2017 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 10

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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Alabama 10, LSU 0
  • An ankle injury has cost LSU star running back Leonard Fournette three games this year, but two weeks ago, he returned to the field and set a school record with 284 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries against Ole Miss. Alabama sold out to limit the star running back, and it was successful in doing so. Once again, LSU couldn’t get enough plays out of its quarterback to keep a defense honest. Fournette totaled only 35 yards on 17 carries, but it wasn’t his fault, as he had terrible running lanes all night. This tape shouldn’t hurt his draft stock.

  • This had a great draft matchup with LSU safety Jamal Adams taking on Alabama tight end O.J. Howard. Unsurprisingly, Lane Kiffin barely used his talented tight end, as Howard had one catch for minus-3 yards. Adams, on the other hand, was extremely active.

    On the first drive of the game, Adams was in the right spot in zone coverage and had an inaccurate pass float to him for an interception. It was a nice catch from Adams going to the ground. Adams then had a good run fill on the perimeter, but did miss a tackle badly in space on Calvin Ridley, and that allowed a big gain for Ridley in what should have been a stop after five yards. In the third quarter, Adams fired into the backfield on a fourth-and-goal to blow up the run and start a tackle for a loss that got the ball back for LSU. Adams later fired off the edge to get a tackle for a loss.

    This was a very good tape for Adams as he showed he is NFL-ready as a strong safety. Adams was effective in zone coverage and a physical tackler. He has speed to fly downhill and will be an asset in run defense as a pro. While he isn’t a dominant pass coverage safety, Adams has the speed and athleticism to contribute there. In time, with good coaching, he could be a very balanced defender who ends up being a Pro Bowl talent. This tape will help Adams to grade out as a top-25 pick.

  • Alabama senior edge rusher Tim Williams and defensive tackle Jonathan Allen continued their impressive seasons. Allen was a huge part of the rush defense that limited Fournette. In the first quarter, Allen got off a block and made a tackle for a loss. He stuffed other runs and got pressure on the quarterback. Williams got his defense off the field with a sack early on as well. He used speed to push in to the left tackle and knock him off balance. Williams then cut to the inside and closed on the quarterback in an instant. This tape will help both of them to be first-round picks.

  • This tape will also help Alabama senior inside linebacker Reuben Foster and outside linebacker Ryan Anderson. In the first quarter, Foster missed a tackle going too high on a back rather than getting low. Foster then got in on a coverage sack with a teammate. Anderson later hit the quarterback as he threw to cause a duck to float in the air for an Alabama interception. Both players also contributed to limiting Fournette. This tape will be a quality performance for both of them overall.

  • LSU cornerback Tre’Davious White and Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey are both potential first-round picks next April. In the third quarter, White was in the right spot to get a tackle for a loss when Jalen Hurts tried a run his direction. He made other tackles on the perimeter and had some good plays on special teams, minus one bad decision to field a punt. White had good coverage all night, though.

    In the first quarter, a wide receiver got away with a shove on Humphrey to make a 41-yard reception behind Humphrey on a back-shoulder reception. Humphrey then had a blistering hit in space in run support. After halftime, Humphrey had perfect coverage on a deep ball to cut off the receiver and force an incompletion. Overall, this tape should help both of them.

  • Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson has had a murder’s row schedule this season. After taking on future high first-round picks like Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett and Tennessee’s Derek Barnett, Robinson had the challenge of blocking LSU’s superstar sophomore Arden Key. Key entered as one of the nation’s leading sackers and looks like a high first-round pick in 2018. However, they didn’t go against each other much, as Key did his damage against the right tackle. Robinson was decent in run blocking versus the Tigers, but did have too many plays where he lost his feet and fell down trying to hit a block in space. Robinson is good at latching on to defenders and controlling them, but he isn’t a true bull knocking defenders off the line. In pass protection, he wasn’t really tested in this game. Teams have mixed evaluations on Robinson, but in a weak offensive tackle draft, he looks like a future top-20 pick next April.

    Clemson 54, Syracuse 0
  • Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson has received some third-round grades from NFL teams, so he needs a strong finish to the season to improve his draft stock. Syracuse has a weak defense and secondary that Watson needed to dominate, and he did. Watson played better and threw the ball more accurately than in any other contest this season. Unfortunately, he left the game with a right shoulder injury before halftime. They said it was a shoulder bruise, and with Clemson up by so much, they held Watson out in the second half.

    On the first drive of the game, Watson had wideout Mike Williams streaking across the back of the end zone. The pass was behind Williams, and he dropped the touchdown. He should have caught it, but it was a poorly placed pass, as Watson should have led Williams to let his wideout run to the ball rather than slamming on the brakes and working against his momentum with a cornerback bearing down on him for a difficult catch.

