2019 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 5

This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2019 NFL Draft Prospects have performed. Or look at the 2019 NFL Draft Stock page.

By Charlie Campbell.
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Notre Dame 38, Stanford 17
  • This game was pure domination by Notre Dame defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. If the 2019 NFL Draft weren’t so loaded on the interior of the defensive line with a bunch of rare prospects, Tillery would be a top-16 pick. It isn’t out of the question, however, that Tillery rises into the top 20 even with the great defensive line class. This performance against the Cardinal was one of the best of the year from any defensive linemen in college football. Tillery was a monster who showed a serious ability to rush the quarterback.

    Early in the second quarter, Tillery slapped off right guard Nate Herbig and closed on Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello to come close to a sack. That set the tone for the rest of the night, with Tillery dominating every blocker he went against. Just before halftime, Tillery bull rushed through Herbig to get a sack of Costello. It was impressive power from Tillery to dominate Stanford’s best blocker and push into the quarterback on roller skates. In the third quarter, Tillery almost caused an interception by hitting Costello as he threw and forcing an errant pass that went flying in the air.

    Early in the fourth quarter, Tillery got an effort sack after Herbig initially stuffed a bull rush. Tillery peeled off the block to chase down Costello as he stepped up in the pocket. Midway through the fourth quarter, Tillery bulled the left tackle to the outside on a stunt, but then turned and used speed to the inside to sack Costello and force a fumble. On the very next play, Tillery shed the left guard with his strong upper body and then closed on Costello for another sack.

    Along with putting a lot of heat on Costello, Tillery was tough in the ground game, holding his gap and keeping offensive linemen from getting movement. Tillery totaled six tackles with four tackles for a loss, four sacks and a forced fumble against the Cardinal. This monster game from Tillery will be huge for his draft grade. He showed excellent strength to shed blocks, technique to get under the pads of offensive linemen, power to bull rush, and speed to close on the quarterback. It was a phenomenal tape from Tillery that will help his draft grade and improve his chances of being a Thursday night pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

  • Stanford running back Bryce Love ran well against a defense that was controlled his offensive line. Love showed his vision, patience, and cutting ability on a few nice carries early in the game. He made a 39-yard touchdown run, but also left the game early with an ankle injury. Love finished with 73 yards on 17 carries and that score. The senior is not off to a prolific start to the year, but he still is a very talented back who will go in the first few rounds next April as long as he avoids major injury.

    LSU 45, Ole Miss 16
  • This game had the potential for some good draft matchups with LSU cornerback Greedy Williams taking on Ole Miss wide receiver A.J. Brown. Williams could be the first cornerback selected in the 2019 NFL Draft, and Brown could be the initial receiver to go off the board. Aside from Brown, Williams was going to be challenged by two other talented Rebel receivers in Damarkus Lodge and D.K. Metcalf. Both Lodge and Metcalf have the skill set to play at the next level and could be early-round selections next April. Williams and Brown ended up having solid games, but the other two receivers had disappointing performances on Saturday night.

    Williams had an early tackle downfield to end a chunk run. He was then all over Metcalf just inside the end zone, and Williams was able to knock the pass away. That nice play in coverage helped force Ole Miss into a field goal. Overall, Williams was sound running with the Rebel wideouts, doing a nice job of preventing separation.

    At the end of the first half, Ole Miss finally got Brown the ball downfield, as they threw a jump ball deep down the field. Brown made a leaping 35-yard reception right in front of the end zone. That was the highlight of the night for Brown, as he totaled nine receptions for 72 yards. This tape should not hurt or help Brown significantly.

    Metcalf and Lodge played poorly overall. In the early going, Metcalf got open against Williams on a short comeback route close to the goal line, but he dropped the pass. Lodge, meanwhile, got open in the back of the end zone to make a leaping touchdown catch, but he dropped the pass. Later in the second quarter, Lodge went downfield and had an over the shoulder reception go through his hands. Lodge did get open for what could have been a long touchdown as he had an awesome release off the line of scrimmage to juke a corner and have him fall down, but Rebels quarterback Jordan Ta’amu overthrew Lodge running wide open deep down the field. Overall, this tape will hurt both Metcalf and Lodge for showing issues with drops.

