With the return of the MAC and Pac-12, it finally feels like the college football season has started despite it being 10 weeks old. While overall it has been a strange year, the value in playing games has never been more apparent. As the opportunities continue to come and go for prospects to grab the attention of NFL evaluators, seeing new names emerge while others prove they have taken a step forward provides a sense of normalcy to the NFL draft scouting process. These five prospects helped their cause this weekend.
D’Eriq King, QB, Miami
It remains to be seen how the NFL perceives King’s skill set and what type of opportunity he will get to play quarterback at the next level, but performances like the one he had in Miami’s 44-41 win over NC State surely help his cause. Facing a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, King engineered three consecutive scoring drives to put Miami ahead by three before running out the clock. For the game, King completed 31-of-41 passes for 430 yards and tied a career-high with five passing touchdowns. King’s dual-threat ability was on display as he led the Hurricanes in rushing with 105 yards on 15 carries.
Friday night’s win over the Wolfpack was the perfect showcase of everything King brings to the table in terms of passing, rushing, and leadership. King made throws to all levels of the field, dicing up the NC State secondary while delivering accurate throws under pressure.
Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson
Clemson’s 36-game regular-season winning streak was snapped at the hands of Notre Dame on Saturday, but the loss did highlight the skill set of senior wide receiver Cornell Powell. With quarterback Trevor Lawrence out for the game, backup DJ Uiagalelei started his second consecutive game and with that has come the emergence of Powell, who has been featured very little since he first saw the field for the Tigers in 2016.
After hauling in 11 passes for 105 yards in last week’s win over Boston College, Powell bested that performance with six catches on seven targets for 161 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame. With so few people aware of Powell, many assumed he was just that next superstar Clemson receiver, but the truth is his time with the program includes catching passes from Deshaun Watson dating back to 2016. Powell showed dynamic playmaking ability down the field and with the ball in his hands after the catch. He’s earned the chance to have more opportunities moving forward and he certainly grabbed the attention of NFL evaluators with his dominance on Saturday.
Mohamed Ibrahim, RB, Minnesota
Kyle Crabbs had a twinkle in his eye when presenting Ibrahim to the TDN Scouting staff during our summer meetings and he hasn't disappointed. Minnesota collected its first win of the season on Saturday, topping Illinois 41-14. Ibrahim logged his second consecutive four-touchdown performance and 200-yard outing as he carried the football 30 times for 224 yards. He also added two receptions for 31 yards. In just three games in 2020, Ibrahim has 10 rushing touchdowns, eclipsing his previous season-high of nine in 2018.
The NFL has proven its ability to find productive backs in the middle rounds of the draft and Ibrahim is solidifying his status as that type of prospect. Ibrahim’s vision and contact balance are excellent traits. His ability to break tackles, make defenders miss, and compile yards after contact were on full display against Illinois.
Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
Highlighting a different UNC offensive weapon in this column every week is a tradition like no other, but they simply keep performing at a level that makes it impossible to overlook. This week the hero for the Tar Heels’ offense was running back Javonte Williams, who was unstoppable against Duke. In North Carolina’s 56-24 rout of Duke, Williams rushed the ball 12 times for 151 yards with three rushing touchdowns while adding four catches for 24 yards and a touchdown as a receiver.
Williams has been a wizard at forcing missed tackles, racking up yards after contact, and collecting big plays. In a running back class that needed prospects to emerge, Williams has done just that as he continues to produce at a high level in 2020.
Patrick Johnson, EDGE, Tulane
In search of a sleeper pass-rusher? Look no further than Johnson, who racked up six tackles, three sacks, three tackles for loss, a pass breakup, two quarterback hurries, and two forced fumbles in Tulane’s 38-21 win over East Carolina on Saturday.
Johnson caught my eye during summer scouting and he’s had a productive season but he needed a signature outing which he delivered against the Pirates. Johnson’s blend of burst, flexibility, power, and urgency makes him a versatile prospect that can defend the run, rush the passer, and play in coverage. For a 3-4 team looking to add an outside linebacker, Johnson brings a lot to the table and the splash plays he compiled on Saturday should move the needle for his draft stock.