2015 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 1

This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2015 NFL Draft Prospects have performed. Or look at the 2015 NFL Draft Stock page (link coming soon).

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Louisville 31, Miami 13
  • Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman had a breakout season in 2013 and started his senior season where he left off. Perryman was around the ball all night and was a physical force. Early in the second quarter, Perryman fired into the backfield to combine with defensive end Anthony Chickillo for a strip-sack. A little bit later, Perryman was in the backfield again to stuff a run for no gain on a third-and-1.

    Perryman sacked the quarterback on an improvised blitz on the last play of the first half. In the third quarter, he got skinny to fire through the line and get a tackle for a loss on a third-and-1. Perryman was excellent in the ground game taking on blocks and stuffing runs. He functioned well in zone coverage in pass defense. Against Louisville, Perryman totaled 12 tackles with three tackles for a loss and a sack. This was a good tape for him, and he looks ready to be a starting middle linebacker in the NFL.

  • Miami junior running back Duke Johnson ran hard and played well against Louisville, but his inept offensive line kept the speedy runner from ever getting into a real groove. His longest play was a nice run for 24 yards midway through the second quarter. Johnson showed his speed when he bounced it outside and bolted downfield.

    In the fourth quarter, Johnson ripped off some chunk runs and made a great catch inside the five-yard line for a 36-yard reception – tho a questionable penalty took that gain away from Miami. Johnson finished with 90 yards on 20 carries. He looks healthy and poised for a good season if his offensive line can play better.

  • One of the players who kept Johnson in check was Louisville outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin. The former defensive end functioned well as a linebacker. Mauldin had a couple of tackles for a loss on runs where Johnson tried to bounce it outside. Mauldin has started his year well.

  • Miami tight end Clive Walford had an impressive start to his senior year. Early in the second quarter, he got open along the deep sideline and hauled in a 31-yarder. On the next play, Walford got open running to the back of the end zone and caught a short touchdown pass. He also moved the chains with a clutch third down reception. Walford had a great block to spring Johnson for a good gain to the outside, too. Miami didn’t throw the ball to Walford enough as he only had three receptions for 38 yards. Still, Walford showed some ability for NFL scouts.

    USC 52, Fresno State 13
  • USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams enters the season as a consensus top prospect and one of the top defensive linemen in the nation. He showed his rare athleticism against Fresno State. Williams didn’t record any sacks with his pass rush, but he did get some pressure on the quarterback. He had a near sack with a strong shed and speed around the right tackle, but the quarterback got the ball out. Williams also held his ground well in the ground game.

    Williams showed his instincts to recognize some plays and get in position to slap away a couple of passes. Just before halftime, Williams made a great play. He lined up at tackle, slid over to the right tackle after the snap, bounced backward and snuck underneath the running back to intercept a short dump-off pass.

    Overall, Williams put together a nice tape of causing disruption while showing speed to get penetration, the power to shed blockers, and instincts to get in position to make plays. This was a solid start for USC’s defensive standout.

  • There was a nice draft matchup in this game as USC wide receiver Nelson Agholar was going against Fresno State safety Derron Smith, one of the top safeties in the nation. On the first play from scrimmage, Smith almost intercepted Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler, but he couldn’t quite reach for the pass. Later on the drive, Smith laid out a receiver with a bone-rattling hit leading with his shoulder.

    Agholar couldn’t bring in a bomb as he backpedaled, and the ball went through his hands for an incompletion. However, he came back at the end of the drive to make a leaping touchdown catch over the cornerback. Shortly later, Agholar was covered closely, but he shielded the cornerback away from the ball to make a short touchdown reception.

    Agholar had a step on Smith in the second quarter, but let the pass bounce off his face mask. The Trojan caught his own bobble, and while it was a nice adjustment, there was no reason for him to not catch the pass cleanly. A few minutes later, Agholar fumbled the ball, but was fortunate he had just stepped out of bounds before the hit. Agholar caught five receptions for 57 yards against Fresno State. Considering his drop, double-clutch and near fumble, it was only a so-so start to the season for Agholar.

    Smith made a lot of good form tackles downfield to keep ball-carriers from bursting gains long. He was solid for Fresno State, and this tape won’t hurt his cause.

