2017 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 3

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.

By Charlie Campbell.
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Michigan State 36, Notre Dame 28
  • Notre Dame signal caller DeShone Kizer quickly established himself as the top quarterback prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft this season. Kizer showed the skill set of why he is rated that high against Michigan State.

    In the first quarter, Kizer made some pretty plays to move the ball including converting a third-and-8 where he worked off his primary read to hit an out route for the conversion. A few plays later, he did a zone read and saw a receiver left wide open and Kizer lofted in a pass on the run to get his wide out the ball. He rumbled down the field for a gain of 49. Kizer then scrambled into the end zone from 14 yards out.

    Kizer had a hard time getting into a rhythm after that in the first half as the Spartans defensive line was winning at the point of attack. Kizer missed an open receiver on a deep out to fail to convert on a third-and-12. Kizer later tried to fire a ball by a defender but the pass was picked off. Kizer came back to loft in a beautiful sideline throw for 37 yards as he led his wideout perfectly down the sideline. The next play was even prettier as Kizer shook off a tackle and then threw a strike towards the front of the end zone but the receiver dropped the ball. However he caught a break as he had a pass short that a receiver tipped to himself over a defender and caught in the end zone for a score.

    On the next drive, Kizer stepped into a big hit from Malik McDowell, but the ball was placed well to let his receiver make a catch for 33 yards. He stepped up to deliver another throw of about 30. Kizer then ran behind his left tackle Mike McGlinchey and powered through a defender to get across the goal line on a short run. He followed that up with a drive where he showed good accuracy and field vision, finishing with a pretty touchdown pass to his tight end.

    Kizer finished completing 20-of-37 for 344 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He ran for two more scores. He made some accurate throws into tight windows while showing field vision to read the field. Kizer also hung tough and threw in the face of the rush and didn’t allow his vision to be distorted from the Spartans steady rush. Overall, this was a net positive performance for Kizer.

  • Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey is a first-round talent who was going against a good Michigan State defensive line. The star of that line is tackle/end Malik McDowell, another future first-rounder. Both players performed well for their teams.

    In the first quarter, McDowell was impressive as he shed the center and guard to get a tackle for a loss. McDowell then shed a block from McGlinchey to chase down Kizer for a tackle as the quarterback scrambled. Throughout the night, McDowell was giving the interior of the Irish defensive line a lot of problems and was getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. McDowell did have a lapse with an unsportsmanlike penalty. McDowell showed a serious combination of size and speed. He can used power to shed blocks and the speed to fire by blockers. He is a versatile defender who looks like a first-rounder if he enters the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Throughout the night, McGlinchey was dependable. There was that one play against McDowell and a couple of others where Kizer scrambled into McGlinchey’s defender, but he was reliable in pass protection and got a push in the ground game. He showed impressive power to open a goal line hole for Kizer and on a pancake block in pass protection. McGlinchey also is a future first-rounder based off this tape and his performance thus far in 2016.

    Alabama 48, Ole Miss 43
  • This game had a ton of NFL talent going head-to-head. Ole Miss senior quarterback Chad Kelly and tight end Evan Engram were seeing their toughest defensive talent of the season. Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey is a high first-round talent, while safety Eddie Jackson is an early-rounder as well. On the defensive front, Alabama has tremendous defensive tackle in Jonathan Allen to go with dangerous edge rushers in Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. Thus, this tape will be watched by every team throughout the months leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft.

    On the opening drive, Engram got open in the middle of the field for a 25-yard gain. It was a well-placed pass by Kelly. Engram then torched the Alabama secondary. Engram was in the slot and ran by two defenders to get wide open for a 63-yard touchdown. Crimson Tide redshirt junior safety Anthony Averett and defensive back Ronnie Harrison were the defenders who were primarily responsible for the bust.

    Kelly made a crucial mistake in the third quarter. After dropping back just in front of his own end zone, he held the ball way too long and didn’t feel the rush bearing down on him. Anderson strip-sacked Kelly as he was too loose with ball. Alabama recovered it for a touchdown. Kelly should have known to get rid of the ball, rather than holding on hoping to make a big play. That tied the game at 24 with Ole Miss blowing a big lead.

    Kelly came back to throw a 33-yard pass to Damore’ea Stringfellow to the goal line. Humphrey was right there and Jackson was a little late coming to help. The ball flew between them to get to his receiver. It was a perfect throw by Kelly that beat good coverage. There was another play where Kelly didn’t move his eyes to see Engram running open into the end zone and instead forced an incompletion to a covered receiver.

    In the fourth quarter, Kelly held on to the ball too long again and was hit by Tim Williams as he threw. The ball weakly flopped right into the chest of Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, and he returned the interception 75 yards for a touchdown. This was another example of Kelly having poor feel and internal clock that he needs to get rid of the ball. The gunslinger Kelly came back to make a touchdown pass and then another after a successful onsides kick.

