College Football Report

College Football Report

College Football: Week 2 Storylines

UCLA's unforgettable comeback, (1) Alabama knocking off (3) Florida State, a nail-biter between West Virginia and Virginia Tech, as well as the Big Ten thriving early. Week 1 of the 2017 college football season was excellent, and fortunately for those of us at home, we're just getting started.

As we move into the second week

UCLA’s unforgettable comeback, (1) Alabama knocking off (3) Florida State, a nail-biter between West Virginia and Virginia Tech, as well as the Big Ten thriving early. Week 1 of the 2017 college football season was excellent, and fortunately for those of us at home, we’re just getting started.

As we move into the second week of the collegiate season, there’s once again a bevy of intriguing storylines on schedule for you to keep a close eye on. Here’s what I’m most looking forward to this weekend:

(5) Oklahoma AT (2) Ohio State – September 9, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

The Buckeyes went to Norman and throttled the Sooners on their home turf last season, 45-24. This year, Oklahoma is coming off a more convincing Week 1 offensive performance where Sr. quarterback Baker Mayfield was able to call it a day by halftime. Can OU’s young head coach Lincoln Riley vindicate last season’s bad loss in Columbus? We’ll see.

Tyquan Lewis led the way against Indiana with two sacks.

Tyquan Lewis led the way against Indiana with two sacks.

Ultimately, this game will come down to Oklahoma’s offense against Ohio State’s defense, where the former looked dominant while scoring 35 first-half points and the latter notched five sacks, two interceptions, and one fumble in week 1.

Baker Mayfield will be under heavy scrutiny all season from an NFL evaluation standpoint, as he’s lacking prototype size or ideal physical traits for the next level. However, a signature performance early on would generate a dose of positive momentum for the Austin, Texas native.

Conversely, Ohio State’s defensive edge trio of Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, and Nick Bosa are sure to leave a mark on the game. As well, true Fr. running back J.K. Dobbins has Buckeye fans excited after his 181-yard rushing effort in his college debut. Scouts and fans alike will want to get a look at him – he’s wearing No. 2.

(13) Auburn AT (3) Clemson – September 9, 7 p.m. ET

Dabo Swinney spoke highly of Auburn’s balance on both sides of the ball last season and War Eagle is unquestionably superior to its 2016 counterpart. While it’s not impossible for Gus Malzahn’s squad to win ten regular season games this year, it’d require a sizable upset in order to win a night game at Memorial Stadium this Saturday.

However, Auburn boasts a potentially elite running game featuring the trio of Kerryon Johnson, Kam Martin, and Kamryn Pettway. Though Johnson is unlikely to suit up due to a hamstring injury, Pettway – last season’s bell cow – returns from suspension this week. Everyone’s favorite sleeper quarterback Jarrett Stidham will have to be a lot more effective this week if Auburn is to stand a chance of outscoring Clemson.

Clemson, last year’s national champion, has an enviable ground game itself with four players rushing for 50+ yards and at least one touchdown against Kent State in week 1. Oh, and the Tigers also completed passes to 15 different receivers as well.

Get ready for a lot of offense. Slam the over on this one.

(14) Stanford AT (6) USC – September 9, 8:30 p.m. ET

“It’s one of those dates you mark on your calendar because you know it’s going to impact your season,” said USC head coach Clay Helton of this tie.

Ronald Jones II rushed for three touchdowns in week one against Western Michigan.

Ronald Jones II rushed for three touchdowns in week one against Western Michigan.

We may be getting an early preview of the Pac-12 title game here and the contest is likely to be a tale of two star rushers. USC Jr. Ronald Jones II took charge offensively against Western Michigan in week 1 as his quarterback, Sam Darnold, failed to settle into the game. Meanwhile, Cardinal Jr. Bryce Love stepped in nobly in the wake of Christian McCaffrey as Stanford routed Rice in Australia.

As eluded to, Trojan Jr. quarterback Sam Darnold was porous in his season debut, but can quickly extirpate all negativity with a strong game this weekend. Though Josh Rosen carries the lion’s share of the pro buzz after UCLA’s come back, Darnold is still favored by many to be selected No. 1 overall in next year’s draft.

I’m expecting a tight game with a fun conclusion, and it’s possible that this won’t be the last time we see these two teams lock horns in 2017.

Quick Hits…

• (15) Georgia travels to South Bend to take on newly minted top twenty-five ranked (24) Notre Dame, but will do so with true Fr. Jake Fromm under center. Starter Jacob Eason sprained his knee against Appalachian State before Fromm entered and led Georgia on three consecutive touchdown drives. Gametime at 7:30 p.m. ET.

• (20) Washington State looks to avenge last season’s loss to unranked Boise State on September 9 at 8:30 p.m. ET. Get a good look at the Cougars’ interesting pro prospect Luke Falk, as he’s 101 passing yards away from breaking the school’s career passing record.

• Don’t forget, (16) Miami FL vs. Arkansas State has been canceled outright due to Hurricane Irma despite the game being staged in Jonesboro. ‘Canes athletic director Blake James confirmed it will NOT be replayed at a later date.

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2018 NFL Draft: Rosen takes early lead in QB race

College football is back, as evidenced by UCLA completing one of the greatest comebacks in history against Texas A&M this past week.

The Bruins stormed back from a 44-10 deficit late in the third quarter to emerge victorious, 45-44. The improbable comeback was largely attributed to the heroics of UCLA's Junior quarterback - and touted

College football is back, as evidenced by UCLA completing one of the greatest comebacks in history against Texas A&M this past week.

The Bruins stormed back from a 44-10 deficit late in the third quarter to emerge victorious, 45-44. The improbable comeback was largely attributed to the heroics of UCLA’s Junior quarterback – and touted 2018 draft prospect – Josh Rosen.

UCLA’s offense struggled early, as last season’s pass protection woes continued to prove problematic, while Rosen only completed about 50 percent of his first-half throws. However, evaluators will have noted multiple positives: Rosen took a balance of snaps both under center and in the shotgun with ease, he consistently compensated for an extreme lack of protection with a quick read + release, as well as exhibiting good pocket-mobility.

As the Bruins’ offense upped its tempo in the beginning of the fourth quarter, Josh Rosen seemingly developed a better rhythm and looked increasingly comfortable while moving the ball downfield in 10-15 yard increments. Methodical, cerebral, and never putting ball security at risk.

Comeback aside, what set Rosen’s performance apart from his 2018 quarterback classmates in week 1 was his ability to control the opposing secondary with look-offs and pump fakes. The second-half tape was ripe with NFL-esque window throws, and – to my quiet intrigue – Rosen would often change his arm angle dependent on the play, adjusting the release point of passes in order to avoid interference from defenders.

It was hardly a perfect game from the 2014 USA Today HS All-American, but mental fortitude is paramount in the evaluation game for quarterbacks. USC’s blue-chip passer Sam Darnold – who Rosen will compete with for the distinction of top eligible quarterback in this year’s draft – has a signature performance under his belt after last season’s Rose Bowl, and now Rosen has his.

Josh Rosen stat line vs. Texas A&M: 35/59 (59.3%), 491 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INT, 2 fumbles (2 lost)

Elsewhere…

•  Speaking of Sam Darnold: the Trojans’ redshirt-Sophomore passer got off to a painfully slow start against upstart Western Michigan at home. He was lacking intermediate-long range potency, completing mostly short-range passes in bunches. He finished with no touchdowns and two interceptions, but his team won. Darnold faces Stanford on prime time this weekend.

• Many people are hot on imposing Wyoming gunslinger Josh Allen, but for now the big-armed passer with size I’m fixated on is Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph. Though his Cowboys faced lowly Tulsa, good players take advantage of poor competition. He was dialed in from the outset, completing 20/24 passes (83.3%), for 303 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT. Rudolph’s first real test this season comes week 3 at Pittsburgh.

• While on the subject of Josh Allen, Wyoming’s offense was a horror show at Iowa converting just 5 of 18 third downs. Allen is purely a shotgun passer and while he flashed his elite arm talent and pocket athleticism, his performance was littered with dangerous throws. Though he’d occasionally throw the ball away on the scramble when running out of space, he would often fall susceptible to trusting his arm too much. His day ended 23/40 (57.5%), 174 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs. The next test evaluators will eagerly await is when Oregon comes to Laramie on September 16 for week 3. To me, the Carson Wentz comparisons are lazy, but Allen’s talent base is undeniable.

• Lastly, Louisville’s elite dual-threat (and Heisman candidate) Lamar Jackson picked up where he left off last year, completing 65.2% of his week 1 passes against Purdue, throwing for 378 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INT + 107 yards rushing. For what it’s worth, Washington State gunslinger Luke Falk completed 84.6% for 311 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT against minnow Montana State. He’ll face Boise State at home next week and his performance this year could elevate him into the first round.

Check me out on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

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2017 NFL Draft Grade: NFC North

The Bears hitch their wagon to Mitchell "Don't call me Mitch" Trubisky, the Lions get some Gators, Ted Thompson and the Packers leverage the second round for secondary support, while Minnesota was fortuitous to land its "All Day" replacement on day two.

Chicago Bears
Round 1 (No. 2): Mitchell Trubisky, QB. North

The Bears hitch their wagon to Mitchell “Don’t call me Mitch” Trubisky, the Lions get some Gators, Ted Thompson and the Packers leverage the second round for secondary support, while Minnesota was fortuitous to land its “All Day” replacement on day two.

Chicago Bears
Round 1 (No. 2): Mitchell Trubisky, QB. North Carolina
Round 2 (No. 45): Adam Shaheen, TE. Ashland
Round 4 (No. 112): Eddie Jackson, DB. Alabama
Round 4 (No. 119): Tarik Cohen, RB. North Carolina A&T
Round 5 (No. 147): Jordan Morgan, OG. Kutztown

Let me preface by saying that I actually like the collection of players the Bears added, but this evaluation hinges at least partially on Ryan Pace & Co.’s one-spot trade up into No. 2 overall. I’m a cautious believer in Trubisky and I think the biggest ‘win’ from this Chicago class is the fact that he is allowed to sit for a complete year behind Mike Glennon. Adam Shaheen is not “Gronk-lite”, but he’s a well-rounded player who can block/run/catch. Eddie Jackson is decent safety depth, but my two favorite picks were the last two: “Joystick” Tarik Cohen is an intriguing change of pace ‘back who offers electricity in space, while Jordan Morgan is a high-potential college left tackle who will transition to guard. Chicago gave up a boatload for one draft position and didn’t get much draft value elsewhere, but this is a long-term class for a rebuilding team so they won’t care what I think.

Grade: C+

Detroit Lions
Round 1 (No. 21): Jarrad Davis, LB. Florida
Round 2 (No. 53): Teez Tabor, CB. Florida
Round 3 (No. 96): Kenny Golladay, WR. Northern Illinois
Round 4 (No. 124): Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB. Tennessee
Round 4 (No. 127): Michael Roberts, TE. Toledo
Round 5 (No. 165): Jamal Agnew, CB. San Diego
Round 6 (No. 205): Jeremiah Ledbetter, DE. Arkansas
Round 6 (No. 215): Brad Kaaya, QB. Miami (FL)
Round 7 (No. 250): Pat O’Connor, DE. Eastern Michigan

I don’t see the ‘wow’ factor anywhere in this class past round one. I really like the Jarrad Davis pick: fills a major position of need and adds a very dynamic, twitchy interior linebacker with range and on-field leadership qualities. However, Teez Tabor and Kenny Golladay combine for maybe the most underwhelming day two haul of any draft class this year. Jalen Reeves-Maybin adds more athleticism in a big area of need, but was questionable value. Michael Roberts is a good blocker and a nice red zone option, while Brad Kaaya is the most exciting of the late round project passers, but that’s not enough to salvage a desired grade here.

Grade: C

Green Bay Packers
Round 2 (No. 33): Kevin King, CB. Washington
Round 2 (No. 61): Josh Jones, S. North Carolina State
Round 3 (No. 93): Montravius Adams, DT. Auburn
Round 4 (No. 108): Vince Biegel, LB. Wisconsin
Round 4 (No. 134): Jamaal Williams, RB. Brigham-Young
Round 5 (No. 175): DeAngelo Yancey, WR. Purdue
Round 5 (No. 182): Aaron Jones, RB. Texas-El Paso
Round 6 (No. 212): Kofi Amichia, OG/C. South Florida
Round 7 (No. 238): Devante Mays, RB. Utah State
Round 7 (No. 247):
 Malachi Dupre, WR. Louisiana State

Green Bay’s methodical and workman-like approach was evident yet again this year, valuing need over BPA. I was fired up about the team’s first three picks: King is your modern matchup boundary, while Josh Jones is a hit-stick safety with supreme athleticism – and in a post-Raji world, Montravius Adams’ blend of size/quickness/power fits right in. Mid-late rounds are hit or miss, but Jamaal Williams can do the dirty work Ty Montgomery can’t and Aaron Jones has intriguing long-speed. Malachi Dupre was a nice stamp: blue-chip high school recruit who suffered from poor quarterback-play at LSU – potential diamond. Par value, plenty of contributors.

Grade: B

Minnesota Vikings
Round 2 (No. 41): Dalvin Cook, RB. Florida State
Round 3 (No. 70): Pat Elflein, C. Ohio State
Round 4 (No. 109): Jaleel Johnson, DT. Iowa
Round 4 (No. 120): Ben Gedeon, LB. Michigan
Round 5 (No. 170): Rodney Adams, WR. South Florida
Round 5 (No. 180): Danny Isidora, OG. Miami (FL)
Round 6 (No. 201): Bucky Hodges, TE. Virginia Tech
Round 7 (No. 219): Stacy Coley, WR. Miami (FL)
Round 7 (No. 220): Ifeadi Odenigbo, DE. Northwestern
Round 7 (No. 232):
 Elijah Lee, LB. Kansas State
Round 7 (No. 247): Jack Tocho, CB. North Carolina State

One of three teams (Seattle, Cincinnati) who made 11 selections – the most this year. Like Green Bay, the Vikings knocked off a lot of needs. Dalvin Cook was my top rated running back, so to get him at No. 41 might be my favorite pick from the 2017 draft overall. A new long-term center was sorely needed and Elflein addresses that, offering some guard versatility in the interim. Jaleel Johnson is a wide-bodied 3-tech in the profile of Sharrif Floyd (who may not play again). Rodney Adams takes Cordarrelle Patterson’s place as the WR/KR on roster, while the intriguing Bucky Hodges is a modern move-TE with long arms and movement skill. I don’t think Ben Gedeon is the long-term Chad Greenway replacement Spielman & Co. might, but time will tell.

Grade: B

Hit me up on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

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Caputi: Pick-By-Pick Analysis (Round 1)

Settle in, I'm here to accompany you through the 2017 NFL Draft's first day of selections. Here you'll find my pick-by-pick analysis as we progress through the night.

Have a comment for me? Hit me up on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

 

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE. Texas A&M
The right pick for

Settle in, I’m here to accompany you through the 2017 NFL Draft’s first day of selections. Here you’ll find my pick-by-pick analysis as we progress through the night.

Have a comment for me? Hit me up on Twitter: @NFLDraftUpdate

 

1. Cleveland Browns: Myles Garrett, DE. Texas A&M
The right pick for a franchise lacking a genuine premier cornerstone on defense for far too long. This situation reminds me so much of Mario Williams’ selection by Houston in 2006. Defensive end has become a true value position over the past half-decade and good teams require elite edge play. Myles Garrett will have bare the flag of the Cleveland revolution, but fortunately he has a ton of talent supporting his efforts.

2. Chicago Bears (via SF): Mitchell Trubisky, QB. North Carolina – *TRADE
Let the games begin. Cleveland consciously passed on Trubisky at No. 1 knowing it was impossible he’d be available to them again. Oh, and don’t forget about John Lynch’s San Francisco 49ers already making a bold move by allowing the Bears to select the potential franchise arm – acquiring a boatload for the one draft spot in the process, I’ll add. Only two picks in and already we have a major storyline to follow in the coming years. Browns and 49ers pass on Trubisky: will they find their QBs later? will Trubisky pan out? Time will tell.

*Details of trade
To Bears: 1st round pick (No. 2 – Trubisky)

To 49ers: 1st round pick (No. 3), 3rd round pick (No. 67), 4th round pick (No. 111) + 2018 3rd round pick

3. San Francisco 49ers (via CHI): Solomon Thomas, DE. Stanford
John Lynch goes to his alma mater for his first pick as a General Manager. Building the defense from the ground up after making Thomas the franchise’s third 1st round defensive lineman selection in as many years (previous Arik Armstead, 2015 and DeForest Buckner, 2016). He’s not a tweener, he’s versatile. Hand in the dirt on 4-3 looks or rushing off the edge in a two-point stance on 3-4 downs, he can change the complexion of games.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Leonard Fournette, RB. Louisiana State
Elite size to speed ration with an undeniable mean streak. Ultimately, this pick had to be made in support of Blake Bortles and the Jags’ minimalist ground game. T.J. Yeldon is a nice player, but Fournette adds an element that simply wasn’t there before this evening.

5. Tennessee Titans: Corey Davis, WR. Western Michigan
A more complete, all-around receiver than guys perceivably graded ahead of him, but finds the right “fit” for your offense trumps the public’s draft board. Davis is tremendously productive + experienced, enters the league with a ton of polish and adds a more imposing physical element to Mariota’s arsenal.

6. New York Jets: Jamal Adams, S. Louisiana State
Whether the organization realizes it or not, there is a rebuild going on right now and Adams’ tone-setting abilities are a timely addition. Though the needs on defense were greater elsewhere, the Jets front office were not expecting this scenario – too much talent to pass on. Great pick – my favorite thus far.

7. Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams, WR. Clemson
The wide receiver need was always evident, but to get their guy this early is surprising when you consider the talent available on defense. That said, Phil Rivers ain’t getting younger and he’s never been able to rely on Keenan Allen to be healthy for a full 16 games. Williams is the best 50-50 receiver in this draft and adds an element that was sorely missing in the pass game.

8. Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey, RB/WR. Stanford
Four-down player, don’t put him in a box as just being a running back. You want to allow him 20-30 touches and create opportunities for him in space, as he offers pretty scary open-field elusiveness. Can you imagine the possibilities of a Cam Newton + Christian McCaffrey backfield? Sign me up for some college-style options looks once in a while – they could be special together. Caf’s special teams ability is just the cherry on top.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: John Ross, WR. Washington
The fastest man in NFL Combine history is off to Cincy. The Bengals are fortunate that the one receiver who suits their offense best in this receiver group fell to them. Ross’ speed creates a dangerous over-the-top threat that should relieve AJ Green of some pesky double-coverages. Calling Ross a similar player to DeSean Jackson would be miscasting him – at minimum, he enters the NFL running B+ routes with A++ speed.

10. Kansas City Chiefs (via BUF): Pat Mahomes, QB. Texas Tech – *TRADE
The biggest talent at his position in the class and he’s entering the ideal situation where he can sit for a complete season before worrying about meaningful snaps. We thought all along that he had a hard-stop at No. 12-13 with the quarterback-hungry Browns and Cardinals soon on the clock. He creates his own opportunities and is equipped with an A++ arm. In 3-5 years, we may look back at the quarterback order and say this situation worked out the best.

*Details of trade
To Chiefs: 1st round pick (No. 10 – Mahomes),

To Bills: 1st round pick (No. 27), 3rd round pick (No. 91) + 2018 1st round pick.

11. New Orleans Saints: Marshon Lattimore, CB. Ohio State
The Saints front office, much like the viewing public, could never have imagined Lattimore would be available outside of the top ten. You must think his constant hamstring issue may have at least mildly contributed to this happening, but the cornerback-starved Saints are thrilled by the opportunity to roll the dice here.

12. Houston Texans (via CLE): DeShaun Watson, QB. Clemson – *TRADE
It’s well-documented that Bill O’Brien is a fan of the big, strong prototype passers. DeShaun Watson doesn’t quite fit that profile and it just goes to show how highly O’Brien must rate his intangibles. An accurate passer who comes alive in big moments, Watson is the safest quarterback in this class and he’s joining a playoff team. Houston went to the playoffs despite receiving marginal QB play last year, so the pressure isn’t on Watson to be a world-beater in year one.

*Details of trade
To Texans: 1st round pick (No. 12 – Watson),

To Browns: 1st round pick (No. 25) + 2018 1st round pick.

13. Arizona Cardinals: Haasan Reddick, LB. Temple
Cards missed out on landing a QB to create the ideal redshirt scenario they desired, but might have landed the best realistic player on their board otherwise. Reddick is a self-starter, improving annually and holds genuine 2-3 position versatility. Will help wherever needed and contribute as a pass rusher from day one.

14. Philadelphia Eagles: Derek Barnett, DE. Tennessee
This one made a lot of sense pre-draft. Marcus Smith hasn’t panned out and Philly required a more reliable option off the edge behind Brandon Graham. Three consistent years of sack production at Tennessee, I don’t care if the combine numbers weren’t eye-popping on him, he gets after it.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Malik Hooker, S. Ohio State
Boom or bust poster boy from this draft class. Hooker has only one year of production, but it was absurdly productive. Elite center-field type with excellent ball skills. Sideline to sideline range and near-cornerback caliber movement skills, but the inexperience and durability concerns must be noted. Will he show flashes of Ed Reed at the next level or are we talking Raheem Moore 2.0? I’m suspect there won’t be much in-between with him. Tremendous potential-based pick.

16. Baltimore Ravens: Marlon Humphrey, CB. Alabama
Ozzie Newsome drafts a player from Alabama? No way! Seriously, this is a bargain pickup here as Humphrey could have easily gone to New Orleans had Lattimore not been available as expected. A physical press-man type, he profiles somewhat like Pro-Bowler Stephon Gilmore stylistically. Makes you wonder about Jonathan Allen though – if Ozzie wasn’t even comfortable scooping him 

17. Washington Redskins: Jonathan Allen, DL. Alabama
While the arthritic shoulder situation is worrisome, the Redskins have glaring issues along their 3-4 base defensive line. Strictly from a talent standpoint, Allen is a top 3 player in this class and worth the risk here for Washington. The Skins’ trench play has already improved with this selection.

18. Tennessee Titans: Adoree Jackson, CB. Southern California
This pick was (hopefully) made with patience in mind. As the diminutive playmaker develops as a corner I do hope to see him contribute immediately as an ace returner and hopefully on offense a little. Size and matchup length aren’t mandatory physical traits in Tennessee, nor have they ever been. It was always going to take an open-minded team to choose Adoree and the Titans may reap the long-term benefits as a result.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: O.J. Howard, TE. Alabama
Great fortune for the Bucs, who continue adding to an enviously impressive core of weaponry for Famous Jameis. Howard represents elite pass-catching potential, but enters the league with polish as a blocker. Hell, he did it so much at Bama, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Either way, massive bargain at this point.

20. Denver Broncos: Garett Bolles, OT. Utah
There’s no better athlete available along the offensive line in this draft class. Bolles essentially stays home and has long-term left tackle potential, though he requires a bit of polishing – which should come at RT. In a rather weak OL draft overall I think Elway & Co. go the potential route. Bolles is a mean dude on-field and enjoys a good trench battle.

