We’re down to the final month of the college football season. For some players, it’s the final three or four games by which to put together a highlight reel for the 2019 NFL Draft. For others, their days as athletes are numbered. The crazy part of all this NFL Draft talk is that there are so many questions going into this year’s draft.
It’s not like most years where we have that clear-cut favorite to be the top overall pick. There’s a lot of question marks regarding the quarterback class. But if you’re looking for running backs or defensive linemen, you could be in luck this year. Some other questions that need answering start at the top of the draft. Will Justin Herbert declare for the 2019 NFL Draft? If he doesn’t, this quarterback class pretty much goes Ryan Finley from N.C. State and then everybody else. Yes, I’m still conducting the Ryan Finley hype train and I’ll be here when it goes off the rails, if it hasn’t already.
During the summer, I talked about Nick Bosa, Ed Oliver and Rashan Gary. They were discussed a lot as the top defensive linemen. However, that doesn’t sound so true on Gary anymore. As for Bosa and Oliver, who’s ranked higher? For some, it’ll be Bosa. For others, it’ll be Oliver. Oddly enough, all three players didn’t play in week 9 of the college football season.
Ed Oliver didn’t play for Houston due to a knee injury. Nick Bosa played three games this season and then had surgery on a core muscle. Bosa was expected to return to the Buckeyes in November, but he’s opted for the 2019 NFL Draft and won’t return to Ohio State. Lastly, Rashan Gary has missed three straight games due to a shoulder injury. There’s speculation that he won’t return to Michigan and that he will indeed enter the 2019 NFL Draft. That’s to be expected, but there’s mixed reports on his status for the rest of the season. It’ll be interesting to see if he plays against Penn State week 10.
Clearly, we won’t be discussing Bosa, Oliver or Gary as any of the risers from week 9. Who are they?
Charles Omenihu, DL, Texas
Don’t look now, but Charles Omenihu has been on fire as of late. He’s been a big part of why the Texas Longhorns are ranked sixth in the country. He’s been playing out of his mind and has done a great job improving his draft stock.
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) October 24, 2018
Since losing to Maryland in the season opener, Texas won six games in a row, including three wins over teams ranked in the top 25. As for Omenihu, he’s improving on a weekly basis. Over the last three games, Omenihu has tallied 7 tackles for loss, five sacks and four quarterback hurries. This brings his season total to 27 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
In the NFL, teams run plenty of hybrid fronts and multiple defensive packages. With the NFL becoming a pass-first league, nickel defenses are becoming the norm. This only helps Omenihu as he tries to find the perfect scheme at the next level. He has the ability to play anywhere on a defensive line, and that versatility is what makes him so special, not to mention he’s got a good blend of raw power and speed. There are times that he relies too much on that power and needs to find more consistency with his hand usage, but as of late, he’s really turning the corner as a pass rusher. To start the year he was day three player on most boards, but there’s no reason to believe that he can’t put himself into the conversation of day two, and potentially even the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
Put the videotape that has the Drew Lock label on it into the VCR. As the static clears, you’ll notice that Drew Lock has been less than good. To start the season, Lock was exceptional against U.T. Martin, who ranks 74th in the FCS in total defense. Thereafter, he played really well against the Purdue Boilermakers, who rank 126th in pass defense, and the Wyoming Cowboys who rank 75th in pass defense. Lastly, he torched a Memphis pass defense that ranks 52nd in the country. All of these games the Tigers won, and Drew Lock had 15 touchdowns to only one interception.
This CB didn't even try, my goodness. But Drew Lock with an absolute dart. pic.twitter.com/yVP0UaBMgz
— Russell Brown (@RussNFLDraft) September 18, 2018
Then the real competition began, and Lock struggled visibly. From forcing bad passes into tight coverage to bad placement all over the field, the issues have been evident. When we get deeper into draft analysis, we’ll discuss the receivers on this team and how they’ve struggled with drops. That’s evident. What’s also evident is Lock’s arm strength. The big picture, though, is the cons outweigh the pros for a quarterback that has had the chance to boost his stock for the 2019 NFL Draft.
In the four games that Missouri has lost, Lock struggled against four defenses ranked in the top 38 in total pass defense. In those four losses against Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Kentucky, Lock tallied one touchdown to five interceptions. No matter how you slice it, it’s been less than stellar. With four games left against Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Arkansas, Lock can show improvements. He’ll need to fix his ball placement and he’ll have to continue to work through his progressions better. Once he turns that around, we can talk about him being one of the legitimate quarterbacks bound for the 2019 NFL Draft. For now, he just looks like another name that a team might pay the premium for because of his position or roll the dice simply because of need.