2015 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 2

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]
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BYU 41, Texas 7
  • Against BYU, Texas junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown had a breakout game. He absolutely destroyed BYU’s offensive linemen with his power and quickness. It was a dominant performance that was extremely impressive.

    On Brown’s first play of the game, he stuffed a run at the line of scrimmage and shortly later combined with a teammate for a sack. Brown fought off the tackle, pushed back the running back and bear hugged BYU quarterback Taysom Hill as he tried to step up in the pocket.

    To start the second quarter, Brown rocked the right guard to the ground and charged down the middle of the pocket to sack Hill. Brown got great penetration to help teammate Jordan Hicks get a tackle for a loss on a draw play. Late in the first half, Brown showed impressive speed to blow by the left guard and come close to another sack.

    Early in the fourth quarter, Brown used a powerful bull rush to push the right guard into the backfield. He shoved the blocker aside and sacked Hill. Shortly later, Brown exploded into the backfield and blasted Hill for a strip sack. Brown shed a block from the center on that play to get free down the middle. As he slammed into Hill, the ball sprang free for a turnover. It was impressive that, as a big lineman, Brown was so quick in the fourth quarter despite BYU dominating the time of possession.

    Brown had an excellent game with three sacks (two solo, two half sacks), 11 tackles and a forced fumble. It was a breakout performance for the senior, and perhaps, Charlie Strong’s new staff is capable of getting Brown to peak this season. If he continues to play like he did against BYU, his draft stock could skyrocket.

  • Texas senior defensive end Cedric Reed was active as well. When BYU was in a third-and-long situation in the second quarter, Reed burned the right tackle with a speed rush. He met Brown at the quarterback for the sack. Reed contributed some tackles in the ground game and totaled three tackles with .5 sacks. He wasn’t able to rush the quarterback with abandon as Texas had Reed playing a lot of contain because of the mobility of Hill. This was a solid tape from Reed.

  • Longhorns cornerback Quandre Diggs would be a top cornerback prospect if he weren’t so undersized. Diggs is listed at 5-foot-10, but he looks more likely to be 5-9 or even 5-8. In the second quarter, Diggs did a nice job of not biting on a run fake and staying with the slot receiver running a go route downfield. Diggs slapped the pass away for an incompletion. Later in the second quarter, he ran with a big receiver and tracked down an overthrown pass in the end zone for an interception.

    In the third quarter, Hill ran over the undersized Diggs along the goal line for a touchdown. Diggs looks like a future mid-round pick as a slot corner. If he were two or three inches taller with his speed and athleticism, he could be a first-round pick.

  • Cougars defensive end/outside linebacker Bronson Kaufusi had two sacks in the season opener and made a tackle for a loss after coming unblocked on the first play from scrimmage. After that, Kaufusi left the game shortly later with an ankle injury.

  • 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 will interesting to see if he can develop the ability to be a pocket passer. Hill showed some signs of that against Texas. He moved his eyes and delivered some accurate passes in the face of the pass rush. However after a nice drive of throwing good passes, he sailed a bad one that was intercepted by Diggs. It was very poor ball placement that took away the advantage of his tall receiver going against a short cornerback.

    In the third quarter, Hill had a highlight-reel, 30-yard touchdown run where he hurdled a defender to get into the end zone. Hill ran over Diggs for a short touchdown run later. The BYU signal-caller totaled 99 yards on 24 carries with three touchdowns. He completed 18-of-28 passes for 181 yards and an interception. Hill is only a junior, and returning for his senior year to improve his pocket passing looks like a good idea.

    Notre Dame 31, Michigan 0
  • Unfortunately, some good Notre Dame draft prospects remain suspended and weren’t eligible to play in this game. Wide receiver Davaris Daniels and cornerback KeiVarae Russell could be early-round picks, but are inactive as the university investigates them for cheating in class. It would have been great to see Russell take on Michigan receiving weapon Devin Funchess.
  • The tight end turned wide receiver Funchess destroyed Appalachian State in the season opener, but Notre Dame has a quality defense and would offer a tougher test for Funchess.

    To open the game, Funchess moved the chains by powering through a few tacklers. Later in the first quarter, he had a gain of 26 as he found an open spot in zone and rumbled for about 20 yards after the catch. Funchess made some big catches late in the third quarter with a leaping 33-yard grab over Fighting Irish cornerback Cody Riggs. The speedy Riggs was in Funchess hip pocket, but the big wide out caught the ball directly over Riggs’ head.

