2015 NFL Draft: College Football Recaps – New Year’s Bowls

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.

Ohio State 42, Oregon 20
  • This was the final game for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota to make the case to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. While Mariota didn’t play poorly, he had some missed throws and came up short in leading his team to a national championship.

    Mariota moved the ball well on the first drive with his legs before scrambling and finding a wide open receiver for a short touchdown pass. After that, the Oregon offense had a few series that got away from them, including being stopped on a fourth down at the goal line. Late in the first half, Mariota threw a nice pass to convert a clutch third down as his receiver got open running down the middle seam. Unfortunately for Mariota, he missed an open receiver in the flat for what could have been a potential short touchdown on a third-and-goal, and the Ducks settled for a field goal.

    Early in the third quarter, Mariota threw a perfect strike to a wide-open Byron Marshall running down the middle of the field for a 70-yard touchdown. Mariota was then planted into the turf on his throwing shoulder by Joey Bosa, and that caused him to leave the game momentarily.

    Mariota showed his toughness by coming back into the game. However, he was harassed by the rush and it impacted his accuracy, as he couldn’t move the ball to mount a comeback. Mariota missed some throws into tight windows and that could be seen on the Ducks drive that ended in a turnover on downs inside their own 20-yard line when Mariota overthrew a receiver who was slightly open. A good throw could have beaten the coverage. On the final play of the game, Mariota had a desperation toss up for grabs that was intercepted.

    Mariota completed 24-of-37 passes for 333 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He ran for 39 yards on 10 carries. The National Championship illustrated that Mariota is a great athlete with a strong arm, but he needs development as a pocket passer. The Oregon scheme creates some wide-open receivers, and Mariota needs to improve on throwing into tight windows with well-placed passes. This game won’t prevent Mariota from being an early first-rounder, but it won’t help his cause to be the first-overall pick.

  • Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith is a deep threat receiver who doesn’t get a lot of passes thrown his direction, but when he does big things happen for the Buckeyes. That was the case in the National Championship as well. In the first quarter, Smith drew a pass interference in the end zone, and that helped set up a touchdown for the Buckeyes. Smith then got open running a deep post past the safety. If the ball was thrown earlier, Smith could have had a touchdown, but it still went for a 45-yard reception. Smith looks like a potential late first-round or second-round pick with his elite speed to stretch a defense vertically.

  • Oregon defensive lineman Arik Armstead is an elite athlete who could be a first-round pick. Armstead looked tremendous early on one play when he shed a block, ran over a tailback, and flushed Cardale Jones out of the pocket with a near safety. Armstead was being disruptive with power and speed to get into the backfield early in the game. He also was receiving double-team attention.

    After a fast start, Armstead fell quiet until the third quarter. He worked free when Jones scrambled outside of the pocket his direction, and Armstead was Johnny on the spot for a huge fumble recovery as Jones dropped the football. That was the final play that Armstead made an impact, as the Buckeyes’ ground game gashed Oregon in the remaining time. This tape illustrates that Armstead is packed full of potential, but he doesn’t always produce or play up to it.

    Florida 28, East Carolina 20
  • The Pirates feature one college football’s most high-powered passing offenses led by quarterback Shane Carden and wide out Justin Hardy. Hardy could get second-day consideration in the 2015 NFL Draft while Carden is a possible mid-rounder. They were going against their toughest test of the year in the Florida defense led by pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. and shutdown cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. Fowler looks like a top-20 pick in this draft, and Hargreaves would be a top-10 pick if he could declare, but he’ll have to wait until the 2016 NFL Draft.

    Carden led a nice drive early in the first quarter. Hardy had a good reception to move the chains as he pushed off of Hargreaves and worked his way back toward the line of scrimmage to get open for the catch. A few plays later, Hardy came out of the slot, pushed off a cornerback and caught a well-placed ball from Carden. It was an impressive drive for both Carden and Hardy.

    Carden made a terrible throw on the next possession when he forced a pass into Hardy while he was double covered. Brian Poole picked it off and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown. It looked like Carden was forcing the ball to Hardy and didn’t see the field well.

