Well, here it is. With the exception of the Army Navy game, the regular season will be finished in college football for the 2016 season. WHERE DID IT GO?! COME BACK. This weekend culminates the season and will decide quite a bit regarding conference championships and the College Football Playoff.
However, it’s also the last chance you’ll get to see a lot of these guys for quite a while. Unless the prospects are in a conference championship game, we’ll have to watch their Bowl Games to see them in action again. With a solid docket of games this weekend, let’s dive into some prospects to watch at each position:
I can’t foresee Ted Thompson considering a quarterback in an early round, so some late round options could be an option with only two quarterbacks on the roster.
J.T. Barrett, Ohio State, 6’2” 222 - I don’t know if you guys have heard, but Ohio State plays Michigan this weekend at 11 a.m. Central. Maybe a bit generously listed at 6’2”, Barrett is a playmaker in the run game and can be dangerous through the air. While he’s battled inconsistency passing at times this season, the one thing you can’t question about Barrett is that he wins games. He’s lost 3 starts in his career, and he always seems to find a way to lead the Buckeyes to victory, including a win in Camp Randall in OT this season. He’s far from a finished product, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers target the 4th year junior if he were to declare.
Jamaal Williams, BYU, 6’2” 220 - A little known back to this point in the process, Williams has been a productive back at BYU, and will compete at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, AL this winter. A well-built back, he runs with power and some elusiveness. He’d be a mid-round option for those fans who oppose taking a back in the first round. BYU plays against a struggling Utah State team at 9 p.m. Central on ESPNU.
Elijah McGuire, Louisiana Lafayette, 5’11” 209 - A do-it-all back from a small school, McGuire to me seems like a little better version of Kenneth Dixon who was drafted in the 4th round last year by Baltimore. He’s a good pass catcher out of the backfield and has been the stud for the Ragin’ Cajuns for three years now. He could be another mid round option if the Packers pass on Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette. UL-Lafayette plays Arkansas State on ESPN3 at 11 AM, so this will be a tougher game to view.
James Washington, Oklahoma State, 6’0” 205 - Washington has been the favorite target of Mason Rudolph, the Cowboys’ heralded passer who is likely to receive a favorable grade and declare. While Washington’s size is nothing significant, he has very good body control and is a polished receiver. He could be a Day 2 option at receiver, a position in need of some new blood. Washington will be facing Oklahoma in the annual “Bedlam” matchup that could decide the Big 12 championship.
Stacy Coley, Miami (FL), 6’1” 195 - Coley has been the Hurricanes’ most consistent receiver for the past couple of seasons. A highly touted freshman, he’s never quite been dominant, but neither has the Miami passing attack. He had a big game against Florida State in 2014, and is an impressive athlete. A late Day 2 selection is probably the range for Coley. Miami plays against Duke at 2:30 on ESPN2.
Jake Butt, Michigan, 6’6” 250 - The best name in college football, Butt may also be the best tight end in college football, and should be an immediate impact player in the NFL. A modern version of the throwback, he’s as effective in-line as a blocker as he is as a receiver. Butt has been the primary target over the middle of the field for the Wolverines for the past couple seasons, and he’d be an upgrade at the position for Green Bay. He might not get out of round 1, but he’s a great value nearly any pick in the 2nd. Butt faces the Buckeyes at 11 on ABC.
Bucky Hodges, Virginia Tech, 6’7” 245 - A HS quarterback, Hodges is likely the most athletic tight end in the class. He definitely has the highest ceiling, and could be a real difference maker at the professional level. He’s a work in progress as a blocker, but he’s nearly impossible to cover out of the slot. Think of Rob Gronkowski’s style of play as a receiver - that’s Hodges. He plays likely his final collegiate game against a poor Virginia team at 11 on ESPN2.
Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky 6’4” 300 - Likely a bit shorter than he’s listed, Lamp fits what Ted Thompson likes as an offensive lineman: left tackle experience. It’s no secret that teams normally put their best offensive line athlete at left tackle, and Lamp played VERY well against Alabama and future high picks Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson. He’s likely a guard in the NFL, and look at that; T.J. Lang is set to leave in free agency. He’s likely a Packers target.
