As the saying goes in baseball, you can’t win it all in April, but you sure can lose it. The same can’t necessarily be said regarding NFL Draft prospects’ performances, but the first handful of games still have an impact on a player’s evaluation – especially those that participate in marquee non-conference matchups.
The rise or fall of a prospect’s stock stems on where one had them evaluated entering the season. A player could have taken the college football world by storm, yet depending on where an evaluator placed the player entering the season, it may not come as a surprise (*wink wink, Marvin Wilson).
Though rankings can vary, there can undeniably be a player that rises that evaluators were low on or, frankly, just didn’t know. In the scenario of players like Derrick Brown, Jerry Jeudy, Tua Tagovailoa and others, despite impeccable starts to the season, their near consensus top five status remains intact, therefore, no movement has taken place and they won’t be found on this list.
September’s risers encompass the value of prospects from a consensus perspective.
Mekhi Becton, LT, Louisville (6-7, 360, Jr.)
Entering the season with 23 career starts, Becton had the experience and buzz to gain significant praise this preseason. Despite Louisville’s struggles in 2019, Becton continues to showcase why he is a top 50 prospect. Continuing to fine tune his pass protection skills, Becton showcases balanced footwork with a pair of agile feet for a man of his mass. His nasty demeanor doesn’t go unnoticed as Becton is one of the best finishers in the game constantly bullying his opponent into the ground. His length partnered with athleticism and power create plenty of intrigue in a fluid offensive tackle class.
— Duke Manyweather (@BigDuke50) October 1, 2019
Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (6-4, 216, Sr.)
Stealing the show nearly every week, Burrow continues to play with a discovered confidence in 2019. Working in a, now, QB-friendly system under the leadership of passing coordinator Joe Brady, Burrow is dialed in entering October with 1,520 passing yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 80% of his passes. Burrow vividly shows his maturity when going through progressions by consistently scanning the field to find the open man. Throwing receivers open, improvising when plays breakdown and delivering accurate throws with great placement are only a few qualities that have taken Burrow to the next level. If the draft took place tomorrow, Burrow would be a Day 1 selection.
Burrow ➡️ Jefferson with the DAGGER! LSU secures a massive road win over Texas!
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 8, 2019
Samuel Cosmi, LT, Texas (6-7, 300, rSoph.)
Besides Georgia’s Andrew Thomas – and depending on what position Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs will be – the left tackle grouping in the 2020 class looks a little slim. With plenty of room to solidify the No. 2 spot, Cosmi has stepped up to the plate as the blindside protector for the Longhorns. In his inaugural season at left tackle, Cosmi has shown excellent hand technique with proper placement and distribution. His athletic lower half make him an attractive, scheme versatile player with tremendous upside. His aggressive demeanor partnered with the physical tools paves way for an attractive prospect to keep tabs on going forward.
— Christian Page (@_ChristianPage) September 5, 2019
Marlon Davidson, DE, Auburn (6-3, 278, Sr.)
Davidson arrived at Auburn as a four-star recruit with loads of potential. Not to say he hadn’t reached that potential until now, Davidson seems to have pieced together his attributes in becoming an all-around player. Davidson is a handful in the run game consistently setting the edge and burying blockers at the point of attack. Davidson has carried that description as soon as he stepped foot on a collegiate field. Now, Davidson is maturing into a reliable pass rusher consistently threatening the edge with improved flexibility and upper body movement skills. He does an excellent at gaining depth on the tackle and collapsing the pocket mostly due to pure strength. Davidson has already matched his tackle for loss total from a season ago (4.5) and is on his way of putting his previous sack total (3.5) to shame.
Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF (6-3, 212, Jr.)
Even though turning in an 800-yard, seven-touchdown 2018 season, Davis is on his way in shattering both of those marks. Already producing eight touchdowns over five games, Davis is making a strong case for first team All-American. Though still early, and college football accolades aside, Davis consistently shows his attractiveness as a next-level prospect. Though not a twitchy athlete, Davis continues to find breaches in coverage with quick movements and adequate long speed. His performance versus first round hopeful Paulson Adebo of Stanford, put him on the map matching his physical and quickness tools.
UCF WR Gabriel Davis (6’3 212 JR) made some $ in his Stanford film vs Paulson Adebo. Moves really well for size & exposed some technical flaws in Adebo. Needs to clean up patterns, but he’s had a strong ‘19 pic.twitter.com/9GRwm3hbwg
— Mark Dulgerian (@MarkDulgerian) September 25, 2019
Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson (6-4, 215, Jr.)
A household name entering the season, Higgins was a budding star entering Year 2 with quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Not completely sold on his movement skills and his ability to separate in the middle of the field, Higgins was considered low in my preseason prospect rankings at 25. In the first handful of games, admittedly, Higgins has proved me wrong showing a multitude of ways to create a breach in coverage over the intermediate levels of the field. Though having concerns about his overall flexibility in his lower half, Higgins still has proved his worth as a general pass catcher. His catch radius and strong mitts continue to display why he is one of the top go-to receivers in college football.
Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State (6-1, 207, rSoph.)
As the top rusher in college football – by 379 yards – Hubbard has taken the nation by storm with his super productive start to the season. In five games, Hubbard has carried the ball 128 times for 938 yards with a 7.3 average and 10 touchdowns. His ability to win through contact in between the tackles paves way for his long, hard-earned yards. As a patient runner, Hubbard shows off appreciated vision to let the play develop in front of him. With an explosive cut, Hubbard can create on the fly despite not being a consistent home run hitter. His ascension comes with high volume but he has a knack for creating the best outcome for every time he touches the football.
Chuba Hubbard is faster than….well everyone.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 29, 2019
Jeffrey Okudah, CB, Ohio State (6-1, 200, Jr.)
Ohio State knew it had a gem when Okudah arrived in Columbus seeing action in all 14 games in his true freshman season. Budding into a star, the true junior has already snatched three interceptions showcasing his anticipation and ball skills. Okudah does an excellent job at defending at the line of scrimmage being able to consistently match the physicality of his opponent with proper hand usage. He has the fluid movement skills to combat any quick route to either side of the field. His calm demeanor plays to his advantage with the twitchy athleticism to recover and quickly react.
CB Jeff Okudah appears good. https://t.co/TMo2aNGidd
— ryan (@StillRyanFive) September 29, 2019
Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State (6-5, 311, Sr.)
Attempting to conduct the Wilson hype train this summer, it’s no surprise to see the ascension of the 311-pound defensive tackle. Wilson’s first-step quickness and swift upper body movements pave way to his interior pursuit. He fits the mold of the pass-rushing threat that teams covet at defensive tackle. With quick movements highlighted by arm-over, club and rip through moves and other overwhelming disengagement skills, Wilson boasts an attractive skill set. Wilson highlighted his full potential versus Louisville when posting 10 tackles, 3.5 for a loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Marvin Wilson is a UNIT, comes up big with the strip-sack for FSU. pic.twitter.com/y8tZWxFANf
— Austin Gayle (@austingayle_) August 31, 2019
Other notable risers:
- Carlos Basham Jr., DE, Wake Forest (6-5, 275, Jr.)
- Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama (6-7, 312, Sr.)
- Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas (5-11, 210, Sr.)
- Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma (6-2, 301, Sr.)
- Jonathan Greenard, DE, Florida (6-3, 265, Sr.)
- Isaiah Hodgins, WR, Oregon State (6-4, 209, Jr.)
- Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (6-2, 219, Sr.)