2018 NFL draft prospect watch: ACC, Big Ten titles on the line

usa-jerome-baker-troy-kc-mcdermott-dorian-odaniel.jpg
USA Today Images

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: ACC, Big Ten titles on the line

The stakes are high for tonight's ACC and Big Ten title games.

There will be plenty of NFL talent on the field that can help the 10-1 Eagles next season.

Here are eight prospects to watch.

No. 7 Miami at No. 1 Clemson - 8 p.m., ABC
No. 52 - Kc McDermott, OL, Miami, senior (6-7/300)
McDermott has spent a lot of time on the interior of the Hurricanes' line but has excelled this season as the team's left tackle. He was named to the All-ACC third team and has started 32 consecutive games. There's nothing flashy to McDermott, but he's long and aggressive and always seem to be under control and in the proper position.

No. 7 - Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami, junior (6-3/312)
Norton has been an extremely disruptive run defender for Miami. He had 10 tackles for a loss last season and has 6 1/2 more this season. He has just five career sacks, but his athleticism for his size leads you to believe there could be more pass rushing potential there. 

No. 34 - Kendall Joseph, LB, Clemson, junior (6-0/225)
Jim Schwartz loves him a thumper and Joseph certainly fits that bill. As a sophomore last season, Joseph had a 106 tackles (11 1/2 for a loss), four sacks and an interception. While the numbers may not stand out as much this season, Joseph is still making a huge impact on the Tigers' D.

No. 6 - Dorian O'Daniel, LB, Clemson, senior (6-1/220)
O'Daniel doesn't have the size of Joseph, but he's been just as disruptive. Playing on the outside, O'Daniel has 80 tackles this season (10 1/2 for a loss), five sacks and two interceptions. O'Daniel will likely excel as a weakside linebacker at the next level that is allowed to roam and attack the football, but he could stay on the strong side because of his coverage skills. 

No. 8 Ohio State at No. 4 Wisconsin - 8 p.m., FOX
No. 17 - Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State, junior (6-1/225)
As of right now, Baker is the cream of this linebacker crop. Baker is built like and has the aggressiveness of a 'backer, but has the eyes and coverage ability of a free safety. He'll likely test well and be out of the Eagles' range come draft time, but he'd look mighty good playing next to (a hopefully healthy) Jordan Hicks next season.

No. 25 - Mike Weber, RB, Ohio State, redshirt sophomore (5-10/214)
As a redshirt freshman last season, Weber ran for 1,096 yards. Impressively, he joined Robert Smith and Maurice Clarett as the only Buckeye freshmen to run for 1,000 yards. He's taken on less of a load this season but is still averaging 6.5 yards a carry and has 10 TDs. He also has 32 catches in his collegiate career. There's nothing flashy about Weber, but he's a solid back who could be worth a flyer in the middle rounds. 

No. 63 - Michael Deiter, OL, Wisconsin, junior (6-6/328)
Deiter's most impressive quality is his versatility. After redshirting his freshman season, Deiter has started at center, left guard and left tackle. Deiter has tremendous size but is also a pretty good athlete. He's likely getting looked at as a center and the experience will likely serve him at whatever position he plays at the next level.

No. 81 - Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin, senior (6-6/248)
Fumagalli doesn't have great numbers, but a big part of that is Wisconsin's run-heavy offense. Fumagalli is a big target with reliable hands. The Badgers' offense has also allowed him to show off his prowess as a run blocker. He may not have the flashy numbers or crazy measurables, but Fumagalli has the potential to be a real solid NFL tight end.

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Championship weekend is upon us

usa-anthony-miller-shaquem-griffin-travin-howard-orlando-brown.jpg
USA Today Images

2018 NFL draft prospect watch: Championship weekend is upon us

This is one of the best weeks of college football as several conferences hold their championship games.

The Eagles are sitting pretty at 10-1, but will certainly have an eye on a bunch of NFL draft prospects in action today.

Here are six players to watch in the early games.

No. 20 Memphis at No. 14 UCF - 12 p.m., ABC
No. 3 - Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis, senior (5-11/190)

Size obviously isn't Miller's strong point, but he is mighty explosive. After recording 1,434 yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore, Miller has 1,212 yards and another 14 TDs so far this season. He's also been dangerous as a runner and as a punt returner. He's a pure playmaker. Just get the ball in his hands and clear a path. 

No. 18 - Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF, senior (6-1/223)
Griffin is by far the coolest story in all of college football. A birth defect forced Griffin to have his left hand amputated at 4 years old. He hasn't let that stand in his way, winning AAC Defensive Player of the Year last season. He's stood out yet again this season, recording 56 total tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and an interception. If you haven't watched Griffin yet, make sure you tune in.
 

No. 11 TCU at No. 3 Oklahoma - 12:30 p.m., FOX
No. 78 - Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma, junior (6-8/345)

Brown is an enormous human, but don't be fooled by his appearance. He's actually an outstanding athlete. Brown weighed 415 pounds in high school, but has dropped the weight and was named the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year last season. He's likely a late first-round pick. He's an obvious mauler in the run game but has really improved as a pass protector.

