It was a wild weekend of college football filled with rivalry games that lived up to the hype. With so many prospects facing equal competition, we are able to take a lot of these performances at face value.
It’s time to seriously talk about LSU QB Joe Burrow as a first-round prospect. In my mock draft on Friday, I slated Burrow to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at number 10 overall. He faced the best defense in the SEC on Saturday in Florida and carved them up. Burrow’s teammates and fellow 2020 draft classmates Grant Delpit and K’Lavon Chaisson have struggled to start this season but had huge bounce-back games.
One last item I want to highlight that I couldn’t fit into my “Risers” category is the play of a couple of defensive linemen on Saturday. Oklahoma’s Neville Galliman and South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw were big reasons their teams won this weekend. They both plug the middle and get to the quarterback, disrupting many more plays than the box score will show.
On a more somber not, just this past weekend two players among the top of the 2020 draft class suffered season-ending injuries in Virginia CB Bryce Hall and Oregon TE Jacob Breeland. Their recovery timelines are still undetermined so it is unclear if they will still declare for the draft or try to go back to school next year.
I’ll be releasing an updated Big Board and new Mock Draft over the next couple weeks now that we have 7 weeks of college football film under our belts. In case you missed it, I posted my first mock draft of the year on Friday.
1) CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
The Red River Showdown didn’t disappoint and with the eyes of most of the college football game upon him, CeeDee Lamb had a memorable performance. He caught 10 passes for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lamb is making a strong push to be considered a top-2 receiver and top-10 overall prospect in this class. His combination of size, athleticism, and creativity after the catch should make him highly appealing to any team selecting in the first 15 picks.
2) Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
This tight end class is murky at best, just waiting for someone to grab the top spot. Hopkins made his case on Saturday with 10 catches for 140 yards against Maryland. He’s a catch-first TE who can work down the middle of the field on deep routes. With Purdue’s star WR Rondale Moore out with an injury, Purdue leaned heavily on Hopkins and it paid off. Hopkins is a prototypical TE in today’s NFL and looks like the number one TE in this draft class.
3) Kenneth Murray Jr., LB, Oklahoma
If you watched Oklahoma and Texas on Saturday, you definitely saw Kenneth Murray Jr. He flew around the field racking up tackles, several for a loss. His speed and instincts were on display, he recognized and dissected screens, running backs running flat routes, and outside runs quickly and efficiently. He got to the outside and made his tackles limiting any type of running back production. The Big 12 isn’t known for its defense, but Murray is a star. His tape right now looks like he’ll work himself into the first round. Like Hopkins, Murray is prototypical for the NFL at his respective position.
1) Steven Montez, QB, Colorado
Montez had put together some nice games early in the season that proved he was a legitimate mid-round QB prospect. Then he was dismantled by the Oregon defense on Friday night. He threw for only 131 yards on 34 attempts, a 56% completion percentage, and 4 interceptions with zero touchdowns. Just three weeks ago, Montez carved up Arizona State’s defense to the tune of 337 yards, a 77% completion percentage, 3 touchdowns, and zero interceptions and looked to be on the rise. Montez is inconsistent at best, which does not spell out a franchise QB in the NFL.
2) Zach Shackleford, OC, Texas
At the top of the article I mentioned Oklahoma’s defensive lineman Neville Galliman having a great day against Texas. Well the main guy responsible for blocking him was Zach Shackleford. I like Shackleford as a second or third round prospect that could be a starter in a year or two. But this game is one scouts will be keying in on in his evaluation. He was getting blown off the ball, his feet weren’t set, Galliman was able to rip his hands off of him. The two biggest features for an offensive lineman draft prospect are quick feet and strong hands, and Shackleford didn’t have them on Saturday.
3) Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia
This is a game I will watch the most from Fromm. He threw 3 interceptions and just didn’t look right. His first interception was with pressure in his face, he threw off his back foot and threw a floating ball. The second interception was a miscommunication with his receiver. The third interception was right off the hands of his receiver, which should have been caught. I have remained adamant about Fromm being my top QB in this class, ahead of Tua, but this game highlighted Fromm’s biggest concern: lack of arm strength. You can dismiss the second and third interceptions, but the first one is Fromm’s biggest fear come to life. I’m not yet ready to move Fromm behind Tua, but this game is a huge concern.
Small-School Prospect Highlight:
Kristian Wilkerson, WR, Southeast Missouri
Wilkerson is surprisingly quick for his size of 6’1” and 214 pounds. He’s been dominating at the FCS level throughout his college career. Wilkerson beats defenders off the ball with quick feet and finishes his routes well. He’s physical at the point of the catch and makes catches in heavy traffic. On Saturday, Wilkerson finished the game with 5 catches for 122 yards and 1 touchdown. NFL teams will be looking at Wilkerson in the late rounds of this year’s draft.
Top Three Games to Watch This Week:
1) Michigan vs Penn State – October 19th
Michigan has had a rough season so far, barely managing a win in overtime against Army and then getting dominated by Wisconsin. Michigan can’t suffer another loss for not only their playoff hopes, but also their future hopes beyond this season. They had a bounce-back game against Iowa, but it was an ugly 10-3 win. Michigan’s prospects for 2020 are receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black, cornerback Lavert Hill, offensive linemen Ben Bredeson and Jon Runyan, linebacker Josh Uche, and quarterback Shea Patterson.
Most people didn’t have that high of hopes after losing QB Trace McSorely and RB Miles Sanders to the draft and standout WR Juwan Johnson to a grad transfer. But so far in 2019, they’ve been handling every team they’ve faced so far. Michigan will be their biggest test to date, but this is a home game for Penn State. They’re led by edge Yetur Gross-Matos, wide receiver K.J. Hamler, linebacker Cam Brown, defensive lineman Robert Windsor, and offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez.
2) Oregon vs Washington – October 19th
Oregon is coming off a dismantling of a good Colorado team to the score of 41-3. Quarterback Justin Herbert is my 3rd ranked QB in the 2020 draft class and I recently mocked him to the Tennessee Titans with the 9th overall pick. Oregon is facing a big test here against fellow top-25 ranked PAC 12 team in Washington. Besides Herbert, Oregon’s top prospects are offensive linemen Calvin Throckmorton, Shane Lemieux, and Jake Hanson, linebacker Troy Dye, wide receiver Juwan Johnson, and defensive lineman Jordan Scott.
Washington has had a season filled with ups and downs, losing to Cal by one, and then beating ranked teams in USC and Arizona. Whoever wins this game, will have a huge leg up on the PAC 12 North title race. Washington features offensive linemen Trey Adams and Nick Harris, quarterback Jacob Eason, tight end Hunter Bryant, cornerback Myles Bryant, and wide receiver Aaron Fuller.
3) Florida vs South Carolina – October 19th
One team is coming off a disappointing loss, the other a hug upset victory. Unfortunately for Florida, they’re the former. After starting off the season red-hot at 5-0 and having just beaten a top-10 team in Auburn, Florida was hit with reality in Death Valley against LSU on Saturday night. Florida’s top 2020 NFL Draft prospects are cornerback C.J. Henderson, edge rushers Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard, running back Lamical Perine, linebacker David Reese II, and defensive lineman Tedarrell Slaton.
South Carolina is coming off their biggest win in 3 years after beating number 3 Georgia in double overtime. South Carolina is sitting at 3-3 on the season and are unranked, but their confidence level and playing at home creates a tougher match-up for Florida than just what’s on paper. South Carolina is led by defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw, wide receiver Bryan Edwards, linebacker T.J. Brunson, and running back Tavien Feaster.