2017 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 2

This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2017 NFL Draft Prospects have performed. Or look at the 2017 NFL Draft Stock page (link coming soon).

By Charlie Campbell.
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Utah 20, BYU 19
  • I know NFL evaluators who like the potential of BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, but want to see him stay healthy for a season. Hill survived Week 1 of the 2016 season, and he was going to see a tough test against Utah. Utah has some good pro talent on its defense, including a future early-round pick in safety Marcus Williams. The Utes also feature some potential NFL defensive lineman in tackle Lowell Lotulelei and end Hunter Dimick.

    The first play from scrimmage was a disaster for BYU, as Hill had a pass off the mark and his receiver deflected it up in the air. It was picked off and returned 41 yards for a score. It looked like Hill and his wideout weren’t on the same page, as the receiver sat down on the route when Hill led him as if he was going to keep running. Judging by the their reaction, it looked like it was Hill’s mental mistake.

    In the second quarter, Hill got loose on a zone read for a 39-yard touchdown run. Dimick later came through with a big play as he beat the right tackle with a speed rush to hit Hill as he was throwing. That sent the ball fluttering up for grabs and Utah was able to pick it off.

    Shortly later, Hill made a terrible pass off the mark and it was intercepted by cornerback Reginald Porter. The receiver was to the inside of the defensive back and Hill threw for the back shoulder which caused the ball to go directly to Porter. As a senior signal-caller, Hill should know better than that.

    Late in the fourth quarter, Hill engineered a touchdown drive where he threw some good passes before using his feet to finish the possession with a 7-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion attempt was a quarterback draw, but the offensive line missed their blocks and Dimick helped bust the play to stop Hill short of the end zone.

    Hill ended up completing 21-of-39 passes for 176 yards with three interceptions. He ran for 87 yards on 13 carries with two scores. Overall, this was not a good tape for Hill, as he had ball-security issues and poor ball placement that led to turnovers. This tape will hurt Hill’s draft grade.

  • Dimick played well for the Utes and put pressure on Hill throughout the game. This was a quality tape for him.

    In the ground game, Lotulelei is very stout. He holds his ground well and BYU couldn’t move him out of his gap. However, Lotulelei didn’t show much in the pass rush. He looks like a nose tackle for the NFL who will come off the field in the sub package. Defensive tackles who don’t contribute in the pass rush have a hard time being first-round picks.

  • BYU safety Kai Nacua has had a fabulous start to his senior season. A week ago, he had a pick in the season opener. This week, he snatched two interceptions in the first half including a critical pick in the end zone to rob points from the Utes. In the third quarter, Nacua lit up a receiver coming across the middle, causing an incompletion. He led with his shoulder but was still called for targeting and ejected. It was a bad call, and Nacua made a good play.

    While his interceptions came on poor passes, Nacua still made the play when presented with the opportunity. Nacua has good instincts and does well at reading a quarterback’s eyes.

    Arkansas 41, TCU 38
  • This game had a good draft matchup with Arkansas offensive tackle Dan Skipper taking on TCU defensive end Josh Carraway. On the first drive, Skipper made a nice block on the second level to spring his back for a long run. Carraway then dipped nicely and used a speed rush to beat Skipper for a sack of the quarterback. In the fourth quarter, Carraway had a good goal-line tackle to stop the back for no gain. Skipper then almost allowed another sack to Carraway on a speed rush with a cut to the inside.

    At the end of regulation, Skipper was brought in on field goal defense, and he came through with a huge blocked field goal to ensure overtime for the Razorbacks.

    This game gave further evidence that the 6-foot-10, 319-pound Skipper is a right tackle candidate to the NFL. He isn’t a bad athlete considering how tall he is, but Skipper doesn’t have the feet or agility to be a left tackle in the pros. He can get movement in the ground game and is tough at the point of attack, but Skipper is going to need some development to take on NFL speed rushers and counter moves to the inside.

    Carraway, meanwhile, had a solid game getting after the quarterback, and could stand to get stronger in run defense.

