Week 3 of the college football season had plenty of NFL Draft prospects on display. In this edition of Stock Up, Stock Down & Names to Watch, I will dig into the games I watched and prospects who made an impact or lagged behind. These are only taken from the games I watched for Draft Countdown, but we will discuss even more prospects on our Podcast. If you want to see where I think players are in terms of their overall stock, head over to my Rankings, and if you want more specifics, sent me a tweet @ShanePHallam
Drake London, WR, Southern Cal
When Kedon Slovis went down with an injury and freshman Jaxson Dart came in, Drake London became the offense’s focal point. Dart looked to him often, and London didn’t disappoint. He looked like a young Mike Evans out there leaping for contested catches and contorting his body to make tough catches in stride. While many (myself included) are high on WRs such as Treylon Burks and Garrett Wilson, London has entered the conversation for the top WR in this class with his performance against Washington State. Even beyond the 13 catches for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns was the athletic skill for a player that size. The NFL will like that.
Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati
Gardner drew a tough match-up with Indiana WR Ty Fryfogle. Fryfogle had to work for every inch of the field and ended with only 1 reception in the game as Gardner blanketed him in coverage. His Football IQ was the best quality on display as Gardner seemed to know when and where Fryfogle was breaking and what the offense was running. He did more jamming at the LOS than usual and was successful at breaking some timing routes helping lead to sacks. Gardner is a Top 50 pick with first round upside.
Notre Dame Pass Rushers
Notre Dame had a rough go with Purdue early on, but the defensive front helped turn the tide. EDGE player Isaiah Foskey and DL Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (cousin to Taulia and Tua Tagovailoa) combined for 1 sack and 2 TFL in the game as well as 3 additional QB Hurries. They were living in the backfield and changing the game. Foskey is a big, long EDGE athlete who excels with his hand on the ground, and his length makes it pretty seamless for him to rip past offensive linemen and get penetration. Tagovailoa-Amosa is a versatile player who can play inside or outside on the defensive line with insane play strength. Both showcased their strengths this week against Purdue giving Jack Plummer fits, and they should continue a line of drafted Golden Domer defensive players.
Merlin Robertson, LB, Arizona State
Robertson is a player who flashed a few times in the past, but never appeared to be a dominating player. Watching him against BYU, Robertson looks like he has improved his instincts and tackling technique. One ability on display in this game was Robertson’s ability to cover RBs and TEs. Not only was he solid in zone coverage for most of the game, but he read the QBs eyes on a pressured interception and returned it for 60 yards. Unfortunately, he fumbled it at the end with an impressive punch by BYU RB Tyler Allgeier, but Robertson showcased what makes him an NFL prospect in a game where Arizona State struggled in general.
Jamaree Salyer, G, Georgia
Salyer is the LT for the Bulldogs and was matched up against stud pass rusher for South Carolina Kingsley Enagbare for most of the game. It is rare that I come away from a juicy OLine/pass rusher match-up and am impressed by both players, but that happened here. Enagbare tried to tear straight through early in the game, but Salyer’s play strength and girth didn’t allow that. Salyer’s physical presence is impressive, and they utilize him in Guardlike ways by pulling him down the line on run plays (his block sprang James Cook into the crease for the first Georgia TD). Later in the game, some stunts from South Carolina left Salyer a bit confused and out of position. Overall, a move to guard should do nicely, and he is an underrated prospect at this point.
Kedon Slovis, QB, Southern Cal
I hate putting a stock-down player on here due to injury. Still, after suffering a neck injury against Washington State (thankfully, X-Rays were negative), Slovis was replaced by dynamic freshman Jaxson Dart who didn’t look back and came back to win the game by a significant margin. After a shoulder injury-marred Slovis’ 2020 season, this would be a bounceback year for him to get back into the top QB conversation. Unfortunately, it just hasn’t gone that way. After a below-average game against Stanford, Slovis needed to come out and dominate Washington State. Unfortunately, the injury didn’t allow that, and his stock is dropping if he has to split time or even gets benched for the freshman.
Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
With Ahmad Gardner playing so well, Bryant was on the rough side of the Bearcats defense. Bryant was picked on often in man coverage against WR DJ Matthews Jr. Bryant seemed slow off the snap to react to slants and double moves from Matthews. This led to him being the first read on many passing plays. He had an excellent play here and there, but not the consistent play for a CB competing to be a second-day pick. Expect Bryant to get targeted even more moving forward with Gardner playing so well.
Josh Whyle, TE, Cincinnati
Despite the Bearcats victory, they have two players on the stock down list. Whyle had high hopes coming into the year, following past Cincinnati TEs such as Travis Kelce and Brent Celek. Unfortunately, this season has been utilizing Whyle more as a blocker (which he is solid at) than in the receiving game. Whyle showed up last season as a significant red zone threat and check-down option for QB Desmond Ridder, but with Ridder taking more shots downfield now, Whyle isn’t able to show what he can do as a receiver. He doesn’t look particularly athletic and was shut down by Indiana’s LBs when he did run routes. Overall, he has fallen in a competitive TE race.
Bo Nix, QB, Auburn
I hate to hit the low-hanging fruit here, but Bo Nix has not advanced to where he needs to be yet this season. Even among the flashy pass or two against Penn State, Nix often missed deep shots down the field and wide-open receivers in big moments. The ball comes out unnaturally, like a medicine ball being tossed into the air. Auburn’s best moments were running the football and keeping it out of Nix’s hands. After an outstanding freshman season, he has proven he likely doesn’t have the chops for the NFL without improving by leaps and bounds very soon, so his stock is down.
Names To Know
Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati
The former Alabama transfer has been on a tear for the Bearcats. He was a high-ranking recruit and has taken hold of the rushing game with a full head of steam. Though Ford may not be the most athletic or agile, he takes good, clever angles, and his vision is excellent. We have also gotten to see some long runs with a second gear. In a deep RB class, he is a name to know on the draftable radar.
Smoke Monday, S, Auburn
One of the best names in the draft, Monday was a terror for the Penn State offense throughout the game. He often played close to the line and was blowing up plays in the backfield multiple times in the game. A good technique tackler who can lay the lumber when asked, Monday looks like an ideal special teams player who can come in as a strong safety and help in the run game.
Jesse Luketa, LB, Penn State
Luketa has been a consistent presence in a solid Nittany Lion front 7. He seems to be asked to do everything, from cover TEs and RBs to rushing the passer. He was a force in shifting running holes and pressuring the QB against Auburn, helping his stock. A definite name to know as the Penn State defenders all rose up the ranks this past week.
Joey Porter Jr. CB, Penn State
The highlight of the Penn State/Auburn game may have been Joey Porter Jr.s Pick 6 that was called back due to a penalty. Even so, his ball skills count for NFL Draft purposes, and he turns into an intriguing prospect. The son of the former Pittsburgh Steeler, Porter, has been earning more playing time and gaining a more prominent role in the defense. Even if it isn’t for the 2022 NFL Draft, he is a name to know in the future.