Cody Kessler has up-and-down performance in rout of Utah


LOS ANGELES -- Unfortunately, there were a few draft prospects who weren't able to play in USC's decisive 42-24 win over Utah thanks to season-ending injuries (USC center Max Tuerk, Utah LB Jared Norris) or nagging injury (USC RB Tre Madden). However, there were still draftable prospects, and potentially draftable prospects, to watch for.

While I wasn't able to focus on all of the prospects on the field, I was able to lock my attention in on these players.


Cody Kessler, QB: Kessler had the look of two very different quarterbacks. When he felt safe in the pocket, he threw the ball with very good accuracy, touch and confidence. Whenever he sensed his pocket wasn't a safe haven, he panicked, dropped his eyes and missed open targets. While Kessler has the tools to throw it from the pocket, his fleeting poise is a major concern as a quarterback who could be subjected to a blitz-happy afternoon.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR: Smith-Schuster is a true sophomore, so he isn't eligible for the 2016 draft, but he had an extremely impressive performance and will be one to watch in the future. Smith-Schuster showed soft hands and good quickness out of his breaks. He also showed an ability to accelerate on crossing routes. His body control and ball tracking looked pro-caliber already.

Su'a Cravens, LB: I spoke with an NFL scout in the press box who believes that Cravens can absolutely transition into a 4-3 WILL outside linebacker spot or a 3-4 inside linebacker spot. Cravens was unspectacular but manned his position and took on bigger blockers, disengaging and leveraging his gap. Cravens showed his edge speed on back-side chases and lined up in coverage on slot receivers. With so many defenses having to play sub-packages more than base defense, hybrid talents like Cravens will carry a higher draft grade than they would have in the past.

Antwaun Woods, NT: Woods was extremely active and showed good feet for a big man. He maintained sight of the ball and cruised down the defensive line looking to make a play. I didn't see as much penetration as I would have liked from him at the nose spot.

Zack Banner, LT:The massive tackle moved from the right side to the left side due to injury and he was okay in that spot, but there is no way he has the feet to play there as a pro. In fact, due to his issues getting to the edge, I have questions about whether or not he can play right tackle as a pro unless he loses more weight and improves his quickness. When Banner gets his hands on defenders, they are finished, but he might have to do his work from the guard position in the pros.

Check out the top images from the eighth weekend of college football play.


Devontae Booker, RB: Booker continues to show that he's an every-down running back, but he is on the borderline of every-down-running-back size. Booker showed good vision as well as an understanding of when to shake a defender and when to finish a run. He runs bigger than his listed size and is an effective receiver out of the backfield. Booker doesn't look like he's a speedy running back, but he does have good quickness and agility. Booker is no-brainer second-day (Rounds 2-3) draft pick, in my opinion.

Travis Wilson, QB: This was an absolutely dreadful game for Wilson. Not only was Wilson's accuracy way off, his decision-making was extremely problematic. Wilson threw into coverage throughout the game and was intercepted three times by USC freshman linebacker Cameron Smith. Smith kept reading Wilson's eyes and Wilson kept taking him right to the throw by locking in on slot targets. Wilson's gnarly looking arm slot and release is a turn-off to scouts, so he can't afford to make these kinds of poor decisions.

Gionni Paul, LB: Paul is an interesting prospect, because he is extremely undersized but also extremely productive. Once again, Paul was all over the place for Utah, darting downhill into the gaps and attacking the line of scrimmage. His draft stock won't be very high simply because of his size as an inside linebacker, but he's tough and instinctive. At worst, he should be a priority, first-call free agent.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter @LanceZierlein.

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