Riser & Sliders - Week 2

nfl's picture

Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Week 2 on the college schedule saw a lot of action in the SEC, including a blowout in the highly anticipated Georgia-South Carolina game and a Kentucky victory over Florida. We also saw several NFL prospects on the defensive front seven stand out for scouts around the country. Here are the Risers & Sliders for Week 2.

Josh Allen/LB/Kentucky: Entering the season, I stamped Allen as a potential first-round pick and mentioned the linebacker needed to take his game to the next level. He did exactly that during the victory over Florida, finishing with five tackles including one for loss, one sack, one pass breakup and one hurry. Allen’s sack came on the final play of the game when he beat left tackle Martez Ivey around the edge and forced a fumble that UK brought into the end zone for a touchdown. Allen was all over the field, and if he wasn’t making tackles he was forcing the action. He’s developing into a three-down defender, and Allen comes with great computer numbers for the next level. If he continues to progress, he’ll move higher on draft boards.

Jeffery Simmons/DT/Mississippi State: Simmons was a dominant force in the middle of the field as the Bulldogs overwhelmed Kansas State. He finished the contest with four tackles including two for loss and one hurry.  Much of the mayhem caused by Simmons did not show up on the stat sheet, as his ability to control double-team blocks and penetrate the line of scrimmage allowed teammates to get to the ball carrier and forced opponents to re-route designed plays. Simmons' playing skills warrant an early draft grade, but as scouts have confided in me, his off-field issues from the past may haunt him despite the fact that the junior has seemingly turned his life around.

Joe Giles-Harris/LB/Duke: I been outspoken the past two years in my belief that Giles-Harris is a terrific next-level prospect, and the junior continues to impress me. During the Blue Devils' victory over Northwestern, the linebacker finished with 10 tackles (including a half-sack), two hurries and two pass breakups. What stood out was the completeness of his game, the ability to play three downs in any type of situation and his ability to make plays all over the field. His true computer numbers hold the key to his position in the draft, but Giles-Harris has all the makings of a next-level starter on film.

Anthony Johnson/WR/Buffalo: During my summer preview of the Bulls, I mentioned how high I was on Johnson despite the fact that scouts graded him as a late-round pick. I spoke of Johnson’s ability to take over games, a skill he displayed during Buffalo’s upset victory over Temple. His stats line read six receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown as well as forcing pass interference penalties. The touchdown came on a 29-yard reception when Johnson broke free from multiple defenders to charge into the end zone for the game-winning score with 59 seconds on the clock. It must be noted that Temple has two players in their secondary graded as NFL prospects, including safety Delvon Randall, stamped as a last-day pick. Johnson’s final draft position will depend on how fast he runs the 40, but some NFL team will end up with a talented receiver next April.

Isaiah Johnson/CB/Houston: With Ed Oliver being the apple of everyone’s eye in Houston -- understandably so -- Johnson gets lost in the shuffle, but he’s a legitimate next-level prospect. During the blowout victory over Arizona, the senior posted seven tackles (third on the team) and broke up a single pass. Johnson is a fiery corner who mixes it up with opponents and plays aggressive defense. He’ll be a solid last-day pick for a team wanting a dime back who can contribute on special teams.

Sleeper Alert - Kyle Rachwal/LB/Eastern Michigan: While scouts never graded Rachwal before the season, we felt he was talented enough to put on our watch list, and his play against Purdue justified our opinion. During EMU’s upset victory over the Boilermakers, Rachwal led all defenders with 11 tackles, one resulting in a loss. Rachwal is a small-ish, intense pursuit linebacker who’ll offer value on special teams.

Small-School Prospect - Mister Harriel/S/Sacramento State: Another player overlooked by scouts, Harriel began his college career at running back before transitioning to the secondary as a sophomore, and his progress has been on a straight shot north. The senior is off to a hot start after a team-leading 87 tackles and three interceptions a year ago. Harriel picked off two passes during the Hornets' close loss to San Diego State this weekend, the first of which Sac State converted into a touchdown in the third quarter to take the lead. Harriel is a well-rounded safety with solid ball skills and a physical nature to his game. I would expect his name to get more prominent in scouting circles.


Alize' Mack/TE/Notre Dame: Mack was graded by scouts as the top senior tight end prospect in the nation, an opinion I agreed with. But despite his incredible athleticism, Mack’s development had been slowed by injuries and missed time, which resulted in paltry production. Two games into the season, his production is still pedestrian. Mack followed up his one-catch performance against Michigan by posting two receptions against Ball State. Some will point an accusing finger at the Notre Dame passing attack, but Mack needs to step up his game to have any chance of being selected in the draft’s initial 100 selections.