Week 8 Risers & Sliders

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

There were a number of exciting finishes during Week 8 of the college season, and several nationally ranked teams saw their contests come down to the wire. Unheralded players from the defensive side of the ball made moves up draft boards, while a prospect many consider the next Tarik Cohen is also rising. Here are the Risers and Sliders for Week 8.

Tim Settle/DT/Virginia Tech: A redshirt sophomore graded by a number of scouts prior to the season, Settle is playing beyond expectations and has turned in some dominant performances this year. One of those performances occurred this weekend when he was a one-man show against North Carolina, posting five tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack. The big defensive tackle has recorded 9.5 tackles for loss in seven games this season. Tipping the scales around 325 pounds, Settle is more than a big man that takes up space in the middle of the line; he’s a playmaker who displays a great degree of athleticism and explosion in his game.

Zach Allen/DL/Boston College: The conversation at Boston College usually centers around highly rated Harold Landry, but Allen has proven to be a legitimate NFL prospect. Midway through the 2017 campaign, the big defensive end -- who measures in the area of 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds -- tops the stingy Boston College defense with 61 tackles. He’s also tied with Landry for the team lead in tackles for loss. Allen’s impressive physical skills are only bettered by his non-stop intensity, as he’s constantly around the ball making plays. Allen recorded six tackles this weekend during the victory over conference foe Virginia. Though I’ve heard no mention he’ll enter the 2018 NFL Draft, we presently grade Allen as a top-125 prospect.

Marcus Davenport/DE-OLB/Texas-San Antonio: If your team needs a pass rusher in the offseason, remember the name Marcus Davenport. Entering the year graded as a priority free agent, Davenport has made scouts take notice with his dominant 2017 campaign. Six games into the season he’s recorded 32 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and has also broken up four passes. During the weekend victory over Rice, he led UTSA with 11 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Measuring in over 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, Davenport plays quick, explosive football and makes plays behind the line of scrimmage as well as out in space. Versatility is key and Davenport offers potential as a one-gap defensive end or a 3-4 outside linebacker. I would expect him to receive an invitation to a January All-Star game then attend the combine and eventually end up in the early part of the draft’s final day.

Shaquem Griffin/LB/Central Florida: The twin brother of Seattle Seahawks rookie cornerback Shaquill Griffin is making a name for himself in scouting circles. The senior linebacker has totaled 36 tackles in six games this season, including a standout performance against Navy. Though slightly undersized at 6-foot, 215 pounds, Griffin plays big football, flying around the field sideline to sideline to make tackles. He’ll be a good fit as a hybrid linebacker in a one-gap system and should be a demon on coverage units.

Ryan Bee/DE/Marshall: The Thundering Herd is the class of Conference USA, and they boast one of the better defensive units in the country. Bee is one of the leaders on the unit. The talented junior has 32 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks to his credit after seven games despite playing out of position at nose tackle. Bee is long, athletic and plays smart, tough football. He works hard to make the tackle or, at the very least, stays with gap assignments so teammates can flock to the ball carrier. He offers a good amount of growth potential and should develop into a solid 4-3 end at the next level.

Derrius Guice/RB/LSU: It was almost unfair -- Ole Miss has one of the worst run defenses in the country and LSU took advantage, piling up 393 yards on the ground. Despite how poor the Rebels rushing defense may be, a stat line of 276 yards on 22 carries (12.5 yard average) will raise any player's profile among scouts. Guice does not have the same skill set as Leonard Fournette but is still a legitimate feature back for the next level.

Sleeper Prospect - Deon Yelder/TE/West Kentucky: From Tyler Higbee to Jack Doyle to George Fant, recent tight ends from WKU have found success at the next level in one form or another. Enter Deon Yelder. Ignored by scouts prior to the season, Yelder is in the midst of a career year. Considered one of the best athletes on the Hilltoppers roster, he presently leads WKU in all receiving categories with 27 receptions, 337 receiving yards and three TDs. He’s a well-sized tight end (6-foot-3, 250 pounds) with reliable hands, enough strength to block and enough speed to stretch the seam. Predraft workouts are critical considering the void of information on Yelder, but at the very least he’ll go from a non-prospect to a potential late-round choice.

Small School Prospect - Martez Carter/RB-RS/Grambling: Chicago Bears rookie Tarik Cohen is off to a tremendous start, and teams around the league will look for a copycat player in next year’s draft. They need look no further than Martez Carter. Grambling’s versatile skill player is a triple-threat prospect producing as a ball carrier, pass catcher and return specialist. Carter is slightly undersized like Cohen, measuring just under 5-foot-7 and at 190 pounds. Also like Cohen, he possesses tremendous quickness with the ability to create yardage when the ball is in his hands as well as a burst of speed which helps him beat defenders into the open field. Carter is also a pass-catching threat out of the backfield and a game-changing punt returner, just like Cohen. Thus far in 2017, he’s rushed for 556 yards on 92 attempts (6.0 yard average) with five scores. He’s also caught 17 passes for 246 yards (14.47 yard average). While Carter may not be drafted in the fourth round like Cohen was, expect him to produce as a situational player next season in the NFL.

Sliders

Andrew Brown/DL/Virginia: Brown entered the season graded as a potential late-round pick, yet he’s done nothing to disprove the belief that he’s just a size/speed prospect. Measuring over 6-foot-3 and just shy of 290 pounds, Brown is a terrific athlete yet does not make enough plays on the field. In seven games this season, he’s totaled just 18 tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack, falling well short of his numbers a year ago which included 13 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Michael McCray/ILB/Michigan: Count me as a fan of McCray, who received a third-round grade from us back in June, but the senior linebacker was badly exposed against Penn State. During the blowout loss, he gave up a number of receptions in coverage including one grabbed by Saquon Barkley down the flanks as McCray was unable to get his head around to locate the ball. McCray is a solid prospect but must prove he’s more than a two-down run defender.