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
Landry Jones (QB, Oklahoma)
NFL teams want to see Landry Jones grow into a more complete, accurate QB who can lead a high-powered offense. Taking the reins from an injured Sam Bradford in 2009, Jones has amassed over 13,000 career passing yards and 98 passing TDs.
Jones led the Sooners against the Kansas State Wildcats, who currently rank 96th in the nation in passing defense. A key indicator of Jones’ lack of accuracy was on third downs—he was 4 of 9 with a sack. One area where inaccuracy can be dangerous is with passes thrown in the middle of the field. Jones was 10 of 17 with throws in this danger zone, consistently missing his intended target by throwing the ball high.
Kansas State didn’t bring a lot of consistent pressure during the game, but when they did, it bothered Jones. The Wildcats were able to register 11 quarterback pressures, against which Jones completed only 4 passes and had an INT. Jones lacks precision accuracy, especially when the pocket collapses, and he has to throw under pressure.
Jones was able to post an average time of 2.44 seconds from snap to release through this week’s game, one of the fastest times in the nation. His arm strength is evident, but he rarely shows it, averaging 7.61 yards beyond the line of scrimmage per throw.
Jones was talked about as a possible first overall pick a season ago, but as it stands, he seems like more of a second- or third-round draft prospect.
Oday Aboushi (LT, Virginia)
A two-year starter at left tackle for the University of Virginia Cavaliers, Oday Aboushi has the functional size (6-5, 320lbs) that NFL teams are looking for in a tackle.
This week’s matchup presented a few difficult challenges for Aboushi. TCU runs a unique defensive alignment, choosing to go with a 4-2-5 look. TCU also runs a number of stunts and twists from their defensive front line, often causing confusion amongst the offensive line. Aboushi was able to handle the stunts and the speed rushers thrown at him all game long. He was able to keep his man out of the backfield throughout the game, while not giving up a single QB pressure.
Going against a stout rush defense that currently ranks 19th in the nation, Virginia had 164 rushing yards on the day, 96 of those yards coming on runs towards the left side of the offensive line. Aboushi demonstrated adequate run blocking technique and was able to get to the outside and second level to make a block.
Aboushi doesn’t have a nasty streak but seems content to take care of his own business and move onto the next play. His size and athletic ability could push him into the second round. Nothing flashy, just a consistent producer.
Josh Boyce (WR, TCU)
Josh Boyce, the offensive playmaker for the TCU Horned Frogs, is usually targeted early and often by QB Casey Pachall. Boyce isn’t blessed with blazing speed but is able to get decent separation from defenders when running his routes. Targeted eight times this week, Boyce had four receptions for 22 yards and a TD.
Boyce’s average reception came at only 5.6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage; Pachall only attempted two throws towards Boyce deeper than 10 yards. Boyce is not a sure-handed receiver; he dropped five passes throughout the game. Having seen action in 29 career games, Boyce has yet to register double-digit receptions in a single game.
With his limited size and suspect catching abilities, Boyce projects as a fourth or fifth rounder.
Three NFL Rookies Who Made Headlines this Weekend
TY Hilton (WR, Indianapolis Colts)
An explosive wideout for the Colts who is able to take a short pass and turn it into a big play, Ty Hilton is starting to become one of Andrew Luck’s main targets; Luck often looks for the speedy wideout when the pocket breaks down. Targeted eight times this week, Hilton had four receptions for 113 yards and one TD.
Not only a weapon on offense, Hilton is also making an impact on special teams as a returner. With one kickoff return for 26 yards and four punt returns for 29 yards, Hilton ended this week with 168 all-purpose yards. With their choice of Hilton in the third round in last April’s NFL draft, the Colts have found themselves another young offensive weapon to build upon for the future.
Matt Kalil (LT, Minnesota Vikings):
With multiple elite pass rushers, the San Francisco 49ers pose a difficult matchup for any left tackle in the NFL. Matt Kalil, selected fourth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, passed the test in shutting down one of the league’s best defenses. Though the Vikings had 35 pass attempts, Kalil was able to hold his assignments to just three QB pressures for the entire game.
For the game, the Vikings had 13 runs/scrambles to the left, resulting in 71 yards, which was 48% of the entire Vikings rushing offense for the game. Kalil looks to be a solid left tackle capable of protecting Christian Ponder’s blind side.
Harrison Smith (Safety, Minnesota Vikings)
The Vikings have steadily revamped their secondary over the past few seasons, and Harrison Smith is currently one of their leaders in tackles with 21. In this past week’s game, he recorded an unofficial seven tackles, one TFL and one pass deflection.
49ers’ tight end Vernon Davis is a matchup nightmare for opposing secondaries, but Smith and the Vikings were able to limit him to five catches for 53 yards in the game. Smith showed he is not afraid to line up in the box and be a factor in shutting down the running game. On one particular play, he was able to diagnose a counter-run play, shoot the gap and make a stop. The Vikings were able to hold the 49ers to a season-low 89 yards on the ground.
Smith projects as consistent player for the Vikings, and he should step into a leadership role as the season continues.