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!
MOND SHOWS MOXIE IN SIGNATURE WIN
A four-year starter for Texas A&M, quarterback KELLEN MOND [6020/217] finally earned his first signature win over Florida in a back and forth affair, which was sure to catch the attention of NFL scouts. Mond showed tremendous poise and moxie, completing 25-of-35 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. With his athleticism to extend plays and deep ball touch, the San Antonio native offers plenty of pro traits that will appeal to teams at the next level.
UNC 1-2 PUNCH READY TO TKO
North Carolina senior running back MICHAEL CARTER [5086/195] continues to solidify his draft stock, as he set a new career-high with 214 rushing yards on just 17 carries and two scores, including a 62-yard scamper in the fourth quarter to help seal the deal in the Tar Heels win over Virginia Tech. A noted intense competitor and leader in the locker room, the Florida native has been praised by the coaching staff for his maturity and has yet to lose a fumble on nearly 400 career carries. With the ability to cut it inside/outside, his balance and vision are two of the more desirable traits he possesses, in addition to being able to contribute on returns. While he lacks ideal size at 5-foot-8, 200 pounds, Carter brings the juice with his breakaway speed (4.4) and provides a skill-set very similar to Dion Lewis (Giants). He may have started the season as a late round prospect, but has a chance to jump to 4th-5th round consideration. With 413 rushing yards through three games, Carter is now on pace to become just the third Tar Heel runner to surpass the 1,000-yard barrier in back-to-back seasons during the past thirty years, joining Giovanni Bernard (2011-12) and Natrone Means (1991-92).
Pairing with Carter in the UNC backfield is junior runner JAVONTE WILLIAMS [5096/205], who also set a new career-high with 169 rushing yards and two touchdowns, flashing a combination of power and burst. One of the better short-yardage runners in college football, he possesses immense lower body strength, along with a real knack for finding the end zone (16 touchdowns in his past 19 games). His journey to Chapel Hill is one of the more remarkable back stories, as Carter played linebacker for his entire high school career, until converting to running back as a senior and rushing for over 2,000 yards. He was debating whether to play at Coastal Carolina or quit football, until then UNC head coach Larry Fedora offered him a scholarship. With the 1-2 punch of Carter and Williams, North Carolina could be a contender for the FBS Playoffs.
HOUSTON DO-IT-ALL WEAPON SCORES MULTIPLE WAYS
Houston wide out MARQUEZ STEVENSON [5116/190] got off to an electrifying start in the Cougars season opener win over Tulane, demonstrating why he is considered to be one of the premier playmakers in college football. Stevenson shredded the Green Wave with a 97-yard kick return and 41-yard receiving touchdown, totaling 223 yards on seven touches. His big play speed, deep ball propensity and crisp route running is sure to be an easy sell to NFL teams.
NEXT MAN UP, NOTRE DAME CONTINUES TO CHURN OUT PRO LINEMEN
Notre Dame offensive lineman AARON BANKS [6052/325] gained some extra attention during Saturday night’s win over Florida State, as he swung outside to tackle when starting left tackle LIAM EICHENBERG [6051/305], who himself is thought of as a high round draft choice, left the game due to an eye/face injury sustained with a hand of a defender got up under his face mask. Banks has played both guard and tackle, possesses ideal size and his footwork was impressive when flanked to the outside, especially as a down field blocker He could still choose to come back next year, as he did not dress as a freshman in 2017. Regardless, his play and versatility certainly make him one of the better looking offensive linemen in either of the next two drafts.
*GO ALL ACCESS TODAY & CONTRIBUTE TO THE RED CROSS HURRICANE DELTA RELIEF FUND! SUBSCRIBE TO NFL DRAFT BIBLE ‘ALL ACCESS’ TO RECEIVE OUR OFFICIAL HARD COPY PUBLICATION & PDF. IN ADDITION, YOU’LL RECEIVE A COPY OF THE NEW BOOK, ‘SCOUT SPEAK,’ BY NEAIL STRATTON OF INSIDE THE LEAGUE. PLUS, 50 % OF ALL SALES THROUGH THIS WEEK WILL BE DONATED TO THE RED CROSS FOR THOSE IN NEED OF HELP IN THE GULF COAST REGION!!!
A BEAM OF SUNSHINE FOR THE SEMINOLES
Florida State senior defensive tackle MARVIN WILSON [6036/311] has continued to face multiple double teams on a weekly basis, which has caused a bit of a slow start to the season with just nine total tackles and one sack through his first four games. The Houston native has demonstrated the ability to beat his man at the line of scrimmage with both power and quickness. Wilson has also flashed the ability to collapse the pocket and cause issues for opposing coordinators even when facing double teams. A high character player, as well, he came back to FSU knowing they were rebuilding with a brand new coaching staff, when you combine the power, athletic ability and high-intensity motor that Wilson displays it is easy to see why he could be a taken early in the first round of the upcoming draft.
