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 series 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 this past week.
* denotes player NOT eligible for 2013 draft.
Louisiana Monroe at Arkansas
Players spotlighted: Tyler Wilson, QB Arkansas; Knile Davis, RB Arkansas; Dennis Johnson, RB Arkansas
Not exactly a good team use as a barometer. At least that’s what I thought, but Monroe ended up with the upset of the weekend, knocking off the eighth ranked Razorbacks. That’s another subject, though, as I wanted to check in on the Razorback offense under a new coaching staff. Tyler Wilson wasn’t impressive early on. In his first series he had a man open on a seam route and severely underthrew the pass that ended up being intercepted. Wilson kind of lofted it like there were no defensive backs out there. On his second drive he was again shaky, but ended it with a short touchdown pass in the back of the endzone.
One of the things I dinged Wilson on while watching his junior tape was the way he handled the blitz. When he’s allowed to step to his right he usually is poised and collected and makes good throws. If the defense can force him go to the left, or blitz him up the middle, he makes some very awkward throws. He looks like a player who’s taken too many hits and plays like he’s going to get nailed. Now I don’t say this to question his toughness – he’s plenty tough. But Wilson has taken a lot of punishment, and even against Monroe he took a beating. In fact, he was knocked out of the game because he was unable to return after halftime. Reports are that he had an apparent head injury and his status for this week’s opponent, number one ranked Alabama, is unknown.
I worry about the long term impact of these hits on his psyche. It’s something I’ll be monitoring closely this season.
Wilson’s game line: 11-20 for 196 yards and two touchdowns with one interception
Knile Davis was a running back who I couldn’t wait to watch this season, but after watching him this week I am very concerned. He’s running very tentatively and I’m not at all pleased with what he’s putting on tape right now. My preseason number two back is running nothing like his 2010 (pre ankle surgery) tape. Arkansas looked like they were rotating running backs every series, so this is looking like a full fledged time share with Dennis Johnson. What I haven’t figured out is if they are trying it to slowly get Davis going after his recovery or is this a permanent situation. The red flags are out, that’s for sure, but at least I saw a good burst from Davis on a sweep, so I know it’s there. With a tough game against Alabama this week, we may get more decisive answers.
Davis’ game line: 16 carries for 62 yards and a touchdown
Dennis Johnson is a player I haven’t mentioned much this year. The 5’ 9” senior had a solid year filling in for the injured Davis last year. He appears to be a change of pace back, but I’m taking a closer look to see if there’s more there. He’s pretty stocky and runs with very good balance and pad level so there may be some later round dynasty value there.
Johnson’s game line: 7 carries for 50 yards
Ball State at Clemson
Player spotlighted: Andre Ellington, RB Clemson
Ellington was kind of a tweener player for me coming into this season. By tweener I mean I couldn’t decide if I liked him as a pro prospect, mainly as a starting caliber running back. Even more importantly is if I liked him as a dynasty prospect.
I’m not indecisive about him because I haven’t seen him, either. I’ve been watching Ellington since his freshman season, when he was a third stringer behind C.J. Spiller and Jamie Harper. Since then I’ve seen about 10-12 games of his and nothing has jumped out at me about him. That is until this season. The player I have seen so far this year is not the Andre Ellington I’ve seen his first two years of his college career.
Right now he’s hitting his holes much faster and more decisively. In short, he’s showing a better feel for the running back position. Obviously Ball State is not exactly what you’d call a good team, but I have enough background to compare him to himself, regardless of the team he’s facing. Plus his stats weren’t that impressive on paper, but much of that was due to the game getting out of hand. He’s shown improvement in most aspects two games into the year. However, one thing he has not shown improvement on is his negligible contribution in the passing game – he must get better in that department if he’s going to raise his value in dynasty leagues.
Ellington’s game line: 13 carries for 41 yards and two touchdowns
Kansas State’s quarterback Collin Klein is every bit the player that Tim Tebow was in college when it comes to talent. He has much of the same strengths and similar weaknesses. However, you’d be hard pressed to find a draft site that rates him in the first six rounds. Klein doesn’t have nearly the weapons that Tebow did at Florida, either. Amazing how much the team you play for and media influence can impact a player’s draft stock.
Thanks to a tip from DLF commenter (Preston Yarnell) from my last article, I took a look at Nebraska sophomore running back Ameer Abdulla*. I have to say I was impressed with his game against UCLA. I liked his toughness and his overall makeup. He reminds me of Stevan Ridley upon first impression and is certainly on my radar now, so thanks, Preston.
I didn’t see the game, but it’s worth mentioning that Tennessee’s Justin Hunter followed up his lackluster season debut with an 8 catch 146 yard and three touchdown performance. Yes, it was against an inferior opponent, but my belief is every game he will get better and better until he sits atop everyone’s draft boards at the receiver position.
The leading rusher in the nation is UCLA’s senior running back Jonathan Franklin. Franklin is averaging an eye popping 10.5 yards per carry. He shredded the Nebraska defense last week for 217 yards. I haven’t had an opportunity to really watch him except for a few highlights. You’ll undoubtedly be seeing him featured soon, though.
After we get into October I’ll start a ranking as part of this series. From there we can get a true feel for the stock of the players and what kind of talent depth we have in this class.