Clay’s NFL Draft Cheat Sheet – Week 7

Clayton Smarslok’s CFB Week 7 Cheat Sheet…

This is it, the Saturday of all Saturdays in the college football regular season. We are officially about halfway through the year and we are granted an abundance of amazing matchups all day long. There are four top-25 games and another one that barely misses that description. At all times of the day you will have good football to watch which is all anybody wants on a Saturday. When you get games like these, you also get players that put their names out there on a national stage as scouts want to see production against top competition. The only thing you have to do now is to read the rest of the cheat sheet, kick back, relax and hope that these games don’t disappoint.

 

Week 6 Top Performers

Offense: HB Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin – 19 carries for 186 yards and 4 TDs; 3 catches for 29 yards and 1 TD

There aren’t many certainties in life, but one of them is Jonathan Taylor balling out every Saturday he plays. Wisconsin has only played five games this season and in THREE of them, Taylor has gotten into the end-zone four or more times; nine on the ground and four through the air. It does not matter who the opponent is, they all know who the ball is going to and they still cannot stop him. Not only can they not stop him on the ground, but this year he is actually showing that he can be an asset in the passing game, surpassing his career high in catches through just five games. If not for Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts having insane seasons, Jonathan Taylor would be running away with the Heisman Trophy this year. 

Honorable Mention: WR Isaiah Hodgins, Oregon State – 10 catches for 123 yards and 3 TDs

Defense: CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford – 5 Tackles, 4 PBUs

If you read last week, Adebo has had a rollercoaster of a season. He came into the season as the number two corner in my rankings, got up to the top spot and then fell off due to fault of his own and Jeffrey Okudah. But what a comeback he had in this game against the Huskies. He wasn’t assigned to follow Aaron Fuller but he did have his battles with him. Outside of being beat once deep down the sideline, he was playing like a first round prospect. His footwork was clean, tackled really well and played through the ball, hence the four break ups. Having a performance like this against a quality offense will only boost his confidence as we get to the middle of the season. If he can string together some more games like this and make the UCF and Oregon State games feel like ancient history, he could get his name back into the round one conversation.

Honorable Mention: DL Derrick Brown, Auburn – 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 2 FR

 

Week 7 Players to Watch

HB Cam Akers, Florida State (vs. Clemson, 3:30pm, ABC)

Here is a player who seems to have gotten back on track after a brutal 2018 season. In what could be his final season in Tallahassee, Akers is looking like the running back people were expecting to see after a great freshman campaign. This is already a career year in terms of touchdowns, scoring nine in just five games, but this will be the biggest test of the season. Clemson may be having a disappointing season, but they still have a very good team, with one of the nation’s top prospects on defense, Isaiah Simmons. The linebacker has taken over the top spot at the position after Dylan Moses tore his ACL and will look to continue his dominance by hunting down Akers all game long. Whether it’s running the ball, running routes or pass blocking, Akers will have his hands full dealing with one of the best, which could be very beneficial for him with a good showing today.

EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos, Penn State (vs. Iowa, 7:30pm, ABC)

If you watch Gross-Matos, you will be watching one of the best player vs player matchups in the entire nation. Whether he lines up on the left or right, he will be going against a very good tackle. If he lines up over the right tackle, he gets Tristan Wirfs, my personal top tackle. If he lines up over the left tackle, he gets Alaric Jackson, who is a legitimate NFL prospect in his own right but is still coming back from injuries. The junior edge rusher had a solid display against the Hawkeyes last year, particularly against the run. He does a tremendous job using his athleticism to make plays, but if he can get some technical wins against these linemen, that would go really far for his resume.

 

Week 7 Games to Watch

#11 Texas vs. #6 Oklahoma (12:00pm, FOX)

There are dozens of incredible rivalries in college football, but there may not be any more known than the Red River Rivalry. Granted in the past few years, Oklahoma has gotten the best of the Longhorns but five of the last six showdowns, the winner has won by seven or less and I see this one being no different. 

