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Published: Sept. 23, 2016 at 12:17 p.m.

10 prospects failing to live up to the hype

These 10 players are moving in the wrong direction through the first quarter of the college football season. The prospects are ranked by how much I believe they've damaged their stock so far this year. They're all talents who should get their shot at the next level -- but improving their play over the remainder of the season is a must in order to convince NFL teams that they can realize their potential.

10 Photos Total

  • The Volunteers are tied for 105th in the country in sacks, averaging only one per game. So far, Barnett has none. He was credited with 10 sacks in each of the last two seasons, and the team is counting on that kind of production from him to challenge SEC East foes that are also reaching for the division title. Barnett is a good player. He's able to hold his own outside despite giving up a lot of size to offensive linemen. But his ability to consistently get the corner against those tackles and make plays in the backfield during the SEC season will determine whether he's considered an elite prospect or a situational player with the potential to be more. I suspect we'll be hearing his name in a more positive light as the season unfolds. 10

    Wade Payne

    10. Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

    The Volunteers are tied for 105th in the country in sacks, averaging only one per game. So far, Barnett has none. He was credited with 10 sacks in each of the last two seasons, and the team is counting on that kind of production from him to challenge SEC East foes that are also reaching for the division title. Barnett is a good player. He's able to hold his own outside despite giving up a lot of size to offensive linemen. But his ability to consistently get the corner against those tackles and make plays in the backfield during the SEC season will determine whether he's considered an elite prospect or a situational player with the potential to be more. I suspect we'll be hearing his name in a more positive light as the season unfolds.

  • Cook currently ranks 65th in the country in rushing yards per game (76.0), and his one explosive run (37-yard touchdown) came against Charleston Southern. Cook's pass protection has been spotty, as well, which isn't helping his freshman quarterback, Deondre Francois. The Seminoles' offensive line has had its problems. As it gels, Cook might get more opportunities to shine. But so far, he hasn't really put his mark on the season. 9

    STEVEN CANNON

    9. Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

    Cook currently ranks 65th in the country in rushing yards per game (76.0), and his one explosive run (37-yard touchdown) came against Charleston Southern. Cook's pass protection has been spotty, as well, which isn't helping his freshman quarterback, Deondre Francois. The Seminoles' offensive line has had its problems. As it gels, Cook might get more opportunities to shine. But so far, he hasn't really put his mark on the season.

  • Lewis is one of the better cover corners in America, but he hasn't been on the field yet for the Wolverines due to injuries. It looks like he'll be back soon -- perhaps on Saturday vs. Penn State -- but scouts that are already leery about their teams using an early-round pick on a 5-foot-10, 170-pound cornerback will only have more ammunition if Lewis is struggling with injuries. He'll need to get back in form over the second half of the season to maximize his draft stock. 8

    Tony Ding

    8. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Michigan

    Lewis is one of the better cover corners in America, but he hasn't been on the field yet for the Wolverines due to injuries. It looks like he'll be back soon -- perhaps on Saturday vs. Penn State -- but scouts that are already leery about their teams using an early-round pick on a 5-foot-10, 170-pound cornerback will only have more ammunition if Lewis is struggling with injuries. He'll need to get back in form over the second half of the season to maximize his draft stock.

  • Expectations were high for Luke, who flashes the intensity and athleticism needed to be a solid contributor at the next level. However, his game against Michigan State last weekend tempered scouts' excitement about his prospects. He was in position to make a red-zone interception, but Luke had the ball ripped out of his hands by Spartan freshman receiver Donnie Corley for a touchdown. The senior also joined his teammates in missing tackles and miscommunicating against MSU's attack throughout the evening. 7

    Ben Liebenberg

    7. Cole Luke, CB, Notre Dame

    Expectations were high for Luke, who flashes the intensity and athleticism needed to be a solid contributor at the next level. However, his game against Michigan State last weekend tempered scouts' excitement about his prospects. He was in position to make a red-zone interception, but Luke had the ball ripped out of his hands by Spartan freshman receiver Donnie Corley for a touchdown. The senior also joined his teammates in missing tackles and miscommunicating against MSU's attack throughout the evening.

