In an effort to brainwash you even more with my weekend observations, I will be posting brief glimpses into players that have helped or hurt their evaluations in recent games early each week. I will stick mainly to seniors (as usual) unless another draft-eligible player jumps off the screen in a very positive or negative way. Keep in mind these are just off of a couple of exposure and not full evaluations, so no conclusions have been made. As always, you can send observations, comments, or criticisms to me on Twitter.
+ Florida State QB E.J. Manuel (#3/6’4/240) - Manuel answered plenty of questions in a solid performance against Clemson, but some still remain. Regardless, the senior shows excellent mobility, production on targets outside the hashes, and a big arm. We aren’t quite sold yet that he has shed the “project label” but this was a step in the right direction.
+ Arkansas WR Cobi Hamilton (#11/6’2/209) - This Razorbacks receiver is slightly different than the three that were drafted this past April, but Hamilton is certainly in the mix to be a top-five senior prospect at the position. This past weekend he went for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, showcasing straight-line speed to take a quick slant to the house.
+ Rutgers LB Khaseem Greene (#20/6’1/230) - Projecting as an excellent weakside linebacker, Greene has been one of the major reasons for Rutgers’ fast closing defense. Sure, The Scarlet Knights’ secondary let Hamilton run wild, but Greene and company kept two future pros to on 64 rushing yards. Add on two pass breakups and Greene continues to show his range against the run and in pass coverage.
+ Pittsburgh WR/TE Mike Shanahan (#87/6’4/225) - Somewhat of a hybrid tight end/receiver hybrid, Shanahan does not have an easy projection to the next level but his receiving ability is undeniable. In recent weeks, the senior has displayed some nice separation skills and a willingness to make catches inside or outside the hashes along with tightroping the sideline.
+ Florida State DE Cornelius Carradine (#91/6’4/265) - Seminole fans may have momentarily worried when Brandon Jenkins went down for the season, but Carradine made many forget quickly. The former JUCO stud uses his length very well with a nice burst off the edge and Carradine will continue to shine in a starting role. A top three-round pick is now in reach.
+ Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks (#13/6’1/185) - In a somewhat weak senior cornerback class, Banks stands above the rest. Production wise, the senior already has three interceptions on the season, but more importantly are the skills he showed to get them. Banks closes quickly and gets a vice grip on the football, which coupled with plus length, allows him to cover more ground. I would like to see the Bulldog press more often, but he is the clear top senior corner at this time.
+ West Virginia WR Tavon Austin (#1/5’8/172) - It is well known that Austin does not project to a specific position at the next level, but any creative offensive coordinator will covet his ability to make people miss in the open field. Austin is short, not small, and his burst on cuts is outstanding. That, coupled with his willingness to take handoffs or sweeps makes Austin a top-fifty pick despite a lack of a real position outside of a unique slot receiver.
+ USC junior DE Morgan Breslin (#91/6’2/250) - Despite this being his first season at USC, Breslin may have already become the Spartans top player on the defensive side of the ball and certainly already on the defensive line. His non-stop motor combined with a solid get off and strength and the edge point makes Breslin the complete package, minus the length. He reminds us of Jason Babin.
+ Missouri junior DT Sheldon Richardson (#34/6’5/295) - Ever since calling Georgia’s offensive style “old-man football”, Richardson has been on fire. The explosive defensive tackle can really get upfield and beat heavy footed interior linemen with a burst. However, Richardson has taken his game to the next level due to his hand use and shedding success and has lived in the backfield for weeks.
- Wisconsin RB Montee Ball (#28/5’11/215) - We have considered Ball an adequate back at best, despite the production, prior to the season, but this season might make that evaluation the consensus opinion. Ball has suffered two concussions since August 1, but more than that he has had less workable space at the second level to pick up yards and continues to show average vision to find lanes.
- SMU DE Margus Hunt (#92/6’7/280) - Many jumped on hunt’s bandwagon due to his reportedly rare athleticism and kick blocking ability, but he has yet to progress as an every down player. There is no doubting the supposed “upside” that comes with athleticism, but Hunt consistently loses in individual matchups and fails to shed with technique in the backfield. Outside of special teams ability, there may not be a more high profile project right now.
- Oklahoma QB Landry Jones (#12/6’4/220) - We were already down on the highly touted Sooners’ quarterback, but Jones keeps digging himself a deeper hole rather than climbing his way out, for many of the same issues that soured the evaluation to begin with. His arm talent is undeniable, but everything else is highly questionable with Jones, in terms of pocket manipulation and willingness to make the correct throw under pressure.