Starting with the quarterbacks, Jalen Hurts is arguably the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy and Sam Ehlinger has transformed from a good college quarterback to a potential draft prospect, if he decides to declare. They are both outstanding dual threats making the defense have to pay attention to their respective skills as runners. What makes it even tougher are the receivers each team has on the outside. The Sooners have my number three receiver in Ceedee Lamb and Charleston Rambo, both of whom are getting over 24 yards per reception. And don’t forget about arguably the top tight end in the upcoming class, Grant Calcaterra. 

As for Texas, they have Collin Johnson who many people liked to be a day two pick last year, returning from injury this week, and Devin Duvernay who is Ehlinger’s favorite target, by far. Duvernay is getting nine receptions a game, which is almost as most as any other receiver on the entire season. But if there is one player to watch for Jets fans, it is Creed Humphrey. We have seen for the past few seasons how poor the play at center has been and Humphrey could be the key in fixing it.

These teams obviously are not very well known for their defense but there are two players in particular that will actually stand out, Longhorn safety Brandon Jones and Sooner linebacker Kenneth Murray. Murray is the one you would want to watch as he has risen up draft boards with his blazing sideline to sideline speed at the position, great instincts and the knack to get to the ball on any given play. 

 

#5 LSU vs #7 Florida (8:00pm, ESPN)

Florida was highlighted last week for their matchup against Auburn, but this one will easily be more entertaining in terms of draft prospects. LSU has players everywhere that could make an impact on the NFL next season, none more than quarterback Joe Burrow. He went from a fringe day three pick to a potential top 15-20 selection in a matter of weeks. The redshirt senior has shown great poise in the pocket, accuracy to all levels, athleticism to escape the pocket, arm strength to make any throw on the field and an indescribable trait that we just call “the it factor.” But this will be his toughest challenge of the season thus far. Florida presents with the players on their defense and Todd Grantham calling the plays, making it even tougher. He’ll be facing a draft riser in Jonathan Greenard and a finally healthy Jabari Zuniga coming off the edges who can get to the quarterback without blitzes being dialed up. They may only have about one sack a game in total but they are always making the quarterback uncomfortable, throwing off platform. 

The Tiger receivers against the Gator secondary will be fun to watch, Justin Jefferson has had a tremendous junior season and Ja’Marr Chase could be one of the top receivers for the 2021 draft class, going up against the likes of CJ Henderson and Marco Wilson. The two latter players have had their ups and downs on the season, but seem to be getting back to what people thought they would be coming into the season, Henderson in particular with his outstanding coverage in man-to-man situations. 

On the flip side of the ball, there are not as many matchups that are overly enticing but the players themselves are. For the Gators, you have Lamical Perine coming off his best game of the season against Auburn and a lot of senior receivers that seem to switch being the number one target for the game in Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Tyrie Cleveland and others. It’s more likely you know players on the LSU defense with Grant Delpit leading the charge. Delpit has had a rough go living up to his standards this season but will still play all over the field showing NFL teams how important his versatility can be. Then there are cornerback Kristian Fulton, K’Lavon Chaisson on the edge and Rashard Lawrence in the trenches. But the best player of them all may be cornerback Derek Stingley Jr, but he still has two more years of football to play before he is draft eligible. Gator quarterback Kyle Trask has done a great job since Feleipe Franks went down for the season a few weeks back, but going to Death Valley, at night, against a defense like this, is a whole new monster.

 

Weekly Rankings

Top 5 Tight Ends

 

  1. TE Grant Calcaterra, Oklahoma
  2. TE Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
  3. TE Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt
  4. TE Colby Parkinson, Stanford
  5. TE Hunter Bryant, Washington

 

 

On the Bubble: Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri), Cole Kmet (Notre Dame)

Sleeper: Matt Bushman (BYU)