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Ahead of The Game - College Devy Prospects (Week 5 Edition)


Week four went better than expected. There was a major comeback in a high profile game and there was a shocking upset. On a week that wasn't expected to provide much entertainment value, it was a strong week.

There are huge playoff implications for two games in week five. The winners of the Penn State/Ohio State and Stanford/Notre Dame games will be positioned well to contend for the playoff.

And while those games will each feature many future NFL players, there are some other prospects we need to examine.

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Quarterback

Justin Herbert, QB Oregon

Week 4 - at California (9/29)

Despite losing in heartbreaking fashion to Standford, Herbert set efficiency records and reestablished himself as the favorite to be the top QB of the 2019 draft class. It's a wonder that Herbert has transformed from a three-star prospect with very few scholarship offers into a top QB

Year G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int
2016 8 162 255 63.5 1936 7.6 8.4 19 4
2017 8 139 206 67.5 1983 9.6 10 15 5

Efficiency does not appear to be a concern for the six-foot-five quarterback. With two straight seasons over 60 percent completions, there's no concern about his ability to be accurate at the next level. An AY/A of 10 in 2017 definitely puts Herbert in a strong group and now elevating that in 2018, he's beginning to look like an elite prospect. As long as he doesn't have significant regression and performs well in the draft process, Herbert should be among the top options.

Year G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int
2018 4 72 114 63.2 1186 10 10.7 13 5

Herbert's completion percentage is slightly down from 2017, but he's improved his yards per attempt which would indicate a slightly more aggressive approach. While you'd like to see his accuracy to return to 2017 levels, improved yardage and touchdown efficiency would be a positive for Herbert. He'll also need to give a full season of production since he's never played more than 8 games in a season to prove to the NFL that he's capable. The arrow is pointing up for this prospect and with his stature, there will be scouts from every team with a close eye on Herbert for the remainder of this season. If everything continues, expect to see him selected near the top of the NFL draft and as the first QB in rookie drafts.

Running Back

Miles Sanders, RB Penn State

Week 4 - vs. Ohio State (9/29)

Miles Sanders came into a tough situation following a potential NFL superstar, Saquon Barkley. Sanders was a known commodity for Penn State fans, but nationally, he was seen as just another RB. And thus far, he's proven to be well above replacement level.

Miles Sanders G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2016 13 25 184 7.4 1 2 24 12 1
2017 10 31 191 6.2 2 6 30 5 0

When the top of the depth chart is Barkley, it's always going to be difficult to earn significant playing time and that's been the case for Sanders. 56 career carries and 8 career receptions, while somewhat efficient in both, doesn't give enough of a sample size to truly judge the players. And with that in mind, Sanders' evaluation as a prospect comes almost entirely from his 2018 campaign.

Miles Sanders G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2018 4 71 495 7 5 7 56 8 0

Through 4 games, he's already passed his career usage in rushing and he's averaging just under two receptions per game. He's currently on pace for 15 touchdown runs in 12 games and over 1400 yards. If he ends the year anywhere near that, there could be some buzz for him to leave before his senior year. Saturday night will be Sanders' first big stage of the season as Penn State takes on Ohio State in primetime. While Trace McSorley will get most of the headlines for the Nittany Lions, Sanders will need to be a key contributor for the team to win. And if Penn State pulls off the upset on this stage, Sanders may get the necessary push to his draft stock to turn him into a top three round prospect. Currently, he's still just a player to monitor because he's unlikely to leave for the NFL, this year, but if he begins to pile up stats, don't be surprised if he makes the leap.

LJ Scott, RB Michigan State

Week 4 - vs Central Michigan (9/29)

There was a time when LJ Scott was the player that dynasty players were waiting for, but that time has come and gone. Now in his fourth year, Scott is a steady, but very unexciting prospect.

LJ Scott G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2015 14 146 699 4.8 11 3 15 5 0
2016 12 184 994 5.4 6 10 147 14.7 1
2017 12 201 898 4.5 8 20 146 7.3 1

In 2015, Scott generated a lot of excitement about Scott's future. And even with the excitement, Scott only managed 4.8 yards per carry. 2017 is the true standout season from a workload perspective with over 200 carries and 20 receptions, but his efficiency in both areas left some to be desired.

