In the Spotlight
Oklahoma defensive lineman Charles Walker left the team this week to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft. The fourth-year junior had not played in a game since October 1st after suffering at least the third concussion of his college career. His defensive coordinator, Mike Stoops, characterized Walker as a quitter, and several draft analysts on twitter jumped to similar conclusions.
WOW! Here's my quick scouting report: Reject, not welcome on my football team https://t.co/Fy6CT2ByR0— Joe Marino (@TheJoeMarino) November 16, 2016
Unreal to me that Walker is foolish enough to believe this will somehow improve his stock. Best way to prepare for NFL? Play football. https://t.co/eqpGfiDrpD— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) November 16, 2016
Stop bailing on your team, people! https://t.co/7JLJokE2tv— Kyle Crabbs (@NDTScouting) November 16, 2016
I don’t know all of the circumstances surrounding Walker’s departure. I’ve been told he was medically cleared weeks ago, but had opted not to play. Given Stoops’ reaction, it makes some sense that Walker may have been technically able, but unwilling to suit up for the Sooners in recent weeks. But here’s the deal: Walker has a two-year old daughter. He’s apparently projected as a Day Two draft pick as things stand right now. If that projection holds up, his rookie contract will put Walker and his family in a comfortable position regardless of whether or not he has a great NFL career. Oklahoma is not in the national title hunt, so if he gets hurt again in what probably amounts to a meaningless three-game stretch, who’s going to cover those lost wages? I dare say Mike Stoops wasn’t planning on doing it.
Walker has clearly been thinking about this, tweeting “When ur a parent u make choices…” He almost certainly knows that the concussions he’s already suffered are enough of a concern to NFL teams. Will some hold leaving the team against him? I don’t know. Myles Jack left UCLA to rehab his knee before the 2016 draft, and I don’t recall seeing the same types of hot takes Walker’s decision generated. In either case, the choice to get healthy and prepare for the future is perfectly logical to me. And in Walker’s situation, he believes he’s doing what’s best for his child.
Even if Walker had been cleared, I think Stoops was out of line. I imagine this was a tough call for Walker to make, and as far as I can tell, he appears to have his priorities in order. For what it’s worth, he leaves school with 31 solo tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, a forced fumble, and five batted passes in 24 career games.
The Reese’s Senior Bowl is sending out invitations, and this week announced its first 12 official acceptances. Here’s a quick rundown of the expected attendees so far:
Seth Russell QB Baylor
Russell had ankle surgery Wednesday, and will almost certainly be limited to weigh-ins and interviews only
Davis Webb QB Cal
Webb is a grad transfer from Texas Tech, who may be the top senior QB in the class. He has prototypical size and a big arm, but carries the stigma of an Air Raid quarterback
Amba Etta-Tawo WR Syracuse
After tallying 938 yards in 37 games at Maryland, Etta-Tawo has broken out as a grad transfer for the Orange with 79 catches for 1246 yards and eight TDs in 10 games so far this season
Cooper Kupp WR Eastern Washington
Kupp is the all-time FCS leader in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns
Ryan Switzer WR North Carolina
The sure-handed Switzer has 16 career touchdown catches, and seven career punt return scores. He projects as an ideal NFL slot receiver
Taywan Taylor WR Western Kentucky
Taylor is a big-play threat who’s averaged 16.6 yards per catch over his career, and who’s scored 30 touchdowns in his last 25 games. With a sub-4.4 40-yard dash and a 39 1/2” vertical leap, Taylor’s skill set projects favorably to the pro game, and he should shine in Mobile
Gerald Everett TE South Alabama
Everett has 82 catches and 16 touchdowns in 20 games over the past two seasons, and he plays his college home games at Senior Bowl hub Ladd-Peebles Stadium
Sam Rogers FB Virginia Tech
He is a fullback. They usually pick one per team. Sorry, that’s all I’ve got
Jordan Morgan OL Kutztown
Morgan has 43 starts at left tackle, but projects to guard at the NFL level. He’s the only Division II-or-lower prospect to accept so far
Taylor Moton OL Western Michigan
Moton has spent time at tackle and guard, and is generally considered a better prospect than former teammate Willie Beavers, who was drafted by the Vikings in the fourth round of the 2016 draft
Nate Gerry S Nebraska
The only defensive player to officially accept thus far, Gerry has picked off 13 passes, has 18 pass breakups, and has forced three fumbles in three seasons as a full-time starter. Gerry is a hard-hitting box safety who can run, and could work his way into Day Two of the draft this spring
Toby Baker P Arkansas
Box Score of the Week
Deshaun Watson QB Clemson
52/70 580 YDS 3 TD 3 INT
Ok the three interceptions aren't good, but at least one of those wasn’t really Watson’s fault. And damn, I know they lost, but the dude threw for almost 600 yards in one game. That’s still good, right? Right?
Hot Take of the Week
Bombshell from @LanceZierlein- he hasn't heard one NFL person who thinks Deshaun Watson goes in the first-round this spring.— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) November 15, 2016
Oh, man. Seems Watson’s interceptions are really starting to bother NFL people. It’s not just that he has 13 on the season, it’s that he’s thrown five on third downs, and four in the red zone. This is similar to what happened with Jameis Winston in 2014, when he often had to throw his way out of holes he helped create. Like Winston, Watson seems to be pressing at times, but unlike Winston, Watson has a slimmer build and an injury history that might also be dinging him with scouts. Maybe I’m just being stubborn, but once Watson gets into interviews and NFL coaches weigh in on his intangibles, I still think he’ll find his way into the first round. But it might be on the late side, after two or three other passers come off the board. But hey, the same thing happened to Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr in 2014.
Ohio State at Michigan State Saturday Noon ET
The Buckeyes are on a tear, and in RB/WR Curtis Samuel, and defensive backs Malik Hooker, Gareon Conley, and Marshon Lattimore, tOSU may produce four more first round picks this April. Meanwhile, Sparty star defensive lineman Malik McDowell is expected to miss the game with an ankle injury.
Washington State at Colorado Saturday 3:30 PM ET
The word on the street continues to be that Cougs redshirt junior QB Luke Falk will declare for the draft after this season. He’s led Wazzu to eight straight wins. Falk will be tested by ballhawking defensive back Chidobe Awuzie, who’s also an outstanding blitzer.
Oklahoma at West Virginia Saturday 8:00 PM ET
Rail-thin Sooners receiver Dede Westbrook has 68 catches for 1254 yards and 14 touchdowns through 10 games, and has even earned notice as a potential Heisman finalist. All 14 of his scores have come in Oklahoma’s last seven games