2017 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 4

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.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Texas A&M 45, Arkansas 24
  • The first half of the opening quarter was missed because LSU vs Auburn ran late. ESPN is incapable of having games finish on time because of all their commercial breaks.

  • This game had a good draft matchup in the trenches. My No. 1 overall prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft is Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, and he was seeing a possible future starting right tackle in the NFL with Arkansas’ Dan Skipper.

    During the first quarter, Skipper had a blatant hold of Garrett and the officials actually called it. Garrett gets held all the time but doesn’t get as many calls as is warranted. Shortly later, Garrett took the ball away from Arkansas. A back fumbled the ball and Garrett ran by his blocker to scoop up the fumble. Later in the second quarter, Garrett came off a block to take down a back for a loss on a second-and-goal. That helped limit Arkansas to a field goal.

    Garrett was seeing a ton of extra blocking attention all night. He had constant double teams as Arkansas refused to let Garrett have one-on-ones in pass-rushing situations. He still was getting some heat on the quarterback, although he was getting caught up in trash when rushing from the inside.

    Midway through the third quarter, Skipper went for a cut block and dived with his helmet straight at the knee of Garrett. After writhing on the ground, he limped off the field. Garrett walked it off on the sideline and returned to the game, but wasn’t the same. It was a dirty hit from Skipper that should be illegal and land him a suspension. Garrett hobbled through some plays but left the game early and it made sense as the Aggies opened up a big lead in the fourth quarter. He went into the locker room with the trainers before the game was over with a noticeable limp.

    Overall, this game shouldn’t hurt Garrett’s draft stock at all unless he sustained a serious injury. A serious injury is really the only thing that could cause him to fall in the top 10 picks of the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Garrett’s battery mate is Aggies defensive end Daeshon Hall. He is another speed rusher, but struggles with consistency. That was seen again versus Arkansas. Hall was very quiet until the fourth quarter when he used his speed to fly by tight end Jeremy Sprinkle and the right tackle to get a sack-fumble that was recovered by Texas A&M deep in Arkansas territory. That led to a Aggies touchdown that put the game out of reach. Hall could be a nice value as a mid-round pick and situational pass rusher, but he needs development to be more consistent and turn into an every down starter.

  • Sprinkle doesn’t get a lot of acclaim, but I think he could be a starting tight end in the NFL. In the first quarter, Skipper got open down the seam for a gain of about 20 yards. Sprinkle came through with another tough catch to move the chains after halftime. He totaled four receptions for 46 yards while also contributing some blocking in the ground game. Sprinkle’s senior year performance gives him the look of a second-day prospect.

  • Arkansas has an edge-rushing prospect of their own in Deatrich Wise Jr. He flashed his pass-rushing skills against the Aggies. In the second quarter, Wise had a sack when he looped to the inside on a stunt. Wise later exploded into the backfield after slapping off the left tackle. He combined with two teammates for another sack. Wise has improved his run defense to take on a bigger role this season and looks like an early-round prospect with starting potential in the NFL.

  • Texas A&M junior safety Armani Watts had a huge game against Arkansas. In the first half, he stripped a running back just in front of the end zone for a point-saving fumble. He stopped some goal-line runs before coming up with another huge change in possession. Later, on a fourth-and-goal, he read a perimeter run and fired into the backfield to make a superb open-field tackle for a loss. Watts then had a blistering hit on the quarterback to force an incompletion on a fourth-and-1. Essentially, Watts produced three turnovers for the Aggies with his big plays. Watts was a physical force in this game and has shown improvement in his tackling over his sophomore year. Watts is a prospect to keep an eye on.

  • Unfortunately, Garrett wasn’t the only Aggie draft prospect who got injured and left this game early. Senior safety Justin Evans has been enjoying a good season and had a breakout in Week 1 against UCLA. Unfortunately Evans went out with a shoulder injury, came back to the field for a bit, and then went into the locker room early.

    Wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones made a big impact before leaving hurt as well. In the second quarter, Seals-Jones got open and broke down the sideline for a 47-yard gain. In the final minute before halftime, Seals-Jones was blocking and had a ball carrier and tackler roll up on his ankle and Seals-Jones had to be helped off the field. Hopefully both players won’t be injured significantly, as they need the opportunity to play to improve their draft grades.

