CFB week 9: Clemson DL dominates again

— The Clemson vs Florida State game should’ve been a great opportunity to watch several prospective first round defensive linemen. Instead, it turned into a shellacking. Clemson dominated FSU to the point of embarrassment. And aside from freshman QB Trevor Lawrence and sophomore WR Tee Higgings, this was all about the D-line again.

Christian Wilkins is rare. A lot of people want to try and tell you he isn’t. I say he is. Highly athletic, perfect frame, explosive, quick. I’d expect a big combine performance. He knifed into the backfield on two key occasions today, hitting the quarterback’s arm to force an interception on one play and another QB hit led to an incompletion on third down.

There aren’t many really athletic, prototype three-techniques. His squatty frame enables him to control the interior and win with leverage. He’s strong and powerful and doesn’t get overwhelmed. He offers some pass rush. He’s an any down-or-distance interior DL. Those are valuable.

Dexter Lawrence is an athletic nose tackle who doesn’t come off the field all that often. He controls the LOS but has surprising quickness. A reminder that at 335lbs he ran a 5.03 at the SPARQ workouts. If he runs a sub-5.00 at the combine, he’s going to go as high as Vita Vea. These types of players go early.

The best review of how easy this was for Clemson was their willingness to run Lawrence at full back and Wilkins at running back on a red zone play. Wilkins got the ball and sauntered in untouched for a TD. The FSU D-line practically avoided Lawrence who was looking for someone, anyone, to block.

Clelin Ferrell had a sack, Austin Bryant also had his best game for a few weeks. This is a great group and it’s testament to their character that they returned — together — to have one more year at Clemson. If anyone can stop Alabama it’ll be this team and it’ll be because of the sheer quality and talent on this NFL D-line.

So what about FSU’s Brian Burns? It was hard to judge him really. The game got out of control so fast. Even so, he had a couple of nice speed rushes. On one play he drew a holding call and on another he hit Trevor Lawrence (only for the freshman QB to still complete a nice pass to Higgins).

Burns looks skinny in his legs. The speed and length is evident. It still looks like he could do with adding some weight. Is he going to be able to anchor and set the edge? Can he win with speed-to-power or is he going to be like a lot of FSU DE’s and rely on speed and quickness? Burns is extremely talented but he might need to fill out his frame before he can repeat this level of success at the next level. An explosive combine performance would allay some of those concerns.

— Another DE making a big impression this year is Boston College’s Zach Allen. He’s big. He’s listed at 6-5 and 285lbs. At times last season it was difficult to work out what his best position would be. Does he kick inside? Is he a five technique? This season he’s been a revelation — as a speed rusher. His get-off looks significantly better. His ability to dip and lean is impressive. He’s making plays on stunts and with hand use, disengaging and finishing.

Allen has done it all this season.

He’s played so well you start to wonder what he’ll do at the combine. Initially I thought he was a mediocre athlete and a bit of an overachiever. On his 2018 tape, he looks so much more. Here’s his sack against Miami (second video):

The right tackle tries to get his hands on Allen but he’s too quick. It’s a weak contact, there’s no jolt and the tackle can’t square up. His technique is poor (no kick-slide, no real effort to extend Allen’s path to the QB) but this is where you want to see a major athletic difference. At this level in college. You want to identify the guys who exploit bad technique by just being better. And that’s what Allen does here. Too quick, too good. Sack.

Already this season he has 12.5 TFL’s, 5.5 sacks, an interception, a blocked kick and a forced fumble. He’s dominated and if he performs well at the combine — he could be a very early pick. Allen’s combine performance will be one of the most important in Indianapolis.

— We’re nine weeks in and still Georgia’s D’Andre Walker isn’t getting enough attention. He’s so quick, agile and athletic. He can play the EDGE, he can play in space, he can play SAM. He’s intense and helps set the tone. He’s not the biggest but watch him handle his business in the running game. He ran a 4.16 short shuttle at the SPARQ combine. Leighton Vander Esch ran a 4.15, as did Vic Beasley. That’s the kind of agility he has. Against Florida he flashed that quickness to identify an option/pitch, stretch the play out and make the TFL. He’s also a fantastic special teamer.

— We’ve spent a lot of time talking about Florida’s Jachai Polite. In the Georgia game, team mate Jabari Zuniga gave a gentle reminder that he is also very talented. He has good size, he’s quick. He can handle his business as a speed rusher but also win with power. Look at how quick he covers ground:

Polite has a chance to go early but keep an eye on Zuniga. He’s very much one to monitor for the next level. As for Polite’s performance — he was quiet until the final quarter. He had a nice speed rush against the Georgia right tackle and just couldn’t get to the QB in time to prevent a third down conversion. He also blew-up a two-point conversion by reading the run play and exploding into the backfield to bring down the ball-carrier.

