2016 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 6

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.
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Utah 30, Cal 24
  • Cal quarterback Jared Goff has become a highly hyped quarterback prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft, and he was seeing a tough test with a salty Utah defense.

    On the first drive of the game, Goff made a good read and threw a perfect pass that receiver Kenny Lawler had deflected off his hands for an interception. It wasn’t Goff’s fault, but he shrugged it off on the next possession. From the opposite hash, Goff made a beautiful throw to lead his receiver on the far sideline into the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown. The accuracy on that throw was just phenomenal.

    On the next possession, Goff was under pressure and forced a slant to a well-covered receiver, and the cornerback made a superb catch for an interception. It wasn’t a terrible pass, but not a great decision. He came back to throw a perfect strike on a pass down the seam to set up a first-and-goal. Goff fired a nice ball for a possible short touchdown that was dropped again by Lawler, and Cal settled for a field goal.

    Goff threw his third interception soon after. It was a poor decision, as it was an overthrow of an underneath receiver or it was a forced throw to a deep receiver in blanket coverage. Either way he knew he shouldn’t have heaved that pass with two receives and lots of defenders in the same area.

    The next possession continued the turnover streak for Cal. After sacking Goff on one play, the next saw his pass deflected at the line and a defender made a diving interception. Before the half, he had a short pass lead to a long gain, and that set up Goff to roll out with an easy short touchdown toss.

    In the fourth quarter, Goff made a bad overthrow in tight coverage in the middle of the field, and he was lucky that it wasn’t picked off. Goff then had a receiver open for a potential touchdown, but he overthrew his receiver for an incompletion.

    A couple plays later, Goff launched his fifth pick. After declining to hand off the ball on a read-option for a promising gain, Goff forced another throw to a well-covered receiver, and the pass flew right to the cornerback. He was under pressure and should have thrown the pass away.

    Despite all of this, Goff had one more chance down by six points late in the fourth quarter. It almost was another disaster, as he didn’t feel the rush on a rollout and fumbled the ball while being sacked. Fortunately for Goff, his center recovered the ball. Goff came back to move the ball into Utah territory, but the drive stalled out as Utah got a fourth-down stop when Goff had a pass slapped away by a defender.

    Goff completed 25-of-47 passes for 340 yards with two scores and the five picks. He played better than the stat line indicates. Even though Goff had four interceptions in the first half, he didn’t play poorly. Two picks weren’t his fault off tipped passes, one was a superb catch by the corner, and one was truly ugly. In the fourth quarter, Goff didn’t play his best. The pressure seemed to get to him, as he was forcing some passes downfield.

    Still, he also made some money throws that showed off his arm strength and accuracy. This game could hurt Goff’s draft grade, but as long as he bounces back, the damage should be minor and it won’t prevent him from being a high first-rounder.

  • Utah running back Devontae Booker was one of the stars of the game, and he ripped a weak Cal defense. In the first quarter, Booker had a tremendous touchdown run on a 40-yard scamper. He went into a scrum at the line and used his shiftiness to dodge some defenders before bouncing to the outside. He took a hit inside the 10, but kept his balance to dive into the end zone for the score.

    Booker kept churning out yards with his quickness to the second level and ability to finish runs well. He finished the half well, bouncing off a pile to scamper into the end zone from four yards out.

    Booker was just dominating Cal with breaking tackles and ripping off yards in chunks. In the third quarter, he fumbled the ball away when he got careless with his ball security while fighting for extra yards.

    Booker totaled 222 yards on 23 carries with two scores and the fumble. As a receiver he had four catches for 45 yards. Booker showed impressive burst, balance, pad level and quickness. Despite the fumble, this tape should help his draft grade.

    Alabama 27, Arkansas 14
  • This game featured two future NFL running backs, Alabama junior Derrick Henry and Arkansas junior Alex Collins. Henry is the more talented of the two, and this game provided further proof of that. Henry was able to run for 95 yards on 27 carries with a score. Henry helped finish off Arkansas with a 15-yard run to the goal line and a touchdown plunge on the next play in the fourth quarter. Arkansas’ defense was tough, but Henry ran well and fought hard for yards after contact. He totaled 95 yards on 27 carries. Once again Henry looked like a first-round back.

  • Collins was held to 26 yards on 12 carries. He had no room to run, as the Alabama front seven is very talented and didn’t allow running lanes to develop. Collins is a good player, but not a special talent. That was evident against Alabama, and he is more of a day-two prospect for the NFL.

  • One of the players responsible for shutting down Collins was Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland. He did a tremendous job of limiting Collins and junior tight end Hunter Henry.

    In the second quarter, Ragland took a hard block from tight end Jeremy Sprinkle and had to leave the game, but he came back quickly and dished out a bone-rattling hit in the flat. In the third quarter, Ragland made a hard tackle on quarterback Brandon Allen and ripped the ball out for a fumble. Ragland then showed his pass coverage skills with blanket coverage on Henry to force an incompletion on a third down. In the fourth quarter Ragland went around Alex Collins to get a sack of Allen.