    Stanford 22, UCLA 13
  • Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is a dynamic playmaker who was seeing some quality defensive talent against UCLA. While the Bruins kept McCaffrey from breaking any long runs, this was a positive tape for McCaffrey in his NFL evaluation. The reason is McCaffrey ran hard and physically. He fought through tackles and showed some power to keep his legs going after getting hit. McCaffrey wasn’t pummeling tacklers, but he handled a big workload and fought for tough yards all night.

    McCaffrey totaled 138 yards on 26 carries despite his longest gain being only 13 yards. He also had two receptions for 13 yards, so McCaffrey had to fight to get those yards. The big question with McCaffrey in terms of the NFL is if he has the build to be a bell-cow back. This game could help some teams to think he does have the strength to hold up in that role and increase his chances of going high in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes was seeing a tough test in Stanford’s rushing game. Early in the first quarter, Stanford ran right at Vanderdoes and knocked him out of his gap to get McCaffrey a run of more than 10 yards. After that, Vanderdoes played better and was generally stout. He maintained his gap on most plays and wasn’t getting moved off the line of scrimmage.

    In the pass rush, Vanderdoes needs to improve his hand usage to get blockers off of him. He has a career total of 1.5 sacks in 29 games entering this contest. Thus, he looks more like a two-down nose tackle in the NFL.

  • Stanford wide receiver Michael Rector has some pro potential, but he was shut down by UCLA. Rector wasn’t getting separation from the Bruins defensive backs. He was held to only one catch for three yards, and the limitations of the Stanford passing offense hurt the Carindal’s ability to sustain drives. Rector needs to show more in the weeks to come.

    Tennessee 38, Florida 28
  • Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett had a nice test with Florida left tackle David Sharpe. Sharpe is more of a guard or right tackle prospect, but still has the potential to be playing on Sundays. In the first half, Sharpe was getting the better of the battle. However, Barnett came alive in the middle of the third quarter, and dominated the rest of the game.

    When the Volunteers needed some stops to mount their comeback, Barnett used his speed to run around Sharpe and chase down the quarterback for a sack. That got Barnett going as he crashed a run play to get a tackle for a loss shortly later. A few plays afterward, Barnett burned Sharpe again for another sack. Barnett then batted a pass in the end zone that he almost caught for a pick-six.

    Overall, this was a good tape for Barnett, as he showed the speed to turn the corner. He is a smooth rusher with good body lean and hand usage. Sources say that they think Barnett is very similar to Shaq Lawson and this game was proof of that. Like Lawson, Barnett could be a top-20 pick in his draft class.

  • Another defender who really impressed in this game was Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley. Early on, he had a stuff on the goal line to help lead a stand for Florida. Brantley then swam over the right guard and exploded into the running back to get a tackle for a loss. In the third quarter, Brantley hit Josh Dobbs’ arm as he threw and that led to an interception for the Gators. Brantley then blew up a run in the backfield to create a tackle for a loss for a teammate. The next play, Brantley almost had a sack. Brantley was causing a ton of disruption all game. He was blowing up run plays in the backfield and getting pressure on the quarterback. This was a tape that will help him to grade out as a first-round pick.

  • Florida linebackers Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzaolone were seeing a good test with Tennessee power back Jalen Hurd and running quarterback Josh Dobbs. Overall, Anzalone played a better game. Davis had some nice plays, but he doesn’t look as dynamic as he was last year. Davis had a few missed tackles and a face mask penalty. He also had a number of good run fills. In pass coverage, he had an ugly play to help Tennessee mount their comeback victory. At the end of the third quarter, Davis was beaten for a 20-yard touchdown by the tight end running straight down the seam. This tape is going to hurt Davis’ draft grade.

    Anzalone had a great play on the goal line to stop a run. He had some good blitzes to get pressure on the quarterback, and was in good position on a number of pass plays. Anazlone has been one of Florida’s best and most consistent defenders this season.

    Hurd had a slow start to the season, but he rebounded against Florida. He looked like his 2015 self as he ran through a number of tackles to rip off yards after contact. Hurd was hitting the hole faster and more decisively against the Gators than he was in the previous games. In the third quarter, Hurd got wide open running a wheel route into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown. Hurd totaled 95 yards on 26 carries with two receptions for 25 yards. This tape will help to get Hurd back on track.

