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Rough Draft with Revenge of the Birds Week 8

Each week, ROTB Lead Writer Justin Higdon provides a quick rundown of the latest NFL Draft-related news, notes and takes. Plus, a look ahead to the weekend’s most intriguing matchups

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In the Spotlight

J.T. Barrett

A little over a week ago, Eric Galko of and Sporting News wrote that Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is leaning toward skipping his senior season and entering the 2017 NFL Draft. This was curious to me following the Buckeyes’ win over Indiana, where the coaches seemed reluctant to pass, and Barrett finished the game just 9/21 for 93 yards. I’ve said a number of times on The Draft Breakdown Podcast that while he’s a terrific fit for Urban Meyer’s offense, Barrett doesn’t project as an early-round draft pick because he’s under 6’2” tall and doesn’t have the desired arm strength. His slick reads in the ground game, and ability as a runner make him a dangerous college quarterback, but these skills don’t translate heavily to the NFL. Until Galko’s report, I always thought Barrett would be back at OSU next year for a fourth year as the starter.

I’ve seen Barrett play more than any passer in the 2017 draft-eligible class. He’s a terrific leader, voted captain as a redshirt sophomore. He stays calm and collected, and is capable of clutch play, as he demonstrated last week in bringing the Buckeyes back for an overtime win at Wisconsin. Barrett can get the ball out quickly, once in a while his zip will surprise me, and he’s been dangerous in the red zone over the past three seasons.

Meyer loves Barrett like a son, and I suspect other coaches will as well. But if he does declare for the draft, it will be interesting to see how far those intangible qualities can carry him. I have to wonder if Barrett’s decision hinges on whether or not Ohio State can make a playoff run. Barrett has a championship ring, but a broken ankle kept him on the sidelines throughout, and that’s something that no doubt sticks in his mind.

Box Scores of the Week

Donnel Pumphrey RB San Diego State

38 ATT 220 YDS 2 TD

Coming into the season, Pumphrey had topped 200 rushing yards twice in 40 career games. Last weekend’s showing in a win over Fresno State was his third 200-yard performance in six games this season. Pumphrey has run for 1111 yards and 11 scores, putting him on pace for about 2400 and 24 over a 13 game season. He’s already San Diego State’s all-time leading rusher, having broken Marshall Faulk’s record earlier this year, but now Pumphrey is in position to pass some big names on the NCAA’s career list. He’s 897 yards away from passing Ricky Williams for third all-time, and 1144 from bumping off Tony Dorsett for second place. Former Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne holds the record with 7125 career yards, and with a 1742-yard lead over Pumphrey with seven or eight games to go, Dayne’s mark seems safe.

Carlos Henderson WR Louisiana Tech

12 REC 326 YDS 5 TD

La. Tech’s redshirt junior receiver tallied 36 catches for 774 yards and five touchdowns all of last season, but after lighting up UMass last weekend, Henderson has hauled in 20 passes for 558 yards and eight scores in his last two games. On the season so far, he leads the country in receiving touchdowns, is third in yards, and he’s averaging over 21 yards per catch. At 5’11” 190, and with estimated 4.5 speed, Henderson has an average size/speed profile, but as a fourth-year junior putting up career numbers with his third different senior starting quarterback in three years, he’s likely starting to consider a jump to the pros.

Hot Take of the Week

This week was Wayne Gallman Week for #DraftTwitter. I’m assuming that has to do with new Gallman videos posted at DraftBreakdown. That’s usually how these things work. I saw the junior running back from Clemson touted as a future starter, an early-round draft pick, and even a “special talent.” But tell me, dear readers, what is special about the play we see vined above? Here we see Gallman literally run in a straight line. When a scout uses the phrase “skinny through the hole,” I expect to see a player contort, flatten, or squeeze himself through a tight area, not just hit a Wayne Gallman-sized hole that 95% of professional running backs would hit. We’ve seen runners bounce a play like that outside, or stop their feet, but those would be almost unforgivable decisions in this instance. Gallman at least did what we’d expect him to do.

I don’t consider this a vine-worthy play. Gallman didn’t “get skinny.” This is analytical clutter - a draftnik overemphasizing routine play - and I see it fairly often with prospects at every position. I try to think of all of the players in the NFL down to the bottom of the 53-man rosters, and ask if a replacement-level player can make the given play. For instance, many receivers can execute a double move or catch a back shoulder throw. Did he separate with elite speed or agility? Was the catch acrobatic? Did he drag a toe to get both feet in bounds? I believe that these details can help us recognize the difference between top 50-75 prospects, and Day Three guys. If someone is telling me that a prospect is high quality, I’d like to see a high quality example of his play.

Looking Ahead

NC State at Louisville Saturday Noon ET

The Wolfpack beat Notre Dame in a hurricane two weeks ago, and took Clemson to overtime last weekend. Saturday, they’ll try to slow true sophomore QB Lamar Jackson down. Jackson is not draft-eligible, but his receivers, James Quick and Jamari Staples, and running back Brandon Radcliff are. On defense for the Cards, seniors Devonte Fields and Josh Harvey-Clemons are well-regarded prospects with troubled pasts.

Texas A&M at Alabama Saturday 3:30 PM ET

Alabama’s defense is overflowing with potential early-round draft picks including defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, cornerback Marlon Humphrey, and pass rusher Tim Williams. Of course, the undefeated Aggies may have the draft’s best overall prospect in junior edge defender Myles Garrett, who’s battled through an early-season leg injury.

Oklahoma at Texas Tech Saturday 8:00 PM ET

Sooners QB Baker Mayfield has been held under a 70% completion percentage just once (in a loss to Ohio State), and he’s backed by talented runners Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. Tech QB Patrick Mahomes looks to rebound from 31-point loss to West Virginia last weekend.

Ohio State at Penn State Saturday 8:00 PM ET

The Buckeyes won a tight road game in primetime last weekend, and hope to see J.T. Barrett build off his efficient second half performance. Penn State’s best draft-eligible player, receiver Chris Godwin, has yet to get going this year, and he’ll be facing a secondary that includes two potential first rounders, in cornerback Gareon Conley, and safety Malik Hooker.

Ole Miss at LSU Saturday 9:00 PM ET

Chad Kelly struggled against Arkansas after off-field antics plagued his bye week. He made “news” this week when Pornhub offered him a date with a porn star after he was called out on twitter a second time by former adult film actress Mia Khalifa.

In actual football news, LSU is expected to get star running back Leonard Fournette back after he missed the last two games with a lingering ankle injury.