2016 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 3

This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2016 NFL Draft Prospects have performed. Or look at the 2016 NFL Draft Stock page (link coming soon).

By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
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Ole Miss 43, Alabama 37
  • Since being the No. 1 recruit in the nation, there has been a lot of hype around Ole Miss defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche. He had two sacks as a freshman and the same total as a sophomore. He flashed great quickness, strength, and agility, but it has yet to manifest into production. Even without producing much, many had Nkemdiche rated as a high first-rounder because of his skill set.

    However, Nkemdiche had perhaps his best game of his collegiate career against Alabama.

    In the first quarter, Nkemdiche beat the right guard and center to tackle Kenyon Drake in the backfield for a loss of two. Nkemdiche then fired into the backfield to bring down the back for a loss. Midway through the second quarter, Nkemdiche took a carry as a running back in a third-and-goal but was stuffed for no gain. He came virtually unblocked to shoot a gap on a zone read run to get another tackle for a loss.

    Nkemdiche was struggling with cramps and fatigue in the second half. He wasn’t as explosive, and his conditioning, or lack thereof, had him huffing and puffing. He also wasn’t pursuing with full effort and eased up on a number of plays. However, he dug deep to make some plays in the fourth quarter. On a two-point conversion attempt, he came virtually unblocked to get a pressure on Jacob Coker. Nkemdiche then got a sack and set up a third-and-long as he burned the right guard with a spin move.

    One scout told me that Nkemdiche is not a natural pass-rusher, and that was evident at defensive end. He is a fast, strong run defender who can make plays behind the line of scrimmage with his explosion off the snap. However, he isn’t a defender who consistently gets to the quarterback. Nkemdiche’s pass rush looks better coming from defensive tackle. Having said that, this was an impressive performance that will definitely help Nkemdiche to grade out as a first-round pick.

  • Alabama inside linebacker Reggie Ragland is one of the top prospects at his position for the 2016 NFL Draft. Ragland is a tough run defender, but the questions with him are regarding his pass coverage skills for the NFL. With Ole Miss receiving tight end Evan Engram, Ragland would be tested in defending a mismatch weapon.

    In the first quarter, Engram made a difficult catch downfield for a gain of about 20. Impressively, Ragland had tight coverage on Engram and was running with the athletic tight end, but a great throw and catch beat the good coverage. Ragland lined up as a defensive end and batted a pass on third down to end that Rebels drive. He got Alabama’s defense off the field shortly later when he came from defensive end to stuff an interior run on a third-and-short for no gain. On a second-and-goal, Ragland stuffed a goal-line run. Ragland started another tackle for a loss late in the fourth quarter.

    Overall, Ragland really helped himself with his pass coverage and pass rush. Of course, he was an impact run defender as well. He showed real versatility, and this tape could help him to be a first-round pick.

  • Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is one of the top receiving prospects for the 2016 NFL Draft. In the third quarter, Treadwell beat Cyrus Jones to get separation for a 30-yard over-the-shoulder catch. Treadwell then ran a go route and went over Jones to haul in a 24-yard touchdown. He totaled 80 yards on five receptions with the score. This tape will help Treadwell to grade out as a first-round pick with his skill set of size, speed, strength, and impressive hands.

  • Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry has started the year strong, and he played well against all of his opponents. That was the case versus Ole Miss even though it was tough to find running room in the early going. Henry eventually started to see some better lanes and used his speed to break off some impressive runs. Late in the third quarter, Henry bounced to the outside with a nice stiff arm on a tackler to burst down the field for a gain of 30 yards. He added a short touchdown plunge a little later.

    Henry totaled 120 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown. He caught five passes for 42 yards and was dangerous on screens. He also had some good blitz pickup to give his quarterback time to throw. Overall, this tape will help his hopes to be a first-round pick.

  • Alabama junior tight end O.J. Howard had a mixed outing. He ripped off a gain of 30 yards on short dump off. He had a few other nice receptions, but Howard had a holding call that was declined and also had a terrible missed block on a screen pass. He needs to improve his route-running and blocking for the NFL.

  • Alabama’s defensive lineman Jonathan Allen has played well to open 2015, and that continued against Ole Miss. On the first play from scrimmage, Allen burst into the backfield and batted a pass. Allen later came on the inside on a stunt and sacked Chad Kelly to force a punt. Allen has started toward a fine season and looks like he could end up being a day-two pick.

    Cal 45, Texas 44
  • Many draft media pundits have been proclaiming Cal junior quarterback Jared Goff to be a top quarterback prospect for the NFL. He has produced huge numbers in the Bear Raid offense that is a college system. Among other differences, Cal never goes under center for example, so Goff will have some transition to a pro system.