    Funchess ended up hauling in nine receptions for 107 yards. Quarterback Devin Gardner struggled, and the Michigan offensive line was outplayed by Notre Dame. That held Funchess back. It was a solid performance from Funchess, but not one that answers speed and separation questions for the NFL.

  • The senior Riggs played well for Notre Dame. He had an interception and was an aggressive player. Riggs has speed, but is very undersized and that limits how he can be used in the NFL. Riggs (5-9) will have to be a slot cornerback.

  • Fighting Irish senior center Nick Martin has the potential to rise. He is the younger brother of Zack Martin, the first-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys last May. Nick Martin had some good moments in run blocking and in pass protection. He has nice technique and some athleticism, but could stand to add more power for the NFL. Right now, Martin looks like he would function best in an NFL scheme that uses a lot of zone runs.
  • Lastly, Michigan senior linebacker Jake Ryan played well for the Wolverines. He was tough at the point of attack with some good run stuffs and tackles on special teams. Ryan totaled 11 tackles and looks like he is rounding into 2012 form before his 2013 ACL injury.

    Oregon 46, Michigan State 27
  • Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is considered to be one of the top quarterback prospects for the NFL, and against Michigan State, he was going against perhaps the best best defense he’ll see all season. The Spartans have an excellent defense with three potential first-round picks in junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun, junior cornerback Trae Waynes and senior safety Kurtis Drummond. If Mariota excelled against the Spartans, that would help his chances of being selected high in the first round.

    With Michigan State’s tough defense, it took some time for Mariota to get into a good grove. Early on, he took an unnecessary coverage sack when he could have thrown the ball away. Mariota was off on some throws and rushed some plays, but he was eventually overwhelming.

    Mariota hit a 70-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. The veteran quarterback saw Drummond bite on the run-play fake and threw an accurate pass to the wide-open receiver who raced down the field about 50 yards for the score. On a few throws, Mariota showed some nice pocket presence, passing and vision. On one play, he moved his eyes, scrambled and found a receiver for a good gain.

    Mariota scrambled in the third quarter and broke out of a sack to make a shovel pass for a gain of 18 yards. A few plays later, he pump faked and found a receiver running wide open into the end zone for a score. Mariota later had a nice run on the next drive to set up a 37-yard touchdown pass as Michigan State had busted coverage.

    Mariota also used his feet to make plays including a 40-yard run to help maintain possession and kill time off the clock in the fourth quarter. He used his strength to break tackles in the pocket and his athleticism to extend plays.

    Against Michigan State, Mariota completed 17-of-28 passes for 318 yards with three touchdowns. The redshirt junior still needs development as a pocket passer. For the NFL, he needs to work on his footwork, playing under center, his field vision to work through progressions and moving safeties with his eyes. Thus, Mariota isn’t entering the NFL with the same readiness as Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning. However, Mariota is similar to Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick in his skill set and how he’s entering the next level with needing to be taught pocket passing. This tape will be a net positive for Mariota.

  • Of the trio of Spartan defensive prospects, Waynes was the most impressive. The Kenosha, Wisconsin product had excellent coverage all night. On the first drive of the game, Mariota went his direction, but Waynes nailed the receiver to knock the pass away. He had tight coverage throughout the night on receivers running deep downfield. In the second half, Mariota tested Waynes deep, but he was in the hip pocket of the receiver. Waynes got away with some contact, but it was a better non-call.

    Waynes was reliable in coverage and showed the ability to be a press-man corner. He is fast and physical. Waynes looks like a future first-round pick and potentially a top half of the first-round prospect.

  • Drummond did not have an impressive game. He bit on some of Oregon’s misdirection and opened up parts of the field to be attacked in the air and on the ground. Drummond is still a good free safety prospect for the NFL, but he needs to improve his eye discipline. This tape won’t help his cause.

  • Overall, Calhoun didn’t make the impact that the Spartans needed him to. He was quiet in the majority of the first half before a nice speed rush burned the left tackle. Calhoun almost sacked Mariota on that play, but the quarterback just got the pass off. Calhoun came off the field in the third quarter with a wrist injury, but he returned to the field and got in on some run tackles. However, his pass rush didn’t get home enough and he didn’t put the heat on Mariota that the Spartans needed him to.

