Scout's Eye: Top NFL Prospects to Watch in Week 10
Alabama (8-0) at LSU (7-1)
Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET (CBS), Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, La.)
When the calendar flips to November, the value of key matchups such as No. 1 ranked Alabama traveling to Baton Rouge to face No. 3 ranked LSU, take on greater significance. The initial College Football Playoff rankings have been released and committee members will be watching closely to see who stays and who goes in the top four.
There are also heavy implications for the scouting process, as talent evaluators will need to get a good feel for many of the underclassmen playing in this game who are expected to leave school early for the NFL Draft. Alabama set a record with 12 players selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, many of whom were underclassmen. Meanwhile, LSU has long been a NFL factory, churning out at least four draft pick selections for 13 consecutive years.
Alabama has dominated this rivalry lately, winning the past seven contests, including a 21-0 thrashing in the 2011 BCS title game. This game should be a slobberknocker!
Five draft-eligible prospects to focus on:
DT Quinnen Williams, Alabama, rSO (6-3, 297, 4.96, #92): Not many prospects possess Williams' combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism. A first-year starter, he bulked up 12 pounds during the offseason in anticipation of his move from edge defender to nose guard. Williams' quickness off the ball, along with his power to gain leverage, allows him to be a dominant run stuffer and an effective pass-rusher.
He shows sound technique with his hand placement and can hold his ground against just about anyone, while demonstrating the athleticism necessary to split double teams. He has been described as a 300-pound bar of soap by his teammate Jonah Williams, and head coach Nick Saban has praised Williams for his work ethic and leadership. This is a bonafide top 10 prospect when he decides to declare for the draft.
OLB Christian Miller, Alabama, rSR (6-3, 240, 4.76, #47): Being forced to wait patiently behind a stacked Alabama linebacker corps, Miller was ready to assume a starting role as a junior but a torn bicep suffered during the season opener limited him to just four games. It's fair to say that Miller has made up for lost time this season with his spectacular play, as he has done a fine job setting the edge and contributing against the run. He set forth a tremendous amount of effort during the offseason getting stronger and more physical, bulking up 40 pounds during his time in Tuscaloosa, and he has the frame to pack on an additional 20 pounds if needed. His father Corey played eight seasons in the NFL with the Giants and Vikings.
Miller, a South Carolina native, is an outdoorsman off the field and started "The Players Outdoor Club," which is featured on Instagram, so players can share their photos of hunting and fishing.
OG Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama, rSR (6-3, 304, 5.21, #71): You won't find many college players with more experience and swag than Pierschbacher, a first-team All-SEC selection who made 42 starts at left guard before sliding over to center for 2018. He has gone entire seasons without being flagged for a penalty, which speaks volumes about his discipline and helped earn him the right to be one of the Crimson Tide team captains. His versatility and proven ability to play multiple positions make him an early to mid-round prospect.
RB Nick Brossette, LSU, SR (6-0, 218, 4.64, #4): With just one career start and 306 career rushing yards entering his senior season, not much was expected of Brossette, who has emerged as the Tigers' workhorse back (he has at least 15 carries in every game this season), rushing for 697 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has been able to pound the rock between the tackles with his patient running style, which allows for his blocks to develop. His work ethic and emergence has been a long time in the making, as Brossette endured some major adversity during his freshman season, when his older brother passed away due to a seizure and heart attack. Brossette would tear his ACL later that same season.
SS John Battle, LSU, rSR (6-1, 195, 4.55, #26): Yet another future NFL defensive back to hail from LSU, Battle combines great size and physicality with his intelligence. Known as one of the smartest players on the field, he does a great job anticipating where the ball is headed, as evidenced by his three interceptions this year. He's physical enough to play close to the line of scrimmage and has been used at both safety spots. Battle spent his first two seasons as a special teams demon and dedicated countless hours to film study to help earn a starting job. He has been praised for his high character and was made part of the Tigers player-led leadership committee. Battle enjoys photography and has worked as credentialed "media" for various school events. One note: The fifth-year senior will be 24 years old when the 2019 season kicks off.
