2019 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 8

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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Washington State 34, Oregon 20
  • The top quarterback prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft is Oregon’s Justin Herbert, but this tape won’t help him to be a high first-round pick. The Cougars shut down Herbert for the first half, and even though he played better after intermission, he did not do enough to lead his team to a win. This loss basically eliminates Oregon from the college football playoff, so Herbert won’t get the chance to play for a championship unless he decides to return to college next year.

    The tone for the first half was set on the initial snap of the game as Herbert fumbled a shotgun snap. Herbert then threw late across the field and was fortunate that a corner didn’t pick off a risky pass he can’t throw as a pro. Herbert was only 4-of-11 for 36 yards at the half, and the Ducks had a goose egg on the scoreboard.

    The Ducks finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter with a drive that ended with Herbert getting a short touchdown run. Herbert then found a wide open receiver in the back corner of the end zone, as Washington State had busted coverage. A few other Oregon drives stalled out, and Herbert took a bad coverage sack late in the fourth quarter that put his offense in a fourth-and-19 situation. Herbert finished completing 25-of-44 passes for 270 yards with an interception.

    This tape won’t help Herbert, but he still is the top quarterback prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft and a favorite to be the first quarterback selected. Herbert has the best skill set of any quarterback prospect with a strong arm and the ability to throw the football accurately. Recent high first-round picks like Jared Goff, Josh Allen, and Mitch Trubisky did not win a lot in college, so Herbert not leading to Oregon to play for a championship in his final season probably won’t be held against him.

  • There was the potential for a good draft matchup in this game with Washington State left tackle Andre Dillard taking on Oregon edge rusher Jalen Jelks. Unfortunately, Jelks mostly went against the right tackle. Jelks was a non-factor against the fast-paced Cougars spread offense, while Dillard was rock solid against Oregon.

    Dillard walled off a speed rush in the opening quarter and sustained his block against Jelks to give his quarterback time to throw. Jelks later made a tackle in the ground game a few yards downfield. Over the final weeks of the 2018 season, Jelks needs to get more consistent heat on the quarterback. He can be a streaky player who has quiet stretches where blockers who won’t ever play in the NFL are getting the best of him. Jelks needs to get stronger and improve on his repertoire of pass-rushing moves. Jelks has looked more like a day-two player rather than a first-rounder this season.

    Dillard, meanwhile, was rock solid in pass protection and effective at protecting his quarterback from start to finish. Dillard is a good athlete on the edge with quick feet to get depth in his drop. Out of his stance, Dillard is quick to pop up and get in position to hit his block. That quickness makes it hard for defenders to get penetration against him. He is adept at heading off speed rushers and keeping them from getting turned to the quarterback. Dillard plays with good leverage, as he is a knee bender and does not bend at the waist. There were a few plays where Dillard allowed rushers to get speed upfield, but he showed nice recoverability to push the rushers deep and around the pocket to protect his quarterback.

    In the ground game, Dillard is not a bull who will knock defensive linemen off the ball. He is not a force at the point of attack who will push a defensive end out of his gap. However, he is quick to engage defenders and shows some ability to latch onto them to sustain his block with some manipulation of them. Dillard should get stronger for the NFL to be a more balanced blocker.

    With Dillard’s quickness and athleticism, he could be a starting left tackle in the NFL. He probably won’t ever be a forceful run blocker, but the NFL is a passing-driven league, so he does not have to be a bull in the ground game to be a valuable starter. In a pass-first offense, Dillard could be a real asset as a blind-side protector who helps to neutralize speed rushers. Dillard has second-day potential.

    LSU 19, Mississippi State 3
  • LSU linebacker Devin White is the top non-pass-rushing linebacker prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft, and he showed why against Mississippi State. He was shutting down the Mississippi State rushing attack with stout run defense at the point of attack.

    White had an impressive series in the third quarter. He was in the right place in zone coverage toward the sideline to force a back out of bounds short of first-down yardage right after the catch. On the next play, on a third-and-1, White fired into the hole, took on the block from the guard, then shed the block to rip down Nick Fitzgerald for no gain. The Bulldogs converted a fourth-and-1, but then a few plays later, White took down a back in the flat after a dump-off with a hard hit. White got off a block on third-and-10 to tackle Fitzgerald in the open field, and that helped force a turnover on downs.

