Blog written by Rodney Stokes (NFLMocks.com)
Earlier in the season there was a series of posts under the “Have You Heard Of” frame that featured 5 different players. We’re talking about Paxton Lynch, Jacoby Brissett, Alex Collins, C.J. Prosise and Joe Schobert. It’s getting towards bowl season and I wanted to do a season in review for the 5 players mentioned and see whether they’ve improved their visibility or find themselves in the hole.
When I first watched Paxton Lynch he was still a relative unknown. The 6′ 7 245 pound quarterback received his first big break when he and the Memphis Tigers took down rival Ole Miss on October 17th, the game featured 3 touchdowns through the air as well as nearly 400 yards receiving and an impressive 74% completion percentage for Lynch. It was then that he moved not only his team into the top 25 but moved himself into the conversation for being one of the top quarterbacks in the country. It was for about a month that he and the Memphis Tigers enjoyed the spotlight until they were caught looking ahead against Navy and lost a shootout to Houston. They would go on to lose a 3rd straight to Temple in which Paxton Lynch undoubtedly played his worst game of the season.
So where is he now? While 3 losses in a row can hurt anyone’s stock it hasn’t shifted much for Paxton. The one dynamic that’s begun to grow for Lynch is that the overall consensus on this years quarterback class is that nobody’s an outright franchise quarterback, yet. With his size and frame he’s arguably the quarterback with the most upside out of this years class and while the system he plays in is beneficial, his stats are among some of the safest in the country. With his rise to the top of draft boards and his team featured in the Top 25 at one point it’s safe to say that many now Have Heard Of Paxton Lynch.
Jacoby Brissett was one of the first players I took a good look at</a> and as I’ve watched more and more film on him he’s begun to grow on me. While he’s not a favorite amongst many draft analyst I believe that Brissett has the skills and drive to be the best quarterback in this class. I know, maybe I’m crazy but I see far too many things in his game that get me excited about him as a player. When I first profiled Brissett he was in the lighter portion of his schedule playing against teams like Old Dominion, Troy and Eastern Kentucky. Those are games in which he should look like an all-star and every season against lighter competition he has. He’s struggled primarily in the ACC but that’s not to say he isn’t doing everything he can to make it work. The numbers on Brissett don’t agree with anything I’m saying but if we could calculate the number of dropped passes by receivers over the past couple years I’m sure we’d be talking about this guy in the spotlight. In these next 2 clips I’ll show you the types of throws he can make while his receivers fail to come down with it.
The second pass is a perfect throw that the receiver had all the way to the ground until the defender ripped it out of his hands for an incompletion. These are the kind of throws that Brissett has made all year, even some of the less contested throws are straight drops. In the NFL, a league of former all-americans and team leaders many of the throws that Brissett makes are more than catchable.
So where is he now? Well at the moment he’s the 4th to 6th best quarterback on most people’s big board. His numbers are identical to last year and his team is struggling so his stock has neither risen or taken a dive. Jacoby is in the same position that I found him in, so unless you’re attending NC State many people have not heard of him.
Alex Collins has been a steady name in the SEC throughout the last couple years. However some guys play on better teams, have incredible physical traits or their numbers are outrageous when you check the stat sheet. I liked Collins because he’s a guy who isn’t going to blow you away in any of those categories but he’s a guy who shows up every week and gets the job done. In fact only behind Heisman hopeful Derrick Henry and Heisman snub Leonard Fournette, Alex Collins ranks 3rd in the SEC in both rushing yards and touchdowns. He’s the type of running back that isn’t going to run anything over a 4.5 but when he puts his head down he’ll make sure to grab 4-5.
In the article I wrote on him earlier in the season, I made comparisons to Marion Barber, Chris Ivory and Marshawn Lynch. It’s not a dreadlocks comparison more than it is a gritty-hard-nosed-running-style comparison although there seems to be a trend when it comes to dreadlocks and power backs (I.E. Steven Jackson & Legarrette Blount). In every game that the Razorbacks won this season Collins contributed at least 100 yards and averaged 6.5 yards per carry in those games. I questioned his ability as a receiver when I first wrote about him but he’s quieted some of those thoughts as he had 13 receptions on the year for 95 yards bringing his career total to 27 catches for 167 yards. Those aren’t great numbers by any means but can he be a 3 down back in the NFL? Yes.
