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Shades of Carson Palmer in Michigan State QB Connor Cook

Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan State QB Connor Cook had a highly respectable performance in a loss to Oregon.

The second week of the college football season brought two outstanding games featuring highly ranked teams with plenty of intriguing pro prospects. Most of my focus on Saturday was on those matchups -- USC at Stanford and Michigan State at Oregon -- and they sure didn't disappoint.

Here are my observations on some of the top prospects I saw in Week 2:

Cook impressive in defeat

Yes, Connor Cook came up short against Oregon on Saturday in a 46-27 loss, but I think people will come away from this game impressed with how he played.

He reminds me of Arizona Cardinals quarterback and former USC star Carson Palmer in the way he throws the ball. Cook is a big, strong, effortless thrower with a live arm. I thought he made some big-time throws and showed pretty good footwork to climb up in pocket against the Ducks. He did have a couple errant throws under pressure, although the second interception he threw really wasn't his fault. He can improve on that and eliminate some of the forced throws.

Cook has a really intriguing skill set when you combine his size, arm strength and mobility.

Mariota shows maturity

Oregon's offense is so well-designed that quarterback Marcus Mariota doesn't have to throw into tight windows very often. He'll have to do that at the next level, though.

He missed some of those tight-window throws in the first half against Michigan State. He wasn't setting his feet and was a bit off. He settled in during the second half and started showing his ability to create with his legs, which is what makes him so special.

He's not a finished product -- he needs to be more crisp with his feet inside the pocket and make more of those aforementioned throws into tight windows. However, he showed poise and maturity by shaking off some of those poor first-half throws and dialing in to help the Ducks pull away against the Spartans.

Oregon CB reminiscent of Honey Badger

Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is under 5-foot-10, but he's just so tough and physical. He made some big open-field tackles against Michigan State, and when ball is in the air, he goes up and gets it. He showed off his outstanding ball skills with an interception on Saturday night.

The big question for him is his size -- does he have enough to hold up outside in the NFL or will he move inside to nickel back?

In my opinion, he's ideally a nickel. I see a little bit of Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu in Ekpre-Olomu. He could play nickel or even become an undersized safety in the NFL.

Williams not as dominant as usual

USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams had a handful of flash plays against Stanford, but it wasn't up to his normal dominant performance based in large part to the fact that he was playing on a bad ankle against a good offensive line. He usually lives in the backfield, and he had his moments on Saturday, but there were a lot of times when Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan had a pretty clean pocket, which isn't normally the case if Williams is fully healthy.

We put a toughness grade on every player on all teams I worked for as a scout, and he'll score some points in that area for his performance on Saturday.

Montgomery superb in Stanford loss

Stanford wide receiver Ty Montgomery was outstanding for the second week in a row. He's so strong and tough to bring down -- he had some contested catches with defenders on his back and still made plays, in addition to his 44-yard punt return.

After film study in the spring, I thought he was the second-best senior WR in country behind Louisville's DeVante Parker, and after two weeks, Montgomery is still very much deserving of that ranking. He has the potential to be a solid No. 2 WR in the NFL.

Agholor shows well

USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor has some really clutch catches for the Trojans against Stanford. He's already emerging as a go-to guy for them. He's very quick in the slot and is an outstanding route runner.

He hasn't had any big, explosive plays this season, but I think that's more a function of the offense Steve Sarkisian is running right now. Eventually, I'd like to USC use him more vertically.

Keep eye on USC RB

USC running back Javorius Allen came on halfway through last season and I don't know if people around the country have really caught on to how good he is.

He racked up 154 yards on 23 carries on Saturday, and you don't see Stanford get run on like that very often. He's a very decisive runner.

Check out the top images from the second weekend of college football play.

Quiet day for Peat

Stanford left tackle Andrus Peat had a quiet game vs. USC, which for a tackle is a good thing. USC wasn't able to generate much pressure until the game-clinching play in the final seconds. The Cardinal did use Peat at tight end in the game, and he showed his athleticism working up to the second level.

Pullard solid before ejection

Prior to being ejected on a targeting penalty, USC linebacker Hayes Pullard showed how effective he can be playing downhill against the run. He was exposed a bit in pass coverage, though.

He's a little bit stiff, and it showed. He's not quite as explosive or athletic as Miami's Denzel Perryman -- one of the top inside linebackers in college football -- but Pullard is really instinctive.

USC TE doesn't play to reputation

USC tight end Randall Telfer has a reputation as one of better blocking tight ends in college football, but he struggled on Saturday. He gave up a sack and was overpowered by some of the strength on the edge for Stanford. It wasn't his best game.



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