It was quite the weekend for college football. Here is my week one recap and the draft prospects that stood out to me.
Lamar Jackson’s improvement is noticeable and he clearly has an NFL future at quarterback
All of the knock of Lamar Jackson and his NFL future as a QB should be halted for now. Jackson may not be the perfect prospect, but he’s different and in a good way. Jackson stands 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, so he could certainly use more meat on his bones, but Jackson has all the talent in the world. He’s not a traditional pocket passer by any means, but he’s clearly worked on it and proved that Saturday night in a close win versus Purdue.
Jackson does not have an all-worldly talented team by any means, so he was forced to carry it with 485 total yards of offense. Despite 10 false start penalties and three fumbles (including one of his own) Jackson was able to overcome it in a close 35-28 victory. It’s not about stats when scouting a player, or at least not all about stats. Jackson showed improved and noticeable ability to step up and climb the pocket and deliver multiple strikes in traffic with ease. One of these plays is perfectly represented here:
It’s one game sure, but it’s time to actually start analyzing Jackson’s improved play in the pocket and stop pushing him out of a future NFL QB discussion. Jackson just has to continue to improve upon his pocket passing and once he does, you mix that generational speed and quickness and he could be a serious threat similar to a Michael Vick at the next level.
Other QB Storylines:
– USC QB Sam Darnold had an up-and-down season debut. Going to need receivers other than Deontay Burnett to step up.
– UCLA QB Josh Rosen put himself in prime position to start off the year as QB1 on many people’s board. However, I need to see more. He was phenomenal in the second half, orchestrating a 35-point comeback, but there is still some bad that came along with it. Including one of the touchdowns he threw that went through the defender’s hands.
– Wyoming QB Josh Allen showed off extreme raw talent. Mainly the fact that he’s still extremely raw, but don’t write him off for the rest of the season.
– Washington QB Jake Browning is the starting QB on a good football team, but I’m not sold on his ability to survey the field and feel pressure coming in the pocket. Need to see much more out of him, he’s a likely day three pick as it stands.
– Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield made some risky throws, but overall it was a great performance for him in a snoozer versus UTEP. Excited to see Mayfield against the more impressive competition in the Big 12.
– Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph looked superb albeit against a lesser talented team, but superb nonetheless. Even with nothing out of top WR prospect James Washington on the day. He showed his ability to spread the ball out and find other receivers.
– Washington State QB Luke Falk looked as comfortable as ever this week and as my number two QB in this class he is going to need to carry this momentum through bigger opponents than Montana State.
– USF’s QB Quinton Flowers & Auburn’s transfer QB Jarrett Stidham are intriguing, but still have their kinks. They definitely need to show me more, but I’m intrigued.
– Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush has a chance to be real good. He’s our friend Connor Rogers’ sleeper. Definitely has a long way to go, but he was impressive in his first start.
Saquon Barkley is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson
It might be crazy to say this after week one, but even after the Rose Bowl last year versus USC I had my thoughts that Saquon Barkley could be better than Leonard Fournette as a prospect. I love Fournette and had an astronomical grade on him this past draft, but Barkley is quicker, faster, maybe not stronger, but he poses a threat based off the fact he has all of the tools and recognition in the run game. Barkley’s home run ability is undeniable and we saw that in his bundle of runs against Akron. Barkley is not just a great running back, but he offers so much as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Make no mistake everything you have heard about Barkley is spot on and he could be even better than we thought. The Downtown Rams crew here approves that Barkley is the best RB prospect since Adrian Peterson. An often redundant phrase, but it’s the truth.
Other RB storylines:
– Not sure if Ronald Jones II will stay around past this year at USC. In case you haven’t noticed he is pretty good. He ran for three touchdowns on 8.8 yards per carry and looked explosive and powerful doing it. Top three round running back right off the bat.
– LSU RB Derrius Guice is an NFL-ready runner. What is crazy is how good he looks and the fact he’s in my honest opinion, way behind Saquon Barkley. He’s definitely RB2 for me and he’s likely a first-round pick. He showed tremendous power and ability to run inside like the NFL is going to command out of Guice.
– Iowa RB Akrum Wadley stood out immediately in the game that everyone started having their attention on Josh Allen in. Wadley showed tremendous cutback ability and burst to the point of being the clear player of the game (aside from teammate Josey Jewell). His most notable moment was when he combined his cutback ability, burst and power to convert a third-and-long play. Definitely a name and a senior that is on my radar.
