Week 4 in college football started off with a bang on Friday night. Sleeper College Football Playoff pick Utah fell to USC and their third-string QB. Utah was so underrated they became overrated and once again the Pac-12 devoured itself. Saturday was loaded with big matchups which meant lots of 2020 NFL Draft prospects on the brightest stage. We saw Georgia hang on against Notre Dame, Wisconsin blow Michigan out of the water, Auburn slug their way to a win over Texas A&M, Pitt ended UCF’s 27-game regular season win streak on the “Pitty Special” and of course Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins 67-63 comeback over Washington State. Thank goodness it was such a fun week because Week 5 looks downright bad. Luckily Week 4 definitely lived up to the hype with plenty of excitement and impressive showings from prospects.

Tweet of the Week

The transfer portal is always a hot topic. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s annoying, it’s whatever you need it to be as a college football fan. In reality, it’s had a major impact on college football and the QB position specifically. It’s been both positive and negative. The frequency in which a QB transfers these days is scary. If they are a big recruit and aren’t playing by their sophomore year there’s a chance they’ll leave. It’s not like the old days where a QB would come in and sit for two maybe even three years while an upperclassman runs the show. Leaving a program that quickly can stump the growth of a QB, there’s a reason they aren’t on the field in most cases. In other cases, they might have the talent, but they can’t unseat the starter, like Justin Fields at Georgia or Jalen Hurts at Alabama.

Transferring has given us the chances to see more QBs thrive at different programs all over the country. Without the transfer portal, there’s a chance Fields, Hurts, Joe Burrow, and Jacob Eason wouldn’t be playing right now. All four of them look like future NFL Draft picks. Heck without the portal who knows if Gardner Minshew would be taking the NFL by storm right now, in another world he would be a GA at Alabama. Transferring drives fans bonkers and some think it’s bad for the game. Some argue it’s teaching young QBs they can just up and leave if they don’t get their way. In reality transferring has allowed more QB talent to flourish in college football and even the NFL than ever before. It might not be the conventional route, but this is the way of the future. Long live the transfer portal.

In the News

Young quarterbacks in the NFL are expected to start and make an impact sooner than ever before. In Week 3 of the NFL season, there were a record 20 starting QBs 26 or younger. The game has changed. Gone are the days of drafting a QB early to sit and develop them and start them once they’re read. In today’s NFL, they need to be ready almost right away. Patience for these young QBs is at an all-time low, just look at poor Josh Rosen. If a rookie QB isn’t able to come in and flash potential right away, then doubt begins to creep in. In a world where there are less capable quarterbacks than there are states in America you’d think they’d be afforded the time to develop, but now that’s just not how it works.

In today’s world of football if you’re a quality QB you need to start training early. Not only are you expected to play during the season, but you need to train with a QB specific coach year-round and spend every weekend at camps. Hell, just look at all the coverage something like the Elite 11 gets these days. It’s the most important position in all of sports and the attention it gets feels justified.

Point being the amount of time both physically and mentally that needs to be committed to succeeding as a QB is astonishing. There’s maybe 20 quarterbacks in the NFL that the general public feels comfortable with as a starter. Yet, we expect them to come in at 21 or 22 and change a franchise almost immediately. Some are special enough to do it, but they are the exception, not the rule. Development once they’re in the NFL is vastly important and too often they’re thrown into terrible situations and given up on far too quickly. The world is cruel and life of a young QB is crueler.

Prospect Spotlight

Star: Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

The three most important positions in football are quarterback, pass rusher, and offensive tackle. In today’s football is damn hard to find a quality OT. Coaches are constantly complaining about the lack of development along the O-line in college football and that’s translating to poor O-line play in the NFL. Well, the 2020 NFL Draft has two potential top 10 picks at OT in Tristan Wirfs and Andrew Thomas. Thomas is going to be the guy GM’s fall in love with as a prototypical left tackle. He’s 6-5, 320 pounds with nimble feet, natural bend, and easy power. It’s early, but it feels like there’s no way Thomas gets past the first couple of picks in the draft with so many teams desperately needing his talent.

The biggest reason teams like the Cardinals and Jets are going to be fighting over Thomas is for what he can do in pass protection. This is the blindside protector every team will want for their young QB. Thomas has solid length to go with smooth athleticism and a strong base. What really separates him as a pass protector is his leverage, footwork, anchor, and hands. He’s got all the tools to be a Pro Bowl left tackle. If he’s up against speed he relies on his athleticism, length, and feet. If he’s up against power that’s where his balance/base, anchor, and vice grip hands come into play. He’s got an answer for everything. In the run game, he’s a mauler using the power, leverage, and movement skills to put people in the dirt. He’s a complete OT.

