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Tuls | Duke defense eviscerates Northwestern with statement victory

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Scouting Notes

Tuls | Duke defense eviscerates Northwestern with statement victory

Northwestern Wildcats vs Duke Blue Devils


Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, NC

Score:  Northwestern (17), Duke (41)

Notable Prospects Entering the Contest

Northwestern Wildcats

Clayton Thorson, QB (Redshirt Junior) 

Where to begin? Thorson’s final stat line was 11/29, 120 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. Honestly, it looked worse than that. Duke blitzed him all game and it looked like it was the first time Thorson was ever pressured in the pocket. He panicked  and made multiple bench-worthy decisions. Maybe he had a bad bowl of Cheerios, but the point remains that every team playing Northwestern is going to blitz and send pressure in the face of Thorson until he is able to make them pay. If you planned on watching this game via DVR to observe Northwestern’s offense, just delete the recording. Stock: Down (If not gone completely)

Justin Jackson, RB (Senior)

If there was one player who I thought would serve as a silver lining to a Northwestern blowout, it would be senior running back Justin Jackson. As you could probably tell, I thought wrong. Jackson tried to get it going early, but only made it worse by trying to create plays that were not there. As a ball carrier, there are some plays where you just need to get what is available. Needless to say, Jackson did the opposite of that by trying to bounce runs outside to no avail. In addition, he was a non-factor as a receiver, as well as a liability in pass protection. Stock: Down

Godwin Igwebuike, S (Redshirt Senior)

Thank the Lord there is at least one Northwestern player who does not need to go home and burn the Duke tape. That player is redshirt senior safety Godwin Igwebuike. Playing in a split-safety scheme, Igwebuike showed the ability to come downhill in run support as well as fundamentally play with his back to the ball in man coverage down the field. His impressive sideline to sideline range and closing speed makes me think he could eventually play the single-high centerfielder spot at the next level. This was a solid showing from an experienced player. Stock: Same

Duke Blue Devils

Daniel Jones, QB (Redshirt Sophomore) 

From a college football, Daniel Jones played lights out. He ran all over Northwestern, garnering two touchdowns and 108 yards on 16 carries. The Wildcats had no answer for the zone read, as if they did not prepare for it at all (I am looking directly at you Pat Fitzgerald). Passing the ball, Jones was up and down. He made the tight-window throws look easy, while making the layups look like half-court shots. Duke missed out on two touchdowns because of errant misses from Jones, one on a check down and the other on a wide-open skinny post. Nonetheless, he still showed the arm talent and tools that scouts have been raving about. Stock: Same

Ben Humphreys, ILB (Junior) 

Ben Humphreys’ performance on Saturday showcased why he is one of the best inside linebackers in the ACC. His instincts and processing quickness are simply off the charts. There were some plays where he filled the hole before the play even developed. Humphreys has been labeled as a short-area player with limited range, but he looked incredibly impressive in open space, especially in coverage. On drag routes and hook-curl zone reads, Humphreys tallied up a couple PBUs and a near-interception. Considering Daniel Jones will most likely wait another year before declaring, Ben Humphreys is far and away Duke’s best draft-eligible prospect for the 2018 NFL draft. Stock: Up

Joe Giles-Harris, WLB (Redshirt Sophomore) 

Coming into this game, I knew Joe Giles-Harris was a speed merchant at the weak-side linebacker spot with his ability to run sideline to sideline seamlessly. He showed this in the game on multiple crossing routes and outside runs. His athleticism and hustle plays really stood out in my notes. Despite a strong performance, it was what I expected from Giles-Harris in that he was able to run, but he also failed to finish in the open field on some snaps. Stock: Same

Jeremy McDuffie, CB (Junior) 

McDuffie is known for his track and field background as an All-ACC hurdler and triple jumper, but in this game, he made a statement with his performance as Duke’s nickel cornerback. He closed quickly in run support, finishing with fundamentals. In coverage, his speed and raw athleticism was simply too much for the Northwestern receivers. Because of this massive advantage, McDuffie took chances and almost came away with a couple of interceptions with his breaks on the football. Stock: Up

Other Players that Flashed

Duke’s TJ Rahming, WR (Junior)

TJ Rahming eviscerated the Northwestern secondary all game long. Finishing the game with 12 catches for 127 yards, hauling in 11 of them through three quarters, Rahming served as the safety blanket and top target for star quarterback Daniel Jones. Wearing the number three on his jersey, Rahming looked awfully similar to former Blue Devil Jamison Crowder with his ability to get open and make plays after the catch from the slot. Keep an eye on Rahming moving forward as a sleeper candidate.

Duke’s Mike Ramsay, DT (Redshirt Senior)

Anybody who slept on Mike Ramsay as a legitimate senior defensive tackle prospect before Saturday’s game against Northwestern was given a wake-up call. He not only held true on his label as a run stuffer in the middle, but he flashed serious pass rush potential with his mix of interior quickness and power. The interior offensive line for the Wildcats simply had no answer for Ramsay’s disruption.

Duke’s Mark Gilbert, CB (Sophomore)

With two interceptions on the day, Mark Gilbert belongs on this list by default. He showed great ball skills on both plays, making difficult, extended grabs while breaking on the football. The entire Duke secondary honestly belongs on this list because of how little separation they gave up throughout the game, but Gilbert is the one who stood out.

Best Players on the Field

Duke’s Daniel Jones, QB (Redshirt Sophomore)

Duke’s TJ Rahming, WR (Junior)

Duke’s Mike Ramsay, DT (Redshirt Senior)

Duke’s Ben Humphreys, LB (Junior)

Forgettable Performances

The Northwestern Wildcats

(Offensive team stats: 1/10 on third down, 22 rushing yards on 21 carries, 5.1 yards per pass, three turnovers)

(Defensive team stats: Gave up 538 total yards, including 233 on the ground, lost time of possession by 23 minutes)

Jonah Tuls

Tuls is one of the lead NFL Draft analysts for Draftbreakdown.com and has been a key contributor to several other NFL Draft sites in recent years. At Draftbreakdown, Tuls provides macro-oriented NFL Draft coverage, including comprehensive player rankings, mock drafts and big boards for the site. Tuls has worked with some of the NDT Scouting staff previously before; he worked with National Scout Jon Ledyard to form the core of USA Today’s Draft Wire site for the 2016 NFL Draft season. His work there was centered around draft reports, with additional analysis and breaking news efforts as well.

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