NFL scouts love to find sleepers. Of all the conversations I have with area scouts during their time out on the road, it's the texts with "Dude, I found a guy..." that gets them most excited.
Last year, it was Marcus Davenport from UT-San Antonio. Before that, it was Khalil Mack from Buffalo. This year? Oshane Ximines from Old Dominion.
The 6'4", 255-pound redshirt senior has been unstoppable for the Monarchs. In the last two seasons, he posted a combined 16 sacks and six passes defensed playing as a true edge-rusher. He has the agility and bend to be a force coming off the corner of a defense, but his athleticism also allows him to play in space.
"I wouldn't get crazy with a Round 1 grade," said one area scout assigned to Ximines' area, "but we didn't have [Round 1] on Davenport at this time last year, either."
With two sacks and two forced fumbles thus far in 2018, Ximines is showing the potential for a breakout season. Even in an edge-rusher class dominated by Nick Bosa and Clelin Ferrell (among others), Ximines is catching the attention of evaluators.
The tape I watched showed a player worthy of an early-season top-32 ranking. He might not climb as high as Mack did during his senior year at Buffalo, but he's higher than Davenport was at this time last year as a mid-round project.
In talking to an NFL general manager about Ximines, he got excited about his potential. He also jokingly asked me to not write about him, hoping he'd stay under the radar.
It's too late for that. Ximines is a budding star.
What else is happening this week?
- NFL draft prospect stock watch
- Rumors from around the NFL and NCAA
- Stick to Football podcast Tailgate Tour announced
- Parting shots
The Scout's Report
— How good do scouts think Houston's Ed Oliver is? One director of scouting told me Oliver has the highest grade he's ever given a player. Higher than Mack, Aaron Donald, Myles Garrett or Jadeveon Clowney.
—One area scout read last week's scouting notebook and sent me a text asking where NC State quarterback Ryan Finley was on my big board. This scout loves Finley and thinks he's the clear-cut QB1 in the nation. Many across the country share that sentiment. For me, he's closer to QB4 behind Jarrett Stidham (Auburn), Justin Herbert (Oregon) and Will Grier (West Virginia). He's competing with Drew Lock (Missouri) for the QB4 spot.
—Heisman runner-up Bryce Love will miss Stanford's game this weekend with an undisclosed injury. I asked scouts where they see him as a prospect. One replied that Love is RB1 and a first-rounder. Three others said he's closer to a third-rounder due to his lack of size, injury history and third-down skills.
—Last week, I went "stock down" on the Clemson defensive line, but I should take time to point out two players ranked near the top of their respective position groups: cornerback Trayvon Mullen and linebacker Tre Lamar. Both carry Round 1 grades if they declare for the 2019 draft.
—Scouts are hopeful that Alabama pass-rusher Terrell Lewis can return this season after he suffered a torn ACL in summer practice. There's talk in scouting circles that Lewis still could declare for the 2019 draft if he can get on the field this year. His potential is thought to be through-the-roof good.
—Keep an eye on Oklahoma wide receiver Marquise "Hollywood" Brown. Scouts are in love with his yards-after-the-catch tools, and through two games, he's becoming an almost unstoppable threat on intermediate routes. I have a Round 1 grade on him currently.
—The injury to Oklahoma running back Rodney Anderson (torn ACL, per a team source) highlights what looks like a weak running back class for 2019. Underclassmen Benny Snell Jr. (Kentucky) and Damarea Crockett (Missouri) are contenders to be RB1 sleepers.
Stock Up: Ohio State Cornerbacks
Stop me if you've heard this before, but Ohio State has a few corners worth scouting early and often. Scouts see redshirt juniors Damon Arnette and Kendall Sheffield as potential first-round picks. Sheffield, a transfer from Alabama, is one of the fastest players in college football and could shoot up boards following the NFL Scouting Combine.
Stock Down: Stanford Running Back Bryce Love
For the second week in a row, Love shows up on "Stock Down." This time, it's due to injury concerns. An undisclosed injury will keep Love out against UC-Davis. This is a bad look after his 2017 season ended to an ankle injury. Teams become concerned when undersized players—Love is listed at only 5'10" and 200 pounds—can't stay healthy. That's the word on Love right now. Stadium's Brett McMurphy reported Love will return next week.