  • The 2017 NFL Draft looks like it will have a strong class of tight ends, and one of the candidates to go on Day 2 or in the mid-rounds is Arkansas’ Jeremy Sprinkle. Sprinkle has some receiving skills and showed improved blocking over his junior season.

    In the first quarter, Sprinkle got open on a play-action bootleg and he rumbled for about 15 yards. Later, Sprinkle made a superb catch along the sidelines, extending to secure the ball while dragging his feet in bounds for a gain of 25 yards. In the fourth quarter, Sprinkle did have a holding penalty on a third down. He then made an acrobatic leaping catch over a defensive back, and then turned into the end zone with a 19-yard touchdown reception in overtime. Sprinkle totaled 58 yards on three receptions with the score, and Arkansas underutilized him.

    Sprinkle (6-6, 256) is well-rounded tight end, but doesn’t really have a dominant trait to be a first-round pick. He could be a solid contributor and would be a nice fit as a No. 2 tight end to pair with a true No. 1. Sprinkle could end up being a day-two selection.

  • Arkansas defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. was an effective situational pass-rusher who needed to evolve into an every-down defender to improve his draft standing. Wise was pretty quiet against TCU, but did perform better in run defense than he did last year. Early in the third quarter, Wise used speed to get upfield and then cut back to the inside to get a sack of Kenny Hill as he stepped up in the pocket. That was really the only big play he had against TCU. If Wise continues to show every-down ability and ramps up the pass rush over the 2016 season, his draft stock could really rise.

    Baylor 40, SMU 13
  • Entering the 2016 campaign, one of the top wide receiver prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft was SMU’s Courtland Sutton. Last week, he illustrated why as he started his season with three touchdowns against North Texas. Sutton has beat up on weak competition while playing for the Mustangs. Last year, he had an impressive game against Baylor, and the Bears were the best team on his 2016 schedule. They have more talent than Sutton typically sees on a weekly basis. Thus, this was a good opportunity to evaluate Sutton.

    In the first quarter, Sutton almost made a great touchdown catch on a short fade pass, but he was shaken up after landing hard with his back on the cornerback’s foot. Shortly later, Sutton ran an out and converted a third down with a nice catch. Sutton did that again on a third down with a gain of about 20 on a back-shoulder play where Sutton made a superb catch while falling out of bounds. Sutton drew a holding call and had four receptions for 77 yards in the first half despite his quarterback struggling.

    Late in the third quarter, Sutton ran a slant out of the slot and got the safety to bite on a fake. That led him to get wide open for a 20-yard touchdown. It was an excellent route from Sutton. He totaled 112 yards on six receptions with the score. This was a good tape for him, as he showed he could get separation and win on contested catches. Sutton looks like a potential first-round pick for the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • There was some buzz about Baylor quarterback Seth Russell as a future NFL prospect last year when he was a Heisman candidate prior to getting injured. Russell was very unimpressive in this game. Russell made a terrible decision as he stared down a pass into a crowd of receivers and defenders in the second quarter. It was an easy interception for SMU and set up the Mustangs deep in Baylor territory. Russell came back to make some nice throws on a drive to move the ball downfield, but his receiver fumbled just before crossing the goal line.

    In the third quarter, Russell lofted in an easy touchdown pass to give Baylor the lead, but then made a poor decision when he threw into double coverage. The free safety was obviously there and Russell had a poorly under thrown ball that floated to the defender. Russell came back to make a nice touchdown run and hit K.D. Cannon for a score.

    Russell completed 26-of-47 passes for 261 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran for 43 yards and a score on seven carries. Overall though, Russell showed that he needs to improve his accuracy, decision-making and pocket passing. Overall, this was an unimpressive performance against an inferior opponent and it will only serve to hurt Russell’s draft grade.

