2016 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 8

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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Oklahoma 63, Texas Tech 27
  • This game had the potential for a good draft matchup with Texas Tech left tackle Le’Raven Clark taking on Oklahoma edge-rushing linebacker Eric Striker. Clark has some day-two buzz for the NFL Draft, and Striker is one of the most dangerous pass-rushers in the Big 12. While Striker is a tweener for the NFL, this could provide a nice view as to how Clark handles undersized speed rushers.

    On their first play against each other, Clark mirrored Striker and held him up. Striker didn’t have strength to get Clark’s hands off of him. Shortly later in the first quarter, Striker lined up over the right tackle and made a leaping interception with a return of about 20 yards to the 2-yard line.

    In the third quarter, Striker tried to use speed to turn the corner on Clark, but Clark had the quickness in his kick slide to head off Striker and then strength to ride him around the pocket. Clark then got a serious push to lead the Red Raiders for a goal-line touchdown run.

    Striker flew by the right tackle to get a clutch sack on a fourth down during the final quarter. The right tackle had no chance against Striker. On the next drive Striker added another sack after beating the right tackle and bouncing off a running back to chase down the quarterback.

    Overall, Clark really showed well against Oklahoma. He has a nice ability to bend at the knees with the quickness and agility to head off speed rushers. He also sustained his blocks pretty well and was quick to the second level for blocks in the ground game. Clark could stand to add more power for NFL run blocking, especially if he is in a power-man scheme. Oklahoma State will be a tougher test, but the Sooners could be the second-hardest he’ll see this season, and Clark looked good. This tape will help his draft stock and Clark looks like he has top-50 potential.

    Striker got in on some run tackles, but while going against NFL quality blocker in Clark, Striker did not have success. He did much better against the right tackle. Striker looks like a luxury pick as a situational pass rusher for the NFL.

  • Oklahoma junior cornerback Zack Sanchez had an unfortunate Saturday. On the first play from scrimmage, Sanchez made a leaping pass breakup. He landed on his right leg awkwardly and Sanchez sustained an injury that had him wheeled off the field. Sanchez did not return to the game. His injury is worth monitoring as it could have a big impact on his draft stock and decision to return for his senior year or enter the 2016 NFL Draft.

    Alabama 19, Tennessee 14
  • Tennessee has a talented rushing attack led by halfback Jalen Heard and quarterback Josh Dobbs. They were going against a loaded Crimson Tide front seven. Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive tackle Jarran Reed, defensive end Jonathan Allen, and linebacker Reggie Ragland are all future NFL players.

    The Alabama defensive line trio made some plays but this wasn’t one of their better performances of the season. Reed was very active in the first half, as he stuffed a number of runs while also applying some hits on the quarterback. In the fourth quarter, the Volunteers ran at Reed’s side, and he was blocked well by a freshman guard to let Jalen Heard run into end zone and take the lead.

    Late in the fourth quarter, Allen bull-rushed through the guard and center for a sack, his sixth of the season. Robinson recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter and had some mixed plays. Ragland had some missed tackles, but also had other hard hits on ball-carriers. Overall, this tape should be neutral for all of them.

  • Alabama running back Derrick Henry continued his touchdown streak. In the first quarter, Henry charged up the middle and showed some nice vision to work his way upfield with the strength to charge through some arm tackles for a touchdown run of about 20 yards. After that play, Henry ran hard, but Tennessee did a superb job of preventing running lanes.

    Late in the fourth quarter, Henry came through with a run off tackle for a 14-yard touchdown. Henry totaled 142 yards on 28 carries with two scores. He also had some good blocks in pass protection. This tape will only serve to confirm an early-round grade for Henry.

  • Tennessee wide receiver Cameron Sutton had a rough game against Alabama. In the first quarter, Sutton was called for pass interference when he didn’t even touch the receiver, but it still was a bad play for Sutton, as he lost track of the ball to allow Calvin Ridley to make a leaping grab over him. In the third quarter, Sutton made a really nice play where he drove on the ball and broke up a short pass in the end zone. It was almost identical to the interception in the Super Bowl last year, but Sutton didn’t catch the pass.

    Sutton was beaten on a slant by Ridley in the fourth quarter for a gain of about 20, but a penalty bailed Sutton out. Late in the fourth, Sutton was beaten on a third down by Ridley, out-leaping him for 15 yards to move the sticks. Overall, this tape will hurt Sutton’s draft stock. He allowed separation and did not look good on 50-50 passes.

    Arkansas 54, Auburn 46
  • This game featured some NFL battles with the Razorbacks’ tough ground game going against some talent in the Auburn front seven. Razorbacks left tackle Denver Kirkland and left guard Sebastian Tretola are the road-graders who pave the way for junior running back Alex Collins. Trying to stop them were Auburn defensive tackle Montravius Adams and linebacker Cassanova McKinzy. The Arkansas group was more impressive, as they had a lot of success running at Auburn.

