Week 12 NFL Draft prospects to watch

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With roughly a month to go in the 2020 season, there is still plenty of time for NFL Draft prospects to improve their stock and put themselves on scouts’ radars. Here’s a look at some of the 2021 NFL Draft prospects that have opportunities to really improve their standing this week.

Indiana vs. Ohio State

Whop Philyor, WR – Indiana
Shaun Wade, CB – Ohio State

Whop Philyor returned to Indiana fresh off his first 1,000-yard receiving season and looks to be solidifying himself as one of the most exciting players in the Big Ten in 2020. He operates almost exclusively from the slot where he is a savvy route runner with reliable hands, consistently moving the chains for the Hoosiers. Philyor hits top gear immediately, racking up yards after the catch with both his speed and ability to make guys miss in the open field. He is not the biggest guy and strength, specifically to get off press coverage, is a concern but improvement in his releases and playing in the slot will mitigate some of those concerns. He may not get the recognition of some of the big names, but Philyor is a consistent producer for an Indiana team that looks to firmly be one of the top-20 teams in the country.

Shaun Wade was likely a top-100 player if he had come out for the 2019 draft. Instead the redshirt junior opted to return to school and solidify himself as a first-round talent. Wade has played both on boundary and in slot as a corner, but his best position in the NFL might be that nickel/slot corner where his physicality and tackling will be best utilized. He is an excellent athlete with great acceleration and long speed to stay with receivers if/when they try and stack him vertically. Wade leaves something to be desired with his ball skills, and he still looks to be a bit uncomfortable at outside corner, which could hurt his stock in a deep class. Still, teams can never have enough corners, and players with Wade’s versatility and athleticism are at a premium, which should put him solidly in the first-round conversation.

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern

Jake Ferguson, TE – Wisconsin
Peyton Ramsey, QB – Northwestern

Wisconsin might be known for its offensive lineman, but the Badgers have also consistently put tight ends in the league over the past several years. Jake Ferguson might turn out to be the best of all of them with his combination of blocking and pass catching. He is excellent in the pass game with soft hands and large catch radius that make him the ideal safety blanket and zone buster at the next level. He has adequate athleticism for the position but will likely be an in-line Y receiver given his ability to block. Speaking of blocking, Ferguson is good but needs to add weight and strength to stand up to defensive ends at the next level. If he comes out to the draft, it will be crucial for him to weigh in close to, if not over the 240-pound mark and run a sub-4.8 at the combine if he hopes to sneak into Day 2.

A grad transfer from Indiana, Peyton Ramsey has looked like a different quarterback this year for the Wildcats. Ramsey is an under-the-radar prospect who has been a consistent producer in college completing over 66% of passes in his career. He has the arm strength to zip passes into tight windows and has shown a nice deep ball when he chooses to uncork it. Ramsey also has some solid athleticism for the position to extend plays and present a running threat to the defense. His biggest area of concern is his decision making. Far too often, Ramsey will put the ball in harm’s way, and he has paid for it with 27 career interceptions to his name. His decision making is even worse when he is on the move where poor mechanics hurt is accuracy, and an ultra-aggressive nature causes him to attempt throws that just are not there. Ramsey is a late-round prospect that would benefit from sitting behind a veteran for a few years.

Cincinnati vs. UCF

James Wiggins, S – Cincinnati
Marlon Williams, WR – UCF

Safety is a deep group in the 2021 draft, and James Wiggins has emerged as another player to add depth to this class. Wiggins has shown versatility taking snaps in split sets, single high and even slot corner throughout his career. He is a smooth operator in coverage playing with controlled aggression and rarely getting out of position. Wiggins has shown solid ball production through two years and has a good feel for playing the ball in the air. He is not your typical thumper from the safety position, but sometimes can get a little over zealous when trying the make a big hit and flat out miss a tackle he should make, which he will have to clean up at the next level where YAC is at a premium. He has some injury history as well, which could hurt his stock, but Wiggins has solidified himself as a draftable player with a consistent showing throughout 2020.

UCF has produced its share of NFL receivers, and Marlon Williams looks like he could be the next in line. He currently leads the AAC and is second in the country with 942 receiving yards thanks to his iron strong hands and large catch radius. Built like a brick house, Williams is not your typical slot receiver, but he spends the majority of his time there, which leaves him to run a limited route tree and a narrow view of what his full capabilities are as a route runner. Although he has shown some decent long speed, there are also questions that remain about his quickness, which will likely be answered at his pro day and the combine. Nonetheless, Williams has excellent production and a tape full of circus catches often in contested situations that will get him a look at the next level.

Virginia Tech vs. Pitt

Christian Darrisaw, OT – Virginia Tech
Rashad Weaver, Edge – Pitt

One of the biggest risers since the beginning of the college football season, Christina Darrisaw is looking like a legitimate first round NFL Draft prospect. In pass protection, his hand placement is excellent, and he does a great job stunning pass rushers with his initial punch keeping his chest clean. Darrisaw is a superb athlete with a superb mobility and lateral quickness, which should help keep him at left tackle. There were some questions about his footwork coming into the 2020 season and while he could stand to improve in that area, he looks to be much improved there. In the run game, his athleticism allows him to be extremely effective as a lead pulling blocker and out in the screen game. Having dominated Quincey Roche last week, Darrisaw will look to stifle the pass rushing duo of Patrick Jones and Rashad Weaver this week.

At 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds, Rashad Weaver already looks like an NFL defensive end. He is an excellent pass rusher with elite hand use and a variety of pass rush moves to keep offensive lineman guessing snap to snap on how he will attack them. Weaver has some excellent flexibility and combined with a quick first step, he can bend the edge just as easily as he can beat an oversetting tackle on his inside hip. He has some injury red flags that will need to be evaluated, and adding additional strength will be key for him to hold up at the point of attack against power rushing attacks in the NFL. If he can clear the medical process and test well at the combine, Weaver should easily find himself in the top-100 picks as a high floor situational pass rusher with the chance to develop into a consistent three down player.

Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma

Chuba Hubbard, RB – Oklahoma State
Ronnie Perkins, Edge – Oklahoma

A somewhat surprising returner, Chuba Hubbard opted to come back to school to try and improve his draft stock off a monster 2019 season. Thus far in 2020 that bet on himself is looking like it may have backfired as he is registering a career low with 4.6 yards per carry. Regardless, Hubbard still has a good shot at being a top-100 player thanks to his speed and vision as a ball carrier. He displays excellent patience, allowing his blocks to develop and do the work for him. Hubbard has yet to really establish himself as a pass catcher, but his acceleration and patience suggest he could be dangerous in the screen game at the next level. He will need to improve his pass blocking if he ever hopes to become a feature back, but the tools are there to be an impact player.

Ronnie Perkins epitomizes the Oklahoma defense. He is an excellent athlete, who has significantly improved year over year, yet continues to struggle with discipline. Perkins is a pass rushing specialist armed with exceptionally strong hands he uses to jolt and stun offensive linemen off their sets. His speed is solid, and he has enough flexibility where bending the edge could become a much bigger part of his game in the future. However, Perkins will not be rushing the passer if he does not show improvement in the run game. He consistently gets himself out of position chasing the flow of the play and loses edge containment far too often given his physical ability. At this point Perkins is a Day 3 NFL Draft prospect with a ton of potential given his speed and strength profile but has some raw instincts that will need to be further developed to have him on the field for all three downs.

Photo courtesy of UWBadgers.com

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