2017 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 9

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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Washington 31, Utah 24
  • This game had the potential for three defensive back candidates for the NFL in Washington cornerback Sidney Jones, safety Budda Baker, and Utes safety Marcus Williams. However, Williams was held out with an undisclosed injury that is said not to be season-ending. Jones is having a superb year for the Huskies and is one of the top cornerback prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft. Entering this game, Jones had allowed only four receptions all season. That number increased against the Utes, but it wasn’t painful for the Huskies.

    In the second quarter, Jones made a terrific play running with a receiver on a go route deep downfield. Jones timed his jump perfectly to leap and slap away a pass. Jones then gave up a reception on a slant route to the inside with a perfect throw from the Utes, as Jones had tight coverage. Shortly later, Jones was beaten on another slant for a good gain. Jones fell down in zone coverage later in the game, and that allowed a reception of about 20 yards. He came back to make a diving breakup along the sideline on an out route.

    While Jones gave up those receptions, he wasn’t burned on the plays and was there to make a quick tackle. Thus, it won’t be held against him that much with his draft grade, as Jones kept receivers from getting serious separation all game. This tape won’t impact Jones draft grade as a first- or second-round pick.

  • In the first quarter, Baker made a great read and drove on the ball to get a pass breakup. It was close to a pick-six for Baker. In run defense, Baker made his presence felt, getting in on a few tackles of Utes running back Joe Williams. The game didn’t flow his direction that much, but Baker was solid for the Huskies.

  • Utah defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei has been slowed by an injury lately, but he had a solid performance in the first half, getting after the Huskies’ ground game. In the first quarter, Lotulelei fired through the line on a perimeter run to get a tackle for a loss on a third-and-short carry. He had other plays were he stuffed holes at the line of scrimmage. Lotulelei seemed to wear down some in the second half, and he also wasn’t a real factor in pass rush plays. Lotulelei looks like a second-day or mid-round nose tackle.

    Notre Dame 30, Miami 27
  • This game featured two NFL quarterback prospects who needed impressive games in Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer and Miami’s Brad Kaaya. The NFL is watching both prospects closely. For example, the Chicago Bears brought a contingent of their brain trust to this game including general manager Ryan Pace, director of player personnel Josh Lucas, and director of pro scouting Champ Kelly. Thus, this was an important performance for both quarterback prospects.

    On the opening drive, Kizer showed good poise to hold onto ball with the rush bearing down to let his receiver get open on a deep cross for a good gain. To finish the drive, he hit a quick shovel pass for a short touchdown toss. Kizer had a fade pass for the end zone thrown short and it was almost intercepted, but Kizer was able to come back with a well-placed pass low in the end zone for another touchdown. It was a smart throw, giving his receiver a chance to make the catch, but an incompletion being the only other result given the ball’s location. Kizer then made a great read and fit the ball between two defenders to hit his receiver on the run for a gain of 53 yards. That set up more points for the Irish.

    In the second half, the Miami defense played better getting off the field and the Hurricanes’ offense controlled the time of possession. After a botched punt spotted Miami a touchdown lead, Kizer went to work to try a comeback. He completed a rifled pass downfield to get into Miami territory, and an Irish run scored from 42 yards out. With the game tied at 27, Kizer had a clutch fumble recovery after his receiver fumbled the ball right in front of the Miami goal line on what should have been his third touchdown pass. That recovery saved the winning score for the Irish.

    Kizer was 25-of-38 for 263 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. This was a solid tape from Kizer. He showed his ability to be a pocket passer with accuracy and field vision. He also had some nice plays with his feet to move the chains. It wasn’t a tape of domination, but it should help stop the bleeding after a few rough weeks.

  • Kaaya had a rough start before playing well for a lot of this game. In the first quarter, Kaaya made a poor decision, throwing to a well-covered receiver and had the corner undercut the route for an interception deep in Miami territory. Kaaya then had his continued problems of taking sacks and not avoiding them with mobility or getting the ball out. Close to halftime, however, Kaaya made a nice throw lofting in a short touchdown pass to tight end David Njoku on a fade route. Kaaya got into more rhythm and started to move the ball steadily on the Notre Dame defense.

