The best match-up of the year is this Saturday with number 1 LSU against number 2 Alabama. This will feel like a playoff game and the winner will essentially be guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Naturally the game is filled with draft prospects, so clear your calendar on Saturday between 3:30 ET and 6:30 ET.
Senior Bowl invites went in the mail yesterday so keep an eye this week on who accepts their invites. The Senior Bowl is the big step between the end of the season and the Combine weekend and is vitally important to all prospects. There have been guys like Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield, both Josh Allen’s, Carson Wentz, Terry McLaurin, and Oshane Ximines that recently have seen their stock rise a ton after attending the Senior Bowl.
1) Josh Uche, EDGE, Michigan
Uche is a prospect I’ve had circled for a few weeks now but haven’t gotten around to writing about him because of other stellar performances. But Uche has been on an absolute tear the past month and that continued in a big way on Saturday. He dominated in the trenches coming away with 3 tackles, 2 sacks and multiple quarterback hurries. Uche made big plays on crucial third down situations, helping Michigan to allow only 7 points. This is a loaded EDGE class but Uche is making a play at the first-round. It’s still relatively early, but Uche is looking like a better prospect than his former teammates and top 40 draft picks in 2019 in Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich.
2) A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College
Have a day, A.J. Dillon. He exploded against Syracuse on Saturday for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns on 35 attempts. A few weeks ago, he had 34 rush attempts for 223 yards and 3 touchdowns. His lowest carries per game came in a blowout loss against Clemson with 19 attempts where Boston College had to throw the ball a lot to catch up. Dillon has proven he is a workhorse running back who can carry the load for an offense. At 6’ and 250 pounds, Dillon can run through and over a defense, but he’s also deceptively agile and he has enough speed to where it’s not a liability. Dillon could be yet another third round running back that turns out to be a star in the NFL.
3) Amari Henderson, CB, Wake Forest
Wake Forest is having a stellar season and Henderson is a big reason for that. He had 2 interceptions in their win on Saturday, bringing him to 4 interceptions on the year. He also had 4 pass break-ups in the game, making that 9 PBUs this season. Henderson was all over the year and could’ve turned two of those PBUs into two more interceptions. He’s been locking down receivers and playing with a ton of confidence. We should see him at the Senior Bowl in January and that will push his draft stock up even more.
1) Ke’Shawn Vaughn, RB, Vanderbilt
I really thought this was going to be Vaughn’s breakout year that really put him on the map and in top 2 round talks. He has severely disappointed and his latest performance resulted in 87 yards on 20 attempts with zero touchdowns in a 28-7 loss against South Carolina. Vaughn struggled to get anything going, even in short-yardage situations. He’s only averaging 5.2 yards per game this season, but two games against inferior competition he averaged 8.7 yards per game. Vaughn only has 6 touchdowns in 8 games this year, way below where a legitimate draft prospect running back should be having faced the likes of UNLV and Northern Illinois.
2) Adrian Martinez, QB, Nebraska
Martinez and Nebraska are having as rough a season as anyone could’ve predicted, probably even worse. They’re on similar paths, which makes sense since Martinez is Nebraska’s quarterback. Both were supposed to be much improved this year in Scott Frost’s second year as head coach. Both were supposed to compete at the top of the nation. And yet both are among college football’s biggest disappointments of the 2019 season. Martinez looks lost on the field and is making terrible decisions one after the other. Struggling to read coverages in the college game will not translate well to the NFL.
3) Lamical Perine, RB, Florida
Perine shows flashes in his game that are promising, but they’re only just flashes. He only had 7 carries on Saturday resulting in 31 yards and zero touchdowns. Perine is averaging a measly 4.6 yards per carry this year, down from 6.2 just a year ago. He only has 4 touchdowns this season, and hasn’t had a rushing touchdown since October 5th, 4 games ago. He certainly doesn’t look like he can handle a full workload in the NFL, and his best bet seems like a late-round pick working in a committee or backing up a workhorse running back.
Small-School Prospect Highlight:
Antoine Custer Jr., RB, Eastern Washington
Custer has been able to do it all for Eastern Washington this season in whatever capacity they ask of him. He’s been efficient with limited carries, but he’s also been able to handle a big workload, such as 28 carries for 184 yards against Jacksonville State earlier this season. On Saturday, Custer had 139 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 13 attempts. He is a smaller back at 5’9” but he has the agility, speed, and vision that NFL teams can work with if given a chance in the late rounds.
Top Three Games to Watch this Weekend:
1) LSU vs Alabama – November 9th
LSU has taken the number one spot in the nation from Alabama, and that will immediately be tested against who else, Alabama. In an odd move in which we do not have many details, star prospect LB Michael Divinty Jr. has left the LSU team as of yesterday. Always being known as a defensive dominant team, LSU’s offense, led by quarterback Joe Burrow, has been lighting up the scoreboard. Besides Burrow, LSU is led by safety Grant Delpit, edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson, cornerback Kristian Fulton, defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence, receiver Justin Jefferson, and linebacker Jacob Phillips.
Alabama has had another easy schedule this season and they will finally face a true test and we will know where they stand after this game. Tua Tagovailoa appears to be healthy enough to start this game after missing Alabama’s last game with an ankle injury. He is still in Heisman and number one overall pick in the draft conversations. Wide receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, and DeVonta Smith are an unfair trio for any receiving group. This defense is still top-notch with defensive lineman Raekwon Davis, cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Shyheim Carter, edge rushers Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Lewis, and safety Xavier McKinney. The offense, besides Tagovailoa and the receiver trio, has offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood and running back Najee Harris.
2) Iowa vs Wisconsin – November 9th
Iowa is usually a consistent team, but they’ve struggled some this season. They almost lost to Iowa State, and then they did lose to Michigan and Penn State in consecutive weeks. This is a prove-it game for Iowa, a win here will go a long way with this program. Iowa has several potential first round players in the trenches in edge rusher A.J. Epenesa and offensive linemen Tristan Wirfs and Alaric Jackson. Iowa also has quarterback Nate Stanley and cornerback Michael Ojemudia.
Wisconsin was on track to potentially make the playoffs if they were to beat Ohio State two weeks ago. Instead they lost to a 2-4 Illinois team and then got destroyed by Ohio State. Wisconsin’s top prospect is running back Jonathan Taylor, who was a Heisman candidate as a true freshman and now he is finally eligible for the draft. Wisconsin also has offensive linemen Tyler Biadasz and David Moorman, linebackers Zack Baun and Chris Orr, and receiver A.J. Taylor.
3) Penn State vs Minnesota – November 9th
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, including Michigan. They can find themselves in the playoffs if they win-out. They’re led by edge rusher Yetur Gross-Matos, wide receiver K.J. Hamler, linebacker Cam Brown, defensive lineman Robert Windsor, and offensive lineman Steven Gonzalez.
Speaking of not having high hopes for a team, Minnesota is having one of the greatest unexpected seasons in college football. They are undefeated and beating Penn State this week should launch them in the top 10. Wide receiver Tyler Johnson is a top 50 talent in this draft class, and he is a big reason for Minnesota’s success. Minnesota is also led by safety Antoine Winfield Jr., linebacker Kamal Martin, edge rusher Carter Coughlin, and cornerback Chris Williamson.