Each week I’ll be trying to provide you guys with a list of draft-eligible players that caught my eye over the weekend’s slate of college football games, oftentimes to the extent that I’ll add them or move them up my watch list. If you notice anyone that deserves mention on the list that I may have missed, be sure to let me know (@LedyardNFLDraft on Twitter).
1. Simmie Cobbs, WR, Indiana – Redshirt Junior
To be honest, Cobbs was technically on my watch list, but I had no idea what to expect from him after a redshirt season a year ago. Cobbs was suspended for Indiana’s opener in 2016, then missed the entire season with a broken ankle suffered in Week 2 action. The year prior Cobbs had exploded onto the national scene by catching 60 passes for 1,035 yards and four touchdowns, but after the suspension, injury and then an arrest this summer, many had written off the 6-3, 220-pound receiver.
But Cobbs was brilliant against Ohio State, snagging several spectacular catches with terrific body control and concentration, especially near the boundary. There will be questions about his speed, but big receivers who play big are always intriguing to NFL teams, so the more Cobb can build on his dominant 11-catch, 149-yard performance, the higher his draft stock will rise.
2. Caleb Wilson, TE, UCLA – Redshirt Sophomore
A USC transfer who redshirted in 2015 and then played mostly special teams in 2016, Wilson was ridiculous on Sunday night, catching 15 passes for 203 yards in UCLA’s incredible comeback victory over Texas A&M. Wilson made several contested catches that impressed, but he was even more dynamic as a route runner, pressing a defender’s space and then exploding away to create separation. His nuance and attention to detail really impressed me, and in what’s being perceived as a weak tight end class, Wilson will have the ability to elevate his stock with a strong season.
3. Jarrett Johnson, DE, Texas A&M – Redshirt Senior
Johnson finished Sunday night with a sack and several key pressures, including one that forced a Josh Rosen incompletion on a red zone third down to end UCLA’s first drive with a field goal. A few drives later, Johnson beat UCLA left tackle Kolton Miller around the edge with a dip/rip combination, chasing Rosen down from behind to swat the ball loose at the last second. Johnson continued to wreak havoc late into the game, and his combination of inside/outside rush moves and impressive raw power has the 6-3, 260-pound defensive end firmly on my radar.
4. Deontay Burnett, WR, USC – Junior
Again, full disclosure, Burnett was on my wide receiver watch list, but he’s garnered almost no attention, despite the big season that is in store for the junior. While Sam Darnold struggled, Burnett made several tough grabs to help keep the offense moving, showing off separation speed and ideal athleticism. He’s listed at 5-11, 170 pounds, so his frame is obviously a concern moving forward, but Burnett has ball skills and movement ability that can’t be taught. A big year could lead to him declaring early if Darnold does, but if I had to guess today I think we’ll see two more years of Burnett showing out at USC.
5. Keaton Sutherland, OT, Texas A&M – Junior
In his first game at right tackle, Sutherland impressed me as a run blocker, showing good technique and patience to secure the first level before climbing and latching onto his second level target. He paved the way for one of Keith Ford’s touchdowns runs in his first half, giving him the cutback option after reaching the linebacker in space on an inside zone run. Sutherland’s best block of the night came on a counter trey run later in the half, as he pulled around and sealed off the linebacker at the second level to give Trayveon Williams a clean alley for a big run. Sutherland still needs some work in pass protection, but he moved well and appeared to have the tools and length teams are looking for at the tackle position.