Good day 49er Faithful. I hope you have been enjoying your Labor Day weekend. Now with the 49ers 53-man roster set, we can get a good idea of what our needs will be for the future. Therefore, I will break down and provide highlights and profiles of draft-eligible prospects for today's exciting game this evening. How big is this game? Well, Virginia Tech cancelled school on Monday, so I guess it's a pretty big deal. Let's kick things off!
No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes at Virginia Tech Hokies
Time: 5:00 PM PST
Online streaming: Watch ESPN
When you are watching the 2016 NFL Draft next April, prepare yourself, because you will be hearing the name Ohio State mentioned numerous times, since this team is crazy loaded with draft-eligible talent. We start things off with Ohio State's starting quarterback, which we still are not 100% sure who it will be. Nevertheless, it could be the redshirt sophomore and voted team captain, J.T. Barrett, No. 16, or the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship winning quarterback, Cardale Jones, No. 12 (not a team captain). Barrett may not have the arm strength of "12 Gauge" Jones, but he does have excellent command of the offense and is a better passer and a very explosive and dynamic runner. Jones had a scare this past Wednesday when he was hospitalized for what turned out to be a severe migraine. Reports are stating he is 'doing fine', but it will be something to watch going forward. You can view my college football preseason write up on Cardale Jones here.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, No. 15, is an explosive and powerful runner showcasing great speed, vision, and impressive balance always leaning forward gaining positive yards. My Niners Nation's draft compadre, Jake Narayan, has a great college football preseason write up on Elliott you can view here.
There are a few Ohio State pass catching draft-eligible prospects to keep an eye on. WR Michael Thomas, No. 3, a junior, showcases great combination of size (6'3" - 210 lbs.), speed, and athleticism. Thomas is the nephew of Keyshawn "Just Give Me the Damn Ball" Johnson, and although he may not have the speed of last years' deep threat, Devin Smith, he is a polished all around wide receiver that is dependable in the middle of the field displaying good route running, great ball skills, and a solid pass catcher with strong hands. WR Braxton Miller, No. 5, will be be an intriguing prospect to watch this year, since he switched positions from quarterback to wide receiver over the Spring. He was extremely elusive as a quarterback, and I expect those same explosive and dynamic skills to show up as an exciting wide receiver prospect. Miller will just need to continue to improve upon his conditioning thoughout the season. TE Nick Vannett, No. 81, is a former high school basketball player who showcases the ideal combination of size, strength, and sneaky speed to be a coveted all around tight end prospect. You can view my college football preseason write up on Vannett here.
Two offensive lineman to keep an eye on are OT Taylor Decker, No. 68, and OG Pat Elflein, No. 65. Taylor Decker, another former high school basketball player, showcases an amazing combination of size (6'7 - 315 lbs.), length, strength, sneaky athleticism, agility, and physicality. You can view my college football preseason write up on Decker here. Pat Elflein, a junior, is one of the top offensive draft-eligible guards in this years' class, provided he declares. The former high school wrestler and track and field athlete is a physical and tough right guard who plays with a tenacious aggressiveness. Elflein showcases great power at the point of attack and quick feet that helps him do a great job in pass protection and while pulling. His size is not ideal at 6'3", but he does have versatility to be a utility interior lineman at the next level.
On the defensive side of the ball we have a couple of impressive defensive lineman of note in DE Joey Bosa, No. 97, and DT Adolphus Washington, No. 92. Bosa, a junior, could possibly be the first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, he will not be showcasing his skills today due to a suspension for violating athletic department policy (draft-eligible WR Corey Smith is also suspended). ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ You can view my college football preseason write up on Joey Bosa here. Adolphus Washington is an explosive disrupter with great combination of size (6'4 - 290 lbs.), strength, and athleticism. He display nice quickness off the the snap, solid use of hands at the point of attack, and could potentially be seen as an ideal prospect as a 3-4 defensive end prospect the 49ers employ.
A Buckeye outside linebacker to keep an eye on is OLB Darron Lee, No. 43. Lee, a redshirt sophomore, is an amazing and explosive athlete. The former high school quarterback, wide receiver, safety, and kick returner, has tremendous speed running sideline-to-sideline chasing down ball carriers, wreaks havoc in the backfield as a punishing blitzer, terrific instincts, and is solid in coverage with excellent range. Lee is an absolute playmaker that I believe is a better prospect than Ryan Shazier. I also believe he could do well as an inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Other Ohio State players to keep an eye on are: OLB Joshua Perry, No. 37, and SS *Vonn Bell, No. 11. You can view Jake's college football preseason write up on Vonn Bell here.
* = indicates junior status
** = indicates redshirt sophomore status
QB *Cardale Jones, No. 12, 6'5 - 250 lbs., 4.76 40 - Ohio State (1st)
QB **J.T. Barrett, No. 16, 6'1 - 225 lbs., 4.67 40 - Ohio State (2017?)
RB *Ezekiel Elliott, No. 15, 6'0 - 225 lbs., 4.42 40 - Ohio State (1st)
WR *Michael Thomas, No. 3, 6'3 - 210 lbs., 4.54 40 - Ohio State (2nd)
WR Braxton Miller, No. 5, 6'1 - 215 lbs., 4.42 40 - Ohio State (5th) Position change from QB to WR.
