Spring ball has wrapped up and soon enough summer practices will begin at campuses across America. College football often offers us plenty of surprises, whether it be an unexpected upset, a team that comes out of nowhere to have rousing success, or a player who suddenly breaks out and turns into one of the best in the nation.
Using the preliminary S&P+ rankings from SB Nation’s Bill Connelly as a guide, I’ll be going through each FBS team and highlighting some players to watch for during the upcoming season. Some are draft eligible, while others are names for devy owners to remember.
In this edition, I’ll look at players from the 83-80 portion of the rankings.
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
83. Arkansas State
Blake Mack, TE, Senior
I wasn’t planning on writing about anyone from Arkansas State until Will Stevenson (@DraftMarvel on Twitter – he’s a great follow!) turned me onto Mack. Stevenson described Mack as a “faster, more fluid Gerald Everett” in our conversation, and considering Everett went in the second round of the draft I was immediately intrigued.
He had just 14 receptions before last year, but managed to put up a 34 reception, 652 yard, three touchdown season in 2016. While the touchdown numbers are a little low, the fact that a tight end was able to average over 19 yards per reception is pretty impressive. It’s not like he’s going out for a deep pattern on every play either, as he was able to out run the defense for nearly 60 yards on this simple slant route:
Mack routinely lines up out wide, in the slot, and in a three point stance, but he’s a pure receiver as he rarely blocks. He runs excellent routes for a tight end, and is as sure handed as they come. At 6’3”, 231 pounds, he’s has very similar size to the aforementioned Everett.
Another player Mack is very similar to is current Oklahoma Sooner Mark Andrews, who is widely regarded as one of the top tight ends in this year’s class. Both players could end up playing either tight end or as a big slot receiver at the next level. Andrews is bigger, and thus has more red zone potential, and is also a better route runner than Mack at this stage. However, Mack is the superior athlete and has better hands than Andrews. The two are a lot closer than people think and I believe that Mack is one of top draft eligible tight ends in the nation.
82. Louisiana Tech
Players to Watch: Boston Scott and Jarred Craft, Running Backs
Courtland Sutton, Wide Receiver, Redshirt Junior
Sutton is undoubtedly one of the top receivers in next year’s class. He first caught my eye against Baylor in his first game two years ago. After Baylor went 75 yards in 50 seconds, Sutton responded by torching the Bears for a 46 yard touchdown on his first play. Seeing a 6’4” player absolutely take the top off was very impressive. After seeing that he caught a touchdown in each of his next three games I was hooked:
Courtland Sutton is a rFR from SMU. 6’4″, 215 with good speed. Has a touchdown in every game so far, and is averaging 23.5 YPC.
— Kyle Pollock (@KylePollockFF) October 1, 2015
After Nick Whalen profiled him in the Devy Report (which, if you haven’t already bought you can buy here), Sutton’s hype grew and grew to where it is today. It’s not everyday you find a 6’4” receiver with 4.4 speed, excellent ball tracking ability, explosive leaping ability, sure hands, and solid route running. He’s gone from a little known redshirt freshman to having a highlight tape dubbing him the next Julio Jones:
Statistically he’s been one of the best receivers in the country the past two years, posting a .4 and .42 dominator rating respectively. And in case you doubted his athleticism, when SMU’s basketball program (a top 25 team) was down to seven players two years ago, who did they get to join the team? None other than Sutton. He’s currently my number two wide receiver for next year’s class, but he could very easily rise to the top.
Josh Allen, Quarterback, Redshirt Junior
Allen is considered one of the top quarterback prospects for next year’s draft, with some scouts saying he’ll be the top pick. If you’re on Twitter, you’ve likely seen some people trashing Allen, while others are falling over themselves. The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, but with a big arm, plus size, solid mobility, and above average, but sometimes inconsistent, accuracy I would lean more towards Allen being a first round pick next year.
While some compare him to Patrick Mahomes, I don’t see that many similarities between the two besides their big arms and fearless style of play. One thing that many people harp on Allen for is his decision making, and rightfully so. The same fearlessness lead him to throw 15 interceptions last year against mainly Mountain West competition, which is obviously a concern. This can likely be attributed Allen locking on to his first option, and not going through his full progression of reads. While his eyes may often get locked onto his primary option, one thing that I like about him is that when escaping the pocket he always keeps his eyes downfield. Often times when on the run he’ll be searching down the field for an open receiver and deliver an absolute strike into an almost impossible spot to hit. This play essentially sums up Allen as a player:
Josh Allen is insane. Drops a dime while rolling out, just before he gets to the sideline. pic.twitter.com/Pd1vmlPlQB
— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) December 5, 2016
He stares down his first option for the few seconds that he has, is able to escape pressure with ease and then keeps his eyes downfield before unleashing his cannon of arm and pinpoint accuracy for a long touchdown pass.
Right now Allen possesses most of the raw tools that great quarterbacks have in the NFL: a big arm, gunslinger mentality, great pocket presence, a knack for making the big throw, and (most of the time) outstanding accuracy. However, he needs to learn how to go through his reads, improve his inconsistencies with his accuracy (throws too low on short and medium routes), and throw with more touch instead of always throwing the ball at maximum velocity. If he can clean up these issues and not get killed behind his line this year, Allen will very likely hear his name called in the first round of next year’s draft.
Latest posts by Kyle Pollock (see all)
- 20/20: Josh Jacobs - February 11, 2019
- Bowl Game Previews: December 22nd - December 22, 2018
- Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Update: Sam Darnold, QB USC - May 20, 2018