On Saturday, college football is really starting to take off. There are four games between ranked opponents spread out through the entire day — including a primetime game between two top-10 teams.
Now that three of the major conferences are only playing inter-conference games, it seems like every week is packed full of quality games — and we’re are slowly gaining more and more insight into what the 2021 NFL Draft may look like. Some players — like Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney — are shooting up draft boards each week, while players like North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance haven’t put their best foot forward. We’re still a few months away from even beginning to predict what a big board may look like — but we’re inching closer.
Coming off a victory against the New England Patriots, the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t look as good as they did the week before against the Baltimore Ravens; the interior of the Chiefs’ offensive line allowed below-average pass rushers to generate pressure with relative ease. This could be an area where the Chiefs could try to improve early in the 2021 draft.
On the other side of the ball, the Chiefs appear to have yet again hit gold with a one-year contract for a defensive end. Like Emmanuel Ogbah last season, Taco Charlton is providing incredibly valuable snaps. But just like Ogbah, Charlton’s contract is only for this season — and Alex Okafor and Tanoh Kpassagnon also playing on expiring contracts. So the Chiefs could also be looking for defensive linemen in the draft, too.
So let’s turn out attention to the trenches on Saturday.
Prospects to watch
Creed Humphrey | IOL | Oklahoma
Oklahoma vs. Texas, 11 a.m. Arrowhead Time
Humphrey has been well-known since his true freshman season, in which he played exceptionally well on a stacked Oklahoma offensive line. Since then, Oklahoma has lost everyone else from that line; at center, Humphrey is the lynchpin of the current line.
Creed Humphrey | OL— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) October 9, 2020
++ Leverage and base
+ Good working his hips around defenders
+ Pin/Pull technique
+ Explosion to climb to 2nd level
++ IQ to I.D. rushes and stunts/blitzes
+ Power at contact
- Closer to avg athlete
- Can carry his hands wide resulting in mis-placed punch pic.twitter.com/s1PAsrsiUK
Humphrey has plenty of staring experience — and it shows up on the field in a multitude of ways. He displays the ability to read a defender’s leverage and plan of attack — and then use that against them to pin and pull them or seal them away. He’s also had a lot of pressure put on upon him to make protection calls. His ability to seamlessly work from one defender to another — while keeping his eye on the second level for a blitzer — is fantastic. He pairs that with exceptional leverage and power from his lower half, stalling out rushers with ease. Humphrey has the power to create movement in the running game but prefers a more technical approach to get the best leverage.
But Humphrey does need to improve his hand placement and lateral agility. For a player who is so technically sound, it’s strange to see him struggle so much with his hand width. He’s too worried about turning defenders through a pin and pull or working his hips around them — so too often, he gets his hands out wide rather than latched into a defender’s chest. He’ll likely never be a super athlete, either — but if he can clean up his steps while working to the second level on an angle or around the horn, he’ll be better able to make up for it.
Patrick Jones II | DE | Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh vs. Boston College, 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time
Jones has been off to an incredible statistical start to the 2020 season. He has been a huge part of Pittsburgh’s early-season success.
Patrick Jones II DE #91— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) August 25, 2020
++ Changing levels to drop/dip under OTs
+ Explosive 1st step
+ Length + Strength
++ Upper body control
+ Spacing up the arc
+ Active vs run
- Hand usage to keep chest clean
- Ankle flexibility
- Inconsistent utilizing power
Senior Bowl Top 250 pic.twitter.com/Nh1HrXyMox
Jones displays a pretty good get-off while trying to explode up the arc, along with good timing on a dip-rip underneath an offensive tackle’s punch. He has a fantastic build, possessing the baseline defensive end traits to play in the NFL for a long time. He uses his strength well, holding contain against the run and keeping blockers off his body. As a pass-rusher, he’s most effective using his burst off the line of scrimmage — but also flashes quality pass-rushing moves that utilize his length and hands.
To be NFL-ready, Jones needs to showcase a wider array of consistent pass-rushing moves. He isn’t the most flexible rusher — and when he doesn’t activate his hands, it can force him to take wide angles. Early in the season, he’s still flashing this hand usage — but if he wants to climb into the first or second round of the draft, he needs to show it more often.
Matchup to watch
OT Cade Mays vs. EDGE Azeez Ojulari and IOL Trey Smith vs. DT Jordan Davis
Tennessee vs Georgia 2:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time
One of the more intriguing matchups on Saturday is the Tennessee offensive line versus the Georgia defensive line. We looked at Smith earlier this season — and he’s worth watching again — but this week, focus your attention on Mays.
Cade Mays back... pic.twitter.com/9hwfen2iwE— Cole Cubelic (@colecubelic) October 3, 2020
Mays just transferred from Georgia to Tennessee; he’ll be going up against his former team. At Georgia, Mays saw time at right guard, performing as well as you would expect a Georgia interior offensive lineman to play. He’s got a powerful build — along with adequate movement ability — but he’s at his best when working linearly. His ability to load up his hands and hips in unison to finish blocks is phenomenal.
Mays will be facing Ojulari, who plays an off-ball linebacker role but rushes the passer more often than not.
2021 Draft: Azeez Ojulari DE— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) May 22, 2020
+ Burst off LoS
++ Powerful hands
+Good ankle flexibility
+ Pass rush toolbox
+ Inside counters
+ Consistently softens the corner
+ Plays long and patient vs the run
- Long strider up the arc
- Widens path on most speed rushes
- Thicc/stiff hips? pic.twitter.com/LVz2UzJqg7
Ojulari isn’t getting much hype as a draft prospect — and there is no assurance that he is coming out after this season — but he’s been even more dominant than he was last year.
His ability to soften corners with his hand usage and power — and then turn up the arc — is fantastic. Even more impressive is that he has multiple ways to win; he’s able to cross a blocker’s face with an inside move or bull rush right through them. But he needs to show more athleticism in space — or lower-half power to withstand larger offensive tackles coming right at him — or he could be pigeonholed as a tweener.
Facing Smith will be Davis — a massive defensive tackle who has a knack for wrecking some plays. But he does have some drawbacks. At his size, he has some major motor issues; he can be sluggish to get moving or change directions. So this battle between Davis and Smith will be about power — and power is fun to watch.
Early returns this season for all four of these players have been fantastic; whoever really flashes in this game could help their draft stock a great deal. In particular, I’m watching Ojulari closely; I’m not entirely sure how he’s still flying under the radar after the Auburn game, but I expect there a major bump in his draft stock is coming.
The bottom line
This college football weekend is jam-packed with big matchups and great prospects all starting to get into the swing of things. There really aren’t too many “wrong” games to watch — and for Chiefs-specific purposes, this weekend is shaping up quite well.
The Chiefs look like adding some players to the interior offensive line could help the team the most going into 2021 — and could replace some losses at defensive end, too.
The Chiefs could be interested in could be a wider pool of offensive linemen now that mauling, powerful blockers are on the table and elite athleticism isn’t a requirement.