    Calhoun needs to improve his ability to get off blocks, especially in the ground game. Too often, he was getting pushed back and not getting off blocks. It would help if Calhoun (6-5, 256) added strength. He also needs to add to his repertoire of pass-rushing moves. Calhoun’s game against Oregon was disappointing.

  • Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook is another potential first-round pick in the 2015 or 2016 NFL Draft. Cook looked better than Mariota at times, but in the second half, Cook faded while Mariota took over.

    Early in the game, Cook had a beautiful sideline throw, dropping it in over a corner with great coverage. Cook’s great throw beat the good coverage and it was an NFL throw. To end that drive, Cook panicked with some pass pressure and floated a pass in the middle of the field over his receiver. The ball dropped into a crowd of Ducks and it was picked off.

    Cook came back to make a quality throw for 19 yards on a rollout to a wide open receiver. He hit a seven-yard touchdown pass to Tony Lippett, but Cook stared down the wide out and was lucky that the Ducks had such soft coverage and the cornerback stumbled. Cook threw another touchdown pass with a bullet in the middle of the field.

    In the third quarter Cook stepped up in his pocket a few steps and fired a bullet down the field to make a 24-yard throw on a third-and-17. After that Cook had some bad luck with weak pass protection but he did take an unnecessary coverage sack as he hesitated to throw the pass away. Cook’s second interception came off a deflected pass that really wasn’t his fault. He was close to throwing another one or two on some dangerous passes.

    Cook finished 29-of-47 for 343 yards with two scores and two picks. He showed a lot for NFL evaluators with a big arm, pocket presence, some precise throws and mobility to avoid rushers and roll out. Cook could stand to get more consistent, but he looks like a starting caliber quarterback prospect for the NFL.

  • Cook’s deflected interception was an amazing catch by Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. It was a highlight reel play that saw Ekpre-Olomu make a diving catch with full extension inside the Ducks 20-yard line. Throughout the night Ekpre-Olomu had good coverage. It was a nail in the coffin for the Spartans.

    Ekpre-Olomu didn’t have a shutdown night. He was close on a tight end but couldn’t hold him back from falling for a first down. In the third quarter Lippett beat Ekpre-Olomu with a juke and cut to the inside. That let Cook make an easy throw for a first down. Ekpre-Olomu missed a tackle on a perimeter run.

    Aside from those plays, Ekpre-Olomu was solid in pass coverage and played well. The biggest issue with Ekpre-Olomu for the NFL is his height (5-9), but Jason Verrett was a similar prospect and he went in the first round. This game will help Ekpre-Olomu in his draft grade.

    Florida 65, Eastern Michigan 0
  • Gators defensive end/outside linebacker Dante Fowler was active and played well even though he didn’t produce a significant stat line. From the very beginning, Fowler was making plays behind the line of scrimmage. In the first quarter, he started a tackle for a loss by flying into the mesh point. Fowler almost picked a sack a bit later as he ran through a running back off the edge to collapse the pocket and force a third-down incompletion.

    Fowler will see a better test in the weeks to come, but this was a quality start to the season that could make him a first-round pick.

  • Gators junior quarterback Jeff Driskel is liked by some NFL talent evaluators and has his season off to a good start. He showed a strong arm by firing some bullets on some deep outs. Driskel threw some excellent deep balls against Eastern Michigan, including a perfectly thrown 42-yard pass to Quinton Dunbar.

    Driskel did miss an open Andre Debose for a touchdown as he sailed the throw through the end zone. However, Driskel bounced back to make some good throws down field, including a great touch pass on a deep out right as he was about to be hammered by a defensive lineman. It as an NFL throw to hang tough and deliver an accurate pass. Driskel was 31-of-45 for 248 yards with a touchdown. This was a nice start to his junior year.

  • Florida has two potential early-round picks with junior left tackle D.J. Humphries and right tackle Chaz Green. Green missed the 2013 season with an injury, while Humphries went down during the year with a season-ending injury. They both played well against Eastern Michigan. Humphries left the game in the first half with another injury so Green moved to left tackle. If each can stay healthy, both have a lot of upside as they are tough run-blockers who are athletic enough for pass protection on the edge.

