This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2014 NFL Draft Prospects have performed. Or look at the 2014 NFL Draft Stock page.
By Charlie Campbell.
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Stanford 31, Washington 28
In full disclosure, I missed the first minute and 40 seconds of this game because the LSU-Mississippi State game ran late. In that time, there was a 99-yard kick return for a touchdown by Stanford’s Ty Montgomery on the first play of the game.
The Cardinal features a loaded defense with NFL prospects. Defensive end Trent Murphy, defensive tackle Ben Gardner, defensive tackle Henry Anderson, defensive tackle Josh Mauro, linebacker Shayne Skov and safety Ed Reynolds are all potential picks in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Washington has some pro prospects on its offense in tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, quarterback Keith Price, running back Bishop Sankey and wide receiver Kasen Williams. Thus, this Pac-12 matchup had a lot of talent for NFL scouts to measure players against each other.
The Stanford defense kept the Huskies quiet in the first half. Their offense had a plethora of penalties to sabotage their efforts, and the receivers dropped some well-thrown balls from Price. Seferian-Jenkins was a ghost until just before halftime when he got open in the middle of the field for a big completion. That was part of a nice drive from Price that was capped off with a seven-yard touchdown run by Sankey. He carried a defender into the end zone on a hard-nosed run.
In the third quarter, Sankey ripped off a 30-yard gain as he got a great block from Seferian-Jenkins to secure the edge that let Sankey get into the open field. Price rolled to his left on the next play and threw a bullet down field to an open receiver on a crossing route for a 29-yard touchdown. The wide out got by Reynolds for the score.
Price hung tough late in the third quarter to throw a frozen rope for a nice completion. Sankey ran up the middle on the next play, bounced off a few defenders and squirted ahead for a 15-yard touchdown run.
Seferian-Jenkins soon had a gain of about 15 yards running a dig in the middle of the field. He used his size to shield Reynolds from the ball. Price threw a great pass to Williams on the back shoulder for a leaping grab and a gain of 40 yards. Price finished the drive with a short touchdown pass.
Late in the fourth quarter on a third-and-10, Seferian-Jenkins beat Murphy running down the middle of the field, but but the big tight end dropped the pass. It wasn’t an easy catch as Murphy was somewhat close and blocking Seferian-Jenkins vision. Still, he has to make that catch. That pretty much ended Washington’s chances of getting in position for a game-tying field goal. Seferian-Jenkins had four receptions for 58 yards against Stanford. He did well as a blocker.
Sankey continued his impressive senior season with 125 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. He had five receptions for 21 yards. Price also performed well to aide his stock. He completed 33-of-48 passes for 350 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Both players helped their stocks against a tough Cardinal defense.
Murphy was the Stanford defender who made the biggest impact. This was an excellent performance that will help him to be an early-round pick. In the first quarter, Murphy had a tackle on Sankey after going unblocked. Murphy chased down Price for a sack a few plays later after the quarterback rolled out. Murphy fired at him after starting out in containment. He came close to a couple of sacks later in the first half.
Murphy got in on a coverage sack late in the third quarter. It was a nice hustle play after he was initially stuffed on an inside rush against a guard. Murphy burned the left tackle on the next play with a nice spin move to flush Price out of the pocket.
Murphy made a huge fourth-quarter play for Stanford. With the Huskies a few yards away from the end zone. Murphy saw he wouldn’t get to Price for a sack, so he pulled a J.J. Watt to ease back and leapt to deflect a pass in the air. Murphy almost caught the ball himself, but teammate A.J. Tarpley came down with it to take away points from Washington. Murphy finished the evening with six tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and a pass deflected for an interception. This tape will have a big appeal to teams that run 3-4 defenses.
Skov had an great game for Stanford as well. Early on, he planted Sankey in the turf for no gain. Skov did a tremendous job in run defense all evening. He prevented a lot of Sankey runs from being bigger gains. In the third quarter, Skov blew by the center to drag down Price, but the quarterback was able to spike the ball at feet of a teammate for an incompletion. Skov ripped off a blistering spin move early in the fourth quarter to start a sack of Price. Skov finished with 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss. This tape will help his draft stock.
Offensively, the standout for Stanford was junior wide receiver Ty Montgomery. After his early 99-yard touchdown return, he kept up the big plays all night. Montgomery took an end around for a gain of about 20 yards in the first quarter. Montgomery had a tough catch just before halftime to beat man coverage running along the sideline on a go route for a 39-yard touchdown. It was a perfect throw from Kevin Hogan to nullify good coverage.
