It’s that time of year when I turn my focus to the college bowl games to gain insight. I will do my best to find some draft eligible players that could improve your dynasty teams. This article intends to start conversations and encourage continued thought throughout the entire draft process. These are my observations based on the bowl games, unless otherwise indicated. I am listing these players alphabetically.
Montee Ball, RB WISC
Ball played well against Stanford. He ran strong, bounced off would-be tacklers, lowered his shoulders, and generated power with his lower body. If you want a battering ram for a lead back, Ball is who you want as he fights for every yard. The Badger running back displayed a few spin moves, made a nice jump cut and glided into the end zone on an 11-yard carry. By using his outstanding vision, he sets up his blocks and finds the best running lane to hit. While he isn’t used much in the passing game, Ball has adequate hands and is effective as a pass blocker. I expect Ball to be a top three rookie running back, but don’t expect a dynamic playmaker. He is more of a grinder like Shonn Greene.
Zach Ertz, TE STAN
Ertz led Stanford in receiving for the hybrid tight end spot. He lined up as a tight end, split out wide and occasionally as an h-back. The talented tight end ran sharp routes and plucked the ball out of the air with his big mitts. Ertz does a good job blocking in the run game and had the sense to come back to block for his quarterback when the signal caller was forced to scramble. His most impressive play of the day was a 43-yard catch he made down the middle. Despite having a safety draped all over him, he found the ball in the air, adjusted to it, and made a difficult reception on the three yard line. This play set up a touchdown run the following play. Ertz is neck and neck with Tyler Eifert battling for the #1 tight end spot. I would be excited to get either one in your rookie draft.
Jarvis Jones, OLB UGA
This fiery playmaker caused a lot of havoc in his bowl game. He lined up just outside of the offensive tackle switching sides to confuse blocking schemes. Jones gets low and uses his strong legs to gain leverage. He excels at hand fighting which stops blockers getting into his body. Sometimes the linebacker would let himself be guided by a lineman, only to discard them once he determined what the offense was attempting to do. Jones, at times, ran a bit high and out of control. He has the speed and agility to recover from some of those gaffes, but not all of them. Early in the game, he came very close to sacking the quarterback, but poured on the pressure in the second half to bring the quarterback down twice. Don’t be fooled that he is just a one-trick pony as Jones broke up a pass downfield intended for a tight end and he sniffed out a screen pass bringing down the running back for a loss. He is a must own in big play IDP leagues.
Denard Robinson, RB/WR MICH
Robinson will probably be one of the most discussed rookies this year. Should he play quarterback, running back, wide receiver, returner or defensive back? As someone who has watched every snap of his games at Michigan, I don’t think he has the hands to play wide receiver and I don’t think he is physical enough to play defensive back. If we look to what he did against South Carolina, his skill set makes him either a change of pace back or a returner. Will either of these positions make Robinson fantasy relevant? I’m not sold. “Shoelaces,” as he is called, is a strong runner and has excellent field vision that he uses to read his blockers and elude defenses. He has elite speed and quickness, but does not have the frame to take punishment. I would not look at drafting him before the third round in rookie drafts and that would only be in leagues that score return yardage.
DJ Swearinger, S SCAR
Swearinger is a strong run support safety. He tackles with good technique and power. On every tackle, he tries to separate the ball carrier from the pigskin and this paid off with a forced fumble against the Wolverines. This is also a detriment as Swearinger missed a critical tackle when he focused too much on forcing the turnover. The safety does a decent job defending the pass as he skied above a Michigan receiver to break up a 60+ yard pass attempt. In IDP leagues that separate safeties and cornerbacks, draft him in the last or second to last round for depth.
Stepfan Taylor, RB STAN
Taylor was a big reason that Stanford beat Wisconsin. He is a patient runner who for the first three quarters seemed content taking what the defense gave him. The Cardinal back was good at finding his running lanes, showed a little juke move, and had soft hands. Taylor displayed good lateral movement and usually made the first defender miss. What I liked most about Taylor was that he got stronger in the fourth quarter. He ran a little harder and on one play, this determined runner put his back to the defense driving three defenders down the field five yards. Depending where he lands, Taylor is a late first round rookie pick.
Bjoern Werner, DE FSU
Werner was not the factor I expected him to be against Northern Illinois. I am a bit concerned with his inconsistent motor as he would hustle to break up a screen pass on one play and lightly jog to the other side of the field on another play. He possesses a great first step and reads the offensive plays quickly. The defensive end anchors his spot on the line and does a good job keeping offensive linemen away from his body with his long reach. He relies more on brute strength than technique to separate himself from the offensive line. Werner has a knack for tipping passes as he makes a point to keep his arms high when he can’t reach the quarterback in time. He is not big enough at 255 lbs to play defensive end in the NFL, but he doesn’t seem fast enough to play OLB either. Werner may need to bulk up if he wants to become an impactful defender. I would love to have him as a DE3 or a LB4 on my dynasty team, depending on which position he plays.