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Ahead of The Game - College Devy Prospects (Week 6 Edition)


It's going to be difficult to top the showcase game from week 5 this week, but that's also probably the case for the rest of the season.

Week 6 features one of the longest rivalries in all of sports between Oklahoma and Texas, but there's also lower profile matchups that should provide entertainment throughout the day.

Some of these matchups will feature true NFL prospects and others will showcase players on the cusp of becoming a meaningful prospect.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!

Quarterback

Ryan Finley, QB North Carolina State

Week 6 - vs Boston College (10/6)

There are plenty of seasons with multiple truly elite QBs who are destined for NFL success, but 2019's class doesn't appear to be one of them. Finley wouldn't be considered an elite prospect, but he's amassed a few statistics that could elevate him for some teams.

Year G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int
2014 4 12 27 44.4 161 6 5.8 2 1
2015 3 46 70 65.7 485 6.9 4.6 1 4
2016 13 243 402 60.4 3059 7.6 7.6 18 8
2017 13 311 478 65.1 3514 7.4 7.5 17 6

Continuous improvement is always a positive for a prospect and, for the most part, Finley has consistently improved. In his first two seasons as a starter, following his transfer from Boise State, he accumulated over 3,000 passing yards and did so while averaging over 7 yards per attempt. He took a slight step backward in TDs in 2017, but improved his completion percentage and threw fewer interceptions. And while Finley is not a prolific runner, he did add on nearly 200 rushing yards and three TDs.

Year G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int
2018 4 105 153 68.6 1313 8.6 9.3 8 1

Finley has taken steps forward as a prospect this season and for QB prospects, final season statistics are an indicator for potential success at the NFL level. To go along with final season stats, there are a few measurables that can be indicators. At six-foot-four and 212 lbs, size shouldn't be a concern for Finley as a prospect and if he can pair a strong final season with a good draft process, he could be considered among the top QBs in the draft. Most likely, Finley is destined to be a backup QB, but if he continues to improve, he could be a sleeper prospect in the class.

Running Back

Justice Hill, RB Oklahoma State

Week 6 - vs. Iowa State (10/6)

With Rodney Anderson injured, Justice Hill sits as the unquestioned top RB in the Big 12 conference. Ok. There's always someone who will question the top player label, but Hill has a clear case and should be one of the best RB options in the class.

Justice Hill G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2016 13 206 1142 5.5 6 5 46 9.2 0
2017 13 268 1467 5.5 15 31 190 6.1 1

Back-to-back seasons over 200 carries demonstrate Hill's ability to handle an NFL workload and his elevated workload in the receiving game should show his versatility. The question marks come with his efficiency. Neither year ended over six yards per carry and while he averaged more the two receptions per game, he fell well short of the ideal ten yard average per reception. But his 16 total TDs show added value and his team's willingness to rely on him in high leverage situations. And, so far, in 2018, he's elevated his rushing efficiency.

Justice Hill G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2018 5 77 577 7.5 6 5 31 6.2 0

Hill is being used slightly less in the passing game, but he's raised his rushing average by two full yards through five games. If that trend continues, there will be no questions about his efficiency by the time he reaches the draft. Hill wouldn't be a standout back in many classes, but with the shallow nature of this class, he should be considered among the top five in the class. And if he's a top two day selection, he'll become a strong dynasty asset as a late first round or early second round pick.

Travis Homer, RB Miami

Week 6 - vs Florida State (10/6)

Playing at Miami can go a long way to elevate a prospect's draft profile and Travis Homer has benefited from the opportunity to play for a traditional power.

Travis Homer G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2016 7 7 44 6.3 0 0 0 0 0
2017 13 163 966 5.9 8 18 219 12.2 1

Homer has yet to surpass 200 rush attempts or 1,000 yards for a season, but collecting 200 receiving yards on just 18 receptions helps mitigate some of the concerns about his limited usage. 2018 represents Homer's first season as the true lead back as he's previously had to share the work with Mark Walton and thus far, his production is somewhat questionable.

