2018 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 9

This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2018 NFL Draft Prospects have performed. Or look at the 2018 NFL Draft Stock page.

By Charlie Campbell.
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Georgia 42, Florida 7
  • Georgia running back Nick Chubb continued to show that he is regaining his pre-injury form. He was impressive against Florida. Early in the first quarter, Chubb kept his legs going to move a pile and push into the end zone from a few yards out. Chubb ran for 77 yards on 13 carries with the score.

    This season, Chubb has showed that he is regaining the speed, power and explosion that he had as a freshman and sophomore prior to his ACL tear in 2015. Chubb wasn’t the same last season, but this year he is much better. If he continues his strong play while avoiding injury, Chubb could be a first-round pick next April.

  • Georgia senior running back Sony Michel is a good pro prospect as well, and he illustrated that against Florida. In the first quarter, Michel took a run up the middle and exploded down the field for a 74-yard touchdown. Michel later took a run off the left side and exploded down the field for a 45-yard touchdown.

    That ended up being Michel’s final carry, as he totaled 137 yards on six carries with two touchdowns. Michel has starting potential for the NFL with speed, strength, and versatility. Sources have told me that Michel has been getting second-day grades. This tape will help his chances of being a second-rounder rather than going in the third.

  • Florida junior defensive lineman Taven Bryan is an excellent athlete who could be a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. While the Gator defense got ripped by Georgia, Bryan was consistently showing serious speed, knifing into the backfield routinely. In the third quarter, Bryan blew a run up in the backfield to start a tackle for a loss. Bryan didn’t get a chance to show his pass-rushing skills, as Georgia starting quarterback Jake Fromm only threw seven passes. If Bryan enters the 2018 NFL Draft, he is likely to be a first or second-round pick. If he returns for his senior year he could end up going higher in the 2019 draft.

  • Florida cornerback Duke Dawson has played well for the Gators defense this season. He wasn’t tested by Georgia, but still made an impact. Just after halftime, Dawson was in zone coverage and then backed off Michel to run under a terrible pass for an interception. Dawson will fit as a slot cornerback in the NFL and looks like a quality mid-round pick.

    Washington 44, UCLA 23
  • To help his NFL draft stock, UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen needed to stay healthy this season after a shoulder injury knocked him out for the majority of the 2016 season. A season without injury looks like it was dashed, as Rosen didn’t make it to the fourth quarter against Washington. Rosen left the game with an undisclosed injury in the third quarter. The extent is unknown, but Washingtong put a beating on him with with four sacks and four hits before Rosen left the game.

    Rosen didn’t play poorly prior to leaving the game. In the second quarter, Rosen threaded a needle in a tight window to Jordan Wilson for a short touchdown pass. Rosen made another good pass deep down the field for a long gain, but the ball was dropped. Some of the sacks were the result of his receivers being incapable of separating, as Washington blanketed them. Rosen completed 12-of-21 passes for 93 yards with a touchdown.

    Rosen is playing like a first-rounder with excellent arm talent, but he has to stay on the field. The announcers were speculating that Rosen had a broken left hand (non-throwing). If Rosen has a serious injury that will cause him to miss a lot of games in the second half of the season, it could have a huge impact on his draft stock and send him down significantly.

  • Washington nose tackle Vita Vea could be a late first-round pick or second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. This tape will help Vea’s draft grade as he had his way with the Bruins offensive line. In the first quarter, Vea was controlling the point of attack, creating a sack by collapsing the pocket. He then got a sack himself after using his speed to execute a stunt and chase down Rosen. Vea looped to the outside on a stunt, but he showed good awareness to leap and bat the pass for a third-down incompletion. Vea later bulled into the backfield to create a tackle for a loss for a teammate.

    This tape will help Vea’s chances of being a first-round pick. He showed the ability to contribute some in the pass rush while being big and strong, and having a burst at the point of attack. Vea was very reminiscent of Danny Shelton at Washington with how he played in this game.

