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.
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Alabama 41, Georgia 24
Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle could be a high first-round pick next April in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he continued to illustrate his big-play ability versus the Bulldogs. Waddle got things started with a nice run on a screen pass, but a short time later, he allowed a pass downfield to slip through his hands while leaping. Waddle came back in the second quarter to make a leaping grab for a gain of about 30 yards. He used his speed to get open, but the pass was under thrown and he had to slow up, which allowed the defender to get into his chest, but Waddle controlled the ball with the helmet for an excellent catch.
Waddle changed the game late in the third quarter with 90-yard touchdown reception. He started in the slot and veered toward the sideline before racing past the Georgia secondary. After catching the ball at the 48-yard line, nobody was able to catch the speedster Waddle.
Waddle totaled 161 yards and a touchdown on six receptions versus Georgia. Multiple team sources have compared Waddle to Kansas City Chiefs star receiver Tyreek Hill. Waddle's explosive speed and game-changing ability have some evaluators believing he could go in the No. 10-15 range of the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and those scouts think Waddle is a better prospect than former Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs. A few teams had Waddle lower, saying they felt that he needed to become more of a polished receiver and less of a gadget player, but one director of college scouting said Hill was not a polished route runner when he entered the NFL and the explosive gadget players are being utilized better by coaches than some similar prospects in the past. Sources from seven different teams said they thought Waddle would go in Round 1, and a few believed that Waddle would go as a top-16 pick.
Waddle should be joined in the first round by fellow wideout DeVonta Smith, who was excellent against Georgia. In the second quarter, Smith got Alabama moving by getting open against Tyson Campbell for a gain of 17 yards on a dig route. Just before halftime, Smith ran a pretty wheel route to get open for a touchdown from about 15 yards out. Late in the third quarterm Smith made a superb diving catch on an underthrown pass to set up Alabama inside the Georgia 10-yard line.
Smith made the game-clinching leaping touchdown grab in the back of the end zone early in the fourth quarter. He showed his strong hands and got both feet down while taking a hit. Versus the Bulldogs, Smith totaled 11 receptions for 167 yards with two touchdowns.
Evaluators love the polished and well-rounded play of Smith. His refined route-running, reliable hands, yards-after-the-catch skills, and overall receiving ability have many saying he is a natural football player. Smith, however, is very thin-framed, which has some grading him as a late first-round or early second-round pick. Smith is listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, and that weight is very undersized for the NFL. Even though some have him on the bubble between Rounds 1 and 2, the expectation from all seven sources is that Smith is more likely to be picked in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Alabama running back Najee Harris did a lot of the dirty work for the Crimson Tide offense, running for 152 yards on 31 carries with a touchdown. Harris ran hard against a good defense and took on a big work load, yet he still looked fresh in the second half. Harris showed quick feet, excellent vision, and physicality. He is a work horse back who is similar to Derrick Henry in his style of play. Like Henry, Harris could be a second-day pick.
Alabama left tackle Alex Leatherwood has early-round potential, and he produced a good tape against Georgia. Leatherwood made a superb play in the first quarter, reading the Georgia defense well to let his tight end take an edge rusher, which let Leatherwood slide to his right to stonewall a blitz. That allowed Alabama's quarterback have time to get the third-down pass out. The play showed excellent vision and awareness from Leatherwood. Throughout the first half, he did a very good job of protecting his quarterback and contributing to the ground game.
Midway through the third quarter, Leatherwood allowed a rusher to get upfield with speed to power, and the penetration caused Leatherwood to get knocked into the legs of Mac Jones for a sack. After that Leatherwood was effective in the ground game and at protecting Jones. Overall, this was a good tape from Leatherwood. While he didn't pitch a shutout, he played well against good competition and did his job to let Jones throw for 417 yards and four touchdowns.
Leatherwood has good size and the quickness and athleticism to be a starting edge protector in the NFL. Earlier in his college career, he played on the inside of the offensive line, and he has the skill set to play there in the NFL. He could play guard and maybe even center. Thus, Leatherwood could be a valuable contributor to start quickly in his pro career.
Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore has a first-round skill set and is a dangerous interior pass rusher. He has the potential to keep the Crimson Tide tradition of interior defensive linemen like Quinnen Williams, Da'Ron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Marcell Dareus going high in the first round. This tape will help Barmore's hopes of maintaining that tradition.
In the first quarter, Barmore and linebacker Dylan Moses got some late pressure to force a coverage sack. Barmore continued to get upfield, notching a batted pass. Late in the second quarter, Barmore made a mental mistake by jumping offsides on a fourth-and-1 that gave Georgia first down at the Alabama six-yard line. He came back in the third quarter, however, bull rushing Trey Hill straight into the quarterback before slapping the ball out of the hands of Stetson Bennett for a strip-sack that Bennett recovered.