Travis Homer G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2018 5 63 364 5.8 1 2 11 5.5 0

As the true lead, Homer is only on pace for 164 carries with the assumption of a 13 game season. That alone raises some real concerns about his ability to handle a bellcow workload in the NFL and with under one reception per game, he's failing to prove he's a complete back. If workload were the only concern, Homer could gain some steam as a mid-round option to be the lead part of a committee, but if he's below six yards per carry for the second straight season, he could be relegated to a backup role. It's too early to write off a prospect, but it would likely be a mistake for Homer to consider the 2019 draft and he'd need to show significant improvement if he wants to stand out in a very deep 2020 RB class. The former four-star prospect has some work to do if he has aspirations of NFL greatness.

Wide Receiver

JJ Arcega-Whiteside, WR Stanford

Week 4 - vs Utah (10/6)

Stanford may have fallen short against Notre Dame, but it was another opportunity for JJ Arcega-Whiteside to prove that he could be one of the nation's best WRs. Any members of Team Big WR should get to know Arcega-Whiteside.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2015 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2016 10 24 379 15.8 5 0.18 0.33 0.26
2017 11 48 781 16.3 9 0.30 0.40 0.35

It took Arcega-Whiteside a full season to earn playing time, but once he got on the field, it became clear that he was going to be a big part of the offense. His yardage totals aren't particularly awe-inspiring, but an 18 percent market share in his first season as a starter is impressive. And with his size, he became an immediate TD producer and hasn't looked back since.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 5 22 438 19.9 8 0.36 0.73 0.54

2018 has been the breakout season for Arcega-Whiteside nationally. While he's been productive in previous years, it's his performances on a national stage that have raised the public awareness of him. His eight TDs are only one short of his 2017 total and he's been essentially the only option for his team. While that market share is likely going to regress slightly, he should finish the season with his far and away best college season. Few WRs will bring the unique skillset of Arcega-Whiteside and that could impress NFL scouts. If he ends up as a top two day NFL draft pick, he'll be a trendy late first-round rookie pick with the potential to be in the mid-first depending on the landing spot.

Riley Ridley, WR Georgia

Week 6 - vs Vanderbilt (10/6)

Scouts spent months debating his brother, Calvin Ridley, but now that he's in the NFL, it's Riley's opportunity to stand out as a prospect. And he'll have a unique opportunity to play on a contending team with true National Championship aspirations.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2016 6 12 238 19.8 2 0.09 0.13 0.11
2017 8 14 218 15.6 2 0.08 0.08 0.08

Ridley hasn't broken out as a prospect by anyone's standards yet. The biggest positives from his first two seasons would be his yardage efficiency. While it regressed slightly in 2017, he proved to be a capable field stretcher during his freshman season. And while he played in more games as a sophomore, he accounted for a smaller share of the offense. Thus far, his 2018 has been a success nearing his career high in yardage and already surpassing his best TD finish. His improvement have also given him a meaningful market share of both.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 5 17 205 12.1 3 0.19 0.27 0.23

Some evaluators use a 0.20 dominator as the threshold for a breakout season and by that measure, Ridley is breaking out this year. But for context, his 0.23 dominator ranks 140th out of 451 receivers who qualify. And while being responsible for 20 percent of a team's offense is a great showing, it's not exceptional for a player being considered against the cream of the crop. There's a good chance that Riley Ridley will face similar scrutiny to his brother with film analysts fighting for him and analytics evaluators seeing him in the middle of the road. In my opinion, he'd benefit from a fourth season at Georgia barring an elite finish to the season. He'd stand to benefit by avoiding a 2019 WR class considered to be very deep.

Tight End

Jace Sternberger, TE Texas A&M

Week 6 - vs Kentucky (10/6)

After one junior college season following his transfer from Kansas, Jace Sternberger has become a meaningful part of the Texas A&M offense.

G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 5 17 256 15.1 4 0.18 0.5 0.34

Sternberger never truly produced for Kansas. During his two seasons with the team, he amassed only on reception for five yards and played in just two games. But he's taken on a meaningful role for the Aggies. Through five games, he's represented 18 percent of the receiving yards and half of the teams receiving TDs. His 4 TDs is tied with Noah Fant for the most among TEs.

Sternberger is a former three-star high school prospect who has taken a longer path to find his place in college football. And his run in the FBS might be a short one if he keeps up his current pace. At six-foot-four and 250 lbs, his demonstration as a strong receiver could turn him into a true NFL prospect for the 2019 draft. If he continues on his current pace, he'd be a mid-round flier in rookie drafts by next year.

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