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, including:
But first, we kick off this week's notebook with a look at one executive's take on Nick Bosa, the younger brother of the Chargers' Joey.
The biggest game of Week 9 in college football is taking place on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio. Penn State is looking to defeat Ohio State for the second year in a row, but this challenge should be a little tougher for Penn State than last season's, considering it'll take place on the road.
Both teams are littered with future NFL players, but there are two players that easily stand out above the rest when you study the tape. The first one is obvious: Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. He's clearly the top running back in the country and I could make a strong case that he's the best player, regardless of position, in the country as well. The second player has a familiar last name.
Ohio State DE Nick Bosa isn't a full-time starter for the Buckeyes defense (he's started 4 of 7 games) but he jumps off the screen when you study their defense. He leads the team with 10 tackles for loss and 4 sacks.
Here's what an NFL scouting executive told me after recently visiting Ohio State: "Bosa's little brother is a stud. He's the same player in a smaller package. He has the exact same swipe move and he plays with the same effort. The (OSU) coaches told me he's further along than his brother at this point in his career."
I noticed the same things when I studied him. Nick Bosa (6-foot-4, 270 pounds, per school measurements) uses the same swipe move Joey Bosa (6-5, 280) is using to dominate NFL offensive linemen on a weekly basis. Nick is still another year away from being eligible to apply for early draft eligibility, but it's going to fun to track his development. Just like his big brother, he's a special talent. --Daniel Jeremiah
TRUBISKY GETS IT RIGHT
The big knock on Mitchell Trubisky leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft was the limited number of college starts he had under his belt at North Carolina. He was only a full-time starter for one season and many folks felt he should've returned to school to gain more experience before moving on to the next level. As we all know, his stock didn't suffer, as he was selected with the second overall pick by the Bears. Also, after looking at what's happened to the Tar Heel program this fall, it's pretty obvious Trubisky made a wise decision.
The Tar Heels are in the midst of a miserable season. They have only one win this fall (against Old Dominion) and their offensive output has been futile. They have failed to score more than 17 points in each of their last five contests. Obviously, losing a starting-caliber NFL quarterback can be tough to overcome, but they lost a lot more than just their signal-caller. Consider this: They lost their top 2 running backs (Elijah Hood and T.J. Logan) and 3 of their top 4 receivers (Ryan Switzer, Bug Howard and Mack Hollins). Four of those players were drafted.
I'm sure Trubisky knew what he would've been up against had he elected to return for his senior season. Sure, he could've used some more seasoning, but I'm not sure there would've been enough talent around him to improve on his impressive junior season production. He made the right call to move on. -- Daniel Jeremiah
THREE EMERGING QBs TO WATCH
This college football season has been dubbed "The Year of the Quarterback" due to the extraordinary depth and talent at the position. While most of the attention has centered on "The Big Three" (Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Josh Allen) as well as a handful of household names, including Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph and Luke Falk, the potential hidden gems of the group could make it one of the best we've seen in years.
Despite posting ridiculous production at their respective schools, there are three field generals that have rarely been discussed on the national scene.
West Virginia's Will Grier, N.C. State's Ryan Finley and Memphis' Riley Ferguson are putting together seasons that will make them recognizable names on the national scene and intriguing options within the scouting community. Evaluators are beginning to pay closer attention to their play to see if their talents, leadership skills and intangibles could lead to long-term success at the next level.
Although each member of the trio is a former transfer with some questions surrounding their departures, they have shown enough growth as players and leaders to intrigue evaluators looking for a developmental prospect.
Their relative anonymity could change soon with the scouting community beginning to take notice of their efforts, particularly as they begin to elevate their programs into top-25 status. Here's a closer look at each.
Will Grier, West Virginia: The junior transfer from Florida has been sensational directing the Mountaineers' attack. Grier is a touchdown machine with a strong arm and a deft touch from the pocket. He quickly fires the ball to the perimeter following play fakes like a shortstop turning a double play.
Grier's accuracy and ball placement on short and intermediate throws is outstanding, particular on slants and skinny posts to either side of the field. In addition, he throws short and intermediate routes between the hashes with good timing, anticipation and touch. Although Grier's stats are partially inflated by the team's scheme (run-pass options, bubble screens, and quicks), he makes enough strike-zone throws to move the chains as an effective "dink-and-dunk" passer.
