Greetings 49er Faithful! We are back with our breakdown of college football's Week 5 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.
With the future of the 49ers' quarterback position still up in the air, we'll start things off covering two quarterbacks in tonight's match-up pitting No. 5 USC vs. No. 16 Washington State. So, sit back, put your scouting hat on, and let's get things started with Week 5.
* = indicates junior status
** = indicates redshirt sophomore status
+ = injury status
No. 5 USC at No. 16 Washington State
Time: 7:30 PM PST
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
**QB Sam Darnold, No. 14, 6'4" - 220 lbs., 4.74 40 - (1st)
*RB Ronald Jones II, No. 25, 6'0" - 200 lbs., 4.49 40 - (2nd)
*WR Deontay Burnett, No. 80, 6'0" - 170 lbs., 4.43 40 - (3rd)
OG Viane Talamaivao, No. 60, 6'2" - 325 lbs., 5.47 40 - (6th-7th)
C Nico Falah, No. 74, 6'4" - 285 lbs., 4.96 40 - (6th)
*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)
DT Kenny Bigelow, No. 95, 6'3" - 300 lbs., 5.00 40 - (UDFA)
OLB Uchenna Nwosu, No. 42, 6'2" - 240 lbs., 4.77 40 - (4th-5th)
*OLB Porter Gustin, No. 45, 6'5" - 255 lbs., 4.80 40 - (4th)
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 - (2nd)
*FS Marvell Tell, No. 7, 6'2" - 195 lbs., 4.57 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 arguably the top daft-eligible quarterback prospect out of the class and potentially 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 boasts confidence in his game and the smarts and eagerness to improve his skill-set to succeed at the next level. He's a gamer.
USC's draft-eligible prospects to keep an eye on:
*RB Ronald Jones II, No. 25
*WR Deontay Burnett, No. 80
OG Viane Talamaivao, No. 60
C Nico Falah, No. 74
*DE Rasheem Green, No. 94
DT Josh Fatu, No. 98
OLB Uchenna Nwosu, No. 42
*OLB Porter Gustin, No. 45
*CB Iman Marshall, No. 8
*FS Marvell Tell, No. 7
SS Chris Hawkins, No. 4
QB Luke Falk, No. 4, 6'4" - 225 lbs., 4.87 40 - (2nd)
RB Jamal Morrow, No. 25, 5'9" - 201 lbs., - (7th-UDFA)
RB Gerard Wicks, No. 23, 6'0" - 227 lbs., 4.59 40 - (UDFA)
WR CJ Dimry, No. 88, 6'5" - 201 lbs., - (UDFA)
OT Cole Madison, No. 61, 6'5" - 315 lbs., 5.17 40 - (6th-7th)
OG Cody O'Connell, No. 76, 6'8" - 354 lbs., 5.56 40 - (5th)
*DE Hercules Mata'afa, No. 50, 6'2" - 255 lbs., 4.75 40 - (6th)
DT Daniel Ekuale, No. 90, 6'3" - 290 lbs., - (UDFA)
OLB Frankie Luvu, No. 51, 6'2" - 230 lbs., - (UDFA)
+ILB Peyton Pelluer, No. 47, 6'0" - 235 lbs., 4.83 40 (7th-UDFA) out for the year with broken foot on 9/16/17.
ILB Isaac Dotson, No. 31, 6'1" - 224 lbs., 4.69 40 - (UDFA)
ILB Nate DeRider, No. 54, 6'1" - 226 lbs., - (UDFA)
CB Marcellus Pippins, No. 21, 5'10" - 175 lbs., - (UDFA)
CB Kirkland Parker, No. 10, 6'1" - 185 lbs., - (UDFA)
FS Robert Taylor, No. 2, 5'10" - 180 lbs., - (UDFA)
K Erik Powell, No. 46, 6'1" - 195 lbs., - (UDFA)
QB Luke Falk, No. 4, is a former walk-on prospect that has quickly become one of the most accurate passers in college football. The lanky Falk thrives in the quarterback friendly "Air Raid" offense boasting a strong arm capable of making all NFL throws and navigates well around the pocket with tremendous poise and good decision making. Although he dominates operating in a clean pocket (a luxury in the NFL), I love the subtle steps he uses to maneuver and climb constantly keeping his eyes down the field reading progressions across all parts of the field (not a one-read QB) with no pause in the pocket displaying great awareness, pocket presence, and feel.
Falk has a compact release with a nice snap of the wrist getting the ball out quick with tremendous pinpoint accuracy (accuracy his one of his best assets) and a quality zip on the ball with good ball placement. Needs more consistency with his downfield game lacking the necessary velocity on deep throws putting too much air under the ball allowing defenses to adjust and cleanly attack the football. Not a true dual threat, but does have decent mobility to escape.
Operating exclusively from the shotgun, Falk will need to learn to operate under center at the next level. Although coming from a high producing college offense inflating eye popping numbers, Falk possesses enough traits and intangibles that will project success at the next level, and with his workman-like intensive film study routine always eager to improve his game, he possess the necessary capacity to improve, which will bode well for his success at the next level.
Washington State's draft-eligible prospects to keep an eye on:
RB Jamal Morrow, No. 25
OT Cole Madison, No. 61
OG Cody O'Connell, No. 76
*DE Hercules Mata'afa, No. 50
Player measurables courtesy of team pages. 40 times projected.