Previously: 1 Avg. 2.3 per 4
Oregon held Thibodeaux out in Week 3 versus Stony Brook and Week 2 against Ohio State over an ankle injury. Thibodeaux collected two tackles and a sack against Fresno State in Week 1 before leaving the game early with an injury. Oregon believes the injury is not serious given that X-rays did show any breaks and say Thibodeaux is week-to-week.
Thibodeaux broke out in 2019 with nine sacks, 35 tackles and three passes defended. He then played well in Oregon's seven-game 2020, recording three sacks and an improved total of 38 tackles.
Thibodeux (6-5, 250) excellent athleticism and significant speed are immediately apparent when watching Oregon games. The first thing that jumps out about Thibodeaux is his excellent burst off the ball. He flies upfield, utlizing an explosive first-step that routinely makes him the first player out of his stance from either line. While Thibodeaux is a fast pass rusher, he also has the functional strength to bull rush offensive tackles and roll them backward in the pocket. Having decent power to fight off blockers gives Thibodeux a versatile skill set and means he is not just a speed rusher.
Against the run, Thibodeaux can hold his ground and keep offensive tackles from driving him off the ball. Thibodeaux is not an overpowering force, but he will solidly hold his gap and not get blown out of the play.
Previously: 2 Avg. 1.5 per 4
Versus South Carolina, Anderson had four tackles, a sack and a pass batted. He had a near strip-sack that when it was ruled the quarterback's arm was going forward, but it was a questionable call. Taking on UAB, Anderson had three tackles and a sack. Anderson played well in a rotational role against Clemson, helping Georgia's defense keep the Tigers out of the end zone. He totaled five tackles and a sack on Clemson and also put pressure on the quarterback numerous other times. In 2021, Anderson has 12 tackles, three sacks and a pass batted while only rushing the passer in limited snaps.
Last season, Georgia rotated through a potent group of four edge rushers. Azeez Ojulari was the Bulldogs' lead rusher, while Anderson, Nolan Smith, and Jermaine Johnson spelled Ojulari. Anderson was tremendous at putting heat on the quarterback in his part-time role, notching 6.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a pass batted. He only totaled 14 tackles on the season, however, as Ojulari played over him on run downs.
Some sources have compared Anderson's get-off to Von Miller's, as Anderson is a bolt of lightning off the ball with an amazing first-step. Anderson explodes off the snap and rockets upfield with shocking speed. On top of being very fast, Anderson possesses an uncanny ability to bend his long frame. He can sink his hips and lower his upper body to get underneath the reach of tackles while continuing to push into the pocket. Anderson is cat quick with his feet and ability to change direction. That along with his speed makes him dangerous to cut to the inside. The 6-foot-4, 226-pound Anderson has the potential to be an elite pass rusher at the next level.
S, Notre Dame.
Previously: 3 Avg. 4.3 per 4
Taking on Purdue, Hamilton had 10 tackles, an interception on a tipped pass and two passes defended. Hamilton allowed one coverage bust on a long touchdown agsinst Florida State. He made up for his errors with two huge interceptions that were fantastic plays in coverage. Hamilton finished the evening with six tackles and the two picks. In 2021, Hamilton has 21 tackles, two passes defended and three interceptions.
Hamilton totaled 56 tackles, an interception and six passes broken up in 2020. He previously put together an excellent freshman season for Notre Dame, showing good ball skills with four interceptions and six passes broken up to go along with 41 tackles. On top of playing well, the 6-foot-4, 216-pounder has upside as well as very good height and length for the safety position, which may make him a candidate to handle man coverage against NFL tight ends. Hamilton is a force as a run defender as well, so he could present the flexibility to play strong or free safety.
Previously: 4 Avg. 4 per 4
Taking on Central Michigan, Stingley had four tackles and a forced fumble. He has eight tackles and a pass defended thus far in 2021.
During LSU's dream 2019 season, the team had a plethora of breakout stars, and perhaps the best player from the defense was freshman cornerback Derek Stingley. He recorded 38 tackles, six interceptions and 15 passes defended that season. Stingley was banged up somewhat as a sophomore, but he still recorded 27 tackles and five breakups.
There really isn't anything that Stingley can't do in terms of coverage. The 6-foot-1, 198-pounder is fast, athletic, long and fluid. Stingley has the speed and agility to run the route and prevent separation. He does an excellent job of staying in phase and not taking false steps that allow distance to develop. Stingley can also flip his hips and run along the sideline, and his length and athleticism give him impressive recovery skills to close a gap. Stingley can handle big receivers or speed receivers and shows the ability to play press-man, off-man and zone coverages.
