2017 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 6

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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Florida State 20, Miami 19
  • This was an important game for Miami junior quarterback Brad Kaaya. The Florida State secondary was ripped by Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. Kaaya could use an impressive game to keep pace, though it’s important to note that the Rebels and Cardinals have more playmakers around their quarterback than Miami does.

    In the second quarter, Kaaya got moving throwing some precision pass in the short of the field to move the ball down the field. He ended the drive by lofting in a beautiful touchdown toss to Stacy Coley to beat close coverage by the Seminole cornerback.

    Kaaya made some precision throws to move the ball down the field after halftime, but then he made a bad decision throwing to a well-covered receiver and the ball was picked off. Throughout the second half, one of the weaknesses in Kaaya’s game was evident. The Seminoles ramped up the pass rush and Kaaya was unable to use mobility or strength to avoid sacks.

    After a great punt return inside the Seminoles’ 20-yard line, Kaaya lofted in a beautiful 11-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Stacy Coley along the sideline on a fourth-and-5. That should have tied the game, but Florida State blocked the extra point.

    Kaaya completed 19-of-32 passes for 214 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. This tape won’t help Kaaya’s draft stock. He showed that he has arm talent with the ability to make nice precision throws, but he lacks mobility and can get rattled by pressure. The pass-rush affects his vision and ability to see receivers. This tape made Kaaya look more like a player who should return for his senior year to improve his chances of being a high first-round pick before going pro.

  • Florida State junior running back Dalvin Cook was excellent once again. He showed his speed, vision, balance, and strength to do the hard work for the Seminoles offense. In the second quarter, Cook had a tremendous run as he broke a few tackles near the line of scrimmage before exploding down the field for a gain of 54 yards. Cook then was left alone in busted coverage and was able to reel in the pass to sprint for a 59-yard touchdown catch. Cook totaled 150 yards on 27 carries with that one reception. This tape will help Cook to be a top-20 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Florida State edge rusher DeMarcus Walker had another impressive performance. He and defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi caused a ton of havoc at the point of attack with steady pressure on Kaaya in the second half. Their pressure produced multiple sacks and kept the Hurricanes offense from putting together any sustained drives. Walker came through with the play of the game as he got penetration and blocked the extra point to clinch the win for the Seminoles. Walker is having an excellent senior year that could push him up as a late first-round pick.

    Alabama 49, Arkansas 30
  • Alabama edge rusher Tim Williams entered this game with some solid play this season, but he only had totaled 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Williams stepped up with an impressive performance against Arkansas that showed why he has been projected as a first-round edge rusher. In the first quarter, Williams got a hit on the quarterback with a speed rush to the inside. Williams then scooped up a fumble and returned it about 20 yards for a touchdown. Immediately after the score, Williams fired by tight end Jeremy Sprinkle to get a sack of Austin Allen. In the third quarter, Williams tipped a pass. Williams came close to a number of other sacks as well. This tape showed the dangerous presence Williams supplies off the edge with special speed to fly around the field.

  • Alabama junior left tackle Cam Robinson was seeing a quality edge rusher in Arkansas’ Deatrickh Wise Jr, but Robinson played an excellent game to negate Wise’s edge rush. In the second quarter, Robinson hit the key block in space to spring his back for a 56-yard touchdown on a screen pass. Throughout the night, Robinson was dependable in protecting his quarterback showing some ability to bend at the knee and sustain his blocks. Some say that Robinson should move to guard in the NFL, but this was a performance that will help his argument to remain at left tackle.

  • This game featured two tight end prospects in Alabama’s O.J. Howard and Arkansas’ Jeremy Sprinkle. In the first quarter, Howard had a good block to help his quarterback dart into the end zone on a short touchdown run. Howard worked the seam for a 21-yard reception and that was his only catch of the night. Sprinkle, meanwhile, ran a corner post route to get open for a 24-yard touchdown catch in the early going. Much later, Sprinkle made a diving catch for an 11-yard gain on a fourth-and-10. He totaled three receptions for 37 yards. This was a solid tape for both of them showing that they have the balance to be blockers and receivers in the NFL.

  • Alabama defensive tackle Jonathan Allen came close to sacks, including victimizing Arkansas left tackle Dan Skipper on a few rushes.

