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
Matt Barkley (QB, USC)
Though he doesn’t have the strongest arm or quickest release--and I’m pretty sure he won’t have the same forty-yard dash time as RGIII--what is evident about Matt Barkley is that he has developed the impressive skill set of a successful quarterback. He does a great job of stepping up in the pocket when he feels pressure; he is very calm and collected and understands where he needs to go with the football. In this week’s game against Utah, Barkley completed six of seven pass attempts while under pressure, averaging 11.5 yards per attempt. Barkley was also able to avoid pressure all night and was not sacked at all during the game.
It is the ability to be an accurate precision passer that separates the great quarterbacks from the average ones. For the night, Barkley was 23 of 30 in pass attempts for 303 yards and 3 TD, with an average snap-to-pass time of 2.22 seconds. Below is a quick breakdown of Barkley’s pass attempts for the game:
Short passes (0-5 yards): A perfect 14 for 14; average time from snap to pass = 1.89 seconds
Intermediate passes (6-11 yards): 3 for 7; average time from snap to pass = 2.21 seconds
Deep passes (12+ yards): 6 for 9; average time from snap to pass = 2.71 seconds
Using the same statistical model as the QB Report, Matt Barkley’s statistical production in college mirrors that of Phillip Rivers.
Star Lotulelei (DT, Utah)
From a physical measurement standpoint, Star Lotulelei is everything you look for in a defensive tackle at 6’4” and 320 lbs. He demonstrated his incredible physical strength by grabbing USC starting tailback Silas Redd by one hand and throwing him to the ground. Lotulelei’s skill set is not limited to just a bull rush move; he showed a fantastic swim move to register a TFL. Going against former All-American Khaled Holmes, Lotulelei was able to consistently push Holmes 2 to 3 yards back on almost every play.
Utah’s run defense is giving up only 114.80 yards per game and 3.26 yards per carry and has allowed only two rushing TDs this season. Being the defensive leader, Lotulelei is clogging the middle of the offensive line, and opposing clubs have to rely on toss sweeps to have any success running the football against Utah. Lotulelei has started focusing on the small details of his play, such as working on his hand placement in pass rushing, to make himself a more complete player and not relying on just his pure strength.
There have been six defensive tackles selected in the top 10 picks the past five years, and Lotulelei is making a strong case to join them.
Cobi Hamilton (WR, Arkansas)
Cobi Hamilton was viewed by many as the player who was ready to take over the top wideout position for the Razorbacks. Standing 6’3” and weighing 209 lbs, Hamilton recently broke the SEC record for most receiving yards in a single game with his 306 yards against Rutgers University.
Playing against Auburn University, Hamilton was targeted 11 times in the game, with the average targeted pass attempt being 7.18 yards down the field; he finished with seven receptions for 86 yards. For the game, he averaged just 1.42 yards-after-significant-contact. To be an elite receiver in the NFL, he will need to learn how to stay on his feet after getting hit.
In 45 career games, Hamilton has only recorded double-digit receptions in a game twice and achieved more than one hundred receiving yards in a game six times. Though he has above-average speed, Hamilton’s production won’t warrant anything more than a fourth-round pick.
Three NFL Rookies Who Made Headlines this Weekend
Alfred Morris (RB, Washington Redskins)
Having achieved over 3,500 career rushing yards and 27 career rushing TDs at Florida Atlantic University, Alfred Morris had a fantastic college career, yet scouts thought he did not have the speed and acceleration needed for the NFL. What he lacks in speed, Morris more than makes up for with great balance and the ability to bounce off tacklers to pick up extra yards.
Two Sundays ago versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Morris rushed for 113 yards, with 83 of those yards coming after significant contact. For the season, he has 101 rushing attempts for 491 yards and four TDs. He is also proving to be a force in pass protection and is developing into a three-down running back. It looks like the Redskins have found themselves a steal in the later rounds of the draft.
Alshon Jeffery (WR, Chicago Bears)
Alshon Jeffery, the big wideout from South Carolina, scared off some scouts because of his supposed weight gain and drop in production during his senior season, even though he posted higher numbers in career receptions and receiving yards than A.J. Jenkins and Stephen Hill, who were both drafted ahead of him.
Jeffery has recorded 14 receptions for 184 yards, an average of 13.14 YPC and 2 TDs this season. Going against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jeffery was able to come away with two receptions for 20 yards and a TD. What does not show up in the box score is that defenses are unwilling to roll coverage over to Brandon Marshall’s side of the field, because they know Jeffery is capable of beating one-on-one coverage. The Bears look to have a bigger possession receiver, who is quietly becoming one of Jay Cutler’s top targets in the red zone. Unfortunately for Cutler, he won’t have Jeffery around for the next 4-6 weeks due to a fractured right hand.
Dwayne Allen and Colby Fleener (TEs, Indianapolis Colts)
In addition to having the young dynamic offensive play-maker T.Y. Hilton, who was included in my week four report, rookie tight ends Dwayne Allen and Colby Fleener emerged to help the young Colts defeat the Green Bay Packers.
Against the Packers, Andrew Luck completed 31 of 55 passing attempts. Fleener was targeted nine times in the game with five receptions for 41 yards. Allen was targeted five times with four receptions for 35 yards and 1 TD. Combined, these two tight ends were targeted with 25 percent of Luck’s passing attempts in the game.
As this young Colts team continues to grow, Allen and Fleener are developing into two dependable targets.