2024 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 3

Florida 29, Tennessee 16

  • Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton got off to an impressive start to the season, but he had a mixed outing against Florida. On his opening drive, Milton lofted in a well-placed pass downfield for a 41-yard gain. He then lofted in a touchdown pass to the far corner of the end zone on the next play. Once the Volunteers got the ball back, Milton had a receiver running free for a long touchdown, but this time, Milton overthrew his receiver for an incompletion.

    Midway through the second quarter, Milton saw his long streak without an interception ended when he was hit as he threw. It was a bad decision by Milton, who lofted the ball up like a punt into a crowd of defenders with one receiver downfield. A safety tracked down the pass, and Milton’s streak of 248 attempts without a pick came to an end. After a hot start, Milton seemed to get rattled by the Florida defense, with some defensive linemen crushing him on a few plays. Milton’s accuracy and decision making seemed off.

    In the third quarter, Milton made a phenomenal throw down the seam, dropping in a beauty of a pass for 43 yards. Later, he showed his mobility on a nice run to convert a third-and-long. Early in the fourth quarter, Milton showed off his big arm, laying out a perfect deep ball for a 55-yard touchdown to Bru McCoy. Later, Milton had a receiver running open into the end zone for about a 30-yard touchdown, but the pass was inaccurate and fell incomplete. Versus Florida, Milton completed 20-of-34 passes for 287 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

    There is no doubt that Milton has a skill set with a powerful arm and some ability to pick up yards on the ground. However, he needs to improve his consistency and accuracy. He also struggles to throw accurately on the run. Milton will need to show a more steady hand in the weeks to come.

  • Florida cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. was torched for a long touchdown on the opening play of the season against Utah, but played better against the Utes after that. Marshall’s mixed performance and struggles continued versus Tennessee.

    On the first drive of the game, a Volunteers receiver ran a corner post route and got separation from Marshall to haul in an 11-yard touchdown. On the next possession, a receiver had Marshall beaten deep again, but the pass was overthrown incomplete this time. Marshall did a better job of running with wide outs and preventing separation after that. Later in the fourth quarter, a receiver got open on Marshall running a dig route, but Marshall was on the spot to make the tackle.

    Some in the media have projected Marshall to the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, but NFL team sources have not been high on him. Marshall is too inconsistent and really should go back to school for another season to improve his technique before going pro.

Penn State 30, Illinois 13

  • Penn State left tackle Olu Fashanu looks like a high first-round pick next April in the 2024 NFL Draft, and he reinforced why against Illinois. Throughout the game, Fashanu showed that he is a smooth-moving, quick and athletic pass protector who can negate speed rushes.

    There were a few plays where Fashanu took on Illini defensive tackle Johnny Newton, a likely first-round pick come the 2024 NFL Draft next April. In the second quarter, Fashanu notched a win over Newton, sliding and sustaining the block while Newton tried to run by him. Near the end zone, Fashanu tied up Newton with his length and kept Newton from flowing down the line to stop a run that ended up scoring a touchdown. Late in the first half, Newton picked up some ground on a bull rush to achieve a pressure, but Fashanu was superb aside from that play.

    Fashanu’s performance against Illinois will help him to end up as a top-10 pick during the 2024 NFL Draft. Most importantly, he did a superb job of protecting his quarterback while contributing in the ground game. Fashanu looks like he could be a very good starting left tackle in the NFL.

  • While Newton did not have his way with Fashanu, he put together a solid performance versus Penn State. Midway through the first quarter, Newton exploded into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss. A few plays later near the goal line, Newton got a push into the backfield to blow up a run. Then on third-and-goal, he pushed into the backfield again to stop a toss sweep going nowhere. Later in the second quarter, Newton had a good third down rush to help force an incompletion.

    In the third quarter, Newton chased the quarterback out of the pocket on a third down to help force an incompletion to get the ball back for the Illini. On the next possession, Newton showed good awareness to jump up and block a pass. He managed to notch a good run stuff against Fashanu in the fourth quarter, but stayed down after being at the bottom of a pile.

