Danny Kelly and I had a discussion about 6 days ago, and the conversation was basically trying to make my "Gems" column a sort of locked-in, weekly feature. His first thought was to have it up on Saturdays prior to that day's college action. I had it in my head to do Gems more mid-week so that I could incorporate really fresh video cutups into each piece from draftbreakdown.com mere days after the games were played. But I also thought Danny had a point in doing something for the day-of college football. So, we came to an agreement on doing two weekly entries: Tuesday – Gems, and Saturday – Ones to Watch.
I’m hoping to differentiate the two thusly: Gems will be guys that had big games and/or whose tape I have watched and LIKE. OTW will be guys that I don’t have complete information on, and whom I’ll literally be watching that day to gain/deepen an opinion of.
(DK NOTE: This post should also function as our Saturday College Football open thread. Talk about the games you're watching here!)
Fresno State vs Utah – Noon – Pac12 Network
My favorite matchup this week featuring some underrated talent.
At the top for Utah is probably WR Dres Anderson. The 6’2"/190 Senior opened the year with 4 catches for 111 yards (27.75ypc) after posting a 1000 yard season in 2013 (also 18.91ypc for the year). Anderson is currently projected at #132 overall by draftscout.
I mentioned in this week’s Gems that I’m keeping watch on OLB/DE Nate Orchard after he posted 2.5 sacks in his first game as a Senior (#195 overall).
And Senior DB Eric Rowe (6’1"/201) had an initial 3 tackle, 1 TFL, 1 PBU game last week. Love the size. Not sure if he’s a CB or S…need to see the tape (#122 overall).
Fresno State’s unquestionably best player, in my opinion, is 5th-year Senior FS Derron Smith. A bit undersized at 5’11"/197, Smith has some of the best ball skills of any DB I’ve seen in this class. 87 tackles, 7 INT, 6 PBU, 4 sacks, 8 TFL last year, and already 11 tackles and 1 PBU in 2014. He’ll remind many of Earl Thomas and likely get drafted in the first two rounds (#45 overall).
Junior OLB Ejiro Ederaine (6’3"/221) is very underrated. In 2013 he produced 63 tackles, 16.5 TFL, and 10 sacks. And he already has 6 tackles and 2 TFL last week. But he’s a junior at a non-power conference school.
Perhaps my favorite FS Bulldog for the Seahawks, is Senior DL Tyeler Davison. At 6’2"/309, Davison began the year against USC playing primarily DE, with the occasional snap at Nose Tackle. That may not have been the best gameplan for Davison (nor Fresno) as he posted literally no stats vs USC, while USC put up 700 yards on offense. The plan for him today is to return him to playing more full-timeish at Nose. This is where his future should be. He’s surprisingly stout inside against double-teams for a 309lb guy (#71 overall).
UAB vs Mississippi State – 11am – ESPN3
Taveze Calhoun y’all. Man, I hope he declares. Far and away my favorite CB right now. So much boom.
USC vs Stanford – 12:30pm - ABC
A few weeks ago this probably looked like a great matchup, and maybe it still will be, but it won’t be as great for scouting. USC’s DT/DE Leonard Williams is expected to play, but isn’t 100% (and won't fall to Seattle). CB Josh Shaw is dealing with his broken foot/suspension/embarrassment from jumping off a balcony. OG Aundrey Walker is hurt too. The Cardinal has OT Andrus Peat, but he’s an underclassmen, and Stanford doesn’t seem to give up their Junior OL to the draft very often. And WR Ty Montgomery and SS Jordan Richards both have question marks in their film.
