Five things to watch in week two of college football

We finally have a full week of college football in the books and are ready for week two, which features some big games. Four top 25 matchups will really show everyone who is pretend and who is for real. It is one of many separation Saturdays this fall. Here are five things to watch from the big weekend:

1. Stanford’s rushing attack vs. USC’s defense

Five things to watch in week two of college football

Bryce Love (Photo by zimbio.com)

This game will say a lot about both teams, but will highlight their differences. Sam Darnold will get a lot of attention after not playing his best against Western Michigan in the opener. The thing that may decide this game though is the physicality of Stanford and their ability to run the football.

Bryce Love is averaging a whopping 13.8 yards per carry after his first game against Rice. He looks ready to carry the load for the Cardinal offense and be the next star of the backfield. Love will be running against an experienced offensive line that helped gain Christian McCaffrey fame.

So why does this particular matchup mean so much? USC could not stop Western Michigan on the ground in their season opener. The Broncos rushed for 263 yards against the Trojans and are a shell of the rushing attack Stanford has. The Trojans lost the majority of their defensive front from last season and will need to slow Love and Stanford down in order to win the game.

If USC can stop the run they will win, but if they can’t they will have to win a shootout.

2. Baker Mayfield vs. Ohio State’s secondary

Five things to watch for in week two of college football

Baker Mayfield (Photo by newsok.com)

Ohio State playing Oklahoma is drawing a lot of interest this week, because both teams are College Football Playoff contenders. Lincoln Reilly will also be tested in his first big game as head coach of the Sooners. His offense, which is led by Baker Mayfield will be going up against an Ohio State unit that struggled in their opener.

The Buckeyes lost three of four starters in the secondary to the NFL and it showed in their season opening win against Indiana. Ohio State allowed over 400 yards passing to the Hoosiers. Indiana is a good offensive team, but the Buckeyes need to improve if they have National Championship hopes.

Mayfield has two straight appearances as a Heisman Finalist, but has not won. He wants to avenge a loss to the Buckeyes from last year in Norman. He has over 10,000 career passing yards with a completion percentage of 95% in his first game this season. His efficiency is going to be key against Ohio State.

The secondary of Ohio State won’t be able to completely shut down Mayfield, or even play as well as last year, but need to get key stops in order to win.

3. Jake Fromm vs. Notre Dame’s defense

five things to watch for in week two of college football

Jake Fromm (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

The Fighting Irish will host Georgia for the first time in history. In a game involving teams with so much history, anything can happen. Both teams looked good in week one, but Georgia’s starting quarterback Jacob Eason got injured and had to be replaced by Jake Fromm. Now Fromm is getting thrown into a very tough road game at Notre Dame Stadium.

Fromm went 10 of 15 for 143 yards and a touchdown after relieving Eason in the Bulldogs opening game. Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and the running game will have to take some pressure off Fromm, but he will need to make some key throws. Fromm is no slouch and is a former four star recruit by most websites and has the capability, he just needs to show composure.

Notre Dame’s defense was anemic last season. They allowed over 27 points per game and only return four starters. They looked much better against Temple in their first game, but Temple is a program that is likely rebuilding after the loss of head coach Matt Ruhle to Baylor.

With a bad defense and an inexperienced quarterback, something is going to give on Saturday night in South Bend.

4. Quarterback play in the battle of the Tigers

Five Things to watch in college football week two

Jarrett Stidham (Photo by reddit.com)

Both Clemson and Auburn had good defenses last season and should continue to have good ones this season. Where they need players to step up is at the quarterback position. This game will likely be decided by which quarterback plays better between the two teams.

Kelly Bryant got sporadic playing time throughout his first two years at Clemson, but now is the lead man. Against Kent State last week he threw for 236 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. He added 77 yards rushing on seven carries as well. His challenge will be tough, as Auburn had the seventh best scoring defense in the country last year.

Leading Auburn’s offense will be Jarrett Stidham, the Baylor transfer. Stidham played a little bit for Baylor two years ago, before deciding to transfer. He looked a little sloppy in his first game for Auburn, but has experience and production in his past. If he is efficient, Auburn has a chance to upset Clemson.

5. Boise State at 20 Washington State

Five things to watch in week two of college football

Luke Falk (Photo by usatoday.com)

One game that is not getting a lot of recognition features the Broncos and Cougars. Last season the two teams played and Boise State came out on top. This season, Washington State is looking for revenge and possibly to compete in the Pac-12 North.

