This section breaks down many college football games each week and highlights how 2021 NFL Draft Prospects
have performed. Or look at the 2021 NFL Draft Stock
By Charlie Campbell.
Send Charlie an e-mail here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell
Clemson 37, Wake Forest 13
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the consensus top prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft, and many feel he is the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck in 2012. Lawrence gave more proof of that determination by ripping Wake Forest in the 2020 season opener.
After a rough first series that concluded with Lawrence taking a bad sack from Carlos Basham, Lawrence came back on the next possession to throw a dime to the sideline to Amari Rodgers for a gain of 37 yards. It was a beautiful throw that showed Lawrence's arm strength, accuracy, and precision. Lawrence ended the drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown on a zone-read run that saw Wake Forest blow the containment.
On the next drive, Lawrence had Rodgers wide open for a touchdown of 33 yards, but Rodgers dropped pass all alone in the end zone. He was slashing deep toward the goal posts and seemed so concerned he was going to run out of bounds he lost his concentration on controlling the ball. Lawrence's passes and good rushes bailed out Rodgers to set up Lawrence for a repeat of another short rushing touchdown. Late in the second quarter, Lawrence lofted in a short touchdown post to the back corner of the end zone for his tight end.
In the third quarter Lawrence used his eyes to freeze a safety after a play-action fake and then laid out a perfect touch pass to his tight end down the seam for a gain of 42 yards. Lawrence finished 22-of-28 for 351 yards with a touchdown and those two rushing scores.
Lawrence made some beautiful throws showing off his powerful arm, accuracy, and an impressive ability to throw on the run. It wasn't a flawless performance, as he overthrew a downfield wide open receiver on a third down and he took that bad sack early on. Overall though, this was a very good start to the season for Lawrence that justifies his high standing entering the season.
Clemson running back Travis Etienne entered the season as the top running back prospect for the 2021 NFL Draft and had a fine start to the season. He rushed for 102 yards on 17 carries with a short rushing touchdown while also catching three passes for 47 yards. Against Wake Forest, Etienne showed his excellent quickness, elusiveness, quick feet, and athleticism.
Etienne would fit well in the NFL on a passing-driven offense because he is a really versatile weapon. Etienne though is not a power runner, and there are times where his legs go dead on contact. As a pro, the 5-foot-10, 200-pound Etienne could be more like a Jamaal Charles-type back and would not be a Derrick Henry type. Assuming he stays consistent this year with his previous body of work, Etienne looks worthy of late first-round or early second-round consideration in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Wake Forest defensive end Carlos Basham is one of the top defensive line prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft, and he had a strong debut to start the season. On the third play from scrimmage, Basham chased down Lawrence for a sack while Lawrence was rolling to his right, but Basham used his burst to close on the quarterback. On the next drive, Basham had a good tackle in run defense, showing his strength to shed the block and get to the ball-carrier.
Basham made some other good rushes, including one in the second quarter on which he rushed from the inside at tackle and beat two blockers before getting tackled by the center. The refs blew it and didn't call a hold, but it was still a superb rush from Basham. Overall, this was a fine start to the season and only serves to confirm his preseason projection.
North Carolina 31, Syracuse 6
Syracuse safety Andre Cisco is one of the top safety prospects for the 2021 NFL Draft, and this game showed some of the unique skills that make him a rare safety prospect. Early in the first quarter, Cisco pushed a running back out of bounds downfield to save a touchdown. A penalty brought the play back, however. A few plays later, Cisco lined up in man coverage in the slot against Dazz Newsome who faked a slant and then cut back, causing Cisco to stumble and let Newsome get open for a good gain. On that play, Cisco looked awkward at playing man coverage and running the route. Shortly later, Cisco made a tackle for no gain at the line of scrimmage on a run off the left side.
After a quiet stretch, Cisco made his presence felt with his 13th career interception. North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell tried to hit a pass down the seam, but Cisco came over from deep zone to undercut the route and make a leaping interception. Cisco showed good hands on the play and had a nice return to set up Syracuse just past midfield. After that, Cisco contributed some tackles, but he was not a big presence as North Carolina pulled away from Syracuse.
For the next level, Cisco may not be a safety who can line up in man coverage on receivers. He is, however, a dangerous zone safety with good instincts and phenomenal ball skills. Cisco could be a solid first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he got his junior year off to a good start against the Tar Heels.
North Carolina has a pair of linebacker prospects for the NFL in Chazz Surratt and Tomon Fox. Surratt had some nice plays with double-digit tackles and was a solid run defender. He had a good pressure on a delayed blitz and made a nice third-down tackle for a loss while typing the quarterback. In the first quarter, Fox showed good vision and adjusted to a zone read run to take down the quarterback for a loss on a fourth-and-1. Fox and Surratt would help themselves to show pass coverage in weeks to come against more capable offenses.
