Week 11 NFL Draft prospects to watch

nfl draft

Scouting for the NFL Draft never sleeps and even with several teams currently dealing with COVID-related issues, there are still plenty of high-level prospects taking the field in week 11 of the college football season. This week’s edition of prospects to watch focuses heavily on some game within the game matchups to watch.

Miami vs. Virginia Tech

Jaelan Phillips, Edge – Miami

Khalil Herbert, RB – Virginia Tech

When players began opting out of the 2020 season, there were going to be opportunities and arguably no player has benefited more from their opt-out opportunity than Miami’s Jaelan Phillips. The former No. 1 overall prospect coming out of high school, Phillips committed to UCLA but found his way to Miami via the transfer portal. With the Gregory Rousseau opt out, Phillips was thrust into a full-time role and has responded well generating 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Always an athletic specimen, he has continued to show a good first step and the ability to convert speed-to-power at an elite level albeit in flashes. His biggest area of growth has simply come with a clean bill of health, which has allowed him to learn the defensive end position and refine things like his hand usage and run-fits that players can only get from live reps. There is still a lot of projection to do with a limited sample size of tape, but there is no question Phillips has the size and raw natural ability to potentially develop into a great player.

Another transfer making a big impact for his new squad is running back Khalil Herbert. The former Jayhawk turned Hokie is averaging over eight yards per carry on the season and only once has been held below the 100-yard mark. At 5-foot-9 and over 200 pounds, Herbert was originally viewed as the thunder to Pooka Williams lightning, operating almost exclusively as a between the tackles thumper. Now at Virginia Tech, Herbert is showing he has got some juice of his own, running with exceptional burst and quickness. His greatest trait however might be his vision which allows him to find running lanes as they develop, a trait some backs simply never fully learn. His pass catching and pass blocking are still works in progress, but Herbert should not be slept on as a running back who could make instant impact in the league should he choose to enter the draft once this season concludes.

South Carolina vs. Ole Miss

Jaycee Horn, CB – South Carolina

Kenny Yeboah, TE – Ole Miss

One of the biggest risers since the start of the season, Jaycee Horn has solidified himself as a Day 2 NFL Draft prospect and could push his stock into the first round if he continues his hot start to the season. Horn is a physical press corner and plays with a mean streak defensive back coaches will love. He has strong hands that stun and re-routing wide receivers off the line of scrimmage. Likely an outside corner at the next level, he is one of the best corners in the country at pinning his man to the sideline and getting physical at the catch point if he is challenged by the opposing corner. He will likely be an average tester for the position given hip tightness, which shows up in his lateral change of direction and upright back pedal. However, if he shows good long speed Horn’s length, physicality and versatility will make him a hot commodity for corner needy teams.

When Lane Kiffen took over the Ole Miss job, one of his first priorities was adding a starting tight end to the offense. He not only found one with Kenny Yeboah, but he now has a guy who looks to be a legitimate NFL prospect. Yeboah is a bit undersized for the tight end position and at best an average blocker, but he is an absolute mismatch in the pass game. He really is more of a big slot receiver and threatens the seam with both is speed against linebackers and size against safeties. Yeboah has soft hands and has shown the ability to consistently bring in the contested catch both at Ole Miss and Temple. If he can continue to improve his route running, he could be an Eric Ebron like receiving threat at the next level.

Wisconsin vs. Michigan

Garrett Groshek, RB – Wisconsin

Ronnie Bell, WR – Michigan

Wisconsin has established itself as one of the premier development programs for running back talent in college football, sending bell cow rushers like Monte Ball, Melvin Gordon and Jonathan Taylor to the NFL. Garrett Groshek may not have the volume of carries those players had, but what he does have is solid tape as a third down back both catching the ball and blocking, which will be valued by NFL teams. Unlike a lot of third down backs in college, Groshek has great size coming in a hair under 6 feet tall and weighing 220 pounds. He has averaged over five yards per carry in his career and will hopefully get more touches in a time share with Nakia Watson this year. If Groshek can put together a tape with 15-20 touches a game, he could elevate his value.

Ronnie Bell might be one of the toughest players in college football. Throughout his career at Michigan, Bell has consistently been the slot receiver who will make the big catch on third downs and in the red zone willing to take a hit to make a play. He has enough size where he won’t be relegated to the slot in the NFL, but that is where he will likely get his start so he can get free releases and use his quickness to win in short areas and option routes. As a route runner, Bell needs to improve his releases, but once he is off and moving, he shows nice suddenness in his route stems creating consistent separating. Without Nico Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black, there should be plenty of targets for Bell to build upon his status of a draftable player coming into 2020.

Cal vs. Arizona State

Camryn Bynum, CB – Cal

Frank Darby, WR – Arizona State

A member of Jim Nagy’s Senior Bowl watch list, Camryn Bynum is a four-year starter at corner for the Cal Golden Bears. A smooth athlete with loose hips, Bynum is at his best in off-man coverage where he can react and attack short throws, but also looks solid in press man where his length and aggressiveness allow him to disrupt receivers off the line of scrimmage. There are questions that exist around Bynum’s explosiveness and speed which he will likely have to answer at the NFL combine and his pro day in the future. However, one question that does not remain for Bynum is his instinct, which has shown up time and again on tape both in pass coverage and sniffing out the run. Much of Bynum’s draft stock will be tied to his athletic profile, but there is no doubt he has the instincts of a next level prospect.

After back-to-back years of first round picks in Nakil Harry and Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State is starting to look a bit like a wide receiver factory. Next in line for the Sun Devils is redshirt senior Frank Darby. As tough as they come at the receiver position, Darby is best in contested catch situations where he demonstrates physicality and strength to come down with the ball. He has deceptive quickness, which helps him gain separation both off the ball and out of his breaks, but he will never be a true burner with simply adequate speed for the position. As a good run blocker and solid route runner, Darby profiles as a day three draftable player who could elevate his stock with a strong senior season and testing numbers.

Photo courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics