2016 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 14

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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Stanford 41, USC 22
  • Stanford sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey is a Heisman Trophy contender, and he was going to be a big test for USC linebacker Su’A Cravens. Cravens has early-round potential for the 2016 NFL Draft, and McCaffrey has been on fire to close out 2015. While Cravens didn’t play poorly, McCaffrey ran wild over USC in a fabulous performance.

    On the first drive, Cravens made a few tackles, including a tackle for a loss on Kevin Hogan. After making some plays early, Cravens was pretty quiet against Stanford. However, USC was using him on the edge and a lot in pass coverage. He was playing some man coverage against tight end Austin Hooper, and the Cardinal ran away from him a fair amount.

    There were a number of plays where Cravens was swallowed up by Stanford offensive linemen and he couldn’t get off blocks on the edge. In the NFL, getting off blocks could be a real issue for Cravens, as he is undersized and could lack the strength to shed blocks.

    Cravens is an instinctive linebacker who projects well for the passing-driven NFL. However, in the early going of his pro career, he will need to be protected in the ground game with a scheme that lets him run free with defensive linemen occupying blockers. He could start out as a situational nickel linebacker if the scheme doesn’t help him.

  • This game featured two backup quality quarterbacks for the NFL with Stanford’s Kevin Hogan and USC’s Cody Kessler. Hogan has the better skill set for the NFL, but Kessler has been a more consistent passer in his collegiate career.

    Hogan showed his athleticism on a trick play when he caught an 11-yard touchdown pass. He ran in another score later. In the fourth quarter, Hogan had a really nice play to scramble in the pocket before hitting McCaffrey for a checkdown in space that turned into a 28-yard touchdown. Hogan was 9-of-12 for 144 yards with a touchdown against the Trojans. He looks like a day-three prospect.

    As for Kessler, who is also a day-three talent, he was 22-of-37 for 187 yards with a score. He lacks the physical skill set of a NFL starter. His size and arm hold him back, but he could be backup signal-caller who is a game manager.

    Michigan State 16, Iowa 13
  • Michigan State senior quarterback Connor Cook and wide receiver Aaron Burbridge were going against an NFL prospect in Iowa junior cornerback Desmond King. King entered the game tied for the lead in the nation with eight interceptions on the season. Of these draft prospects, King had the best performance in the Big 10 Championship.

    To start the game, Cook had a few well-placed passes to move the chains inside the 20, and one attempt saw his receiver get a step on King coming over in zone coverage. Cook missed an open receiver in the end zone while throwing on the run, and the Spartans settled for a field goal. Shortly later, Cook tried to get rid of the ball rather than taking a sack, and a defensive lineman made a great play to tip the pass to himself for an interception. While he was a little careless, the majority of the credit goes more to the lineman for making a superb play.

    In the second quarter, Cook had a nice throw to a check down to covert a third-and-3. However, to finish the drive, he took a coverage sack on third-and-10 at a bad time, as it pushed a field goal attempt over 50 yards, which was missed. He had a similar play in the third quarter where he missed an opportunity to throw away a pass to avoid a negative play, but ended up taking a sack.

    In crunch time, Cook made a great throw into a tight window between two defenders to Burbridge to convert a critical third down. He also converted a fourth down with an option run inside the 5-yard line. A few plays, later Michigan State scored the decisive touchdown. That kept the game-winning drive alive for Michigan State. Cook ended up completing 16-of-32 for 191 yards with an interception and no touchdowns.

    To close out the season, Cook has been playing with a shoulder injury, and perhaps that was hampering him, but he never got in a real rhythm against Iowa. The Hawkeyes’ tough defense seemed to rattle Cook, and he wasn’t trusting his eyes. There were a number of plays where he was locking onto his primary read and not scanning across the field. His timing and accuracy were off as well on a number of throws. Some passes sailed while others bounced short. In this performance, Cook didn’t look like a first-round franchise quarterback type, but his overall body of work will be the determining factor in that.

  • King, meanwhile, had sound coverage all night. In the third quarter, King had blanket coverage on an out route to slap a pass away for an incompletion. Michigan State didn’t test King much and didn’t have success when they threw his direction. If King enters the 2016 NFL Draft, this tape will help him to be an early-rounder.

  • Sources have said they see Michigan State senior defensive end Shilique Calhoun as a potential late first-round talent. He had an excellent performance in the Big 10 Title tilt. In the first quarter, he hit C.J. Beathard for a near sack and came close again shortly later.

    Calhoun later burned the left tackle with a speed rush around the corner to cream Beathard for a blindside strip-sack that was recovered by Iowa. Early in the third quarter, Calhoun once again used his speed and dipped underneath the left tackle to sack Beathard. He also made an impressive play to snuff out a screen. After his second sack, Calhoun was seeing some double-team attention from Iowa.

    This was a good tape from Calhoun that will help him to be a Thursday night selection.

    Alabama 29, Florida 15
  • Alabama junior running back Derrick Henry has been the engine of the Crimson Tide offense. He had a slow start against Florida before starting to play better in the second half. On the first play of the second quarter, Henry fumbled the ball away after a hit from Jarrad Davis, and Gators junior safety Marcus Maye recovered the loose ball. Later in the second quarter, Henry bulled his way through tackles from Maye and linebacker Antonio Morrison to score from a few yards out.

    This wasn’t a great game from Henry, but credit deservingly goes to a fantastic Florida defense. He totaled 189 yards on 44 carries with a score and a fumble. Henry has had a tremendous season, but these games of huge totals of attempts week after week are worrisome for NFL teams. He has sustained a lot of wear-and-tear entering his rookie season with one or two more games to go. Nick Saban has developed a reputation for running his players into the ground and sending them injured into the draft process. That could be the case with Henry and end up hurting his draft grade.

  • Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves is in the running to be the first cornerback selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he was seeing a tough test with Alabama star freshman wide receiver Calvin Ridley. In the first quarter, Hagreaves gave up a 14-yard gain to Ridley on a comeback route, but then Hargreaves came back to blanket Ridley with zero separation on an out route. Hargreaves almost had an interception, but Ridley slapped the ball out of his hands. Shortly later Harveaves hit Ridley hard on an end around for a nice open field stop.

    Just before half, Ridley beat Hargreaves running a deep post. The pass was thrown late, and that let Hargreaves come back in, but Ridley beat Hargreaves and safety Marcus Maye to make a leaping catch inside the 5-yard line.

    In the third quarter, Hargreaves was out-jumped for another deep ball that went for 32-yard touchdown. ArDarius Stewart ran by Maye on a corner post and Hargreaves tried to run over to help his safety, but Stewart high-pointed the ball over Hargreaves to get between the defenders for the score.

    Hargreaves made a good open field tackle on Ridley for a loss at the start of the fourth quarter near the goal line. On third-and-goal, Hargreaves was targeted, and this time beat Stewart to slap away a fade pass incomplete.

    Overall, this tape won’t help Hargreaves in his draft grade. Sources have felt that Hargreaves can get bumped around and out physicaled. That was given further evidence. Hargreaves is still a first-rounder, but this wasn’t the performance of a top-five talent.

  • Florida senior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard had another impressive tape. He stuffed a lot of runs and showed his speed to penetrate at the point of attack. In the first quarter, Bullard chased down Jacob Coker for a coverage sack. He later had a tackle for a loss on Henry on a third down. Throughout the game, Bullard made a number of good tackles in the ground game.

    Bullard has had a tremendous senior season to help his draft grade. He has been a dynamite run defender with a strong pass rush. Bullard’s body type is a tweener defensive end and tackle for a 4-3 defense. That makes him more of a second-day pick rather than a first-rounder.

  • Florida junior safety Marcus Maye is a future draft pick and could go on day two. While he recovered a fumble, Maye had some missed tackles and was beaten by receivers for big plays downfield. The way he struggled to track, high-point and break up some deep balls will hurt his draft grade.

  • Florida junior inside linebacker Jarrad Davis had an excellent game aside from one play. He had a forced fumble on Henry, made a good tackle in punt coverage, came close to a sack, stuffed a lot of runs, and tackled a receiver on an end around. The one big mistake that Davis had was a roughing the passer on a third down incompletion that gave Alabama a first down. Otherwise, Davis was excellent and this tape will help him to grade out as a second-day talent if he enters the 2016 NFL Draft.

  • Alabama’s tremendous defense has been led by senior linebacker Reggie Ragland, junior defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, junior defensive end Jonathan Allen, and junior defensive tackle Jarran Reed. They’ve all had excellent seasons for the Crimson Tide with strong performances against Florida. They shut down the Gators’ running game and applied steady pressure on quarterback Treon Harris.

    There were some highlight plays from the trio. On the second play from scrimmage, Ragland had a nice diving pass breakup. Ragland came close to a sack on a nice pass rush off the edge, but missed a tackle on tight end Jake McGee in the open field. In the first half, Reed stuffed a number of runs for no gain and got some pass pressure. Robinson and Allen then combined to sack Harris. Overall, they all had good tapes for their draft grades.

    Texas 23, Baylor 17
  • There were three future NFL defensive linemen in this game in Texas defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway, Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings, and Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman. Of the trio, Billings is the favorite to be selected first, and Ridgeway barely played because of an ankle injury.

    Billings was a real force against the Longhorns. Late in the first quarter, Texas tried to move the pocket on a third down, but Billings showed his strength to shed a block from the center with the speed and agility to chase down the quarterback. Shortly later, Billings collapsed the pocket again and came close to another sack. Billings then stuffed a third-and-4 carry for no gain after getting off a block. He repeated that early in the third quarter on another third down and stuffed another run at the point of attack.

    This was a tape that illustrated that Billings is a force at the point of attack. He stuffs runs, gets off blocks, and has the speed and agility to contribute in the pass rush. Billings looks like a future first-round pick as a nose tackle for a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. This tape will help him to achieve that draft grade.

  • Conversely, this tape shows why Oakman has been an overhyped player and really isn’t that good. Throughout the game, he was struggling in one-on-ones against Texas’ freshman left tackle. He had plenty of opportunities to rush the passer, and he did nothing. Oakman couldn’t shed or run around the tackle with speed while his bull rushes were getting stood up. There was one play where Oakman wrestled off the tackle to almost get a sack, but Tyrone Swoopes broke Oakman’s tackle to run for a gain.

    Aside from that play, Oakman was struggling to get off single blocks and was a non-factor against Texas. This tape illustrates that Oakman is not a first-round-caliber player despite his imposing size. Sources also have a lot of off-the-field concerns with Oakman. He looks like a second-day or mid-round pick.

  • Baylor wide receiver Corey Coleman had a torrid first half of the season before being slowed down late in the year. Against TCU the day after Thanksgiving, Coleman had only one reception in the game. Immediately, they got Coleman involved with two short passes, but Texas kept him from breaking off any long plays. Coleman had a bad drop in the first half. In the third quarter, Coleman got away with a push to make an impressive leaping grab.

    The Bears’ quarterback went out with an injury, and given that he was their third-stringer, Baylor had to play a backup wide receiver at quarterback with starter Seth Russell and reserve Jared Stidham already out with injuries. As a result, they struggled to pass the ball and had more success on the ground, Coleman had three receptions for 34 yards in what is probably his penultimate game for the Bears. Coleman looks like a second-day talent if he enters the draft.


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