    This was another complete game from Ragland that shows that he is a three down defender for the NFL. On top of being a force as a run defender, he can cover in pass coverage or rush off the edge. Ragland looks like the rare inside linebacker that is worthy of being a first-round pick.

  • Alabama junior defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and defensive end Jonathan Allen both played well plugging gaps for the Crimson Tide. Conversley, Arkansas left tackle Denver Kirkland had some struggles. He looks like a guard for the NFL. Razorbacks guard Sebastian Tretola generally did pretty well, but he had some lowlights as well. This tape won’t help the draft grades for the Arkansas duo, but will for the Alabama defensive linemen.

  • Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry was limited to only one catch for 18 yards. He was dependable as a blocker, and the Crimson Tide defended him well. This tape won’t help him, but sources have said they really like Henry, and Nick Saban said he could be the best tight end in the nation, so Henry’s draft grade is on solid ground.

    Virginia Tech 28, N.C. State 13
  • A sleeper quarterback who has some buzz about him is N.C. State senior Jacoby Brissett. He’s been a good pocket passer for the Wolfpack in 2015 and 2014. Brissett (6-4, 235) has a good arm and size. He hasn’t seen a tough test in 2015, but that changed against the Hokies. Outside linebacker Dadi Nicolas is a possible second-day pick and a dangerous pass-rusher. Defensive tackle Luther Maddy is a day-three prospect who can get after the quarterback.

    Brissett started the game well by throwing an accurate dart on a short slant and then took off on a read option run for 24 yards. In the second quarter, he made a nice throw to the end zone for his receiver along the sideline. It allowed the receiver to high point the ball where either he caught it or it likely would go incomplete. That well-placed pass was an 8-yard touchdown.

    After a strong start, Virginia Tech really started ramping up the pressure on Brissett, and his offensive line struggled to give him time to throw. Nicolas almost got a strip sack after he burned the right tackle with a speed rush. He came close to a sack a few plays later. He added a tackle for a loss when he penetrated a read-option run. On the next play, Nicolas got another pressure to help produce a sack for the Hokies.

    In the third quarter, Brissett made a nice play to buy time and throw accurately on the run to convert a third-and-long. That was the final real highlight for Brissett, as he was facing steady heat. He had some well-thrown balls while under fire, but his receivers weren’t getting separation. After an offsides penalty, Nicolas ramped up the pass rush and helped produce a sack of Brissett.

    Late in the fourth quarter, Brissett broke out of the grasp from Nicolas and rolled out. He had to force a ball downfield, and a cornerback made a great leaping interception. That snapped a streak of over 230 pass attempts without an interception.

    Brissett finished completing 12-of-25 passes for 113 yards with a touchdown and pick. He ran for 39 yards on 11 carries. Overall, Brissett did some good things, but his offensive line and Virginia Tech’s defense kept him from getting into a good rhythm. This tape made Brissett look more like a second-day quarterback rather than a first-rounder.

    Nicolas had a solid performance. He could use more strength for the NFL, as he had some drag-down tackles and didn’t complete what should have been a sack on Brissett. Nicolas looks like a day-two prospect.

    Tennessee 38, Georgia 31
  • Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd is a first-round talent pass-rusher who has been moved around the front, playing some inside and outside linebacker in 2015. After getting ripped by Alabama, Floyd was back to doing what he does best and playing on the edge.

    In the first quarter, Floyd snuffed out a perimeter run and slammed the back down for the loss of a couple. Floyd then was at the right place at the right time as a ball was popped out by a teammate. Floyd caught the ball in air and took off down the field for a 96-yard touchdown return.

    Floyd had some other nice plays in run defense as he fought off two blocks from a guard and tackle to stuff a perimeter run for no gain. Floyd came off the edge and swallowed a back for a tackle for a loss at one point.

    In the second half, the results weren’t as good. While Floyd started strong in run defense, he wasn’t doing a lot in the pass rush. Because of the mobility of Dobbs, Georgia had Floyd playing some containment on passing plays rather than turning him loose after the quarterback. Floyd got rocked by the left guard and tossed to the ground to help open a gap for Josh Dobbs to take off on a long run.

    Floyd eventually wore down in run defense and was getting moved and not getting to the ball in pursuit. On the winning touchdown, Floyd got pushed out of his gap. Overall, this tape won’t help Floyd’s draft grade. He needs to get stronger for the NFL, as teams will run at him.

  • There was a really good draft matchup with Tennessee junior cornerback Cameron Sutton going against Georgia senior wide out Malcolm Mitchell. Last week, Georgia struggled against Alabama, but Mitchell played well. Both Mitchell and Sutton could be chosen in the top half of the draft.

    In the second quarter, Mitchell ran a go route down the sideline. Sutton had tight coverage, but Mitchell out leaped him for a 28-yard touchdown. Sutton didn’t get turned around to play the ball. Shortly later, Sutton came up from behind Sony Michel to force a fumble after a long run. Unfortunately for the Volunteers, the fumble rolled out of bounds.

