2015 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 4

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.
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Maryland 34, Syracuse 20
  • There was a nice draft matchup in this game with Maryland wide receiver Stefon Diggs going against Syracuse safety Durell Eskridge. Both players are juniors who could enter the 2015 NFL Draft.

    In the first quarter, Diggs converted the initial third down of the game on a crossing route with a nice run after the catch. Diggs then had a step and half on Eskridge, running a post deep across the field but an overthrow led to an incompletion. An accurate pass would have gone for a 75-yard touchdown for Maryland. On a third-and-goal, Maryland threw a fade pass for Diggs, but the cornerback made the play to slap the ball away as Diggs didn�t gain separation. If Diggs doesn�t get separation, he doesn�t possess the size or strength to win contested catches with NFL defensive backs. Perhaps he can improve on that skill in the years to come.

    Diggs ended up catching six passes for 56 yards against Syracuse. This wasn�t a particularly impressive performance from Diggs, but he showed speed to be a playmaker with the ball in his hands. Diggs isn�t having a huge junior year yet, so it could end up being in his interest to return for his senior campaign.

    Eskridge didn�t impress either. He took some bad angles and overpursued on some plays. Based on this game, returning for his senior year looks advisable.

  • Syrcause offensive tackle Sean Hickey is pro prospect. He is an undersized, athletic tackle. Hickey�s stature and style of play is similar to former Syracuse tackle and current New York Giant Justin Pugh. They�re similar, but Pugh was a better overall player with more strength.

    Pugh had a solid performance against Maryland. He was a dependable pass protector and hit some blocks in the ground game. While Hickey is athletic and quick, he lacks power to move defenders at the point of attack. As a run blocker, Hickey won more by getting to a spot to hit a block. He needs to get stronger for the NFL. The senior looks more like a day-two or mid-rounder rather than a first-round pick like Pugh.

    Iowa 24, Pittsburgh 20
  • Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff is one of the top tackle prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft, and he showed it against Pittsburgh, as Scherff had a rock-solid performance. Scherff had no issues in pass protection and opened up holes for his running backs.

    Scherff showed power at the point of attack to get movement and used his power to sustain blocks. Scherff consistently would get a hold of a defender and ride them around the field.

    Scherff was solid in pass protection, but he didn�t look as athletic, and he didn�t display the quick feet he has shown before. However, Scherff had a knee scope about 10 days ago, so that could easily have him slowed down with his quickness, footwork and explosion. Still, this was a good performance from Scherff that would serve to confirm a first-round grade.

  • Some consider Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis to be one of the top interior defensive linemen for the 2015 NFL Draft. Davis (6-5, 315) is a big, tough defender, but he showed some limitations against Pitt. Aside from one play, Davis didn�t impress in the pass rush.

    Davis had one nice pass rush to get a hit on the quarterback. He pushed off the guard and ran by the center to come down the middle of the pocket. Otherwise, he looked better in the ground game.

    In the second quarter, Davis made a nice play to snuff out a run on second-and-goal. Defending the run, Davis consistently used his size and strength to push guards into the backfield.

    Davis clearly needs to improve his pass rush, and Iowa was taking him out of the game in some obvious passing situations. The Hawkeyes did that in the fourth quarter when Iowa was in the 2-minute defense to close out the game. Because of those limitations, Davis looks like a second-day pick rather than a first-rounder.

    Auburn 20, Kansas State 14
  • Auburn junior wide receiver Sammie Coates was the top draft-eligible prospect in this game and has early-round potential. However, Coates plays in a running offense and, as a result, is harder to evaluate because he gets fewer targets thrown his direction than he would on your average team. That dilemma was on display against Kansas State as Coates finished with only 24 yards and two receptions.

    Coates made a nice reception of about 10 yards with a broken tackle to help get Auburn off its own two-yard line. Later on the drive, he was running a go route, but for some reason, stopped his route short to cause an incompletion. Coates dropped an easy reception in the third quarter, too. Obviously, this tape had some lowlights. Coates (6-2, 201) is fast with some size. He has the potential to produce a lot more, and returning for his senior year may help him to rise.

  • Entering the season, Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall needed to show evolution as a pocket-passing quarterback in order to become an early-round pro prospect. In the early going of 2014 season, Marshall doesn’t look ready to take that step. He looks more like an athlete than a quarterback.

    Against Kansas State, Marshall was inaccurate, especially in the early going. He finished with 17 completions on 31 attempts for 231 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. A number of his passes were off the mark. In the second quarter, Marshall had a pass intercepted when a defensive lineman deflected a pass, and Kansas State was able to catch the deflection.

    There were some highlights for Marshall though. He had a well-thrown strike for a potential touchdown downfield, but wide receiver Duke Williams dropped the ball. Shortly later, Marshall hit a 40-yard touchdown pass while under pressure. It was a nice throw to the sideline despite the impending hit. In the third quarter, Marshall laid out a perfect throw to the back corner to help his receiver get open for a touchdown. Marshall hit a 39-yard strike late in the fourth quarter to basically clinch the game for Auburn.

    Marshall (6-1, 210) looks like a possible thid-day pick, but he needs work. It wouldn’t surprise me if NFL teams talk about moving him to running back or wide receiver.

  • This was a good game to watch for center prospects. Auburn’s Reese Dismukes and Kansas State’s B.J. Finney are solid blockers in the middle of the line. Each of them played well on Thursday night. Dismukes is an athletic, mobile blocker who does a nice job of hitting blocks on the second level. He is very technically sound in pass protection. Dismukes could use more power for the NFL though.

    Finney has been well coached. His technique in the ground game and pass blocking are very solid. Finney doesn’t have Dismukes’ skill set, but Finney could become a solid blocker in the NFL.

    Dismukes looks like he could be worthy of Day-2 consideration, while Finney might sneak into the third round or go early on the third day.

  • Another potential mid-round pick from Kansas State is wide receiver Tyler Lockett. He is a very fast, quick-twitch runner who is hard to get a hold of in the open field. Lockett is a very elusive returner. Against Auburn, he returned three punts for 71 yards. In the first half, Lockett dropped a pass in the end zone when he tried to trap it against his pads. The ball deflected into the air and was intercepted by the Tigers. If Lockett had used his hands, it would have been a touchdown. He looks like a slot receiver candidate, but has room for improvement as a wideout.

  • Two other Auburn defensive prospects are worth mentioning. Defensive tackle Gabe Wright flashes, but he’s inconsistent and needs to get stronger for the NFL. Wright (6-3, 284) was moved to defensive end to start the year, but went back to tackle before this game. He is undersized for the next level and it shows.

    The Auburn defender who really stood out was middle linebacker Kris Frost. He only had six tackles on the season entering this game, but he was impressive versus the Wildcats. Frost had six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. He led the way to shut down the Wildcats’ potent ground game. Frost’s stock will rise if he continues to play that way.


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