Whether you enjoy college football or just want to gauge the talent pool for next year, we’ve got you covered. The purpose of this article is to provide information that can help you better assess the trade value of your first or second rounders as the season progresses. This way when you make a trade that involves rookie draft picks, you have a better idea of what those picks are worth.
Here are my notes from the prospects’ games I had the opportunity to watch.
* denotes player NOT eligible for 2013 draft.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt
Player spotlighted: Marcus Lattimore, RB South Carolina
Lattimore’s night got off to a shaky start – fumbling on his very first carry of the game. He quickly made emends on his very next carry with a 29 yard touchdown run. Most importantly, I saw a couple of nifty, clean cuts to show his knee was back to normal. He made one of those cuts at the line of scrimmage to break free into the second level and the other was in the open field at full speed to finish the run.
In my evaluation of Lattimore this Summer, I highlighted his sudden cutting ability as a signature move he has to make tacklers miss, so the knee is vital to those cuts. They are very sudden and create the change of direction that has defenders grasping at air. This elite trait makes up for his lack of top end speed.
One thing I haven’t had much of a chance to do is gauge his pass protection ability. I know he can catch the ball effectively, but can he block? Blocking is what allows for early playing time for rookies, so I look for this to project how early dynasty owners can reap the rewards from their investment. In this game, I saw four chances where Lattimore was asked to pick up blitzes and on all four of those he showed he was a competent blocker. For one game he passed the test.
Lattimore’s game line: 23 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns, three receptions for 21 yards.
North Carolina State at Tennessee
Players spotlighted: Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee; Tyler Bray, QB Tennessee; Cardarrell Patterson, WR Tennessee.
I went into this game with one primary objective and that was to see if Justin Hunter was 100% recovered from ACL surgery. Physically he checked out. His game, however, showed a little rust. Hunter had a lot of timing issues with his quarterback, Tyler Bray. In the first half, there were many instances where they weren’t on the same page and Hunter even had a few drops. I expect the first couple of games he’ll be trying to find his timing and get his rhythm down. The good news is he was heavily involved win the passing game, so the big games will come. He’s still my number one ranked dynasty receiver for the time being, but he did have a pedestrian performance by his standards.
Hunter’s game line: Nine receptions for 73 yards.
One of the issues I had with Tyler Bray last season was that he was always so erratic – it’s what kept me from including him in the conversation of the top quarterbacks. One game into the season and he’s still the same erratic quarterback. Physically, he has all the tools, but his inconsistent demonstration of poise in the pocket continues to keep him out of the conversation. I’ll continue to monitor for growth, but I have my reservations.
Bray’s game line: 27-41 for 333 yards and two touchdowns, no interceptions
The beauty of college football is that every year, without fail, a prospect comes out of nowhere to shine. If you watch enough games, you’ll see it when it happens. This game brought the coming out party of JUCO transfer, Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson takes over the starting gig left by the recently booted Da’Rick Rogers, who was/is an NFL prospect in his own right. While all eyes were on Hunter, Patterson exploded for two long touchdowns in the first quarter. The 6’ 3”, 205 lb junior receiver’s first touchdown came on long Bray pass down the sideline. Moments later in the first quarter, Patterson took an end around that went to the house for 67 yards. These big plays weren’t just broken plays, they were plays in which Patterson showed speed and open field ability. He also looks to be a natural hands catcher, which is something that I look for in a receiver. His size, speed, and ball skill combo has placed him on my radar for the rest of the season.
Patterson’s game line: Six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown/two rushes for 72 yards and pne touchdown.
Elon at North Carolina
Player spotlighted: Giovani Bernard, RB North Carolina
Elon isn’t exactly a tough opponent, but Bernard got his season off to great start with a strong all-purpose game. We knew he could run and catch the ball out of the backfield, but now Bernard has added punt returning to his resume and returned one for a touchdown. The redshirt sophomore finished with a hat trick, going for a touchdown run, touchdown reception, and capping it off with the aforementioned return touchdown. Bernard accomplished all that in just over one quarter of play. One thing to note on his receiving touchdown, he lined up as receiver and took a receiver screen in for a six yard touchdown, after breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage. It just shows his versatility further underscores why Bernard is a top five running back prospect. Unfortunately, he left the game in the second quarter with a sore knee, or who knows what how lopsided his stats would’ve been. Reports are that he’s fine and shouldn’t miss any time.