    Florida 45, Kentucky 7
  • Florida has become “DB U” in recent years because of the amount of defensive back talent they have generated for the NFL. This year will be no exception, and that was put on display in dominant fashion on Saturday. Gators junior cornerback Jalen “Teez” Tabor is one of the top cornerback prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft, and he was making his season debut. Tabor was suspended for the opener after reportedly getting in a fight with a teammate. He played very well against Kentucky, as Tabor started with a good blitz to help cause a sack for the Gators. In the second quarter, Tabor almost had an interception on a tipped pass, but he couldn’t quite reach the ball. The very next play, Kentucky set up a wide receiver screen and Tabor made a great read. That led him to drive on the ball extremely hard, flying by a blocker, and picking off the pass. This was an excellent first tape of the year for Tabor.

  • Like Tabor, Gators senior safety Marcus Maye is a potential first-round pick who played extremely well. Early on, he had a number of good open field tackles on backs in the open field. Maye was the last line of defense before the end zone and he made good, hard tackles. He really brought the lumber as well on several plays. Early in the third quarter, Maye was the deep center fielder and made an easy interception on a pass that floated to him. This tape will help Maye’s first-round hopes in the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Florida junior cornerback Quincy Wilson is the Gators’ replacement for Vernon Hargreaves III, and he showed that he is maintaining an excellent cornerback tandem for the Gators. In the first quarter, Wilson had perfect press man technique to run with Kentucky’s speed receiver down the sideline. Wilson used the sideline well, then made a tremendous interception tipping the pass to himself. He had good coverage on other plays and Wilson (6-1, 213) looks like he has a legit skill set as a cover corner.

  • One draft prospect who is one his way to a breakout season is Florida linebacker Alex Anzalone. On the first play from scrimmage, Anzalone fired into the backfield to get a blistering sack. The very next play, Anzalone showed his speed to make a tackle on the perimeter for no gain, and he tackled the quarterback on third down for no gain to complete the possession. Anzalone had other tackles and was impressive with some open-field tackles including one on Kentucky’s athletic, running backup quarterback. If Anzalone can stay healthy, don’t be surprised if becomes a hot prospect this year.

  • Kentucky center Jon Toth is on the Senior Bowl watch list and he was going to see some good defensive line talent with Florida. Toth was really the only Wildcat offensive lineman who played a decent game. He was blocking well in both phases, but the Wildcats offense was completely overwhelmed by the Gators offense, so it was hard for Toth to really impress.

    Pittsburgh 42, Penn State 39
  • One of the greatest moments of Week 1 of college football was the return of Pitt running back James Conner. Last year, Conner missed the season with a torn ACL and then had a bout with cancer. After beating cancer, Conner returned to the field last week but understandably looked rusty. Conner wasn’t happy with his play and he felt he could do better in Week 2. That was the case, as Conner played much better against Penn State.

    Early in the first quarter Conner ripped off a run of 24 yards on his first carry of the day as he ran over a safety and carried defenders for a few yards. Later on the drive, he showed his power again, breaking tackles on a run he bounced to the outside. Those were two of the biggest plays on a 98-yard scoring drive.

    In the third quarter, Conner had a nice play as a receiver to dodge a blocker and push through a couple of tacklers to get a first down. Showing more receiving skills is necessary for Conner’s NFL evaluation. Conner then dived over the top for a touchdown, but early in the fourth quarter, Conner was stripped of the football and Penn State recovered the fumble around Pitt’s 10-yard line.

    Conner helped make up for it with a 12-yard touchdown reception on a shovel pass where he showed a nice burst to weave through the defense. Conner totaled 117 yards on 22 carries with one touchdown. As a receiver, he had four receptions for 29 yards and a score. He looked a lot better than he did in Week 1 with more burst and power. This game should help stabilize his draft stock.

  • Pittsburgh has two senior offensive line prospects for the NFL with left tackle Adam Bisnowatny and guard Dorian Johnson. Bisnowatny has received more hype, but Johnson was the more impressive of the two.