  • LSU does not have the same caliber of edge rushers that they have produced in recent years, so this game was not a huge test for Ole Miss left tackle Greg Little. He was more effective against the Tigers than he was versus Alabama, but that is also because the decrease in competition. Little has the potential to dominate, but he has to become more consistent in order to be a high first-round pick.

  • A player who never seems to struggle with consistency is LSU linebacker Devin White. He’s the top non-pass-rushing linebacker for the 2019 NFL Draft, and he had another solid performance against Ole Miss. White was his typical reliable self in being effective in the ground game. However, he was more impressive defending the passing game. Throughout the first half, White had a lot of nice plays in pass coverage. He was getting depth in zone and showing the ability to cover a lot of passes in the flat. White is fluid and comfortable in space. Considering he is a big linebacker who is strong and thick, he has surprising speed and athleticism. This tape will help White for showing what he can do on third downs in the NFL.

    Ohio State 27, Penn State 26
  • Some draft analysts have been pumping up Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins as a high pick. However, Haskins did not look like a high first-round talent against Penn State. In the first quarter, Haskins was not on the same page as a receiver, as Haskins through the ball right to a cornerback and was very lucky that the easy interception was dropped. It got worse for Haskins shortly later as he threw a pass right on the money, but his receiver deflected the ball into the air and it was picked off by Penn State. Throughout the first half, Haskins was rattled and out of rhythm. He was not seeing the field well and was inaccurate on a lot of passes. Ohio State pulled off a comeback win after being down by 12 points, but it was not from the play of Haskins. His numbers look good, but the big plays for the Buckeyes were screens that Haskins threw to J.K. Dobbins and K.J. Hill. The bubble screens are insignificant for pro evaluators. They inflate college quarterback stat lines but don’t translate to being good prospects or players in the NFL. Haskins completed 22-of-39 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns. This game will indicate that Haskins should return to Ohio State in 2019 to improve as a pocket passer before considering going pro.

  • This game had the potential for an excellent draft matchup with early-round talents going head-to-head. Ohio State speedster wide receiver Parris Campbell has had a hot start to the season, as had Penn State cornerback Amani Oruwariye. Unfortunately, Oruwariye was extremely quiet. Ohio State avoided throwing at Oruwariye as they constantly targeted other cornerbacks. Oruwariye played well in terms of maintaining tight coverage and not allowing receivers to get separation.

    Campbell dropped an early pass in the flat, and that set the tone for an underwhelming game. Campbell had seven receptions for 60 yards, but Ohio State’s offense struggled to pass the ball downfield with Haskins having issues pushing the ball. This tape shouldn’t hurt or help either of these players.

  • Ohio State defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones illustrated his early-round potential against Ohio State. He was firing his gap and getting penetration into the backfield. Jones had a number of pressures on Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, disrupting pass attempts. However, Jones did have some issues on some running plays. The 6-foot-3, 272-pounder can have problems with length and strength when taking on guards in the ground game. Jones does not have a natural spot in a 3-4 scheme in the NFL, but he is an excellent fit as a three technique in a 4-3 defense. Jones belongs in the first or second round next April.

    Florida 13, Mississippi State 6
  • The top prospect in this game was Mississippi State defensive lineman Jeff Simmons, but this was a very quiet game from him. Playing against his head coach and defensive coordinator from last year, Simmons was battling the Gators, who had a great game plan to neutralize him. Throughout the game, the Gators were adjusting to where he lined up, sending constant double teams at Simmons. They did a superb job of keeping him from causing havoc in the backfield. Simmons is a future first-round pick, but this tape won’t help him to be taken over other star interior linemen like Auburn’s Derrick Brown, Alabama’s Quinnen Williams, and Houston’s Ed Oliver.

  • Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat has early-round potential, and he was seeing two pro prospects in offensive tackles Jawaan Taylor and Martez Ivey. At right tackle, Taylor is the better player, but the left tackle Ivey has received more hype. Ivey was dominated by Kentucky’s Josh Allen a couple of weeks ago, so he really needed to show improvement against Sweat.