DE, Florida State.
Previously: 6 Avg. 10.8 per 4
While Florida State fell to 0-3, Johnson continued his tremendous production with 10 tackles and .5 sacks taking on Wake Forest. In Week 2, Johnson dominated Jacksonville State to the tune of 11 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one pass batted. Johnson put together an impressive 2021 debut for the Seminoles with seven tackles and 1.5 sacks against Notre Dame. He made big plays in run defense and the pass rush. In 2021, Johnson has 28 tackles, 4.5 sacks and a pass batted.
In 2020, Johnson was part of Georgia's loaded group of edge rushers. Azeez Ojulari was the featured defender, while Johnson, Adam Anderson and Nolan Smith rotated for snaps. Anderson and Johnson both flashed, with Johnson recording four sacks and 14 tackles in backup duty. Anderson and Smith returned to the Bulldogs for 2021, but Johnson transferred to Florida State, perhaps to find more playing time. Some NFL scouts gave Johnson a high projection on their preseason watch list. The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder has good size and speed off the edge.
Previously: 5 Avg. 5 per 4
In Michigan's blowout of Northern Illinois, Hutchinson recorded two tackles. He collected four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Western Michigan in Week 1. Hutchinson played well and looked better as the game progressed. He was even better in Week 2, overwhelming Washington with four tackles, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. In 2021, Hutchinson has 10 tackles with 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble - one was mistakenly given to a teammate.
The 6-foot-6, 261-pound Hutchinson flashed big-time potential over the past two seasons. As a first-year starter in 2019, Hutchinson collected 68 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss, six passes batted and two forced fumbles. One of his highlights of that season was Hutchinson getting the better of Iowa right tackle Tristan Wirfs. Hutchinson then excelled to open 2020, collecting 13 tackles and a pass batted before going down with an ankle fracture that required surgery.
Hutchinson is a beast of a pass rusher. Off the ball, he has solid quickness, and what makes him really special is his ability to get off blocks. Hutchinson utilizes his excellent hands and upper body strength to get offensive linemen hands off of him and push them away to get free of blockers. Once free, Hutchinson displays a burst to close, and with his big frame, he is an imposing figure who rattles quarterbacks.
In the ground game, Hutchinson is special. He is a really tough run defender who does more than just set the edge. Hutchinson will regularly stack his blocker at the line, toss them aside, and then pursue quickly to the ball to make the tackle. Hutchinson is more than just a gap plugger. Instead, he will make plays in the backfield and work through trash to limit runs to short gains that help his defense in down-and-distance situations. Hutchinson plays with physicality and violence, routinely dishing out bone-rattling hits on quarterbacks and running backs. On top of being a tough defender in both phases, Hutchinson plays with passion and a relentless motor. He is just a pure football player who displays fabulous instincts. He has the potential to be an excellent defensive end in the NFL.
Previously: 7 Avg. 8 per 4
The Crimson Tide have moved Neal to left tackle this season, and he played well on the blind side in the season opener against Miami. It will be interesting to see how Neal performs at left tackle against fast edge rushers. Alabama cruised over Mercer in Week 2, but Neal saw a good test against Florida in Week 3. He had some problems with the Gators speed rushers getting upfield against him, but Alabama helped protect Neal with a lot of quick passing. The Florida game made Neal look like a better fit for right tackle in the NFL.
Neal (6-7, 360) is a massive blocker who started at left guard as a freshman in 2019. As a sophomore, he replaced Jedrick Wills at right tackle and put together a fine season for Alabama. Neal was reliable at protecting Mac Jones and opening holes for Najee Harris. Neal has enough quickness and athleticism to play tackle, but his problems with speed rushers could make him a right tackle only in the NFL. He could be the Crimson Tide's replacement for Alex Leatherwood at left tackle in 2021, and that would really test Neal's ability to block on the edge.
CB, Penn State.
Previously: 8 Avg. 8 per 4
Castro-Fields made two tackles versus Auburn, but he also got lucky, as he was beat twice for would-be long receptions, including what would have been a fourth-quarter touchdown, but Auburn's Bo Nix missed the throws. Castro-Fields showed eye discipline issues on both plays, biting on a stop-and-go and then getting caught peeking into the backfield. Castro-Fields previously played well in coverage against Wisconsin, recording five tackles. He then made three stops versus Ball State. In 2021, he has 10 tackles.
