2016 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 7

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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Ohio State 38, Penn State 10
  • A year ago, Christian Hackenberg and Penn State almost beat the Buckeyes. Some terrible calls by the officials played a huge role in spotting Ohio State two scores that were critical in their winning that game in overtime. Much like 2014, Hackenberg has had an up-and-down junior year. It wouldn’t get easier against Ohio State, as he was facing a defensive with tons of NFL talent.

    Hackenberg’s first pass was slant that hit his receiver on the run and he took off down the field for a 45-yard gain. After that, Hackenberg struggled for the rest of the first half. He airmailed a few overthrows over some open receivers along the sideline. He made a nice pass downfield that was dropped by his tight end. Hackenberg was only 4-of-9 at the half.

    Hackenberg threw a ball up for grabs on the initial play of the third quarter, and his receiver Chris Godwin rewarded him with a catch for 56 yards. A few plays later, Hackenberg threw a short touchdown on a bubble screen. The rest of the night, Hackenberg spent getting pummeled by the Buckeyes defensive line. At this point, he has been sacked close to 90 times during his college career. Hackenberg finished 7-of-13 for 120 yards with the score and a fumble. He showed toughness by playing injured, but this tape won’t help Hackenberg’s draft stock, and he wasn’t able to raise his level of play against an elite opponent.

  • Ohio State junior defensive end Joey Bosa had a ton of hype after a tremendous sophomore season, but he entered this game with only 1.5 sacks on the season. Fortunately for Bosa, he drew a terrible Penn State offensive line to help break him out of his 2015 slump.

    To start the game, Bosa bull-rushed through the right tackle to force Hackenberg out of the pocket. Shortly later Bosa bull-rushed through the right guard to get a sack of Hackenberg. Early in the second quarter, Bosa cleaned up a disrupted run for a tackle for a loss. He had a number of tackles in run defense as well. In garbage time, he shed a block from the guard and the tight end to make another tackle for a loss. This was easily Bosa’s best game of the year, and it could be what he needed to finish his final season strong.

  • Like Bosa, Ohio State senior defensive tackle Adolphus Washington had a massive game and dominated a garbage offensive line. Throughout the night, Washington was firing into the backfield to disrupt plays. He stuffed some runs and had a number of pressures. In the third quarter, Washington blew by the left guard to sack Hackenberg. Washington then got a strip-sack of Hackenberg after beating the right guard with speed.

    This was an excellent tape for Washington, as he showed the strength and speed to be a huge interior presence at the point of attack. Washington’s stock could receive a nice boost from this performance.

  • Like Hackenberg, Ohio State junior quarterback Cardale Jones is a physically gifted quarterback prospect who has some flaws. Jones was unable to get in any rhythm versus Penn State, and in the second half, J.T. Barrett took over. Jones finished completing 9-of-15 passes for 84 yards. He had some accuracy issues missing open receivers, and that had to have prompted his benching. Jones’ playing time and draft stock are very fluid.

  • Even without much of a passing offense, the Buckeyes blew out Penn State, and a big reason for that was Ohio State junior running back Ezekiel Elliott. He ran for 153 yards on 27 carries. In the second quarter, Elliott had an impressive 10-yard touchdown run where he showed his cutting, quickness and toughness to break three tackles before diving into the end zone. Elliott got stronger as the game went on and had a number of impressive runs showing his speed, strength, balance, elusiveness and vision. This is another tape that shows that Elliott belongs in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

  • There was the potential of a great draft matchup with Ohio State left tackle Taylor Decker going against Penn State defensive end Carl Nassib. Nassib entered the game as the nation’s leader in sacks, and Decker looks more like a right tackle for the NFL. Unfortunately, Nassib lined up against the right tackle on the majority of plays. As a result, both players had good games. Decker opened up holes for Elliott and was solid in pass protection.

    After being quiet in the early going, Nassib heated up in the second half. Defensive tackle Anthony Zettel started to get to Jones, and Nassib cleaned up the play for his 11th sack of the season. Shortly later, he burned the right tackle with a speed rush to get a sack of Jones. He added a tackle for a loss on a zone-read run.

    There isn’t a player in the nation who has helped his draft stock as much as Nassib has this season. This is another performance that illustrates that he belongs as an early-round pick in the 2016 draft even though he’s a one-year wonder.

    LSU 35, Florida 28
  • There were many draft matchups in this game, and the one that was won the most decisively was with LSU senior right tackle Vadal Alexander. He was going against a tough Gators’ defensive line led by senior end/tackle Jonathan Bullard and some other talented edge rushers. Bullard and the Gator pass-rushers were a non-factor, as Alexander kept his quarterback clean while opening a lot of holes in the rushing attack.

    Alexander pushed open holes for running back Leonard Fournette to rip off 176 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns. Quarterback Brandon Harris also was given time to complete some passes downfield with two scoring strikes in the first half. Alexander was getting movement in the ground game, and had no issues in pass protection. This was his best performance of the season and gave NFL evaluators something to think about regarding Alexander’s ability to stay at right tackle in the NFL.

