Riser & Sliders - Week 5

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Though there were no major upsets in college football this weekend, we did see some terrific performances by NFL prospects on both sides of the ball. Notre Dame’s defense, headlined by next-level talent, continues to dominate, while West Virginia’s senior quarterback continues to impress. Here are the Risers & Sliders for Week 5.

Te’von Coney/LB/Notre Dame: We highlighted the many challenges Coley faced during the Stanford contest, and he excelled in just about all of them. He finished with a team-leading seven tackles during the victory, posted one pass breakup and added an interception when he jumped a route and snatched the ball away from tight end Kaden Smith. Coney has checked all the boxes so far this season, displaying a good amount of athleticism which complements his outstanding instincts. Entering the season with grades which ranged from the mid-fourth round to as low as a street free agent, Coney is working his way into the second day of the draft.

Will Grier/QB/West Virginia: Many of the highly rated next-level quarterbacks have had slow or disappointing starts this season, but not Grier. The Mountaineers signal caller made the right choice returning to WVU for his senior season, and he’s shown terrific progress during the first month of the 2018 campaign. In four games, Grier has completed 74.7 percent of his throws for 1,117 yards with 14 TDs to just three INTs. During Saturday’s victory over Texas Tech, Grier displayed great poise, accuracy and wherewithal. He’s stayed away from mental mistakes and poor throws this season and is making a big charge up draft boards. I would expect to see him playing in the Senior Bowl come January.

Landis Durham/EDGE/Texas A&M: We stamped Durham as a potential third-round pick entering the season, and the senior looked every bit a top-90 selection against Arkansas. Durham finished with five tackles, including 1.5 for loss and two sacks against the talented Razorback offensive line. Durham is very athletic off the edge and displays speed up the field and in pursuit. He needs to improve his playing strength but has potential in a variety of defensive schemes and the ability to develop into a three-down defender.

Wyatt Miller/OT/Central Florida: UCF is on its way to another terrific campaign, and its explosive offense has been helped by a dominant offensive line. Miller, who we identified as a prospect in June, has really improved his game this season and looked terrific during the blowout victory over Pittsburgh. The junior has nice size and blocks with solid fundamentals. He offers possibilities at a variety of positions on the offensive line and could end up a mid-round pick.

Josh Oliver/TE/San Jose State: It’s been a tough season for the winless Spartans, who surrendered the lead late in the game against Hawaii and lost in overtime. But Oliver, one of the better tight end prospects in the nation few know about, turned in a terrific performance. The senior led the game with eight receptions for 158 yards with one touchdown. In four games this season, he’s totaled 27 receptions. Oliver lacks the speed to stretch the field but is very much a receiver in a tight end's body. He’ll be a very good No. 2 at the next level and can be used in the slot or in a system that puts him in motion before the snap.

Sleeper Prospect - Jonathan Duhart/WR/Old Dominion: After two very productive seasons at Old Dominion, Duhart was poised for a big campaign in 2017 and entered the campaign graded as a fourth-round prospect on our board. His year ended prematurely after Duhart broke a bone in his foot during the second game of the season. He’s back with a vengeance in 2018 and immediately returned to his old form since returning to the field. In five games this season, Duhart has totaled 34 receptions, 606 yards and six TDs. His nine-catch, 142-yard, three-TD performance during the upset victory over Virginia Tech two Saturdays ago has been the highlight of the season. Duhart offers terrific size (6-foot-2.5, 215 pounds) and reliable hands and has a nose for the end zone. I would expect Duhart to get an invite to the Shrine Game, and if he runs well before the draft, he should land in the late rounds.

Small-School Prospect - Khalen Saunders/DT/Western Illinois: Several area scouts have stamped Saunders as a potential late-round pick, and it’s easy to see why. The small-school defender has a short, squatty build at six feet and 315 pounds and plays with tremendous quickness and explosion. He has the girth and strength to line up as a zero technique or nose tackle but also has the athleticism and movement skills to play the three technique. During Saturday’s important victory over Youngstown State, Saunders totaled five tackles and now has 22 in four games this season to go along with 3.5 tackles for loss and another three quarterback pressures. I envision Saunders playing in a third-tier All-Star game in January and turning a few heads during his pro-day workout.


Jacques Patrick/RB/Florida State: I held the line on Patrick and stamped him as a sixth-round prospect despite receiving some early-round grades from scouts, but his play this season has been befitting of a free agent. The bruising back has carried the ball just 44 times this season for 166 yards and no scores. During the loss to Louisville, his four carries totaled 13 yards. Patrick is a bit of a tweener for the next level as a big, bruising downhill runner with limited quickness. Don’t be surprised if he moves from running back boards to fullback boards by next April.