Late in the third quarter, Montgomery bolted down the field for a 66-yard kick return. That set up the game-winning touchdown for the Cardinal. Montgomery finished with 290 all-purpose yards against Washington. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver has some speed to go along with size and moves in the open field. This performance really helps his draft stock.
Stanford redshirt sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan didn’t have a great game, but he made enough plays to help his team pull out a win. The game didn’t start well for Hogan as he threw the ball to a well-covered receiver and had the pass picked off. To answer a Washington touchdown drive, Hogan led a nice drive that he finished off himself with a four-yard run behind David Yankey. Hogan completed 12-of-20 passes against the Huskies for 105 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Senior Cardinal guard David Yankey had an excellent game. He was rock solid in pass protection and did a good job of opening holes for his running backs. On one play, Yankey did a text-book job of pulling and hitting a block to open a lane for a 17-yard run. This tape definitely will help Yankey.
Baylor 73, West Virginia 42
Two of the top running back prospects for the NFL were going head-to-head in this game. Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk and West Virginia’s Charles Sims have both played well this season, though Seastrunk has dominated thus far. He’s had a fabulous offensive line, led by senior guard Cyril Richardson, opening up holes for him.
Seastrunk’s first carry against the Mountaineers went for over 10 yards. He showed great balance to stay on his feet after getting hit by defenders. At the end of the first quarter, Seastrunk ripped off an 80-yard touchdown run. He took a carry up the middle, pushed off a defender and bounced the run to the sideline. Seastrunk pulled away from the defenders to score.
Seastrunk’s next attempt went for almost 20 yards, but it was canceled out by a hands-to-the-face penalty by Richardson. The drive ended with Richardson blasting open a hole on a short touchdown by running back Glasco Martin.
Late in the second quarter, Seastrunk scored again – this time from 19 yards out. He started up the middle on a trap before bouncing outside to get the edge and score. Seastrunk had 172 yards on 15 carries by halftime, while Richardson paved the way for five rushing touchdowns and two touchdown passes.
The Bears’ staff decided Seastrunk was done for the night. Richardson was in on another drive that ended with another touchdown run. Both players provided NFL evaluators with a tape that will help their bids to be early-round picks in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Sims was held largely in check in the first half. Early in the third quarter however, he was able to break out. The senior dodged two tackles and burst down the field for a 39-yard touchdown run. Sims got a few more carries, but his night ended early as the outcome was obviously decided. He ran for 92 yards on 19 carries with the score. Sims had two receptions for 16 yards in a solid personal performance.
Baylor senior wide receiver Tevin Reese goes under the radar, but all he does is rip off long touchdown catches on a weekly basis. That has been the case the past three seasons and the game against West Virginia was no exception.
In the first quarter, Bears quarterback Bryce Petty threw a good pass and Reese made an even better catch to get full extension where he tipped the ball to himself and dove into the end zone for a 47-yard touchdown. Reese was done at halftime with three receptions for 75 yards. This tape will help him to get consideration as a slot receiver.
Notre Dame 37, Arizona State 34
If your favorite NFL team is in need of a defensive tackle, this game had two contrasting interior linemen to profile. Arizona State’s Will Sutton and Notre Dame’s Louis Nix have different playing styles, but both are disruptive. Nix weighs around 340 pounds and is a powerful, yet explosive, nose tackle. Sutton is about 40 pounds lighter and is a pure speed-player as a three-technique tackle. Despite both players being highly regarded, neither one had a big performance playing in Dallas, Texas.
Sutton picked up a pressure on the first drive, but in the second quarter, he beat the right guard with a swim move to get a hit on quarterback Tommy Rees. Sutton had another hit on Rees in final minutes before halftime before showing hustle by getting in on a tackle on a screen pass downfield. He also made a tackle on a punt return. Sutton came up injured after making a block during a pick-six for the Sun Devils’ defense, but he returned to the game. Aside from a few tackles in run support, Sutton was quiet. Overall, the Fighting Irish did a good job of neutralizing him and keeping him from making any big plays. This tape will hurt Sutton’s cause.
Nix didn’t make a big mark on the stat sheet, but he played well for Notre Dame. Nix was a load at the point of attack and ate up a lot of blockers. In the third quarter, he had an impressive run stuff. Nix later started a tackle for a loss after staying home on a reverse. On another play, he was a bowling ball through the guard and center to almost get a tackle for a loss. This tape shouldn’t have a significant impact on Nix’s draft stock.
