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. Jalen Hurts will draw the headlines, but Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb was as high impact a player as Lincoln Riley had in Dallas on Saturday. Big and physical, Lamb fought through traffic on both his long touchdowns, which were difference-makers for the Sooners. Scouts think that kind of effort could take the second-round type into the bottom of the first round. Still a factor: How he runs in the spring. A good 40 would really help his cause.
2. It’s officially time to start to consider whether LSU QB Joe Burrow could sneak into the first round, as well. He went 21-of-24 for 293 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday, on a very big stage against a very good defense.
“He was ripping it, played really well,” an AFC exec texted. “He won’t get out of the second (round). Just playing too well. … And UF has NFL corners. He made some tight window throws, some downfield throws, etc.”
3. What Matt Rhule is doing at Baylor is now analogous to what Bill O’Brien did in two years at Penn State—taking a program in crisis, and guiding it out to a new era. After a sexual assault scandal rocked the school and the athletic department, the Bears went 1-11 in 2017—Rhule’s first season. The team improved to 7-6 last year, and they’re 6-0 now.
NFL teams, as you might imagine, are paying attention. The Jets were close to hiring Rhule last year, but his choice of offensive coordinator (now-Lions QBs coach Sean Ryan) didn’t line up with theirs (now-Browns OC Todd Monken), and Rhule wasn’t going to relent on staff. If Baylor keeps this going, it won’t be the last NFL job that Rhule has to consider.
4. Tua Tagovailoa finally threw his first pick of the year on Saturday. Last year, he threw 24 touchdown passes. This year? He threw 26 touchdown passes before being picked. On the play itself, Tagovailoa simply didn’t see Texas A&M safety Demani Richardson flashing in front of Jerry Jeudy. It happens. It just doesn’t happen very often to him.
5. Per NBC Sports Northwest’s Bri Amaranthus, 17 NFL teams were in attendance for Oregon-Colorado on Friday night. Six had multiple evaluators there, according to her report: Tennessee, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Miami and, with a whopping four scouts in attendance, Atlanta. The main attraction, of course, was Justin Herbert, who acquitted himself fine (if the Ducks QB didn’t answer all questions) in the Oregon win. Also of note is that a few teams with aging quarterbacks (New England, New Orleans, Pittsburgh) made the trip.
6. Oregon has a freaky freshman pass-rusher in Kayvon Thibodeaux. Want another true frosh at that position to watch? Georgia’s Nolan Smith looks like he’s going to be an absolute terror. Which means the 2022 draft class already has real promise in guys coming off the edge.
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