2024 NFL Draft: College Football Game Recaps – Week 9

Georgia 43, Florida 20

  • There was a good draft matchup here with Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey and Florida cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. McConkey missed time with an injury early in the season and seemed a little rusty when he first came back, but against Florida, it looked like the 2022 version of McConkey who ripped up defenses with route-running and burst.

    In the first quarter, McConkey got separation from Marshall running a deep cross. McConkey reversed field and exploded away to race down the field for a 41-yard touchdown. Later in the first half, McConkey had Marshall beat on a deep slant for about a 70-yard would-be touchdown, but Carson Beck overthrew McConkey for an incompletion. In the third quarter, McConkey got open on another deep cross before exploding down the field while weaving through defenders for a gain of 54 yards. McConkey finished the contest having brought in six receptions for 135 yards and a touchdown.

    In the third quarter. Marshall had blanket coverage on a receiver running into the end zone and then played the ball well to smack it away for an incompletion. Marshall later added a tackle for a loss on a swing pass to the flat. On the next play, he came on a corner blitz and batted a pass away.

    This tape will be neutral at best for Marshall. While he had a good series in the third quarter, Marshall struggled run with McConkey and gave up separation. Marshall has a quality skill set, but he is very inconsistent and has given up too many plays this season. He has not played like a first-round pick, and if he enters the 2024 NFL Draft, he looks like a mid-rounder developmental player. Marshall would be wise to return to school to improve before going pro.

    McConkey helped himself against Florida, showing a burst out of his breaks alongside superb route-running to create separation. He is dangerous after the catch and is able to rip through a defense. When healthy, McConkey looks like a potential second-round pick. However, McConkey is not big and needs to avoid injury the rest of the year to have durability concerns. McConkey could end up being an excellent value pick after the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Oregon 35, Utah 6

  • Oregon quarterback Bo Nix was taking on a gritty defense with the Utah Utes, but Nix cruised leading the Ducks to a road win. On the opening series, Nix plunged into the end zone from inside the one to get his team a quick lead. Later in the first quarter, Nix threw a beautiful deep ball that was laid out perfectly but ended up getting dropped by his receiver. Shortly later in the first half, Nix threw a touchdown strike to a wide-open receiver in the back of the end zone.

    In the third quarter, Nix made an excellent anticipatory throw, leading his receiver open on a crossing route and throwing the ball before he made his break to convert a third-and-long. Nix hit a slant for an easy touchdown shortly later. Versus Utah, Nix finished completing 24-of-31 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a score.

    For the NFL, Nix looks like a mid-rounder who possesses some upside. He has running ability and enough arm strength to make the required throws. Nix could use development as a pocket passer because he has been a read-option style quarterback in college while playing for Oregon and Auburn. As a pro, he might be a backup who has the potential to become a starter if he develops well.

  • Oregon defensive tackles Brandon Dorlus and Jordan Burch played really well against Utah. Dorlus generated some interior pressure in the pass rush, getting upfield and collapsing the pocket. He even drew a critical hold that was a drive-killer, demonstrating his quickness and burst. Dorlus had an excellent rush in the third quarter to force an incompletion on a third down. Burch set a tough edge and made a tackle for a loss when he drove the offensive tackle into the backfield before tossing him to the side to take down the ball-carrier. Both Dorlus and Burch have good skill sets with upside to develop. In the 2024 NFL Draft, Dorlus and Branch are intriguing prospects with the upside to be early-round picks.

Florida State 41, Wake Forest 16

  • There was an excellent draft matchup in this game with Wake Forest cornerback Caelen Carson taking on Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman and quarterback Jordan Travis. Overall, Coleman got the better of Carson, but it wasn’t complete domination because Carson demonstrated good coverage on a number of plays as well.

    On the first series of the game, Travis and Coleman were not on the same page, with Coleman stopping on his route but Travis expecting him to keep running. The ball floated right to Carson, but he dropped an easy interception. On the next play, Carson made a nice tackle near the line of scrimmage.

    Shortly later, Carson had blanket coverage on Coleman on a fade route and forced an incompletion. In the second quarter, Coleman caught a quick pass at the line of scrimmage and Carson ate up the cushion to try and make a tackle, but Coleman dodged him and took off down the field for a 29-yard touchdown.