As a deep-ball passer, Grier is a little erratic when dropping the ball down the chute along the boundary on vertical throws. He has misfired on a handful of go routes down the sideline that elite QB prospects should be able to make routinely. If he can add the deep ball to his game, particularly on vertical throws tossed outside of the numbers, Grier could be an ideal fit in a scheme that features West Coast offense concepts.
Ryan Finley, N.C. State: Throw out the stats when evaluating Finley's game and pro potential because the Boise State transfer plays like a pro from the pocket.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound junior is an efficient rhythm passer with a terrific feel for timing and anticipation. Finley is at his best working the short and intermediate areas of the field on an assortment of "catch, rock and fire" throws that allow him to fire the ball to his playmakers quickly. He operates out of a spread offense that features a number of empty formation passing plays with receivers stretching the field horizontally on an assortment of quick routes (hitches, seams, and bubbles). Finley also attacks the defense with a number of movement-based throws (bootlegs and sprint-outs) directed to the running backs in the flat.
While evaluators would like to see Finley push the ball down the field more, the Wolfpack's QB1 has enough arm strength and range to stretch the field with the long ball. He must show more consistency with his accuracy and ball placement but appears to have the whip to make deep-ball throws. With Finley showing superb ball security (11 touchdowns against zero picks) and a complete understanding of how to play winning football at the position, he could be an intriguing option as a developmental QB prospect.
Riley Ferguson, Memphis: The 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior is the wild card of the group based on his physical traits and streaky performance.
Ferguson has a pair of six-plus touchdown games (six touchdown passes against UCLA; seven touchdown tosses against UConn) that showcased his potential as a QB1. He attacked the defense at every level with a variety of pinpoint throws to receivers on the run. Ferguson's accuracy and ball placement stood out in those contests, but he has struggled hitting the strike zone in some of the Tigers' other outings. He's a rhythm thrower with a quick release and B-plus whip (arm strength) who's capable of fitting the ball into tight windows.
Ferguson racks up completions on quicks, bubbles and seams but occasionally drops a dime on a comeback or curl at intermediate range. He capably throws the ball on the move (bootleg or sprint-out) to either side of the field, which makes him a viable option for any offense that features movement-based passes in the game plan.
Although Ferguson looks like a top prospect when he's on his game, he's a streaky passer with some inconsistent traits that will lead some evaluators to pause before placing a strong grade next to his name. He misses a few layups and his completion percentage for the season sits just below the 60-percent threshold (59.9 percent). Despite those concerns, Ferguson has played well enough in big games to merit some consideration as a developmental QB1. If he can smooth out some of the rough patches in his game down the stretch (accuracy and ball placement), he could make a late rise up the charts as an intriguing Day 3 (Rounds 4-7) prospect. -- Bucky Brooks
TOP INDIVIDUAL MATCHUP OF THE WEEK
While the game of the week might be Penn State-Ohio State, the top individual matchup of the week will be in South Bend, Ind., when Notre Dame hosts N.C. State. Scouts will have their eyes glued to the head-to-head battles between Wolfpack DE Bradley Chubb and Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey. They're both potential first-rounders in next year's draft. In fact, Chubb could punch his ticket as a top-15 pick with a strong showing Saturday. This is the best O-line he'll face all year. -- Daniel Jeremiah
OREGON RB RETURNING TO FORM
With all of the talented running backs on the West Coast, Oregon's Royce Freeman has been flying under the radar this season. After battling through injury in 2016, he looks like the young back who had everyone buzzing back in 2014 and 2015. He has a hulking build (he's listed at 238 pounds) and he runs with outstanding leverage and power. He isn't a burner when he breaks free, but he has some niftiness to make defenders miss in space.
Freeman is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards and he's already tallied 10 rushing touchdowns. He's functional in the passing game as both a blocker and receiver, although he'll most likely be a two-down back at the next level. He reminds me a little bit of Samaje Perine, a fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma in the 2017 draft. I could see Freeman fitting into that Rounds 3-4 range in the 2018 draft. -- Daniel Jeremiah