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.
Alabama at Arkansas
Player spotlighted: Knile Davis, RB South Carolina; Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama
This was a must-see game in the evaluation process of Knile Davis. The Alabama defense is the closest to an actual NFL defense, so it’s a good barometer. It’s certainly not the be-all and end-all of the process, but very important, nonetheless.
Going into the game I was looking for two things. Has Arkansas decided to make their backfield a true timeshare situation with Dennis Johnson? In the first two games, it certainly was looking that way. The alternative thought was they were bringing along Davis slowly after a serious injury. The second question I wanted answered was will Davis showcase some of that explosion he had in 2010?
I got an answer to both questions.
There wasn’t much of a rotation in this game, as Davis got the lion’s share of the carries and Johnson only came in sparingly. Davis also showed that burst on a few of his carries, but still looked tentative too often. On one of his few good runs, Davis took a draw and sidestepped a tackler and then I saw the quick burst. He also showed good power and pad level and finished the run with authority. It was the first time I’d seen it this season.
Overall the stats won’t show it (he also had three fumbles), but Davis took steps forward in this game. I felt he looked a little more like himself and feel his issues are more mental than physical. I expect improvement as season progresses.
Davis’ game line: 20 carries for 59 yards and no touchdownns.
I finally got to see Eddie Lacy in a full game. Early in the game he showed great power – barreling over a couple of defenders at the goaline on a six yard touchdown run – it was shades of Marshawn Lynch. You cannot question the physicality of Lacy’s running style. He’s a very physical big back and a terrific downhill runner who breaks tackles. Get him some forward momentum, allow him to get buildup speed, and he’s a nightmare for defenders to bring down. I was also impressed with his agility in the open field for a big man.
Even though the game was a blowout, I feel I have better grasp of Lacy’s ability after seeing him in a full game. The question I want answered now is whether he’s a three down back. Either way, his best fit is to land in a power running system.
Lacy’s game line: 12 carries for 55 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Florida at Tennessee
Player spotlighted: Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee
Justin Hunter is starting to get himself into a good groove now. On several of his routes, he looked decisive and was effective in creating consistent separation. Although there wasn’t a whole lot of yardage to prove it, his cuts were strong on his yards on his yards after catch attempts. I declare him fully recovered and rust free after offseason ACL recovery.
One thing I’d like to see from Hunter going forward is a better control of his body language. He’s too quick to show his frustration on errant passes. Look, I understand Tyler Bray can drive the calmest of us crazy with his erratic play, but he has to hide it better. Hunter had two drops of his own (both on third down), so it’s not like he has the room to complain. He just needs to show a little more professionalism.
Hunter’s game line: 5 receptions for 76 yards.
USC at Stanford
Player spotlighted: Stepfan Taylor, RB Stanford
Maybe now the rest of the nation will take notice of Stepfan Taylor’s ability. In a primetime game against the nation’s number two ranked team, he showed why he’s one of the most underrated running back prospects of the country. In the first quarter, Taylor busted a big 59 yard run for a touchdown. Just in that one run alone he showcased everything I highlighted about him in my summer write-up on him. He showed his exceptional lateral agility and his elite vision. He even pulled away from the defense on the run.
Later in the third quarter, Taylor again showed off his great balance and agility – taking a screen pass for a 23 yard score as he weaved through several would-be tacklers along the way.
Late in the fourth quarter, with USC down by seven and stacking the box, Taylor kept pounding out first downs and killing the clock. He proved that not only is he an all-purpose back, he can also be a workhorse.
So, the scouts came in to see USC’s highly touted prospects, but what they got was a good dose of Stepfan Taylor instead. Let’s just hope they put down the stopwatches and actually watch the game film.
Taylor’s game line: 27 carries for 153 yards and one touchdown, five receptions for 60 yards and one touchdown.
Clemson’s Sammy Watkins* returned to action after a two game suspension. The super sophomore receiver got his 2012 season going with a modest four receptions for 52 yards in the game, but did manage a 58 yarder on a rushing touchdown. His first big test is coming this week against the fifth ranked Seminoles.
The leader of the freshmen running backs to me is Miami’s Duke Johnson*. He’s getting more and more reps and quite frankly is already the best player on the Hurricanes roster. He scored on a 95 yard kickoff return, a 50 yard receiving touchdown, and a 28 yard rushing touchdown as well. He finished with four touchdowns on the day and he’s only getting started. He’s a must-watch on Saturdays.
A tough player to evaluate is Florida’s Trey Burton. Listed at running back, the 6’3” 228 pound junior is a “jack of all trades” at the skill position. He could (and has) played wildcat quarterback, receiver, running back and tight end. One thing that isn’t a question is the fact he’s a gifted athlete and football player. There is a spot for him in the NFL, but who knows what position that will be. I’d love to see a creative outside the box offensive mind to land him. I’m intrigued.
Is it me or does Alabama freshman running back T.J. Yeldon*, have an unusually long torso? Whatever it is it’s working for him. I look forward to seeing him be the featured running back in the coming years.
One of the most electric players in the country is Oregon’s Sophomore running back, De’Anthony Thomas*. I’ll take a closer look at projecting his value this week against the #22 ranked Arizona Wildcats. With Oregon’s fast break offense, you have to pick and choose which games to evaluate the game film – this is their first real test and the first game of the season I can start the assessment process.
Paymon Shokoohi can be found @setmyroster on twitter and in the forums as dlf_paymons.