In this series, we take a look at future NFL players with a focus on offensive skill positions to help those of you in developmental (devy) leagues. For those in regular dynasty formats, we’ll give you some of the key players to watch as you start preparing for 2017 rookie drafts.
We have in-depth rankings for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 classes, which we update throughout the season. We also have a breakdown on what the heck a devy league is, in case it’s foreign to you.
Today, we get into Washington, a team with a trio of quality NFL prospects, for the first time. We’ll also take a look at the ACC showdown between Florida State and Clemson, two schools which have put a plethora of players into the NFL in recent years.
Wake Up and Watch
No. 10 West Virginia at Oklahoma State (FOX, Noon)
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Oklahoma State junior wideout James Washington is the player to watch in this one. Washington is one of the top 2017 draft-eligible receivers, with three of our devy rankers putting him in their top six wideouts for the class. An under-recruited player out of high school, Washington burst on to the scene last year, going off for 53 catches, 1,087 yards and 10 scores. He’s off to an outstanding start this season, totaling 37 receptions for 740 and six touchdowns while averaging 20 yards per catch through seven games.
Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph is another player high on 2017 draft boards. He’s completing 62.4 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,259 yards, 14 touchdowns and two picks. Freshman running back Justice Hill has come in and shown well in his first season, running for 564 yards and four touchdowns on 109 carries (5.2 YPC).
For West Virginia, who is quietly 6-0, receivers Daikiel Shorts and Shelton Gibson are putting up good numbers. Gibson, a junior, is averaging 20 yards per grab, hauling in 25 passes for 501 yards and three scores. Shorts has made 31 catches for 492 yards and three touchdowns.
Other notable teams in action around the noon hour, along with some players to focus on, include:
• No. 5 Louisville (QB Lamar Jackson, RB Brandon Radcliff, WR James Quick, WR Jamari Staples) at Virginia, ABC, Noon
• No. 2 Michigan (WR Jehu Chesson, TE Jake Butt) at Michigan State (WR Donnie Corley, RB LJ Scott), ESPN, Noon
• No. 24 Penn State (RB Saquon Barkley, WR DeAndre Thompkins, WR Chris Godwin) at Purdue, ABC, 12:00
• Kentucky at Missouri (RB Damarea Crockett), SECN, Noon
• Connecticut at East Carolina (WR Zay Jones), ESPNEWS, 12:00
• Central Florida (WR Tre’Quan Smith) at Houston (QB Greg Ward Jr), ESPNU, Noon
• Kansas State at Iowa State (WR Allen Lazard), N/A, Noon
• Minnesota (RB Shannon Brooks, RB Rodney Smith) at Illinois, BTN, Noon
No. 4 Washington at No. 17 Utah (FS1, 3:30)
Washington was an under-the-radar title contender prior to the season, but they’ve forced their way into the national spotlight with an unbeaten start. The Huskies are paced by a pair of top-end NFL prospects in sophomore running back Myles Gaskin and sophomore quarterback Jake Browning.
Gaskin leads the way for Washington’s ground game. At 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, Gaskin has run it 116 times for 727 yards (6.3 YPC) and six touchdowns. He was a workhorse as a freshman, too, carrying the ball 227 times for 1,302 yards (5.7 YPC) and 14 scores. He hasn’t done much in the passing game, amassing 14 grabs for 60 yards and one touchdown over his career. Gaskin — who was fairly lightly-recruited out of high school and rated as a three-star prospect — is our seventh-ranked runner for 2018.
Junior running back Lavon Coleman has flashed in a backup role, racking up 432 yards and two scores on 51 carries (8.5 YPC).
Browning is our No. 2 quarterback for 2018. He has completed 118 of 172 passes for a 68.6 percent completion percentage, totaling 26 touchdowns to just two interceptions and averaging 9.94 yards per attempt. He started as a true freshman in 2015 and completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 16 scores and 10 picks.
John Ross and Dante Pettis are Browning’s top targets. A 6-foot-1, 188-pound junior, Pettis has made 27 grabs for 457 yards and eight scores.
Ross — who is 5-foot-11, 190 pounds and a redshirt junior — has already set career-best marks across the board with 34 receptions for 486 yards and nine touchdowns. Ross is an electric playmaker with top-end speed, and he is shooting up draft boards.
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On the other side of the field, the Utes don’t have the same depth of pro prospects at the skill positions, but they’re not barren, either. With Devontae Booker in the NFL, senior Joe Williams is leading a committee of running backs, posting 586 yards and five touchdowns on 85 attempts (6.9 YPC). Senior receiver Tim Patrick has been a big-play weapon, averaging 17.9 yards per catch with five of his 24 grabs going for touchdowns.
