Biggest NFL Draft Risers and Fallers After Week 6 of College Football

Ian Wharton@NFLFilmStudyFeatured Columnist IVOctober 7, 2019

Biggest NFL Draft Risers and Fallers After Week 6 of College Football

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Week 6 of the college football season brought several key upsets that will shake up the standings in a significant way. Kyle Trask and Florida upset Auburn, while Washington fell to a struggling Stanford team. We also saw ranked teams UCF and Oklahoma State lose to unranked foes. 

    Even in losses or lower-profile games, there were individuals across the nation who stood out or struggled.

    The NFL is always keeping a close eye on Saturdays to unearth the next great playmaker. We've been watching as well and found 10 individuals who either helped or hurt their 2020 draft stock in Week 6 specifically. 

    There's time for each of these playmakers to continue building upon this momentum, or for those trending downward to rebound. That's the beauty of college football; there's another game just days away.

    We're looking at traits and situational play for each of these 10 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: Michael Warren II, RB, Cincinnati

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    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    A key to Cincinnati's revival as a premier Group of Five competitor is running back Michael Warren II. The senior back was the pivotal offensive performer as the Bearcats stunned UCF at home with a 27-24 victory. In his punishing 23-carry, 133-yard game, he showed everything needed to be projected as a potential starter in the NFL. 

    Warren's 60-yard burst at the end of the third quarter set up the touchdown that sealed the game. But he was leaned on throughout as quarterback Desmond Ridder again struggled with consistency through the air. More attention has been given to Warren in 2019 since Ridder's growth has stagnated in the early part of the year.

    He also chipped in another 19 yards on four receptions and made several impact blocks in the passing game. It's critical for any back to contribute in all three phases to play right away in the NFL. Warren's performance against a top-tier foe will be huge come draft weekend.

    Preseason: Fourth-rounder

    Currently: Late second-rounder

Faller: Jordan Love, QB, Utah State

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    All eyes were on Utah State and LSU as two of the nation's top quarterbacks squared off in Baton Rouge. Expectations that the Aggies could hang with the athletic Tigers were misguided, but it was still important to see how Love would respond. Unfortunately, his stat line was ugly.

    He completed just half his 30 passes for 130 yards and three interceptions. Sure, he dealt with some tough drops early on, but his turnovers were ugly. 

    He's probably one year away from being a top-tier prospect. He's wild with his decision-making and accuracy under pressure, and he didn't prove his mettle this week. Burrow appeared more poised and efficient in this head-to-head showdown.

    Preseason: Late first round

    Currently: Early second round

Riser: Devin Duvernay, WR, Texas

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Scouts tend to love receivers with versatility. Senior Devin Duvernay is showing off his this year. His Week 6 highlighted the more consistent nature he's developed after being almost exclusively a big-play threat earlier in his career. 

    He led the Longhorns with 86 yards and six receptions to help Texas win a tough game in West Virginia. His 36-yarder in the first quarter was just the tip of the skill set iceberg for the speedster, who now also has great play strength and ability after the catch. Duvernay is making a case for being a top-three receiver on a roster.

    His experience in the slot and outside mixed with his downfield burner ability make him a valuable target. Imagining him in a creative NFL offense is easy since versatility is all the rage right now. 

    Preseason: Sixth-rounder

    Currently: Third-rounder

Faller: Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, Colorado

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Though Laviska Shenault Jr. had a big game a few weeks ago against Air Force with 124 receiving yards and two touchdowns, he's had a quiet junior season overall. He missed his contest with Arizona in Week 6 thanks to a core muscle injury, per the Denver Post. It's time to wonder if his body can handle the beating football brings. 

    Because Shenault projects to be similar to Sammy Watkins, it can be safe to assume he'll likely see more screen passes and opportunities to create yards after the catch than your average NFL receiver. Teams must be concerned about the beating he'll take since he played just 16 games combined in 2017 and 2018.

    Shenault is supremely talented. So he remains a first-round option so long as his health and medicals check out.  

    Preseason: Top 10

    Currently: Late first-rounder

Riser: Binjimen Victor, WR, Ohio State

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    Paul Vernon/Associated Press

    Buried on a deep receiving depth chart in 2018 and stuck in an anemic passing game prior to that, Binjimen Victor has taken advantage of his opportunity to shine this season. In Week 6, he continued to show off his massive 6'4" frame and upside as an outside playmaker. He had 79 yards and a touchdown in Ohio State's 34-10 win over Michigan State. 

