Here’s a look at some of my scouting notes on what I saw from specific prospects and player from tonight’s Washington at Rutgers game. I tried to profile both draft-eligible and non draft-eligible prospects and hope you enjoy and let me know if you want more content of this format in the future.
- The Huskies defense missed starting middle linebacker Azeem Victor, suspended for the season opener due to a violation of team rules. But Kieshawn Bierria, his counterpart, showed a nice ability to make plays in the backfield and plug/shoot gaps. Bierria has been mentioned by several scouts to large media sites as a player who could rise into the Round 1 conversation and it’s games like the one he played on Friday night that could warrant that type of consideration.
- Dante Pettis takes over for John Ross as the #1 receiver in the U-Dub offense and looked superb, returning a punt for a touchdown and catching 3 passes for 85 yards and one almost score on what would have been a sick one-handed grab in the corner of the endzone. Pettis continued to show his deep speed that he displayed at the Huskies Junior Day this past year, running a sub-4.40 forty-yard dash. He showed off a well-rounded, athletic game that can see Pettis leaping over a defender for a 50/50 ball on one rep and creating lots of separation on a break as a route-runner on the next. The best rep of the night as a receiver was when he caught an underthrown ball from Jake Browning for 51 yards, almost dragging a defender into the endzone. Pettis is my #6 receiver for the 2018 Draft entering the season and has a chance to push himself even higher with strong performances like Friday night’s.
- Jake Browning continued to fit the narrative of what I view him as a passer. Which is a weak-armed quarterback who struggles to sense and extend plays under pressure and doesn’t have many translatable traits. Even if the Huskies had a victory in the end, Browning had an awful performance in which he consistently relied on the likes of Dante Pettis and his running backs to make plays on YOLO balls to extend drives and be nothing more than a college quarterback.
- There has been a contested debate in the draft community entering the season between who was the better of the two Washington backs in Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman. Both profile as Day 2 prospects at the next level. Gaskin wins with elusiveness and profiles as a scatback in the NFL whereas Coleman is more well-known for his vision and ability to make decisive cuts. Gaskin especially stood out, catching 5 passes for 79 yards and a score and displaying shiftiness in the open field that made Scarlet Knight defenders look silly on several occasions. Both will likely continue to split reps and help to give the Huskies offense another dimension.
- Offensive tackle Trey Adams had been talked up by some as a top-40 prospect entering the season but showed off what makes me lower on him than most on Friday night. Smith struggled to maintain leverage and work to the second level in the run game. Adams fits the NFL prototype as a left tackle at 6’7” and 320 lbs and at times shows flashes of what I liked most in a top-10 prospect for me in last year’s class in Cam Robinson. However, Smith is far too raw and inconsistent at the moment to be considered a plug and play starter.
- Cornerback Byron Murphy tallied two interceptions off quarterback Kyle Bollin on the night and takes over as the team’s #1 cornerback after Sidney Jones and Kevin King headed on to the NFL. While he isn’t eligible for the 2018 NFL Draft and all of this is speculation at the moment, I wonder if teams will question his height, weight and length. Listed at 5’10” and 170 lbs per the team site (and team sites usually embellish numbers to make players look better, so he could be even smaller than that). Murphy has flashed nice ball skills and recovery speed nonetheless and I’ll let his play continue to dictate my opinion on him.
- Redshirt junior nose tackle Vita Vea – 6’4” and 344 pounds per NFLDS – continued to show off the traits that have made him a top-15 player for me in the preseason. Vea does a great job of leveraging against defenders and can “shuck” offensive linemen to help push them back and win the rep. While some have had concerns about whether or not Vea can stay on the field on passing downs and if he can be a full-time player at the next level, he has continued to show up in game. If he keeps doing so the naysayers will have no choice but to move him up their boards.
- One player who caught my eye on multiple occasions tonight was junior tight end Greg Sample, who caught three passes for 63 yards. Sample showed off nice YAC prowess and ability to create separation and do well in nuanced areas of the game. Sample has only caught 14 passes for around 150 yards in his career and takes over for Darrell Daniels for the Huskies in the move piece tight end role that they love to use. Greg Sample is certainly a name to be noted moving forward.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
- Redshirt senior defensive end Kemoko Turay racked up 7.5 sacks as a true freshman in 2014 but has had his past two seasons derailed by injury and is finally back to 100% for this year. Turay played like a guy who had his confidence and energy back on Friday night, utilizing active hand usage and timing the snap to make several plays behind the line of scrimmage. Turay will be much like Auburn’s Carl Lawson was last year and will need to have the confidence of NFL medical staffs in order to be a high draft pick, but can work himself into the Day 2 conversation.
- Another redshirt senior defensive lineman, Darnell Davis. Davis caught my eye on one rep on which he timed a delayed blitz to perfection and blew Jake Browning, who never saw it coming, on the right side for a forced fumble. This clearly messed up Browning’s psyche for the rest of the game and Davis, in his first year as a full-time starter, is a name to note moving forward.
- Janarion Grant was allowed a sixth year of eligibility after missing eight games last season due to injury and continues to do what he has done well for the Scarlet Knights for a while now – make plays on special teams and as a route runner as well as after the catch. He may not have had much production, but I thought it was another solid showing from Grant, a player to be noted as a Day 3 prospect for this year.
- I thought there were several strong reps for two high-profile grad transfers for Rutgers in quarterback Kyle Bollin (Louisville) and running back Gus Edwards (Miami). Bollin lost his job to Lamar Jackson while with the Cardinals and doesn’t seem to have many translatable traits, but threw several nice passes with anticipation. Edwards was a reliable receiving threat and took several hits and maintained balance through contact all night.