Boise State may not be the same program that they were ten years ago, but they are still a very solid program. They won 10 games last year and have their quarterback Brett Rypien back for another season. The Broncos outlasted a good Troy team in week one and look like they will be solid again.

Mike Leach and the Cougars dodged their yearly loss to an FCS team in week one by beating Montana State. Luke Falk has already racked up 311 passing yards and thee touchdowns this season and doesn’t show signs of slowing down. His ability to chuck the ball all over the field will give Washington State a chance to be a very successful team.

This game should be a close one, especially since Boise State loves the role of the underdog.

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College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

The college football season is about a month and a half away and it can’t come soon enough. As rosters are finally completed with transfers (thank you Malik Zaire) and spring ball all wrapped up, it’s time to look forward to the fall. Who will be the top 25 teams in college football this season?

25. Kansas State Wildcats

Bill Snyder is back for another season as the head man of Kansas State. He had his youngest team ever last season and still finished 9-4. This year should show improvements for the Wildcats, but the record will likely be similar. They will grind out games in typical Snyder fashion.

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

Byron Pringle

Jesse Ertz will be back to lead the offense at quarterback with his dual-threat abilities. He led the Wildcats in both rushing and passing last year and looks like he will do the same this season.

A few running backs will get a chance to help him out on the ground, including Alex Barnes and Justin Silmon. Byron Pringle and Dominique Heath are good wide receivers on the outside, and will have to make the most of their opportunities, as Ertz only threw for 1,755 yards last season.

The bulk of the offensive line is back including center Reid Najvar and tackles Scott Frantz and Dalton Risner, which should help create more than the 32.2 points per game last year.

Defensively, the Wildcats will have to replace the pass-rushing ability of Jordan Willis, who is off to the NFL, but they do return the other three starters from the defensive line. They help make this defense great at stopping the run which ranked 11th in the country.

The linebackers will be all new starters this year, but keep an eye on Da’Quan Patton who was one of the best JUCO linebackers last season.

Three out of four starters from the secondary return to a unit that needs to improve from its 114th ranking against the pass a year ago.

With an easier non-conference schedule this season, the Wildcats should be undefeated heading into conference play. Their big games at home will be TCU, Oklahoma and West Virginia, while they will be on the road to face Texas and Oklahoma State. With these games posing problems, Kansas State should be able to get out of the regular season with a maximum of four losses by grinding out games and winning the turnover battle.

24. Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern had a solid 7-6 season last year that was capped off with a win over Pittsburgh in the Pinstripe Bowl. This season they return a lot of key players that should help them compete for the Big Ten West.

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

Justin Jackson (Photo by: Chicago Tribune)

The backfield is stacked with talent for the Wildcats, featuring three-year starter Clayton Thorson at quarterback and the man who will likely be the school’s all-time leading rusher at year’s end, Justin Jackson at running back. Both can run the ball really well and Thorson improved significantly as a passer from his freshman to his sophomore year. With his natural progression he can make Northwestern’s scoring offense one of the best in the Big Ten.

Four starters return on the offensive line, but they will need to replace Big Ten leading receiver Austin Carr from last year’s squad.

Defensively the Wildcats are best in the secondary, with Godwin Igwebuike and Kyle Quiero, who are two of their best players and are paired with two other returning starters.

They lose Anthony Walker from their linebacking core, but feature a lot of capable replacements. There isn’t much depth on the defensive front, but their starters are solid. The defense lost its best player in Walker, but there is no reason why they should take a step back this year after ranking 24th in the country in scoring defense.

The schedule matches up favorably for Northwestern. They travel to Wisconsin and play Penn State at home in back to back games, but the rest of the games on their schedule should be manageable. The Wildcats will be going to a bowl game and expect at a very minimum eight wins.

23. Washington State Cougars

Winning the Holiday Bowl would have been a nice way to cap off the season, but the Cougars fell to Minnesota to finish with an 8-5 record. Mike Leach got the team rolling and won all eight games in a row, including seven of them being in conference. Washington State got the most important player to return to school for one more year, which will give them another solid season.

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

Luke Falk (Photo by: seattletimes.com)

Luke Falk could’ve gone to the NFL Draft, but elected to come back to Pullman for his senior season. Falk has two-straight 4,000-yard passing seasons and has a touchdown to interceptions ratio of over three to one. He will have another big year, even though he loses key receivers River Cracraft and Gabe Marks.

Multiple wide receivers are capable of stepping up, but Tavares Martin Jr. is the big play guy. Three returning starters on the offensive line will help protect Falk and the Cougars are also very deep at running back.

Last season, Washington State ranked in the top half of the country in scoring defense, and with that offense humming that’s all they really have to do to make the team successful.

The passing defense is awful and they lost Shalom Luani which hurts. They do return four starters from the secondary, two linebackers and two defensive linemen. Peyton Pelluer is a great linebacker who brings back a lot of experience with 233 career tackles. They will need the secondary and pass rush to get a lot better to be a successful defense.

Washington State has it’s fair share of tough games in 2017 including: Boise State, USC, Stanford and at Washington. Having three of those key games at home is a huge boost to the Cougars. They should be able to beat Boise State at the very least. Getting USC in the crossover game is tough, but Washington State could max out at 10 wins or bottom out with eight, assuming they don’t lose to an FCS opponent for the third year in a row.

22. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

There is no doubt that Brian Kelly’s seat is hot after finishing 4-8 last season. He brought in new coordinators so now the onus is totally on him. No Notre Dame team should ever go 4-8, especially given their schedule. A lot of players need to step up this season, but the talent is there.

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

Equanimeous St. Brown (Photo by: usatoday.com)

Notre Dame will be breaking in a new quarterback in Brandon Wimbush. He was a highly-touted recruit, but he didn’t play well in the spring game. The key for Wimbush’s development is the great offensive line he has in front of him. Four of the linemen are returning starters and two, Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, could have been drafted very early in the 2016 NFL Draft.

A lot of the wide receivers are inexperienced, but Equanimeous St. Brown (along with being one of the coolest names in college football) is blossoming into a star. Durham Smythe and Alize Mack (formerly Alize Jones), provide good targets at tight end.

Running the ball is a versatile player who is capable of running and catching out of the backfield, Josh Adams.

The Fighting Irish have been decimated with injuries the past few seasons on the defensive side of the ball and don’t return many starters. The good news is that a lot of players have gotten experience over the last few years. The bad news is they didn’t play particularly well.

This season they need to get better at stopping the run. Nose tackle Jerry Tillery and linebacker Nyles Morgan will do what they can, but will need help. The secondary and defensive lines are shaky overall, but the linebackers are talented and will have to lead the team.

As always, Notre Dame does have some marquee games this season. They host Georgia and USC and travel to Miami and Stanford. Other games on the schedule are tricky, but those are the bigger games. Their matchup with Georgia in week two will let everyone know if the Fighting Irish are bouncing back or not. Notre Dame should win eight games during the regular season and if they don’t Kelly likely won’t be on the sidelines anymore.

21. Virginia Tech Hokies

Justin Fuente rejuvenated the Hokies last year and got them a 10 win season after they defeated Arkansas in the Belk Bowl. They lost some key players, but with Fuente, Virginia Tech will be able to figure it out.

College football preseason 2017 top 25: 25-21

Tremaine Edmunds (Photo courtesy: athlonsports.com)

Jerod Evans surprisingly left for the NFL Draft and went undrafted, so the Hokies will likely turn to Josh Jackson, who has great playmaking ability. Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges also left school early, but Cam Phillips will be a great target for Jackson. Other receivers need to produce as well.

Travon McMillan saw his production slip during his sophomore season, but is a solid running back and should have a good junior season. Three returning offensive linemen will help the Hokies move the chains.

The defensive front has one starter returning in Viny Mihota, but the back seven brings back a lot of experience. Their secondary should be one of the best in the country with Terrell Edmunds, Brandon Facyson and Greg Stroman. Tremaine Edmunds will stand out as the best linebacker in the ACC. Virginia Tech was good on defense last year, but should be able to take it to another level in 2017.

The schedule shouldn’t be too rough on the Hokies, but they do have a few big games. They play a neutral site game against West Virginia, Clemson at home, at Miami, at Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh in Blacksburg. Virginia Tech should be able to win most of those games. The Hokies can win anywhere between nine and 11 games in the regular season and can get back to the ACC Championship Game.

 

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Best 2018 NFL Draft prospects: Quarterbacks

It is still a long ways away from the start of college football and even further away from the 2018 NFL Draft. There are however, some great quarterbacks that are worth watching in the 2017 season, who can be good NFL players. These players have a chance to showcase their talents this upcoming football season and could be selected early in the NFL Draft process.

