Risers & Sliders -- Week 7

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Week 7 on the college schedule saw several previously unbeaten teams go down to defeat as well as a shake up at the top of the national rankings. It was also a week when NFL prospects from the defensive side of the ball, some widely known and others rarely spoken about, had standout weeks. Here are the Risers & Sliders for Week 7.

Risers

Devin White/LB/LSU: The Tigers beat the odds once again, this time handing heavily favored Georgia its first loss of the season, and while it was a team effort, White led the way. His 13 tackles helped hold the usually lethal Georgia running game to 113 yards for the contest and less than four yards per carry. What stood out was the quickness, speed, instincts and explosion White played with, something he does each and every Saturday. His ability to cut off the corners from running backs and make plays in pursuit is impressive. So too is the discipline White plays with as he’s not a linebacker who bites on play-action or ball fakes. The junior grades as the highest and most complete linebacker on our board.

Maxx Crosby/Edge/Eastern Michigan: Crosby was a player I identified as draftable in June, and he hasn't disappointed me this season. Eastern Michigan has lost several close games since September, but they pulled off an important conference victory against Toledo on Saturday, a game which Crosby stood out. He finished the contest with five tackles including three for loss and was credited with a half-sack. Seven games into the season, Crosby has 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and three forced fumbles, terrific numbers considering he faced three next-level offensive tackles in games against Purdue, Northern Illinois and San Diego State. The junior has excellent length and movement skills and plays with great intensity. As with any underclassman, Crosby’s true computer numbers loom large in dictating where he’s ultimately selected in the draft, but his ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage is enticing.

Donovan Wilson/S/Texas A&M: If there was an award for Comeback Prospect of the Year, Wilson would be in the conversation for the trophy. Graded as a last-day pick entering what was supposed to be his senior campaign in 2017, Wilson suffered a season-ending injury during the first game of the year. He’s looked good thus far upon returning and comes off two terrific performances. During a victory over South Carolina on Saturday, Wilson led the Aggies with seven tackles after a squad-leading 12 tackles against Kentucky the prior week. More of a strong or zone safety, Wilson is a tough run defender who plays smart, disciplined football and would also be an asset on coverage units.

Duke Shelley/CB/Kansas State: The Wildcats thumped Oklahoma State, 31-12, in a bit of an upset, and Shelley led the way on defense, shutting down the high powered Cowboys aerial attack. Shelly intercepted two passes, broke up one and added six tackles. It was a breakout game for Shelley who entered the season graded as a priority free agent but played nondescript football the first month. Shelley measures under 5-foot-9, which puts him at a disadvantage, but he offers solid ball skills and ability as a return specialist. I could see Shelley sliding into the late rounds then lining up in dime packages and special teams at the next level.

Dakota Allen/LB/Texas Tech: When speaking about NFL prospects from Texas Tech, players from the offensive side of the ball usually grab the headlines. But moving towards the 2019 NFL Draft, the Red Raiders have a pair of linebackers to keep on the radar, including Allen. The senior led his team with eight tackles and two hurries during a three-point victory over TCU. Allen sits atop the Red Raiders defense with 45 after six games. He’s a terrific situational run defender who possesses a good head for the ball as well as the ability to make plays up the field or laterally in pursuit.

Tyre Brady/WR/Marshall: It was a battle of two premier wideouts from Conference USA, as Tyre Brady of Marshall faced off against Jonathan Duhart of Old Dominion. Brady, graded as an early Day 3 pick by scouts, won the day. The senior led all wideouts with nine receptions for 103 yards and added one score during the Thundering Herd’s victory. Brady is sized well at 6-foot-2.5 and 205 pounds, plays faster than his estimated forty time of 4.5 and catches the ball exceptionally well. He potential as a fourth receiver at the next level.

Sleeper Prospect - Mitchell Wilcox/TE/South Florida: Wilcox is a prospect we fondly spoke about over the summer, and the big tight end is taking his game to the next level. During the Bulls' last minute comeback victory over Tulsa, Wilcox finished with five receptions for a team-high 95 yards, averaging 19 yards per catch. Included were several important catches that kept the chains moving during the Bulls' game-winning drive. The junior is a nice-sized athlete with the speed and blocking potential to develop into a No. 1 tight end at the next level.

Small School Prospect - Jesper Horsted/WR/Princeton: In the lead-up to the 2018 draft, Justin Watson of Penn was the Ivy League receiver on everyone’s mind. Watson was eventually selected in the fifth round by the Tampa Bay Bucs and now sits on the active roster. Horsted is the receiver from the same conference people will mention moving towards the 2019 draft. Graded as a potential late-round choice, Horsted is sized well (6-foot-3, 225 pounds), runs in the 4.5s and catches the ball extremely well. In five games this year, he’s leading the undefeated Tigers with 35 receptions for 536 yards and eight TDs. His performance against Brown this weekend was the best of the season and included 13 catches for 164 yards with two scores. I fully expect to see Horsted at the Shrine Game and possibly the Senior Bowl. If he tests well before April, he will undoubtedly land somewhere in Day 3 of the draft.

Sliders

Jarrett Stidham/QB/Auburn: Off the 2017 film, I firmly believed Stidham could challenge to be one of the first quarterbacks selected in the 2019 draft if he opted to turn pro. Based off his play of 2018, Stidham’s best option is returning to Auburn for another season. While the Tigers offensive line has issues and Stidham has no big-play threat at his disposal, his production is down compared to a year ago and his decision-making has been questionable at times. He just doesn’t seem to be in command of the situation and has not lived up to expectations.

Starting this Wednesday, October 17, join Tony Pauline & Chris Tripodi on the BLEAV podcast network for The Draft Analysts, 30 minutes of nothing but NFL Draft talk!