Pat Elflein, Ohio State, 6’3” 300 - A former guard, Elflien moved inside to center for his senior season, and he’s excelled there, as he did at guard. He’s a stud on the inside, and tough as they come. Thompson struck gold with Corey Linsley from Ohio State a couple years ago, it wouldn’t shock me if the Packers considered Elflein early in Day 2. He’d be an upgrade at both guard and center. Again, Ohio State plays Michigan at 11 on Saturday.
Vita Vea, Washington, 6’5” 332 - Vea is what people wanted Danny Shelton to be in 2014. He’s a plus athlete at nose tackle, and he’s a massive human. His impact on the game reminds me of Haloti Ngata, and that doesn’t have anything to do with them both being Polynesian. He’d be an absolute monster at nose tackle for the Packers, but he likely won’t be there for the green and gold’s second selection. Washington plays Washington State on Friday at 2:30 on FOX in an important game for the Huskies’ Playoff hopes.
Jake Replogle, Purdue, 6’5” 289 - A man among boys on a very poor
team defense, Replogle has been injured for a bit of 2016, but in his return to action on Senior Day against the Badgers last week, he had six tackles from his defensive tackle position before the attrition of the Wisconsin rush attack overwhelmed the Boilermakers. A future as a five technique at the next level is likely, and he’d look good in Green Bay. He’s basically Dean Lowry but not a T-Rex (read: he doesn’t have Lowry’s short arms). Purdue plays at 11 Saturday against Indiana on ESPNU.
Takkarist McKinley, UCLA, 6’2” 265 - McKinley, also on the All-Name team, has cultivated a bit more interest as the season has progressed. I was turned onto him by Justis Mosqueda (@Jumosq) a must follow for EDGE evaluations. Justis is a Packer fan who lives in Oregon, the guy can use some friends. McKinley fits the mold of what Thompson looks for on the outside, he’s similarly built to Nick Perry and Mike Neal. He could be an option in the 2nd round, but depending how he tests, he could be gone. UCLA plays Cal on Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
T.J. Watt, Wisconsin, 6’5” 243 - While this would be a slam dunk for a lot of fans, Watt could very possibly forego his 5th year in Madison and enter the NFL Draft to join his brothers in the league. Watt has exploded this season, his first year of starting experience. His length on the edge, plus his athleticism and wealth of knowledge sitting at his Thanksgiving table will help him at the next level. He’s likely a 3-4 outside linebacker only, making him a great fit in Green Bay. I also think he’ll end up around 255 or so in the NFL, he’s got the frame to add size. Wisconsin plays Minnesota at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on the Big Ten Network for Paul Bunyan’s Axe and the Big Ten West Championship.
Reuben Foster, Alabama, 6’1” 228 - Despite not possessing awesome size, he’s an electric athlete who would be an instant upgrade inside for the Packers. He’s been the best inside linebacker for the Crimson Tide for two years, including second year’s second rounder Reggie Ragland, who a lot of Packer fans wanted in green and gold. Foster could run in the low 4.4s. Alabama plays Auburn in the Iron Bowl at at 2:30 on CBS.
Jalen “Teez” Tabor, Florida, 6’0” 201
Quincy Wilson, Florida, 6’1” 213 - I listed both of these guys, 1. because they’re both #good, but 2. they’re both rumored that they’ll declare for the NFL Draft after their season concludes. Tabor is an alpha dog with a bit of a polarizing personality, and Wilson is a technician who could have a higher ceiling. Both are unlikely to escape the top 20, not too bad for a pair of teammates. Either would be solid selections for the Packers considering their lack of speed and depth in the secondary. Both also fit the size requirements of the Packers. Florida plays against Florida State at 7 p.m. on ABC.
Adoree’ Jackson, USC, 5’11” 185 - While Jackson is much closer to the size threshold of Green Bay, he may be unmatched as an athlete in this class. The Illinois native is both a track star at USC as well as a stud on the football field, playing cornerback, wide receiver and return specialist at times. While draftniks have cooled on him somewhat, if he declares he’ll test through the roof, especially the jumps. USC ends their regular season against Notre Dame at 2:30 on ABC.
Whew, sorry for the novel. If you’ve made it this far, drink a beer, you deserve it.