21. Detroit Lions: Jarrad Davis, ILB. Florida
Rangy interior linebacker to the team who was most desperate for help in that spot in the league. Davis is a leader by example, modern in style and provides a major athletic boost to the Lions’ linebacking core. Conventional thinking says there was just no way Reuben Foster would be available here though. For them to pass on him says quite a bit about what kind of slide Foster might be in for tonight and/or tomorrow.

22. Miami Dolphins: Charles Harris, DE. Missouri
A coaches dream, Harris is a self-starter who has had to earn his time at Missouri behind a conveyer belt of strong collegiate edge defenders. After two productive starting seasons, I’m happy to see him land with a 4-3 team as I believe 4-3 end is his ideal situation. To Miami, he’s Cam Wake’s heir apparent.

23. New York Giants: Evan Engram, TE. Ole Miss
All along, it was a very strong possibility that Engram could go ahead of David Njoku. His skill-set appeals to more teams, including those who already had an entrenched tight end. The reason is he’s not a true tight end, nor is he a wide receiver – though versatile nonetheless. Eli obtains a field-stretcher.

24. Oakland Raiders: Gareon Conley, CB. Ohio State
Simply put, if the off-field allegations didn’t happen, he’s comfortably a top 15 pick. Give the Raiders front office the benefit of the and assume they know something the public doesn’t, because there still appears to be some uncertainty here. That said, on-field, this is a fantastic all-around player who contributes day one. Oakland entered this draft lacking a solution at corner opposite Sean Smith. We’ll see how this one plays out.

25. Cleveland Browns (via HOU): Jabrill Peppers, S/LB. Michigan – *TRADE
His personality should certainly help to provide a spark in a stagnant Browns locker room. Hue Jackson is attempting to change the culture of the organization’s on-field product and you do that by collecting players like Peppers. Though, to me, he’s more of a tweener than he is versatile I’ll assume the team selecting him is doing so with a specific role in mind for him.

26. Atlanta Falcons (via SEA): Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB. UCLA – *TRADE
Relentless motor off the edge either as a 4-3 end or standup edge linebacker. Offers some role diversity for the Falcons’ pass rushing setups and increases the ‘compete’ level of an already strong defensive core. By the way – who didn’t love that on-stage moment? You’ve just got to love live TV. Good for him – as he’s certainly not going to enter the NFL lacking in motivation.

*Details of trade
To Falcons: 1st round pick (No. 26 – McKinley),

To Seahawks: 1st round pick (No. 31), 3rd round pick (No. 95), 7th round pick (No. 249).

27. Buffalo Bills (via KC): Tre’Davious White, CB. Louisiana State – *TRADE
4-year starter who should make a seamless transition into a starting role from day one and competent enough to contribute in a multitude of roles in coverage. Stephon Gilmore departed and reinforcements were needed asap. Nice to see Buffalo think big-picture and acquire a 2018 1st round selection while still crossing off a considerable roster hole.

28. Dallas Cowboys: Taco Charlton, DE. Michigan
Long disruptive figure who feasted in opposing backfields. That said, he’s a one-year wonder, but the Cowboys are clearly pleased with the upside aspect of this pick. Despite his size + frame, Taco gets real-real skinny. Dallas has some talent on the edges, but these days teams require 3-4 viable options. I like this pick, Taco is too talented to have slid out of day one.

29. Cleveland Browns (via GB): David Njoku, TE. Miami (FL) – *TRADE
Supremely gifted athlete with absolutely no physical limitations. Njoku is still just 20 and enters the league as something of a diamond in the rough, as his catching is a little inconsistent for my liking. However, when he’s your third 1st round pick, than I think you feel comfortable rolling the dice on his talent. If you pass on all of the quarterbacks, at least help Kessler. They did with this pick.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers: T.J. Watt, OLB. Wisconsin
Can’t draw it up any better. Energy, toughness, attitude – all ideal characteristics Pittsburgh seeks on defense, all adjectives of T.J. Watt. One of the more complete defenders available at this point and it’s logical that he proved too talented to slip out of day one. Steelers have been trying to get younger on D for years.

31. San Francisco 49ers (via ATL by SEA): Reuben Foster, ILB. Alabama – *TRADE
We’ll assume this slide – like teammate Jonathan Allen’s – was medical related, but I applaud rookie GM John Lynch for being aggressive at both the top and bottom of round 1. Thomas and Foster help frame a new attitude for a rebuilding San Francisco defense that was very good not long ago.

*Details of trade
To 49ers: 1st round pick (No. 31 – Foster),

To Packers: 2nd round pick (No. 33), 4th round pick (No. 108).

32. New Orleans Saints (via NE): Ryan Ramczyk, OT. Wisconsin
Plug and play right tackle to help keep the grizzled Drew Brees upright. Saints addressed the big cornerback need earlier and now knock off arguably the second largest hole on the roster. Unsexy, but sound pick to conclude the day.

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2017 NFL Draft Preview – Top-5 Running Backs

Continuing with our series in previewing some of the prospects for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. This week we take a glimpse at the top-five running backs who look to be available come the Spring of 2017.
The RB class contains several talented runners who project very well at the next level. Overall depth

Continuing with our series in previewing some of the prospects for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. This week we take a glimpse at the top-five running backs who look to be available come the Spring of 2017.
The RB class contains several talented runners who project very well at the next level. Overall depth in the class will allow teams, in need of a RB, to find starting caliber backs on the drafts third-day. Reminiscent to last year when the Bears drafted Jordan Howard, the league’s second leading rusher, in the fifth-round.

1. Leonard Fournette, LSU

Coming out of high school Leonard Fournette was regarded as the number one prospect in the nation, and was one of the most highly recruited players to ever come out of the state of Louisiana. Throughout his stay in Baton Rouge Fournette did not disappoint as he set LSU’s school rushing record by a freshman (1,034 yards) in 2014, then as a sophomore proceeded to establish the Tigers single-season rushing mark in both yards (1,953) and touchdowns (22).
Fournette has all the makings of a lead back who is capable of spear heading a team’s ground game. He is an explosive runner who demonstrates a natural feel for the position as he can find openings by getting “skinny” and sneaking through and getting into the defenses second level. Fournettes quick-feet and excellent lateral quickness allow him to change direction, string together multiple cuts on a run, and make defenders miss in the open field. He can bounce a run to the outside or simply plant his foot and cut it up field once he sees an opening on the plays backside.
His balance and strength allow him to easily break through arm tackles and become a difficult runner to bring down to the ground once he gets behind his pads and starts lowering his shoulder into defenders, while also demonstrating a violent stiff arm.
What makes Fournette ever so dangerous is that besides the ability to power through a defense, becoming an effective short yardage or goal line runner, he possesses terrific build up speed that once he gets in the open field he has a chance to pull away from defenders, and take it in for a touchdown.
In terms of what still needs to be developed, pass protection would top the list as he needs to be better at helping to protect the QB. Fournette must get better at absorbing the impact from the defender instead of just meeting them at the POC or attempting to stall them with a shoulder block. While as a pass catcher Fournette was limited in the number of passes thrown his way so his route running and overall effectiveness in the passing game is something his NFL coaches will need to develop.
Overall, Fournette’ s combination of size, speed, and power running ability project him developing into a lead back and a bell cow for an offense. He has all the attributes you look for in a true-blue chip NFL runner that you build your team around, and one that can be an impact starter as a rookie next season.

2. Dalvin Cook, Florida State

A five-star high school prospect and top running back in the state of Florida Dalvin Cook put together quite the resume as a Seminole. Cook posted back-to-back All-America Campaigns (unanimous All-American in 2016) as he leaves FSU as the school’s all-time leading rusher surpassing the 20-year record set by Warrick Dunn. He also ranks second all-time in the ACC with 4,464 career rushing yards, and became the only player in conference history to break the 4,000-yard marker in just three seasons.
Cook possesses a well-rounded game posing just as big of a threat as a pass catcher as he is a runner. Whether it’s his quick-feet when he strings together multiple cuts on a single run, or when he easily bounces a run designed to go up the middle to the outside, Cook is an offensive weapon that opposing defenses need to game plan against.
Cook’s balance and quickness allow him to run through arm tackles in the defenses second and third levels once he is past the LOS. He can make defenders miss in the open field and possesses the athletic ability to change directions without needing to slow down. While his vision and instincts help him quickly identify holes opening on the plays backside.
Cook flashes game-breaking ability when he catches a screen pass out of the backfield and runs up the sideline turning on the jets and running by the defense into the end zone for a touchdown. With his speed, Cook is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, whether it is being handed off to him or thrown to him.
While his blocking technique and overall strength need continued development, he is not a total liability in pass protection as he is aware of protection schemes and which defender is his responsibility to pick-up when the defense rushes or blitzes the quarterback.
Where Cook can struggle is in short-yardage situations where he is called on to lower his pad level, take on a defender, and move the sticks.
Overall, when you watch Cook play his ability pops out at you, and there is no doubt that we are watching one of the more exciting players in the country, and a future NFL running back. Cook’s versatility and all-around talents fit perfectly in today’s pass happy NFL game. Flashing game-changing talent as both a runner and pass catcher.

3. Christian McCaffrey, Stanford

As a sophomore in 2015 all Christian McCaffrey did was become the NCAA single-season all-purpose yards’ record holder (3,864) eclipsing the mark which was previously held by Barry Sanders. McCaffrey also became the only FBS player to ever lead his team in rushing, and receiving yardage in the same season. He would be named The AP player of the year and Paul Hornung Award winner leading the NCAA and Pac-12 in rushing with 2,019 yards, while racking up another 1,070 yards on 37 kick-offs returns for a whopping 28.9-yard average per return.

This past season McCaffrey once again led the PAC-12 in rushing with 1,603 yards while playing in only 11 games.
McCaffrey’s athletic ability and big play potential is evident when you watch him play. Whether it’s as a runner, receiver, or returner his ability in space and the threat to score at any time is impressive.
As a runner, McCaffrey displays excellent vision as he can quickly identify a hole and accelerate through the line of scrimmage and into the defenses second and third levels. He plays with patience and demonstrates good instincts as a runner in allowing his blockers time to set up and quickly anticipating an opening or a play developing. With quickness and speed being his calling card, McCaffrey can easily get to the edge and take the corner at full speed and quickly accelerate up field.
As a receiving threat, McCaffrey’s hands are good enough to play wide receiver on a full-time basis. He can line up in the slot and run receiver routes. He can set up defensive backs with head fakes, and create separation at the top of his stem with sharp precise cuts.
While on special teams McCaffrey, for his career, averaged 26.4 yards on kick-off returns helping to consistently set up his offense with very good field position.
The main concern with McCaffrey is his size. At 5’11” and 202-pounds he will not be every down carry the load type of running back. Instead he projects as more of a stretch runner that will threaten the edge of the defense as opposed to a between the tackles type who will keep pounding away inside.
Overall, McCaffrey does not possess the frame that can add that much more weight so expecting him to be a 20-25 carry runner is unrealistic. Where McCaffrey can win is by leveraging his quickness, speed, and playmaking ability in both the running, and passing game along with additional chances on both kick-off and punt return duties. This would allow McCaffrey ample opportunities to get the ball into his hands and to continue making big plays.


4. D’Onta Foreman, Texas

In a draft class deep with talented runners it appears Texas tailback D’Onta Foreman gets lost in the shuffle. However, the reigning Doak Walker Award winner is a talented power runner who in just a one season as a starter led the BIG-12 with 2,028 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns in route to being named a Consensus First Team All-American, becoming the first Longhorn runner to earn that distinction since Ricky Williams back in 1998. He ended his collegiate career by rushing for a school-record, 13 straight 100-yards games.
Foreman is an old-school downhill power runner who is comfortable running it between the tackles and taking on big-bodied defenders at the LOS. He has very good athleticism for a big power back carrying his weight well, demonstrating quick-feet and vision with his jump cut ability in and out of holes along with a knack to see blocking develop at the first and second level of the defense. Foreman is a patient runner who will allow his blockers to get out and set up their blocks, and follow them through the gap. He is good at finishing his runs by lowering his pad level and running through defenders. Demonstrates good balance and leg-strength running through arm tackles, bouncing off and continuing to pick up YAC; also, is a weapon in short-yardage and goal line situations.
Foreman has very good straight line speed, breaking off long TD runs of 74 and 62 yards this past season. Just last week Foreman confirmed his long speed for scouts at Texas Pro Day where he was hand-timed twice running a 4.45 forty.
Some of the concerns in Foreman’s resume starts with his marginal receiving production, where in his three seasons at Texas where he totaled just 13 receptions. He never appeared to be a viable option in the passing game for the Texas coaches. His pass-blocking is also questionable, and is still a work in progress, taking some questionable angles and appearing to still be learning how to block. He also had seven fumbles this past season, losing six of them, which bring into question his ball security.
Overall, Foreman is a big north south runner with good quickness, vision, and strength. He possesses the speed to break-off big chunks of yardage and could be an ideal four-minute back capable of grinding out the clock. Appears to be best suited for a power Gap blocking system where he will make his mark creating tough yards. Limited contributions as a receiver and blocker could lessen his draft stock.


5. Samaje Perine, Oklahoma

A three-year starter and two-time first team Big-12 selection (by the league coaches) Perine leaves Oklahoma as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,122 yards despite turning pro after just three seasons. The NCAA single-game rushing record holder (427 yards vs. Kansas in 2014) Perine is fourth in Oklahoma history with 49 rushing TD’s and second with six games of at least 200 rushing yards.
Perine is a powerful compact runner who rarely goes down on first contact, displaying very good balance that allows him to excel at running through contact. Exhibits good play strength and an ability to finish by lowering his pads and punishing tacklers at the end of his runs. At 5’11” and 233-pounds he is deceptively quick for his size as he can quickly plant and cut in seemingly one motion, swiveling his hips, to allude defenders or spring through an opening at the LOS. He does not dance around behind the line, instantly looking to follow his blockers, up into the hole, or use his good run vision to find an outside alley that could develop on the plays backside.
Perine has solid instincts as a runner, anticipates openings, and can feel his way through the trash along the line of scrimmage. He is good at avoiding negative runs, and is rarely ever taken down for a loss. Instead he is always leaning forward and driving his legs to gain positive yards on a play.
Perine is a bit of a short stepper with tightness in his hips – gears to cut, does not open his stride in the open field and can get caught from behind, lacking breakaway speed.
He never really developed as a pass catcher, only 40 receptions in three seasons, as he shared the backfield with Joe Mixon who was much more heavily utilized in the passing game.
Overall, Perine is a big, strong, competitive runner with bruising power to produce tough yards between the tackles. With his vision, balance, and ability to excel in short-yardage situations, bouncing off contact, Perine appears to have the makings of a 15-20 carry between the tackle thumper at the next level. Proving to be a viable option in the passing game, will determine if Perine can develop into a three-down back.

Danny Shimon

NFPost Scouting 101 & Scouting Seminar Graduate.
Bears writer for www.windy-citysport.com

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2017 NFL Draft Preview – Top – 5 Quarterbacks

Continuing with our series in previewing some of the prospects for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. This week we take a glimpse at the top-five quarterbacks who look to be available come the Spring of 2017.
The 2017 QB class is one of the more highly scrutinized position group heading into the draft. Seemingly

Continuing with our series in previewing some of the prospects for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. This week we take a glimpse at the top-five quarterbacks who look to be available come the Spring of 2017.
The 2017 QB class is one of the more highly scrutinized position group heading into the draft. Seemingly being knocked for lacking ready-made signal callers who can come in on day one and lead their respective franchise. While the 2017 QB class may not have a plug-n-play franchise signal caller it does have some talented athletes who with time and proper coaching can develop into starting caliber NFL quarterbacks.

1. Deshaun Watson, Clemson

Watson has been one of college football more decorated athletes over the past two seasons having compiled a 32-3 record as a starter. He led Clemson to back-to-back National Championship games, and helped secure the schools second National Championship title in its history with a 35 – 31 victory over Alabama this past January, where he was named the National Championship game most valuable offensive player.
Three-year starter and team captain Watson exudes leadership and confidence at the helm of an offensive unit, and is lauded by coaches and teammates for his work ethic, competitiveness, and overall high football character.
Physically Watson is a good athlete, who possesses solid size. He can extend plays with his feet and escape pressure with the quickness, and foot speed to become a dual-threat out of the backfield.
As a passer, Watson has a quick trigger able to quickly get rid of the football. Possessing good arm-strength capable of making all the necessary throws expected of an NFL QB. Displays solid accuracy on back shoulder throws, end zone fades, and on 50/50 balls, giving his receiver a chance with his ball placement and very good touch on his throws. Has good pocket awareness able feel pressure off the edges and can climb the ladder to buy some time for his receivers to get open. Tough as nails as he plays his best it seems in big games or in critical situations of a ball game illustrated by the fact he had 16 touchdowns thrown, to only two interceptions for his career in the fourth quarter.

While there are certain areas of his game that still need fine tuning, such as not staring down receivers, cleaning up his footwork, and improving his down field accuracy. Not to mention the fact he played in a hybrid-spread offense and must get familiar with huddling, reading defensive coverages pre-snap, and aligning protections Watson is far from a finished product.

However, with 35 starts under his belt, big-time production versus some elite competition, off the charts leadership qualities, Watson has the makings of a starting caliber NFL QB who can help his team win on Sundays.

2. DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame

Kizer is one of the more physically gifted quarterbacks in the entire 2017 NFL draft. Possessing prototypical height, size, and athleticism Kizer, who measured in at 6’4” 233-pounds with long arms and big hands, simply looks like a starting NFL QB.
In his second season as the Irish starting QB Kizer had a up and down campaign that saw him struggle with his accuracy, decision making, and overall confidence. For his career in South Bend Kizer made 23 starts throwing for over 5,800 yards with 47 passing touchdowns, and 18 rushing scores.
Besides being a good athlete with height and size Kizer possesses elite arm strength and can make and complete special types of throws. He can fit the ball into tight windows, stretch the defense vertically with the best of them, and place touch on the ball to drop in between the 2nd and 3rd levels of a defense. He has a clean delivery with a quick release. He shows solid awareness, able to buy time in the pocket with his feet. Can also tuck it and run for big yards possessing enough speed to pull away from linebackers in certain conditions. Kizer shows good toughness as he will stand firm in the pocket, take a hit, to deliver the football, and has no qualms lowering his pad level and running over a defender in short-yardage situations or at the goal line.
Parts of his game where he struggled was bird-dogging his receivers waiting for them to come open, and not going through his progression, which in turn resulted with him holding onto the ball too long, with the outcome typically being a sack or a negative play. He was not consistently able to throw receivers open, especially versus better competition, as you would see passes sail on him, bounce off the turf, or not even coming close to the intended target.
There are not many quarterback prospects in this draft that can match Kizer’s physical skillsets however. What he will need is time (to sit and learn behind a veteran) and a good QB coach who can correct some of his issues. When right though, Kizer has a huge ceiling and if placed in the proper situation with proper coaches he can be a big-time NFL quarterback.

3. Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina

A relative unknown prior to the 2016 season Trubisky was just a one-year starter (13 starts) at North Carolina, seeing only limited action as a backup his freshman and sophomore seasons. Having said that Trubisky does leave UNC ranked fifth, in school history, for both career passing touchdowns (41) and passing yards (4,762) demonstrating how productive he was when he was on the field.
Trubisky possesses solid size (6’2” 222-pounds) with solid athletic ability, and quick feet. While he too played in a spread offense there are examples on tape of Trubisky reading the field sideline-to-sideline and going through a progression. His delivery is a compact over-the-top delivery, with a quick-release, and the ability to throw it from different arm angles. While not possessing elite arm-strength he is solid in this area, able to torque his upper-body to get plenty of zip on the ball, capable of making all the throws. What really stands out with him as a QB is the anticipation and accuracy he shows from both the pocket and when asked to throw it on the run. He can throw a receiver open and lead them away from coverage understanding the importance of ball placement.
Having only made 13 starts in his career Trubisky is still a developmental prospect who still needs time to develop a feel for the pocket, refine his footwork and learn to take snaps from under center on a regular basis. He could also stand to show more poise in the pocket against pressure as he would tend to rush his throws and not operate comfortably with bodies by his feet.
While Trubisky had probably the best tape in 2016, among the rest of the QB group, his body of work still leaves many wondering how to project Trubisky as an NFL signal caller.
Although he displays traits you like to see in starting QB’s like size, athletic ability, solid mechanics, accuracy, and anticipation. He is a prospect that many will debate leading up to the draft, and probably continue to after he has been drafted.

4. Davis Webb, California

The 6’5” 229-pound Webb started his career as a Texas Tech Red Raider playing for head coach Kliff Kingsbury. While playing at Texas Tech Webb set seven Big-12 freshman records, and four different school marks, including throwing for at least one touchdown in his first 18 career games. He led the Big-12 in passing yards per game (317.4) and was named the offensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl after leading Texas Tech to a victory over #14 Arizona State by passing for 403 yards and four touchdowns.
After losing the starting job to Patrick Mahomes, after he got injured, Webb decided to transfer to Cal for his senior season. In his lone season at Cal, Davis finished 2nd in the PAC-12 in passing yards, completions, and total touchdowns (43).
Davis possesses the prototypical size, and length along with a strong-arm that can make NFL type throws. He can place the ball on a rope standing on the boundary hash and throw it to the field sideline. He shows surprisingly quick feet and solid ability to extend plays by escaping pressure when the pocket collapses, and on rollouts. Playing in the same spread Cal offense that produced last year’s top pick in Jared Goff, Davis demonstrated his solid mental processing ability by progressing through full-field reads and audibling at the LOS, which is something we rarely saw Goff do. He shows good downfield accuracy with an ability to drop the ball in a bucket, over the top of a defense, and lead his receiver away from coverage to help maximize his YAC ability.
As is the case with most QB’s who come from a predominately spread offense Webb has picked up some bad habits along the way. Such as throwing off his back foot, and sloppy footwork in the pocket which affected his downfield passes as they would either sail over the intended target or simple be nowhere near the receiver. His decision making also suffered a bit as he would rely on his arm to force the ball into heavily covered receivers, and at times throw it to a receiver who was being sandwiched by a corner and high safety.
Unlike some of his spread predecessors though Webb possesses the size, arm-strength, and feel for the passing game that should excite the NFL. He is an intelligent kid who really took to the coaching that Hue Jackson and his staff offered up down at the Senior Bowl, and it showed in the game. With his skillset, it wouldn’t surprise me if Webb finds himself higher on several team’s draft boards than many would have anticipated originally.

