but he was able to tie them up long enough for Young to get the ball out. Neal did a good job in the ground game against the Aggies and was steady at protecting Young overall.
There is no doubt that Neal has a freaky skill set. He shows shocking speed and athleticism for such a massive blocker, but his feet can sometimes get stuck in the ground, which lets 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. Hence, Neal could be a very good right tackle. He looks like a future top-20 pick and could go as a top-10 selection.
For a lot of this season, Texas A&M's trio of playmakers has been held back by terrible quarterback play, but against Alabama, the Aggies young quarterback Zack Calzada played well and finally gave his teammates a chance to make some plays. Tight end Jalen Wydermyer could be the top tight end prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft, and he flashed his ability versus the Crimson Tide.
In the first quarter, Wydermyer got open running down the seam, and he rumbled for more yards after the catch to gain 34 yards. Wydermyer got wide open again on the next play, this time in busted coverage, and scored a 27-yard touchdown. He ran good routes and was open for other receptions, but Calzada didn't throw him the ball. Wydermyer also made a reception to help get in field goal range and then was running open for a potential touchdown, but he was interfered with to draw a huge penalty.
Versus Alabama, Wydermyer caught three passes for 73 yards and a touchdown. He looks like he has the skill set to be a mismatch receiving weapon at tight end in the NFL and a three-down starter.
Texas A&M wide receiver Ainias Smith played really well against the Crimson Tide, eating up their secondary filled with future NFL talent. Early on, he got open on a comeback route, and that set the tone for the game. At the end of the first quarter, Smith broke open in the back of the end zone and caught an easy touchdown. Later in the second quarter, Smith ran an excellent route that saw him get open in the middle of the field for a critical first-down conversion that set up the Aggies at the Alabama 15. In the fourth quarter, Smith was running wide open for a 60—yard would-be touchdown, but Calzada's pass was inaccurate and out of the reach of Smith.
Late in the fourth quarter, Smith ran a corner route and got separation from safety Brian Branch with a juke before making an over-the-shoulder catch for a 25-yard touchdown that tied the game at 38 late in the fourth quarter. Smith continued to eat Branch's lunch, getting open on a slant to get the ball into field goal territory. Smith hauled in six passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns against Alabama.
For the NFL, Smith is a shifty slot receiver who has quickness, good route-running, and is sudden out of his breaks to help create separation. He could be a second-day pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller was a force in the first half against Alabama, but was limited in the final two quarters after taking a hard hit to the back. In the second quarter, Spiller had an excellent run after a reception in the flat, dodging some tacklers and then bulling his way to push the pile for a first down. To end the drive, Spiller took the carry, hesitated for a hole to open up, and then exploded down the field for a 15-yard touchdown that saw him plow through three defenders for the score. Late in the fourth quarter, Spiller made a tough catch while backpedaling, which helped move the ball across midfield.
Against the Crimson Tide, Spiller totaled 46 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, plus made four receptions for 43 yards. This tape helps illustrate that Spiller is a future three-down starter in the NFL as a tough runner, functional receiver, and potential playmaker.
Georgia edge defender Adam Anderson is one of the most dangerous pass rushers in college football, but some NFL scouts have concerns about his run defense because he has been a situational player throughout his time with the Bulldogs. This game will help Anderson's draft grade because he played the run very well and showed versatility in what he can do on the field.
At the end of the first drive, Anderson fired past a blocker and blew up a run at the mesh point that caused Auburn quarterback Bo Nix to scramble away, and he fumbled away the ball as Anderson and a teammate tackled him. A review turned it into an incomplete pass, but it really looked more like a fumble. Shortly later, Anderson got off a block from the tight end to notch a tackle for Georgia.
Late in the first quarter, Auburn ran at Anderson, and he set the edge well, holding his ground versus the tight end. The Tigers were sending some double teams to Anderson in pass protection thanks to their tackles really struggling with Anderson's speed. Just before halftime, Anderson darted to the inside of the right tackle to get a tackle in run defense at the line of scrimmage.
On top of playing well against the run, Anderson was smooth and athletic dropping into pass coverage. He also was causing disruption as a pass rusher, and the extra attention he commanded opened things up for other defenders. This tape will help Anderson to be a first-round pick.
Anderson wasn't alone in helping the Bulldogs defense to another dominant game. Georgia defensive end Travon Walker was superb, and he had a big presence.
In the second quarter, Walker chased Nix out of the pocket and forced a third-down incompletion to get the Georgia defense off the field. Shortly later, Walker got off a block and was able to start a tackle for a loss. Early in the second quarter, Walker showed good speed and hustle to chase down a scrambling Nix short of first-down yardage. Walker continued his excellent first half by lining up at tackle and coming around a stunt and looping around the nose tackle to flush a third-down incompletion. Quickly after that, Walker went to the inside from defensive end to force another incompletion.
