Greetings 49er Faithful! We are back with our breakdown of college football's Week 14 action - keeping our sights set on the 2018 NFL Draft.
Each week throughout the college season we will break down a few college football games providing highlights and profiles of a few notable draft-eligible prospects you should pay attention to. This will help people build a list of names to know when we get into the offseason.
We'll start things off covering tonight's match-up at Levi’s Stadium for the the PAC-12 Championship game featuring No. 12 Stanford vs. No. 10 USC. So, sit back, put your scouting hat on, and let's get things started with Week 14.
* = indicates junior status
** = indicates redshirt sophomore status
+ = injury status
No. 12 Stanford at No. 10 USC
Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
Time: 5:00 PM PST
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
*RB Bryce Love, No. 20, 5’10” - 191 lbs., 4.36 40 - (2nd)
FB Daniel Marx, No. 35, 6'2" - 245 lbs., 4.87 40 - (7th-UDFA)
OT/OG David Bright, No. 64, 6'5" - 299 lbs., 5.23 40 - (7th)
+DE Eric Cotton, No. 80, 6'6" - 268 lbs., 4.87 40 - (UDFA) out with foot injury
DT Harrison Phillips, No. 66, 6’4” - 295 lbs., 4.96 40 - (2nd) riser
OLB Peter Kalambayi, No. 34, 6'3" - 243 lbs., 4.78 40 - (7th-UDFA)
OLB Mike Tyler, No. 33, 6’4” - 236 lbs., 4.76 40 - (UDFA)
ILB Kevin Palma, No. 44, 6'2" - 251 lbs., 4.86 40 - (UDFA)
*CB Quenton Meeks, No. 24, 6'2" - 204 lbs., 4.64 40 (3rd)
*RB Bryce Love, No. 20, is a a tremendous explosive athlete showcasing elite speed, quickness, and suddenness making him a dynamic threat to hit a home run whenever he touches the ball. The former high school track star’s speed is overwhelming to defenders and his amazing change of direction skills and incredible patience allows him to weave through defenders with nice tackle-breaking slippery skills. Although Love is a bit undersized, he bestows a compact frame running low and is not afraid of contact running physical behind his pads.
Love displays sound vision and instincts with a great feel to sense and step through traffic utilizing his patience to follow his blockers and explode to daylight with his impressive short-area burst ability. He shows the ability to run inside making consecutive moves in a short area getting low and wiggling through the cracks with great pad level hitting the hole. An area of concern for Love is the lack of ideal size and necessary bulk for the next level; moreover, he has been plagued with an ankle injury the last half of the college football season. Love has shown incredible toughness playing through his injuries, but durability poses some questions. Nevertheless, his exciting big-play capability is undeniable.
*CB Quenton Meeks, No. 24, is a long athletic corner with the ideal size and length several (implementing the “Seattle” scheme) teams look for in their cornerbacks. The former high school football, baseball, and track and field athlete boasts and excellent combination of size, length (long arms), strength, physicality, and athleticism to fit well in a scheme allowing corners to press, jam, stack, and overwhelm receivers. Meeks plays with a physical presence and the toughness and instincts to solidify the boundary displaying good fluidity in his hips to open up (good shuffle) and the quick feet and enough speed to trail sticking to the hip pocket recovering with his length and impressive instincts. He has good range and speed and takes full advantage of his size and length to win contested match-ups.
Meeks size and fluidity makes him a great match-up in coverage, where he can utilize his length and aggressiveness in press showcasing heavy hands at the line of scrimmage and excels in bail-technique, and solid instincts and awareness with a great burst in zone (great fit as a zone defender with excellent eyes reading the quarterback), and flashes elite ball skills. He excels with his back to the pass displaying excellent awareness and a high football IQ consistently making plays on the ball remarkably judging the ball in the air with precision. Meeks is a sound cover corner and is solid in run support (good open-filled tackler) with a physical demeanor hitting with explosion.