    Team sources said that while Newton totaled a pair of sacks over the first two games, they were not impressed with the tape from those games. Overall, Newton’s performance against the Nittany Lions was mixed. On the good side, he was active in run defense and flashed some ability to get after the quarterback. Conversely, he struggled with double teams and had some pass-rush opportunities go for nothing. Newton has the look of a player who could go as high as the middle of the first round in the 2024 NFL Draft and as low as early in the second round.

  • Penn State cornerback Kalen King is in the running to be the top corner prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft, but team sources do not view him as an elite corner prospect like a Sauce Gardner, Jaycee Horn, Denzel Ward or Derek Stingley. They see King as having some skill-set limitations that make him more of a talent for the back half of Round 1. This tape versus Illinois will verify their opinion. King wasn’t bad, but he did not look elite or flawless.

    In the early going, King gave up separation deep down the field for what could have been a long touchdown, but the pass fell incomplete. Without knowing the play call though, you can’t say that it was King’s mistake. If it was a zone call, then the bust was on the deep safety, but if the Nittany Lions were in man, then King was culpable for the blown coverage. After that, King made a good open-field tackle after coming over in zone coverage, but later he seemed to get confused by a pair of crossing receivers, which allowed a wideout to get behind him for a gain of about 20 yards.

    King looks like a future NFL starter. He has good ball skills, is versatile in coverage, is gritty, and plays tough. However, he lacks the top speed, twitch, and size of recent top-10 corners. King should be a mid- to late first-rounder, but if he is the top corner in the class, a franchise with a hole at the position could take him a little higher in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Georgia 24, South Carolina 14

  • Georgia cornerback Kamari Lassiter has taken over as the No. 1 corner for the Bulldogs following veterans like Kelee Ringo moving on to the NFL. Lassiter was facing a dangerous quarterback and passing attack with the Gamecocks, and Lassiter impressed.

    Lassiter started the game with a good open-field tackle in the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Lassiter dodged a block and fired behind the line to record a tackle for a loss on a wide receiver screen. Later on the drive, Lassiter came close to an interception and was able to slap a pass away from a receiver on a jump ball. In the third quarter, Lassiter had blanket coverage against a big receiver plus made a leaping pass breakup on a third down to get his defense off the field.

    This was a very good tape from Lassiter, who showed the ability to run routes and prevent separation. He has good size, including the height and length to cover up big receivers downfield. Against the Gamecocks, Lassiter showed the quickness and speed to stay in phase, as well as the ball awareness to break up passes. He definitely helped his draft grade against South Carolina.

  • Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler played well despite not producing a big stat line. He was very good in the first half, leading the his team to a halftime lead, but in the second half, the Georgia defense teed off on the South Carolina offensive line, which allowed 10 sacks in Week 1 to North Carolina. Like he did in Week 1, Rattler handled the pressure well and showed improvement over his inconsistent play from 2022.

    On the first drive of the game, Rattler threw a perfect strike to the sideline on a deep out over tight coverage, hitting an impressive completion of about 20 yards. It was a phenomenal throw from Rattler that illustrated his NFL-level arm talent. Rattler closed out that drive by tossing a wide receiver screen to Juice Wells, who wove through Bulldogs to get a 17-yard touchdown. Late in the second quarter, Rattler had a superb drive on which he utilized his legs for two big runs and then threw a well-placed pass downfield for a 35-yard gain.

    Rattler continued to make some nice plays in the second half, including an impressive run, but his receivers struggled to get open and the Georgia defensive line was ramping up the pressure on him. Midway through the fourth quarter, Rattler threw a few perfect strikes to convert some third-and-longs, including a 41-yard completion on which he displayed fantastic footwork. However, some penalties and dropped passes put Rattler in a desperate situation. He had to force a throw up for grabs that was picked off. It was his first interception of the season. The next possession went similarly, but this time Rattler let a ball hang too much in the air, allowing the pass to be undercut for the pick. Against Georgia, Rattler completed 22-of-42 for 256 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also led the Gamecocks in rushing. Rattler played better than the numbers indicate.

