The SEC season finally started up earlier today and one of the key matchups in the conference involved a battle between No. 8 Auburn and No. 23 Kentucky.
Winning fairly handily by a score of 29-13, Auburn ended up rolling to a convincing “W” in large part due to the efforts of wide receiver Seth Williams and cornerback Roger McCreary.
Below I evaluated what each brought to the table and how it may affect their potential NFL draft outlook.
A high-point monster who shined as a sophomore last season, Williams picked up right where he left off a year ago during Saturday’s SEC duel, dominating Kentucky's defensive backs en route to an impressive 6-112-2 line.
Exhibiting elite hand strength on several occasions—including his two red-zone touchdown receptions—Williams shined with his physicality and quality play strength, as the Wildcats simply had no answer for his large frame and massive catch radius. Straight up disrespecting Wildcat defenders at will, he was so dominant that he literally turned every 50/50 ball into an 80/20 ball.
Unfortunately for Williams, his main questions entering the year didn’t revolve around this top-notch high-point ability. Rather, they centered around whether or not he could separate against tight press, demonstrate improved lateral agility, and run a more sophisticated route tree. He answered none of those on Saturday afternoon.
With this in mind, Williams’ evaluation continues to be an extremely tricky one. On one hand, you have a strong, prototypical X receiver with an elite vertical. On the other, you have a stiff, one-dimensional wideout who fails to uncover against bigger, more physical press corners.
In a 2021 wide receiver class that mostly consists of diminutive, YAC producing wideouts, Williams ultimately provides a nice (and rare) change of pace as a classic “won’t uncover very well but will catch everything in sight” type of pass-catcher. It should get him selected in the top 100, but Saturday’s performance didn’t really add anything new to his scouting report—it just cemented what we already knew.
A sub-package defensive back who played in a rotational role as a redshirt sophomore, McCreary has a chance to shine this year with both of last year’s starting corners (Noah Igbinoghene and Javaris Davis) off to the NFL. Week 1 was a terrific start.
Logging an interception, a critical third-down PBU, and a forced fumble, McCreary exhibited the same types of traits he flashed last year on Saturday afternoons—but the difference this Saturday was that he was able to use them on a full-time basis.
Displaying the ability to be both patient and aggressive in man coverage at the line of scrimmage, McCreary looked incredibly smooth for his 6-foot, 190-pound frame and stayed in his wide receiver’s hip pocket for nearly the entire game. His interception (originally a pick-six that was called back for targeting) was particularly impressive, as McCreary read the quarterback’s eyes and moved from his original assignment at the very last second to jump the pass and nab the interception.
One of “my guys” during the offseason, this strong performance by McCreary wasn't necessarily a surprise to me, as I first circled his name after an impressive matchup against LSU a year ago. It was nice, however, to see him do it in a full-time starting capacity.
It might seem hyperbolic with such a limited resume at this point, but if McCreary continues to put forth performances like this, there's no reason he can’t enter the top-50 conversation when it’s all said and done. He’s that talented
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