    Baylor 45, SMU 0
  • Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty has received a lot of acclaim from some draft pundits. NFL sources have told WalterFootball.com that they view Petty as a third-day prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft. The view of league contacts was justified in the 2014 season opener for Petty. His accuracy was poor as he missed a lot of wide open receivers and had some ugly ball placement on other throws.

    On two occasions, Petty had receivers running wide open down the field with no player in a position to stop them. Petty overthrew them for incompletions. He also had some underthrown passes fall short of open receivers.

    It wasn’t all bad for Petty. He hit a short touchdown pass to the back of the end zone on a third-and-goal. A little bit later, Petty finally hit on a deep ball to an open receiver for a 46-yard touchdown. Petty pounded his way into the end zone for a running score early in the second quarter. The signal-caller finished 13-of-23 for 161 yards with two touchdowns in the air. Still, this tape will only serve to fuel the argument that Petty is a college system quarterback and not a prospect for the first three rounds.

  • Conversely, Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman looked tremendous. From start to finish, SMU struggled to block him. The big defensive lineman lined up at defensive end and tackle, plus stood up over tackles like an edge-rushing outside linebacker. Oakman was using his speed to fire into the backfield and was too strong for the SMU blockers.

    Late in the first quarter, Oakman blew by the left tackle with a speed rush to sack the quarterback. Oakman contributed to another sack when he easily beat a block from a running back to get to the signal-caller again.

    In the third quarter, Oakman used his power to push the tackle into the backfield before disengaging and getting in on a tackle for a loss. A few plays later, Oakman used speed to fire to the inside and rip down the quarterback for a sack-fumble that SMU recovered.

    Not only did Oakman show the physical skills to win at the point of attack, he illustrated nice play recognition and instincts. Oakman astutely ran to the flat to cover a screen target when his blockers let him go free. He also fought to get in on run tackles that didn’t come straight at him.

    The 6-foot-9, 280-pounder has a great skill set and looks poised to explode this season. This performance was a great start to the season for Oakman, and he looked like a high-round draft pick against SMU.

  • Bears junior left tackle Spencer Drango had a solid start to the season. Running back Shock Linwood ran behind Drango as he hit a block on the second level for a touchdown run. Drango allowed a pressure on a spin move in the third quarter, but otherwise, he was dependable in pass protection. Drango looked more forceful in run blocking than pass protection, but this was a decent debut after dealing with a season-ending back injury in 2013.

    Tennessee 38, Utah State 7
  • Utah State senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton is a dual-threat quarterback who has been a play-maker during his collegiate career. He only played in six games in 2013 before suffering a season-ending knee injury against Utah. Keeton battled hard against the Volunteers in this game, but his team was completely overmatched by the SEC competition.

    Keeton threw his first interception of the year when he threw a pass up for grabs. Tennessee standout sophomore cornerback Cameron Sutton beat the receiver for the ball. Keeton threw another interception later on to A.J. Johnson. All night, the Utah State offense couldn’t get in a rhythm. The offensive line struggled, and the receivers weren’t getting open. Plus, Utah State couldn’t run the ball.

    Keeton threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Sharp early in the fourth quarter. It was a well-thrown pass that led the receiver into the end zone. That was the only highlight of the night for Keeton as he was 18-of-35 for 144 yards with the score and two picks. Athletically, Keeton didn’t overmatch Tennessee like he has other opponents.

  • Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson looked like a potential early-round pick after a huge sophomore season in 2012. He disappointed last year and wisely returned to school, but has a good physical skill set with size, speed and athleticism. Early in the first quarter, Johnson made a hard tackle on kick coverage at the 10-yard line and stripped the ball out for a Tennessee turnover.

    All night, Johnson did a good job of spying Keeton and making tackles in the ground game. He had an athletic tackle on Keeton in the open field on a third down run and made a good decision to chase Keeton into an incompletion. Johnson showed his speed by taking a run away on the perimeter.

    What NFL evaluators will like the most is the plays that Johnson made in pass defense. The senior had close coverage and made a tackle on a back in pass defense. He picked up backs out of the backfield and did well in zone coverage.

    To cap his night, Johnson jumped a route in front of a receiver and picked off a pass. That showed his burst and instincts. Shortly later, he almost made another interception, but he could only get one out-stretched hand on the pass. Johnson showed a lot of skill as a pass-defender versus the Aggies. This was a good tape for Johnson, and he looked better against Utah State than he did throughout 2013.

