Texas A&M redshirt sophomore WR Mike Evans
Expect the comparisons to Vincent Jackson to remain all season. Evans is excellent at high pointing passes and toe tapping along the sideline. In fact, he doesn’t have to be open since he creates space at the catch point. Evans’ success starts at the line of scrimmage, where he is able to generate a release against press coverage, dip around physical corner, and use long strides to generate operational space. The body control to flip his back shoulder away and come up with catches contested catches is another desirable trait. These situations are almost uncoverable in single coverage along the sideline. Quarterbacks will love how Evans works back to the football when the offense escapes the pocket. The redshirt sophomore does not go down easily after the catch, using a stiff arm and dipping his shoulder to create extra yards.
Texas Tech senior TE Jace Amaro
I wrote about Amaro here prior to the season. I’ve compared him to a more agile Gavin Escobar with more blocking success, but don’t be surprised if he draws Jimmy Graham comparisons. Receivers with length who can thrive at the catch point in jump ball situations are a hot commodity thanks to NFL rules. Amaro makes the most of his move tight end role, seeing time in the slot and out wide against single coverage. Amaro can be deadly on underneath patterns, curls and draws, and displays ball carrying skills after the catch. He isn’t afraid to make a leaping catch over the middle, nor stretch the seam between two defenders. Amaro has an injury history, but the talent is there for a top 50 selection.
Akron junior RB Jawon Chisholm
Evaluators have to love how Chisholm attacks the hole and presses the line of scrimmage. He’ll be considered a big back and isn’t the most fluid runner, but he’s assertive, aggressive, and has underrated straight-line speed. Chisholm’s one cut style makes defenders miss at the second level. The Zip has seen plenty of carries from the shotgun set and behind zone blocking. He is not afraid to bend bang, bounce, or cut any of his runs. The Michigan contest might not have been the best example, but Chisholm seems to have springs for legs. It would be nice if the runner had more patience to let the play develop, since he always seems to be in a hurry, but I am certainly intrigued.
Washington junior RB Bishop Sankey
Husky prospects like Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Keith price, and Kasen Williams are more well known that Sankey, but the running back is making a name for himself early in the season. He frequently sees time out of the pistol, which helps with vision and play action wrinkles. Sankey consistently sees blocking lanes well and has the patience for them to open up. It is clear Sankey is not afraid to run between the tackles. There’s a key difference between a fast runner and a ball carrier with fast feet, and Sankey is the latter. From watching him, Sankey does not have to think about his next move, rather his feet react accordingly, displaying the ability to switch lanes and work outside in space. There might be some Stevan Ridley to his game, since Sankey flashes pass protection skills and has underrated straight-line speed.
LSU junior DT Ego Ferguson
Frequently lines up at the 1 technique. Ferguson doesn’t get upfield frequently, but the interior defensive lineman consistently extends his arms against double teams to occupy two blockers and sheds near the line of scrimmage for tackles. Ferguson loves the arm over swim and his active hands create separation in tight spaces. Add on the fact that he frequently tries to get in the passing lanes, and Ferguson will impact passing situations once he develops. Speaking of development, the transition for LSU players jumping to the NFL has been an odd one, with many making an immediate impact despite displaying weaknesses during their time in Baton Rouge. An outsider could conclude LSU does not use their many talented players in the proper way or fails to take advantage of specific skills, but the school has a positive track record either way.
Boise State junior DE Demarcus Lawrence
As usual, I will only focus on Lawrence’s on-field ability, but keep in mind that he does have a suspension that carried over from last bowl season. The Bronco plays the field side defensive end role and certainly has an NFL frame, but he needs to fire off the ball better. Lawrence was spun around at the point of attack on multiple occasions in the running game, but fights back to the ball. He has issues getting stuck in no man’s land when rushing the passer, although there is length to be used correctly in those situations. Lawrence’s closing speed is there once in space and crashing from the end, and if he can utilize length on first contact he’ll generate some interest.
Who impressed you from this weekend? Feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me at @JoshNorris