Six things to note from the college football weekend and their significance to the pro game.
1. At least one Michigan player stood out to scouts in Ann Arbor on Saturday: sophomore right tackle Jalen Mayfield. It was pointed out to me that when Ohio State star Chase Young was over left tackle Jon Runyan, the Wolverines consistently gave Runyan help. When Young was over Mayfield, the coaches didn’t feel the need to do as much to help. Mayfield, a true sophomore, should be a name to watch in the future.
2. Two guys in the Ohio State secondary acquitted themselves well, despite the Buckeyes pass defense struggling early. One was Jeffrey Okudah, a likely top-10 pick in April (one scout I know comped him to Detroit CB Darius Slay). The other? He didn’t even play. How Ohio State missed Shaun Wade, a redshirt sophomore who plays a slot corner/safety hybrid spot, was noted. Wade’s got a shot to go in the first round if he declares for the draft.
3. After the last two weeks, several scouts affirmed to me that they see Ohio State QB Justin Fields being firmly in the mix to be a first-round pick in 2021. His third-quarter touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson on his first play back after leaving the game with a knee injury was one not many NFL quarterbacks could make. I’m not saying he’ll go in front of Trevor Lawrence. But I would say it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if that’s a discussion point 15 months from now.
4. I’m a little surprised by people saying that Alabama’s offensive performance with Mac Jones at quarterback could devalue what Tua Tagovailoa did in his two years as starter. The Tide, to be sure, did move the ball (515 yards) in the Iron Bowl. And the presence of Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs, Devonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Najee Harris and the rest of the offensive weapons does make a difference. But Auburn registered two pick-sixes, and those were crucial. Tagovailoa, by comparison, threw just nine picks in 24 starts over the last two years.
5. Waddle, a true sophomore, has been overshadowed the last two years. But he’s been a big play waiting to happen all along, and we saw it again with his four-touchdown show (three on offense, one on a kick return) on Saturday. He’ll make sure that scouts will be going back to Tuscaloosa looking for a receiver, even after Jeudy, Smith and Ruggs are gone.
6. Washington’s redshirt junior QB Jacob Eason just wrapped his regular season with a solid, if unspectacular, effort against rival Washington State, and he now has a big decision to make. Eason was the No. 1 high school quarterback in the country four years ago, started as a true freshman at Georgia, then transferred after Jake Fromm took his job in 2017. He’s uber-talented but also still raw.
“He has some ‘oh-f---’ throws—like, this is the greatest throw I’ve ever seen—and then he puts one up for grabs,” one AFC college scouting director said. “He needs another year. He’s a first-round talent, he’s more talented than (Oregon’s Justin) Herbert, but there’s a lot of unknown.”
That said, he has the ability where someone could fall in love with him and take him early, and waiting ’til next year would mean having to contend with Lawrence and Herbert.
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