In the heat of the college football season and all of its excitement comes the reality the season will end, and when it does, a lot of college football players will look to angle for the best draft position in next year’s NFL Draft.
ESPN Draft Analyst Kevin Weidl caught up with Steve Russell on Sportscene to discuss the college football season coming to an end and Weidl’s thoughts on potential draftees.
A recent game for Gator football had fans biting at their nails as kicker Austin Hardin kicked the winning field goal to defeat Vanderbilt. Weidl believes the Gators are in control of what will happen for the remainder of the season and that is what gives them the ability to take down an SEC giant like Alabama. The Gataor defense has carried the team for most of the season, and Weidl believes UF’s secondary is excellent. In a recent victory over South Carolina, defensive backs Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson were able to snag interceptions, but the majority of attention in the secondary is on Vernon Hargreaves III. Weidl believes Hargreaves’ ability to see the field so well and to have the elite instincts of a defensive back is what gives him the edge in every game.
Florida’s defense has intercepted 13 passes total on the season, so far, with Hargreaves having four. With many defensive backs becoming much bigger and taller than past years, it is questioned whether Hargreaves will be as effective in the next level being under 200 pounds and only 5’11”. Weidl says despite Hargeaves’ ability to play bigger than he is, it will always be an issue of him being smaller than his opponents. Dangerous defensive backs have the ability to create havoc for not only who they target on a certain play, but for the quarterback, as well. Weidl says breaking up passes and forcing turnovers is what Hargreaves does so well and it’s that abililty that makes quarterbacks want to throw to the other side of the field.
As the playoffs get closer, Weidl believes some teams will be able to go up in the rankings. He says Florida, Oklahoma or even Michigan State could ease up near or into the top six rankings. Currently, Florida at eight, Oklahoma at seven and Michigan State at number nine.
Looking towards this year’s draft, one name in the running back pool that stands out is LSU’s Leonard Fournette, a possible Heisman frontrunner. Weidl thinks Fournette is over-hyped compared to other running backs like Todd Gurley of the St. Louis Rams who has incredible speed. During his draft debut, Gurley was not able to participate in the 40-yard dash due to his knee injury (ACL). Speed is what Weidl says makes a running back dangerous especially when he is able to break through the secondary like Gurley does for the Rams offense.
Still, the quarterback position is arguably the most prized position during the draft. While on Sportscene, Weidl gave his top potential draftees at the position that included a player in the FCS. California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff has a whopping 3,319 passing yards and 30 touchdowns on the season so far. Weidl says Goff’s abililty to handle the pocket and his release give him an edge, but needs to work on his game-time decisions. Memphis Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch has 3,292 passing yards so far along with 21 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Weidl says Lynch is very mobile and is known for throwing deep balls. The Michigan State Spartans have a quarterback of their own. Connor Cook has thrown for 2,482 yards and 21 touchdowns (4 INTs). Weidl says Cook is able to play in a pro-style system, but needs to work on his decision-making. Last, but certainly not least, Carson Wentz of the North Dakota State Bison has shined through with 1,454 passing yards and 16 touchdowns (2 INTs).
The 2016 NFL Draft will be here again next spring.