5. Brad Kaaya, Miami

Entering the 2016 college football season Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was generally regarded as the second-best college football quarterback behind Clemson’s Deshaun Watson at the time, and a prime candidate to be a very high draft pick.
However, after a solid junior season in which he threw for more passing yards (3,250) and touchdowns (27) than he had ever before in his career, Kaaya has seen his draft stock take somewhat of a slow dive even after becoming Miami’s All-Time leading passer with 9,968 yards in just three seasons.
Kaaya’s strength revolve around his height, decision making, pocket presence, and ball placement. Also, working in Kaaya’s favor was playing in a Pro-Style offense last season under head coach Mark Richt. He was asked to take snaps from under center, read the full-field when going through his progression, called out protections and identified the Mike backer at the LOS. All of which is huge in terms of being mentally prepared for what he will see when he gets inside a NFL QB room next season. Physically, Kaaya also possesses a quick release with a solid arm. He drops back and sets up quickly with sound footwork in the pocket. Makes good decisions with the ball, only seven interceptions in over 400 pass attempts, displays good pocket presence able to feel backside pressure and either climb the pocket or maneuver to avoid the rush by sliding his feet to extend the play. He throws a tight catchable spiral knowing when to take pace off the ball, and conversely when he needs to fire it into a tight window. His accuracy and touch along with ball placement on back shoulder throws and corner fades is above average.
Where Kaaya struggles is on throws downfield (20 plus yards) outside the numbers towards a moving target and on out routes as he lacks the elite arm-strength to consistently make those types of throws on time, and on a line. Appearing instead to be more comfortable throwing inside the numbers, on in-cutting routes, to stationary targets. Kaaya has also fallen into some bad habits of not fully striding into his throws, short-arming passes as he prematurely bails to protect himself from taking a big hit. Possessing only adequate foot speed Kaaya is a true pocket passer and won’t threaten the edges of the defense and needs a solid pocket in front of him to operate effectively.
Kaaya seemingly is flying under the radar in terms of pre-draft hype, but as the draft gets closer look for his name to prominently be mentioned among the QB group that teams will be looking to maneuver for on day two of the draft.

Danny Shimon

NFPost Scouting 101 & Scouting Seminar Graduate.
Bears writer for www.windy-citysport.com

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2017 Post-Combine Mock Draft

1. Cleveland – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Comment: Browns pass up on a QB to take arguably the best pass rusher in the draft, giving defensive coordinator Gregg Williams a cornerstone defender to build a defense around.

2. San Francisco – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

Comment: In a bit of a surprise GM John

1. Cleveland – Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Comment: Browns pass up on a QB to take arguably the best pass rusher in the draft, giving defensive coordinator Gregg Williams a cornerstone defender to build a defense around.

2. San Francisco – Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

Comment: In a bit of a surprise GM John Lynch goes to his alma mater to select Thomas, who on tape looks unblock able at times. Thomas displayed both athleticism and versatility and appears capable of playing in any defensive scheme.

3. Chicago – Jamal Adams, SAF, LSU

Comment: The Bears ignore Adams slower than expected 40 times and select the LSU safety third overall. He is a physical safety who will supply an attitude and swagger in the Chicago secondary.

4. Jacksonville – Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama

Comment: In Tom Coughlin’s first draft back as the football czar in Jacksonville he selects Alabama’s Allen who is a well-coached and scheme versatile defensive lineman. An arthritic condition in his shoulders will be something that will need to be cleared by the Jaguars medical staff during the pre-draft process though.

5. Tennessee – Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

Comment: Fast athletic cover corner who can come in and be a day one starter for the Titans and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

6. NY Jets – Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Comment: With no clear-cut starting QB on the roster currently, and with the recent release of receiver Brandon Marshall looks like the Jets might turn into a ground and pound offense next season. Fournette is a workhorse runner with a combination of instincts, vision, and power to carry an offensive unit.

7. LA Chargers – Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Comment: Williams gives QB Phillip Rivers a weapon on the outside to complement the tight end combo of Gates and Hunter Henry, along with Keenan Allen on the opposite side. Williams possesses good size and strength supplying the Chargers with a playmaker downfield who can go up and high point the ball.

8. Carolina – Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Comment: Barnett will help boost the Panthers pass rush with his ability to provide pressure off the edge utilizing his relentless motor and athleticism.

9. Cincinnati – Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama

Comment: Despite being sent home from the combine due to a dispute regarding his medical evaluation Foster is one of the better defensive prospects in the draft. He is an instinctive linebacker who projects as a four-down player.

10. Buffalo – DeShaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Comment: With the future of Tyrod Taylor still up in the air currently the Bills and new head coach Sean McDermott commit to making Watson the future face of the franchise.

11. New Orleans – Jabril Peppers, SAF, Michigan

Comment: Looking to shore-up a defensive unit that ranked 27th overall, in total defense, last season the Saints add Peppers to a secondary that no longer has veteran Jairus Byrd at free safety.

12. Cleveland – Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

Comment: Using the selection they received from the Eagles in last year’s trade the Browns nab Ohio native Trubisky to hopefully be the answer to their QB problems.

13. Arizona – DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Comment: With Carson Palmer entering what may be his final season the Cardinals select his heir apparent in Kizer. Coach Bruce Arians loves big strong quarterbacks who can get the ball downfield in his offensive system and Kizer fits that description.

14. Philadelphia – John Ross, WR, Washington

Comment: Looking to supply quarterback Carson Wentz with a weapon on offense the Eagles select former Washington Huskie John Ross and his 4.22 speed. Ross, who broke the scouting combine record for the fastest timed forty-yard dash is not just a speed demon playing receiver. He runs good routes and can be lined up in either the slot or on the outside.

15. Indianapolis – Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Comment: Continuing in their pursuit to find a viable corner to play opposite Vontae Davis the Colts nab Sidney Jones who gives them added length and speed at corner.

16. Baltimore – Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Comment: With Steve Smith retiring, and 2015 first-round pick Breshard Perriman inconsistent and unproductive wide receiver is a need position for Baltimore. With Corey Davis, they get a big-play receiver with size, and speed who in 2016 ranked in the top-10 in catches (97), receiving yards (1,500) and touchdowns (19).

17. Washington – Malik Hooker, SAF, Ohio State

Comment: Hooker was one of the better ball-hawking safeties in college football last year with seven interceptions (three returned for TD’s). He drops a bit here mainly due to lack of starting experience (one-year starter) and injuries. He is coming off surgeries to repair a sports hernia and a torn labrum. His status as to when he will be able to take the field next season is still currently unknown.

18. Tennessee – Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

Comment: Reddick is one of the draft’s biggest risers since the season ended. He was a hand in the dirt defensive end for the Owls but displayed the ability to play off the LOS as a stand-up linebacker down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. He continued his rise up draft boards at the combine when he ran a 4.52 forty at 237-pounds and jumped a vertical of 36.5 inches.

19. Tampa Bay – Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Comment: The Buccaneers continue surrounding QB Jameis Winston with weapons, as the team-up the former Seminole Cook with veteran Doug Martin giving them a very good one-two punch in the backfield.

20. Denver – O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

Comment: Howard is one of the safest picks in the draft as he is a physical freak who can line up inline as a blocker or be split out wide as a receiver. Howard will add a pass-catching threat at TE for the Broncos that has been missing since Julius Thomas left town.

21. Detroit – Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

Comment: Humphrey is a physical press corner who has the size, speed, and agility to mirror receivers downfield.

22. Miami – Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan

Comment: With Mario Williams no longer in Miami, the Dolphins hope that Charlton’s size (6’6”) and length (34-inch arms) along with intensity will make a formidable combination upfront when teamed with the likes of Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake.

23. NY Giants – Chris Wormley, DT, Michigan

Comment: With the possibility of losing defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins to free agency GM Jerry Reese looks to fill the hole with Wormley. The former Wolverine will look to provide both size and versatility along the Giants defensive front.

24. Oakland – Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Comment: At 6’4” 230-pounds Cunningham’s length, and speed are his two biggest assets. He possesses very good closing burst that allows him to track down ball carriers and become a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine.

25. Houston – Budda Baker, SAF, Washington

Comment: Baker is an undersized safety/nickel defender who draws favorable comparisons to Arizona cardinals Tyrann Mathieu. Baker possesses very good quickness and is fast to diagnose and attack. He can be a roving defender and matchup safety for the Texans and DC Romeo Crennel.

26. Seattle – Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

Comment: Seahawks look to shore-up an offensive line that needs an infusion of talent. With Robinson, they get a talented athlete who played left tackle at Alabama but will need to switch over to right tackle or move inside to guard in the NFL.

27. Kansas City – Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Comment: The Chiefs find the perfect replacement for Jamaal Charles with Stanford’s McCaffrey. Like Charles, McCaffrey is a dual-threat back who is equally effective as both runner and pass catcher out of the backfield.

28. Dallas – Jordan Willis, DE, Kansas State

Comment: Willis stock really started to rise during the senior bowl practices and he carried that momentum into Indianapolis this past weekend. Willis ran a 4.53 forty, vertical jumped 39-inches, and posted the fastest 3-cone time (6.85) among the defensive line group. Dallas needs to upgrade their pass rush off the edge, and that is an area Willis can help them get better at.

29. Green Bay – Takk McKinley, EDGE, UCLA

Comment: With both Nick Perry and Julius Peppers UFA’s there is some uncertainty at outside LB for Green Bay. McKinley can certainly help fill that void as he is a relentless pass rusher who plays with a non-stop motor.

30. Pittsburgh – Charles Harris, EDGE, Missouri

Comment: Missouri’s Charles Harris is another in the long line of edge rushers to come out of the Tigers program. He is an edge defender who during the combine demonstrated surprising agility and athleticism in the linebacker drills. He projects best as a stand-up outside backer whose forte is to get after the quarterback.

31. Atlanta – Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA

Comment: Moreau really stood out during the East West Shrine game displaying playmaking ability along with quickness and speed. He is a tall corner with a thick build who can press and reroute receivers while also comfortable in off coverage. Moreau will remind coach Quinn of the corners he had in Seattle when he was the Seahawks DC.

32. New England – David Njoku, TE, Miami

Comment: With the expected departure of Martellus Bennett in free agency and with Gronk coming off another injury the Patriots pick the athletic Njoku in hopes of continuing the success they have had with their two tight end sets. While not a finished product Njoku offers tremendous upside as a pass catching TE. His combination of size, speed, and athleticism should provide a comparable replacement, minus the blocking ability, for Bennett.

Danny Shimon

NFPost Scouting 101 & Scouting Seminar Graduate.
Bears writer for www.windy-citysport.com

Read More 1496 Words

2017 NFL Draft Preview – Top-5 Safeties

Continuing with our series in previewing some of the prospects for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. This week we take a glimpse at the top-five safeties who look to be available come the Spring of 2017.

The 2017 safety class looks to be one of the more talented and deepest position group in recent drafts.

Continuing with our series in previewing some of the prospects for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. This week we take a glimpse at the top-five safeties who look to be available come the Spring of 2017.

The 2017 safety class looks to be one of the more talented and deepest position group in recent drafts. Teams with a demand at safety should be able to fulfill their needs with this 2017 draft class. There are liable to be starting caliber NFL safeties still waiting for their names to be called on day three, of this draft, then we have had for quite some time.

1. Jamal Adams, LSU

Adams is a well-built physical safety with good speed and strength that excels at or near the line of scrimmage. A two-year starter and a 2016 first team All-SEC and a second team All-American (as voted on by the AP) Adams was the leader of the Tigers backfield and a team captain. His combination of size and play speed allow him to make plays both in the run game as well as in coverage. He is a solid off-coverage safety who can diagnose and attack downhill with quickness and burst to wrap up and secure the tackle. With his speed, he displays good range with the ability to go from the hash marks to the sideline and provide over-the top help. He can cover a tight end in the slot and will get physical with them at the top of their routes. Adams also brings a swagger and enforcer type mentality to the defensive backfield.

However, there is no doubt that where Adams is most impactful is at the line-of-scrimmage where he is both instinctive and competitive, able to deliver some explosive hits with terrific timing, and anticipation. He is an aggressive run defender able to chase down ball carriers and make plays sideline-to-sideline. Lining him up inside the tackle box is like having an extra linebacker out on defense that the opposing offense must deal with.

While there is some unease in terms of his coverage ability (not a lot of plays on the ball when scouting his film), plus struggles with quick change of direction, as well as too many missed tackles due to his over aggressiveness in pursuit, Adams heads into the draft process as the top-rated safety on many draft boards.

The combination of very good football character, speed, athleticism, and impactful plays will have Adams on the field early as a rookie with the potential to develop into a cornerstone player on defense for any team that selects him.

2. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

Jabrill peppers is one of the more talked about and scrutinized prospects in the 2017 draft due mainly to questions surrounding a true positional fit for him at the next level. However, the 2016 Big-Ten DPOY and recipient of the Ronnie Lott Impact Trophy is a hybrid player who can be used on all three phases of a football team.

Peppers projects best as a hybrid LB/SS a position that has become more popular in the NFL the past few seasons. As a safety Peppers has shown the ability to press tight ends at the line-of-scrimmage as well as bigger receivers outside the numbers in red zone and goal line situations. As a corner (limited reps in 2015) he displayed quick-feet and hip flexibility to open and run with a receiver in man coverage downfield. He does a good job of getting his hands on them altering their routes, and positioning his body between them and the ball. In off-coverage he uses his very good short-area burst and open-field tackling ability to minimize the yardage on anything caught in front of him. As a run defender, he appears comfortable and instinctive as a in the box strong safety who can quickly locate and chase down ball carriers with his speed. He is willing to come up and set the edge to help funnel runners back inside towards his lineman. As a blitzer Peppers was very effective coming in off the edge or on delays from a linebacker position.

Where Peppers struggles is with downfield coverage as his ball reactions, and awareness leave something to be desired. He has trouble with quick receivers and will at times play slower than his stopwatch numbers may indicate.

While safety will most likely be the position where he sees the most snaps at during his NFL career, Peppers versatility allows a defensive coordinator to disguise coverages and utilize his athleticism in several different ways from multiple positions. Allowing Peppers to line him up and see snaps at all three levels on defense might be the most effective way for him to make an immediate contribution defensively as a rookie.

3. Malik Hooker, Ohio State

In 2016 Hooker was a redshirt sophomore and first-year starter for the Buckeyes. In that one season though Hooker was named a first team All-American and All-Big Ten defender as he led the Big-Ten with seven interceptions, returning three of them for scores – which topped the FBS.

Hooker is a coverage safety who is best suited to play free safety at the NFL level. He possesses a combination of quickness, speed, balance and short-area burst. A good athlete Hooker is very good transitioning and attacking downhill using his speed and change-of-direction. He is effective playing a single-high set or a two-deep zone safety. He is instinctive when playing the pass with range to either side. Hooker can cover receivers in the slot or carry a tight end up the seam. He also demonstrated very good zone cover skills and can key on the QB eyes to jump routes, and use his natural hands to pick-off the ball with a nose to find the end zone.

As a run defender Hooker can get slowed down with play-action or RPO plays causing some hesitation with his reaction times. He can struggle to jolt and shed blockers (needing additional strength), can take some bad angles in pursuit, and doesn’t always arrive under control which led to missed tackles. He also tends to duck and lead with the crown of his helmet coming downhill to tackle a ball carrier which, in the NFL, is a good way to end up seriously injured.

Hookers play-making ability and overall athleticism gives him a shot to be the top-rated safety heading into the draft. However, he currently stands third on this list mainly due to his struggles defending the run, coupled with just one-year starting experience, and his postseason injuries. Hooker, is scheduled to miss the scouting combine as he recovers from a couple of surgeries, one in which repaired a torn labrum while the other a sports hernia. How he recovers from both operations will go a long way in determining how high Hooker will get drafted. However, it is never a good thing, especially for a safety, to enter the NFL having already gone through a major surgery on his shoulder.

4. Budda Baker, Washington

A three-year starter on defense for Washington and a NCAA Consensus All-American in 2016 Budda Baker was one of the more fun prospects to scout. Baker is quite simply a play-maker in the defensive secondary. Whether he was lined up at safety or as a slot corner Baker was all over the field demonstrating innate playmaking ability. He possesses terrific anticipation, timing and zone awareness. Along with lateral quickness, agility, and quick-feet, Baker has excellent balance and body-control. He can mirror and cover receivers (in the slot) off the LOS. Displays instincts and awareness in coverage as he can quickly diagnose and locate the ball. Very smooth in his transition able to plant-and-drive quickly, which when combined with his ability to seamlessly change directions, and open field tackling makes him very effective in zone coverage. Despite a lack of ideal size Baker plays bigger than his measurable might indicate. He is an aggressive tackler and packs a wallop when he hits his opponents. His aggressiveness makes him very good blitzing off the edge as he gets there quick, and makes his presence felt. As a run defender Baker is quick to read and react, displaying no concerns or issues coming downhill and attacking ball carriers. He is a highly intense, aggressive, and competitive football player when asked to defend the run.

The main concern with Baker revolves around his lack of size. Listed at 5’10” Baker looks to be a couple of inches shorter than that. Which makes it hard to envision him as a full-time starting safety. Instead what Baker offers is a strong, hard-hitting physical presence with ideal hip flexibility, speed, and fluidity to be a playmaker from the nickel/slot position. Drawing favorable comparisons to Arizona Cardinals DB Tyrann Mathieu.

5. Marcus Williams, Utah

Even though Marcus Williams was a three-year starter and an All-PAC 12 defender for Utah many may consider him a bit of a sleeper at the safety position. Williams is a rangy safety with length and speed to go along with his fleet feet and lateral agility. His backpedal is smooth and balanced which makes Williams look, at times, like a corner instead of a safety. While in coverage he is quick to read and react, able to zoom around the field playing in a single-high safety set, which allows him to stand out on tape. He possesses good speed and fluidity allowing him to keep pace with receivers and tight ends. Shows good range off the hash, to either side, taking direct angles to the ball. He can break on throws, showing good short-area burst to close. With 11 career interceptions Williams demonstrated quick soft hands, like a receiver, to snatch interceptions.

While a solid downhill defender Williams is a bit high-cut, and will play too tall failing to get low and wrap up the ball carrier’s legs. He was also inconsistent on his downfield ball reactions with his back to the throw preferring to keep everything visible to him.

Overall, Williams is an active, aggressive defensive back who is at his best reacting to plays in front of him. He possesses good size/speed combo coupled with range, and sure-hands that allow him to be a “centerfield” type playmaking safety.

Danny Shimon

NFPost Scouting 101 & Scouting Seminar Graduate.
Bears writer for www.windy-citysport.com

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2017 NFL Draft Preview – Top-5 Cornerbacks

Continuing with our series in previewing some of the prospects for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. This week we take a glimpse at the top-five cornerbacks who look to be available come the Spring of 2017.

Cornerback is one of the draft’s more deeper position groups. There could be as many as five defensive corners

Continuing with our series in previewing some of the prospects for the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. This week we take a glimpse at the top-five cornerbacks who look to be available come the Spring of 2017.

Cornerback is one of the draft’s more deeper position groups. There could be as many as five defensive corners selected in the first round of the 2017 draft. With plenty of talented players still on the board for teams to grab on day two as well.

1. Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State

A former four-star prospect and a top-50 recruit nationally Lattimore possesses excellent foot quickness, with the ability to change directions, and stop/start without needing to slow down. He demonstrates terrific lateral agility along with flexibility. Stands low and balanced in his stance and can quickly open his hips to turn and run with a receiver. Flashes speed to track down ball carriers or to quickly recover if beaten. While in coverage Lattimore exhibits very good instincts and awareness. He can swiftly locate the ball mid-flight, able to diagnose routes while keying off QB eyes to release his man and drive towards the ball or the intended receiver. Lattimore is also a very good and willing run defender. He will come downhill aggressively to set the edge. He will take on lead blockers, and will utilize his hands and quickness to fight through to wrap up the ball carrier. He is a competitor who plays hard and does not give up on a play.

While average size and previous leg injuries are, a bit concerning. If he can stay healthy he possesses the explosiveness, instincts, and play speed to develop into a terrific cover corner in the NFL.

2. Marlon Humphrey, Alabama

A two-year starter for the Crimson Tide and a 2016 first team All-American on defense, as voted by the FWAA, Humphrey is a well-coached competitive football player whose father (Bobby Humphrey) was a former RB at Alabama and a first-round pick of the Denver Broncos. Humphrey displays the instincts to diagnose and quickly react to what the offense is attempting to set up. He possesses the flexibility and agility to mirror the receiver off the line of scrimmage. With his size and straight line speed he gets himself in position to make a play on the ball downfield. In run support Humphrey is an aggressive defender who will attack downhill able to shed blockers, and locate the football. Humphrey demonstrates his competitive toughness, both on defense and special teams, as he is willing to throw his body around all over the field, and will play to the whistle.

While he can struggle with strength at the point-of-contact as well as quick-twitch receivers and double-moves Humphrey has the size, speed, and agility to mirror receivers downfield. With an aggressive two-hand jam Humphrey projects as a press cover corner at the next level.

3. Jalen Tabor, Florida

Tabor is a tough average sized corner who plays bigger than his dimensions may indicate. Displays quick-feet, balance, and agility. He can stop and start without losing momentum, and is quick in his transition able to plant his foot in the ground and attack forward. Displays instincts, and awareness in coverage along with an aggressive play speed attacking quickly underneath and out in the flats. Comfortable playing off coverage, peeking into the backfield, and maintaining proper position downfield. Does a nice job of anticipating, keying off the QB, to jump/undercut routes, displaying very good short-area burst, and either coming away with a turnover or a pass break-up. A willing run defender who won’t shy away from contact, but can struggle with bigger bodied blockers.

Tabor is an off-coverage zone corner whose instincts, along with the ability to anticipate and jump routes will allow him to make plays in the NFL. His ball skills, short-area quickness, and toughness will also allow him an opportunity to flourish inside as a nickel defender.

4. Tre’Davious White, LSU

White possesses average height and length with a thick muscular build to go with quick-feet and agility to cover receivers. White’s an experienced four-year starter (47 career starts) on the LSU defense, and ranks fifth all-time in school history with 34 pass breakups. He demonstrates loose hips and good short-area burst. He is fast with his backpedal and can quickly transition forward on anything underneath. White is very zone aware with good pattern recognition, understanding how to read QB’s and progressions, and when to undercut routes. While in press coverage he is physical both at the line-of-scrimmage as well as at the top of the receiver’s route. White does a good job of positioning his body between the receiver and the football, both downfield, and in red zone situations. While he is a willing run defender he does not always arrive under control and can miss tackles failing to wrap up.

White was one of the more improved players in 2016, making his decision to stay in school for a fourth season a wise one. He showed better awareness and anticipation in coverage while also doing a better job of getting his hands on the ball (14 PBU’s). He was a more confident corner playing with more swagger as opposed to previous seasons and it was evident in his play.

A solid week of practices down in Mobile for the Senior bowl (before an injury cut short his week) may have cemented White a spot in the first round of the draft.

5. Sidney Jones, Washington

Sidney Jones possesses good size along with length on a narrow and thin frame. Jones was a three-year starter, and a key contributor on defense for the Huskies. He can shadow a wide out off the line with quickness and change of direction ability. He can quickly flip his hips and run vertically with a receiver. Demonstrates very good recovery speed to make up ground if he is beaten at the snap. Good plant-and-drive quickness which allows him to transition swiftly. Displays solid awareness in off coverage, likes to keep his eyes on the QB in the pocket. A naturally aggressive player, which can be seen in the way he comes downhill, throwing his body around, to help defend the run.

Lack of strength is a concern with Jones as he can struggle to effectively reroute receivers off the line or shed blockers downfield. He has also shown some inconsistencies with awareness, while in coverage, failing to turn his head and playing the ball. Additionally, you notice that he would predominately line up on the left side of the defense. Whether that was a coaching decision or his lack of versatility will need to be considered.

