The college football season rolled on into an action packed Week 2 crammed with exciting match ups, despite Hurricane Irma preventing many games in Florida from taking place. Auburn-Clemson, Oklahoma-Ohio State and Stanford-USC highlighted the Week 2 slate but there were outstanding performances from draft-eligible prospects throughout the USA, and this weekly article will highlight those alongside players who perhaps failed to hit the heights some expected of them. This week, after a quarterback heavy column last week and with a long season ahead, I will try to avoid any discussion of the most important position in football. The #HotTakeOfTheWeek will conclude the article, and I once again remind you to send any submissions to my twitter @hlc1221.
Here are the NFL Draft Winners and Losers from Week 2 of College Football:
WINNERS: Clemson Defensive Line
The Clemson defensive front is phenomenal, and they gave Jarrett Stidham fits as they tore through the Auburn offensive line on Saturday night. Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables does an outstanding job of utilising the versatility of his defensive front, using defensive tackles from the edge at times to create matchup problems up front for offensive lines. Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant are the draft eligible starters alongside sophomore Dexter Lawrence, and the quartet led efforts as the Tigers had 11 sacks in a dominant performance.
After the loss of Carlos Watkins to the NFL, Wilkins (6-4, 300lbs) has shifted inside to his more natural defensive tackle position and has displayed quickness and explosive strength. He holds blockers well, allowing those around him to finish plays but stood out with 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks on Saturday. Ferrell will likely end up a Top-20 selection as an edge rusher, but it was junior Austin Bryant who feasted with a four sack performance on the opposite edge. Two years ago both Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd ended up inside the top-35 picks; could Bryant and Ferrell follow their predecessors as two early Clemson Defensive End draftees?
LOSER: M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina
Senior defensive back Stewart had his hands full against Louisville on Saturday, tasked with covering excellent receiver Jaylen Smith and trying to constrict Lamar Jackson as much as possible as a leader on the Tar Heels defense. Burned badly by Smith on a 75-yard touchdown, Stewart’s lack of makeup speed was evident and it was not the only time he was exposed in a rough performance. Stewart is a strong tackler and perhaps projects best as a nickel corner in the NFL, but this game perhaps highlighted problems should the North Carolina man be forced to play on the boundary.
WINNER: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
WR1 for now, Sutton is a big man with a big game and gaudy numbers at the smaller Texas school of SMU. Listed at 6-foot-4, Sutton wins at the catchpoint consistently and is a powerfully built receiver and a major red zone threat. He dominated North Texas in Week 2, with 8 catches for 163 yards and a ridiculous four touchdowns. There are concerns about Sutton’s deep speed and translation to the NFL from a smaller school, but the Mustangs’ monster certainly has me excited.
LOSER: Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern
Northwestern were considered by some as a program that could surprise with a big season, and halfback Jackson is a wonderful player to watch at his best. The senior is coming off of three consecutive 1000 yard seasons for the Wildcats, and also offers receiving skills. Against Duke, however, Jackson could only tally 18 yards on just 7 carries as Northwestern failed to get any offensive success. Agile, quick, explosive and possessing surprising power at 200 pounds, I like Jackson but have some concerns over the mileage and workload that he has had to carry in college. If his senior season continues in the vein of the Duke disappointment, then it is hard to see the undersized Jackson from being more than a late-round pick.
WINNER: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
The consensus best draftable guard in the nation, Nelson is an outstanding offensive lineman who forms a usually destructive left-side with Mike McGlinchey. Against a Georgia Bulldogs defense that gave the rest of the offensive line big problems all game long, Nelson emerged with another solid outing. Powerful and explosive, Nelson’s agility is atypical of a man his size and he parlays these skills into dominating defensive lineman to open holes or exploding to the second level, often driving linebackers into the ground. Nelson is a prospect with such a balanced and complete portfolio at guard that it is hard to imagine him being any less than a first round selection come next Spring. He also had this incredible blitz pickup on Saturday, a play few offensive lineman in the NFL would have been able to recognise and even fewer would have been able to make.
RB Rashaad Penny (SDSU)
WR Dante Pettis (Washington)
OL Billy Price (Ohio St.)
EDGE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (Oklahoma)
LB Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech)
EDGE Tyquan Lewis and LB Jerome Baker (Ohio St.)
OT Mike McGlinchey (Notre Dame)
HOT TAKE OF THE WEEK:
I think this might be the worst take I have ever seen. This gentleman (who works for ESPN) felt that the Heisman winner should be moved by his team to a different position in order to better help his future. Disregarding the fact that Lamar Jackson is going to be a quarterback in the NFL, and probably a very good one at that, but this opinion is asinine regardless of whether he is or isn’t.
If you see any take remotely close to being as hot as this one, feel free to send it to me on twitter @hlc1221. If there are any prospects you want me to check out then let me know, and I always appreciate any feedback.
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