No. 32 - Travin Howard, LB, TCU, senior (6-1/213)
Howard has been a tackling machine for TCU. While playing mostly safety as a sophomore, Howard recorded 107 tackles, then amassed 130 last year while transitioning to linebacker. He's missed the last two games with an injury (he's expected to play today), but still has 83 tackles on the season, including a 13-tackle game in the Hornfrog's lost to the Sooners a few weeks ago. He has a nose for the football and outstanding instincts.


No. 6 Georgia at No. 2 Auburn - 4 p.m., CBS
No. 3 - Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia, junior (6-1/225)
While the Bulldogs' running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are certainly worth keeping an eye on, Smith is the prospect that should most intrigue the Eagles. Smith has wreaked havoc this season, recording 100 tackles (8 1/2 for loss), and 4 1/2 sacks. He's a sideline-to-sideline ‘backer that always seems to be around the ball. He could certainly be an option late in the first round.

No. 71 - Braden Smith, OL, Auburn, senior (6-6/303)
Smith has a ton of experience playing in the loaded SEC. He's built like a tackle but has spent the majority of his collegiate career at guard. He made the All-SEC freshman team and was named to the All-SEC first team as a junior. Smith was part of an impressive effort by the Tigers' in their upset of Alabama last week. He'll face another stiff test against the Bulldogs this week.

Eagles Rookie Report: Rookies don't make big plays but make impact

ap-mack-hollins-eagles-bears.jpg
AP Images

Eagles Rookie Report: Rookies don't make big plays but make impact

The Eagles took care of business Sunday by beating the lowly Bears, 31-3, at the Linc (see breakdown).

In recent weeks, first-round pick Derek Barnett and undrafted running back Corey Clement have dominated this space. This week, the rookies weren't as impactful in the Eagles' convincing win.

Here are a few of the highlights from this week's rookie report.

2nd quarter, 11:04, 3rd-and-12 at CHI 20 - Eagles 7, Bears 0
Mack Hollins is lined up in the slot on this play against corner Prince Amukamara. Amukamara gets a hold of Hollins off the line, but the rookie receiver gets a nice release off the line and forces the veteran corner to grab hold on the post route. Carson Wentz overthrows this ball as a result of the hold, but the Eagles do get the call. This is why the Eagles like Hollins. He's a matchup nightmare with the size to beat small corners and the speed and quick feet to beat longer corners.

2nd quarter, 0:38, 3rd-and-5 at CHI 26 - Eagles 17, Bears 0
This wasn't pretty by Clement but it got the job done. Wentz is lined up in the shotgun with Clement to his left. A blitzer comes off the edge from the left clean, with only Clement standing in the way of Wentz. Clement gets pushed back but gets enough of the blitzer to allow Wentz to float the ball out to Torrey Smith. The ball falls incomplete, but the Eagles get a first down because of another hold against Amukamara on Smith (see Roob's observations).

2nd quarter, 0:27, 2nd-and-10 at CHI 21 - Eagles 17, Bears 0
Nothing fancy on this play. Wentz again is lined up in the shotgun with Clement lined up to his right. It's a three-receiver set with Zach Ertz as the only tight end on the field. Clearly the Bears are thinking pass with this formation and just 27 seconds left in the half. Instead, it's a straight handoff to Clement. The formation allows the Eagles to get 1-on-1 blocks all around, including center Jason Kelce getting to the second level to block a linebacker. Clement hits the hole with a good burst and nearly picks up a first down.

3rd quarter, 7:09, 1st-and-10 at PHI 37 - Eagles 24, Bears 3
This is excellent play design from Doug Pederson. Nelson Agholor is lined up to the right in the slot. He motions left to the other slot, then swings back for the fake on the jet sweep. All that motion affects the defense. Clement does an excellent job staying patient then runs a little bubble to the left. All Wentz has to do is float the ball over the defensive end's head. Clement secures the catch and finishes off the play, plowing into two Bears' defenders for the first down.

4th quarter, 2:22, 1st-and-10  at PHI 32 - Eagles 31, Bears 3
Cornerback Rasul Douglas has been relegated to backup duty since the return of Ronald Darby last week. On this play in garbage time, Douglas flashed what made the rookie a solid stand-in during the time Darby missed. Marcus Wheaton runs a 10-yard in. Douglas, playing off coverage, as usual, reads quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's eyes and makes a break on the football. Trubisky's throw is behind Wheaton, which allows Douglas to pick it off. Unfortunately, when Douglas rolls over, he bobbles the ball and it hits the ground. Upon review, it's overturned to an incompletion. But the choreographed Electric Slide/Remember the Titans tribute was excellent.

Analysis
Barnett certainly didn't play poorly. The rookie defensive end didn't have any "splash" plays but was disciplined and did have a couple nice rushes. But as we've pointed out all season, just because he's not getting sacks, doesn't mean Barnett isn't making an impact (see report card).

Clement continues to get reps and be steady in production. After rookie camp, running backs coach Duce Staley told Clement to lose weight, work on his pass catching and — most importantly — work on his pass protection. It's to a point now where Clement is easily the team's best back on third down. This is from a guy that went undrafted in large part because he wasn't effective in the passing game in Wisconsin. He finished with four carries for 27 yards and one catch for 12 yards.

It's fair to wonder if Hollins should see more reps over Smith. While Hollins has perhaps earned it, the formula has been working for Pederson at receiver. Smith has been catching the ball more consistently and provides a veteran presence. Hollins will get his reps and he has to keep capitalize. Hollins finished with two catches for 12 yards.