  • Alabama outside linebacker Ryan Anderson had a rough start to the game. In the first quarter, Anderson got called for a personal foul, and then Sprinkle beat him to get open for a 24-yard touchdown reception. Early in the fourth quarter, Anderson came unblocked to get a sack. He had other pressures off the edge with multiple hits on Austin Allen.

  • Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster left this game early with an injury.

  • Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey has a ton of talent and is very good at running with receivers to prevent separation. However, Humphrey has had some problems playing the ball this season and that could be seen against against Arkansas. Early on, Humphrey had tight coverage to force a number of incompletions on passes thrown in his direction.

    Late in the second quarter, Humphrey had close coverage on an outside technique but the receiver ran a good route and Austin Allen made a good pass for a score of 16 yards. Humphrey was later beaten for a leaping catch along the sideline. Humphrey was in good position but didn’t do a good job of playing the ball on either of those completions. Humphrey needs to improve on this quickly as it could end up being a real thorn in his draft stock.

    Texas A&M 45, Tennessee 38
  • Unfortunately, there were a number of prospects who missed this game with injuries. That group was highlighted by Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd, cornerback Cam Sutton, and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin. Texas A&M wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones was also out.

  • My No. 1 overall prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft is Texas A&M edge rusher Myles Garrett. He’s been slowed by an ankle injury and was held out last week. On the first third down of the game, Garrett got penetration into the backfield on a third-and-2 and stuffed a back for a loss of a couple to produce a punt. Shortly later, Garrett hit Josh Dobbs as he reached back to throw to get a strip-sack that was recovered by the Aggies.

    Garrett slowed down after that. The Aggies rotated him out of the game regularly to keep him fresh for the fourth quarter and protect his injured ankle. Garrett was rushing from the inside on some plays and he got some pressures, but Garrett’s size doesn’t translate that well to rushing from the inside. When he lined up on the outside he saw extra attention in the form of chips and double teams. The ankle injury seems to be robbing Garrett of some of his burst and explosion. He was really hobbling around the field late in the fourth quarter. There were also plays where Garrett was obviously held, but the flag wasn’t thrown. Overall, this game won’t hurt Garrett’s lofty draft grade.

  • Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett is also a potential top-20 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He immediately made his presence felt on the second play from scrimmage as he flew by the left guard to hit Trevor Knight. That produced a horrible floating pass in the middle of the field that was easily intercepted. Barnett then used his speed to get by the left tackle and ran through the running back to get a sack of Knight.

    Barnett had a few good plays in run defense with tackles and causing disruption in the backfield for his teammates to clean up plays. In the fourth quarter, Barnett jumped offsides at a terrible time as the Aggies were in a third-and-8. He got lucky that Texas A&M had a false start the next play. Barnett got quiet when the game was on the line in the pass rush and in run defense. In the fourth quarter and overtime, Barnett seemed to run low on gas. That is somewhat understandable as the game went around five hours in length. Overall, this tape should only serve to confirm Barnett as a top-20 edge defender for the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Texas A&M senior safety Justin Evans played well against Tennessee. He provided nice pass coverage over the top on a few attempts downfield. He made good tackles in space with the exception of one play where he had a ball carrier run through a tackle. In the third quarter, Evans was coming over the top when a receiver bobbled an easy reception and it flopped free. Evans adjusted nicely to haul it in for an interception. Evans then had a crushing hit on a receiver coming across the middle and that caused a third down incompletion to get his defense off the field. It was an excellent play by Evans. This tape was very impressive and should help Evans to grade out as an early-round pick.

  • One player who really impressed in this game was Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara. If it weren’t for a fumble, he would have a major stock up for this performance. In the middle of the first quarter, Kamara ripped off a gain of 55 yards on a screen pass showing his speed, vision, and cutting ability. However, while getting tackled, Kamara was stripped of the ball by Aggies safety Armani Watts, and Texas A&M recovered around its 5-yard line. Kamara later broke a tackle at the second level to score from about 15 yards out.

