PredictionMachine.com’s NFL Draft Expert, Matt Richner, takes his weekly look at three of the most notable college prospects from the weekend as well as three NFL rookies standing out for reasons good or bad.
Three College Prospects Who Made Headlines this Weekend
Jonathan Banks (DB, Mississippi State)
The Mississippi State Bulldogs pass defense currently sits in the top 15 in the nation, led by their ball-hawking defensive back Jonathan Banks, who has 14 career interceptions.
The Bulldogs played the Auburn University Tigers, who shied away from Banks, only throwing his direction on four occasions. Banks gave up one reception in the game for 21 yards. He had two interceptions in the game. His second interception on the night highlighted a key strength, which is reading QBs. Banks broke his coverage responsibility and jumped in front of the wide receiver running a deep-out route for the pick.
Banks showed good strength when holding the edge on running plays and forcing the action back inside. Not necessarily a physical tackler, he is willing to put his head down, wrap up and wait for reinforcements. He needs to work on his press coverage abilities as the season progresses; he tends to play off his man and doesn’t jam him at the line of scrimmage. Don’t be surprised to hear Banks being compared to Antonio Cromartie of the New York Jets come draft time.
Jarvis Jones (DE/OLB, Georgia)
Ranked first in the SEC and fifth in the nation last year in sacks, Jarvis Jones is making the case to be a top-five selection come April. At 6’3” and 241 lbs, he is smaller than your typical DE. He had two sacks against Missouri. His four QB hits averaged 2.71 seconds from snap to contact with the QB. Not only was he a pass rushing force, but he also caused two forced fumbles, an interception and two tackles for loss. He was also responsible for his opposing offensive lineman’s two false starts in the game.
Jones’ main pass-rushing move is the outside speed rush. He should get stronger over time and develop a bull rush or even an inside spin move to use as a counter to the outside speed rush. Just an overall dominant performance from one of the nation’s premier pass rushers.
Phil Lutzenkirchen (TE, Auburn)
Phil Lutzenkirchen, Auburn’s career record holder in touchdowns by a tight end, has been primarily used as an inline blocker this season. His blocking abilities are above average for a tight end. With excellent knee bend, good hand placement and the strength to drive his man downfield, Lutzenkirchen is a valuable tool in Auburn’s run-first offense.
Lutzenkirchen was only targeted three times throughout the game, coming away with two receptions for 14 yards. On his second reception of the game, he had to make an adjustment on his route, reach back across his body and make a difficult catch in traffic. As it stands, he should be a day-three draft selection.
Three NFL Rookies Who Made Headlines this Weekend
Starting Rookie Quarterbacks (excluding Robert Griffin III)
I was going to pick a single rookie quarterback and go over a complete scouting report on one of his regular season games, but Andrew Luck, Brandon Weeden, Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill all struggled their first time out. Combined, the four quarterbacks threw 73 completions on 150 attempts--a completion percentage of 48.66%. They had 11 interceptions, two passing TDs and were sacked 11 times.
All these quarterbacks are going to experience growing pains, and it remains to be seen just who will rise to the top when all is said and done. I’m still going to go with my pre-draft reports and say Luck and Wilson are the most likely to become accomplished starters in the NFL.
Michael Floyd (WR, Arizona Cardinals)
The Cardinals drafted Michael Floyd to keep defenses honest and help alleviate the pressure on Larry Fitzgerald. Floyd saw little action on the field as the fourth receiver on the depth chart buried behind Fitzgerald, Early Doucet and Andre Roberts. I’m sure the Cardinals were hoping to receive more production out of the thirteenth overall selection from last April’s NFL Draft. Floyd only had five receptions for 56 yards and one TD in the preseason. In this week’s matchup with the Seahawks, he was only targeted one time, and he came away with zero receptions.
Janoris Jenkins (DB, St. Louis Rams)
I’m not going out on a limb here when I say that Janoris Jenkins didn’t see many Calvin Johnson look-alikes while playing for North Alabama. Yet Jenkins didn’t back down all game long and came away with six tackles, two pass deflections and one interception. He played a physical bump and run game and showed he can shut down some of the top receivers in the NFL.
What impressed me the most about Jenkins is he didn’t lose his head when getting into a verbal altercation with Titus Young. Young was flagged for unnecessary roughness for head butting Jenkins after the two got into it. For all the grief about his maturity level, Jenkins showed good constraint and walked away. Hopefully, he can take that same attitude and apply it to his off-field behavior.