Stanford's draft-eligible prospects to keep an eye on:
FB Daniel Marx, No. 35
OT/OG David Bright, No. 64
DT Harrison Phillips, No. 66
OLB Peter Kalambayi, No. 34
**QB Sam Darnold, No. 14, 6'4" - 220 lbs., 4.74 40 - (1st)
*RB Ronald Jones II, No. 25, 6'0" - 205 lbs., 4.42 40 - (2nd)
*WR Deontay Burnett, No. 80, 6'0" - 170 lbs., 4.43 40 - (3rd)
WR Steven Mitchell Jr., No. 4, 5’10 - 195 lbs., 4.58 40 - (7th-UDFA)
+OG Viane Talamaivao, No. 60, 6'2" - 325 lbs., 5.47 40 - (5th-6th) out for the year torn pectoral muscle 10/4/17.
C Nico Falah, No. 74, 6'4" - 285 lbs., 4.96 40 - (7th)
*DE Rasheem Green, No. 94, 6'4" - 275 lbs., 4.93 40 - (4th)
DT Josh Fatu, No. 98, 6'2" - 315 lbs., 5.34 40 - (7th-UDFA)
OLB Uchenna Nwosu, No. 42, 6'2" - 240 lbs., 4.77 40 - (4th)
+*OLB Porter Gustin, No. 45, 6'5" - 255 lbs., 4.80 40 - (4th) out several games with broken toe.
ILB Olajuwon Tucker, No. 34, 6'3" - 220 lbs., - (UDFA)
ILB Christian Herrera, No. 52, 6'1" - 210 lbs., - (UDFA)
*CB Iman Marshall, No. 8, 6'1" - 205 lbs., 4.53 40 - (4th)
FS Matt Lopes, No. 37, 5'11" - 200 lbs., - (UDFA)
SS Chris Hawkins, No. 4, 5'11" - 190 lbs., 4.48 40 - (7th-UDFA)
**QB Sam Darnold, No. 14, is one of the top daft-eligible quarterback prospects out of the class and could be vying for the first selection of the 2018 NFL Draft. The former three sport (football, basketball, and baseball) high school star athlete displays incredible poise in the pocket and is a technician processing information efficiently operating in and out of the pocket. Darnold boasts excellent size and strength for the position with a big arm, great athleticism, and playmaking ability.
Although Darnold has a long delivery, the ball explodes out of his hands with tremendous force easily capable of attacking all three levels of the field showcasing skills as a natural passer with excellent zip driving the ball into tight windows and good intermediate to deep accuracy (needs more consistency). He also displays great touch, timing, anticipation, and ball placement; however, all aspects of these traits needs more consistency (needs to tighten mechanics and avoid throwing off balance).
With his eyes always downfield, Darnold displays great patience, toughness, and poise in the pocket utilizing his athleticism to move the pocket with quick feet, excellent vision, and awareness side-stepping and scrambling away from defenders always fighting to make the big play (capable of gaining big yards with his legs). A high character prospect with great leadership skills and has a strong work ethic, Darnold has shown flashes of confidence in his game, and the smarts and eagerness to improve his skill-set to succeed at the next level. He's a gamer.
*RB Ronald Jones II, No. 25, is a versatile explosive playmaker with tremendous quickness and speed becoming a dynamic threat in all facets of the game. The former high school track star (also ran track for USC in 2016) displays excellent instincts with sound vision and patience hitting the hole with impressive physicality (added 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason). Jones’ suddenness in traffic is mouth-watering showcasing terrific foot quickness and balance accelerating through his cuts (one cuts and vanishes) exploding eating up ground quickly.
Jones is a complete running back and is a home run threat whenever he touches the ball displaying great speed (gets to full speed in a hurry and separates), impressive hands as a receiver, and the elusiveness and agility with the added bulk to run with power behind his pads to step-out-of and bounce through tackles consistently. He is a versatile athlete easily capable of running inside and outside succeeding in both zone and gap schemes, but would excel in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme displaying the prototypical type of attributes thriving in a Shanahan’s system.
USC's draft-eligible prospects to keep an eye on:
*WR Deontay Burnett, No. 80
WR Steven Mitchell Jr., No. 4
C Nico Falah, No. 74
*DE Rasheem Green, No. 94
DT Josh Fatu, No. 98
OLB Uchenna Nwosu, No. 42
*CB Iman Marshall, No. 8
SS Chris Hawkins, No. 4
Player measurables courtesy of team pages. 40 times projected.