    Missouri 49, Toledo 24
  • Last year, Missouri defensive ends Kony Ealy and Michael Sam were two play-makers on the Tigers’ defense to help lead the team to the SEC Championship Game. However, Missouri had a couple of other edge rushers who were impressive as they rotated into the game to keep all four defensive ends fresh. With Ealy and Sam in the NFL, Markus Golden and Shane Ray have taken over as the starters. Golden, especially, is a potential early-round pick for the 2015 NFL Draft.

    On the second play of this game, Golden jumped to block a pass and his foot kicked the quarterback into a fumble. A little bit later, Golden showed his speed by almost chasing down a running back on a 38-yard touchdown run, but Golden ran out of field to get him.

    Golden showed his linebacker skills with good man coverage on a receiver on a crossing route. After stumbling, he recovered to slap a pass away. Golden showed a great get-off a few plays later to beat the right tackle and force the quarterback into a terrible throw that was intercepted by Missouri. Golden was so lightning fast that he had three steps on the right tackle before the latter got out of his stance.

    In the second quarter, Golden started to get penetration to the inside and redirected to the outside. He then ran down the quarterback for a sack. Golden’s sack went for a loss of 17 yards, and he showed nice athleticism to not get juked by Toledo’s mobile quarterback.

    This was a good tape for Golden. He was all over the field, and Toledo struggled to block him on pass plays. For the NFL, he needs to get tougher against the downhill runs coming straight at him as he can get pushed out of his gap. Golden is undersized for defensive end in the pros, so he would fit best as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Golden has his senior year off to a good start with sacks in each game.

  • Ray played well against Toledo. Early in the first quarter, he shed the tackle with his hands and used speed to the inside to get to the quarterback for a sack. In the fourth quarter, Ray added his second sack with the same move and speed to the inside. He put other pass pressures on the quarterback, too. This was a nice tape for the junior.

    USC 13, Stanford 10
  • There was potential for one of the best draft matchups of the year in this game. USC junior defensive end Leonard Williams would be matched up against Stanford junior left tackle Andrus Peat. Both players are potential high first-round picks in the 2015 NFL Draft. Williams was playing with an injured ankle from a practice injury last Tuesday, but he displayed his toughness by gutting it out against Stanford.

    Peat had an excellent game until the final play of the fourth quarter for Stanford’s offense. Throughout the day, Peat had some good blocks in the ground game to open holes for his running backs. Peat had a good power block against Williams in the ground game, getting some movement out of the Trojans’ talented lineman. He also had a good block on Williams on a third-down pass rush. However, Williams didn’t go up against Peat that much, as Williams more often lined up over the guards or right tackle.

    There were two mistakes from Peat that hurt Stanford. First, Peat was whistled for a holding penalty that hampered a drive. The worst infraction was late in the fourth quarter, as Peat let blitzers go around the left side, and that allowed a sack fumble to clinch the win for USC. After the snap, Peat stepped to the inside even though USC had overloaded the outside. That allowed a defender to run free at Kevin Hogan’s blind side for the strip sack. Overall, this was a good tape from Peat, but that final play took away Stanford’s chance of tying the game.

    Williams seemed to be bothered by the ankle, but he still found a way to make some big plays. He helped set up a tackle for a loss after a snap over the head of the wildcat quarterback Ty Montgomery. Williams also made some good tackles in run defense, flowing down the line and battling tough at the point of attack when runs came downhill. Williams contributed to a huge stop on a fourth-and 1 at USC’s own 3-yard line in the third quarter.

    Williams picked a great time for the first sack of the season late in the fourth quarter. He beat the guard to get penetration into the backfield. The next play was the sack-fumble to win the game for the Trojans. This tape will show Williams’ excellent skill set, as he beat blockers with speed and power. He played hurt, but was clutch. His performance against a good team like Stanford will only serve to confirm Williams’ high draft grade.

  • Another great potential draft matchup in this game was USC wide receiver Nelson Agholar going against Stanford cornerback Alex Carter. Unfortunately, Carter and Agholar didn’t go head-to-head very much, as USC moved Agholar around, and Carter wasn’t following him.

    It wasn’t a flawless performance from Agholar, but he made some huge plays to help provide USC the tough road victory. Agholar moved the chains on a third down with a nice route, using his vision to find a soft spot in zone. While he did drop an easy catch shortly later, Agholar came back to beat Carter for a 10-yard gain on a comeback route.