  • Utah State linebacker Kyler Fackrell (6-5, 245) has received some early-round hype entering his junior season. Over the past two years, he has been a productive player for the Aggies. Fackrell was quiet in the early going, but he ran out of his gap trying to get upfield for a third down conversion. In the second quarter, Fackrell blew up a screen pass to set up a tackle for a loss for a teammate. Twice in the second quarter, he went down with a knee injury and had to leave the game. Fackrell didn’t return from the second injury. Utah State didn’t clarify the exact nature of the injury either.

    LSU 28, Wisconsin 24
  • Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon is one of the top offensive weapons in college football and could be a lead back in the NFL right now if he hadn’t decided to return to Madison. Gordon illustrated that he is a play-maker with his speed providing a mismatch against a speedy SEC defense.

    On his first drive, Gordon bounced a run to the outside and ripped off a run of about 20 yards. He ran well in the early going, picking up yards in chunks. Gordon had 55 yards on eight carries in the first quarter. He scored his first touchdown of the year when he darted into the secondary with his burst. Gordon went up over safety Jalen Mills to crash into the end zone for the 15-yard score.

    To start the third quarter, Gordon hesitated behind a scrum, but he found a seam and, in an instant, exploded down the field for a run of 63 yards. The Badgers gave him only three carries in the second half. He must have been dealing with an undisclosed injury, because that is the only reason that makes any sense. However, Gordon had a great blitz pickup block knocking the defender into the turf with a shoulder. He finished with 140 yards on 16 carries against LSU.

    One area in which Gordon needed to show improvement was his skills in the passing game. For instance, he stopped a route short when he shouldn’t have. It will be interesting to see if the Badgers announce an injury or continue to platoon Gordon like they did in 2013. Gordon could be a first-round pick from his physical skill set, but he needs work in the passing game. It was good to see that Gordon hasn’t lost his speed or burst even though he got bigger and stronger over the offseason.

  • Another potential first-round pick in this game was LSU left tackle La’el Collins. He had a lot of good run blocks and was solid in pass protection. Collins wasn’t destroying people, but he played well overall against Wisconsin. He hit some nice blocks on the second level and got better as the game progressed. The Badgers really didn’t have an edge rusher to challenge Collins.

  • LSU safety Jalen Mills had an eventful game. He got in trouble in the offseason for assaulting a woman and was suspended for a time. Mills was fortunate that he wasn’t suspended against the Badgers. Throughout the game, he was active and around the ball, inclusing a nice tackle for a loss in the early going. During the fourth quarter, Mills made a great play. He came over the top and snatched the pass in front of the receiver. Mills showed great closing speed and hands on that play.

    Mills is a former cornerback who could be a good free safety in the NFL with the ability to play some man coverage on wide outs, tight ends and slot receivers. Mills could be an early-round pick, but the character concerns are going to have an impact. This performance was a good start to the year for him.

    Florida State 37, Oklahoma State 31
  • After his tremendous 2013 season as a redshirt freshman, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston entered the year as one of the top draft-eligible prospects for the NFL.

    On the last play of the first quarter, Winston laid out a perfect deep ball to Christian Green on a go route for 62 yards. A few plays later, Winston misread the defense and didn’t notice a linebacker drop into his throwing lane. The defender deflected the pass and caught it for an interception.

    Winston bounced back to throw some darts downfield with great accuracy. Just before halftime, he made a dangerous throw that was intercepted by a cornerback who had the receiver well covered. It was an uncharacteristic bad decision by Winston.

    Midway through the third quarter, Winston caught Oklahoma State by surprise with a quarterback draw. He made a tremendous run, hurdling a blocker and banging his way into the end zone. The 28-yard run was a highlight-reel play by Winston.

    With four minutes remaining, Winston threw a fastball by a diving defender to Rashad Greene. The receiver took off down the field for a 50-yard touchdown to clinch the win for Florida State. Winston finished completing 25-of-40 passes for 370 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

    It wasn’t a perfect performance, but Winston still showed off his skill set as a pocket passer who can make all the throws for the NFL. He also illustrated his athleticism and ability to makes plays with his feet. This performance will serve to validate the sophomore’s draft rating.