    Kelly finished completing 26-of-41 for 421 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. However, Kelly didn’t play as well as the numbers illustrate. In fact, I think this is a bad tape for his draft status. Kelly gifted Alabama 14 points on his fumble and interception that were terrible plays of poor feel and decision-making. This is also the second time in three weeks that Ole Miss has blown a big lead, and mistakes from Kelly played a role in Florida State’s comeback win.

    While Kelly can’t be blamed for his defense struggling, he doesn’t show the leadership and intangibles to push his team to tough victories. He doesn’t have a killer instinct, and seems to get rattled by pressure. When you add in the off-the-field issues from his ego and behavior, it adds to the questions about his on field intangibles and ability to lead a team. Kelly has a big arm, but I don’t think he has the decision-making and steadiness in his play to be a first-round pick.

  • Engram totaled 138 yards on nine receptions in a tremendous performance. His blocking needs to improve for the NFL, but he is having a superb senior year that could vault him into being a Thursday night pick. Engram is an extremely fast, athletic mismatch weapon for an offense.

  • Alabama linebacker Ryan Anderson had a tremendous game for the Crimson Tide. In the first quarter, Anderson almost had a safety getting through the right tackle to get into the backfield. Anderson had an impressive rush to beat a block from Engram and then a running back, but he hit the quarterback late to get a roughing-the-passer penalty. After halftime, Anderson had a strip-sack on Kelly just in front of the end zone and Alabama was able to recover the ball and dive over the goal line for the score. Anderson is showing nice diversity in his game and this will help improve his draft grade.

  • Alabama edge rusher Tim Williams gave NFL teams a tape that indicates why he is a potential first-round pick. In the first quarter, Williams almost had a safety on a speed-to-power rush going through the Ole Miss left tackle Rod Taylor. Williams then used his speed and cut to the inside to get a pressure. He generated a holding call on that play which negated a third-and-long conversion. In the fourth quarter, Williams used his speed to fly by the right tackle and get a hit on Kelly that resulted in a 75-yard pick-six for Jonathan Allen. Both Williams and Allen produced good tapes against Ole Miss that will be an asset in their draft grades.

  • Alabama senior safety Eddie Jackson had a huge play to help Alabama mount their comeback. Just before halftime, Jackson returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown where he showed his speed and vision to make the huge play. In the third quarter, Jackson was late coming over the top to help Humphrey on a pass downfield and that allowed a completion. Other than that play, Jackson had a solid performance against Ole Miss.

  • Sources from multiple teams have told me that they view Alabama redshirt sophomore cornerback Marlon Humphrey as a high first-round talent. Humphrey had been superb early this year, but he had a bad game against Ole Miss. In the second quarter, Humphrey had perfect coverage on a wide receiver running a deep post down the middle of the field. While Humphrey didn’t allow separation, the receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow beat him on the jump ball for a 44-yard gain to set up a Rebels field goal. In the third quarter, Stringfellow had half a step on Humphrey and a perfect throw from Kelly was able to get the ball to the half-yard line on a gain of 33.

    On the next drive, Humphrey allowed a deep cross. The completions seemed to rattle Hupmhrey, as he got called for a pass interference shortly later. He came back to have perfect coverage and slap a pass away. Late in the fourth quarter, wide receiver A.J. Brown out-jumped Humphrey in the end zone to haul in a 37-yard touchdown. Once again, Humphrey was in good position, but didn’t play the ball well.

    If Humphrey bounces back in the weeks to come, one bad game shouldn’t impact his draft stock significantly. However, Humphrey has to improve his playing the ball. He is good at preventing separation, but Humphrey needs to get better at high pointing the ball to slap it away and not allowing completions over him.

  • Another draft matchup in this game was Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson taking on Ole Miss speed rusher Marquis Haynes. Unfortunately, they didn’t go against each other very much, but both players played well for their teams.

    Robinson had two false start penalties in the first half. However, Robinson was excellent in the ground game. At the end of the third quarter, Robinson cleared out a hole for his back to get into the end zone from a yard out. Robinson was reliable in pass protection including stonewalling a speed rush from Haynes on one rep. Robinson showed nice feet and quickness on that play. However, Robinson did have an ugly play versus Haynes. More on that below. Robinson looks leaner, quicker, and more athletic compared to last year. This tape should help him.

    In the second quarter, Haynes had good pursuit on a reverse to get a tackle for a loss. Haynes then had a blinding speed rush around the right side to get a sack-fumble with a vicious hit. Ole Miss scooped up the fumble and returned it for a touchdown. The right tackle blocked a defender in front of him and the right guard was an impossible situation to try and get back to block the speedster Haynes.