  • With Fournette not being draft-eligible until 2017, the top prospect for next year’s draft in this game was Gators junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. Late in the first quarter, Hargreaves ripped the ball away from Fournette, but Florida couldn’t recover the fumble in the bounds. Hargreaves then got caught peaking at a play-fake, and that allowed Malachi Dupree to get open running deep. Hargreaves recovered pretty well, but came up short on a diving attempt to break up the pass. The gain went for 52 yards, as Hargreaves kept Dupree from scoring.

    After that play, Hargreaves was sound in pass coverage and chipped in on some run tackles. This tape shouldn’t hurt him a significant amount, but it won’t help him.

  • LSU junior wide receiver Travin Dural had a solid game with five receptions for 65 yards. Dural beat Brian Poole for a gain of about 20. On the next play, he got open on a deep cross for a gain of 20 yards. He then converted a third down with a gain of 15 on a crossing route. Dural is a talented wideout with size and speed, but playing in a rushing offense really limits his opportunities.

  • LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White had the task of covering some talented Gator wide receivers like Demarcus Robinson and Antonio Callaway. White had one ugly play where he lost his assignment in zone coverage, and that left a tight end wide open for a 19-yard touchdown. Other than that play, White was good in coverage. Robinson (2-41) has held in check by LSU.

    Michigan State 27, Michigan 23
  • Michigan State senior quarterback Connor Cook is a potential first-round and franchise quarterback prospect for the NFL. Cook was being challenged by a tough Wolverine defense that had produced three straight shutouts entering the game.

    On the first third down of the contest, Cook converted a third-and-9 by lofting a pretty back-shoulder throw to the sideline for gain of about 20. He followed it up with a number of nice passes to move the chains with well-located balls, including a nice play where he beat a blitz with a smart toss. Cook had some passes off the mark as well, but the Spartan receivers weren’t getting separation and dropped a lot of well-thrown balls, including a fourth-down conversion in the final quarter.

    Midway through the third quarter, Cook came up with a money play. He pump faked to help open his receiver, stepped up and dropped into beautiful corner post to his receiver for a 30-yard touchdown. Cook then executed a nice play-fake to get his fullback wide open. Cook hit him and rumbled 75-yards to the goal line. That set up the Spartans to cut the Wolverines’ lead to 23-21.

    On the next drive, Cook lofted in a pretty 28-yard pass to get into Michigan territory. He followed it up with another perfect toss while taking a big hit, but the ball was dropped. Cook then made a perfect throw to complete a back-shoulder pass for 26 yards that beat excellent coverage. The Spartans’ drives stalled out, as Cook’s receivers repeatedly dropped passes and the offensive line allowed a lot of pressure.

    Cook finished completing 18-of-39 for 328 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. He threw the ball a lot more accurately than the numbers indicate, as his receivers dropped a ton of perfectly thrown passes. He also made good decisions despite his line struggling in pass protection. Overall, NFL evaluators will like a lot of what they see on this tape. That being said, Cook had the look of a mid-to-late first-rounder, and not a top of the draft talent.

  • Michigan State senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun played well. He had a lot of pressures on quarterback Jake Rudock. In the second quarter, he came off the line and shed the right tackle to sack Rudock on a third down. In the third quarter, on a first-and-goal, Calhoun drew a holding call and got a pressure on the next play. Calhoun then beat the right tackle with speed around the corner to chase down Rudock for a sack. Calhoun is putting together an excellent season that is validating a first-round grade, and this tape will help accomplish those lofty estimations.

    Alabama 41, Texas A&M 23
  • Out of the gate, Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry was dominating Texas A&M. Henry was running hard and picking up first downs for the Crimson Tide early on. Midway through the first quarter, Henry broke into the secondary and set up the safety to miss on a cut back as he rumbled down the field for a 55-yard touchdown. On the first play of the second quarter, Henry had a run stuffed at the line, but he bounced around the left tackle to power into the end zone for a 6-yard score. Henry set a career high with 178 yards on 15 carries with two touchdowns by halftime.

    In the second half, the Aggies did a better job of defending Henry, but he still continued to run hard. Henry totaled 236 yards on 32 carries with those two scores. He also had an 18-yard gain on a screen pass.

    This tape will only serve to help Henry as he dominated Texas A&M to get his team a commanding lead. Henry is putting together a junior season that is making him an early-round pick in the 2016 draft.

  • Alabama senior linebacker Reggie Ragland looked good once again. He made a number of hard tackles on the perimeter against the Aggies’ spread offense. In the third quarter, Ragland came on a pass rush and chased down Kyle Allen for a sack. Overall, Ragland had a strong performance with a tape that will verify his early-round grade.

  • Aggies right tackle Germain Ifedi had a decent game. Texas A&M struggled to run the ball, but that wasn’t really the fault of Ifedi. Generally he was good in pass protection, although in the fourth quarter, Ifedi was beaten for a coverage sack. Overall, Ifedi shouldn’t have his draft stock hurt or benefitted significantly from this outing.