    In the final two minutes of the half, Coleman struck again with a one-handed touchdown catch. Carson had really good coverage in the middle of the end zone, but he did not get turned around to see the ball coming in and Coleman adjusted turning to his back shoulder to catch the ball dropping in. Carson did everything right except he failed to locate the ball. The Seminoles quickly got the ball back, and Coleman ran a go route on which Carson grabbed and held him to keep him from breaking free. Coleman totaled seven receptions for 66 yards and two touchdowns against Wake Forest.

    Overall, Coleman showed why he is a potential top-20 pick for the 2024 NFL Draft. He is big, quick and athletic, plus possesses tremendous ball skills. Coleman has very good agility, body control, and ball adjustment for a big wide receiver. In this game and in others this season, Coleman has made some superb acrobatic one-handed catches. He is an elite receiver, and it would not surprise me if he ends up being a top-10 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

    Carson has a good skill set and starting ability for the NFL, but this game won’t to help his draft stock. It made him look more like a second-round pick as opposed to a first-rounder. The dropped interception was a huge lost opportunity, and alongside giving up two touchdowns and a committing pass interference, his performance harmed his draft grade. Carson is physical, gritty and athletic, but he might have a lack of special explosion, speed and instincts. After some pro coaching, he could turn into a solid NFL starter, and as a result, he could be a quality second-day pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

  • Florida State defensive end Jared Verse is a consensus first-round pick for the 2024 NFL Draft, but he has not been as productive and noisy this season compared to 2022. Verse entered this contest with only 2.5 sacks on the season – two of them came against Virginia Tech. His tackle totals have been lower as well, with only 20 stops on the season.

    Verse, however, started to come alive against Wake Forest. Midway through the second quarter, he shed the left tackle with strong hands and looped around him to chase down the quarterback for a sack. Shortly later, Verse notched a coverage sack. The left tackle did a nice job of shutting down Verse for many seconds, but the quarterback held the ball for an eternity and then climbed the pocket just as Verse was getting some push and the quarterback ran into a sack for Verse.

    There is no doubt that Verse has a pro skill set with size, strength, quickness and athleticism. However, he still has some rawness to his game, and he needs to develop more pass-rushing moves. Verse needs to show more variety with how he attacks tackles and has more options to keep them off balance. Next April, Verse will probably be a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, but he might require some patience and development at the next level.

Texas A&M 30, South Carolina 17

  • Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper has really helped himself this season, looking like one of the best linebackers in college football. He produced another impressive tape against the Gamecocks.

    In the first quarter while Cooper was in zone coverage, he demonstrated his speed by bursting down to the flat and break up a pass with a hard hit on the check-down receiver. Shortly later, Cooper worked through three blockers to limit a screen pass to a gain of four yards and get his defense off the field. It was a superb play that demonstrated Cooper’s speed, athleticism, strength, and tackling skills. Throughout the game, Cooper was a beast versus the run, coming downhill and delivering some hard tackles, which prevented the Gamecocks from establishing their ground offense.

    Team sources say Cooper has been impressive this season, showing explosive speed and athleticism. They note they don’t feel Cooper is not a natural in coverage, but he is very tough in the ground game. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder has excellent size for the NFL with ideal height and length. Due to additional eligibility, Cooper could decide to return for another season to improve his pass-coverage skills rather than enter the 2024 NFL Draft. Cooper is a riser and could turn into an early-rounder for his draft class.

  • South Carolina cornerback Marcellas Dial is a potential early-round pick for the 2024 NFL Draft, and he was seeing a future pro competitor in Aggies receiver Ainias Smith – along with some receiver talent who will be prospects in the next couple of years. Both Dial and Smith notched wins and showed they have next-level ability.

    Early in the game, Dial made his presence felt when he came flying off the edge on a corner blitz and sacked Aggies quarterback Max Johnson. Dial did a nice job of tackling and limiting catches to short gains when he came down from his cushion or in zone. Late in the second quarter, Smith got open on a slant against Dial, and then dodged a tackle attempt to break down the field for a gain of 26 yards. Shorty later, Smith got wide open about 20 yards downfield in busted coverage. He zig-zagged across the field before diving into the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown. Smith totaled six receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown against South Carolina.

    Smith could be a slot receiver in the NFL who presents a danger to get open and rip off yards after the catch. He might be a mid-rounder in the 2024 NFL Draft. This game showed that Dial has starting ability for the NFL. He breaks on the ball well and has the speed to come downhill, plus is a physical defender with size. Dial may lack the speed and fluidity of a high first-rounder, but he could be a prospective late-Round 1 or second-day prospect who ends up being a solid pro starter.