2017 NFL Draft Week 7 Risers and Fallers


Week 7 offered many close calls in the outcomes of games such as the Houston win over Tulsa with a Tulsa player stopped inches short of the goal line, and Notre Dame's blown chance to tie the game. There were also overtime wins for No. 2 Ohio State and No. 4 Clemson in games that could have gone either way; and along with those games there were the usual outstanding and disappointing performances to be outlined in this edition of Risers and Fallers.



1.  JACK CICHY -  ILB - 6-1 233 - JRr - WISCONSIN - he received no rating as a college recruit and was a walk-on at Wisconsin. Cichy received little playing time until starting four games in 2015 where he did show signs of becoming a good player, though he didn't receive any All-Conference mention.  Then on to this year and the OT loss to Ohio State where Cichy seemed to be omnipresent with 11 solo tackles, 4 assists, 1 sack, 1.5 other tackles-for-loss and 1 forced fumble.  His instincts and ability to read where the play is going and react to what he sees to making the tackle is outstanding.  His performance can be compared to a FALLER for this week and that would be Raekwon McMillan, who played ILB for Ohio State in the same game.  McMillan was a 5* recruit out of H.S. (that is the highest rating), to being All Conference 2nd Team by the Coaches and All Conference 1st Team by the Media last year and to being a 2016 pre-season 1st Team All American and 1st All Conference selection.  His stats against Wisconsin were 1 solo tackle, 2 assists and no sacks and more than once I saw him get a bad read and head in the wrong direction to where the play was going.  He also has a problem in getting off of blocks.  Based upon his performance in this much anticipated matchup of ranked teams, McMillan would have to take a big drop on draft boards while Jack Cichy, who entered Wisconsin with no fanfare, will now be rising up draft boards.

2.  RYAN RAMCZYK - LT - 6-5 314 - JRr - WISCONSIN - with the exception of those in and around the Badger football program, Ramczyk was an unknown to the football world as he hadn't played a down for the Badgers prior to this season.  Rivals had no rating for him coming out of H.S. and after sitting out a year he attended DIII Wisconsin-Stevens Point for two years and then made his way to Wisconsin.  Having to sit out 2015 under the transfer rules, he could only play on the scout team where he garnered the following accolades:  RB Dare Ogenbowale said "He's a freak, man.  He's a very athletic guy."  Former center Dan Voltz said: "I think he's going to shock a lot of people.  The kid is naturally a freak athlete.  Like one of the most athletic lineman I've ever seen."  And former linebacker Joe Scholbert referred to him as a beast down on the scout team.  So his first appearance on the big stage was the 2016 opener against LSU where he held his own but didn't impress to the point of being a 1st or 2nd round draft choice.  But last Saturday against Ohio State I thought that he more than held his own as he seemed to be playing with more confidence and was more in control of the defender on pass blocking and even on run blocking.  Even though another year at this level would be beneficial to his development, next year will be his sixth out of H.S. as he sat out 1 year after H.S. and then could only be a practice player on the scout team as a transfer in 2015.  Another factor for him in his draft ranking in that this is a very poor year for OTs and especially LTs.  Cam Robinson of Alabama is the highest rated tackle on most analyst's boards, but some questioned his ability to play LT even before Derek Barnett of Tennessee beat him for a sack and a TFL this past weekend so continued good play by Ramczyk could place him in the top 3 or 4 Tackles for the 2017 draft.

3.  NICO FALAH - CENTER - 6-4 280 - JRr - USC - having played sparingly during his three years at USC, he did get to start one game as a center because of injuries in December of 2015 against UCLA where it was reported that he more than held his own against a mighty Bruin interior defensive line that included NT Brian Clark.  And this year his was again slated for a backup role as a tackle as that had been his position.  But again this year he has been pressed into the starting lineup because of injuries at center and this past Saturday against Arizona I thought that he stood out.  His quickness off the snap and into his opponent was very good and his leverage, contact balance and ability to get to the second level to take on linebackers was also impressive.  His athleticism for the position is much more than adequate, but he is undersized at 280 lbs. and next year presents a problem as USC has highly rated underclassmen waiting in the wings at all 5 OL positions.  Falah was no slouch himself as he had a 4* rating by Rivals out of H.S. but may again be in a backup role next year unless he can continue to perform at a high level this year.

4.  CARLOS HENDERSON - WR - 5-11 191 - JRr - LOUISIANA TECH - put up ridiculous numbers against Umass this past Saturday with 12 receptions for 326 yards and a 27.2 per catch average and 5 TDs, with a long of 83 yards.  This is on top on the prior week's stat line of 8-232-29.9-3TD-63L against Western Kentucky.  He was hampered by injuries in 2015 but still averaged 21.5 yards per catch on 36 receptions and in 2014 averaged 19.6 yards per catch.  Counting 2014, 2015 and 7 games of 2016, he has averaged 20.7 yards per catch on 107 receptions, which is incredible.  While I didn't see the Umass game, I did catch the Western Kentucky game the week before where he had 3 TDs in the first half and proved that he can get deep, is a hands catcher, can run after the catch and flashed instant acceleration up-field after receiving a quick out pass.  He will still have to prove that he can go over the middle as most of his play is on the outside.