    Late in the third quarter, Kamara a tremendous play on a slant where he lined up in the slot. Kamara snatched a pass with his hands and burst down the field for a gain of 34 yards. He followed that up with some impressive runs to get to the second level, including one where he broke two tackles at the line of scrimmage before darting downfield. He added a pretty one-handed catch to get a gain of more than 10 and then he exploded up the middle for a gain of 36. Late in the fourth quarter, Kamara made some huge catches on a screen to get to the 17 and then took a dump off into the end zone while breaking a few tackles at the goal line. That score sent the game to overtime.

    Kamara was so good in this game as a runner and receiver, he should get a major boost in his draft grade even though he had a fumble. Kamara had 18 carries for 127 yards with two scores. As a receiver, he logged eight receptions for 161 yards and a touchdown. Kamara gave NFL evaluators a tape that shows he is a dynamic receiver, tough runner, good returner on special teams, and a play-maker. I will predict right now that Kamara gets drafted ahead of Jalen Hurd even though Kamara is the backup. Kamara is too good of a weapon in the aerial game for the passing driven NFL. This tape could push Kamara into round-two consideration.

    Virginia Tech 34, North Carolina 3
  • The first six and half minutes weren’t seen because Notre Dame and N.C. State ran late as the game had a weather delay. Like that game in Raleigh, N.C., this game was played under steady rain from Hurricane Matthew, and it made it very difficult to pass the ball. The two starting quarterbacks combined to complete only 20-of-50 passes.

  • North Carolina junior quarterback Mitch Trubisky has played really well in 2016. He entered this game with zero interceptions on the season and three straight games throwing for more than 400 yards. Because of the extreme weather conditions, this wasn’t a good game to evaluate Trubisky. Just like Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer also playing in North Carolina on Saturday, Trubisky really struggled.

    Trubisky’s interception streak quickly came to an end against the Hokies. Early in the first quarter, he forced a pass to a covered receiver, and the corner tipped the ball to himself for the pick. That set the tone for a miserable game. Trubisky later took a sack that was almost a safety and he should have thrown the pass away as he rolled out. He got lucky he didn’t cost his team points there.

    In the third quarter, Trubisky fumbled the ball away on a mesh point handoff. He had an interception dropped by a defender as he threw the ball in a crowd of defenders. Trubisky then made a horrible play. He had a receiver running a slant with a defender underneath the wideout and a defender over the top. Trubisky threw a weak pass that fluttered right to the underneath linebacker for an interception. It was an awful decision throwing to a well-covered receiver in double coverage. He almost tossed another interception on a similar pass to the flat on the next series.

    Trubisky completed 13-of-33 passes for 58 yards and two interceptions. Trubisky was inaccurate and made poor decisions. The hard rain caused some of the problems, but there were issues that were clear that had nothing to do with the weather. Trubisky needs to improve his field vision. There are too many plays where he stares down his primary read and doesn’t work through his progressions. This tape illustrates that Trubisky still needs significant development for the NFL.

  • There was a good draft matchup in this game with Virginia Tech speedster wide receiver Isaiah Ford going against North Carolina senior cornerback Des Lawrence. However, the wet conditions limited the passing game. Ford didn’t record a catch in the first half. In the third quarter, he left the game with a sprained left ankle and he didn’t return.

    Lawrence still had an active game. Midway through the first quarter, Lawrence was called for a pass interference as he hit Ford too early. However, Lawrence had two nice plays of blanket coverage while slapping passes away in the opening half. The second one was excellent as he was in tight coverage on a dig route. Virginia Tech barely passed the ball, but overall, Lawrence represented himself well.

    N.C. State 10, Notre Dame 3
  • Fighting Irish junior DeShone Kizer is the consensus top quarterback prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft, and he was being challenged by terrible conditions as much as the Wolfpack defense. In pouring rain and a wet field, both teams had a hard time getting any kind of offensive consistency. There were 10 fumbles in the game to go with a lot of dropped passes and a plethora of bad snaps. The driving rain storm from Hurricane Matthew made passing very difficult, as Kizer had accuracy issues and receivers had problems catching passes.

    In the first quarter, Kizer made a nice play to break a sack in the pocket and scramble away before flipping a short pass to a receiver for a third-down conversion. Aside from that play, Kizer had some passes off the mark. Kizer then had a floater in the middle of the field that sailed over his receiver and it was picked off by the Wolfpack in the front of the end zone to deny points for Notre Dame. Kizer continued to throw a lot of ducks with the ball slipping out of his hand. At halftime, Kizer was only 6-of-14 for 38 yards with the pick.