    In the third quarter, Kaaya threw a frozen rope right by the turned helmet of a defender to get a gain of 25 yards to the 2-yard line. That set up a Hurricane touchdown. He then had a perfect pass for a gain of 14 on a third-and-10. Kaaya had an unblocked blitzer in his face but he put the ball on the money in tight coverage. It was a play that Kaaya needs to repeat more frequently to be a high first-round pick. His accurate passing led the Hurricanes to score 20 unanswered to tie the game at 20 after being behind 20-0.

    Late in the fourth quarter, Kaaya had time to try and tie the game. Around midfield, he had a receiver in a window, but Kaaya sailed the ball out of bounds in what could have gotten the Hurricanes enough yardage for a feasible field goal. At the worst time possible, Kaaya took a sack on a third-and-2 and that let the clock run out on the Hurricanes. Kaaya finished 26-of-42 for 288 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

    Overall, this tape showed improvement for Kaaya over his games in recent weeks. However, he still has huge problems of taking and avoiding sacks, while dropping his eyes when he’s under pressure. If he entered the draft, I think he would be a second-day prospect but could be better served returning for his senior year.

  • Notre Dame defensive tackle Jarron Jones had a phenomenal game for the Irish. Throught the afternoon, he was pressuring Kaaya and creating sacks for his teammates. Jones came close to a strip-sack hitting Kaaya as he threw. Jones was having a field day pressuring Kaaya and getting him off his spot. With a quarterback who struggles with mobility and taking sacks, Jones was doing a fantastic job of setting up his defense to get off the field for the majority of the first half. In the third quarter, Jones had a pressure that forced an incompletion and prevented Kaaya from seeing his tight end wide open for a potential touchdown. IJones then dominated center Nick Linder to get a tackle for a loss and produce a third-and-14 for his defense. This tape will definitely help Jones’ draft grade.

    Florida 24, Georgia 10
  • Georgia running back Nick Chubb hasn’t been the same since coming off a knee injury, and this performance gave further proof of that. Throughout the first half, the Bulldogs struggled to move the ball on the ground and Chubb was getting stuffed routinely. His legs were dying on contact and he wasn’t breaking tackles. By halftime, Chubb had just 15 yards on seven carries. In the second half, Chubb didn’t find any more running room as he had only three carries for five yards after intermission. Chubb (9-20) has been struggling this year following the opener, and that could send him to the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft instead of being a Thursday night selection.

  • The player who really led the way for Florida to destroy the Georgia ground game was Gators junior defensive tackle Caleb Brantley. He dominated the Bulldogs at the point of attack from start to finish. Brantley was using his speed and natural pad level to fire into the backfield. He was constantly blowing up runs before they could get set up, and pushing the pocket in the pass rush.

    In the first quarter, Brantley got off a block to make a tackle for no gain at the line of scrimmage. Brantley flew into the backfield in the second quarter to start a tackle for a loss on Chubb. He had other plays where he was creating major havoc in the backfield. This was a tape of shear domination that will help Brantley to grade out as a first-round pick.

  • The other players who really impressed for Florida were inside linebackers Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone. Both players had some impressive run tackles and were tough at the point of attack. They were flying to the sideline and made clutch tackles in space as well. In the third quarter, Anzalone blitzed off the edge and beat a weak block from Chubb to spin back to sack Jacob Eason. On a fourth-down try in the final frame for Georgia, Davis made a great open-field tackle for a loss in pass coverage to get the ball back for his offense. This tape will help both linebackers to grade out as early-round picks.

  • Florida cornerbacks Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson look like future first-round picks and they dominated the Georgia receivers. Early on, Tabor had good coverage to force an incomplete on a third-and-goal. Tabor then came on a corner blitz to get a sack for a loss of 11. On special teams, Wilson made a huge play recovering a fumble from teammate Antonio Callaway. However, Wilson then had a pass interference on a deep ball in the end zone. Wilson didn’t turn to play the ball and ran into the chest of the receiver to draw the penalty. Aside from that, Tabor and Wilson smothered their wideouts to keep them from getting any separation. This tape will help them to grade out as first-round picks.