    In the early going, Tretola and Kirkland opened a nice hole for Collins to rip off a 10-yard run, and Collins abused a safety. Quarterback Brandon Allen went behind Tretola, Kirkland and tight end Hunter Henry for a nice short yardage run on a third-and-short. In the third quarter, Tretola helped close off a defender for Collins to score from seven yards out. Tretola and Henry got out in front to lead the way for Collins to rip off a gain of 21 on a screen pass that set up a field goal.

    Tretola was really impressive versus the Tigers. He showed the power to push defensive linemen out of their gap and open running lanes. His ability to bend at the knees with great pad level allows Tretola to play with excellent leverage. That translated in pass protection for him to have a strong base. He also showed nice athleticism for speed rushers. There were a number of scouts at this game watching Tretola, including one general manager, so he picked a nice time to add another impressive performance to his strong 2015 season.

  • Collins totaled 109 yards on 25 carries with three receptions for 39 yards. For the second-day of the draft, Collins is a nice value pick. He’s a tough, physical runner, but not special athletically with speed for the NFL.

  • Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry started this game hot and showed his receiving skills. On the first drive, Henry looked excellent, as he caught three passes for 51 yards including a 22-yarder on a third down and a 23-yard gain on the very next play. Henry was getting open while showing soft, natural hands to haul the passes in.

    After that, the Razorbacks went away from Henry in the passing game, which didn’t make sense considering Auburn couldn’t cover him. They finally went back to Henry in overtime when they needed a third-down conversion and Henry delivered with a good catch while taking two hits immediately after making the reception. He totaled four receptions for 62 yards while doing a nice job contributing as a blocker. This tape will help Henry’s draft grade, and he could be the top-rated tight end if he enters the draft.

  • McKinzy did not have a good performance against Arkansas. He wasn’t impacting the run game and consequently got picked on in pass coverage. In the second quarter, McKinzy let tight end Jeremy Sprinkle escape to the flat and get wide open for a 23-yard touchdown. McKinzy was guessing that Sprinkle was just running an out route, but he ran an out-and-up to get plenty of separation from McKinzy. Sprinkle was wide open for an easy touchdown.

    McKinzy looks stiff and slow in pass coverage. This tape could hurt his stock and cause teams not to view him as a three-down starter. McKinzy looks more like a run-stuffer for first and second down, but in the passing-driven NFL, those kind of linebackers are now playing less than 50 percent of defensive snaps. This performance could send McKinzy’s stock lower.

  • Adams was a non-factor. He didn’t have an impact in the ground game or the pass rush. He might be playing too many snaps for Auburn, but this tape won’t help his draft stock, as he went against some future NFL offensive linemen and did next to nothing.

    Texas 23, Kansas State 9
  • This game had the potential for a good draft matchup. Texas defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway has been very impressive this season, while Kansas State left tackle Cody Whitehair is considered to be an early-round prospect. Texas moves Ridgeway around the line, and Whitehair had some struggles in other games with powerful defensive linemen. Unfortunately, those two rarely lined up versus each other.

    During one snap when they did in the fourth quarter, Ridgeway got a push on Whitehair before using a fast spin move to the inside. He bounced off the left guard and hammered the quarterback for an incompletion on a third down.

    Ridgeway had other nice plays where he fired into the backfield to blow up some runs. In the third quarter, Ridgeway snuffed out a third-down screen with great hustle to run and pummel the back short of the first down. Shortly later, he blew by the left guard to pressure the quarterback out of the pocket on a third-and-long. Overall, this was a good, but not great game from Ridgeway.

    Whitehair was the same. He looked better in this game than he did against Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, but Texas didn’t have an end as good as Ogbah. Whitehair has nice knee bend and some athleticism, but he looks like a second-day pick at guard for the NFL.

    Memphis 66, Tulsa 42
  • Memphis junior quarterback Paxton Lynch has been a hot name after leading his team to an undefeated start with an upset over Ole Miss last week. Lynch has received some NFL Draft hype, and the 6-foot-7, 245-pounder could be a breakout junior who rises up draft boards.

    After a slow start against Tulsa, Lynch got going and completed 12 straight passes. He made a pretty good throw to the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown. His timing and placement was a little off, but the throw was good enough to let his receiver run untouched for about 30 yards and the score.

    At the end of the first quarter, Lynch took a deep drop and threw a bomb down the middle of the field on a post route for a 45-yard touchdown. Lynch then showed some nice arm strength throwing a deep out from the far hash for a completion downfield. That set up Memphis to score their third touchdown of the game. Lynch threw another score when he had a running back get wide open in busted coverage for a 21-yard touchdown. While it was a very easy throw, Lynch showed nice field vision on that play to move his eyes and find his back.

    It wasn’t all good, as late in the half, Lynch didn’t see a linebacker dropping into a throwing lane, and he got lucky that the linebacker dropped the pass. It was an easy interception that the defender should have caught.

    To start the third quarter, Lynch made another great throw down the middle of the field for a gain to the goal line. It was a 45-yard gain as Lynch had pressure in his face but showed a strong arm by firing the ball deep off his back foot. He followed that with a perfectly thrown pass along the sideline for 25 yards, and a beauty on a back shoulder throw for 30 yards. Lynch then ran the ball in for a touchdown on a bootleg. He threw another score, a 5-yarder, with a perfectly placed pass high in the back of the end zone.