    Haynes had an impressive speed to power rush where he bulled Robinson and knocked the big tackle flat on his butt in the third quarter. However, Haynes did lose containment and that let Jalen Hurts escape for a first down run. Overall, Haynes has played really well this year and is such a weapon as a pass rusher off the edge. With how he played against Florida State and Alabama, Haynes stock could continue to rise.

    Nebraska 35, Oregon 32
  • The 2017 NFL Draft could be loaded at the running back position, and one of the prospects who could end up being a good value after the first round is Oregon’s Royce Freeman. Freeman had a nice start to this game with 31 yards on five carries, but he hurt his shin in the first quarter and was done for the day. Hopefully Freeman isn’t out long, as injuries and durability have a huge impact on a running back’s draft grade.

  • Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington is an early-round talent who was seeing a potential NFL safety in Nebraska’s Nate Gerry. Both players had some highlights and lowlights in this game.

    In the second quarter, Carrington got wide open, running a post from the slot, but the pass was overthrown for an incompletion. He had two receptions for 22 yards in the first half. After a bad drop, Carrington came back to make a big reception with a 14-yard slant that took the ball to the 1-yard line. That was Carrington’s final reception of the game, as he finished with 36 yards on three catches. On the final drive, he couldn’t outfight a defensive back on a pass.

    Overall, this tape won’t help Carrington’s draft stock. He has some speed, but could use more strength to win 50-50 passes.

  • When you watch the Cornhuskers, Gerry is always around the ball for Nebraska. In the first quarter, Gerry made a pretty play running over to undercut Carrington and slap a pass away for an incompletion. Gerry later made a touchdown-saving tackle downfield, and on the next play, he fired into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss. He was around the ball and getting in on run tackles all afternoon.

    There were a few plays were Gerry couldn’t chase down a run to the corner for a back-breaking long touchdown run. Gerry is a strong safety type for the NFL, but could be lacking the speed and athleticism to be a starting safety as a pro. He might be more of a backup and special teams contributor as a mid-round pick.

    Louisville 63, Florida State 20
  • There was the potential for a really good draft matchup in this game with Florida State left tackle Roderick Johnson going against Louisville edge rusher Devonte Fields. Johnson was embarrassed in the season opener against Ole Miss, so playing against Fields was an opportunity to show that game was an anomaly. Unfortunately, Louisville mostly lined Fields over the right tackle.

    In the first quarter, Fields used an inside to cut to run by Johnson and get a hit on quarterback Deondre Francois just after the ball was released. Fields later was left completely unblocked and he got a sack of Francois. After halftime, Johnson pushed Fields around the pocket, but Fields almost beat him with speed around the corner and Johnson had to reach after him rather than mirroring and walling him off. Fields had a good run stuff on a quarterback draw, and a few plays later, Johnson was called for an obvious hold. Overall, this tape won’t have a big impact on the draft stock for either player. Johnson’s performance was unimpressive and Fields was solid.

  • Florida State star running back Dalvin Cook never could get in a groove as the Louisville offense started the blowout from their its possession. Cook did show his running skill on some plays including a tremendous jump cut on one run. He totaled 54 yards on 16 carries with one catch for eight yards.

    However, Cook gave some more evidence that he has some ball-security lapses. In the first quarter, Cook and his quarterback screwed up a mesh point handoff and that led a fumble that was recovered by Louisville deep in Florida State territory. There have been other ball-security issues during Cook’s collegiate career like his fumble against Ole Miss and even against Oregon as a freshman. Cook doesn’t have fumblitis, but he needs to improve on this issue heading into his rookie season in the NFL next year.

  • Florida State defensive end Demarcus Walker was one of the few Seminole defenders who didn’t get completely embarrassed against Louisville. He had a nice tackle on an option run from the backside while also getting multiple hits on quarterback Lamar Jackson in the pass rush. Walker came close to a sack in the third quarter, but Jackson was able to scramble forward and dive to avoid a negative play.

    Walker did have a few negative plays, however. He made a poor decision on a zone read to open up a lane for Jackson to run for a touchdown. Walker was also called for a holding as he threw a receiver down in the flat. This tape shouldn’t have an impact on his draft stock, as Walker looks like a future first- or second-round pick.

    Miami 45, Appalachian State 10
  • Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya showed why he is a potential first-round pick against Appalachian State. Kaaya threw one dime after another in a dominant performance. He was deadly on third down and made beautiful passes into tight windows to beat good coverage.

    In the first quarter, Kaaya started well, including a perfectly thrown pass for what should have been about a 15-yard touchdown, but the pass was dropped by Stacy Coley. Kaaya came back to throw a 9-yard score to his tight end David Njoku with a well-placed ball to beat tight coverage. Shortly later, Kaaya found Coley wide open in busted coverage downfield for a 55-yard touchdown.

