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.
Florida State at Maryland
Players spotlighted: Devonta Freeman*, RB FSU; EJ Manuel, QB FSU; Stefon Diggs*, WR Maryland
It’s been a long time since I’ve liked a running back prospect out of Florida State’s system. After watching Freeman’s performance against Maryland I came away really impressed. He’s been a backup running back playing behind the speedy senior running back Chris Thompson. A season ending injury to Thompson a few weeks ago paved way for Freeman to be the starter and he’s taken full advantage.
Freeman stands at 5’9” and a solid 209 lbs. He runs with great power, leverage and good pad level. He has thick, powerful legs and has a wide base that gives him great balance. He possesses good agility and hits the hole decisively.
Up until now I think he’s been one of college football’s best kept secrets at the running back position, mainly because of the reasons I mentioned. I think he’ll continue to stay under the radar since it’s so late in the season, but he could be a good get in developmental drafts for team’s picking in the bottom half of the draft order.
Stat line: 16 carries for 148 yards and 2 TDs.
I’ve been asked about EJ Manuel enough times to the point I thought to briefly address those questions here. The good is he’s very efficient and currently sits as the nation’s seventh most efficient quarterback. He’s pretty athletic (though he doesn’t look to run very often), has great size and has a good enough arm. But he’s very ordinary as a passer. He doesn’t create very much offense on his own. I project him to be a backup type quarterback at the next level.
Coming off an ankle injury and a missed game, Stefon Diggs returned to action with a quiet game. The game isn’t what I wanted to talk about as much as I wanted to address his situation and future. Maryland is an obscure team and you’ll hear very little about Diggs unless you’re a Maryland fan. But I won’t let this be an out of sight out of mind thing, because I think he’s an exceptional talent on a very bad team. Keep him on your radar because his NFL career will be far better than his college career.
Iowa at Michigan
Player spotlighted: Denard Robinson, QB Michigan
Back in my September 29th entry, I pleaded for Michigan to move Robinson to receiver and quit wasting our time by playing him at quarterback. Well, Michigan finally came to their senses and moved Robinson to another position. They moved him to running back. Granted, it took an injury to his elbow to make the switch, but at least they made the switch.
Robinson had success and rushed for 98 yards on 13 carries (most of his carries came out of the wildcat) and also caught two passes for 24 yards. I hope they stay with the switch because I want to see more of him in this role since this will be the role he’ll play at the NFL level. The more I can get on tape the better feel I can get for his game and the more confident projection I can make.
One play in particular stands out from the game. The play illustrates how good of player he can be and also how much of a project he is. Robinson lined up at running back in the pistol formation. On a swing pass he bobbled the catch going to his left. After securing the ball he quickly ran into traffic and reversed his field, running backwards for 5 yards and then outrunning the defensive pursuit to the other side of the field. In the end the play gained 12 yards. It was one of those “what the heck are you doing?” to “yeah…go, go!” plays. It probably got the coaches’ blood pressure up.
Robinson has a long way to go as a running back and/or wide receiver, but you can’t teach that kind of big play ability he possesses. He’s going to be a very interesting wildcard prospect in this year’s draft.
Below are my top 35 dynasty prospects as of 11/24/2012.
1. Marqise Lee*, WR USC
Has a nice showcase game coming up against Notre Dame this week, but he has no quarterback now that Barkley is injured. Will it matter?
2. Geno Smith, QB West Virginia
The buzz has died down a bit after his torrid start, mainly because West Virginia has lost 5 straight games. He still has 35 TDs to only 5 Ints.
3. Sammy Watkins*, WR Clemson
4. Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee
5. Keenan Allen, WR California
Still not back from knee injury and probably has played his last collegiate game. Fully expect him to declare for the draft.
6. Todd Gurley*, RB Georgia
If it weren’t for Johnny Manziel, he’d be the SEC freshman of the year. Gurley is the first Georgia freshman to rush for over 1,000 yards since Herschel Walker. If your name gets mentioned in the same sentence as Herschel, you know you are doing something special.
7. Giovani Bernard, RB North Carolina
Bernard leads the trio of draft eligible backs, but in reality it’s 3 way tie. This race will come down to being able to attach an NFL team to their names.
8. Stepfan Taylor, RB Stanford
His 161 yards played a big role in the upset win over Oregon.
9. Eddie Lacy, RB Alabama
I always try to think of a current NFL player to compare prospects to because I think it helps paint a visual picture for people who don’t watch college football regularly. With Lacy I’ve been trying to see which big back will do that. I kicked around Marshawn Lynch and thought no because he’s not quite that physical. Then I kicked around Brandon Jacobs and thought he’s not quite that big and is more explosive. Well, this Sunday I saw Marcel Reece in action and saw a lot of similarities between their running styles. I’d say Reece is a better pass catcher while Lacy is a better runner.
10. Andre Ellington, RB Clemson
11. Robert Woods, WR USC
12. DeAndre Hopkins, WR Clemson
13. T.J Yeldon*, RB Alabama
14. Tavon Austin, WR West Virginia
Coach Dana Holgorson threw us all a curveball this week by moving Austin to running back. All Austin did was rush for 344 yards on 21 carries and scored 2 TDs. Oh yeah, he also caught 4 passes for 82 yards. I’m not sure how to process this yet since it was such a surprise so I will keep him where he is in the rankings. This appears to be a permanent switch, so I’ll keep my eye on it.
15. Terrence Williams, WR Baylor
16. Cardarrelle Patterson, WR Tennessee
17. Marquess Wilson, WR Washington State
18. Ameer, Abdulla*, RB Nebraska
19. Tyler Wilson, QB Arkansas
20. Tyler Eifert, TE Notre Dame
21. Tyler Bray, QB Tennessee
Should have known this would happen after consecutive weeks of me praising Bray. He had a putrid game against Vanderbilt and was benched by head coach Derek Dooley (who was then fired shortly after the game). The benching was a surprise considering how well he’d played recently. I can’t imagine Bray would return for his senior year considering he’s on a sinking ship in Tennessee, but I’ve been surprised before.
22. Mike Gillislee, RB Florida
23. Matt Barkley, QB USC
Now has a shoulder injury (sprained AC joint). Arm strength is already a weakness so shoulder issues certainly won’t help his cause.
24. Dennis Johnson, RB Arkansas
25. Jonathan Franklin, RB UCLA
26. Knile Davis, RB Arkansas
27. Duke Johnson*, RB Miami, FL
28. Da’Rick Rogers, WR Tennessee Tech
29. Logan Thomas, QB Virginia Tech
30. Joseph Randle, RB Oklahoma State
31. Jordan Reed, TE Florida
32. Montee Ball, RB Wisconsin
Has been playing really well in the second half of the season. He’s not special but if he’s given a chance to start he can be productive.
33. Le’Veon Bell, RB Michigan State
34. Christine Michael, RB Texas A&M
35. Jawan Jamison, RB Rutgers
Saw limited action this week (4 carries) due to an ankle injury.
Paymon Shokoohi is an NCAA/NFL skill position analyst, Senior Writer for DLF and can be found on Twitter @setmyroster and in the forums as dlf_paymons.