We are going to change it up this week. Over the last six weeks, I have given you seven players who were going up and five players who were going down. Starting this week, I am just going to look at the seven players I watched in the week that impressed me enough to move them up in my position rankings.
At the bottom of each column, I will drop some other observations about eligible 2022 NFL Draft prospects.
1 – Micah McFadden, LB, Indiana
McFadden is a true MIKE linebacker. He is an aggressive tackler who gets north-south quickly. McFadden has good size (6’2” 235). He finished the game against Michigan State with nine tackles (four solos), 1.5 sacks, and one PBU.
2 – Austin Allen, TE, Nebraska
Austin Allen stood out to me last season while watching a few Cornhuskers games. He is a huge target at 6’8” 260-pounds. Allen is a skilled route runner for a man of his voluminosity. He ran a great corner route for a big gain against Minnesota. Allen finished with five catches for 121 yards and a score against the Gophers.
3 – Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming
I had heard a lot of buzz surrounding Chad Muma but this was my first chance to watch him. He inevitably will get comparisons to his former teammate, Logan Wilson. Wilson is having a breakout sophomore campaign for the Cincinnati Bengals this year. Muma moves faster in space than Wilson but he isn’t the same kind of linebacker. He doesn’t play as well in coverage but moves sideline-to-sideline quicker. Wilson ended up as a third-round selection and Muma could end up in that same area by the time it is all said and done. Against Fresno State, Muma finished with 11 tackles (8 solos).
4 – Breece Hall, RB, Iowa State
Breece Hall decided to remind everyone that he should still be in the RB1 conversation. Hall took the opening handoff 75 yards for a score against K-State. He ended up with 35 offensive touches, 232 yards, and two touchdowns. Hall will still be a solid RB2 for me behind Isaiah Spiller but I wouldn’t be shocked if a team had him ahead of the Texas A&M back.
5 – Velus Jones Jr., WR, Tennessee
Every time I watch Jones he seems to develop more as a receiver. It took until his sixth collegiate season but he has finally gotten there. Jones played his first four years at Southern Cal before transferring to Tennessee last season. He is one of the top kick returners in the nation so becoming a quality receiver is great. I expect him to receive a Senior Bowl invite as not only a native of Mobile but a skilled receiver and special teams player. Jones caught six of his eight targets for 93 yards against Mississippi. He also had a 40-yard punt return.
6 – Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
I saw a remarkable improvement in DTR from the week zero game against Hawaii and the Washington game this week. He is throwing with more poise in the pocket to go along with his significant athletic advantage. DTR has a big arm despite his elongated windup. In a senior class that has a dearth of QB talent, he has a chance to elevate himself throughout the process. A big week at the Senior Bowl can get him into the second-day conversation like Kellen Mond a year ago. Against U-Dub, Thompson-Robinson completed 21-26 passes for 183 yards and two TDs. He also ran 12 times for 87 yards and a score.
7 – Zion Tupuola-Fetui, EDGE, Washington
Zion Tupuola-Fetui didn’t register a stat against the Bruins. That doesn’t matter. The fact he was on the field only SIX MONTHS after Achilles surgery is nothing short of superhuman. It will be interesting to see where ZTF finishes the season in his recovery and if he decides to forgo his remaining eligibility or not.
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
Unfortunately, this was another week of injuries to NFL Draft prospects. LSU edge rusher Ali Gaye ended his season after having surgery. He left the game against Kentucky with a “stinger” but none of the reports are specific as to what his surgery is set to fix. Miami (FL) RB Cam’Ron Harris injured his knee against North Carolina and will miss the remainder of the season. Harris was a borderline draftable talent. Tennessee’s emerging senior QB Hendon Hooker left the game with the Rebels with 18 seconds left in the contest. It didn’t look great at the time but head coach Josh Heupel said that he is day-to-day.
Purdue WR David Bell went off against #2 Iowa on Saturday. Bell is one of the top WRs in this class and showed it. He caught 11 passes for 240 yards and a score in the Boilermakers upset win. I DVR’d the replay of this game to get a look at how Bell torched the stingy Iowa D.
Finally, we have to talk about the best overall player in the 2022 Draft class, Oregon edge rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux. The freaky Duck had an astonishing ELEVEN QB pressures in the second half against Cal. In a class without many “sure things”, it sure seems like Thibodeaux is one of them.
#Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux gave us all a reminder last night why he is in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick in April.
He had 11 pressures in the 2nd half! Pure dominance. pic.twitter.com/Rm6VlfVE68
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 16, 2021