6-Pack Thursday: Player Comps, Good Decisions and Standouts

Photo: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Is this really already the fifth edition of this column at TDN? We are having a ton of fun so far covering college football, the NFL and it's glorious intersection that is the NFL Draft. If you aren't the most informed that you've ever been for the NFL Draft next spring, it won't be our fault!

6-Pack Thursday is my weekly brain dump on six football-related things that involve the NFL, College Football or NFL Draft. After spending the last two weeks offering my predictions on the College Football and NFL seasons, things are more random this week as they will be moving forward.

Let's crack this thing open!

Two Early Player Comps I Like

If you've followed my work over the years, you know that I am new to embracing player comps. In fact, last year I offered a player comp for all 300 of the prospects I wrote scouting reports on. After having our work reviewed by some former NFL scouts and personnel executives, we received feedback from nearly all of them that we should include comps. So we did.

My comps will always be stylistic and physical comps, not career trajectory comps. Please, please, please keep that in mind in our discussions moving forward.

With that out of the way, there are two player comps that I am really digging for 2019 prospects. First is Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke who has first round ability. If you aren't familiar with Lewerke, Kyle Crabbs and Trevor Sikkema have done good work on him already this season. Both Lewerke and Trubisky offer similar builds and win in the same ways. Like Trubisky, Lewerke brings good mobility and the ability to hit throws on the run. Each are capable of hitting throws with accuracy to all levels of the field and are similar in terms of their decision making process.

The other comp I really like is Alabama DT Raekwon Davis to DeForest Buckner. They are similarly slapped together at 6-foot-7 and over 300 pounds with vines for arms. Each dominates with a powerful anchor, length, hand technique and athletic ability that doesn't make sense for their builds. And like Buckner, Davis could be a top-10 draft pick next spring.

Ben Banogu more like Banogood, TBH

Nick Bosa, Clelin Ferrell and Brian Burns are going to dominate the discussion on best EDGE defenders in this year's class but DO NOT sleep on TCU's Ben Banogu. Debuting at No. 38 on my Preliminary Big Board, I like what I see from the senior Horned Frog.

A transfer from Louisiana-Monroe, Banogu racked up 55 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in his first season at TCU. Named the Preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, expectations are high for Banogu in 2018.

While he still has work to do in terms of becoming more nuanced with his hand technique and counters as a pass rusher, he translates wonderfully to a 3-4 outside backer role in the NFL. He's long, quick and powerful with a relentless motor. I really like his mental processing skills to diagnose plays and vision to read the offensive tackles set. As I said, he isn't fully developed with his hands but his foundation of traits to build from is exciting.

Check out the vertical push and ground he gains with his first three steps in this sack last year against Texas.

Bills Made Correct Choice In Starting Peterman

I get it. Your team drafts a QB high in the draft and you want to see him immediately become a field general on Sundays. To the dismay of much of #BillsMafia, Josh Allen is not Buffalo's starting quarterback to start the season.

And he shouldn't be.

I'm a huge proponent of QBs taking their lumps early and falling forward. We saw it with Peyton Manning, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, Andrew Luck and many others. But the Bills aren't quite ready for Allen and Allen isn't ready to play. The dude needs at least a chance to be successful and right now isn't the time.

Buffalo's offensive line is arguably the worst in the NFL and was mangled and embarrassed against opposing teams starters this preseason. There's also probably not one team in the NFL that would trade its current group of pass catchers for the corps Buffalo currently employs. The Bills offense is in the bottom five of the NFL in terms of personnel and exposing Allen in his first NFL action with the current supporting case is a recipe for disaster.

The Bills schedule also must be considered. Opening against top notch defenses in the Ravens, Chargers and Rams in Weeks 1-3 isn't ideal for trotting a rookie QB out to face with a lackluster team around him.

But the most important aspect of why Allen isn't the starter is because Nate Peterman earned the right to be Buffalo's guy. It's popular to clown on Peterman for his five interception starting debut last season against the Chargers but that game doesn't define his career and the way he executed in the preseason made it obvious he should be the Bills starter.

