So many good things happen on Thursday’s, but none better than a new week in the NFL season kicking off and taking you inside my brain with this weekly piece.
I hope that this column has become a staple for you each week, but just in case you are new, 6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft.
Let’s crack this thing open!
Player 1 and 2 Declared Already
It’s mid-October and the two best prospects, both underclassmen, have already declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. We already knew about Houston DT Ed Oliver who made his intentions known back in March, but welcome Ohio State DE Nick Bosa to the party. I posed this question on Twitter back in May:
Who are you taking right now? #NFLDraft
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) May 19, 2018
I posed the question again last night and it will be interesting to see if things sway in a particular direction. My co-worker Jon Ledyard says you can kick rocks if you are not #TeamBosa. The debate is now real and one that we can enjoy over the next 6 months.
For me it comes down to interior vs exterior pressure. I personally think it’s more impactful and harder to find coming from the interior. With that said, Oliver doesn’t check the size box which will inevitably cause some doubters. As soon as I can get my hands on some tape, I will write a piece which addresses that.
For Bosa, he’s as polished of an edge rusher as you will find. He’s nuanced, powerful, athletic and dominant. With that said, his abdomen injury combined with his brother’s injury history will lead to inevitable concerns about durability whether they should or not.
Don’t over-think this. Bosa and Oliver are the two best prospects in the class. Let the debate commence!
Bryce Hall’s Unbelievable Effort
We aren’t talking enough about Virginia CB Bryce Hall’s unreal effort to tackle Miami RB Travis Homer in the Cavs upset win over the Canes last Saturday. WATCH THIS PLAY!
Love the vision and initial burst here from Miami RB Travis Homer but check out this effort from Virginia CB Bryce Hall. Dude chases him down playing boundary corner on the opposite side of the field. Hall has been one of the most competitive football players I've seen this year. pic.twitter.com/AIwD3kcAfs
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) October 14, 2018
I mean seriously, did he cover like 50 yards to chase down Homer? This is an all-time great individual effort. This tackle took a for sure touchdown off the board and Miami settled for a field goal on the drive. Virginia won by 3.
I noted how competitive Hall was facing and extremely physical receiver in NC State’s Kelvin Harmon a few weeks ago and I continue to be impressed. I’m looking forward to seeing him again live on Saturday against Duke and it might be time to really consider Hall as a possibility for the 2019 Draft Class.
Scouting Porn: NC State vs Clemson
I cannot wait for this contest! For some ridiculous reason, NC State is a 17-point underdog to Clemson which is totally disrespectful, even if the game is in Clemson. I’m not calling this free money like I did last week with Georgia Tech vs Duke (hopefully you claimed some winnings) because I am not sure how good the Wolfpack are, but both teams are undefeated in a critical ACC Coastal Division Showdown. Too bad West Virginia is a coward and won’t reschedule its game with NC State that was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence.
Checkout these 1v1 matchups we get to see in this one:
- The hype is around Clemson’s defensive line but Bradbury might be the best center in the rising class. His lateral mobility and technique is exceptional. His 1v1’s against Wilkins will be a great test of his athletic ability and Lawrence presents challenges for his play strength. Bradbury is having a great year and he has a chance to make a statement on Saturday. As for Prescod, he is a powerful dude but his IQ and movement skills are questionable. How he performs against Wilkins and Lawrence will be defining for his draft stock.
- With D.K. Metcalf out for the season with a neck injury, Harmon is my new favorite to be WR1. His play strength and physicality are blue-chip traits and he has outstanding ball skills. Mullen is having a great season and has a chance to really make noise with a lockdown performance against Harmon. Both are firmly in the first-round conversation.
How will Wolfpack QB Ryan Finley look against a talented and athletic Clemson defense? Will Clemson LB’s Kendall Jospeh and Tre Lamar be able to shut down NC State’s poetic zone rushing attack? Does NC State LB Germaine Pratt have the juice to stack up with Clemson’s dynamic backfield? Can NC State WR Jakobi Meyers dominate the Tigers again? Not to mention Clelin Ferrell, Hunter Renfrow, Mitch Hyatt and Tanner Muse who are all looking to solidify their draft stock in a critical conference game.
It ain’t Alabama-Georgia but NC State-Clemson is a great prospect showcase in its own right.
Updated College Football Predictions
Now that every team in the FBS has played 6 games, it’s time to revisit my predictions for the end of the season.
Updated Playoffs 1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. Ohio State 4. Oregon (All conference winners)
Heisman: Tua Tagovailoa
Big 12 Winner: Oklahoma – It’s hard to beat a team twice in one season and the Sooners get their revenge in the Big 12 Championship Game.
This Week’s Scouting Trip: Virginia at Duke
I’m off to Wallace-Wade Stadium on Saturday for my first trip to Duke this year. It’s one of my favorite venues to take in a game in my area. Both team’s are coming off big ACC wins last week and will look to keep momentum brewing. Here’s who I’m focused on:
- Daniel Jones, QB, Duke – He’s having a great season and there is so much buzz surrounding him as a prospect. I know the NFL loves him.
- Joe Giles-Harris, LB, Duke – Giles-Harris is a big, athletic linebacker with Day 2 potential.
- Ben Humphreys, LB, Duke – Humphreys is limited but a highly productive defender who needs to close out his career strong.
- Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia – A converted CB, Thorhnill is physical player with outstanding ball skills. He has Day 2 upside.
- Olamide Zaccheaus, WR, Virginia – He is an explosive weapon that is re-writing the Cavs record books.
Best Football Player I Saw This Week: Houston DT Ed Oliver
Our staff makes its offensive and defensive prospects of the week picks every Sunday and there is usually some spirited debate as we consider the options. Well, not this week with Oliver racking up 6 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumbles for Houston in its win over East Carolina last Saturday. Oliver was part of a defensive effort that held the Pirates to 41 rushing yards on 31 carries.
Despite committing two and sometimes three blockers to Oliver on some reps, ECU had no answer for Oliver. As soon as I can get my hands on some tape you can expect some in-depth film analysis from me. His blend of quickness, flexibility, strength, leverage and technique leads to consistent disruption. He’s going to be a problem in the NFL and was without a doubt the best football player I saw last week. It was a joy to watch him in person.