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Ahead of The Game - College Devy Prospects (Week 7 Edition)

Traditional powers appear to be back in a big way in college football. Texas has bounced back from their week 1 loss to Maryland and appears to be a contender in the Big12. Notre Dame has beaten what appears to be their most difficult match ups and now look to be among the favorites to make the playoff. And there were 8 top 25 ranked schools to suffer a loss in week 6. All in all, it was a very good week of football.

In sad news, it was revealed that Ahmmon Richards' football career has come to an end after suffering a serious neck injury. While he wasn't my favorite of the top WR prospects, he had a bright future in the NFL and it's very sad to hear that he will no longer be able to compete.

Week 7 might be the best set of games this season.  There are three top 25 matchups and several other games between traditionally successful schools.

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Tyree Jackson, QB Buffalo

Week 7 - vs Akron (10/13)

If you're a fan of small school QBs as NFL prospects, Tyree Jackson will likely be your favorite option in the 2019 NFL class. Coming out of Buffalo, this six-foot-seven prospect is putting together an efficient season and could be a sleeper if he chooses to declare.

Tyree Jackson G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int
2016 10 165 311 53.1 1772 5.7 5 9 9
2017 8 143 237 60.3 2096 8.8 9.3 12 3

Had Jackson finished last season maintaining his AY/A of 9.3, it would have ranked 11th in the nation, tied with Jalen Hurts. And a four-to-one TD to INT ratio helps show that Jackson wasn't reckless with the ball and took a step forward from his 2016 freshman season. He also improved his completion percentage above the critical 60 percent threshold. The biggest concern for Jackson's 2017 was only the shortened season. A positive 2018 would include a full season and maintaining some of his efficiency.

Tyree Jackson G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int
2018 6 98 170 57.6 1331 7.8 8.8 17 4

Thus far, Jackson hasn't missed a game and while his efficiency has dipped slightly, he's continued to minimize his turnovers. Ideally, as he continues through his MAC schedule, Jackson would see an increase in his AY/A and a return to 60 percent completions. Anything below 60 percent would likely lead to him returning to school for his senior season or a dramatic hit in his draft stock. Without much rushing production, Jackson will need to prove that he's a more than capable NFL passer. For now, he's just a name to track, but if he finishes the season over 9.0 AY/A with a 60 percent completion percentage, look for Jackson to be an early Day three pick.

Running Back

David Montgomery, RB Iowa State

Week 7 - vs. West Virginia (10/13)

Last week, I wrote that Justice Hill was the unquestioned best RB in the Big12 and while he's my favorite, David Montgomery is a player that could be used to argue against Hill at the top. Montgomery is currently questionable for the game against West Virginia as he's dealing with an arm injury. If he's not on the field, there will be noticeable issues with the Iowa State offense.

David Montgomery G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2016 12 109 563 5.2 2 13 129 9.9 0
2017 13 258 1146 4.4 11 36 296 8.2 0

Montgomery was a true wokhorse in 2017. Well over 200 carries and nearly three receptions per game matches up well with nearly any RB in the country. The only concern is his efficiency. 4.4 yards per carry is well below the 6.0 that you're traditionally seeking from a top RB option. And while his yards per reception is ok, it too falls short of the ideal range.

David Montgomery G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2018 4 82 334 4.1 3 6 29 4.8 0

Minor injuries will likely keep Montgomery from repeating his elite workload, but he's still the focal point of the Iowa State offense. Hopefully, Montgomery can improve his rushing efficiency as he's faced arguably four of the six toughest defenses on his schedule already. If he can bring his final season average over five yards per carry, it will go a long way to improve his profile.

Despite all of the concerns with his efficiency, Montgomery is a strong RB prospect because he's proven capable in all of the desired areas. He's not likely to be a top five NFL draft pick in the mold of Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette, or Saquon Barkley, but he's definitely going to get a close look in rounds three and four. And players like Kareem Hunt and Jordan Howard have proven that mid-round RBs can find instant success. If he goes earlier than I would project, currently, Montgomery could end up a top five rookie pick. If he goes in the range I expect, he'll be a strong pick in the back half of the first round.

