Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive back Justin Evans (14) celebrates the win over the Tennessee Volunteers during the second overtime at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeated the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Although Hurricane Matthew impacted several games in the southeastern part of the country, the majority of those games were still played. As a result, NFL scouts were busy trying to figure out how much of a 2017 NFL Draft prospect’s stock should be influenced based on their performance in poor conditions.
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In reality, the answer is not much. Although there was an exception in which we’ll dive into later in the article. For the rest of the country, it was business as usual. There was movement at the top of the standings in several conferences, as well as 2017 NFL Draft boards.
Like every week during the college football season, there will be a slight adjustment made to draft boards across the country. One game should never make or break a prospect, however the players that follow did see their stock shift either positively or negatively following this past weekend’s games. Here’s a look at whose stock is on the rise and decline after week six.
Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Tennessee Volunteers running back Alvin Kamara (6) runs for a first down against the Texas A&M Aggies during the second half at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeat the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Stock Up: Offense
Alvin Kamara (RB – Tennessee): He did fumble in the game, but Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara had an elite performance on the road against Texas A&M. Filling in for the injured Jalen Hurd, Kamara almost led the Volunteers to another comeback win. Tennessee may have dropped their first game of the season, but Kamara’s stock is on the rise.
Whether it was as a rusher or receiver, Kamara was Tennessee’s biggest playmaker. He finished the game with 127 yards rushing, 161 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Add in his return yards and he accounted for 312 yards total. Despite being a backup running back, Kamara leads the team with 20 receptions for the season.
Alvin Kamara (@Vol_Football): only Power 5 player with 150 receiving yards and 125 rushing yards in the same game in the last 20 seasons
Kamara is an ideal third-down back at the next level who has helped his stock in the absence of Jalen Hurd. Both backs are juniors, so it will be interesting to see if one, or both enter the 2017 NFL Draft. If Hurd turns pro, Kamara could boost his stock even more as the feature back in 2017.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – USC): There’s no one on the USC roster who has benefited more from the quarterback change than JuJu Smith-Schuster. After a slow start to the season, he’s back on track and on his way to being a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Max Browne initially won the battle to replace Cody Kessler at QB for the Trojans. In three games with Browne as the starter, Smith-Schuster caught 11 passes for 99 yards and two touchdowns. In the three games that followed with Sam Darnold at QB, Smith-Schuster has 20 receptions for 334 yards and three scores.
His latest 100-plus yard performance came in week six against Colorado. The Buffaloes have a respectable secondary, but couldn’t contain Smith-Schuster. The junior receiver has quickly become a favorite target of his new QB and should continue to see plenty of targets down the stretch.
Corey Davis (WR – Western Michigan): While Smith-Schuster may be the top junior prospect at wide receiver, Corey Davis is the top senior at the position. He once again helped his 2017 NFL Draft stock with a very good outing against Northern Illinois.
Davis caught six passes in the win for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He may not be the fastest guy on the field, but Davis is a very good route-runner, which allows him to create separation from the defender. Even when that separation is minimal, Davis is able to help out his quarterback by hauling in contested passes.
With Western Michigan undefeated and ranked for the first time in school history, Davis is about to receive a lot more attention nationally. If he can continue to play well and run a respectable 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine, he’ll be a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Sep 18, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston College Eagles defensive lineman Harold Landry (8) tackles Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Stock Up: Defense
Harold Landry (DE – Boston College): Boston College football typically doesn’t take center stage, however Friday night against Clemson, the Eagles hosted the number three team in the country in prime time.
Although the Boston College defense allowed 56 points, there were positives to take from the game. From a scouting standpoint, Harold Landry was the star for the Eagles. He continuously found his way into the backfield and forced Deshaun Watson to make quick decisions with the football. For the game, he was credited with six tackles, one sack and a forced fumble.
As a junior, Landry has made great strides in his development. He’s now not just a one-trick pony from his defensive end position. He’s seemingly adding to his repertoire of moves on a weekly basis and has forced opposing offenses to keep a tight end or running back in to block to prevent him from hitting the quarterback.
Through six games, Landry has already surpassed his sack total from a year ago. In addition to those 6.5 sacks, he also has an FBS-leading four forced fumbles. Whether he declares for the 2017 NFL Draft, or waits until 2018, Landry is a projected mid-round pick.
Evans led the Aggies with 11 tackles for the game, adding to his team-high of 48 for the season. Not only does Evans lead Texas A&M in tackles, he also leads the team with three interceptions from his strong safety position.
Whether it’s against the run or the pass, Evans has the skills to play at the next level. He might not be the biggest player at the position, however he’s had no trouble bringing down some of the larger backs in the SEC. As a senior, Evans will be entered in the 2017 NFL Draft and should hear his name called on day two.
Corn Elder (CB – Miami): Like Evans, Corn Elder led his team in tackles this past weekend. His six were most among Miami defenders, however it wasn’t quite enough to pull out the victory.
Elder recorded six stops in the game, however it was his coverage skills that were the most impressive. He mirrored routes well and forced the Florida State quarterback to look elsewhere or try to squeeze the ball into tight windows.