Georgia Tech 16, Florida State 13
Florida State defensive tackle Marvin Wilson is one of the top interior defensive lineman for the 2021 NFL Draft, and he made his presence felt to keep points off the board for his team. At the end of the first quarter, Wilson got a surge into the backfield to block a field goal. Aside from the blocked field goal, Wilson did a good job of defending the run, getting in on some tackles and stuffing rushing lanes at the point of attack. Overall though, he was quiet in the pass rush. In the fourth quarter after Georgia Tech tied the game at 13, Wilson got a push on the extra point attempt to help open up a lane for the extra point to be blocked. That kept the score tied for a time before the Yellow Jackets actually completed a field goal.
This was a solid start to the season for Wilson as, he was tough against the run and an animal on special teams. But in the weeks to come, it would help Wilson to show more pass-rushing moves and an ability to get after the quarterback.
Florida State wide receiver Tamorrion Terry is an early-round talent for the 2021 NFL Draft, but Terry had a rough start to the season, catching six passes for 52 yards while leaving some big plays on the field.
Late in the second quarter, Terry almost had a long touchdown reception. He ran a corner route past the safety, and James Blackmon lofted in a pass just a little bit long, but Terry had the ball hit off his hands incomplete. It was a tough catch, but Terry should have made it, and it would have been a touchdown of around 70 yards. A few plays later, Terry ran a deep slant and took a bone rattling hit from the safety. That hit caused the ball to fall out of Terry's hands incomplete, and both players received attention from trainers after the play. That was another big gain lost.
This game was a negative for Terry overall, even though he saw some double coverage. As a large wideout, Terry needs to make those tough catches in traffic and be very sure-handed. While he runs well for the type of receiver he is, he is not a burner, so he needs to be reliable. Even though this was a rough start to the year, Terry is a big receiver who has good speed for his size. He should bounce back in the weeks to come and remain an early-rounder for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. had a strong start to the season and took advantage of some breaks coming his direction. In the first quarter, Samuel dropped into a deep zone and had a pass float right to him for an easy interception. Samuel went from close to the end zone to midfield on the 38-yard return. Later in the first half, Samuel made another interception, returning this one 36 yards. He was sitting in zone on this pick, but the pass rush caused an errant throw that floated right to Samuel again.
Samuel allowed some short receptions, but he was solid in coverage. For the NFL, Samuel is limited to being a slot corner because he is short and undersized. He has quality instincts, ball skills, and movement skills however.
La.-Lafayette 31, Iowa State 14
Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy has had some in the media projecting him as a first-round pick. In speaking with NFL teams, Purdy was not viewed as a first-round talent, but he enters his junior year as a prospect to watch for the 2021 or 2022 NFL Draft. This outing, however, was not a tape that will help him. He looked more like an undrafted free agent than a draft pick for the NFL against La.-Lafayette.
Purdy made a nice play in the second quarter, sliding a little in the pocket, resetting his feet, and then throwign a completion downfield for a good gain to convert a third-and-long. That conversion led to a rushing touchdown for Iowa State. Midway through the third quarter, Purdy threw a pass to a blanketed receiver who was running an out to the sideline. The ball was off the mark, slightly behind the receiver. That led to the players battling and batting the ball around before the cornerback controlled it for an interception.
On the next drive, Purdy took a terrible sack. It was a third down on which Purdy rolled to his right but had defenders chasing him. Rather than getting rid of the ball, he took a sack that hurt Iowa State in field position and caused him to take an unnecessary hit. Purdy is slow and heavy-legged, so it makes no sense why he thought he could avoid the speed rushers bearing down on him. Throughout the second half, Purdy and the Iowa State offense struggled to beat La.-Lafayette's man coverage. Purdy had some opportunities to hit some deep balls, but he overthrew a few receivers with poor deep ball placement.
Against La.-Lafayette, Purdy completed 16-of-35 passes for 145 yards with zero touchdowns and interception. He did not look like an early-round pick in this game. Listed at 6-foot-1, 212-pounds, Purdy lacks size for the next level, plus he has a limited skill set. He looked like an accurate dink-and-dunk quarterback but also a guy who struggles under pass rush due to lacking good mobility to escape defenders, is too short to see the field under pressure, and is not a playmaker. From what I saw last year and so far in 2020, I think Purdy looks like a fifth-round pick at best. This tape will definitely hurt his draft grade and is a stock-dropper to start out the 2020 season.
La.-Lafayette running backs Trey Ragas (14-49) and Elijah Mitchell (8-46) are on NFL teams' preseason watch list, but this game was not a good tape to evaluate them. The La.-Lafayette offensive line struggled, and the Iowa State defense keyed on the run to limit the Ragin Cajuns tandem. La.-Lafayette was able to score off of two special teams touchdowns, a long touchdown pass, and turnover help. It will be interesting to see if Ragas and/or Mitchell can impress at an all-star game prior to the 2021 NFL Draft.
NFL Picks - Sept. 22
2021 NFL Mock Draft - Sept. 16
Fantasy Football Rankings - Sept. 9
2022 NFL Mock Draft - May 13
2020 College Football Recruiting Rankings - April 14
NFL Power Rankings - April 5
2020 NBA Mock Draft - Sept. 27