Washington 22, Oregon State 20
The 2024 NFL Draft has a large volume of quarterback prospects, and one of the intriguing players for the class is Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. The Southpaw quarterback has put up huge numbers this year, but he still needs a strong finish to the season to help his draft standing with NFL teams. This outing against Oregon State did not present and easy passing environment because there was a steady rain. While the quarterbacks did not seem to be terribly impacted by the wet ball, there were a number of drops from receivers on both sides. Still, this game was a mixed outing for Penix.
In the first quarter, Penix saw wide receiver Rome Odunze running wide open and lofted in a well=placed pass for a gain of 25 yards. Penix closed out the drive by tossing a 12-yard score to Odunze, who had faked a slant and broke to the outside to get open for the touchdown. Later in the first half, Penix had a five-yard rushing touchdown after following his blocks and darting into the front corner of the end zone. Just before halftime, Penix found Odunze, his No.1 receiver, open in the end zone after the Oregon State cornerback fell down, allowing Penix to loft in a 32-yard scoring strike.
In the second half, the Washington offense had some struggles and was shut out. Penix had some balls sail on him. In the fourth quarter, Penix made an impressive play, scrambling to his left and having to loft the ball on the run to his tight end for a nice gain. On the next play, however, Penix got lucky he wasn’t intercepted after he threw into double coverage. The corner slapping away that pass, which was nearly a turnover. Penix’s next throw was horrible, going way over the head of his receiver running an out route. Late in the game, however, Penix came back to make a money back-shoulder throw to Odunze that gave the Husloes the first down they needed to kneel out the clock. Penix completed 13-of-28 passes against the Beavers for 162 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 22 yards and a score as well.
Penix has a quality arm capable making all the throws needed at the next level. He flashes some downfield accuracy, dropping passes into tight windows and beating good coverage by the placement of his balls. At times, Penix has shown some issues passing in the face of the rush, which can cause him to have some passes off the mark when he is thrown off rhythm. Penix needs to improve his mechanics. His footwork needs a lot of development for the pro game. Improving that aspect should reduce having passes spray off the mark. Penix plays a position in demand, and that obviously helps his draft stock. For the 2024 NFL Draft, Penix looks like a second-day prospect.
Versus Oregon State, Odunze caught seven passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. He is a dangerous receiver who will make contested catches, aided by his tall, lanky frame, good leaping ability, and nice ball-adjustment skills. Odunze is superb at working the back-shoulder plays along the sideline. However, Odunze lacks speed and is not a shifty route-runner who will create separation from NFL cornerbacks. Some pro team sources think Odunze could go in the back half of the first round during the 2024 NFL Draft, although others think he belongs on Day 2.
Washington edge rusher Bralen Trice has had a quiet season in terms of sacking the quarterback, but he has generated a good amount of pressures. Against Oregon State, Trice turned in perhaps his best game of the season. In the second quarter, Trice looped around to the middle of the line to run free and sack D.J. Uiagalelei. Shortly after halftime, Trice came up the middle again to lay a hit on Uiagalelei as he threw. That helped force an errant pass, which was intercepted. Trice also started a couple of tackles for a loss and had another near-sack with a fast rush to collapse the pocket. Early in the fourth quarter, Trice once again looped around on a stunt to go up the middle to get a hit on the quarterback.
Trice is at his best when he is running free. He can have issues getting off blocks. For the NFL, Truce is going need to improve his repertoire of pass-rushing moves and get better at shedding blocks. His best fit would come playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense. Trice could receive late first-round consideration in the 2024 NFL Draft and could end up going in Round 2.
Oregon State right tackle Taliese Fuaga has received some media hype as a first- or second-round prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft. Against Washington, he had a solid performance. In the first quarter, Fuaga had an excellent block that knocked his defender backward before turning him out of his gap to open a hole for a short-yardage rushing touchdown. Fuaga looked better in the ground game and will need to work on handling NFL speed rushers. Some pro team sources said they had Fuaga as a third-/fourth-rounder for the 2024 NFL Draft but has upside to develop.
Clemson 31, North Carolina 20
North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye is the favorite to be the second quarterback taken next April in the 2024 NFL Draft and is the current favorite to be the No. 2-overall pick. Taking on a good Clemson defense, Maye did not have an impressive performance. He had some good plays, but overall, this outing illustrated that Maye still has room for improvement for the pro game.
Early in the first quarter, North Carolina wide receiver Tez Walker got away with a push-off of Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins and Maye had an accurate pass fire into the chest of Walker for a 43-yard gain. While that drive ended in a fumble, Maye came back shortly later to roll to his right before lofting in a perfectly placed deep ball for a 33-yard touchdown. After that score, the Clemson defense did a nice job of keeping Maye from getting in a rhythm, blitzing a lot of to force Maye to throw the ball before routes were fully developed. The Tigers, led by Wiggins, did a nice job of keeping receivers from getting open was well. Maye completed less than half of his passes in the first half and seemed uncomfortable in the pocket.
