Prospect Notebook: Week 3

Players on the rise and small-school stars you need to know

This week in Prospect Notebook, we examine the draft impact of several key injuries, highlight a certain SEC quarterback drawing first-round comparisons and take a look at an offensive trio making noise in the MAC. Plus, more NFL Draft nuggets ...

DREW LOCK DRAWS JOSH ALLEN COMPARISON: Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl knows a thing or two about what a NFL quarterback looks like. After all, he was responsible for recruiting Carson Wentz to North Dakota State and landing Josh Allen to play in Laramie, Wyo.

Following the Cowboys' 40-13 loss to Missouri, Bohls offered up hefty praise for Drew Lock (6-3, 225, 4.89, #3), saying that the Tigers' senior signal-caller was, "as good as advertised, or better," while comparing his arm strength and mobility to that of Allen.

It's true, Lock possesses a howitzer of an arm and has demonstrated nice touch on his deep balls, but he's still missing on some of the easy throws, a criticism that also followed Allen during much of the pre-draft process.

Lock's ability to elude the rush and extend plays in the pocket are excellent traits that should translate well to the next level. However, talent evaluators will want to see him reel in some of his accuracy issues.

After this week's matchup at Purdue, Lock has upcoming games versus Georgia, at South Carolina and at Alabama. There are sure to be plenty of curious scouts in attendance during the crucial three-game stretch that could help make or break his draft stock.

DUKE DUO DEALING WITH MAJOR INJURIES: Just as the Blue Devils seemed to be hitting their stride, they suffered a pair of devastating injuries during their 21-7 road win over Northwestern. Junior quarterback Daniel Jones (6-4, 215, 4.77, #17), who has been talked up by head coach David Cutcliffe as a premier quarterback prospect, endured a left collarbone injury that required surgery on Sunday. While no timetable has been set for his return, he is expected to miss the remainder of September at a minimum.

The prognosis for his fellow teammate Mark Gilbert (6-0, 175, 4.50, #28), considered to be a top 100 overall prospect, was not so encouraging. The lockdown junior corner also underwent surgery Sunday after sustaining a left hip injury that effectively ended his season.

After leading the ACC in interceptions a year ago with six, Gilbert was a candidate to declare early for this year's draft. The injury setback will most likely cause him to seek a medical redshirt and return for another season.

While Jones has flashed pro potential with his dual-threat skills, another year in school would probably be beneficial for honing his overall game.

INJURY BUG BITES RODNEY ANDERSON ONCE AGAIN: Let the record show, there have been plenty of college superstars who never panned out in the NFL due to a myriad of injuries and inability to stay healthy. Oklahoma junior running back Rodney Anderson (6-1, 218, 4.59, #24) is in danger of becoming one of those players after another season-ending injury, this time to his right knee.

It's the third time his season has ended prematurely. Anderson suffered a broken leg in 2015 and a fractured vertebra in 2016. He managed to stay healthy last season, demonstrating exceptional cutback ability, power, burst and home run speed, on his way to accumulating 1,442 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns.

The redshirt junior should still have two years of eligibility remaining after his latest setback, so it'll be interesting to monitor how the remainder of his collegiate career pans out.

BUFFALO BUILDING SOMETHING SPECIAL: Since Khalil Mack's senior year in 2013, the Buffalo Bulls have failed to produce a winning record. Head coach Lance Leipold appears to finally be on the verge of bucking that trend in 2018, as the Bulls improved to 2-0 with a 36-29 victory at Temple last week.

In eight seasons as head coach of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Leipold went 109-6, while winning seven Division III Championships. Armed with a lethal trio of offensive weapons, the legend of Leipold in Buffalo could be growing.

A handful of NFL teams were in attendance to get a look at senior wideout Anthony Johnson (6-1, 207, 4.54, #83), who lived up to his billing, showing great hands, elusiveness in the open field and the ability to work the middle of the defense with a variety of slants and cross patterns -- he would convert on the game-winning catch.

However, it was rifleman Tyree Jackson (6-6, 245, 4.78, #3), the junior quarterback who stole the show with his deep-ball ability and command in the pocket. He has nine touchdown passes to just one interception through his first two games and has a real chance to move up draft boards as the season wears on.

Also, running back Kevin Marks (6-0, 190, 4.50, #25) is a player to keep an eye on, as the freshman showcased his ability to wear down a tough Owls defense, gaining 138 yards on 25 carries and scoring two touchdowns.

OSHANE XIMINES WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION: Old Dominion senior pass-rusher Oshane Ximines (6-3, 247, 4.84, #7) put on a show against FIU in week two with a downright dominating performance, racking up six tackles (three for loss), including two sacks, and two forced fumbles.

It's no coincidence that his initials are O.X., as Ximines is strong as an ox coming off the edge, to go along with his excellent bend and diverse pass rush repertoire. His hand combat allows him to win the leverage battle and get after the quarterback, but he's also stout at the point of attack, enabling him to hold his ground and make plays against the run.

Since their jump up to the FBS in 2013, Old Dominion has produced four players currently on NFL rosters. Each player earned their way onto a roster as an undrafted free agent, but Ximines could earn the distinction of becoming the first player in Monarchs history to be selected in the NFL Draft.

FUTURE WATCH: Chip Kelly, during his time at Oregon, was known for his up-tempo offense and attention-grabbing quarterbacks such as Marcus Mariota (Tennessee Titans) and Jeremiah Masoli (Hamilton Tiger Cats). While Kelly's return to the collegiate level hasn't gone quite as planned, the future does look bright for true freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (6-1, 205, 4.70, #7), who showed a cool, calm demeanor and impressive poise under pressure in a daunting task for his first career start against Oklahoma.

Thompson-Robinson was thrown into the fire after an injury to Michigan transfer Wilton Speight in Week 1. In a Week 2 battle in Norman, the freshman showed his toughness by absorbing several big hits in a performance that will only help his development as he continues to grow. Blessed with a live arm and high football IQ, the Las Vegas native is a potential star in the making.

SMALL SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT: North Dakota senior running back John Santiago (5-8, 180, 4.53, #22) has earned a reputation for being a multi-purpose weapon who can score in an array of ways for the Fighting Hawks. He accumulated 260 all-purpose yards against Washington last week, including 139 rushing yards on 18 carries, while averaging an impressive 7.7 yards per carry against one of the top defenses in the nation.

His best value is as a return specialist, but his skill-set suggests he could also play slot receiver at the next level with his open field elusiveness and catching ability. An exciting prospect, Santiago is considered a long shot to be drafted but is a name worth noting when training camps roll around next summer.

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Frank Cooney


Rob Rang

NFL Draft Scout