This past weekend finally felt like the real kickoff to the College Football Season with the SEC starting play on Saturday. The games did not disappoint, with plenty of thrills, upsets, and comebacks.
Oklahoma was upset by Kansas State for the second straight year; Texas and Texas Tech fought in a shootout that ended with a great comeback for the Longhorns in OT; Miami steamrolled Florida State by 42 points; Pitt edged out Louisville in a gritty game; and Georgia somehow won by 27 after trailing 7-5 at halftime to Arkansas.
Plenty of prospects had incredible days though, boosting their potential draft stocks higher than I’ve seen in just one game. So many players were able to answer questions we’ve had about them for nearly a year now in the first 60 minutes of their seasons.
It seems pretty much like a lock that Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Trey Lance will be the top three quarterbacks in the 2021 Draft, but we’ve been trying to find that fourth guy. Florida’s Kyle Trask and Mississippi State’s K.J. Costello put their hats in the ring to be that guy.
Top Performances in Week 3:
Kyle Trask, QB, Florida
As mentioned above, Trask had a phenomenal day against Ole Miss on Saturday. Throwing for 416 yards and 6 touchdowns on 71.4% completion percentage. He was already being looked at as the 4th best QB prospect in this draft, but he made a huge case to also be a first-round prospect. Trask has a lot of great mechanics and he is excellent at reading defenses. He is a very efficient thrower and excelled in the underneath game. He also displayed on Saturday that he can throw it deep with the best of them. If this keeps up, Trask could be looking at a Heisman Trophy to go along with a first-round pick status.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
The guy who caught most of Trask’s touchdowns on Saturday? Kyle Pitts. He reeled in 8 receptions for 170 yards and 4 touchdowns. He put up plenty of records in this game, but it’s the way that he got all of those touchdowns that is really impressive. His touchdowns came in a variety of ways: a deep ball won with speed; a quick goal line out route; a back shoulder throw where Pitts had to adjust his body in mid-air; and a contested catch in the end-zone where he had to rip the ball away from the defender. Pitts is the real deal and is the current favorite to be the top tight end in this draft class. When it’s all said and done, I imagine we’ll be hearing his name called in the first round.
Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
Despite the loss to Florida, Moore had a monster performance, catching 10 passes for an incredible 227 yards. He is a big play machine, his route running ability and speed gaining him separation deep, plus his explosiveness after the catch. Moore was a highly-coveted 5-star recruit out of high school who all of SEC wanted. He struggled to get onto the field in 2018 at Ole Miss due to a lot of great receivers ahead of him, but in his first season in 2019 as the top guy, he caught 67 passes for 850 yards and 6 touchdowns. Moore’s first game in 2019 leads to more than a quarter of his total yards last year. Also the return specialist for Ole Miss, Moore is a versatile and electric playmaker.
Jabril Cox, LB, LSU
Cox spent the first part of his college career at North Dakota State University, winning three FCS Championships and dominating that playing level. He decided to pass on the NFL Draft in 2020 and play in a higher conference this season to prove that he had the abilities to play with the best players in the nation. He found a new home at LSU and he certainly proved in his first game with LSU that he belongs with the best. Early in the second quarter, Cox got an interception and returned it for a touchdown. All questions of him only being great against lower competition seemed to disappear after that play. Aside from the pick-six, Cox ended the game with 6 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 tackle-for-loss. He is currently a mid to late Day Two prospect, but if he keeps this play up, or builds upon it, I think it’s fair to say Cox can end up being a top 50 pick.
K.J. Costello, QB, Mississippi State
As mentioned above, Costello out his name in the ring for the 4th QB prospect in this class if he keeps things up. Costello transferred from Stanford to Mississippi State this year because he wanted to be in a system that showed his talents more. And did he find one. New Mississippi State Head Coach Mike Leach came from Washington State, where he seemingly perfected the Air Raid offensive system (as the name suggests, the system works off of a lot of passing attempts). In Costello’s first game in this system and in the SEC, he threw for 36 completions on 60 attempts for 623 yards and 5 touchdowns, breaking the SEC single-game passing yards record. While we obviously don’t evaluate draft prospects by stats alone, this many pass attempts every game will give us a great look at who Costello really is as a quarterback. He proved on Saturday what we thought about him: he’s accurate, has great arm mechanics, and can pick apart a defense whit this eyes. If he continues this production, his stats will align with his abilities as a pro prospect, and can result in him being a top 50 pick in the upcoming draft.
Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State
Another beneficiary of Leach’s Air Raid offense, Hill blew up this weekend, but more through the air than on the ground for a running back. Hill had 7 carries for 34 yards, but also had 8 catches for 158 yards and one receiving touchdown. His touchdown came on a great play, from both Hill and from Leach’s mind; on the first play of a drive from their own 25 yard line, Hill ran a wheel route to the sideline, Costello hit his wide open receiver, and Hill burst down the sideline, breaking one tackle and outrunning the rest of the defense, for the 75 yard score. Hill is an offensive weapon, bottom line. Despite his stat line from this week, Hill can run the ball just as well as he can catch it. He’s great in open space and he has great vision. He reminds me of a taller Tarik Cohen, or a better receiver than Antonio Gibson from the 2020 NFL Draft. It seems apparent to me that we’ll see Hill be drafted within the top 100 picks in this upcoming draft.
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Waddle is almost a guarantee to be a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he started to make a case to be the first WR to be drafted this year. Waddle caught 8 passes for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is a very dangerous receiver, with elite speed and great after the catch abilities. Given a little bit of space, Waddle can make a small catch into a huge gain. He is also the returner for Alabama, displaying his explosiveness even more. Waddle will be a first-round pick, but he could unseat LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase for the number one receiver spot.