BLUE DEVILS EARN FIRST WIN BEHIND ‘SACKMASTER’
Duke earned their first victory of the season over Syracuse behind another stellar performance by senior defensive end VICTOR DIMUKEJE [6022/265], who picked up one and a half sacks and now has 14 sacks in his past 11 games. The Baltimore native has been playing with a relentless motor this season, demonstrating an array of pass-rush moves and the strength to win most of his one-on-one reps. While Dimukeje has primarily played with his hand in the dirt for the Blue Devils, there is some appeal to having him stand up as an outside linebacker at the next level. He is one player who should continue to thrive and rise as we get closer to the draft.
ONE TO WATCH: MISSOURI MENACE TRAJAN JEFFCOAT
Missouri redshirt sophomore defensive end TRAJAN JEFFCOAT [6026/265] had the best game of his career, thus far, in their upset win over LSU, tallying three tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss and total of four quarterback pressures. The defending national champions had little or no answer for keeping him out of the back field and it caused issues for the running game, as well as the pass protection—Mizzou held LSU to 49 yards on 20 rushing attempts. For the season, he now has sacks in all three games while facing Alabama, Tennessee and LSU. This is remarkable story as he had been away from the program for well over a year since being suspended by former head coach Barry Odom. There was a time when many believed he would transfer to the University of Houston. However, he’ll be one to watch in Columbia, as Jeffcoat is someone that could carve his way into significant draft consideration in the coming years due to his pro size and athletic traits.
BOSTON COLLEGE REACHES THE MAX ON DEFENSE
It was senior linebacker MAX RICHARDSON [6000/230] guiding the way on defense once again for Boston College, as the Eagles won a thriller in overtime over Pittsburgh. The Georgia native, who had just one other Power 5 offer (Duke) coming out of high school, has solidified himself as a pro prospect during his time in Chestnut Hill and Saturday was just another example why. Richardson totaled nine tackles (three tackles for loss), including one sack, flashing natural instincts, quickness and his ability to wrap up tacklers in the open field. After 100-plus tackle campaign last season, Richardson now has 38 tackles (third in the nation) during the Eagles 3-1 start, as his clutch play and leadership has played a vital role early on.
RED WOLVES BACKER EXPLODES ONTO NFL RADAR
Arkansas State senior linebacker JUSTIN RICE [6021/225] decided to transfer from Fresno State due to the Covid-19 pandemic that altered the Mountain West fall schedule. What has been the outcome you ask? Well, he wreaked absolute havoc on in-state rival Central Arkansas, to the tune of 12 tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks. Coming off a season in which he racked up 112 tackles, three sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, the 2020 MW pre-season Defensive Player of the Year candidate had a number of options when he entered the transfer portal, including a last ditch effort by SMU. Rice plays with a tremendous motor and keen instincts for a versatile defender; that comes as a little bit of a surprise because he’s a converted running back. At his size, the California native owns very good speed and is expected to time in the 4.65-to-4.7 range but what counts most, is that he plays as fast as he needs to on game day to cover a large range of ground. NFL coaches will love how Rice plays from an instincts and intensity stand point and it’s possibly that he earns a late round grade on some boards, when you add those character traits to his high volume production.
PRO BLOODLINES PART OF THE MAKEUP
Texas Tech senior cornerback ZECH MCPHEARSON [5111/188] led the team in total tackles with 10, recovered two fumbles and also added a house call on a blocked field goal against Iowa State. The Penn State transfer nails from a long line of pro athletes, as his father and multiple brothers have made it to the NFL or MLB. He has certainly proved worthy of the challenge, starting 12 games a year ago and making a number of key plays, including a pair of blocked kicks. In fact, he played on over 400 snaps a season ago and allowed just six plays of 15 or more yards. A steady tackler who is well built for size, McPhearson possesses deceptive deep speed. He’ll face a number of top-flight Big-12 receivers, so his stock could continue improving thanks to his big-play ability; it also shouldn’t be a surprise to see him run in the 4.45-range at the NFL Combine as he comes from a family full of speedsters.
TOP KICKER PROSPECT COULD DECLARE EARLY
Florida junior kicker EVAN MCPHERSON [5106/185] continues to prove that he may not just be one of the best kickers in the nation but also one of the highest rated draft prospects that the Gators have on their roster. While it came in a losing effort, his perfect campaign continued as he went five-for-five on extra points and nailed his lone field goal attempts against Texas A&M. He’s now two-for-two on kicks of over 50 yards (53, 55) this year and has only missed five total career kicks in three seasons, including 39-of-43 on field goals. It’s rare to see specialists declare early but when you watch the scarcity of quality kickers in the NFL, there is every reason to believe that he could be a Top-50 draft choice.
*Since 2002, NFL Draft Bible is ‘The Leading Authority on the NFL Draft.” Be sure to log-on to NFLDraftBible.com for exclusive coverage leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft and be sure to follow us @NFLDraftBible for the latest news!
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _