2017 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 7

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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Ohio State 30, Wisconsin 23
  • Early in the season, WalterFootball.com reported that NFL teams thought Ohio State redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker is a top-10 talent for the 2017 NFL Draft. Lately, other draft media outlets have caught on to Hooker, and the freak athlete flashed against the Badgers.

    It didn’t start great, as he had a missed a tackle on a 68-yard run by Corey Clement early in the first quarter. Hooker then took his eyes off the tight end, as the quarterback scrambled and that let his man get open for a gain of 30 yards. Hooker played very well after that.

    After halftime, Hooker showed his speed to drive downhill and made a hard hit on an end-around. He then showed great instincts to fly up and make a tackle on a screen pass. He also made a superb open-field tackle eating up around 15 yards in an instant before cutting the legs out of the wide receiver. It was tremendous closing speed from Hooker. This tape shows that while Hooker is raw, his speed, instincts, strength, and size make him a stud safety prospect.

  • Ohio State junior cornerback Gareon Conley played well for the Buckeyes. In the third quarter, the Badgers floated a pass in the middle of the field. Conley was in zone coverage and broke on the ball to get an interception. Conley then appeared to make a fabulous leaping interception, but it was questionably ruled to be incomplete. Conley put together a good tape of playing in zone or press-man coverage. This performance will help Conley to grade out as an early-round pick.

  • Ohio State center Pat Elflein and guard Billy Price played well against Wisconsin. They were solid at the point of attack to win their blocks in the ground game, and both were strong in pass protection. Wisconsin’s best defenders are on the edge, but the Buckeye duo did a quality job of keeping a clean pocket for J.T. Barrett to step up to avoid the edge rush. In the third quarter, Elflein and Price opened the hole for a short touchdown run for J.T. Barrett. Elflein and Price both have second-day potential.

  • Ohio State wide receiver/running back Curtis Samuel is turning himself into an early-round weapon. He is a lot like Percy Harvin, except maybe not quite as explosive. As a receiver, he had six catches for 58 yards with 46 rushing yards on 12 carries. Team sources are intrigued with Samuel, and his stock could grow if he continues to produce against good opponents.

  • Wisconsin running back Corey Clement had his best showing in perhaps two years. Clement showed more speed and power against Ohio State than he has in a long-time, probably since he was backing up Melvin Gordon in 2014. Clement ran for 164 yards on 25 carries, including a 68-yard burst to help set up early points for the Badgers. Clement also had an 18-yard pass reception. It was impressive how well Clement ran against a defense loaded with NFL talent. This breakout performance could end being huge for Clement’s draft stock.

    Arkansas 34, Ole Miss 30
  • Ole Miss lost this game, but tight end Evan Engram continued his superb senior season and was the most impressive prospect on the field. It didn’t start well for Engram as he dropped a pass in the flat, but after that, he was superb and dominated Arkansas.

    Midway through the first quarter, Engram got open on an out route out of the slot. He got separation from a linebacker and bulled his way through a defensive back to get in the end zone for a 13-yard score. Engram then made a difficult juggling catch down the seam for a gain of about 20 yards. He continued to work the middle of the field and then went out into the flat for a reception of 35 yards as the up tempo helped Engram to get uncovered.

    Engram caught seven passes for 111 yards and one touchdown. This continued to show that Engram has great speed to get down the seam and is too fast for linebackers to cover. He has good size to match up against defensive backs with reliable hands. If Engram were bigger and a better blocker, he would be a definite first-rounder, but even with being undersized and not a forceful blocker, Engram could be playing his way into the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Ole Miss edge rusher Marquis Haynes has been a clutch player this year for the Rebels. After being quiet in the first half, Haynes came alive late. Haynes had some noteworthy plays in pass coverage. First, Haynes was close in trailing tight end Jeremy Sprinkle on a crossing route, but Sprinkle made an 8-yard reception. Still, it was nice to see Haynes stay close to the good tight end.

    In the fourth quarter, Haynes dropped into coverage and made an interception after Austin Allen didn’t see him fall into the passing lane. Shortly later, he worked off a block from the right tackle to get a sack. This game will help Haynes to show 3-4 defensive teams that he can drop into pass coverage. Haynes is having an impressive junior year and would be a first-round talent if he weren’t so undersized.

  • Arkansas edge rusher Deatrich Wise, Jr. had a quiet game a week ago against Alabama, but he played better versus the Rebels. He came close to a few sacks before recording one in the fourth quarter as he cleaned up a scrambling Kelly. Wise needs to become a more consistent player, and that has hurt his playing time during his collegiate career. It wouldn’t be surprising if Wise ends up being a second-day pick and a situational rusher to start out his NFL career.

  • Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly showed his gun-slinger style of play against the Razorbacks. Kelly had a touchdown and an interception, but was streaky. In the second quarter, Kelly had a few missed throws on receivers that were open downfield for long completions. They were bad missed opportunities for the Rebels.

