Brawlers NFL Draft Notebook: November 23rd 2020

  • 2021 NFL Draft
  • Blake Gallagher
  • Brawlers NFL Draft Notebook
  • Justin Fields
  • Michael Penix Jr
  • NFl Draft
  • Paddy Fisher
  • Ronnie Perkins
  • Senior Bowl
By John Vogel November 23, 2020 0 Comment
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Senior NFL Draft Writer John Vogel drops his first chapter of the Brawlers NFL Draft Notebook discussing Justin Fields, Senior Bowl, and more

I love Saturday’s and college football.

College football is the lifeblood of the NFL. It’s the rigorous challenge that every just about every NFL player goes through to get his chance at the league. Show the league what you can do and get rewarded for the work that was put in. That’s college football. Blood, sweat, tears, and passion.

I watched #Maction on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Minnesota/Purdue game Friday night, and three games on Saturday. I’ve been catching up on the highlights of other games since. I had Ohio State/Indiana on in the early window, and I followed it with Wisconsin/Northwestern. Lastly, I watched Oklahoma/Oklahoma State. I saw a few bits of USC/Utah but not really enough to talk too much about it.

Let’s get into the NFL Draft notebook from this week.

For the first time in Justin Fields’ career, we have seen him show a weakness on the football field.

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Saturday, Fields doubled his career interception total (from three to six) in action against 9th ranked Indiana. Fields’ first was very lazy – late with his throw into the seam. Not only was he late with his throw on his first interception, but Fields broke away from proper technique and ended up placing the ball too far inside and not outside the hashes. That allowed the safety to jump the route.

As they got farther into the game, it became clear that Fields was trying too hard to create big plays down the field. At Ohio State, Fields has always been able to have his way down the field. His playmakers have consistently bailed him out when he makes mistakes. Against the Indiana defense, it wasn’t happening. Indiana made Fields pay every time he tried to force a throw.

Does this hurt his NFL Draft stock at all? Not particularly. Don’t think that this wasn’t something that wasn’t already known. Veteran scouts knew coming in that Fields had a tendency to force things. On the flip side, now we have a good gauge of how Fields responds to adversity. Fields’ was able to ride the rollercoaster and pull out the win, even though consistency throughout the game was rough.

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. impressed against Ohio State

Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (6’3″ 200 lbs) undoubtedly played strong in the match against Ohio State, showing a lot of positive qualities and competitiveness. I initially came into the game with no real expectations. I left with a lot of optimism.

“Nobody should confuse Penix for a first-rounder or even a day two lock,” says Daniel Kitchens (NFL Draft writer for the Brawl Network), “but people in the league have to take notice after Saturday’s game against Ohio State. Outplaying a likely top-five pick in Justin Fields, torching one of the nation’s best secondaries for 491 yards and five touchdowns. He refused to let his team give up down 35-7 in the third and nearly stole the game from the Buckeyes. Penix showed the type of resilience and competitiveness that teams fall in love with. He’s a name to watch the rest of the season, especially with quality opponents coming up in Maryland at home next week, and Wisconsin on the road the week after.”

I don’t think that there is too much of a chance for Penix to declare this season – he’s a redshirt sophomore. However, he’s a name that we will want to monitor for the 2022 draft class.

Northwestern linebackers showed out against Wisconsin

The entire storyline surrounding Northwestern this week after ESPN college football analyst Joey Galloway called the team a “bunch of Reece Davis’s” created a fun motivation for the team that they played into the entire week. However, it’s time to talk about the linebackers on this team.

Paddy Fisher (6’3″ 230 lbs) has been there for what seems like an eternity. The senior is a fourth-year starter and has played very well throughout his career at Northwestern. Fisher is an old school linebacker who plays well asked to play downhill. He’s dominant against the run but previously had been very susceptible in pass coverage. It appears that Fisher is cleaning that up tremendously. He was clogging passing lanes and playing strong in zone coverage against Wisconsin, and still racked up 13 tackles (two for loss).

Blake Gallagher (6’0″ 225 lbs) too showed out as an improved prospect. I had spent some time watching Gallagher last season and concluded that he was far more athletic than Fisher, but still too raw. However, the senior has really progressed this season, showing the ability to play more like a rover safety and cover tight ends. He led the team in action against Wisconsin in tackles, collecting 14, a sack, and recovered a fumble. I had to mention the two of these guys in the NFL Draft notebook this week.

Oklahoma edge Ronnie Perkins was dominant against Oklahoma State

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Ronnie Perkins (6’2″ 245 lbs) was a destructive monster in the annual Bedlam game Saturday night against Oklahoma State. Kirk Herbstreit and Kevin Fowler, who was on the call, repeatedly praised his work as he seemed to be everywhere. Granted, Oklahoma State is putting out a “patchwork” offensive line from injuries and players booted off of the team, but Perkins couldn’t be stopped nor contained.