    Watson, however, came back to throw perfect deep ball to hit Deon Cain for a 65-yard touchdown pass. It was a great pass that led Cain down the sideline for the score. Shortly later, Watson threw another great ball to lead Williams down the field, but he dropped the pass for what should have been a long touchdown. However, to finish the drive, Watson threw a strike high for Williams to complete a 14-yard touchdown. It was a superb catch by Williams going over a few defenders, and a well-placed ball by Watson to give his big receiver a chance to make the play.

    Shortly later, Watson left the game with his injury and finished 13-of-16 for 169 yards and two scores. Watson showed vast improvement in his accuracy, and if he continues to play like this for the remainder of his season, that would be huge for improving his draft grade during the months leading up to the draft.

  • Williams finished with six receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown. He had some good catches, but two ugly drops put a damper on this performance.

  • Clemson junior cornerback Cordrea Tankersley had a rough game a week ago in a loss to Florida State, but he bounced back nicely against Syracuse. In the second quarter, Tankersley had his first interception of the year. Tankersley was in a Cover 2 and dropped back into the throwing lane to make an easy interception. Tankersley then knocked a pass away. Throughout the game, he was assignment sound in coverage and prevented separation. Syracuse wasn’t a challenging opponent, but Tankersley looked improved over last week and especially was better in zone coverage so this tape will help his draft grade.

  • The other defender who looked good for Clemson was defensive tackle Carlos Watkins. On the first third down of the game, Watkins got a coverage sack as he took down the quarterback after getting a push into the pocket. Watkins then had a great play to snuff out a screen and make a third-down tackle. This was a good tape from Watkins that will help him to grade out as a second-day pick.

    Arkansas 31, Florida 10
  • Florida junior defensive tackle Caleb Brantley has been on a tear lately, and that continued against Arkansas. In the first quarter, Brantley got off a block with speed and hit the quarterback to force a third-down incompletion. Brantley later had a great rush to fire by the guard and rip down Austin Allen for a sack, but Brantley was injured on the play. It didn’t look serious, but he was virtually done for the day. Assuming Brantley isn’t hurt significantly, this game will further cement his status as a future first-round pick.

    Brantley is a dangerous interior pass-rusher with power and speed to be a three-down starter in the NFL. Brantley would be a perfect fit as a three technique defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme.

  • Gators senior safety Marcus Maye had an eventful game. He did well with some open-field tackles, but also had a few mistakes. Early on, he ended a long run when he flew over to the sideline and tossed the back down hard. Maye was then called for a pass interference that really hurt the Gators as the defense was about to get off the field. He made a few other tackles downfield and stayed home on an end around to make a stop for no gain. Maye has played well overall this year. He is a good free safety, but he isn’t a dominator and can give up some plays here and there. As a result, Maye is more of a fringe first-round pick.

  • Florida inside linebackers Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone had rough games. They were being challenged by a physical Arkansas offensive line with a good tight end in senior Jeremy Sprinkle. In the first quarter, Davis had a running back power through him to get into the end zone, and to make matters worse, he left the game shortly later with the trainers. After returning to the field, Davis had a bad play as he lost track of a receiver in the end zone playing zone coverage, and that allowed a target to get open for a score behind him. Later in the second half, Davis was the victim of a personal foul and he had to leave the game again with an injury. Davis tried to gut it out, but he clearly was hurting. This tape won’t help his draft grade as he looked more like a second-round pick than a first-rounder.

    Anzalone also left the game with an arm injury sustained in the third quarter. Anzalone is talented, but has durability issues without much production in his collegiate career. Sources have said that Anzalone is likely to enter the draft, but he should return for his senior year to improve before going pro.

    In the second quarter, Anzalone had excellent coverage, but Sprinkle made a great leaping grab for the reception. Sprinkle came back to make another long reception getting open on a play-action bootleg. In the third quarter, Sprinkle dropped a pass behind him in the flat, and that is a rare sight, as Sprinkle is typically very sure-handed. He finished with three receptions for 51 yards. Sprinkle is a well-rounded tight end with starting potential in the NFL and could be a mid-round value pick.

  • Arkansas defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. flashed against the Gators as he was getting consistent pressure on overwhelmed quarterback Luke Del Rio. In the third quarter, Wise had a good pass rush to get a hit on a third down and force an incompletion to get his defense off the field. Wise then came through getting by the right guard for a sack. This was a good tape for Wise, as he was steadily getting after Del Rio with speed and functional strength. He looks like a solid second-day talent for the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Texas 45, Texas Tech 37
  • Texas Tech junior quarterback Pat Mahomes II plays in a college spread offense that doesn’t correlate well to the NFL, but he has some real arm and passing talent to be a legit pro prospect for the NFL. A few weeks ago, he threw for over 700 yards and accounted for seven touchdowns in a close loss to Oklahoma. This week, Mahomes had a mixed outing, but illustrated that he is a pro talent at the most important position.