For most prospects the combine can make or break them but Collins is the true definition of a football player by his style of play. While a slow 40 time could impact a few coaches decisions I don’t expect him to slip past the 3rd or 4th round at the latest. Unless you’re a draft analyst or an SEC enthusiast Alex Collins isn’t going to come up in conversation, in fact I’ve been in multiple talks in which people completely skip over him as a running back prospect simply because he hasn’t received enough publicity. With that many people, Have NOT Heard of Alex Collins, but they should and they will.
C.J. Prosise was a guy who sparingly played the running back position in 2014 after being used primarily as a receiver. In 2015 he was asked to switch to running back full time and he didn’t disappoint, in his first 4 games as a true collegiate running back Prosise racked up 600 yards while averaging an outstanding 8.1 yards per carry over that time. Since then however he’s racked up just 2 games of over 100 yards and failed to surpass 50 yards in games against Clemson, Temple and Pittsburgh. A concussion took him out of the Pittsbrugh game after only 8 carries and held him on the sidelines for Wake Forest. He would return but only to suffer an ankle injury against Boston College after his 8th carry again.
So what does he bring to the table as a running back? Well if he can get past his 8th carry Prosise is the type of all around back that NFL teams are looking for. Being a versed offensive weapon means that an NFL team can place you anywhere on the field and get production. Prosise having the background of wide receiver and safety knows what it takes to get open down the field and how to find the soft spots in the defense.
In his career Prosise has accumulated 896 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns coming out of the backfield and in his one season as a receiver. I know I’ve talked a lot about what he can do as a receiver so let’s tap into his rushing ability. Anyone who can put up a large yards per carry average is doing something right and Prosise is the type of back who finds a seam and hits it. At 6’1 220 he has the size to be a bruiser but plays in a more finesse style which works for him. In the piece I wrote on him earlier in the season I made a reference to how he reminded me a lot of Arian Foster. I’m going to change that a bit and say Matt Forte because he has all the tools to be a guy who goes for 1000 yards rushing and 400 yards receiving in a 16 game season. If not for his injuries Prosise would’ve been a candidate to win the Doak Walker award and various other hardware amongst his peers. I currently have him ranked as the 4th best running back in the draft, his combine times and versatility should keep him in the 3rd to 4th round range.
At one time Joe Schobert was battling to be the top dog in sacks for the year. Him and Carl Nassib were neck and neck and it seemed like any week one would top the other. I don’t know if my article brought bad luck to but after his top end 9.5 sacks through 7 games he failed to register even half a sack in his final 5 contests. That’s not to say that Schobert hasn’t been playing well or less involved, he just wasn’t quite as on fire as he was to start the season. Regardless though, Schobert was named as a First Team All-American by the FWAA, and will look to continue his dominance at the next level. When I first wrote on Schobert he was a mildly known prospect out of Wisconsin playing behind future draft pick Vince Biegel who ended with 8 sacks himself. He was a solid linebacker in 2014 but didn’t have any eye popping stats that get you excited. One thing I do love about Schobert is that he’s a solid, disciplined tackler, like many linebackers before him that ventured out of Madison.
I think if we were still in October and talking about the 9.5 sacks that Schobert had accrued so far we might be thinking of him as a second to third round guy in the spring. The question that he’s going to have to answer is why? Why did the production in the sack column tail off and are you just a product of a great scheme or are you a player that just struggled with production in his final games? Of all 5 prospects that I’ve come back to review Schobert has the most work to do in terms of making himself look like the part while also being draftable. At 6’2 240 pounds a slow shuttle time or 10 second split could cost Schobert rounds in the draft or even the opportunity. He had 1 interception on the year but if he’s going to be a 4-3 outside linebacker he’ll be called on to defend the pass more often than he did at Wisconsin. It’s more likely however that he’s in a 3-4 scheme for his pass rushing ability and his sure tackling against the run but we’ve witnessed countless coaches drafting players against their college defenses. For those outside of Madison the name Joe Schobert is hit or miss but I’m going with the majority and saying many have not heard of Joe Schobert.
There are many more players and a long off season to study film and prepare for the 2016 College Football Season. I’d like to incorporate a pre-season, mid-season and end of season review on the players featured for next year. If you have any players you know about for possible consideration in the Have You Heard of series hit me on twitter.
Follow Rodney Stokes on Twitter: @sostoked21 blogs on NFLMocks.com