Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks has been excellent in 2021, and in this contest, he was seeing a future NFL cornerback in Auburn's Roger McCreary. Even though they didn't match up against each other a lot, both players managed to have impressing plays that illustrated their next-level abilities.
To get his game started, Burks took a wide receiver screen downfield for a gain of 20 yards, showing nice quickness and a tough stiff arm to break a tackle for more yardage. In the final seconds before halftime, Burks got open while sitting down in zone coverage and then skied high to make an 11-yard touchdown reception over a defender.
Early in the third quarter, Burks ran a deep post and used his big body to gain position on the downfield safety. Burks boxed him out and jumped high to make a leaping touchdown grab from 30 yards out. Burks continued to dominate Auburn, including breaking multiple tackles on a receiver screen.
At the end of third quarter, Burks had a near third touchdown when he had good position on McCreary in the front of the end zone on a quick slant, but McCreary was able to get his hand in to break up the pass. Burks finished the day with nine catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
For the NFL, Burks is more of a possessional receiver. He has mismatch size to outposition defensive backs, is tough after the catch, runs good routes, and has strong, massive hands to help him control the ball on acrobatic catches. He is not a blazer, but he has the ability to get some late separation at times. Separating from NFL defensive backs is the concern, but Burks has starter ability for the next level. He could be a pick in the back half of the first round or the second round in the 2022 NFL Draft.
McCreary was solid overall, doing a nice job of running the route and preventing separation. Early in the first quarter, McCreary had a dropped interception. He was in good position, blanketing the receiver, and the pass was very low, about ankle high. McCreary dove down, but the ball went through his hands for an incompletion. In the second half, McCreary had a clutch backup on a two-point conversion attempt. He then flew over in deep zone to break up a pass on a fourth-down late in the fourth quarter.
If McCreary were a little bigger and taller, he would probably be a sure-fire first-round pick with his cover corner ability. His height, however, could limit him to slot corner as a pro. He might be capable of lining up some on the outside, depending on the matchup, and then also move inside. Because of McCreary's cover skills, he could be a good value as a second-day pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett is rising quarterback prospect, and he was taking on a talented Hokies defense with some future NFL talent. On top of the challenging competition, the game was being played in swirling wind conditions, so it would be interesting to see how he would perform on the road.
On the second drive of the game, Pickett made some nice plays, including one where he dodged some defenders before scrambling for nine yards. Pickett ended the drive with a short touchdown pass on an easy throw to the flat. Midway through the second quarter, Pickett added a short rushing touchdown as well. Late in the second quarter, Pickett threw a pretty 36-yard touchdown pass that showed anticipation to throw a wheel route pass before the receiver even had his head turned around. Pickett stood patient with pressure bearing down on him and lofted in a perfect strike. Versus Virginia Tech, Pickett completed 22-of-37 passes for 203 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also rushed for a score.
Pickett is a rising prospect with NFL evaluators. Team sources say they like how he's played this year and that he's helping himself. It isn't clear if he's doing enough to turn himself into the first-round pick given the 2022 NFL Draft's weak quarterback class, but at worst, he could go on Day 2 if he stays consistent to how he has played this year. Pickett has been an accurate passer in 2021, showing anticipation, timing, vision, and composure in the pocket. Along with his passing ability, Pickett has used his feet to make plays while showing serious toughness as a runner and passer. It would not shock this analyst at all if Pickett becomes a hot prospect who ends up skyrocketing. Stay tuned.
One of the prospects who would have been interesting to see against Pittsburgh was Virginia Tech ballhawking corner Jermaine Waller. Unfortunately, Waller suffered an ankle injury in the first half and went out for the game, leaving him on the sideline with his foot in a boot. Waller had some injury issues in 2020 and is a thin-framed player, so getting healthy and finishing out the season are very important for Waller if he wants to avoid an injury red flag attached to his draft grade.
Kentucky right tackle Darion Kinnard was taking on the best defensive line he will see all season with the loaded Bulldogs defense. Kinnard put together a respectable game. Overall, he won his blocks in pass protection and did not give up sacks or hits. Some of Georgia's speed rushers like Adam Anderson, however, got upfield versus Kinnard to create some pressure on the quarterback, and nose tackle Jordan Davis got the better of Kinnard on a rip move in the first half. Kinnard has the ability to be a starting right tackle early in his NFL career and should be an early-round pick next April in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Georgia edge defender Adam Anderson is one of the most dangerous pass rushers in college football, but some NFL scouts have concerns about his run defense because he has been a situational player throughout his time with the Bulldogs. Last week, he had an impressive performance against Auburn as a run defender, and Anderson continued that trend with a solid outing against Kentucky and its tough rushing attack.