    Lynch finished completing 32-of-44 for 446 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions (although he should have had one). This was a very impressive performance where Lynch showed an arm that can make all the throws for the pro game. He displayed the ability to pass accurately and beat good coverage with precise completions into tight windows. He also showed some athleticism with lots of throws on the run. Lynch has more running ability than was seen in this game, but that’s okay because this tape will show NFL evaluators more of his pocket passing potential.

    Lynch could stand to continue to improve on his eye movement with scanning the field, working through his progressions quickly, and not starring down receivers. As one astute general manager told me, almost all quarterback prospects have flaws and areas to work on, and Lynch is no different.

    Still, Lynch’s draft stock is rising and this tape will only serve to reinforce that. Lynch showed against Tulsa that he has a NFL skill set and is a serious prospect for the next level.

    UCLA 40, California 24
  • Cal junior signal-caller Jared Goff is the consensus top quarterback prospect for the 2016 NFL Draft, and while UCLA blew out the Bears, Goff gave some evidence of why he’s held in such high regard.

    The first half went poorly for Cal, though Goff led a field goal drive with some nice third-down conversions. In the second quarter, Goff was off the mark on a number of throws and was lucky a few weren’t intercepted. He used his mobility well to escape a collapsing pocket and kept a lot of plays alive. Late in the half, he stepped up in the pocket and lofted in a beautiful touch pass to set up a first-and-goal. Goff finished the drive with a perfectly placed fade pass for a touchdown.

    In the third quarter, Goff continued to make some good throws including a flea-flicker bomb that he couldn’t step into but still completed deep downfield. To finish that drive, he rolled out, reset his feet, and delivered a strike past a few defenders for a short touchdown. In garbage time, Goff made a tremendous play to slide in the pocket before throwing a perfect pass to hit his receiver on the run down the seam for a touchdown.

    Goff completed 32-of-53 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. Goff missed some throws he should have completed and was fortunate a few poorly placed passes weren’t intercepted, but his offensive line was absolutely dreadful. They let Goff take some huge hits, and he rarely had clean pockets to throw from. Plus, the Cal defense was ripped from start to finish so Goff and the Bears offense were never in good positions while always playing catch up. Overall, Goff showed NFL evaluators the ability to move around in the pocket with the arm to make some excellent touch passes accurately downfield. He also showed good poise despite getting pummeled. This tape shouldn’t hurt his draft grade.

  • UCLA defensive tackle Kenny Clark has been enjoying a strong 2015 season, and this performance was more of the same. Clark overwhelmed the Cal offensive line. He stuffed a lot of runs and was constantly filling his gap in the ground game. The Bears’ offensive linemen couldn’t move him. Late in the game, Clark ramped up his pass rush to help UCLA slam the door. Clark bull rushed through the center to get a sack. He had the center on roller-skates as be rolled into the pocket. On the next play, Clark burned the right guard with speed and leverage to get another sack of Goff. Late in the fourth quarter, Clark showed a nice motor to chase down a screen.

    This tape will help Clark’s draft grade, as he showed the strength to defend the run and the ability to get after the quarterback. Clark has early-round potential, and this tape will help him to grade out as a first- or second-rounder.

    Temple 24, East Carolina 14
  • There were two NFL linebacker prospects in this game. The best of the two was Temple’s Tyler Matakevich. Matakevich has been enjoying a strong senior year including superb performances against Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg and Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel.

    In the first quarter, Matakevich came unblocked off the right side to register his fourth sack of the season. Matakevich then made an impressive open-field tackle on a back making a cut back off a zone run. Late in the second quarter, Matakevich was a little slow and lumbering dropping down the middle in zone coverage. That allowed a tight end to sky high above Matakevich’s leaping hand to make a reception inside the Temple 20.

    Matakevich had a pass thrown right to his gut in the third quarter by the quarterback that didn’t see him dropping underneath the outside receiver running a cross. It was the easiest interception he’ll ever have, and to his credit, he didn’t drop it. He also made some tackles in the flat on receivers and backs, but in the NFL, he probably wouldn’t have got there in time with the speed of professional skill position players.

    Matakevich had a strong game with a good tackle total to go along with a couple of splash plays. He is a tough, physical linebacker. He looks short on NFL speed, movement skills and athleticism, so his best fit could come as a thumper linebacker in a 3-4 defense. This tape could help Matakevich to get into the second day of the draft.

  • The other linebacker prospect was East Carolina’s Zeek Bigger. He had a decent game for the Pirates. Bigger made some tough tackles right away, filling holes at the line of scrimmage. In the third quarter, Bigger shot a gap to stop a second-and-2 for no gain. Bigger then overpursued, firing into the backfield, and the back escaped on a touchdown run that basically put the game away for Temple.

    Bigger is quick and athletic. For the NFL he looks like he would be better as an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense. Bigger looks like a day-three talent.


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