Risers/Sliders: Week Eight
Tony PaulineDraft Analyst Writer
Week eight on the college football schedule saw a major upset at the top of the rankings, one that’s likely to effect the final four. We also saw a number of next level performances from lesser known prospects. Many of these players I grade as mid-round choices but confidently feel they will contribute at the next level. Here are the Risers & Sliders for week eight.
Brian Hill/RB/Wyoming: While the media focuses on San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey out of the Mountain West scouts are more interested in the junior running back from Wyoming. Though not putting up the record breaking numbers Pumphrey has recorded the Cowboys top ball carrier has been productive and posted several eye popping performances. Against Nevada on Saturday he rushed for 289 yards on 29 carries, 3 resulting in touchdowns. Hill is a bigger back who can handle a lot of carries and he’s built more for the NFL compared to Pumphrey. Hill is not much of a pass catcher out of the backfield, which is a concern, rather someone who should do well as a rotational ball carrier on Sunday’s.
Jordan Willis/DE-OLB/Kansas State: Just past the midway point of the 2015 season and Willis is playing the best football of his college career. He ranks third on the team with 36 total tackles and leads the defense with 11.5 tackles, 8 sacks as well as 2 forced fumbles. Willis turned in a dominant performance during the victory over Texas posting 7 tackles with 2 sacks. Prior to the season I stamped Willis as a sixth round prospect, in line with the grade scouts handed him, but he’s definitely improved his draft stock since. I expect Willis to test off the charts during workouts and it will be interesting to see if he plays any outside linebacker if invited to the Senior Bowl.
Troy Fumagalli/TE/Wisconsin: The junior is in the midst of a terrific season and proving to be a three down player. On the heels of a 7 catch, 84 yard performance against Ohio State, he caught 2 passes for 38 yards with 1 score during the victory over Iowa. Fumagalli has terrific size, shows outstanding blocking prowess and is a legitimate pass catching threat in the short and intermediate field as well as the red zone. Forty times will be important but I could see Fumagalli sliding into the third round if he enters the draft.
Josh Tupou/DT/Colorado: Off his junior film of 2014 film I graded Tupou as a mid-round choice before the athletic defensive lineman was forced to the sidelines with suspension in 2015. After getting his act together he returned to CU this season and has been a force for the top rated defense in the PAC 12. Tupou is strong, explosive and adept at making plays on the ball (28 tackles in 7 games) or occupying blockers. He offers possibilities inside at tackle or as a two-gap end. If he checks all the boxes during the run-up to the draft I could see Tupou being selected as early as the fourth round.
Anthony Walker/LB/Northwestern: Walker was a favorite of mine as a sophomore in 2015 and his game is finally taking off this season. During the victory over Indiana, the third consecutive win for Northwestern, the junior led the defense with 11 tackles including 2 tackles for loss. For the season he leads the team with 5.5 tackles for loss and 6 QBH’s. Walker is an athletic linebacker who makes plays up the field while also showing the ability to go sideline-to-sideline. I would be surprised if he enters the draft though Walker has stating potential at inside/middle linebacker in the NFL.
Shaquill Griffin/CB/Central Florida: Scouts stamped Griffin as a UDFA entering the season but I thought more of the corner and gave him a 7th round grade. To his credit Griffin may prove both incorrect as he’s played brilliantly in 2016. Seven games into the season Griffin has broken up 8 passes and tallied 2 interceptions. The senior has the ball skills and awareness to play on Sunday’s but deep speed is a concern. Regardless, he has enough ability to line-up in dime packages. Next week is a big challenge for Griffin as UCF faces the high powered Houston offense.
Sleeper- Haason Reddick/OLB-DE/Temple: While scouts ignored Reddick entering the season I saw enough skill this summer to stamp him as a free agent. Based on the results midway through the season Reddick could end up a late round pick. He leads the Owls with 15.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks besides posting 37 total tackles. He’s an intense defender who continually makes positive plays and blows up offensive games plans. Size will be the issue for Reddick but I could definitely see him as a 7th round choice for a team projecting him as a 3-4 OLB/designated pass rusher/special teams ace.
Small School Prospect- Brendan Langley/CB/Lamar: Entering the year Langley, who started his college career at Georgia and spent time at receiver, was graded as a late round prospect. Yet during the first half of the 2016 campaign he’s moved into the second round on a number of draft boards with some scouts believing he has top potential. Langley registered 6 interceptions during the season’s initial seven games and has broken up another 4 passes. On film Langley plays athletic, fundamentally sound football. He has a quick, smooth backpedal, explodes out of his transition and shows terrific ball skills. Langley’s instincts need polish and he must improve his coverage on crossing patterns but he measures over 6-feet tall, runs a legitimate 4.4s in the forty and scouts love his progress and potential.
Kent Perkins/G/Texas: Perkins was considered a late round prospect by scouts playing free agent style football. He’s a large, lumbering lineman who cannot slide in space and was exploited several times during the loss to Kansas State on Saturday.