Week 2 is in the books, and we are already embracing chaos this college football season. Last week's major upset -- Montana over Washington -- likely didn't have any College Football Playoff implications. This week's upset, however, may have. The Oregon Ducks came into The Horseshoe and put it to college football powerhouse Ohio State to walk away with the victory, putting an early question mark on the Buckeyes' national title hopes.
While teams like Oregon are rocketing up the college football rankings with great performances, the same thing is happening with 2022 NFL Draft prospects. Many players have put out some awe-inspiring games and have announced themselves to the college football and scouting worlds alike. Let's take a look at three of those players climbing draft boards after solid Week 2 performances -- and one prospect who is likely falling down those same boards.
Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
Now more than ever before, football is a quarterback-driven sport. If you don't have a good quarterback, you're going to have a hard time competing. NFL scouting departments are always on the lookout for the next great NFL quarterback, and it seems like every year, a quarterback comes out of nowhere to rocket up draft boards and become a high first-round selection.
That quarterback this year may be Ole Miss product Matt Corral. Corral might not be coming "out of nowhere," as there was some significant hype about him coming into the college football season. However, most folks had him behind several names in the quarterback rankings coming into the year. Corral had some significant flaws in his game he needed to address if he wanted to contend with the class's Spencer Rattlers and Sam Howells.
Well, with two weeks under our belts, it looks like Corral has done just that. He has come out of the gates firing on all cylinders and looks like a completely different -- much improved -- quarterback this season. He's worked on the mechanical issues that often-times plagued him up to this point. He also seems to have gotten much better in his decision-making progress. So much so that according to PFF, Corral has yet to have a turnover-worthy throw.
If Corral can keep up this trajectory, he may wind up giving Rattler and Howell a run for their money as the top quarterback of the 2022 NFL Draft class. Especially given the early struggles both Rattler and Howell faced.
CJ Verdell, RB, Oregon
As much of a quarterback-driven game as football is, there are still ten other players on the field, and they can have just as significant an impact on a game as the quarterback. Such was the case for Oregon in their massive upset of Ohio State. Their quarterback played well, but it was their running back, CJ Verdell, who stole the show in Columbus. Not only was his performance key to the Ducks win, but it also propelled him up many a draft board.
Verdell had a fantastic game for the Ducks. He combined for nearly 200 total yards and three touchdowns. More importantly, he showed scouts that he could be an effective back in both phases of the offense despite his small stature. Running backs in today's NFL have to contribute in the passing game -- whether that's as a blocker or as a receiver.
Verdell showed off his receiving chops against the Buckeyes to the tune of three receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown. Add that to over 150 yards on the ground, and Verdell was one of the top performers in college football last week. He showed some great vision, proved he has what it takes in the passing game, and displayed the explosion we expect from a player of his size and skill-set.
Running backs have been devalued as of late in the NFL Draft, and he's probably not going to contend for the top back in the class. However, if he continues to put up performances like the one against Ohio State, he will continue to be a name to watch in this class.
Aidan Hutchinson, EDGE, Michigan
If the quarterback is the most important player on offense, the guy trying to sack the quarterback is the most important man for a defense. Playing the EDGE position is about more than being an elite pass rusher, however, as Michigan EDGE Aidan Hutchinson displayed last week. Hutchinson was an absolute menace for the Wolverines in the passing and rushing game, wreaking havoc in their win against Pac 12 opponent Washington.
The box score shows Hutchinson's four tackles and 2.5 sacks in their win over the Huskies, but his contribution went far beyond the stat line. Hutchinson was a nightmare for the Huskies' offensive line all day in both passing and rushing situations. When Hutchinson wasn't getting home on his pass rushes, he blew up the offensive line and prevented Washington from getting anything going in the ground game.
Hutchinson is a savvy pass rusher who has a clear plan when he's attacking the man across from him, and that was on full display Saturday. Being able to put on tape that he can be a force against the run game will also help Hutchinson in his claim to be a first-round EDGE prospect come the 2022 NFL Draft. EDGE classes are always competitive, but Hutchinson has certainly staked his claim as one of the top, if not the very top, with his play the past two weeks.
Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
It's tough to declare prospects are "falling" this early in the season. Logically, if prospects are rising, others are falling by default. But it feels wrong to say that one or two poor games from a prospect this early in the season are hurting their draft stock. However, applying the one or two games to start a season to an entire body of work becomes a little easier.
Such is the case with Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy. Purdy is a prospect who was hyped up as a potential first-round quarterback in the summer scouting sessions last season by many a draft prognosticator. Last season, Purdy did not declare for the NFL Draft, citing unfinished business and a desire to beat Iowa. He also had a few pretty apparent holes in his game he needed to work on to deliver on his early promise.
However, it's become evident that Purdy isn't going to deliver on those promises. The Cyclones came into last week's matchup against in-state rivals the Iowa Hawkeyes riding a 5-game losing streak. Brock Purdy had never been part of a team that beat Iowa. He still hasn't. Iowa put any hopes the Cyclones had of being a Playoff team to rest with yet another win in the CyHawk rivalry.
More disappointing than the end result was just how Purdy and the Cyclones got there. The biggest knock on Purdy has been his decision-making and panicking when he feels pressure. That doesn't seem to be something he's mastered, and at this point, it's become an even bigger issue than initially thought. Purdy has a lot of work to do in his development. As a senior, he's running out of time. He'll likely still wind up as a mid-round prospect, but any hope of reaching the first round is probably dead in the water at this point.
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