In the third quarter. Maye got going with a drive across midfield, but on a fourth-and-short, Maye held the ball too long and took a sack. Nobody was open, but on fourth down. Maye needs to make a throw rather than eating a sack. That gave Clemson good field position. With the Tigers going up by 14, Maye got the Tar Heels moving with a 30-yard run up the middle of the defense. Once again however the Clemson defense forced a stop. Late in the fourth quarter, Maye was picked off by Wiggins. Maye threw late to a stop route along the sideline, and Wiggins broke hard downhill to step in front of the route for the interception. Versus Clemson, Maye completed 16-of-36 passes for 209 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
Overall, this tape is going to hurt Maye with NFL evaluators. While he made some nice plays that showed his arm strength and athleticism, Maye struggled to create big plays on his own, plus his accuracy was off on a lot of throws. Maye has an above-average arm, but not a cannon. While he can run and has mobility, Maye is not an elite runner. He has a starter’s ability for the NFL, but he definitely is going to need to be surrounded by playmakers to be an effective starter. This tape could serve as evidence of why USC’s Caleb Williams is a better prospect than Maye.
Wiggins could be the first cornerback selected during the 2024 NFL Draft, and he had a mixed outing against the Tar Heels. Midway through the first half, Wiggins showed his speed and effort by flying down the field to smack the ball out of a running back’s hands for a fumble that turned into a touchback for Clemson’s offense. In the third quarter, Wiggins was tested on a deep ball and got away with a pass interference when Tez Walker had a step on him. On other plays, Wiggins did a nice job of running the route and preventing separation. His fourth-quarter interception ended any hopes of a late Tar Heels comeback. It was a very good play by Wiggins that illustrated his tremendous speed and ball skills.
Overall, this tape won’t hurt or help Wiggins significantly. He is a good athlete who is fast and fluid. He can run the route to prevent separation and has make-up speed. However, Wiggins could stand to get stronger for the NFL. This game demonstrated that Wiggins is more of a mid-to-late first-rounder and is not a top-10 caliber prospect like a Devon Witherspoon, Sauce Gardner, Derek Stingley Jr. or Jaycee Horn.
UCLA 38, USC 20
After this game, the next time Caleb Williams plays in a game could be in the NFL. He might not play again for USC, and this rivalry outing was going to be a test in which he was facing a future pro edge rusher in UCLA’s Laiatu Latu. Latu is the favorite to be the top defensive line prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft. How these two future top-five picks fared against each other was of interest to evaluators.
Williams got lucky in the first quarter with a dropped interception after he seemingly did not see a safety undercutting the route. Later in the first quarter, Williams was not as fortunate. He threw a 50-50 pass to a well-covered receiver, and the cornerback outplayed the wideout to make the leaping interception. Williams threw off his back foot, rushed the pass, and his placement was off. Those all made it easier for the defensive back than his Trojans teammate.
Williams came back to show his special talent. He climbed the pocket and then lofted in a moon shot deep down the field. The pass hit his receiver perfectly in stride about 50 yards down the field, allowing the wideout to coast another 25 yards for a 74-yard touchdown. Late in the first half, Latu pressured Williams out of the pocket, but Williams made another excellent throw on the run to loft in a pass for a 33-yard gain. The UCLA defense forced a field goal, and fumbles from his USC teammates hurt Williams’ chances at producing points.
In the third quarter, Williams took off on a nice run before a well-placed throw to Brenden Rice went for a gain of 38 and set up a first-and-goal, but another field goal was forced. Late in the game, Williams threw some nice passes while leading a touchdown drive in garbage time. This was likely Williams final collegiate contest, and he completed 31-of-42 passes for 384 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Overall, this tape won’t hurt Williams’ draft stock significantly, and it just shows that he is a special talent. Williams has serious arm strength and an ability to make amazing throws on the run. When plays break down, Williams is incredibly dangerous. His ability to ad lib his team into a big play is a rare talent that makes him an elite prospect for the NFL. Physically, Williams has a great skill set with arm strength, mobility, athleticism and toughness. His ability to throw accurately on the run is phenomenal. Williams performance against UCLA will only serve to help him go No. 1-overall next April in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Latu got off to a bit of quiet start before turning in a superb game for the Bruins. In the second quarter, he made a nice play in run support, bursting into the backfield to disrupt the play and set up a tackle for a loss for a teammate. Shortly later, Latu had an impressive inside rush that flushed Williams out of the pocket. In the third quarter, Latu had an impressive sack after cutting between the guard and tackle off the snap. Latu shoved the right guard off of him and then closed on Williams in a blur. On the very next play, Latu added another sack, running around the right tackle and then using power to bull through the running back to get to Williams. That gave Latu 13 sacks on the season.
This game gave proof why Latu will be a top-10 pick next April in the 2024 NFL Draft and why he is the top defensive prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft. Latu has serious speed off the edge with the ability quickly fire upfield and blow by blockers. Beyond his speed, Latu has functional strength to fight off blocks and is able to use hands and feet at the same time. When free, Latu closes in a blur, showing a serious burst to the quarterback. Latu can bend, is athletic, and plays hard. He could be a dangerous quarterback hunter and an impactful player at the next level.