    Like with Simmons, the Gator staff had a good plan to keep Sweat from wrecking their game play. Still, both blockers had low lights going against Sweat. Just after halftime, Taylor had to hold Sweat to take away a potential sack as Sweat had him beat to the inside. It was a huge play by Sweat as it caused Florida to lose out on a bomb of about 60 yards to the Bulldogs’ 5-yard line.

    Late in the fourth quarter, Sweat burned Ivey to almost get a sack, but his hit forced an errant third down pass. That was a clutch rush by Sweat because it got the ball back for his offense with just over two minutes remaining and down by a touchdown.

    Sweat has issues in run defense, as he is long and lean, and he needs to get stronger for the NFL. However, he is fast and athletic off the edge. Because of his strength and thin frame, Sweat might be limited to only being a 3-4 outside linebacker. In a 4-3 defense, he would have to be a role player as a designated pass rusher.

    Taylor is definitely the better prospect than Ivey. In the ground game, Taylor has some strength to get a push, and he is more steady in pass protection. Ivey looks like an athletic guy but he has terrible feet and that leads to him struggling with good speed rushers like Sweat or Josh Allen. Taylor could be a day-two or mid-round pick while Ivey is a late-round or undrafted-caliber player.

  • Mississippi State center Elgton Jenkins could be one of the top centers in the 2019 NFL Draft. Jenkins was rock solid against the Gators. In the second quarter, Jenkins had play that illustrated why he is a future pro. He started off opening a hole with his right guard by helping him push the defensive tackle out of his gap, and then Jenkins peeled off to block a linebacker and spring his back for a first down run into the secondary.

    Jenkins is athletic in pass protection, showing good feel and awareness to remain a center in the NFL. He is quick and athletic, and he has a pro frame. This was a good tape from Jenkins that will help his draft grade.

  • Florida safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson played well. He was constantly around the ball. He showed the ability to cover a lot of ground, as he made tackles on the sideline running over from the slot, flew up to tailbacks from being downfield, and helped in coverage over the top. In the third quarter, Garnder-Johnson made an excellent play by bull rushing a blocker into the backfield and then shedding him to tackle a running back for a loss on a screen play. Gardner-Johnson could be a nice second-day pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

    Michigan 20, Northwestern 17
  • This game was a big test for Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson. Coming off a knee injury in his bowl game, Thorson was limited in the early going of 2018, as Northwestern platooned him with the backup quarterback. Last week, Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald said Thorson would be full go for the first time this season in a big game against Michigan. Thorson was seeing a talented defense with potential first-round defensive linemen in Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich. For Northwestern to have a shot at upsetting Michigan, Thorson was going to have to play well, and he did, as he had the look of a NFL quarterback taking on the Wolverines.

    On his initial third down of the game, Thorson stood tough in the pocket with a free blitzer bearing down on him and waited for his outlet receiver to get open. Thorson stepped into the throw to deliver the pass accurately for a first down while taking a big hit from the defender. It was a pro play that set the tone for his day. A few plays later, Northwestern used their big 6-foot-4, 227-pound quarterback to sneak the ball over the goal line for a 7-0 lead.

    Thorson threw a good pass on a deep out during the ensuing possession, and he then stepped up to avoid Gary and Winovich. He used his strength to get out of their grasp while keeping his eyes downfield to find a receiver for a nice gain in the middle of the field. The next snap, Thorson beat good coverage with a perfectly accurate pass on a slant. That set up a field goal for Northwestern. Thorson continued his hot start with third-down conversions and precision passes to lead the Wildcats to a 17-0 lead.

    Michigan came storming back in the middle of the game, as the Wolverines defensive line started winning at the point of attack and put constant heat on Thorson. The inept Northwestern offensive line was incapable of giving Thorson a clean pocket and consistent time to make passes. His wideouts had no speed and were incapable of separating or stretching the field vertically. Every throw had to be perfect for Thorson to move the ball. Thorson finished completing 16-of-27 passes for 174 yards.