    Late in the fourth quarter, Agholar made a clutch play for a big third-down conversion and a run into Stanford territory. That 29-yard gain set up the Trojans to take the lead with a long field goal. Agholar finished with nine receptions for 91 yards, and they were very clutch catches for USC. This tape will definitely help Agholar with his NFL evaluators.

    Carter, meanwhile, had a number of tackles in run support, coming over from zone coverage. He was solid in pass coverage and didn’t hurt his cause.

  • Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery was impressive against USC. He has the potential to be a first-round pick. He showed off his versatility with serious play-making ability. Montgomery had some nice runs as a wildcat quarterback, but he really looked great as a receiver and returner.

    Montgomery made a jumping catch in the first quarter, breaking through four tackles to get extra yards and a first down. He made another nice hands catch on a pass behind him for a third-down conversion. Montgomery moved the ball in the fourth quarter with some good receptions before the final drive fell apart. Montgomery caught nine passes for 83 yards.

    Montgomery had an excellent punt return of 44 yards in the third frame. He ran by tacklers and set up blockers for extra yards. Montgomery followed it up with a 31-yard kick return.

    Montgomery illustrated his great skill set against USC. He has the speed to beat defensive backs and get separation. He also is a dangerous weapon on special teams, with the size and strength to break tackles as well as run by defenders. This tape will help Montgomery’s cause to be a first-round pick.

  • Another prospect worth mentioning is USC running back Javorius “Buck” Allen. He fumbled his first carry, but after that, Allen was a physical load. He ran hard against the Stanford defense and showed a burst to hit the hole with the toughness to fight for yards. Allen ran for 154 yards on 23 carries. Aside from the fumble, this tape definitely will help Allen. However, he had ball-security issues in the season opener against Fresno State, so he has to avoid fumbling to really get his draft stock moving up.

    Oklahoma 52, Tulsa 7
  • Oklahoma outside linebacker Eric Striker had a coming out party against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last year. Striker is a great athlete who is a dangerous edge rusher and fast defender that covers a lot of ground. Striker was very active against Tulsa. He was flying around the field and being very disruptive for the Sooners.

    Striker got a number of pressures on blitzes, but the quarterback was able to get the ball out to avoid the sacks. Striker had some nice plays in pass coverage, but also lost man coverage and allowed a 12-yard completion to move the chains. Striker contributed with tackles in ground game and in pass coverage.

    This season, Oklahoma has Striker moving around more and not rushing the quarterback as much as he did last year when he played the Jack linebacker in their 3-4 defense. That position is basically a rush linebacker. Striker is now dropping into pass coverage more and is playing more of a traditional outside linebacker role. This is providing good tape for 4-3 teams that could consider Striker as an outside linebacker. Striker has some natural skill in pass coverage, and he could end up being a three-down starter in the NFL.

  • Oklahoma nose tackle Jordan Phillips is a big, disruptive presence for the Sooners. He is quick with a surprising burst for a heavy defensive tackle. Phillips missed the majority of the 2013 season after needing back surgery, but was playing really well before the injury. He made his presence felt against Tulsa.

    In the second quarter, Phillips was coming straight down the pocket and caused the panicked quarterback to drop the football. Phillips scooped up the fumble and returned it about 70 yards for a touchdown. The score was taken back on a Oklahoma penalty during Phillips’ return, but it still was an impressive play from the heavy nose tackle.

    Phillips is a sleeper prospect to watch. As the nose tackle in the Sooners’ 3-4 defense, he is getting great preparation to stay in that role for the pros.

  • Two other Oklahoma front-seven defenders flashed some ability. Defensive end Charles Tapper was active with pressure on the quarterback and a batted pass. This was a solid tape for him.

    Defensive end/outside linebacker Geneo Grissom moved from defensive end to Jack linebacker, the spot that Striker occupied last year. Grissom showed is athleticism in the third quarter when he dropped into coverage and made a great catch for an interception. He rumbled into the end zone from 38 yards out for a pick-six. Grissom looks like a nice fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker for the NFL.

  • Oklahoma quarterback turned tight end Blake Bell is an interesting prospect considering he is big, strong and quick. With his athleticism, he might be able to make the transition to his new position. Bell first career catch was a nice one as he made a good hands catch behind him and followed his blockers for an 8-yard gain. His second catch was a short touchdown reception on a slant. It was a nice route to get open against a cornerback in man coverage. The senior is worth monitoring, as the 2015 draft class looks weak at tight end.


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