    Before halftime, Kelly had a drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown run. Kelly threw some perfect passes to Engram to move the ball down the field. Kelly later came through with a 17-yard touchdown run to put Ole Miss in the lead. However, late in the fourth quarter, Kelly took a bad sack and then fumbled the ball on a fourth-down run that gave the ball back to Arkansas. Kelly didn’t secure the ball well when he ran, and that allowed it to spring free and fall out of bounds.

    Kelly completed 18-of-39 passes for 253 yards with one touchdown and an interception. He ran for 89 yards on 14 carries with two scores. Kelly has a good skill set and can make beautiful throws, but this season has proven he is prone to critical mistakes and turnovers in crunch time. Because of that, Kelly is more of a second-day prospect.

    North Carolina 20, Miami 13
  • Quarterbacks Brad Kaaya and Mitch Trubisky are both highly rated prospects for the NFL. In this game, Trubisky was the more impressive of the two.

    Trubisky set up some early points by fitting a pass into a tight window to his tight end. He also connected with a well-placed pass in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. In the second quarter, Trubisky had a nice run of 18 yards when he couldn’t find anything open. Trubisky then threw the ball a little late and his receiver had to slow up for it, but he still had it accurate enough to complete a 48-yard pass. If Trubisky threw the pass a little earlier, it would have gone for a touchdown. To finish the drive, Trubisky rolled out on a third-and-goal to throw a short touchdown pass in the flat.

    Trubisky had a few well-placed passes to the flat to convert third downs in the fourth quarter and maintain control of the ball for the Tar Heels. That took valuable time off the clock. Trubisky finished completing 33-of-46 for 299 yards with two scores. Overall, this tape will help his draft grade. Trubisky is a solid quarterback prospect, but doesn’t have an elite athletic skill set, so he has to be an efficient passer to rise as a NFL prospect.

  • Kaaya didn’t play well overall against North Carolina. He had some passes off the mark, missed some big play opportunities, and never got into a good rhythm. In the early going, Kaaya did have some success running some play-action bootlegs. Kaaya led what should have been three field goal drives, but two of the kicks ended up not being good.

    Kaaya had a 35-yard complete on a short dump-off in the second quarter, hitting his tight end David Njoku on the run. On a fourth-and-2, Kaaya had a poorly placed ball for an incompletion. If he led his receiver, it could have gone for a touchdown.

    In the third quarter, Kaaya had a receiver streaking wide open down the field for what would have been an 80-yard touchdown, but he overthrew him for an incompletion. Kaaya did have a completion for 30 yards after rolling out and making a well-placed pass down the sideline. That set up a rushing touchdown for Miami. Kaaya had one more opportunity to tie the game, but he held on to the ball too long on a play and fumbled the ball to North Carolina after getting sacked.

    Kaaya finished 16-of-31 for 224 yards with zero touchdowns and interceptions. While his accuracy wasn’t good this afternoon, he was the victim of a lot of dropped passes by his receivers. This game gives evidence that Kaaya is a work in progress. He isn’t a polished top-10 talent right now, but the need for quarterbacks is going to help him in whichever draft class he is part of.

    Alabama 49, Tennessee 10
  • There was a great draft matchup in this game with Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson taking on Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett. Both look like future first-round picks. Barnett started the game well, using speed to get by Robinson around the corner. Robinson came back to lead Barnett around the pocket on a few plays. Early in the second quarter, Barnett burned Robinson with a speed rush to get a strip-sack that was recovered by the Volunteers at the Alabama 11-yard line. Barnett then came up with a clutch play catching a deflected pass for an interception to take away points from Alabama in the Volunteers’ red zone.

    After a rough start, Robinson settled down, and Barnett was held in check. Robinson pushed Barnett back and sustained his block to help Bo Scarbrough take off on an 85-yard touchdown run. Robinson played well in the second half until Alabama emptied the bench.

    Overall, this tape will probably hurt Robinson’s draft grade, as Barnett was too fast for him to defend the edge on every play. This tape will support those who believe that Robinson should be a guard or right tackle. However, Barnett is a top-16 talent, and it wasn’t a one-sided game of domination – especially in the ground game where Robinson was able to get a push on Barnett and others. Regardless of his future position, overall, this tape could push Robinson down boards as some could believe that he is going to struggle with good speed rushers in the NFL.

  • Alabama senior edge rusher Tim Williams and defensive tackle Jonathan Allen continued their impressive seasons. On the first drive of the game, Williams used his speed to dart to the inside of the right tackle and sack Josh Dobbs to force a Tennessee punt. Williams then had a tackle for a loss and was close to another sack. Midway through the first quarter, Allen used his power to bull rush the left tackle straight into Dobbs before shedding the blocker and taking down Dobbs for a sack. Both players provided good tapes that show they are first-round talents.

  • Alabama senior safety Eddie Jackson was solid in coverage, and he also made another huge play on special teams. In the fourth quarter, Jackson broke down the sideline for a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown. Jackson has done well in pass overage this season and continues to be a weapon on punt returns.

