Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder and wide receiver Alec Pierce both have the potential to be second-day picks during the 2022 NFL Draft. Taking on a 1-5 Navy team, neither prospect put together an impressive outing, but Pierce was held back by Ridder's underwhelming performance.
There were a lot of regrettable plays for Ridder, and he was lucky not to have put Navy in place for an upset. Early in the first quarter, Ridder was fortunate not to have thrown an interception. He climbed the pocket and threw high and behind his receiver. It went to a deep safety, but the Navy defender couldn't complete the catch for an interception. Ridder bounced back to throw an easy touchdown pass to a wide-open tight end running free down the seam.
Early in the second quarter, Ridder made a terrible pass downfield; it looked like Navy's safety was the intended receiver. Ridder stared down and predetermined his throw, going into double coverage for an easy interception. Shorty later, Ridder took a bad sack when he was under pressure. He could have thrown the ball away, but he took the negative play instead. Early in the fourth quarter, Ridder tossed another would-be interception with a horribly inaccurate pass, but the defender dropped it. If the defender held onto the ball, he would have coasted into the end zone with a pick-six from about 10 yards out.
Versus Navy, Ridder completed 18-of-30 passes for 176 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Overall, this tape is going to hurt his draft grade. He showed poor ball security, had issues reading the field, and played down to his competition. If the Midshipmen had held onto to a few of Ridder's passes, they easily could have won this game and upset the No. 2 team in the country. Ridder has accuracy issues on intermediate passes and deep balls, and those concerns were only validated against Navy. This game made Ridder look more like a mid-round pick for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pierce had only five receptions for 37 yards, but one was an impressive leaping grab for a critical third-down conversion. For the NFL, Pierce is a big receiver who presents a size mismatch. He has enough speed to contribute, but he is not blazer who will generate huge separation from pro defensive backs. Pierce is similar to former Giants and Buccaneers receiver Joe Jurevicius. Pierce could be a third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, provided he runs well in pre-draft workouts. If he doesn't go on Day 2, he could go in the early rounds of Day 3 during the 2022 NFL Draft.
While Clemson is not as good as it has been in recent years, the program still has a lot of NFL talent on defense who could provide a good test for Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Tigers lost their best player to injury and are young, but they will have a lot of their starting defenders get drafted in the 2023 and 2024 NFL Drafts.
In the first quarter, Pickett used his legs to pick up a critical third down, diving for the first-down yardage. For the most part, however, Clemson's defense did a good job of putting steady pressure on him to keep him from having time to get into a groove.
Pittsburgh put a good drive together toward the end of the first half, and Pickett rolled to his right to throw a beautifully located pass into the end zone for a touchdown from about 22 yards out. Just before halftime on a fourth-and-5, Pickett saw a receiver running wide open on a deep post, and he lofted in a perfect 39-yard touchdown pass that hit his receiver in stride for an easy score.
Midway through the fourth quarter with Pittsburgh up by 10, Pickett converted a third-and-7, using his feet and diving for the first down in a huge play for the Panthers. Shortly later, he did it again on a designed quarterback run to convert a third-and-5. Those clutch first downs were clock killers for Clemson's hopes to making a comeback.
Pickett was 25-of-39 for 302 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions against the Tigers. After a slow start, he got in a rhythm and showed his patience, poise and competitiveness. Pickett threw the ball accurately to all levels of the field while avoiding turnovers.
While Pickett is not a freakish athlete with running ability like a Lamar Jackson or Cam Newton, Pickett has some functional mobility and toughness as a runner, similar to Joe Burrow. Pickett does not have a cannon for an arm like a Josh Allen or Matthew Stafford, but he has a capable arm that can make all the throws, like Derek Carr. Thus, Pickett has the skill set to be a starter in the NFL. Pickett is still not getting a lot of media hype and buzz for the 2022 NFL Draft, but he is a rising prospect who that could catch fire in the months to come if he finishes out the season dominating the way he has in the first half of the year.
This game had the potential for a good draft matchup with USC wide receiver Drake London taking on Notre Dame safety Kyle Hamilton. There wasn't much of a chance to watch these future pros face off against each other. In the first quarter, London got the Trojans moving by making a reception for about 15 yards on a comeback route. On the next play, he got open in zone along the sideline to make a leaping grab of 29 yards. Hamilton landed awkwardily on that play after pushing London out of bounds. Hamilton had to be helped off the field, and he wasn't putting weight on one of his legs. The Fighting Irish said they didn't believe there was structural damage to his knee, but Hamilton did not return to the game.
