2017 NFL Draft Week 6 Risers and Fallers


In keeping with the theme of touting lesser known players as Risers in NFL scouts eyes and mostly noting more highly rated players as Fallers, Week 6 provided new names for consideration.  As an aside, I don't think that the Notre Dame - N.C. State game should have been played as they played in a monsoon.  The Virginia Tech - North Carolina game had heavy rains but didn't appear to hinder Virginia Tech as much as it affected North Carolina and Houston suffered its first loss of the season in heavy rain against Navy.  The stats of top rated players DeShone Kizer, QB of Notre Dame, Mitch Trubisky, QB and Ryan Switzer, WR of North Carolina along with  QB Ryan Finley of N.C. State, suffered immensely from playing in the rainy weather, while RB Matthew Dayes of N.C. State flourished in this weather and became a Riser after a stat line of 23-125-5.5 average-0TD with 3 receptions against Notre Dame and proved to be a better "slosher" than anyone else.



1.  DEDE WESTBROOK - WR - 5-11 176 - SRr - OKLAHOMA - not exactly a lesser known talent, but he was second fiddle to teammate and New York Giants 2nd Round Draft choice Sterling Shepard last year and was limited during the first few games this season by a hamstring injury.  He had a good game in Week 5 but this week against rival Texas he went on a record breaking tear with 10 receptions for 232 yards (a Sooners record) and 3 TDs.  Most of all it was his flat out speed that impressed along with his hands, run after the catch ability and grace as a runner.  His three TDs were of 71, 47 and 42 yards.  Somewhat remindful of Josh Doctson of TCU who was the 1st Round Draft choice of the Washington Redskins whose speed and fluidity were major factors in his draft position last year.  This kind of production has raised his draft stock from that of a marginal middle to late round prospect to a top three round type prospect.  Aside from his ability, there are other factors that NFL teams will have to consider in his overall profile and one is whether his thin frame can withstand the pounding in the NFL and his arrest on a trespass charge.

2.  HAASON REDDICK - DE - 6-1 230 - SRr - TEMPLE - with 8 solo tackles, 3 assists, 2 sacks and 2 additional tackles for loss, his speed and athleticism were on full display against Memphis.  He will have to be considered as an OLB by NFL teams who will then have to decide if his speed and production can overcome his lack of size for the position.  With his speed and tackling ability, he should also be a major contributor on special teams.

3.  JOHN ROSS - WR - 5-11 196 - JRr - WASHINGTON - in the past he was known as a speed guy who excelled primarily as a kick returner who missed the 2015 season with a knee injury. He has returned to still being a speed guy who is also rounding into a complete receiver and is also utilized on jet sweeps because of his speed.  His stat line of 9-94-3TDs against Oregon exemplifies his development and major bump up draft boards.  His coaches claim that he ran a 4.25 forty and, even if anywhere close to that, it will draw comparisons to Will Fuller from Notre Dame and the No. 1 draft choice of the Houston Texans last year.

4.  DERRICK NNADI - DT - 6-1 312 - JR - FLORIDA STATE -  known as the Noles strongest man by far as he can bench press 525 pounds and squat 750, he is hard to dislodge at the point of attack.  Slowed earlier this year by a nagging ankle injury, he had his best game so far this year against Miami with 6 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 sack and was a major disruptor from his NT position as he clogged the middle of the line and even generated a push as a pass rusher. Expect to hear more from him as the season progresses.

5.  RIVER CRACRAFT - WR - 6-0 203 - SR - WASHINGTON STATE - this crafty receiver had 7 receptions for 130 yards and an 18.6 average with 1 TD in the rout of Stanford.  Known for his route running and hands, he has a knack for getting open and some of those 7 catches against Stanford were of the spectacular variety.



