The LSU-Alabama game certainly lived up to the hype. It will go down as one of the greatest games of this decade. LSU was able to pull out the upset victory on the shoulders of some incredible performances from their top draft-eligible players. Alabama also had some great performances despite the tough loss. With 28 draft-eligible (and likely to be drafted this year) prospects, you can bet that this game is the first tape scouts will pop in once the season ends.
This upcoming weekend features a couple more outstanding matchups, pinning top 25 teams against each other in multiple contests. This is another weekend to clear you calendar and settle in front of the TV for the day.
As I mentioned in my last article, this week I’ll be launching a new article series in where I “fix” each NFL team that needs a big-time overhaul. I’ll be starting with the Bengals, as they still haven’t recorded a win and are sitting in a great position for the number 1 pick in the draft.
1) Most prospects from LSU vs Alabama
When you have a game featuring 28 players that could be drafted this year, good performances essentially count double. Therefore, I had to make a bit of an audible in this week’s article.
For LSU, QB Joe Burrow had the game of his life throwing for 393 yards and 3 touchdowns while completing nearly 80% of his passes. Meanwhile, his RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, ran for 103 yards and 3 touchdowns. These were amazing performances against an Alabama defense that features future-NFL players at every position, including multiple potential first rounders. Burrow is being discussed as now higher than Tua and competing for the number one pick. Edwards-Helaire just bumped himself up a round pr two into day 2 conversations.
LSU’s edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson had his breakout game of the season on the biggest of stages. I was starting to worry about Chaisson because this was supposed to be his year and he hadn’t done much up to this point. He dominated Alabama’s offensive line and produced 10 tackles with several for loss. After getting injured in the first game last season and missing the whole year, Chaisson’s draft stock was based on potential rather than the extremely limited tape we had on him. He looks like a top 15 pick after Saturday.
For Alabama, even with the loss and not his best performance, QB Tua Tagovailoa shoed guts plaing in this game with a bad ankle, and even putting together a big comeback late in the game. He had a great connection with WR DeVonta Smith all game, with Smith pulling in 7 catches for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns. He was often matched up against CB Derek Stingley, a true freshman who has often looked like the best CB in college football this year. RB Najee Harris put together a game similar to Edwards-Helaire, rushing for 146 yards and 1 touchdown, while catching 3 passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. Harris had been lost this season but proved he should be a featured back in the NFL.
Alabam’s edge rushers Terrell Lewis and Anfernee Jennings were huge in this game, as was DL Raekwon Davis. Lewis came away with 7 tackles 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery, Jennings had 6 tackles and 2 sacks, and Davis finished with 3 tackles and .5 sacks. The three of them owned LSU’s offensive line and lived in the backfield. S Xavier McKinney may have had the best game out of any defensive prospect in the nation on Saturday. He was all over the field on every play, it was impossible to watch this game without seeing McKinney’s impact or hearing his name called. He filled up the stat sheet with 13 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 blocked kick. McKinney is a chess piece that can be used all over the field.
2) Antoine Winfield Jr., S, Minnesota
Winfield greatly resembled his father (14 seasons in the NFL at CB) in Minnesota’s huge win over Penn State on Saturday. He had 2 interceptions in the first half helping his team jump out to a big lead early. Winfield was all over the field, as he also racked up 11 tackles. A ballhawk with a ton of speed and fluid hips is an asset that teams will be vying for in the top 2 rounds. Expect a big jump leading up to the draft for Winfield.
3) Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU
Gladney has deserved high praise for several weeks now. He’s been tasked with defending the top receiver on every team TCU faces, and this week he shut down Baylor’s top receiver Denzel Mims, despite the big height advantage for Mims. Gladney had 3 pass break ups and 4 tackles. He plays with great technique in coverage which allows him the multiple pass break up games. Gladney hasn’t seen much first round hype so far, but that’s already changing after this game.
1) Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
LSU’s true sophomore Ja’Marr Chase had Trevon Diggs’ number all game. Diggs made some good plays, and then was beat several times by Chase on routes, showing inconsistent play at best. It didn’t help that Diggs missed tackle after tackle, a necessary trait in today’s air-it-out, spread-defenses-out style of play. He’s fringing at the back end of the first round, and it’s possible this game knocks Diggs into the second round.
2) Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Delpit was coming off an ankle injury, but he had a frustrating game, nonetheless. Similar to Diggs, Delpit struggled to make tackles in space, often trying to thump ball carries instead of wrapping up. He was the opposite of Xavier McKinney in that he couldn’t be found anywhere on the field making a play. This is an extremely disappointing season for Delpit after two really strong seasons as a freshman and sophomore. I thought Delpit was going to come out firing this year and compete for the Heisman (even though he’s on defense) and for a top 3 pick (even though safeties are never drafted that high). Safe to say my high expectations are not even close to being met.
3) A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Epenesa had a strip-sack early in the game against Wisconsin on Saturday, but he didn’t do anything after that. He’s been double-teamed for the most part this season and therefore hasn’t produced the stats you would like to see, but eventually Epenesa has to be able to take on those double teams and make plays. He has a huge frame and is supremely athletic, but just doesn’t make an impact most games. I love his upside and potential due to that frame and athleticism, but he has to start producing. I still have Epenesa ranked in my top 20, but he was my 4th overall prospect preseason.
Small-School Prospect Highlight:
De’Montrez Burroughs, WR, South Carolina State
Burroughs reeled in 5 touchdown receptions on Saturday, which instantly put him on the map. No matter who you are, 5 touchdown catches in a single game is a ridiculous feat, even in a video game. He doesn’t have top-end speed, but he plays faster than most defenders he goes up against. Burroughs is great after the catch and his production rate within the entirety of his offense is nearly 80% in some games. Burroughs has a shot at being drafted in the late rounds.
Top Three Games to Watch this Weekend:
1) Georgia vs Auburn – November 16th
Georgia suffered an upset loss to unranked South Carolina last month but had a huge win over Florida two weeks ago. With that win, Georgia has a firm grasp on the SEC East and if they win out, including the SEC Championship, they will make the playoffs. Georgia’s top prospects are quarterback Jake Fromm, running back D’Andre Swift, offensive linemen Andrew Thomas and Solomon Kindley, safeties Richard LeCounte and J.R. Reed, defensive linemen Tyler Clark and Julian Rochester, and wide receiver Demetrius Robertson.
Auburn is a surprising team this year, even with the loss to Florida last month and a really close lost to the number one team in the nation in LSU two weeks ago. They have another tough matchup against Georgia this weekend, but a win could get them back in the top 10. Defensive lineman Derrick Brown is a huge reason for their success, and he is improving every game, establishing himself as the best interior defensive lineman in the 2020 Draft class. Auburn also has top prospects in edge rusher Nick Coe, offensive lineman Price Tega Wanogho, defensive lineman Marlon Davidson, and linebacker K.J. Britt.
2) Minnesota vs Iowa – November 16th
After a huge win over 4th ranked Penn State, Minnesota is having one of the greatest unexpected seasons in college football. They are undefeated and should find themselves in the top 10 when rankings are released tonight. 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.
Iowa is usually a consistent team, but they’ve struggled this season. They almost lost to Iowa State, and then they did lose to Michigan and Penn State in consecutive weeks. They won two straight games before losing a close one against Wisconsin. I’m still not sure what to make of this team, but they have some great draft prospects as usual. 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.
3) Oklahoma vs Baylor – November 16th
Oklahoma has struggled recently, losing to Kansas State and then barely beating Iowa State by 1 point this weekend. They need to win-out for any shot at the conference title or playoffs. QB Jalen Hurts is looking like he could be Oklahoma’s next Heisman winner following Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. It doesn’t look like Hurts will be able to rise up to the number one draft spot as Mayfield and Murray did, but he’s looking like an early second-round draft prospect at this time. Oklahoma also has receiver CeeDee Lamb, linebacker Kenneth Murray, defensive lineman Neville Gallimore, running back Trey Sermon, and tight end Grant Calcaterra.
Along with Minnesota, Baylor is a very surprising team, still undefeated after 9 games. They have a great shot at the conference title and even the playoffs, as long as they stay undefeated. Head Coach Matt Rhule has the magic touch in college football, turning around program after program, and will be on the radar of NFL teams looking for a head coach after this season. Baylor’s top prospects this year are receiver Denzel Mims, defensive lineman Bravvion Roy, linebacker Clayton Johnston, and running back JaMycal Hasty.
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