Week 8 of college football has come and gone, it is time to check in and see what prospects helped or hurt themselves preparing for the 2019 NFL Draft.
This week’s NFL Draft stock watch looks at the next in a long line of great Alabama defensive linemen, a potential top quarterback having a letdown, an SEC receiver coming up large and the impact of the Michigan-Michigan State game on draft prospects.
5. Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama – Stock up
While the likes of Ed Oliver and Nick Bosa are getting the defensive line hype, this class overall looks loaded. Possibly the best of the bunch is Alabama’s, Quinnen Williams. Williams had a tough task to replace first round pick Da’Ron Payne. He has done so and possibly outperformed his predecessor in the process. Box score scouts usually have trouble with an interior defensive lineman like Williams, who has only 1.5 sacks through eight games. However, put on the tape and it is easy to see why Williams is shooting up draft boards on his way to a top-15 pick. The disruptive lineman is able to generate interior pressure, evident by eight quarterback hurries and 7.5 tackles for loss on the season. Playing next to fellow likely top 50 picks Raekwon Davis and Isaiah Buggs, it is easy to see his stock continuing to rise all the way into Alabama’s deep post-season run.
4. Dwyane Haskins, QB, Ohio State – Stock down
A frequent name to appear in this article every week has been Ohio State’s, Dwyane Haskins. Some point to Haskins as a possible first round quarterback after his hot start. Unfortunately, he hit a bump in the road to the first round on Saturday at Purdue. Despite throwing 73 times for 470 yards, this game is a disappointment. Signs are mounting that the talented redshirt sophomore should return to school. That plus reports of Justin Herbert doing the same could weaken already weak quarterback crop. Haskins production is also starting to look more scheme related than originally evident. Pull up a passing chart and it’s clear these are quick reads and easy throws in which the Buckeye athletes are making plays. There is potential here but Saturday’s performance did little to boost his stock.
3. Alex Okwuegbunam, TE, Missouri – Stock up
There have been rumblings that this tight end class could be a special bunch when it is all said and done in April. One of the best of the group is Missouri’s Alex Okwuegbunam. After discussing Iowa’s Noah Fant a week ago, Okwuegbunam makes the list this week. Saturday’s performance, albeit against a weak Memphis defense, will certainly turn some heads. Okwuegbunam caught six balls for 159 yards and an astonishing three touchdowns. He’s got the requisite size and speed combination. With games like Saturday’s more routinely occurring, Okquegbunam could see his name called in the early rounds of next year’s draft.
2. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss – Stock up
A week ago it was Ole Miss wide receiver D.K. Metcalf appearing in this article for the wrong reason. The potential top-50 pick was announced out for the season, obviously hurting his draft stock. This week fellow Ole Miss wide receiver and member of the famed “NWO” A.J. Brown makes the cut after a big performance vs. Auburn. Brown is a highly touted player before the season began, appearing frequently as the first receiver taken in mock drafts. Those conversations will continue with Metcalf out. Saturday Brown put on a show with 10 catches for 155 yards and a touchdown. He gets labeled as a slot specialist, but this kid is going to be a problem for defenders at the next level. With nine catches in three of four games, Brown’s arrow is pointing up.
1. Michigan defenders – Stock up | Brian Leweke, QB, Michigan State – Stock down
This game was the talk of college football even before kickoff. Devin Bush Jr., Michigan’s highly decorated linebacker started the ruckus with trying to erase the Spartan midfield logo with his cleats. That alone will push him up my personal draft boards. Fellow Wolverine defender Chase Winovich was a stand out on the defensive line as well. Winovich had only one tackle for loss but was able to control his portion of the line of scrimmage all game. Even without expected first round defensive lineman Rashan Gary, the Wolverine’s defense is stepping up when it needs to.
Speaking of stepping up Brian Lewerke was expected to take a step up for the Spartans this season. Instead, especially in big games, the redshirt junior has been awful in these contests. Saturday he showed why he is best served to return to school. There is arm talent there to be successful but right now he is focusing on the rush too much and becoming increasingly inaccurate. Lewerke, like the rest of this quarterback class, leaves plenty to be desired.