In this week’s edition of the Splendid Seven, I look at a couple of emerging pass rushers. We also look at two offensive weapons from Aggie-Land and some nasty offensive line prospects.
1 – Owen Carney Jr., EDGE, Illinois
Carney was dominant at times during the most boring 9 OT game you could imagine. He took Penn State offensive tackle, Rasheed Walker, on several snaps. Carney has a nice bend and can power his way through if need be. He had one sack, three solo tackles, and several pressures against the Nittany Lions.
2 – Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
On the other side of the snooze fest was the PSU edge Ebiketie. He is smaller than Carney but had an equally dominant pass rush. Ebiketie will likely need to transition to a stand-up LB role in the NFL but he has the skillset to do it. The senior had ten tackles (four solos) and 1.5 sacks against the Illini. Ebiketie is probably going to come off the board in the 6th-7th round range.
3 – Ainias Smith, RB/WR, Texas A&M
Smith is going to be what has become known as an “offensive weapon”. Smith is a running back by trade but didn’t see a single carry against the Gamecocks. Instead, his versatility was put on full display with a slick 95-yard punt return for a touchdown. Against South Carolina, the position flexible Aggie had five receiving targets, catching two of them for 28 yards. Smith will be drafted on day three as a core special teams guy who can save multiple roster spots.
4 – Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M
Wydermyer is going to be the only tight end that sniffs the first round this year. He is the total package of what a traditional tight end looks like. Casuals are going to be spoiled by Kyle Pitts. Tight ends don’t look like that. He is a freak of nature. We may never see his like again. Wydermyer is the realistic version of a tight end prospect. He isn’t going to break forty-yard dash records. Wydermyer is going to block his tail off, he is going to catch everything thrown his way, and he is going to make enough defenders miss in the open field to do damage. Wydermyer can stretch the middle of the field when called upon and is a red zone weapon. He should hear his name called anywhere in the pick 20-40 range. Against the Gamecocks, he had four catches for 75 yards and two TDs.
5 – Bernhard Raimann, OT, Central Michigan
Raimann comes to Mount Pleasant by way of Steinbrunn, Austria. I have wanted to watch him play ever since Dane Brugler of The Athletic wrote a piece on him about a month ago. You can clearly see the athletic ability. Raimann started as a tight end with the Chippewas. He is as strong as an ox. If/when Raimann loses ground, he gets his feet planted and the rush stops there. If he makes a mistake, he learns from it, and you never see it again. The potential for Raimann is through the roof. I definitely think he is a top-100 talent today.
6 – Ikem Ekwonu, OT/G, NC State
Ikem Ekwonu is the literal definition of a bully on the football field. He is figuratively taking the defender’s lunch money on a weekly basis. Ekwonu is the type to play through the whistle. He has phenomenal play strength. Ekwonu is the left tackle for the Wolfpack but he in all likelihood will move inside to guard at the NFL level. I could see Ekwonu sneaking into the backend of round one, but probably more of mid-2nd.
7 – Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh
The stat sheet was nothing overly special for Kenny Pickett against Clemson (25/39 302 yards 2 TDs) but you can definitely see why he is generating first-round buzz now. NFL scouts love his arm talent and ability to move the pocket to his advantage. Despite mocking Pickett in the first round this week, I am not ready to commit to that just yet. I am willing to say that Kenny Pickett is the top senior QB in this class and I can’t wait to see him in Mobile for the Senior Bowl.
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
Miami (FL) safety Bubba Bolden is going to miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Bolden, a junior, has been a disappointment this season and should return to school next season.
Southern Cal WR Drake London is having a ridiculously productive season for the Trojans. His 79 catches through seven games are the most for a Power 5 school since Michael Crabtree in 2007 (h/t Matt Zenith). I believe London is on his way to being a top-15 selection and my Biletnikoff Award vote.
It was good to see Charleston Rambo have a good game this week. The former Oklahoma WR caught nine balls against NC State for 127 yards and two scores.
I heard the tale of Middle Tennessee safety Reed Blankenship last year. I got to see do work against UConn on Friday night. The senior was all over the field for the Blue Raiders secondary. Blankenship had nine solo tackles, two PBUs, two TFLs, and a fumble recovery.
It wasn’t the best statistical day for Penn State WR Jahan Dotson (6-58) but I finally got to see what all of the hype was about. Dotson should be a top-10 WR in this class and a Top-100 selection.
Another ho-hum seven tackle and one interception performance for Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist, South Carolina safety Jaylan Foster. If it seems like I talk about Foster a lot, you are not wrong. He and Kingsley Enagbare (4 tackles, 1 hurry) are about the only bright spots in this dismal Gamecocks season.
Central Michigan WR Kalil Pimpleton is probably smaller than his listed height/weight of 5’9” 175-pounds. Pimpleton is a big play threat with great speed and route-running ability. In the upset loss to Northern Illinois, he caught six balls for 130 yards and a touchdown.