As the draft inches closer it looks more and more likely that Andrew Thomas could be the first offensive non-QB off the board. He’s a game-changer on the O-line and the rare complete OT prospect.

Sleeper: Joe Bachie, LB, Michigan State

Every year it there’s a linebacker in the Big Ten who was under-recruited, becomes the leader of a defense, and gets drafted. This year that guy is Joe Bachie of Michigan State. Bachie is a third-year starter and has been one of the most productive LBs in the country in the last few seasons. In a weaker LB class, he could begin to move up the board with the season he is having. He basically won the Spartans their game over Northwestern with a 14 tackle, 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 PBU performance. He was all over the field.

Bachie isn’t going to have many questions about his ability against the run. He’s a hard-nosed high motor player that’s always finding work. He might lack some athleticism, but he makes up for it with instincts and aggressiveness. Bachie is a classic MIKE in the NFL. Stick him in the middle and take advantage of the IQ and let him make plays inside vs. run. With the aggressiveness, he does a good job getting off blocks. Stacking and shedding isn’t an issue with him despite some lack of size. At a minimum, he’s going to be productive in the NFL on run downs.

Concerns with Bachie will come in coverage. Those concerns are more about his athleticism than natural ability to cover. It’s not a big problem in college where his lack of movement skills isn’t always taken advantage of by teams. His speed, lateral movement, and fluidity are all shaky and testing at the NFL Combine will have a major role in how high he is picked. Overall, Bachie is probably an early-Day 3 guy who can come in and play early. The extent of what he can do will be based around his ability on passing downs.

Overrated: Jake Fromm, QB, Georgia

It’s going to be a tricky evaluation with Jake Fromm. He’s already polarizing. Some believe he’s a top 10 player in this class while others believe he’s a late-Day 2 passer. It’s not easy to make a call on Fromm because of how the Georgia offense operates. They’re a run-heavy system that only asks Fromm to make short and intermediate throws. He’s clearly a high football IQ guy with tons of leadership ability and experience, but is he worth a first-round pick? Does he have the physical tools to be a franchise QB in the NFL?

In the right system, Fromm can be a starting QB in the NFL. He’s a naturally accurate passer, fast processor, and smart decision-maker. For a team that wants to run the ball and not make mistakes, this is the guy they want behind center. Fromm won’t turn the ball over and that’s obviously a positive, but he can be too conservative at times. There are occasions where he opts for a check down over and intermediate or deep throw that he should be hitting, it’s frustrating. On the other hand, he makes some WOW ball placement throws, especially on back-shoulder passes. He’s a safe and smart QB, but it’s a high floor, low ceiling option.

The issues come with his lack of willingness to go downfield. He’s already not the biggest QB and doesn’t have the biggest arm. Physical tools just aren’t something he can impress NFL teams with, you’re taking the brain and not the body with Fromm. In an offense tailored to his strengths, he can win football games in the NFL. Think a less athletic, but more accurate Andy Dalton. A team like the Tennessee Titans would make a lot of sense for Fromm.

Risers and Sliders

Risers-

  1. Jacob Eason, QB, Washington

  • There has been no shortage of excitement over Jacob Eason and his potential as a top QB prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. After some struggles earlier in the season vs. Cal, there were doubters, but he’s beginning to quiet them. In Week 4 against BYU Eason looked like a future first-round pick. He made a handful of jaw-dropping throws that reminded the country of his rare physical tools. If Eason can keep this level of play up as Washington plays its Pac-12 schedule, then the draft buzz will be louder than ever. With his size, arm talent, and improved pocket awareness and ball placement, he looks like he can be a franchise passer at the next level.

  1. Derrick Brown, IDL, Auburn

  • Auburn might be the worst top 10 team in the country, but they’ve already got two top 25 victories thanks to their defense. Feel free to give Derrick Brown all the credit for their Week 4 win over Texas A&M. He was an unstoppable force and clearly the best player in a game with multiple future NFL players. Brown was unblockable throughout the game. His combo of power and length gave the Texas A&M offensive line constant issues in pass protection and he looks even more explosive this season. Stopping a 6-4, 320-pound monster with a non-stop motor is a tall task. The man even nearly intercepted a pass and got a hand on another. When draftnik’s talk about Brown as a top 15 pick they’ll point to this performance.

