Welcome to Scouting The Nation, an exclusive report from the NFL Draft Bible scouting department that brings you the latest NFL Draft buzz. Be sure to check back every Monday for our exclusive updates and scouting notebook!
This week we dive into examine some of the lesser known prospects on the NFL radar, including a Lativa native who has found his Liberty, a Chantileer who strikes fear, a small package who delivers big time plays and much more. Bringing you the names you need to know first since 2002, it’s what we do. Be sure to subscribe ‘All Access’ and receive our 2021 Virtual NFL Draft Bible available now, featuring 300+ in-depth scouting reports and adding daily.
PONY EXPRESS DYNAMIC DUO EMERGES IN AAC
One player who has emerged as a pass-catching threat for SMU, is tight end/h-back prospect KYLEN GRANSON [6022/235]. He made several key grabs during the Mustangs thrilling OT win over Tulane this past weekend, showing off his athleticism and run after catch abilities. With big play wide out REGGIE ROBERSON JR [5112/200] expected to miss the rest of the season, Granson will have plenty of opportunity to gain the attention of the NFL scouting community. While he’s considered to be somewhat of a ‘tweener,’ he can also be viewed as a luxury piece type of weapon at the next level, as Granson can line up inline, in the slot, outside, or in the backfield to allow an offense to get very creative in their alignments.
Not to be outdone, SMU junior wide receiver/returner DANNY GRAY [6005/180] was the most explosive player on the field during Friday night’s 37-34 OT victory over Tulane. He had five catches for 133 yards and a touchdown, while adding a 32-yard rushing touchdown. Gray has made an instant impact, averaging 17.4 yards per catch and scoring a total of six touchdowns on just 22 total offensive touches. A native of Dallas, he was a high school sprinter (10.59 in the 100m) and heavily ranked and recruited after a two-year stint at Blinn CC. Gray, who runs sub-4.4, is also a capable returner and with the aforementioned Roberson, Jr. out for the year due to a knee injury, keep an eye on his upward trend in production. Gray possesses a frame that could allow him to bulk up, if he improves his all-around route running, look for him to become one of the better vertical threat receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft.
THE UNSUNG HERO ON CLEMSON OFFENSE
Heading into the 2020 season, wide receiver JUSTYN ROSS [6032/205] was in line to take over as the unquestioned top target for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. When Ross was lost for 2020 while dealing with a neck/spine issue, the Tigers were left with some question marks for who would make up for the lost volume. Senior slot receiver/return man AMARI RODGERS [5095/210] has taken that challenge so far and ran with it, including a six catch, 161 yards and two touchdowns during the team’s 73-7 drubbing of Georgia Tech this past weekend. An uber explosive athlete, Rodgers is a prototype slot receiver who has a chance to hear his name called sometime on Day Two of the 2021 NFL Draft when all is said and done.
BIG THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES
You often hear wide receivers complain that they’re always open, for North Texas senior wide out JAELON DARDEN [5076/174], it really seems to be the case. The Houston native recorded his second consecutive 200-yard receiving game, pushing his season total to 689 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns through five games, while becoming the second leading receiver in Mean Green history. A projected slot prospect at the next level, the one-time track standout is expected to run in the 4.4-range and possesses high football intelligence, with a strong understanding of how to read opposing defenses, per his coaches. The Houston native has endured plenty of perseverance, having played quarterback at two different high schools, sitting out most of his senior season due to transferring and committing to three different universities before finding a home at North Texas. His work ethic and drive has rubbed off on the team, according to coaches, you can often find him after practice running routes by himself in a constant effort to improve. That dedication has paid off, as he is squarely on the NFL radar, despite his lack of size.
HUNGRY WOLVES ON THE PROWL
The Arkansas State program has been sprouting wide receiver prospects of late. We previously discussed the emergence of JONATHAN ADAMS [6030/209] earlier this season, along with the pro tandem of Omar Bayless (Panthers) and Kirk Merritt (Dolphins) of a year ago. Now, meet the latest wide out to pop onto the NFL radar in DAHU GREEN [6050/197]. It has been an arduous journey for the Oklahoma transfer who has endured a slew of injuries during the past couple of seasons. In high school, he ran once ran 22-second 200 and record a 6-7 high jump with Lincoln Riley in attendance, a remarkable feat for his size! Now a sixth-year senior, Green has begun to live up to his potential as one of the bigger, more explosive receivers in this year’s draft class. During the Red Wolves 59-52 victory over Georgia State on prime time, he tallied 172 receiving yards on nine receptions with two scores. Not to be outdone, the aforementioned Adams also set a single-game school record with 15 receptions during this Sun Belt shootout. Keep an eye on this dynamic duo, as they seem primed to move up draft boards.
BIG PLAY TRAE FACES ULTIMATE DECISION ON FUTURE
Jacksonville State senior tight end TRAE BARRY [6060/247] had 104 yards on just five catches against North Alabama, raising his season totals to 13 catches for 240 yards. He’s averaging nearly 16.5 yards per catch on 80 career receptions, owns a large catch radius, to go along with great size and has increased his playing weight from 235 to the 245-pound range over the past two years. So far, he’s shown no ill effects from his 2019 ACL injury. Barry played multiple positions in high school, as well as basketball and track. There’s a lot to like from the high volume down-the-field receiving threat but what lies ahead is also a lot of work to develop as a route runner and in-line blocker. Barry will have to decide to enter the NFL Draft or play in the spring. His pre-draft training and positional workouts could help improve his draft grade. Currently, he’s viewed as a late round prospect with upside to develop at a position where there is a high-level of interest in players with his physical traits.