LJ Scott G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2018 2 30 103 3.4 0 5 73 14.6 0

The best quality in Scott's 2018 stat line is his receiving work. Averaging more than two receptions per game with a 14.6 yard average will stand out as a prospect. But if Scott fails to improve his rushing efficiency, which has been historically underwhelming, there's very little chance he'll be drafted in the first three rounds. Even in a weaker RB class, Scott finds himself among the least exciting prospects and he'll need a dominant draft process to raise his stock significantly. As it stands, he looks like a fourth round rookie pick assuming an NFL team drafts him.

Wide Receiver

Jonathan Duhart, WR Old Dominion

Week 4 - at East Carolina (9/29)

Following their massive upset of Virginia Tech, it's only right to feature a player on Old Dominion. And with his current usage, it's only right to make that player Jonathan Duhart.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2014 7 7 127 18.1 0 0.03 0.00 0.02
2015 12 47 636 13.5 8 0.24 0.39 0.32
2016 13 48 735 15.3 9 0.24 0.29 0.27
2017 2 7 121 17.3 2 0.06 0.22 0.14

Nothing really stands out from Duhart's first four years at Old Dominion outside of his dominator rating in 2015. His 0.32 dominator ranked in the top 50 nationwide, but he followed it up with some regression to 0.27. However, he's come out of the gates strong in 2018 and his 0.63 dominator is the second highest among qualifying receivers. His dominator is heavily weighted by owning a staggering 83 percent share of his team's receiving touchdowns. It's likely that this drops over the course of the season, but with 42 percent of yards, there's a chance he easily finishes with his best college season.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 4 26 502 19.3 6 0.42 0.83 0.63

Age and level of competition will be the biggest concerns for Duhart as an NFL. But despite likely being one of the oldest WR prospects in the class, Duhart could provide some value if an NFL team is excited by his NFL-readiness. Duhart will hopefully earn a combine invite and if it doesn't come, his future fantasy value would be a concern. If he does receive an invite and finds himself drafted in the late rounds, Duhart could be a sneaky last round pick.

Marquise Brown, WR Oklahoma

Week 4 - vs Baylor (9/29)

If you're looking for a young underclassman WR who could be a top two round pick after a big final season, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is your guy. As part of one of the most exciting offenses in college football, Brown is compiling raw and advanced statistics that will improve his overall draft profile by year's end. Brown took the junior college route before eventually landing with the Sooners and it appears that he made a great decision.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2017 13 57 1095 19.2 7 0.22 0.15 0.18

In his first season in Norman, Brown compiled more than 1000 yards with a nearly 20 yard average. While he only managed seven touchdowns, his 0.18 dominator was a decent start in his first year on campus. His 22 percent share of receiving yards shows that the team had enough trust in Brown to become a meaningful part of the offense.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 3 19 412 21.7 3 0.36 0.25 0.30

This season has started off strong for Hollywood Brown. Currently with a 0.30 dominator, he owns 36 percent of his team's receiving yards and is doing so with a 21.7 per catch average. He's proving himself to be a field stretcher and his offense is proving that they trust him with the ball in his hands. Brown's biggest concern will be his size. His five-foot-eleven frame already raises a few flags, but paired with weighing under 170 lbs and there will be plenty of teams worrying about his ability to create against NFL secondaries.

Tight End

Kaden Smith, TE Stanford

Week 4 - at Notre Dame (9/29)

Kaden Smith is a player who will become more and more well-known as the season progresses. Some of that is due to his own success and some of that is due to the fact that this TE class might be significantly shallower than recent years.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2017 11 23 414 21.7 3 0.16 0.13 0.14

Smith's 2017 appears slightly unexciting with a 0.14 dominator, but his three touchdowns show that he's, at minimum, capable of being a redzone options. At six-foot-five, this could be one of his biggest selling points during the draft evaluation process. He currently doesn't have a touchdown for the season and that will need to change, but if it does and he compiles four or five touchdowns, Smith could be a prospect that teams are evaluating in the late first round.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 4 18 258 14.3 0 0.24 0 0.12

Smith was a standout in Stanford's comeback against Oregon and following his performance, there are some projecting Smith as a potential first round NFL draft pick. To truly stand out on the national stage, he'll likely need to score a few touchdowns and improve his dominator rating, but he's a proven receiving option and should generate buzz throughout the rest of the season. Smith will, once again, have chance to play in primetime against a top opponent when the Cardinal takes on Notre Dame. If he can meet the lofty expectations that he created last week, Smith's name will continue to rise up draft boards. By the time we get to 2019 rookie drafts, Smith could be a second round pick.

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