Risers/Sliders: Week Six
Tony PaulineDraft Analyst Writer
Week six was highlighted by a number of blowout games as well as bad weather in the southeast which effected a number of contests. From the war room the juniors ruled the weekend with a pair of skill prospects standing out as well as two underclassmen on the defensive line. Here are the Risers and Sliders for week six.
JuJu Smith-Schuster/WR/USC: During the first month of the season many had Smith-Schuster falling down draft boards after a few bad outings, something I never bought into. Since then the Trojans made major changes to their offense and the junior wide has turned in three brilliant performances. Against Colorado, a team with three next level prospects in the secondary including potential second day corner Chidobe Awuzie, he hauled in 5 catches for 113 yards, an average of 22.6-yards per reception. I’d like to see Smith-Schuster become more of a red-zone threat considering his size but the naysayers have been proven wrong as the junior looks to be in first round form.
Dalvin Cook/RB/Florida State: I took a wait and see approach on Cook entering the season and thus far he’s looked phenomenal. He finished the contest against interstate rival Miami with 150 yards on 27 carries. His lone touchdown came courtesy of a 59-yard scoring reception. Just a week ago he posted 140 yards on the ground with 3 touchdowns against North Carolina. Cook’s ability to pick up big yardage from the line of scrimmage and break long runs is incredibly impressive for a 210lb ball carrier. And though he doesn’t have a lot of receptions on the stats sheet his pass catching skills are NFL worthy. I’m not sold Cook will be the first back selected in the draft, and word is he will leave for the NFL after the season, but he will compete for the top spot at the position.
Greg Gaines/DT/Washington: For the second week in a row the risers column includes the name of a Washington Husky defender and why not? The Husky defense shut down the usually potent Oregon offense en route to a 70-21 thrashing of the Ducks. It seems Gaines is a player who’s improving weekly and someone not mentioned as a top next level prospect. The red-shirt sophomore finished with 2 tackles for loss and 2 sacks against Oregon, increasing his season total to 7.5 TFL’s and 3.5 sacks through six games. Gaines has next level size, explosion and intensity. And while he needs to improve his play against the run, he’s a better pass rusher than former Husky Danny Shelton, the 12th overall pick of the 2015 draft.
Brandon Chubb/DE/North Carolina State: While the NC State-Notre Dame game was fun to watch it was a tough contest to scout. Regardless, it further confirmed to scouts that Brandon Chubb is the real deal. The junior got the better of highly rated Irish tackle Mike McGlinchey most of the day, finishing with 5 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. Most impressive was the complete game Chubb showed, not only making plays behind the line of scrimmage but also holding his own in run defense. Despite being slightly out of position in the Wolfpacks 3-4 alignment Chubb has menaced opponents all season. I graded him as a late round pick entering the year but consensus presently has the junior as a potential second day pick.
Corey Davis/WR/Western Michigan: The WMU-NIU contest Saturday highlighted a pair of terrific NFL receiver prospects and Davis came out on top. Graded by some scouts as the number two senior receiver prospect behind Michigan’s Jehu Chesson, Davis finished with 6 receptions, 122 yards and 2 scores. It’s the fifth time this season he registered at least 6 receptions in a game and he’s averaging 15.6-yards on 30 catches in 2016. Davis does everything well and the faster he runs during the combine and/or pro-day, the earlier he’ll be drafted. I would expect him to receive an invitation to the Senior Bowl.
Andrew Motuapuaka/LB/Virginia Tech: Played in sloppy conditions like many games on the east coast, the Hokies stomped a surging North Carolina squad and shut down the potent Tar Heel offense. Motuapuaka led the way with a team leading 12 tackles, helping to hold North Carolina to 73 yards rushing. For the season the junior linebacker sits atop the Virginia Tech defense with 49 tackles, 15 more than his nearest teammate. Motuapuaka is a slightly undersized but explosive and stands out in pursuit. He’s a late round choice that would be a terrific fit at inside linebacker and on coverage units.
Sleeper Prospect- Calvin Munson/LB/San Diego State: Scouts stamped Munson as a UDFA but off the 2015 film I gave him a 6th round grade and thus far he’s not disappointed me. Five games into the season Munson leads the Aztecs in tackles (just under 10 per game) and quarterback hurries. He’s an attack linebacker that shows great run stopping prowess besides selling out on the blitz. Munson would be a terrific late round pick as a reserve linebacker/special team’s player and he’s the type of prospect that will go have a ten year career in the NFL.
Small School Prospect- Derek Rivers/DE-OLB/Youngstown State: Entering the season scouts graded three YSU prospects as solid day three picks but Rivers is beginning to distance himself from the pack. Five games into the season Rivers has posted 7 sacks, 8 tackles for loss and 10 QBH’s. Included in the totals were 3 sacks and 3 TFL’s during the Penguins victory over Illinois State, who start two next level prospects on the offensive line. Rivers measures 6-feet/4-inches, 250lbs and plays to a 4.7s forty time. He’s a natural pass rusher with potential as a third down defender on Sunday and can line-up out of a three point stance or standing over tackle.
Tyler O’Connor/QB/Michigan State: There was a thought coming into the season O’Connor, who filled in for Connor Cook on occasion last season, would turn himself into a draftable prospect but that has yet to happen and probably won’t occur. O’Connor was benched Saturday as the Spartans were on their way to a third consecutive loss. For the season O’Connor has tossed 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, a poor ratio.