  • Florida has a number of defensive back prospects for the NFL and one of the best corners for the 2017 NFL Draft is Gators junior Jalen Tabor. In the first quarter, Tabor ripped the ball out on a run tackle, but the officials missed the call. Shortly later, Tabor had a missed tackle on Alvin Kamara and that would happen a few more times. He was also late lining up and that led to a receiver getting a step on him for a completion of about 20 yards downfield. Tabor came back in the third quarter as he had blanket coverage in off man. Tabor read Josh Dobbs’ eyes and cut in front of the receiver to get an interception. It was a superb play that Tabor made look easy, but is not a simple play for your average corner.

    Later in the third quarter, Tabor was injured and had to go into the locker room. Tabor came back to the field, but it got worse for him as Tabor fell down in coverage and that allowed a 67-yard touchdown for Tennessee to take the lead for good. Tabor has to improve his tackling and play with more overall discipline. He is a first-round talent, but some teams might prefer more disciplined players like Alabama’s Marlon Humphrey or USC’s Adoree’ Jackson.

  • Florida senior safety Marcus Maye had a mixed game against Tennessee. Early in the first quarter, Maye had a tremendous play on a fourth-and-goal. He was on the inside in man coverage and he went around a scrum to explode on the ball. Maye slapped the pass away for an incompletion. It was a phenomenal play from the senior. However in the fourth quarter, Maye made a poor play as he took some false steps and took a bad angle on a receiver crossing the field. As the last line of defense, nobody else was in position to stop the receiver and that let him get the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown. Overall, Maye is a good player that looks on the bubble of being a Thursday night selection.

    Michigan 49, Penn State 10
  • One of the most hyped prospects in the nation is Michigan defensive back Jabrill Peppers. He entered this week as the nation’s leader in tackles for a loss while also providing a huge impact as a returner on special teams. He displayed those skills against Penn State.

    On the first punt of the afternoon, Peppers dropped the ball, but he scooped it up to streak down the field weaving through defenders before he was tackled in front of the end zone. It was a great return of 53 yards after the initial drop.

    Throughout the game, Peppers was doing well as a dime linebacker and nickel cornerback but didn’t have a lot of action come his direction. He was in on some tackles including a nice play where he fired off the edge.

    Peppers looks like a good fit in that hybrid safety/linebacker role in the NFL. He could be a good coverage weapon on the tight end and help defend backs out of the backfield. Peppers also will help with the ground game and can blitz. A creative defensive coordinator could get a lot of use out of Peppers.

  • Michigan senior defensive end Chris Wormley had an impressive game against Penn State. On the first third down of the afternoon, he shed the right tackle and chased down the quarterback for a sack that was nearly a safety. He came close to another sack when he used speed to run by the right guard and helped finish the tackle for Michigan. Wormley then got off a scrum to get a coverage sack as the quarterback stepped up in the pocket.

    Wormley was stout in run defense and also showed nice hustle chasing a runner down in the flat. This was a very good tape for Wormley, as showed pass rushing skills at tackle and end. He displayed good hands to shed blocks, strength at the point of attack, and the speed to close. This will help his draft grade significantly.

  • Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis missed time early this season, but has played well since returning to the field. In the first quarter, Lewis made a nice play to snuff out a screen for a tackle for a loss. He showed excellent coverage running with receivers and preventing separation. He has the feet and coverage skills to be a slot corner in the NFL.

    Lewis (5-11, 185) is thin and might not be as tall as his listed numbers, and reminds me of Jason Verrett. Verrett added a significant amount of weight before the draft in order to become a first-round pick. That might be a necessity for Lewis to add weight leading up to his draft in order to have a shot at being a Thursday night pick.

  • Michigan tight end Jake Butt had a good game even though he didn’t get a lot of targets. Butt totaled 42 yards on four receptions. He got open in zone for a 25-yard gain as Butt found a soft spot and then rumbled for more yards. Butt is having a solid season and will see better competition in the weeks to come.

  • Michigan running back De’Veon Smith was impressive versus Penn State. To get his day going, he had an excellent run to juke defenders and run through tacklers for a 39-yard gain. Center Mason Cole had a nice block on the second level to spring Smith for the big gain.

