2018 NFL Draft
Bryce Love is averaging 10.3 yards per carry and carving out a high 2018 NFL Draft slot for himself (Thearon W. Henderson – Getty Images)

It was upset city this week in the college football season. Clemson, Washington, Washington State, and Auburn all went down this week. That doesn’t mean a team like Clemson is eliminated but it makes their job that much harder. The top 4 teams in the country outside of Alabama and Georgia are very much unclear.

This week on tap for the 2018 NFL Draft scouting report was the Oklahoma vs. Texas and Oregon vs. Stanford games. Is Baker Mayfield the real deal? What’s the inside scoop on the running back draft class? Those are some of the questions we found out a little bit more this week. Who’s stock improved or declined this week as we look forward to the 2018 NFL Draft?

Oklahoma vs. Texas:

The Red River Rivalry isn’t what it once was with Texas being an unranked team but it usually results in a competitive game regardless. Texas doesn’t really have a whole lot of talent besides for one player, Malik Jefferson.

Jefferson is a really interesting prospect with plus speed, natural pass rush ability, and his reckless abandonment style of play. The question I had with Jefferson is his pure instincts and tackling ability? Maybe Jefferson is an even better outside linebacker compared to middle linebacker? There is no denying Jefferson’s talent because he has a ton of it. Jefferson was a five-star recruit in 2015 and the best linebacker recruit in the country.  My comp for Jefferson at this point is Anthony Barr. The question is how will he be used in the pros?

Oklahoma has three prospects I want to talk about, Baker Mayfield, Orlando Brown, and Mark Andrews. Let’s break them down one at a time.

Baker Mayfield:

Let me tell you a story about Lincoln Riley. Once upon a time, there was a quarterback named Shane Carden from East Carolina. I pegged him as the next undrafted quarterback who would make a name for himself. After he quickly flamed out in the NFL, I realized that maybe Carden’s success stemmed from Lincoln Riley. Dear, Falcons fans. Maybe you should do the same with Matt Ryan and Kyle Shanahan.

Below is a tiny excerpt from a piece I wrote about Lincoln Riley and his time at East Carolina:

“The progression of ECU can easily be seen by the total offense numbers. In 2012, East Carolina ranked 56th in total offense (409 yards per game). In 2013 they rose to 26th in total offense (468 yards per game). Riley’s final year transcended ECU as a top-five offense in college football (533 yards per game). Riley’s quarterback project in the final three years of his tenure was Shane Carden who was never drafted in the NFL. Riley helped transcend Carden to a level he frankly wasn’t capable of considering Carden never sniffed an NFL field. In 2013 Carden was even rocking a 70.5 completion percentage on 549 attempts in a vertical passing system!”

Now back to the real topic at hand. Is Baker Mayfield a franchise quarterback? The answer is no. Is Baker Mayfield a starting quarterback in the NFL? Again, the answer is no. Could he stick as a backup? Now that is something that is possible.

There are some major red flags here to worry about. Mayfield’s character is something that is highly questioned as he has had some off the field issues. He’s also very undersized as I would be surprised if he was actually 6-foot-1 that the school actually lists him at. He also had to transfer to Oklahoma after he lost his job to Davis Webb and then Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech. There’s also the question of whether Mayfield has taken Oklahoma to new heights?

Mayfield puts up big numbers in the Air Raid system with 17 touchdowns and one interception on the season. That one pick just so happened to come against Texas where he made a number of silly throws. Mayfield has a good, not great arm which can be seen on his touchdown pass below. Also beware, his offensive line is outstanding. I’m not sure he was touched the entire game.

Speaking of that offensive line, Orlando Brown continues to shine. Brown got flagged for a couple dumb penalties but I wouldn’t make too much out of it. Brown is a massive 6-foot-8, 340, where the only real question is whether he will struggle with speed rushers. Brown isn’t a guy you want pulling out in space a whole lot but once he gets his hands on you, well, its over. I would be shocked if Brown wasn’t the first or second offensive lineman drafted at this point.

Finally, this is a year where tight ends could be hard to find. Unlike last year, there isn’t a first or maybe even second round tight end on the board. Mark Andrews could be the first tight end off the board during the 2018 NFL Draft with good size at 6-foot-5 and 254. Andrews has become a reliable red zone threat with a knack for getting open. Andrews leads the Sooners with 23 catches and 459 yards. He has a play style of Travis Kelce but whether he can become something similar remains to be seen.

Oregon Vs. Stanford

There’s no other way to describe this game besides for the fact that this was a running back clinic. Staying up late on the East Coast to watch this West Coast showdown was worth it for both backs, Royce Freeman and Bryce Love. Both running backs are different in styles but should make up part of a very strong running back draft class in 2018.

Bryce Love of Stanford was tasked with taking over the job that Christian McCaffrey left behind. Love has a similar frame to McCaffrey who stands at 5-foot-10, 195. Love hasn’t put up big receiving numbers which seems odd for a guy who is a lightning rod in the backfield. Any time a running back averages over 10 yards per carry at this point in the season, it’s something worth keeping an eye on.

Below are two highlight videos of Love’s game against Oregon. He only rushed for 147 yards on 17 carries no big deal right (sarcastic). I want you to watch his patience for hitting the running lane just as Le’Veon Bell does in the NFL. Am I saying he’s has the potential of a guy like Bell? Probably not, but there is no question Love is fantastic.

The Oregon back Royce Freeman doesn’t come in the way you might think you he does. When you think of Oregon guys like LaMichael James and De’Anthony Thomas probably come to mind, right? Well, Freeman is more like the previous Oregon regime of Jonathan Stewart and LeGarrette Blount. People forget that Stewart went in the first-round back in 2008 and Blount likely would have gone in that range if he didn’t punch someone.

Freeman runs with big-time power but also has some serious shiftiness for a 235 pound back. When a guy his size has moves and breakaway speed the way Freeman does, you better keep this guy on the radar. Freeman has been Oregon’s starter since the days of Marcus Mariota in 2014 and is one of the most reliable runners in Pac 12 history. Freeman is currently 4th All-Time in Pac 12 rushing yards with 4,943 in his collegiate career.