It’s Friday and that means you get through your eight hours of work and start your commute home for the weekend. If you work more than eight hours on a Friday, bless your soul. Blessing your television screen on Friday night will be three football games that have plenty of draft prospects on tap for the 2019 NFL Draft.
Before we get into the slate of games for Saturday, I want to focus on three players that are going to be taking the field on Friday night. These players shouldn’t be first overall picks but there’s some talent behind them. I’m not saying they’ll be sitting in New York waiting to hoist a trophy over their head but they could find a role for a team on Sunday and their transition to the next level should be fun to follow.
The first game that kicks off is at 7 pm EST between Florida Atlantic (FAU) and the 16th ranked team in the country, UCF. It would be easy to sit here and talk about the connection between McKenzie Milton and Gabriel Davis for the UCF offense. But that shouldn’t be the only thing that draws you to this game. Certainly, Lane Kiffin trotting around the sidelines for FAU is always a good time, especially with some of his play designs on offense. Again though, we’re talking about the 2019 NFL Draft and for the first game on Friday, there’s one player to really focus on.
Holy crap…Devin Singletary is kinda good pic.twitter.com/ISz4P9sRJM
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) July 18, 2018
Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic (FAU)
More often than not, Singletary isn’t going to be atop the running back rankings. There’s even a chance that he’s not in the consensus top-5 of running backs. However, he’s a talented back that’s going to showcase it for everyone on Friday night. More than likely, he’s going to “slip through the cracks” for the 2019 NFL Draft and there’s a chance that he stays for his senior season.
Selfishly, I want Singletary to enter the draft because I’m curious as to how he tests athletically but it would also help deepen an already deep running back class. If that makes sense, nod your head. If not, let me elaborate. Singletary isn’t as shifty as Bryce Love or Myles Gaskin. Then again, who is? Not many.
When you watch him run, you see a player that runs well when going between the tackles but his contact balance is what makes him special. When you watch him, you’ll instantly think back to the 2017 NFL Draft and think of Kareem Hunt. Singletary runs in a similar fashion with his ability to bounce outside, run between the tackles and again, maintain control and balance when bouncing off contact. Listed at 5’9 and 200 pounds, he doesn’t have the elite athletic ability but with the way he runs, he doesn’t need to be that kind of elite. The way he runs can help develop him into a solid running back at the next level and personally, he should enter the 2019 NFL Draft.
Last season he had over 1900 yards and 32 touchdowns and as of right now, he’s somewhat behind schedule in matching that kind of productivity. With only 210 rushing yards and seven touchdowns through three games, he’s on pace to run for just over 1,000 yards but could easily eclipse over 20 rushing touchdowns. Whether he’s running in the red zone, short yardage or from his own one-yard line, Singletary is a touchdown machine. If you try to tackle him, be sure to send the house because he’ll easily bounce off at least one tackler and keep going. Expect plenty of that against UCF on Friday night.
Shareef Miller, EDGE, Penn State
The game that comes on during the FAU/UCF game is Penn State against Illinois. I know, Big Ten football on a Friday night? I don’t like it but let’s have some fun. The things that Penn State did to Pittsburgh in the rain should be similar to what Penn State is going to do to Illinois. Don’t watch the Penn State vs. Illinois game for the football quality, watch this game for Shareef Miller.
For the 2019 NFL Draft, he wouldn’t be my favorite EDGE rusher. He wouldn’t even be my second or third. That’s not personal, it’s just business. Miller isn’t as polished as he should be off the edge. He’s had plenty of opportunities to start and take over this defense. Granted, he’s looked much better in the early going for this season than he did last year. But this year has been a relatively small sample size compared to what we’ve seen in the last two seasons.
There have been times that Miller doesn’t come to the table with a pass rush plan and he goes power for power too often vs. offensive tackles. But when Miller puts it all together, he can dominate offensive tackles all day long. However, his biggest flaws are inconsistent hand usage and can have lackluster bend when running the arc.
Right now, he’s a man on a mission and has been very productive for the Nittany Lions. Through three games, he has 8 tackles, six tackles for loss and three sacks. At this rate, he’ll shatter his career highs of 37 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks from last season. Regardless of some of the negatives to his game, keep an eye on him to thrive against an extremely poor Fighting Illini team.
Chuma Edoga with his head on a swivel. I love seeing this stuff. Steps hard inside to combo the 3-tech and then finds the LB taking the C-gap. He turns his head outside and look at the lower body flexibility. Sticks the backer and a great play to allow Jones time to get upfield. pic.twitter.com/lginTpf6Wr
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) August 18, 2018
Chuma Edoga, OT, USC
Lastly, we get #Pac12AfterDark and if you’re not staying up late to watch Mike Leach, what are you doing? All jokes aside, Chuma Edoga is a serious offensive tackle that could very well be in Mobile for the Senior Bowl this year. Meanwhile, he’ll be talked about at some point during the 2019 NFL Draft.
Last week against Texas, the USC Trojans struggled to get the ground game going. They had minus-five yards rushing and there seems to be a disconnect along the offensive line. To help turn it around, Chuma Edoga should be able to provide that. He’s got the length to handle anyone that rushes off the edge but he’s also got the athletic ability and control to attack the second level and maintain blocks on linebackers.
Hand placement is one of my biggest pet peeves and it’s one of his biggest weaknesses. He has to become more consistent with his hand placement but by adding some weight to his frame, he’ll play with more confidence. At 6’4 and 295 pounds, he’ll get some criticism for being under 300 pounds but with his hip flexibility and lower body movement, there shouldn’t be much concern. Edoga needs to continue to polish his footwork but there’s no reason he can’t between now and the 2019 NFL Draft. For the Trojans to fix some of their issues along their offensive line, Edoga will be a key part of their success. He’ll have a tough task against Washington State’s defense that ranks third in the country in total defense. This game will be fun and will be worth the watch after dark.