  • Gators senior safety Marcus Maye had an eventful game. In the second quarter, Maye drove well on a wideout in zone to force an incompletion, but a few plays later, Maye got turned around in deep zone and that let a receiver get wide open down the sideline for what should have been a long touchdown, but the pass was dropped. Maye later made a superb play to drive on the ball for an open receiver and bat it away on a third-and-2 pass. Maye had some other nice plays, running over to cover receivers in zone and getting in on some open-field tackles. Overall this was a solid tape from Maye, minus that one play of blown coverage.

    Oklahoma State 37, West Virginia 20
  • Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph had a solid showing against West Virginia to lead an upset win for the Cowboys. In the second quarter, Rudolph hit a quick slant for a touchdown. Rudolph then made a pretty back-shoulder throw along the sidelines for a gain of about 20 yards. Rudolph later threw a pretty fade pass to the corner of the end zone for a score. Those were all impressive NFL throws that tease what Rudolph is capable of doing.

    Rudolph was 26-of-36 for 273 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. He made some nice throws and did a good job of protecting the football. There are some plays were Rudolph stares down receivers. He needs to improve his field vision and work through his progressions rather than locking on his primary read. That is a major problem for the NFL. The junior has upside to develop and should return for his senior year to get better before going pro.

  • Oklahoma State junior wide receiver James Washington is a prospect worth watching for the NFL. He is an explosive player and entered this game averaging 20 yards per reception this season. Early in the first quarter, Washington caught a quick slant and burst downfield for a 33-yard gain. Washington then made a leaping fingertip reception on the sideline for a gain of 15. It was a great catch as he turned his body to reach the pass behind him, but on the next play, he dropped an easy catch on an out route. He had two receptions for 62 yards.

    Washington got open on a dig route for about 20 yards in the third quarter. Washington caught a few more shorter receptions to move the chains and finished with 117 yards on six catches. If Washington (6-1, 205) enters the 2017 NFL Draft, he could have day-two potential, but if he has a big senior year with Rudolph, his stock could improve.

  • West Virginia center Tyler Orlosky is a second-day prospect for the 2017 NFL Draft. He played well against Oklahoma State. Orlosky flashes heavy hands at the point of attack with the ability to latch onto defenders. He was tough in the ground game, and he impressed in pass protection as he held up some defensive tackles on the pass rush, taking on bull and speed rushers. Sources say that Orlosky could be a third-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Another prospect who impressed was Oklahoma State junior defensive lineman Vincent Taylor. He had a strip-sack in the first half to produce points for the Cowboys and had other pressures. He was giving the right side of the West Virginia offensive line a lot of problems. Taylor is a sleeper to watch.

    Michigan 30, Michigan State 17
  • Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell is a potential top-20 pick if he enters the 2017 NFL Draft. This game illustrated that McDowell has an excellent skill set and still is in need of getting coached up in terms of his technique for the NFL.

    In the second quarter, McDowell was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty for pulling an offensive lineman off a pile at the goal line. It was ticky-tack call that shouldn’t have been made. McDowell was quiet for most of the game, but he came alive in the fourth quarter by firing off a block to get a tackle for a loss. Shortly later, he tossed center Mason Cole to the turf and grabbed another tackle for a loss.

    McDowell uses speed and some natural strength to get by blockers regularly, but he could use instruction on using hands to shed blocks and developing pass-rush moves for the NFL. He plays defensive end for the Spartans, but his best fit would come as a five technique in a 3-4 defense as a pro.

  • Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers is a highly hyped prospect, and he was active against the rival Spartans. Michigan State wanted to run at Peppers as he is undersized as a 205-pound strong safety, but Peppers held up decently well on tackles in run support.

    Midway through the first quarter, Peppers took a wildcat snap at quarterback and ran for the front corner of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown. Shortly later, he had a clutch tackle on a back just a yard short on a fourth-and-short carry. Peppers had a zone-read run of about 15 yards later in the second quarter. Peppers then showed his burst to make a tackle for a loss on a perimeter run.