    On the first drive of the game, Mahomes ripped the ball down the field and had some well-placed passes. He also showed some mobility and worked through progressions on a couple of plays. He produced a score and continued to light up the scoreboard throughout the game.

    Mahomes did well to move the ball with some third-down conversions by throwing a dart on a slant and then lofting in a beautiful throw on a corner post for a gain of about 30 yards. It was perfectly thrown ball to lead his receiver open and drop in a very catchable pass. That set up Mahomes to throw a short touchdown late in the first quarter. Mahomes wasn’t on the same page as his receiver and threw the ball into a crowd of defenders and was fortunate it fell incomplete. Mahomes was forcing that third-down throw, and it wasn’t a good decision.

    In the third quarter, Mahomes had a mixed play where he stepped up in the pocket before scrambling outside and throwing a deep ball that was almost intercepted. He did well to avoid the sack and keep his eyes downfield, but Mahomes should have thrown it away rather than forcing it. Mahomes then threw a perfect bomb to beat tight coverage, but his receiver couldn’t control the ball. He had another good throw for a long gain, but his receiver fumbled the ball away fighting for extra yards.

    Mahomes had one final possession down by eight. He moved the ball into Texas territory and threw a perfect deep ball into the end zone for a leaping sideline grab, but the wideout’s foot came down on the line. A few plays later, Mahomes had to force a pass and threw an interception. Mahomes completed 36-of-59 passes for 367 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

    Overall, Mahomes had a game that will be a positive for the evaluators that like him, but it wasn’t dominant to change the minds of the skeptics. Mahomes has a strong arm and can throw accurately downfield. He flashes the ability to work through progressions and read defenses.

    However, there is no doubt that he will need development for the NFL. The Texas Tech offense is terrible preparation for the NFL. The Red Raiders don’t huddle or work under center. Thus, Mahomes is going to have to learn how to call plays in the huddle and master the footwork of working under center. All in all, Mahomes could be a second-day pick if he enters the 2017 NFL Draft.

    Illinois 31, Michigan State 27
  • This game had three potential NFL defensive linemen led by Michigan State junior Malik McDowell. Sources with multiple NFL teams say that McDowell is a top-20 talent and they are very high on his NFL potential. Unfortunately, the injury bug came up and bit McDowell.

    Early in the first half, McDowell had to leave the game briefly with the trainers before returning to action. In the second quarter, McDowell had a power rush to get penetration before shedding the block to chase Jeff George Jr. out of the pocket. He had some other plays of disruption as he used his power to beat blocks and speed to chase. McDowell then went out of the game with an ankle injury and did not return. Michigan State really missed him, as Illinois scored late to win. Overall, this tape shouldn’t impact his draft stock.

  • The most impressive prospect in the game was Illinois defensive end Duwuane Smoot. In the first quarter, Smoot was active with a good bull rush on the right tackle to flush the quarterback out of the pocket. The right tackle was really struggling with Smoot, who used power to push the blocker back and then shed his block. Smoot used speed to close on the quarterback for his third sack of the season. He later fired into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss.

    Smoot continued to get pressure and disruption at the point of attack. He showed that he has real speed, functional strength, and athleticism to get after the quarterback. Smoot should get stronger to anchor in the ground game for the NFL. He could fit as a 4-3 defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. This tape will help Smoot’s bid to be a first-round pick.

  • The other prospect to watch was Illinois defensive end Carroll Phillips. He didn’t have a big stat line in this game, but Phillips was very disruptive. In the second quarter, Phillips exploded into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss. Phillips then showed his speed to fly around the corner and almost got a sack, but that pressure created a sack for teammate Chunky Clements. Phillips had a great jump with superb first-step quickness. Early in the fourth quarter, Phillips had a blinding rush with speed to the inside to almost get a sack but Pat O’Connor was able to slip away from the tackle. Phillips then got his block to make a tackle for no gain on a fourth down to clinch the win for Illinois.

    There is no doubt that Phillips is a serious speed rusher off the edge. He has a great first step with the quickness to turn the corner and the athleticism to dodge tacklers. Phillips is undersized for a 4-3 defense and wouldn’t be a good fit in that scheme as he would have to move to Sam (strongside) linebacker. Phillips would be perfect in a 3-4 defense as a rush linebacker. He looks like a fringe late first-round or early second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.


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