Week 9 Risers & Sliders

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

It was an exciting weekend of college football with several games of national importance coming down to the wire. The weekend also saw a few blowouts, which resulted in at least one coach getting the boot. Defensive prospects lead the way for Week 9'sRisers & Sliders.

Harrison Phillips/DL/Stanford: In last week's Tuesday Draft Notes, we mentioned Phillips' likely entrance into the 2018 NFL Draft. He responded with an NFL-type performance during the one-point victory over Oregon State two days later. Phillips led all Cardinal defenders with nine tackles and two tackles for loss, putting his explosion and first-step quickness on display for scouts. Graded by some scouts as a free-agent prospect entering the season, Phillips is now graded as a mid-rounder by several teams. He’s a polished prospect who gets the most from his ability and offers a scheme-diverse game.

DeShon Elliott/S/Texas: Entering the season with just a single start under his belt, Elliott is having a sensational campaign and has NFL scouts raving about his game. Measuring over 6-foot and 205 pounds, Elliott has developed a complete game and is dominating in all facets. He displays terrific ball skills and has registered six interceptions this season along with three more pass breakups. He’s totaled 40 tackles to date, including a team-leading eight during the victory over Baylor on Saturday. Just hitting his stride, Elliott comes with great upside and could be a high pick in the future.

Allen Lazard/WR/Iowa State: Entering the season Lazard was rated by some scouts as the top receiver prospect from the senior class, while others stamped him with a free-agent grade. The big pass catcher staked his claim to the former this weekend during the upset victory over TCU. Against one of the better defenses in the nation, Lazard caught six passes for 106 yards, including some very important third-down grabs which helped keep drives alive for the Cyclones. Lazard is a natural pass catcher with excellent size (6-foot-4-inches, 220 plus pounds) and a good head for the game. His lack of quickness and speed are red flags, but the toughness he displays along with Lazard’s ability to win out for contested throws will help his cause on draft weekend.

Riley Ferguson/QB/Memphis: In a season where most of the top-rated quarterbacks are failing to live up to expectations, Ferguson has improved his draft stock with consistent, productive play. His three-touchdown performance against Tulane was the latest positive impression Ferguson left on scouts. The senior has several outstanding pass catchers at his disposal and uses them all, spreading the ball around and maximizing his targets. Except for one poor outing against Central Florida during a makeup game late in September, Ferguson has been accurate in every contest and has stayed away from poor decision-making. Entering the season stamped with a free-agent grade, he’s moved into Day 3 of the draft and could be a mid-round pick if he continues his productive play then performs well in workouts leading up to the draft.

Chris Lindstrom/OL/Boston College: Boston College has a long history of putting productive offensive linemen into the NFL, and Lindstrom looks like the next to uphold the tradition. Starting at guard his first two years with the program, Lindstrom moved to right tackle this season and has looked terrific. The Eagles have been on an offensive resurgence the past three games, scoring more than 40 points in each contest, and Lindstrom has been the team's best blocker. Likely a guard at the next level, he’s strong, fundamentally sound and a lineman with a large upside.

Santos Ramirez/S/Arkansas: It’s tough to claim a defensive back is rising up draft boards after his team gave up 37 points. In fact the Arkansas defense has been a bit of a sieve lately, allowing 37 points or more in five games, but Ramirez has played well this season. The forgotten man in what was expected to be a tough Razorbacks secondary, Ramirez has posted 48 tackles and broken up six passes including one interception in eight games this year. He led the defense with 10 tackles while also forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble during the victory over Ole Miss on Saturday. He’s a bit of a downhill defensive back rather than a rangy sideline-to-sideline safety, but Ramirez offers the size and skill to line up as a dime back in zone schemes at the next level.

Sleeper Prospect - Aaron Cochran/T/Oklahoma State: The Cowboys' high-octane offense makes stars of quarterbacks and skill players while the offensive line is often left out of the conversation. Enter Aaron Cochran. Ignored by scouts entering the season, we graded Cochran as a UDFA over the summer and he’s since improved his game. A massive lineman listed at 6-foot-8 and 350 pounds, he plays to his size and annihilates opponents once engaged in blocks. He lacks the footwork and agility to play left tackle on Sunday but has the underlying size, strength and potential to move to the right side if he cleans off his technique.

Small School Prospect - Danny Johnson/CB/Southern: For the second consecutive Monday we return to the SWAC for our small-school prospect of the week, although this time we move to the defensive side of the ball. Johnson is one of the better small-school corners in the nation that few are talking about. Measuring just 5-foot-9.5, he plays big, explosive football and comes equipped with outstanding ball skills. Johnson is fast, instinctive and does a terrific job making plays with his back to the ball downfield. Fundamentally sound, he’s fluid transitioning off the line and shows a great burst to the ball. Johnson also doubles as a game-changing punt returner. Thus far his numbers this season include three interceptions, seven pass breakups and an average of 17.8 yards on 10 punt returns with one score. I could see Johnson landing in the middle of Day 3 in next April’s draft then lining up as a dime back/punt returner on Sundays during the fall.

Sliders

Davion Hall/S/Baylor: It’s been a disastrous campaign for the 0-8 Baylor Bears, and Davion Hall is in the midst of a tough season. Originally projected as a player who could jump into the last round, Hall has a combined 27 tackles this season with no PBUs or INTs to his credit. Last year he totaled 52 tackles and three PBUs including 1 interception when he started five of the 10 games he dressed for. Scouts as well as the team hoped Hall would step up after the departure of senior Travon Blanchard in late August, but that hasn't happened. Blanchard had been graded as a potential mid-round choice.

CeCe Jefferson/DE-Edge/Florida: The Florida program is in disarray, and many of their its highly rated prospects have failed to play up to expectations, Jefferson being near the top of the list. Jefferson, who was supposed to be a pass-rushing force this season, has a grand total of 2.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss. During the loss to Georgia this weekend, a game which sealed the fate of head coach Jim McElwain, Jefferson was credit with one assisted tackle.