Stock Up: Alabama Defensive Tackle Raekwon Davis
It's easy to focus on superstar defensive line prospects such as Bosa, Oliver and Rashan Gary (Michigan) while forgetting about the rest of the class. But folks should also be talking about Alabama's Raekwon Davis, who could likewise be a top-10 pick in April. He's a smart, athletic penetrator with the tools to play in a three- or four-man front. Teams that can't land Bosa or Oliver should be all over his tape.
Stock Down: Penn State Quarterback Trace McSorley
I held off commenting about Trace McSorley much over the summer because I wanted to see him without Saquon Barkley and Mike Gesicki at his disposal. After watching two of his games this season, it's hard to see him as a pro prospect. A lot can change between now and late April, but McSorley has a free-agent grade after my early review.
The Big Board
1. Nick Bosa, EDGE, Ohio State
2. Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
3. Rashan Gary, EDGE, Michigan
4. Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
5. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
6. A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
7. Devin White, LB, LSU
8. Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn
9. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon
10. Raekwon Davis, DL, Alabama
11. Clelin Ferrell, EDGE, Clemson
12. David Edwards, OT, Wisconsin
13. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
14. Zach Allen, EDGE, Boston College
15. Derrick Brown, DL, Auburn
16. Dre'Mont Jones, DL, Ohio State
17. N'Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State
18. Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama
19. Kendall Sheffield, CB, Ohio State
20. Trayvon Mullen, CB, Clemson
21. Tre Lamar, LB, Clemson
22. Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
23. Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
24. Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
25. Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
26. Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
27. Elgton Jenkins, OC, Mississippi State
28. Montez Sweat, EDGE, Mississippi State
29. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
30. Will Grier, QB, West Virginia
31. Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
32. Oshane Ximines, EDGE, Old Dominion
5. The NCAA put out a list of current NFL players by college this week, and it's a great look at where the recent talent in the pros is coming from.
The school with the most talent in the NFL should not surprise you.
4. Game balls for Week 2 of college football:
—Chris Robison, QB, FAU: 33-of-40, 471 yards, 3 TD
—Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M: 23-of-40, 430 yards, 3 TD
—Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: 33 carries, 253 yards, 3 TD
—Kylin Hill, RB, Mississippi State: 17 carries, 211 yards, 2 TD; 1 catch, 16 yards, 1 TD
—Laviska Shenault, WR, Colorado: 10 catches, 177 yards, 1 TD; 2 carries, 5 yards, 1 TD
3. Nearly a dozen NCAA games have been moved or canceled this weekend due to Hurricane Francis bearing down on the East Coast. If you're in the area, be smart and be safe. If you're looking for a list of games impacted by the storm, College Football Talk has a great running list.
2. Here are the college games you'll want to scout this weekend:
Oklahoma @ Iowa State: Kyler Murray's first real test, and we'll get to see Oklahoma without running back Rodney Anderson. This is also a great chance to see Iowa State junior running back David Montgomery, who has struggled to start the season.
LSU @ Auburn: Top quarterback prospect Jarrett Stidham goes against an LSU defense with top-10 prospects Greedy Williams (CB) and Devin White (LB). You shouldn't need to be sold on this game. Just watch it.
Ohio State @ TCU: First-year starter Dwayne Haskins has been unreal at quarterback, but this is a tough test against a complete team. The Buckeyes will also do so on the road (albeit at the Dallas Cowboys' stadium in Arlington, Texas).
Alabama @ Ole Miss: Top wide receiver A.J. Brown has a great platform this week to prove himself against top-tier defenders. If he can impact the game against 'Bama, he might solidify his WR1 status.
1. Stick to Football goes to Austin, Texas, this weekend for our first Tailgate Tour event—and also to scout the Longhorns against the USC Trojans. Check it out and subscribe if you haven't already. We will also be posting a ton of behind-the-scenes content over on our Instagram page.
Matt Miller covers the NFL and NFL draft for Bleacher Report.