• Zach Pratt

Zach's Draft Corner: Top-10 Prospect Ranking Update/What to Watch

Image Credit: Andrew Giesemann

Welcome to Zach’s Draft Corner, where it’s always amateur hour.

We are nearing the halfway point of the regular season, so I feel like now is as good of a time as any to take another look at my preseason top 10. Are these prospects still in the top 10? Are they performing as advertised? Or are there some demons creeping up that could knock these guys out of the top spots? Let's take a look.

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, University of Alabama

6'1", 218 pounds

113/148 for 1,718 yards, 23 touchdowns, 0 interceptions through 5 games

Biggest game left - vs. LSU, November 9

There were two quarterbacks in my preseason top 10, so let's start with the good. Tua has been sensational so far this season, though it's hard to argue that Alabama has really played that tough of a schedule. However, Tua can only play the teams on his schedule, and he's dominating them in the exact way you would want a top quarterback prospect to dominate lesser opponents. Tua has separated himself as QB1. It looks like the SEC Southpaw will be the first overall pick come April.

Justin Herbert, QB, University of Oregon

6'6", 234 pounds

116/162 for 1,341 yards, 15 touchdowns, 1 interception through 5 games

Biggest game left - at Washington, October 19

Now for the bad. Justin Herbert has been okay. He hasn't progressed much, if at all, especially in his general accuracy and decision-making. He completes passes, but not in the best spots. Herbert looked to have QB2 locked down, but it's not so simple anymore. With the breakout season of Joe Burrow from LSU and the progression of Jake Fromm from Georgia, there looks to be a challenge at the QB2 spot now. I still give Herbert the edge, but he's going to need to up his game if he wants to stay there.

Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson University

5'10", 200 pounds

462 yards on 67 attempts, 6.9 YPC, 5 touchdowns, 10 catches for 90 yards through 5 games

Biggest game left - @ North Carolina State, November 9

Etienne's best trait was his speed, and that hasn't gone anywhere. However, Clemson's offense as a whole has not performed exceptionally well so far this season, even against their joke of a schedule. For a home run hitter, averaging only 6.9 yards per carry and less than 100 yards per game is not good production. The positive to take from Etienne's junior season is that he is being utilized much more as a receiver, which can only help his draft stock. Etienne still has exceptional talent, but it's looking like he's more of a late first round type running back as opposed to a true top-ten player. While I will likely have a few Round 1 grades on running backs this year, Etienne is out of my top 10.

Jerry Jeudy, WR, University of Alabama

6'1", 192 pounds

38 catches for 488 yards, 6 touchdowns through 5 games

Biggest game left - vs. LSU, November 9

Jeudy's stock has not changed one bit. He is still a complete wide receiver who combines above-average size with great to elite speed, route running, hands, and vision after the catch. Jeudy is the best receiver prospect I have seen in a few years, and he will likely maintain his top-ten status all season.

Andrew Thomas, OT, University of Georgia

6'5", 320 pounds

5 starts at left tackle, averaged 250.4 yards rushing per game

Biggest game left - vs. Florida in Jacksonville, FL, November 2

Another player who has performed just as we had all hoped. Andrew Thomas is an elite tackle prospect and should hear his name called in the first hour of the draft next April. His combination of size, speed, strength, and technique is unmatched in this class.

A.J. Epenesa, DE, University of Iowa

6'5", 277 pounds

2 sacks through 5 games

Biggest game left - at Wisconsin, November 9

The stats aren’t great, but Epenesa is just as good of a prospect now as he was before. If anything, I might like him even more because he actually has added something to his game. In prior seasons, Epenesa was simply asked to pin his ears back and attack the quarterback. As an every-down player this season, Epenesa has to read the offense a lot more and react to screens, options, and run plays. He has handled this added responsibility very well, proving that he will have added versatility at the next level. Unfortunately for him, he is now solidly EDGE2 for me, because…

Chase Young, DE, Ohio State University

6'5", 265 pounds

8.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles through 6 games

Biggest game left - vs. Wisconsin, October 26

My goodness, Chase Young is an absolute animal. If you gave the athletic freak that was Myles Garrett, as a college player, a relentless motor and technique only inferior to a Bosa, you would have yourself Chase Young. It is astonishing at how much pressure he generates in each and every game. His matchup against Wisconsin will be fantastic television, as that is likely the best offensive line he will face this season. Chase Young is not only EDGE1, but is currently my highest ranked prospect overall and will be a steal for the first team that does not need a quarterback. I pray that the Arizona Cardinals win too many games to be in position to take this guy, because he is a savage.

