Another week of college football, another slew of draft eligible Winners and Losers. Week 5’s big games included Clemson continuing their unbeaten start to the season with a solid victory over ACC rivals Virginia Tech and Washington State upsetting USC in a fantastic Friday night #Pac12AfterDark. LSU’s poor run continued with an embarrassing home loss to Troy to drop them to 3-2 and firmly out of the SEC picture while Mississippi State and Tennessee were dismantled by Auburn and Georgia respectively.
My weekly column aims to keep you up to date with the fluctuating stock of the NFL Draft prospects throughout the college football season. Here are the the Winners and Losers from Week 5 of College Football:
WINNER: Bryce Love, RB, Stanford
Bryce Love had the task of replacing Top-10 pick Christian McCaffrey as the Cardinal’s lead back for this season. The speedy runner has been exceptional through the first few weeks of the season and had his best game yet against Arizona State’s admittedly porous defense.
Love collected 301 yards rushing on just 25 carries, breaking McCaffrey’s school record for most rushing yards in a game. Love is a patient runner without elite creativity as a runner but understands how to wait to blocks. His speed and lateral quickness combine with lower body power and explosion to make him an incredibly tough runner to bring down and a big play threat, as was evident on touchdown runs of 61, 59 and 43 yards against the Sun Devils. Love will probably weigh in south of 190 pounds at the combine which will probably limit where he is taken in the draft. At that size it is hard to foresee Love as a lead back in the NFL, so a spot on Day 2 is likely dependent on athletic testing numbers and off-field reports. A fun player to watch in another strong and varied class of running backs.
LOSER: Mitch Hyatt, OT, Clemson
Hyatt has got some buzz as a potential top tier left tackle prospect but Virginia Tech’s defense showed he needs to develop. Hyatt has started since his freshman year for the Tigers and thus has faced a litany of star pass rushers during the Clemson’s National Championship runs the previous two seasons. An easy mover with good footwork, Hyatt’s athleticism is impressive at the tackle position and he may dip under 5.00 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
Where Hyatt’s immediate problems lay are in his ability to combat power and sustain blocks. His long arms are an asset but when they miss he can struggle to adjust to a bull rush, often getting walked back into the quarterback. He needs to put on some weight and spend time strengthening his frame to become a more effective pass protector. In the NFL, any power deficiencies in the upper body are quickly exposed: Luke Joeckel, for example, has thus far failed to live up to lofty expectations after being drafted second overall in 2013.
WINNER: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds is flying up my linebacker rankings and excelled against Clemson, showing a range of skills that make him an attractive commodity at the position. With good size at a listed 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, Edmunds is athletic and physical in the run game and possesses ability in coverage. Powerful in the tackle, Edmunds particularly rocked quarterback Kelly Bryant on this third down play, driving him into the turf on an outstanding open field tackle on third down.
Tremaine Edmunds is a football player, man. Shuts Kelly Bryant down right away on a key third down. pic.twitter.com/dVU8NJpvlq
— Riley Auman (@junioraumanac) October 1, 2017
Edmunds is verastile, playing a traditional MIKE position for the Hokies defense but also stepping outside and setting the edge as a strong side linebacker in the run game (his length makes him valuable in that capacity.) As a Houston Texans fan I see elements of Benardrick McKinney’s all around linebacking ability and size/athleticism blend alongside the versatility that allows the pair to play across the linebacking corps. McKinney was drafted at the top of the second round and Edmunds will likely go in a similar area or even higher, perhaps sneaking into the tailend of Round One.
LOSER: Iman Marshall, CB, USC
USC’s defeat to the Washington State Cougars has derailed their season somewhat, with the once favoured Trojans likely out of consideration for a College Football Playoff spot unless they recover to win the Pac-12 South and beat the winners of the Apple Cup (Washington-Washington St.) into the Pac-12 Title Game. Much of the blame has been put on Sam Darold’s shoulders for this defeat, and while the redshirt sophomore quarterback had another disappointing outing, the play of Marshall and the rest of the Trojans’ secondary was inadequate as Luke Falk and the gang of Cougars wideouts tore through them.
Marshall tries to be a physical lockdown corner but is too aggressive and overly grabby. He does not curb his natural assertive nature, rightly being flagged several times on Friday night. He lunges in press coverage and of more concern will be his ill-displince in off coverage, which saw Falk target Marshall repeatedly. Marshall was highly rated in the preseason but I don’t think he can play cornerback in the NFL if he continues like this. The league’s desire for physical defensive backs is well known but Marshall takes it too far and handicaps his natural awareness. Right now, Iman Marshall should be viewed as more of a safety prospect unless he proves he can play more in-control.
TE Adam Breneman, UMass
OL Braden Smith, Auburn
EDGE Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest
CB Jalen Davis, Utah State
RB Derrius Guice, LSU (missed Troy game due to injury)
WR Parris Campbell, Ohio St.
EDGE Arden Key, LSU (still working his way back from injury and time off from the team)
Hot Take of the Week:
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report is one of the best-known draft analysts and his weekly Scouting Notebook is packed full of information with useful titbits on what he is hearing from his sources in NFL front offices with regards to prospects. Miller has been on the Josh Allen hype train since early this year, anointing him as a potential top quarterback in last year’s draft and continuing to rate him highly through his continued struggles this season. He has been lower on Lamar Jackson’s NFL prospects.
In last Friday’s column, Miller gave grades to the performances of the top draft-eligible quarterbacks for their Week Four performances. Twitter user @LakeEffectBro highlighted two blurbs discussing the games of Jackson and Allen.
This is a collection of bad statements. Miller’s claim that Lamar Jackson’s ‘numbers from the game were so poor’ has zero merit, with Jackson going 18 of 22 with three total touchdowns. He points to two bad interceptions, ignoring the fact that the first of these was a well thrown ball that went right through his receiver’s hands. Jackson is far from perfect as a pocket passer but this game was actually a good performance for him, and he continues to develop that aspect of his game. Indeed, I would rate Lamar Jackson as a significantly better pocket quarterback than Josh Allen right now.
The Allen analysis is even more puzzling. If a quarterback prospect’s ‘best game’ is 9-19 for 92 yards, that is not a good quarterback. There is talk of Hawaii discontinuing their american football team, and the Rainbow Warriors do not have a great defense (they gave up 51 points to Colorado State this past weekend.) Allen’s numbers should have been even worse, a Hawaii defender dropping a probable pick-six on an awful late back foot throw on an out route.
Seen a Hot Take you want me to include next week or a player I should check out? Send them to me @hlc1221 on Twitter!
College Football Week 5 Winners and Losers