Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan: It doesn’t matter where Hurst lines up. Whether he is lining up over the center, the guard, or even the tackle, Maurice Hurst gets into the backfield. Hurst wins off the snap with some of the best initial quickness in college football. Hurst actually lead the Wolverines in tackles Saturday with eight including two and a half that went for a loss. Even on plays where Hurst isn’t in on the stop he very often seems to be disrupting the play. What will Maurice Hurst’s best NFL position is the only question as he is validating first round consideration.
Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma: In what turned out to be one of the most surprising results in recent college football memory Oklahoma lost somehow to an improving Iowa State team at home. Thomas may have not been playing at 100% so this criticism may not be fair as he is recovering from a previous ankle injury. With that said, Thomas is supposed to be your stopper on one side of the field, and he has only sometimes lived up to that reputation. Saturday was a bad game as Iowa State was attacking Thomas and winning with ease. If Oklahoma is going to re-emerge as a playoff contender they need better play from Thomas.
I See You
Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Clemson: Every time I watch Clemson play I fall in love with another one of their front seven players. While O’Daniel only recorded three tackles and a QB hurry Saturday against Wake Forest he has jumped off the tape most of the season. For example, Dorian had 10 tackles, a pick six, one sack, and another tackle for loss against VT just the week before. O’Daniel continues to be a guy that uses his freakish athleticism to cover anyone from a RB to a WR and will be viewed by NFL teams as a guy that can play in any down and distance.
Who is The Winner of The Main Event?
Calvin Ridley vs Christian Kirk Saturday Film Session Week 6
Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk have a lot in common. They are both JR WRs, both wear the number 3, and are both the primary option for each team’s respective passing game. Both players, at least in my early estimate, will be in the first round discussion for a team looking to improve on their passing game. The team that drafts Ridley is getting a much different WR than the team that ends up drafting Kirk, however.
Calvin Ridley is a guy that consistently finds a way to get open. Very few college wideouts can run the full route tree as well as Ridley can. He has very smooth hips and quick feet to get in and out of cuts. He has the speed to take the top off the defense and will make you pay if you don’t give safety help over the top. He has a knack for finding a soft spot in zones to sit in to make himself available to move the chains. Ridley has very dependable hands as well. Ridley’s statistics can be underwhelming as he plays for a team that just never trails and is dominant running the ball. Ridley has a strong game catches 5 passes for an impressive 68 yards. Ridley mixed it up and was physical blocking for his backs and QB Jalen Hurts when needed. Calvin suffered a knee injury later in the evening that would limit his snaps and eventually take him out of the game.
If Ridley is the best WR in college football in terms of getting open, Christian Kirk might be the best playmaker at the WR position with the ball in his hands in the country. Kirk is sudden and dynamic on screens and slants and has gotten a lot of his yards after the catch. Christian also has the deep speed that can take the top off the defense. Kirk lined up against an NFL level secondary Saturday night and was never able to get behind the defense. Alabama also did a nice job bottling up Kirk on the short plays keeping his gains limited. While Kirk was not able to influence the game in the normal flow of play he came up big on a Kellen Mond scramble creating separation in the end zone and making a heck of a catch to keep the Aggies relevant in the game. Kirk is also a dangerous return man and also certainly affected a JK Scott punt later in the game.
Both Ridley and Kirk lived up to their scouting report and influenced the game. While you could argue that Kirk did more with less opportunity Saturday night it is Calvin Ridley that to me is starting to separate himself from a very tight 2018 WR class.