Our analysts are constantly talking to NFL and college sources about players in the college game. This week, NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein shares some of what NFL folks are saying about Georgia RB Nick Chubb and Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield.
The scoop: Over the past couple of weeks, three NFL evaluators have told me that they see a much better version of Georgia RB Nick Chubb than they saw last season, when he was making his return from a severe knee injury. All three believe he will be drafted higher in 2018 than if he had entered the 2017 draft.
The skinny: I might completely throw away Chubb's 2016 season when I write up his 2018 NFL Draft profile because that timid, sluggish player we saw a year ago is gone.
Throughout 2016, Chubb appeared to be hampered both physically and mentally by the gruesome leg injury that ended his 2015 season. He ran for a very respectable 1,130 yards and 8 TDs in 2016, but Chubb opted to come back to school for the 2017 season to try to improve his draft stock, and he has done just that.
He's much more explosive as an interior and outside rusher. He also looks much lighter on his feet while eluding tackle attempts. Chubb already has as many TD runs as he had in 2016, and he's averaging nearly 2 yards per carry more than he did last season. It's worth noting that Georgia has been able to limit Chubb to 16 or fewer carries in every game so far this season.
* * *
The scoop: "I haven't really changed on Baker (Mayfield) much at all this year. I love his toughness and leadership and he throws the deep ball with really good touch. I just don't know that I'm sold on him being able to work the middle of the field and the intermediate routes. If you can't do that, it's hard to be an NFL starter." -- AFC area scout on the Oklahoma QB
The skinny: I tend to line up in the same camp as this scout, although I've warmed up to Mayfield a bit this season based on what I've seen from him. He leads the FBS in completion percentage (74.6) and still has yet to throw a pick.
Mayfield has a really good grasp of the Oklahoma offense, but can he adapt to an offensive scheme that is significantly different than what he's used to? Mayfield's ability to extend plays with his legs and find open receivers down the field is a big check mark in his favor. However, I won't be surprised if teams are hesitant to buy into a shorter quarterback (listed at 6-foot-1) from a spread offense until the third day (Rounds 4-7) of the draft.