Week 9 of the college season had some exciting defensive match-ups that has led to a board dominated by defense below. Some players have their stock up after their performance while others have their stock down after struggles. Many names are still going under the radar and we learned a lot about them this week.
Kyler Gordon, CB, Washington
The Huskies defense was a big reason for their upset against Stanford, and Gordon was the biggest catalyst. The athletic Junior continues to have consistently sticky coverage and great make-up speed even when he is caught out of position. The stat sheet doesn’t jump off the page with no tackles and 2 pass break-ups, but Gordon was absolutely locking down his side of the field. The evidence is starting to build that Gordon is a starting NFL CB with all the traits you want in a Top 50 pick.
Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State
The sack leader on the season for the Nittany Lions, Ebiketie (and the rest of the Penn State defense) had an excellent game against the Buckeyes. Ebiketie was matched up against potential Top 50 LT Nicholas Petit-Frere and abused him for much of the game. With good penetration and multiple tackles for loss, Ebiketie filled gaps in the run and was getting good pressure throughout the game.
If people have been sleeping on the girth of defenders for the Nittany Lions who have NFL potential, they will miss out on some good Day 2 and 3 prospects who can have professional roles for a long time.
Charleston Rambo, WR, Miami (FL)
Rambo went into his Junior season as one of the top 5 WRs for the 2021 Draft according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper. After a disappointing season in Oklahoma, Rambo transferred to Miami where things didn’t seem to gel with D’Eriq King. Now, freshman phenom Tyler Van Dyke is starting for the Hurricanes and Rambo is flashing that pro potential he has always had.
Rambo’s 7 catches for 101 yards against Pitt was a huge part of the Miami victory. He was flashing good agility off the line of scrimmage and the Pitt defense had trouble covering him in man coverage. As Rambo has gotten comfortable in the offense, his technique continues improving as well. Though he is no longer a Top 100 type pick, Rambo could be a #3 or #4 WR on an NFL time and have some productive games.
Tyreke Smith, EDGE, Ohio State
The Buckeyes always seem to have a senior pass rusher who gets drafted higher than anticipated and finds his way into being a rotational contributor at the next level. This year, that is Tyreke Smith. The key play against the Nittany Lions for Smith was an excellent pass rush around the edge for a strip sack giving the Buckeyes the ball back.
Smith possesses long arms and good fundamentals to force OTs to work hard and stop him. He has a really nice spin move that has proved useful against weaker competition. Though he will rarely dominate, Smith is good enough to make an NFL roster and not be a point of weakness.
Nicholas Petit-Frere, OT, Ohio State
Thayer Munford, OT, Ohio State
The Ohio State Offensive Line duo hasn’t had the best season and their draft stock is in flux. Petit-Frere had some good plays, but overall, Penn State’s Arnold Ebeketie had a ton of success against him throughout the game. Petit-Frere just doesn’t have that finishing blow despite his athleticism.
Munford has been playing Guard for the Buckeyes and he was not getting reliable push in the run game. Though the right side of the line was much worse, Munford/Petit-Frere should be firm rushing yardage every play. Unfortunately, the Nittany Lions front 7 was easily filling every gap on the left side causing a lack of rushing ability by TreVeyon Henderson for most of the game. Munford profiles better as a Tackle than a Guard (which is rare to say) because his foot work and kick slide abilities are not being utilized at the moment.
Both Buckeye lineman are likely Day 2 picks at this point and still have NFL upside, but there are becoming more question marks about if they are true starting NFL linemen, so they have their stock down.
Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor
The 2022 Safety class has some opening after Kyle Hamilton for players to move up and become high draft picks. Pitre was one that many were excited about based on his usage all over the field from stopping the run to rushing the passer. He even had a great strip sack in the game against Texas that continued to flashed that potential.
Unfortunately though, Pitre was picked on often by Texas QB Casey Thompson in the pass game. When Thompson saw a one-on-one with Pitre, he went deep against him with disastrous results for Baylor. Consider Pitre’s stock down.
Names To Know
Sam Hartman, QB, Wake Forest
Hartman has been added to our Watch List after his leadership of the undefeated Wake Forest team is making waves in college football. He is a 4-year sophomore who has rushing athleticism combined with a good arm and decision making. Though he may not be quite as toolsy as the NFL would want, his discipline and ability to read defenses is top tier already. Hartman is gaining steam quickly and may play his way into being a solid NFL draft pick.
Hartman put up a clinic against Duke with 3 passing TDs and 2 rushing TDs. He did a little of everything. Stay in the pocket to dink and dunk a big drive? Check. Throw the ball downfield with accuracy against coverage? Check. Take off running for big plays and scores? Check. It’s hard not to be impressed with his poise and ability as a true weapon.
Though he is unexpected to declare this year, if Hartman can pull some big upsets and flash NFL talent, there is big upside with his skillset and resume so far.
Mateo Durant, RB, Duke
Despite Duke’s pitiful performance as a whole, Durant absolutely shined against a tough Wake Forest defense. He averaged over 5 yards a carry running for 103 yards on 20 carries. The Blue Devils offensive line barely gave Durant anything to work with, but he made nice cut-backs and got skinny through a few holes to burst past them into the second level. He is a tough runner and a great Day 3 pick who can contribute in a pinch.
The 4-year senior has 6 games this season with over 100 yards rushing averaging 5.25 carries per game so far this season. With a non-existent passing game, Durant has been the entire offense and showcases a physical demeanor with the grit needed for the pros.
Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
Jones may have been the biggest story of the week with his game winning 100 yard kickoff return for a TD to beat undefeated SMU. He also had a big interception of Tanner Mordecai in the game as a slot corner as well as a big tackle for loss early in the game. He has football instincts and speed, and that translates to the pros. Jones was flying around the field on defense with solid coverage and even tough tackling against the run. I have been way too low on him and he is now squarely in my top 15 CBs.
Plus, there is more for this absolute weapon. He has FOUR return TDs this season. He has 10 receptions on offense and even 2 rushes! When there is a player who can play in all three phases of the game, that is just a good football player. Jones is a definite name to know.
Carlton Martial, LB, Troy
There isn’t much to love about the 4-4 Trojans, but Martial is one shining spot for that team. He is a wrap-up tackler with great technique and good downhill movement. Against Coastal Carolina, Martial was stuffing the run pretty consistently forcing the Chanticleer offense to be one dimensional. He was a big reason the Trojans kept it within a touchdown in a competitive game.
Martial is a 3rd day pick who can exceed his draft status. If he can have good work-outs, the production should cue teams in that Martial is at least a 2-down thumper type who can keep the run game in check.