Like we did last year, we will take an in-depth look at some of the most talked-about NFL draft prospects from each week. Below, NFL Draft expert Matt Richner recaps Week 7 and looks ahead to Week 8. As the season progresses, we will highlight prospects who are rising up the draft boards along with others who are starting to fall off the radar due to their poor performances.
Player of the Week: Leonard Floyd (DE/OLB, Georgia):
The deck seemed to be stacked against the Georgia Bulldogs this weekend. Georgia was without Todd Gurley, their leading rusher and Heisman Trophy candidate, due to a suspension from possible NCAA violations. They had to play on the road, against the number 23 ranked team in the country, the Missouri Tigers. With all that against them, Georgia's defense rose to the occasion led by the effort and production of Leonard Floyd.
Georgia's defense finished the game with three sacks, four interceptions and one forced fumble/fumble recovery. The entire defense was flying around the field causing havoc, limiting yards after the catch and causing turnovers on almost every Tigers possession.
At 6'3” and 226 pounds, Floyd is long and lean coming off the edge. What he lacks in strength and power, he more than makes up for with his speed and quickness. Only a redshirt sophomore, Floyd has a lot of room to improve and grow, but there is no denying his athleticism and ability to rush the quarterback.
Against Missouri, Floyd had three tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and four quarterback pressures. On his lone sack, Floyd's time from snap-to-sack was 2.47 seconds, an NFL caliber time. He displayed a great speed rush and was able to dip his shoulder underneath the offensive tackle and use his long arms to knock out the ball from Missouri's Maty Mauk's hand for the turnover. Floyd's ability to create pressure and disrupt the quarterback vision also forced an interception, the fourth on of the game.
Missouri threw a screen pass and Floyd, who rushed inside, recognized the play and quickly recovered, tracked down the ball carrier allowing only a limited gain. It will be recorded as a regular tackle but was another showcase of Floyd's athleticism and speed to make a play.
With former inexperienced pass rushers going in the first round the past few seasons (Barkevious Mingo, and Dion Jordan), if Floyd decides to enter the NFL don't be surprised if he is a first round pick. He still has a lot of development and needs more experience but there is no denying his ability to rush the quartback and get into opponents' backfield.
Spencer Drango (OT, Baylor):
Playing in a hyper-speed offense, which snaps the ball every 20 seconds, all players in the Baylor offense must be in top shape to compete on every play. Coming into last weekend's game against TCU, the Baylor offense surrendered only three sacks all season.
Drango is a three year starter at left tackle and has only missed four games during his entire career. At 6'6” and 310 pounds, Drango has the long arms to keep defenders at bay. A natural athlete, he handles both the outside speed rush and inside power rush moves from defenders with ease.
Against TCU, the Baylor offensive line allowed four sacks and Drango was responsible for one of those sacks. Drango's lone sack, his first this season, came at a snap-to-sack time of 4.62 seconds, well beyond the standard time most NFL quarterbacks hold onto the ball.
It's Drango's ability to get outside and quickly up the field as a lead blocker that makes him so highly rated amongst NFL scouts. The 15 designed runs to Drango's gap resulted in 82 yards with an average of 5.5 yards-per-carry. His size and quickness allows him to overpower smaller defenders and carry would be tacklers down field. He had three separate pancake blocks against TCU.
Showing high football intelligence, Drango communicates well with his teammates, regularly calling out blitzes and picking up rushers coming into the pocket on a delayed blitz.
Suited for both man-blocking and zone-blocking schemes in the NFL, athletically Drango compares to former first round pick and current Philadelphia Eagle, Lane Johnston. I wouldn't be surprised to see him as one of the top three tackles taken in this upcoming draft.
Nelson Agholor (WR, USC):
Last season Agholor played in a more pro-style, conventional NFL offense that saw him as a deep downfield target. With a new head coach and offensive system, Agholor is not the downfield threat he was once was. Playing primarily close to the line of scrimmage and lining up the majority of time in the slot, he has been targeted more often this season.
Last season Agholor had 56 receptions for 918 yards, with an average of 16.4 YPC and six touchdowns. This season, he has 42 receptions for 405 yards with an average of 9.6 YPC and four touchdowns. A drop of 6.8 yards per reception is a dramatic decrease, especially considering that Agholor is widely considered one of the best wide receiver prospects in college football.
