#20 Stanford Cardinal v. Oregon State Beavers
Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Oregon
Score: #20 Stanford 15, Oregon State 14
1) Redshirt Junior RB Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Initially, my interest in Nall fell more under “football fan” than “scout.” Oh, there’s essentially a fullback playing running back for the Beavers? That’s awesome. Bring me some smashmouth football.
But after two viewings of Ryan Nall, the 6’2, 235 lb RB for Oregon State, I can comfortably tell you that we’ve got a Sunday player on our hands. He’s got a higher-cut frame than you’d expect to see from a running back, and he may play more of a TE/FB hybrid role in the NFL–but put this man on my team. He has a natural blend of vision and patience, as well as the excellent physicality and leverage to always finish forward. This is a John Kuhn level of 3rd-and-short difference maker.
But don’t let Nall’s frame fool you: he has good burst and decent lateral agility. It’s enough to execute solid jump cuts behind the line of scrimmage, hit the holes on zone blocking concepts, and make closing defenders look silly in space. He is not a fun guy to tackle: you gotta come in with power to drag him down, but he has just enough wiggle to make you miss if you don’t keep your balance and eyes.
Nall committed a cardinal sin late, fumbling the ball when Oregon State was a first down away from sealing the victory. But he’s got clear special teams potential, ideal skills for goal line/short yardage situations, and the positional versatility to benefit a creative offensive coordinator. I want a player like Nall on my offense.
2) Senior DT Harrison Phillips, Stanford
Harrison Phillips should send sympathy cards to the families of the interior offensive linemen for Oregon State. Harrison demonstrated the first-step quickness, lateral agility, and motor to become a troublesome 1-tech in the NFL.
Phillips can be a tricky eval, because Stanford will line him up as a true 1-tech on one play, a two-gapping 0-tech on another play, and a slanting 0-tech on the next. He worries me as a NT prospect: I don’t think he has the longest reach, and I wish there were more sand in his pants to anchor against the run. When asked to two-gap, he’ll regularly give up ground and is a little late to disengage.
But, on those reps in which he either has a two-way go into either gap, or he declares a gap pre-snap, his quickness and hand usage flash. He regularly ripped underneath or worked hands inside to reset the line of scrimmage and disrupt the pocket. I mean, he just lived in the backfield. Notably missing from his game, however, was the flexibility or functional power to really turn the corner and close on the quarterback. Adding a tool to disengage from his half-man and generate more sacks will boost his draft stock.
For now, if you deploy an even front and want a interior piece to rotate, Phillips is your guy.
3) Redshirt Senior OL David Bright, Stanford
When a RB is as successful as Bryce Love has been for Stanford, he’s got at least one offensive lineman that’s playing well. For the Cardinal, that’s David Bright, the veteran offensive guard.
Without Bryce Love active on Thursday Night, Stanford’s running game sputtered–but that didn’t detract from the performance of Bright. Consistently asked to pull in Stanford’s power scheme, Bright has an excellent hit rate in space, despite possessing only pedestrian lateral agility. His ability to sustain blocks particularly impresses: whether in the second level, or when down- or reach-blocking, Bright consistently latches and drives with nice power and violent intention.
In pass protection, Bright is technically sound and has nice initial power. His hands usually arrive on time and in place, though he wasn’t tested very often by a toothless Beaver pass rush. More reps against stronger interior pass rushers are desired, but Bright is a polished piece with an NFL frame and some solid upside as an interior lineman. I’m excited to get further into his tape.
4) Junior S Justin Reid, Stanford
I’ve been banging the Justin Reid drum for a couple of weeks now–nothing about his showing on Thursday night shook my stance. On multiple crossing routes, Reid showed that blend of anticipation and closing burst to disrupt the catch point as/before the ball arrived. He sees the field very well, and I’d venture to say he’s a film rat, given how often he’s on a play before he should be.
The lineage is strong, as well: Justin’s older brother, Eric, currently plays safety for the San Francisco 49ers–their father, Eric Sr., played college ball at LSU.
Reid got caught in space a couple times, closing downhill too hard and failing to come to balance–he’s a hit or miss tackler who loves to lay the wood. I’d like to see him increase his tackle radius with better angles/approaches, but his ball-hawking ability from centerfield is desirable for any squad. Already a contributor on special teams for the Cardinal, he’s an ideal depth safety with starter potential in my eyes.
5) Junior WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Sophomore TE Kaden Smith, Stanford
Okay, technically Smith isn’t draft-eligible yet, but you can’t expect me to watch a 6-5, 260 lb grown man make athletic grabs away from his frame and not talk about it. Smith isn’t dropping significant numbers yet, due to a crowded TE room in Stanford–but his size/speed ratio is mouth-watering, and his hands away from his frame look to be strong. His clutch catch on 4th and 10 was the only reason Stanford was in position to win this football game. Star that name for 2019 and beyond.
If you like huge prospects with massive catch radii, but you prefer them Draft-eligible, I’ve got someone for you: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Again, in Stanford’s offense, Arcega-Whiteside isn’t going to put up exceptional numbers. But Arcega-Whiteside made some truly excellent catches across the evening, regularly plucking inaccurate balls out of the air and showing excellent toughness when catching through contact.
At 6’2, 220 lbs and with arms that stretch for miles, Arcega-Whiteside’s catch radius makes him the ideal jump ball prospect. Stanford’s game-winning touchdown came courtesy of J.J., who did an excellent job (on this throw, and all game long) working his large frame to generate a leverage advantage without committing a penalty. The fade route is too easy for a player like Arcega-Whiteside. He’s my early “Day 3 sleeper WR.”