However, Jones is an athletic corner who plays the game hard and aggressively. His combination of size, quickness, and speed along with the ability to play both press and off coverage are positives that many teams will want to have.

Danny Shimon

NFPost Scouting 101 & Scouting Seminar Graduate.
Bears writer for www.windy-citysport.com

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2017 Senior Bowl Standouts – Offense

With the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl now officially in the books that puts an end to the college all-star game portion of the pre-draft process. Having scouted both the North and South team’s practices throughout the week, and graded the game film from Saturday here are the players who stood out the most down in

With the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl now officially in the books that puts an end to the college all-star game portion of the pre-draft process. Having scouted both the North and South team’s practices throughout the week, and graded the game film from Saturday here are the players who stood out the most down in Mobile.

Offense

1. Davis Webb – QB – California, Webb had an up and down week during the practice sessions in terms of accuracy and ball placement. Where Webb really shined was on game day as he went 11-16 for 165 yards with a touchdown. Webb, who played only one season for Cal after transferring from Texas Tech, has a strong arm coupled with a quick release, and you notice the football exploding out of his hand. On his touchdown throw Webb did a nice job of holding the safety with his eyes before dropping a ball into the arms of Texas A&M receiver Josh Reynolds. Webb, who replaced Jared Goff as the starter at Cal, is bigger than last year’s 1st overall pick with a stronger arm and better anticipation in the passing game.

2. Cooper Kupp – WO – Eastern Washington, The Eastern Washington product was the talk of the week down in Mobile for his smooth route running ability and hands. Kupp caught everything thrown his way and at times made getting open look easy. Kupp is a natural pass catcher and does a nice job of looking the ball into his hands. He was able to separate at the top of his route and made catches at all three levels of the defense.

3. Zay Jones – WO – East Carolina, Jones, the NCAA leader with 158 receptions in 2016, may have been the best player on the field at Ladd-Peebles stadium on Saturday. Jones took a very good week of practices into the game and was able to display his full repertoire. Jones has very good body control and is able to contour his body and adjust nicely to poorly thrown passes. He possesses a wide catch radius and can go up and high point a catch, extend away from his body, or get his hands underneath a low pass and scoop it up. He is also physical of the top of his route and can make contested catches as he is blanketed by a defensive back. Jones, whose father is former NFL linebacker Robert Jones, may have been the biggest winner this week down in Mobile. He took advantage of his opportunities and displayed the ability to be a downfield playmaker, and may have gone from a day three pick to a very high day two selection.

4. Josh Reynolds – WO – Texas A&M, The Texas A&M receiver quietly had a very impressive week of practice culminating on game day where he ended up with six receptions for 96 yards including a 39-yard touchdown reception. Reynolds really shined in the one-on-one drills along with team runs. He is explosive off the line of scrimmage with quick feet and does a nice job of attacking the football on hitches and comeback routes. He catches clean with his hands able to snatch the ball out of the air. He can stack the defender then use his quickness and speed to separate over the top. He locates the ball nicely mid-flight and does a good job of looking it into his hands. Reynolds led the SEC in receiving yards (1,039) and touchdowns (12) in 2016, and after spending a week watching him operate in both practice drills and on game day you can see the talent that Reynolds possesses.

5. Forrest Lamp – OL – Western Kentucky, Lamp was not able to complete the week in Mobile as he suffered an ankle injury during one of the practice sessions. He was held out as a precaution, but had already done enough to impress scouts that the missed time should not negatively affect his stock. Lamp is an experienced four-year starter at Western Kentucky predominately at left tackle where he excelled. However, his height and short arm length (31 1/8) will likely have him moving inside to guard at the NFL level. Lamp displays the lateral agility, short-area quickness, and balance to succeed as an offensive lineman in the pros. Lamp can rework his hands to fend off defensive lineman and can sink his hips to re-anchor and become stout at the point-of-contact. While still early in the pre-draft process it is not out of the question that Lamp might be the first offensive lineman off the board come April.

Others who also flashed during the week on offense……Chad Williams – WO – Grambling State, Dion Dawkins – OG – Temple, Evan Engram – TE – Ole Miss

Danny Shimon

NFPost Scouting 101 & Scouting Seminar Graduate.
Bears writer for www.windy-citysport.com

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2017 Senior Bowl Standouts – Defense

With the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl now officially in the books that puts an end to the college all-star game portion of the pre-draft process. Having scouted both the North and South team’s practices throughout the week, and graded the game film from Saturday here are the players who stood out the most down in

With the 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl now officially in the books that puts an end to the college all-star game portion of the pre-draft process. Having scouted both the North and South team’s practices throughout the week, and graded the game film from Saturday here are the players who stood out the most down in Mobile.

Defense

1. Haason Reddick – LB – Temple, as an undersized defensive end Reddick was very productive for the Owls football program. However, in the NFL Reddick is looking at a position switch to either inside or outside linebacker, and the Senior Bowl would be his first time playing these new positions in front out coaches and scouts. Reddick did not disappoint as he was all over the field whether he was lined up as in inside Will-backer in a 3-4 or even further outside as a weak-side LB in a four-man front. Reddick demonstrated an ability to quickly diagnose and locate while also displaying the ability to play off the LOS and in space. In coverage, he was able to quickly break on the ball and got his hands on a couple of pass deflections. While in run defense he was able to shed blockers, and wrap up the ball carrier. With his pass rush ability Reddick gives defensive coordinators the option of rushing him off the edge either by blitzing him or standing him up in a two-point stance. A tough and competitive athlete Reddick should be an instant contributor on special teams as a rookie while he continues his transition to linebacker.

2. Obi Melifonwu – S – UCONN, Melifonwu catches your eye with his size, and length for a defensive back, but what really impressed many was his ability to move and redirect without slowing down while in coverage or planting and attacking downhill in run support. For a safety, his size Melifonwu appears to have the foot quickness and agility to cover tight ends in the slot or taller receivers on the outside (especially in red zone situations). With rumors circulating that Melifonwu expects to run the forty in the high 4.4’s at the combine next month the intrigue surrounding Melifonwu might just be starting to ratchet up.

3. Alex Anzalone – LB – Florida, A highly-touted recruit out of high school Anzalone was one of the better linebackers down in Mobile this week. He was consistently around the football as he displayed good instincts to quickly diagnose and locate the ball. He was solid in his run fits coming downhill and filling the hole with authority. He also possesses good speed and burst able to quickly close in on the ball carrier. Coaches lined him up both inside as well as on the outside demonstrating some of his scheme versatility. The biggest concern surrounding Anzalone revolve around his health. Injuries have taken a big chunk of his playing time away the last couple of seasons, missing four games last season with a broken arm, and 12 games the previous year with a shoulder injury. If he can stay on the field, he looks like he has the skillset to develop into a four-down LB.

4. Tarell Basham – Edge – Ohio, Basham, the 2016 MAC Defensive Player of the Year, showed good quickness off the snap able to engage and get into the offensive lineman instantly. He displayed strong hands as he would knock back lineman when he planted them into their chests. He can convert speed to power and walk back the tackle into the quarterback’s lap. While he was solid with his run defense there were, times were, he gave up the edge and lost containment allowing the ball carrier to breakout for a long run. What teams will need to figure out is whether Basham will need to add more weight and play as a hand in the dirt defensive end or stand him up as an outside LB in a 3-4 defense.

5. Damontae Kazee – CB – San Diego State, Kazee was one of the more aggressive defensive backs in the one-on-one drills, and team sequences during the mid-week practices. He took it to every receiver he went up against being physical with jam at the line, and at the top of their stem as well as downfield. Kazee has very quick feet which allows him to mirror a receiver downfield, while also allowing him to plant and drive forward in his transition. Kazee was able to get his hands on the ball, displaying good awareness and ball skills something he also demonstrated in college where he ended up with 17 career interceptions and 29 passes defensed. With his agility, closing burst, and toughness Kazee projects best inside as a slot corner/nickel back. Throughout the week Kazee displayed good competitiveness and toughness that caught the attention of not only the receivers he was battling but also the scouts and coaches in attendance.

Others who also flashed during the week on defense……Dalvin Tomlinson – DT – Alabama, Isaac Rochell – DE – Notre Dame, Stevie Tu’ikolovatu – DT – USC, Marquez White – CB – Florida State

Danny Shimon

NFPost Scouting 101 & Scouting Seminar Graduate.
Bears writer for www.windy-citysport.com

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2017 East West Shrine Game Standouts

This weekend marked the “unofficial” start of the 2017 pre-draft process as the 92nd annual East West Shrine game was played. While not the first college all-star game on the docket (College Gridiron Showcase in Dallas was) the East West Shrine is considered by many as the start of a long process that culminates with

This weekend marked the “unofficial” start of the 2017 pre-draft process as the 92nd annual East West Shrine game was played. While not the first college all-star game on the docket (College Gridiron Showcase in Dallas was) the East West Shrine is considered by many as the start of a long process that culminates with the 2017 NFL Draft in April.

Listed here are five players who stood out to me during this weekend’s game. Seeing that the game ended with a final score of 10-3 in favor of the West team, and that the games only TD was not scored until midway through the fourth quarter. It should be no surprise that defensive players from both rosters were the players that caught my attention.

Deatrich Wise Jr. – DE – Arkansas

Measuring in at 6’5” 275-pounds with 35-inch arms Wise offers both size and length at the defensive end position. He followed up a solid week of practices with a good performance in the game. Wise had 1 ½ sacks (one being a strip sack) in the game and made a few impressive plays defending the run.
He displayed the ability to stack and shed at the line of scrimmage and set the edge when defending the run. While also hustling to make tackles on the backside of the play as well as downfield.
While he may not develop into a double-digit sack pass rusher what Wise has is the size, length, and strength to become a base 4-3 end and a solid NFL defensive lineman.

DeAngelo Brown – DT – Louisville

Brown flashed early in the game when he stood up the opposing center and blew up a 4th and goal attempt for the West squad by tackling the RB for a loss. Brown is powerful and stout at the point of contact. He has heavy hands and when he gets leverage on an offensive lineman he is a load to block.
He had 13 tackles for loss last season for Louisville, 22 for his career, demonstrating his strength and ability to penetrate the offenses backfield.
While he won’t give you much in terms of a pass rush he looks to be a very good rotational defender who can line up at either the nose guard position in a 3-4, or as an interior run stuffing tackle in a four-man front.

Trey Hendrickson – DE – Florida Atlantic

Hendrickson was the talk of the week during the practice sessions down in Tampa leading up to the game. Then on Saturday Hendrickson, the 2016 conference CUSA DPOY, did not disappoint as he displayed good speed when he beat Texas A&M tackle Avery Gennesy off the snap with a speed rush, turning the edge to create a sack fumble. Later on in the game Hendrickson showed his competitive toughness by racing across the formation to track down the ball and make a backside tackle.
Although productive as a defensive end for Florid Atlantic (41 TFL & 29.5 sacks) look for Hendrickson to be converted to outside linebacker in the NFL and initially used as a rush specialist. At 255-pounds and below average arm-length it would be difficult for Hendrickson to hold up physically as a hand in the ground defensive end in the league.
Hendrickson made a name for himself this week, and if he was not on every NFL teams radar before the East West game he surely will be now.

Fabian Moreau – CB – UCLA

During the game Moreau displayed the skill set that has many projecting him as a complete corner. Moreau demonstrated cover skills as he mirrored receivers down field, followed by closing speed to aggressively attack anything thrown in front of him. He even made an impressive special team tackle in punt coverage as a gunner.
Moreau possesses good size and athleticism along with the aforementioned closing speed. He displays good awareness while in coverage downfield, and is willing to come downhill and support the run defense.
UCLA coaches rave about his football character and when coupled with his 6-foot frame along with 4.40 speed, and ball skills Moreau has a chance to be the first player from this year’s game to be drafted come April.

Bryan Cox Jr. – DE – Florida

The son of former NFL linebacker Bryan Cox Sr. showed the same hustle and effort you saw when scouting his game film. The average sized end did not produce eye popping stats while playing for the Gators but you always saw him hustling and playing to the whistle.
Similarly, Cox made a couple of downfield tackles and provide some pressure on the QB’s that allowed him flash. He was able to quickly locate and track down the football while also displaying some strength and the ability to set an edge when defending the run.
While he will need to continue to develop/refine his pass rush technique his non-stop motor, athleticism, along with his bloodlines will allow him an opportunity to make it in the NFL.

Danny Shimon

NFPost Scouting 101 & Scouting Seminar Graduate.
Bears writer for www.windy-citysport.com

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Mid-Summer 2016-17 Bowl Projections

With the Fourth of July holiday in the rear view mirror, a fresh college football season is on the horizon.

By the end of the shortened work week, we will be just seven Fridays away from the Hawaii-Cal season opener, and we are approaching a mere eight Saturdays away from the

With the Fourth of July holiday in the rear view mirror, a fresh college football season is on the horizon.

By the end of the shortened work week, we will be just seven Fridays away from the Hawaii-Cal season opener, and we are approaching a mere eight Saturdays away from the first weekend action of the new season.

So how will the 2016-17 postseason take shape?

Here are my very early projections of where your favorite program could land. As always, these predictions are subject to change and will look different than my post-spring Top 25, which was more of a power rankings than anything else. In addition, there is always more studying to do, so I’m likely to re-slot some teams before the season begins as I become more familiar with 2016 depth charts, quirks in the schedules, etc.

The College Football Playoff

Semifinal—Dec. 31 Peach (Atlanta): No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 TCU

Semifinal—Dec. 31 Fiesta (Glendale): No. 2 Florida State vs. No. 3 Ohio State

Championship—Jan. 9 (Tampa): The winners of the two semifinals meet

The CFP Selection Committee New Year’s Six bowl games

Dec. 30 Orange (Miami): Clemson (ACC) vs. Notre Dame (Big Ten/SEC/Notre Dame)

Jan. 2 Rose (Pasadena): Michigan (Big Ten) vs. Stanford (Pac-12)

Jan. 2 Sugar (New Orleans): Oklahoma (Big 12) vs. LSU (SEC)

Jan. 2 Cotton (Arlington): Tennessee (At-Large) vs. Houston (At-Large)

The rest of the bowl slate

Dec. 17 Cure (Orlando): East Carolina (AAC) vs. Troy (Sun Belt)

Dec. 17 Las Vegas (Las Vegas): Boise State (MWC) vs. Utah (Pac-12)

Dec. 17 Camelia (Montgomery): NIU (MAC) vs. Appalachian State (Sun Belt)

Dec. 17 New Mexico (Albuquerque): Western Kentucky (C-USA) vs. New Mexico (MWC)

Dec. 17 New Orleans (New Orleans): Louisiana Tech (C-USA) vs. Georgia Southern (Sun Belt)

Dec. 19 Miami Beach (Miami): Memphis (AAC) vs. Central Michigan (MAC)

Dec. 20 Boca Raton (Boca Raton): Tulsa (AAC) vs. Marshall (C-USA)

Dec. 21 Poinsettia (San Diego): BYU (BYU) vs. Air Force (MWC)

Dec. 22 Potato (Boise): Ohio (MAC) vs. Colorado State (MWC)

Dec. 23 Bahamas (Nassau): UConn (AAC) vs. Toledo (MAC)

Dec. 23 Armed Forces (Fort Worth): Washington State* (Big 12) vs. Navy (Navy)

Dec. 23 GoDaddy (Mobile): Western Michigan (MAC) vs. Arkansas State (Sun Belt)

Dec. 24 Hawaii (Honolulu): FIU (C-USA) vs. Utah State (MWC)

Dec. 26 Quick Lane (Detroit): NC State (ACC) vs. Indiana (Big Ten)

Dec. 26 St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg): Georgia Tech (ACC) vs. Temple (AAC)

Dec. 26 Independence (Shreveport): Duke (ACC) vs. Mississippi State (SEC)

Dec. 27 Military (Annapolis): Syracuse (ACC) vs. Cincinnati (AAC)

Dec. 27 Holiday (San Diego): Michigan State (Big Ten) vs. Washington (Pac-12)

Dec. 27 Heart of Dallas (Dallas): Maryland (Big Ten) vs. Southern Miss (C-USA)

Dec. 27 Cactus (Tempe): Texas (Big 12) vs. Arizona (Pac-12)

Dec. 28 Texas (Houston): Baylor (Big 12) vs. Arkansas (SEC)

Dec. 28 Russell Athletic (Orlando): Miami, FL (ACC) vs. West Virginia (Big 12)

Dec. 28 Pinstripe (New York City): Pitt (ACC) vs. Northwestern (Big Ten)

Dec. 29 Birmingham (Birmingham): USF (AAC) vs. Missouri (SEC)

Dec. 29 Belk (Charlotte): North Carolina (ACC) vs. Auburn (SEC)

Dec. 29 Alamo (San Antonio): Oklahoma State (Big 12) vs. USC (Pac-12)

Dec. 30 Arizona (Tucson): San Diego State (MWC) vs. Georgia State (Sun Belt)

Dec. 30 Sun (El Paso): Virginia Tech (ACC) vs. Oregon (Pac-12)

Dec. 30 Liberty (Memphis): Texas Tech (Big 12) vs. South Carolina (SEC)

Dec. 30 Music City (Nashville): Penn State (ACC/Big Ten) vs. Texas A&M (SEC)

Dec. 31 TaxSlayer (Jacksonville): Louisville (ACC/Big Ten) vs. Georgia (SEC)

Dec. 31 Citrus (Orlando): Iowa (Big Ten/ACC) vs. Ole Miss (SEC)

Jan. 2 Outback (Tampa): Nebraska (Big Ten) vs. Florida (SEC)

TBD Foster Farms (Santa Clara): Wisconsin (Big Ten) vs. UCLA (Pac-12)

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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2016 Post-Spring Top 25

With the calendar flipping to May and spring practices completed for programs across the country, it's time to take a look at the National Football Post's post-spring Top 25.

1. Alabama: Nick Saban’s defending national champs aren’t going anywhere, as the reload continues in Tuscaloosa. Blake Barnett, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell

With the calendar flipping to May and spring practices completed for programs across the country, it’s time to take a look at the National Football Post’s post-spring Top 25.

1. Alabama: Nick Saban’s defending national champs aren’t going anywhere, as the reload continues in Tuscaloosa. Blake Barnett, Cooper Bateman, David Cornwell and Jalen Hurts will try to win the starting job under center, but it may not matter who is the starter because the Tide are loaded on defense.

2. Florida State: The biggest question for the Seminoles is whether Deondre Francois or Malik Henry can beat out senior Sean Maguire for the starting quarterback gig. We know that Dalvin Cook will remain a beastly and productive running back after setting the single-season school record with 1,691 rushing yards, but the ‘Noles need to be able to make big plays through the air. The defense will feature new starters, but safety Derwin James leads a talented unit.

3. LSU: It was ridiculous that Les Miles had to deal with the “hot seat” drama late last season, but that’s the world of big-time college football that we live in these days. The Tigers certainly enter the new season with high expectations, as a boatload of veteran talent returns. Leonard Fournette recorded a school-record 1,953 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns last year, but can Brandon Harris or Purdue transfer Danny Etling provide a steady force under center? I’m convinced that Harris is poised for a strong ’16 campaign.

4. Tennessee: Is this the year for the Vols? Butch Jones led his team to six straight victories to close out last season, and most of the main pieces are back from that squad, including linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin and cornerback Cameron Sutton on defense and quarterback Joshua Dobbs and running back Jalen Hurd on offense. The defense is deep and experienced, but can the offense be more explosive and pick up bigger chunks of yardage in bunches?

5. Baylor: Quarterbacks Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham return to an offense that should be stocked again with leading rusher Shock Linwood and a receiving corps that is still deep despite the losses of Corey Coleman and Jay Lee. The defense is undergoing a bit of a rebuild, but coordinator Phil Bennett’s unit should be steady enough to complement the explosive offense.

6. Clemson: The Tigers nearly captured the national title last season, and they’ll have a chance to win one this year behind stud quarterback Deshaun Watson, who could be the top overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. He’ll be surrounded by weapons such as running back Wayne Gallman and wide receiver Mike Williams, who was lost to a neck injury last season. We saw how good the Tigers were defensively last year despite losing a ton of talent to the NFL, but can that level of play be sustained after returning just four starters from the ’15 unit and losing cornerback Adrian Baker to a torn ACL in March? Three defensive backs left early for the draft, and pass rushers Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson also departed.

7. Michigan: Jim Harbaugh has put his stamp on the Wolverines faster than most had expected, so expectations are very high for the ’16 squad. Star defender Jabrill Peppers will be used as a hybrid linebacker by coordinator Don Brown, so his athleticism will be depended upon when facing teams with spread elements. Offensively, can former Houston signal-caller John O’Korn lead the unit as well as Jake Rudock did last season?

8. Notre Dame: Brian Kelly and his offensive staff must decide on a starting quarterback after junior Malik Zaire and sophomore DeShone Kizer both proved capable of carrying the load. Kizer was thrown into a difficult situation but managed to help the Irish to a 10-win season after Zaire was hurt early in the season at Virginia. The team certainly lost top-level talent in this past weekend’s NFL Draft, but the cupboard isn’t bare in South Bend.

9. Oklahoma: The Sooners made the College Football Playoff last season, but they didn’t have the Orange Bowl experience that many had expected. Baker Mayfield is back to run the offense, which should continue to be efficient under coordinator Lincoln Riley. Mayfield completed over 68 percent of his throws last season, while Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon combined to rush for over 2,500 yards. But can the defense replace the level of play that performers such as Zack Sanchez and Eric Striker provided? Tests against Houston and Ohio State will answer that question early in the season.

10. Stanford: The Cardinal reached their third Rose Bowl in four seasons in ’15, but longtime starting quarterback Kevin Hogan is gone. However, do-everything Christian McCaffrey, who notched 3,864 all-purpose yards last season, returns for another Heisman Trophy run. The question is whether Ryan Burns or Keller Chryst will be able to do enough through the air to complement McCaffrey’s game.

11. Ohio State: Urban Meyer seems to do his best work with young squads, and the ’16 version of the Buckeyes will indeed feature youth. The program lost 15 starters from last year’s one-loss team, but keep in mind the national championship team from two years ago was short on experience. It helps that this will be J.T. Barrett’s offense again.

12. Houston: Tom Herman put together a magical first season as a head coach, as the Cougars earned a berth to the Peach Bowl where they handled Florida State. Can Greg Ward Jr. (3,936 yards of total offense and 38 total touchdowns in ’15) and an opportunistic defense (35 takeaways last fall) actually compete for a College Football Playoff berth in ’16? The schedule may allow for it to happen, as UH opens against Oklahoma and hosts Louisville.

13. Georgia: Kirby Smart landed his dream job in Athens, and he inherits a team loaded with talent. When will true freshman quarterback Jacob Eason get his chance to run the offensive show? Greyson Lambert may get the call against North Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, but Eason will see the field very soon. Oh, and star running back Nick Chubb is expected to be at full strength after tearing knee ligaments last October.

