In each of the past two weeks, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel across the country in an effort to see some of the NFL Draft talent eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft. On September 16th, I was present in Memphis, TN for the Tigers’ thrilling win over the UCLA Bruins. Last week, I was able to attend contests in both Tucson and Tempe, as Utah survived a late scare against the Arizona Wildcats and the Sun Devils prevailed in a home upset against the ranked Oregon Ducks.
These three contests offered a good deal of NFL Draft talent, some of which I was able to speak about with folks close to their respective programs and garner some insight on players of note.
One of the more high profile players I’ve seen live in the past two weeks was Oregon RB Royce Freeman. Freeman broke the school record for rushing touchdowns while I was in attendance against Arizona State, but all NFL personnel I spoke with were underwhelmed with his next level projection. It was great to get affirmation on a personal opinion I’ve held going all the way back to last fall, when I conducted a full film assessment on the Ducks RB. Concerns were centered around tightness and cornering skills.
There is a popular player in the Oregon backfield however, as multiple individuals out west oozed some praise for true sophomore QB Justin Herbert. Herbert won’t be relevant in 2018’s Draft, but he’s a name that has gotten some praise in the media of late. A lot of times this type of excitement is hollow, but it seems Herbert has the eye of the league; particularly those situated on the West Coast.
Memphis WR Anthony Miller made it impossible to miss him when I visited the Liberty Bowl; as he exploded for 9 catches, 185 yards and 2 receiving TDs in the contest. One scout I spoke with offered his opinion to “not sleep” on Miller, saying he wasn’t going to be regulated strictly to the slot in spite of his size. With great hands and smooth route running skills, I’m inclined to agree with my limited sampling.
This last nugget doesn’t come from any NFL personnel, it’s simply an observation of my own. Put a star next to the name N’Keal Harry of Arizona State. The sophomore WR (6’4, 216 lbs) is a stunning physical specimen, he’s built like a pass rusher. But Harry’s starting to turn the corner in an Arizona State offense that has some life in the passing game courtesy of QB Manny Wilkins. N’Keal has registered a touchdown in his last 3 games (and 4 of his last 5 going back to 2016); plus he’s eclipsed 100 receiving yards in 4 of his last 7. Harry is big, strong and shows good body control in the open field, as illustrated below:
— azcentral sports (@azcsports) September 24, 2017