With Week 7 of the college football season in the books, here's a look at who's on the rise and who's in decline based on the weekend's action.
Paxton Lynch, Memphis, QB: The 6-foot-7, 245-pound junior has been squarely on the radar of scouts based on his spectacular string of 300-yard passing games, but he's climbing up the charts after showing franchise-quarterback potential in big wins over Bowling Green, Cincinnati and Ole Miss. Lynch completed 39 of 53 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns against the Rebels on Saturday. Although he tossed his first interception of the season, Lynch continues to display the arm talent, awareness and anticipation to pick apart opponents with pinpoint passes to every area of the field. In addition, he shows better-than-anticipated athleticism and mobility for a long, rangy thrower. Without a clear front-runner in the 2016/2017 quarterback classes, Lynch is beginning to create a buzz for teams in desperate need of a playmaker at the position.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama, CB: Scouts pay close attention to cover corners with a knack for getting their hands on the ball. Thus, Fitzpatrick is already the talk of the scouting community after notching a pair of pick-sixes in Alabama's 41-23 win over Texas A&M. Fitzpatrick's awareness, reactions and ball skills are uncommon for a true freshman, which is why scouts will pay close attention to his development over the next few years. Given his size (6-1, 195), length and athletic potential, Fitzpatrick is an intriguing No. 1 CB candidate to monitor down the road.
Corey Coleman, Baylor, WR: The pass-happy nature of the NFL has made explosive "catch-and-run" playmakers prized commodities on draft day. Coaches are increasingly looking for dynamic players capable of delivering big plays on an assortment of short, quick-rhythm passes designed to get the ball into their hands on the perimeter. Coleman is an exceptional pass-catcher with extraordinary running skills and a legitimate speedster with a knack for getting behind the defense on vertical routes. With Coleman also showing the ability to put the ball into the paint (16 receiving touchdowns in 2015), the Baylor star is on the rise as an enticing big-play weapon.
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford, RB: Scouts are instructed to pay close attention to young prospects with NFL bloodlines. Old-school evaluators believe "legacy" players have a slight advantage over their peers due to their genetics and exposure to the game. With that premise in mind, scouts were already paying close attention to the development of McCaffrey following his dad's (Ed) stellar career as an NFL wide receiver. The spectacular sophomore put on an absolute show against UCLA with 369 all-purpose yards, which included 243 rushing yards and four touchdowns. McCaffrey displayed outstanding versatility as a multi-purpose weapon, scoring on a 70-yard touchdown out of the Wildcat and setting up another score on a 96-yard kick return. Given the premium NFL offensive coordinators place on dynamic playmakers with diverse skills, McCaffrey is poised to garner some Percy Harvin comparisons from scouts during the pre-draft process.
Christian Hackenberg, Penn State, QB: NFL scouts are having a hard time looking past Hackenberg's suspect performance despite his immense talent and production. The 6-4, 228-pound junior continues to struggle with his accuracy and ball placement on intermediate and deep throws. Hackenberg isn't displaying the awareness, anticipation or poise to make precise throws under duress. While the former five-star prospect appears miscast in the Nittany Lions' version of the spread offense, the fact that he hasn't put together a string of solid performances against elite competition will make it hard to sell him as a legitimate franchise quarterback in some meeting rooms.