– Colorado RB Philip Lindsay broke onto the scene in my mind after a stellar performance on Friday night versus the Colorado State Rams. Definitely a name to keep in mind.
– Arizona State RB Kalen Ballage is as good as Stick to Football advertised. Ballage runs with pure power and is a total truck when he sees open field. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds he has a future in the NFL.
– Michigan State RB L.J. Scott struggled big time, but it’s early and I still believe he can bounce back moving forward. One bad game does not have me hitting the panic button just yet.
– Notre Dame RB Josh Adams was impressive. Adams headlines an impressive backfield this season and has some explosion to boot. Definitely a player that is on my radar and one of the fun players to watch that may have put Notre Dame back on the map again.
Equanimeous St. Brown might be the top wide receiver in this class already
Notre Dame as I just mentioned is back on the map. They may have some serious offensive talent, but no one excites me as much as Equanimeous St. Brown. St. Brown offers a gigantic frame standing at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, he could add some more weight, but for now he looks really good playing at that weight. St. Brown showed off great speed, athleticism, hands and of course his size. St. Brown is honestly one of the more freaky prospects I’ve seen in awhile. He’s not quite as big, but it makes you wonder if we are looking at someone as talented as Calvin Johnson.
St. Brown in my opinion is actually going to pass Courtland Sutton on my list of top receivers. I love Sutton, but I think St. Brown offers the hands and extreme route running ability that Sutton needs to improve upon. This is definitely the one player and likely a team I will be tuning in to watch every Saturday.
Other WR storylines
– Deontay Burnett gave USC QB Sam Darnold a serious number one weapon. Burnett has shown immense growth already in his junior season and is likely going to be a day one or day two player after the season. Burnett is physical and has the speed to find the extra yards after the catch.
– Calvin Ridley is going to follow the list of great Alabama wide receivers after this season. Ridley offers extreme deep ball threat and solid hands. He has a chance to be a first-round pick this season and a star WR at the next level.
– SMU WR Courtland Sutton is one of my favorite wide receivers, but my issue after his game this week was the fact he only logged two catches for 22 yards. Stephen F. Austin is not a powerhouse and Sutton should have had his way with
– Oklahoma State star WR James Washington was non-existent as previously mentioned above. It makes you question how consistent he will be at the next level.
– Ohio State WR Parris Campbell looks like a possible late first-round prospect early on in the season.
– Austin Pettis’ cousin Dante Pettis has an NFL future at not only WR, but as a punt returner. He has been a huge playmaker for Washington. He really opened up my eyes to his play last year, but this year could be even more of a playmaker.
Josey Jewell put himself in the scouting eye and looks like a future NFL starter at outside linebacker
Iowa LB Josey Jewell looked even better than teammate Akrum Wadley on Saturday. I came away extremely impressed with his quickness, instincts and the mean streak you see when he puts a little something extra on each hit. Jewell right not is a day two pick for me, but if he continues this pace consistently there is a good chance he could be a late day one pick.
Jewell is a tackling machine that has the ability to not only finish his tackle, but he also has the instincts to be a serious player at the next level.
Dorance Armstrong is my top EDGE rusher not named Arden Key
Kansas EDGE rusher Dorance Armstrong is an unrelenting force as a pass rusher. In his first game of the 2017 campaign Armstrong was consistently pressuring the quarterback showing improvisation, explosion and overall football awareness. He is a problem for any offensive lineman, I have been an obvious fan of his because of my liking of the Kansas Jayhawks, but now he’s on the national radar leaving draft experts like Matt Miller to call him a top 25 pick in next year’s draft.
Minkah Fitzpatrick can do-it-all and has a little Jalen Ramsey in his game
The defensive back from Alabama looks as advertised early on. I had him as my top CB, but it looks like he is going to play safety too. This kid gives his future NFL team a versatile swiss army knife. As someone who can pass rush as an excellent blitzing cornerback/safety, someone that can dissect the play early on and flashes ball hawk and game-breaking ability. Fitzpatrick is a guaranteed first-round pick.
Derwin James is a phenom and is a future top five pick
After coming back from a serious knee injury last season, Florida State safety Derwin James looks primed to be the top dog at the safety position. James offers superior speed, range and ball tracking ability. However, that’s just the tip of the ice berg. Whoever drafts James in the 2018 draft will be getting a player that will lay the wood. A total package of a safety that can cover, deliver punishing blows as a hard-hitter and be a leader on his defense? Sign me up.
Who stood out to you this weekend? Who are your players that I did not mention? Let me know!