    White was flagged for a nonsensical targeting penalty late in the game when he blitzed and shoved Fitzgerald to the ground. The awful thing about the targeting penalty is White will be forced to miss the first half of LSU’s next game, which is against Alabama. That play ended White’s game, and he totaled around 10 tackles with a huge presence for LSU. This tape will only serve to confirm White as a top-20 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

  • Mississippi State defensive tackle Jeff Simmons was one of the few Bulldog players who was impressive against LSU. Throughout the night, Simmons was getting the better of the Tigers offensive line, beating both the guard and center along with defeating some double teams. Simmons ran over the LSU center in the second quarter, knocking him flat on his back before getting in on a sack of Joe Burrow. Simmons then bounced off the center and right guard to get a tackle for a loss. It was a superb play by Simmons to use his power to shed both blockers. Simmons later burst into the backfield again to start another tackle for a loss. Simmons continued to dominate at the point of attack after halftime, shutting down some interior runs at the line of scrimmage.

    This was an excellent performance showing Simmons’ strength, speed, athleticism and a strong lateral anchor. Simmons is a special player who is worthy of going in the top half of the opening round of the NFL Draft. In your average draft class, Simmons would be the best tackle and maybe the best lineman, but in the loaded 2019 class there could be a few that go ahead of him.

  • LSU cornerback Greedy Williams had a quiet game because Mississippi State quarterback is such an incompetent passer. Thus, Williams wasn’t challenged. The only really noteworthy play for Williams came in the second quarter when he had a shot at an interception, but the ball fell incomplete as both he and the receiver got their hands on the ball. Aside from that, Williams wasn’t challenged. That will change in the next game when Williams will see the point-scoring machine that is the Alabama offense. That will be an important tape for Williams’ draft grade.

    Clemson 41, N.C. State 7
  • N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley is one of the top quarterback prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft, and he was seeing a tough test by taking on a defense loaded with NFL talent. Finley’s No.1 receiver, Kelvin Harmon, also is a pro prospect with second-day potential in next April’s Draft. While Finley and Harmon are good players, Clemson shut them down, as they were overmatched versus the Tigers.

    Harmon got wide open on an early double move downfield running behind four Clemson defensive backs, but Harmon dropped an accurate pass from Finley. If he held on, it could have been a 75-yard touchdown if Harmon could have out raced the defenders. Finley was unable to get into a rhythm in the first half, as the Clemson defense was suffocating. Things got worse just before halftime when Finley had a pass deflected up in the air and it was intercepted with a return inside the 5-yard line. Finley was only 7-of-13 for 58 yards in the opening half.

    Things got worse for Finley in the third quarter, as he had a poor pass intercepted in front of the Clemson end zone. His throw was short and floated to the safety rather than being better located over the top to give his receiver a better shot at making the reception.

    Finley finished completing 21-of-34 passes for 156 yards with zero touchdowns and two interceptions. He never got into any rhythm as a passer and moving the ball. He had some passes off the mark and often was not on the same page with his receivers. This game illustrated that Finley has some physical limitations, as he does not have an elite skill set that can go toe-to-toe with an ultra-talented opponent. Finley is more of a second-day pick and game manager quarterback. As a comparison, Finley could be a less-athletic version of Alex Smith. This tape will hurt Finley’s chances and hopes of being a first-round pick.

  • As one could expect given how Finley performed, the loaded Clemson defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage from start to finish. They put a lot of pressure on Finley while also suffocating the Wolfpack’s attempts to run the ball. Defensive end Clelin Ferrell, tackle Christian Wilkins, and tackle Dexter Lawrence all flashed why they are likely to be first-round picks next April.

    Aside from an offsides penalty, Ferrell was active getting into the backfield and causing disruption off the edge. Ferrell fired into the backfield early on to get a tackle for a loss. Ferrell repeated that play soon after. In the third quarter, Lawrence peeled back to get a tackle to stop a 3-yard gain, and made some other tackles in the ground game. Both Ferrell and Lawrence have pro skill sets that make them very tough to block.

    Of the trio, Wilkins had the best performance. Wilkins was active from the start, as he came close to a sack after firing by the right guard, and on the next possession he bolted by the blocker to chase down the running back for a tackle and limiting him to a 1-yard gain. Wilkins was firing by blockers and getting into the backfield to cause disruption all afternoon. Wilkins showcased excellent first-step quickness, firing off the ball and getting into his gap before the offensive linemen were ready. He also showed his surprising athleticism with his agility and movement skills. This tape will help Wilkins to grade out as a first-round pick.