    Just after halftime, Hardy raced for 67 yards on a wide receiver screen. He followed his blockers and bolted downfield before Poole caught him from behind to prevent a touchdown.

    Late in the fourth quarter with the Pirates at the Gators five-yard line and trying to tie the game, Carden forced a pass to Hardy, but it didn’t get there. Hargreaves made a leaping interception to clinch the game for Florida.

    Hardy definitely helped himself against Florida as he showed the skills to compete with an elite corner like Hargreaves. With size not being an issue, it was good to see that Hardy has the quickness to get separation. He caught 11 passes for 160 yards and the score. This will help him to grade out on the second day.

    Carden was 34-of-66 for 427 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. It was a mixed outing for him. He made some good throws with accuracy and ball placement, but also had a number of ugly plays with unnecessary sacks and interceptions. Carden also missed some receivers in windows that an NFL quarterback needs to connect on. He came close to other interceptions as well. Carden’s clock seemed to be off as he held onto the ball too long on a number of plays. Being a third-day developmental quarterback looks like his future.

  • Fowler was pretty quiet for most of the first half. He came alive just before the half by rocking the right tackle off balance with power and using his speed to chase down Carden for a sack.

    Fowler dropped into coverage in the fourth quarter, but after seeing Carden scramble, he fired into the backfield and ripped him down with authority for another sack. Shortly later, Fowler rocked the left tackle back and cut to the inside to sack Carden again.

    All of Fowler’s tackles verus the Pirates were those three sacks. He had a number of other pressures on the quarterback and showed the athleticism to drop in pass coverage. Fowler could stand to improve his run defense for the NFL. This tape will help him to be a top-25 pick.

    UCLA 40, Kansas State 35
  • UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley has decided to enter the 2015 NFL Draft and this performance won’t help Hundley’s draft grade. He’s a good athlete and a dangerous runner, but Hundley needs a lot of work as a passer in order to be a starter in the NFL. His collegiate finale against UCLA gave further proof of that.

    Early in the first quarter Hundley had a 10-yard touchdown as he dropped back to pass and saw his first read was covered, so he took off and ran for the score himself. It was a nice run, but NFL evaluators would have liked to see Hundley work through his progressions rather than taking off when his first read was covered.

    Later in the first quarter Hundley ran for another touchdown on a zone read. Just before halftime Hundley found a wide open receiver for a seven-yard touchdown, but he really didn’t throw the ball in the first two quarters. At the half Hundley was 11-of-20 for 129.

    In the third quarter Hundley used his legs on a quarterback draw to convert a third-and-11 with a run of 40 yards. Hundley totaled 96 yards on 11 carries with two scores on the ground. He completed 12-of-24 passes for 136 yards with a touchdown.

    Aside from making some plays with his legs, Hundley was not impressive as a passer against Kansas State. He didn’t see the field well and his accuracy left a lot to be desired. Hundley is a developmental quarterback and he would be fortunate to go in the second round of the draft.

  • UCLA linebacker Erik Kendricks has the potential to be a Thursday night pick and shouldn’t last long if he falls to the second day. Kendricks won the Butkus Award as the best linebacker in college football and he has been a tackling machine for the past three years. This performance was vintage Kendricks as he was all over the field shutting down the Wildcats ground attack and making an impact in pass defense.

    On the first play from scrimmage for the UCLA defense, Kendricks was spying quarterback Jake Waters and he fired into the backfield to sack Waters when he saw that Waters was closed in the pocket.

    Kendricks made a number of excellent plays against the run. He filled the hole and took down a back for no gain, Kendricks planted Waters a few plays later on a scramble, and in the third quarter he lined up over the center before bolting into the backfield to make a tackle for a loss. To start the fourth quarter Kendricks beat the right guard for a sack. This tape will help Kendricks draft grade.

  • UCLA defensive end Owa Odighizuwa had an impressive senior season and finished it well against Kansas State. In the first half Odighizuwa was active and getting pressure in the pocket but he wasn’t getting home for sacks. Early in the third quarter Odighizuwa had a superb drive. He fired by the right tackle to get a tackle for a loss in the ground game. A few plays later he fired to the inside again and sacked Waters. On third-and-goal, Odighizuwa leapt high to swat a pass for an incompletion. He added another batted pass later. Odighizuwa did have a mental mistake when he jumped offsides on a third down, but otherwise this was a good tape from him that should help him to receive a second-day grade.
  • Kansas State wide receiver Tyler Lockett is a possible day-three pick and slot receiver/returner prospect for the NFL. In the second quarter Lockett had a 41-yard punt return but at the end of the drive Lockett dropped an easy touchdown pass on a third down to force a field goal for Kansas State. Just before the half Lockett had a punt return for a touchdown called back on a holding penalty. Lockett came back to make a great leaping catch with a corner draped all over him.

    In the third quarter Lockett caught a short touchdown pass and a two-point conversion. Late in the fourth quarter Lockett got open on a double move for a 29-yard touchdown catch. He totaled 164 yards on 13 receptions for two touchdowns. This performance will help the undersized Lockett to be drafted in the mid-rounds.

    Tennessee 45, Iowa 28
  • Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff could be a pick in the top half of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Earlier this season Scherff really struggled with speed rushers at Maryland and the Big 10 didn’t give him a challenging slate of pass rushers as Randy Gregory was injured when Iowa played Nebraska. The Volunteers have a double-digit sack producer in freshman defensive end Derek Barnett. Thus, this tape for Scherff could prove influential to his draft grade and how teams view him for the next level.

    In the first half there were some good battles between Scherff and Barnett. On the first drive Scherff had some good blocks in the ground game, but on a third down he was beat by a speed rush to the inside by Barnett and the ball just got out before Barnett could get a sack. Scherff was lucky he didn’t allow a sack on that play.

    Scherff had some good blocks on Barnett, and also was getting away with some holds. Midway through the second quarter Barnett walked into the locker room with an injury. That didn’t stop Scherff from getting tested as he was beat by a speed rush to the inside for a hit on his quarterback. A few plays later Scherff was driven back into the pocket and the pressure he allowed led to the quarterback throwing an interception. Fortunately for Iowa, a Volunteers penalty negated the pick.

    After halftime, Scherff had a great block getting downfield and rocking a defensive back. Iowa had success running behind Scherff as he consistently gets movement at the point of attack. There were a few plays were Scherff had his pass rushers get by him, but he didn’t allow a sack.

    Scherff is extremely strong, and from day one in the NFL he should be a difference maker as a run blocker. In pass protection it could be a different story. Scherff isn’t overly quick or athletic in his pass drops. He’s quicker and more agile running straight ahead than he is backpedaling or tap dancing on the edge. Scherff also doesn’t have great length.

    In the NFL, I think Scherff would be better served moving inside to guard where he could be a pro bowler. At left tackle I think he could have some ugly games with speed rushers and allow his quarterback to get hit regularly. Perhaps the best plan for Scherff would be to start him out at guard or right tackle and see if he can develop into a starting left tackle. Scherff is worthy of a first-round pick.

    Missouri 33, Minnesota 17
  • There were a few early-round picks in the Citrus Bowl. Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams is entering the draft and is the favorite to be the first tight end drafted. The Gophers would need Williams to produce when they had the chance to get him the ball because Missouri’s tremendous edge rushing tandem of Shane Ray and Markus Golden don’t give quarterbacks much time in the pocket.

    Ray is a potential top 10 pick while Golden could be a late first-round or second-round pick. The run defense of Ray and Golden would also be tested by Minnesota running back David Cobb, a power runner that could go on day three in April.

  • Early in the 2014 season, Golden was phenomenal and the extra attention he caused help Ray to breakout. Golden wasn’t himself for a five game stretch as he had a leg injury, but he finished the regular season in impressive fashion. To end the year, Golden was an animal against Minnesota and the more impressive of the two Tigers defenders.