    Victor now has at least 65 yards in four of six games despite not catching more than five balls in any one contest. He's a big-play threat, averaging 17.9 yards. He'd be the top receiving option for the vast majority of programs across the nation but is thriving on limited passes in Columbus.

    His performance against Michigan State's disciplined and reliable passing defense is what scouts needed to see. His comfort against zone and ability to create some separation against man can help him play earlier in the league. He's become a draftable player in 2019.

    Preseason: UDFA

    Currently: Fifth-rounder

Faller: Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    So much for the optimism that Nate Stanley's growth in his senior year was real and not just the byproduct of a weak early schedule. Stanley struggled mightily against Michigan's defense. He completed just 23 of 42 attempts for 260 yards, three picks, and negative-65 yards on the ground thanks to sacks. 

    It was an embarrassing performance for the Hawkeyes. Their offensive line looked outmatched, and Stanley simply missed too many passes for a future NFL player. His release looked slower and feet more mangled compared to his play in recent games.

    He still has time to right the ship. Stanley must remember to get rid of the ball quickly against elite defenses.   

    Preseason: Fifth-rounder

    Currently: Late-rounder/UDFA

Riser: Jacob Breeland, TE, Oregon

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    Chris Pietsch/Associated Press

    An unknown on the NFL draft circuit prior to the season, Oregon tight end Jacob Breeland is establishing himself as a legitimate option in a weak class. He's had to earn it, moving from receiver to tight end, and staying ready as four others were struck by injury in front of him. In Week 6, he continued to show an NFL skill set.

    His 87 yards on five receptions came against one of the stingier and athletic defenses in the country. Cal usually constricts the middle of the field with great linebacker and safety play, but Breeland continually found space. He's already tied his career high in touchdowns with five.

    Breeland is a new-age move tight end at 6'5" and 250 pounds. He's a toolsy prospect with good hands and a blocking mindset, making him a potential steal in the middle rounds. 

    Preseason: UDFA

    Currently: Third-rounder

Faller: Aaron Fuller, WR, Washington

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Aaron Fuller has been a constant force over the last year-and-a-half and is a favorite of Jacob Eason's. It's hard to list a player with nine catches for 171 yards as a faller, but Fuller also had four drops that hurt the Huskies in their 23-13 loss to Stanford.

    At 5'11" and 188 pounds, Fuller is in the dangerous range of receivers who need every separating factor they can get.

    Every draft class has a handful of receivers around that size who lack the consistency or special traits to survive as long-term starters. Recent Day 2 disappointments like Zay Jones and Cody Latimer are examples of players who had big stats in college that made teams overlook games with numerous drops and poor catch technique in favor of raw production. 

    Evaluators won't tank his stock for this game, but there have been moments he's struggled to create space and finish his catches through contact. This game reinforces those concerns. He still has plenty of bright spots that could convince a team to draft him on Day 2 if he runs well and shows these drops weren't the product of bad technique or focus. 

    Preseason: Second-rounder

    Currently: Third-rounder

Riser: Jonathan Greenard, Edge, Florida

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    All game, the Florida Gators' front seven had control of the line of scrimmage. One major reason was the constant penetration of defender Jonathan Greenard.

    The former Louisville rusher has been a difference-maker for Florida. His speed and strength off the edge has mitigated the team's need to blitz. That's been helpful for a unit that surprisingly doesn't boast many strong form tacklers, so they can gang-tackle without blitzing. 

    The NFL is desperate for long edge defenders, and Greenard has that size at 6'3" and 263 pounds to play in either a 4-3 or 3-4. 

    Preseason: Fourth-rounder

    Currently: Second-rounder

Faller: Kenny Willekes, Edge, Michigan State

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    Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

    One of the top producers in the Big Ten, Kenny Willekes needed a star performance against Ohio State to boost his stock. But that didn't happen. Instead, we're left to wonder if Willekes will translate well and how much juice he has off the line of scrimmage.

    Willekes had seven tackles but only one solo finish against the Buckeyes. He was taken care of with relative ease. His usual power moves failed to register an impact play, and the Buckeyes won big.

    Still a great collegiate player, Willekes is on pace for quality stats with 41 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. That said, it's completely fair to question his perceived upside after Saturday's performance.

    Preseason: Second-rounder

    Currently: Third-rounder