It was Elder who chased down Florida State running back Dalvin Cook 54 yards downfield and prevented him from scoring a touchdown. Two plays later, Miami forced a turnover. Elder is also the one who laid out to break up a pass on a big third-and-10 for the Seminoles at midfield to force a punt.
Elder won’t be selected nearly as early as former Miami cornerback Artie Burns was last year, however he’s been improving his stock all season. With continued development, Elder will be a solid addition to an NFL secondary on the final day of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Oct 8, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner (7) rushes with the ball and gets tackled from Iowa Hawkeyes defensive back Greg Mabin (13) in the second half at TCF Bank Stadium. The Hawkeyes won 14-7. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Stock Down: Offense
Mitch Leidner (QB – Minnesota): In a game between two late-round quarterback prospects, both Iowa’s C.J. Beathard and Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner struggled. In the end, Leidner’s team wound up on the losing end and his 2017 NFL Draft stock took the biggest hit.
Both Big Ten schools have respectable secondaries, however an NFL-caliber QB would have performed much better than Leidner. He finished the game 13-of-33 for 166 yards and two interceptions. His ball placement and decision making were poor as the Hawkeyes could have had more than just two picks.
Leidner had plenty of opportunities late in the game to lead the Golden Gophers to a game-tying score, but failed. His accuracy became an even bigger issue in critical situations. On third down, Minnesota converted just once on nine attempts through the air. In the red zone, Leidner went 0-for-4.
At this point, Leidner is not a draftable prospect and will need to improve as the season winds down to have any chance of making an NFL roster.
Amba Etta-Tawo (WR – Syracuse): He still leads the FBS in receiving yards this season, but week six was not a good one for Syracuse wideout Amba Etta-Tawo. For the first time in his six-game career at Syracuse, he failed to gain 100 yards receiving.
At 5-1 Wake Forest has been one of the surprise teams this season, however the secondary is a weak spot. Even after the Demon Deacons shut down the Orange offense, the team still ranks 92nd in the nation in pass yards allowed per game. That makes it even more impressive that Wake Forest was the school to finally slow Etta-Tawo.
Etta-Tawo is following a very similar path as former West Virginia receiver Kevin White. White was a one-year wonder for the Mountaineers who put up video game type numbers in his senior season. After gaining at least 100 yards in the first seven games in 2014, White eclipsed the century mark just once in his final five regular season games.
Etta-Tawo, who is just 11 receptions and 63 yards away from surpassing his three-year career totals at Maryland, needs to avoid a similar close to his college career. He doesn’t have nearly the size or speed of White, and will likely end up being selected at some point on the final day of the 2017 NFL Draft.
DeShone Kizer (QB – Notre Dame): This will be the most controversial addition to the list as many view this as a throw-away game for any prospect who was a part of this contest. Notre Dame and North Carolina State battled it out in a hurricane, with the Fighting Irish once again coming out on the losing side.
The statistics for Kizer are very poor (9-of-26 for 54 yards), but that’s not a huge deal considering the conditions. The decline in his draft stock has more to do with his grip and the way the ball was coming out of his hands. He appeared to be very uncomfortable and unfamiliar with handling a wet football.
When looking at the NFL standings, two of the QB-needy teams who will be picking near the top of the 2017 NFL Draft are the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears. Both teams are very familiar with playing in the rain and poor conditions. With Kizer’s performance this past weekend, that could swing the pendulum in Deshaun Watson’s favor when it comes to being the first QB selected in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Sep 17, 2016; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin (21) during the first half against the Ohio Bobcats at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Stock Down: Defense
Jalen Reeves-Maybin (OLB – Tennessee): Without even playing a down over the weekend, Jalen Reeves-Maybin saw his 2017 NFL Draft stock take a hit. The leader of the Tennessee defense is expected to miss the rest of the season with a left shoulder injury.
It’s been a tough season for Reeves-Maybin, as staying on the field has been problematic. He missed two games and barely played against Florida as a result of the injury, and was ejected for targeting in the first quarter of the game against Appalachian State. The senior linebacker will now set his sights on the NFL.
At 6-feet and 230 pounds, Reeves-Maybin is undersized for his position and the shoulder injury will only create more concerns regarding his durability at the next level. He was a projected second-day pick entering the season, but will likely fall to day three because of the uncertainty surrounding his durability.
Deatrich Wise, Jr. (DE – Arkansas): Matched up against Alabama’s Cam Robinson, who will likely be the first offensive lineman selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, Wise failed to make an impact. He was taken out of the game by Robinson and couldn’t create any pressure in the backfield.
Wise was credited with just two tackles in the game, both of which occurred nine yards downfield. This was the first time in six games this season in which Wise did not record a tackle for a loss.
Wise also has three sacks on the season, but has struggled against NFL-level competition. His sacks have come against weaker offensive lines. He has one sack this year against TCU and Alcorn State, half a sack against Louisiana Tech and Texas State and zero sacks against Texas A&M and Alabama. Unless he can start pressuring the quarterback against more talented offensive tackles, Wise could be waiting a long time to hear his name called at the 2017 NFL Draft.