Risers/Sliders: Week Twelve
Tony PaulineDraft Analyst Writer
An entertaining week twelve on the college gridiron sets us up for showdown Saturday on this holiday weekend. On the prospect front scouts are keeping close watch on a sleeper quarterback from the Mountain West quickly rising up draft board while yet another Washington Husky defender makes our list.
Josh Allen/QB/Wyoming: The Cowboys are one of the better stories from the 2016 season and a team I’ve enjoyed watching since September. And the more I watch the more I’m impressed by Allen who again showcased his awesome next level potential against San Diego State. The Aztecs defensive back seven possess near a handful of NFL prospects yet Allen sliced them up, throwing a pair of fourth quarter touchdown passes of 30 and 29 yards, which gave Wyoming the lead for good. Allen has next level size, arm strength, intelligence and poise. He can play the vertical game from the pocket and just as easily makes positive passes on the move. I presently grade Allen as a second round choice but unflinchingly believe he offers first round potential down the road.
Kevin King/CB/Washington: King is the fourth Washington defender to make the risers list this season and with good reason. The big corner made an interception during the victory over Arizona State, a play which will be shown on highlight reels for the next week. For the season King has broken up 10 passes, four more than week nine riser Sidney Jones. One of the bigger cornerback prospects in the nation, King measures 6-feet/3.5-inches and just about 190lbs. NFL teams are salivating over his measurables and King plays to them, physically beating down opponents to defend passes. Long speed is a concern and pre-draft forty times are critical but as told to me by one insider, King is a typical Seattle Seahawks type of cornerback who will be selected during the second day of the draft.
Caleb Brantley/DT/Florida: On a Gators defense stacked with next level talent Brantley is often overlooked but the junior turned in a standout performance during the victory over LSU. The explosive defender totaled 5 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and forced a fumble when it looked like the Tigers were going in for a touchdown. More importantly Brantley beat up the very talented interior offensive line of LSU. Slightly undersized, he comes off the ball with a great first step and easily moves in every direction of the field. Should Brantley enter the draft, I doubt he makes it out of the second round.
Jaleel Johnson/DT/Iowa: In last August I suggested Johnson, then rated by scouts as a last day pick, could make a big move up draft boards and the senior has followed through. He’s been consistently productive and has quietly turned in a terrific campaign. Eleven games into the season he’s totaled 51 tackles, 10 tackles for loss as well as 7.5 sacks. The numbers during the victory over Illinois read 4/1.5/1. Johnson is a terrific athlete with size, growth potential and possibilities in a variety of defensive schemes. He’s improved his draft stock at least two rounds and presently grades as a second day selection.
BJ Hill/DT/North Carolina State: I’ve fawned over Hill since the summer and he continues to impress me, even during games the Wolfpack lose. His numbers against Miami included 4 tackles and a quarterback hurry, nothing spectacular. Yet his ability to hold the point, get pressure up the field and force running backs to reroute or quarterbacks to avoid his rush were impressive. I love the fundamentals Hill plays with and feel he’s another defensive lineman with second day potential.
Steven Taylor/LB/Houston: I followed along with scouts prior to the season stamping Taylor as a late round choice yet the athletic linebacker has exceeded expectations. The senior leads the Cougars defense in tackles (64) as well as tackles for loss (11) and also has 8.5 sacks to his credit. He had a standout game last week when the Cougars upset Louisville, posting 14 tackles, 2.5 sacks while forcing 1 fumble. Taylor lacks great measurables (6-feet/225lbs) but plays smart, intense football and nicely projects as a back-up inside linebacker and a special team’s ace.
Sleeper Prospect- Patrick O'Connor/DE-OLB/Eastern Michigan: Prior to the 2015 season scouts graded O’Connor as a priority free agent but a shoulder injury sidelined him for the season. He returned this year to a similar grade and has rewarded scouts for their faith. The senior has posted 7 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss while forcing 4 fumbles. He’s shown a lot of athleticism in his game and consistently gets pressure up the field, forcing the action. O’Connor offers nice height (6-feet/4-inches), size (280lbs) and athleticism. Strong pre-draft workouts could push him into the late rounds and I definitely envision O’Connor lining up as a designated pass rusher on Sunday’s.
Small School Prospect- Jordan Morgan/OL/Kutztown: Despite being a four year starter and three time All American, Morgan was not graded by scouts entering the season but that’s been rectified. Lining up at left tackle for Kutztown, Morgan is explosive, athletic and powerful. He annihilates defenders at the line of scrimmage while also showing a lot of skill blocking in motion. He displays good instinct and a feel for blocking. He definitely needs to improve the consistency of his fundamentals as Morgan gets upright in his stance and he’s often late with his hands. He’ll have the opportunity of a lifetime for a small school blocker as Morgan will be participating in the Senior Bowl this January where he’ll likely line up at guard. I presently grade him as a fifth/sixth round choice but he offers tremendous upside which, if met, could result in Morgan eventually starting on Sunday’s.
Wes Lunt/QB/Illinois: Lunt is another quarterback from the senior class that’s failed to meet expectations in 2016. Stamped as a late round pick, Lunt has been forced to share duties underneath center and has looked like an ordinary game manager for most of the season.