    Sutton drove Mitchell into the backfield to disrupt a perimeter run in the third quarter, and Mitchell was called for a hold. Mitchell got some revenge by out leaping Sutton for a third down conversion. Once again, Sutton never turned around to find the ball and that allowed Mitchell to make the catch.

    In the fourth quarter, Mitchell got open in zone coverage for a gain of about 20 yards. Sutton responded with a punt return of 23 yards. On the last play of the game, with Georgia trying to tie it, Sutton lost his feet and fell. The receiver was in the front of the end zone, but Sutton got lucky that his safety helped over the top broke up the pass to clinch the win for Tennessee.

    Mitchell finished with 85 yards on five catches. This was another good tape from him. Sutton showed some flaws that need to be worked on, but he was maintaining coverage and not allowing separation. This tape won’t help him but it shouldn’t hurt him too badly.

    Texas 24, Oklahoma 17
  • Oklahoma outside linebacker Eric Striker had a huge game a week ago against West Virginia. He started slowly in this contest before heating up in the second half. In the third quarter, he beat a running back to get a sack for a loss of eight yards. Shortly later, he came off the edge unblocked and got in on a tackle for a loss. Striker then came up from zone to make a nice open-field tackle for a loss. Striker did a nice job of reading-and-reacting on that play.

    Overall, Striker looks best as an outside linebacker for the NFL but is in the body of a strong safety. He’ll need to add weight for linebacker.

  • While the Longhorns have had a rough first half of 2015, Texas defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway has been enjoying an excellent season. That continued against Oklahoma as Ridgeway was a tough presence at the point of attack. Early on, he came from defensive end and bulled through a tailback to get in on a sack, but a penalty took the play away from Ridgeway. He then worked off a block to bury Baker Mayfield for a sack after Mayfield stepped up in the pocket. He stuffed a number of other runs for no gain.

    This was another tape that illustrates that Ridgeway has power at the point of attack. He also enough quickness and athleticism to make plays in and out of his gap. Ridgeway looks like an early-rounder.

  • Oklahoma cornerback Zack Sanchez showed why he’s more of a second-day prospect against Texas. In the first quarter, Sanchez made a leaping interception, but he held the receiver because he got caught out of position on a play fake. If Sanchez didn’t hold, he would have been burned deep. Shortly later, he had a bad missed tackle in the flat that let Texas loose for a nice gain. He came back to make a tackle to force a punt. In the fourth quarter, Sanchez came on a corner blitz to force an incompletion on a third down. Sanchez could be better off coming back for his senior year and improving in pass coverage before going pro.

    Penn State 29, Indiana 7
  • Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg is a highly debated prospect who has flashed the tools for the NFL, but has had accuracy issues. He also has had to deal with a terrible offensive line and poor wide receivers. To start the game, Hackenberg was struggling. His accuracy was off on a few throws, and he took an unnecessary sack.

    Midway through the first quarter, Hackenberg saw the blitz coming but was slow to react and fumbled the ball away while taking a hit. Hackenberg needed to get rid of the ball or at least tuck it to protect it, but his turnover was negated by a penalty. After that, Hackenberg bounced back on a superb play where he stepped up in the pocket to avoid a rusher, and laid out a beautiful 39-yard touchdown pass to a receiver streaking down the far sideline. It was a money throw from Hackenberg.

    Hackenberg later made another great pass for a second 39-yard touchdown. The receiver ran a post and Hackenberg led him into the end zone with an accurately thrown ball. Hackenberg then took off on two runs that produced about 30 yards. To finish the possession, Hackenberg ran in an easy touchdown on a roll out that was uncovered.

    In the third quarter, Hackenberg had some struggles with inaccuracy and the offensive line allowed a lot of pressure. However, he made some easy throws and then finished a drive with his second touchdown run. He scrambled up the middle and went airborne, reaching the ball over the goal line while taking a few hits.

    Hackenberg finished completing 21-of-39 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 21 yards on nine carries with two scores. His numbers could easily have been better. Hackenberg had three well-thrown balls that were dropped by his receivers, including a bomb downfield. Overall, this game wasn’t perfect, but it showed progress for Hackenberg with flashes of improved accuracy and decision-making. He needs to build on this and continue to get more consistent in the second half of the season.

  • Penn State has two defensive line prospects for the NFL in defensive end Carl Nassib and defensive tackle Anthony Zettel. The former has been enjoying an excellent season with sacks in every game. His hot play continued against Indiana. Early in the afternoon, Nassib beat his block for a sack. He later came unblocked off the edge to cream the quarterback and force a fumble. Nassib finished with two sacks and five tackles in the game.

    Zettel did well defending the run and got some push in the pass rush. He came through with two batted passes including a fourth-down attempt.

    Nassib is turning himself into an early-rounder with the way he has played as a senior. He could be a base left end in a 4-3 or an end in a 3-4. Nassib is a balanced defender. Zettel looks more like a day-two prospect, and his best fit could come as a five technique 3-4 defensive end.


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