While the Hurricanes are not as talented up front as they were in the past two seasons, they still have some future NFL talent on their defense, providing a quality test for Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Early on, Pickett fired a perfectly placed pass that hit his tight end in stride on an intermediate crossing route, and from there, the tight end could turn downfield for a gain of 37 yards. Pickett laid out a pretty deep ball for what should have been a touchdown a few plays later, but his receiver fell just short of the goal line. The Panthers turned that into to a short rushing touchdown on the following play. On the next drive Pickett, showed his accuracy and touch by lofting in a beauty on a corner post to help set up a field goal. Early in the second quarter, Pickett had an easy touchdown pass tossing a check down and letting his back do the work to get downfield for the score.
A rare sight happened in the middle of the second quarter, when Pickett made a poor throw to a double-covered receiver for only his second interception of the season. He had a wide-open receiver, who could have gone for a touchdown, in the middle of the field and didn't see him. It was a bad and ugly play by Pickett that was a huge mistake because it set up a touchdown and 14-point lead for Miami.
Pickett bounced back in the third quarter, using a spin move to dodge a pass rusher and then throwing across his body for a touchdown in the middle of the end zone. Shortly later, Pickett tied the game with a well-located pass in the back of the end zone for a 19-yard score. Down four midway through the fourth quarter, Pickett led a drive into Miami territory, but he had a poor overthrow in the deep middle of the field behind his receiver for an interception.
Pickett finished completing 39-of-55 passes for 519 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Overall, this tape is not going to help him. While he made some nice throws showing accuracy and touch as a passer, he had a few passes off the mark for critical turnovers and also held the ball too long to take some unnecessary sacks. This tape will help Pickett to be more of a second-day candidate rather than a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
NFL sources have told WalterFootball.com that they like the pass-rushing ability of Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson but have concerns with his run defense against downhill runs coming straight at him. The Spartans, meanwhile, have one of the toughest rushing attacks in the nation led by breakout star Kenneth Walker III.
Early in the first quarter, Hutchinson flushed the quarterback out of the pocket with speed and power to cut to the inside of the left tackle. That pressure disrupted the play and helped lead to an interception downfield for the Wolverines. At the start of the second quarter, a tight end pushed Hutchinson out of the way on the backside of the play, and that allowed a 27-yard touchdown run to Michigan State.
Late in the second quarter, Hutchinson went around left tackle Luke Campbell with speed to chase down the quarterback for a sack. Campbell also was called for a hold on the play, and Michigan took the penalty instead of the sack. A couple of plays later, Hutchinson chased down a strip-sack fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, but the booth review took the score away saying the quarterback was down.
Hutchinson drew another holding penalty in the third quarter via a rush to the inside again with speed and power. He followed that up with a good open-field tackle on a check down in the flat. Early in the fourth quarter, Hutchinson went completely unblocked off the right side and got upfield to take down the quarterback for an easy sack.
Overall, this was a good tape for Hutchinson that showed his dangerous pass-rush ability. Hutchinson mixed up his pass rushing, getting the better of the Spartans tackles with speed rushes to the outside and inside while showing functional strength to shed blocks. Hutchinson will need some work as a run defender in the NFL, but this game should help make him a pick in the top half of the first round next April in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Walker was impressive with how he ran against the tough Michigan defense. On the first play of the second quarter, Walker took a run up the middle, was stopped by a pile of bodies, but then bounced it to the outside and exploded down the field for a 27-yard touchdown. It showed excellent vision and instincts on Walker's part. Midway through the second quarter, Walker added his second rushing touchdown, taking a short run and diving to the pylon to put the Spartans in front.
Early in the fourth quarter, Walker followed his blocks to break off a 56-yard touchdown run. Midway through the final frame with the Spartans down by three, Walker exploded up the middle and broke a tackle at the second level to dart into the end zone with a 22-yard touchdown. Walker finished the day with 23 carries for 197 yards and five touchdowns.
This tape will definitely help Walker's draft grade because he had his way with one of the best defenses he will see all season. Walker showed serious power to break tackles and pick up yards after contact. His vision to find small holes and cut-back lanes was terrific. Walker looks like a future three-down starter in the NFL with impressive size, strength, quickness, vision and patience. If Walker enters the 2022 NFL Draft, he could be a second-day pick.
This game featured a lot of good matchups in the skill positions as both Ohio State and Penn State have early-round receivers and cornerbacks. All of them flashed some ability, but the coverage employed by both defenses kept the wide outs from having huge games.
Penn State’s Jahan Dotson has been the most productive this season even though his quarterback of Sean Clifford struggles to pass accurately while Ohio State has a young star in C.J. Stroud. Dotson played well showing his ability to get open underneath on crossing routes, quick outs, and be more than a deep threat. He made some impressive catches showing off his incredible body control, ball skills, and ability to adjust. Dotson totaled 11 catches for 127 yards and this tape will help his draft grade. He looks like a late first-round or early second-round pick for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Buckeyes wide receiver Garrett Wilson had a solid performance taking on two good cornerbacks in Tariq Castro-Fields and Joey Porter Jr. In the early going Wilson made some nice receptions including a diving throw and then a nice reception in the flat where he accelerated down field for a nice gain. In the third quarter Joey Porter Jr had blanket coverage on Wilson in the end zone to knock a pass away. That repeated itself with Castro-Fields later in the second half. Wilson totaled seven receptions for 82 yards. He looks like a first- or second-round pick in the 2022 draft.
