Monday morning series to get your week started off right! Each week I take 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. Gardner Minshew, QB, Washington State
Buy all of the Gardner Minshews! Washington State has come out of nowhere to put a stranglehold on the Pac-12 North, largely due to the play of Minshew. The quarterback was a mixture of good and ugly against Oregon, but balled out against Stanford’s defense, going 40-50 for 438 yards and three touchdowns.
Minshew’s physical tools appear to check the boxes, and he’s been accurate underneath and over the top in Mike Leach’s offense. In this quarterback class, Minshew is playing his way into a draftable conversation.
2. Kelvin Harmon, WR, N.C. State
I know Syracuse may not be the toughest test given their secondary, but Kelvin Harmon bullied their corners all game long, physically over-powering the opposition while also making plays in the vertical passing game. The contested catches are nothing new, but Harmon also showed that he can track balls over this head and stack corners down the field. This was a big game for his stock in the weak ACC.
3. Matt Colburn, RB, Wake Forest
It’s been a weird year for Colburn, who was on our radar before the season, but has seen his carries cut due to the fine play of junior Cade Carney. Colburn wrestled the spotlight away from the underclassman on Saturday, with 20 rushes for 243 yards and three touchdowns against Louisville. Colburn is quick, shifty and has a bowling-ball style of running that makes him difficult to bring down 1v1 despite being a smaller back. Huge day for his draft stock.
4. Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt
Pinkney has gotten lost in the talk about all the potentially elite tight ends in this class, but he’s putting together quite the season without a ton of help at Vanderbilt. His five catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns were critical in overcoming Arkansas, as Pinkney showed good ball skills and the ability to finish with physicality post-catch.
5. Zack Moss, RB, Utah
26 carries for 211 yards and three touchdowns may have come at the hands of a hapless UCLA defense, but Moss’ physical running style is producing some top-notch play in 2018. He’s averaging six yards a carry and is almost over 1,000 yards already, while also adding ten scores on the ground. In a running back class without a clear-cut no. 1 guy, Moss is making his case.
1. D’Andre Walker, EDGE, Georgia
Georgia couldn’t muster up a pass rush most of the game, and although that shouldn’t all fall on Walker, he is far and away the team’s best rusher. Walker couldn’t get free all game, and concerns about his speed and bend off the edge appear to be fairly founded. Can he sell speed up the arc to get back inside with a counter move? It didn’t appear to be the case on Saturday.
2. Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
Hyatt has been overrated throughout his college career, but against Brian Burns his limitations were even more magnified. Burns consistently beat him outside and inside, countering Hyatt pushing him up the arc by spinning inside on the left tackle and forcing the guard to help. Hyatt consistently struggled to get deep enough in his pass set to take away the edge, watching Burns blow by him over and over again for pressures and near-sacks.
Hyatt may move inside at the NFL level, but this game probably put a nail in the coffin of his hopes to play tackle regularly.
3. Jake Browning, QB, Washington
Technically, Browning’s stock can’t really be down since he’s already undraftable, but because there are still people out there who think he’ll be drafted and even go top 100, the Washington quarterback needs to be addressed in this section.
Browning was benched on Saturday in the Huskies upset loss to Cal, after throwing an interception and looking generally out of sorts throwing downfield. His inability to push the ball due to limited arm strength, as well as how quickly he enters panic mode when under pressure, are major concerns for Browning’s projection.
4. Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa
Stanley has had some better performances lately, but Saturday was a major test against Penn State, and the junior took a big step in the wrong direction. An 18-49 performance for 205 yards and two interceptions is ugly enough in the box score, but the actual product on the field was just as bad. Stanley looked erratic and uncomfortable under pressure, a strong indication that he needs more time at the college level before making a jump to the NFL.
5. Jace Sternberger, TE, Texas A&M
It’s been an awesome season for Sternberger so far, but man he hit a wall on Saturday. Two drops, another tough catch he probably should have come up with and a wrong route that resulted in Jimbo Fisher chewing him out on the sideline summarized his day. Sternberger has great tools and has been a monster post-catch receiver this season, but the consistency and mental aspects of the position are still developing.