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 college-scouting notes heading into Week 7 of the college football season, including:
But first, we kick off this week's notebook with what Brooks is hearing about Miami's Brad Kaaya and his evaluation of the QB.
Miami QB Brad Kaaya has been touted as a top QB prospect, but not all scouts view the 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior as a sure-fire franchise quarterback at this point. I spoke to a high-ranking NFC personnel executive prior to last week's Florida State-Miami game and he expressed concerns about Kaaya's athleticism, poise and awareness. He described Kaaya as "slow-footed" and "non-athletic" as a playmaker from the pocket. In addition, he questioned his pocket awareness by suggesting that he is an "average quarterback" who "needs a clean pocket to throw" from.
Now, I believe Kaaya is a good player with solid physical traits and strong intangible qualities. He has made his way into the conversation as a potential franchise quarterback by diligently working on his craft every offseason. Those improvements have shown up in his game, as he improved his completion rate in each of his three seasons as the team's starter. In addition, Kaaya has shown the ability to adapt and adjust his game by quickly grasping first-year Miami coach Mark Richt's offense this season.
While I don't think Kaaya is necessarily ready to lead a NFL team as a franchise QB1, he displays enough of the necessary traits to succeed as a mail man (distributor) for a team loaded with established playmakers on the perimeter. With young quarterbacks like Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz thriving in similar situations, the Canes' star quarterback remains an intriguing prospect to follow despite the executive's opinion. -- Bucky Brooks
The next T.Y. Hilton? I've already expressed my excitement for Washington WR John Ross' potential as a WR1 with a tweet and note following his standout performance last week against Oregon, but I'm not alone in my belief in his potential as a pro playmaker.
An NFC scout who recently visited Washington told me that Ross is "one of the most polished receivers" that he's seen in recent years and he is a better overall prospect than Houston Texans rookie Will Fuller and Cleveland Browns rookie Corey Coleman. The scout added that Ross' combination of hands and ball skills should make him a "true No. 1" receiver instead of a complementary deep threat in a vertical passing game. I not only agree with his assessment, but I would suggest that he could develop into a T.Y. Hilton-like playmaker in an offense that places a premium on route running and RAC ability (run after catch). Considering how the league is shifting to a pass-happy emphasis with teams intent on featuring pass-catchers as their marquee offensive weapons, more evaluators should become enamored with Ross as they take a look at his game. -- Bucky Brooks
Must-see matchup for scouts in Week 7: Tennessee DE Derek Barnett vs. Alabama OT Cam Robinson. Barnett has been a one-man wrecking crew this fall. He is a powerful edge rusher and his motor is always running. He wins one-on-one battles with pure strength and pass-rush savvy. He's outstanding with his hands. He doesn't have elite get-off, but he has a variety of pass-rushing moves. Robinson is a mauling run blocker for the Tide. He can generate movement at the point of attack and he's improving as a second-level blocker. In pass protection, he has good balance and awareness but he lacks elite foot quickness. He gave some ground vs. the Arkansas edge rushers last week. They were able to get into his chest and drive him back to the quarterback. He might struggle against Barnett because he excels at converting speed to power. -- Daniel Jeremiah
QB to watch on Saturday: Scouts are paying close attention to any passer with exceptional physical dimensional and arm talent. Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes certainly passes the eyeball test as a 6-foot-3, 230-pound gunslinger with nimble feet and plenty of arm strength. The Red Raiders' star quarterback has posted impressive numbers as the director of Kliff Kingsbury's spread offense, but scouts want to see if his raw playmaking ability translates into a pro-style offense. He should have plenty of chances to show off his skills as an explosive dual threat against Big 12 foe West Virginia on Saturday in what is likely to be a shootout. Coming off a 500-yard performance against Kansas State that showcased some of his skills as a dropback passer, Mahomes will have a perfect opportunity to show evaluators that he's more than a system player at this stage of his career. -- Bucky Brooks
How does Boise State continue to play at a high level? The Broncos (5-0) are ranked No. 15 in the AP Poll and they are likely headed toward an undefeated season. During my last 2 years in scouting (2010/2011), Boise was loaded with NFL talent. Guys like Tyrone Crawford, Billy Winn and Doug Martin were highly regarded in the scouting community. I reached out to a couple West Coast area scouts to get their take on this Boise State roster and they said it was nowhere near as talented as those Chris Petersen-led teams of the past. They are just an extremely well-coached squad that plays smart and tough on a weekly basis. According to the area scouts, their best players are sophomores Tyler Horton (CB) and Jabril Frazier (DE). Those are some names to remember for the future, but the current crop of upperclassmen isn't littered with NFL players. -- Daniel Jeremiah
Bold predictions for second half of season
My preseason bold prediction didn't go so well. I predicted that Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer was going to win the Heisman Trophy. While his numbers have been very good, I think we all know that isn't going to happen. For my do-over, I'll make this bold claim: There will be two defensive players invited to New York as Heisman finalists, and Michigan's Jabrill Peppers won't be one of them. Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett and Ohio State safety Malik Hooker will both go on a tear in high-profile games in the second half of the season to earn an invite to New York. Hooker has already made several splash plays and he'll have quite the highlight reel by the end of the season. Garrett has made big plays as well, despite battling ankle an injury. He will have the big stage in two weeks when the Aggies head to Tuscaloosa. He will put on a show. -- Daniel Jeremiah
Syracuse WR Amba Etta-Tawo will finish with 2,000-plus receiving yards as the WR1 in Dino Babers' offense. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound pass-catcher has already totaled 51 receptions for 876 yards in six games, but he should see his numbers spike as the Orange's young quarterback (Eric Dungey) settles into his role as a distributor in a warp-speed offense. Etta-Tawo has already piqued the interest of scouts with five straight 100-yard games, including a pair of 200-plus yard performances against Colgate and Connecticut, but it's his ability to "big body" smaller defenders on 50-50 balls that has endeared him to scouts searching for a potential WR1. If he surpasses the 2,000-yard mark while continuing to "Moss" defenders on go routes and fades, he should see his stock rise during the run up to the draft. -- Bucky Brooks