WR Corey Smith, No. 84, 6'0 - 195 lbs., 4.52 40 - Ohio State (7th-UFA)
TE Nick Vannett, No. 81, 6'6 - 260 lbs., 4.76 40 - Ohio State (3rd)
OT Taylor Decker, No. 68, 6'7 - 315 lbs., 5.21 40 - Ohio State (1st)
OT Chase Farris, No. 57, 6'5 - 310 lbs., 5.04 40 - Ohio State (UFA)
OG *Pat Elflein, No. 65, 6'3 - 300 lbs., 5.28 40 - Ohio State (2nd)
C Jacoby Boren, No. 50, 6'1 - 285 lbs., 5.06 40 - Ohio State (UFA) Coming off 2014 leg injury.
DT Adolphus Washington, No. 92, 6'4 - 290 lbs., 4.96 40 - Ohio State (2nd)
DT Tommy Schutt, No. 90, 6'2 - 290 lbs., 5.09 40 - Ohio State (UFA)
DE *Joey Bosa, No. 97, 6'5 - 275 lbs., 4.82 40 - Ohio State (1st)
OLB **Darron Lee, No. 43, 6'1 - 235 lbs., 4.64 40 - Ohio State (1st) Former high school QB, WR, S, and KR.
OLB Joshua Perry, No. 37, 6'4 - 254 lbs., 4.67 40 - Ohio State (2nd-3rd)
SS *Vonn Bell, No. 11, 5'11 - 205 lbs., 4.52 40 - Ohio State (1st-2nd)
Virginia Tech will have their hands full against Ohio State, but they have been here before. Virginia Tech handed Ohio State's only loss last season, so things should get pretty interesting. TE Ryan Malleck, No. 88, displays a great combination of size (6'4 - 252 lbs.), speed, and strength (squats 500 pounds). He is a reliable pass catching receiver with solid blocking skills. DT Luther Maddy, No. 92, is a stout run stopper with nice quickness to his game. He has an impressive quick first step, lateral agility, violent and quick hands, and quick feet. His size (6'1) is concerning for the next level, but his burst and closing speed is very impressive.
One of my favorite 3-4 OLB edge prospects to watch is (DE)/OLB Dadi Lhomme Nicolas, No. 90. The former high school basketball player showcases tremendous length, size, speed, athleticism, fluidity, and explosion. Moreover, Dadi has an excellent first step, shows quickness and great bend with impressive change of direction skills. You can view my college football preseason write up on Dadi here.
My favorite cornerback in this years' class is CB Kendall Fuller, No. 11. Kendall, the youngest of the four NFL Fuller brothers (Vincent, Correy, and Kyle), in my opinion, is the best out of the bunch. I have been watching Kendall ever since, as a freshman, he stepped in for his injured brother, Kyle, and was extremely impressive. The shut down corner showcases tremendous fluidity and quickness, has amazing instincts, and superb ball skills. I was a huge fan of his brother Kyle, and was pounding the table for the 49ers to draft him in the 2014 NFL Draft. Let's just say, I will start body-slamming tables if the 49ers have an opportunity to draft him. You can view Jake's college football preseason write up on Kendall Fuller here.
Other noticeable Virginia Tech players to keep an eye on are: DE Corey Marshall, No. 96, and these three underclassmen that may sniff at the opportunity to declare: OLB *Ken Ekanem, No. 4, CB **Brandon Facyson, No. 31, and CB *Chuck Clark, No. 19.
QB Michael Brewer, No. 12, 6'0 - 200 lbs., 4.82 40 - Virginia Tech (UFA) Grad transfer from Texas Tech.
RB J.C. Coleman, No. 4, 5'7 - 190 - lbs., 4.49 40 - Virginia Tech (UFA)
TE Ryan Malleck, No. 88, 6'4 - 252 lbs., 4.77 40 - Virginia Tech (5th)
DT Luther Maddy, No. 92, 6'1 - 293 lbs., 4.96 40 - Virginia Tech (5th-6th)
DE Corey Marshall, No. 96, 6'1 - 262 lbs., 4.65 40 - Virginia Tech (6th-7th)
OLB Dadi Lhomme Nicolas, No. 90, 6'3 - 236 lbs., 4.58 40 - Virginia Tech (2nd)
OLB Deon Clarke, No. 40, 6'1 - 218 lbs., 4.65 40 - Virginia Tech (UFA)
OLB *Ken Ekanem, No. 4, 6'3 - 243 lbs., 4.82 40 - Virginia Tech (3rd)
CB *Kendall Fuller, No. 11, 6'0 - 197 lbs., 4.48 40 - Virginia Tech (1st)
CB **Brandon Facyson, No. 31, 6'1 - 185 lbs., 4.55 40 - Virginia Tech (2nd) Coming off December 2014 leg injury (broken tibia and fibula on his left leg).
CB *Chuck Clark, No. 19, 5'11 - 206 lbs., 4.67 40 - Virginia Tech (4th)
Enjoy the game!