2018 NFL Draft
Is Lamar Jackson worth the hype? Probably not. (Julie Jacobson / AP)

The information process continues as more and more clarity starts to get revealed. While the 2018 NFL Draft is a long ways away, it’s never too early to start scouting. Many pundits may have their rankings out already but, I find it foolish to make rash decisions based off of a week or two. With a boatload of games on tap each week, it’s always difficult to hone in on every player. In the games, I watched this weekend, who stood out for better or worse?

Louisville At North Carolina

The big focus of this game was obviously Lamar Jackson. This game was the most entertaining of the available noon games to watch. With scouts enamored with the reigning Heisman trophy winner, I wanted to get a closer look myself to see if he improved from a year ago.

I came into today with the notion that Jackson was probably a mid round quarterback prospect at best. I was even contemplating whether he would be better off as a wide receiver. My opinion frankly didn’t change despite what the numbers would tell you.

The Louisville signal caller put together a stat line of 25/39, 393 yards, and three touchdowns. He also added 132 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground. On the surface those numbers sound great but keep in mind, this is the same UNC team that gave up 35 to Cal. Jackson also made a grand total of one throw that will translate to the NFL level. That was captured here below.

There are some traits with Jackson to really like. In this particular play, you love the fact that Jackson was able to regather himself within the confines of the pocket and deliver a strike down the field. You will also see the safety made an egregious error that resulted in the wide open receiver, but that’s beside the point. You make throws in the NFL based on the coverage, not on who’s open. Jackson did exactly that manipulating the safety.

The problem is there isn’t enough of those plays. He relies way too much on his athletic ability and his eyes never stay down the field towards his targets. Jackson is often antsy to take off and run and is far more comfortable outside the pocket. The history of the NFL has proven that high volume running quarterbacks aren’t sustainable. RG3, Colin Kaepernick, and soon to be Marcus Mariota are recent examples of why his style needs to change.

Jackson also isn’t an accurate passer. You can see in his delivery there is no drive off his back foot and fails to transfer his weight when he throws. It’s a heavy upper body motion that leads to inaccuracy. He got away with it because of a poor defense but that won’t last in the NFL. He missed far too many open targets for my liking. Can Jackson make it as an NFL quarterback? Maybe, but he should probably stay in school for an additional year to work out the kinks.

*Austin Proehl, the North Carolina receiver, also caught my eye. Proehl has anemic quarterbacks to work with and still roped in 8 grabs for 120 yards. Lousiville also has some NFL caliber defensive backs on their roster. Anyone remember Ricky Proehl from the greatest show on turf? Yes, that’s right, he’s the son of the former Rams wide receiver with a similar slot receiver skill set. Ryan Switzer was taken in the fourth round by the Cowboys this year from North Carolina. Proehl is eerily similar.

South Carolina At Missouri

The Deebo Samuel show continues. After returning a kick and catching a touchdown last week, Samuel made sure to double his touchdown total returning another kick but this time rushing for a touchdown. Samuel is no one trick pony. You can see when Samuel really gets going, he hits another gear other players simply can’t. Samuel is averaging 12.8 yards per catch and 15 yards per carry on the season.

*Missouri quarterback Drew Lock didn’t have his best showing (14/32, 245 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT’s) but this dude can really sling it. You heard it hear first, Lock will put himself in the conversation as one of the most highly rated quarterbacks in the upcoming draft. He’s a guy worth monitoring the rest of the way.

Auburn At Clemson

The Clemson Tigers have the best defensive line in the country. There’s also no question that Clemson has the best defensive tackle tandem with Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence. Pass rusher Clellin Ferrell will probably go in the first round as well. Overall Clemson racked up 11 sacks with Austin Bryant leading the way with four. This isn’t a bad offensive line either as Brayden Smith is supposed to be one of the better guards in the country. Keep an eye on all these defenders going forward.

*Also keep an eye on Kamryn Pettway, the Auburn running back. He has a little LeGarrette Blount in his game as a shiftier back for his size. Pettway is listed at 6-foot, 235, and will be a bruising power back in the NFL. He ran for 74 gritty yards on 24 attempts against that unbelievable Clemson defensive line.

Oklahoma At Ohio State

No one made more of an impression than Oklahoma left tackle Orlando Brown. Brown is the anchor for Oklahoma as they stifled the Buckeyes pass rush basically all night. It’s way Baker Mayfield was so darn impressive. Ohio State threw the kitchen sink of NFL prospects his way including Sam Hubbard and Nick Bosa.

Do you remember former NFL tackle for the Ravens Orlando Brown? Yeah, that’s right, this is his son with an uncanny similar skill set. By that I mean will the 6-foot-8, 340 pound left tackle stay on the left side. Brown is almost too big not to switch to the right side but he looked awfully agile in space. Outside of Connor Williams of Texas, Brown is the best offensive lineman I have seen thus far.

Georgia At Notre Dame

My main focus for the game was watching the Georgia defense against the Notre Dame offense. With Jacob Eason out, it felt unfair to grade the Georgia offense. Then again, Jake Fromm (State Farm) did enough to win. Georgia might even have the best running back duo in the nation with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.

With the Bulldogs returning 10 defensive starters, they figure to have one of the best defenses in the SEC. The matchup became, even more, fun to watch considering Notre Dame had a veteran quarterback, potential first round wide receiver, and two potential first round offensive lineman. Let’s just say Notre Dame got outplayed.

First up is Roquan Smith, the Georgia middle linebacker. Smith racked up seven tackles including a sack. He fits the mold of a modern day middle linebacker listed at just 215. He was flying around the football all night long. The biggest thing to notice is his pure speed and boy is it special. There’s something to be said about having instincts like this play below.

The other that boosted his stock was Lorenzo Carter. The Georgia pass rusher was an X-Factor for me heading into this season as an extremely high recruit that hasn’t done a whole lot heading into his Senior year. Besides for the fact that Carter scooped up two fumbles and also notched a sack, his speed off the edge is going to something NFL teams love. You don’t see this on every play with Carter but he definitely has created some buzz.

*Equanimeous St. Brown was shut down for most of the contest catching just two passes for 14 yards. The Georgia defense created some hype for sure. Safety J.R. Reed, in particular, was probably the best player in the Bulldogs secondary. St. Brown still is worth monitoring as the freakiest height, weight, speed demon receiver out there.

Last but not least, I have to mention Notre Dame’s offensive line. Mike McGlinchey and Quentin Nelson were nothing special in my eyes but came in with big hype. Well, maybe false hype now. Notre Dame averaged 1.5 yards per carry running the ball which went to that left side more often than not. McGlinchey was also bullied in pass protection which can be seen below as Davin Bellamy gets to Brandon Wimbush to close the game out.

Stanford At USC

Finally to close out week two, I had to get my first taste of Sam Darnold in 2017. Not to mention it was impossible to watch five games at the same time. Darnold led USC to a 42-24 win over rival Stanford. Darnold went 21-26, 316 yards, 4 TD’s, and 1 INT. Forget the stats for a second, just watch him throw the ball. If anyone has a shot of becoming the next Aaron Rodgers, it’s this guy. That’s all I’ll say for the time being.

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