One of the players who helped contain Sutton was Fighting Irish left tackle Zack Martin. Sutton lined up as a defensive end on some plays over Martin. Those plays didn’t yield any improved results for Sutton. Martin did a nice job of picking up blitzers on the edge all night. He had another strong performance for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt started the game slowly. He had a couple of pressures in the first half, but wasn’t making a big impact. Tuitt stepped up his pass rush after halftime to help Fighting the Irish get the victory.
Tuitt beat the right tackle around the corner in the third quarter, ran over the quarterback and slapped the ball free for a fumble. The right tackle recovered the loose ball for the Sun Devils. Late in the fourth quarter, Tuitt came close to another sack after beating the left guard. Tuitt closed out the game with a pressure to help create a pick-six for Notre Dame’s defense.
Tuitt has had an interesting season. He’s received a lot of criticism for not being the same player as last year, and playing 20 pounds heavier, he clearly isn’t as fast or quick twitch. However, Tuitt has still made some big plays for the Fighting Irish. He should lose weight for the NFL, but linemen his size, and with his movement skills, are very hard to find. Tuitt would fit well as a 3-4 defensive end, and this tape will help his bid to be a first-round pick when he enters the draft.
The other player who really helped his draft stock against Arizona State was Notre Dame outside linebacker Prince Shembo. The senior had been held without a sack thus far in 2013, but that changed in a big way versus the Sun Devils as he recorded three sacks.
The first came when Shemo beat the right tackle with a rush to the inside. His second was on a tailback in a blitz off the edge. Shembo’s third sack came when he was unblocked coming off the left side. Shembo needed a big game after a quiet start to the season, and he got it.
Georgia 34, Tennessee 31
There was some good draft talent on display in this SEC East matchup. Tennessee junior middle linebacker A.J. Johnson was seeing one of the top offenses he’ll face this season led by Georgia senior quarterback Aaron Murray. The Bulldogs signal-caller had a huge performance last week in a shootout win over LSU.
To get things started, Murray threw a nice fade pass to the end zone for six. He threw a frozen rope on a slant later in the first half to convert a fourth-and-4. Murray finished that drive by going back to the quick slant for his second touchdown of the game.
Murray and Georgia’s offense started to sputter during the third quarter. He got lucky when a poorly thrown pass was dropped by a defensive back. At the end of the third quarter, Murray came up with a clutch play on a quarterback draw. It caught Tennessee completely by surprise as the senior exploded down the field for a 57-yard gain to set up the Bulldogs for a short touchdown run on the next play.
With under two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Murray led a drive to tie the game at 31 and force overtime. He hit a quick slant for a touchdown on third-and-goal with eight seconds remaining. Georgia won in overtime without him making any plays. Murray completed 19-of-37 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns versus the Volunteers. It wasn’t an impressive performance, but it shouldn’t hurt him either.
The same goes for A.J. Johnson. On a third-and-1, he exploded through a hole to start a tackle for a loss. Johnson had a superb tackle for a loss in the third quarter when he cut back to knife by the center and get to the running back. Johnson made a lot of tackles in run pursuit and showed the speed to get to backs along the sideline. He also put some ball-carriers into the turf with force. Athletically, the junior looks like a perfect fit as an inside linebacker for the passing-driven NFL.
Helping Johnson to be free of blockers was Volunteers senior defensive tackle Daniel McCullers. He’s had a quiet season up to this game, but he played better when going against a team that likes to run the ball between the tackles. McCullers had a tackle for a loss on a third-and-short. He had a great run stuff in the fourth quarter on a fullback dive. McCullers held his ground on the line with the center trying to push the mammoth tackle. He swallowed up the run. Overall this game should help McCullers’ draft stock. He looks like a perfect fit as a 3-4 nose tackle.
Tennessee junior left tackle Antonio Richardson is a potential first-round pick next May. Aside from a couple of bad plays, he played well against Georgia. Richardson was pushed into the pocket and almost beaten for a sack in the second quarter. He was beaten by Ray Drew in the third quarter for a sack with a rush to the inside. Drew gained leverage on Richardson and the tackle was unable to recover.
After those hiccups, Richardson was generally sound against the Bulldogs. He had some well-executed assignments on some clutch second-half throws made by Volunteers quarterback Justin Worley. Richardson was solid overall, but the sack and pressures early in the game could end up making this performance a net loss for him.