  • Greene caught 11 passes for 203 yards and the score. As a receiver, he is undersized and doesn’t have elite speed, but he’s a pure football player. Greene runs superb routes and has great hands. This tape will help his cause.

  • The much-hyped Florida State offensive line had a mixed outing. Guards Tre Jackson and Josue Matias were solid, while left tackle Cameron Erving had a bad night. In the second quarter, Erving was tossed aside by his end, and that led to a sack of Winston. After halftime, Erving was beaten on a run block to allow a tackle for a loss. He allowed other pressures around the edge and looked slow-footed. This tape will hurt Erving in his draft grade. He could be a better fit at guard or right tackle for the NFL.

  • Florida State defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. is another player who is hyped up a lot. He had some highlights and lowlights against Oklahoma State. In the first quarter, Edwards had a good rush and a batted pass. Shortly later, he was pancaked by a fullback on a near-touchdown run by the Cowboys. A defensive end who weighs nearly 300 pounds shouldn’t be getting blown up by a fullback.

    Late in the fourth quarter, Edwards had J.W. Walsh dead for a sack with a fast edge rush. Instead, Walsh spiked the ball and earned a grounding penalty. Edwards has talent, but isn’t consistent enough. He seems to take plays off as well. Getting more consistent was a stated goal of Edwards this season, yet he didn’t look significantly better against the Cowboys.

  • Seminoles cornerback P.J. Williams had an eventful night. He is considered to be one of the top draft-eligible cornerback prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft. Williams allowed separation on a deep ball, but the receiver couldn’t control it in the end zone. Williams was fortunate that he wasn’t flagged for a pass interference. Late in the fourth quarter, Williams hit J.W. Walsh hard to take his legs out from under him. That shot was sufficient to force Walsh to fumble the ball away. It was a huge play for Florida State.

    The Cowboys went after Williams on a fade pass in the end zone, but the big cornerback broke up the pass. Overall, Williams played pretty well in this season opener.

    Georgia 45, Clemson 21
  • Entering the 2014 season, Georgia running back Todd Gurley is considered to be an elite running back prospect who could break the trend of a running back not being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. Gurley got that goal off to a great start against Clemson.

    In the first quarter, Gurley showed his burst when he bounced a run to the outside to explode into the end zone from 23 yards out. Clemson took a 21-14 lead in the second quarter when Gurley took care of the deficit himself. On a kick return, Gurley exploded down the middle of the field for a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown. Gurley only had five touches at halftime, but had two touchdowns.

    Early in the fourth quarter, Gurley ran up the middle untouched before he was ridden out of bounds after a 38-yard gain. Gurley broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage a few plays later and cut back to dart into the end zone from 18 yards out. A little bit later, Gurley took a pitch around the right side and exploded down the sideline with a 51-yard touchdown run. He flat out ran away from the defenders. Gurley finished with 198 yards on 15 carries with three touchdowns rushing to go along with the kick return. He has an amazing combination of size, speed, body lean and vision. It was a dominant performance that illustrated why Gurley is an elite talent.

  • Clemson defensive end Vic Beasley was pretty quiet in the first half, but almost got a sack just before halftime. Though the sack didn’t happen, it forced an intentional grounding penalty on the quarterback. In the third quarter, Beasley had Gurley stopped in the backfield for a loss, but Gurley powered through the tackle to get a good gain. Beasley got some revenge when he got into the backfield to stop Gurley on a third-and-short for a loss of one to force a punt. Beasley followed with a nice open-field tackle of Keith Marshall.

    Beasley missed an ankle tackle on a 47-yard touchdown run that sealed the game for Georgia. The Bulldogs did a lot of quick passing, but in his few opportunities, Beasley didn’t illustrate his trademark pass-rushing ability. He is not a great run-defender, and he clearly is too small to play defensive end every down in the NFL. Beasley will have to move to outside linebacker.

    Alabama 33, West Virginia 23
  • Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper is going to have a huge season, and it could easily propel him to being a high pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Cooper is the feature receiver in Lane Kiffin’s West Coast offense and, clearly, has an NFL skill set. To start the game, Cooper caught a swing pass and exploded a run of 25 yards. That established the trend for the day. Cooper made a number of clutch catches in the middle of the field to convert some third downs.

