If you’re a fan of offense, you had quite the Friday night watching Oklahoma at West Virginia. With the Sooners win, they will play Texas for the Big 12 Championship in Dallas. Oklahoma has a chance to beat every team they played this season with a win, and potentially receive a berth in the College Football Playoff.
But there was other action in the Big 12 this weekend, too. Let’s look into my scouting takeaways from the last week of the regular season:
The star of the offensive showdown between Oklahoma and WVU was Sooners’ wide receiver Marquise Brown. The diminutive Brown found himself behind the WVU secondary all night, catching two deep touchdowns en route to 243 yards. Brown is showing that he is more than just speed, as he’s improving on the craftiness of his vertical routes. With great ability post-catch and the speed the NFL covets, Brown is almost guaranteed to be in the top 10 wide receivers for the 2019 NFL Draft.
David Sills V and Gary Jennings Jr.
I’ve always been lukewarm on David Sills V as a prospect, but he continues to uses his plus body control to make touchdown receptions. While I still have questions about his overall route running and body athleticism, eventually his ability to adjust and high point should be the main portion of his evaluation.
The “other” West Virginia wide receiver had himself a massive game as well, as Jennings Jr. basically matched Marquise Brown blow-for-blow. Jennings has excellent size for the position, but the fluidity he runs with is what I like most about him. The Senior has easily put together draftable tape this season.
Will Grier had one of the most productive games of his career, posting 539 yards and 4 touchdowns. When he is cooking, there are long stretches of him throwing with touch, making quick reads and decisions, driving the ball up the seam, and placing it away from defensive backs. Too often, though, we still see some technical issues with Grier as he drifts in the pocket and doesn’t throw with a sound base.
Grier is in the running for top senior quarterback prospect.
Kyler Murray Evaluation
Kyler Murray was drafted in the top 10 of the MLB Draft and signed a massive signing bonus. While it’s wildly unlikely that he chooses to go play football after this season, it’s fun to think about what his NFL evaluation could look like.
With blazing speed and a big arm, he has some raw tools to work with. He can throw from the pocket with his arm strength, drop the ball in a bucket, and escape and pick up chunks of yards in a flash. However, his accuracy can come and go in the intermediate portions of the field and his lack of size can hurt him on occasion. It’s a shame we won’t be able to see what an innovative offensive coordinator could come up with for Kyler after 2018.
Kris Boyd Shines
One on particular third quarter Kansas drive, Texas cornerback Kris Boyd made multiple plays in coverage. He matched a deep post well, tracking the wide receivers back hip and playing his hands as the ball arrived. Boyd would break up a screen pass with some aggressiveness in press coverage, then knock away a slant route on a fourth down play.
Boyd is a smooth athlete with NFL traits, but has been beaten over the top a few times this season. In his defense, he has matched deep routes well, but has been beaten with throws over the receivers’ outside shoulder. His coverage skills are there, and if can show the ball skills he displayed against the Jayhawks on a more consistent basis, he will be highly coveted by the NFL.
Baylor is Bowl-Eligible
Baylor Head Coach Matt Rhule should be commended for the work he’s done with that program since arriving in Waco. Not only was the image of the school rightfully tarnished, but the youth on the football team led to a 1-11 season in Rhule’s first year. They’ve improved to 6-6 with a win over Texas Tech on Saturday, and Rhule will be a candidate for bigger jobs this offseason.
Among the standouts from the game was Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims. I’ve been bullish on his evaluation all season, and he added two more touchdowns in the regular season finale. His combination of athleticism and ball skills will make him a tough cover for most defensive backs, and he will be highly ranked if he decides to declare.
Speaking of Excellent Coaches
Iowa State is going to finish the regular season ranked under coach Matt Campbell after a win against Kansas State. The two biggest weapons for the Cyclones offense were the gas for the engine on Saturday, as David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler both had big games.
Montgomery is the potential RB1 of the class, and his thickness and contact balance had him running through the Kansas State defense to the tune of 149 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Butler added 5 receptions for 144 yards and 1 touchdown, a ridiculous 28.8 yards per catch. One of the leaders in that category in the country, Butler is a dynamic threat downfield and above the rim. The best part about his game is the ability to stay upright after making high point receptions, and he could be a big play machine at the next level.
Despite some hiccups and shootouts that the Longhorns have found themselves in, the Texas defense continued it’s mostly impressive season. It’s difficult to prevent points in the Big 12, and they lowered their points allowed per game to 25.0, good for second in the conference. Texas forced 8 tackles for loss and a turnover on Saturday.
Brandon Jones started off the game hot, accumulating 5 tackles and 2 tackles for loss in the first quarter. I’ve highlighted his ability to run the alley and make plays as a downhill tackler. If he can show any signs of improved ball skills moving forward, his athleticism could warrant a look on Day 2 of the NFL Draft. Unfortunately for Jones, he was knocked out of the game in the second quarter returning a punt.
Charles Omenihu made his presence felt along the Texas defensive line all day with 2 tackles for loss. Omenihu has already accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl after an impressive season that has seen him rack up 14.5 tackles for a loss and 8 sacks. In a loaded defensive line class, Omenihu has tantalizing tools and has increased his production this season against the run and the pass. With his ability to beat reach blocks and stack and shed offensive lineman, Omenihu is a relentless disruptor.
When Texas was on offense, Collin Johnson proved the progression he has made as a wide receiver this season. Entering the season, Johnson’s positive traits included beating press coverage, an expanded catch radius, and as a blocker. He has shown improvements in his route running, threatening leverage in his stems and improved ability out of breaks. The slight, small changes in his route paths against zone coverage has shown an increased mental capacity this season.
On his first-half touchdown reception, Johnson beat press coverage and stacked the cornerback. Able to track the ball over his shoulder and shake off the defensive back, he remained standing in the endzone. Johnson is rapidly becoming a complete wide receiver prospect with his improved play as a route runner and ball carrier.
Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. wrapped up his career on Senior Day with 14 tackles, now with consecutive seasons leading the Big 12 in tackles. A legitimate ball magnet, Dineen Jr. is a traditional gap plugger who plays his game at the line of scrimmage. A hometown kid, Fox Sports did a piece about his positive off the field influences as well.
I have questions about Dineen’s ability as a pass defender and in space, so his game isn’t perfect for the current version of the NFL. However, he will likely find a role as a one or two down player because of how he processes the run game. Additionally, his athleticism likely bodes well for special teams at the next level. Expect him to be a favorite of NFL general managers and carve out a place on an NFL roster.
Daniel Wise is Kansas’ best NFL prospect, and the defensive tackle continued to prove that on his Senior Day. Wise has a ton of power and violence in his hands, and he battles hard on every snap. He added a tackle for loss in the first-half, and followed it up with a second-half sack where he bended around Texas left tackle Calvin Anderson. For a big defensive tackle who thrives against the run, he showed a nice ability to lower his center of gravity and limit his surface area on the sack.
Kansas State running back Alex Barnes added 184 yards on the ground against Iowa State’s defense. Barnes stands 6’1 and 227 pounds with NFL athleticism. Though his production has never quite matched his potential, there are definitely NFL-level tools to work with in Barnes. He wrapped up his redshirt junior season with 1,355 rushing yards.