Ohio State’s Chris Olave had the least catches and yardage of the trio, but he did supply the biggest play among the future pros. Late in the second quarter Olave made his first reception of the game for a 38-yard touchdown. Olave got open in zone coverage and C.J. Stroud lofted in the scoring strike. Penn State did a good job of covering Olave holding him to three receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Overall, this was a good tape for Castro-Fields and Porter, although Porter is a prospect for the 2023 draft. In the second quarter Castro-Fields was in man coverage on the sideline against Olave and drove hard to make a diving pass breakup. Shortly later Castro-Fields was in man coverage on Wilson and was called for a pass interference for holding Wilson along the route, but it could have easily been no call with the amount of scraping going on from both players. Castro-Fields is a well-rounded corner with size, speed, and athleticism. He is a sleeper prospect that some team sources have compared to Marlon Humphrey. Castro-Fields could be a good value in the 2022 draft.
This game featured two left tackle prospects for the NFL in Ohio State’s Nicolas Petit-Frère and Penn State’s Rasheed Walker. Of the two, Petit-Free was much better. Petit-Frere is a good athlete on the edge with quickness and agility. He was fast out of his stance, had good knee bend, and body lean. For the NFL, Petit-Frere needs to get stronger to be able to pack more of a punch at the point of attack. Overall, this tape should help Petit-Frere’s draft grade.
Walker started out the game well in the first quarter. He showed some strength in the ground game and in his base to anchor against bull rushes. However, Walker gave up two back breaking plays that were huge in Ohio State’s win. Late in the second quarter Tyreke Smith used speed to get upfield and dipped underneath Walker to get a strip-sack that was returned by Ohio State for a touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter Smith used a spin move to cut to the inside of Walker and hit Sean Clifford as he threw to set up a wobbling pass that was intercepted. That turnover also produced critical points. Walker has a good skill set, but needs to clean up some technical issues. He is an early-round talent, but needs more development.
Georgia defensive end Nolan Smith is a former five-star recruit who has come on this season as an edge defender replacement for Azeez Ojulari. Florida was playing the Bulldogs tough for most of the first half, but Smith made two game-changing plays in the final seconds before halftime to put the Gators away.
On a run by Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, Smith ripped the ball away around the 10-yard line for a fumble that set up a short rushing touchdown. On the next Gators possession, Smith caught a deflected pass for an interception that set up another quick score for the Bulldogs. Throughout the game, Smith did a nice job of getting upfield into the backfield while also showing a good motor as a run defender. This tape will definitely help his draft grade.
Team sources say Smith needs to get bigger for the NFL, but they love how hard he plays and the relentless motor he shows. If Smith returns for his senior year and gets bigger, he could end up being a first- or second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Nolan Smith wasn't the only Georgia defensive end to impress versus Florida. Defensive end Travon Walker continued his excellent season with a superb first half. In the early going, Walker displayed his speed by flying to the flat to make a tackle on Malik Davis. Walker then showed good run defense soon afterward to turn a play inside to limit the gain to one yard. Late in the second quarter, Walker made two phenomenal plays. On the first one, he busted an option, forcing the play to the inside. On the next play, he dropped into coverage and tipped a pass that was intercepted by Smith.
Walker has been excellent on a weekly basis this season. He is big, quick, athletic and strong. Walker's size and strength make him a tough run defender at the point of attack, yet he has the speed and quickness to rush the passer. With this strong season of tape, Walker could be a first- or second-round pick next April in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Georgia front seven is loaded with future NFL talent, and perhaps the player who will be drafted first is outside linebacker Adam Anderson. While he is a rotational player, Anderson made his presence against Florida felt with some big plays.
In the first half, Georgia was rotating Anderson and playing him at a variety of spots as usual. While Anderson is a natural edge-rushing outside linebacker, Georgia was also playing him at inside linebacker and dropping him in coverage. In the early going, Anderson made a nice tackle in zone coverage and a tackle on quarterback Anthony Richardson on an interior run.
Late in the first half, Anderson improved his season sack total to 5.5 when he used his speed to get upfield, pushed the right tackle back with strength to shed the block, and chased down Richardson for the sack. Early in the third quarter, Anderson put a blistering hit on Richardson on an option run, and that hit knocked Richardson out of the game.
In the fourth quarter, Anderson picked up the Florida tight end in zone coverage and made a tackle after giving up some separation. While Anderson did not have great coverage, it was impressive for an edge rusher to stay close to a tight end and make a tackle downfield because most edge rushers would get torched and not even be considered candidates to run with a tight end in pass coverage.
Anderson is a freak athlete with excellent speed, athleticism, and functional strength. He needs to improve his run defense for the NFL, but multiple team sources have compared Anderson to fast edge rushers like Brian Burns and Von Miller. In the 2022 NFL Draft, Anderson looks like a future top-20 pic,k and he has the potential to go high in the top 10.