    This tape will definitely help Thorson’s draft grade. He showed a strong accurate arm that moved the ball up and down the field with precision passes. Thorson had to be on the money because his receivers were incapable of getting separation, so Thorson had to beat coverage with his ball placement. On top of his passing, Thorson protected the ball well while making good decisions. He also showed some ability to move and used his big body to pick up some critical quarterback sneaks. Thorson has the skill set of a NFL starting quarterback and sources have told me that his character is off the charts. He is a team leader who can connect to all segments of the locker room. He’s smart with a good football I.Q. In the pre-draft meetings, Thorson could skyrocket. This performance will help Thorson to be an early-round pick.

  • Gary’s day was disappointing. Early on, Gary had a tackle at the line of scrimmage, but had a hands-to-the-face penalty. Gary went into the locker room with an injury in the third quarter.

    Winovich had the look for a first-rounder. In the opening quarter, Winovich used a swim move to fire by the right tackle and make a tackle for a loss. Winovich repeated that play in the second quarter, firing by the left tackle for a tackle for a loss on the tailback. Winovich later was gifted a sack as the right tackle moved to the inside off the snap, and Winovich came completely unblocked to get a sack of Thorson.

    There is no doubt that Winovich is a demon off the edge. He is fast off the snap with an explosive first step to get upfield. Winovich has improved his technique to use a variety of methods to beat offensive linemen. At 6-foot-2, 258-pounds Winovich lacks the size to be an every down end in a 4-3 defense in the NFL. He would be better off as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Winovich could be an excellent value pick in the back half of the first round, as he has double-digit sack potential in the NFL.

  • Clayton Thorson was clearly the best quarterback on the field and it makes one wonder why Michigan’s Shea Patterson has gotten more hype. Throughout the game, Patterson was inaccurate and consistently missed open receivers downfield. He was overthrowing many targets, having passes fall short of open receivers. Early in the first quarter, Patterson took a terrible coverage sack. Nothing was open, and Patterson held the ball for a long time before eating the play and taking negative yardage that forced his punter to kick from the 1-yard line. That helped set up field position near midfield for Northwestern. Patterson did have some plays that helped Michigan to make the comeback, but most of them were with him running the ball, and those plays will not be able to be duplicated consistently in the NFL.

    Patterson finished completing 15-of-24 for 196 yards. Clearly, he needs to go back to school in 2019 to get better before going pro.

    N.C. State 35, Virginia 21
  • Last week, ESPN’s Todd McShay rated N.C. State’s Ryan Finley as the top quarterback prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft. While Finley is definitely a quality pro prospect, McShay did not have Oregon’s Justin Herbert in the top-five rated players at the position, so his rankings have to be considered somewhat incomplete. In speaking to scouts who cover North Carolina State and have scouted Finley, they like the Wolfpack quarterback but are not over the moon on him enough to rate him as a top draft class signal-caller. Taking on Virginia, Finley illustrated why scouts like him while also showing why he doesn’t have the buzz of a No.1 overall type of quarterback.

    On his first drive of the game, Finley threw some accurate passes on out routes to the sideline and then lofted in a pretty pass deep down the middle of the field between two defenders for a 39-yard completion. While Finley was showing nice accuracy on most throws, he was lucky to not toss two interceptions. The first near-pick came on a jump ball that was left to the inside of the receiver letting the cornerback be in better position to make a play on the ball. Finley was lucky the corner dropped the pass. The next possession, Finley stared down a wideout and had a safety jump the route, but once again, Finley was fortunate the defensive back couldn’t control the ball for a turnover.

    Finley had one really nice pass and then a lucky one on the next possession. The first was an 11-yard deep out to the far side of the field to set up a third-and-manageable. The next play on third-and-7, Finley was staring down a wide open receiver in the front corner of the end zone and was late pulling the trigger. He finally threw the ball, but that hesitation caused a safety to close on the pass that should have been an easy touchdown. Finley got lucky his receiver won the jump ball over the safety for a 16-yard score.

    Finley threw another 16-yard touchdown before halftime, and this was a very impressive play. Finley was under pressure and couldn’t set his feet, but off his back foot, he lofted in a well-placed pass to a blanketed tight end to lead him open toward the back of the end zone. That was a money throw by Finley that illustrates why he is a legit pro prospect.