  • N.C. State middle linebacker Germaine Pratt is a good player that goes under the radar. He entered this game leading the ACC in tackles per game, and the former safety has turned himself into a good run defender with the speed and athleticism to contribute in pass coverage. He made a number of good tackles in run support versus Clemson. Pratt gave up a reception downfield against Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow in a bad mismatch, but Pratt did a decent job of staying close to Renfrow. In the second quarter, Pratt came on a delayed blitz to get a sack of Trevor Lawrence. He followed that up by making a tackle on a tight end in zone coverage. Pratt has second-day talent and could turn into a starting inside linebacker with three-down starter ability early in his NFL career.

    Washington 27, Colorado 13
  • Colorado junior quarterback Steven Montez has some ability. He is probably more of a prospect for the 2020 NFL Draft, and after a hot start, that was validated when he battled a tough Washington defense. The Huskies have a lot of NFL talent on their stop unit, and Montez struggled after some early success.

    Montez laid out a pretty 37-yard touchdown pass early on, leading his receiver open to the back of the end zone. Montez then had some throws that were difficult catches because they had poor placement and were thrown too hard without enough air underneath the ball. That limited Colorado’s ability score and move the ball. Montez was otherwise respectable in the first half, as he was 10-of-12 for 100 yards and a touchdown.

    Colorado tried a flee-flicker play in the third quarter, and Montez had a receiver with some separation downfield, but he did not pull the trigger and instead ran for a short gain. In the NFL, that is a throw he has to at least attempt as the windows are tighter and there was enough of an opening for him to get a big completion or a long touchdown with a well-located pass.

    With Colorado trying to mount a comeback late in the fourth quarter, Montez made a terrible throw as he stared down a receiver, did not manipulate zone coverage with his eyes, did not see the middle linebacker straight down the middle of the field, and threw a pass into traffic that was easily intercepted by that linebacker. Montez then took a bad sack and Colorado was shut out in the second half. Montez completed 17-of-28 passes for 144 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

    NFL sources say that Montez is too streaky and needs work for the pro game. That can be seen in his ball placement being off. His footwork also needs development, as he can cause himself to be off platform on some plays when he doesn’t need to be. Thus, Montez should return for his senior year to work on his consistency rather than entering the 2019 NFL Draft.

  • Washington has some offensive pro prospects. The top one could be running back Myles Gaskin, but he was injured and did not play in this game. Right tackle Kaleb McGary has been solid this year and that continued against Colorado. He won his blocks in pass protection using his length and strength to tie up rushers. McGary has some strength and plays with good technique. He could start out his career as backup before developing into a starting right tackle. McGary could be a quality mid-round pick.

    Michigan 21, Michigan State 7
  • Unfortunately, the top draft eligible prospect on either of these teams, Michigan defensive end Rashan Gary, was out with an injury. Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich continued to pick up the slack, leading the Wolverine defense to another strong outing. This rivalry game was consistent with his performances this year, as he has provided a physical presence with speed, a non-stop motor, and a will to make plays.

    Winovich was active early, getting pressure on Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke and contributing to run defense. Winovich had a dumb penalty with a late hit personal foul that was completely unnecessary in the third quarter. Winovich had plenty of time to pull up or run around Lewerke as the ball had been out for a few seconds, but Winovich knocked Lewerke into the ground. Winovich continued to be active with a handful of tackles in the ground game while also getting hits on the quarterback with steady pass pressure.

    It is clear that Winovich is a pursuit edge linebacker for the NFL. He is fast off the edge with a tenacious style of play. He has active hands with the speed to close on the quarterback coming around the edge. Winovich lacks the weight and length to be a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL. In a 4-3 scheme, he would have to move to outside linebacker or be a designated pass rusher as an end, but that would not be a good value for where that 4-3 team would have to draft Winovich. In a 3-4, Winovich would be a great fit as an outside linebacker to rush the quarterback and make plays in pursuit. The 3-4 five-technique defensive end would help to keep tackles off Winovich and open up better blocking matchups. In the 2019 NFL Draft, Winovich could be a good second-day pick as a 3-4 outside linebacker.

  • After missing four games, Michigan State enjoyed the return of talented running back LJ Scott. The talented tail back has good size, speed, cutting ability and strength, and he is capable of beating good defenses with his skill set. The issues that Scott has had are fumbling and staying healthy, so it was a great opportunity for him to impress while taking on a really tough defense.

