As college football teams fall out of contention and the increase of Covid-19 cases around the country and college football continue to increase, expect to see an influx of opt out players who announce their intent to declare for the 2021 NFL Draft.
We started to see the announcements trickle out over the weekend as a slew of pro prospects took to social media to let their intent be known. We examine a few cases in this week’s edition of ‘Scouting The Nation.’ Plus, a look at some of the top performers from this past weekend who were sure to catch the attention of NFL scouts.
ASANTE SAMUEL JR. LOOKS TO FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS
Florida State junior cornerback ASANTE SAMUEL JR. [5095/194] brings NFL bloodlines (Asante Samuel Sr.), impactful 2020 film and the versatility, which allows him to line up all over the field. With the Seminoles sitting at 1-6 and their final two games of the season in jeopardy of being postponed, it makes complete sense for him to move on and prepare for the draft. Coming in at just a shade under 5-10, Samuel will likely be featured in a slot cover corner type of role at the next level but he certainly showcased his propensity for the big play in 2020 with three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Due to his coverage skills and knack for turnovers, Samuel Jr. could be in contention to be the first inside corner off the board, as he currently carries an early Day 2 grade.
ANOTHER LSU TIGER NFL BOUND
Coming off a National Championship, things have not panned out as expected for LSU who now sits at 3-4 after their loss to Texas A&M. Which is why the time has come for Tigers junior wide out TERRACE MARSHALL [6031/200] to focus on his future and prepare for the draft. Marshall is the latest LSU opt-out and projects as a potential top 50 overall selection due to his combination of size, body control and pedigree. A five-star recruit, Marshall really splashed onto the NFL radar with a sensational sophomore season and continued his ascension up draft boards this year, leading the team with 48 receptions, 731 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns; he now has 23 touchdowns in his past 19 games. The Louisiana native also possesses some NFL bloodlines, as his uncle Joe Delaney played for the Kansas City Chiefs.
LONGHORNS TACKLE APPEARS DESTINED FOR ROUND ONE
It will not be a surprise come April to have Texas offensive tackle SAMUEL COSMI [6061/309] hear his name called on Day One of the NFL Draft. The Humble, Texas native declared his intent recently and deservedly so. Cosmi has been a staple of consistency and durability, starting 34 games at both tackle positions over the past three years. His length, strength and technique as a pass-blocker and run mauler will make him a hot commodity, as Cosmi is one of the few prospects in this year’s draft class with plug-and-play starting left tackle ability. Look for him to become the first Longhorns player to be selected in the first round since Malcom Brown (2015) and the first offensive lineman to have done so for Texas since Leonard Davis (2001).
BADGERS CORNER WILDGOOSE JOINS THE NFL CHASE
One of the lesser-known draft commodities amongst the mainstream would be Wisconsin cornerback RACHAD WILDGOOSE [5112/197], who has also declared his intent for the upcoming NFL Draft. Albeit this year was a small body of work, in the two games that Wildgoose did play in, he performed at an extremely high level, showcasing a physical man coverage style that coaches crave at the next level. The Florida native owns inside/outside versatility, having started at both spots during his Badgers career and coaches will be quick to point out that Wildgoose owns plenty of that Miami swag, as he brims with confidence. In 25 career games, he totaled 57 tackles, five tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, one interception and 15 passes defended. He did test positive for Covid-19 earlier in the season and departed the Northwestern game due to a shoulder injury, so we don’t know how much impact, if any, that will have on his draft stock. Injuries aside, he should expect to get the call somewhere during the mid-late rounds.
ELUSIVE RUNNER KNOWS HOW TO AVOID THE ‘D’
It has been an incredible season for Missouri senior running back LARRY ROUNTREE [5092/210], who had his best performance of the year thus far, rushing for 160 yards and three touchdowns against Vanderbilt. The previous week, Rountree set the school’s all-time rushing record by a running back (3,398 rushing yards and counting). The team captain wore down the Commodores defense with his trademark hard-nosed running style, breaking tackles and ripping off several big runs; he now has 18 runs of 25+ yards for his career. Rountree possesses a well-built frame and owns a proven resume, having accumulated 12 career 100-yard rushing performances, while playing in the SEC. He has done enough to warrant a mid-round draft grade. As they say around Mizzou, Larry knows how to keeps the ‘D’ out of Rountree.
UNDER THE RADAR: UCF WIDE OUT JACOB HARRIS
One player who has shown just enough flashes to remain a blip on the NFL radar is UCF wide out JACOB HARRIS [6040/211]. The senior playmaker has been playing in the shadows of some very talented receivers over the past few seasons but tends to deliver in the clutch with some big splash plays of his own. He is averaging over 20 yards per reception for his career since transferring from Western Kentucky. This past week, Harris put on a career performance with five catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Earlier this season, he enjoyed a stretch where he scored in four consecutive games. Harris is extremely long and athletic, along with a frame that could eventually see him convert to tight end in the pros much like Jacob Hollister of the Seahawks.
MORRIS MAKES HIS PRESENCE KNOWN AMONGST SCOUTS
While Bowling Green has endured a winless season, the steady performance by tight end pass-catcher QUINTIN MORRIS [6033/248] has not been lost on NFL scouts. He has been the focal point of the Falcons offense and has 10 catches for 130 yards over the past two games. A three-year starter, Morris has established himself as an athletic, reliable target with 1,448 career receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. The Texas native has been utilized at both tight end and wide out spots, as he could have a role as an h-back type at the next level. Morris was also a basketball standout in high school, which contributes to his vertical game inside the red zone and makes for zest appeal as he transitions to the pros.
IOWA LINEBACKER UNLEASHES WITH BONE-CRUSHING HIT
Iowa senior defensive lineman CHAUNCEY GOLSTON [6036/270] is playing at a very high level, collecting at least four tackles in each of his past five games, with four sacks, one interception and a big bone-crushing hit that forced a fumble to help seal the deal on the Hawkeyes win over Nebraska this past week. The Detroit native does an outstanding job setting the edge with his length and physicality. Surprisingly, he was not heavily recruited coming out of high school, with Iowa being the lone FBS scholarship offer he received. However, Golston has been a steady, consistent performer as a three-year starter during his time in Iowa City. He owns some position flexibility, playing primarily at defensive end but could project as an interior player at the next level.
PLENTY OF KUONY IN THE BANK FOR CAL BACKER
California senior linebacker KUONY DENG [6052/250] continues to rack up tackles due to his bee-swarm mentality. Deng registered 14 tackles this past week against Stanford, flashing a lethal combination of size, range and athleticism. In addition, he tends to get his hands on a lot of batted balls. The Virginia native, whose family immigrated from South Sudan, began his career at Virginia Military Institute, where he played both football and basketball. He would then spend a season at Independence CC, before finding his way in Berkley. After registering 120 tackles a year ago, Deng is off to another hot start that has not gone unnoticed by NFL scouts. Look for him to gain serious momentum, as we work our way through the draft season.
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