Every NFL team is looking for difference-makers who rise to the occasion at critical moments, inspiring teammates with their talent and timing, alike.
Week Nine of the 2018 college football season featured several such players, some of whom sparked huge upset wins or fared well in a critical conference showdown. All are earning a jump upNFLDraftScout.com’s player rankings.
5. Lamont Gaillard, C, Georgia, 6-2, 308, 5.32, rSr, # 53
Fans of traditional run-heavy football were given an early Halloween treat Saturday in the latest edition of the passionate Georgia-Florida rivalry, a 36-17 Bulldogs’ win in Gainesville which featured 78 combined rushing attempts between the two offenses, compared to just 45 passes. Georgia received a junkyard dog-like effort from Gaillard against the Gators, one all the more impressive given that the Bulldogs were forced to rotate players at left tackle due to injury. As the clip below shows, Gaillard’s lack of prototypical height is actually an advantage for him as easily wins the leverage battle and possesses the suddenness and stocky strength to create movement.
4. Evan Weaver, ILB, California, 6-3, 250, Jr, # 89
Weaver provided the only touchdown California needed to upset 15th ranked Washington, rumbling 36 yards for a score after a leaping third quarter interception. The Spokane native also paced the Golden Bears with 11 tackles (including eight solos and another for loss), helping Cal’s Justin Wilcox notch his first win over former boss Chris Petersen, 12-10. Weaver might not possess the most traditional build or jersey number for an inside linebacker but his nose for the football is impressive and he is physical, reliable tackler. As he demonstrates in the interception and return below, he also moves pretty well for a big man.
3. Zack Moss, RB, Utah, 5-09, 215, 4.53, Jr, # 2
After successive terrific running back classes, the cupboard appears relatively bare at the position for the 2019 draft. One back generating lots of buzz in the scouting community is Moss, whose star is certain to shine that much brighter after registering a career-high 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns helping the Utes dominate UCLA 42-10 in Week Nine. NFLDraftScout.com readers are already well aware of Moss, who looked like he had overtaken Stanford’s Bryce Love and Washington’s Myles Gaskin as the top back in the conference weeks ago. A jitter-bug with a jump-cut to make defenders miss in tight spaces, Moss has the same light feet which helped his relatives Santana and Sinorice earn first round picks out of the University of Miami. But, as you can see below, he also possesses the power-packed frame his elders – both receivers – lacked, making him well-suited to handle an NFL workload.
2. Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston, 6-3, 203, 4.56, rSr, # 14
Proving that they are far more than just top-ranked NFL prospect Ed Oliver, Houston handed previously unbeaten and 21st ranked South Florida its first loss of the season with Johnson, a former receiver, registering eight solo tackles, including one for loss and a breakup in the 57-36 win. That type of production will register with scouts as Johnson, like Oliver, was listed as questionable for this game. Broad-shouldered and long-armed, Johnson looks the part of an NFL defensive back and possesses the smooth turning motion and fluid acceleration to turn and run with receivers. On Saturday, he boosted his cause by not only showing his athleticism, but his grit, as well. As you can see below, Johnson, currently NFLDraftScout.com’s 13-ranked cornerback, previously caught the attention of Senior Bowl chief executive Jim Nagy.
1. Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State, 6-2, 214, 4.54, Jr, # 3
Senior quarterback Ryan Finley gets most of the buzz for the Wolfpack but his job is made much easier by Harmon, who did just about everything humanly possible to help his team beat Syracuse Saturday, hauling in 11 passes for a staggering 247 yards and two touchdowns, albeit in a losing cause. Harmon's career day led all college receivers in Week Nine. Scouts are already well aware of the physically imposing wideout, who eclipsed the 1,000 yard receiving mark as a true sophomore last season. His two touchdowns against the Orange Saturday matched Harmon’s total for the year, helping the Wolfpack get close after falling behind 24-7 after the first quarter. Harmon’s final draft grade could hinge on how he runs for the stop-watch but his physicality and body control are undeniable.
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