Josh Allen, Wyoming

Allen has created a lot of buzz, despite playing for Wyoming. He has the prototypical size of an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 222 pounds. Scouts have said that he may have been the first quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, had he elected to come out. He only completed 56% of his passes last year, but flashed his potential in his lone year as the starting quarterback.

Josh Allen (Photo by: trib.com)

He will have to improve his accuracy this season especially because he doesn’t play the best competition week in and week out. One of the most underrated parts of his game is his speed as he has been clocked at a 4.61 40 yard dash. Allen has the size, speed and arm strength to draw scouts’ eyes, but needs to start getting better results.

This season Allen will have a few chances to prove himself against good competition. The Cowboys start the season at Iowa and also play Oregon and Boise State. If Allen can improve his efficiency and pull of some big wins for Wyoming, he will likely go early in round one.

Sam Darnold, USC

At the start of last season, Darnold was a backup. He didn’t have to wait too long to get his shot as a redshirt freshman and led USC to nine straight victories to end the season, including a Rose Bowl win over Penn State. The best thing about Darnold is his accuracy, as he completed 67.2% of his passes. His arm strength is good too and he can make a lot of NFL level throws. He also helped lead the Trojans to big wins during the regular season, the most notable coming over Washington.

Darnold does need to work on his mechanics because he has a windup in his throwing motion. He also threw nine interceptions and didn’t start a full season, so he needs to keep that number down. The main thing for Darnold is to have a strong second season and avoid a sophomore slump.

He will be on national television a lot this year with USC playing Notre Dame and Texas out of conference and have some tough games in conference as well.

Luke Falk, Washington State

Falk will have to prove that he is more than a system quarterback, but he is already on a lot of NFL radars. He completed 70% of his passes last season, while also leading the cougars to eight straight wins in the middle of the season. One thing that Falk won’t be short on for NFL scouts is reps. He has over 1,520 passing attempts in his career already.

With being in a system, the most important thing for Falk is to prove that he can complete passes down the field that will be expected of him in the NFL. The problem is that he loses his two top receivers in Gabe Marks and River Cracraft.

The Cougars have games against Boise State, USC, Stanford and Washington to get one final year of good tape for NFL scouts.

Deondre Francois, Florida State

Not everyone is as high on Francois, but he has a chance to have a breakout sophomore season. Last year, he was one of the toughest quarterbacks in college football, as he was continually hit. He still managed to complete 59% of his passes. That isn’t great, but when you consider how much he was under pressure and the fact that he was in his first year starting, it is way better than expected. He also only threw seven interceptions showing his ability to protect the football through the air.

Deondre Francois (Photo by: scout.com)

While they did lose to Louisville, North Carolina and Clemson, Francois stayed poised and helped lead the Seminoles to two big wins over Florida and Michigan to end the season. He didn’t have great games against these teams, but getting the win is worth something. He adds the ability to run, which is a nice asset he will have to use if his offensive line doesn’t improve.

Francois has the chance to show his stuff early this season, when the Seminoles play Alabama in week one. With Florida, Clemson and Louisville all still on the schedule, Francois will have every opportunity to improve his stock.

Josh Rosen, UCLA

After a great freshman season, Rosen only played in six games as a sophomore due to a shoulder injury. He has a nerve issue in his shoulder, which is cause for concern, but if he can play well this season and be cleared by doctors, he can be selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

The most important thing for Rosen is to show he has shaken off the rust and effects from the injury. He also needs to improve his efficiency. Rosen has all the talent you want in a quarterback prospect, but does have things to give NFL scouts to think about with injuries and quirkiness off of the field.

His biggest games of the season are against Texas A&M, Stanford, Washington and USC.

Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State

Rudolph is another quarterback who has great size for an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 235 pounds. He had a great season last year and only threw four interceptions while attempting 448 passes. These stats are good and they are even more impressive because he threw for over 4,000 yards. Yes, these stats are mostly against Big 12 defenses, but it is impressive nonetheless.

Mason Rudolph (Photo by: scout.com)

With so many great quarterbacks in this class, Rudolph gets overlooked, but he has the potential to be the number one pick. He needs to put up similar stats to last season to reach that goal and it is definitely possible.

Pitt will be their big matchup in the nonconference schedule and they will have a light Big 12 schedule to go through with one big game against Oklahoma. Rudolph will have a chance to put up some big stats this season.

Jarrett Stidham, Auburn

Stidham had an impressive season at Baylor when he filled in for Seth Russell, but decided to transfer to Auburn. In his one season of playing so far he has 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He completed 69% of his passes in his limited action at Baylor.