Other notable teams in midday action, along with some players to focus on, include:
• No. 14 Florida (RB Lamical Perine, WR Antonio Callaway) vs. Georgia (RB Sony Michel, RB Nick Chubb, WR Terry Godwin, TE Jeb Blazevich), CBS, 3:30
• Miami (QB Brad Kaaya, WR Stacy Coley, RB Joseph Yearby, RB Mark Walton, WR Ahmmon Richards) at Notre Dame (QB DeShone Kizer, RB Tarean Folston, RB Josh Adams, WR Equanimeous St. Brown), NBC, 3:30
• No. 8 Baylor (QB Seth Russell, WR K.D. Cannon, RB Shock Linwood, RB Terence Williams, WR Ishmael Zamora) at Texas (WR John Burt, QB Shane Buechele), ABC, 3:30
• Northwestern at No. 6 Ohio State (QB J.T. Barrett, RB Mike Weber, RB Curtis Samuel), ESPN, 3:30
• SMU (WR Courtland Sutton) at Tulane, ESPNEWS, 4:00
• Arizona State at Oregon (RB Royce Freeman, RB Tony Brooks-James, WR Darren Carrington, TE John Mundt, TE Pharaoh Brown), PAC12N, 5:00
No. 3 Clemson at No. 12 Florida State (ABC, 8:00)
There isn’t a shortage of talent on the field when these two tangle. Over the last two drafts, there have been 27 players taken from these two schools, and there are a slew of prospects to watch tonight. It sounds hyperbolic, but just about every skill-position player in this game has a good shot to be playing on Sundays.
Let’s start with the Tigers. Wideout Mike Williams may be the first receiver off the board in the 2017 draft, although JuJu Smith-Schuster will have something to say about it. After missing basically all of 2015 with a neck injury, Williams has made 39 catches for 578 yards and four touchdowns. In 2014, his last full season, he put up 57 grabs for 1,030 yards and six scores.
Sophomore Deon Cain has posted a 15-255-6 line after a 34-582-5 line as a freshman. Junior Artavis Scott has at least 900 receiving yards in each of his first two campaigns, but he’s off to a slow start this season with a 27-251-2 line through seven games. In what’s become a very good 2017 tight end class, Jordan Leggett is our seventh-ranked player at the position, and he owns a 15-232-3 line this season.
Running back Wayne Gallman is expected to play after suffering a concussion against North Carolina State on October 15th. A junior, he set Clemson’s single-season rushing record last year, racking up 1,527 yards and 13 scores on 283 attempts (5.4 YPC). He’s run it 90 times for 489 yards and five touchdowns this season, again picking up 5.4 yards per run.
After playing so well last season, quarterback Deshaun Watson’s numbers have slipped this year. He completed 67.8 percent of his throws in 2015 and totaled 35 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. This season, his completion percentage has fallen to 63.6 percent, and he’s tossed 20 scores with eight picks in seven games. Watson is still going to be taken early in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, assuming he declares, but he’s no longer a lock to be the first signal caller chosen, with DeShone Kizer’s stock soaring.
We’ve touched on Florida State several times already this year, but let’s run through the stats for their top weapons. Dalvin Cook, who I have as my top running back for 2017, has carried the ball 159 times for 900 yards and seven scores. Junior Travis Rudolph (32-493-7) is our sixth-ranked wideout for 2017 while sophomore Auden Tate (8-118-4) is our 10th-ranked receiver for 2018. Senior Jesus Wilson is having a solid season, making 30 catches for 390 yards and one score.
Other notable teams in evening action, along with some players to focus on, include:
• No. 7 Nebraska (WR Alonzo Moore, WR Jordan Westerkamp) at No. 11 Wisconsin (RB Corey Clement), ABC, 7:00
• Kansas at No. 16 Oklahoma (RB Joe Mixon, WR Dede Westbrook, RB Samaje Perine is questionable, QB Baker Mayfield, WR/TE Mark Andrews), FS1, 7:00
• No. 18 Tennessee (QB Joshua Dobbs, WR Josh Malone, RB Jalen Hurd, RB Alvin Kamara is out) at South Carolina, ESPN2, 7:15
• No. 15 Auburn (RB Kerryon Johnson) at Ole Miss (TE Evan Engram, QB Chad Kelly), ESPN, 7:15
• New Mexico State at No. 9 Texas A&M (WR Josh Reynolds, WR Speedy Noil, WR Christian Kirk), ESPNU, 7:30
• Washington State (QB David Falk, WR Gabe Marks) at Oregon State (WR Jordan Villamin), ESPN2, 10:45
• Stanford (RB Christian McCaffrey, RB Bryce Love) at Arizona (RB Nick Wilson), FS1, 11:00