    On the first third down the dangerous duo made their presence felt. Golden burned the right tackle with a speed rush and started to rip the Gophers quarterback down for a sack. Ray came in with a hit, and the ball was stripped out. Officially, Golden got credit for the fumble although it looked like Ray was the one who knocked it out. They split credit for the sack. Later before the half Golden chased down a runner from behind to get a tackle for a loss. Midway through the fourth quarter Golden shed the tight end and running back to get another sack of the Gophers quarterback. Throughout the game, Golden did a good job of making pursuit tackles in the ground game. He chased down some backs behind the line of scrimmage and out of his gap. This was a strong performance by Golden where he showed his strength to shed blocks and the speed to beat blockers off the snap. Golden totaled 10 tackles with four tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. This performance will help his draft grade.

  • On the first play from scrimmage, Ray blew containment to let Cobb break off a run of over 20 yards. At the end of the third quarter Ray fired into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss on a quarterback read option run. Ray totaled four tackles, 1.5 for a loss, .5 sacks, one forced fumble. This was a solid game from him, but Ray needs to improve his run defense for the NFL.

  • Williams got his day started catching a pass in the flat and running for close to 10 yards before getting taking down. Late in the half Williams showed some of his special skills when he caught a ball at the line of scrimmage, shook the tackle from a linebacker, and carried a defensive lineman for about five yards on a reception of about 11.

    Early in the third quarter Williams had a highlight reel touchdown reception. He caught a pass downfield on a deep cross and turned vertical along the sideline. He hurdled two defenders inside the 15-yard line before diving into the end zone with a 54-yard touchdown reception. Williams finished with 98 yards on seven receptions. This performance will help his chances of being a first-round pick.

    Ohio State 42, Alabama 35
  • There were two explosive wide receiver prospects for the NFL in this game. Alabama’s Amari Cooper and Ohio State’s Devin Smith are play-makers who could be big-play weapons as soon as their rookie seasons. Cooper was going to be challenged by an Ohio State secondary with a quality cornerback in Doran Grant, while Smith was going against some cornerbacks who have struggled this year, but have an enforcer at safety in Landon Collins.

    Grant got away with a hold and push on Cooper early in the game to cause a third-down incompletion. At the end of the first quarter though, Cooper beat Grant with a slant that he cut back to the corner to get open for a 15-yard touchdown. While Cooper produced points, Ohio State did a good job of limiting him as he had six receptions for 39 yards by the half.

    The trend continued in the final two quarters as Cooper had a hard time getting going with Alabama quarterback Blake Sims struggling. In the fourth quarter, Grant was burned by DeAndrew White for a 51-yard reception on a go route down the middle of the field. Cooper got open on a slant for a six-yard touchdown a few plays later.

    Cooper caught nine passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns in this outing – likely his last in college. This performance shouldn’t impact his draft grade. For the NFL, Grant looks like he might be a better fit as a free safety. If he stays at cornerback, he should play in defense based out of zone coverage like a Tampa 2.

  • This game was a microcosm for Smith’s senior year. He didn’t get many passes thrown his direction, but he turned his limited opportunities into some huge plays. Late in the first quarter, Smith got open along the sideline and hauled in a 40-yard reception. Smith’s second reception was another shot play as he caught a 47-yard touchdown. Alabama cornerback Eddie Jackson was doing a nice job of running with Smith, but Jackson fell down to let Smith get wide open running into the end zone. Smith finished with only two receptions for 87 yards, but they were high impact plays. He looks like a second-day pick.

  • Collins didn’t have as big of an impact as he typically does, but was playing injured. The game started well for Collins as he recovered a fumble and had a tackle for a loss in the first quarter. Collins injured his right arm and shoulder about midway through the first half and had to go into the locker room to get it taped up with more padding, but he returned to the field. Collins made some tackles, but the injury showed up when he was run over by quarterback Cardale Jones. Collins clearly didn’t attack Jones like the aggressive hitter he normally is.

    Collins was shaken up again later after a hard hit on Jones in the hole. For the NFL, Collins is a strong safety type and isn’t one who can isolate in man coverage or be a rangy free safety in the deep part of the field. This game was further proof of that.

  • There was the potential for a draft-prospect battle in the trenches as Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett could go against Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio. Both are early-round prospects and each one was impressive. Unfortunately, Bennett typically lined up over the right guard instead of Kouandjio.