    Cooper showed the strength to outmuscle defenders and the speed to achieve separation. West Virgina’s secondary couldn’t keep him from getting open. If quarterback Blake Sims had thrown more accurately, Cooper could have had an even bigger performance as he caught 12 passes for 130 yards. Cooper looks like a first-round athlete. Nagging injuries held him back last year, so staying healthy is critical for Cooper to redeem his draft potential.

  • Crimson Tide junior running back T.J. Yeldon looks like a future starter in the NFL. He has an excellent combination of size, strength and speed. Early in the second quarter, Yeldon made an impressive run that he bounced to the outside before diving into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown. Yeldon set up his second touchdown with another nice run darting through the West Virginia defense. Throughout the game, he ran well. Yeldon showed his strength to pick up yards after contact and the speed to hit the hole. In the fourth quarter, he had an impressive 26-yard run where he showed a burst to get into the secondary.

    Yeldon totaled 126 yards on 23 carries with those two touchdowns. His ball security looked improved over his sophomore year when he put the ball on the ground too much. Yeldon had a strong start to the season versus West Virginia.

  • Alabama safety Landon Collins is the leader of the Crimson Tide defense after the program lost C.J. Mosley and HaHa Clinton-Dix to being first-round picks last May. Collins was active and all over the field. In the first quarter, he had good coverage on a wide receiver downfield, but Collins got away with a bit of a hold. He also made a great tackle on punt coverage inside the 10-yard line in the second quarter.

    Throughout the night, Collins made some critical tackles downfield. He also laid out some devastating hits and was fortunate he didn’t receive some taunting penalties. This was a good tape for Collins to start his junior year.

  • Collins wasn’t the only safety prospect on display in this game. West Virginia safety Karl Joseph had an impressive outing. He made some clutch tackles in the open field on Amari Cooper to keep the speedy wide out from breaking into the open field. Joseph was tough in the tackle box and didn’t hesitate to stick his nose in the scrum with the linemen and take on the powerful Yeldon. Joseph was impressive with his instincts and his closing speed. This was a nice tape for him that should help his draft grade.

    UCLA 28, Virginia 20
  • In speaking with NFL sources, they are in agreement that UCLA junior quarterback Brett Hundley is physically talented with upside, but they feel he is inconsistent and overrated. Hundley’s first pass of the year was an accurate deep ball. He had a great pocket and threw accurate bomb to an open receiver in stride along the sideline for a 48-yard gain. That was really the only highlight of the first half for Hundley as the Bruins struggled to move the ball. The redshirt junior did show nice mobility to dodge some sacks and break some tackles. However, he seemed rattled by the pass rush.

    In the third quarter, Hundley fumbled the ball away on a fourth-down passing attempt around midfield. He started throwing some ropes shortly later as he did a better job of keeping his eyes downfield with the rush coming around him. To end the drive, Hundley made a great effort to power through a defender for three more yards to fall into the end zone on a six-yard touchdown run.

    On another fourth down, Hundley was slammed by pass-rushers and fumbled the ball away. However, he made a critical throw on a third-and-8 late in the fourth quarter to the sideline for a conversion that essentially clinched the game for UCLA. Hundley completed 20-of-33 passes for 242 yards and ran for 39 yards on 15 carries with a score.

    Overall, Hundley did more timely damage with his legs than his arm. Sources’ contention that Hundley is overrated looked validated. He’s going to need to throw the ball better in the weeks to come. In Hundley’s defense, his offensive line played poorly and receivers dropped some passes, so it wasn’t all his fault. Still, he did not look anything like a first-round pick against Virginia.

  • UCLA linebacker Erik Kendricks was all over the field against Virginia. He was a tackling machine in the box. Kendricks was called for a questionable pass interference as he broke on the ball and hit a receiver. It easily could’ve been a non-call. A few plays later, Kendricks stripped a receiver of the ball deep in UCLA territory and a teammate scooped up the fumble before returning it for a touchdown. On the next drive, the quarterback was flooded with defenders while Kendricks had tight coverage on the running back. That allowed Kendricks to undercut the throw and pick it off in order to take it to the house.