    In the third quarter, Smith had a great cut to bounce a run offsides and use his power stiff arm to pick up more yards. It was a run with no opening that Smith turned into a 30-yard gain. Smith had excellent vision to go with that jump cut.

    Smith could have had a big game but Michigan spreads the carries around a lot. Four different backs had at least eight rushing attempts with three others getting carries. He totaled 107 yards on 12 carries with a touchdown. Smith could end up being a sleeper pick as a mid-rounder.

    Ole Miss 45, Georgia 14
  • Georgia entered this game having won 20 straight over Ole Miss, but that came to an end as this was no contest from the very beginning. Rebels senior quarterback Chad Kelly bounced back with an impressive game against Georgia.

    Kelly threw a pretty fade pass to freshman wide out A.J. Brown for a gain of about 20 yards late in the first quarter. That led to a short touchdown run for the Rebels. Kelly then made a great play as he rolled out, shook a tackle from Lorenzo Carter in the backfield, and then threw a perfect bomb into the end zone for a 55-yard touchdown. The pass was perfectly placed to a covered receiver where the throw beat the coverage. Just before the half, Kelly put the ball up to Evan Engram for a short touchdown pass.

    In the collapses against Florida State and Alabama, Kelly was horrible in the third quarter with terrible turnovers. He entered this game with a 2.4 quarterback rating in the third quarter, but Kelly was vastly improved this week. He helped set up one rushing score and followed that up by taking a zone read for a 41-yard touchdown as the Georgia defense was completely caught out of position. That put the cap on the day for Rebels.

    Kelly finished 18-of-24 for 282 yards with two touchdowns. He ran for 53 yards and a score on four carries. Most important, Kelly had zero interceptions and fumbles. This was an improvement over his performances against Alabama and Florida State, but Georgia is not that caliber of team. Overall, this game is going to help Kelly’s draft grade. He showed his strong arm and the ability to place his passes well downfield.

  • Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram has been enjoying a phenomenal senior year and that continued against the Bulldogs. On Ole Miss’ offense first play from scrimmage, Engram got open on an out route and turned upfield for a gain of 23 yards. Engram then got free on a throwback pass to a wideout, and he hit Engram downfield wide open for a gain of about 30 yards. Just before the half, Engram made a phenomenal leaping grab in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. He showed a serious vertical leap to sky above the defender and high point the football.

    Engram caught six passes for 95 yards and one touchdown versus Georgia. If Engram were bigger and a better blocker, he would be a definite first-round pick. He still might be because he is an impact player who is a dynamic receiving weapon in the mold of Jordan Reed.

  • Ole Miss defensive end Marquis Haynes is also having a big season. In the first quarter, Haynes showed excellent man coverage blanketing a tight end on an out route and then slapping the pass away for an incompletion. It was an impressive play that NFL 3-4 defenses are going to love. Haynes then flew by the right tackle to chase Eason out of the pocket and force a third-down incompletion. He had other pressures on Eason, and this was another tape that shows that Haynes is a good edge weapon for the NFL. He needs to get stronger to hold up in the ground game, but he is a lightning-fast edger rusher with the athleticism to drop in coverage. He would be best in a 3-4 defense.

  • Georgia junior running back Nick Chubb was contained by Ole Miss. The Bulldogs never could establish the ground game and were down by three scores by the end of the first quarter. Chubb totaled 57 yards on 12 carries. In the second quarter, Chubb had an impressive run dodging a tackler and getting through the scrum to convert a fourth-and-1. However, Chubb was shaken up and saw attention from the trainers. He needs to stay healthy to dispel any durability concerns after his knee injury that ended his 2015 season prematurely.

  • Georgia wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie was a hero last week, but he had a rough performance against Ole Miss. In the second quarter, McKenzie dropped an easy catch that would have given Georgia first down inside the red zone. The very next play, McKenzie dropped a perfect touchdown pass from Eason that fell through McKenzie’s hands after the defensive back fell down. He totaled three receptions for 13 yards against a vulnerable Rebel secondary. McKenzie needs to show serious improvement in his hands in the weeks to come.

