2017 NFL Draft Week 6 Risers and Fallers (Part 2)


In what turned out to be a weekend of many players performing at a high level, I felt that a follow up was needed to highlight more of the outstanding performances from the lesser known players who deserve attention.


1.  ALVIN KAMARA - RB - 5-10 215 - JRr - TENNESSEE - backup RB to starter Jalen Hurd, Kamara got his chance to shine as Hurd was out with an injury and Kamara turned in one of the better performances of the year.  Undefeated Tennessee suffered its first loss to undefeated Texas A&M in a thrilling 45 - 38 double overtime game wherein Kamara rushed for 137 yards on 18 carries for 7.1 yards per rush and 2 TDs and added 8 receptions for another 161 yards and a 20.1 average per catch and 1 TD.  This was in addition to his duties as a punt returner.  His play has led some to claim that he is a better RB that starter Jalen Hurd as he has better acceleration through the hole, is a tremendous pass receiver (although Hurd is a good receiver also) and has better run ability after the catch.  Kamara is also better with yards after contact (YACS).  Since Hurd is a junior and Kamara a redshirt junior, it will be interesting to see if one or both declare early for the draft and, if they both do, which one will be drafted first.  Next up is Alabama and if Kamara can approximate this performance against the Crimson Tide, he would be the first one drafted.

2.  OGBONNIA OKORONKWO - OLB - 6-1 238 - JRr - OKLAHOMA - In the 45 - 40 win over Texas, the Sooners needed someone to step up as they were missing some starters on defense and "OBO" was one who did.  Having bided his time behind all-star Erik Striker in the past and with the coaches predicting a breakout season for "OBO" he is on his way as he had 5 solo tackles, 6 assists, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and many pressures with one pressure leading to a hurried pass and interception.  Another time he dropped back in pass coverage and took away the Longhorns first option on a key down which led to a throwaway.  He is emerging as a force as an edge rusher in the Okies defense and is definitely on the rise as an NFL prospect.

3.  JORDAN THOMAS - CB - 6-0 187 - JR. - OKLAHOMA - in addition to "OBO" the Sooners had another who stepped up his game against the Longhorns aerial assault led by their freshman QB sensation Steve Buechele.  Not an unknown, as Thomas was a pre-season All-Conference selection, he had gotten off to a rocky start this year and even got toasted in this contest.  But he had 4 passes broken up in the first half alone, two of which were truly outstanding and prevented TDs.  Another time Texas had a quick out pass and one blocker with Thomas being the lone defender and he used his quickness to beat the block and tackle the receiver for a loss.

4.  FRANK RAGNOW - CENTER - 6-5 314 - JR. - ARKANSAS - after having started all 13 games at right guard in 2015, he was switched to center for 2016.  But earlier this year he had to switch back to RG because of an injury and he was the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for that game.  Then switching back to center he had to overcome the death of his father earlier last week and there was a question of whether he would play against Alabama. And he did and performed very well in the loss.  Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded his performance at 82.1, which was one of its highest grades for all OL for the week.  What was impressive was that he had that high grade against what many consider the best DL in the country.  He also performed very well against Alabama last year while playing right guard.

5.  HERCULES  MATA'AFA - DE - 6-2 245 - Redshirt Sophomore - WASHINGTON STATE - in the 42 - 16 romp over previously ranked Stanford, Mata'afa proved to be a thorn in the side of the Stanford offense.  With 5 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and many pressures, he resembled highly rated Carl Lawson of Auburn as an edge rusher.  Only a SOr, he is unlikely to declare for the draft but he has become a force for the Cougars.  Unless considered only as a situational pass rushing DE by NFL scouts, he more than likely will become an edge rusher as an OLB and he does have the quickness and agility to play that position.

Others deserving of mention for their play last weekend are:  HAROLD LANDRY - DE from Boston College for his play against Clemson; MARQUEL LEE - MLB from Wake Forest, for his play against Syracuse; CORN ELDER - CB, from Miami, for his play against Florida State (a tremendous athlete he has really stepped up his game this year).  ZAY JONES - WR from East Carolina had 18 receptions last weekend for a total of 84 on the season; and KEN EKANEM - DE from Virginia Tech who created a lot of pressure against North Carolina in the Hokies upset win.