14. Michigan State: The Spartans will be replacing Connor Cook at quarterback with either Tyler O’Connor or Damion Terry, and whoever wins the battle will be working behind a line that lost some key pieces. However, the backfield is deep, and the defense is filled with experience such as defensive end Malik McDowell, linebacker Riley Bullough and safety Demetrius Cox.

15. TCU: The Horned Frogs showed a lot of resiliency throughout last season, including in the team’s bowl game. Injuries decimated the squad, but Gary Patterson still notched 11 wins. Foster Sawyer and Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill are battling to replace prolific signal-caller Trevone Boykin, and a lot will be expected of the winner of that QB derby because the offense only returns three starters.

16. Ole Miss: The Rebels lost some top talent to the NFL, as head coach Hugh Freeze has to replace 12 starters from a team that helped the program to its first 10-win season in 13 years. Quarterback Chad Kelly is back after setting program records for total offense and total touchdowns, but he’ll need some help from the running back corps.

17. Louisville: Bobby Petrino brings back an electric quarterback and an experienced defense. There’s no question that Lamar Jackson needs to be more consistent and efficient through the air, as he completed just 54.7 percent of his passes and tossed eight interceptions last fall. However, the sophomore nearly ran for 1,000 yards and had 11 TDs on the ground. Can he consistently resemble the player we saw go off in the Music City Bowl? Former TCU linebacker Devonte Fields paces the defense and had 11 sacks and was a force against the run last fall.

18. Iowa: The Hawkeyes were a goal-line stand away from making the second College Football Playoff, but longtime head coach Kirk Ferentz was still able to lead the program to its first Rose Bowl in 25 years. Can the Hawkeyes prove that 2015 was not a fluke? They have a chance with quarterback C.J. Beathard, who proficiently led an offense that was more wide open in ’15.

19. USC: Clay Helton had the interim tag removed from his title, but can he navigate a tough schedule and the high-stakes pressure of being in the Los Angeles spotlight? The Trojans open up the season against defending national champion Alabama, and either junior Max Browne or redshirt freshman Sam Darnold will be under center. Offensive weapons abound, but can the defensive line hold up for an entire season?

20. Washington: The Huskies are a sleeping giant in the Pac-12 under Chris Petersen. The team closed ’15 strong, and the duo of quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin will pace the offense. How much time will junior cornerback Budda Baker see at wide receiver? The defense returns a lot of key players from a unit that led the Pac-12 in scoring defense and total defense.

21. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys bring back a lot of experience from a team that won 10 games in ’15, although the Pokes did drop their final three contests of the season. Better offensive line play is needed, as OSU ranked 113th in the FBS in rushing yards per game and allowed 32 sacks. Road trips to Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma loom.

22. Florida: Jim McElwain claimed an SEC East title in his first season in Gainesville, and he’ll need to find a quarterback if the Gators want to repeat and put up a better fight than they did in their showcase games to close the ’15 campaign. Luke Del Rio is the favorite to start at quarterback, and plenty of talent remains on defense.

23. Boise State: Bryan Harsin has taken over play-calling duties on offense after coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz left for NC State, while linebackers coach Andy Avalos was promoted to defensive coordinator to replace Marcel Yates, who left for Arizona. Quarterback Brett Rypien passed for 3,353 yards with 20 touchdowns as a freshman, while running back Jeremy McNichols grounded out 1,337 rushing yards and 20 scores.

24. North Carolina: The Tar Heels advanced to the ACC title game and gave Clemson fits before ultimately falling short. Still, Larry Fedora led the program to its first 11-win season since 1997. UNC made a dramatic improvement on defense last year, so a similar effort will be needed along with stability at quarterback with Mitch Trubisky, who is replacing the prolific Marquise Williams.

25. Miami (FL): New head coach Mark Richt inherits Brad Kaaya, who is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and has logged consecutive 3,000-yard passing seasons. We don’t know what the future holds for running back Mark Walton (DUI charge), who had a team-high nine touchdowns last season. But Joseph Yearby ran for 1,002 yards in 2015.

Under consideration:

Oregon
Wisconsin
UCLA
Arkansas
Washington State

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Michigan lands pledge from Heisman finalist’s brother

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff are not letting up on the recruiting trail.

Just under two weeks after the Wolverines put together a Top-5 recruiting class for the 2016 cycle, the program landed a commitment Monday night from blue-chip quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, who is the younger brother of

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff are not letting up on the recruiting trail.

Just under two weeks after the Wolverines put together a Top-5 recruiting class for the 2016 cycle, the program landed a commitment Monday night from blue-chip quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, who is the younger brother of Stanford’s Heisman Trophy finalist Christian McCaffrey.

The 6-5, 200-pound Class of 2017 Colorado product tossed 27 touchdowns against just four interceptions in 2015 while leading Valor Christian High School to the Colorado Class 5A football championship. He also ran for 592 yards and 13 more scores.

McCaffrey is considered the nation’s No. 2 pro-style quarterback in 2017, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Michigan brought in signal-caller Brandon Peters this past National Signing Day, so McCaffrey certainly is not shying away from future stout competition. The son of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey becomes the fifth player in the Wolverines’ 2017 class, joining running back Kurt Taylor, tight end Carter Dunaway, offensive tackle Ja’Raymond Hall and cornerback Benjamin St-Juste.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Miami (FL) fires Golden

Miami (FL) fired head coach Al Golden following the program's biggest loss in its history.

Hurricanes athletic director Blake James made the announcement Sunday evening. Tight ends coach/run game coordinator Larry Scott will be the team's interim head coach.

"Coach Golden has led our program through some very difficult times and

Miami (FL) fired head coach Al Golden following the program’s biggest loss in its history.

Hurricanes athletic director Blake James made the announcement Sunday evening. Tight ends coach/run game coordinator Larry Scott will be the team’s interim head coach.

“Coach Golden has led our program through some very difficult times and he has done so with class, integrity and a true desire to see our students succeed on the field, in the classroom and in the community,” James said in a release. “However, we have a proud tradition of excellence at Miami, not just in football but in all sports, and we want to compete for ACC and national championships. I simply believe that now is the time to bring the Hurricane Family together and rally behind our young men.”

Golden, who never was able to defeat Florida State as Miami head coach, finished his ‘Canes career with a 32-25 mark (17-18 in the ACC) over four-plus seasons in Coral Gables. The final nail in the coffin was a 58-0 home loss Saturday to Clemson, which dropped the ‘Canes to 4-3 on the season.

“On behalf of my family I want to thank the University of Miami for a tremendous opportunity,” Golden said in a release. “I believe in what we are doing and how we are doing it and we have some outstanding young men in our football program. Though this moment is difficult, we wish the Canes the best of luck going forward.”

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (8-0) [1]
2.
TCU (7-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (8-0) [3]
4. Baylor (7-0) [4]
5. LSU (7-0) [6]
6. Alabama (7-1) [7]
7. Clemson (7-0) [9]
8. Notre

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (8-0) [1]
2. TCU (7-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (8-0) [3]

4. Baylor (7-0) [4]
5. LSU (7-0) [6]
6. Alabama (7-1) [7]
7. Clemson (7-0) [9]
8. Notre Dame (6-1) [10]
9. Stanford (6-1) [11]
10. Oklahoma (6-1) [12]
11. Iowa (7-0) [13]
12. Oklahoma State (7-0) [14]
13. Memphis (7-0) [15]
14. Florida State (6-1) [5]
15. Utah (6-1) [8]
16. Florida (6-1) [16]
17. Michigan (5-2) [17]
18. Temple (7-0) [18]
19. Toledo (7-0) [20]
20. Houston (7-0) [21]
21. Ole Miss (6-2) [22]
22. Duke (6-1) [23]
23. Mississippi State (6-2) [25]
24. UCLA (5-2) [NR]
25. Wisconsin (6-2) [NR]

The next five: Georgia (5-2), Pitt (6-1), BYU (6-2), Texas A&M (5-2) and Boise State (6-2).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (7-0) [1]
2.
TCU (7-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (7-0) [3]
4. Baylor (6-0) [4]
5.
Florida State (6-0) [5]
6. LSU (6-0) [6]
7. Alabama (6-1) [7]
8.

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (7-0) [1]
2. TCU (7-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (7-0) [3]

4. Baylor (6-0) [4]
5. Florida State (6-0) [5]
6. LSU (6-0) [6]
7. Alabama (6-1) [7]
8. Utah (6-0) [8]
9. Clemson (6-0) [9]
10. Notre Dame (6-1) [12]
11. Stanford (5-1) [13]
12. Oklahoma (5-1) [15]
13. Iowa (7-0) [18]
14. Oklahoma State (6-0) [17]
15. Memphis (6-0) [21]
16. Florida (6-1) [11]
17. Michigan (5-2) [16]
18. Temple (6-0) [20]
19. Texas A&M (5-1) [10]
20. Toledo (6-0) [22]
21. Houston (6-0) [25]
22. Ole Miss (5-2) [14]
23. Duke (5-1) [24]
24. Cal (5-1) [NR]
25. Mississippi State (5-2) [NR]

The next five: Georgia (5-2), UCLA (4-2), BYU (5-2), Texas Tech (5-2) and Pitt (5-1).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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South Carolina’s Spurrier to retire

Steve Spurrier is hanging up his visor.

The Head Ball Coach is walking away from South Carolina, according to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated. Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott is expected to be named interim head coach on Tuesday.

The 70-year-old Spurrier is in midst

Steve Spurrier is hanging up his visor.

The Head Ball Coach is walking away from South Carolina, according to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated. Co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Shawn Elliott is expected to be named interim head coach on Tuesday.

The 70-year-old Spurrier is in midst of his 11th season with the Gamecocks. After a brief stint in the NFL, Spurrier returned to college football and built South Carolina into an SEC contender, culminating in three straight 11-win seasons from 2011 to 2013. But the team won just seven games last season and sits at 2-4 this fall, with all four losses coming against SEC foes. Spurrier has never had a losing season as South Carolina’s leader, and the team was bowl-eligible in his first 10 seasons.

Spurrier won the 1996 national championship and six SEC titles at Florida, where he coached for 12 seasons. The former quarterback played his college football in Gainesville from 1963 to 1966 and won the Heisman Trophy for his play in his final season.

He began his coaching career with the Gators in 1978 as the quarterbacks coach and served in the same role at Georgia Tech the next year before becoming Duke’s offensive coordinator in 1980. After becoming the youngest coach in professional football when he took over the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits, he came back to Duke for his first head-coaching job in college football in 1987. He was named the ACC coach of the year twice while in Durham, and he left the school with a 20-13-1 mark. After a 122-27-1 record with the Gators, Spurrier resigned and took the head gig with the Washington Redskins.

Spurrier has a combined record of 228-89-2 at Duke, Florida and South Carolina. He is the Gamecocks’ all-time winningest coach with 86 victories.

It’s safe to say that college football won’t be the same without Spurrier.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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USC fires Sarkisian

USC has fired head coach Steve Sarkisian.

One day after placing him on an indefinite leave of absence, athletic director Pat Haden terminated the contract of the head coach effective immediately. Clay Helton will continue as the interim head coach.

The following is a statement from Haden:

"After careful consideration of

USC has fired head coach Steve Sarkisian.

One day after placing him on an indefinite leave of absence, athletic director Pat Haden terminated the contract of the head coach effective immediately. Clay Helton will continue as the interim head coach.

The following is a statement from Haden:

“After careful consideration of what is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes, I have made the decision to terminate Steve Sarkisian, effective immediately.

“I want to thank Clay Helton for stepping into the interim head coach role, and I want to add how proud I am of our coaching staff and players and the way they are responding to this difficult situation.

“Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being.”

Sarkisian went 12-6 in less than two seasons as head coach. The Trojans went 9-4 last season and started 3-2 this year.

The question now is whether or not Haden will be around to pick the next permanent head man at ‘SC.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NCAA suspends Florida’s Grier

Florida quarterback Will Grier has been suspended for the rest of the season for violating NCAA rules.

The Gator tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The positive test has an automatic suspension of one calendar year from the NCAA, which would mean he would not be eligible to return until Florida's seventh

Florida quarterback Will Grier has been suspended for the rest of the season for violating NCAA rules.

The Gator tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The positive test has an automatic suspension of one calendar year from the NCAA, which would mean he would not be eligible to return until Florida’s seventh game of the 2016 season. The test was the result of something the signal-caller took over the counter that he did not get approved by Florida trainers, according to Grier at Monday’s news conference. The school plans to appeal the suspension.

The Davidson, N.C., native has thrown for 1,204 yards and 10 touchdowns against just three interceptions this fall. Florida travels to LSU for a showdown of unbeatens on Saturday.

Grier became the first Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow in 2009 to pass for more than 200 yards in three consecutive games, and his completion percentage (65.8) ranks first in the SEC.

With Grier out, sophomore Treon Harris will likely start for head coach Jim McElwain’s team. He started the season opener before giving way to Grier, but he was also suspended earlier this season for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Harris has appeared in two games this season and thrown for 269 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Georgia’s Chubb out for the year

Georgia running back Nick Chubb was lost for the season when he suffered a significant injury to his left knee in Saturday's game against Tennessee, including damage to multiple ligaments and cartilage but not the ACL, the school announced Sunday.

Chubb remains hospitalized for observation and is expected to undergo surgery

Georgia running back Nick Chubb was lost for the season when he suffered a significant injury to his left knee in Saturday’s game against Tennessee, including damage to multiple ligaments and cartilage but not the ACL, the school announced Sunday.

Chubb remains hospitalized for observation and is expected to undergo surgery within the next two weeks. The Bulldogs said a full recovery is expected.

The star Bulldog was injured on the first play from scrimmage on Saturday, when he took a handoff to the left side of the field and landed awkwardly on his left leg as he was tackled out of bounds.

Chubb had rushed for at least 100 yards in a school-record 13 straight games. He ranks second in the SEC this season with 745 rushing yards and has seven rushing touchdowns. He also averages 8.2 yards per carry.

Sophomore Sony Michel replaced Chubb and recorded 145 yards on 22 carries. Keith Marshall also received touches, rushing five times for 24 yards.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Maryland dismisses Edsall

Maryland pulled the plug on the Randy Edsall era, as the Terrapins head coach was informed Sunday morning that he was being dismissed. A press conference with athletic director Kevin Anderson is expected to take place at 4 p.m. ET today.

Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who previously had a rough stint

Maryland pulled the plug on the Randy Edsall era, as the Terrapins head coach was informed Sunday morning that he was being dismissed. A press conference with athletic director Kevin Anderson is expected to take place at 4 p.m. ET today.

Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who previously had a rough stint at New Mexico as head coach, will be the interim head man in College Park. He went 2-26 with the Lobos.

The Terps sit at 2-4 following their 49-28 loss to Ohio State this weekend, and all four of their defeats have been by at least three touchdowns this fall. After the loss to the Buckeyes, Edsall left his press conference abruptly after he was being asked questions regarding his job status amid reports that he was about to get canned.

The 57-year-old Edsall led the Terps to bowl games in each of the past two seasons but was just 22-34 in College Park with the Terps. He is owed a $3.1 million buyout.

In addition, assistant head coach/outside linebackers coach Lyndon Johnson has been relieved of his coaching duties.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (6-0) [1]
2. TCU (6-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (6-0) [3]

4. Baylor (5-0) [4]
5.
Florida State (5-0) [5]
6. LSU (5-0) [6]
7. Alabama (5-1) [8]
8.

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (6-0) [1]
2. TCU (6-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (6-0) [3]

4. Baylor (5-0) [4]
5. Florida State (5-0) [5]
6. LSU (5-0) [6]
7. Alabama (5-1) [8]
8. Utah (5-0) [10]
9. Clemson (5-0) [9]
10. Texas A&M (5-0) [11]
11. Florida (6-0) [15]
12. Notre Dame (5-1) [13]
13. Stanford (4-1) [14]
14. Ole Miss (5-1) [17]
15. Oklahoma (4-1) [7]
16. Michigan (5-1) [23]
17. Oklahoma State (6-0) [19]
18. Iowa (6-0) [22]
19. UCLA (4-1) [20]
20. Temple (5-0) [24]
21. Memphis (5-0) [25]
22. Toledo (5-0) [NR]
23. Boise State (5-1) [NR]
24. Duke (5-1) [NR]
25. Houston (5-0) [NR]

The next five: Cal (5-1), Northwestern (5-1), BYU (4-2), Georgia (4-2) and Kansas State (3-2).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Five weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and the first weekend of October was memorable for a plethora of reasons.

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (5-0) [1]
2. TCU (5-0) [2]
3. Michigan State

Five weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and the first weekend of October was memorable for a plethora of reasons.

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (5-0) [1]
2. TCU (5-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (5-0) [3]

4. Baylor (4-0) [4]
5. Florida State (4-0) [8]
6. LSU (4-0) [9]
7. Oklahoma (4-0) [12]
8. Alabama (4-1) [11]
9. Clemson (4-0) [13]
10. Utah (4-0) [14]
11. Texas A&M (5-0) [15]
12. Northwestern (5-0) [16]
13. Notre Dame (4-1) [5]
14. Stanford (4-1) [17]
15. Florida (5-0) [23]
16. USC (3-1) [18]
17. Ole Miss (4-1) [6]

18. Georgia (4-1) [7]
19. Oklahoma State (5-0) [19]
20. UCLA (4-1) [10]
21. Cal (5-0) [21]
22. Iowa (5-0) [NR]
23. Michigan (4-1) [NR]
24. Temple (4-0) [24]
25. Memphis (5-0) [25]

The next five: Toledo (4-0), Boise State (4-1), Duke (4-1), Houston (4-0) and Navy (4-0).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Four weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and plenty of unanswered questions remain as we head into the first weekend of October.

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (4-0) [1]
2. TCU (4-0) [2]
3.

Four weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and plenty of unanswered questions remain as we head into the first weekend of October.

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (4-0) [1]
2. TCU (4-0) [2]
3. Michigan State (4-0) [3]

4. Baylor (3-0) [4]
5. Notre Dame (4-0) [5]
6. Ole Miss (4-0) [6]
7. Georgia (4-0) [7]
8. Florida State (3-0) [8]
9. LSU (3-0) [9]
10. UCLA (4-0) [10]
11. Alabama (3-1) [11]

12. Oklahoma (3-0) [12]
13. Clemson (3-0) [13]
14. Utah (4-0) [16]
15. Texas A&M (4-0) [15]
16. Northwestern (4-0) [17]

17. Stanford (3-1) [19]
18. USC (3-1) [21]
19. Oklahoma State (4-0) [NR]
20. Wisconsin (3-1) [23]
21. Cal (4-0) [NR]
22. Mississippi State (3-1) [NR]
23. Florida (4-0) [NR]
24. Temple (3-0) [25]
25. Memphis (4-0) [NR]

The next five: Toledo (3-0), Michigan (3-1), Boise State (3-1), West Virginia (3-0) and Miami, FL (3-0).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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NFP Top 25

Three weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and defending national champion Ohio State survived quite a scare in Columbus against perennial MAC power Northern Illinois on Saturday.

What about the other top teams across the country?

Let's take a look at the National Football Post's newest

Three weeks of the 2015 college football season are in the books, and defending national champion Ohio State survived quite a scare in Columbus against perennial MAC power Northern Illinois on Saturday.

What about the other top teams across the country?

Let’s take a look at the National Football Post’s newest Top 25.

1. Ohio State (3-0)
2. TCU (3-0)
3. Michigan State (3-0)
4. Baylor (2-0)
5. Notre Dame (3-0)
6. Ole Miss (3-0)
7. Georgia (3-0)
8. Florida State (3-0)
9. LSU (2-0)
10. UCLA (3-0)
11. Alabama (2-1)
12. Oklahoma (3-0)
13. Clemson (3-0)
14. Oregon (2-1)
15. Texas A&M (3-0)
16. Utah (3-0)
17. Northwestern (3-0)
18. Arizona (3-0)
19. Stanford (2-1)
20. BYU (2-1)
21. USC (2-1)
22. Missouri (3-0)
23. Wisconsin (2-1)
24. Georgia Tech (2-1)
25. Temple (3-0)

The next five: Memphis (3-0), Oklahoma State (3-0), Florida (3-0), Toledo (2-0) and Cal (3-0).

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Notre Dame loses QB Zaire for the season

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told the media after Saturday's thrilling 34-27 win over Virginia that quarterback Malik Zaire will miss the rest of the season with a fractured right ankle.

With the transfer of Everett Golson to Florida State, Zaire assumed the starting job that will now go to

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly told the media after Saturday’s thrilling 34-27 win over Virginia that quarterback Malik Zaire will miss the rest of the season with a fractured right ankle.

With the transfer of Everett Golson to Florida State, Zaire assumed the starting job that will now go to DeShone Kizer, who tossed the game-winning 39-yard touchdown to Will Fuller with 12 seconds left to beat the Cavaliers after Zaire was knocked out of the game in the third quarter. Fuller has 19 scoring grabs since the start of last season (15 games).

Before the injury, Zaire completed just 7 of 18 passes, but he had rushed for 87 yards on 10 carries. Meanwhile, Kizer finished 8-of-12 passing for 92 yards and a pair of scores.

The Fighting Irish return home to host Georgia Tech next week, and contests against Clemson and USC loom within the next five weeks. If the Irish can navigate their tough schedule and make a run at a spot in the College Football Playoff with a redshirt freshman signal-caller, it would be one heck of a coaching job by Kelly.

The good news for the Irish is that C.J. Prosise looked like a No. 1 running back again, which is huge for a team that has had its share of injuries at that position as well. Prosise gained 155 yards on 17 carries against the Hoos.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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After further review: Week 1

Week 1 of the 2015 college football season is now in the books, as Ohio State began defense of its national championship by avenging its lone loss last season against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to close out the opening week on Monday night. While there wasn't too much drama over the

Week 1 of the 2015 college football season is now in the books, as Ohio State began defense of its national championship by avenging its lone loss last season against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg to close out the opening week on Monday night. While there wasn’t too much drama over the first few days of the new campaign, there were certainly a lot of notable performances in the season’s debut week.

The kickoff to the Jim Harbaugh era may have taken center stage last Thursday night, but plenty of other storylines played out across the country by the end of Monday evening. Here are my biggest takeways from the weekend’s action.

