7 & 5 will be a new weekly column by myself to give you, the reader, more direct analysis of the prospects in the games I watched this week. It was just going to be nearly impossible to write up 100 prospects in a single week and actually be able to do them justice. Lesson learned!
I will give you seven prospects who I think elevated their draft stock during the week and five who I think will be falling down the draft board.
1 – CJ Verdell, RB, Oregon
Verdell was a machine against the Buckeyes on Saturday. The senior running back showed off a combination of speed, power, and shiftiness. Verdell has been on the cusp for the last couple of years but seems to now be putting it all together. Against Ohio State, Verdell carried 20 times for 161 yards and two scores. He also showed off his talents in the passing game with three catches for 34 yards and another score. Verdell should be one of the top backs at an All-Star game after the season with a chance to sneak into the Top 100.
2 – Alex Forsyth, C, Oregon
Of course, Verdell couldn’t have had the day he had without the work of his offensive line. Forsyth may have been the biggest shining star of that group. The junior center kept the Ohio State interior defensive line generally quiet. Haskell Garrett and Taron Vincent only had one QB hurry between them and then didn’t come against Forsyth. I look for the Ducks pivot man to make a big jump in my rankings.
3 – Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M
It is going to be hard for Spiller to rise too far on my board. He was already my #2 back. However, after seeing the way he carried the Aggies on his back to the win against Colorado as a receiver, he is likely going to be my top back. Spiller is an excellent pass blocker. He made a gymnast-level twist to catch one of his seven targets. He finished the game against the Buffaloes with six receptions for 56 yards and the game-winning score. Spiller was held in check as a runner with only 20 yards on eight carries.
4 – Jayden Peevy, DL, Texas A&M
It is hard playing in the shadow of Demarvin Leal. Especially someone who casts one so big, both literally and figuratively. However, against Colorado, Jayden Peevy outplayed his more heralded teammate. The 6’6” 295-pound senior terrorized Colorado’s offense. He recorded seven tackles (five solos), two TFL, and batted down a pass. Peevy even got a rare big man interception. Stock is definitely up for Peevy.
5 – Nate Landman, LB, Colorado
Landman is entering his fifth year in Boulder. He played sparingly as a freshman before bursting on the scene the following season. Landman looks like the linebacker your dad grew up watching. Donning short sleeves and a cowboy collar, he hustles sideline-to-sideline. Landman is great in zone coverage. He finished with ten solo tackles against Texas A&M, including two tackles for loss. Landman also broke up a couple of passes. Teams are going to overthink Landman because of his age and the fact that he is coming off of Achilles surgery. Hell, I might overthink him too. However, there is a lot to like.
6 – Trelon Smith, RB, Arkansas
Smith was part of a Razorbacks ground game that shredded Texas for 333 yards and four scores. Smith is quick through the hole. You can see the explosion after he cuts. He can go the distance at any time. For his part against the Longhorns, Smith carried the ball 12 times for 75 yards and a TD. I had never seen him carry the ball before Saturday but color me impressed.
7 – Kyu Blu Kelly, CB, Stanford
Kelly is probably the best man cover corner I have seen this season to date in the games I have watched. He did an excellent job on Southern Cal’s top wide receiver Drake London when they were matched up together. Kelly has tremendous ball skills and technique. Against the Trojans, the man with no middle name recorded seven tackles (six solos), broke up three passes, and ran an interception back 31 yards for a score. I am intrigued, to say the least.
1 – Holton Ahlers, QB, East Carolina
I had heard rumblings of people who like Ahlers as a prospect. After my first viewing of him, I am left scratching my head as to why. Ahlers overthrew passes into the flat. He showed equally baffling decision-making. At one point, Ahlers threw a ball three yards BEYOND the line of scrimmage when he could have easily had the first down running. He threw a pick-six near the end of the first half after sailing a middle screen. Ahlers is a decent athlete and can take punishment. But I can’t fall in love with a prospect who only has two more passing yards than his diminutive wide receiver had on the first play of the game. Ahlers’ final line versus the Gamecocks: 11/24, 77 yards, two interceptions. He did have a rushing TD.
2 – Kedon Slovis, QB, Southern Cal
Slovis is falling down a bit in my eyes. His decision-making was suspect against Stanford. Slovis doesn’t have the biggest arm to get him out of the trouble he puts himself into. I am not ready to completely write off Slovis as a top QB prospect but we should probably quelch that first-round talk for now.
3 – Dylan Wonnum, OT, South Carolina
Wonnum was a big-time former recruit for Will Muschamp. The younger brother of current Minnesota Vikings edge rusher (and former Gamecock) D.J., it was expected that Dylan would take the next step. Instead, he was overwhelmed against a lesser defense in East Carolina. Wonnum (and the rest of the Gamecocks offensive line to be honest) were on skates for much of the game. This forced several issues for their statue-like moving QB Zeb Noland. If Wonnum couldn’t handle the pressure from the Pirates defense, what is going to happen when they face the Georgia pass rush this week? Pray for the families of the South Carolina QBs.
4 – Master Teague, RB, Ohio State
Master Teague was supposed to be the next Buckeye running back after Trey Sermon departed. Instead, he finds himself buried on the depth chart redshirt freshman Miyan Williams and true freshman TreVeyon Henderson. Teague never saw the field against Oregon after only carrying the ball six times the week before against Minnesota. I don’t know what caused him to fall out of favor with the coaching staff. For his sake, I hope he can find himself in an All-Star setting like Chris Evans of Michigan did a year ago and rehab his draft stock.
5 – Lopini Katoa, RB, BYU
Let me preface this by saying that I have been a huge fan of Lopini Katoa since his redshirt freshman season. Maybe it was just the game plan against Utah. Maybe he has just fallen further behind Tyler Allgeier. It just seems like Katoa isn’t getting the opportunities to impress as much anymore. Especially in the passing game where he really shines. I still believe in Katoa but its is probably time to abandon him as a top ten RB in this class.