Risers & Sliders -- Week 9

nfl's picture

Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Though a host of top-25 teams lost this weekend, there was no shakeup in the top five. There were a number of terrific performances from offensive linemen who will be headed to the NFL sooner or later. In fact, four offensive linemen make our risers list this week. Here are the Risers & Sliders for Week 9.

Risers

Mitch Hyatt/T/Clemson: I featured Hyatt and the challenge he faced against Brian Burns of Florida State (a Week 8 riser) during my weekly preview. Hyatt was not only up for the challenge, he won the battle. During the Tigers' 59-10 domination of the Seminoles, Burns compiled just a single tackle and one quarterback hurry. Janarius Robinson, the ‘Noles other pass-rushing specialist, didn’t fare much better with just two tackles. Hyatt looked stout all day; he held his ground in pass protection, used his long arms to knock the FSU speed rushers from their angles and sealed defenders from the play to open up the running lanes. As mentioned Friday, Hyatt is not the smoothest or prettiest athlete, but unlike scouts who stamped him as a late rounder, I believe the senior is a mid-round choice with possibilities as a utility blocker at the next level.

Cody Ford/OL/Oklahoma: The Sooners offense is a machine that never skips a beat no matter who the quarterback may be, and a large part of the success is due to the offensive line. Oklahoma presently lines up as many as four draftable blockers on their offensive line, and Ford is surging up draft boards fastest of all. The Sooners right tackle, who projects to guard at the next level, is a wide-bodied blocker who continually controls opponents once he gets his hands on them. He moves relatively well for such a big-bodied blocker and could sneak into the late part of Day 2 if he enters the draft.

Chris Lindstrom/G/Boston College: Regular raders of DraftAnalyst.com may feel they are experiencing a bit of déjà vu, as Lindstrom was stamped as a Week 9 riser in 2017. Lindstrom was pushed inside to guard this season after playing tackle a year ago, and the interior position better suits his talents. He’s been good all season and was dominant against Miami, opening large holes for the running game and paving the way for 223 yards rushing as the Eagles stomped the Hurricanes, 27-14. I stamped the senior as a potential fourth-round pick, and I believe Lindstrom could develop into a starter at the next level.

Colton McKivitz/OT/West Virginia: The Mountaineers have a history of putting quality offensive linemen into the NFL, and I believe McKivitz is next in line. He’s tall (6-foot-6), mobile and moves well on the right side, slides off the edge to protect his passer and shows the strength to dominate as a run blocker. McKivitz is relatively athletic and comes with a good degree of growth potential, and the junior is a top-100 prospect whenever he enters the draft.

Chase Hansen/LB/Utah: Entering the season I stamped Hansen as a sixth-round choice, much earlier than scouts who graded the senior as a priority free agent. Over the first half of the season, Hansen has played more like a mid-round prospect. During the Utes' victory over UCLA, Hansen posted five tackles and broke up three passes. He leads the Utes in tackles (68), tackles for loss (14) and interceptions (two). He possesses next-level computer numbers at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds with a 40 time in the mid 4.7s, and Hansen can play all three downs. Solid predraft workouts should ensure Hansen a spot in the late rounds, and he has the skill set to line up as a situational linebacker on Sundays.

Sleeper Prospect - Harrison Bryant/TE/Florida Atlantic: Bryant, a part-time starter last season who caught 32 receptions and five TDs, has shown steady improvement as a junior this year. He combines excellent size and reliable hands and the strength to hold his own as a blocker. More of a move tight end, Bryant would be a nice addition as a No. 2 tight end for the team that eventually selects him in the draft.

Small School Prospect - Wes Hills/RB/Slippery Rock: Hills was stamped as a potential late-round choice prior to the 2017 season, but poor academics forced him to the sidelines and eventually led him to transfer from Delaware to Slippery Rock. Hills looks improved this year despite not playing last season and has been dominant from the get-go. His latest game was an epic 248-yard, four-touchdown performance that helped Slippery Rock move to 8-1 on the season. It was the second time Hills has rushed for more than 200 yards in a game this year, and he’s averaging seven yards each carry. Hills has size (214 pounds), runs with a bruising style and shows the ability to create yardage. He’ll be good value in the late rounds and fits well as a situational ball carrier at the next level.

Sliders

Jake Browning/QB/Washington: I was never on the Browning bandwagon and graded him as a free-agent prospect over the summer. After mediocre results for most of the season, Browning was pulled from the game during the Huskies' loss to Cal on Saturday. Though he’s a decent athlete, Browning is much more a thrower than passer and despite his statistical accuracy, his pass placement leaves much to be desired.