Against Arizona this past weekend, Agholor was targeted 10 times, resulting in seven receptions for 81 yards with an average of 11.6 YPC, one drop and one touchdown. Four of his targets were screen passes where he caught the ball on average two yards behind the line of scrimmage.
On average, Agholor was targeted 7.9 yards past the line of scrimmage. When he is able to run the intermediate and deep downfield routes, Agholor shows great separation ability. He possesses such a natural instinct to find the soft spot in zones and makes himself available to his quarterback.
Agholor shows a toughness and strength to go inside the hash marks even though he is 6'1” and 190 pounds. With a smaller frame, he might be better suited to line up on the outside in the NFL.
Not heavily involved in run blocking, Agholor looks to stand on the outside and just run with the action versus blocking downfield. It remains to be seen if he has the skills at run blocking.
Last season Agholor showed what a true deep downfield target he can be. This season he is playing closer to the line of scrimmage and doesn't have the opportunities to stretch the field. In terms of scouting, Agholor is similar to current Denver Bronco, Emmanuel Saunders.
Trey Flowers (DE, Arkansas):
An experienced defensive end with over 40 games played and 31 career starts to his resume, Flowers decided to return to school after receiving a mid-round grade from the NFL Draft advisory board last season. At 6'4” and 267 pounds, he possesses the prototypical height/weight combination that is perfectly suited for a defensive end spot in a 4-3 scheme.
In watching his tape, Flowers' long arms and ability to be a dominant run defender are what jumps out at you. He has the strength to disengage from his blockers or drive his man back into the pocket. While he doesn't have the speed or quickness that is typical of a top tier pass rusher, he is able to get his long arms in the air and bat balls downs with four passes broken up so far this season.
He did register one sack and five quarterback pressures against Alabama. His one sack came on a snap-to-sack time of 1.84 seconds. His sack came on a critical third down early in the game, Flowers showcased great balance and quickness to slip by Alabama's T.J. Yeldon's and block for the sack.
Against Alabama this past weekend, Flowers and the rest of his Razorback teammates were able to hold Alabama to just 66 yards rushing on 33 carries. Coming into the game, Alabama had been averaging 240 rushing yards per game. Alabama had 11 designed runs to Flowers' side, resulting in just 19 yards with an average of 1.7 yards-per-carry.
Flowers, in my opinion, just might be the best defensive end run defender in college football this season. If he can improve his sack totals and show that he can be a three down lineman, he might be making a move into the third round in next year's NFL Draft.
Who to Watch Next Week:
Nate Orchard (OLB, Utah):
Orchard is a young prospect who is quickly making a name for himself among scouts as a player to go and see before the season is over. Orchard is second in the country in sacks with 8.5 sacks so far this season. Coming into the season, he had a total of six career sacks in two seasons. At 6'2” and 250 pounds, Orchard can play the run and rush the quarterback. Suited to play in a 3-4 scheme, Orchard could be an outside rusher on passing downs or slide inside and play one of the interior linebacker positions in the NFL. Keep a close eye on him on Thursday night when Utah faces off against Oregon State, who has allowed 12 sacks in five games this season.
Shaq Thompson (OLB, Washington):
One of the most highly recruited players in the country three years ago, Thompson is starting to scratch the surface of his talents. Playing on a Washington defense that has forced opponents into 15 turnovers in six games this season, Thompson has scored five touchdowns this season with three fumble returns, one interception return and one rushing touchdown. A two-way player, Thompson will have his hands full this week when the Huskies face off against the Oregon Ducks. Thompson will get tested in coverage and his ability to set the edge against the Oregon offense. The Huskies will need all the help they can get from their defense for a chance to win this weekend.
Jameis Winston (QB, Florida State):
With two unbeaten teams facing off for a spot in the college football playoffs, Winston will be playing in one of the premiere games this weekend. Winston, who has created a tremendous amount of controversy for his off the field behavior, will be put under the microscope this week by scouts as his performance against Notre Dame is closely watched. Winston will have to maintain the accuracy and timing that has made him one of the top quarterback prospects in the country. Notre Dame, which has ten interceptions so far this season, will be looking to rattle Winston early and often.