    Scott got his game started by leaking out of the backfield and catching a short pass. He broke a tackle from linebacker Devin Buch, and then accelerated downfield for a 15 yard gain. He ran well, showing some power to go through arm tackles and bounce off defenders on a 9-yard run. After that, the Michigan State offense was abysmal, and it was unable to put together any drives thanks to horrible quarterback play by Lewerke. Scott was not utilized and was held to 25 yards on 10 carries. Scott needs some big games soon to have a shot at being a second-round pick.

    Auburn 31, Ole Miss 16
  • Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown is one of the top prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft, and he illustrated why against Ole Miss. Throughout the game, Brown fought through double teams but found a way to make some huge plays to hep Auburn get a much needed road win.

    The Rebels ran at Brown on a fourth-and-short, and he powered through a double team to blow the play up in the backfield. His teammates pursued to clean up the tackle and get a turnover on downs, but it was Brown’s penetration that set up the stop. Brown then got a push on a bull rush and sacked quarterback Jordan Ta’amu as he stepped up in the pocket. He controlled the interior of the line and prevented the Rebels from getting any interior ground game established.

    There is no doubt that Brown is an elite talent for the 2019 NFL Draft. He has excellent size and natural power to hold up at the point of attack. With an impressive lateral anchor, Brown is very difficult to move, and he eats up blockers while maintaing his gap integrity. In the pass rush, Brown has the speed to fire by guards and close on the quarterback. He also can bull rush his way into the signal caller to collapse the pocket. Brown is proving that he is worthy of a top-10 pick.

  • Ole Miss left tackle Greg Little is considered to be the consensus top left tackle and offensive line prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft. This analyst thinks that Little is overrated, and that was given further proof against the Tigers.

    Auburn defensive end Nick Coe bull rushed through Little in the opening quarter, and then Coe separate from Little to chase down Ta’amu out of the pocket while forcing a third-down incompletion. Coe later beat Little for a sack. Coe dipped his hip and left shoulder to get into the body of Little while turning the corner and chasing down the quarterback for a sack.

    Little has a good skill set with size, quickness and athleticism. He is a natural knee bender with quick feet and length to shut down the edge from speed rushers. There is no doubt that Little has a great skill set and looks like he could be a good left tackle in the NFL. That being said, Little struggles with power and can get pushed around by tough defensive ends. That was given clear proof against Alabama in September, and again in this game versus Auburn. In order for Little to max out and be the best player he could possibly be, Little should return to Ole Miss to get stronger before going pro. However in a weak tackle class, it could be a good time for Little to come out as he should go in the first couple of rounds as their are many desperate teams for tackle help in the NFL. That desperation could cause him to go in the top 20, but Little definitely has bust potential because he is inconsistent and lacks strength for the NFL.

  • This game had the potential for a good draft matchup with Auburn cornerback Jamel Dean going against Ole Miss wide receivers A.J. Brown and Damarkus Lodge. Brown could be a top-20 pick next April and the top wide receiver prospect for the 2019 NFL Draft. Lodge could go on Day 2, while Dean also should be selected in the first few rounds. Unfortunately, Dean was out of this game with an injury. Brown took advantage of the rest of the Auburn secondary, as they couldn’t cover him, but Ole Miss quarterback Jordan Ta’Amu struggled to get Brown the ball.

    Brown got open running a deep out in the second quarter and then made a nice catch while stopping on a dime just in front of the sideline. He then reversed field and got more yards for a 51-yard gain. Brown followed that up with a nice catch and run on a slant. Later on the drive, Brown got wide open in the end zone after running a great route, but his quarterback didn’t see him. Brown made a few nice catches in garbage time, including a 12-yard touchdown.

    Brown totaled 155 yards on 10 receptions with the score. This was a good performance illustrating that Brown has quickness with good route-running and the ability to separate from coverage. He is a strong run-after-the-catch receiver, and he has a well-developed frame for the NFL. This tape will serve to confirm that Brown belongs in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

  • Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham has been on a cold streak recently, and he had an improved performance going against a terrible defense. Stidham completed 13-of-22 passes for 215 yards with a touchdown. He showed some nice accuracy and field vision to find wideouts downfield. Stidham should return to Auburn next year and improve before going to the NFL.

  • Auburn defensive end Marlon Davidson had a nice game. He had his third blocked field goal of the year in the early going and then got upfield to block a pass. Davidson then went through the block of a tight end to get a sack. This was a nice tape for Davidson, and he could be a mid-round pick with the chance to be a third-rounder in the 2019 NFL Draft.


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