Qadree Ollison, RB Pittsburgh

Week 7 - vs Notre Dame (10/13)

After serving as the second back in a committee for the last two seasons, Ollison has seemingly reestablished himself as the lead in Pittsburgh. And in doing so, he's improved his potential as a prospect.

Qadree Ollison G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2015 13 212 1121 5.3 11 14 77 5.5 1
2016 10 33 127 3.8 2 2 38 19 0
2017 12 90 398 4.4 5 23 194 8.4 2

Ollison's 2015 campaign was promising with over 200 carries, more than 1 reception per game, and 11 total touchdowns. And as a freshman, it was possible to overlook his slightly below ideal efficiency in both rushing and receiving. But his fall from the top of the depth chart in 2016 and 2017 raises some real concerns. Having the starting job usurped by teammate, Darrin Hall, paired with plummeting rushing efficiency took the shine off of a prospect who had the potential to become an NFL player.

But 2018 has helped rebuild Ollison's draft stock. He's currently on pace for 184 carries and 12 receptions with his best rushing efficiency of his career. Joe Marino at The Draft Network said in his last ACC review that Ollison may have improve his draft stock as much as any offensive player.

Qadree Ollison G Rush Att Rush Yds Yards per Carry Rush TD Receptions Rec. Yds Yards per Reception Rec. TD
2018 6 92 596 6.5 5 6 23 3.8 0

Pittsburgh faces a tall orders against a trending playoff favorite, Notre Dame. But for pro prospects, this type of game can serve as a near tryout. A big game against a highly regarded defense will show up on every scouting report and a slip-up will be discussed throughout the draft process. As a prospect, Ollison is already fighting an uphill battle coming off of two seasons as the secondary option so he'd need several big outings to become a draft-worthy prospect. For fantasy purposes, he's probably meaningless, but a few big showings could be what he needs to get on an NFL roster and if that happens, the door is open for potential success.

Wide Receiver

Tyler Johnson, WR Minnesota

Week 7 - at Ohio State (10/13)

I could probably write 3000 words about Johnson who stands out as my favorite prospect in a talented WR draft class, but I'll save my extended version for the end of the year. Johnson is the definition of a player who shines with advanced metrics and somewhat dips with his raw production because of limited surrounding talent. A leader in dominator rating in 2017, he's gotten off to a similar start in 2018 and if it continues, this will be his final college season.

Tyler Johnson G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2016 7 14 141 10.1 4 0.06 0.44 0.25
2017 10 35 677 19.3 7 0.45 0.73 0.59

As a freshman, Johnson's yardage share of six percent doesn't particularly stand out, but his touchdown share jumps off the page and also helps show how limited Minnesota's offense was. Pairing that with his 73 percent share of TDs in 2017 and that's back-to-back seasons that the Gophers failed to eclipse 10 passing touchdowns in a season. But when the team did score, it's been on the back of Johnson since he arrived. It's for this reason that he finished 2017 with the third highest dominator rating ahead of early draft picks, D.J. Moore and Anthony Miller.

Thus far, Johnson is maintaining his share of the offense despite the team adding an impressive freshman WR, Rashod Bateman. And even though the team has a true freshman under center, they've improve as a whole. Per Bill Connelly's College Football Statistical Profiles, Johnson is leading the team with 54 targets and has converted 52 percent of them into catches. Ideally, you'd like that catch rate to be higher, but with his propensity for making big plays, you can accept the blemish on his profile. Johnson currently has the third highest dominator rating and eighth highest share of receiving yards.

Tyler Johnson G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 5 28 402 14.4 6 0.41 0.67 0.54

In all likelihood, this won't be Johnson's most productive game against Ohio State. He's yet to face the Buckeyes and while they've shown to be slightly vulnerable to explosive plays, the Minnesota offense isn't expected to move the ball enough to provide Johnson with an eye-popping stat line. But this will be his biggest stage of the season and if he does break a big play against a defense generally considered good, the country will likely start taking a closer look at him.