• The SEC West isn’t going away any time soon. Since the division went 2-5 in bowl games last season, we have heard proclamations that it was an overrated group of teams. Alabama was handled by Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal, Ole Miss was mauled by TCU, Mississippi State was run over by Georgia Tech and Auburn lost to Wisconsin. To top things off, college football’s champion did not come from the SEC. But on Saturday, the SEC West made an emphatic statement, as Alabama topped Wisconsin, Auburn held on to beat Louisville and Texas A&M used a monstrous defensive effort to defeat Arizona State. The Crimson Tide returned to Jerry World, the site of last season’s loss to the Buckeyes, and made amends so to speak by featuring beastly running back Derrick Henry, who rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns. That was the ‘Bama that the nation has come to know under Nick Saban. Oh, and the great Wisconsin ground game was held in check, as the Badgers were held to a measly 39 rushing yards. Throw in a solid performance from quarterback Jake Coker, whose play (16-of-22 passing for 219 yards) relegated Cooper Bateman to mop-up duty, and ‘Bama fans should be enthused. For Gus Malzahn’s Tigers, we saw flashes of an improved defense under new coordinator Will Muschamp in a 31-24 win over Louisville in Atlanta. The Tigers put on a defensive clinic in the first half, as they forced two turnovers that led to scores and notched four sacks en route to holding Louisville scoreless in the first 30 minutes. One concern that we didn’t see coming was the struggles of new starting quarterback Jeremy Johnson, who tossed three interceptions in the victory. In his limited appearances last year, he certainly looked the part of a stud quarterback. But against the Cardinals, we saw him force throws and struggle with his decision-making. It was just one game, but perhaps Malzahn will strip down the playbook a bit. Meanwhile, we finally saw a standout defensive performance for a Kevin Sumlin-coached Aggies squad, as new defensive coordinator John Chavis oversaw a dominant performance in a win over Arizona State in Houston. A&M held the Sun Devils to 17 points, 233 total yards of offense and 3.5 yards per play, led by stud ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall (the pair combined for six sacks). The unit racked up nine sacks, forced five fumbles and allowed just 2.2 yards per carry — just a fantastic debut for the Chavis unit. The dilemma now for Sumlin is who to play under center. Kyle Allen was replaced by Kyler Murray, the true freshman who is not a polished passer but could make big plays with his legs. However, when Murray injured his hip, Allen returned to lead the Aggies to two touchdowns, including one to Christian Kirk (who scored on a 79-yard punt return and a 66-yard screen pass). He looked like a different player after the benching. And now that A&M took care of the Sun Devils, the schedule isn’t too overwhelming. Though it is an SEC slate, of course.

Other thoughts

• While all of the attention centered on whether J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones would start at quarterback, it was former signal-caller Braxton Miller who stole the show in Ohio State’s 42-24 win over Virginia Tech on Monday night in Blacksburg. Miller displayed the explosiveness that college football fans came to expect while he was winning the Big Ten offensive player of the year award twice. The former star quarterback caught a 54-yard touchdown pass that gave the Buckeyes the lead again early in the third quarter, and he later added a 53-yard touchdown run that featured a video-game spin move. The Buckeyes began defense of their national title without suspended defensive end Joey Bosa and three receivers, and they pulled away from the Hokies despite looking sloppy at times. That’s a scary thought for each and every opposing defense on the OSU schedule.

• We are seeing young quarterbacks increasingly make big impacts across the college football landscape. The latest is UCLA true freshman signal-caller Josh Rosen, who did not play like an 18-year-old making his first college start in the Bruins’ 41-13 win over Virginia on Saturday. Rosen, who graduated early to compete in spring ball and ultimately won the starting job in August, completed 28 of 35 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. He was sacked just once and spread the ball around beautifully. He is working behind a sound offensive line and has a lot of talented skill players at his disposal. There likely will be some ups and downs, but his poise is impressive. However, while UCLA fans are excited about Rosen, there should be concern about the defense after star tackle Eddie Vanderdoes went down with a torn ACL. The Vanderdoes-Kenny Clark pair inside gave the Bruins a stout DT combo. Throw in the indefinite suspension of cornerback Ishmael Adams, and that’s two star players missing from that unit.

• In his second career start, Notre Dame junior quarterback Malik Zaire threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-22 passing, as the Fighting Irish crushed Texas 38-3. The three points for the ‘Horns tied the team’s fewest in a season opener since 1950. Almost exactly one year ago, Texas lost to BYU 41-7. So the QB spot may be the least of the Longhorns’ concerns right now. Meanwhile, the Irish received terrible news when it was announced that running back Tarean Folston would be shelved for the season because of a torn ACL. Of course, backup Greg Bryant was ruled academically ineligible in August. So senior C.J. Prosise, who rushed 20 times for 98 yards, and true freshman Josh Adams, who had five rushes for 49 yards and two touchdowns, will be the top backs. But what once was a strength is now a major concern for ND because of that lack of RB depth.

• Jeff Driskel has found new life at Louisiana Tech. The graduate transfer from Florida completed 12 of 15 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns (along with a rushing score) in the first half of a 62-15 win over Southern. Driskel, of course, had a tough time in the SEC spotlight with the Gators, so hopefully he’s able to enjoy a productive final season of college ball.

• Taysom Hill has once again been lost for the season, which means that he is unfortunately done at the collegiate level. BYU’s exciting win on a last-second Hail Mary over Nebraska came at a huge cost, as preseason Heisman Trophy contender Hill suffered a mild sprained ankle early in the game but was able to eventually return. However, in the fourth quarter, Hill slid short of the first-down marker on a third-and-long play, and he ultimately limped off the field and went to the locker room. After throwing for 268 yards, rushing for 72 more and accounting for three scores, he left the game with a Lisfranc foot fracture. Hill has been one of the more exciting players in recent BYU memory, and it’s a shame that college football fans were unable to see a healthy Hill throughout his career. Backup Tanner Mangum finished up the game and tossed the Hail Mary pass to Mitch Matthews that won the game for the Cougars. By the way, BYU’s win in Lincoln snapped Nebraska’s 29-game winning streak in season openers, which dated back to 1985. Florida now has the longest active streak in FBS at 25 games.

• In addition to Hill being out for the year, star Pitt running back James Conner will miss the season as well. He left Saturday’s 45-37 win over Youngstown State after tearing his MCL. He was the centerpiece of the Panthers’ offense last season, as he rushed nearly 300 times for 1,765 yards and 26 touchdowns.

• Penn State’s offensive line remains a disaster. After being battered and bruised throughout the 2014 campaign, quarterback Christian Hackenberg was sacked 10 more times — 10! — in a brutal 27-10 loss to Temple, which received three sacks from linebacker Tyler Matakevich. The last time the Nittany Lions lost to the Owls was in 1941, a stretch that covered 39 games.

• One of the more impressive starts to the season that went a bit under the radar came from West Virginia, which held last year’s No. 1 rushing offense scoreless. Sure, Georgia Southern was breaking in a new offensive line and was without quarterback Kevin Ellison (two-game suspension), but the Mountaineers’ 44-0 win came against an Eagles team that hung tight with N.C. State and Georgia Tech last year in its first season of FBS competition. WVU safety Karl Joseph led a strong secondary with three interceptions, and this is expected to be Dana Holgorsen’s strongest defensive unit yet in Morgantown as the ‘Neers brought back nine starters on that side of the ball.

• Vernon Adams made his Oregon debut on Saturday, completing 19 of 25 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns and rushing 14 times for 94 yards in a 61-42 win over his former team, Eastern Washington. But he had an injury scare after taking a cheap shot in the fourth quarter. He was given a concussion test in the locker room and said he would be ready for the showdown on Saturday at Michigan State.

• Syracuse received a brutal blow when quarterback Terrel Hunt was lost for the year after suffering a torn Achilles tendon Friday in a 47-0 win over Rhode Island. This is the second consecutive season ended by injury for the senior captain. Last year, Hunt started the first five games for the Orange before suffering a season-ending broken leg. True freshman Eric Dungey, who completed 10 of 17 passes for 114 yards and two scores in relief, is expected to get the start in the team’s ACC opener against Wake Forest. Meanwhile, Syracuse is expected to apply for a sixth year of eligibility for Hunt.

• The Everett Golson era in Tallahassee started out strong, as the former Notre Dame quarterback completed 19 of 25 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns in Florida State’s 59-16 win over Texas State. He should be in store for a big year as long as he protects the football, which was his No. 1 issue last year in South Bend.

• It’s great to see Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson healthy again. The quarterback, who missed last season due to injury, threw for 424 yards in a 59-30 loss to Tennessee, which had 399 rushing yards in the game. The Vols have to shore up that pass defense, though, as they prepare to face Oklahoma and new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley this week.

• William Likely is ridiculous. The Maryland cornerback had four total touchdowns (on two interceptions, one punt return and one kickoff return) last season, and he started off the 2015 season with a bang. In a 50-21 win over Richmond on Saturday, he returned eight punts for 233 yards, including a 67-yard score.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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The Opening 2015 preview

The Opening begins its weeklong event at Nike Headquarters on Sunday in Beaverton, OR.

One hundred sixty-six of the top high school football prospects across the nation (the standout 2016 recruits and select 2017 headliners) will gather for various activities, including combine testing, 7-on-7 work, individual drills, coaching and more at

The Opening begins its weeklong event at Nike Headquarters on Sunday in Beaverton, OR.

One hundred sixty-six of the top high school football prospects across the nation (the standout 2016 recruits and select 2017 headliners) will gather for various activities, including combine testing, 7-on-7 work, individual drills, coaching and more at the fifth edition of the nation’s top high school football event, which will take place from July 5-10.

Here are some of the things to keep an eye on throughout the week:

Elite 11

Over the past few months, some of the most coveted high school quarterbacks across the nation have competed for a chance to be one of the 18 prospects invited to the Elite 11 finals. The signal-callers will compete in arguably The Opening’s showcase competition this week to make the final Elite 11. The QBs will have to prove their mental and physical worth by learning a playbook, working hard in the classroom and competing in drills on the field. After individual drills, 7-on-7 play and much more, players will be selected for the final Elite 11 at the end of the week. This is a good chance for college football fans to get a glimpse at the prospective future star quarterbacks, including Malik Henry and Jacob Eason. While they aren’t in real game situations, these players will be competing against their peers, who are prospective college stars themselves. So consistency and poise will be crucial for these QBs.

7-on-7

The players invited to The Opening are placed on six teams before the event gets started. While this does not matter for drills such as one-on-ones and SPARQ testing, these teams will compete against each other starting July 9 for the 7-on-7 tournament. Each team has three quarterbacks, and we are guaranteed to see all three on each team play during the games on the first day. The names of the squads this year are Hypercool, Superbad, Mach Speed, Lunarbeast, Fly Rush and Alpha Pro. After pool play, as each team will play four games to determine seeding for the finals on the second day. Each winning team advances until a champ is determined.

The SPARQ National Championship

This showcases the event’s top athletes against each other in the 40-yard dash, vertical leap, shuttle run and a kneeling power ball toss. Each player’s scores are cumulated, and whoever finishes with the highest score is determined to be the champion. This was the event in which Texas A&M receiver Speedy Noil had his 45.3-inch vertical leap. Last year, running back Kirk Merritt (who signed with Oregon) posted a final score of 148.83 for the win.

Don’t overlook the linemen

While we always tend to set our sights on the skill-position players at these kinds of events, the offensive and defensive linemen will have a chance to shine a bit as well. The linemen will compete in a relay race and a tug of war, and we will also see the two sides throw on their shoulder pads and helmets and battle in one-on-one drills. The offensive linemen will be trying to prevent the opposing defensive linemen from reaching a dummy QB. Can the O-Line beat the D-Line in the tug of war after being defeated last year?

CLICK HERE for the official team rosters for The Opening Finals 2015

Notes:

— LSU will have seven commitments competing in this event, which is the most of any other program.

— An event like this offers another chance for commits to do a little pitching and recruiting of their own in an effort to sway other recruits to consider the schools they are respectively committed to attending.

— Four four-star players are expected to make their college decisions during the event. Cornerback Jared Mayden, safety C.J. Pollard and linebackers Camilo Eifler and LaMar Winston are all expected to pick a school.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Notre Dame lands elite Class of 2017 TE

Notre Dame has had a long list of notable tight ends leave South Bend and make it onto an NFL roster, and Brock Wright could follow when his time with the Fighting Irish is done.

Brian Kelly and his staff landed their second commitment for the 2017 recruiting class this weekend,

Notre Dame has had a long list of notable tight ends leave South Bend and make it onto an NFL roster, and Brock Wright could follow when his time with the Fighting Irish is done.

Brian Kelly and his staff landed their second commitment for the 2017 recruiting class this weekend, as the elite tight end gave a verbal pledge to the program.

The 6-5, 230-pounder from Cy-Fair High School (Cypress, TX) is arguably the best tight end in his class, and he had offers from major programs such as Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma and UCLA, among many others. Wright’s father played at Texas Tech, and the other major programs in the Lone Star State were after his commitment as well.

Wright is listed as a four-star prospect by Rivals.com, and he is considered the eighth-best player in the state of Texas by the 247 Composite.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Wright can get on the field in South Bend. Alize Jones will be a junior, Durham Smythe will be a redshirt senior, while Nic Weishar and Tyler Luatua will be true seniors when Wright arrives in 2017. So there will be quite the logjam at the position. But Wright possesses a rare size-speed combo for the position, and he has great hands and blocks very well.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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TCU lands top Class of 2017 dual-threat QB

Gary Patterson and his staff at TCU have already managed to put together one of their strongest classes ever for the 2016 recruiting class, and now the Horned Frogs have landed a pledge from one of the best quarterbacks in the 2017 cycle.

In-state product Shawn Robinson from John H. Guyer

Gary Patterson and his staff at TCU have already managed to put together one of their strongest classes ever for the 2016 recruiting class, and now the Horned Frogs have landed a pledge from one of the best quarterbacks in the 2017 cycle.

In-state product Shawn Robinson from John H. Guyer High School (Denton, TX) gave a commitment to Sonny Cumbie on Friday night. The Class of 2017 product is one of the most notable pledges in the school’s history.

The 6-2, 198-pound dual-threat signal-caller had offers from several major programs, including Alabama, USC and Oklahoma. While the recruiting game usually features a ton of twists and turns — even in the hours leading up to National Signing Day in some cases — the commitment of Robinson further underscores just how strong the TCU brand is becoming on the recruiting scene. It also hurts Texas, which was considered a strong contender for Robinson’s commitment. Of course, nothing will be set in stone until National Signing Day 2017.

Robinson, who grew up in Fort Worth and has shades of Trevone Boykin in his game, was named the Class 5-6A MVP as a sophomore after throwing for 2,800 yards and 33 touchdowns against just five interceptions. Rivals.com ranks him as a four-star prospect.

It will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation develops for TCU over the next few years, as the Frogs will welcome former Texas A&M signal-caller Kenny Hill this summer and already have Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein entering 2015 as redshirt freshmen. In addition, Brennan Wooten is scheduled to sign in 2016.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Michigan State hits hot recruiting stretch

Michigan State continued to stockpile talent for its 2016 recruiting class, picking up a commitment from defensive end Auston Robertson on Sunday.

Head coach Mark Dantonio and his staff were able to put together a strong weekend of collecting prospects, as the Spartans also received a pledge from fellow DE Josh

Michigan State continued to stockpile talent for its 2016 recruiting class, picking up a commitment from defensive end Auston Robertson on Sunday.

Head coach Mark Dantonio and his staff were able to put together a strong weekend of collecting prospects, as the Spartans also received a pledge from fellow DE Josh King on Friday. And MSU may not be done yet, as a few more pledges may come in over the next few days.

Illinois defensive lineman Naquan Jones will announce his decision on Monday, and he is down to Michigan State, Florida and South Carolina, while fellow Land of Lincoln defensive lineman Mike Panasiuk will also choose on Monday and is down to Sparty, Wisconsin and Penn State. Getting pledges from all four talented recruits in a stretch of days would be quite the coup for Dantonio and his staff.

Both the 6-4, 262-pound Robertson (Wayne High School in Fort Wayne, IN), and the 6-6, 233-pound King (Hinsdale South High School in Darien, IL) are considered two of the best players at their position in their respective states. And they are the Spartans’ highest-ranked commitments in the current cycle. Adding Jones and Panasiuk would put the program as one of the best in the country as we head into the summer months, and it could set the stage for Dantonio’s best recruiting class yet in East Lansing.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Alabama lands QB for its 2016 class

Alabama has found a quarterback for its 2016 recruiting class, as Jalen Hurts has given a verbal pledge to play for the Crimson Tide.

The Texas signal-caller made his announcement via Twitter while preparing to compete in the Elite 11 semifinals in Los Angeles this weekend.

Hurts, who attends Channelview High

Alabama has found a quarterback for its 2016 recruiting class, as Jalen Hurts has given a verbal pledge to play for the Crimson Tide.

The Texas signal-caller made his announcement via Twitter while preparing to compete in the Elite 11 semifinals in Los Angeles this weekend.

Hurts, who attends Channelview High School (Channelview, TX), chose the Tide over programs such as Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Mississippi State and West Virginia.

Rivals.com lists the 6-2, 208-pound dual-threat as a four-star prospect.

Hurts threw for 2,545 yards and 21 touchdowns as a junior, and he added 951 yards and 19 scores on the ground. With the addition of Hurts, it may mean that Georgia product Jawon Pass will now look elsewhere. Pass, who is another highly sought dual-threat quarterback, is supposed to announce his commitment on July 13. Many recruiting experts believe that Alabama and Auburn were the best-positioned to land Pass, but the Tide now has a commitment from Hurts, while Orlando product Woody Barrett recently pledged to Auburn.

The best dual-threat quarterbacks in the 2016 class have already committed, with Pass and Florida product Xavier Grimes being the exceptions. Of course, no pledge is binding until a player sends in his Letter of Intent next winter.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Virginia QB Lambert set to transfer

Greyson Lambert, who fell down the depth chart following spring football, has decided to transfer from Virginia.

The 2014 starting signal-caller for the Cavaliers tweeted on Saturday that he will transfer out of the program.

Lambert began his playing career in 2013 as a redshirt freshman when he appeared in seven

Greyson Lambert, who fell down the depth chart following spring football, has decided to transfer from Virginia.

The 2014 starting signal-caller for the Cavaliers tweeted on Saturday that he will transfer out of the program.

Lambert began his playing career in 2013 as a redshirt freshman when he appeared in seven games. He then beat out David Watford for the starting gig to begin 2014, and he started nine games before getting injured. He passed for 1,632 yards and had 10 touchdowns against 11 interceptions.

Cavaliers head coach Mike London placed Matt Johns atop the depth chart at quarterback after spring ball this offseason, noting that the competition “wasn’t close.” That likely was a deciding factor in Lambert choosing to leave the program.

Lambert becomes the second Virginia quarterback to leave the program in recent days. Redshirt freshman Corwin Cutler tweeted on Thursday that he was going to transfer. And Watford, who spent four seasons at Virginia, decided earlier in the offseason to transfer to Hampton, where he will play as a redshirt senior.

For the Hoos, it looks like sophomore Andrew Mackay will become the top backup to Johns now that Lambert is leaving. Meanwhile, Lambert is scheduled to graduate on June 23, so he will be eligible to play this fall with two years of eligibility remaining.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Maryland gets commitment from top Class of 2016 QB

Randy Edsall was able to land one of the best quarterbacks in the Class of 2016 on Friday, as Dwayne Haskins Jr. committed to play for Maryland.

The pledge of the Under Armour All-American pocket passer is huge not just because of the talent that he will bring to the roster,

Randy Edsall was able to land one of the best quarterbacks in the Class of 2016 on Friday, as Dwayne Haskins Jr. committed to play for Maryland.

The pledge of the Under Armour All-American pocket passer is huge not just because of the talent that he will bring to the roster, but he will most likely be the gem of the Terps’ 2016 haul as Edsall and his staff try to get the most talented players in their local recruiting area onto the Maryland campus.

The 6-3, 203-pound product from Bullis School (Potomac, MD) chose Maryland over Penn State, Rutgers and Virginia Tech, among other offers. Major programs such as Alabama, Florida and Notre Dame also offered. Haskins is the No. 4 pro-style quarterback and No. 68 player in the class of 2016, according to Rivals.com rankings.

The Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year threw 22 touchdowns against five interceptions and completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,936 yards this past season. He projects to be the type of signal-caller that could excel both as a passer and runner in a spread system or as a pure passer in a more pro-style scheme.

While current projected starter Caleb Rowe has two years of eligibility remaining, Haskins is gifted enough to compete for the starting job upon arrival on campus.

Haskins is the Terps’ eighth commitment in the 2016 class, which includes seven pledges from the state of Maryland. Four-star outside linebacker Keandre Jones from Our Lady of Good Counsel High had been the most noteworthy Terps pledge before the commitment of Haskins.

With the best quarterbacks in the 2016 class already committed to schools, some major programs in need of depth at the position will be hoping to either get a commitment from Georgia dual-threat Jawon Pass or hope that a QB decommits before National Signing Day.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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FSU trying to set three-year NFL Draft record for total picks

CHICAGO—Six players down, five (and possibly six) to go?

No school has had more players drafted in the first three rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft than Florida State, which saw Jameis Winston become the first Seminole ever to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick when Tampa Bay selected

CHICAGO—Six players down, five (and possibly six) to go?

No school has had more players drafted in the first three rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft than Florida State, which saw Jameis Winston become the first Seminole ever to be taken with the No. 1 overall pick when Tampa Bay selected the former Heisman Trophy winner.

Offensive lineman Cameron Erving (No. 19 overall, Cleveland), defensive end Mario Edwards (No. 35, Oakland), defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (No. 39, Chicago), cornerback Ronald Darby (No. 50, Buffalo) and cornerback P. J. Williams (No. 78, New Orleans) followed Winston, who helped make FSU the first school to produce three first-round quarterbacks in a five-year span (following the selections of Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel).

The ‘Noles are trying to set a new three-year NFL Draft record for total picks. Jimbo Fisher’s program will need to send five more players to NFL teams in the final four rounds to pass the mark of 28 drafted players previously set by Miami, FL (2002-2004) and USC (2008-2010). FSU would have 30 total picks over the last three years if all 12 of its prospects have their name called in this year’s draft.

Can the ‘Noles, which had 11 selections in the 2013 draft and seven more in 2014, set the record on the third and final day of the draft?

It’s pretty safe to assume that Rashad Greene, Tre’ Jackson, Nick O’Leary and Josue Matias will be selected at some point on the draft’s final day. But Karlos Williams and Bobby Hart also have a chance to help set the three-year mark.

Williams is a raw but intriguing running back because of his combination of size, speed and athleticism after making the switch from safety to running back a few seasons ago. Meanwhile, teams are always looking to build depth across the offensive line, and Hart projects to play guard in the NFL after playing tackle for the ‘Noles.

No matter what happens on the draft’s final day in Chicago, FSU has a deep and talented class that helped the program record 39 wins in 42 games over the last three years, including a national championship and three straight ACC crowns. Even falling short of the record would never be able to take those accomplishments away.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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5 surprises from the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft

CHICAGO—With the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft in the books, here are my five biggest surprises from opening night.

— I have maintained that Leonard Williams is the best overall player in this draft class regardless of position. He was a joy to watch at USC, and he wasn’t

CHICAGO—With the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft in the books, here are my five biggest surprises from opening night.

— I have maintained that Leonard Williams is the best overall player in this draft class regardless of position. He was a joy to watch at USC, and he wasn’t even fully healthy at times during his stint with the Trojans. I was surprised that the defensive lineman fell out of the Top 5, landing with the New York Jets at No. 6. I thought Washington would snag him at No. 5, but the Redskins took Iowa guard/tackle Brandon Scherff instead. New ‘Skins offensive line coach Bill Callahan came over from Dallas, which relied on a studly and remade O-Line last season on its march to the playoffs. So Scherff will fit in very well in D.C. I would imagine that fans of the Jets would have a hard time booing the Williams selection had this event been held once again in New York. The Jets now have a defensive line that boasts Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson.

