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Rough Draft Week 11 with Revenge of the Birds

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: Baylor at Texas Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

In the Spotlight

Chad Kelly

I wrote about Chad Kelly’s checkered off-the-field history a few weeks ago, but on the field, the senior quarterback had been a productive, if erratic, player during his two years at Ole Miss. In 22 games, Kelly passed for 6800 yards and 50 touchdowns, ran for 832 yards and another 15 scores, and led the Rebels to a 14-8 record.

In last weekend’s win over Georgia Southern, Kelly left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury, and never returned. By Sunday, word surfaced that he’d torn his right ACL and lateral meniscus, and that his turbulent college career had come to a close.

With the draft less than six months away, Kelly won’t be available for the Senior Bowl, and almost certainly won’t recover in time for a full workout. Any NFL teams interested in his arm and athleticism will have to rely on the game tape alone, and of course, Kelly will be faced with plenty of questions about his maturity. But interestingly enough, the injury and the off-field issues may not be the biggest obstacles Kelly needs to overcome in order to be drafted. It may all come down to his height.

Shock Linwood

Fifth-year senior running back Shock Linwood - Baylor’s career rushing leader - will be suspended for this weekend’s game against Oklahoma after he shoved a graduate assistant coach on the sideline last Saturday.

Linwood had been the clear leader in the backfield each of the last two seasons, but this year, outside of a 237-yard explosion against Iowa State, his production had fallen off. Bears coach Jim Grobe cited attitude issues when discussing Linwood’s suspension, so perhaps the young man had grown frustrated as his role devolved from top dog to rotational back. He only carried the ball six times in the blowout loss to TCU last week.

Despite his career stats, Linwood isn’t a high-end NFL prospect. He’s on the small side at 5’8” or 5’9”, and around 200 pounds, and while he’s expected to run a sub 4.5-second 40, he’s not particularly explosive or decisive enough to fully display that speed. Without any outside questions, I’d have ticketed Linwood for the late Day Three range of a deep draft, but now that he’s had an altercation with a coach, he’s in danger of going undrafted.

Box Scores of the Week

D'Onta Foreman RB Texas

33 ATT 341 YDS 3 TD

Foreman is on a tear that has him leading the FBS in rushing yards despite sitting out a game early this season. The Longhorns junior has rushed for 591 yards and five scores in his last two games, and has 206 caries for 1446 yards and 13 TDs in eight games this year.

Luke Falk QB Washington State

32/35 311 YDS 4 TD 0 INT

A week after shooting down rumors that he plans on turning pro after the season, Falk threw more touchdown passes than incompletions in a 69-7 romp over Arizona.

Malik Hooker S Ohio State

3 TKL 1 PBU 1 INT 1 TD

Hooker, who had three interceptions in Ohio State’s first two games this year, picked off his fifth pass of the season and returned it for a score in Saturday’s 62-3 win over Nebraska. In addition to his ballhawking, the redshirt sophomore is a heat-seeking missile near the line of scrimmage, with 53 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss in his first year as a starter.

Hot Take of the Week

So, a couple of things here. Let’s start with the Niners, who have started Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick, and enter the weekend on a seven game losing streak. Consensus or no, with all draft-eligible quarterbacks available in this scenario, why are they passing on all of them for Fournette (who I believe is actually good)?

But my bigger question is, why are the Browns passing on a quarterback? Cleveland is six games away from the second 0-16 season in history, and it looks quite attainable. Thursday night they trotted out three different QBs. Of the three, only rookie Cody Kessler appears to be in the plans beyond this season, though only in a backup role. Cleveland got its expansion team in 1999 and has been desperate for an answer at quarterback ever since. I don’t care if Myles Garrett is Bruce Smith, it’s going to be hard for the Browns to justify passing on the top arms in a draft class despite holding a top two pick for the second consecutive year.

Looking Ahead

SMU at East Carolina Saturday Noon ET

This game features SMU redshirt sophomore receiver Courtland Sutton and ECU senior wideout Zay Jones. Jones has 127 catches on the season so far, and remains on track to break FBS season and career reception records.

LSU at Arkansas Saturday 7:00 PM ET

Fournette has been held under 100 rushing yards just three times in his last 19 games. Two of those performances came against Alabama, and the other was last season against the Razorbacks.

USC at Washington Saturday 7:30 PM ET

Huskies receiver John Ross is generating top 10 talk with 44 catches for 742 yards and 15 total touchdowns so far this season. Meanwhile, USC’s JuJu Smith-Schuster draws a tough matchup against Washington defensive backs Sidney Jones, Kevin King and Budda Baker.