One of the most enjoyable aspects of NFL Draft Scouting is taking notice of players that catch your eye outside of the household names you’re focusing on entering the contest. I love watching college football games from a macro perspective and seeing which guys “pop” and adding them to my radar.
Here’s five players that caught my eye when watching games this season outside of the more familiar names.
Tre Flowers, DB, Oklahoma State
They don’t play much defense in Stillwater but Flowers is far and away the Cowboy’s best defender. He’s a physical player that attacks down hill with intent and rarely concedes additional yards after contact when making tackles. With only two career interception in 38 games, the knock on Flowers entering the season was a lack of ball production. Hauling in two interceptions in the last two weeks, that narrative is changing. Both picks were a result of him staying over top of coverage and being aware in zone. Flowers looks good on the hoof and is a player that I like more and more each time I watch him play.
Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana
A highly regarded JUCO recruit last year, Thomas is making plays for the Hoosiers in his senior season. Through three games, Thomas has three TD receptions and is averaging nearly 15 yards per reception. Thomas has a long, muscular build and is creating separation down the seam while showcasing physicality after the catch. Thomas offers considerable tools and is worth keeping an eye on the rest of the way.
Juan Thornhill, CB, Virginia
While covering the Indiana-Virginia game in Charlottesville, Thornhill quickly captured my attention with this highlight-reel interception.
This interception from Virginia DB Juan Thornhill is tremendous. pic.twitter.com/lK2mNpFWWS
— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) September 29, 2017
I went back and watch more of his tape and he is a player that is firmly on my radar. While he is only a junior, his combination of play strength, physicality and ball skills make him an appealing prospect to continue monitoring.
Antonio Simmons, DE, Georgia Tech
His production isn’t gaudy but he caught my eye in person during the Tennessee game with his first step quickness, burst and bend around the edge. He had two sacks last week against Pitt and he may be a guy that breaks out the rest of the season. This is his first season as a starter but the flashes have been impressive. The ACC schedule ahead will provide evidence as to his upside. I’ll be keeping close tabs.
Travin Howard, LB, TCU
I caught Howard last week against Oklahoma State and he gets to the football in a hurry and shows high levels of comfort in space. Despite being listed under 220 pounds, Howard showcases a surprising amount of play strength. I really like his urgency and I’m eager to see more from him and the 4-0 Horned Frogs.