He is going from Baylor to a much tougher SEC. A lot is unknown about Stidham and he really has to get more reps for NFL evaluators to rate him, but he can put up some big numbers under Gus Malzahn.

There will be plenty of chances for Stidham to prove himself this season with games against Clemson, LSU, Georgia and Alabama.

 

Check back at the end of the season to see where these quarterbacks are in the 2018 NFL Draft positional rankings.

 

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2018 NFL Mock Draft May 6

The 2017 NFL draft has just concluded, but it is never too early to look to next year. Draft picks are ordered by Super Bowl Odds.

1. San Francisco 49ers- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

Brian Hoyer isn’t the long term answer for the 49ers and they reached on C.J. Beathard in the 2017 NFL Draft. Allen may be from a small school, but he has legitimate talent. He has the prototypical size for an NFL quarterback at 6’5″ and 222 pounds. Allen will have to prove himself in his big games against Iowa, Oregon and Boise State in the 2017 season.

2. Cleveland Browns- Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

Joe Haden is aging and the Browns did a great job of addressing the rest of their defense in the 2017 NFL Draft. Fitzpatrick has started since his freshman season and is a very versatile defensive back.

3. Los Angeles Rams- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

If Jared Goff is going to be the long term quarterback, he needs more weapons. Ridley is a good option with 1,814 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in two years at Alabama. He can be a good outside receiver for the Rams, which is not something they currently have.

4. New York Jets- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

Darnold needs to improve his mechanics and have a strong second season as USC’s starting quarterback. If he does so, he will be a first rounder with no doubts. The Jets need to get a franchise signal caller and so far, this looks like a good quarterback class coming in.

5. Chicago Bears- Derwin James, S, Florida State

Derwin James NFL

Derwin James (Photo by: si.com)

Quintin Demps has had just one good season as a pro and that shouldn’t be expected to continue. James is an elite athlete at defensive back and will likely go in the top ten in the 2018 NFL Draft if he can stay healthy.

6. Jacksonville Jaguars- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

The USC-UCLA game will feature two great quarterbacks. Rosen has been a phenom since his freshman year at UCLA, but last year got his throwing shoulder hurt and even had some nerve damage. He needs to stay healthy and if he is able to, is capable of being the first quarterback selected. If the Jaguars are picking this high, Blake Bortles is out as the starting quarterback.

7. Buffalo Bills- Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson

Wilkins is overlooked because of how many talented players were on Clemson last season, but with a lot of them gone, it is his time to shine. The Bills need to address the defensive line early in this draft. Two first round picks gives them some versatility in this draft.

8. Los Angeles Chargers- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

The Chargers doubled up on guards in the 2017 NFL Draft, but the tackles could be improved to protect the aging Phillip Rivers. McGlinchey would have gone first round in 2017, but elected to go back to school for one more year.

9. Detroit Lions- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Kirk might end up being the best receiver in this class, but will likely see his stock slide if he doesn’t produce this season with a new quarterback. He is a little shorter than most teams like at 5’11”, but can play on the outside and be a difference maker. The Lions need to upgrade their receiving corps to give Matthew Stafford some more weapons.

10. New Orleans Saints- Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

One thing that the Saints didn’t address in the 2017 NFL Draft was a pass rusher who could play opposite Cameron Jordan. Key is a great speed rusher, who elected to go back to school for another season. The Saints would love if they fell to them so they could get after Cam Newton, Jameis Winston and Matt Ryan more often.

11. Washington Redskins- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State

Mason Rudolph NFL

Mason Rudolph (Photo by: ncaa.com)

The Washington front office doesn’t have a good relationship with Kirk Cousins. He will likely leave after the season due to being franchise tagged the last two seasons. Rudolph is another quarterback who has great size at 6’5″ and 235 pounds. He only threw four interceptions last season, which shows how well he protects the ball.

12. Miami Dolphins- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

Interior offensive linemen usually don’t go this high, but Nelson would’ve been a first rounder in the 2017 draft had he come out. The Dolphins were able to address a lot of their needs this offseason, but they still need to get a guard because they are moving Laremy Tunsil out to tackle.

13. Cincinnati Bengals- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

Cincinnati addressed all of their skill positions in the first two rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft, but their offensive line is not good. Williams has a lot of experience at Texas and should upgrade the offensive line instantly.