— If Williams is my top overall player, Georgia’s Todd Gurley is my No. 2 in this class — although he has the obvious health concern. But there is no question that St. Louis is set to inherit a beastly running back in Gurley, who shocked a lot of observers by making his way into the Top 10 not only as a RB in a passing league but as a rehabbing RB. The Rams did not go the O-Lineman route at No. 10 possibly because Scherff and Ereck Flowers were gone, so they could always go up front with their next pick. Gurley was the first running back chosen in the first round since 2012, and he should be a special player if healthy. Sure, there’s concern because of the knee injury. But if he comes back 100 percent, the Rams should have their feature back in time.

— We assumed that Randy Gregory was going to slip down the first-round draft board, but it is hard to believe that the Nebraska product was not a Day 1 selection. Sure, it has been a rough offseason for the outside linebacker since his failed drug test at the NFL Scouting Combine. But he was once considered the top pass rusher on the draft board and an almost sure first-round selection. We now have to wonder how far he will fall. Certainly, whichever team rolls the dice on Gregory will be getting a heck of a player if he keeps his nose clean off of the field.

— It’s almost impossible to predict any draft-day trades even when there’s so much supposed smoke around certain teams. There was not much wheeling and dealing on the draft’s first night, as Tennessee remained at No. 2 and selected Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota, while Cleveland and New Orleans did not make a move despite having multiple first-round selections. San Diego did move up two spots to take prolific Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, though, while Denver moved up five slots to take Missouri pass-rush specialist Shane Ray. Will we see some early deals being completed Friday evening as teams have readjusted their draft boards? Expect several mini deals as the draft progresses as is the case every year.

— How did Washington lose six games last season? The Huskies had three defenders selected in the first round on Thursday night, with Carolina pulling off the biggest surprise by taking freak athlete Shaq Thompson at No. 25 overall. Thompson excelled both as a defender and as a running back during his time in Seattle, but he is still raw. However, his ceiling is sky-high, which likely helped get him into the first round. He was the third Huskies player to be picked in the first 32 selections along with D-Lineman Danny Shelton and cornerback Marcus Peters, whose stock was in question because of character concerns. Kansas City took Peters at No. 18, which was a surprise on its own. By the way, Oregon fans may be excited to know that graduate transfer quarterback Vernon Adams led an Eastern Washington team to 52 points against that Huskies squad last fall.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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College Football Playoff to continue weekly rankings

The College Football Playoff management committee, which consists of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners as well as Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, approved the use of weekly rankings once again this upcoming season following a gathering in Irving, TX.

However, the committee did not come to a conclusion on how to

The College Football Playoff management committee, which consists of the 10 Football Bowl Subdivision conference commissioners as well as Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, approved the use of weekly rankings once again this upcoming season following a gathering in Irving, TX.

However, the committee did not come to a conclusion on how to handle Army and Navy, which play each other the Saturday after the final rankings are released. The committee essentially needs to come up with a plan if either Army or Navy is in the running for a slot in one of the New Year’s playoff bowls. The Midshipmen will no longer be independent as they move into the American Athletic Conference, so it could be problematic if Navy wins the conference title and is the highest-ranked Group of Five team entering a closing game against Army. The commissioners plan to meet again in June, so perhaps we will get some clarity then.

The CFP selection committee will release its first Top 25 of the 2015 season on November 3 following the ninth week of the season. The final rankings will be unveiled on December 6, which is the day after the regular season concludes outside of the Army-Navy tilt.

CFP executive director Bill Hancock said that commissioners of the FBS decided that it was in the best interest of the sport to not alter the system after a successful debut in 2014, which saw No. 4 seed Ohio State beat top seed Alabama and No. 2 Oregon en route to claiming the first-ever College Football Playoff national championship. The playoff set television ratings records last season, and bowl games paid more than a half-billion dollars to conferences and schools last season — the largest payout ever.

In its second year of existence, the semifinals of the CFP will be played in the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve. The winners of those two contests will play at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, on January 11 for the national title.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Sooners get pledge from top Class of 2016 QB

Class of 2016 quarterback Austin Kendall verbally committed on Tuesday to play for head coach Bob Stoops at Oklahoma.

Kendall is ranked as the No. 27 overall player in the Rivals.com rankings for the 2016 class.

The 6-2, 201-pounder from Cuthbertson High School (Waxhaw, N.C.) is a pocket passer who was

Class of 2016 quarterback Austin Kendall verbally committed on Tuesday to play for head coach Bob Stoops at Oklahoma.

Kendall is ranked as the No. 27 overall player in the Rivals.com rankings for the 2016 class.

The 6-2, 201-pounder from Cuthbertson High School (Waxhaw, N.C.) is a pocket passer who was previously committed to Tennessee before backing off his pledge in March. The Vols signed three quarterbacks in their 2015 class.

He then visited Kentucky and OU, and he was reportedly down to Auburn and the Sooners before finally deciding to head to Norman for his college career.

It will be interesting to see if Stoops and his staff get a few more top-tier prospects to pledge now that one of the better signal-callers in the 2016 class has committed to play for the program.

Kentucky went hard after Kendall, but the Wildcats fell short. His brother, Ryan, is a walk-on wide receiver for UK.

The Sooners brought in a new offensive coordinator this offseason in former East Carolina OC Lincoln Riley, who next year will inherit an intriguing prospect in Kendall, who threw for nearly 4,500 yards and 49 touchdowns in a pass-happy system last season.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Battle to replace Winston underway at Florida State

It's not easy to replace a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Not even at Florida State, where head coach Jimbo Fisher has been able to re-stock the talent cupboard each February on National Signing Day.

Jameis Winston has a chance to be the top overall player selected in this spring's NFL Draft,

It’s not easy to replace a former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. Not even at Florida State, where head coach Jimbo Fisher has been able to re-stock the talent cupboard each February on National Signing Day.

Jameis Winston has a chance to be the top overall player selected in this spring’s NFL Draft, leaving a gaping hole at the quarterback position for the Seminoles.

With spring practice less than a week old in Tallahassee, rising junior Sean Maguire (who was last year’s top backup) is considered the frontrunner to earn the starting job for the start of the 2015 season. Maguire, of course, was in the starting lineup for one game last season while Winston served a suspension. In that contest against Clemson, Maguire completed 21 of 39 passes for 304 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, a solid effort under tough circumstances. The highlight was his 74-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene that tied the game in the fourth quarter.

Maguire has seen action in a big-time game and knows the offensive system better than any other signal-caller on the roster. Still, the fourth-year quarterback has played only sparingly the last two seasons. However, with an inexperienced offensive line and younger playmakers needing to step up, Maguire’s leadership should be a valuable asset to the unit in 2015.

Behind Maguire is redshirt freshman J.J. Cosentino and redshirt sophomore John Franklin III. Cosentino has very good arm strength and ideal size, and I have heard more than one rave review about him coming out of ‘Noles country. Franklin, meanwhile, is very athletic, and FSU used him as the scout team quarterback in the past to serve as stand-ins for opponents like Nick Marshall and Marcus Mariota.

The coaching staff will try to determine this spring just how much pressure Cosentino and Franklin can apply to Maguire and whether they can put together strong enough efforts to make the depth chart very interesting in preseason camp.

Early enrollee true freshman De’Andre Johnson has not been overwhelmed by this competition either. While he wasn’t considered a real factor in the QB race entering spring, Johnson has shown off his talented skill set to the coaching staff this spring.

The 6-foot, 173-pounder from Jacksonville’s First Coast High School is a dual-threat that may not have ideal size or arm strength, but he is considered savvy with good mechanics for someone who is stepping onto a college campus early. Fisher’s pro-style offense is very complex, however, so it would be very surprising to see Johnson ultimately win the starting gig. The same goes for Deondre Francois, who will join the program this summer as yet another athletic talent at the position.

FSU, which is trying to win its fourth consecutive ACC title in 2015, will conclude spring drills when it holds its spring game on April 11.

While Maguire is the odds-on favorite to initially replace Winston, Fisher certainly has some intriguing options both this fall and over the next couple of seasons, especially considering that one of the nation’s best quarterbacks in the Class of 2016, Malik Henry, has already committed to the ‘Noles. It’s yet another case of the rich getting richer.

But before FSU arrives at future quarterback battles, the ‘Noles have to settle the one underway right now. And while there are several options for Fisher and his offensive staff, it’s tough to see someone other than Maguire leading the offense onto the field in the season opener.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Notre Dame spring preview

Notre Dame opens spring football on Wednesday, as Brian Kelly begins preparing for his sixth year as head coach in South Bend.

Fans of the Fighting Irish will almost certainly be focused on the quarterback position, as veteran Everett Golson looks to reclaim the starting gig after left-hander Malik Zaire replaced

Notre Dame opens spring football on Wednesday, as Brian Kelly begins preparing for his sixth year as head coach in South Bend.

Fans of the Fighting Irish will almost certainly be focused on the quarterback position, as veteran Everett Golson looks to reclaim the starting gig after left-hander Malik Zaire replaced him in the regular-season finale against USC and started the team’s 31-28 Music City Bowl win over LSU.

We saw both signal-callers play against the Tigers in the postseason, but are Kelly and the Irish willing to employ a two-quarterback system in 2015?

Let’s take a look at the most intriguing storylines that will at least begin to play out this spring before bleeding into the fall.

— The quarterback battle: Golson and Zaire will be at the forefront of spring and fall camp. Golson recorded 37 touchdowns but also 22 turnovers last year, while Zaire ‘wowed’ at times in Nashville against the Bayou Bengals. Kelly said on Tuesday that he is unsure of how long it will take to name a starter, but he noted that Golson has fully bought into competing for the starting gig after rumors surfaced that he would look to transfer and play elsewhere after graduating from ND in May. Kelly is looking for Golson to better protect the football, while he wants Zaire to sharpen his dedication and leadership skills in practices. Both will also be looking to improve their mechanics.

— New-look offense?: Kelly was not happy with the team’s production on offense last year, so Mike Sanford was brought in to be the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Sanford is considered one of the bright young minds in the college game, and he comes without having a previous link to Kelly, which was not the case when coaches such as Mike Denbrock, Matt LaFleur, Chuck Martin and Charley Molnar all landed jobs in South Bend. There is no doubt that the Irish offense needed a boost after a turnover-laden season in 2014. In his only year as OC at Boise State, Sanford directed the No. 9 scoring offense in the country, and it was a unit that was very balanced (the Broncos ranked 29th in rushing and 23rd in passing nationally). Sanford was also part of three Stanford teams that claimed BCS berths, so he comes with a winning pedigree. The only question is exactly how much control Sanford will possess once the new season begins. Kelly is expected to announce who will call the offensive plays sometime after spring practice ends.

— Bryant strives for consistency: Greg Bryant arrived in South Bend with great fanfare, and the Irish would love to have a clear-cut No. 1 back emerge. The former five-star recruit is behind Tarean Folston on the depth chart, but Bryant will certainly have a chance to take on a greater workload. He has shown glimpses of explosiveness, but he must improve in pass protection and become a more patient runner.

— Concerns at safety: Max Redfield and Elijah Shumate need to be much more consistent this fall if the Irish want to be a stout defense. Both possess very good physical traits, and the hope is that both of them think much less and rely much more on instincts in their second seasons under coordinator Brian VanGorder. Perhaps new position coach Todd Lyght will provide a spark as well. The duo showed flashes last year, but consistency is needed each and every Saturday.

Other notes:

— Kelly said cornerback KeiVarae Russell is progressing academically and hopes to be back in school in the summer, but he isn’t sure if defensive lineman Ishaq Williams will be back.

— The Irish have a great “problem” on their hands in the form of several starting-caliber linebackers. Joe Schmidt is returning from injury, and so is Jarrett Grace, who last played in October 2013. Jaylon Smith and Nyles Morgan are also back, as are versatile ‘backers James Onwualu and Greer Martini. Ben Councell, who had a year of eligibility left, decided not to return for another season.

— Kelly said he didn’t know why Matt Hegarty has chosen to leave South Bend and play elsewhere after he graduates in May. Kelly said he expected Hegarty, who started 11 games last season, to start at left guard. Expect redshirt freshman Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars to now compete for the left guard job.

— Cornerback Jalen Brown was not offered a fifth-year of eligibility.

— Fifth-year candidate Chase Hounshell has switched from the defensive line to tight end and now wears No. 18. Hounshell has battled injuries throughout his career.

— Slot receiver C.J. Prosise is getting a look at running back after showing well as a runner in 2014. Notre Dame has just two scholarship running backs on the spring roster.

— Kelly is excited about the team’s depth, so expect the Irish to go hard this spring throughout their 15 practices.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Burning questions for spring football

Spring football is slowly but surely starting to get underway at programs across the country, which means that we are just a little bit closer to the beginning of a new college football season.

Okay, so we are still 26 Saturdays away from the dawn of the 2015 campaign, but let's

Spring football is slowly but surely starting to get underway at programs across the country, which means that we are just a little bit closer to the beginning of a new college football season.

Okay, so we are still 26 Saturdays away from the dawn of the 2015 campaign, but let’s take a look at some of the key storylines that will start to play out this spring and carry over into fall camp.

Note: Teams get just 15 practices (only eight with contact) to iron things out before spring ball ends.

The Ohio State quarterback battle: Because of his spectacular play during the final three games of the Buckeyes’ national championship season, Cardale Jones is essentially the No. 1 on the quarterback depth chart. But, as of now, Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett are still in Columbus. However, neither Miller nor Barrett will be competing for the starting job when the team begins spring practice on March 10. Two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year Miller is still recovering from shoulder surgery, while Heisman Trophy-contending Barrett will be limited by an ankle injury. Head coach Urban Meyer has a great problem on his hands with three star signal-callers, but how will it play out before the new season kicks off? Jones will likely come out of spring as the starter, with Barrett being able to compete in an intense battle in fall camp. But will Miller remain? He doesn’t seem to have the brightest pro future at QB, so would he be open to changing positions? Or will he transfer and seek an immediate starting job? As a graduate transfer, he would be immediately eligible at any school. Oregon already found its replacement for Marcus Mariota in former Eastern Washington starting signal-caller Vernon Adams. But there are some other major programs remaining that would love to add a dynamic threat like Miller at QB. No matter who is at QB for the Buckeyes in the fall, Meyer’s bunch has a great chance to once again win the College Football Playoff. Just look at the schedule, and just remember the young talent being brought back.

Dry spell in Tuscaloosa: With Urban Meyer approaching (if he hasn’t already) Nick Saban territory as being the best head coach in the game, how will Alabama regroup after losing the Sugar Bowl to Ohio State? The Crimson Tide will be breaking in a new quarterback for the second consecutive season, and it will be interesting to see if Florida State transfer Jake Coker is ready to fulfill the high expectations that followed him to Tuscaloosa. Lane Kiffin enters his second year as offensive coordinator, but he’ll need a quarterback to emerge and a star wide receiver to step up and replace Amari Cooper. The biggest issue, however, remains the team’s secondary. ‘Bama will be favored to win the SEC West, but can Saban’s bunch be true College Football Playoff contenders?

An old-school Michigan regime: Jim Harbaugh is eventually going to make Michigan a national contender once again. But it is going to take time implementing his philosophy and system, as this is a very young Wolverines squad that’s littered with underclassmen. It starts with spring practice, which is akin to childbirth, according to the former Stanford and San Francisco 49ers boss. The Big Ten can always use more star power, and the East division just became a lot more interesting with Harbaugh trying to revive Michigan while Ohio State continues to soar under Meyer. The new staff will make sure the quarterback position and offensive line eventually get straightened out, and new playmakers must emerge at receiver. But fans in Ann Arbor have to be giddy about the prospects of this program moving forward because Harbaugh has won at every one of his stops. Attendance at the Big House should be high for the team’s spring game on April 4.

New faces of the Big 12: That TCU-Baylor debate may carry over into the new season. Perhaps no other team outside of defending champ Ohio State will garner as many first-place votes in preseason polls as Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs. The squad fielded a prolific and new-look offense to go along with a stout defense in 2014, and many of the key personnel from that team are back. Star quarterback Trevone Boykin could be a Heisman Trophy finalist, and the defense should at least be as good as in 2014. Meanwhile, Art Briles should have another strong Baylor team on his hands this year despite losing Bryce Petty because 18 starters will return. Seth Russell is the likely starter, and we have seen him succeed when he had to step in for Petty. Intriguing true freshman Jarrett Stidham could push Russell, but either way offense will never be an issue in Waco. But Briles didn’t do himself any favors when complaining about the results of last year’s final College Football Playoff rankings. Still, Oklahoma and Texas have work to do if they want to reclaim Big 12 supremacy.

Auburn lowers the Boom: Will Muschamp is back on The Plains, and that’s a bad thing for opposing SEC offenses. The former Florida head coach is the Tigers’ new defensive coordinator, and his recruiting prowess already helped Gus Malzahn and the rest of the staff reel in a strong crop of talent this past National Signing Day. Auburn was a complete disaster defensively last year, and the team recorded a disappointing eight wins. Muschamp inherits eight returning starters on defense as well as end Byron Cowart, who was the top-rated player in the 2015 class. Fellow end Carl Lawson has also been medically cleared, which is huge for a team that had just 21 sacks in 2014. This spring, Muschamp will be installing the 3-4, so the 15 team practices will be very important.

Notre Dame’s offensive mystery: Brian Kelly brought in a new personality to add to the offensive mix, as Mike Sanford left Boise State to be the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Fighting Irish. Sanford is considered one of the bright young minds in the college game, and he helped lead the Broncos to the No. 9 scoring offense (39.7 points per game) and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona last season. The Irish return 18 of 22 starters overall from last season, including eight on offense. Kelly has not yet announced who will call the offensive plays, but adding Sanford is a clear sign that he wants to maximize the potential of an offense that was turnover-prone last fall. Of course, Everett Golson (37 total touchdowns and 22 turnovers last year) and lefty Malik Zaire, who started the bowl game against LSU, will be at the forefront of spring drills because both can start for nearly every major program in America. With more diversity and balance, the offense should be improved and increase the program’s chances of being national contenders once again. But the defense also must improve after battling attrition last season.

Balance needed in College Station: Texas A&M’s defense has been dreadful, but head coach Kevin Sumlin was able to pluck longtime LSU coordinator John Chavis out of Baton Rouge and get him to move within the SEC West to College Station. The Aggies have been working on improving their talent level and depth on that side of the ball, but there remains work to be done. Just how much of an impact can Chavis have in his first year? The Aggies ranked No. 111 nationally in run defense last season, allowing over five yards per carry. A&M’s win totals have decreased each year under Sumlin, although no one should be panicking in the Lone Star State. However, Chavis must make the defense at least average if the Aggies want to be serious SEC West contenders in 2015. Inheriting sophomore end Myles Garrett is a start.

That ‘other’ Texas team: I kid, I kid. But A&M, TCU and Baylor have certainly stolen some major thunder from the Longhorns over the last few seasons. How will the team in Austin fare in Charlie Strong’s second season? The former Louisville head coach wants his ‘Horns to evolved into more of a spread team, and he took notes from North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora earlier in the offseason. Wanting to go up-tempo is one thing, but can either Tyrone Swoopes or Jerrod Heard be consistent enough at the quarterback position?

USC is a chic CFP pick: The Trojans have a lot of talent returning, but they have lost star standouts as well. Steve Sarkisian and his staff must replace running back Buck Allen and wide receiver Nelson Agholor on offense, while defensive lineman Leonard Williams should be the top defender taken in this spring’s NFL Draft. Quarterback Cody Kessler returns after having one of the most productive yet nationally underappreciated seasons in recent memory, while running back Justin Davis and receivers Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell will need to help fill voids on offense. If the Trojans are going to be true playoff contenders, overall team depth — especially on defense — is the primary concern.

Florida getting offensive: The Gators are going to eventually be productive on offense. New head coach Jim McElwain has forgotten more about offense than many around the game will ever know. The question is just how quickly the offensive personnel can acclimate themselves to the system. Open competition is great for this unit, especially because the program is desperate for consistent playmakers outside of Demarcus Robinson to emerge. Treon Harris and Will Grier will battle for the quarterback job, while four new starters need to emerge across the offensive line. This will be an even younger team when the incoming freshmen arrive, but the veterans need to take to McElwain’s teachings right away.

Other issues to monitor:

— Once again, Oklahoma underachieved throughout a season in which many expected the Sooners to at least compete for the Big 12 title. The Sooners suffered five defeats and were blown out by Clemson in their bowl game. Head coach Bob Stoops is overseeing a lot of new faces on the staff. How does OU bounce back? Trevor Knight will get seriously pushed for the quarterback job by Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield and Cody Thomas.

— At UCLA, Josh Rosen is the future at quarterback. He was arguably the best signal-caller in the 2015 class and enrolled in Westwood in January. He will battle last year’s backup Jerry Neuheisel, Asianatii Woulard and Mike Faraul for the starting gig.

— There is serious buzz for Arkansas and Tennessee. Bret Bielema and Butch Jones are doing wonderful things with their respective programs. But there are no days off in the SEC. Can these teams seriously challenge for division titles in 2015?

— Florida State could have 11 players from last year’s team drafted into the NFL this spring, including former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who lost just one game in his two seasons of play. There will be competition for Winston’s starting job, with 2014 backup Sean Maguire being the lone signal-caller on the roster with any experience. But redshirt freshman JJ Cosentino is from a high school program that has produced Hall of Famer Dan Marino and two-time Pro Bowler Marc Bulger, among others, and the staff is high on him. Offensive line could be an issue for the ‘Noles in the fall.

— Can Penn State head coach James Franklin field a cohesive offensive line to protect quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who is immensely talented but was battered throughout last season? Keep in mind that veteran offensive tackle Donovan Smith will be playing on Sundays in the fall.

— Don’t look now, but there is emerging head-coaching star power in the American Athletic Conference, specifically in the West division. Former offensive coordinators Chad Morris (SMU), Tom Herman (Houston) and Philip Montgomery (Tulsa) are all entering their first seasons as FBS head coaches, and fan bases for those programs are expecting fireworks immediately.

— The other new head coaches: Gary Andersen is now the head boss at Oregon State, which saw longtime program-builder Mike Riley head to Nebraska. Fellow Big Ten squad Michigan State lost stud defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi to Pitt, which is an intriguing ACC team because Paul Chryst did not leave the cupboard bare. Meanwhile, Chryst returns to Madison where he takes over the Wisconsin program.

— The other new coordinators: With John Chavis in College Station, Kevin Steele is the new DC in Baton Rouge. He is joined by new Tigers defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, who will help make the Tigers’ recruiting efforts even better. NFL assistants Brian Schottenheimer and Jim Leavitt are back in the college game, as Schottenheimer replaces Mike Bobo and will run the Georgia offense, while Leavitt takes over the defense at Colorado after being on Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers staff. Gene Chizik is also back on the sideline, as he has resurfaced at North Carolina, which desperately needs help on that side of the ball from a guy who has always known good ‘D.’ Finally, UCLA’s Jim L. Mora was able to woo longtime East Coaster Tom Bradley out West to run the Bruins’ defensive unit.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Intrigue surrounds the Notre Dame offense

Brian Kelly isn't afraid to shake things up when he isn't happy with the product he is fielding.