Bryce Hall, CB, University of Virginia

6'1", 200 pounds

0 interceptions, 4 passes defended through 5 games

Biggest game left - at Miami, October 11

Bryce Hall has been largely avoided in passing games this season, which speaks to his ability as a cover cornerback. He hasn't been flashy, but he has been consistently strong all season. Is he still a top-ten prospect? I'm not sure. There are a few other CBs that have come on strong, especially Kristian Fulton from LSU and Jeffrey Okudah from Ohio State. Hall is quietly still near the top of the list, and is at least a top-sixteen guy for me.

C.J. Henderson, CB, University of Florida

6'1", 191 pounds

0 interceptions, 5 passes defended through 3 games (ankle injury)

Biggest game left - vs. Georgia in Jacksonville, FL, November 2

Henderson is definitely not in my top ten anymore. His lack of physicality is alarming, and might see an even more drastic fall than Greedy Williams did this past season. His skills in coverage are still really great, but his mentality is not something that I would want around my football team. He may present value at some point, but certainly not this high.

Grant Delpit, S, Louisiana State University

6'3", 203 pounds

1 interception, 1 pass defended, 1 fumble recovery through 5 games (head injury)

Biggest game left - at Alabama, November 9

Delpit is another player offenses are all too happy to simply avoid. That means he's doing something right. Everything from before the season about Delpit remains true now. He has elite size, is supremely athletic, plays all over the field effectively, and doesn't really have a hole in his game. Delpit is an elite talent and prospect, but the positional value of a safety may push him down further than what his talent should command.

TV Guide

The sheer amount of college games on at any given time can be completely overwhelming. Every week, in the TV Guide section of my column, I will choose the top two games at any given time slot and outline the various prospects you can watch in those games. That way, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and hit the “Previous Channel” button on your remote to toggle between games chock full of pro prospects. Here is your guide for week seven (all times Eastern, rankings in parentheses).

As a reminder, we have a new format for the TV Guide this season. I’m going to list all of the draft eligible players that will impact the games themselves, meaning the lists will be pretty long. Then, I'll summarize each team by showing the players seriously in contention to be drafted at this point in time. However, it's important to know that one exceptional season can cause an impactful player to become a draftable player, so these names are still good to monitor.

Friday, October 11

University of Virginia (20) at University of Miami, 8:00 PM, ESPN

Virginia

Bryce Perkins, Senior Quarterback, #3

PK Kier, Junior Running Back, #6

Joe Reed, Senior Wide Receiver, #2

Hasise Dubois, Senior Wide Receiver, #8

Eli Hanback, Senior Defensive Tackle, #58

Charles Snowden, Junior Linebacker, #11

Jordan Mack, Senior Linebacker, #4

Bryce Hall, Senior Cornerback, #34

Brenton Nelson, Junior Safety, #28

Joey Blount, Junior Safety, #29

Bryce Perkins has been solid, but he will need a very specific system to succeed. He is very mobile and can throw accurately downfield, but his processing and short accuracy needs work. He would be a perfect fit as a backup to a Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes, but may struggle in other precision-based systems. On defense, Bryce Hall is absolutely a first-round talent, and Snowden’s unique size and skillset makes him an intriguing mid-round guy.

Miami

Tate Martell, Quarterback, Redshirt Sophomore, #18

DeeJay Dallas, Running Back, Junior, #13

Jeff Thomas, Wide Receiver, Junior, #4

K.J. Osborn, Wide Receiver, Senior, #2

Michael Irvin II, Tight End, Junior, #87

Navaughn Donaldson, Guard, Junior, #55

Jonathon Ford, Defensive Tackle, Senior, #96

Pat Bethel, Defensive Tackle, Senior, #93

Trevon Hill, Defensive End, Senior, #94

Jonathan Garvin, Defensive End, Junior, #97

Jaelan Phillips, Defensive End, Redshirt Sophomore, #95

Shaquille Quarterman, Linebacker, Senior, #55

Michael Pinckney, Linebacker, Senior, #56

Zach McCloud, Linebacker, Senior, #53

Trajan Bandy, Cornerback, Junior, #2

Robert Knowles, Safety, Senior, #20

Romeo Finley, Safety, Senior, #30

The names to know here are DeeJay Dallas, Shaquille Quarterman, and Michael Pinckney. Tate Martell was a highly touted transfer from Ohio State, but he lost the battle for the starting job at Miami to N’Kosi Perry. Dallas, Quarterman, and Pinckney are all likely mid-round picks, as Miami has some good depth but lacks the top-end talent we are used to seeing in the Hurricanes.