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LATIVA NATIVE WHO OWNS JUDO BACKGROUND OFFERS NFL INTRIGUE
Liberty University senior defensive tackle RALFS RUSINS [6055/325] and the rest of his defensive unit helped lead the way for one of the program’s biggest wins, defeating Syracuse 38-21. His best career contest came against the same Orangemen, a year ago, recording nine tackles and one sack. A native of Latvia who originally began his career as a tight end, Rusins has grown into a run stopping nose tackle with mammoth size. He plays with good power, has a strong work ethic, is very well-liked by teammates and is thought of as a program type kid by the coaching staff. Rusins played basketball and learned Judo throughout high school in his home country but then found football in the form of the Riga Lions of the Baltic Sea League, thanks to his father. His body type, big hands and long arms could have a number of NFL teams look to convert him from NT to interior offensive lineman. Remember the name Ralfs Rusins, as he is a very interesting long-term prospect who could hear his name toward the end of the 2021 NFL Draft.
CHANTILEERS CONTINUE TO CLIMB BEHIND JACKSON
It has been somewhat of a magical year for undefeated Coastal Carolina (4-0), as they continued to shock the college football world with an upset victory over No.21 ranked Louisiana. An unsung hero for the Chanticleers defense has been senior defensive end TARRON JACKSON [6010/270], who tallied four tackles, including one and a half tackles for loss and creating havoc for the opposing quarterback throughout the game, despite often times facing double team coverage. Jackson plays extremely physical and owns an extremely high motor, which helps compensate for some of his physical limitations. After a double-digit sack campaign a year ago, the two-time team captain has a pair of sacks on the season and has positioned himself as a potential Day Three NFL Draft prospect.
SEMINOLES CHOP DOWN TAR HEELS BEHIND ROBINSON’S CAREER DAY
Florida State senior defensive end JANARIUS ROBINSON [6045/260] had one of the best games of his career with three tackles and a pair of sacks against North Carolina. It was a much needed performance for both Robinson and his teammates, as he entered the game without a sack and some quiet nights against Notre Dame and Miami. He led the Seminoles with nine tackles for loss as a junior, to go along with three sacks and two forced fumbles. However, there is some stiffness and he does not always display great power to his game. You can see teams looking at his frame, long arms and ability to fill out to 275-280 pound range over time in the NFL but for the time being, he currently grades out as more of a late round-to-PFA type prospect.
FROM WALK-ON TO ON THE NFL RADAR FOR SPECIAL TEAMS ACE
Arkansas senior linebacker GRANT MORGAN [5110/222] had himself a day for the ages, recording 19 tackles, including three tackles for loss and one sack, along with two pass deflections and a game-clinching pick six interception…while basically playing with one arm, as his left arm was in a cast due to injury. The former walk-on, now team captain, is the ultimate competitor and has racked up 52 tackles through the first four games, while emerging as a four down back. In fact, his experience playing on all four special teams units during the past four seasons (nearly 700 snaps), makes him a candidate to become a special teams ace at the next level. Grant who was recently married this past summer also possesses NFL bloodlines, as his younger brother, Drew, also played for the Razorbacks and spent two seasons with the Miami Dolphins.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON, GAMECOCKS STAR DESTINED FOR THE NEXT LEVEL
South Carolina junior cornerback JAYCEE HORN [6002/200] had a pair of interceptions in an upset victory over Auburn. Blessed with an ideal combination of size, ball skills and willingness to play the physical aspect of the game as a cover corner, Horn is on an upward trajectory with NFL decision-makers. The son of former standout NFL receiver Joe Horn, Jaycee won’t have to take the same long route to the NFL as his dad, as the younger Horn is positioning himself to be one of the top-rated corners in either of the next two NFL Drafts. NFL defensive coordinators and secondary coaches will like the fact that he has experience at both cornerback and nickel, plus is a solid open field tackler who can make plays as a blitzer and is capable of taking out an opposing team’s top weapon, the way he did against Auburn wide receiver Seth Williams. Next up, a battle against LSU junior TERRANCE MARSHALL JR. [6031/200] which will again put him in the spotlight match-up of the week; Horn is an ascending talent with Top-20 upside.
TRANSER, POSITION SWITCH, FUEL SMU CORNER
SMU senior cornerback BRANDON STEPHENS [6000/206] was toiling on the bench at UCLA as a running back. He entered the transfer portal last year and converted to the secondary, which has helped spark the Mustangs defense and has created an opportunity that will allow him to continue playing football after this season. With prototype size, Stephens runs in the 4.5-range and continued his solid play with five tackles against Tulane. He possesses long arms, looks smooth in transition and has 19 career pass breakups in 18 career starts at cornerback. To show how far he has come since joining SMU, he was awarded the jersey #23, which honors Jerry LeVias, the first African-American to receive an athletic scholarship in the then Southwest Conference. Stephens hopes to make a name for himself and could be on the path to earning a spot in the NFL Combine and improving his final overall grade.
THIS AND THAT…
Due to all of the Covid changes and delays, the NCAAF Week 15 schedule will now feature LSU vs. Florida, USC vs.UCLA, Oklahoma State vs. Baylor, Washington vs. Oregon and Ohio State vs. Michigan. Buckle up, there’s going to be a lot of great prospects balling out! Make sure you check back next week for more of the latest and greatest NFL Draft buzz, exclusively at NFL Draft Bible.
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