    Peppers had an errant throw fly right by him in the fourth quarter, and he couldn’t adjust to the ball in time. In a lot of ways, Peppers needed to make that play because he has zero interceptions in his collegiate career and NFL evaluators have concerns about that. To put the game on ice, Peppers had a fourth-down sack on an edge blitz to get the ball back for Michigan.

    Overall, this was a quality tape from Peppers, as he showed his special athleticism and versatility. However, Peppers is going to need to add 10 pounds for the NFL. Tackling pro running backs and holding up in the tackle box is going to be a problem if Peppers stays at his current weight. Adding that weight shouldn’t be a problem in a pro strength and conditioning program.

  • It was a quiet game for Michigan cornerback Jourdan Lewis and defensive end Chris Wormley, but both players performed well. Wormley was tough at the point of attack. He stacked a lot of runs and held his gap in the ground game. He was getting off the ball quickly. Lewis wasn’t tested by the Spartans, but he was active, flying around the field to help his defense. Both players look like early-round picks.

  • Michigan tight end Jake Butt had three receptions for 35 yards. In the second quarter, Butt got open running a corner post to make a falling catch. Butt later made a leaping catch on a third down over a defensive back to get Michigan a first down. Butt was OK as a blocker, but he doesn’t block as well you would think for a Jim Harbaugh tight end. Butt could be an overrated prospect for the NFL.

    USC 45, Cal 24
  • Cal quarterback Davis Webb is a potential second-day pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he was seeing a quality opponent with USC led by star cornerback Adoree’ Jackson. Overall, Webb had a quality performance that illustrated he has arm talent but also has some flaws in his game that could be the reason why he ends up missing out on Thursday night.

    Webb started pretty well as early in the game, he threw a beautiful bomb down field for a potential 65-yard touchdown, but the receiver dropped the pass. He then hung tough in the pocket to complete a third-down pass while taking a hit from a free rusher.

    Late in the first quarter, Davis made a terrible decision as he was pressured and then launched a deep pass off his back foot. It floated in the air like a punt before falling into the arms of a defensive back for an interception at the 5-yard line. Webb came back to get a score on a wide receiver screen and made a pretty pass in the middle of the field. Webb then had a well-placed pass to the corner of the end zone to help open up his receiver for a 16-yard score. Webb completed 34-of-53 passes for 333 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He flashed his arm talent and worked through progressions on some plays. Webb could stand to improve his footwork in the pocket. Of course, he will have some big adjustments in his offense, including working under center and calling plays in the huddle – issues that have held back Jared Goff. Overall this tape will serve to confirm Webb as an early-rounder and second-day prospect.

  • Jackson flashed against Cal, but Webb rarely threw his direction. Jackson still made his presence felt on special teams to help USC establish a big lead. He had returns of 40 and 30 yards in the first half. In the second quarter, he had blanket coverage and knocked a pass away. Aside from those plays, it was a quiet evening for Jackson and the game really didn’t come his direction. This tape should only serve to confirm Jackson’s high draft rating.

  • USC junior wide out JuJu Smith-Schuster had a horrible season opener, as he was completely shut down by Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey, but since then, Smith-Schuster has been better. He caught six passes for 66 yards.

    Smith-Schuster is a possession receiver for the NFL who is a big target in the middle of the field and a good weapon after the catch. Early on, he got involved with a gain of 17 on a dig route. Shortly later, he pushed off a defensive back for a short catch and then fought for five or six yards to get a gain of 10 and move the chains. He repeated that play shortly later.

    At the end of the first quarter, Smith-Schuster shoved a defensive back five yards downfield to knock the defender off balance. Smith-Schuster then got a step of separation running a go route down the field. He stretched to make a diving catch but had the ball bounce off his hands and face mask to fall incomplete. It wasn’t an easy catch, but one he should make.

    As a prospect, Smith-Schuster looks extremely similar to Laquon Treadwell. Both are receivers with size and strength who are dangerous after the catch. However, they both lack the speed to separate from NFL cornerbacks. Smith-Schuster should be a Z (flanker) receiver in the NFL to be a possession target who does the dirty work of the slants, digs, and blocking. Because of the lack of speed, Smith-Schuster looks like a late first-rounder or second-round pick if he enters the 2017 NFL Draft.


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