University of Colorado at University of Oregon (13), 10:00 PM, FS1

Colorado

Steven Montez, Senior Quarterback, #12

Laviska Shenault Jr., Junior Wide Receiver, #2

Tim Lynott, Senior Guard, #56

Mustafa Johnson, Junior Defensive Tackle, #34

Nate Landman, Junior Linebacker, #53

Davion Taylor, Senior Linebacker, #20

Delrick Abrams Jr., Senior Cornerback, #1

Mikial Onu, Senior Safety, #2

Colorado has their first-round receiver in Laviska Shenault, but not much else. Watching him against an athletic Oregon team will be a fun test of his athleticism, as his perceived lack of truly elite athleticism is the only thing holding him back. Emphasis on perceived.

Oregon

Justin Herbert, Senior Quarterback, #10

C.J. Verdell, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #7

Juwan Johnson, Senior Wide Receiver, #6

Jacob Breeland, Senior Tight End, #27

Calvin Throckmorton, Senior Tackle, #54

Brady Aiello, Senior Tackle, #66

Shane Lemieux, Senior Guard, #68

Dallas Warmack, Senior Guard, #75

Jake Hanson, Senior Center, #55

Jordon Scott, Junior Defensive Tackle, #34

Austin Faoliu, Junior Defensive Tackle, #52

La'Mar Winston Jr., Senior Linebacker, #32

Isaac Slade-Matautia, Redshirt Sophomore Linebacker, #41

Troy Dye, Senior Linebacker, #35

Deommodore Lenoir, Junior Cornerback, #6

Thomas Graham Jr., Junior Cornerback, #4

Justin Herbert might not be the first overall lock some thought he could be, but he is still a first round quarterback. Everyone else on offense will likely get drafted, including what is maybe the top offensive line, as a whole, in the nation, which is led by one of the top interior linemen in Lemieux. On defense, Slade-Matautia and Dye are the best of the bunch, but still only late-round prospects.

Saturday, October 12

University of Oklahoma (6) vs. University of Texas (11) in Dallas, TX, 12:00 PM, FOX

Oklahoma

Jalen Hurts, Senior Quarterback, #1

Trey Sermon, Junior Running Back, #4

Kennedy Brooks, Redshirt Sophomore Running Back, #26

CeeDee Lamb, Junior Wide Receiver, #2

Lee Morris, Senior Wide Receiver, #84

Grant Calcaterra, Junior Tight End, #80

Marquis Hayes, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #54

Creed Humphrey, Redshirt Sophomore Center, #56

Neville Gallimore, Senior Defensive Tackle, #90

LaRon Stokes, Junior Defensive End, #96

Kenneth Mann, Senior Defensive End, #55

Kenneth Murray, Junior Linebacker, #9

Caleb Kelly, Senior Linebacker, #19

Mark Jackson Jr., Senior Linebacker, #42

Tre Brown, Junior Cornerback, #6

Parnell Motley, Senior Cornerback, #11

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Oklahoma, and in that time, Jalen Hurts has become a shocking riser as a quarterback. This does nothing but prove that Lincoln Riley is a wizard and he needs to be studied in a lab. Oklahoma has a bevy of skill players in Sermon, Brooks, Lamb, and Calcaterra, with Lamb being in the running for the best non-Jeudy wide receiver in the class. Humphrey is the top center in the class, with Hayes being a good guard prospect as well. On defense, the only prospect, in my eyes, is Gallimore, although some are intrigued by Murray and Kelly.

Texas

Sam Ehlinger, Junior Quarterback, #11

Collin Johnson, Senior Wide Receiver, #9

John Burt, Senior Wide Receiver, #1

Devin Duvernay, Senior Wide Receiver, #6

Parker Braun, Senior Guard, #73

Zach Shackelford, Senior Center, #56

Gerald Wilbon, Senior Defensive Tackle, #94

Malcolm Roach, Senior Defensive Tackle, #32

Jeffrey McCulloch, Senior Linebacker, #23

Brandon Jones, Senior Safety, #19

Sam Ehlinger has had an up and down season, and he may be best served by returning to school. He would be without his two top targets, however, as Johnson and Duvernay are a great thunder and lightning tandem out wide. Braun and Shackelford are decent interior linemen. On defense, Roach and Jones are both day two prospects, at worst, and could work their way into the first round with continued success.

