Clay’s NFL Draft Cheat Sheet – Week 12

Clayton Smarslok with his weekly college football cheat sheet…

At week 12 we’re getting down to the end of a great season. However, this won’t be the greatest of weeks. With many top contenders playing against teams like Citadel, Rice and others of a lower stature, there aren’t many can’t miss games. But these are the last couple of chances for prospects to show NFL teams what they’re capable of and if they should even make the jump at all.

Week 11 Top Performers

Offense: QB Daniel Jones, Duke

The 2018 season has been pretty disappointing for the quarterback draft class, but one name to really watch is Daniel Jones. In his week 11 performance against North Carolina, he threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns, all while running for another 186 yards with another touchdown. What makes that 186 even more impressive is that in college sacks go against your rushing yardage so if you take away those three sacks, number is even higher. Jones is a big bodied passer with a big run and has obvious athleticism in and out of the pocket. One part of his game that could stand to improve is how he works through progressions. He can panic at times when the first read is covered but that is something that can be coached. In a relatively weak class at the position, this type of game could potentially make him a round one target.

Defense: EDGE Darrell Taylor, Tennessee

In a stunning win over the Kentucky Wildcats last week, nobody had a more impactful game than the junior edge rusher. Taylor was able to get to Terry Wilson for four sacks, more than doubling his season total. In this game he showed great burst to get around the edge and even an inside move to beat the tackle. With his size and length at 6’4 and about 255 pounds, he fits the mold of an NFL edge rusher. It will be important for him to show more consistency as the season winds down as all of sacks came in two games.

Week 12 Players to Watch

WR Antoine Wesley, Texas Tech (vs. Kansas State, 3:30pm on ESPNU)

Early on in the season TJ Vasher was making highlight catches for Texas Tech but it is Wesley who has stepped up this season becoming a legitimate prospect for the upcoming draft. In his first season of real action he has 78 receptions for 1347 yards and nine touchdowns, easily becoming the top target in Kingsbury’s offense. He has a lanky 6’5 185 build to him who runs very smooth routes. His mix of size and athleticism will be very intriguing for teams as he’ll be in the middle of a deep draft class at the position.

EDGE Wyatt Ray (vs. Florida State, 3:30pm on ESPN2)

Having talked about the main edge presence on this team in Zach Allen, Wyatt Ray deserves some acknowledgement himself. He isn’t the big, physical rusher Allen is but he does provide a little more athleticism who could actually step into a role as a rookie next year. He has nine sacks on the season but seven of those came in two games alone. It would be nice to see him be a little more consistent with his rushing moves and going against a struggling offensive line like Florida State’s, that could actually help him achieve that.

Week 12 Games to Watch

#12 Syracuse vs #3 Notre Dame (2:30pm on NBC)

In a down week of college action, this is by far the best matchup of all of the games. Not going to lie, it will be difficult to watch with Notre Dame wearing their terrible, Yankee-inspired jerseys. If you can pay attention to the game rather than the jerseys then you should be in for a good one. The surprising Syracuse Orange could play spoilers while also securing their spot in the New Year’s Six.

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book will be returning after missing last week’s game against Florida State. But it will be Syracuse’s Eric Dungey who will catch the eyes of many. Maybe not from a draft perspective but what he can do as both a passer and runner is legit. After this season he will have thrown for over 9,000 yards and run for over 2,000 yards. Look for Notre Dame LB Tre’von Coney to be asked to keep a close eye on him to make sure he doesn’t get out of the pocket for big gains.

Duke at #2 Clemson (7:00pm on ESPN)

Speaking of Daniel Jones, this will be an incredible matchup for him to lock himself in as one of the best passers in the upcoming class. Against the likes of Trayvon Mullen on the outside and that stellar defensive line, he is bound to face some pressure. It would be great to see him show poise in the pocket and not try to escape too quickly. Meanwhile for the Clemson defense, seeing Clelin Ferrell try to contain Jones will be interesting to watch. Some question his athleticism so maybe every now and again we will see him run with Jones towards the sidelines. If Jones beats him that will say a lot, and not in the greatest of ways.

While the Jets aren’t necessarily looking for a new inside linebacker, two players that could potentially be depth pieces that haven’t been talked about are Duke’s Joe Giles-Harris and Clemson’s Kendall Joseph. Both are athletic linebackers who play well in space.

Weekly Rankings

Top 5 Linebackers

  1. Devin White, LSU

  2. Mack Wilson, Alabama

  3. Devin Bush, Michigan

  4. Germaine Pratt, North Carolina State

  5. Vosean Joseph, Florida