2017 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 14

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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Penn State 38, Wisconsin 31
  • Wisconsin outside linebacker T.J. Watt has had an excellent season, and he was a terror in the first half against Penn State. He had a number of good pressures and near sacks in the early going. Watt had a nice tackle in pursuit, while setting the edge really well in run defense. In the second quarter, Watt came off the edge to beat a block from the back and then get a strip sack that was recovered by Wisconsin. Early in the fourth quarter, however, Watt was mismatched in coverage against Saquon Barkley, and the wheel route burned Watt for a touchdown. That kind of assignment isn’t the right fit for him in the NFL or college.

    Overall, this was an impressive performance from Watt. He is a tough edge defender in the ground game with some serious pass-rushing potential for the NFL. He is a great fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker with athletic upside to grow at the pro level. If he enters the 2017 NFL Draft, Watt could be a Thursday night selection.

  • Wisconsin left tackle Ryan Ramczyk is a NFL prospect who was worth studying. He showed some good skill against Penn State, but also illustrated that he still need some development.

    In the first quarter, Ramczyk crashed down his side of the line to open a huge lane to the outside for Corey Clement to bounce a run downfield for a 67-yard touchdown run. Ramczyk then blew an assignment terribly, letting an outside linebacker run right by him to the inside to get a sack. He later missed a backside block that allowed a tackle for a loss.

    Ramczyk has a lot of good qualities that could lead to him being a starting left tackle in the NFL. He is quick out his stance, fast to hit blocks in the second level, and is able to get in position for blocks in space. In pass protection, he can play the typewriter with his feet and shuffle with rushers. He gets depth in his drop as well. Some plays, he can be slow to react and adjust to counter pass rush moves. Ramczyk also needs to add more strength. He can get bull rushed and pushed back by rushers. His frame doesn’t look maxed out, and he should get stronger in a NFL strength and conditioning program. If he were to enter the 2017 NFL Draft, I think he could get late first-round consideration in a weak tackle class and could go early on Day 2 if he slips to Friday night.

  • Clement ran hard for Wisconsin with 164 yards on 21 carries. He is a physical North-South runner with a burst to hit the hole when healthy. He could be a nice mid-round value pick.

    Clemson 42, Virginia Tech 35
  • Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson played his best at the end of last season and it would be interesting to see if Watson could elevate his play over an underwhelming campaign from a draft prospect perspective.

    Watson had a short touchdown run on the first drive of the game. He followed that up with an easy touchdown toss as the Hokies forgot to cover tight end Jordan Leggett down the seam after a play-action. They connected again on a 10-yard touchdown as Leggett got separation from a cornerback running a slant for the score. In the second quarter, Watson got lucky as he had an interception dropped by Adonis Alexander. It wasn’t all Watson’s fault, as Mike Williams fell down on the play.

    Watson had a pass batted in the air and it was intercepted by the Hokies middle linebacker in the third quarter. Watson came back to hit Williams on a slant to convert a third down. That set up a rushing touchdown, and he added another running score late in the third quarter. Watson completed 23-of-34 passes for 288 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He ran for 85 yards on 17 carries with two scores.

    This was a quality tape from Watson running his college spread offense. He looks likely to be a second-day pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Williams is the current favorite to be the first receiver selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he had a solid game. Williams is more of a possession receiver for the NFL, and that could be seen against Virginia Tech with five receptions for 57 yards.

  • Clemson junior cornerback Cordrea Tankersley has some fans in the scouting community, but there are some other evaluators who don’t like him. He had an interesting game against Virginia Tech that would appeal to both sides of the argument.

    In the first quarter, Tankersley was caught out of position on a halfback pass and had to hold Bucky Hodges to prevent a touchdown. The flag was correctly thrown. After halftime, the Hokies tested Tankersley deep down the field, but he ran stride-for-stride with Isaiah Ford before making a leaping breakup. Virginia Tech went after Tankersley again downfield and he made a superb catch along the sideline for an interception. However, shortly later, Tankersley had a pathetic tackle attempt on a perimeter touchdown run by Virginia Tech.

    To clinch the game, Tankersley had an errant pass fly to him, and he made a diving interception to clinch the win for the Tigers. Thus, this game had some good plays from Tankersley and some low lights. He would be best as a press-man corner for the NFL who will need to improve his zone and off-man coverage. Some teams think he has first-round potential, while others see him on Day 2.