    Entering this season, Rattler needed to show improvement with his decision-making, including some turnover issues he had in 2022. Rattler needs to grow more consistent in terms of his field vision and taking care of the football. Through three games, he looks improved over this season. Rattlrt has a strong arm, can throw accurate passes deep downfield, is mobile, and has the ability to ad lib his team into a positive play. He is a bit of a sleeper, but there are NFL team sources who are intrigued with him and he is producing good tape in 2023.

  • Georgia right tackle Amarius Mims is a potential first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and he was playing well against South Carolina before leaving the game with an ankle injury. He was on crutches on the sideline. If the ankle injury is serious, Mims might want to return to Georgia next year. Mims has a great skill set, so he should be a workout warrior. If Mims avoids missing a serious amount of time, he can probably still end up being a first-rounder next April during the 2024 NFL Draft.

  • Georgia tight end Brock Bowers is a first-round prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft, and he showed why against South Carolina. Bowers was a dangerous receiver, getting open and illustrating his dangerous run-after-the-catch skills. He totaled 54 yards on seven receptions. Alongside with his receiving ability, Bowers laise some superb blocks to help his backs and receivers rip off gains. This tape will help Bowers to be a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

  • South Carolina cornerback Marcellas Dial could be an early-round pick, like other recent Gamecock cornerbacks. Dial battled and played pretty well versus Georgia overall. He started with some nice tackles while coming from zone coverage. He was physical, laying some hard hits as well. Early in the third quarter, a receiver got better positioning in front of Dial and was able to hold onto the catch for a long gain after Dial was unable to slap the pass out. Shortly later, Dial made a really nice play, coming down hard on a slant to get a tackle short of first-down yardage on third down completion.

    Dial looks like a potential starting cornerback for the NFL. In the 2024 NFL Draft, he might end up being a late first-round or second-round pick.

Florida State 31, Boston College 29

  • Entering the season, there was a lot of hype and excitement around Florida State wide receiver Johnny Wilson. The 6-foot-7, 240-pounder is a giant who possesses surprising athleticism for such a huge big-bodied skill-position player. Wilson notched some production in the season opener against LSU, but he also had some ugly dropped passes.

    Wilson bounced back well against Boston College, hauling in four passes for 105 yards. He did not have any dropped passes and showed good route-running ability for a giant wideout. To open the third quarter, Wilson got open on a play-action slant and took off for a 44-yard gain. Wilson did not fail to catch the ball and looked better at doing it.

    There is no doubt that Wilson is a mismatch weapon for the NFL. He has quality speed for a big wide receiver and impressive athleticism to sink his weight to get in and out of breaks. Wilson could be a first-rounder next April in the 2024 NFL Draft, but he needs to show steady and reliable hands across the rest of the year.

  • Boston College guard Christian Mahogany played well in 2021 before missing the 2022 season with an injury. Florida State presented a good opportunity for Mahogany if he played well. The defensive line of the Seminoles features some future NFL competitors, including nose tackle Fabian Lovett. Overall, Mahogany had a mixed performance.

    On the positive side, Mahogany blocked well in the ground game. Midway through the first half, Mahogany made a nice block in a third-and-short to help create enough of a push for a conversion. In the third quarter, Mahogany blasted Lovett off the ball and pushed him to the side to open a hole for a short touchdown run. On the flip side, Mahogany allowed some penetration into the pocket on some pass plays and gave up some pressure on his quarterback. Overall, Mahogany could be a potential starter in the NFL, but he needs to stay healthy and show improved pass protection in the weeks to come.

  • Florida State defensive end Jared Verse is a potential first-rounder who has had a quiet start to the season statistically. This game was more of the same for Verse, who notched a few pressures and made a nice tackle for a loss, but did not have a prolific performance on the stat sheet. Verse has quickness, strength and athleticism. He plays hard and causes disruption. Overall, this game made for was a respectable tape from Verse.