Richner: Week 1 Prospects

PredictionMachine.com’s NFL Draft Expert, Matt Richner, takes his weekly look at three of the most notable college prospects from the weekend as well as three NFL rookies standing out for reasons good or bad.

Three College Prospects Who Made Headlines this Weekend

Marcus Lattimore (RB, South Carolina):

Coming off a torn ACL injury 11 months ago, Marcus Lattimore was prepared to show a national audience that he is fully healed and prepared to lead the South Carolina Gamecocks. He erased all worries regarding the strength of his knee when he ran for a 29-yard TD making an incredible cutback move against a safety for his first TD of the game.

Lattimore does need to improve his pass protection skills and his abilities as a receiver. In pass protection, he does a decent job at cut blocking, but he is tentative in pass blocking and will need to learn to engage would-be pass rushers head on.

Lattimore’s strength is his ability to stay balanced when taking a hit. He had 27 Yards After Significant Contact (YASC). To project this out for a full season, he should accumulate over 350 YASC. Lattimore is a workhorse of a running back who will get better as the season progresses, and if he makes himself available for next April’s NFL draft, look for him to be a first round selection.

Sharrif Floyd (DT, Florida):

At 6’3” and 303 lbs., Sharrif Floyd has the athleticism needed to be a dominant force on defense for the Florida Gators this season. Floyd’s ability to make a consistent impact on each series, however, has been minimal. He has failed to show a significant skill set in terms of pass rushing ability, which was evident by his lack of quarterback pressures or sacks this past week.  

Floyd is still only a junior, so he has time to improve his production and consistency before he heads to the NFL. Teams may be impressed with his size and athleticism, but they will not like his lack of production.

Tavon Austin (WR, West Virginia):

The West Virginia Mountaineers’ full stable of offensive playmakers is led by the dynamic Tavon Austin, a wide receiver and special teams returner extraordinaire. Austin doesn’t have blazing track speed; he is more of a quick-twitch player who is able to get a step on a defender right off the line. Most of his yards come from designed plays such as reverses, handoffs, pitches and quick slants. He averaged just over 3.5 YASC in this week’s game against Marshall. He will never be a focal point for any NFL offense, but he can be a complementary weapon both as a slot receiver and as a returner.

Three NFL Rookies of Note Heading into Week 1

Robert Turbin (RB, Seattle Seahawks):

Robert Turbin is a physical runner who shows great balance and is able to pick up significant yards after contact. The Seahawks enter the season with Marshawn Lynch as the starter. Lynch has never played a full 16-game season, so don’t be surprised to find Turbin lined up as the starter more than once this season. Turbin, who was ranked as my fourth-highest rated running back this past draft, should continue to progress in pass protection and could be a real steal for the Seahawks.

Bruce Irvin (DE, Seattle Seahawks):

I thought it was a reach to select Bruce Irvin in the first round; he was more suited to go in the second round. In the third preseason game, Irvin was matched up against Tony Moeaki of the Kansas City Chiefs, who was able to shut down Irvin and prevent him from making any impact on the game. If the 15th overall selection in the NFL draft can’t get past a quality tight end, what can the team and fans expect when he goes up against an elite left tackle?

Dontari Poe (DT, Kansas City Chiefs):

It is a rare occasion when a first round draft pick hears from his head coach that “he’s got a ways to go,” but Dontari Poe is currently battling for minutes with former sixth-round selection Jerrell Powe and undrafted free agent Anthony Toribio. The Kansas City Chiefs ranked 26th last season in rush defense, and even a healthy Dontari Poe isn’t going to help out. He failed to make an impact at the college level leading Memphis to a ranking of 97th in rush defense last year and he will fail to provide an impact in the NFL.

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