The Scouting Notebook #1
As part of a new series here on The Touchdown, we will be taking a weekly look at the up and coming prospects in college football. As Rory-Joe Daniels turns on the tape over the summer he will give you the lowdown on some of the highly rated prospects and also some of the lesser known names ahead of the 2020 College Football season.
Making The Leap
The quarterback battle at the top of the 2021 Draft Class has been well documented. Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Trey Lance have all come under the microscope as scouts turn the page to this year’s prospects. One of the more intriguing battles to me comes from two QBs based in Texas.
Both Kellen Mond at Texas A&M and Sam Ehlinger at Texas have made headlines in the college game but question marks remain over whether they are ready for the next level. Both will be looking for a strong campaign to catapult themselves into the second tier behind the names already mentioned.
As of now, I have Ehlinger and Mond in the same ballpark. Intriguing guys with undeniable talent who need to iron out inconsistencies to be considered legitimate NFL prospects. Mond currently edges the battle.
He appears to be a more natural athlete with more zip to his passing. The biggest stumbling block for him has been when faced with elite opposition. He dipped under the completion percentage watermark of 60% in five games last year. Four of those opponents were Georgia, Clemson, Alabama and LSU. In the SEC, A&M face plenty of tough competition and Mond must prove he can survive when the pressure is on.
Meanwhile Ehlinger appears to thrive under the spotlight. He has a fearless mentality that can at times get him into trouble. That attitude is what makes the Longhorns tick but his game needs to catch up. There are too many mental errors and misses for Ehlinger to be considered an upper tier prospect.
In Michigan transfer Tarik Black, Ehlinger will have a legitimate speedster on his offense. While the loss of the towering Collin Johnson and safety blanket slot receiver Devin Duvernay will be a blow. There is still plenty of talent on the roster to help propel the Texas QB’s stock.
Big Cleats To Fill
Mac Jones will likely be Alabama’s starting quarterback when College Football begins, whenever that may be. Having backed up Tua Tagovailoa last year, Jones saw limited action with mixed results. The key for Jones, is that he will be surrounded by bags of talent in the Crimson Tide offense.
Prior to Tagovailoa, Bama hasn’t been blessed with top tier QBs but functionality at the position was enough paired with a bunch of talented receivers and a physical run game. AJ McCarron and Greg McElroy are examples of how Alabama has had success with average talent at signal caller.
Watching Jones vs Arkansas it is clear that while having decent arm talent there is a significant drop off from the QB play the team has been used to. Expect plenty of short throws with the likes of Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith expected to get plenty of yards after the catch. WIth a stacked group of running backs and a solid offensive line, the first line of attack will be through the rush.
That’s not to say Jones can’t make deep throws. He appeared to settle into the job once they got to the bowl game vs Michigan completing 16/25, for 327 yards and three touchdowns including this early strike to Jerry Jeudy.
Missing out on the playoffs will have stung Alabama last year. They will be desperate to right that and if Jones struggles early, they do have one of the highest rated freshmen at the position. Bryce Young was a force at Mater Dei high school. Showing off a strong arm along with rushing ability. Jones may be able to make this Bama offense work but the pressure will be on with such a promising player waiting in the wings.
Resurrection Led By Defense
Two years with a losing record is a big problem for a power house like Florida State. The hiring of Mike Norvell should help to make an offense that was hampered by its poor trench play become more productive. However, in terms of NFL talent, many teams will be keying into the Seminoles defense come the fall.
Headlining the group will be defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. It would be of no surprise if his trajectory follows the same path as recent first rounder Derrick Brown. Like Brown, Wilson has a high motor and the ability to push the pocket from the inside. A monster of a man he will face plenty of double and triple teams this year. Even so, expect him to continue making waves at this level.
In the secondary, Asante Samuel Jr is an ascending talent. At 5’10, Samuel is slightly undersized but his polish and man coverage ability is clear on tape. He will be looking to add the splash plays that get the national recognition. If he can do that, he should follow his father’s footsteps and be a long time starter in the pros.
Finally, at safety Hamsah Nasirildeen is a hard-hitting playmaker. Nasirildeen makes hay coming downhill. He is a fantastic wrap-up tackler with elite speed. Nasirildeen has a slender 6’4 frame and despite his ferocity when tackling, his slim build means he can get bullied when brought closer to the line of scrimmage.
As of now, that would give me reservations over a full time conversion to linebacker, as has been muted. Currently operating as a single high safety or part of a deep lying safety tandem, Nasirildeen needs to show off his ability to cover as well as bulk up to realise his full potential.
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com.