Perkins isn’t just a pass rusher, who finished with two sacks last night, but he’s a run defender and a very solid one. Perkins filed five tackles and an additional tackle for loss on top of his two sacks. His disruptive ability is unlike anyone we have seen at Oklahoma in recent memory. I like him early in the draft after what I saw. There are concerns with Perkins off of the field, who failed a drug test before the playoff game last season that forced him to sit for the first half of this season. The NFL, no doubt, will look deep into that cause of concern. If he can stay on the field, he can be a gamechanger at the next level.

Brawlers NFL Draft Notebook – Senior Bowl update

I texted Senior Bowl director Jim Nagy after the Shrine Bowl was canceled with concerns that the Senior Bowl would follow. “We’re good here,” Jim responded. “We have a great plan.”

So far, Senior Bowl invitations have flooded social media with prospects accepting their invitation to play in the most prestigious all-star game. There’s a very interesting development happening with the quarterback room at the Senior Bowl. Nagy announced that the game would field eight quarterback prospects instead of six. “As I look at the roster for the Senior Bowl,” Brawl Network NFL Draft Writer Bill Riccette told me, “I become very intrigued and I think this is going to be one of the most interesting quarterback groups Mobile has ever seen. Particularly big opportunity for Jamie Newman (6’4″ 215 lbs) to compete after opting out for 2020 and not playing at Georgia at all.”

Currently, five quarterbacks have accepted invitations to the game:

Ian Book, Notre Dame
Sam Ehlinger, Texas
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
Jamie Newman, Georgia
Kyle Trask, Florida

This leaves the door open for a few other prospects who will have a chance to impress NFL Scouts. Speculation points to Miami graduate transfer D’Eriq King (5’9″ 185 lbs), and possibly redshirt junior quarterback Mac Jones (6’2″ 205 lbs) from Alabama. Senior quarterbacks Kenny Pickett (6’2″ 220 lbs) from Pittsburgh and Shane Buechele (6’1″ 205 lbs) from SMU make a lot of sense too.

Other Brawlers NFL Draft Notebook Notes:

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  • I really like the skillset of Oklahoma running back Rhamandre Stevenson (5’11” 235 lbs), who piled up 195 total yards against Oklahoma State. Stevenson showed an ability to play within all facets of the game. He’s a contributor as a pass blocker, a ball carrier, and a receiver out of the backfield. However, Stevenson had to sit several games this season himself due to a team suspension. There will be concerns as NFL teams look into the matter.
  • Alex Koslow (NFL Draft writer for the Brawl Network) says that a couple of names to look into more are Memphis wide receiver Calvin Austin III (5’8″ 160 lbs) and interior defensive lineman Joseph Dorceus (6’0″ 270 lbs). It’s important to note that both prospects are significantly undersized but have redeeming qualities to their game. Austin, it’s speed and quickness. Dorceus wins by getting low. They’re both interesting developmental prospects at the very worst.
  • Western Michigan wide receiver D’Wayne Eskridge (5’8″ 180 lbs) went off against Central Michigan on Wednesday night and looked every bit of an NFL talent. He caught 4 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Don’t forget that he scored on a 72-yard catch-and-run play and the very next play scored on an 85-yard catch-and-run. He’s got top-end speed and that’s going to give him some value in the league immediately.
  • Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim (5’10” 200 lbs) destroyed Purdue’s defense, showing good field vision and contact balance. Ibrahim ran for 102 yards and 3 touchdowns in action on Friday night. The running back class this season is shaping up to be very good and very deep. It’s becoming harder to poke into it.
  • Purdue wide receiver Rondale Moore (5’9″ 180 lbs) returned to the field for the first time this season. Moore had opted out due to COVID-19 when the Big Ten initially canceled their season but opted back in after the league reinstated. The news broke on Friday that he had missed the first few games of the season due to a lower-body injury. Moore looked like his old, explosive self, gathering 136 total scrimmage yards and a score.
  • Penn State tight end Pat Freiermeuth (6’5″ 245 lbs) suffered a season-ending knee injury on Saturday in a loss to Iowa. “It sucks to see,” Bill Riccette told me. “He still looks like a solid first-round pick, maybe falls to the second round. Strong player. But man, it’s hard to catch (Florida tight end) Kyle Pitts (6’5″ 235 lbs) now. Pitts could very well go top ten. Carolina, perhaps?”
  • Daniel Kitchens says that “Georgia is going to be interesting to watch” as their collegiate season comes to an end and prospects make their final decisions to enter the 2021 NFL Draft or not. Dan’s watching a pair of redshirt sophomores, quarterback JT Daniels (6’2″ 200 lbs), and running back Zamir White (5’11” 210 lbs). “Daniels looked good against Mississippi State Saturday in his first 2020 action.” Kitchens told me, “and has a five-star pedigree. However, he needs to add a lot more to a very small collegiate sample size. White has looked great at times and average at others, but can you confidently draft him over guys like Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill (5’11” 215 lbs) or Oklahoma State’s Chuba Hubbard (6’0″ 205 lbs)? With the upside that both have, I would expect them both to return for their junior seasons and try to lock the first-round status before declaring.”

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