Castro-Fields (6-0, 197) has good size and the speed to run well in pre-draft workouts, so he could be a riser during the process leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft. His best season came in 2019, when he had 52 tackles, two interceptions and eight passes broken up. Castro-Fields only played in three games in 2020 before going out for the season with an injury. Showing health and durability will important for him as a senior, but he has the excellent skill set to be an early-rounder. Castro-Fields is big, fast, capable of running the route to prevent separation, and has some ball skills. He does everything well and has no holes in his on-field performance.
QB, Ole Miss.
Previously: 10 Avg. 11 per 4
Versus Tulane, Corral completed 23-of-31 passes for 335 yards and three touchdown passes. He also ran for 68 yards and four rushing touchdowns. In Week 1, Corral was very good against Louisville, leading the Rebels up and down the field as they cruised to an easy win. He completed 22-of-32 passes for 381 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 55 yards and a touchdown. In 2021, Corral has completed 69 percent of his passes for 997 yards, nine touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has five rushing touchdowns as well thus far.
Corral has show good development under Lane Kiffin and is starting to realize the potential that made him a top recruit. In 2020, Corral completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,337 yards, 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. It was a big improvement from 2019, when he completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,362 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Corral has arm talent and upside.
As a passer, Corral is an aggressive trigger man who can rip a defense apart. He has a strong arm and is capable of going vertical to challenge defenses downfield. Corral can spin the ball to fire fastballs into tight windows in the short to intermediate part of the field. He flashes some accuracy, but he could stand to further develop his placement.
On top of being a dangerous passer, Corral hurts defenses with his athleticism and running ability. He is a real threat to pick up yards on the ground thanks to his burst as a runner and some surprising elusiveness in the open field.
Corral does a nice job of scrambling to buy time to make throws on the run. When the plan breaks down, Corral can make plays off structure by running for yardage or letting his receivers break off routes to get open downfield. Corral's dual-threat ability is en vogue in the NFL, and a lot of teams should be intrigued with his skill set.
WR, Penn State.
Previously: 9 Avg. 10.5 per 4
Dotson played well in Penn State's win over Auburn, making a series of leaping clutch, acrobatic catches on inaccurate passes. He finished with 10 receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown. Dotson provided some huge plays in Penn State's Week 1 road upset over Wisconsin, but it would have been a prolific game if Dotson had a competent quarterback to work with. Dotson was wide open for potential touchdowns of over 80 yards, 70 yards and 60 yards, but terrible passes from Sean Clifford blew those opportunities. Dotson's stat line of five receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown does not tell the story of how phenomenal he was. In 2021, Dotson has 20 receptions for 245 yards and three touchdowns.
Dotson turned in an impressive 2020 season, hauling in 52 passes for 884 yards and eight touchdowns over nine games. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder can provide some big plays to his offense via his game-breaking speed and is ultra competitive on the football field. In 2019, he had 27 catches for 488 yards and five touchdowns. Dotson could be a riser during 2021.
Previously: 11 Avg. 10 per 4
Taking on Penn State, McCreary had four tackles and an interception. He has 14 tackles and two interceptions thus far in 2021.
McCreary was excellent in 2020, recording three interceptions, six passes defended, one forced fumble and 45 tackles. While he isn't the biggest of corners, McCreary (5-11, 187) has excellent coverage skills to run the route and prevent separation. In 2019, he collected 36 tackles, an interception and 11 passes broken up.
WR, Ohio State.
Previously: 12 Avg. 11.8 per 4
Versus Tulsa, Olave did not record any catches. Olave snagged 12 receptions for 126 yards versus Oregon. He previously caught four passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns against Minnesota, showing his excellent speed, route-running and smooth athleticism. On the year, Olave has 16 catches for 243 yards and two touchdowns.
Olave caught 50 passes for 729 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020. The Buckeyes had other good receiving talent with more experience during 2019, but Olave (6-0, 182) became their most dynamic receiving playmaker that season with 49 receptions for 849 yards and 12 touchdowns. He was a big-time point producer and looked like he was just getting started. Olave has quality height and the speed to get downfield.
Previously: 17 Avg. 16 per 4
Karlaftis recorded a couple of tackles and a sack against Notre Dame, plus notched a number of pressures. In 2021, he has eight tackles, a sack, two passes broken up and a forced fumble.
