NFL Draft Stock Report: Adoree Jackson wows scouts with play-making skills
A look at NFL prospects who helped and may have hurt themselves this past weekend
Who helped themselves?
Adoree Jackson, CB, Southern California Trojans , JR. (5-11, 185, 4.43, #2)
While he is a dangerous home-run threat with the ball in his hands, it has been a bumpy junior season at cornerback for Jackson, who has struggled mightily at times in 2016 (see Utah Utes game). But he has finished strong with a productive November, including an outstanding all-around performance against Notre Dame Fighting Irish with two special-team touchdowns (55-yard punt return, 97-yard kickoff return) and a 52-yard catch-and-run score on offense.
He also did a nice job in coverage, accounting for two pass break-ups and helping to limit the Irish through the air. Jackson's special athleticism is evident on returns when he can use his fluid body control and above-average speed to eliminate pursuit angles and make defenders miss. That athleticism is also evident on defense, but his lack of size and technical skill have also stood out on numerous occasions this season.
To his credit, Jackson has bounced back from mistakes and stayed confident. Due to his undersized frame, scouts are worried Jackson won't be able to hold up outside at corner in the NFL, but with his elite athleticism and impact as a return man, teams will be more willing to take a chance on him, probably in the early day two range.
Forrest Lamp , OT, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers , rSR. (6-3, 300, 5.12, #76)
After an impressive performance earlier this season against Alabama Crimson Tide , NFL scouts have been more and more intrigued with Lamp, who lines up at left tackle for the Hilltoppers. He doesn't have elite size measureables, but that hasn't kept him from being one of the most consistent edge blockers in college football this season.
Lamp is steady in his shuffle and resets well on the move to stay square and keep his knees bent, sitting in his stance. His lack of arm length stands out, but so does his quick, efficient coil to handle counter measures, using his upper body strength to maintain spacing between him and rushers.
Lamp has the tough-minded, aggressive mindset to stubbornly stick to defenders and although he might not have elite traits, his ability to keep rushers in front of him gets the job done. Lamp, who has been invited to the 2017 Senior Bowl, might be ideally suited for guard in the NFL, but regardless, he is on the rise as a pro prospect.
Alvin Kamara , RB, Tennessee Volunteers , rJR. (5-10, 215, 4.62, #6)
It was true back in August and remains true now: Kamara is the best running back on the Tennessee roster and one of the more underrated weapons in college football. With Jalen Hurd no longer on the roster, Kamara has seen his offensive touches rise with seven total touchdowns the last three games. In the loss to Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday, he averaged 6.9 yards per rush (10 carries for 69 yards), led the Vols in receiving with eight catches for 72 yards and scored three times (two rushing, one receiving).
In the first quarter, Kamara scored on a 21-yard screen pass, a play that is easy to overlook in the box score, but the tape shows an impressive display of athleticism and balance. Seven different Vanderbilt defenders made contact with him, but were unable to bring him to the turf. His ability to impact the offense as a receiver and rusher makes him appealing as a third-down option in the NFL and return man on special teams. The 2017 class of running backs has the potential to be historic and Kamara would be a steal if the depth of the class pushes him to day three.
Cole Hikutini , TE, Louisville Cardinals , SR. (6-4, 248, 4.84, #18)
After two game tapes earlier this season, I was ready to give up on Hikutini as a legitimate prospect due to the drops. But through five game tapes, I started to change my tune due to his athleticism and the mismatch potential he can offer an offense in the NFL. Against Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, Hikutini was Lamar Jackson 's top target, finishing with seven catches for 100 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown on a forward pitch that showed off his acceleration and finishing toughness. His focus drops are frustrating and will keep him from being a reliable NFL starter, but while he develops his ball skills, Hikutini can be an effective secondary option as a "move" tight end due to his smooth athleticism to create spacing in his routes and then create after the grab. In a loaded tight end class, Hikutini will receive plenty of looks on day three.
Who hurt themselves?