14. Philadelphia Eagles- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

Barkley helped lead Penn State to a Big Ten Championship last year and was their best offensive player. He does a little bit of everything well and will be one of the first running backs off of the board. The Eagles drafted Donnell Pumphrey, but he isn’t an every down back in the NFL.

15. Tennessee Titans- Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

The Titans don’t have too many needs, but can improve the pass rush. He was a monster for the Boston College defense last year, finishing with 16.5 sacks. There were only two games were he didn’t register a sack, which bodes well for his NFL future.

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson

Donovan Smith hasn’t gotten his career off to a great start, meaning if he struggles again he will be replaced. Protecting Winston’s blindside has to be the number one priority for the Bucs.

17. Baltimore Ravens- Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

The Ravens haven’t had an effective running back in years. Guice showed flashes of what he could do when Leonard Fournette sat out with injury last season. He should have a breakout year for LSU.

18. Carolina Panthers- Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

The Panthers continue to not address the offensive line well. They need to clear some holes for McCaffrey and protect Cam Newton. Brown is a big prospect, who is another good tackle prospect in this draft class.

19. Arizona Cardinals- Luke Falk, QB, Washington State

Luke Falk NFL

Luke Falk (Photo by: seattletimes.com)

This year’s quarterback class is going to be loaded, if everything happens the way most think it will. That paired with the fact that there are a lot of aging quarterbacks and as usual teams that are bad and need new ones, A lot might go in the first found in the 2018 NFL Draft. Falk is a system quarterback, but Patrick Mahommes overcame that to be the second quarterback selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. He will need to have an impressive senior season where he shows he can read defenses to maintain his spot in the first round.

20. Minnesota Vikings- Lowell Lotulelei, DT, Utah

The Shariff Floyd injury complicates things for the Vikings. Lotulelei is a big physical defensive tackle that can really plug up the running lanes.

21. Indianapolis Colts- Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Jefferson has all the potential in the world and it should all come together for him this season for Texas. The Colts have started to revamp their defense, but it still needs a lot more work.

22. Buffalo Bills (via KC)- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

Sutton was a fringe first rounder had he come out this year and will likely be one of the best wide receivers coming out next season. With Sammy Watkins possibly leaving in free agency, Sutton can be paired with current rookie Zay Jones.

23. New York Giants- Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State

The Giants didn’t draft a tackle and now will need to get one next year. Fortunately for them, as it now stands, there are a lot of good tackles in this draft class.

24. Pittsburgh Steelers- Troy Fumagali, TE, Wisconsin

Troy Fumagali NFL

Troy Fumagali (Photo by: WXYZ.com)

If Jesse James doesn’t step up, the Steelers will need a new tight end. Fumagali made some incredible grabs in the Cotton Bowl and with a good season, will move himself into first round consideration.

25. Denver Broncos- Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Jamal Charles was just signed, but that isn’t a long term solution. Chubb could be the selection if the Broncos lose faith in Devontae Booker. He has some injuries, but when healthy Chubb is  a great running back.

26. Oakland Raiders- Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama

Hand has been burried on the depth chart at Alabama, but will get his chance this season. The Raiders have a terrible defensive line and need to start addressing it.

27. Cleveland Browns (via Hou)- Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh

Whitehead can play a variety of positions in the secondary and can fit in next to Jabrill Peppers. The Browns’ luxury of a lot of picks, gives them a lot of options.

28. Atlanta Falcons- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

The Falcons need to get some players on the interior of the defensive line. Payne, like Hand, will get his chance to shine this season.

29. Seattle Seahawks- Martez Ivey, OL, Florida

Ivey could play guard or center for the Seahawks, but they need offensive line help so badly, it doesn’t matter. Protecting Russell Wilson hasn’t been a concern in the past for Seattle (even though it should have been), but it should be going into the future.

30. Green Bay Packers- Tarvarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

McFadden is a lengthy corner that can help the Packers stop the pass. They addressed the secondary this offseason, but if it doesn’t improve, they will target more secondary help.

31. Dallas Cowboys- Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

Hubbard got to start in Joey Bosa’s place when Bosa was suspended, but made a name for himself. After a few more years of good play, he could go in round one. Dallas picked Taco Charlton in the first round in the 2017 NFL Draft, but could still use pass rushing help.

32. New England Patriots- Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State

The Patriots have a glaring need at pass rusher and Lewis might be their guy. He has a lot of experience at Ohio State and New England can turn him into a star.