  • Alabama senior linebacker Reuben Foster had an eventful game. Early in the first quarter, the tight end got open against Foster on a crossing route for a gain of 16 yards. Foster came back to beat the left tackle to get a third-down sack of Dobbs. Foster later came free on a run stunt to get a tackle for a loss. Foster, who made a number of good run tackles, is a good athlete, and this tape will help him to be an early-round pick.

  • A week ago, Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara had tremendous game against Texas A&M, but he was seeing a tougher defense in Alabama. On the first drive, Kamara had a nice run and a difficult catch on the sideline to convert a third down. Kamara then made a great punt return of 31 yards where he spun away from one tackle, broke another, and used his speed to get downfield. That took the ball from inside the Tennessee 10-yard line to near midfield. In the second quarter, Kamara had a short touchdown run. Aside from those plays, the tough Alabama defense kept Kamara in check. Kamara was held to 21 yards on eight carries with a touchdown and two receptions for seven yards. The credit goes to the Crimson Tide defense, as Kamara didn’t play poorly and flashed his talent on special teams.

    Vanderbilt 17, Georgia 16
  • This was a good game to gauge the run defense of Vanderbilt linebacker Zach Cunningham, who was taking on Georgia’s dynamic rushing duo. Stud runner Nick Chubb and Sony Michel have early-round potential in their draft classes. This game was a very impressive performance from Cunningham that illustrated he is a future starting linebacker in the NFL.

    Throughout the game, Cunningham was a force in the tackle box. He led the way to stuff a lot of runs from Chubb and Michel. Cunningham consistently would flow toward the hole before firing downhill to get a tackle near the line of scrimmage. He had numerous run stuffs of Chubb and Michel for no gain. He also was firing around the tackles to get into the backfield on plays. On a perimeter run, he made a superb play to go through a blocker and tackle a back for a loss of a few yards.

    Cunningham had man coverage on a receiver in the fourth quarter, and he made a diving pass breakup on a third-and-13. In the final minute, Cunningham made the play of the game. On a fourth-and-1 perimeter option run, Cunningham flew to the sideline and ripped down the ball carrier for no gain. It was his 19th tackle of the game, and it ensured a win for Vanderbilt.

    Cunningham was generally solid in pass coverage. He ran with tight ends down the seam and covered receivers in the flat. There was one play where Cunningham over-pursued with some false steps to help a check down get open, but overall, he did well in pass coverage. He showed the speed, athleticism and length to cover in the NFL.

    Cunningham is fast and a sure tackler. He is tremendous at getting off blocks and has the ability drop in coverage. Cunningham looks like a future three-down starter. He was superb versus the Bulldogs, and this was a dominating performance. This tape should help Cunningham to grade as a pick in the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • With Cunningham stuffing runs all day, Chubb and Michel didn’t find good holes to move the ball. Chubb ran for 40 yards on 16 carries, while Michel had 28 yards on 13 carries. Coming off his ACL from 2015, Chubb doesn’t quite have the explosion and speed he had before the injury. That also seems to have taken away some of his power. If he doesn’t start to show it coming back in the back half of the season, he could end up sliding into Day 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Illinois 24, Rutgers 7
  • Illinois has two edge rushers for the 2017 NFL Draft in Dawuane Smoot and Carroll Phillips. Smoot is the higher-rated consensus prospect, but WalterFootball.com knows some teams that have Phillips graded higher for the 2017 NFL Draft. Phillips wasn’t allowed to play in the first half after a targeting call in last week’s game.

    Some draft analysts had Smoot projected as a top-10 pick, but team sources said they view Smoot as a mid-to-late first-rounder. He is big, strong, fast, and athletic. However, teams see Smoot as more of a disruptor than a producer. That was given evidence by the fact that entering this game, Smoot had zero sacks in five contests in 2016.

    Rutgers is the worst team in the Big Ten, and Smoot had his way with them. In the first half, he had a number of pressures on the quarterback including a nice hit on the signal-caller on a stunt. On a fourth down, Smoot went around the right tackle to get a tackle on a quarterback short of a first down. He did well in run defense to hold his ground, shed blocks, and get in on tackles. Smoot used his speed to fly by the right tackle and got a strip-sack of the quarterback in the third quarter. Shortly later was a play that was a repeat of the first half, as a high snap on a fourth-and-short helped Smoot to get into the backfield to make a tackle for a loss and get the ball back for his offense.

    This tape should definitely help Smoot’s draft grade. Aside from him being fast and strong at the point of attack, Smoot was finishing plays. He had the strip-sack to go along with the fourth down stops. Smoot looks like a perfect fit as a 4-3 defensive end and he is being developed well by Lovie Smith and his staff. This tape will give a boost to Smoot’s stock.

  • Phillips played well in his half of action. He had a few pressures on the quarterback and showed excellent speed. In the fourth quarter, Phillips fired into the backfield but missed the tackle. Phillips then fell on a fumble to get Illinois the ball back. There is no doubt that Phillips has a tremendous burst off the snap with rare first-step quickness. He would be a great fit as a 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebacker in the NFL.


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