  • Leggett was providing a real mismatch against Virginia Tech, but Clemson didn’t use him enough as he caught four passes for 49 yards with two scores. The Hokies bit on a play-action and let Leggett run wide open for a 21-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He added another score, burning a cornerback in man coverage on a slant to get a 10-yard touchdown. This tape will help Leggett in a deep class of tight ends. He could be a second- or third-round pick.

  • Clemson defensive tackle Carlos Watkins came through with some clutch plays to help the Tigers hold on to a hard-fought conference championship. In the third quarter, Watkins fought off a guard and then took down the quarterback for a third-down sack that knocked Virginia Tech out of field goal range. Shortly later, Watkins added another sack as he fought through the guard and tracked down the quarterback after a scramble toward the line of scrimmage. Both plays ended up being extremely clutch in keeping Virginia Tech from tying the game.

    Watkins definitely helped himself in the ACC Championship. He gave NFL evaluators a tape that showed he can contribute to the pass rush as an interior penetrator. He has the quickness to get into the pocket and strength to fight off blocks. This tape could help him to go on the second day of the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Virginia Tech junior wide receiver Isaiah Ford is receiver with some quickness for the NFL. In the first quarter, Ford got open for a slant and almost took it into the end zone but had a gain of about 20. Ford then got wide open in busted zone coverage to make a reception and slash across the field to get 53 yards for the Hokies. He finished with 89 yards on four receptions. If Ford enters the draft, he could be a second-day pick.

  • Clemson did a nice job of limiting Virginia Tech tight end Bucky Hodges. In the third quarter, Hodges blocked out a defensive back for a reception of 42 yards. That was his only catch in the game. For the NFL, Hodges is a hybrid tight end/wide receiver. He’s a bigger version of Jordan Reed with limitations as a blocker. Hodges will probably end up being a second-day pick.

    Alabama 54, Florida 16
  • Alabama senior defensive line Jonathan Allen played well against Florida, but didn’t produce a huge stat line. He had a number of good run stuffs and got pressure in the pocket. In the fourth quarter, he used speed to get by the guard and get in on a sack. The next play, Allen got a coverage sack looping around the right side to get a scrambling Austin Appleby to the ground. Allen added to his impressive sack total against the Gators, and showed superb fundamentals at the point of attack. As usual, Allen showed nice versatility to be effective lining up at a variety of spots on the defensive line. Allen has been superb this season, and he looks like a safe top-10 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Alabama inside linebacker Reuben Foster was very active against Florida. In the first quarter, he got a sack as he didn’t bite on a flea-flicker to rip down Appleby for a big loss. He had a nice tackle in the flat on a check down pass and made other hard tackles in run support. He snuffed out a screen for no gain after halftime. Foster added an open-field tackle on a tight end, but he knocked him forward for a first down and then gave up a reception for a first down to running back Brandon Powell. Foster made a number of tackles in run support throughout the night.

    Foster has three-down starting potential for the NFL. He is fast, strong, athletic and physical, with good size. He has the ability to run with receivers out of the backfield and cover a lot of ground. Foster could be a rare inside linebacker prospect that grades out as a first-round pick.

  • Sources have told WalterFootball.com that Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson plans on entering the draft, and he had an excellent game against Florida. In the first half, he had a great block in space on a bubble screen to spring Calvin Ridley for a huge gain downfield. Robinson then had a superb block to seal a hole and occupy a few defenders to let his back get into the end zone. In the second half, he continued to push around the Gators defenders and open holes in the ground game. He created a wide hole on the goal line for another touchdown run. Robinson was solid in pass protection all night and did his job to keep his quarterback clean.

    Robinson has starting left tackle potential for the NFL. Some sources think he might be an ideal right tackle while others think he is a left tackle similar to Ryan Clady or Russell Okung. In a weak offensive tackle class, Robinson looks like a lock to go in the top-20 of the 2017 NFL Draft. This tape will help make that happen.

  • Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis returned to the field after missing a number of games recently with a leg injury. He showed nice speed to get to a check down on the perimeter. He also had a blanket coverage on a back to force an incompletion in the end zone. However, Davis went down aggravating his injury in the second half and didn’t finish the game. Sources have said that Davis has graded out in the second round, as his senior year wasn’t as strong as his impressive 2015 season.