    Early on, Goff felt the rush and ran for a first down on third-and-10. He followed that up by throwing a strike to a tight end between a few defenders on a well-thrown ball. To end the drive, Goff was almost sacked by Hassan Ridgeway, but he escaped the tackle and rolled out to find an open receiver in the back of the end zone for six. Goff later threw a ball high for a leaping back shoulder catch in the front of the end zone for a 17-yard score.

    Just before halftime, Goff had a mistake when he didn’t feel the pocket collapsing around him. A blindside hit knocked the ball out of Goff’s hand, and Texas was able to recover the ball to set up the Longhorns inside the Cal 10-yard line. Goff came back to fire a 22-yard strike along the sideline to set up the Bears in a first-and-goal. That set up a short touchdown run that put Cal behind 24-21 at the half. An interception and roll-out pass from Goff allowed Cal to tie the game at the half.

    In the third quarter, Goff set up another score with a high sideline pass that his receiver climbed the ladder to make. That set up a short touchdown run for Cal. Before long, Goff threw a short touchdown pass leading his receiver high to the back of the end zone. Goff finished completing 27-of-37 passes for 269 yards with three touchdowns. He had a fumble, but did well avoiding interceptions.

    There is no doubt that Goff has an arm to make all the NFL throws and deliver some accurate passes downfield. He also generally has good ball placement to give his receiver a chance to make a play and avoid interceptions. On the negative side, Goff’s numbers are inflated by a college offense that has a lot of one-read quick throws. He’s not involved on many plays where he drops back and makes multiple reads before he throws. On some plays, he also only looks at one side of the field. Goff will need to work on this while in the NFL because it won’t come in his college offense. He also will have to learn to work under center.

    Some in the draft media have been quick to elevate Goff to elite status. I haven’t heard that yet from NFL sources, and most teams haven’t scouted him yet, but say they will soon. Check back with us in the weeks and months to come, as we will find out whether NFL teams grade Goff as highly as those media members.

  • One Texas player who stood out well as being a player for the next level is defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway. He was a tough defender at the line of scrimmage all night. He stuffed a number of runs, including some for a loss. He also collapsed the pocket to get pressure on Goff on a few rushes. This was a nice tape for Ridgeway. Sources say that he impressed them during scouting of training camp practices.

    Notre Dame 30, Georgia Tech 21
  • There aren’t many draft prospects on Georgia Tech, but they have a tremendous option rushing attack that would be a real test for some Notre Dame defenders. Linebacker Jaylon Smith and defensive lineman Sheldon Day are pro prospects with early-round projections for each of them. Their stamina, ability to defend the sideline, and instincts would be challenged by the Yellow Jackets.

    Smith made a quick impact in the first half. He ran into the backfield off the line, and while he overpursued on the tackle, he reached out and slapped the ball out of the hands of Georgia Tech fullback Patrick Skov for a forced fumble.

    In the third quarter, Smith got off a block and slammed into the back to force another fumble. He wisely scooped up the ball and ran it for about 20 yards before getting tackled. He followed it up by making an excellent open-field tackle on a back after a pitch in the flat. Later in the fourth quarter, Smith made a play to excite NFL evaluators when he ran stride-for-stride with a tailback on a go route down the field to knock a pass away. He had another breakup shortly later. The back had a step on him, but he closed and knocked the pass away with good timing.

    Overall, this was an excellent game tape for Smith. He showed the ability to make plays in the ground game and cover targets in pass defense. He had splash plays to lead his defense and was very disciplined in playing the option. Smith’s first-round prospects are fortified with this tape.

  • Day, meanwhile, didn’t produce a big stat line, but he had some nice plays in run defense and got pressure on the quarterback on a few throws. He had a tackle for a loss in the fourth quarter. Overall, Day looked good and represented himself well against the Yellow Jackets.

  • Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley is considered to be a potential top-20 pick, and he had a mixed game. On the positive side, he won his blocks all day long. He was perfect in pass protection and moved defenders in the ground game. In the fourth quarter Stanley crashed the end down towards the middle to open a hole for his back to plunge into the end zone on a goal-line carry. Stanley could use more power in his punch for the NFL, but he has the athleticism and quickness to be a starting left tackle in the NFL.

    On the negative side, Stanley had three false start penalties and a holding infraction. The latter was a bit of a ticky-tack call, but Stanley needs to show an improved ability to avoid mental mistakes in the weeks to come.