    Kendricks continued to make a lot of tackles in the second half and played well in pass coverage. He had a tremendous game for the Bruins, and without his turnovers that resulted in 14 points for UCLA, his team would have lost to Virginia. This game should give a real boost to Kendricks’ draft stock.

  • Aside from Kendricks, the player wo really impressed in this game was UCLA redshirt senior defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa. He missed the 2013 season with two hip surgeries. In 2012, Odighizuwa had modest production. However in the 2014 season opener, he lived in the Virginia backfield during the first half. In the second quarter, Odighizuwa hit the quarterback as he threw to cause a pick six on the deflection.

    Odighizua (6-3, 270) showed some real power to bull rush the left tackle and use speed to get around the offensive linemen. Odighizua wasn’t as impactful in the second half, but it still was a nice start to the season that put Odighizua on some radars.

  • Virginia senior defensive end Eli Harold had a good game. He put a lot of pressure on Hundley, although he failed to tackle Hundley on a few plays despite having him dead to rights. It really should have been a multi-sack game for Harold, but he did set up teammates for sacks.

    Michigan 52, Appalachian State 14
  • Michigan junior Devin Funchess was the Big Ten tight end of the year in 2013, but the Wolverines moved him to wide receiver this season. It will be interesting to see if Funchess will remain the dangerous passing weapon he was. To end the first drive against Appalachian State, a nine-yard strike to Funchess got Michigan six points. He ran a good route lining up in the slot, faking an out to the left and running straight for the back of the end zone.

    Shortly later, Funchess scored again after running wide open on a crossing route and stiff-arming a tackler in front of the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown. Not long before halftime, Funchess used his 6-foot-5 frame to make a leaping catch over two defensive backs for his third touchdown.

    Funchess finished with seven receptions for 95 yards and three touchdowns. It was a strong start to the season, but the real question about Funchess if he has enough speed to get separation from fast defensive backs and play wide out in the NFL. That will determine how high Funchess could be drafted. That question remains as Appalachian State’s defenders weren’t good enough to provide an answer.

  • There has been a lot of hype that with a new offensive coordinator Michigan senior quarterback Devin Gardner is ready to make a big jump in his passing ability. There were times in 2013 when Gardner flashed, but he hasn’t proven to be a consistent enough passer to be viewed as an early-round prospect entering his final collegiate season.

    Gardner engineered a nice drive to start the game and finished the series by hitting wide receiver Funchess for a nine-yard score. Gardner continued to move the ball and rack up points for the Wolverines. For the game, he was 13-of-14 for 173 yards with three scores.

    Gardner looks improved, but he still has a ways to go. His accuracy and ball placement need to get better. Gardner’s numbers don’t illustrate that fact, but his receivers were having to stop and adjust to passes well off the mark when they were wide open. Gardner will need to improve as the year progresses in order to rise.

    BYU 35, Connecticut 10
  • BYU defensive end/outside linebacker Bronson Kaufusi is expected to help fill the void left by Kyle Van Noy and Ziggy Ansah moving on to the Detroit Lions over the past two NFL Drafts. Kaufusi has some size to him, but doesn’t have the speed off the edge that Ansah and Van Noy have.

    Kaufusi picked up a pressure with a speed rush around the left tackle during the second quarter of this contest, but otherwise, he was very underwhelming for the first half. Kaufusi showed some struggles in getting off blocks. He did better in the third quater by shoving off the right tackle and accelerating to the quarterback for his first sack of the season. That play seemed to wake Kaufusi up, and he notched his second sack a few plays later. Kaufusi cut to the inside of the left tackle and got to the signal-caller first to start a sack that was aided by a teammate.

    Kaufusi had some other rushers that saw him achieve some penetration into the pocket, but he doesn’t have a repertoire of moves and his rushes are very basic. Kaufusi also isn’t very fast. He needs to develop his hand usage. Kaufusi looks more like a third-day prospect.

  • Connecticut cornerback Bryon Jones is a potential mid-round prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft. He previously played safety before moving to cornerback last season. As a corner, Jones has good size.

    Jones was quiet overall versus BYU. On the first play of the second quarter, he came up to make a tackle from zone coverage. The Cougars tried to target him in the end zone in the third quarter, but he maintained tight coverage to force an incompletion.

