The NFL Draft trail is heating up as we have gotten through five (technically six) weeks of college football. Sitting outside on a warm autumn night in Tennessee, with an outdoors television set blaring Sunday Night football, I work on my newest NFL Draft analysis.
It was a great week in college football. Not only was it interesting, but it was exciting and we got to know a whole lot more about a bunch of NFL Draft prospects. Here are the top five risers from this week in college football.
5. QB Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma
I ran a poll before the week asking what on-the-edge quarterback had the best shot at going in the first round. Here are the results;
What QB has the best chance to elevate their draft stock and become a concencus 1st round prospect?
— ᴊᴏʜɴ ᴠᴏɢᴇʟ (@johndavogel) September 26, 2019
It’s not crazy. The last two quarterbacks that Lincoln Riley had at Oklahoma were transfers into the program, unexpected to be drafted, and ended up becoming Heisman trophy winners and first overall picks. Jalen Hurts appears primed to be the next one with a good shot at making that happen.
Jalen had a great three quarters against the Texas Tech Red Raiders this past week. He showed continued improvement as a passer going through his reads and making the right decisions. He has some work before he will be a first round pick, and I have a piece with a lot of information here. However, he made quite the statement against Texas Tech with 415 passing yards and another 70 on the ground.
Jalen Hurts put on a clinic against Texas Tech:
🏈 17/24 for 415 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
🏈 9 carries for 70 yards, 1 TD
🏈 Dropped a career-high 308 passing yards in 1st half in eventual 55-16 win
Where is he on your Heisman rankings? pic.twitter.com/Bwbh3H8efE
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 28, 2019
4. EDGE Julian Okwara, Notre Dame
Julian Okwara appeared on my week 4 list as a potential riser in the Fighting Irish’s game in Georgia. While his impact was limited against the Bulldogs, he was absolutely unstoppable against the Virginia Cavaliers. He logged 3 sacks against the Cavaliers dual threat senior quarterback, Bryce Perkins, with 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
JULIAN OKWARA WITH ANOTHER STRIP SACK!!
ADE OGUNDEJI WITH THE SCOOP AND SCORE!!!
IRISH UP 28-17!!! pic.twitter.com/gqbCrI1low
— ND Whiteboard (@ND_Whiteboard) September 28, 2019
Okwara now sits this season with 4 sacks, and is considered a borderline first round prospect by most analysts. His bend around the edge as he works against offensive tackles is impressive, to say the least. While we would like to see some variety to his pass rush, he’s still doing very well, and he’s solidifying his status as a first round prospect.
3. CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State
One of the biggest worries on Jeffrey Okudah was his unproven ball skills. Last week, he intercepted his first career pass against Miami (Ohio), and this week he returned with another two picks.
Jeffrey Okudah is so talented he can intercept passes while laying down. NFL ball skills. pic.twitter.com/USxuONGrg6
— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) September 29, 2019
Okudah is answering a lot of questions with every passing week about his athleticism and coverage skills, and may be emerging as CB1 in this class. Stock is rising tremendously after a great game against Nebraska.
2. LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma
Most concerns coming into the season on Kenneth Murray were over the 6’2″ 240 pound linebacker being athletic enough to play at the next level. Others were concerned about his ability to be a three down player in the NFL. Murray is proving all of these skeptics wrong, and continued to do so on Saturday with a 9 tackle, 1 sack performance.
— Anthony West (@antdwest) September 29, 2019
Murray still has some work to do to prove just how effective he is in pass coverage. Right now, he projects as a solid 4-3 middle linebacker with a lot of potential. Murray always seems to be in the right place at the right time, and has good range to move himself into position. NFL Draft scouts will be flocking to him shortly.
1. WR DeVonta Smith, Alabama
There isn’t too much more a single receiver can do during a game. DeVonta Smith is the number three receiver in this Alabama offense, and while he had made some big plays before, we don’t pay too much attention to him.
This is about to change.
Go down after the first down? Nope.
Go out of bounds? Nah.
Score the TD? Yep.
DeVonta Smith just makes things happen. pic.twitter.com/Z6VtaWYR5E
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) September 28, 2019
Smith caught 11 passes for an Alabama school-record 274 receiving yards and another school-record 5 touchdowns. Not only were his numbers jaw-dropping, but so was the tape. Smith showed scouts that he too has elite skills and traits, and needs to be high on draft boards as well. Another solid performance like this one from Smith and he will be a surefire top 50 pick as well.