— I don’t think Arizona State receiver N’Keal Harry is a first round prospect (unlike many) but this was still pretty special:

— I failed to mention this last week so wanted to add it here today. Alabama’s Christian Miller might go a bit earlier than people are projecting. He’s having an excellent season with 5.5 sacks and eight TFL’s. He has a further eight QB hurries. Miller is well sized (6-4, 244lbs) for the linebacker position and has an explosive physical profile. At the SPARQ combine he ran a 4.18 short shuttle, jumped a 39-inch vertical and recorded a 124.17 SPARQ score. He’s a great athlete, productive and capable of making plays in space and playing up at the line. A lot of people are projecting him as a mid-round pick but don’t be surprised if he goes a little higher than that.

— Kentucky’s Josh Allen is making a strong case to go in round one. The combine will be important for him. He had another big game today (vs Missouri):

And this might be another name to keep an eye on from Kentucky…

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  1. Ground_Hawk

    The QB’s of UW are garbage.

    • Pedestrian

      Browning has just been too inconsistent. Didn’t know what to expect from depth at QB, but I was surprised their backup struggled so much. I’m sure huskies will find their footing again in 2019. Never had a problem attracting talent.

    • Volume12

      Just the QBs? There needs to be a discussion about Chris Petersen. His offense is stuck in 2008-2010.

    • DC

      Eason, Sirmon & Yankoff in 2019…

      Ugggh, what a weird season. At least the Ducks lost again.

    • KD

      I can’t recall watching a QB regress as badly as Jake Browning has over the past 3 years. 3 years ago, he was a Heisman candidate and looked like a legit QB. Since then, he has just continued to fall. his decision making and awareness is terrible, and he has now become a liability.

    • AlaskaHawk

      IT hasn’t helped that Gaskin and his other top running back are injured. The running backs aren’t good enough to scare an opponent. The offense seems very conservative to me. The defense played okay the first half and then wore down.

  2. Aaron

    What a Charles Barkley turrible game by my Washington Huskies…no words!

  3. Pedestrian

    @captainjack hahaha clearly YOU do not know the state of the pac 12!

  4. Pickering

    The ‘Hawks have 4 picks in 2019. I’ll assume JS will turn that into 6.

    I think the first 2 should be front 7, ideally 1 of the ones Rob mentioned above.

    1, maybe 2, for the D backfield.

    1 TE (that assumes Will D. will be late coming back)

    1 OL.

    Hopefully they can hit on UFDA’s.

  5. Mac

    Although I don’t know if Gardner Minshew is a backup qb at the next level or not, he’s leaving his own legacy at WSU. He throws too high to rbs, air raid system etc. but he’s been executing the offense at a high level. I’m not very biased by it, I see very few draftable pieces besides the OL and maybe RBs of Wsu. That being said I would be happy if we draft Ben Bur kirven, Troy dye late next year and replenish the LB position.

    • Volume12

      Nah, he’s legit. Dudes stock keeps going up.

      God I hope we get a Wazzu/N’Western Rose bowl.

      • BV Eburg

        Rob, I know you like Colorado’s QB Montez. But take a look at Minshew especially these last two games. Someone mentioned he’s a cross between Mayfield and Manziel. I would agree except he’s got a great attitude and the players around him are both elevated and love playing with him. Could his arm be a bit stronger? Sure, but he just makes plays.

    • AlaskaHawk

      I really like Minshew. I figured he would go cheap, like 6th round to UDFA cheap, because he is smallish for a QB and is in the PAC division. Which would be perfect for a Seahawk camp invite.

      But I”m thinking now – that he could benefit from a lack of first round QBs. If there aren’t many high quality QBs coming out this year, the parity of the rest means he could rise to 3rd rounder. That’s a safe spot for a backup QB – and after the team has already filled two needs in the first two rounds.

  6. Volume12

    WR N’Keal Harry has a skill set that will 100% translate to the next level.

    Same thing with NC St. WR Kelvin Harmon who might be WR1 at this point. He’s a human cheat code.

    • Rob Staton

      I think both are pretty ‘meh’.

      • Volume12

        Same. Just on the Clemson guys. 😉

      • Kenny Sloth

        The whole WR class is pretty uninteresting to be honest, Texas got some big bodied guys.

    • D-OZ

      Harry is going to go in the 1st. I liked him as a Freshman a lot. He needs to improve his route tree but is progressing.

      • Rob Staton

        I don’t see him in R1.

        Think he’ll go mid rounds like the last highly touted Arizona State WR.

    • McZ

      Happen to like Juwan Johnson of Penn State. There are times, I forget his name and think Odell’s back.

      Harry is too hyped, and will be too costly.

  7. Kenny Sloth

    I work just far enough from the bar that I can’t see the tvs 😭😭😭😭

    I start at 12 tomorrow 💚💙 we play better when I dont watch

  8. Kenny Sloth

    Friiiiiiick yall it’s dry for cutups this year

    The Utah SS has 14 TFL and some decent athleticism: Chase Hansen

    Hope Darrell Henderson gets healthy. Says He’s 5’9 205 and runs behind an experienced OL at Memphis. Legit breakaway speed.

    Also Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta’amu really flashed in some tape I saw of him. When every receiver looks like a baller, your QB is playing well.

    • Rob Staton

      It’s incredible really, how the cut-ups have just stopped with the demise of Draft Breakdown. We used to have new cut-ups every week. A wealth of tape. Now there’s practically nothing.

