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Six From Saturday: One AFC Scouting Director on Alabama’s DeVonta Smith

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Six things to note from the college football weekend and the significance to the pro game, as seen in this week’s MMQB column.

1. Going back to 2017, Alabama’s young crew of receivers has been referenced collectively by scouts —the Bama receivers. Jerry Jeudy’s a potential top-10 pick. Henry Ruggs can run in the 4.2s. And on Saturday, the other member of the recruiting class at the position, Devonta Smith, went off. He finished with 11 catches, 274 yards and five touchdowns against Ole Miss. Is he the kind of prospect the other two are? Probably not quite. “Not very strong and REALLY skinny, but he’s a good athlete with good speed,” said one AFC scouting director. “Will drop the football too, that’s been a problem. He’s a solid mid-round player, but you worry when he’s not surrounded by all that talent, if his deficiencies show up a lot more.” In other words, it’ll take more than one big day.

2. While we’re on Alabama, here’s a pretty amazing fact: Tua Tagovailoa has 23 touchdown passes without an interception, and this is the second straight year he’s pulled that off. Last year, he threw 24 touchdowns before his first pick (which came in November against LSU). Pretty staggering.

3. Had an interesting exchange with a scout on Sunday that led me to this developing opinion: Brian Kelly, underrated. He’s in his 10th year at Notre Dame now. He’s a good bet to post his fifth 10-win season, and third straight. In the 16 years before his arrival, the Irish had just two 10-win campaigns. At the very least, he’s the best coach in South Bend since Lou Holtz. And I wonder if NFL teams kick tires on him again—despite the fact that some think he’s too much of a drill sergeant for the league.

4. Speaking of coaches, good to see Baylor’s Matt Rhule and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell go head-to-head. Rhule eked this one out. Both are firmly on the NFL’s radar. In fact, if Rhule was willing to let the Jets pick staff (he wanted to hire then-Texans assistant Sean Ryan as his OC, the Jets wanted him hiring Todd Monken), he’d probably be there now. And the Jets had eyes for Campbell before he turned down an interview with them. Both guys, it should be noted, run an innovative 3-3-5 defense, fit to stop the more modern college-fangled offenses.

5. Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence may have competition from Ohio State’s Justin Fields, based on how Fields is playing, to be the first pick in 2021. I’d still saw Lawrence is a heavy favorite, but that this is even a discussion is a huge complement to Fields.

6. Rutgers’ firing of Chris Ash should serve as another reminder of the outstanding job Greg Schiano did at the school from 2001-12. And that should serve as a reminder as to why Rutgers would want him.

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