    Bisnowatny has some athleticism with quickness and agility, but he needs to add a serious amount of strength for the NFL. Defensive ends speed rushes didn’t work against him, but they got penetration with some bull rushes including a near sack in the third quarter where Bisnowatny was bailed out by his quarterback. In the ground game, Bisnowatny is decent at shielding his man and getting draws, but he does not generate any push or movement. Until he gets stronger, Bisnowatny will have some struggles with NFL defensive lineman. He may need a redshirt season in a NFL strength and conditioning program at the pro level before he is really to compete.

    Johnson, meanwhile, had a quality performance against Penn State and was Pitt’s best blocker at opening holes in the ground game for Conner and the other backs. Johnson (6-5, 315) has a good size and build to him for the pro game. Improving his pass protection and handling speed rushers will be the biggest area of improvement for Johnson.

  • Penn State has two linebackers who are on the Senior Bowl watch list in Brandon Bell and Nyeem Wartman-White. Unfortunately, Bell was injured early in the second quarter and missed some time before coming back into the game.

    In the second quarter, Wartman-White had some nice plays with a tackle for no gain on a perimeter run and then a tackle for a loss playing off the disruption of his defensive end. However, Wartman-White had Pitt backs run through him on a couple of plays. He also made some clutch tackles and showed good skill to get through trash and hit the ball carrier. Overall, this was a solid tape for Wartman-White, as he showed NFL evaluators that he has made it back after missing all of last season with a knee injury.

  • Pittsburgh senior linebacker/defensive end Ejuan Price had an impressive start to the season in Week 1 with 1.5 sacks, and he continued that against Penn State. Midway through the first quarter, Price got by the left tackle with a speed rush and strip-sacked the quarterback. Pitt recovered to take over at the Penn State 12-yard line.

    Shortly later, Price came close to another sack but forced a third-down incompletion. Price was then unblocked and nailed the quarterback at the mesh point of a zone read run and forced another fumble that Pitt recovered. In the remainder of the game, Price was giving the offensive tackles a lot of problems and was consistently pressuring the quarterback.

    Price had three injury-plagued seasons before last year when he broke out with 11.5 sacks. At 6-foot, 255 pounds, Price is a better fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the in the NFL. If he continues to be a difference maker in the pass rush, his stock should rise as a senior.

    Louisville 62, Syracuse 28
  • Entering the 2016 season, one of the top edge-rushing prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft is Louisville defensive end/outside linebacker Devonte Fields. Last year, Fields had a very slow start to the season before going on a tear in the second half. Fields looked more like the player from the early portion of the 2015 season against Syracuse. Fields had some pass pressures, but didn’t produce any impact plays. He totaled three tackles. The Cardinals are going to need him to play a lot better next week against Florida State.

  • Louisville senior wide receiver James Quick could be playing at the Senior Bowl next January. He has some speed and route-running skills for the next level. Quick is listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, but looks a little shorter than that. Taking on Syracuse, Quick set the tone for the Louisville blow out.

    On the first play from scrimmage, Quick burned the Syracuse defense for a 72-yard touchdown. Quick ran out of the slot and faked a corner post before slanting down the middle of the field. Lamar Jackson lofted in a perfect pass to give Louisville the lead. In the fourth quarter, Quick fumbled the ball away after getting gang tackled on a short reception, but luckily for Quick, a teammate recovered the ball. Quick totaled four receptions for 108 yards and the score.

    Quick is a speedy slot receiver. He may not have the build to line up on the outside. A big matchup for Quick will be against Clemson in a few weeks as they have some NFL-caliber cornerbacks.

  • Louisville safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is a prospect for the NFL. He has a nice skill set, but doesn’t always play up to it. Late in the second quarter, Harvey-Clemons missed a tackle on a receiver, and that allowed him to dart into the end zone on a 47-yard score. The wideout wasn’t Harvey-Clemons’ assignment, but he still missed the tackle when he ran over to help. In the third quarter, Harvey-Clemons had the quarterback dead for a sack and forced an intentional grounding. Harvey-Clemons had five tackles with a tackle for loss. Harvey-Clemons looks like a strong safety prospect for the NFL, and he needs to show better pass coverage next week when Louisville takes on Florida State.


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