  • Washington has a rushing tandem of two backs who can play in the NFL. Myles Gaskin is a speedy, slashing back who also has some talent as a receiver. He ripped up the UCLA defense with 169 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown. Lavon Coleman is a thick power back who can run defenders over. He showed his short-yardage prowess with three touchdowns against the Bruins. Coleman totaled 94 yards on 14 carries while catching two passes for 46 yards. Both Gaskin and Coleman could be mid-round picks who carve out a role in the NFL. This tape will help them even though the UCLA defense isn’t good.

    Notre Dame 35, N.C. State 14
  • This game could have one of the best draft matchups in the entire 2018 college football season. Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey was seeing N.C. State defensive end Bradley Chubb. Chubb is playing like a top-10 pick this year while McGlinchey has received first-round grades from some teams. Chubb is the best lineman McGlinchey will see this year and McGlinchey is the top tackle that Chubb will play against.

    Early in the first quarter Notre Dame made a bad mistake in their assignments as they had a tight end blocking Chubb on a third down pass play. Chubb easily shed the block and chased down Brandon Wimbush for a sack. On the next possession Chubb used pure speed to blow by McGlinchey and that blew up a third down screen attempt by Notre Dame.

    In the second quarter Chubb added a tackle for a loss when he came unblocked. On the first play of the fourth quarter Chubb went through a tight end to get a tackle for a loss. Chubb ended up around 10 tackles with three for a loss and a sack. He lost some one-on-ones against McGlinchey in the pass rush, but Chubb still played well overall and this game should only serve to confirm his status as a top-20 pick.

    After that one play where Chubb blew by him, McGlinchey rebounded to have some good blocks in pass protection moving with rushers and keeping them from getting pressure. He had numerous one-on-one block wins against Chubb. McGlinchey also blocked really well in the ground game. Chubb is a good player that is going to get wins going against any tackle, so one can’t expect McGlinchey to pitch a shutout. In the ground game, McGlinchey was very good getting movement at the point of attack and sealing off defenders. He was a big part of Notre Dame totaling 318 yards on the ground including 202 from Josh Adams. This tape will help McGlinchey’s draft grade.

  • Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson is a first-round talent that was seeing two good N.C. State defensive tackles in Justin Jones and B.J. Hill. In the first quarter Nelson buried a defender to spring Josh Adams for a long run and that set the tone for the game. Nelson dominated at the point of attack. He was constantly opening holes for Adams while being rock solid in pass protection.

    Nelson looks like the second coming of Logan Mankins. He could be a good NFL starter tomorrow. His technique is superb. He has serious strength, plays with good leverage, ideal size, and very good athleticism for a guard. Nelson is a rare guard that is worthy of a first-round pick.

  • N.C. State tight end/h-back Jaylen Samuels. For the NFL he is a receiving running back in the mold of Brian Westbrook. The Fighting Irish did an excellent job of limiting Samuels as he was held to only two receptions for 21 yards. One of those came in the second quarter Samuels made an excellent diving catch in traffic to convert a third-and-long. In the third quarter Samuels got involved with a 58-yard kick return. On eight rushing attempts Samuels had 18 yards. Overall this tape shouldn’t hurt because Notre Dame’s defense played well. Samuels could be a nice second-day pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

    Ohio State 39, Penn State 38
  • Penn State running back Saquon Barkley has been the best player in college football this season. While he didn’t have a prolific game against a defense stacked with NFL talent, Barkley still made some huge plays. Barkley took the opening kickoff back 97 yards for a touchdown. He slashed across the field and showed his elite speed to run away from the Ohio State coverage unit.

    Early in the second quarter, Barkley ran up the middle, made a great cut to the left, and then exploded down the field for a 36-yard touchdown. Shortly later, Barkley had a good lead block to spring his quarterback Trace McSorley for a short rushing touchdown. Aside from his 36-yard run, Ohio State did a good job of limiting Barkley in the first half, as he his other six carries only went for 11 yards.

    In the second half, the trend continued, as the Penn State offensive line was incapable of keeping Buckeye defenders out of the backfield. Barkley was limited to 51 yards on 20 carries with his touchdown. He had four receptions for 23 yards.

