Like we did last year 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 covers Week 4 in college football and previews who to watch in week 5. 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: Emmanuel Ogbah (Oklahoma State, DE):
Emmanuel Ogbah is a leader on the defense that ranks 23rd overall in FBS and that puts relentless pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Oklahoma State currently ranks 4th in the country in total sacks; they have 16 sacks on the season, an average of four sacks a game. Leading the pass rush movement for the Cowboys is Emmanuel Ogbah, one of the most disruptive and intimidating defensive ends in the country. At 6'4” and 275 pounds, Ogbah plays a traditional 4-3 defensive end position.
Ogbah has shown significant improvement in his production throughout his career with four sacks his freshman season, 11 sacks last season, and five sacks so far this year.
Against Texas this past weekend, Ogbah was tasked with attacking a young, inexperienced quarterback, Jerrod Heard, who is a dual threat passer capable of beating opponents with his legs. When rushing Heard, Ogbah had to be careful not to get too far up field, leaving his gap responsibility. It is a fine line when facing a dual threat quarterback and Ogbah showed he was capable of attacking the pocket without allowing a big play. Texas ran a limited number of rushing plays to Ogbah's side of the field, resulting in just 27 yards and one first down.
He finished the game with five tackles, 1.5 sacks, two TFL, and three quarterback pressures. His solo sack came on a snap-to-sack time of 3.02 seconds. He was able to get to the edge, turn his shoulders and beat the right tackle for the sack.
Ogbah had his way with the Longhorns right tackle (Kent Perkins), consistently driving him back into the pocket. What was impressive about Ogbah's pass rushing moves is that he showed a number of rip and spin moves to get after the quarterback. While he didn't have a ton of success with every move, he displayed a willingness to experiment and try new techniques to beat his opponent.
With five sacks so far on the season, Ogbah is tied for sixth in total sacks in the FBS. He is on track to record over 16 sacks on the seasons. Scouts will be watching Ogbah take on the Baylor Bears in late November. Baylor has one of the top left tackles in college football, Spencer Drango, who was able to dominate Ogbah last season.
Vernon Hargreaves III (CB, Florida):
As one of the few defensive backs in college football who is capable of dominating in press-man coverage, Hargraves is so dangerous that opponents don't even line up a wide receiver on his side of the field during certain points in the game. He is a top prospect and has been an elite performer since he was anointed a starter as a true freshman.
At 5'11” and 199 pounds, Hargreaves has all the physical tools to be an elite defensive back in the NFL. Few college defenses ask their cornerbacks to play one-on-one on the outside with no safety help over the top. Hargraves is left on an island, yet he doesn't show any fear of giving up a big play. Instead, he tirelessly jams his opponent and runs with them down the field.
Against Tennessee this past weekend, the Vols tried everything in their power to avoid going after Hargreaves. He was targeted just one time on a wide receiver screen and the ball was caught four yards behind the line of scrimmage resulting in a five yard gain. What is impressive when watching Hargreaves is his ability to maintain his concentration throughout the game despite limited action to his side of the field. Receivers had a difficult time beating his press as he was redirecting routes and disrupting the timing of the quarterback.
The one area that scouts will be concerned about is Hargreaves' abilities as a tackler. He had four missed tackles against Tennessee, which resulted in three first downs. On his first missed tackle, he dove at the ball carrier's legs. He needs to learn to look up and wrap up the ball carrier versus just diving at the ground. A couple of missed tackles were the result of trying to strip the ball away versus tackling the ball carrier to the ground. I'm not sure he has the strength to wrestle the ball away from a running back going full speed who outweighs him by thirty pounds.
There is a lot of talk in the scouting community that Hargreaves will be a likely top ten selection in the next NFL Draft. A lot of scouts will be watching his performance during the next couple of weeks when he goes up against several other possible first round picks, Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell and LSU's Travin Dural.
Laquon Treadwell (WR, Mississippi):
Despite sustaining a horrific leg injury late last season, Treadwell has started right where he left off, being one of the most dominant wide receivers in college football. During rehab for his injury, the 6'2” 212 pound wide receiver rebuilt his body, shedding 30 pounds and while also working on his technique and ball catching skills when he was sidelined.
Last season Treadwell averaged 13.2 YPC. This season he has seen his average increase to 15.1 YPC, becoming a complete wide receiver capable of taking the top off a defense. Once he gets the ball in his hands, it will take a couple of defenders to take him down to the ground.
Coming off of a huge win over Alabama two weeks ago, Ole Miss was set to face off against Vanderbilt last week. In what could have easily been a trap game, Treadwell and company came prepared to dominate. Treadwell finished with eight receptions for 135 yards, an average of 16.9 YPC. He amassed 71 yards-after-the-catch to go along with six of eight receptions that resulted in first downs.
Despite being the top target on offense, Treadwell did deal with some inconsistencies throughout the game. He was targeted a total of 15 times and he accumulated a total of three drops this past weekend, giving him a 20 percent drop rate for the game. Scouts will be watching for Treadwell to maintain his concentration on each of his targets. He does a good job of catching the ball away from his body but he sometimes looks to start getting upfield before securing the football.
