It was a strange weekend in college football. Oregon beat a much higher ranked Ohio State team on the road, and once again, we saw an FCS school (Jacksonville State) beat a much larger FBS program (Florida State). We also witnessed several offensive linemen and defensive front-seven players improve their NFL Draft stock, including three prospects who impressed at the tail end of Week 1’s extended schedule. Here are the college football risers and sliders for Week 2.
NFL Week 1 Draft Stock Report: Risers
Who are this week’s risers following Week 2 of the college football season?
Alex Forsyth, C, Oregon
I predicted Oregon would be the surprise team this season, and they traveled to Columbus and did exactly that by surprising the Ohio State Buckeyes with the upset victory. Many will fawn over CJ Verdell’s 161 yards rushing or Anthony Brown’s 236 yards passing. However, it was center Alex Forsyth who made it all possible.
Forsyth was physically and mentally dominant all game long. He opened large holes in the middle of the field, sealed defenders from the action so Oregon running backs could turn the corner, and did a terrific job protecting his quarterback. Forsyth displayed great football intellect and awareness all game long. Graded as a fourth-round prospect during my Oregon preview, Forsyth is showing improved draft stock in the early going of the 2021 season and is moving into Day 2 of the NFL Draft.
Nick Broeker, OL, Mississippi
The 43-24 final score made the game look much closer than it actually was, as Mississippi dominated Louisville from the get-go. Once again, Lane Kiffin put a high-powered offense on the field as the Rebels finished the game with more than 560 yards of total offense.
Nick Broeker’s play at left tackle helped facilitate much of that yardage. He did a terrific job protecting his passer and sealing open running lanes for ball carriers.
Fundamentally sound with terrific football intelligence, Broeker played well last season and has continued that momentum into 2021. I presently grade Broeker as a fourth-round prospect. However, I fully believe he could develop into a Day 2 pick in the draft if he continues to improve his game.
Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Michigan
Wolverine linebacker Josh Ross could’ve won the honor this week, but Aidan Hutchinson’s dominant performance against Washington forced my hand. Hutchinson’s line read 4 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 1 QB hit. For most of the game, Hutchinson faced off against Washington left tackle Jaxson Kirkland, a legitimate Day 3 prospect for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Several times Hutchinson plain beat Kirkland. In at least one instance, he registered a sack due to Washington’s quarterback holding the ball too long. Whatever the reason, Hutchinson made his presence felt, and he could end up in the late part of Round 1 next April.
Jermaine Johnson, EDGE, Florida State
Florida State impressed against Notre Dame despite being on the short end of the scoreboard last Sunday. It was also the coming-out party of sorts for Georgia transfer Jermaine Johnson, who is starting to live up to expectations.
Graded as a Day 2 prospect by some scouts despite starting just four games in his college career, Johnson had a monster game finishing with 7 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks. He’s an athletic prospect, who measures 6’4 1/2″ and 265 pounds, and reportedly times the 40 in 4.65 seconds. Labeled more athlete than football player, Johnson is seemingly turning the corner.
Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame
Seemingly everyone’s favorite safety, Kyle Hamilton started the season hot against Florida State, picking off 2 passes while adding 6 tackles in the opener. His performance earned him Lott IMPACT Player of the Week in Week 1 of the college season. Hamilton is a linebacker-sized safety who forcefully defends the run while also displaying next-level ball skills.
Matt Hankins, CB, Iowa
Hankins is someone who caught my eye three years ago as he flashed plenty of next-level potential. Unfortunately, Hankins has done nothing but flash skill since and never elevated his game or showed any consistency on the field. Hopefully, that’s changing.
Against interstate rival Iowa State, Hankins intercepted 2 passes and broke up a third. He was also credited with 4 tackles. Entering the season, I stamped Hankins as a priority free agent — much lower than the fifth-round grade I handed him before the 2020 season.
Hankins now has an opportunity to improve his NFL Draft stock and land in the late rounds if he builds upon his Iowa State performance. But if he returns to playing blasé football as in the past, Hankins won’t get drafted.
Olakunle Fatukasi, LB, Rutgers
Returning to Rutgers for a second senior season, Fatukasi is off to a fast start. On Saturday, he led all defenders with 12 tackles, helping the Scarlet Knights to their first victory of the season, 17-7 over Syracuse. Considered primarily a run defender, Fatukasi lived up to the billing as the Rutgers’ defense held Syracuse to just 74 yards rushing. Fatukasi is a tough two-down defender who projects well as a late-round selection for a 3-4 defense.
Jamal Hines, OLB, Toledo
Hines is someone I’ve graded as draftable the past two years despite scouts stamping him as a street free agent. He played incredibly well against Notre Dame on Saturday, a game Toledo kept much closer than anyone thought possible.
Hines finished with 5 tackles, 1 sack, and broke up 2 passes. He’s an athletic defensive front-seven player who can play out of a three-point stance or stand over tackle. If Hines runs in the 4.7-second range during pre-draft workouts, he should slide into the late rounds.
Sleeper Prospect | Jahmir Johnson, OT, Texas A&M
With all the brouhaha over Kenyon Green, it was easy to dismiss Johnson — not anymore. The well-traveled Jahmir Johnson started at left tackle against Colorado on Saturday, and he had a terrific outing.
Johnson, who had previous stops at Rhode Island, then Arizona Western, then Tennessee last season, was part of an offensive line that allowed just a single sack during the Aggies’ 3-point victory over Colorado. He’s a nice-sized lineman who blocks with tremendous fundamentals and does a great job in pass protection. Not on the radar a month ago, Johnson is someone scouts must keep their eye on moving forward.
Small School Prospect | Dai’Jean Dixon, WR, Nicholls State
How does a small-school receiver follow up a 7-catch performance against an FBS opponent? Simple, double the number. And that’s exactly what Dixon did.
The super senior totaled 14 receptions for 198 yards and 2 TDs during his team’s 3-point loss to Louisiana of the Sun Belt Conference. Sized well at a shade under 6’3″ and 200 pounds, I initially graded Dixon as a priority free agent for last year’s draft before he decided to take advantage of a second senior season. It goes without saying Dixon is cementing his stock into a Day 3 spot in the NFL Draft.
Week 2 Sliders
Whose NFL Draft stock saw a slide after Week 2?
Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State
The Buckeye junior is universally considered a second-round prospect, with some predicting he’ll end up in Round 1. Hence, when Zach Harrison went up against an Oregon offensive line with no consistent starter at left tackle, he was expected to wreak havoc. It never happened.
Harrison was credited with 4 tackles during the Buckeyes’ startling loss to Oregon. However, he had zero sacks, no tackles for loss, and no quarterback hurries. There’s plenty of time for Harrison to right the ship, but the inability to have any impact against Oregon is something scouts will inquire about.