College Football Week 5: Prospect Battles To Watch

Photo: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we went two for three (I don't really know by what method we decide how well we did; please don't ask me). I didn't exactly expect an unbelievable upset, but Old Dominion EDGE Oshane Ximines showed out against his Power 5 opponent as the Monarchs shocked the Hokies; not so for Oregon EDGE Jalen Jelks, who got bullied by Stanford size for the second season in a row.

The Sun Devils threw the ball like, eight times against the Huskies -- and lost! (What can we learn there?) Not much to report for N'Keal Harry or Byron Murphy III.

Let's get it poppin'!

Ole Miss WR #14 D.K. Metcalf v. LSU CB #29 Greedy Williams


Okay, so here's the issue. I became very excited at the prospect of watching WR1 and CB1 (read that again!) square off -- but then notorious party pooper Jon Ledyard informed me that Greedy Williams lines up almost exclusively as the LCB in the LSU defense, and DaMarkus Lodge lines up exclusively on the right for the Ole Miss offense.

Which sucks.

However, the corner opposite Greedy and likely to square up against D.K. Metcalf is junior Kristian Fulton. Fulton lacks deep speed and will likely struggle to handle Metcalf on the outside.

LSU has moved Greedy Williams around the formation more this season than they did last year, which is a good sign for the potential WR1/CB1 slugfest -- if Metcalf puts the work on Fulton, the Tigers may be forced into a switch. We can only hope.

As it currently stands, DaMarkus Lodge has a crazy opportunity here. A H/W/S animal, Lodge pops off of Ole Miss tape because of the threat he poses down the field. Lodge ran away from Greedy more than a few times when they played in 2017 -- but he needs to clean up the drops that plague his tape, for that separation to translate into NFL production.

For Greedy, the name of the game will be his patience and timing when dealing with Lodge/Metcalf down the field. Greedy can get too aggressive in his press technique -- as many college corners do -- which puts him in a trail position and makes him late to the football when it's in the air. By staying controlled in his press position, Greedy can get his head around quicker and make more plays on the football.

Also watch: Ole Miss TE #9 Dawson Knox v. LSU S #9 Grant Delpit

Notre Dame iDL #99 Jerry Tillery v. Stanford iOL #63 Nate Herbig

This is our second time in two weeks highlighting a Stanford offensive lineman -- but hey! It's perennially one of the best lines in the country, and after a bit of a youth takeover last season, it's rife with Draft-eligible players. And the biggest name -- and the biggest boy -- is Nate Herbig.

Herbig started at right guard for the Cardinal as a true freshman in 2016 (only the second freshman starting OL for Stanford this century); in 2017, he was a first-team Pac-12 guard. The national media loves him; the pedigree is there.

However, when I evaluated his 2017 tape in the summer, I was left wanting.

At a school-listed THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY POUNDS, Herbig is a big boy -- 336 is the number The Draft Network uses for his play weight, but that size and power show up on Herbig's film regardless. He's a tough opponent in pass protection, simply given his girth and reach -- it's very difficult to work through him with power, or get around his frame.

But Herbig will be tepid into contact despite his powerful frame, and prefers to screen rushers away instead of truly uprooting and removing them from contention. He isn't a quick player, and can lose to agile rushers who are willing to be the aggressor and put him on his heels.

To me, that's quite the Jerry Tillery mold. North of 300 pounds with a lot of length to him, Tillery wins in the phone booth -- his best rush moves come with an initial shock of the hands, then a half-man attack once he has his target reeling. Two-handed stab to arm-over; push-pull; et cetera. You can even see Tillery hit such moves against Stanford in their 2017 meeting in this post here.

I do have questions about Tillery's leverage and functional power as a run defender -- and if there's any team against which a prospect can answer those questions, it's Stanford. Tillery will have to handle every angle of attack against the pullers of Stanford, and must remain gap disciplined in the face of slow-developing concepts.

Herbig seems improved in his smoothness and body control early in the season, and even took reps at tackle against Oregon and held his own -- but Tillery brings the aggressive brand of football with which Herbig characteristically struggles. I expect a productive, disruptive day for Tillery, while some of the shine starts to come off of the Herbig hype.

Also watch: Stanford WR #19 JJ Arcega-Whiteside v. Notre Dame CB #27 Julian Love

Kentucky CB #8 Derrick Baity v. South Carolina WR #1 Deebo Samuel

Last season, Week 3, Kentucky at South Carolina. Opening drive -- heck, opening play! -- Deebo Samuel houses a quick slant for a 68-yard touchdown. If you peer through the dust cloud left in Samuel's wake, you'll see a laboring No. 8 in blue and white hopelessly trying to catch up.

That's Derrick Baity.

I like Baity's tape: I think he's fluid for his size (6-foot-2 and north of 200 pounds), which gives him a really nice physical profile for press coverage. His technique in press alignments, especially within five yards, is solid -- though as evidenced by Samuel, he can struggle with explosive receivers and needs to anticipate route breaks a little better.

Funny thing, though: that game against South Carolina actually ended with SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors for Baity. He was active in two fourth-down stops and had a pick late in the fourth quarter when the game was still in reach.

Deebo went down in that game on a Baity tackle -- that hit would become a season-ending injury for Samuel. As such, Baity didn't have to see Deebo for all four quarters, and Samuel's playmaking ability wasn't present for a floundering South Carolina offense. In his 2018 return to health, Deebo has struggled to get his explosive game running at full throttle: he hasn't cleared 8.0 YPC in a game this season, despite a 13.9 YPC average across the first three seasons of his career.

Deebo is a great contested catch player, while Baity struggles there on tape -- but Baity has a few inches on Samuel, so the match-up downfield will be very interesting to watch. Nationally a bit under-appreciated, Baity could see a boost in his stock if he keeps Samuel in check.

Also watch: Kentucky OT #67 Landon Young v. South Carolina EDGE #8 DJ Wonnum

Written By:

Benjamin Solak

NFL Draft Analyst

NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Deputy Editor of Bleeding Green Nation. Undergrad at UChicago.