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What we learned from Week 3 of college football season

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  • By Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks, Gil Brandt, Lance Zierlein and Chad Reuter NFL.com
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Here's a look at what NFL.com analysts learned about prospects in Week 3 of the college football season.

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1. The difference between Louisville's Lamar Jackson from last season to this season is night and day. He was a great runner last year and is probably even more dangerous in that regard this season, but what really impresses me is his growth from the pocket. Jackson is so much more confident and calm from the pocket this season and he showed that Saturday with really nice touch underneath against Florida State. We can pick at his thin frame or deep-ball accuracy, but his progression as a lead playmaker is impressive. -- Lance Zierlein

2. DeShone Kizer didn't lead Notre Dame to a win against Michigan State, but he continued to make a strong case for his candidacy as a top QB prospect. The 6-foot-4 1/2, 230-pounder completed 20 of 37 passes for 344 yards with two scores and a pick. Those numbers are solid, but scouts will be more excited about the kind of throws that Kizer completed to rack up his gaudy production. He repeatedly dropped "dimes" to his receivers working down the seams, exhibiting outstanding touch, timing and anticipation on those throws. Kizer's 12-yard touchdown to Durham Smythe on a "Y Stick Nod" (out and up) showcased his impeccable timing on routes down the seam. Kizer also connected with receivers on deep digs and square-out/comebacks away from Michigan State's underneath defenders. The redshirt sophomore continues answer the questions about his poise and pocket-passing skills that some have raised during their evaluations. -- Bucky Brooks

3. LSU's Leonard Fournette reminded everyone that he's the most gifted running back in college football. It's so rare to see someone with his blend of speed and power. He finished every run Saturday vs. Mississippi State, showing off a violent stiff arm on one carry. His running style is a lethal combination of anger and instincts.

4. I think more people will have an appreciation for Alabama DL Jonathan Allen's athleticism after watching him return an interception 70-plus yards vs. Ole Miss. Allen is highly disruptive at the line of scrimmage, but he can also drop into coverage and make plays. He plays hard on every play, and I expect the senior to be a top-7 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. -- Gil Brandt

5. If you are sleeping on Oklahoma State junior WR James Washington, you might want to wake up. After averaging 20.6 yards per catch on the way to a 1,000-yard, 10-TD sophomore campaign, he's taking it to another level this year. Washington has decent size and good speed, but he is next level with his ability to track deep throws and win the jump ball. He was relatively quiet in his first two games before mauling Pitt's cornerbacks today with 9 catches for 296 yards and 2 TDs. -- Lance Zierlein

6. Brad Kaaya had a big game leading Miami over Appalachian State. He had one late throw in the red zone that resulted in an interception but otherwise he was nearly flawless. He took the open layups underneath and he also delivered several accurate deep balls when the opportunities arose. This performance should build some confidence for the signal-caller. -- Daniel Jeremiah

7. Louisville's Josh Harvey-Clemons showed up to play against Florida State on Saturday. The 6-foot-5, 212-pound safety hit like a linebacker with excellent tackling form, both in the box and coming up from a single-deep look to pound Seminoles star back Dalvin Cook. Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois is going to see Harvey-Clemons coming at him hard and fast on delayed blitzes during his sleep. He wasn't tested much as a pass defender, but coaches have enough trust in his ability to cover ground that they were willing to have him take the deep middle. -- Chad Reuter

8. FSU DE DeMarcus Walker, the Seminoles' top healthy defender (safety Derwin James is out with a knee injury) played well against Louisville. He played everywhere along the line other than on the nose, taking on the left and right tackles, as well as both guards when inside. His hand usage and quickness were too much for interior linemen. Walker was around Lamar Jackson as much as anyone can be, with the sophomore's elite quickness making him difficult to corral. Walker's willingness to hustle 10-15 yards downfield to bring down receivers also really impressed scouts. Though it was not a banner day for FSU, Walker showed enough on tape to keep his draft stock high. -- Chad Reuter

9. Louisville made it very difficult for Florida State to move the ball on Saturday, partially due to ILB Keith Kelsey's presence in the middle. A future 3-4 inside linebacker in the NFL, Kelsey's downhill running into run gaps and scraping on stretch plays were impressive. While not exceedingly fast, he's aware of his coverage responsibilities and able to make the stop when needed, even against a slippery back like Dalvin Cook. Kelsey also showed great hustle to the sideline and knew the correct angle to take to prevent big plays. He did miss his gap assignment on occasion, however, allowing cutbacks and getting sealed by tight ends. Kelsey also needs to stay low inside so blockers don't have a big target. But, he's clearly a leader on defense with great strength who gives excellent effort. -- Chad Reuter

10. Texas DB Brandon Jones might have a future as a special-teams demon after notching the second blocked punt of his career against Cal. The 5-foot-11, 192-pound freshman shot through a gap at the line of scrimmage to swat the ball off the punter's foot for a safety in the second quarter. Jones showed cat-like quickness getting off the ball and displayed exceptional technique as he blocked the punt. From his angle to the block point to the way he kept his hands below his eyes when reaching for the punt, Jones' block looks like it was made for a clinic tape, so expect NFL special-teams coaches to take notice as he moves through his collegiate career. -- Bucky Brooks

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