  • The Sooners have had a rough go of things in a tough early schedule that included games against Houston and Ohio State. Perine's managed just 33 carries in three games, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and scoring twice. Those numbers aren't terrible, but they are down compared to the pace he set as a  freshman (6.5, 21) and sophomore (6.0, 16). With Joe Mixon looking like the more explosive option as a runner and receiver, Sooners coaches are going to continue giving Mixon a good share of the touches, which will limit Perine's production. 6

    Sue Ogrocki

    6. Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma

    The Sooners have had a rough go of things in a tough early schedule that included games against Houston and Ohio State. Perine's managed just 33 carries in three games, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and scoring twice. Those numbers aren't terrible, but they are down compared to the pace he set as a freshman (6.5, 21) and sophomore (6.0, 16). With Joe Mixon looking like the more explosive option as a runner and receiver, Sooners coaches are going to continue giving Mixon a good share of the touches, which will limit Perine's production.

  • After being benched late in his junior year at Kentucky, Towles moved on as a graduate transfer to BC. He's completed just 47.8 percent of his passes and thrown three interceptions against just two touchdowns in three games -- not a good start. NFL scouts know the talent around the strong-armed Towles at BC is not exceptional, but they will want to see him make his teammates better throughout the season. 5

    Michael Dwyer

    5. Patrick Towles, QB, Boston College

    After being benched late in his junior year at Kentucky, Towles moved on as a graduate transfer to BC. He's completed just 47.8 percent of his passes and thrown three interceptions against just two touchdowns in three games -- not a good start. NFL scouts know the talent around the strong-armed Towles at BC is not exceptional, but they will want to see him make his teammates better throughout the season.

  • There was talk about Banner moving to left tackle for his senior year, but it looks as though the coaching staff made the correct call keeping Chad Wheeler on the blind side. Banner is a mammoth tackle (6-foot-9, 360 pounds, per school measurements) who will undoubtedly get his chance in the NFL purely due to his size and length. But scouts note that he tends to "catch" rushers instead of attacking them, a style difference notable in the opener against Alabama and their star left tackle, Cam Robinson. Banner's style will work against most college ends, but it'll be less successful against NFL veterans. 4

    Kirby Lee

    4. Zach Banner, RT, USC

    There was talk about Banner moving to left tackle for his senior year, but it looks as though the coaching staff made the correct call keeping Chad Wheeler on the blind side. Banner is a mammoth tackle (6-foot-9, 360 pounds, per school measurements) who will undoubtedly get his chance in the NFL purely due to his size and length. But scouts note that he tends to "catch" rushers instead of attacking them, a style difference notable in the opener against Alabama and their star left tackle, Cam Robinson. Banner's style will work against most college ends, but it'll be less successful against NFL veterans.

  • The Trojans' top receiver has been a victim of a sputtering offense, but NFL scouts who already had doubts about his explosiveness haven't been happy with his inability to make plays to jump-start his team. 3

    Kirby Lee

    3. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

    The Trojans' top receiver has been a victim of a sputtering offense, but NFL scouts who already had doubts about his explosiveness haven't been happy with his inability to make plays to jump-start his team.

  • Tennessee was hoping Dobbs would take the next step in his progression as a pocket passer, in addition to using his toughness and athleticism to move the chains with his feet. So far, that hasn't planned out -- this week, Teez Tabor and the rest of the Gators' defense will present an excellent test of Dobbs' resolve. 2

    Christopher Hanewinckel

    2. Josh Dobbs, QB, Tennessee

    Tennessee was hoping Dobbs would take the next step in his progression as a pocket passer, in addition to using his toughness and athleticism to move the chains with his feet. So far, that hasn't planned out -- this week, Teez Tabor and the rest of the Gators' defense will present an excellent test of Dobbs' resolve.

  • In his senior season, Kiel has held a clipboard for all but three plays -- where he handed off each time at the end of the Bearcats' loss to Houston. The former No. 1 high school quarterback recruit and Notre Dame transfer played well enough to hold the starting job the past two years, but a suspension and injuries have cost him a chance to play since the end of the 2015 regular season.  Scouts know he has the physical traits to succeed in the league, and he might get back on the field this year, but being relegated to third string has sent his stock spiraling in the wrong direction. 1

    James Guillory

    1. Gunner Kiel, QB, Cincinnati

    In his senior season, Kiel has held a clipboard for all but three plays -- where he handed off each time at the end of the Bearcats' loss to Houston. The former No. 1 high school quarterback recruit and Notre Dame transfer played well enough to hold the starting job the past two years, but a suspension and injuries have cost him a chance to play since the end of the 2015 regular season. Scouts know he has the physical traits to succeed in the league, and he might get back on the field this year, but being relegated to third string has sent his stock spiraling in the wrong direction.