Welcome to Week 14 of the college football schedule, when conference championships will be decided among a number of other games.
It’s Bedlam in Oklahoma as the instate rivals square off once again. The No. 9 ranked Oklahoma Sooners will take on the 10th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys for bragging rights today, and thanks to reporting from NFL.com, we know that the New York Giants will have credentialed scouts in attendance. There are a number of interesting prospects in the game, so let’s get to it.
Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State (12:30 p.m. ET, Fox)
DeDe Westbrook - The Giants got their number two receiver from the Sooners last year when Sterling Shepard fell to them in the second round. While Roger Lewis Jr. has been intriguing off the bench, the Giants lack a consistent downfield threat across from Odell Beckham Jr. That happens to be one of the best possible descriptions for Sooners’ receiver Dede Westbrook. Playing in 11 games so far this year, he has racked up 70 receptions for 1354 yards and 15 touchdowns. To save you some math, he’s averaging an impressive 19.3 yards per catch. Westbrook is slightly built, listed at 6-foot, 175 pounds, but he is a willing and seemingly tenacious blocker for runs and screen passes, something that is sure to attract the Giants. As a receiver, he isn’t as detailed a route runner as Shepard is, but he is adept at using subtle fakes to get defensive backs turned around. He also has a natural feel for changing speed and varying his gait to create separation while being sudden off the line and out of his breaks.
Samaje Perine - Perine entered the season as Oklahoma’s top prospect and had the potential to be one of the top running backs in the draft. While Perine is still a highly regarded back, he was surpassed by Westbrook in the eyes of scouts. At 5-10, 235 pounds, Perine is difficult to tackle, and has adequate hands as a receiver. Backfield-mate red-shirt sophomore Joe Mixon does the yeoman’s work as the Sooners’ receiving back.
Charles Walker - Perhaps the most interesting prospect won’t be playing in the game. Defensive tackle Charles Walker might have been OU’s second-best prospect behind Westbrook, but he opted to leave the team with two games left to play in order to prepare for the NFL Scouting Combine. His decision has been a controversial one.
On one hand, he had already sustained a concussion this season, potentially opening himself up to further injury before seasons’ end. Injury — and the loss of prep time before the highly-important combine — could have a significant impact on his draft position and future.
On the other hand, coaches who have a say on their team’s big board might not like that Walker opted to put his personal future above the potential good of the team.
Walker is an undoubtedly talented player, stout at the point of attack and disruptive behind the line of scrimmage. He had to make the decision he felt was best for him and his own family going forward, but it will be interesting to see how it affects his draft stock going forward. Outsiders have, in the past, advocated top picks like Jadeveon Clowney and Leonard Fournette not play their final season of eligibility to avoid injury and prepare for the NFL.
This will be an interesting case study.
Mason Rudolph - It’s time for the Giants start facing the reality of Life After Eli. Ryan Nassib is unlikely to be “The Guy” going forward, and might not even be a Giant next year. They spent this past off-season cycling young quarterbacks in and out, looking as though they were casually sifting through the bargain bin for a potential steal.
Mason Rudolph isn’t likely to be the kind of mid-round pick the Giants are probably interested in at this point. He has spent time as a popular name as one of the top QB prospects in a draft that has seen several cycle through that honor. Rudolph has NFL size at 6-5, 230 pounds and a legitimate NFL arm, and that will get him drafted sometime before the second day is out — and probably sooner rather than later at that.
Coming from the Cowboys’ spread offense, Rudolph will likely be a “developmental” prospect who will need time to learn how to command a huddle, play under center, and read his progressions in an NFL offense. That’s a knock, but it is also reality for most QB prospects.
James Washington - Oklahoma State’s receiving prospect isn’t the big play maker that Dede Westbrook is, but he will find a home in the NFL. Washington has a solid NFL frame at 6-feet, 205 and while nothing stands out about him athletically, he isn’t deficient either. He looks like a dependable possession receiver, either out of the slot or the “Z” position at the next level. He is able to create enough separation and the reliable hands to make the catch, while enough wiggle to make defenders pay for bad angles or shoddy tackling.
If the season ended today the Giants would be drafting 23rd overall despite having the league’s fourth-best record. As usual, I’ll be using the CBS Sports big board and making my pick of players ranked within five of the Giants’ draft position for that round.
Round 1 - 23rd Overall
Ryan Ramczyck (OT, Wisconsin, 28th) - This pick is entirely dependent on the development of Bobby Hart. He has been a solid player since taking over as the starter at right tackle. Similar to former right tackle Justin Pugh, Hart could be a good tackle but a potentially great guard. If the Giants feel that they can upgrade the position, they should. Ramczyck is athletic, powerful, and mean, possessing good feet and a natural knee bend. Knockng him down the board, he only has one year of major college football after transferring from a Division 3 school.
That, to me, isn’t necessarily a knock as the work ethic required to make the jump is a major plus in my eyes.
If the Giants feel that Hart is the answer at right tackle and Brett Jones is the eventual starter at right guard, then my pick here is Charles Harris, EDGE out of Missouri
Round 2 - 55th Overall
D’Onta Foreman (RB, Texas, 75th) - This is a huge reach by me, but I feel that Foreman will rise though the draft process after only just declaring that he will leave for the NFL. Foreman is a big running back at 6-feet, 250 pounds, but he has dancer’s feet, reminiscent of Le’Veon Bell coming out of Michigan State or perhaps Andre Brown. Playing out of a spread offense, Foreman shows impressive vision and patience behind the line of scrimmage to wait for his blocking to set up before exploding through the hole. He has uncommon burst for a big back and builds up a head of steam in a hurry. His excellent balance and feet also let him be more elusive and create on his own than you normally see from big backs. He appears to have solid hands and is a willing pass protector.
Foreman and Paul Perkins would be a formidable backfield tandem that with enough similarities that the whole playbook would be open while style differences would cause headaches for opposing defenses (and various other aches after trying to tackle Foreman).
Round 3 - 87th Overall
Davis Webb (QB, Cal, 87th) - Sitting right there at my draft spot, I’m picking a developmental QB for the future. Transferring from Texas Tech, Webb has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback. He has prototypical NFL size and the arm strength to power the ball through the swirling winds at Giants (er ... MetLife) Stadium.
More importantly, scouts, coaches, and teammates have heaped praise on him for his character, leadership, and work ethic. He was voted team captain within weeks of arriving on campus and has been known to spend 16 hours at a time in the football facility. The only reason he’s here is because he has never played in anything like an NFL offense. Both Cal and Texas Tech are based on a spread “Air Raid” offense, which is only superficially like an NFL offense. Webb will need to go to school under Eli Manning to learn how to command a huddle, receive and call the long plays in a West Coast system, make adjustments and audible at the line of scrimmage, and play under center.
That being said, he has the tools — mental and physical — to potentially be a franchise player and the time to learn how to use them.
Round 4 - 119th Overall
Jaleel Johnson (DT, Iowa) - It might be expensive, but I’m of the opinion that the Giants almost HAVE to spend money to retain both Jason Pierre-Paul and Johnathan Hankins. That plus a lack of playing time almost certainly means that Jay Bromley will be leaving the Giants after the 2017 season. As is the Giants’ wont, I’m drafting a defensive tackle a year ahead of time in the hope that he will be ready to step up when there is a vacancy.
Johnson is a long tackle at 6-4, carrying his 310 pounds well. He is stout at the point of attack, frequently commanding multiple blockers in the run game while also being disruptive behind the line of scrimmage. He stood out against Wisconsin, getting a pair of sacks while being a rock in the run game.
So, Giants’ fans, how did I do? And which games and players will you be watching today?