This preseason, Peterman completed 33-of-41 passes (80.5 percent) for 432 yards with 3 TDs and 1 INT for a passer rating of 124.8. Allen was no slouch, completing 24-of-44 passes (54.5 percent) for 210 yards with 2 TDs and no interceptions for a passer rating of 82.6.

Peterman doesn't have a particularly high ceiling as a potential franchise quarterback, but he is the right man for the starting gig in Buffalo. For now, at least.

Virginia Offense, Who Dis?

I'm sort of the "ACC guy" here at TDN. I cover the entire nation but I do have additional responsibilities covering the ACC so I am well-versed on the schools in the conference.

Let me just tell you how boring it was to study Virginia's offense over the summer. There just wasn't a lot of big plays or explosive potential which has been the case in Charlottesville for a while.

To my delight, the Cavs offense showed some signs of excitement in its 42-13 Week 1 win over Richmond. Yes, I get that it's Richmond but thanks to JUCO transfer QB Bryce Perkins, we have something to get excited about regarding Virginia's offense.

A 6-foot-3, 215 pound dual-threat quarterback, Perkins racked up 293 total yards and four TDs in week one. He is an explosive runner and has a live arm.

The best thing about UVA's offense in recent years has been Olamide Zaccheaus, who started his senior campaign with 6 catches for 101 yard and a TD against Richmond. Zaccheaus is coming off a season where he set a new school record for receptions in a season with 85 and is an explosive weapon who thrives in space.

Senior RB Jordan Ellis cashed in a career-high 146 rushing yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns in Week 1. He's been an uninspiring back for three years now but the new-look Cavs offense provided him some favorable opportunities and he made plays.

I put together a quick reel of a dynamic play made by all three of Virginia's new "Big 3". Let's hope this continues so that the Cavs will be a more enjoyable team to watch on offense moving forward.

Best Football Player I Saw This Week

Yea, it's Florida State EDGE Brian Burns. Between Jon Ledyard's Draft Class Heroes on Tuesday and Kyle Crabbs' article breaking down his ridiculous sack on Wednesday, we've covered him extensively this week at TDN. But I can't deny the truth, he was the best football player I watched this week.

I gave consideration to Deionte Thompson, Gerald Willis and Will Grier but it was Burns who could not be blocked in Florida State's opener to Virginia Tech.

Registering six tackles, two for loss and 1.5 sacks, Burns' pass rushing skill set was on full display but it was his improved play as a run defender that I found most impressive (outside of that sack). He's on the lighter side but he's destined to become a top 15 selection next spring. How he wins as a pass rusher perfectly translates to the NFL.

Five Glorious Days Ahead

Football season is officially in full swing and we are blessed with a beautiful five day stretch of fresh games to enjoy. Here's my plan (all times eastern):

  • Thursday - Falcons at Eagles 8:20pm
  • Friday - TCU at SMU 8:00pm
  • Saturday - Mississippi State at Kansas State 12:00pm
  • Saturday - Georgia at South Carolina 3:30pm
  • Saturday - Clemson at Texas A&M 7:00pm
  • Saturday - Michigan State at Arizona State 10:45PM
  • Sunday - Bills at Ravens 1:00pm
  • Sunday - Cowboys at Panthers 4:25pm
  • Sunday - Bears at Packers 8:20pm
  • Monday - Jets at Lions 7:10pm
  • Monday - Rams at Raiders 10:15pm

I won't be traveling to any games this week (two next week) so this is an easy course to map out from the recliner. I can see switching the Sunday 1pm slot to a more preferable game but you have a unique opportunity to catch 11 live football games over the next five days. Take advantage; we yearn for these days and they are here.

We should have plenty to talk about next Thursday.


Written By:

Joe Marino

Chief Administrative Officer

CAO & Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-host of the Draft Dudes podcast. Member of the FWAA.