NEW Monday morning series to get your week started off right! Each Monday I’ll be taking a look at five prospects who elevated their stock with a fine performance during the past weekend’s games, and five who struggled through disappointing showings on Saturday.
1. Isaiah Buggs, IDL, Alabama
Three sacks and 3.5 tackles-for-loss for Buggs highlights a monster performance by Alabama’s unsung defensive line hero. While Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis rightfully steal the headlines, Buggs has been an impressive force all season long, showing power and legitimate moves as a pass rusher.
2. Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
I was not a fan of Allen’s 2017 tape, but he’s clearly improved as a pass rusher this season. After not having a clue a year ago, Allen is starting to get his hips and feet turned to the pocket earlier, which is aiding him as a cornering rusher. His performances have been good enough to get me excited about checking out his 2018 tape this week.
3. D’Andre Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Walker notched two more sacks, two forced fumbles and his second appearance on this list while terrorizing a normally stout Missouri offensive line. His rush plan seems to have developed some, converting speed-to-power and transitioning to half-man at a better rate than he did a year ago.
4. Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
Replacing Saquon Barkley is no easy task, but Sanders is making it look like one anyway. 22 carries for 200 yards and three touchdowns against Illinois was a performance that put Sanders on the map, especially in a weak running back class. He’s averaging seven yards per carry, but perhaps more importantly has been used frequently in the passing game as well, with seven catches already this season.
5. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
Man, oh man, what a performance. Herbert was outstanding against Stanford, shredding the Cardinal defense despite the multitude of failures by his teammates. Oregon lost the game, but Herbert’s arm strength, accuracy and big-time throws in key moments of the contest should be enough to sell evaluators on his stock as QB1.
1. Jake Hanson, C, Oregon
On one hand, Hanson was stellar most of the game on Saturday night, dominating as a run blocker and holding his own in pass protection. On the other hand, Hanson’s two terrible snaps were Oregon’s undoing, thwarting one touchdown opportunity in the red zone and handing Stanford a scoop-and-score touchdown in a goal-to-go situation for the Ducks. He also had a holding penalty late in the game.
2. N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
Pac-12 wide receivers don’t get many big tests, so when they do, it’s important to make the most of them. Going up against Washington’s NFL-studded secondary, Harry managed just five catches for 20 yards and didn’t score. Granted, Manny Wilkins missed him a few times, but I continue to struggle to see explosive elements of Harry’s game, especially in his long speed or short-area quickness.
Let’s just combine 3-4 and call this what it is: the Jake Bentley effect. The South Carolina quarterback is tanking the stock of his receivers, often misfiring or missing them completely in his progressions. Brad Kelly highlighted a few weeks ago how often Samuel got free against Deandre Baker, only for Bentley not to look his way.
Still, the receivers haven’t been brilliant either. Has Samuel made as many stunning high-point catches against tight coverage, or as many wizard-like post-catch plays this season? No. Has Bryan Edwards showed he can separate in his route tree and win vertically with speed on a regular basis? No. Both guys are two of my favorite receivers in the country, and I think their best football is still ahead of them, but their dismal start to the season has been super disappointing.
5. Trevon Hill, EDGE, Virginia Tech
As if the weekend wasn’t bad enough for Virginia Tech after losing by 14 points to Old Dominion, Hill was subsequently dismissed from the team following the loss. He was the Hokies best pass rusher and a player with top 100 NFL potential, but the whispers of character concerns will be hard to ignore at this point. It’ll be interesting to see what the redshirt junior decides to do with his final year of eligibility.