  • Texas A&M senior center Mike Matthews had some struggles with some potential NFL defensive lineman. Crimson Tide nose tackle A’Shawn Robinson pushed Matthews into the pocket on some passing plays, and Matthews couldn’t move Robinson in the ground game. Clearly, Matthews needs to get stronger for the NFL. This performance made him look like a day-three pick who is a developmental backup to start out his pro career.

  • Alabama junior defensive end Jonathan Allen continued his excellent season. He had a few highlights to go with a lot of solid plays. Early in the game, Allen had a rush to the inside and pummeled the quarterback to force a pass. He then fired by the right guard and bounced off Matthews to get a sack. Allen is having an excellent season and looks like an early-rounder.

  • The defensive star of the game for Alabama was junior safety Eddie Jackson. In the second quarter, Jackson read quarterback Kyle Allen and got in position to pick off an overthrown pass. He returned the easy interception 93 yards for a touchdown. To conclude the third quarter, Jackson read quarterback Kyler Murray’s eyes to undercut a route and pick off another throw.

    This season, Jackson has really thrived at free safety after playing cornerback during his first two seasons. As a corner, Jackson had a lot of struggles, but this year he has looked massively improved as a free safety playing the deep centerfield. He needs to fill out his frame to get stronger for tackling as a pro. Cover safeties are in demand in the NFL, so Jackson is on his way to putting his draft stock on the map.

    Baylor 62, West Virginia 38
  • In less than half a season, Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman set a school record for touchdown catches in a single year. Coleman was ridiculous, and the Mountaineers had no answer for him. On the first drive of the game, Coleman went over the top on a go route for a gain of 50 yards. He made a nice over-the-shoulder catch there. Coleman then ran a deep cross and exploded down the field for a gain of 41 yards. To finish the drive, Coleman caught a quick slant for a 2-yard score.

    Early in the second quarter, Coleman set the record with his 15th touchdown of the season. Coleman shed a jam and got open running into the end zone for an 11-yard score. Coleman then caught a quick slant and stopped on a dime to veer to the front corner of the end zone. Coleman darted into for the touchdown on a 33-yard score.

    Coleman totaled 199 yards on 10 receptions with those three scores. He had a dropped pass, but aside from that, this was an excellent tape for NFL scouts. Coleman showed the ability to get separation, break short catches for long gains, and get open downfield. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Coleman is said to run the 40-yard dash in the 4.3s and he could be the top speed receiver for the 2016 NFL Draft. This tape will help to send his stock up.

  • Baylor senior defensive end Shawn Oakman has been somewhat quiet this season while playing with a leg injury. Overall, that trend continued against West Virginia. In the second quarter, Oakman came alive with a tackle for a loss when he was basically unblocked. Oakman had a tackle for a loss for a third quarter when he was unblocked off the edge. He followed that up with a nice bull rush to get a pressure, but incurred a hands-to-the-face penalty.

    Multiple NFL teams told WalterFootball.com last year that Oakman was grading on the second-day of the draft if had decided to skip his senior year. The media has overhyped Oakman because of his imposing physical stature, but this game tape will mesh with others who believe he isn’t playing at a Sunday level.

  • Aside from Coleman, the player who really impressed in this game was Baylor junior defensive tackle Andrew Billings. In the first quarter, Billings had a bull rush through the center to collapse the pocket and redirected to take down the quarterback for a sack as he tried to scramble forward. It was an impressive pass rush from Billings. Shortly later, he continued to dominate the center with a powerful blast into the backfield to start a tackle for a loss. Billings moved through the line for another tackle for a loss.

    In the third quarter, Billings had to be helped off the field as two offensive lineman dived low at his knees. He had one leg caught underneath a blocker while the other one got hit. It wasn’t an illegal block, but should be. Billings’ season could have been ended by two lineman targeting his knees at the same time. He went into the locker room and had his ankle X-rayed, and fortunately he returned to the sideline with his helmet on.

    In this performance, Billings looked like a first-round talent with his strength and speed. He was overwhelming in the ground game and pass rush. If Billings is healthy, this game will help him to grade out as a first-rounder.

    Florida State 41, Louisville 21
  • Florida State cornerback Jalen Ramsey is one of the top defensive back prospects for the NFL. Sources said in the preseason they liked him more as a safety, and Ramsey has been a work in progress at corner. He was beaten for a 58-yard touchdown last week against Miami, and his man coverage skills need to be improved for him to stay at corner.

    On the first drive of the game, Ramsey was beaten on a third-and-long on a crossing route for Louisville to move the chains. He followed that by forcing an incompletion with blanket coverage and assisting some tackles. Ramsey then blew up a wide receiver screen for the loss of a few. Later, in the fourth quarter, a receiver had a slight step on Ramsey, but Ramsey recovered to slap the ball out of his hands.

    Overall, this performance was more of the same from Ramsey. He looks like a special prospect at safety while being just OK at corner.


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