    In the first quarter, Kouandjio showed his quickness and athleticism to hit a block on a linebacker to spring Derrick Henry for a 25-yard touchdown run. Kouandjio was getting movement at the point of attack, and Alabama was having success running behind him. The Buckeyes were putting pressure on Sims, but Kouandjio wasn’t one of the linemen who was struggling.

    Bennett was pretty active for Ohio State. He had some good pass rushes and used his speed to get upfield. Bennett used a spin move to beat right guard Leon Brown to get a sack in the third quarter. For the NFL, Bennett would be a good fit as a gap-shooting three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense. He’s at his best when he’s firing into the backfield. Bennett could use more strength in run defense. He looks like a potential second-day selection.

  • Alabama junior running back T.J. Yeldon is expected to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, and there was some doubt as to whether Yeldon would play much in this contest. Gradually, Alabama worked Yeldon into the game and he was running well. In the second quarter, Yeldon had a short touchdown run and an impressive 10-yard scamper, but he had only 10 carries for 47 yards. Yeldon could be a late first-round or second-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

    Oregon 59, Florida State 20
  • This game featured an epic matchup of the players who will probably going first and second in the 2015 NFL Draft. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota are both future franchise quarterbacks in the NFL, but this game was all Oregon as Florida State couldn’t execute on defense or avoid turnovers on offense.

  • On the first third down of the game, Mariota had a tight end open in a window downfield but overthrew him for an incompletion. There were a few plays like that as Mariota had some overthrows out of the pocket. Otherwise, he played really well.

    Mariota led a touchdown drive on the next possession as he hit a few good throws, including a nice pass to his tight end in the middle of the field. He missed another tall receiver for what could have been a touchdown with an accurate pass, but overthrew him.

    In the second quarter, Mariota got lucky as he rolled out and threw across his body to the middle of the field. Seminoles safety Jalen Ramsey had a floater fall right to him, but dropped the ball. It was a terrible throw and decision by Mariota. He came back and made a great play to shake off a sack before scrambling and throwing a nice pass on the run to a wide-open receiver. That helped lead to a rushing touchdown for Oregon.

    Mariota had an overthrow in the middle of the field late in first half that let Seminoles safety Nate Andrews make a diving interception. Mariota had made a good read on the play and had worked through his progressions, but the pass was inaccurate as it sailed over an open receiver because Mariota failed to fit into his window.

    Mariota caught fire in the third quarter to lead five touchdown drives. He threw a 56-yard touchdown to Darren Carrington as he was wide open when the Seminoles had busted coverage. Mariota threw a bullet to the sideline and hit his open receiver in stride. That happened again on the next possession as Carrington got open on a fake wide receiver screen with receivers streaking downfield. Mariota lofted in a 30-yard pass for a touchdown.

    Early in the fourth quarter, Mariota took a read-option run 23 yards into the end zone. It was an exclamation point on Oregon’s annihilation of the Florida State’s defense. Mariota completed 26-of-36 for 338 yards for two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 62 yards and a touchdown. This performance should generally help Mariota’s draft grade, but it did illustrate that he needs development in his pocket passing as he missed some throws into windows that NFL quarterbacks need to hit.

  • Winston made a great throw into a tight window early on, but the pass was dropped; that set the tone for the night. Winston’s receivers were awful with a ton of dropped passes and fumbles.

    Winston took an option run on a fourth-and-1 to make a reaching touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, but the play was reviewed and ruled that he was stopped short. On the next few drives, Winston made some nice passes into some tight windows for completions, including one throw on the run to his fourth option that turned into good gain.

    Winston led a nice third-quarter drive with some precision passes and had a clutch throw to convert a third down. That led to Winston leading Travis Rudolph for an 18-yard touchdown.

    Late in the third quarter, Winston committed a backbreaking mistake for the Seminoles when they were in Oregon territory. He scrambled on fourth down and lost control of the ball as he slipped. Tony Washington picked it up and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown for Oregon. That play basically was the dagger to the heart that ended any hope of a Florida State comeback. It was actually Winston’s second fumble of the game as he was strip-sacked earlier, but the ball was recovered by a teammate. Winston’s next possession saw a pass get tipped at the line of scrimmage, go through the hands of Rudolph and into the hands of a defensive back for an interception.