In the first half, Anderson did a nice job of holding his ground on the edge, taking on two blocks from a tight end and wide receiver. In the second quarter, Kentucky charged at Anderson on a third-and-1. He held his ground against the tight end and disengaged to make the tackle, but there was enough space for running back Chris Rodriguez to fall forward for a two-yard gain. Anderson showed his speed with fast rush getting upfield against Kentucky right tackle Darian Kinnard for a pressure in the first half. In the third quarter, Anderson and Nakobe Dean flushed Will Levis up in the pocket, and Travon Walker snuffed out Levis for the sack. Anderson made some other good plays in run defense in the fourth quarter.
On top of playing well against the run, Anderson was smooth and athletic at dropping into pass coverage. He also was causing disruption as a pass rusher, and the extra attention he commanded opened things up for other defenders. This tape will help Anderson to be a first-round pick.
Georgia defensive end Travon Walker has had an excellent season to help his draft grade. He has been a tough run defender and has gotten after the quarterback. That continued against Kentucky, as Walker had a coverage sack, made some stops in the ground game, and was disruptive at the point of attack. This performance will help Walker's draft grade.
Georgia nose tackle Jordan Davis looks like a future first-round pick next April. He played well versus Kentucky, stuffing rushing lanes and making some plays. Early on, he set the tone by bulling his way into the backfield to get a tackle for a loss. Later in the first half, Davis used an impressive rip move to get to the inside of Kinnard and chase Levis out of the pocket. For the NFL, Davis is a tall, heavy nose tackle similar to a John Henderson or Albert Haynesworth.
A year ago, some team sources said the LSU guards impressed them and were potential second-day picks if they entered the 2021 NFL Draft. Ed Ingram and Chasen Hines decided to return to the Tigers instead, but both players remain solid prospects for the NFL. Ingram really played well against Florida, which suggests he has plug-and-play starting potential for the next level.
In the first quarter, Ingram pulled around to the right side and absolutely flattened Zach Carter with a bone-rattling block that helped open an 18-yard touchdown run for LSU. Early in the third quarter, LSU went behind Ingram, who got a push off the line to blast open a hole for a 40-yard touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter, Ingram did it again, helping to open up a hole for another touchdown run from about 20 yards out. In a shocking output, Ingram and the LSU offensive line dominated Florida's defense and helped LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price set the program's single-game rushing record with 287 yards over 36 carries. That broke the previous mark held by Leonard Fournette.
For the NFL, Ingram is a powerful left guard who can generate a push in the ground game. He is a physical force to hit defensive lineman and deliver some violent hits when on the move. This year, Ingram's pass-protection ability looks improved in terms of his technique. He's playing with better leverage, feet, and hand placement. Ingram is a powerful people mover, but he is not a superb athlete or shockingly fast, so he might be a better fit as a pro in a man-blocking scheme as opposed to a zone-blocking scheme. While his run blocking is ahead of his pass protection, Ingram is well rounded and could be a second-day pick in the 2022 NFL Draft who becomes a quick starter in the NFL.
Florida defensive end Zachary Carter has been one of the most consistent and steady defenders in the SEC this season. Carter showed his strengths and weaknesses versus LSU. In the first quarter, Carter kept fighting and ended up getting a coverage sack after Max Johnson scrambled thanks to not finding anything open downfield. On a touchdown run, however, Carter was absolutely destroyed by LSU guard Ed Ingram on a run that came straight at him. That epitomizes Carter in a nutshell; he is a quality pass rusher with speed and athleticism, but he is not a tough grinding run defender.
Team sources have been impressed with Carter this season, and he's helped himself with his 2021 performance. They think he is a heavy edge defender who can bump inside to rush the quarterback in the sub package. They say that while Carter doesn't like to grind blocks and got tossed around some as a run defender versus Alabama, they like his athleticism and speed for a defender that's around 6-foot-4, 285 pounds. They feel Carter is similar to Boogie Basham, who was a second-round pick by the Bills last year. Scouts feel that if Carter continues to produce sacks, it could put him late first-round contention even though they are grading him more as a second-round talent.