    In the fourth quarter, Jones made a tackle on a receiver after running over in zone coverage. Jones got up slowly with a leg injury before limping off the field. He wasn’t carted off, so, fortunately, it doesn’t look like a serious knee injury. Otherwise, Jones had a quiet night as the BYU offense moved the ball by beating other defenders.

  • BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is a fun player to watch. He is a dual-threat quarterback who is a tough, gritty player. Hill impressed more with his feet than his arm in 2013, so it was interesting to see if he improved his passing skills in the offseason. Early in the first quarter, Hill had a short touchdown run and a few plays later, he threw a rope in the middle of the field for a 26-yard touchdown. Hill added a short touchdown pass on a swing pass in the second quarter.

    Hill made a phenomenal play just before halftime as he shook free of a sack, scrambled to his left and hit a receiver streaking across the field. The throw hit the wide out on the run, and he jetted into the end zone for a 35-yard score. It was a great play by Hill to scramble and keep his eyes up and downfield to find his receiver. Late in the fourth quarter, Hill took off on a 26-yard touchdown run and broke a tackle inside the five-yard line to get into the end zone. It was vintage Hill. He completed 28-of-36 passes for 308 yards with three touchdowns. On the ground, he ran for 97 yards on 11 carries with two touchdowns. Hill is only a junior and returning for his senior year to improve his pocket passing looks like a good idea.

    Ole Miss 35, Boise State 13
  • In 2016 and/or 2017, you can expect Ole Miss to have a lot of early-round draft talent, but one player who could go high in the 2015 NFL Draft is Ole Miss safety Cody Prewitt. He’s been in the first round of my 2015 NFL Mock Draft and showed why in the season opener.

    Early in the game with the score tight, Prewitt had a nice play on the goal line that saw him cut around the line to make a stop for no gain. Shortly later, Boise State’s quarterback made an ill-advised throw going deep and playing the ball up for grabs towards the middle of the field. Prewitt tracked it down like a pop-up in center field for his first interception of the season.

    Just before halftime, Prewitt knocked a receiver into next week as he flew up from free safety to destroy the wide out right after he made a five-yard catch. It was a clean hit as Prewitt led with his shoulder and avoided going to the helmet of the receiver. He came close to an interception in the third quarter, but was knocked away by the receiver. Prewitt made a number of good tackles and helped limit gains like a free safety is supposed to.

    Overall, Prewitt had a strong start to the season. He was fast, physical, instinctive and versatile. This tape will only help his draft grade. Prewitt looks like he could be a starting safety in the NFL and maybe as soon as next season.

  • Boise State wide receiver Matt Miller is a big, physical possession receiver prospect. He totaled six receptions for 84 yards against Ole Miss with a 22-yard reception on a crossing route. Miller snagged some tough balls in traffic in the middle of the field. He could be a quality prospect for Day 3.

  • Broncos junior running back Jay Ajayi showed some quickness and versatility against a quality SEC defense. Early in the game, he had a nice run and took a screen pass 32 yards, but on the follwing drive, he fumbled the ball inside the five-yard line. Boise State fortunately recovered the ball. Ajayi had a strong performance with 86 yards on 20 carries. He also had 93 yards on 12 receptions with a touchdown. Ajayi is a nice sleeper back to watch this season. He certainly had the talent to match up against Ole Miss’ defense.

    Arizona State 45, Weber State 14
  • Arizona State wide receiver Jaelen Strong is an intriguing receiver who has early-round potential. The Sun Devils have been raving about Strong’s across-the-board improvement heading into his second season with the school.

    Against Weber State, Strong dominated – as he should. Strong hauled in 10 passes for 146 yards. He showed nice strength by holding on to a reception of close to 20 yards as he ran a comeback route in hole within zone coverage. Strong found a soft spot and held on while taking a hard hit from the safety. He made another catch for 26 yards using his height to get above a cornerback. Strong repeated that play for a 35-yard gain when the Sun Devils were backed up on their own one-yard line. He took a bubble screen 17 yards with a nice run after the catch to the three-yard line.

    What this observer and NFL scouts want to see with Strong is the speed to separate from defensive backs. Weber State was playing lots of zone with safety help over the top on Strong. He played well, but the speed question remains unanswered. Hopefully in Pac-12 play, Strong will take on some talented cornerbacks who challenge him in man coverage and we’ll get an answer on if he can separate.