    This tape won’t have any impact on Barkley’s draft stock. He is an elite running back prospect with an excellent combination of speed, power, elusiveness, versatility and athleticism. Barkley is destined to be a top-10 pick unless he has a serious injury or off-the-field issue.

  • Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard has a first-round skill set, but he hasn’t turned those skills into big production for the Buckeyes. Hubbard had an impressive tape against Penn State where he showed his excellent combination of size, speed, and agility.

    Early on, Hubbard used his speed to make a tackle in the flat closing quickly on a receiver. He then used speed to power to get through the right tackle before taking down McSorley for a sack, but Hubbard grabbed the face mask when McSorley tried to duck under Hubbard, and that drew a flag. In the fourth quarter, Hubbard came unblocked on a zone-read run, and he tackled Barkley for a loss on the play.

    Throughout the game, he was beating the right tackle with speed around the corner. Hubbard is fast to fire out his stance with strength to shed blocks. He looks like a good fit as a base end in a 4-3 defense. This tape will help him to grade out as a first-round pick.

  • Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward is another early-round talent who played well against Penn State. Throughout the game, Ward had blanket coverage, and McSorley was throwing at the other Buckeye defensive backs.

    In the third quarter, Penn State challenged Ward deep in the end zone, and Ward was in good position running stride for stride with the receiver. It looked like both the wideout and Ward caught the ball. In was ruled an interception for Ward, but the review of the process turned it into a Penn State touchdown. It was a tough call to go against Ward, but a tie goes to the offensive player.

    Even though that receiver out fought him for that completion, this tape should help Ward’s draft stock, as he was very good in coverage to run the route and prevent separation.

  • Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki is a solid mid-round prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft. He had six receptions for 57 yards to lead the Nittany Lions through the air. Gesicki can contribute as a blocker while also having some receiving skill. He lacks elite athleticism and speed to be a No. 1 mismatch tight end, but he could be a solid backup and rotational tight end for his NFL team.

    Oklahoma State 50, West Virginia 39
  • Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph has some vocal fans in the media that have him projected as a first-round prospect. In scouting circles, Rudolph is very much a love-hate prospect. I’ve heard from some NFL sources who think he could be an early-rounder, and I know others that have him buried in the mid-rounds. I’ve heard grades as low as the fifth and sixth round on Rudolph. This game against West Virginia won’t help to win over any skeptics and will only reinforce the late grades.

    Early in the first quarter, Rudolph made a terrible pass with an overthrow into triple coverage, and he got lucky that a defensive back dropped an easy interception. Rudolph then threw a bubble screen and James Washington darted into the end zone from a few yards out. A few plays later, Rudolph threw another pass downfield into double coverage and had an interception dropped. Rudolph had a few other easy touchdown passes.

    Late in the third quarter, Oklahoma State had lost momentum on a punt block for a touchdown, and then Rudolph made things worse. Rudolph stepped up in the pocket and made a terrible decision, throwing to a well-covered receiver in the flat. The ball floated to the defender, and this time, the ball was caught. He raced down the field about 30 yards for a touchdown.

    Rudolph completed 20-of-34 for 216 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. I’m of the opinion that Rudolph is a day-three prospect. I would grade him as a fourth- or fifth-rounder. For the NFL, Rudolph has some limitations. His arm strength is just average. He is not very athletic and isn’t a running threat. His accuracy is shaky and needs improvement, while his anticipation is terrible. Routinely, Rudolph doesn’t pull the trigger on a throw until his receiver has long since gotten wide open rather anticipating the play to get the ball out faster. The length of time he holds the ball in the pocket is going to be a problem in the NFL, but in the Big 12, he can get away with it. Rudolph is also inconsistent with his field vision, as he can work off his first read, but other times, he stares down targets. This game provided other examples of Rudolph struggling to throw into tight windows. He is going to need a lot more impressive tape to be a first-round pick.

  • Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington has received some first-round hype. He played well against West Virginia with seven receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Some team sources told me they graded him as a mid-rounder. Washington has a running back build and is not really twitchy. He is deceptively fast with build-up speed and has good hands. Washington doesn’t really make players miss after the catch. I think Washington could be a solid mid-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, but shouldn’t go in the first couple of rounds.

