2017 NFL Draft Week 3 Risers and Fallers


Week 3 Risers and Fallers

Week 3 provided some stunning outcomes as far as team performances such as Louisville's 63-20 drubbing of No. 2 Florida State, FCS's North Dakota State's dramatic 23-21 upset win over No. 13 Iowa and California beating Texas as examples.  And as with the teams, individual players rose or fell with their performances for Week 3 with this article's emphasis for Risers being mainly on lesser known players.



1.  QUENTON NELSON - LG - 6-5 325 - SO - NOTRE DAME - Lost in the agonizing defeat of Notre Dame in its loss to Michigan State, which is their second loss of the year and thereby dashing any hope of a final four appearance, Nelson, although not exactly an unknown player, and being ranked No. 1 on my pre-season 2017 Position Draft Rankings, still doesn't get all of the acclaim that he deserves.  For instance the color analyst during the TV broadcast stated that LT Mike McGlinchey is the best OL on Notre Dame.  He was wrong because Quenton Nelson is not only the best OL on Notre Dame, he is the best offensive lineman in the country. In the loss to Michigan State Nelson put numerous Spartan players on the ground.  He is a mauler in the run game as he knocked down many and even pancaked some defenders and in pass blocking he stonewalled defenders at the line of scrimmage and even drove some into the ground.  Already my top OG, he will have a decision to make at the end of the season as to whether to turn pro or not.  Being only a redshirt sophomore will make the decision even harder.  But I have noted his ascent from the beginning to the end of 2015 whereby he improved immensely.  Then in the opening game loss to Texas this year I thought that he was outstanding with the exception that in the second overtime he gave up a sack which cost the Irish a chance for a TD. And continuing on to the Michigan State game where I thought that he was excellent.  From here on out to the end of the season the only thing that he can improve upon would maybe be consistency or to show that he can do it against all comers.  Since offensive guards are not usually a high draft priority, you would have to counter that thinking with the fact that he could be the best OG to come along in many years and a player that prior to this season ND Coach Brian Kelly described as a "rare, rare, rare football player" and he is playing like that now.  Being such a dominant player, a top 15 draft position is not out of the question as he is ready for the next level right now and would become a pillar on any offensive line that he becomes a part of.

2.  BRADLEY BOZEMAN - CENTER - 6-5 312 - JR - ALABAMA - Replacing an All-American and Cincinnati Bengal 1st Round draft choice and leader on a national championship team isn't an easy task, but this former 4 star recruit has filled in admirably for Ryan Kelly and is establishing himself as a draft prospect.  Not many will rate as high as Kelly but Bozeman, who has seen little playing time in the past, has some quickness, balance and strength and is seldom beaten.

3.  TYLER O'CONNOR - QB - 6-3 225 - SR - MICHIGAN STATE - Having sat behind Connor Cook for three years, O'Connor finally got his chance and has performed well.  His 19-26-73.1%-241yds.-2TD-1I performance in the win against Notre Dame was classic in what O'Connor brings to the table. Being a distinguished scholar in the classroom carries over to the football field as he could be described as a game manager by utilizing the run game to set up pass plays and limiting mistakes.  He has a good arm and delivery and could fit into Bill Bellichick's criteria for a QB for being accurate and making good decisions.  At this time Tyler is probably thought of as more of a backup possibility in the NFL.  But when you consider the career of Trevor Siemian, one can never be certain.  Former Michigan State QBs have served mostly in backup roles in the NFL.  Connor Cook was drafted in 2016 by the Raiders in the 4th Round and is now a backup to Derek Carr, but may one day get a starting shot most probably with another team.  Kirk Cousins drafted by Washington in 2013 also in the 4th Round has become the starter, but is drawing criticism for his performance so far this year.  Drew Stanton was drafted in the 2nd Round in 2007 by Washington and is now a backup in Arizona, while Brian Hoyer in 2009 went undrafted, was signed by New England and is now a backup with the Bears.  The most famous QB from Michigan State who served in a backup role was Earl Morrall, who was the 2nd player drafted in the 1st Round by the 49ers in 1956 but became famous for his roles in substituting for the immortal Johnny Unitas in the 1969 Super Bowl loss to Joe Namath and the Jets and then two years later, again substituting for Unitas and was the winning QB in the Super Bowl.  Then he went on to Miami where he substituted for the great Bob Griese and became MVP in the NFL for the 1972 season.


4.  NOAH BROWN - WR - 6-2 222 - SO - OHIO STATE - After sitting out the 2015 season with an injury, Brown broke out in Norman, Oklahoma against the Sooners with 5 receptions for 72 yards and 4 TDs, including one where he reached around the DB and pinned the ball against the DB for a TD catch.  A highly rated player out of high school, he is becoming the go to guy for QB J.T. Barrett, who also has gotten off to a good start.