  1. JR Reed, S, Georgia

  • In the most important game of Week 4, Georgia came out on top of Notre Dame. Jake Fromm received a lot of the credit, but the Bulldogs defense and safety JR Reed deserve more hype for their performance. Reed, a potential Day 2 pick, was dominant in coverage. He had Ian Book’s number all night long and constantly made huge plays in coverage. Reed just sat back, read Book’s eyes, and showed off NFL range and ball skills to intercept a pass and breakup a few more. Teams looking for a safety with the instincts and ball skills to play Cover 1/3, but also be a willing run defender are going to love Reed.

  1. Jay Tufele, IDL, USC

  • In classic wacky Friday Pac-12 After Dark fashion unranked USC upset #10 Utah and threw a wrench in the conferences hopes for a playoff team. A massive reason the Trojans pulled off the win was their trench play, specifically on the defensive line. Throw out the stats, Jay Tufele was the best player on USC despite just picking up a pair of tackles. The redshirt sophomore was a load for the Utah O-line, his power and heavy hands allowed him to consistently push the pocket and put Tyler Huntley under duress. In the run game, he took on multiple blocks and ate up space. He brings impressive power and effort to the interior defensive line and looks like a future starting NFL 1-Tech.
  1. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin

  • Michigan fans are legitimately starting to question Jim Harbaugh’s future at Michigan thanks to Jonathan Taylor. Wisconsin hammered the Wolverines in Week 4 and despite dealing with some cramps that kept him out of the 2ndquarter, Taylor couldn’t be stopped on his way to running for 203 yards. The 2020 NFL Draft is loaded at RB, but Taylor is playing his way into being top three at the position. He’s a strong physical runner, like most Badger backs, but what separates him is the overall athleticism. Taylor has big-time burst that allows him to take any carry to the house. The rest of the season will be about showing ability on passing downs to become a top 40 pick.

Sliders-

  1. Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame

  • Nobody with more draft hype had a harder time on a big stage than Liam Eichenberg. It wasn’t even just his struggles in pass protection, it was all the penalties. Eichenberg was flagged four different times, twice for false starts and twice for personal fouls. That just can’t happen, it’s undisciplined football and kills momentum in a must-win game. The other big issue was Eichenberg looked like a technical mess in pass pro. His footwork was messy and slow and he couldn’t consistently slow the Georgia pass rushers. Eichenberg has the talent to be a top-five OT but needs to show improved discipline and ability in pass pro.

  1. Nick Coe, DL, Auburn

  • In both of Auburn’s big wins this season, Oregon and Texas A&M, Nick Coe has been kept quiet. So quiet that he’s combined for just 6 tackles and 1 TFL in those games. He hasn’t been terrible; he just hasn’t been the first-round talent so many seem to want him to be this season. Coe disappears for long stretches of the game and is clearly nowhere near the level of teammate Derrick Brown. His versatility, length, and athleticism are intriguing, but he’s much closer to a Day 3 project than a first-round talent.
  1. Kendrick Rogers, WR, Texas A&M

  • Get ready for the rollercoaster that is Kendrick Rogers NFL Draft hype. He’s polarizing. Last season against Clemson and LSU he was the Aggies best playmaker but did very little outside of those games. This season he’s more consistently involved but has struggled against both Clemson and Auburn. This week against Auburn he dropped multiple passes and struggled to create separation. He’s a circus catch connoisseur, but if he’s not able to catch the ones he has to then it’s hard to justify him as a top 100 player. The rest of the season Rogers will need to show more consistency in his game.
  1. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah

  • It’s going to be an impressive CB class and could have as many as six taken in the first-round. Jaylon Johnson is mentioned in that top group by some, but he’s not as NFL-ready as the others. Against USC the Utah secondary was picked on by the Trojan third-string QB Matt Fink. They took advantage of their massive wide receivers and took deep shots downfield. Johnson struggled vs. both Michael Pittman Jr. and Tyler Vaughns. He struggled to find the ball and his lack of physicality hurt him in those matchups. Johnson has the tools to be a top 100 pick, but first-round is too rich right now.
  1. Zack Moss, RB, Utah

  • It’s not Zack Moss’ fault he’s a slider this week, it’s his bodies. Moss might have been the top RB prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft if not for a knee injury that led him to return for his senior season. He was off to a hot start this year and looking like a clear Day 2 back, but against USC he injured his shoulder and will be out for at least the next two weeks. Moss has elite contact balance, explosiveness, and can catch the ball, but his health is becoming an issue. Once Moss returns he’ll need to stay healthy for the rest of the year or teams might be scared off in a deep RB class.

