NFLDraftScout.com Prospect Notebook: Week 12
COSTELLO CONTINUES CLIMB: One of the most improved quarterbacks of the 2018 season has been Stanford redshirt junior QB K.J. Costello (6-4, 215, 4.84, #3), who played another smart and efficient game in a win over Oregon State, completing 22 of 33 passes for 342 passing yards and four touchdowns (one interception).
What stands out most about Costello is his confidence and leadership, which you can see by his great command in the huddle. He has shown the ability to make just about every throw in the book and possesses more than adequate arm strength.
Another sign of development has been his improved play in the pocket, being able to step up and connect on throws with defenders in his face, a big reason why his consistency and accuracy have been trending up.
There hasn't been much talk of Costello declaring early; Stanford players have traditionally stayed in school to finish up their degree, so another season of polish to sharpen up his overall game could put Costello in the mix as one of the top signal-callers in the 2020 NFL Draft.
ARMSTEAD SCAMPERS FOR SIX SCORES: It wasn't the first time that senior RB Ryquell Armstead (5-11, 215, 4.56, #7) has guided Temple to victory; in fact, he has done it on numerous occasions throughout his career, but Saturday's effort at Houston may prove to be the most clutch as it came toward the end of his senior year while trying to make a final impression upon scouts in attendance.
Armstead wore down the Cougars with 30 carries for 210 rushing yards and six touchdowns, while keeping the Owls in contention for the AAC championship.
Those who have studied Armstead frequently over the past four years know he has always possessed tremendous vision and great patience toting the rock. He has finally regained the explosiveness we saw early in his career after a turf toe robbed him of his ability to cut back and accelerate in 2017.
When it comes to draft-day projection, the New Jersey native currently carries a Day 3 grade but could be a true value selection. Armstead shows the traits to be an effective pro due to his toughness and well-rounded skill-set, as he can also catch and block.
CHASE-ING DUCKS: A career filled with transition, adversity and question marks has forged into one of the more remarkable stories among this year's draft class prospects.
Utah senior OLB Chase Hansen (6-2, 230, 4.67, #22) arrived in Salt Lake City as a quarterback in-waiting. He would go on to redshirt his freshman season in 2012 and served two years in Australia on a LDS mission before returning to the Utes in 2015. After two games at quarterback, he made the switch to strong safety, although his season ended prematurely due to injury.
Hansen came into this season with a fresh outlook and a new position, playing the rover/linebacker position, a role in which he has thrived in, leading the team in tackles (88) and tackles for loss (19.0). On Saturday, we saw some of the attributes that make him so appealing -- playing in space, flashing the ability to cover and continuing his solid play in the box with wrap up form tackling. He finished with 13 tackles (eight solo), including 3.5 loss in a 32-25 win over Oregon.
In addition to great character and leadership (team captain), Hansen also possess outstanding athleticism and a true nose for the football. Teams may have some concerns about his durability, as he played just eight games a year ago and battled through a shoulder injury for most of this season. Through all his trials and tribulations, Hansen remains on the NFL radar and projects to be a mid-round target. He'll be a 26-year old rookie when the 2019 NFL season kicks off.
FUTURE WATCH: Tune-in to an Oklahoma game and it won't be long before sophomore ILB Kenneth Murray (6-1, 238, 4.70, #9) makes a play. The tackling machine has been flying around the field with his hair on fire and is a top draft selection in the making.
The Sooners held off rival Oklahoma State 48-47 as Murray led the team with 11 tackles and recovered a key fumble to help secure the victory. It was the seventh game this season in which he recorded double-digit tackles, including a school-record 28 tackles against Army and its triple-option offense earlier this year.
After being named the 2017 co-Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, Murray has had an even more impressive sophomore campaign, serving as the leader of the defense and earning team captain honors.
The rare instincts, combined with his closing-speed quickness and ability to cover a large amount of ground laterally, has Murray making scouts take notice.
SMALL SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT: The legend of Montana senior OLB Josh Buss (6-1, 220, 4.67, #42) continues to grow, as the small school standout added another sack to his total, along with six tackles in the Grizzlies' dominating 46-27 win over Idaho.
A native of Boise, Buss was an All-American lacrosse standout in high school and starred in wrestling, which shows up on the gridiron with his quick feet and hand combat. Buss shows good placement when engaging oncoming blocks and disengages quickly to make the play. He also possesses athleticism, along with natural football instincts and takes excellent angles in pursuit.
The fifth-year senior and three-year starter had shoulder surgery during the offseason and was limited the first game of the year due to a separate undisclosed injury. He also suffered a broken hip in his final lacrosse season in high school.
Buss serves as team captain and was the only FCS player added to the Butkus Award List. He has 263 career tackles, including 45 for loss, 17.5 sacks, 12 passes defended, four forced fumbles two fumble recoveries, three interceptions and a blocked field goal. Buss should expect to hear his name called at some point on Day 3 of the draft.
ETC.: Oklahoma State senior QB Tyler Cornelius (6-5, 232, 4.87, #14) nearly pulled off the upset once again with 501 passing yards against Oklahoma, adding three touchdowns and zero interceptions. ... Notre Dame senior RB Dexter Williams (5-11, 215, 4.47, #2) continues to ascend draft boards with another explosive performance against FSU on Saturday, rushing for 202 yards and two touchdowns. ... North Carolina State junior WR Kelvin Harmon (6-2, 214, 4.54, #3) walked with the seniors on Senior Night, then went out and caught 15 balls for 134 yards, all indications he will declare early. ... Wisconsin senior DT Oliver Sagapolu (6-2, 342, 5.34, #99) has been ruled out for the season due to an arm injury; he finished the year with 23 tackles (4.5 for loss) and two sacks in eight games. ... Tennessee junior OLB Darrell Taylor (6-3, 247, 4.76, #19) collected four sacks in the Vols' surprising victory over Kentucky.
NEXT WEEK: Former NFL coach Steve Fairchild weighs in on the top draft-eligible quarterbacks for the 2019 NFL Draft.