|Paul Sancya/Associated Press|
With college football's Week 13 in the books, here's a look at who's on the rise and who's in decline based on the weekend's action.
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan: Ohio State came out on top Saturday in a classic rivalry game against Michigan. Charlton, however, caught the eyes of talent evaluators with his performance in a losing effort. At 6-6, 270 pounds, Charlton has the size and athleticism to start on the strong side in a 4-3 scheme. He split a double team in the first half, stretching out a run for his teammates to make the stop behind the line. Charlton consistently beat Buckeyes right tackle Isaiah Prince when he was in pass-rush mode, getting in the face of QB J.T. Barrett. The senior DE failed to bring down the elusive Barrett a couple of times in the pocket, though he worked hard to finally bring the QB down for a fourth-quarter sack. Charlton lost contain a couple of times in the third quarter against Barrett, allowing the athletic quarterback to make big runs. He also didn't have as much success vs. the left tackle as he did on the other side. But late in the game, Charlton's ability to chase down talented running back Mike Weber in the flat and make the open-field tackle raised some eyebrows throughout the league.
Malachi Dupre, WR, LSU: Scouts saw more opportunities for Dupre on Thursday night than they typically do, as quarterback Danny Etling had the passing game going against Texas A&M. Although his receiving statistics (34-454-3) don't place him among the nation's elite receivers, his size (6-foot-4, 195 pounds), foot quickness coming out of breaks and speed make him a coveted prospect. Dupre proved he could explode past his man when getting to the back of the end zone to catch a fade. The junior also impressed with his blocking, helping running back Derrius Guice twice on touchdown runs. This is the sort of effort that will help Dupre make an impact in the NFL.
Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama: A Tallahassee native, Harrison's game is similar to fellow sophomore safety Derwin James, though he gives up some pounds to Florida State's injured leader. His sinewy 6-3, 216-pound build belies a supreme hitting ability. Throughout the Iron Bowl, he came downhill to securely tackle Auburn ball carriers and sniffed out lateral runs, using his speed and aggressive nature to wreak havoc. Tigers quarterback Brandon Cox went outside the pocket in the fourth quarter to find room to run, but all he saw was Harrison barreling down on him. Cox's poor throw on the play turned into an interception that sealed the undefeated regular season for the Tide. And by the way, Harrison also has two interceptions and five pass breakups, so he shouldn't be labeled as a linebacker playing in a safety's body. Based on the way he makes tackles (on special teams, as well), you'd think he could play just about any position on defense.
Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin: Ramcyzk (pronounced RAM-check) went from all-conference tackle with Wisconsin-Stevens Point to redshirt walk-on with the Badgers, and now he's one of the top offensive tackles in college football. Pass protection is his specialty right now, as he showed against Minnesota on Saturday, using his tall, athletic build to mirror ends around the edge. He reset his hands and moved his feet to stay engaged, also slyly hooking his man to prevent him from turning the corner. Ramczyk comes off the ball strong in the run game, moving Gophers defensive ends out of the hole. The redshirt junior fails to bend at the knees at times, losing leverage to strong defenders and failing to get true push in the run game. He showed scouts his ability to get low out of a four-point stance on a game-tying goal-line touchdown run in the second half. If he's able to gain strength and use his natural bend more consistently, he could earn comparisons to long-time NFL starting left tackle Jeff Backus.
Des Lawrence, CB, North Carolina: Lawrence passes the eye test at 6-1, 185 pounds and possesses the length scouts like to see. Unfortunately, he hasn't played the ball well in the air this year, failing to come up with an interception despite being in position to break up nine passes. The senior did have two picks in 2015, but missed opportunities for others among his 14 pass breakups. Lawrence knocked away one throw vs. N.C. State on Friday, but couldn't find the ball in the air to create the turnover despite being in position to do so. And in the first quarter, he got burned on a flea flicker, falling for the fake block from a tight end and showing a lackluster amount of recovery speed and physicality on a tackle attempt. Thankfully for his sake, the play was called back due to a holding penalty. Is Lawrence an NFL corner? Absolutely. In a press scheme, he should be able to man up good receivers. But to go in the top 50 picks, a DB usually needs to prove he has the ball skills and recovery speed to take on the top receivers in the league. Lawrence needs excellent workouts this offseason to make scouts pound the table for him.
Follow Chad Reuter on Twitter @chad_reuter.