Georgia second cornerback Damian Swann had rough game against LSU, but bounced back to have a strong day against Tennessee. He had good coverage on his receiver but showed nice instincts to break off and get to a pass along the sideline. Swann almost caught it for an interception. On a fourth-down carry, he made a touchdown-saving tackle by forcing the running back out of bounds. Swann’s coverage was solid throughout this contest, and the performance should help him with NFL evaluators.
Miami 45, Georgia Tech 30
There was supposed to be a good draft matchup in this game with Georgia Tech edge-rusher Jeremiah Attaochu going against Miami right tackle Seantrel Henderson, but Henderson was suspended indefinitely for a team rules violation, so he didn’t suit up. That loss could have been painful as Hurricanes senior quarterback Stephen Morris was playing with an injured ankle and wouldn’t have his full mobility to run away from Attaochu.
Morris drilled a 40-yard touchdown on his first throw of the game. Morris laid out a perfect pass for six to the receiver, who ran a skinny post. A little bit later, Attaochu burned the left tackle and came close to a sack. That caused Morris to hurry the overthrown pass into a well-covered tight end that resulted in an interception. Morris came back to throw a short touchdown via a pass to the flat.
Attaochu pushed the right tackle into the ground and dragged down the signal-caller for a third-quarter sack. Morris later blew a good drive with an interception at the 10-yard line. With a blitzer coming free, he didn’t read the coverage well and tried to squeeze a pass to a receiver in a crowd of three defenders. The inside linebacker easily picked off the pass and returned it to midfield.
Attaochu nearly intercepted a pass on the next drive. He was blocked and backed off to almost tip the pass to himself on a check-down throw. Morris connected on a deep out to Allen Hurns in the third quarter, and the wide out broke a tackle to race down the field for a 69-yard touchdown.
Morris had another long completion on a rollout to set up Miami for a short touchdown run to help ice the game for the Hurricanes. He finished the evening having completed 17-of-22 passes for 324 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Morris played pretty well overall for being at less than 100 percent. His mistakes were very ugly, but he led his team to a win. Morris’ draft stock probably won’t be helped or hurt significantly by this outing.
Attaochu showed that he is a dangerous pass-rusher, but isn’t an asset as a run-defender. He would be much better off as an outside linebacker as he isn’t big enough to handle defensive end duties in the NFL. Attaochu’s tape should help him with NFL evaluators.
One of the breakout linebackers this season has been Miami junior Denzel Perryman. He was excellent against Florida to help the Hurricanes pull off an upset win. The Yellow Jackets option running attack presented a great opportunity for him to showcase his run-defense skills. Early in the first quarter, Perryman broke down and stuffed the quarterback for a loss on an option run. Perryman he stopped another option for no gain on the same drive, but the possession ended when he missed an ankle tackle in the backfield as the Georgia Tech back scooted into end zone.
Perryman produced a significant tackle total and also knocked a pass away in coverage. For the majority of the game, he lined up at outside linebacker. It was a quality performance from Perryman that showed speed, tackling ability and versatility.
Virginia Tech 27, North Carolina 17
This matchup was supposed to feature two senior quarterback prospects for the NFL in Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas going against North Carolina’s Bryn Renner. However, Renner was out with a left foot injury. Thomas took advantage of the opportunity to go against a reeling Tar Heels team.
Throughout the game, Thomas showed improved pocket presence and poise. His accuracy was better and he made good decisions with the football.
There were a few nice highlights from Thomas. In the first quarter, Thomas took a deep drop off play-action and lofted in a beautiful deep ball for a 45-yard touchdown to wideout Demitri Knowles. Later throwing from his own end zone, Thomas hit receiver Willie Byrn running a deep post for an 83-yard gain. Safety Tre Boston was late picking up the receiver as a well thrown pass allowed his receiver to run for about 40 yards. Thomas finished the drive with a short touchdown pass. He had two short scoring throws on the day.
Thomas completed 19-of-28 passes for 294 yards with three touchdowns. After a rough Week 1 performance against Alabama, Thomas has shown nice improvements as a passer during the first half of his senior season. This tape will help his cause, and if Thomas continues to progress, he could rise quickly up draft boards (Walt currently has him in the third round of his 2014 NFL Mock Draft). Thomas is an interesting prospect to watch for the second half of the season.