5.  R. J. SHELTON - WR - 5-10 205 - SR. - MICHIGAN STATE - while the Spartans woes continue this slot receiver put up a 7-190-27.1-2TD stat line in the 54 - 40 loss to Northwestern to keep himself in contention as a draftable player.



1.  DESHONE KIZER - QB - 6-4 230 - SOr - NOTRE DAME - after some analysts had promoted him No. 1 of the QB class mostly based upon his potential, he has fizzled.  Last week's loss and poor performance against N.C. State could be attributed to the awful weather that the game was played in, but this week's poor performance is on his shoulders.  His poor play led to a benching and then when his replacement, Malik Zaire was ineffective, Kizer was reinserted into the game. And while he did have some good moments, his overall play was disappointing.  His decision making and accuracy are being called into question and the thinking is that his confidence has been shaken.

2.  BRAD KAAYA - QB - 6-4 210 - JR. - MIAMI - another of the highly rated QBs whose play against North Carolina was disappointing.  Miami did have a chance to win the game but he and his teammates couldn't make the plays.  His decision making along with missing on some makeable throws have raised doubts and his inability to move around in the pocket and foot quickness are becoming more of a concern.



1.  JOE MIXON - RB - 6-1 226 - SOPHr - OKLAHOMA - may be presenting a challenge to Christian McCaffrey of Stanford as the most versatile player in the country.  Mixon has proven to be an exceptional runner and pass receiver as well as a punt returner and kick returner, just as McCaffrey is, but Mixon may be one up on McCaffrey as he threw a touchdown pass to DeDe Westbrook this past Saturday.

2.  D'ONTA FOREMAN - RB - 6-1 249 - JR. - TEXAS - has quietly put together a string of five consecutive games of 100 plus rushing yards.  He missed Week 2 of this year so the streak would consist of the five games that he has played in this year wherein he gained 131 - 157 - 148 - 159 and 136 yards with 8TDs.  Add in the last two games of 2015, which were also over 100 yards per game, and he should be getting more notice.  Only a 2* RB out of H.S. he is a powerful back who breaks tackles, runs with a forward lean (behind his pads), and has surprising speed.  Someone described him as a back who "runs angry." He was to be a rotational backup to Chris Warren, but Warren went down with a knee injury which has left Foreman as the main RB.  Foreman himself has had to deal with ankle, groin and abdomen injuries while compiling those stats.  Usually a player with this type of production would be in the Heisman conversation and he would have even more TDs but Texas brings in Tyrone Swoopes on goal line situations.  One drawback is that he only has 2 pass receptions after five games this year and only had 5 in 2015.

3.  DEREK BARNETT vs. CAM ROBINSON - pro scouts and NFL executives were eagerly awaiting this matchup and, while it is generally considered that Barnett got the best of Robinson, Barnett only had 3 solo tackles in the game.  One of those was a sack and forced fumble where he clearly whipped Robinson.  Another of those 3 was a tackle for loss and he also had a tipped pass that he intercepted. And while these can be game changers, they all happened early in the game and thereafter Barnett was relatively quiet.  And I don't know that Robinson was at fault for Barnett's tipping and intercepting of that pass.

4.  JOE WILLIAMS - RB - 5-11 205 SR. - UTAH - retired from football earlier this season because of recurring injuries but was lured into returning because of a depleted RB corps. He turned in a 34-179-1TD stat line in the win against Oregon State.  Utah coaches claimed that he had run a 4.35 to 4.38 forty earlier in the year and he was a draftable player prior to retiring so time will tell if he will continue with his football career.

5.  TARIK COHEN - RB - 5-6 173 - SR. - NORTH CAROLINA A&T - could he be the next Darren Sproles? Sproles is now listed at 190 lbs. but was 5-6 and 170 at his NFL Combine and very fast.  Cohen was a track star in H.S. and has rushed for over 1,000 yards for three straight years and has been All-Conference for those same three years. He was also the MEAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2015 and the Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2014.  He is on course for another 1,000 yard season and has shown that he has good hands as a receiver.  Cohen is known for his off the field antic of performing back-flips while catching a ball. 

6.  ARMANI WATTS, FS, and JUSTIN EVANS, SS, of Texas A&M have been proclaimed the best safety tandem in the country, but a case could be made for MARCUS WILLIAMS, FS, and CHASE HANSEN, SS, of UTAH.  After seven games, Hansen and Williams lead the Utes in solo tackles with 23 and 22, respectively, while Hansen also has 4.5 TFL, an interception, 2 pass break ups,  2 QBH, 1 fumble recovery and 1 forced fumble.  Williams has an additional 1 TFL, 3 interceptions, 2 pass break ups, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 forced fumble.  Evans and Williams are good bets for All-American honors and 1st, 2nd or 3rd round draft choices while Watts and Hansen are also certain to be drafted.  Also deserving of mention is Penn State's duo of FS MARCUS ALLEN and SS MALIK GOLDEN, who are the two top tacklers on the team and have also made plays in the passing game.