For the next level, Barmore is a dangerous interior pass rusher as he has speed and athleticism to get upfield in a hurry. Barmore is capable of collapsing the pocket and keeping quarterbacks from being able to step up in the pocket. Barmore has room for improvement in the ground game, including becoming better at holding his ground, getting off blocks, and making run stops. If Barmore can become more well-rounded, he could be a high first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Texas A&M 28, Mississippi State 14
This game featured two quarterback prospects who have the physical talent to play in the NFL, but both of them struggle with consistency, and those problems continued. Of the two signal-callers, Texas A&M's Kellen Mond is the better prospect. Mond did next to nothing in the first half because the Aggies featured the ground game. He was only 5-of-9 for 33 yards by the intermission.
To start the second half, Mond missed an open receiver with an inaccurate pass, and then it got worse when he threw to a receiver in traffic and had the pass deflected into the air for an interception. The Bulldogs defensive back returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. While the pass was not horrible, it was into traffic. Mond bounced back to throw a short crossing pass that his receiver broke down field for a touchdown from 51 yards out.
Mond completed 13-of-23 passes against Mississippi State for 139 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Mond has a strong arm, good size, and mobility, but he has issues with accuracy, ball placement, and consistency. Overall, this tape won't help him.
Mississippi State quarterback K.J. Costello has good size and the arm to make throws, but he has really struggled with interceptions this season. The issue has been so severe that the Bulldogs had considered benching him, and that is what ended up happening against the Aggies. It didn't take long for Costello to continue his ugly trend of turnovers. Early in the first quarter, he lofted a pass up for grabs deep downfield like a punt, which was picked off. It was a terrible decision by Costello because the Bulldogs were in Texas A&M territory. He should have thrown the ball away rather than risk a turnover.
Costello was under constant attack throughout the first half, as Texas A&M was simply manhandling his offensive line. In the third quarter, Costello held the ball too loose while being sacked and fumbled the ball away. He was benched after that play. Costello finished completing 15-of-22 passes for 99 yards.
This game is going to hurt Costello's draft grade and could cause him to go undrafted. He has good size and a capable arm to play at the next level, but he demonstrates poor ball security and decision-making.
Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill did not play in this game due to a suspension. It was a team-discipline issue that reportedly stems from some locker room evidence after the Bulldogs lost to Kentucky. While this won't be a fatal blow to Hill's draft grade, it definitely is going to hurt him. Scouts will find out what happened, which means Hill will be questioned about the incident by every NFL team that he meets with. If Hill is seen as having bad football character and being a problem in the locker room, his draft stock could plummet.
Notre Dame 12, Louisville 7
Notre Dame left tackle Liam Eichenberg cruised over Louisville's edge rushers. He was solid in the ground game, turning his defenders and manipulating them to keep them from making stops. Eichenberg also had no issues with the pass rush, extending his streak of not allowing a sack - which is about a year long at this point. Eichenberg was able to handle both speed or power rushes, showing quality technique with his feet and hand placement.
Eichenberg as the ability to be an edge protector at the next level. He possesses enough quickness to glide with speed rushers as well as the size and strength to anchor. In the ground game, Eichenberg is scraper who manipulates defenders and turns them away from getting in on tackles. Eichenberg is not a true bull in the ground game who will blast defensive lineman off the ball. He does have strong hands to sustain his blocks well and fights through the whistle. Eichenberg looks good overall, but he may not be an elite prospect who is a high first-rounder.
Louisville wide receiver Tutu Atwell is small speed receiver for the NFL, and he flashed his ability against Notre Dame even though the Fighting Irish made it a point of emphasis to keep him from ruining the game. In the first quarter, Atwell made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch for a 28-yard gain. Two Notre Dame defenders were closing in on him, but he kept his concentration to make the tough catch. The Fighting Irish held Atwell to four receptions for 40 yards. He could be a speedy slot receiver in the NFL who is a worthy second-day or mid-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Louisville defensive tackle Jared Goldwire has played well enough as a senior to make himself a candidate to get drafted next April. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder has strength and length to hold his ground at the point of attack. That was apparent against Notre Dame, as he ate up a lot of double team blocks and freed up linebackers to make tackles in the ground game. Goldwire also showed some ability to get upfield in the pass rush. This was a solid tape that will his draft grade.
South Carolina 30, Auburn 22
Auburn wide receiver Seth Williams was facing some good competition with the Gamecocks. South Carolina has a pair of NFL competitors at cornerback with Israel Mukuamu and Jaycee Horn. Mukuamu was out of this game, however, so it was up to Horn to limit Auburn's best playmaker. Horn stepped up with a superb performance that is going to really help his grade with teams across the NFL.
Early in the first quarter, Auburn threw for Williams downfield on a go route while Horn was running stride-for-stride with him. On a jump ball in the front corner of the end zone, Horn won the play by leaping up high to slap the pass away for an incompletion. Auburn tried to hit a quick slant to Williams at the goal line a short time later, but Horn drove on the pass to break it up. Right away, Auburn threw a jump ball to Williams in the end zone, and Horn slapped that pass away as well.