Other Alabama prospects to watch:
DE Raekwon Davis, JR (6-6, 303, 5.07, #99)
ILB Mack Wilson, JR (6-1, 231, 4.73, #30)
OT Jonah Williams, JR (6-5, 301, 5.02, #73)
DE Isaiah Buggs, SR (6-4, 292, 4.94, #49)
OLB Anfernee Jennings, JR (6-2, 265, 4.79, #33)
RB Damien Harris, SR (5-10, 216, 4.55, #34)
OG Lester Cotton, SR (6-3, 324, 5.32, #66)
Other LSU prospects to watch:
CB Andraez Williams, SO (6-1, 182, 4.50, #29)
ILB Devin White, JR (6-1, 182, 4.50, #40)
DT Rashard Lawrence, JR (6-2, 317, 5.07, #90)
OG Garrett Brumfield, SR (6-2, 299, 5.14, #78)
OLB Michael Divinity Jr, JR (6-1, 238, 4.67, #45)
TE Foster Moreau, SR (6-5, 255, 4.74, $84)
QB Joe Burrow, rJR (6-2, 215, 4.76, #10)
West Virginia (6-1) at Texas (6-2)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (FOX), Darrell K Royal -- Texas Memorial Stadium (Austin, Texas)
Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:
WR Gary Jennings, West Virginia, rSR (6-0, 210, 4.49, #12): A key cog over the past two seasons as a starter with his dependable hands and consistent level of play, Jennings has been a big-play pass-catcher on third downs. He has also been a finisher this year, scoring eight touchdowns after reaching paydirt just four times during his first three seasons combined. Jennings is a top senior slot prospect for 2019.
FS Dravon Askew-Henry, West Virginia SR (5-11, 198, 4.53, #6): The versatile Askew-Henry has made an impact since his true freshman season, earning the starting free safety job. He suffered a hiccup in 2016, missing the entire season due to a torn ACL and returned as the "bandit" safety, which featured Askew-Henry playing a gap-scheme. He switched to the "spur" position this year, which allows him to show off his zone coverage abilities and be used as a blitzer. A relative of future Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis, Askew-Henry is set to join the pro ranks.
OLB Gary Johnson, Texas, SR (6-1, 220, 4.64, #33): While he hasn't received the national accolades as some of the other top linebacker prospects in the country, Johnson is as talented as they come with his fast, physical demeanor. The hard-hitting enforcer was a three-sport athlete in high school, excelling in track, and his speed shows up with his sideline-to-sideline coverage ability. Johnson began his career at Dodge City CC and wound up at Texas after a SEC rule prevented him from playing at Alabama. He rarely leaves the field and is considered to be a three-down linebacker prospect at the next level.
Other West Virginia prospects to watch:
QB Will Grier, rSR (6-1, 214, 4.62, #7)
OT Yodny Cajuste, rSR (6-5, 308, 5.15, #55)
WR David Sills V, SR (6-3, 203, 4.58, #13)
P Billy Kinney, rSR (6-3, 216, 5.04, #15)
Other Texas prospects to watch:
CB Kris Boyd, SR (6-0, 200, 4.50, #2)
WR Collin Johnson, JR (6-5, 220, 4.59, #9)
CB Davante Davis, SR (6-1, 200, 4.52, #18)
QB Shane Buechele, JR (6-1, 205, 4.78, #7)
OLB Breckyn Hager, SR (6-3, 245, 4.79, #44)
WR John Burt, SR (6-2, 200, 4.59, #1)
Georgia (7-1) at Kentucky (7-1)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (CBS), Kroger Field (Lexington, Ky.)
Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:
SS Mike Edwards, Kentucky, rSR (5-11, 200, 4.59, #7): A tackle machine who flies around the field, Edwards covers a ton of ground, helps out in the run and is very strong in pass coverage. Nicknamed "The Badger" due to his versatility, he has been praised by coaches for his high football IQ and is a solid wrap-up tackler. Edwards, a four-year starter at safety, has also played close to the line of scrimmage as a nickel back. The Cincinnati native has accumulated 281 career tackles, including 18 for loss, along with nine interceptions.
