Riser & Sliders - Week 1

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

The first full weekend of college football is in the books -- a weekend which stretched into Monday evening. Several games with national-title implications littered the schedule as the season kicked off, and there were a number of nextlevel prospects who turned in outstanding performances. Here, kicking off our 15th year on this column, are the Risers & Sliders for Week 1.

Risers

Trevon Hill/DE-EDGE/Virginia Tech: One of the best performances this weekend was the final performance, which Hill turned in Monday evening. During Virginia Tech's thrashing of Florida State, Hill was a relentless presence, finishing with four tackles including three for loss and two sacks. The junior was our highest-rated Hokies prospect entering the season, and as we stated last month, he’s very typical of the pass rushers placed into the league by Virginia Tech -- slightly undersized but quick, athletic and very explosive.

Jerry Tillery/DT/Notre Dame: There were any number of defenders from Notre Dame who could have been listed as risers after the unit's dominant performance over Michigan, but Tillery gets the nod. The athletic lineman was omnipresent all four quarters and finished the game with four tackles (two for loss) and a career-high two sacks and forced a fumble. He looked quick, explosive and was at times impossible to stop. In recent years, Notre Dame entered the season with highly rated defensive linemen who failed to live up to expectations. Tillery, who received second-round grades from scouts, looks poised to end that streak.

Steven Montez/QB/Colorado: Entering the season, few who studied Montez would deny he possessed the physical skills necessary to start in the NFL. But no one would argue that the junior needed to improve the finer points of his game and progress from an athlete with a big arm into quality a passer. The initial results from 2018 indicate Montez is headed in the right direction. During the fierce interstate rivalry against Colorado State, he completed 22 of 25 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns. More than just a one-dimensional pocket passer, Montez also added 34 rushing yards and another score on three carries. Back-to-back games against Washington and USC in the middle of October, conference foes with talented secondaries, will be major measuring sticks for Montez, but the signs are promising for this unheralded quarterback prospect.

Nate Hall/LB/Northwestern: The senior linebacker was stamped as a third-day pick by league scouts entering the season, an opinion we agreed with during our Northwestern preview. But during the Wildcats' season-opening victory, Hall looked more like a second-day choice. The athletic defender posted a team-best 10 tackles and made an acrobatic interception that Northwestern converted into a touchdown. Hall offers next-level computer numbers (6-foot-2.5, 235 pounds, 4.70 40) and instincts. The more plays he makes this season, the higher he’ll move up draft boards.

Trysten Hill/DT/Central Florida: The stat sheet shows quarterback McKenzie Milton as the Golden Knights' star during their blowout victory over UConn, but Trysten Hill was as big factor in the win. Hill’s stats were moderate, as he totaled four tackles including two for loss, but his ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage and force the action was impressive. Hill’s cat-like quickness off the snap had opponents playing back on their heels, and his low-to-the-ground build makes him tough to control. The junior has an upside to his game as well as scheme versatility for the next level.

Sleeper Prospect - Grant Hermanns/T/Purdue: The redshirt sophomore started six games a year ago before his season ended with a knee injury, but he showed no ill effects during the Boilermakers' close loss to Northwestern. Hermanns has outstanding size (6-foot-6, 295 pounds), moves incredibly well for a big man and did a solid job protecting the quarterback against NU. He showed terrific footwork in pass protection, easily moved out to the second level and generally looked good in his all-around game. Hermanns has plenty of time to improve, and his next-level potential is forcing scouts to take notice.

Small-School Prospect - Keelan Doss/WR/Cal-Davis: One of just over a dozen small-school prospects to receive a draftable grade from scouts entering the season, Doss justified his ranking during the Aggies' upset victory over San Jose State. Doss finished with 11 receptions for 85 yards and came up with several important catches to keep scoring drives alive. Doss is a dependable possession wideout with next level size (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and enough speed to separate from opponents. He’s been incredibly productive the past two seasons, including 115 receptions, 1,499 yards and seven scores as a junior in 2017. I would expect Doss to end up playing in a postseason All-Star game such as the Shrine Game and get serious consideration for a combine invitation. Good results during his senior season coupled with a solid postseason could place him into the late rounds of the draft.

Sliders

Malik Rosier/QB/Miami-Fl: The intent was to stay positive the first week of the season and not mention any sliders, but after the Sunday night contest between the Hurricanes and LSU, that intention changed. I received a bit of grief from Hurricanes fans after giving Rosier a very low grade in July, but the nation saw why against the Tigers. His decision-making, accuracy and overall ability to lead the offense are all concerns. The question today is not whether Rosier will be selected in next April’s draft, but rather how long he remains the starting quarterback at Miami.

Notes: There was surprise and concern when Washington offensive tackle Trey Adams did not take the field against Auburn on Saturday. The level of concern was raised after Huskies coach Chris Peterson announced that Adams is dealing with a back injury and may be facing a lengthy recovery. Over the weekend, multiple sources told me this is not a recent injury, rather an issue which limited Adams during August camp. Fran Duffy and I spoke at length about the issue during this week’s Journey to the Draft podcast.