 

For more mock drafts go to: DC Pro Sports Report

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NFL Draft Prospects to Watch in the 2016 Holiday Bowl

The Holiday Bowl features two 8-4 teams that have a couple draft prospects each. Washington State runs the air raid offense, which will mean that scouts will see a lot of reps from the passing game. The scouts will love seeing this, as they like seeing a lot of tape on players. Here are the players they will be watching:

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Mitch Leidner, QB

Projected Draft Range: Sixth round-undrafted free agent.

Leidner had a terrible season and shouldn’t be drafted. With that being said, a lot of teams will see his six foot four 230 pound frame and give him a chance. With seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the season, Leidner will need to make plays in the passing game to impress scouts. If he turns the ball over and doesn’t put up points against a bad pass defense, he will lose any value he may have had.

Jalen Myrick, CB

Projected Draft Range: Fourth round-sixth round

Holiday Bowl

Jalen Myrick (Photo courtesy: zimbio.com)

Myrick will get drafted due to his versatility. He is able to play both outside corner and in the nickel and dime position. He doesn’t have the greatest height at five foot ten inches tall, but he has done a pretty good job against receivers who are bigger than him. In order for his stock to rise, he will have to display speed. He isn’t very fast and doesn’t tackle well, so his positioning will have to be spot on.

Washington State Cougars

Luke Falk, QB

Projected Draft Range: Second round-fourth round

Falk has a lot of reps in the air raid offense, so scouts will have hours of tape to scour through. Their is a stigma against quarterbacks that are in systems like Falk is. He has average arm strength, but good accuracy. His 4,204 yards passing and 37 touchdowns are eye-popping, but the most impressive stat is his completion percentage. His 71% completion percentage is the best thing about him, as he is efficient.

Shalom Luani, S

Projected Draft Range: Fifth round-seventh round

Luani has really come on scouts’ radars recently. He plays hard and downhill, which is a great quality for a strong safety. He has good instincts and has four interceptions on the season. At six feet tall and 198 pounds he will need to add some strength to make it at the NFL level. The biggest thing for Luani to overcome is the fact that he wasn’t on a lot of people’s radars before the season. His play from this season should do a lot of the convincing for him.

Gabe Marks, WR

Projected Draft Range: Third round-fifth round

Holiday Bowl

Gabe Marks (Photo courtesy: seattletimes.com)

Marks has had a great career at Washington State and has a lot of stats to prove it. Because he plays in the air raid system, he will need to prove he can create separation on his own. Some of the passing routes they run at Washington State won’t be available at the NFL level, because of the speed of defenders. Running a good 40 time is crucial to Marks’ draft stock, as he isn’t expected to run faster than a 4.5 second 40 yard dash.

 

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2016 National Funding Holiday Bowl Preview

The Minnesota Golden Gophers will try to stop the high-powered Washington State offense in the 2016 National Funding Holiday Bowl.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Golden Gophers had a great season at 8-4 and even stayed in contention for the Big Ten West Division until the last week of the season. They have good wins over Maryland, Colorado State and Northwestern. They only lost to bowl eligible teams this season.

Holiday Bowl

Mitch Leidner (Photo courtesy: Bleacher report)

Mitch Leidner had a lot of potential coming into the season, but did not play well. He threw for 2,040 yards and seven touchdowns. The problem is he threw 12 interceptions and has a 56% completion percentage. He will need to play better in this game to keep up with the Cougars.

Leidner’s favorite target is Drew Wolitarsky. He has 787 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns. No other Minnesota receiver has been overly impressive this season.

The Golden Gophers rely on the running game to move the chains. Running Back Rodney Smith has 1,084 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns, while Shannon Brooks has added 599 yards and five touchdowns.

Minnesota has a good rush defense, allowing just 124 yards on the ground per game. The pass defense is just average, giving up 228 yards per game.

Defensive Lineman Hendrick Ekpe has been a standout for the Golden Gophers with 8.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

Washington State Cougars

The Cougars lost their first two and last two games of the regular season, but won eight in a row between them. They lost to FCS level Eastern Washington, but otherwise lost to good teams. Washington State beat two bowl eligible teams, Idaho and Stanford.

Holiday Bowl

Luke Falk (Photo courtesy: seattletimes.com)

Luke Falk is one of the best quarterbacks in college football and has 4,204 passing yards and 37 touchdown passes. He has only thrown ten interceptions and is completing a whopping 71% of his passes. Falk should be trusted to lead a great passing attack. He will make his decision for the NFL draft after the game.