University of South Carolina at University of Georgia (3), 12:00 PM, ESPN

South Carolina

Rico Dowdle, Senior Running Back, #5

Tavien Feaster, Senior Running Back, #4

Bryan Edwards, Senior Wide Receiver, #89

OrTre Smith, Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver, #18

Shi Smith, Junior Wide Receiver, #13

Sadarius Hutcherson, Junior Guard, #50

Donell Stanley, Senior Center, #72

Javon Kinlaw, Senior Defensive Tackle, #3

Keir Thomas, Senior Defensive Tackle, #5

Kobe Smith, Senior Defensive Tackle, #95

D.J. Wonnum, Senior Defensive End, #8

T.J. Brunson, Senior Linebacker, #6

Sherrod Greene, Junior Linebacker, #44

Jamel Cook, Junior Safety, #31

South Carolina has a lot of veterans, but not many who will go in the draft. Deebo Samuel’s former partner-in-crime, Bryan Edwards, is a day three receiver, and Javon Kinlaw is a day two defensive tackle. Outside of them, however, the Gamecocks are limping.

Georgia

Jake Fromm, Junior Quarterback, #11

D'Andre Swift, Junior Running Back, #7

Brian Herrien, Senior Running Back, #35

Tyler Simmons, Senior Wide Receiver, #87

Matt Landers, Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver, #5

Demetris Robertson, Junior Wide Receiver, #16

Lawrence Cager, Senior Wide Receiver, #15

Charlie Woerner, Senior Tight End, #89

Eli Wolf, Senior Tight End, #17

Andrew Thomas, Junior Tackle, #71

Isaiah Wilson, Redshirt Sophomore Tackle, #79

Solomon Kindley, Junior Guard, #66

Ben Cleveland, Junior Guard, #74

Tyler Clark, Senior Defensive Tackle, #52

Julian Rochester, Senior Defensive Tackle, #5

Malik Herring, Junior Defensive End, #10

Monty Rice, Junior Linebacker, #32

Tae Crowder, Senior Linebacker, #30

Eric Stokes, Redshirt Sophomore Cornerback, #27

Tyrique McGhee, Senior Cornerback, #26

Richard LeCounte III, Junior Safety, #2

J.R. Reed, Senior Safety, #20

Jake Fromm doesn’t have the stats of some other quarterbacks, but he has made some throws that show he has a place in the NFL. Swift has also moved towards the top of the running back class, joining Thomas at the top of their respective positional big boards. Wilson and Cleveland are also decent offensive line prospects, but may be best served returning to school. On defense, it’s all about the secondary, with Stokes, LeCounte, and Reed being highly coveted players.

University of Alabama (1) at Texas A&M University (24), 3:30 PM, CBS

Alabama

Tua Tagovailoa, Junior Quarterback, #13

Brian Robinson, Junior Running Back, #24

Najee Harris, Junior Running Back, #22

Jerry Jeudy, Junior Wide Receiver, #4

Henry Ruggs III, Junior Wide Receiver, #11

DeVonta Smith, Junior Wide Receiver, #6

Miller Forristall, Junior Tight End, #87

Major Tennison, Junior Tight End, #88

Scott Lashley, Junior Tackle, #76

Matt Womack, Senior Tackle, #77

Alex Leatherwood, Junior Guard, #70

Jedrick Wills, Junior Guard, #74

Deonte Brown, Junior Guard, #65

Chris Owens, Junior Center, #79

LaBryan Ray, Junior Defensive Tackle, #89

Phidarian Mathis, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #48

Raekwon Davis, Senior Defensive Tackle, #99

Anfernee Jennings, Senior Defensive End, #33

Terrell Lewis, Junior Defensive End, #24

Christopher Allen, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #4

Dylan Moses, Junior Linebacker, #32

Ben Davis, Junior Linebacker, #1

Joshua McMillon, Senior Linebacker, #40

Trevon Diggs, Senior Cornerback, #7

Xavier McKinney, Junior Safety, #15

Shyheim Carter, Senior Safety, #5

Jared Mayden, Senior Safety, #21

Everyone here will likely matter at some point. It's Alabama. So just sit back and enjoy this one. For this year, there’s obviously Tua and Jeudy. Harris, Ruggs, Smith, Tennison, Lashley, and Leatherwood round out the offense. On defense, Davis, Jennings, Diggs, McKinney, and Carter will hear their name called this April. Dylan Moses was supposed to be LB1 in this class, but injured himself before week 1. He still could come out, or he could return to school. Only time will tell.