The Notre Dame head coach officially named 32-year-old Mike Sanford to be the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and it's a big import for the Fighting Irish staff.

Sanford is considered one

Brian Kelly isn’t afraid to shake things up when he isn’t happy with the product he is fielding.

The Notre Dame head coach officially named 32-year-old Mike Sanford to be the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and it’s a big import for the Fighting Irish staff.

Sanford is considered one of the bright young minds in the college game, a future head coach sooner rather than later. But when news first circulated of the impending hire, it came as a bit of a surprise because previous offensive hires by Kelly were usually names linked to the head coach’s past. Mike Denbrock, Matt LaFleur, Chuck Martin and Charley Molnar all landed jobs in South Bend because they had previous coaching experience with Kelly. Sometimes the hires worked, and sometimes they didn’t.

One thing, though, is certain: the Irish offense needed a boost after a turnover-laden season in 2014.

And Sanford, whose father was once Notre Dame’s quarterbacks coach (1997-98), could be just the right tonic to help stabilize an offense that returns a lot of intriguing pieces in the fall.

In his only year as OC at Boise State under Broncos first-year head coach Bryan Harsin, Sanford directed the No. 9 scoring offense (39.7 points per game) and helped guide the team to a Fiesta Bowl victory over Arizona. It was a unit that was very balanced, as the Broncos ranked 29th in rushing and 23rd in passing nationally. Sanford landed the gig after coaching the quarterbacks, running backs and receivers in three seasons at Stanford, as he was part of three Cardinal teams that claimed BCS berths.

Kelly, quite simply, found himself a winner in Sanford. A coach that reportedly was in the mix for the OC opening at Ohio State that went to Tim Beck. Of course, Kelly recently lost assistant Tony Alford to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes, yet another assistant that left South Bend for Columbus.

With Sanford in the mix, a lot is expected of an ND offense that will return nine starters (the Irish return 19 of 22 starters overall from last season). Expect running the football to be a priority. And, of course, putting the skill players in the best position to make as many explosive plays down the field as possible.

The only question is exactly how much control Sanford will possess once the new season kicks off. When Kelly met with the then-Boise State OC, he was simply seeking a new QBs coach because Matt LaFleur left for a job with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. But Kelly was so impressed by his chat with Sanford that he thought it would be a good idea to expand his role beyond a position coach because the two shared similar offensive philosophies.

Kelly has not yet announced who will call the offensive plays, so he could essentially have those duties as he has had in four of his five seasons at ND. A decision is expected to come after spring practice ends on April 18. However, adding Sanford is a clear sign that Kelly wants to maximize the potential of an offense that returns all five offensive linemen that started the Music City Bowl win over LSU, a pair of running backs with extensive playing time, a very deep receiving corps and two quarterbacks capable of starting at most every program across the country.

Of course, those signal-callers will be at the forefront of spring and fall camp. Everett Golson recorded 37 touchdowns but also 22 turnovers last year, while lefty Malik Zaire ‘wowed’ at times in Nashville against the Bayou Bengals. Is a two-quarterback system workable if the Irish go that route?

Kelly and the Irish have had back-to-back disappointing seasons since their surprise run to the BCS national title game against Alabama. With Sanford bringing diversity, intrigue and balance to the mix, the offense should at least be improved, increasing the program’s chances of being national contenders once again.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Texas lands pledge from son of former major leaguer

Texas landed a high-profile quarterback for its Class of 2016, as Shane Buechele pledged to the Longhorns on Monday night.

The 6-2, 185-pound dual-threat from Lamar High School (Arlington, TX) is the son of former Major League Baseball player Steve Buechele, who is now the bench coach of the Texas Rangers

Texas landed a high-profile quarterback for its Class of 2016, as Shane Buechele pledged to the Longhorns on Monday night.

The 6-2, 185-pound dual-threat from Lamar High School (Arlington, TX) is the son of former Major League Baseball player Steve Buechele, who is now the bench coach of the Texas Rangers and was a former roommate of John Elway at Stanford.

Charlie Strong and his staff were going after a number of signal-callers in the 2016 class, but Buechele ultimately felt comfortable committing to the in-state ‘Horns. It is a nice “get” for the program, especially since Buechele’s older siblings either attend or attended Oklahoma. But his several visits to the Austin campus obviously paid off.

Buechele is a consensus four-star prospect who is considered one of the better dual-threats in the country. He held offers from programs such as California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and TCU. He threw for 2,504 yards and 30 touchdowns against just six interceptions while rushing for 609 yards and seven more scores during his junior year. He completed over 68 percent of his passes and is known for his good decision-making.

This past recruiting cycle, Texas brought in Kai Locksley, who is more of a developmental passer. So it was essential that the ‘Horns find a more polished passer for the 2016 class.

Of course, the Longhorns have not been able to find consistency at the position since Colt McCoy graduated in 2010. David Ash suffered a career-ending injury last year, leading to Tyrone Swoopes taking over. Jerrod Heard redshirted last year and will compete with Swoopes this spring.

Texas now has four pledges in the 2016 class.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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LSU lands top Florida prospect in the Class of 2016

LSU is increasingly becoming DBU.

The Tigers landed a pledge from another top defensive back on Tuesday, as Saivion Smith announced that he planned to head to Baton Rouge to further his football career. The Class of 2016 product committed to the Bayou Bengals over offers from major powers such as

LSU is increasingly becoming DBU.

The Tigers landed a pledge from another top defensive back on Tuesday, as Saivion Smith announced that he planned to head to Baton Rouge to further his football career. The Class of 2016 product committed to the Bayou Bengals over offers from major powers such as Clemson, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Florida.

According to the 247Sports Composite ratings, Smith is the No. 1 cornerback in the entire country and the top player in Florida. He had 10 non-offensive touchdowns during his junior season, so his playmaking ability is undeniable.

The 6-1, 185-pounder from IMG Academy (St. Petersburg, FL) is the seventh commitment for the Tigers’ 2016 class. Many recruiting analysts believed that Florida State would be the landing spot for Smith, but he was obviously impressed by his first unofficial visit to LSU’s campus a few days ago.

LSU is also on the trail for other top defensive backs in this class such as in-state cornerback products Kristian Fulton and Andraez Williams, so the rich may keep getting richer.

And with Smith’s pledge, Corey Raymond is showing once again that he is one of the best recruiters in the country.

Now the question remains whether LSU can keep the commitment of the Florida prospect until next year’s National Signing Day.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Instant-impact JUCO transfers for 2015

After taking a look last week at the incoming true freshmen that could make an instant impact with their new teams, let's take a look at some junior-college transfers that can pay immediate dividends for their new schools during the 2015 college football season.

Louisville DE Devonte Fields: The native

After taking a look last week at the incoming true freshmen that could make an instant impact with their new teams, let’s take a look at some junior-college transfers that can pay immediate dividends for their new schools during the 2015 college football season.

Louisville DE Devonte Fields: The native Texan is back in the FBS after his stint at Trinity Valley Community College. The former TCU standout was the Big 12 defensive player of the year after a freshman campaign that included 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss. But an off-the-field incident before the 2014 season led to his dismissal, which led him to Trinity Valley. He recorded 6.5 sacks in 12 games last season and largely underwhelmed on a smaller stage. But if he has a newfound focus and remains trouble-free off the field, there is a chance for Fields to make an immediate impact for the Cardinals with Lorenzo Mauldin and B.J. Dubose gone. Don’t be surprised if he shows all-league form in 2015.

Ole Miss CB Tony Bridges: The Rebels had a tenacious defense last season, and the secondary was outstanding. But cornerback Senquez Golson and safety Cody Prewitt are gone, and Golson recorded 10 interceptions and eight pass breakups last year. It appeared that Bridges was headed to Auburn, but the NJCAA first-team All-American decided to head to Oxford instead. He has a good frame and would immediately help offset the loss of Golson if he can translate his talents over to the SEC.

Auburn RB Jovon Robinson: Gus Malzahn’s offense will enter the 2015 season without quarterback Nick Marshall and running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant. The coaching staff is very high on signal-caller Jeremy Johnson, but Roc Thomas (214 yards) and Peyton Barber (54) are the top returning running backs. So the compact Robinson, who originally committed to Auburn out of high school but was ruled ineligible, has a strong chance to win the starting job and be a key cog in Malzahn’s offense in the fall after being the NJCAA player of the year in 2013.

USC WR De’Quan Hampton: The Trojans have become a chic pre-preseason pick to make the College Football Playoff in 2015, as quarterback Cody Kessler is back following an impressive 2014. Steve Sarkisian’s offense loses Nelson Agholor’s 104 catches from 2014, but JuJu Smith should build off of his standout freshman season. The major question for ‘SC, though, is who else will emerge as options for Kessler? Hampton has very good size at 6-4, and he’ll have a chance along with Darreus Rogers to keep the Trojans’ offense prolific in the Pac-12.

Oklahoma State RB Chris Carson: The Cowboys were able to snag the Georgia native after it appeared that he was going to play for Mark Richt and the home-state Bulldogs. Instead, Carson is headed to Stillwater and has a chance to see immediate playing time for the Pokes. Oklahoma State’s offense was a mess in 2014, and questions abound heading into the new year with Desmond Roland and Tyreek Hill gone. Rennie Childs is the team’s top returner at running back, but Carson has good size and should see early carries as long as he adjusts to life in the Big 12.

Texas A&M S Justin Evans: The Aggies are desperate to upgrade their talent level and depth on the defensive side of the ball to help out new coordinator John Chavis, who arrived in College Station after a long stint with SEC West rival LSU. Head coach Kevin Sumlin has addressed the team’s defensive issues on the recruiting trail, and Evans has a chance to contribute right away. The native Mississippian recorded six interceptions the last two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He has good instincts and ball skills, and major programs such as Alabama, Auburn and Texas were interested in bringing him in.

Penn State OT Paris Palmer: The Nittany Lions struggled to protect quarterback Christian Hackenberg throughout the 2014 season, so improving the offensive line has to be priority No. 1 for James Franklin as he enters his second season as head coach. Penn State allowed 44 sacks last season, and the Nittany Lions enter the new campaign without left tackle Donovan Smith, who is off to the next level. Palmer is expected to step in right away and help man one of the tackle spots after spending two years at Lackawanna College.

Arizona State LB Davon Durant: The Sun Devils do not lose any starting linebackers from their surprising defense last season, but expect Durant to force himself at least into the rotation, as he was ranked the best outside linebacker coming from the JUCO level. The Butler CC product had offers from big programs such as Oregon and Ole Miss, as he is athletic and a good tackler. His skills should translate very well to the Pac-12.

Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara: The former Alabama all-purpose back landed in Knoxville, and he has a chance to pair up with Jalen Hurd and form a lethal backfield for the Vols. Kamara comes from Hutchinson Community College, where he rushed for 1,211 yards and 18 scores in his lone season. He has very good quickness and should finally be able to show off his SEC skill set.

Other names to remember

Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly: The nephew of Buffalo Bills great Jim Kelly has a chance to be the heir apparent to Bo Wallace, but the former Clemson signal-caller absolutely must stay out of trouble off the field or else 2014’s top JUCO passer will never get the chance to show the college football world his skill set. He threw for 3,906 yards and 47 touchdowns last season.

Oklahoma OT Jamal Danley: The East Mississippi CC offensive tackle may have a chance to win a starting job because both tackle positions are open for the Sooners.

Minnesota S Charlie Rogers: The Iowa Western CC product has a chance to step into a starting role with all four spots in the Gophers’ secondary open, and he already has FBS experience from his time at Iowa State.

Arkansas DT Jeremiah Ledbetter: Bret Bielema is building a dangerous program in the tough SEC, but coordinator Robb Smith loses end Trey Flowers and tackle Darius Philon up front. Enter Ledbetter, who recorded 22.5 career sacks over the last two seasons at Hutchinson Community College.

South Carolina DE Marquavius Lewis: The Gamecocks’ defense was woeful in 2014, so head coach Steve Spurrier brought in Jon Hoke to help coordinator Lorenzo Ward. The Head Ball Coach is also hoping help has come from the JUCO ranks, particularly in the form of Lewis. The team’s pass rush was nonexistent in 2014, but Lewis recorded 18.5 sacks in two seasons at Hutchinson Community College.

Florida State LB Lorenzo Phillips: The Seminoles experienced a lot of injuries within their linebacker unit last year, so it never hurts to add another defensive playmaker. Phillips recorded 14 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss at East Mississippi CC in 2014.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Ole Miss gets a pledge from its highest-rated QB since Manning

Ole Miss landed a pledge from its highest-rated quarterback prospect since Eli Manning, as Shea Patterson committed to the Rebels over LSU and USC on Tuesday.

The Rivals.com five-star Class of 2016 signal-caller is regarded by the recruiting site as the top quarterback in the country and the No. 3 player

Ole Miss landed a pledge from its highest-rated quarterback prospect since Eli Manning, as Shea Patterson committed to the Rebels over LSU and USC on Tuesday.

The Rivals.com five-star Class of 2016 signal-caller is regarded by the recruiting site as the top quarterback in the country and the No. 3 player regardless of position.

Patterson, who’s a 6-2, 183-pound athletic passer from Calvary Baptist Academy (Shreveport, LA), is originally from Texas but moved to the Bayou State prior to his sophomore year of high school. In his two seasons at Calvary Baptist, Patterson has thrown for 5,083 yards and 72 touchdowns against just seven interceptions. He has rushed for an additional 375 yards and six scores. He is known as a savvy player with good accuracy, and he has helped lead his team to back-to-back state titles.

The former Arizona commit also held offers from major programs such as Auburn, Clemson, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas and Texas A&M.

Ole Miss also has a commitment in this class from DeKaylin Metcalf, who is one of the nation’s better wide receivers, according to Rivals. That has to make Rebel fans excited about future offenses under Hugh Freeze and his staff.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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Instant-impact true freshmen for 2015

With National Signing Day in the rearview mirror, let's take a look at the incoming true freshmen that have the best chance to make an instant impact on their respective new teams during the 2015 college football season.

UCLA QB Josh Rosen: The pro-style signal-caller has a real shot at

With National Signing Day in the rearview mirror, let’s take a look at the incoming true freshmen that have the best chance to make an instant impact on their respective new teams during the 2015 college football season.

UCLA QB Josh Rosen: The pro-style signal-caller has a real shot at cracking the starting lineup by the end of 2015 because Brett Hundley is gone, and last year’s backup Jerry Neuheisel doesn’t have quite the same skill set. However, Neuheisel is the team’s most-experienced option at the position, so it would not be surprising if he started the year as the No. 1 QB. Asiantti Woulard will also be in the mix during spring ball, but Rosen will be enrolled for reps this spring and is arguably the best pro-style QB in this class. The only question is how quickly he adjusts to the next level.

USC CB Iman Marshall: One year after Steve Sarkisian and his staff closed strong on National Signing Day, the Trojans did it again and ended up with one of the best classes in the entire country. There is a ton of talent in this haul, but the gem may be Marshall, who has safety-type size with prototypical cornerback skills. He’s physically mature enough to step in and play right away, and this is a secondary that needs help. Pairing Marshall with safety Su’a Cravens should allow that unit to take a step forward in the fall.

Texas LB Malik Jefferson: The best outside linebacker in this class is the gem of the Longhorns’ haul for Charlie Strong, who is one of the best defensive coaches in the college game. While Texas had a very fine defensive unit in 2014, it should be even stronger in Strong’s second season. Jefferson will step in right away with the ‘Horns losing Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond from the linebacking corps.

Tennessee DT Kahlil McKenzie: Butch Jones and his staff continue to grind away on the recruiting trail, bringing in a second consecutive outstanding class. This year’s haul is led by McKenzie, who will step into a defensive line that needs to mature fast if the Vols want to take a step up in class in the SEC East. Tennessee ranked No. 9 in the SEC versus the run, and McKenzie has the talent and the body to step in and help out right away. He missed his senior year of high school but had 12 sacks and 74 tackles as a junior.

Michigan State RB L.J. Scott: The Spartans have to replace Jeremy Langford, who may have been the most underappreciated productive back in the country the last two seasons. Scott has the talent to step in and produce right away, but the Spartans do return Delton Williams, Gerald Holmes and Madre London, so there are options for Mark Dantonio and his staff. However, Scott is a physical back who should at least see situational carries, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he eventually moves up to being the No. 1 back in East Lansing by the end of the year.

Auburn DE Byron Cowart: The most-coveted player in the 2015 class followed Will Muschamp to The Plains, and the Tigers defense desperately needs all the help it can get after fielding a porous unit in 2014. Cowart will be a key cog for a unit that needs a stronger pass rush if the Tigers want to once again be major SEC and national contenders. Auburn only had 21 sacks last year, but the addition of Cowart as well as the return of Carl Lawson should allow for a stronger overall defensive unit.

Washington QB Jake Browning: Huskies head coach Chris Petersen lost quarterback Troy Williams to a transfer, but the highly rated Browning has a chance to win the starting job after enrolling early and being able to compete in spring football. The California native had scholarship offers from Alabama and Michigan, among many others, and will compete with Cyler Miles and Jeff Lindquist for the starting job. Browning set national high school records in 2014 for both single-season (91) and career touchdowns (229).

Michigan WR Brian Cole: New Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh will be looking for playmakers on his first team in Ann Arbor, and there’s a big hole at the receiver position. Enter Cole, who has good athleticism and enrolled in January, allowing him to adjust to college life and help speed up his development. Michigan will have an old-school offense, but big plays will be needed in the passing game as well. Cole should help the cause.

USC LB Osa Masina: The Salt Lake City native can play both outside or inside, as he brings pass-rushing skill off the edge and the ability to stop the run in the middle. The Trojans enjoyed their first full recruiting class in four years, and Masina is one of several top-notch players brought in to improve depth. He also should see early playing time like Iman Marshall.

Other names to remember

Texas Tech DT Breiden Fehoko: The Red Raiders fielded an atrocious defense last year, but the addition of new coordinator David Gibbs as well as Fehoko will help. The Hawaii native recorded 16 sacks and six forced fumbles during his senior year.

Florida OL Martez Ivey: The Gators return just one starter on the offensive line (guard Trip Thurman), so there is available playing time for Ivey, who has the athleticism and talent but just needs to get stronger to be a top tackle.

Oregon DL Canton Kaumatale: With the Ducks losing Arik Armstead, another impact performer is needed on that line. The Hawaiian defensive end has good athleticism to at least be a situational defender.

Georgia DT Trent Thompson: Bulldogs defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt loses nose tackle Mike Thornton and defensive ends Ray Drew and Toby Johnson, so Thompson is expected to adapt to the college game quickly and help out the defensive unit in Athens.

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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The most interesting players to watch at the NFL Combine

All eyes will be on the NFL Scouting Combine when the showcase event takes over Indianapolis from February 17-23.

Some of the best talent that will be available for the 2015 NFL Draft will be in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium. While there are a

All eyes will be on the NFL Scouting Combine when the showcase event takes over Indianapolis from February 17-23.

Some of the best talent that will be available for the 2015 NFL Draft will be in attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium. While there are a plethora of intriguing storylines that are sure to play out in Indy, let’s take a look at the players I am most interested in seeing as they try to impress league scouts, general managers, coaches and executives in interviews as well as in drills such as the 40-yard dash, three-cone drill and the bench press.

Here are five players in particular that I will have my eyes on:

Missouri WR Dorial Green-Beckham: One observer who has witnessed Green-Beckham work out in the past month told me that the big wide receiver looks “phenomenal,” but he will be scrutinized in every interview with NFL personnel because of his multiple off-the-field violations that led to his transfer from Missouri to Oklahoma, where he did not play a single down after being forced to sit out a year (he was suspended twice and arrested twice for marijuana-related incidents at Missouri before being kicked off the team after allegedly being involved in a burglary). Many recruiting analysts, college football observers and draft experts over the last few years have said that he is the closest thing to Randy Moss and Calvin Johnson that the NFL will see, citing his 6-6, 225-pound frame as well as his speed and good hands. He has the build to be a potential game-changer at the next level if he stays out of trouble, and he certainly must be anxious to show off his talent in Indy. Can he be a first-round selection after not seeing game action since December 7, 2013?

Washington CB Marcus Peters: The talented defensive back was suspended for one game this past season by Huskies head coach Chris Petersen for a sideline tantrum after a personal foul penalty before ultimately being dismissed from the program after repeated run-ins with the coaching staff. Hence, the interview process in Indy will be huge for Peters. He has good size (6-0, 198) and ball skills, but will he take to coaching at the next level? That is a huge concern right now. He’s a confident kid that seems to lack maturity. He’ll need to answer a lot of questions leading up to the draft.

Brett HundleyUS PRESSWIREWill Brett Hundley be the third QB selected this spring?

UCLA QB Brett Hundley: If Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston skip working out at the Combine, there is no doubt that Hundley will be the most visible signal-caller competing in drills as he looks to impress NFL personnel and gain a little momentum heading into his pro day. We have seen Hundley display a strong arm and good athleticism throughout his collegiate career, and we know that he has a nice frame at 6-3 and 226 pounds. But can he be a consistent, accurate passer at the next level? And can he improve his pocket presence? He can’t really answer those questions in Indy, but looking the part and being solid in drills will at least keep him on track to be the third signal-caller selected.

Central Michigan WR Titus Davis: When you think of Chippewa receivers, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown probably comes to mind. But Davis is no slouch, as he is CMU’s career leader in receiving yards at 3,705 and has a school-record 37 touchdown receptions. The 6-2, 190-pounder had at least eight scoring receptions in each of his four seasons at CMU, and he has a chance to impress the league if he can do well in drills, particularly with a good time in the 40.

Florida DT Leon Orr: There is no doubting the talent possessed by the former Gator. He has very good athleticism for his size but never became a dominant, consistent performer in Gainesville. The 6-5, 302-pounder’s playing time fell off his senior year, so he quit the program. That is a huge red flag for NFL types. Can he have a strong physical portion of the Combine followed by good interviews?

Others to watch:

— Alabama RB T.J. Yeldon has a chance to make some money if he can log a nice 40 time. He has very good size for the position and has good quickness, but he is not a blazer. There are a lot of good backs in this draft class, but the former Crimson Tide runner has a chance to move up the board with a nice showing in Indy.

— USC WR Nelson Agholor may only develop into a slot option, but he can be an immediate factor on special teams in the return game. Don’t dismiss him because of a lack of blazing speed. He can be a dangerous punt returner for a team.

— Miami (FL) WR Phillip Dorsett may blow teams away with his 40 time and build off of his strong showing in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. He’ll provide instant value in the return game like Agholor.

— Washington OLB Hau’oli Kikaha will need to show league personnel that his history of knee problems should not be a concern. He is a strong pass rusher, but some scouts still question his athleticism.

— Miami (FL) ILB Denzel Perryman was always so fun to watch throughout his college career, but he checked in at just over 5-10 at the Senior Bowl. He needs to be in great shape in Indy so he can test well and improve his stock.

Note: Find below the on-field workout schedule

Feb. 20: Specialists, offensive linemen and tight ends
Feb. 21: Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers
Feb. 22: Defensive linemen and linebackers
Feb. 23: Defensive backs

Dave Miller, the college football editor for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.

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