Another Hokie who is on the radar for NFL teams is cornerback Kyle Fuller. He’s had a tremendous senior year thus far. Early on against the Tar Heels, Fuller had good coverage on a deep pass down the field. He perfectly timed his reach to slap the pass away for an incompletion. Fuller made a great play on a fourth-and-1 in the final quarter. He ran with his receiver running vertically down the middle seam. The ball was lofted short, and Fuller snatched it away from the receiver for an interception.
Unfortunately, Fuller didn’t finish the game off well, as he was beaten for a touchdown by Quinshad Davis late in the fourth quarter. Fuller bit on Davis running an out route, and the talented receiver turned vertically to get open for the score. Fuller is an aggressive corner, so double moves like that can be a challenge for him. He’s going to need to make sure his eye discipline is sound for the NFL.
Having said that, this tape will help Fuller overall. He is putting together an excellent senior season to potentially be a first- or second-round pick.
The highest-rated prospect in this game was probably North Carolina junior tight end Eric Ebron. It didn’t start well for him, however. On a third-and-9 Ebron got open in the middle of the field, but dropped the pass. Ebron later was wide open running into the end zone for an easy touchdown from about 20 yards out, but his quarterback didn’t see him. However, the signal-caller came back to trust Ebron. Ebron was covered well and the ball was thrown up for grabs. The 6-foot-5 tight end leapt high to catch the ball over the defensive back. He did a nice job of holding onto the throw despite the slaps of the defender.
Ebron had a gain of over 20 running down the seam while making a tough catch with a safety all over him. He finished the day with six receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown. This is another tape that helps Ebron and confirms he is an early-round talent.
Two other North Carolina prospects are worth mentioning. Senior left tackle James Hurst did a nice job of negating speed rushes all day. However, Hurst was weak in the ground game at moving linemen at the point of attack and getting out to hit blocks. It was a very mixed outing for the senior.
Senior defensive end Kareem Martin flashes at times, but lacks consistency. He is physically talented, but hasn’t ever produced up to it. In the fourth quarter, Martin finally came alive. He had a tackle for a loss after being released by the left tackle, and he flew down the line. The very next play, he shed the right tackle and ran down Thomas to start a sack. He stuffed a third down run to force a punt. Other than that series, Martin didn’t make a big impact. He could be a second-day pick, and if he lands with good coaching staff, he could turn into something.
Florida State 63, Maryland 0
This was supposed to be a challenge for the Seminoles, but thanks to redshirt freshman Jameis Winston, it was a blowout. Winston looks like a special prospect for 2015, but in these draft-focused recaps, we concentrate on eligible players for the next draft.
Florida State center Bryan Stork is in the running as the top center prospect in the nation, but this day will definitely hurt his stock. He had a missed shotgun snap that went over Winston’s head, and it was a huge loss and near disaster for Florida State. It got worse for Stork, as he was knocked out of the game shortly later because of a concussion. Perhaps the concussion occurred prior to the play with the botched snap. Stork’s status is worth watching going forward.
With Winston having a massive game, he was obviously getting help from his teammates. Junior tight end Nick O’Leary continued to prove that he is a dangerous red zone weapon, as he caught four passes for 55 yards and two scores.
Early on, O’Leary was whistled for a holding penalty, but he came back a few plays later for a 25-yard gain along the sideline. O’Leary later got open in the back of the end zone for for an 8-yard touchdown. The second score for O’Leary came when Winston made a highlight reel play of getting out of a sack and rolling out to loft in a perfect pass. O’Leary made a nice leaping reception as he got open in a small window between a safety and a cornerback.
O’Leary is undersized, but could be a receiving tight end in the NFL. He probably will go back to Florida State for his senior year.
Seminole junior running back Devonta Freeman had an impressive game. His 17 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown isn’t anything special, but he showed some serious third-down ability. Freeman had an excellent block in pass protection on a completion downfield for Winston. He did a great job of getting a chip on one defender and peeling off to negate a blitzing linebacker.
As a receiver, Freeman caught three passes for 35 yards. In the second quarter, Freeman had a five-yard touchdown run up the middle. While this wasn’t a big statistical game, Freeman gave the NFL a tape that will get coaches excited.
The last players worth mentioning are Florida State’s receiving corps, led by senior Kenny Shaw (5-96) and juniors Kelvin Benjamin (5-60) and Rashad Greene (4-108). Benjamin skied high for a 5-yard touchdown. He caught his second touchdown in the fourth quarter. Benjamin ran a post into the end zone and made a leaping grab between a safety and a cornerback. Greene and Shaw ripped off some nice routes with some run after the catch ability. This tape will help all three.
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