2014 NFL Draft Risers and Fallers - Week 10 Football

Fresno State Football Derek Carr




This far into the season scouts and analysts are looking for consistency from the players in order to establish their rankings in this confounding process of evaluating players who can play in the NFL.  And here are my observations from Week 10.



1.  Derek Carr - QB 6-3 210 Sr. - Fresno State

Carr threw for 487 yards and 3 TDs to lead the Bulldogs to a 41-23 victory over Nevada and an 8-0 start in Fresno's quest for a BCS bowl.  But Carr's passing ability was already well known.  What I discovered in this game was that he can also run with the ball when needed to do so.  He has good speed for a QB and did, in fact, run for a TD in this game.  What was also revealed was that his coaches have stated that he has total command of the offense and what each player is to do and also has an understanding of what the defense is trying to do. And whenever they questioned his decision making, they found that he was correct in his reading of the defense.  Like Yogi has said, "It ain't over till it's over," and Carr could still rise to being the top QB taken in the 2014 draft by being the most NFL ready.


2.  Sammy Watkins - WR 6-1 205 Jr. - Clemson

Now the top rated WR on everybody's board, Watkins has risen to that level by his play and not because of the down season that Marqise Lee of USC is having.  It has become apparent that Watkin’s ability is above that of all the others and he is the only one that truly qualifies as an elite receiver.  His almost instant acceleration after catching a pass in the flat, which leads into pull away speed for long gainers, is a back breaker for defenses.  He also has the strength to break tackles and is known for his ability to gain yards after the catch and to gain yards after contact.  In Saturday's game against Virginia he came back towards the QB on a broken play and caught a pass with his hands while his arms were fully extended back towards the QB.  He could easily be the best hands catcher in the nation and is one who can high point the ball and who has a wide catch radius.


3.  Josh Harper - WR 6-1 182 - Jr. - Fresno State

Harper’s WR teammates Davante Adams and Isaiah Burse were 1st & 2nd Team All-Conference last year while Harper missed the season with a groin injury, but he is back to form an impressive receiving corps for QB  Derek Carr.  Since he wasn't that well known, it might be that he belongs with the Sleepers but his 17 catches for 253 yards and two TDs against Nevada will bring him out from under the radar.  He really worked the sidelines well for a number of receptions and has good quickness in and out of his cuts and good speed after making the catch.


4.  Darqueze Dennard - CB 5-11 188 Sr. - Michigan State

Even though Dennard’s Spartan teammates such as Denicos Allen, Ed Davis and Shilique Calhoun deserve much of the credit for the defensive shut down of Michigan, CB Darqueze Dennard was also outstanding for his part in this heated rivalry. Dennard did have three solo tackles, one assist, one forced fumble and one pick which are good numbers for a CB, but it was his coverage of Michigan star WR Jeremy Gallon that proved his importance in the victory.  Gallon did have three catches for 57 yards on the Wolverines first possession, but only two catches for 10 yards the rest of the game when he was mostly covered by Dennard.


5.  Aaron Donald - DT 6-0 275 Sr. - Pittsburgh

This is the third year in a row that Donald has piled up sacks, tackles for loss and QB hurries in numbers not usually seen from a DT.  Too short and too light to be a DT in the NFL, he could qualify as a DE despite being about 6 feet tall.  Donald is extremely quick off the ball and uses an arm over or swim technique to penetrate into the backfield and disrupt plays.  His extremely long arms help compensate for his lack of height and with his quickness, technique, and tenacity to fight through blocks, he is an interesting prospect as a DE in the NFL.



1.  Ja'Wuan James - ROT 6-6 323 Sr. - Tennessee

James and the whole Tennessee offensive line were considered to be one of the best in the U.S. but were exposed by the Missouri Sack Quartet as having a weakness with speed pass rushers.  James was especially vulnerable as he was beaten to the outside and to the inside and struggled to the point where the Vols had to give him help to contain the rushers.


2.  Sean Mannion - QB 6-5 214 Redshirt Junior - Oregon State

Still leading the nation in total passing yards and having been written up positively in this column last week, Mannion reversed field in this game against USC by making some bad decisions in trying to force throws into tight coverage and not handling pressure well.  His limited ability to evade the rush was also apparent in this game, although in his defense his O-Line didn't provide adequate protection.



1.  Mitch Morse - ROT 6-5 305 Redshirt Jr. - Missouri

Morse only played on special teams in 2011, started seven games at center and four at ROT, which is where he is playing this year. He hasn't gained any honors or notoriety to date (other than Academic honors), but after watching the Tennessee game, I believe that if this is his level of play, then he can play in the NFL.  He uses his long arms well in both pass blocking and run blocking, delivers a blow, has good leg drive and has good blocking technique and balance.  To my knowledge, he isn't listed in any tackle rankings but as Missouri remains high in the polls, he will get noticed.  His versatility will also weigh in his favor as he has played center and ROT, and with his skill-set, could also play guard.  Proof of just how good he and LOT Justin Britt are would be to watch some of the Tigers practices as they would be lined up against the Missouri Sack Quartet.



1. Brian Chancellor - KR/WR 5-9 183 Sr. - North Texas

Some players are fast and then some players are really fast and that is the case with Brian Chancellor on kick returns and as a WR.  He is one of the nation's leaders in kick returns averaging 29.0 per return and has the type of speed that is noticeable.


2.  Martavis Bryant - WR 6-5 200 Jr. - Clemson

While most of the attention is going to his All-American teammate, Sammy Watkins, Bryant is also showing a lot of ability in the receiving department.  Body control, catch radius and play making ability are his strengths.


3.  The Missouri Sack Quartet

I'm still not sure how Missouri lost the South Carolina game but the four defensive ends continued their sacking ways against Tennessee and again deserve mention.  Comprised of starters, Michael Sam, 6-3 255 Sr. and Kony Ealy, 6-5 275 Jr. and alternates (I have trouble calling them backups or substitutes), Shane Ray, 6-3 245 Soph, and Markus Golden, 6-3 255 Jr., this Sack Quartet created problems for the vaunted Tennessee O-Line and raised havoc in the Vols backfield.  I'm not convinced that the starters are better than the alternates as they all have that explosive pass rush, which puts offensive lineman on the defensive. But this system is working well for the Tigers.


4.  Logan Thomas - QB 6-6 257 Sr. - Virginia Tech

While still possessing many tools to be a great QB, Thomas has now followed up a four interception game, which led to a loss, with a two interception and two fumbles lost game, which also led to a loss.  As this is Thomas’ third year as a starting QB and his second year of regressing, it will be interesting to see which NFL team takes the plunge and tries to develop him as a QB.  It is still of interest to note that coming out of high school he was the third rated tight end in the country before he was converted to QB at Virginia Tech.  And it is also interesting to note his vital measurements going into his senior year at VT as compared to Rob Gronkowski:

Logan Thomas       6-6 254 with a 4.67 forty                                         

Rob Gronkowski     6-6 258 with a 4.68 forty    



1.  Why doesn't Iowa pass to tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz more often?

2.  The Miami Hurricanes had difficulty moving the ball against Florida State yet when ROT Seantrel Henderson, a mountain of a man at 6-8 346, was in the game he moved a whole section of the Noles defense and Miami gained significant yardage, yet they kept taking him out of the game?

3.  If Tom Savage, the QB at Pittsburgh, was the QB at Florida State, how good would his statistics be; and conversely, if Jameis Winston, the QB at Florida State, was the QB at Pittsburgh, how good would his statistics be?