1.  JUJU SMITH-SCHUSTER - WR - 6-2 220 - JR - USC - The No. 1 rated WR on most 2017 draft lists has gotten off to a slow start.  That high rating was based upon his size, speed, athleticism and production (2015 stat line of 89-1454-16.3-10TD-75L while playing with a broken hand).  In USC's highly anticipated first game matchup against Alabama he was held to 1 catch for 9 yards.  In his second game against Utah State he went 7-56-8.0-2TD-15L and this last weekend against Stanford was held to 3-34-11.3-0TD-23L.  Even though starting QB Cody Kessler has moved on to the Cleveland Browns, this is a dramatic drop off.

2.  DALVIN COOK - RB - 5-11 206 - JR - FLORIDA STATE - The expectations were that he would have a monster year and be a Heisman Trophy candidate, but he has yet to get on track and in the first three games has yet to rush for 100 yards in a single game and in the 63 to 20 debacle in Louisville he was held to 54 yards on 16 carries.

3.  SETH RUSSELL - QB - 6-3 220 - SR - BAYLOR - Having recovered from a serious neck injury from which he said he could have died, Russell's line of 22-38-337-3TDs-1I against an inferior Rice team was fair enough, but he didn't seem to have the sharpness, speed and strength that he exhibited before the injury.  This can change as the season progresses and he gains more strength and confidence, but for now he has not improved his draft stock.

4.  RICK LEONARD - RT - 6-6 281 - JR - FLORIDA STATE – Leonard is a player that I wrote up last week as having a lot of promise and that showed just why a player has to be seen more than once.  But he is not alone as the whole Florida State team got its comeuppance and in its blowout loss to Louisville.  Leonard is a recent convert to OT from DE and after showing promise against Ole Miss, the Louisville game revealed that he would have to improve his footwork, kick-slide and knee bend to improve his draft ranking.

5.  ETHAN POCIC - CENTER - 6-6 309 - SR - LSU - The pre-season top rated center on many boards, he is returning from hip surgery and hasn't looked the same.  In the past it was thought that his 6-6 frame might be a problem at center because his long legs might limit him in gaining leverage, but he was able to perform at a high level.  But this year gaining leverage has been somewhat of an issue along with his overall quickness and hip roll.  It may be that he isn't fully recovered from the surgery so his progress will be closely monitored for the rest of this season and throughout the draft process.  I would have liked to see if he could play LT because of his length and that may be a possibility at the Senior Bowl and in individual workouts.  He has had some experience at guard. 

6.  IOWA'S OFFENSIVE LINE - With North Dakota State's stunning upset of 13th ranked Iowa, in which Iowa gained just 34 yards rushing on 25 carries, the offensive line would have to be the culprit in such a poor performance.  I realize that starting RG Sean Welsh and starting C James Daniels were out for this game and that they did not have their full rotation at RB, but 1.36 yards per carry is still pathetic.  



JAMES WASHINGTON - WR - OKLAHOMA STATE – has always been a deep threat, which he proved again this week by making deep reception after deep reception against Pitt.  QB Mason Rudolph was the one who delivered those deep passes.                                                       

SEFO LIUFAU - QB - COLORADO - threw the ball well in a losing effort against Michigan in the Big House and had the Wolverines on their heels for a while, but an ankle injury in the 3rd quarter forced him to miss the rest of the game.             

RYAN FINLEY - QB - N.C. STATE - written up as a Riser last week, he continued with an outstanding performance against Old Dominion.                                                                                  

DAVIS WEBB - QB - CALIFORNIA - who lost the starting QB job at Texas Tech before transferring to California has had three impressive outings topped with the upset win against Texas and has definitely risen up draft boards.  WR Chad Hansen written up as a Riser last week as Webb's go to guy also continued his outstanding play with 12 receptions against Texas, which follow his first two games of 14 and 14 receptions.  After three games his stat line is 40-546-5TDs.  Project those numbers out for 12 or 13 games and he will be an All-American.                                                                                                                                 

PARKER COLLINS - C - APPALACHIAN STATE -  a Riser by me after Week 1, Collins held his own in a blowout loss to Miami.  Described as feisty by the broadcasters, he was that while still showing his quickness, balance and ability to adjust.                                                                      

ISAIAH McKENZIE - WR - GEORGIA - another Riser after Week 1, he is emerging as a star with a 10-122-2TD performance against Missouri along with running for another TD.  After three games he already has more receiving yards than in his first two years combined.  Big plays are also a part of his emergence.  It should be noted that his first two years were limited by hamstring injuries.  His versatility is an asset as he is also a dangerous return man.                   

JOSH MALONE - WR - TENNESSEE -  While the Volunteers are 3-0 in unimpressive fashion, this 5 star recruit has finally stepped up and established himself as a deep threat and go to receiver who makes big plays.  The big test comes this week when the Volunteers host Florida and the Gators vaunted defense and a team that Tennessee has had little success against in recent years.              

LUKAYUS McNEIL and GERON CHRISTIAN - RT and LT for Louisville played a role in the 63-20 demolition of Florida State.  McNeil is a redshirt sophomore who is 6-6 and 313 pounds and played well against the Seminoles. He is coming on while Geron Christian is only a sophomore and will be a high draft choice when he becomes eligible for the draft.