1.  J. T. BARRETT - QB - 6-1 225 -JRr - OHIO STATE - while his ability to run with the football was never in doubt and he proved that again in the win against Indiana, it is his passing stat line of 9-21-93yds.-1td-1I that left a lot to be desired.  It wasn't just the stat line which can be misleading at times, it was that some of his throws were off the mark.  Being shorter than the desired height for the QB position, he has a lot to prove if he is to become an NFL QB.

2.  C.J. BEATHARD - QB - 6-2 209 - SRr - IOWA - after performing well in 2015 while playing with an injured hip and then undergoing hip and sports hernia surgery after the season, it may be unfair to include him with the Fallers.  In addition, the problems with Iowa's OL and the lack of quality WRs has been well documented, which have played a part but still his stat line of 17-31-54.8%-0TD-2 interceptions against Minnesota in a 14 - 7 win were not impressive and has been more of the same during the course of this season.  He hasn't been able to make positive plays so as to rally the team out of its lackluster play.

3.  MITCH LEIDNER - QB - 6-4 237 - SRr - MINNESOTA - built up by some prior to the season, his performance in the 14 - 7 loss to Iowa was pretty poor with a 13-33-39.4%-166 yards-0TD-2I stat line.  He was short on some throws and threw into traffic on others.  His size, frame, running ability and passing ability are somewhat like Tim Tebow and anymore games like this one and he should consider a switch to TE.

4.  FOLORUNSO FATUKASI - DT - 6-3 310 - JRr - UCONN - in 2015 he played way above his H.S. 2* rating and had 30 solo tackles, 8 sacks with an additional 7 tackles for loss, 4 QB hurries and 4 forced rumbles.  After 6 games in 2016 he has 10 solos, 2 sacks, 0 TFL, 1 QBH, 0 forced fumbles and 1 blocked kick.  He isn't quick off the snap and gets hung up on blocks. He isn't getting a push and is playing to his lowly 2* rating rather than above it as he did in 2015.



1.  KEITH KIRKWOOD - WR - 6-2 218 - JRr - TEMPLE - teammates consider him as a big guy with speed, while Coach Matt Rhule thought that he just had to develop an aggressive attitude in going after every pass.  He is surely showing signs as his length, speed, fluidity and use of his big body to block out defenders were on display against Memphis as he snatched a couple of passes in traffic.  While only having 4 receptions (Temple does not have a wide open passing attack), they were for 83 yards and a 20.8 per catch average with 0 TDs.  Still a relatively unknown as he was only a 2* recruit out of H. S. with no playing time to speak of prior to this year, he should now be on the radar of NFL scouts.

2.  MARQUEL LEE - ILB - 6-3 240 - SR - WAKE FOREST - had an outstanding game in the win against Syracuse with 12 solo tackles, 3 assists, 2 sacks and an additional 3.5 tackles for loss.  The 12 solo tackles doubled his previous highest output and will put him on scouts’ radar to see if he can build on this outstanding performance.

3.  DARRELL BROWN - 6-3 305 - SRr - LOUISIANA TECH - Second Team All-Conference in 2015 where he played LT and continues to play in 2016. His play in the Thursday night game against Western Kentucky deserves consideration as he showed a natural knee bend and flexibility along with athleticism for an OL.  His shortness in length would dictate a move to guard when he tries out for an NFL team.



1. CHANDLER MILLER - CENTER - 6-3 290 - SOPHr -TULSA - only a 2* recruit from a small town in Oklahoma and one that the Sooners and Cowboys wouldn't consider, but Miller is a very athletic center for Tulsa who pulls right or left on almost every running play except short yardage and is very quick, fluid, agile and with good hip roll and balance.  Only a redshirt sophomore, and I am not sure if his frame can add any more good weight, but he is a player to watch for future development.

2.  KEEVAN LUCAS - 5-9 195 - SR - TULSA - out in 2015 with an injury, this slot type receiver has good quickness in and out of his cuts along with good hands and had 12-113-0TD line against SMU; and along with teammate JOSH ATKINSON - WR - 6-1 208 - SR - TULSA - who was slowed some by an Achilles in 2015, yet still managed a stat line of 76-1071-14.1-5TDs.  He used his long frame for an 11-115-1TD performance in the exciting 43-40 OT win against SMU, which included some nice catches.



