NFL Draft Stock Report: Talent not in doubt for Notre Dame's Jarron Jones
A look at NFL prospects who helped and may have hurt themselves this past weekend
Who helped themselves?
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
, rest. (6-5, 315, 5.14, #94)
I have written about Jones multiple times this season, commenting on his immense talent, but inconsistent on-field play. There is no questioning his rare athleticism and skills for a man that size, but he doesn't always put it all together and translate that talent into football production.
However, that wasn't the case against Miami on Saturday as Jones was a one-man wrecking crew, spending most of his time in the Hurricanes' backfield. Of his seven tackles, six were for loss, accounting for 24 negative yards for the offense. Jones also added a sack and pass break-up, using his length to obstruct passing lanes.
Like most linemen his size, he tends to play too high, which causes his rush to stall, but against Miami's interior offensive line, Jones was explosive off the snap to attack gaps and keep his initial momentum through contact. He showed excellent backfield vision to track the ball with above average movement skills to break down in space and make stops. Jones has first-round ability and if he shows more consistency like he did on his Miami tape, he'll skyrocket up draft boards.
, rare. (6-1, 240, 4.86, #53)
The active leader in tackles among power-five conferences, Kiser has been an impact player for the Virginia defense this season, averaging 11.4 tackles per contest. Against Louisville on Saturday, he was a substantial reason the Cavaliers almost pulled the upset, helping contain the Louisville offense for most of the game. Kiser finished with 14 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and a fumble recovery and his on-field impact was even more profound than what is listed on the stat sheet.
Although he might not be a speed demon at the position, Kiser diagnoses quicker than most linebackers, getting a head start on the play and making up for his average range. He unwinds himself to blocks with the secondary quickness to work off contact and square up the ball carrier. While he looks to tune up his target, Kiser doesn't sacrifice his tackling mechanics for the big hit and is a textbook hit, lift and drive striker. The NFL is always looking for assignment sound tacklers -- and that is Kiser.
, SR. (6-5, 272, 4.87, #33)
His name catches your eye, but it is Taco's play on the field that deserves your attention. Aside from possibly Alabama, Michigan has the most-talented defensive line in the country. And Charlton is a key piece of the Wolverines disruptive front. He didn't register a sack on Saturday against Michigan State, but the Spartans couldn't keep him out of their backfield.
Charlton has a NFL body with room to get even stronger, using his long reach to extend into blockers and bully them wherever he wants them to go. He also has the lower body agility to sidestep block attempts and quickly regain his momentum to close on the ball carrier, showing a variety of rush moves against Michigan State blockers. Charlton needs to be more controlled with his rush sequence, but he has the point of attack power to set a hard edge vs. the run. Taco has all the ingredients of a NFL starter and if I were a betting man, I'd put money down on Charlton going first round next spring.
Virginia Tech Hokies
, JR. (6-1, 190, 4.49, #1)
In a three-point win over Pittsburgh Panthers last Thursday night, Ford was at his best, showing why he could be a solid day two draft pick in the 2017 class if he declares early. He registered a season-best 143 receiving yards on 10 catches and his lone touchdown put him No. 1 on the school's all-time touchdown catch list (23).
Similar in some ways to Pitt receiver Tyler Boyd who was drafted 55th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals last year, Ford isn't an elite size/speed athlete, but creates spacing as a route-runner with outstanding hand-eye coordination to be a reliable target. He has terrific body control to locate, alter his momentum mid-route and attack the ball, always looking back towards the line of scrimmage to help out his quarterback. Although he is more of a complementary receiver than game-breaker, Ford can line up anywhere in the formation and is very quarterback-friendly.
Who hurt themselves?
, JR. (6-3, 240, 4.57, #1)
Tennessee announced on Monday that Hurd has left the program and intends to transfer. The school's leading rusher had 110 yards on the ground in the season opener before steadily seeing his production decline, also missing time due to injuries. Hurd leaves the Vols ranked fifth on the school's all-time rushing list (2,638 career yards), but according to reports, his desire to switch positions led to the decision to leave the program.