Texas A&M

Kellen Mond, Senior Quarterback, #11

Kendrick Rogers, Junior Wide Receiver, #13

Jhamon Ausbon, Junior Wide Receiver, #2

Quartney Davis, Junior Wide Receiver, #1

Dan Moore, Junior Tackle, #65

Carson Green, Junior Tackle, #54

Justin Madubuike, Junior Defensive Tackle, #52

Michael Clemons, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #91

Tyree Johnson, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #3

Anthony Hines III, Redshirt Sophomore Linebacker, #19

Charles Oliver, Senior Cornerback, #21

Larry Pryor, Senior Safety, #11

Mond has fallen a bit in the quarterback rankings, but there’s nothing like a game against the behemoth known as Alabama that can set a prospect up for success. Rogers and Davis are late-round receiver prospects. On defense, Madubuike, Clemons, Johnson, and Hines all have potential, but need strong performances to be anything other than day three prospects.

Washington State University at Arizona State University (18), 3:30 PM, PAC 12 Network

Washington State

Anthony Gordon, Senior Quarterback, #18

Davontavean Martin, Junior Wide Receiver, #1

Dezmon Patmon, Senior Wide Receiver, #12

Easop Winston, Senior Wide Receiver, #8

Abraham Lucas, Redshirt Sophomore Tackle, #72

Frederick Mauigoa, Senior Center, #69

Lamonte McDougal, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Tackle, #9

Willie Taylor III, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #27

Nnamdi Oguayo, Senior Defensive End, #30

Dominick Silvels, Junior Defensive End, #20

Will Rodgers, Junior Defensive End, #92

Jahad Woods, Junior Linebacker, #13

Mike Leach is doing it again. The success of Gardner Minshew is only helping Leach quarterbacks, but Gordon is also leading the nation in passing. Lucas, Mauigoa, McDougal, Taylor, and Oguayo are the other names to know.

Arizona State

Eno Benjamin, Junior Running Back, #3

Brandon Aiyuk, Senior Wide Receiver, #2

Kyle Williams, Senior Wide Receiver, #10

Zach Robertson, Senior Tackle, #51

Steven Miller, Senior Guard, #71

Cohl Cabral, Senior Center, #73

Roe Wilkins, Senior Defensive Tackle, #95

George Lea, Senior Defensive Tackle, #17

Tyler Johnson, Redshirt Sophomore Defensive End, #41

Kobe Williams, Senior Cornerback, #5

Chase Lucas, Junior Cornerback, #24

Eno Benjamin continues his strong push for at least day two status as a running back, and is the top prospect for the Sun Devils. Robertson, Johnson, and Lucas are the remaining draftable prospects at this time.

Penn State University (10) at University of Iowa (17), 7:30 PM, ABC

Penn State

K.J. Hamler, Redshirt Sophomore Wide Receiver, #1

Pat Freiermuth, Redshirt Sophomore Tight End, #87

Will Fries, Junior Tackle, #71

Steven Gonzalez, Senior Guard, #74

Mike Miranda, Redshirt Sophomore Guard, #73

Michael Menet, Junior Center, #62

Robert Windsor, Senior Defensive Tackle, #54

Yetur Gross-Matos, Junior Defensive End, #99

Shaka Toney, Junior Defensive End, #16

Shane Simmons, Junior Defensive End, #34

Cameron Brown, Senior Linebacker, #6

Jan Johnson, Senior Linebacker, #36

John Reid, Senior Cornerback, #29

Tariq Castro-Fields, Junior Cornerback, #5

Garrett Taylor, Senior Safety, #17

Jonathan Sutherland, Redshirt Sophomore Safety, #26

Penn State is moving away from their run-heavy ways with big-time playmakers in Hamler and Freiermuth. Fries, Miranda, and Menet hope to give their underclassmen quarterback enough time to hit on these big plays with the pass rush supplied on the other side of this matchup. On defense, Gross-Matos and Toney might be the best combination of defensive ends in the country, and Castro-Fields benefits from that on the back end.

Iowa