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. Past week’s submissions can be found below:
Here are my notes from the games I had the opportunity to watch.
* denotes player NOT eligible for 2013 draft.
Ohio State at Michigan State
Player spotlighted: Le’Veon Bell, RB Michigan State
I got my first good look at Bell this past week. I’ve watched him casually this season but haven’t really dug in and studied him yet. From my casual viewing, my perception of the 6’ 2” Junior was that he was a bruising straight ahead plodder. If you give him ten carries he’ll likely get you around 40 yards. Give him 30 carries and he’ll get you in the vicinity of 120 yards. Basically, he’ll get you what’s blocked and not a whole lot more.
After watching his matchup against the Buckeyes, it confirmed my initial assessment. However, I did underestimate his nimbleness as a runner and his pass catching skills out of the backfield – the big guy moves impressively for his size.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t warrant much of a bump in his value at the pro level. I don’t see him being a long term answer for anyone and certainly not a featured back. Does he have the stamina to carry the ball 30 times a game? Sure, but that’s not the NFL game anymore. Bell would have been a nice commodity if he’d played ten years ago. I suppose he could be a depth guy for dynasty owners if he lands on a power running team’s roster, but I wouldn’t invest much to procure him.
Bell’s game line: 17 carries for 45 yards, 8 receptions for 58 yards
Arizona State at California
Player spotlighted: Keenan Allen, WR California
One of the reasons I hold Allen in such high regard is he runs and plays physical. To me, that’s one of the traits he brings to the table that separates him from many of his counterparts in this draft class.
As I watched the game, I grew frustrated at the lack of targets early on. It wasn’t until the second quarter that Allen got his first target of the game, and he promptly took a simple five yard route and bolted for a 44 yard gain up the seam. On the play, he lined up in the slot (traditionally he lines up wide), ran five yards up field and sidestepped the linebacker to find the open window in the zone. After making the catch, he showed that quick burst for the 44 yarder before being chased down by the safety.
Still, it was Allen’s only reception of the half and I was puzzled at the usage. It was reported at halftime that Allen had been throwing up in the second quarter so that’s a likely explanation for the game planning. Allen still had an impact in the game with a fourth quarter touchdown reception.
Honestly, I don’t need to see a whole lot from Allen this year. His physical game and route running translates very well to the NFL level. He’s arguably the top ranked receiver on most draft boards and is a sure first round pick. The only question remaining is whether we’re talking a WR1 or a WR2 prospect.
Allen’s game line: 4 receptions for 79 yards and 1 TD
Tennessee at Georgia
Player spotlighted: Todd Gurley*, RB Georgia
I wrote about Gurley in last week’s entry. I wanted to bring him up again because he’s quickly turning into one of my favorite running backs in the nation. The true freshman is a strong downhill runner with great agility and speed.
His body is built to take the pounding of a three down feature back. Gurley has good vision and sudden cutting and change of direction ability. He can block, has great hands, and is as effective as an inside runner who can beat you on the edges as well. Frankly, I am all out of superlatives to describe him. He’s already in my top five overall running back list, and an early candidate for the overall top spot next year. Yes, he’s only a freshman, but he’s something special to watch. If you are in a developmental league that allows for drafting of players this young, you need to find a way to stash him on your roster. You’ll thank me later.
Gurley’s game line: 24 carries for 130 yards and 3 TDs, 1 reception for 3 yards
West Virginia at Baylor
Player spotlighted: Geno Smith, QB West Virginia
When I saw that West Virginia was playing Baylor, I have to be honest I was disappointed. Why? The reason is it’s extremely hard to learn anything from watching a game that’s pretty much a glorified 7-on-7 drill where the defenses are non-existent. I touched on this a little last week so I won’t dwell on it.
The game was a serious shootout as expected and featured a great offensive show from both teams. The two teams combined for 133 points (70-63) and 1,507 yards of offense. I could fill this article just talking about the stats from this game and the NFL prospects who played in it, but that wasn’t my focus as I wanted to drill down to one player. I only wanted to see Geno Smith and I studied his every move. The rewind button on my DVR was very busy and in my extensive review I learned three important things.
First, he throws a very catchable ball. Looking at the ball flight closer there is plenty of velocity there, but it’s a soft throw. It makes it a much easier catch, thus making for a lesser drop rate from the receiver. For contrast, Michael Vick throws with velocity, but it’s a hard throw. Maybe the Sport Science guys can break it down and explain it better, but there is a difference.
The second thing I learned is Smith has outstanding ball placement on his throws. He puts the ball in the proper location for his receivers to be in a great position to catch the ball in stride. That holds true on short and long passes. I believe we call that pinpoint accuracy.
The final thing I learned was that Smith keeps his feet moving and shuffling in the pocket at all times – the same thing that Peyton Manning is known for with his feet in the pocket is what you see with Smith. It’s a rhythm and timing thing and you really don’t see feet that busy with most quarterbacks. It works for him.
I came away from the study with no negatives, and believe me, I was looking for them. I’ll keep studying as the year goes on, but he’s shooting up the board very quickly.
Smith’s game line: 45/51 for 656 yards and 8 TDs, 0 Ints, 5 carries for 31 yards
Eddie Lacy is starting to establish himself after some early season injury issues. He’s looking quicker and running with more confidence and authority. He’s creeping up the running back rankings. His stats may not be huge, but he’s showing well on film.
Speaking of health, Marcus Lattimore is quietly having a solid season after his ACL injury. He’s not getting those big 30 plus carry games he had prior to the injury, but he’s been over 20 carries three out of his five games and two out of his last three. He’s scored in all five games for a total of eight touchdowns. He’s as steady as they come.
Next week I’ll be releasing the first of my prospect rankings within this article, so make sure to check in next week.
Paymon Shokoohi can be found @setmyroster on twitter and in the forums as dlf_paymons.