As an NFL prospect, changing positions would be the wise move because with his size and skill-set, Hurd projects much better as hybrid H-back or move tight end rather than running back. However, the timing of this decision is questionable. This is the type of move Hurd should have made last offseason to play right away for a FCS program or be eligible to play in 2017 at a FBS school. An upperclassman voluntarily leaving a team mid-season is uncommon and likely won't be looked upon favorably by NFL scouts.
Other NFL Draft notes:
- The first week of November signals the first wave of prospect invitations going out to the pre-draft all-star games. The Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, the two most prestigious exhibition games, will send invites soon while the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl invites have already gone out. Georgia Bulldogs OL Tyler Catalina (6-5, 298, 5.16, #72), Appalachian State Mountaineers LB Kennan Gilchrist (6-2, 225, 4.62, #6) and Florida International Golden Panthers DT Imarjaye Albury (6-0, 293, 5.06, #93) are among the first batch of invitations to the Los Angeles area all-star game.
- Clemson Tigers junior QB Deshaun Watson (6-2, 210, 4.64, #4) entered the season as the presumptive favorite for the Heisman Trophy and the No. 1 quarterback spot in the 2017 class. And while inconsistency has both achievements very much in doubt, his ability to play at his best in crunch time and pull out wins is something both Heisman voters and NFL scouts pay attention to. Over his career, Watson has been very steady late in games with impressive fourth quarter stats: 67.3-percent completions (103-for-153) for 1,277 passing yards, 17 total touchdowns (13 passing, four rushing) and only one turnover. Some of those stats are from garbage time late in games, but plenty of his fourth quarter production has come in close contests, most notably the Auburn, Louisville and Florida State games this season. NFL coaches appreciate quarterbacks who find ways to win and with a 22-1 record the past two seasons, Watson falls in that category.
- A substantial part of Washington Huskies 's success has been the pass defense, holding opponents to under 180 yards passing in seven of the eight games this season (Idaho is the only school to surpass 200 yards passing against UW in 2016). The Huskies have arguably the most impressive cornerback duo with junior CB Sidney Jones (6-0, 181, 4.49, #26) and senior CB Kevin King (6-3, 192, 4.56, #20), two prospects who could both be top-100 picks next spring. Jones has continued to show why he deserves consideration in the first round with his fluid athleticism, instincts and ball skills. And King, while very lean with marginal power, has the height, length and speed that translates well to the next level. The last time a pair of cornerback teammates were both drafted top-80? Two years ago with Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams out of Florida State.
- Stanford Cardinal junior RB Christian McCaffrey (6-0, 202, 4.48, #5) had a rough month of October due to injuries, but he looked more like his usual self this past Saturday in the win at Arizona. He rushed for 169 yards on 23 carries (7.3 average) and totaling three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving). With three conference losses already, Stanford is a long shot to return to the Pac-12 Championship Game, but with a healthy McCaffrey down the stretch, the Cardinal could play spoiler and shape the outcome of the conference.
- After a four-game hiatus and brief "retirement" from the team, Utah Utes senior RB Joe Williams (5-11, 205, 4.40, #28) has looked like a new player the past three weeks rushing for 179 yards at Oregon State, 332 yards at UCLA and 172 yards vs. Washington on Saturday. Despite the month-long absence, Williams is third in the Pac-12 in rushing with 758 yards on the season and he signifies an interesting test case for NFL scouts. He doesn't have the build or functional run strength to be an every-down back, but his speed and finishing toughness have been impressive. However, the elephant in the room is the fact that he left the team after only two games because of mental and physical fatigue and had to be asked back due to depth chart issues for the Utes. Talking to a west coast scout about the situation, I asked his opinion on Williams' draft status. His response was blunt: "He quit on his team -- once my head coach hears that, he'll be off our board."
Not every draft pick can be a winner. Here are the 32 guys who could cause the most regret
Our list of late-round gems includes plenty of lesser-known backs and quality linemen
A running back going No. 2 overall? When you're being compared to Hall of Fame runner, yes
Pass rushers and explosive offensive players highlight the best Day 1 contributors
Here's every draft pick heading to the NFC West, including 21 by the Seahawks and 49ers co...
Here's every draft pick heading to the NFC South, home of the NFC's last two Super Bowl te...