  • Fighting Irish junior wide receiver Will Fuller has been excellent to start the 2015 season. He was huge in Notre Dame’s late victory over Virginia and continued to be a difference maker against Georgia Tech. To get the Irish on the scoreboard, Fuller jetted down the field and had to hold up to make a leaping grab around the eight-yard line and then darted into the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown.

    In the second quarter, Fuller used his speed to rip off a nice gain on a wide receiver screen. Fuller then was covered well, and he made a great leaping catch along the sideline for a gain of 36. He got away with a slight push off but it was a tremendous hands reception. Fuller finished with 131 yards on six receptions. He really is putting his draft stock on the map this season.

  • Notre Dame cornerback KeiVarae Russell had a rough game a week ago against Virginia, but he bounced back pretty well against Georgia Tech. Early on, he had a touchdown-saving tackle on a long run. He also had a pass breakup after a nice break on the ball. It wasn’t all good for Russell though, as he had a pass interference penalty after he was beaten on a double move. Russell needs to show more improvement in order to be a first-round pick.

    LSU 45, Auburn 21
  • One highly anticipated draft matchup didn’t happen in this game, as Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson was held out with a hip injury and didn’t get a chance to matchup against LSU right tackle Vadal Alexander. Auburn has another future pro defensive lineman in defensive tackle Montravius Adams, however, and he was seeing a robust LSU ground attack led by sophomore superstar running back Leonard Fournette.

    This was a game that was perfect for Alexander, as the Tigers’ rushing attack dominated Auburn from start to finish, racking up 411 yards on 48 carries. Alexander showed that he is a run blocker at right tackle, but he still has to prove that he could be an edge protector as a pro. In the first half, Alexander contributed some good blocks to help Fournette take the game over. Throughout the second half, Alexander was getting more of a push in the ground game, as Auburn was worn out. Fournette then went behind Alexander for a goal-line plunge into the end zone. Overall, Alexander produced a good tape that will help his draft grade at very least as a top guard prospect.

  • Generally, Adams was a non-factor. He did have some plays where he knifed into the backfield, but he missed a tackle and went silent as the game progressed. This performance made him look more like a day two prospect rather than a first-rounder.

  • Another potential matchup of future NFL starters could be seen with LSU junior cornerback TreDavious White going against Auburn senior wide receiver Duke Williams. Unfortunately, they didn’t line up against each other while Auburn’s offense really struggled to do anything on the ground or through the air for the majority of the game.

    In the early going, Williams dropped a catchable pass and then a ball was thrown up for grabs and Williams’ fingertips came up a little short as the ball sailed for an interception. Some evaluators might feel that Williams didn’t protect his quarterback enough on that play.

    In garbage time Williams, caught his first pass of the game for a gain of nine. He then ran an out route from the slot for a 10-yard touchdown. Williams got nice separation out of his break to get wide open in the end zone. It flashed his ability that is clearly underused by Auburn. Those were his only receptions in the game. Williams is a good talent, but he could end up sliding because of a lack of opportunities and off-the-field concerns.

  • Another receiver in this game who will play on Sundays is LSU’s Travin Dural. The junior caught four short passes near the line of scrimmage that he turned into 27 total yards. He had some quality runs after the catch. Dural is a better receiver prospect than his production illustrates. He could end up grading out as high as a first-rounder and probably won’t be lower than a third.

    Texas A&M 41, Nevada 27
  • Texas A&M right tackle Germain Ifedi is projected by some in the media to be a first-round pick. NFL sources have said they like Ifedi more as a guard for the pros, and that was given further justification with his performance against Nevada. Ifedi opened some holes in the ground game and pushed his defensive end out of his gap on a few plays. However, he had some issues in pass protection.

    Early on, he was almost beaten for a sack on a speed rush, but quarterback Kyle Allen stepped up to avoid the defender. Shortly later, Ifedi was bulled rushed into the signal-caller, but once again, the ball got out just in time. Ifedi’s pressure finally caught up with him in the second quarter, however. The defensive end used speed to get upfield, shoved Ifedi aside, and took down the quarterback for a sack. On other obvious pass plays, Nevada’s speed rushers were turning the corner on Ifedi, and he was trying to ride them around the pocket.

    Overall, Ifedi looked better in the ground game. He has some strength and can move defenders at the point of attack. He looks too slow-footed for NFL speed rushers and could really struggle as an edge blocker. Ifedi looks more like a day-two guard prospect.