    Kizer’s struggles continued in the third quarter, as he took a coverage sack on a play he should have thrown the ball away rather than take a loss of yards. In the fourth quarter, he fumbled the ball away on a quarterback draw. Kizer then made a few completions and runs to get the ball into the Wolfpack 30-yard line, but a botched snap ended the drive.

    Kizer finished 9-of-26 for 54 yards with an interception. It is hard to hold this game against him, as the conditions were abysmal. He may never play a game in worse conditions the rest of his life. Still, some cold-weather teams like Cleveland or Chicago might be soured some seeing how the wet conditions had such a big impact on Kizer. This tape will be a negative toward Kizer’s draft grade, but it won’t keep him from being the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Notre Dame has two future first-round picks on its offensive line with left tackle Mike McGlinchey and guard Quenton Nelson. Like the rest of the players, the offensive linemen were struggling in the conditions as they seemed to have a hard time anchoring and not slipping on the soaked field. Both McGlinchey and Nelson had some low lights in this game.

    In the first quarter, McGlinchey was beaten for a near sack, but his quarterback bailed him out by breaking the tackle to scramble away while throwing a third-down completion to move the chains. McGlinchey then completely whiffed on a block, as Wolfpack defensive end Bradley Chubb fired to the inside to get a sack of Kizer. Nelson missed a few blocks and had a poorly timed false start close to the end zone. He almost gave up a sack in the fourth quarter. Like Kizer, this tape will be a slight negative for each blocker, but not enough to have a significant impact on their draft stock.

  • North Carolina State senior running back Matthew Days is on the Senior Bowl watch list, and he had a nice performance to help his chances of landing an invitation to Mobile, Ala. Days ran well in the first half and slashed through the Fighting Irish defense. He showed a nice burst to the second level and cutting ability on a 28-yard run.

    However, in the third quarter, Days fell victim to the conditions when the wet ball slipped out of his grasp for a fumble that was recovered by Notre Dame. Days ran well to close out the game, as he totaled 126 yards on 23 carries. Even with the fumble, this game should help his draft stock considering he ran well in these conditions.

    Iowa 14, Minnesota 7
  • Minnesota senior quarterback Mitch Leidner was going against one of the top cornerback prospects in Iowa’s Desmond King. King is a potential first- or second-round pick and that could be seen against Minnesota. In the first quarter, King had tight man coverage in the slot and knocked a third down pass away. He got away with holding a little bit, and should work on not grabbing so much for the NFL. On his next defensive play, King jumped a quick pass to the flat and almost snatched it for a pick-six, but he did slap the ball away. Leidner was very lucky as he telegraphed that throw.

    King fumbled the ball on a kick return in the third quarter and was fortunate that Minnesota didn’t recover the ball. Overall, he had some good returns and was very good in pass coverage. He blanketed his receivers and prevented separation. The Iowa secondary as a unit had a superb performance. This tape will help King’s draft grade.

  • This game will hurt the draft grade of Leidner. Iowa’s defense played well, but he looked very overmatched. Leidner had a hard time getting in any rhythm. While the Gophers favored the ground game, Leidner was missing open receivers. In the third quarter, Leidner made a nice pass in a window between three defenders to move the ball across midfield, but he had two bad missed passes on two short tosses that failed to convert third downs. If Leidner threw accurately, the Gophers would have converted both plays.

    Leidner continued to struggle in the fourth quarter and failed to tie the game on three different possessions in the final six minutes. He continued to miss throws and took a bad sack when he should have thrown the ball away. He then didn’t pull the trigger on third down, and that led to a Gophers punt late in the fourth quarter. Leidner forced the ball into double coverage and the pass was off the mark for an interception. Leidner was pressured on the play, but that is no excuse for the inaccurate turnover. On the final possession, Leidner finally made some nice passes to move the ball inside the Iowa red zone. However, the drive ended, as Leidner had a few poorly placed passes fall incomplete.

    Leidner finished completing only 13-of-33 passes for 166 yards with two interceptions. This game will definitely hurt Leidner’s draft grade. While he has looked like a mid-round talent at times, he looked like an undrafted free agent-caliber player in this game.


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