Horn continued to dominate at the start of the second quarter. As Auburn quarterback Bo Nix scrambled, Horn read the quarterback's eyes and broke off his coverage on a receiver along the sideline. Nix fired a pass that Horn darted in front for an interception. It was an excellent play that showed good instincts and feel on Horn's part. Surprisingly, it was Horn's first career interception.
Shortly later, Auburn threw a jump ball to Williams in the deep middle of the field. Horn had good coverage on the attemp and got a hand on the ball, but Williams was able to use his strength to win this play, and he held on for a 44-yard completion. There wasn't anything else that Horn could have done because Williams timed his jump perfectly and used his god-given ability to make the play.
Horn came back to make a tough tackle on a wide receiver screen to limit the gain to a yard. In the third quarter, Horn was called for a holding penalty that was a questionable call. Nix scrambled again and as Williams adjusted his route, Horn held Williams a little when he redirected. That play is often a no-call, but it went against Horn. Later on that drivem Horn had tight coverage on Williams and slapped away another pass.
After getting his first career interception, Horn didn't have to wait long until his second pick. At the end of the third quarter, Horn was near Williams, and after contact at the top of the route, Horn broke to the outside on an attempted back-shoulder pass that Williams didn't react to. Horn snatched the ball and raced down the field for 34 yards to get inside the Auburn 10-yard line.
Williams caught four passes 74 yards against South Carolina. Just like his performance against Georgia and cornerback Tyson Campbell, Williams showed that while he has size, he is not a fast or twitchy receiver. This outing makes Williams look more like a second-day receiver.
This was a phenomenal game from Horn, who showed superb coverage ability while going against a future pro receiver. Horn totaled four passes broken up and two interceptions against Auburn.
Horn has starting ability for the next level and could be a good cover corner as a pro. He has good size to match up on big receivers and does a very good job of mirroring them without being too grabby. Horn can run with receivers downfield while doing a nice job of playing the ball in the air. With his speed, length and technique, Horn looks like a starting outside corner for the NFL. To go along with his technique and skill set, Horn has NFL pedigree as the son of former Saints Pro Bowler Joe Horn. This tape will help Jaycee Horn to be an early-round pick in either the 2021 NFL Draft or the 2022 NFL Draft.
Miami 31, Pittsburgh 19
Pittsburgh defensive end Patrick Jones II has gotten his senior year off to an excellent start, and he entered mid-October leading the nation in sacks. Miami, however, did a good job of blocking Jones, who was not a source of big plays against the Hurricanes.
In the first quarter, Jones came off the line unblocked on a draw run, and he did a good job of redirecting to chase down the back from behind after a gain of only a few yards. In the fourth quarter, Jones was in containment and then he flew to the sideline to chase down the quarterback for a short gain. Otherwise, Jones was pretty quiet. He flew into the backfield in garbarge time to get a tackle for a loss.
Jones is quick off the edge and has the speed to get upfield as a pro. He looks a little lean, however, and needs to get stronger for the NFL. Jones can have issues shedding blocks when offensive linemen get a hold of him. Pro tackles will give him even more problems in that regard, so Jones needs to add some functional strength to get blockers off of him. Jones has quality speed and length, and his best fit could come as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
The top prospect in this game was Pittsburgh safety Paris Ford, a potential first-rounder if teams can get by him being a bit light for the NFL. He was quiet for a lot of the first half, but just before halftime, he made his presence felt while in coverage on a back in the flat. The pass was tipped by a Pittsburgh defensive lineman, and Ford adjusted to the errant ball to snatch an interception. He raced about 30 yards down the field to set up the Panthers just outside the 10-yard line.
Ford continued to play well, covering a lot of ground and making some tackles, but this game did not really go his direction to make a lot of splash plays. There is no doubt that Ford is a pure football player. He is fast, physical, instinctive and tough. The only issue with him is being under weight for a pro safety. If Ford can add some weight in the pre-draft process while maintaining his speed and athleticism, he has a shot at being a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Hurricanes were dealt a serious blow when star defensive end Gregory Rousseau decided to skip the 2020 season. Miami gave Rousseau's number to Jaelen Phillips, and he does done a nice job of continuing the disruptive presence coming from No. 15. Entering this game, Phillips had not recorded a sack, but he had been a good run defender and had put heat on the quarterback.
Phillips charged into the backfield in the first quarter to make a tackle for a loss of four yards. After halftime, Phillips got to the quarterback, combining with teammate Quincy Roche for a strip sack. Phillips used a bull rush to push the right tackle into the backfield and then redirected to chase down the quarterback as he stepped up in the pocket.
Team sources have said that Phillips has impressed them and they see upside with the junior. The 6-foot-5, 266-pounder has a good skill set and is a prospect to watch.
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