By Ricky Eisenbart, PSO Football Scouting Manager
Nov 24, 2019

Both the NFL and college football seasons are in full swing, but an unfortunate few NFL teams have already punted on 2019 (or are close to it). While many fans have the playoff race and all that follow it to look forward to, draft season is heating up early for those who’s favorite professional team is in the midst of a disappointing season. For those unfortunate fans, as well as NFL draft enthusiasts and college football fans alike, here are the Top Prospect Performers from Week 13 of College Football.

After jumping back into the CFP rankings this week following a win over Cal, USC needed a win over their crosstown rival to keep their slim Pac-12 Championship hopes alive. UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson led a valiant effort (367 yards, 3 TDs), but his defense had no answer for his counterpart, freshman QB Kedon Slovis, who became the first USC quarterback in history to surpass 500 passing yards in a single game. Slovis spread the ball all over the field and was in complete command of the offense, showing great accuracy on deep and intermediate throws as well as an ability to zip it through tight windows when he needed to.

He’s only a true freshman that has played in just 10 career games, so he needs a lot more seasoning before an accurate projection can be made, but Kedon Slovis could end up being the catalyst to a revival of USC football. Including outings against the stout Oregon and Notre Dame defenses, he has averaged 332 passing yards and thrown 19 touchdowns (just 5 interceptions) over his last 6 games, leading the Trojans to a 4-2 record. Hopefully knocking UCLA out of bowl contention and an 8-4 finish, a marked improvement from last year’s 5-7 campaign, will be enough to keep Clay Helton’s job, but regardless, the future looks bright for USC with a remarkable freshman quarterback and a high-powered offense.

Projection: 2022 1st round

In what became a defensive struggle, JK Dobbins turned in what might have been his most impressive performance of the season against the Nittany Lions’ 4th-ranked rush defense. His per-carry average wasn’t eye-popping and he did lose a fumble that allowed Penn State to creep back into the game, but the Buckeyes were able to lean on Dobbins late to burn the clock and carry them through the finish line. 

Dobbins is a powerful runner who is surprisingly nimble and agile for his size (5’10”, 220 pounds). His cuts and jukes are fluid despite a thick build and he’s shown great vision in terms of finding cutback lanes and hitting the right hole. He has proven to be a reliable, if not dynamic receiver out of the backfield, as he is frequently used on screens and has caught over 60 passes in his 3 seasons. The main question surrounding Dobbins coming into this year was whether or not he could handle a full-time workload after splitting carries his first 2 seasons, but its safe to say he has effectively put that question to rest. This year’s draft class is loaded with running back talent, and Dobbins will have as strong a case as anyone to be the first one selected come April.

Projection: 2020 1st round

At 11-1 and ranked #6, Oregon was on the brink of a berth in the College Football Playoff if they could take care of business against Arizona State and then win the Pac-12 Championship against Utah. The Sun Devils, however, had other plans, as they had Justin Herbert and the Oregon offense out of sorts all game and took advantage when the opportunity presented itself. JuCo transfer Brandon Aiyuk sealed Arizona State’s biggest win of the season with an 81-yard touchdown catch-and-run with just under 4:00 to play, adding to what has already been a spectacular season for the senior speedster.

In his first season at Arizona State after transferring from Sierra College, Aiyuk was forced to take a backseat to eventual first-rounder K’Neal Harry as he adjusted to the FBS level. With plenty of targets to go around this year, Aiyuk has adequately filled the void Harry left and has proven that he’s more than deserving of a shot at the next level. He’s a deadly weapon in the open field and is just as likely to take a 3-yard slant to the house as a 20-yard post. His route-running could use some refinement, but he consistently shows flashes of brilliance with sharp cuts and effective body positioning. Aiyuk also provides additional value as a special teams stalwart, not only as a returner but also as a gunner on kick coverage. All things considered, Brandon Aiyuk is an immensely intriguing prospect that should be fun to keep an eye on as the draft process begins heating up, especially at the combine where his noted athleticism will be put on full display.

Projection: 2020 2nd/3rd round

With a dominant 3-sack performance in his return from suspension (in a key top-10 matchup, nonetheless), Chase Young has effectively cemented his status as the top overall prospect for this upcoming draft. He now has 16.5 sacks on the year, breaking the Ohio State single-season record set by Vernon Golston in 2007 (14) in just nine games. Ohio State will play at least 3 more games, which means Young could make a serious run at Terrell Suggs’ FBS record of 24 sacks in a season.

Chase Young is about as complete a prospect as they come: athleticism, intelligence, high effort, versatility, and the FBS production to back it all up. He will produce at an extremely high level in nearly any defensive scheme, but his ideal fit would be as a 4-3 defensive end. Young is more than capable of pinning his ears back and firing off from a two-point stance as an outside linebacker, but his combination of speed-rushing ability, and strength in the run game make for an irresistible defensive end prospect. Where he is ultimately selected will depend heavily on the quarterback market (as always), but barring any unforeseen circumstances, there is absolutely no chance Chase Young falls out of the top-5, if even the top-3. He is a certified game wrecker at a premium position coming from an elite program, the only question is how quickly can he grasp an NFL defense like fellow Ohio State EDGE Nick Bosa has already shown the ability to do.

Projection: 2020 Top-3 Pick

Despite an early 21-0 deficit, Penn State was able to pull within one score of the Buckeyes due to their opportunistic defense, which forced fumbles by JK Dobbins and Justin Fields on back-to-back drives in the 2nd quarter. Leading the charge with 2 of the team’s 3 sacks was junior EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos. His performance might have been overshadowed by the return of Chase Young, but Gross-Matos was nearly as dominant, making plays all over the field and several in the backfield.

Gross-Matos is a dynamic athlete with an impressive frame (6’5″, 270 pounds) and ideal length, which he has learned to use to his advantage with consistent production. Despite his height, he is able to keep a low pad level and use his long arms to play with great extension and win at first contact. He gains a lot of ground within his first few steps and can bend around the outside hip of offensive tackles, but he has shown an undesirable tendency to over pursue upfield at times and leave rushing lanes open. He has a great motor, as a good portion of his plays can be attributed to pure effort alone. His polish as a pass rusher paired with an ability to win at first contact, great acceleration, and flexibility give all the signs of a first-round prospect. Yetur Gross-Matos is more than just a feel-good story at this point, he has evolved from a raw athlete into one of college football’s most prolific pass-rushers.  

Projection: 2020 Late-1st round

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