    Winston finished 29-of-45 for 348 yards with one touchdown and one interception. It wasn’t as bad of a performance as the final score illustrates. Winston operated well out of the pocket and made a lot of NFL throws. This game shouldn’t change his status as a high first-round pick.

  • Even though Florida State had a bad case of fumblitis, the offensive line had a solid game. Senior guard Josue Matias, guard Tre Jackson and center Cameron Erving played well. Oregon defensive end/tackle Arik Armstead is considered to be a potential first-round pick, but he was largely kept under wraps. On the first drive, Jackson almost gave up a sack to Armstead as Jackson got trucked by a bull rush and Armstead pressured Winston out of the pocket. Other than that play, Armstead didn’t make a big impact. This tape should be an overall positive for the Florida State trio and shouldn’t help Armstead.

  • The other side of the ball was a similar story. Oregon center Hroniss Grasu has been banged up to end the season, but he looked good against Florida State. Junior defensive linemen Eddie Goldman and Mario Edwards Jr. have early-round potential, but both players were gassed by the Ducks’ past-paced offense. Grasu got movement in his run blocks and was reliable in his pass protection. This game should help his draft grade while not doing anything for Goldman and Edwards.

    Michigan State 42, Baylor 41
  • The Cotton Bowl had a couple of intriguing prospects who have already announced they’re returning to college for the 2015 season. The most important of them is Michigan State junior quarterback Connor Cook. He could have been a top 20-pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but decided to return to East Lansing.

    Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman also has announced he would go back to Baylor. Oakman was a possible second-day pick if he had entered the 2015 NFL Draft. Still, there was a lot of good draft talent on display for the 2015 class.

  • While Oakman is going back to Baylor, Michigan State left tackle Jack Conklin is considering entering the 2015 NFL Draft, but he struggled with Oakman. Conklin was beaten by Oakman for a sack around the corner in the first half. In the fourth quarter, Oakman drove Conklin back with a bull rush and knocked him flat on his back to almost sack Cook. In order to avoid the sack, Cook threw a critical interception. After that Michigan State started to give Conklin some help with a back chipping Oakman on occasion. Conklin won some plays, but Oakman was getting penetration into the pocket regularly.

    This game would suggest that Conklin would be better off returning to school and getting better before going pro. Especially when you consider that 2015 looks deep at the tackle position.

  • Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun could be a top-25 pick and is likely to be the first player selected from either team in the 2015 NFL Draft. Calhoun was quiet in the first half. In the third quarter though, he used his hands to shed the block from Spencer Drango and then used his speed to chase down Petty for a sack on a third down. Calhoun beat Drango with speed to the inside on the next drive and got in on a strip-sack of Petty with a teammate.

    Throughout the second half, Calhoun was superb. He was constantly firing by his blockers to get pressure or disruption in the backfield. This tape will definitely help him to grade out as a first-rounder.

  • Michigan State junior cornerback Trae Waynes could be the top cornerback in the 2015 NFL Draft, while senior safety Kurtis Drummond could be selected in the mid-rounds. They would be challenged by the Baylor point-machine offense led by senior quarterback Bryce Petty and wide receiver Antwan Goodley. Both Petty and Goodley could be selected on the third day of the 2015 NFL Draft. Even though the Michigan State duo will probably be drafted higher, the Baylor players had the better game.

    Petty picked a great time to have one of the best games in his collegiate career. He started the game by burning Drummond for a 49-yard score. Petty had another receiver open for a long touchdown, but he overthrew the open receiver running down the sideline. That was one of the few missed opportunities that Petty had.

    Petty came back to make a beautiful throw to Goodley for a 37-yard gain as Goodley (9-93) went over the defensive back. In the opening seconds of the third quarter, Petty hit another deep ball for a touchdown. It was a pretty pass to hit his receiver in stride for a 74-yard touchdown.