  • I was eager to see Texas A&M defensive end Daeshon Hall in another game after he had a breakout performance in Week 1 against Arizona State with four sacks. Hall didn’t produce a big stat line in Week 2 action, so more games are needed to figure out whether Hall can consistently get to the quarterback.

    This performance didn’t really help Hall that much. He had a nice tackle in the run game working to the middle from left end. He blew up a running back on an option run by knifing to the inside of the right tackle. He had a second effort to contribute to a sack after working back toward the quarterback, who stepped up in the pocket. Hall had other pass-rushing opportunities that didn’t produce good results, and while he got some penetration, he didn’t get to the quarterback. On a few running plays, he ran out of his gap, which opened gains for Nevada. Hall needs to play better in the weeks to come to prove to be an early-round prospect.

    Missouri 9, UConn 6
  • Missouri senior outside linebacker Kentrell Brothers started 2015 on fire with 16 tackles in back-to-back games, including a blocked punt in the season opener and two fourth-quarter interceptions to lead Missouri to a one-score victory in Week 2. Against Connecticut, Brothers didn’t have the splash plays but he still played well.

    Brothers got in on a number tackles in the ground game. He flowed well to the sideline and showed some serious quickness to close. Brothers also looked good playing zone coverage and breaking on the ball. He did have a bone-crushing hit on a screen pass, and the ferocity of that tackle forced an incompletion. Overall, he had a quality game but wasn’t overwhelming. Brothers looks like a day-two prospect as a Will (weakside) linebacker for a 4-3 defense.

  • Missouri has produced a lot of defensive line prospects in recent years, and their top possible lineman for the 2016 NFL Draft is tackle Josh Augusta. Throughout the game, Augusta was breaking behind the line of scrimmage and causing a lot of disruption.

    On the first series, Augusta charged into the backfield and swallowed up a back for a loss of a couple. Shortly later, he bulled his way into backfield for another tackle for a loss. Much later, Augusta got off his block and almost had a safety, but the back was able to just get out of the end zone before Augusta stuffed him. To clinch the game, Augusta pressured Connecticut’s fake field goal pass and that helped to produce an interception to clinch the win for Missouri.

    In passing situations, Augusta was seeing a lot of double teams from the guard and center. Missouri also used a rotation to keep their linemen fresh. Overall, this was a good tape for Augusta which showed his power, speed, size and disruptive ability on the inside of the line. Augusta looks the part of an early-round prospect.

    Clemson 20, Louisville 17
  • Entering this season, there was a lot of anticipation to see Louisville outside linebacker Devonte Fields. Fields was the Big XII Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman, but injuries and off-the-field issues led to him leaving TCU. He landed in Louisville, and thus far, he doesn’t look like the same player who dominated the Big XII.

    Fields was a non-factor against Clemson. After being quiet in the early going, he made a play in the second quarter when he came unblocked to blow up a quarterback draw on a third-and-1. That was the only significant play Fields had and was unblocked on it.

    Fields was burned for a big play when he messed up an option play. He didn’t get to the quarterback in his pass rushes either. Clemson was starting a true freshman at left tackle, but Fields was getting blocked one-on-one by the new starter. Fields clearly lacks strength for the NFL and needs to add bulk. With the way that Fields has started this season, returning for his senior year at Louisville looks like the best decision for his draft hopes.

  • Clemson junior defensive end Shaq Lawson flashed last year as a backup behind Vic Beasley and some other future NFL defensive ends. Against Louisville, Lawson showed an NFL skill set. It didn’t start well with a questionable roughing-the-passer call and an utterly bogus hands-to-the-face penalty, but Lawson came up with some clutch plays for the Tigers.

    In the third quarter, Lawson had an impressive rush with power to get under the left tackle and a burst to close on the quarterback for a sack. Lawson repeated that play in the fourth quarter for a hit on the quarterback that caused an errant throw to be intercepted. Unfortunately for Lawson, a penalty took the turnover away. On the next play, Lawson met at the quarterback with a few teammates to get in on another sack.

    This was a good tape for Lawson as he showed the strength and speed to be an edge rusher. Lawson could end up having a breakout year and rising up boards.

  • Clemson redshirt sophomore cornerback Mackensie Alexander is considered to be one of the top cover corners in the nation. He started the game well until he was tested on a go route deep down the field in the second quarter. Alexander was beaten but the throw and catch were just a hair off, so the pass fell incomplete. Alexander got lucky there.

    Otherwise, Alexander (5-11, 195) was very good for the Tigers. The vast majority of redshirt sophomores don’t declare for the draft, but Alexander has that potential and is worth watching as a pro prospect this year.


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