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The midseason review

10/10/2013
Clemson's Sammy Watkins has stood apart from other top prospects this season. Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This weekend will mark the halfway way point of the college football season. Through the first half of the season I’ve been able to attend eight games while getting a close look at 13 different teams. From an evaluation standpoint, the coaches copy tape always carries the most value. However, being able to scout players live also adds important pieces to the puzzle such as a body types, leadership qualities as well as understanding the surrounding variables at particular points during games.

Below are the slate of games I attended and a few prospects who have caught my eye this season.

SCHEDULE

North Carolina at South Carolina

Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)

Vanderbilt at South Carolina

Clemson at NC State

Pitt at Duke

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

LSU at Georgia

Georgia at Tennessee

Three Prospects Who Have Lived Up to the Hype

Clemson WR Sammy Watkins (6-0½, 205)

Watkins possesses a thick and muscular lower half and very strong hands to pluck the ball away from frame. He explodes out of cuts and his strength and acceleration as a runner makes him arguably the biggest playmaker in this year's wide receiver class.

Alabama ILB C.J. Mosley (6-2⅜, 228)

Mosley has a compact frame and presents a lot of versatility to affect games in multiple ways. The most noticeable qualities are his ability to play in tight quarters and his exceptional closing burst which gives him excellent range. Mosley’s play has warranted the first-round grade he received during preseason evaluations.

North Carolina TE Eric Ebron (6-4⅛, 231)

Ebron has clearly added weight and had a much bigger frame than I anticipated. He is a matchup nightmare in the passing game. There is also a lot to like about his toughness in traffic and he is an underrated run blocker. Ebron should be one of the top tight ends off the board.

Three Players Who Have Exceeded Expectations

LSU QB Zach Mettenberger (6-5¼, 242)

I was not a fan of Mettenberger heading into the year but it’s hard to ignore the improvement he’s shown since last season. I was most impressed with his ability to deliver several times in high-pressure situations on the road against Georgia. He has an ideal frame and one of the strongest arms in the country. Mettenberger’s lack of ideal mobility is still worrisome but his stock is certainly on the rise.

Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller (5-11½, 189)

Fuller turned in the best individual defensive performance against Alabama that I’ve seen so far. He has the versatility to contribute in multiple roles and brings added value as a strong special teams contributor. Fuller isn't the biggest or the fastest, but he is the type of player a team can win with at the next level.

Georgia QB Aaron Murray (6-0⅞, 206)

In the past two weeks, I was able to witness both of Murray’s clutch performances in leading his team to victory. He has natural field presence and a strong understanding for situational football, especially in the two-minute drill. Murray lacks ideal measureables, but he is efficient getting through progressions and gets the ball out quickly with above-average accuracy. He also has a stronger arm than given credit for.

Three Players that Have Underwhelmed

North Carolina QB Bryn Renner (6-2¼, 219)

Renner lacks ideal mobility and arm strength, and it was noticeable against South Carolina as he struggled to get adequate zip on throws outside the hashes. What concerned me most, however, was his inability to capitalize on several opportunities when his team needed a big play on the road.

LSU DT Anthony Johnson (6-2¼, 300)

Johnson is the highest-rated prospect along an LSU defensive line who has been disappointing to start the year. Johnson certainly looks the part and flashes raw power and quickness at times. However, he has played with inconsistent pad level, effort and has struggled getting off blocks when locked in a phone booth.

UNC DE Kareem Martin (6-5¼, 262)

Martin has ideal measureables, but has a smooth muscle tone and lacks quick-twitch athleticism. Martin is adequate at setting the edge against the run but his lack of quickness and explosiveness as a pass-rusher was exposed against the size and length of the South Carolina tackles.

Three Players Emerging for the Future (Non-draft eligible)

South Carolina RB Mike Davis (5-9, 215)

The true sophomore has an excellent skill set that includes power, balance, elusiveness and an extra gear to run away from pursuit. He also brings versatility as a pass catcher and adds depth to what should be an outstanding 2015 SEC running back crop.

Pitt WR Tyler Boyd (6-2, 185)

Boyd is a silky-smooth athlete who has broken onto the scene. The true freshman has the top-end speed to create separation and has a knack for making highlight reel catches with exceptional body control.

Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd (6-4, 220)

Floyd flashes a lot of upside with length, flexibility and an exceptional closing burst. The true freshman has the potential to develop into an impact pass-rusher as his frame develops and he continues to add bulk and strength.