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.
Kenjon Barner, RB ORE
Barner is one of Head Coach Chip Kelly’s speed pieces of the Oregon Ducks spread offense. He looked just as slender as LaMichael James did last year, but not as fast or elusive. The senior running back has a slight stutter step, uses good balance, and gets small in the running lane. While he won’t overwhelm anyone with power, Barner has a mean stiff-arm, always falls forward, and got stronger as the game progressed. He is good at reading his blocks, being a patient runner, and uses a jump cut to get away from danger. In the passing game, the senior back is an adequate blocker who can slow up a blitzer for a second or two. Barner ran an excellent wheel route that he used to score a 24-yard touchdown. With that reception, it is obvious that he is at his best in open space. He was targeted earlier on the same pattern. That play would have gone for a 60+ yard touchdown if Barner would not have lost the ball in the lights. I have my doubts he will ever be more than a member of an RBBC.
Arthur Brown, LB KST
Brown is considered by some draftniks to be the best outside linebacker in this year’s crop. In his game against Oregon, the linebacker only played a handful of snaps on the outside and spent the majority of the time as a weak side inside backer. He has good vision, comprehends the play almost immediately, and moves quickly side to side. On a few occasions, he rushed the quarterback from both inside and outside linebacker spots. What concerns me is that Brown lacked consistency defending the run. He would rarely attack the line of scrimmage, instead he would trail the play and make the tackle five yards down the field. I’m not convinced Brown can step up and shed blockers on the way to whomever has the pigskin.
Sharrif Floyd, DT/DE FLA
Floyd was a very important cog for the Florida defense. When he was not on the field, Louisville was more effective running the ball. He lined up and down the defensive front trying to find the best mismatch. The defensive lineman got low to the ground, dug in and was difficult to move. He played with a wide base forcing the offensive coordinator to use two linemen to block him. When the Cardinals tried to block him one-on-one, he usually shed his blocker quickly on the way to the ball carrier. Despite all the attention he received, Floyd got good penetration while pushing around his blockers. For a 303 lbs. man, he has a decent motor, a good spin move and is athletic enough to leap-frog a lineman who was laying on the ground. Floyd uses his good vision and instincts to predict the offensive plays. There were two amazing plays he made during the game and an almost great play. First, Floyd pushed a guard back with so much force that the offensive lineman smashed into the running back behind him knocking both offensive players to the ground. The second was a passing play that Floyd got thrown to the ground by the quarterback, but the determined DT bounced back up like Rocky Balboa and KO’ed the signal caller. His almost great play was a screen pass that Floyd sensed was coming, and came within two inches from thwarting.
Mike Gillislee, RB FLA
Gillislee might have been more effective had the Gators offense started off their bowl game stronger. The young running back is very light on his feet and has the ability to start and stop on a dime. He doesn’t have a strong leg drive nor is he a physical player as he got caught up in the trash around the line of scrimmage. Gillislee was most effective out in space where he had room to fool defenders with his juke moves and use his lateral agility to make people miss. He is more quick than fast, uses a decent stiff-arm and has a jump cut to pull out of a hat when he needs it. Gillislee might be more suited to be a third down back than a feature runner. I want to see more from him in an all-star game before I decide where he fits in my rookie running back rankings.
Dion Jordan, OLB/DE ORE
While Jordan only played the first quarter due to a shoulder injury, the talent defender made a memorable impact on the game’s second play. Showing off his athleticism, he converted a two-point conversion by catching a shovel pass in the swinging gate formation Jordan has a fantastic first step, combined with a spin move, that usually gets him into the backfield in a hurry. The linebacker, lining up in a two-point stance, would flip-flop sides to confuse the offensive line. When the offense decided to run his way, Jordan did a good job standing up his blocker. He plays a bit fast and loose. If he guessed right, he made a great play and if he guessed wrong, you couldn’t find him on your TV screen. When the defensive scheme required him to drop back in coverage, he was effective covering Kansas State’s tight end. I was impressed with him after seeing him play in those 15 minutes before he was injured. Jordan is a top-tier IDP player especially in big play leagues.
Jordan Reed, TE FLA
Reed showed up on the box score with one reception for seven yards on a slant play and seemed to disappear at times during the bowl game. On early red zone passing plays, he was the quarterback’s first read. Obviously, we need to look at another game to get a better idea of what the tight end can do. I quickly reviewed his game against Texas A&M to gain additional insight. Reed is a versatile player as he can line up beside the tackle, in the backfield and split-out wide. He shows a willingness to block on running and passing plays, but it is not a strength. The Gator tight end glides more like a wide receiver as he has very quick feet that help him in and out of breaks. Reed showed off his good balance when he hurdled a linebacker while he straddled the sideline. As a route runner, he boxes out his coverage and runs exactly where the quarterback anticipates him to be. He has good leaping ability and can catch the ball at its highest point. If Reed declares, I would rank him a notch below Stanford’s Zach Ertz and Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert.