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What we learned from Week 7 in college football

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  • By Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks, Gil Brandt, Lance Zierlein and Chad Reuter NFL.com
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Randy Sartin / USA TODAY Sports

Here's a look at what NFL.com analysts learned about prospects in Week 7 of the college football season.

1. It's time to start thinking about Alabama QB Jalen Hurts as a Heisman contender.

Yes, I know Hurts is a true freshman and no true freshman has ever won the award. He belongs in the conversation, though. He's playing at a very high level, and he's delivered against good competition. I was impressed when I saw him play in person in Week 1 against USC. Now, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson is considered the Heisman front-runner. Jackson is probably a better runner than Hurts, although Hurts rushed for three touchdowns on Saturday in a rout of Tennessee. Hurts is probably a better passer than Jackson. Hurts doesn't always throw a tight spiral, but it looks like he has good accuracy.

Hurts is also looking to become the first true freshman to lead his team to a national title since 1985, when Jamelle Holieway accomplished the feat with Oklahoma. -- Gil Brandt

2. Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer had a rough night in a loss to Stanford. He made several poor decisions and throws, leading to his benching for part of the second half. He showed some mental toughness to recover and lead Notre Dame down the field for a potential game-tying TD, but the drive ended short of the end zone. He took a sack on second down during that drive, which forced him to kill the clock on third down. It was essentially a two-down mistake. You just can't do that in that situation. He's extremely gifted, but his confidence appears to be waning and his play has really tailed off over the last few weeks. -- Daniel Jeremiah

3. USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster is starting to deliver after a slow start to his junior campaign. He had a huge day Saturday against Arizona. He doesn't possess big-time top speed, but his strength and power are huge assets after the catch. He broke several tackles today and racked up a bunch of yards after short passes. He suffered a back injury in the third quarter, but he still managed to post 9-132 and 3 TDs. -- Daniel Jeremiah

4. Alabama's Reuben Foster is a good linebacker and he really hustles, as he showed again on Saturday against Tennessee. Inside linebackers aren't valued in the NFL like they used to be. Foster might have been a top-10 pick 15 years ago. Now, he's shaping up to be a pick in the middle or late part of Round 1. -- Gil Brandt

5. After being viewed as a bit of an afterthought in the 2017 running back class due to his middling production the last two seasons, Wisconsin RB Corey Clement might've resurrected his chances of being considered a top prospect with his workmanlike performance against Ohio State. The 5-foot-11, 227-pound senior gashed the Buckeyes for 164 rushing yards on 25 carries while exhibiting a solid combination of strength, power and balance. Clements repeatedly ran through arm tackles in the hole, exhibiting outstanding leg strength and drive. In addition, he flashed adequate speed, acceleration and burst on a 68-yard run early in the game. Although Clement's overall production falls well short of the acceptable standard for elite backs, scouts could give him a bit of a pass during the pre-draft process after watching his impressive work against Ohio State. -- Bucky Brooks

6. Whenever I speak with NFL scouts, nobody seems to get very excited about Alabama safety Eddie Jackson. While they all think he can play in the NFL, most see him as a third-day (Rounds 4-7) option. As far as I'm concerned, I've seen enough from Jackson to know that he makes good decisions, has terrific special-teams value and is a willing hitter with leadership qualities. He might not be an early round pick, but he looks like a future NFL starter to me. -- Lance Zierlein

7. Coming off a big week, Oklahoma WR Dede Westbrook looked good again against Kansas State. Westbrook showed off his smooth route-running ability, as well as the second gear to turn on the jets after grabbing a screen, slant, or cross (he scored on such a play in the second half). Westbrook had his easiest catch of the day on his first touchdown, standing alone while running back Joe Mixon flung a pass his way. His only misstep was misadjusting to a deep ball thrown behind him; by no means was it an easy catch, but scouts would have liked to see him use strong hands to bring in that catch. He did find another deep ball later in the game, though, scoring an 88-yard touchdown. That makes over 400 yards and six touchdowns over the past two weeks. While he is more slight than a lot of receiver prospects, he reminds me of a sinewy-strong Donald Driver coming out of college. -- Chad Reuter

8. Iowa CB Desmond King is not the fastest or most explosive corner in the 2017 class, but he might be the most instinctive defensive playmaker in the 2017 class. The reigning Jim Thorpe award winner nabbed his 12th career interception against Purdue, displaying exceptional hands, ball skills and return ability on a 40-yard pick-six to ice the game. King, who also ranks as a standout punt returner, cut in front of the intended receiver on a sail route and waltzed down the boundary for a score. He has specialized in undercutting routes throughout his career, which is a testament to his superb route recognition and anticipation skills. Although scouts still question his long speed and recovery burst as an elite CB1 prospect, King's knack for playmaking could still make him a top pick for a team that covets a zone corner with natural ball-hawking skills. -- Bucky Brooks

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9. As the highest-rated Illinois player in draft circles, more sack production was expected from Dawuane Smoot at this point in the year than one sack (he recorded it today vs. Rutgers). Still, you can see Smoot's fluidity and body control as a pass rusher. I really like his quickness to the quarterback when he bumps inside. The numbers aren't there this year, but I still like the talent. -- Lance Zierlein

10. N.C. State RB Matthew Dayes had an excellent game Saturday against Clemson. He's a bowling ball between the tackles and he's been effective in the passing game as well. This is the second week in a row I've had a chance to watch him play, and he's been very impressive. This year's draft class is loaded with RB talent and Dayes should end up being an excellent value pick. -- Daniel Jeremiah

11. When the Florida State passing attack is on, the 'Noles get the ball to WR Travis Rudolph in space to take advantage of his agility. Every time the junior touched a well-thrown ball with any room to operate against Wake Forest, he showed the stop-start ability and acceleration to turn a short pass into a long gain. Rudolph caught balls on the sideline, over the middle, and down the field. His 13 catches for 218 yards made it clear to scouts that whenever he gets into an NFL offensive system with a consistent passing game, he'll be a playmaker. -- Chad Reuter

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