Louisville 38, Miami 31
Miami safety Kamren Kinchens looks like a future first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and he reinforced that perception despite taking on a top-10 team for the second straight week. In the first quarter against Louisville, Kinchens bit on play action, taking a couple of missteps toward the line, which let a tight end streak past him to make a leaping grab of about 20 yards. Kinchens came close to recovering and breaking up the pass, but the tight end had just enough separation to haul in the lofted throw. Midway through the first half, Kinchens read the eyes of the quarterback, who was trying to throw a sluggo route down the seam, but Kinchens used his tremendous closing speed to fly across the field and intercept the ball near midfield.
Shortly before halftime, Kinchens made a huge tackle at the two-yard line. Louisville running back Jawhar Jordan had exploded into the secondary, and Kinchens flew over to make the clutch stop at the two with only 10 seconds remaining on the clock. Late in the fourth quarter, Kinchens couldn’t get to the sideline in time to push a receiver out of bounds on a 58-yard touchdown.
Kinchens is a superb safety prospect who is a dynamic ball hawk with excellent instincts, the speed to cover downfield, and tremendous ball skills. Even though he is not especially big, Kinchens is a good tackler and will dish out some hard hits. While he is a superb free safety, Kinchens also is capable of playing strong safety. Defensive coordinators who want their safeties to be interchangeable, which makes life hard on quarterbacks because they don’t know what the safeties will do post-snap, are going to love Kinchens. On top of his great play on the field, sources say Kinchens is a great kid with excellent character. He is a leader and a worker who loves football. Kinchens is worthy of going as top-20 selection next April in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Louisville running back Jawhar Jordan has been a dangerous playmaker this season. He entered this game averaging almost seven yards per carry and had 12 touchdowns on the season. Miami did a nice job of limiting Jordan to 33 yards on nine carries alongside one catch for seven yards.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Jordan is a quick back who can explode to the second level and rip off yards in chunks. While he is small, Jordan is slippery runner who has the speed to hurt defenses. His size suggests he probably won’t be able to hold up as a three-down starter in the NFL, but Jordan could be a dangerous No. 2 back and change-of-pace to go with a bigger, physical starting ball-carrier. In the 2024 NFL Draft, Jordan could be a sleeper and nice value as a mid-round pick.
Oklahoma 31, BYU 24
Oklahoma linebacker Danny Stutsman has been one of the best linebackers in college football this season and has been all over the field. Versus a dangerous Cougars offense, Stutsman was around the ball, making tackles in the ground game and showing the ability to cover in the middle of the field. At the end of the first quarter, Stutsman made a clutch tackle on a third-and-short to force a fourth-down try by the BYU offense. Just after returning from halftime, Stutsman had a lighting blitz that forced a Cougars throwaway and made a good tackle on first-and-goal at the five. Early in the fourth quarter, Stutsman came around the corner on a blitz and notched a strip-sack that Oklahoma recovered for great field position in the then-tied game.
For the NFL, Stutsman is a very athletic linebacker with good instincts. When a linebacker is fast and instinctive like Stutsman, it is not surprise that they amass large totals of tackles and are always around the ball. Beyond with being fast and smart, Stutsman has good size and length, which aids him in both phases. He lacks ideal power and physicality, and he plays like a small linebacker even though he is tall and long. Stutsman could stand to improve his playing strength and not be as finesse. Still, Stutsman looks like he could be a good starter at the next level. He is smooth in coverage and is seemingly made for the passing-driven pro game. Stutsman could end up as a second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
This was a good game to get a look at future NFL offensive tackles, led by BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia. He is a standout left tackle for the Cougars and dominated the Oklahoma edge defenders. He glided with them in pass protection, shielding his quarterback, and overwhelmed them in the ground game. Suamataia used his length and big frame to tie up his opponents and did an excellent job of sustaining his blocks. This tape is going to help Suamataia to be a first-round pick if he enters the 2024 NFL Draft.
The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Suamataia has shocking speed and athleticism for an edge blocker of his size. This season, he has been superb in pass protection while also showing toughness as a run blocker. As the cousin of Lions stud tackle Penei Sewell, Suamataia has a solid pedigree for the NFL. Suamataia could stand to add some lower body strength, but he has a lot of upside and could be a very good starter at either left or right tackle in the NFL.
Oklahoma right tackle Tyler Guyton is an early-round prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft, but unfortunately, he was inactive for this contest. The 6-foot-7, 328-pound Guyton has shown this season that he is a freak prospect with a special combination of size, speed, length and athleticism. Guyton uses his big size and length to make it tough for defenders to run around him. His long arms tie up defenders and he displays an ability to sustain his blocks. Guyton is a smooth mover in space, showing quickness to fire out of his stance and engage defenders. Multiple team sources say Guyton has a first-round skill set, but needs to be more consistent. They feel that he is more talented and a more gifted athlete than other highly touted tackles like Notre Dame’s Joe Alt and Penn State’s Olu Fashanu. However, Guyton has not always played up to his skill set, and as a result, Alt and Fashanu could be selected ahead of him in the 2024 NFL Draft. Guyton could be a first-round pick next April in the 2024 NFL Draft, but he also could slide to the second round because of his inconsistency.