Falk’s best receiver is Gabe Marks who has 867 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. Their second best receiver, River Cracraft, will be out for this game with a torn ACL. The good news for the Cougars is that they have a lot of receivers who produce for them.

Despite being an air raid offense, the Cougars have three running backs who have rushed for over 400 yards. James Williams leads the team in yardage (573), Jamal Morrow leads in yards per carry (6.6) and Gerard Wicks leads in touchdowns (11). All three backs are able to help pick up yardage in the passing game as well.

The run defense is good for Washington State, as they give up only 131 yards per game. The pass defense though, is one of the worst in the country allowing 283 yards per game.

Defensive back Shalom Luani has four interceptions on the season. His defending has been one of the few bright spots for the Cougar pass defense.

Prediction

Minnesota was at one point boycotting this game, but now are playing. This will prove to be too much of a distraction to win this game. Falk will have a great season finale and the Cougars will put up a lot of points.

 

Washington State Cougars 42 Minnesota Golden Gophers 27

 

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Terrance’s Top Ten Returning College QBs #9: Luke Falk

And at the #9 spot on my Top Ten is…..

Dean Rutz/ The Seattle Times

Dean Rutz/ The Seattle Times

#9 Washington State’s Luke Falk- Luke Falk is probably a name maybe people are not that too familiar with but he puts up big numbers for Washington State. He is coached by one of the best offensive minds in the game, Head Coach Mike Leach. Leach is a head coach that loves to get QBs that can throw 50-70 passes a game and he has much success with this air raid offense. He has coached many great college QBs, like former No. 1 pick Tim Couch, current Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and Graham Harrell. Mike Leach coached B.J. Symons, the current holder of the most passing yards in a single season. In 2003, Symons threw for 5,833 yards and Harrell is second with 5,705 yards. If Falk lets Leach coach him up he might be able to find his way somewhere near the top of that list. At 6’4″, Falk has great height, but he might need to add some weight to be more durable since he is not much of a scrambler. In 2015, Falk passed for 4561 yards and threw 38 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. Out of the returning QBs, he threw for the second most passing yards. He is the type of QB that can win from within the pocket and let his receivers and backs do the damage with the ball in their hands. Falk did a good amount of damage that season as he and the Cougars went 9-4, which is the best season for the Cougars since 2003.

His best three games of the season, in no particular order, came on a three game win streak for the Cougars. The three games were at Oregon, home against Oregon State, and away against Arizona.

In the Oregon game, Falk threw for 505 passing yards and five touchdowns. The best part about this victory is that it came in dramatic fashion. In the last two minutes of the game, Falk marched the Cougars down the field and they scored on a eight yard touchdown pass to Dom Williams and the game went to OT. Oregon and Washington State both scored touchdowns in the first OT but in the second OT the Cougars came out victorious. Falk threw a pass to WR River Cracraft and he took it near the goal line and coughed up the ball but, WR Robert Lewis was there to pick up the loose ball and he carried it into the endzone. This would be the game-winning TD because on Oregon’s next possession they threw an interceptions. In this game, Falk threw 74 passes with no interceptions and he gave the Cougars their first victory against the Ducks in eight tries.

At home against Oregon State, Falk had a 78% completion rate on 50 throws. He also threw six touchdowns and two interceptions. He threw all of his six touchdowns in only a half’s work and by the second half the game was too far out of reach for Oregon State. This game stuck with me not because of his six touchdown passes but because of his 90.6 QBR, which turned out to be his season’s best. And this was also Washington State’s first home Pac-12 win since November 2013. It was a great day for Washington State and maybe even a better day for Falk. The next week on the road he showed out again.

At Arizona, he had his season’s high for passing yards, 514 yards. He also threw five touchdowns, no interceptions, and had a 75.8% completion rate on 62 passes. In the first half, he was on fire. He went 30 for 38, threw 4 touchdown and already had 335 yards passing. To end the game he had a QBR of 87.4. In this three game stretch, he threw for 1,426 yards on 78% passing, threw 16 touchdowns and two interceptions, and had an average QBR of 81.3. Most importantly he went 3-0 in those games.

Luke Falk will be an under-the-radar QB because he plays for a team that is not on the national stage, but that does not dull how bright he can and will shine. In the 2016, I don’t predict a drop off in play for Falk. If he can improve from this last season and improve in the summer and fall camp, he could bring a 10-win season to Washington State for the first time since 2003.

#10- DeShone Kizer                                                                                                                                              #8- Josh Rosen