    Finley ended up completing 22-of-32 passes for 257 yards with three touchdowns. This analyst thinks that Finley could be an Andy Dalton-caliber quarterback, becoming a quality starter but not a top-of-the-league stud. Finley has an adequate arm and shows the ability to throw the deep out to the far side of the field. He throws the ball accurately with flashing some anticipation on some plays. Finley could end up being a first- or second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft if he has a strong finish to the 2019 season while excelling in the pre-draft process.

  • The top receiver for N.C. State is the 6-foot-2, 218-pound Kelvin Harmon. He is a well-built physical receiver who is dangerous after the catch and will push around defensive backs. Harmon is a polished receiver that runs quality routes and has good hands. He showed his possessional ability against Virginia hauling in six passes for 94 yards with a touchdown. If Harmon were faster, he would be a first-round pick. While he may not go in the first and be a true No. 1 in the NFL, his floor could be a good No. 2 possessional receiver and a valuable second-day pick.

  • N.C. State linebacker Germaine Pratt could be a second-day prospect, and he had a solid performance taking on Virginia. Pratt did a good job of reading his keys to fire into the backfield to make a tackle for a loss on a zone read run on an early third down. Pratt later had two good plays in a row. On a third down, he forced in an completion with a blitz pressure where Pratt showed nice closing speed to harass the quarterback. Pratt then fired into the hole to make a tackle that looked short of first-down yardage, but a questionable spot gave the back the first down. It was still a nice play from Pratt.

    Pratt (6-2, 241) runs well while having a nice build. He has good vision to read his keys and fire his gun to attack the football. At this point, his run defense is ahead of his pass coverage, but he could end up being a three-down starter in the NFL with some development. He also needs to improve taking on and shedding blocks. Starting out as a backup rotational player and special-teams contributor would be a good plan for Pratt. In time, Pratt could function as a starting inside backer in a 3-4 while having the flexibility to potentially be a Mike (middle) or Will (weakside) linebacker in a 4-3.

  • Virginia safety Juan Thornhill has had some media buzz about him being a future NFL contributor. Thornhill had a decent performance versus N.C. State. In the second quarter, Thornhill was covering a big receiver downfield and they had a lot of fighting prior to Thornhill breaking up a third down pass. In the second half, Thornhill had a tackle for a loss on a stretch running play, and he was a solid run defender on the second level. Thornhill may not have the pass coverage with skills the necessary speed and athleticism to go on the first two days of the draft, but he could end up getting day-three grades as a backup strong safety and special teams contributor.

    West Virginia 42, Texas Tech 34
  • West Virginia quarterback Will Grier is a Heisman candidate in a point-machine offense that plays in a conference with terrible defenses. Texas Tech could have the worst defense in the conference, so Grier was expected to dominate against the Red Raiders.

    On the first drive of the game, Grier attacked the middle of the field with some accurate throws to move the chains. Grier led his receivers open and hit them on the run, showing good timing and precision on slants and seam routes. That set up a rushing a score to establish the tone for the game.

    Grier later had a pretty pass for a 45-yard touchdown. Grier did a nice job of finding his second progression and lofting in a perfect pass to lead his recover into the end zone.

    In the second quarter, Grier showed some inconsistency in field vision as he stared down a receiver in the middle of the field and was lucky the pass isn’t picked off, as the ball was dropped by a defensive back. Grier came back to fire his third touchdown of the first half on a back-shoulder throw that was a bit too far to the inside letting a defensive back contend for the pass, but his receiver made the play snatching it for the score.

    Grier had a perfect pocket with receiver Marcus Simms running wide open into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown after halftime, but Grier overthrew him. West Virginia ran out the clock and Grier also took some sacks as the protection was getting overloaded with blitzes. Grier is going to need to get better at recognizing a collapsing pocket to get rid of the ball to a receiver or throwing it away to avoid taking a negative play.

    Grier finished 27-of-41 for 370 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. In this analyst’s opinion, Grier is more of a second-day prospect. He does not have the skill set of a top of the draft quarterback. Grier passes accurately and has enough arm to make all the throws. However, Grier needs a clean pocket. His arm strength gets sapped when his feet aren’t set. That is a problem for the NFL, as pockets are not as clean as he sees in the weak Big 12. While I think Grier is more of a second- or third-rounder, that does not mean that some NFL team won’t take him in the first frame, as quarterbacks get overdrafted every year.


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