    There was one play that really illustrated why Kaaya is a potential early-round pick. On a third-and-long, Kaaya showed his powerful arm, throwing a deep out to the far hash across the field to convert. It was an excellent throw by Kaaya.

    In the third quarter, Kaaya rolled out on a play-action bootleg to throw a dump off to Njoku on the run and he took off down the sideline for a gain of 54 yards. However, on fourth-and-goal, Kaaya forced a pass to a well-covered back and it was picked off by Appalachian State’s Johnny Law. It was his one mistake in the game.

    Kaaya came back to convert a third-and-10 by throwing a beautiful bomb to lead his receiver Ahmmon Richards past double coverage for a 61-yard gain. It was perfect pass that illustrated Kaaya’s arm strength and the ability to put touch on the pass. That led to a rushing touchdown for the Hurricanes on the next play.

    Soon after, Kaaya made an outstanding play as he looked to his right, moved his eyes across the field, and then threw a perfect bomb to beat good coverage to Richard for a 64-yard gain. It was just a beautiful throw. A few plays later, Kaaya made a touch pass to Coley for an 8-yard score.

    Kaaya could use more development with his footwork. As a freshman and sophomore, Kaaya mainly worked out of shotgun, but this year he is doing a lot of work from under center under new head coach Mark Richt. Working under center is excellent for Kaaya’s NFL preparation.

    Kaaya dominated Appalachian State, completing 20-of-26 passes for 362 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. While he should thrive against this level of team, Appalachian State nearly beat Tennessee and shut down the Volunteers’ offense in Week 1, so they aren’t a complete pushover.

    This game illustrated that Kaaya has serious pocket passing talent for the NFL. His protection has been an issue in other outings, but when Kaaya is given time, he’s deadly. Kaaya showed that he has great arm strength, pocket presence and accuracy to throw in tight windows. He can throw perfect touch passes and has field vision to work through his protections. This tape made him look like a candidate to be a first-round pick and potential franchise quarterback.

    Houston 40, Cincinnati 16
  • Houston wide receiver Chance Allen came through with some clutch catches to help his team avoid a big upset. Cincinnati had the lead in the fourth quarter before the Cougars broke the game open. They wouldn’t have been in the game if not for Allen producing early when the game was on the line.

    In the first quarter, Allen ran a post route and got separation running across the field. The pass dropped in, and he blocked off the defensive back to make a 39-yard touchdown reception in the front of the end zone. Allen did well to use his 6-foot-3 frame to shield the ball from the defender as the pass delivery was late enough to let the defensive back close. In the second quarter, Allen ran a good route, working back to his quarterback after he scrambled to buy time. That reception went for close to 30 yards. In the fourth quarter, Allen made a beautiful sliding catch to help set up a critical touchdown for the Cougars.

    Allen totaled 94 yards on five receptions with the score. After being shutdown by Oklahoma in the season opener, he needed a good tape to help his draft grade, and this was that quality performance.

  • Houston senior cornerback Brandon Wilson was one of the stars of Week 1 in college football as he made some huge plays to help Houston upset Oklahoma. Against Cincinnati, Wilson flashed briefly. He got involved with a superb kick return of 56 yards that saw him bounce out of tackles and explode downfield. However, Wilson injured his ankle on that return and left the game for some time. When he returned, he didn’t look as fast or explosive and was quiet for the rest of the game. Fortunately for the Cougars, they didn’t need Wilson as they took control in the fourth quarter to blow the game open. The best receiving test for Wilson will come in late October with SMU’s Courtland Sutton. That game will be great for evaluating him against a pro-caliber wideout.

  • Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (5-11, 185) isn’t a pro quarterback prospect as he is very undersized. He’s shown improvement of his passing ability since last year, but he still lacks the arm strength and size to be a pocket-passing quarterback in the NFL. Ward is a dynamic athlete who should move to wide receiver or cornerback for the NFL.

    After throwing a nice first-quarter touchdown pass to Allen, Ward made a horrible pass into double coverage. The ball sailed over the receiver and to the deep safety for an interception deep in Houston territory. Ward had another interception after not seeing a defender dropping into his throwing lane. The height issue was evident on that play.

    Ward ended up with a good stat line though, throwing for 326 yards, running for 73 more and totaling three touchdowns – one passing, two rushing. However, this game illustrated that he is a good college quarterback but not a signal-caller prospect for the NFL.

  • Cincinnati center Deyshawn Bond is on the Senior Bowl watchlist, but this game won’t help him to earn an invitation to Mobile. He really struggled with Houston star freshman Ed Oliver. Bond got zero push on a run backed up on Cincinnati’s goal line, and that helped the Cougars to pick up a safety. He and the guards gave up consistent pressures to Oliver. Bond (6-1, 292) lacks strength in the ground game and really needs to get stronger for the NFL. This game made Bond look like a late-round pick at best.


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