West Virginia's Kevin White has already emerged from moderate obscurity this college football season as a top wide receiver prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft. While he's more of a well-known name, the return of Louisville's DeVante Parker further bolsters the position.
Parker injured his foot just before the season and missed the team's first seven games. Against North Carolina State on Saturday, Parker pulled in nine catches for 132 yards. Most of Parker's yards came on simple routes like slants and a quick comeback. Card Chronicle has the highlights here. While he wasn't necessarily running complex routes, Parker showed he was unaffected by the injury and could get himself open in traffic.
It was apparent that Parker’s endurance just isn’t there yet. He was noticeably winded at times and was off the field on a few red zone plays late in the game. But as the season progresses, he should get into better game shape. It would be smart of him to take a Senior Bowl invitation, if it comes.
It was a slight surprise when Parker, now a senior, decided to skip out on this year's draft. With 12 wide receivers taken in the first two rounds this, chances are Parker would have been among them. He's a bigger wide out at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, and last season he showed he can go up and pull in tough catches.
With the reemergence of Parker and White breaking out, the wide receiver class looks like a good one. They should be in contention to be the top receiver drafted, along with Alabama's Amari Cooper. Sammie Coates and Duke Williams of Auburn, Jaelen Strong of Arizona State, Rashad Greene of Florida State and Nelson Agholor of Southern California are right behind them, along with a few others. Here's how I rank them currently:
|1.||Kevin White, 6'3, 210, WR, West Virginia|
|2.||Amari Cooper, 6'1, 210, WR, Alabama *|
|3.||DeVante Parker, 6'3, 211, WR, Louisville|
|4.||Jaelen Strong, 6'3, 212, WR, Arizona State *|
|5.||Rashad Greene, 6'0, 180, WR, Florida State|
|6.||Duke Williams, 6'2, 216, WR, Auburn *|
|7.||Sammie Coates, 6'2, 201, WR, Auburn *|
|8.||Nelson Agholor, 6'1, 190, WR, Southern California *|
|9.||Justin Hardy, 6'0, 188, WR, East Carolina|
|10.||Ty Montgomery, 6'2, 220, WR, Stanford|
Dorial Green-Beckham who is enrolled at but not playing for Oklahoma. If he enters the draft, he could vault to No. 1. The other is Michigan's Devin Funchess. He converted from tight end to wide receiver this season. Because of that, his pro position can be up for debate. If he's a wide receiver, he's also near the top.
Random draft notes
Defensive end Shaquille Riddick had an impressive game against in West Virginia's upset win against Baylor. In a game where many were probably keying on Baylor end Shawn Oakman, it was Riddick who stood out with three sacks and four tackles for loss. At 6-foot-6, the Gardner Webb transfer has length and a good initial burst at the line of scrimmage. But prior to the game against Baylor, he wasn't on the field enough to make an impact. Obviously he's not going to have three sacks every week, but this was a big positive step for Riddick. He's listed at 242, and is a lean player. It will be interesting to see if he bulks up to the 260-pound region by the time of the draft.
If anyone has doubts about Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston – on the field, at least – they need to go back and watch what he did against Notre Dame. Namely in the second half, Winston completed several difficult throws with velocity despite getting pressured. Winston works his progressions better than most college quarterbacks and is much more than simply a one-read quarterback. Unrelated, it's easy to see why some would question Winston's intelligence. Just realize, though, that his backup school after Florida State was Stanford. There's a difference between maturity and stupidity.
This is a somewhat alarming stat for Texas A&M left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, a projected top-five pick:
Ced Ogbuehi has now given up 7 sacks this year. Very disappointing season so far. Might be having issues playing left rather than right side— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) October 18, 2014
Many have Ogbeuhi as their top offensive tackle for next year's draft. He's been rough in his first year playing on the left side, however. Iowa's Brandon Scherff, regarded as the second-best offensive tackle, had a poor game against Maryland. Those who consider him a guard in the NFL will point to this game as to why he can't keep up in pass protection. Scherff was beat several times and often needed help from a running back or tight end. Scherff's pass blocking troubles aren't a trend yet, but something to keep an eye on the next several weeks.
In Alabama's 59-0 blowout against Texas A&M, running back T.J. Yeldon looked like he did a couple seasons ago before he was hit with injuries. He was shifty and elusive rushing for 114 yards on 13 carries. Yeldon's quick feet and agility are some of his better traits. If he can stay healthy and avoid fumbles, he could vault himself back up running back rankings.