Bernard’s game line: 9 carries for 93 yards and a TD/2 receptions for 10 yards and a TD.
Hawaii at Southern California
Players spotlighted: Robert Woods, WR USC; *Marqise Lee, WR USC; Matt Barkley, QB USC
I went in to this game wanting to see if Robert Woods had made any strides in his physical play and to see if he’s fully recovered from his ankle surgery. For both questions, the answer was yes. There were no signs of any injury and he did show that he was at least willing to be more physical. He drew several pass interference calls and though his stats weren’t huge, he did show positive tape. Of course positive tape for him means a top level talent improved their game, and that’s something I wanted to see this year.
Woods’ game line: Six receptions for 42 yards and two touchdowns.
While Woods was the main attraction (because he’s highly touted AND is draft eligible), I still wanted to see Marqise Lee play. The true sophomore didn’t disappoint, and in fact stole the show. A lot of people, myself included, feel he’s actually a better pro prospect than Woods. He wasted no time getting in on the action, taking a short out route and turning it into a 75 yard scamper down the sidelines. On the play he made a fake to the inside, then turned on the jets down the sidelines – that’s what we call run after catch ability. The night wasn’t perfect because he did have a few drops, but when you put on a show like that, those are forgivable. It’s a shame he’s not draft eligible this season, but he’ll get there soon enough. By the way, he also returned a kickoff for a 100 yard touchdown.
Lee’s game line: 10 receptions for 197 yards and one touchdown.
Matt Barkley was his usual accurate and poised self. His stats paint a good picture of the night he had. I’ll say this; with this group of receivers it will be very difficult for anyone to beat Barkley out for the Heisman Trophy.
Barkley’s game line: 23-38 for 372 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
Spotlight Player of the Week: Logan Thomas, QB Virginia Tech
Game: Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech
It was the primetime game capping off the opening weekend of college football. The game itself I have to admit was ultimately a snooze fest. Lucky for me, the game is not why I tuned in. I tuned in to see highly touted quarterback prospect Logan Thomas kickoff his junior season.
In the first drive, Thomas showed off his running skills early with a first down scamper on third down and ten. The drive ended up fizzling out.
On his second possession, Thomas drove the offense down the field and capped it with an eight yard touchdown pass to the tight end on a play action touch pass.
In those two drives of the game, Thomas illustrated why he’s such a dangerous playmaker because of his duel threat abilities. I already knew that. What I wanted to see is Thomas grow as a passer from game to game. I did see slight improvement in that department, but there was far too much inconsistent play. Some of it can be attributed to Virginia Tech breaking in several all new receivers. For most of the night, Thomas and the receivers just weren’t on the same page – those kinks will get worked out.
Right now, I fear Thomas’ legs more than I do his arm. By season’s end I want it to balance out a bit more. Thomas may never turn out to be a high percentage passer. In some ways he may be like Jake Locker as a passer. He is a gifted playmaker as a dual threat quarterback. It’s just too soon to come to a conclusion. I urge a little patience and allow the kid to at least sync with his new receivers before we drop him in the rankings. He’s still my number one dynasty quarterback because of what he could be. No other quarterback in this class has the ceiling that Thomas has in my view. Let the season play out and see if there’s growth from game to game. If he didn’t have all the tools, I wouldn’t be as patient.
Alabama freshman running back, T.J. Yeldon looks like a star in the making. With Eddie Lacy out with an injured ankle (yet another injury for Lacy), Yeldon ran for 111 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown in his first ever college game. I’m not sure what it says about Lacy that I want to see the young freshman get more touches.
Another true freshman running back that had a coming out party is Miami’s Duke Johnson. Johnson had not one 50 plus yard burst for a TD, but he had two. He finished with 7 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns. These weren’t busted assignment runs, either. Johnson showed great strength for his 5’ 9” 183 lbs. – breaking several tackles on both long scores. To cap off his great debut, the 18 year old even had LeBron James tweet about him. Not a bad way to start a college career. He looks like the real deal.
Regretfully I wasn’t able to catch West Virginia play and missed quarterback Geno Smith. He’s on the short list, though.
I also missed the debut of Georgia freshman running back Todd Gurley. Gurley had a great game as well with eight carries for 100 yards and two scores. Looks like we have three legit freshmen running backs we’ll be talking about for the next three years.
Paymon Shokoohi can be found @setmyroster on twitter and in the forums as dlf_paymons.