Right away, the Trojans got London the ball on a screen, and he was stopped for a loss before breaking the tackle and running for a gain of 11 yards, which illustrated his strength ans yards-after-the-catch ability. London continued to make short catches and use his big size and power for additional yards after contact. At the half, London had nine receptions for 109 yards. He was just about the only Trojan who made any plays for USC.
For a lot of the third quarter, Notre Dame did a nice job of limiting London, but early in the fourth quarter, he got downfield and made a leaping 46-yard grab over a defender. That big play set up a short rushing touchdown for USC. London totaled 15 receptions for 171 yards versus the Fighting Irish.
London is a difficult evaluation for the next level. On the plus side, he is tall, long, strong, physical, and a size mismatch. London has strong hands and uses his big frame to be a tough possessional receiver. After the catch, London is dynamic, making it really hard on to get him to the ground, and he picks up lots of yards after contact. On the negative side, London has a serious lack of speed. He can't generate separation in college, and that will be even more pronounced in the NFL thanks to the faster defensive backs. With the lack of speed that could be average at best, London might be more of a second-day prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft.
USC defensive end Drake Jackson has a good skill set, but he is a work in progress for the NFL and, that was put on display versus Notre Dame. Jackson was a ghost in the first half. The Notre Dame offensive tackles were negating Jackson, who couldn't get off their blocks and was easily tied up. An ugly play in the third quarter on which Jackson got manhandled by the right tackle seemed to wake Jackson up. On the next play, Jackson leaned under the right tackle and ripped up with his arms to get free of the right tackle and sack Jack Coan. It was Jackson's fourth sack of the season, but late in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame ran right at Jackson for a short touchdown that sealed the win for the Fighting Irish.
Jackson has quality speed, athleticism, and agility on the edge. However, he needs to get stronger to get off blocks and become a tougher run defender. Returning to USC to improve as a senior could be best for his football development, but that would be a surprise given how most players enter the draft and he will lose his coaching staff after the season.
Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral is the consensus top quarterback prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft, and he was taking on a vulnerable LSU defense. The Tigers' offense controlled the ball for a lot of the early going, but in the second quarter, Corral found his rhythm, leading a drive down the field and throwing a short touchdown pass. The Rebels quickly got the ball back, and Corral threw a rope for a gain of over 20 yards in the middle of the field. He added a short rushing touchdown and did not have to do much to lead Ole Miss to the blowout. Corral was 18-of-23 for 185 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a score.
This tape will be a solid addition to the stack Corral has built in 2021. He showed his strong arm, mobility, field vision, and patience. It was a game-manager performance, but that was a good thing for Corral because there are plenty of tapes of him being an aggressive gunslinger. This game shows teams Corral can be patient and support the ground game to lead his team to a win. Corral looks like a future first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Alabama has had a steady string of good running back prospects for the NFL, so it should shock nobody that the team has one of the top tailback prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft. Brian Robinson Jr. has enjoyed an excellent half season as the replacement for Najee Harris, and Robinson continued his strong play against Tennessee.
In the second quarter, Robinson caught a pass in the flat and broke a tackle to power ahead for a 17-yard gain. In the second quarter, he had a pretty run, making one cut and charging downfield while carrying defenders with him to pick up around a dozen yards. Robinson ran in a 15-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, breaking a tackle and dragging a defender. Shortly later, he added a one-yard touchdown run. Robinson totaled 107 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries and made four receptions for 16 yards.
Versus Tennessee, Robinson showed his power to run through tackles and pick up yards after contact. He has quickness and a burst to get to the second level. Robinson also shows surprising athleticism and agility in the passing game for a big back. He has been a real riser with pro teams this season.
Sources say they there is a lot to like about Robinson. "He has low mileage," said a director of player personnel. "He's athletic, instinctive, and has size and power. Right now, he's our top-rated back."
Robinson sat behind former Alabama backs like Najee Harris, Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs before getting the opportunity this year to be the featured rusher for the Crimson Tide. He is making the most of it, and right now, he could be on track to be a second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
This game had two potential early-round NFL cornerbacks with Tennessee's Alontae Taylor and Alabama's Josh Jobe. In the first quarter, Taylor fired upfield to make a tackle in the flat for a loss of two yads. After making a hard tackle at the end of the first quarter, a banged-up Taylor temporarily left the game. He was solid, but not overly impressive, in coverage against the Crimson Tide.
In the third quarter, Jobe gave up for 70-yard touchdown. He was caught peeking into the backfield, and the receiver raced right past to him to get open running along the sideline. The wideout hauled in the ball at the 30, and Jobe couldn't catch him from behind to prevent the score. Team sources say that Jobe has a good skill set with size, speed and athleticism, but his inconsistency in coverage holds him back. That was put on display versus Tennessee, and this tape will hurt Jobe's draft grade.