J.T. Barrett , QB, Ohio State Buckeyes , rJR. (6-1, 225, 4.52, #16)
Ohio State beat Michigan Wolverines on Saturday in a thrilling game that lived up to the hype of "The Game." But it wasn't a strong performance by Barrett and reflected his overall regression as a passer this season. He finished with 46.9-percent completions (15-for-32) for 124 yards and one interception with his longest completion going for only 16 yards, missing several of his targets due to spotty accuracy.
Barrett's inconsistent feel and timing from within the pocket are substantial reasons for his issues, not anticipating passing windows or unnecessarily forcing throws. To his credit, Barrett was also a substantial reason the Buckeyes won the game due to his legs, rushing for 125 yards and a touchdown, doing most of his damage in the fourth quarter and overtime. But in terms of Barrett the NFL prospect, the performances he has put on tape this season show a late round pick at best.
Other NFL Draft notes:
- Although it came in a loss, Michigan senior DE Taco Charlton (6-5, 272, 4.87, #33) had an outstanding performance in his final regular season game as a collegiate player. He posted nine tackles, three tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, doing much of his damage at left end against Ohio State sophomore right tackle Isaiah Prince . A prospect that reminds me of Justin Tuck , Charlton has the size, build and power to bully his way into the pocket, but he also has the lower body agility to sidestep blockers and work around bodies as well. He has expanded his pass rush moves this season and it has shown -- I don't see how Charlton lasts until day two of the 2017 NFL Draft.
- The discussion of the best secondary in college football has several contenders, including Washington Huskies , Florida Gators , Ohio State, Colorado Buffaloes and a few others. The senior cornerback duo of Chidobe Awuzie (5-11, 205, 4.56, #4) and Ahkello Witherspoon (6-2, 195, 4.59, #23) are a big reason why the Buffaloes' secondary belongs in that conversation, but so is senior SS Tedric Thompson (6-0, 205, 4.56, #9), who is having a terrific senior season. He was a huge factor in Colorado's win over Utah with six total passes defended, including a pair of interceptions, and has created some buzz in the scouting community.
- Utah RB Joe Williams (5-11, 205, 4.53, #28) faces an uphill climb if he hopes to play in the NFL due to his sudden retirement and then return to the team earlier this season. But scouts are also concerned about his ball security issues, which showed again this past weekend against Colorado. Williams fumbled twice against the Buffs, including in the fourth quarter, which led to the scoop and score that put Colorado up for good.
- Ohio State redshirt sophomore FS Malik Hooker (6-2, 205, 4.52, #24) has a legitimate chance to be a first round pick next spring, but he told The Columbus Dispatch this week that he is "100 percent sure" returning to Columbus next season. With six interceptions (three returned for touchdowns), Hooker has emerged as one of college football's best playmakers in the secondary, but there is no question he would benefit from more seasoning, especially as a run defender. Hooker has terrific pursuit speed and is a willing tackler, but his angles and judgment are inconsistent, leading to missed tackles. If he does return for his junior season, it would be a great news for the Ohio State defense.
- With three more touchdowns this past weekend, Toledo Rockets senior TE Michael Roberts (6-4, 270, 4.93, #80) now has 15 touchdowns on the season, easily the best among FBS tight ends (the next best is Ole Miss Rebels ' Evan Engram with eight). Roberts is limited in areas and won't consistently separate, but he is very talented at the catch point with the smooth body control that shows as a pass-catcher and blocker.
- The Senior Bowl announced almost 50 accepted invitations to the annual all-star game, including several first round possibilities like Iowa Hawkeyes CB Desmond King (5-10, 203, 4.53, #14), UCLA Bruins DE/OLB Takkarist McKinley (6-2, 258, 4.58, #98) and Ole Miss TE Evan Engram (6-3, 227, 4.64, #17). The full list can be found here: http://www.seniorbowl.com/accepted-invites.php
- The East-West Shrine Game has also started to send out invites, including a few intriguing names like Oregon State Beavers CB Treston Decoud (6-2, 208, 4.54, #14), UCLA FS Randall Goforth (5-10, 190, 4.53, #3) and North Dakota State OG Zack Johnson (6-4, 329, 5.31, #66).
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