The late college football game in Week 0 was an unheralded battle between Southern Utah and San Jose State. Though this may not have gripped the casual fan, there was a match-up with huge NFL Draft implications between SUU’s LT Braxton Jones and San Jose State’s premier pass rusher Cade Hall. Hall is one of the most highly decorated defensive players in the Mountain West and lined up most of the game one-on-one against Jones, perhaps the best small-school player of the 2022 class. The film is likely to be a game NFL scouts go back to again and again.
Braxton Jones, Offensive Tackle
Jones looks like an NFL blindside protector at 6’7, 310 pounds. His hand placement and usage song with a natural knee bend are very impressive for a small school player. In this game, Jones used those along with his size and fluid kick slide to his advantage. Hall was often able to drive Jones back with a bull rush, but Jones almost always kept his composure and locked Hall from disengaging to get to the quarterback.
Other times, Jones had the upper hand in strength and movement to push Hall and expand the pocket. Against some of the stand-up rushers, Jones was able to cut off the speed on the edge with his athleticism. There were some mental lapses though. On one off-tackle run, Jones split to the linebacker and missed blocking either defender. Even with a few of those, it was an excellent performance that showcased what Jones is capable of as an NFL player.
San Jose State
Cade Hall, EDGE
As well as Jones did is as poor as Hall did. He didn’t get much pressure and failed to even produce a tackle in the game. His best plays even came when he was bumped inside as a 5-technique to get away from Jones and provide more run defense. He was rotated out quite a bit and other than showcasing his bull rush ability, it wasn’t a good day for the draftable prospect. Thankfully, he won’t be facing an OT as good as Jones for the rest of the season.
Derrick Deese Jr, Tight End
Deese is the ideal college TE. Undersized but fluid with good hands, he got open easily against the SUU defense and made a few big catches down the seam including a touchdown. Still not seeing the pure NFL potential since he won’t hold up in-line, and doesn’t have insane athletic ability to beat pro LBs. Might be a late-round dart throw or a nice camp body in the league.
Nick Starkel, Quarterback
Starkel had an impressive game with a good command of the offense. It was a tough evaluation of him due to the low level of competition, but he has solid arm talent and should be productive this year. Someone to keep an eye on.
Viliami Fehoko, EDGE
Fehoko had a better game than Hall, and he has a bit more of that explosion off the snap. He got some pressures throughout the game and stood true to play the run. A player to keep an eye on through the Mountain West schedule and, if he doesn’t declare, a draftable player in 2023 perhaps.
Kyle Harmon, Linebacker
Harmon is a solid player with good tackling technique who read SUU’s offense well. He wasn’t the biggest or strongest player on the defense, but showcased a good Football IQ and obviously did his homework for presnap reads. He even burst into the backfield against the run a few times, forcing more passing from the offense. Overall, a good performance but Harmon isn’t expected to be drafted.
Jack Snyder, Offensive Tackle
For the level of competition he was playing against, Snyder did well. He mirrored well and did what was needed. He got caught off balance a few times, reaching in run blocking and falling down, which definitely isn’t a good look.
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