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Drew Lock on rise; 2 RBs who could follow Kareem Hunt's path

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  • By Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks NFL.com
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Editor's note: NFL.com analysts and former NFL scouts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks of the Move The Sticks Podcast share some of their scouting notes for Week 2 of the college football season, including:

» A big test awaiting Sam Darnold on Saturday
» Early projection and comp for Georgia RB Nick Chubb
» RBs who could follow in the footsteps of opening night sensation Kareem Hunt

But first, we kick off this week's notebook with Brooks' look at a QB who might be set to go from under the radar to the top of the charts.

This season's group of college football QBs has been lauded for the number of potential franchise players in the collection, but few people are buzzing about one of the best kept secrets in the SEC: Missouri's Drew Lock.

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The Tigers' QB1 has the tools to be an elite field general at the next level when you take a look at his size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds), arm talent and pocket passing skills. As a right-handed passer with A-plus arm strength and a quick release, Lock capably makes every throw in the book with zip, velocity or a feathery touch at every range.

When I studied the junior's tape from the 2016 season, I compared him to a MLB relief pitcher with the capacity to throw three or four pitchers from a number of different arm angles. He repeatedly throws around free rushers at the line, exhibiting outstanding awareness and release quickness.

These are the same traits that Lock exhibited when I initially watched him throw at Elite 11 events -- competition for top high school QBs -- a few years ago.

"He's a talented guy who can make every throw in the book," said a high-ranking Elite 11 official. "He's not a 'rah-rah' guy but he's a 'dude' and guys love playing with him."

Another Elite 11 official called him "special" and told me that he might be the "second-best quarterback in the class" (behind USC's Sam Darnold) when it is all said and done.

Now, I know that is certainly lofty praise for a quarterback that's rarely been discussed amidst the hype leading up to the season, but his 521-yard, seven-touchdown effort against Missouri State in Week 1 has certainly prompted scouts to pay closer attention to his work in the SEC. With a marquee matchup against South Carolina on tap for Saturday, the Tigers' QB1 could jump into the elite quarterback prospect conversation with a strong showing this weekend. -- Bucky Brooks

BIG TEST FOR DARNOLD

Speaking of Sam Darnold ... the USC QB wasn't happy with his performance against Western Michigan (23 of 33 for 289 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs; 1 rushing TD) in Week 1, but after studying the tape, I thought he had a solid game. He was victimized by a handful of dropped passes, and one of his interceptions was the result of his receiver losing the battle on a 50/50 ball. I was impressed with his ability to throw with anticipation and quickly work through progressions.

However, the task will be much more difficult this week.

The Trojans host Stanford on Saturday night in one of the weekend's most anticipated games. The Cardinal has one of the best secondaries in the country and they have always been strong against the run. This is a perfect game for Darnold to show off his ability to avoid pressure, extend plays and produce chunk yardage through the air. I wouldn't be surprised if he was more involved in the run game this week, too. He is a threat when they run the zone read (see his TD run last week). This game will be must-see TV for NFL scouts. -- Daniel Jeremiah

EARLY PROJECTION, COMP FOR NICK CHUBB

Each week, NFL.com is publishing a feature on a top college football prospect. This week's story focused on Georgia running back Nick Chubb. It's filled with fascinating information about his upbringing, character and recovery from a gruesome knee injury two years ago. I highly recommend checking it out.

Chubb had a productive effort against Appalachian State in Week 1, racking up 96 rushing yards and two scores. After studying that game on tape, I came away impressed with Chubb's power and balance. He's at his best working between the tackles and grinding out tough yards. He doesn't quite have the burst or top speed he possessed as a younger player, but he did flash some elusiveness in space. He reminds me a little bit of the Bears' Jordan Howard. It might not always be flashy, but he gets the job done.

There's plenty of time for him to showcase his ability this fall, including a big game Saturday against Notre Dame, but I think he's likely to be a middle-round pick in the spring, assuming his knee checks out medically. -- Daniel Jeremiah

FOLLOWING IN KAREEM HUNT'S FOOTSTEPS?

Two of the top running backs in college football will share the field Saturday in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State's Kalen Ballage and San Diego State's Raashad Penny are both highly regarded by NFL evaluators. They are similar in running style and versatility. Both guys are capable route runners out of the backfield and they are each elusive in the open field. I attended the San Diego State game last week and came away very impressed with Penny's vision, balance and burst. I've seen the same things when studying Ballage on tape.

Both of these RBs should be Reese's Senior Bowl invitees at the end of the year. Last year, we saw Kareem Hunt, who's coming off of a record-breaking NFL debut, use that platform to solidify his status as a top-tier runner. I believe both of these players will do the same.

I still believe Saquon Barkley and Derrius Guice are the cream of the crop at the position, but Ballage and Penny are deserving of more attention. -- Daniel Jeremiah

Follow Daniel Jeremiah on Twitter @MoveTheSticks.

Follow Bucky Brooks on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.

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