  • Sun Devils junior running back D.J. Foster ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns. With Marion Grice off to the next level, Foster should be the every-down feature back for Arizona State in 2014 after being a backup in 2012 and 2013. In the Sun Devils’ powerful offense, don’t be surprised if Foster has a huge season and racks up a big stat line. He definitely has the potential to rise as a prospect for the NFL.

    Texas A&M 52, South Carolina 28
  • Texas A&M has produced left tackles taken in the top 10 of the past two drafts, and Cedric Ogbuehi is trying to make it three years in a row. The star of this game was the Aggies’ offensive line led by Ogbuehi, and it did a tremendous job of controlling the line of scrimmage. That line is the reason sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill was able to throw for 511 yards in his first collegiate start.

    Ogbuehi was pretty much dominant against an inexperienced defensive line. The Aggies went behind Ogbuehi for a goal-line touchdown in the first quarter. Just before halftime, the senior had a nice seal block for another short scoring run. There was one play on which as Hill was starting to get sacked, Ogbuehi’s defender was able to turn around and help get in on the sack. That play was really the only blemish for Ogbuehi against South Carolina. Overall, he was rock solid in pass protection. This was a strong start to the season and validated the projections of Ogbuehi as a potential first-rounder.

  • Gamecocks junior running back Mike Davis is one of the top halfbacks in college football and enters the season as a potential early-round pick. Head coach Steve Spurrier has been somewhat negative about Davis’ playing status as he has dealt with injuries. Davis barely played in the first half and only had six carries for 15 yards. He ran well in his few attempts and didn’t play in the second half. Durability is always a concern for running backs, so Davis needs to get healthy and produce to have a shot at a being a first-round pick.

  • Aggies cornerback Deshazor Everett had an awful start to his senior season. Early in the game, he was flagged for pass interference to convert a third-and-long for South Carolina. It got worse for Everett later in the first quarter when he was burned for a 69-yard touchdown. Everett was in a deep zone and was slow to react to the streaking receiver who ran straight by Everett to get wide open. Shortly later, Everett thought he had deep help – but he didn’t – and that allowed South Carolina wide receiver Damiere Byrd to run wide open for a 46-yard touchdown.

    Everett allows too much separation. He looks big, stiff, and slow. The senior is a large cornerback who may have to move to safety in the NFL, which would probably make him a project pick taken the third day of the 2015 NFL Draft.

  • Texas A&M junior center Mike Matthews, younger brother of Jake Matthews, had an excellent start to the season. Mike Matthews was strong in run blocking and pass protection. This tape will help his cause.

  • South Carolina senior left tackle Corey Robinson looks too slow and heavy footed to play left tackle in the NFL. He looks like a better prospect as a right tackle or guard for the next level.

    Eastern Washington 56, Sam Houston State 35
  • There was an under-the-radar draft prospect to watch in this FCS matchup. Eastern Washington safety Tevin McDonald is a former UCLA safety who was dismissed from that program. His older brother T.J. McDonald is a starting safety for the Rams after being a second-day pick. Their father Tim McDonald played for the Arizona Cardinals (1987-1992) and San Francisco 49ers (1993-1999), and is currently the defensive backs coach for the New York Jets. Tevin McDonald could be a third-day prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft.

    In the opening game of his 2014 season, McDonald was solid, but he didn’t jump off the screen. On the FCS level of competition, a player has to leap off the screen to really be considered as a first-day or second-day pick.

    Early in this contest, McDonald made some nice plays, including flying into the backfield to slap a pass away and picking up a receiver deep down the field. In the first half, he ran up from deep safety, but took a bad angle and over-pursued a running back. McDonald dove and missed the tackle, which allowed the back to take off on a 79-yard touchdown run. McDonald’s miss was about 15 yards past the line of scrimmage, so it was over when the back beat him. McDonald came back to make a splash play in the third quarter when he beat a block on a blitz. That allowed McDonald to hit the quarterback as he was throwing and catch the deflected pass for an interception.

    McDonald demonstrated his versatility in that he covered receivers deep downfield and lined up over slot receivers in man coverage. He also came up in the box as a strong safety. McDonald has quickness and athletic ability, but overall, this tape showed that he’s more likely to be a Day 3 prospect or an undrafted free agent.


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