Walker has a really good skill set for the NFL with size, speed, and athleticism at the point of attack. He is well-rounded as a good run defender and capable pass rusher. This performance against the Tigers is going to help his draft grade.
Auburn cornerback Roger McCreary has played well this year, but he had a mixed outing against Georgia. At the end of the first quarter, McCreary was flagged for a questionable pass interference that easily could have been a no call. Shortly later, an angle route created some separation from McCreary to allow a short three-yard touchdown pass. It was a tough assignment for any cornerback, and Georgia executed the play perfectly. Early in the fourth quarter, McCreary was in zone coverage, and he did a good job of breaking hard on an out route for a pass breakup on a third-and-goal.
McCreary could be a good fit in the NFL as a nickel corner. He may not have the size to play on the outside on an every-down basis. In the 2022 NFL Draft, McCreary could be a quality pick on Day 2.
Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler was the top quarterback prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft entering the season, but his play has underwhelmed this season. Rattler's lackluster performance in the 2021 Red River Rivalry game only provided an exclamation point for that disappointment. Rattler really struggled versus the Longhorns, and he was eventually benched for freshman quarterback Caleb Williams. This peformance could be a crushing blow to Rattler's draft stock for the 2022 NFL Draft or 2023 NFL Draft.
In the first quarter, Rattler scored a two-yard touchdown run on a zone-read play where he dove into the end zone in front of a few defenders. On the next drive, Rattler had a miscommunication with his tight end, who broke to the outside when Rattler thought he was going to cut to the inside. That led to the ball floating to a safety for an interception.
The next drive was ugly as well, with Rattler missing an open receiver downfield with an overthrow and then taking a coverage sack on third down. Rattler was pulled for Caleb Williams on a fourth-and-1, and Williams raced for a long touchdown run, but Rattler came back to pull off a big throw on a trick play. On that drive though, Rattler was lucky an interception was dropped, and on the next Oklahoma possession, Rattler was stripped of the ball on zone read run to set up Texas near midfield. After that, Williams took over for the Sooners, and Rattler was on the bench while Oklahoma made a legendary comeback. Rattler came in to throw a two-point conversion that tied the game at 41 midway through the fourth quarter, but otherwise, Williams was the player who engineered the Sooners' comeback while Rattler watched.
Rattler completed 8-of-15 passes for 111 yards and an interception. He also lost a fumble and scored a rushing touchdown. Overall, this performance reinforces some ball-security concerns that Rattler displayed in other games this season. He seemed to get rattled by Texas and didn't respond well to playing from a deficit after the Longhorns jumped out to a big lead with 38 points in the first half. Rattler did not seem to see the field well as a passer and demonstrated poor ball security. Oklahoma was energized when Rattler was benched, and this game is a real indictment for Rattler.
Texas' Demarvion Overshown could be one of the top linebacker prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft, and he played like it against Oklahoma. On the first third down for the Texas defense, Overshown blitzed up the middle to sack Rattler and get his defense off the field. On the very next play, Overshown exploded through the line again to block a punt that set up Texas at the Oklahoma two-yard line.
It wasn't all good for Overshown, as the next drive saw Kennedy Brooks run through him, and that missed tackle allowed a first-down run to Oklahoma. Overshown came back to make a tough tackle in the hole on Brooks. Midway through the second quarter, Overshown was around the ball and was in place to pounce on a fumble by Rattler to snag a big turnover for the Longhorns.
In the second half, Overshown made a nice run tackle near the line of scrimmage. He also flew to the flat to make an open-field tackle on a wide receiver screen. Inside the Texas 20, Overshown flew to the perimeter to get a tackle for a loss.
This tape will really help Overshown, whoe showed the speed to fly around the field, quality diagnostic skills to read his keys to flow to the ball, and instincts for some big plays. Overshown could stand to get stronger to defend downhill runs straight at him because he is better in pursuit rather than stacking in the box. Team sources have said Overshown has some ugly plays on tape of getting run over in the ground game with downhill runs coming at him. Overshown, however, has some pass-coverage ability and could become a three-down starter at the next level. Overall, his peformance against the Sooners could help him to be an early-round pick.
Oklahoma defenive tackle Perrion Winfrey is a talented defensive lineman, but the Sooners aren't doing a good job of letting him show what he is capable of. Throughout this season, the've had the speedy and athletic Winfrey playing a lot of nose tackle as a zero-technique when he is at his best using his speed to fire a gap and cause havoc in the backfield. Against Texas however, Winfrey was allowed to get upfield, and he was a disruptive force behind the line of scrimmage.
In the second quarter, Winfrey bull rushed through guard Derek Kerstetter to get sack of the quarterback. Winfrey followed that up with a couple of other pressures and near sacks that showed his speed to close, and one of his pressures forced a third-down throwaway that got the ball back for the Oklahoma offense.
Here is what an area scout texted me about Winfrey during an Oklahoma game a few weeks ago, "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 the rest of this season.