    Purdue 24, Nevada 14
  • Nevada senior quarterback Tyler Stewart has some slight buzz about being an underrated NFL prospect. He was solid against Purdue, but not overly impressive. Stewart (6-4, 220) has some skills, but looks like a late-round prospect.

    On his first drive of the game, Stewart moved the ball down the field with some precision short throws before throwing a nice fade pass for a 15-yard touchdown. A Purdue interception set up Stewart to throw a short touchdown in the second quarter. Later, Stewart took a coverage sack when he had plenty of time to get rid of the ball. That became a theme as the Boildermakers started to rattle Stewart with pass rush.

    Stewart showed some athleticism with a run of about 15 yards to set up a first-and-goal in the final quarter. However, Stewart almost threw an interception on the next play. Then, two runs were stuffed before Nevada missed a chip-shot field goal. After a Purdue touchdown, Stewart had an interception dropped with a poorly placed ball that went right to a cornerback.

    Stewart finished 21-of-27 for 173 yards with two touchdowns. He showed the ability to throw some precision passes in the short-to-intermediate part of the field, but he didn’t push the ball vertically. He started strong with getting the ball out quickly, but as Purdue ramped up the pass rush, Stewart was slow to adjust and held the ball too long too often. He also needs work on his field vision. He has to start moving his eyes through coverage, as he has a tendency to lock onto his primary read.

    Clemson 26, Georgia Tech 7
  • Clemson junior quarterback Deshaun Watson entered the season in the running to be the top signal-caller prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft. He started the year with two underwhelming games against Auburn and Troy before destroying South Carolina State. Watson continued his upward trend with a solid performance against Georgia Tech.

    To end the first drive, Watson threw a pretty fade pass to Mike Williams for the touchdown. Watson continued to move the ball as he passed the ball accurately into some big windows as the Georgia Tech secondary was consistently allowing receivers to get wide open.

    In the second quarter, Watkins made a pretty throw, fitting a pass between a few defenders for a gain of about 20 yards. On the next play though, Watson had a receiver running open into the end zone, but Watson had poor placement with an overthrow for an incompletion. Watson and Williams weren’t on the same page a few plays later as Williams stopped a route while Watson thought he would keep running. As a result, the ball sailed to a defender for an interception. Watson bounced back to score as he found his tight end Jordan Leggett open in the end zone on third-and-goal with just nine seconds remaining before halftime.

    Clemson’s offense wasn’t as effective in the second half. Watson missed some throws with passes behind receivers; he had some misreads; and the offensive line was allowing more pressure on the quarterback. In the fourth quarter, Watson had a receiver running wide open into the end zone yet overthrew him in what should have been an easy touchdown completion.

    Watson managed the game well enough to lock down the victory, but he definitely didn’t dominate and missed a number of throws that a top quarterback prospect should make. Watson completed 32-of-48 for 304 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in this contest. The game makes for a decent tape from Watson, but it also illustrates that he still has room for improvement with his field vision, ball placement, and accuracy.

  • Williams totaled six receptions for 61 yards and a score. He was in position for some big plays downfield, but Watson didn’t see him or give him a chance by putting the ball up for the big wideout.

    Williams also had a few miscues. On the second Clemson possession, he got open running into the end zone and caught the pass, but he wasn’t mindful of his feet and the sideline, stepping out of bounds rather than dragging his feet before hitting the paint. There also was a go route down the sideline where he didn’t get separation. Williams also had the play where he wasn’t on the same page with Watson, whiche led to an interception. In the big games to come, Williams will need to produce more to ensure he is a Thursday-night prospect.

  • Clemson running back Wayne Gallman ran for 59 yards on 17 carries with a touchdown. He also had three receptions for 22 yards and did a nice job of executing some screen passes. Clemson’s offensive line didn’t open holes with consistency against Georgia Tech in the second half, and Gallman ran better than the numbers indicate. He could be a solid second-day pick if he enters the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins continued his strong 2017 season. In the first quarter, he used his speed to fire by the left guard and then bounced off the center to get a sack on a third down. Shortly later, Watkins showed good hustle to rush the passer and then turn around to chase down a back on a screen pass. Watkins achieved penetration throughout the night, causing problems in the backfield. He is a quick defensive tackle who would fit well as a three-technique in a 4-3 defense.


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