That’s a wrap, folks! Week 13 marks the conclusion of the regular season in the SEC, and what a week it was. Alabama survived an early Auburn push, Georgia, Florida and Kentucky handled business and Vanderbilt dominated Tennessee to go bowling. Did I mention the 7-overtime thriller between LSU and Texas A&M?
All my scouting thoughts from a fun final regular season weekend in the SEC:
Deebo is back
It was rough start to the season for South Carolina’s offense and Deebo Samuel, but both finished the year on a high note. Samuel failed to go over 100 yards in any game over the first eight games of the season, but went over the century mark in the last three contests against Florida, Chattanooga and Clemson.
He was incredible against the Tigers, showing his patented brilliance and strength after the catch to finish with 210 yards and three touchdowns on 10 catches. That puts him at 58-849-9 for the season, remarkable considering he was just barely over 400 yards three weeks ago. His confidence in that ankle seems to be growing, and with it his game is returning to dominant form. My heart is happy.
Evolution of Joshua Jacobs
Everyone knows about Damien Harris and Najee Harris in Alabama’s backfield, but Joshua Jacobs is vaulting himself into the conversation as a draftable prospect as well. Alabama seems to have expanded his role a bit lately, and he’s looked good, running hard and finishing behind his pads.
Where Jacobs real values comes is in his ability to stay on the field for all three downs due to his pass protection prowess and abilities as a receiver. He’s averaging over 10 yards per catch as a running back this season, showing excellent ball-tracking ability to reel in a 33-yard score from Tua Tagovailoa in the second half against Auburn.
Jacobs is just a junior, and probably won’t declare given the fact he just cleared 400 yards rushing and his yards per carry numbers are unimpressive, but he’s certainly working his way onto the radar of NFL teams, and is absolutely a draftable back when he does enter the class.
It was a miserable first season for Chad Morris as head coach of the Razorbacks, although there were brief glimpses of offensive life in some games that showed his scheme could work someday with better players. Arkansas didn’t win an SEC game, lost to Colorado State, got destroyed by North Texas and only managed to top Tulsa and Eastern Illinois.
Still, the Razorbacks boast plenty of talent that could be headed to the NFL in a few months. With their season now over, I would look for underclassmen left tackle Colton Jackson (RS Junior) and defensive tackle McTelvin Agim (Junior) to make tough decisions regarding their future in the coming weeks. Same for tight end Cheyenne O’Grady. Guard Hjalte Froholdt is in, and has a chance to be one of the higher-ranked guards in a weak class at the position. Edge Randy Ramsey and linebacker Dre Greenlaw will also be in the upcoming class as seniors, and both will have a shot to get drafted on day three.
Florida pass rush re-emerges
What’s the remedy for a pass rush trying to get their mojo back? Florida State’s offensive line. 5 sacks and 8 tackles-for-loss highlighted the Gators big day defensively, with Jachai Polite managing 2.5 of those sacks and 3.5 tackles-for-loss. That brings Polite’s season totals to 11 sacks and 18 tackles-for-loss, while his running mate Jabari Zuniga checks in at 6.5 and 11, respectively.
Both players project as top 100 picks, and Polite could come off the board as early as Round 1. The Seminoles offensive line is a joke, and the duo destroyed them as such. That’s what you want to see from top players against bad competition.
Don’t forget about Van Jefferson
The son of ex-NFL wide receiver Shawn Jefferson, Van transferred from Ole Miss despite being decently productive there, and he’s been very solid in an worse passing attack at Florida. Jefferson isn’t super athletic or explosive, but he’s sure-handed, a polished route runner and a heady player who gets the most out of his skill set.
His four catches for 92 yards a touchdown included this dazzling route to break a defender’s ankles and get vertical for the score.
Van Jefferson just took that poor DBs soul pic.twitter.com/wAsLF5nIaf
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) November 24, 2018
Emanuel Hall, anyone?
He isn’t Marquise Brown, but for teams that miss out on the Oklahoma speedster early in the draft, they can get a lesser version in the mid-late portion of day two in Missouri’s Emanuel Hall. Yes, Hall has had his issues with drops before, but he’s improved in that area this season and is putting together a productive campaign despite battling through injuries.
Hall’s six catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns against Arkansas shouldn’t have come as any surprised considering he’s averaging almost 22 yards per catch this season and getting open deep on everyone. That’s how he’s made his living through his time at Missouri, and he’s only become more well-rounded when on the field this season.
-Don’t sleep on Florida’s running backs, the only question will be if they decide for the draft early. That decision would seem unlikely to happen this year for junior Lamical Perine, who paced Florida on Saturday with 13 carries for 129 yards to run his season total to 750 yards this season. Perine doesn’t have any special traits, but he’s a capable receiver with good contact balance and lower body strength.
Jordan Scarlett missed last season due to suspension, making him a redshirt junior. I think it’s more likely he declares than Perine after a mildly productive season, but I’m not sure he’s going to get sterling reviews from the committee either. I don’t care; Scarlett runs hard behind his pads, consistently bounces off tacklers and is a good functional athlete. He’ll be a solid pro who probably doesn’t get better by returning to school.
-It’s not often a player goes from being fringe undraftable to being a possible top 100 pick, but that is the direction Auburn defensive tackle Marlon Davidson is headed in this season. Last year he played heavily on the edge, a foolish usage for a 6-foot-2, 285-pound defender. This year Auburn has played him more inside, and Davidson has shown a much better pass rush plan and hand usage to defeat blockers.
At the end of the day, I think Davidson will be a day three prospect, so he probably returns to school as a junior. However, he made life very difficult for Alabama on Saturday, generating consistent pressure. I’m excited to get to his full evaluation.
-Another week, another improved showing from Drew Lock. Yes, it came against Arkansas’ hapless defense, but Lock again showed terrific vertical prowess and improved decision-making to keep scouts intrigued. He’s finished the season strong, but the bigger sample size still screams that he shouldn’t be a Round 1 pick.
-Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur started the game 15-for-15 for 165 yards and a touchdown while leading the Commodores to a 17-0 first half lead over Tennessee. I think he should be getting more love in bad quarterback class, as he has enough tools and traits to be a solid backup in the NFL.
–Anfernee Jennings with the sack-TFL-pass breakup-pick six performance. He’s not a great pass rusher and doesn’t have a ton of upside, but he’ll be a solid mid-round pickup for a team looking for toughness, run defense and some versatility on the edge.
-Best game of Rashard Lawrence’s career? He’s had an impressive, finally-healthy season, but he was on another level against Texas A&M. Lawrence used an impressive snatch-rip combination to get a sack of Kellen Mond in the second half, then burst through the line on first-and-goal from the one to drop Trayveon Williams for a loss to momentarily save the game for LSU. He’s not the first round guy I thought he might be over the summer, but I’d love to have him on day two.
SEC Power Rankings
5. Mississippi State
6. Texas A&M
9. South Carolina
12. Ole Miss