1.  CURTIS SAMUEL - RB-WR - 5-11 200 - JR - OHIO STATE - is drawing rave reviews and is being pushed by Coach Urban Meyer as a Heisman candidate.  But since he plays a hybrid RB-WR position with the Buckeyes, will he be a WR or RB in the NFL?  He reminds me of a faster Theo Riddick of the Lions.

2.  CHRISTIAN McCAFFREY - RB - 6-0 205 - JR - STANFORD - since he is considered to have too small a frame to be a full time RB once he enters the NFL, should he be thought of as a slot receiver and punt returner in the mold of a Julian Edelman?

3.  JAHAD THOMAS - RB - 5-10 188 - SR - TEMPLE - who some think highly of as a RB but in the 10/6/16 game against Memphis he gained just 37 yards on 13 carries, BUT also caught 6 passes for 121 yards and 2 TDs, which might indicate a try as a slot receiver, which is what I envisioned for Ameer Abdullah but the Detriot Lions decided otherwise and kept him as a RB.

4.  Last week I had Jamaal Williams, RB from BYU as the Comeback Player of the Year but his teammate, QB Taysom Hill - 6-2 230 - SR - also deserves consideration.  After sustaining a foot injury in the first game of the 2015 season, he was out for the rest of the year and has returned to win the starting QB job over Tanner Mangum.  Now under the tutelage of Coach Ty Detmer, the 1990 Heisman Trophy winner as a QB who played at BYU and with the experience of 12 years in the NFL, he has guided Hill into becoming more of a pocket passer who goes through his progressions and curtailed his tendency to take off and run, although he still can run very well.  Interestingly, there were at least two plays that I saw Hill execute in the win against Michigan State on Saturday that were exactly what Dak Prescott successfully executed a day later against the Bengals.



NICK HOLLEY - RB - 5-10 198 - JRr - KENT STATE - was the MAC Player of the Week for his 24 carries for 234 yards and a 9.3 rush average and 4TDs and long run of 67 yards against Buffalo as a RB.  Last week he was the MAC East Player of the Week for a game against Akron when he played QB where his pass-run option abilities resulted in a solid performance.  But what is interesting is the comparison between Nick Holley and Julian Edelman.  The forty times in the chart below were found on CBS Draftscout and are the best, worst and average times.                                                                                                                         

NICK HOLLEY                5-10 198     4.46 - 4.69 (4.56)    RB-QB-WR @ Kent State                                                                                    

JULIAN EDELMAN      5-10 195      4.42 - 4.63 (4.52)    QB                @ Kent State  

Both were H.S. QBs and Edelman continued as a QB through 1 year of JC and 3 years at Kent State where he was known more for his running ability than passing ability. Edelman became a slot receiver and punt returner when he became a New England Patriot.  Holley became a WR while at Kent State, but was switched to RB in the spring of 2014 and this year has played RB and QB, while also being the punt returner.  Edelman is known for his toughness, football intelligence and work ethic.  Holley when not a starter in 2013 made 10 tackles and had a fumble recovery on special teams and in 2014 was the co-recipient of an award for courage, dedication, attitude and commitment while earning MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete award.  In 2015 Holley's season was cut short by an injury, but still caught 7 passes for 46 yards and 2 TDs as a RB before the injury.  Edelman was a 2* rated recruit as a QB out of JC while Holley was a 2* rated recruit as an athlete out of H.S.  But where Edelman stood out was during his Pro Day at Kent State after his senior year when he had a 3.91 second time in the short shuttle (which would show quickness and cutting ability), while the best time at the combine that year was 3.96 (Edelman was not invited).  So if Holley can turn in a good short shuttle time when he finishes at Kent State, perhaps he can follow in the footsteps of fellow Kent Stater Julian Edelman.