Top 10 RB Rankings

Rank RB School
1 D’Andre Swift Georgia
2 Travis Etienne Clemson
3 Zack Moss Utah
4 Eno Benjamin Arizona State
5 Jonathan Taylor Wisconsin
6 JK Dobbins Ohio State
7 Ke’Shawn Vaughn Vanderbilt
8 Cam Akers Florida State
9 Chuba Hubbard Oklahoma State
10 AJ Dillon Boston College

Game of the Week

#21 USC @ #17 Washington

Remember when Week 3 of the college football season looked terrible, but then ended up delightful and full of zaniness? Here’s to hoping Week 5 has a similar outcome because as of now it looks like the type of Saturday to spend time with family and friends and not sit on your couch for 14 straight hours, yuck. For some reason all the games that could be entertaining fall in the 3:30 pm EST slot. Two of them will be entertaining because it will be Clemson and Alabama blowing conference opponents out of the water. Another will be entertaining because it would be so Notre Dame to lose at home to Virginia. Finally, we have the Trojans and the Huskies in some Pac-12 action. This game matters for the Pac-12 and is definitely worth watching for the 2020 NFL Draft prospects.

The Jacob Eason draft hype is louder than ever and it’s here to stay. After some impressive showings early, the first-round talk is here, but he needs to show he can hang with a quality Power 5 school. Eason making eye-popping throws against USC and keeping his cool against their impressive D-line will do wonders for his national buzz. The best match ups to watch in this game will be the Trojans pass-catchers vs. the Huskies defensive backs. Michael Pittman Jr. and Tyler Vaughns have had hot starts to the season, but Myles Bryant and Elijah Molden are future NFLers themselves. Also, the trench play will be interesting Trey Adams and Nick Harris vs. Christian Rector and Jay Tuefele. At the end of the day, this game is most important for seeing Eason.

#21 USC #17 Washington
Jay Tufele, IDL Jacob Eason, QB
Austin Jackson, OT Aaron Fuller, WR
Michael Pittman Jr., WR Trey Adams, OT
Drew Richmond, OT Myles Bryant, S
Tyler Vaughns, WR Elijah Molden, CB
Stephen Carr, RB Keith Taylor, DB
Marlon Tuipulotu, IDL Levi Onwuzurike, IDL
Christian Rector, DL Nick Harris, C
Vavae Malepeai, RB Andre Baccellia, WR
John Houston Jr., LB

Underclassmen on the Radar

Freaky Frosh: Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC

  • The strength of the USC defense this season is their defensive line. Despite having a big name in Christian Rector at edge rusher, Drake Jackson outshined him in the Friday night upset of #10 Utah. The true freshman was constantly in the backfield harassing Utah QB Tyler Huntley and finished with 8 tackles and a sack. His combination of size (6-4, 275) and athleticism was clear all night long and he looks like a future NFL prospect. Jackson was a huge reason USC was able to slow Utah down and hold them to just 23 points. This may have been the game he put his name on the map nationally, but Jackson has been a threat all season with 17 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, and 3 sacks through just four games.

Super Sophomore: Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU

  • This isn’t your slightly older brothers LSU football team. These Tigers can throw the ball all over the yard and drop 60 burgers in conference games on the road. It might have been Vanderbilt, but 66 points and over 400 passing yards is still nuts for LSU. The stars of the show were QB Joe Burrow and his new favorite target Ja’Marr Chase. Chase managed an insane 10 receptions for 229 yards and 4 TDs. He became LSU’s first receiver with over 200 yards since 2013 (Odell Beckham Jr.) and set the sing-game school record for TDs in an SEC game. His explosiveness downfield and after the catch was on display all day. Chase could do anything he wanted against Vandy. He’s clearly an impressive athlete with a well-rounded game and nice size (6-1, 200), keep a lookout for Chase in 2021.

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Author Details
I’m Canadian as can be, other than the fact that I don’t care about hockey. I love football. The NFL is my life. I consider myself a football guy and I’d rather watch tape than anything else. I’m the Armchair NFL Draft analyst here. You can read my Armchair Scout columns and call me out for my draft misses. I’m also part of two podcasts at Armchair. Our NFL Draft podcast, 7 Rounds in Heaven, and the main NFL pod, Resting the Starters. I cheer for the Steelers, Raptors, Blue Jays, Oregon, and I guess the Leafs.
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I’m Canadian as can be, other than the fact that I don’t care about hockey. I love football. The NFL is my life. I consider myself a football guy and I’d rather watch tape than anything else. I’m the Armchair NFL Draft analyst here. You can read my Armchair Scout columns and call me out for my draft misses. I’m also part of two podcasts at Armchair. Our NFL Draft podcast, 7 Rounds in Heaven, and the main NFL pod, Resting the Starters. I cheer for the Steelers, Raptors, Blue Jays, Oregon, and I guess the Leafs.

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