Karlaftis recorded four tackles and two sacks in 2020 but also missed time with a leg injury and with COVID-19. He broke out for the Boilermakers in 2019, totaling 7.5 sacks with 54 tackles in his debut. The 6-foot-4, 265-pounder has the upside to get better. He is a quality athlete with a closing burst, excellent hands, and has a non-stop motor. The relentless Karlaftis could explode in 2021 or 2022.
Previously: 14 Avg. 12.3 per 4
Taking on Nebraska, Rattler completed 24-of-34 for 214 yards, a touchdown and zero interceptions. He ran for another score as well. Rattler had a mixed start to the season against Tulane, completing 30-of-39 passes for 304 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran for a score. It was a close win for the Sooners. In 2021, Rattler has completed 75 percent of his passes for 761 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He has two rushing touchdowns too.
Rattler has a good skill set and could be primed for a huge 2021 season. A first-year starter in 2020, he completed 68 percent of his passes for 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The redshirt freshman also ran for six scores. Rattler (6-1, 205) is not a big quarterback, but he's taller than recent Sooner No. 1-overall picks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
As a passer, Rattler has a quick release and loose, natural arm action. He displays accuracy to all levels of the field and is able to push the ball vertically. Rattler's arm strength is not special, but he gets the job done and is not below average. As Rattler ages and builds his body, his arm strength could improve.
Rattler is a dual-threat quarterback with slippery athleticism to dodge pass rushers, and he can hurt defenses on the ground once he decides to run. When Rattler rolls out of the pocket, he can dangerously attack defenses downfield, plus he has an ad lib ability to make plays off structure. Rattler's playmaking ability from both his arm and legs makes him fit the NFL's current preferred style of quarterback
LB, Penn State.
Previously: 15 Avg. 15 per 4
Taking on Auburn, Smith had 10 tackles and a pass broken up. He recorded eight tackles against Wisconsin. Smith has 25 tackles thus far in 2021.
With Micah Parsons sitting out the 2020 season, Smith flashed for Penn State, showing speed and athleticism. Like Parsons, Smith is a big linebacker who has raw speed. In the shortened nine-game season, Smith collected 37 tackles, two sacks, an interception and pass broken up. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder could be even better in 2021 from his experience as a sophomore.
Previously: 18 Avg. 18 per 4
Davis had an excellent game against Clemson to open the season. He was a beast at the point of attack and led the Bulldogs' tremendous run defense against the Tigers. Davis collected three tackles and a sack, but the numbers don't illustrate how big of a force he was for Georgia. Versus South Carolina, Davis notched two tackles and .5 sacks. He has eight tackles and 1.5 sacks this season.
Some league sources are extremely high on Davis, but I also know some area scouts who were projecting lower than the first round if he had entered the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-6, 340-pound Davis is a mountain of a man with unique speed and athleticism. In 2020, he collected 16 tackles and a one sack. He notched 2.5 sacks and 18 tackles as a sophomore after recording 25 tackles and 1.5 sacks during his freshman season.
Previously: 13 Avg. 8.8 per 4
Ross returned to the field against Georgia in Week 1 and had four receptions for 26 yards. He also drew a couple of critical pass interference penalties. Versus South Carolina State, Ross caught three passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. In Week 3, he had seven receptions for 61 yards. Ross has 14 receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown so far this season.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Ross is a freak of nature with excellent size and serious speed. He was an instant playmaker, totaling 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns on 46 receptions for an average of 21.7 yards per catch in 2018. Ross then totaled 66 receptions for 865 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore.
Things went awry for Ross in Spring 2020 when symptoms similar to a stinger in his neck led to medical tests that revealed Ross had a congenital fusion in his spine. He had surgery for the issue a few months later, and that knocked him out for the 2020 season. There were some questions of whether Ross would ever play football again, but he stated his goal was to return to the field. Ross returned to non-contact aspects of practice in Spring 2021, and in August 2021, Ross announced he was medically cleared to play the 2021 season.
With his excellent height and long frame, Ross offers an immediate size mismatch against cornerbacks. Ross is fast for a big receiver, and he will burn cornerbacks downfield. He is a threat to flat out run away from a defense and not get caught behind thanks to his second gear in the open field. Ross has the upside to be a potential No. 1 receiver in the NFL and a big-time playmaker.
OT, Northern Iowa.
Previously: 16 Avg. 14.5 per 4
Penning helped Northern Iowa almost pull off an upset of Iowa State to open 2021. Northern Iowa has cruised over Sacramento State and St. Thomas since then.
Penning impressed advance scouts and earned a favorable projection entering the 2021 season. The 6-foot-7, 329-pounder has good speed and athleticism to go along with his massive size. Penning has caught the attention of scouts, and he could be a riser during the 2022 NFL Draft process.
Previously: 21 Avg. 20.5 per 4
Versus Arkansas State, McDuffie had two tackles and a pass broken up. In Washington's shocking loss to Montana, McDuffie notched two tackles and two passes defended. McDuffie then played well against Michigan in Week 2, blanketing the Wolverines receivers. In 2021, he has nine tackles and three passes defended.
Washington has been a factory for defensive back talent in recent years, and McDuffie will continue that trend in the 2022 NFL Draft. He broke out in 2019 as a freshman, recording 45 tackles, two forced fumbles, an interception and two passes defended. In the 2020 mini-season, he had 14 tackles and a pick. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound McDuffie is a smooth corner with speed and cover skills.
Previously: 25 Avg. 25.8 per 4
Elam was superb against Alabama, blanketing the Crimson Tide's speed receivers and not allowing any separation. He recorded two tackles and three passes broken up versus the Crimson Tide. In 2021, Elam has eight tackles, three passes broken up and one interception. He played well in 2020, recording 39 tackles, two interceptions and 11 passes broken up. The 6-foot-1, 187-pounder was fantastic as a freshman, flashing serious ball skills even though he had a part-time role.
Elam has good height and length with quickness. He could stand to fill out his frame, but considering he is only a true junior, he the time to do it. With his skill set and upside, he could explode.
Previously: 19 Avg. 19.5 per 4
Gaye had four tackles and a sack against UCLA, but he missed Weeks 2 and 3 with an injury.
The 6-foot-6, 262-pound Gaye has not put together a big season of production, but he has an excellent skill set and could break out in 2021. In 2020, he recorded 32 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. Don't be surprised if he's a breakout star in 2021.
Previously: 22 Avg. 22 per 4
Faalele was solid, but not overly impressive, against Ohio State to open the season. He helped Minnesota drop Miami of Ohio and Colorado in the following weeks.
Faalele is a massive lineman who has surprising quickness and athleticism for such a big-bodied blocker. He was very impressive for Minnesota in 2018 and 2019 before sitting out the 2020 season. It will be interesting to see how the 6-foot-8, 379-pounder performs after the long lay-off.
DE, Virginia Tech.
Previously: 23 Avg. 25 per 4
Taking on North Carolina, Barno had six tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He was held out against West Virginia. The 6-foot-4, 237-pound Barno has some serious speed with a frame to get bigger as he ages in the NFL. He broke out in 2020, recording 6.5 sacks with 43 tackles, two forced fumbles and two passes batted. Barno could be even better in 2021 due to having a year of experience, and NFL advance scouts were impressed with his 2020 tape.
Previously: 24 Avg. 24 per 4
Winfrey had three tackles and .5 sacks against Nebraska. Here is what an area scout texted me about Winfrey during the Nebraska game, Winfrey is a pure three-technique. He'll get better usage of his skill set in the NFL. They play him as a 0 or 4i primarily in their scheme. He's better when they let him tee off and 1-gap. His production gets hit taking so many base reps. They're doing what they need to in order to win. It's our job as scouts to project him properly.
Winfrey has 2.5 sacks and eight tackles on the year.
Winfrey (6-3, 298) came on strong for Oklahoma late in the 2020 season. The junior college product has a really good skill set with the ability to get upfield. In 2020, he totaled 16 tackles, a half sack and three passes batted. Winfrey has a ton of upside to break out in 2021.
CB, Ohio State.
Previously: 20 Avg. 20.8 per 4
Banks has missed the first three games of the season with an injury.
Banks flashed some real cover skills at times during 2020. He recorded 12 tackles, an interception and seven passes defended over the short season, but he played better than the numbers indicate. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has a lot of upside to play even better as he gains experience.
OT, Washington State.
Previously: 26 Avg. 26 per 4
Previously: 27 Avg. 30.5 per 4
S, South Carolina.
Previously: 28 Avg. 28 per 4
Previously: 29 Avg. 27 per 4