    Petty showed much better accuracy on deep passes throughout this outing than he had for most of the season. He finished completing 36-of-51 passes for 550 yards with three touchdowns, plus an interception on a desperation throw at the end of the fourth quarter. This tape will help Petty, who needed a game like this to close out his collegiate career.

  • Drummond started the game well by firing into the backfield to make a tackle for a loss when a back tried to bounce a run to the outside. After another tackle, Drummond was beaten by K.D. Cannon for a long touchdown. Drummond was in man coverage on the slot receiver, and Cannon got a step or two of separation while running deep. It was a great throw by Petty to drop the pass into a bucket for a 49-yard score. That was a mismatch for a speed receiver to go against a safety in man for Petty to exploit.

    Later in the first quarter, Baylor threw a lateral to a receiver and Drummond took some false steps toward the receiver, anticipating a screen. However, another receiver streaked down the sideline and the false steps led Drummond to giving up another long touchdown pass. He needs to improve his eye discipline. Drummond was beatrn again by the slot receiver in the fourth quarter for a long gain of about 40 yards.

    Drummond didn’t have a good game, and this performance illustrates that he isn’t a safety who is capable of lining up in man coverage on slot receivers. The NFL wants that kind of safety, but Drummond isn’t showing the signs of being able to handle it. This tape will hurt Drummond and points to him being a mid-rounder rather than a prospect worth second-round consideration.

  • Waynes was beat on a quick slant for a touchdown in the second quarter, but Goodley dropped the pass. On the next play, Goodley caught a pass just short of the end zone. He had slight separation on Waynes. Waynes left the game briefly with an injury.

    After halftime, Waynes allowed a reception of about 50 yards after Cannon got a step on him running deep along the sideline. In the fourth quarter, Waynes had an easy interception go right through his hands. If he had held on, there was nobody in front of him and it would have been a pick-six. This game won’t help Waynes’ draft grade as he allowed some receptions and let an easy interception go through his hands.

    Wisconsin 34, Auburn 31
  • The headliner prospect of this game was Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. He lived up to the billing with a tremendous performance in his final collegiate game. Gordon started his year ripping an SEC defense, LSU, and finished it in a similar manner versus Auburn.

    At the end of the first quarter, Gordon took a sweep for a gain of 29 yards after bursting to the second level in a heartbeat. Gordon got the third quarter off to a strong start with a run of about 20 yards and a 25-yard touchdown. He showed his patience to pause and his acceleration to hit the second level. Gordon also demonstrated his strength by running through an arm tackle around the 10-yard line and spring into the end zone.

    Gordon followed it up with a great 53-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 at the end of the third quarter. He scored again with a 6-yard touchdown as he ran through four tacklers to finish the run by falling into the end zone.

    Aside from his big runs, Gordon charged hard all game and left it all on the field. He didn’t play trying to protect himself or attempting to avoid injury. Gordon totaled 251 yards on 34 carries with three touchdowns. He also had two catches for two yards; one was an impressive reception with nice hands and body control.

    This performance will help Gordon to be a top-20 pick and the potentially the first running back selected.

  • Auburn wide receiver Sammie Coates has announced he’ll enter the 2015 NFL Draft. He has been banged up with injuries and was held out of the Tigers’ first offensive series of the game. Coates’s first reception went about five yards downfield, but he also fought for another five yards. With three minutes remaining, Coates dropped a touchdown pass on a fourth-and-11 but he did draw a pass interference. Coates had only four receptions for 24 yards as, once again, the Tigers struggled to throw the ball and kept the ball on the ground.

    Coming out of Auburn, Coates is a raw receiver and has to improve his route-running. He has the skill-set of a first-round pick and should be a star at the Combine. However, Coates could slip in the 2015 NFL Draft because he needs development.

  • A player who helped himself in this game was Auburn safety Jermaine Whitehead. He recorded two interceptions. Whitehead’s first interception came off a deflection and he made a diving catch. In the third quarter, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave threw a ball up for grabs and Whitehead tracked it down for a pick. It was a horrible throw by Joel Stave. Whitehead has some ballhawking ability as he recorded six interceptions despite missing virtually six games from a suspension. Whitehead could be a value pick on Day 3 or the mid-rounds.


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