  9. zxvo3

    Do you think that D’Andre Walker could play the Will in the next level?

    • Rob Staton

      Would prefer him playing up at the line or SAM

  10. McZ

    I think, for all those defence stuff going on, Clemsons OL is forgotten. I think, Mitch Hyatt is an exceptionally well crafted LT.

    He may drop on the draft board a bit, because there are prospects from Bama and Wisconsin getting more spotlight. Expect him to go late R2 or R3, maybe even R4. As a depth pick to hedge for Brown and Ifedi basically a no brainer.

    • Rob Staton

      Not crazy about Hyatt. Just looks mediocre to me. Seattle has a hedge with Fant.

      • McZ

        I’m not crazy about Hyatt, I want to identify late round prospects. He is one of the more techy guys, he makes no big plays, but he keeps his side clean, and his name out of the news. Which is a good thing for a OLiner.

        Fant has his first uninjured season, because he only plays a couple of snaps. Not a hedge, a calculated lo-money risk addition. Let’s see how it works out before we again bet the building.

        And even if we count Fant, math is against the theory, we are ever settled. To fill a 53-man roster using 8-9 years as an average player career span, your team and all your adversaries’ have to find 5, better 6 workable players every single draft. The OL and DL are almost certain to soak up one of those per team, every year.

        Brown is out after this deal, Sweezy uncertain in the same span, Fluker one injury from career end away. Britts next contract will be horrendous and not reflect his value to the team. That’s not negativity, that’s risk to hedge against. You need to have depth by then.

        • Rob Staton

          They don’t need to draft an offensive lineman.

          Firstly, using Fant as a backup tackle is hardly ‘betting the building’. He’s a guy they like a lot — and liked enough to see a future at left tackle. He got injured but now he’s back and is a perfectly adequate backup for either tackle spot. They also just drafted Jamarco Jones. That’s two options at tackle. Hyatt simply isn’t needed.

          They have a very good starting five at the moment with Fant, Jones, Hunt and Pocic as backups. That’s an incredibly healthy looking group. Math is in favour of the theory because whoever you draft isn’t guaranteed to beat out Fant and Jones. So you might waste a pick or end up keeping a guy ‘just’ because you drafted him.

          You speak like Brown is all but done. You speak like you know what Sweezy’s deal will be. If Sweezy walks you start Pocic. Simple. And if they need to fill depth just do it. See: Sweezy, Fluker.

          The Seahawks have been drafting OL’s for ages. They’ve solved that problem. Now it’s time to focus on other areas with their four picks.

  11. Volume12

    Crazy to see the year Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray is having. And to think, in 2.5 months he’ll never play the sport of football again.

  12. cha

    Naz Jones inactive again. Guy’s got to get on the field.

    Rasheem Green also. Probably making sure the ankle is OK.

    • Volume12

      Anything outta Green year 1 was gonna be a bonus. He’s a guy who might not be as good as others right away, but his ceiling certainly is.

  13. Kenny Sloth

    Told y’all about Stafford v Thompson. Thats just an extremely gifted arm.

  14. Del tre

    Man, Tedric is just going to keep getting better. You can tell he is getting used to the defense more and more. He made a bad mistake on the TD but i have a feeling it won’t happen again. Go hawks!

  15. Volume12

    Russ is cooking! Ya’ll still want Seattle to trade/get rid of him?

    • Kenny Sloth

      Frick that! I want salt and pepper beard Wilson

  16. Kenny Sloth

    What a fun first half!

    Hope they can control the rest of the game. Guess they play ok when I watch too 😌

  17. Volume12

    Did Seattle just throw it from the half f***in yard line?!? After running the ball down the Lions throat all day?

  18. FresnoHawk

    Finally confirmed this new Seahawk team will be a contender for several years. Happy to see RW overcoming adversity and solidifying his future with the Hawks. We are so fortunate Seahawks acquired Pete Carroll not only one of the best coaches in football history but a coach who is blessed to be able to coach at the highest level in his twilight years. Young coaches will never compete much with Pete they havn’t “been there & done that”. Rams are nothing but chumps that’s why they lost in the playoffs last year.

  19. AlaskaHawk

    Good game , glad to put it in the back. I would feel even more comfortable when the running game can get a short third down when we need it.

    • Rob Staton

      They did for the most part today.

      There’s absolutely zero reason to quibble about anything today. Great win.

  20. Del tre

    I wonder if PC is sitting Penny because he had 289 carries last season. Davis has been decent, no where near as good some people have been saying but when we face facts he lacks top end speed, and his vision is nothing to be marveled at. Penny really should be getting the RB 2 carries. Makes you wonder what PC is doing because he could see what he has instead of putting him in one awful situation after another.

    • Rob Staton

      I don’t think we really need to wonder about this to be honest.

      Carson and Davis have simply earned the carries.

      Doesn’t mean we have to over-analyse the pick or call Penny a bust or wonder if there’s a reason. Penny is seven games into his rookie season. Let’s judge him in three years. For now, let’s just enjoy the fact Seattle is running very well.

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