  • West Virginia quarterback Will Grier has a good arm and can make some accurate throws. However, he made a lot of bad decisions and passes in this contest. Grier completed 20-of-42 for 285 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions.

    Grier had a bad start as he drifted in the pocket with a throw being inaccurate leading to an interception. Early in the third quarter, Grier was pressured on a blitz and overthrew his receiver downfield. That led to an interception, but the West Virginia wideout didn’t look back and make a play for the ball, so that didn’t help Grier out. Later in the third quarter, Grier threw an inaccurate pass to a receiver running a go route down the seam and the ball was easily picked off. Grier was then under pressure, as he threw and tossed a ball up for grabs in the middle of the field in double coverage. The pass turned into Grier’s fourth interception of the game.

    Grier also made some nice throws. At the end of the first quarter, Grier made a beautiful back-shoulder, 40-yard pass to Sills downfield along the sideline. Shortly later, he threw a well-placed post post pass downfield for a long gain. To help produce a touchdown, Grier made a good read not to throw to a well-covered receiver that was his primary option and going to the checkdown.

    With his steroid suspension in 2015 and sitting out 2016 after transferring from Florida, Grier is still only in his first full year as a starter. He should return to West Virginia to get better and gain more experience before turning pro.

    Wake Forest 42, Louisville 32
  • Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has continued the trend of this season where he plays well, but the Cardinals’ weak defense, offensive line and wide receivers don’t give him enough support. Jackson ended up completing 27-of-44 passes for 330 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He ran for 159 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns rushing.

    Early on, after a long run on a zone read to get near the end zone, Jackson rolled out and threw a terrible pass into a crowd of defenders. It was easily picked off. That play helped Wake Forest to build a 21-3 lead.

    Jackson came back to carve up the Wake Forest defense with his legs throughout the game. He showed off his elite speed, explosion, and shifty open-field moves. Jackson also made a number of good passes in the game. Some were dropped, and his receivers really struggled to separate from the Wake Forest defensive backs.

    There clearly is room for improvement for Jackson as a passer for the NFL. The main issue is accuracy. Jackson can miss too high or make overthrows, and his footwork fundamentals can get out of whack, leading to inconsistent accuracy. He can make some perfect throws with excellent ball placement and then miss wildly on his next throw. More than anything, Jackson needs work on his accuracy for the NFL. Gaining weight to get thicker in his frame is another important task for him.

    That being said, there is no doubt that Jackson has a starting skill set for the NFL, and that could be seen in this game. He has elite arm strength with a powerful gun that can make devastating throws. Jackson’s arm is so strong he can make throws off platform that other quarterback have to have their feet set to make. With just a flip of the wrist, the ball explodes out of Jackson’s hands, and he can beat good coverage with perfect throws that very few quarterbacks can make. When Jackson’s in the NFL next year, his arm will be one of the strongest in the league in the same ballpark as Matthew Stafford or Joe Flacco.

    On top of elite arm strength, Jackson is a great athlete with incredible mobility, speed, and moves to rip up defenses with his feet. From a skill set perspective, Jackson is very similar to Michael Vick. With his physical talent, I think Jackson will rise throughout the lead up to the draft and end up being a high first-round pick.

  • Wake Forest defensive end Duke Ejiofor is a potential early-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and he played well. He was consistently getting off blocks and pressuring Jackson. In the second quarter, Ejiofor came on a stunt that saw him push between the right guard and right tackle. Ejiofor chased down Jackson for a third-down sack. Early in the fourth quarter, Ejiofor combined with a teammate to get a coverage sack. Ejiofor was blocked but eventually fought off to get the sack.

    Ejiofor is a solid base end for the NFL. He is strong and tough with active hands to get off blocks. He doesn’t have elite speed at the line, and that makes him more of a second-day prospect, but Ejiofor could be a tough end in the pros who defends the run well with the ability to contribute in the pass rush.


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