  • Florida defensive tackle Caleb Brantley has been on a tear to close out the season, but that ended against Alabama. He was very quiet in the first half. In the third quarter, however, Brantley got into the backfield to snuff out a run for no gain. Brantley was holding his gap generally at the point of attack, but he wasn’t making the penetrative plays that he has in recent weeks. Brantley still should go in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Alabama cornerback Marlon Humphrey was out with a hurt hamstring.

    West Virginia 24, Baylor 21
  • West Virginia wide receiver Shelton Gibson is an early-round talent, but you couldn’t really see it against Baylor as he was held without a catch. In the first quarter, Gibson had a step on the cornerback running downfield into the end zone, but the ball was thrown late and that let the defensive backs close. It also sailed too far out of bounds.

    Gibson later returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, but a holding call brought it back. Gibson’s lack of production wasn’t his fault, as quarterback Skyler Howard was only 10-of-26 and really struggled to complete passes. This tape shouldn’t have a real impact on Gibson’s draft stock.

  • West Virginia cornerback Rasul Douglas has been one of the best ballhawks in the nation this year. He had a quiet game, but was good in coverage and prevented separation. Douglas recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.

    Douglas is a big press-man corner for the NFL. He is going to need to work on playing zone and off man, but Douglas looks like an early-round talent with his size, length, and ball skills.

  • Baylor wide receiver K.D. Cannon showed his big play ability against West Virginia. He got vertical down the sideline for a 60-yard touchdown and totaled five receptions for 84 yards. Cannon could be a mid-round talent for a team looking for a receiver to stretch the field.

    Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 20
  • Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook has been on a tear to close the season. That continued against Oklahoma State, but unfortunately, his day ended way too early.

    On the first play of the second quarter, Westbrook made a huge play for the Sooners with a 69-yard touchdown. He ran a deep post and then broke off his route as Baker Mayfield scrambled around. Westbrook slashed across the field to get open and Mayfield got him the ball about 20 yards downfield. Westbrook did the rest, using his speed to race down the field and by defenders for the score. Shortly later, Westbrook had an offensive pass interference, and then took a bone-rattling hit after attempting a leaping catch. Westbrook was taken off the field with trainers and was put in the concussion protocol. That ended his game with a total of four receptions for 111 yards and one touchdown.

    For the NFL, Westbrook is a speed receiver to work out of the slot. He can make big plays vertically and is fast to get separation. The negatives are that Westbrook is very thin-framed and he could have durability issues in the NFL. Having a potential concussion to close out the season could only serve to raise those concerns. Westbrook looks like a third-round pick for the 2017 NFL Draft.

  • Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph has been projected as a first-round pick by some in the draft media, but he didn’t have that look against Oklahoma, as he was just 5-of-14 for 74 yards. Early on, Rudolph had a terrible pass that was dropped by Sooners safety Jordan Evans. The receiver was covered and the pass flew right between the numbers for Evans, but he flat out dropped the ball. Rudolph then came back to throw a beautiful 44-yard pass to Washington and had a short touchdown run on a zone-read play. Those were the highlights of the game for him. It wasn’t all his fault, as Rudolph had a few good passes that were dropped by receivers.

    Rudolph has nice size with an arm to deliver the ball downfield. He throws nice touch passes and locates passes well. However, he is going to need a lot of work on his field vision for the NFL. Rudolph rarely works off his primary read and constantly stares down his first option. In the long term, Rudolph would be better off returning for his senior season and improving his field vision to work through progressions before going pro.

  • Washington had only that one catch for 44 yards, but it was an impressive over-the-shoulder grab with Jordan Thomas covering him closely. If I were advising Washington, I would recommend returning to school in 2017 and improving his route-running before going pro. If he enters the 2017 NFL Draft, he could be a second-day pick.

  • Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine had a mixed game. He ran well, but displayed poor ball security. At the beginning of the first quarter, he fumbled the ball but a teammate recovered it. Perine later took off on a 66-yard run before being caught from behind. He went up the middle to burst downfield and almost took it the distance. To finish the drive, Perine took a Wildcat snap and slammed into the a defender to push his way across the goal line. Early in the fourth quarter, Perine took two hard hits and fumbled the ball away. He went into the locker room after the play, but returned to the game. He finished with 122 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown.

    Perine is a physical downhill back who projects as a heavy workload runner in the NFL. He could be an asset in goal-line and short-yardage situations. Perine doesn’t have great speed, athleticism, or pass-receiving skills so he may never be a three-down starter. If he enters the 2017 NFL Draft, he would be in a loaded running class that pushes him down, but he could be a nice value as a mid-round pick.


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