CB Derrick Baity, Kentucky, SR (6-2, 186, 4.52, #8): One of the top coverage corners in the nation, Baity is viewed as a press man corner capable of sticking anyone with his length and physical style of play. He is viewed as a top 100 overall prospect and could continue to rise.
RB Elijah Holyfield, JR (5-10, 215, 4.55, #13): Move, get out the way! Holyfield is a full-fledged trucker who loves to barrel over defenders with his tough, hard-nosed running style. He dealt with an ankle injury as a freshman and a marijuana arrest as a sophomore but has finally hit his stride during his junior campaign, demonstrating improved quickness and just enough wiggle to make defenders miss in the open field, enabling him to gain extra yardage after contact. He's averaging an impressive 6.6 yards per carry and stays after practice every day to catch 110 passes in an effort to become a better pass catcher. Elijah is the son of former boxing champion Evander Holyfield.
Other Georgia prospects to watch:
CB Deandre Baker, rJR (5-11, 180, 4.49, #18)
WR Riley Ridley, JR (6-2, 200, 4.48, #8)
OLB D'Andre Walker, SR (6-2, 240, 4.70, #15)
J.R. Reed, SR (6-0, 195, 4.60, #20)
DE Jonathan Ledbetter, SR (6-3, 277, 4.86, #13)
WR Terry Godwin, SR (5-11, 185, 4.42, #5)
TE Isaac Nauta, JR (6-4, 246, 4.74, #18)
OT Kendall Baker, rSR (6-5, 290, 5.15, #65)
Other Kentucky prospects to watch:
OLB Josh Allen, SR (6-4, 230, 4.59, #41)
RB Benny Snell, Jr., JR (5-10, 233, 4.56, #26)
TE CJ Conrad, SR (6-4, 245, 4.82
Penn State (6-2) at Michigan (7-1)
Saturday, 3:45 p.m. ET (ESPN), Michigan Stadium (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Three draft-eligible prospects to focus on:
OG Jon Runyan Jr., Michigan, JR (6-3, 298, 5.15, #75): One of the most improved players for Michigan, Runyan emerged as the starting left tackle this season after spending last year as a backup at guard and tackle. He has been healthier, stronger and more physical at the point of attack, while using his great athleticism to his advantage. Runyan is also doing a much better job staying on his blocks and driving defenders in the run game -- coaches have praised his weight room habits. His father, John Sr., also played in Ann Arbor and in the NFL for 14 years.
DE Shaka Toney, Penn State, rSO (6-3, 241, 4.65, #18): A low-key, mellow person off the field, Toney is a fast, physical player on the field, which has made it difficult on opposing linemen. He had an impressive four-sack game against Indiana, showing off his quickness and athleticism. The Philly native has to adjust his diet and eat 5,000-6,000 calories a day to maintain his weight and help offset his fasting during Ramadan.
DT Bryan Mone, Michigan, rSR (6-3, 325, 5.27, #90): Mone, a run-stuffing nose tackle, has played just 22 games over the past five years due to injury. He suffered a broken ankle as a freshman in 2015, which caused him to miss the entire season, and endured a sprained PCL the following year, which held him out of three games. He has self-admittedly struggled to maintain a consistent focus in practice and stated that he "thinks too much." The Utah native was born in Fiji and has been called a fence post. He projects as a rotational player who can eat space in the NFL.
Other Penn State prospects to watch:
CB Amani Oruwariye, rSR (6-0, 209, 4.57, #21)
RB Miles Sanders, JR (5-11, 215, 4.50, #24)
CB John Reid, rSR (5-10, 187,4.53)
Other Michigan prospects to watch:
DT Rashan Gary, JR. (6-4, 281, 4.67, #3)
LB Devin Bush, JR. (5-11, 240, 4.78, #10)
DE Chase Winovich, JR, (6-3, 253, 4.82, #15)
QB Shea Patterson, JR (6-1, 193, 4.67, #2)
CB Lavert Hill, JR. (5-11, 177, 4.47, #24)
RB Karan Higdon, SR. (5-9, 190, 4.50, #22)
FS Tyree Kinnel, SR. (5-11, 201, 4.56, #23)