In most seasons, calling Tyler Johnson a top three WR prospect wouldn't be considered a significant reach. He's similar to Moore, last season, who benefited from a heavy market share and if his highlights are any indication, he'll likely test well at the combine. But in this year's class, he's going slightly under the radar compared to players like DK Metcalf, N'Keal Harry, Kelvin Harmon, and A.J. Brown. Johnson is currently my second ranked WR in this class and would be an early first round rookie pick if he's drafted in the first two days on the NFL draft.

Parris Campbell, WR Ohio State

Week 7 - vs Minnesota (10/13)

Some players jump off the screen when you watch them and Parris Campbell is the kind of athlete that jumps off the screen.

Parris Campbell G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2015 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
2016 12 13 121 9.3 0 0.04 0 0.02
2017 13 39 573 14.7 3 0.16 0.08 0.12

Campbell's stat line doesn't immediately look like that of an NFL prospect, but his usage in the return game and primary usage as an H-Back demonstrate the team's belief in his athleticism. In 2016, Campbell averaged 27.8 yards per return and improve that average to 36.6 in 2017. But from a receiver perspective, he appeared to be a replacement-level Curtis Samuel as a prospect. But he's taken a big step forward in 2018.

Parris Campbell G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 6 35 501 14.3 7 0.23 0.27 0.25

In addition to already encroaching upon his career highs in receptions and yardage in just six games, Campbell has become one of the bigger TD threats in the country and has earned the trust of new starting QB, Dwayne Haskins. Campbell leads the team in targets with more than 20 percent more than second best and has converted 75.5 percent of those targets. Whether or not that catch rate is inflated because of his short pass usage, it's impressive enough to take notice. And despite being primarily used in short routes, he's averaging more than 14 yards per catch.

After the analytics community missed on Michael Thomas because of his lower market share, there's an increased acceptance of slightly lower shares on certain offenses. And with Ohio State, Campbell's 23 percent share of yards is impressive enough to keep him higher on draft boards because of his overall usage rates. Campbell is expected to do very well at the NFL combine as he was a successful track athlete in high school.  If Campbell continues his current pace and ends the season over 1000 yards on a competitive team, it would be somewhat surprising for him to fall in the draft. If he's a day two pick, he'll likely be a round two pick in rookie drafts.

Tight End

Caleb Wilson, TE UCLA

Week 7 - at California (10/13)

Lost amidst a terrible start to the season is the fact that Caleb Wilson is a legitimate NFL prospect that the TE position. And coming off of a 100 yard game with a touchdown, now is the time to check him out.

Caleb Wilson G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2016 8 16 220 13.8 0 0.06 0 0.03
2017 5 38 490 12.9 1 0.11 0.03 0.07

Wilson has yet to play a full season in college which is unfortunate based on the pace he was setting in 2017. Over ten percent of the team's receiving yards in just five games is worth noting particularly when paired with his 490 yards. It's within reason to think that Wilson could have finished the season with over 1000 yards and added an additional TD or two. Had he finished with a 0.20 dominator rating, there's a chance he'd have been talked about in the same conversation as Fant as a receiving prospect.

Caleb Wilson G Rec Yds Avg TD MS Receiving Yards MS Receiving TDs Dominator
2018 4 18 243 13.5 1 0.25 0.2 0.22

Wilson's 2018 pace is proof that 2017 could have been a special year. He's clearly a big part of the offense and while the team won't match the raw production of 2017, he'll likely be around a 0.2 dominator with over 20 percent of the team's receiving yards. He currently leads the team in targets with 34 despite only playing in four of the team's five games. If UCLA doesn't become a more competitive team this season and it doesn't appear to be getting better next year, Wilson could potentially opt out of his senior season to pursue an NFL career. Keep an eye on Wilson because if he comes out, there's a big chance that he'll be somewhat undervalued coming from a terrible team.

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