While it's exciting to score points seemingly at will, the Mississippi offense doesn't ask their receivers to run a wide variety of routes. Treadwell is asked to run a basic route tree, slant, curl, and go routes. Scouts will be curious to see if he is able to handle more complex route combinations as he prepares for the NFL Draft. His average depth of target was 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.
Coming up next week is a highly anticipated matchup between Vernon Hargreaves and Laquon Treadwell. This game will be well attended by NFL teams with top decision makers on hand to watch Treadwell and Hargreaves battle against one another.
Robert Nkemdiche (DT, Mississippi):
As the number one overall recruit and top defensive end in the nation in 2013, Nkemdiche is a rare athlete whose performance matched people's expectations. Despite playing as a true freshman, Nkemdiche showed the strength and power of a senior back in 2013. At 6'4” and 296 pounds, he can play at every position along the defensive line. He primarily lines up at the defensive tackle position but will slide outside in certain sub-packages.
From the first snap of the game Nkemdiche's pure power is evident; he is able to push an opposing lineman with ease, just like the wind blowing a fallen leaf. The true measure of Nkemdiche won't always show up in the box score but rather the performance of those around him. He routinely occupies double and triple team blocks, which allow the linebackers behind him to have free reign to roam around and make plays.
Against Vanderbilt, who used multiple blockers to stop Nkemdiche, he still finished with four tackles, one TFL, one quarterback hit, and three quarterback pressures. His quarterback hit came on a snap-to-hit time of 1.9 seconds.
Opponents are having a difficult time producing much of a rushing attack against Mississippi. Nkemdiche and the rest of his teammates are holding opponents to 3.5 yards per carry so far this season. Vanderbilt had a total of 14 rushing attempts to Nkemdiche's gap responsibility, resulting in 20 yards, with an average of 1.4 yards per carry.
With only 4.5 career sacks to his resume, Nkemdiche isn't the pass rushing monster that most media members peg him to be. He is often compared to Ndamukong Suh who had a total of 24 career sacks when he left Nebraska. What Nkemdiche does well during passing situations is getting his hands up and blocking the vision of opposing quarterbacks. He has a knack for knocking down passes at the line of scrimmage and disrupting the timing of an offense.
Though he's often compared to Suh, a more practical and appropriate comparison would be a young Vince Wilfork. He won't be as big as Wilfork, but his role and abilities are very similar to what Wilfork was asked to do coming out of Miami. Nkemdiche will, in all likelihood, be a top ten pick when he comes out for the NFL Draft. The measure of Nkemdiche's play won't be his individual stats but the overall efficiency of the defense.
Players to Watch in Week 5:
Jeremy Cash (SS, Duke):
A former Ohio State Buckeye, Cash possess the athleticism and instincts of one of the top safeties in college football. At 6'1” and 208 pounds, he has the size to play in the box and stop the run to go along with the speed to drop into coverage. He always seems to be around the ball and making plays for the Blue Devil defense. He reminds me of a young Malcom Jenkins. Duke takes on Boston College this coming weekend, a team that likes to run the ball and is conservative in their passing game. Look for Cash to make a number of plays at or near of the line scrimmage.
Pharoh Cooper (WR, South Carolina):
Playing at almost every offensive position this season, Cooper has lined up at running back, wide receiver, tight end, quarterback, and punt returner. It would not be an understatement to call him the entire Gamecocks' offense at this junction in the season. With defenses keying on Cooper and putting a safety over the top, he still has 17 receptions for 220 yards and two touchdowns on the season. South Carolina will be traveling to Missouri, a team coming off a bad loss to an unheralded Kentucky team. Look for Coach Spurrier to get Cooper the ball on some deep downfield throws to stretch the Tigers' defense.
Trevone Boykin (QB, TCU):
Last week saw TCU and Texas Tech in a wild shootout and this week's matchup against Texas should see Boykins produce some impressive offensive numbers. Boykin is the fourth ranked passer in FBS, with 1,470 passing yards, 14 TD and only three interceptions. Boykin's favorite target and one of the top wide receivers in college football, Josh Doctson, had 18 receptions for 267 yards and three touchdowns against Texas Tech last weekend. These two seem to finally be on the same page and with a young Longhorn defense, these two playmakers should have a field day come Saturday.
Reggie Ragland (ILB, Alabama):
The SEC has arguably (not sure who would argue) the top two tailbacks in the country in LSU's Leonard Fournette and Georgia's Nick Chubb. This weekend, Ragland and the rest of the Crimson Tide defense will be tasked with slowing down Chubb and the rest of the Georgia offense. Chubb comes into the game averaging 8.4 YPC and has six rushing touchdowns on the season. At 6'2” and 252 pounds, Ragland is viewed as one of the top inside linebacker prospects in the country. He has the speed and quickness to get to the edge and shut down an opponent's outside rushing attack. He attacks opposing ball carriers and has a unique knack for lowering his shoulder and applying jarring hits. He will have his hands full this weekend but it will be a good test for the young linebacker prospect.