Northern Illinois vs Northwestern – 12:30pm – BTN
In one of my random, late-night scouting sesh’s, I stumbled upon the fact that Northwestern might have one of the more athletic offensive lines East of Oregon. Three Senior OL come in around 6’5"/300 with sub-5.20 forty speed (Vitabile, Jorgensen, Konopka). None are projected in the top 200 overall. Vitabile, the Center of the group, actually has some pretty good tape, and with Hawks recently down LJP, drafting a late-round Center in 2015 is likely to happen:
Eastern Michigan vs Florida – 1pm – SEC Network
I just have this here so I can mention Bronson Hill again. And actually, this will be a better demonstration of his ability (or lack of) than popping for 100+ against Morgan State.
Nicholls State vs Arkansas – 1pm – SEC Network
I found this tape last night while just doing my due-diligence and trying to watch every new draftbreakdown.com tape that gets published. Never heard of the guy before. After watching the tape, I went back and did some research. He’s a former QB at Iowa. Played some QB last year for Arkansas too. Now he’s made the move that guys like Tebow and Pryor couldn’t/wouldn’t make. And the results are pretty convincing. 4 catches for 40 yards and a TD. But, more importantly, his blocking is surprisingly advanced (for a long-time TE, let alone a guy who has been playing it a year).
The Seahawks love themselves a position switch (JR Sweezy, Allen Bradford, Phil Bates, Kiero Small, Garry Gilliam, etc)…they like guys that are showing in college that they love football enough to switch positions, and they love guys that will do it as pros. They also likely need to cut Zach Miller in 2015. This is 6’5"/255lb QB become tightend AJ Derby:
Also worth mentioning that Arkansas HC Bret Bielema has had surprising success rate (for a former defensive coach) preparing TE's for the pros: Dallas Clark, Travis Beckum, Garrett Graham, Lance Kendricks.
Michigan State vs Oregon – 3:30pm – FOX
Plenty to look at here.
This will be a nice matchup of touted cornerbacks. Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is probably the early #1 overall CB (#10 overall), but Michigan State also boasts a top-40 CB in Trae Waynes. Trae, at 6’1"/185 looks more like the Jeremy Lane nickel/outside hybrid corner. Waynes is definitely one I’m monitoring…I’d like to see more this year than what I’ve seen from 2013.
6’3" WR Tony Lippett vs 5’9" CB Ekpre-Olomu is probably the more literal matchup. It will be interesting to see if Lippett’s size or Ekpre’s quality can win out.
But the best one-on-one matchup in this game will be Michigan State DE Shilique Calhoun vs Oregon LT Jake Fisher. Fisher began the year expected to start at RT, but moved to the left when Tyler Johnstone went down hurt. Calhoun has far more buzz (#7 overall), but I prefer Fisher. At 6’6"/299, Jake has the frame to add a bit more weight, certainly the athleticism already in-play, and therefore the sneaky potential to play RT on Sundays. I want to see how he fares as Mariota’s blindside protector against a quality pass-rusher and see if he could also build toward an NFL Left Tackle.
San Jose State vs Auburn – 4pm – ESPN2
Auburn has potential draftpicks at many of the positions the Seahawks likely will be looking at in 2015, so I will be watching them all year. Plus the whole Gus Malzahn/pop-pass thing that came out this week is interesting. Auburn names: DE/DT Gabe Wright (moved from DT to DE this year and plays like a better version of Greg Scruggs circa 2012), C Reese Dismukes (currently the #1 Center per draftscout), TE CJ Uzomah (big bodied guy who moves decent), DT Jeffery Whitaker (one of the bigger Nose tackle possibilities this year at 6’3"/322). Half of that list (in order) are top-2-rounds types, the other half 6th round down types.
Northwestern State vs Baylor – 4:30pm
Baylor is another squad that just seems really interesting across the board. Shawn Oakman on the DL (#31 overall), Spencer Drango on the OL (#42 overall), plus a few mid-round skill-position players and underclassmen mixed in (almost said too much there). Drango I really want to see more of. Size at 6'5"/315 is perfect, but Baylor OL have a history of busting.
I’m putting Oakman’s season debut up because it is straight-up petrifying wood.
Happy watching! Come back to Field Gulls for Gems on Tuesday morning!