Biggest NFL Draft Risers and Fallers After Week 4 of College Football

Ian Wharton@NFLFilmStudyFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 23, 2019

Biggest NFL Draft Risers and Fallers After Week 4 of College Football

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    Patrick Dennis/Associated Press

    The first month of college football closed out with a bang as three Top 25 showdowns delivered on expectations. Georgia, Auburn and Wisconsin were big winners in Week 4, but there were individuals across the nation who stood out or struggled.

    The NFL is always watching. We've been watching as well and found eight individuals who either helped or hurt their 2020 draft stock in Week 4 specifically, though there's of course ample time to rebound or falter.

    We're looking at traits and situational play for each of these eight risers and fallers. It's not just about the numbers, though often those who produce are doing so because of a special skill set.

Riser: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    From third-stringer at Ohio State behind J.T. Barrett and Dwayne Haskins to rising as the LSU star quarterback in two years, it's been quite the journey for Joe Burrow.

    After his destruction of Vanderbilt this past week, where he totaled 398 passing yards and six touchdowns in about three quarters, many are now asking what his ceiling is. That's something we won't know until after key SEC games, but he's certainly an NFL talent.

    He's flourishing alongside LSU's athletic and game-breaking receiving talent in the Tigers' spread offense. His quick decision-making and solid accuracy allow his targets to maximize their yards after the catch.

    The Athletic's Brody Miller detailed the work that Burrow put in to improve his throwing motion and arm strength, and that has also propelled his rise. He's blowing his competition off the field each week, and his domination of the Commodores is another impressive jump.

    Preseason: Fifth-round pick

    Currently: Second-round pick

Faller: Julian Okwara, EDGE, Notre Dame

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    Mike Stewart/Associated Press

    Though we're just focusing on Week 4 action, it's been a quiet year for Notre Dame pass-rusher Julian Okwara. He's been able to get into the backfield and pressure offenses into negative plays, but his individual accomplishments haven't met the standard that he'd established.

    Outside of an early solo tackle, Okwara's name wasn't heard nearly enough against Georgia. The Bulldogs feature one of the best offensive lines in the country, and the unit handled Okwara for most of the evening. That matters to evaluators.

    His lack of upper-tier burst and ability to convert speed to power was on display against NFL-caliber blockers. Some of that can be improved by technique and hand usage, but he's not a first-round athlete. This game magnified those physical limitations and may be costly come April.

    Preseason: Second-round pick

    Currently: Third-round pick

Riser: Jeff Gladney, CB, TCU

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    The cornerback class appears to possess top-end NFL starters and impressive depth for 2020, and one of the best seniors in the country is TCU's Jeff Gladney, a speedster with good length and a great feel for the game.

    The 6'0", 185-pounder has been a staple of Gary Patterson's defenses throughout his career. His 2019 season is off to a great start, and Week 4 showed a potential high second-round to late first-round performance.

    Gladney finished with four tackles and a half-sack versus SMU, and the details of those numbers are even more impressive. His half-sack came on a key third down, and he added three pass breakups earlier in the game.

    His battle with SMU receiver Reggie Roberson was far from one-sided, but Gladney held his own and made things difficult for an offense that otherwise found success with ease. That feistiness in the run game and competitiveness against quality receivers makes him a headache to deal with.

    Preseason: Third-round pick

    Currently: Second-round pick

Faller: Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M

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    Sam Craft/Associated Press

    Unfortunately for Kellen Mond, it's possible to be a faller with 335 passing yards and leading the team in rushing yards (with 26). That's the nature of the quarterback position. Mond was simultaneously everything for the Aggies while not being enough to pull out a key home win versus freshman QB Bo Nix and Auburn.

    That's been the rub with the program in Jimbo Fisher and Mond's short tenure. They're competitive and at times exciting, but the lack of consistency each drive is limiting. Mond's aggressiveness wanes too much for a team relying on him to be the star.

    The Aggies' two-quarter offensive stall began as Mond took sacks and fumbled and then took a delay of game penalty on a drive following an Auburn touchdown. That's not how a standout NFL prospect should respond to a tough situation. Mond must be better in the clutch to finish out his junior season.

    Preseason: Fourth-round pick

    Currently: Sixth-round pick

Riser: Marvin Kinsey Jr., RB, Colorado State

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    Michael Woods/Associated Press

    This week's leading rusher produced when most people were probably in bed.

    Colorado State senior back Marvin Kinsey Jr. continued his ascent against Toledo as he tallied a career-high 246 rushing yards and two touchdowns, with a whopping 10.7 yards per rush. He nearly matched his 2018 rushing total with this one performance.

    Kinsey is a good fit for the modern NFL despite his lack of accolades to this point. He's 6'1", 206 pounds and is able to contribute in the run game or as a receiver. He's the type of back who can be picked later on and provide value in three phases as a special teamer and third-down contributor.

    His lack of wear and tear can also be viewed as a positive since this will be the first season he breaks 100 carries.

    Preseason: UDFA

    Currently: Fifth-round pick

Faller: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The 1-3 Stanford Cardinal have drastically underperformed this season. Key injuries and losses to the NFL have compromised this roster, and even its best draft prospect, cornerback Paulson Adebo, was unable to slow the skid against Justin Herbert and Oregon.

    Herbert completed 19 of 24 passes for 259 yards and three scores, playing with ease and with open passing windows. One of his touchdowns to tight end Jacob Breeland occurred when Adebo cheated upfield.

    The mental mistake proved costly, as the Cardinal offense needed an elite game from the defense. Though Adebo still stands as a premier corner prospect, he's shown he can have off games.

    Preseason: Top-10 pick

    Currently: First-round pick

Riser: Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Michael Pittman Jr., the son of former Fresno State and NFL running back Michael Pittman, is starting to produce.

    He had a massive night Friday in prime time against a stingy Utah defense, racking up 232 yards and one touchdown on 10 receptions. He had just four 100-yard games in his career prior to that.

    His 6'4", 220-pound frame allowed him to win at the catch point consistently, including on his game-breaking 77-yard touchdown, where he stole the ball away from a challenging defender. He flashed his aggressiveness, sure-handedness and ability to withstand contact all night.

    Pittman overcame several injuries and shoulder surgery during his time at USC to start producing like a 5-star playmaker. At the very least, he's earning late-round looks from teams wanting a big-bodied threat.

    Preseason: UDFA

    Currently: Fifth-round pick

Faller: Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern

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    David Banks/Associated Press

    As one of the elite producers at linebacker in 2017 and 2018, Northwestern's Paddy Fisher hasn't quite found the same groove that led to 227 total tackles and 14 tackles for loss.

    Three games into the 2019 season, he's averaged just over seven tackles per game. Though he notched nine tackles and one tackle for loss in Week 4 against Michigan State, that wasn't nearly enough considering there were 40 Spartans rush attempts and several opportunities for him to make an impact in the passing game.

    Fisher is more than capable between the tackles—we know that based on his first two years—but his sideline-to-sideline range is limited, and the Spartans attacked the Wildcats outside of the hashmarks on runs and passes when they needed to move the chains. Those plays rendered Fisher unusable.

    The first touchdown of the game on the opening drive showed some of his physical limitations. He bit hard on the mesh-point read and couldn't get off his blocker and recover to make a tackle before Elijah Collins finished his five-yard run. He won't be drafted with a starting projection unless his reads are nearly perfect and he can make more of an impact on passing downs.

    Preseason: Fourth-round pick

    Currently: Sixth-round pick