Week 12 Risers & Sliders

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

It was a ho-hum weekend on the college football schedule, one which saw most games finish as expected. On the prospect front, one of the nation’s top offensive tackles made his mark upon returning from a knee injury while a receiver from the northeast continues to tear it up. Here are the Risers & Sliders for Week 12.

Connor Williams/T/Texas: Williams missed the past seven games with a sprained MCL in his right knee but made his presence felt upon his return against West Virginia on Saturday. He looked dominant run blocking and played with a nasty streak, two traits he rarely showed in the past. His blocking helped paved the way for much of the 233 yards the Longhorns gained on the ground, and Williams kept his quarterback upright as WVU did not register a sack. Williams originally planned to enter the 2018 NFL Draft, but those plans were initially put on hold after his knee injury. If he continues his strong play, Williams should make the jump to the next level considering the weakness of the tackle class.

Kendall Adams/S/Kansas State: Adams was a prospect I raved about coming into the season, and he’s played good football this year. During the upset victory over Oklahoma State, the junior tallied four tackles and intercepted a pass in the second quarter which KSU converted into a field goal. Adams has weakside linebacker size, hits like a ton of bricks and also shows legitimate ball skills. He offers starting possibilities as a traditional strong safety or in a zone system.

Joe Giles-Harris/OLB/Duke: Another player I raved about before to the season, Giles-Harris has quietly been one of the most productive linebackers on the college field this season. During the victory over Georgia Tech, the junior posted 14 tackles which gives him a team-leading 110 tackles in eleven games this year. Giles-Harris also has 14 tackles for loss, six quarterback hurries and five pass breakups to his credit. He’s an explosive run-and-chase linebacker who shows outstanding pursuit speed and the ability to cover tight ends or running backs down the field. Assuming he works out well, I project Giles-Harris as a second-day pick and a three-down linebacker with a nice degree of scheme versatility.

Ja'Whaun Bentley/Purdue: Bentley entered the season graded as a priority free agent but has played well enough in 2017 to get late-round consideration. The hard-hitting middle linebacker leads Purdue with 89 tackles, eight of them coming during the Boilermakers' shocking victory over Iowa. Bentley helped lead a Purdue defense which held the Hawkeyes to just 82 yards rushing. More of a two-down defender, he stacks well against the run and shows enough ability to get outside the box in pursuit of ball carriers.

Anthony Johnson/WR/Buffalo: There are times when a prospect comes out of nowhere and his production is so outstanding scouts must take notice. Such is the case with Anthony Johnson. The redshirt junior, who transferred from Iowa Western Community College, is setting the MAC on fire this season. Eleven games into the season, Johnson has totaled 70 receptions, 1,201 yards (17.2 yard average) and 12 TDs. His numbers during last week’s victory over Ball Sate included seven catches for 153 yards with four scores. Johnson is a natural pass catcher with decent size (6-foot, 200-plus pounds) and reliable hands. Obviously true measurements and testing numbers are required, but Johnson’s reliability, nose for the end zone and big-play ability is more than intriguing.

Nick Chubb/RB/Georgia: The Kentucky contest was a nice rebound game for Chubb, who was held to 27 rushing yards against Auburn one week ago. The Wildcats boast one of the better rushing defenses in the SEC and rank just below Auburn in yards allowed per game (121.9). Chubb shredded the Wildcats for 151 yards on 15 carries with two TDs. The Georgia ball carrier is often lost in the shuffle, as much of the talk focuses on Saquon Barkley of Penn State while his own teammate Sony Michel steals a bit of thunder. Make no doubt about it: if Chubb checks out medically, he’s worthy of being selected in the late portion of Round 1 and projects as a feature runner for the next level.

Sleeper Prospect - Parry Nickerson/CB/Tulane: Nickerson was graded as a late-round pick by scouts entering the season, and while there have been a few bumps in the road he’s displayed a lot of next-level ability. He picked off a pass during Tulane’s upset victory over Houston, which gives him five INTs on the season to go along with seven pass breakups. Nickerson is tall (5-foot-11-inches), thin (175 pounds) and fast (4.4s 40). He possesses terrific instincts and ball skills. Nickerson will be good value on the draft’s final day and can line up over the slot receiver in dime packages on Sunday.

Small School Prospect - Matthew Gono/OL/Wesley: The small-school lineman entered the season graded as a priority free agent but is now getting late-round consideration based on his play this season. Lining up at left tackle for Wesley, Gono is strong and nasty and devastates opponents almost every snap. He’s a dominant run blocker who easily anchors in pass protection and controls opponents at the point of attack. Gono lacks the height for tackle but has the size, strength and skill to play guard on Sunday.

Sliders

Devonte Boyd/WR/UNLV: Entering the season, Boyd was graded as a fringe late-round selection but never improved his game. After an incredible freshman season when the bar was set high, Boyd has watched his production fall off every year and has never met expectations. He posted 65 receptions for 980 yards as a freshman and finished his senior season with just 32 catches and 579 receiving yards.