Friday Night Prospects: 2021 NFL Draft Prospects to Watch on 11/21

  • 2021 NFL Draft
  • Andre Cisco
  • Daniel Faalele
  • Dez Fitzpatrick
  • Friday Night Prospects
  • Ifeatu Melifonwu
  • Javian Hawkins
  • Lonzo Neal
  • Mohamed Ibrahim
  • NFl Draft
  • Rashod Bateman
  • Tanner Morgan
  • Tutu Atwell
By John Vogel November 20, 2020 0 Comment
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Introducing the ultimate reader to get familiar with the Friday night prospects who will be playing in the NFL. John Vogel shares insight.

Friday Night Football is always a good time, no matter who is there or what you are doing. It’s in between the big day of college games on Saturday and doesn’t subtract from the NFL game on Thursday Night. With covid-19 everywhere and possibly keeping you from being able to get under the Friday Night Lights of your local high school, perhaps you will be turning on the television looking for a game to observe. Que my first installment of Friday Night Prospects.

What is Friday Night Prospects? We’re all on this website because we love the NFL. Unfortunately, some of us are already looking forward to next season when our team will be drafting prospects to add to the franchise. Friday Night is a special night of the week that we get to look at these prospects with no distractions.

Here are the games on the slate:

Syracuse Orange @ Louisville Cardinals 7:00 ET (ESPN)
Purdue Boilermakers @ Minnesota Golden Gophers 7:30 ET (BTN)

I’d consider giving you betting advice in this game, but I don’t believe that the Brawl Network is quite ready for me to go there yet – and I wouldn’t want your pockets to fare poorly either. Instead, allow me to do what I do best and tell you about the people you need to be watching Friday night.

Friday Night Prospects Featured: QB Tanner Morgan, Minnesota Golden Gophers

Friday Night Prospects: QB Tanner Morgan, Minnesota

Oct 26, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan (2) drops back for a pass in the first quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at TCF Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I came into the season very excited about the prospectus of Tanner Morgan (6’2″ 210 lbs) as an NFL quarterback. His playing style reminded me of former Heisman winning quarterback Baker Mayfield. However, this season, Minnesota has struggled tremendously on both sides of the ball. Morgan has been no exception to that and it’s been rough. He’s completing just 57% of his passes and compiled an efficiency rating of just 123.4.

If you have time, check out my piece on quarterback prospects from earlier this week here

From an evaluation standpoint, Morgan has regressed tremendously this season. A lot of the good habits that we saw last year on tape are pretty much gone as Morgan’s technique has become lazy. The lack of practice and being away from the coaches with the school seems to be hitting him harder than any quarterback in this class. In all honesty, Morgan just needs to have a good game and try to re-establish some momentum for the rest of the year. Being a part of Friday night prospects will hopefully help him with that. I really hope he’s getting back to the basics and prepping for his 2021 season.

RB Javian Hawkins, Louisville Cardinals

Javian Hawkins (5’9″ 195 lbs) was one of those recruits who people evaluated out of high school as “just another speed guy.” Boston College, UCF, and Missouri pursued Hawkins, who played at Cocoa High in Titusville, Florida. Ultimately, Hawkins chose the second Bobby Petrino era at Louisville. Since the arrival of head coach Scott Satterfield, Hawkins has been a monster for the Cardinals. He’s capable of breaking a big play any snap he touches the football.

Hawkins won’t be a feature back in the NFL, but he can still contribute to an NFL offense with his high-end speed. He’s also a good receiver out of the backfield which automatically increases his value. If Hawkins gets the corner on you, say goodbye. You’re not going to catch him before he gets to the end zone. Hawkins is a pleasurable watch any day of the week and should see his name called somewhere in day-three of the NFL Draft.

WR Tutu Atwell, Louisville Cardinals

Tutu Atwell (5’9″ 165 lbs) became a household name in the final game of the 2019 season, the upset Music City Bowl win over Mississippi State. I was in the press box for that game. Everyone who was there was convinced by the third quarter that Atwell was an NFL player. Now here we are, talking about a potential slot playmaker in the NFL. Despite his smaller stature, Atwell averaged 18.4 yards per catch last season and scored 11 touchdowns.

Atwell is a shifty speed receiver but someone whose size won’t “wow” you. However, Atwell is both quick and fast – a rare combination. NFL teams are going to look to find ways for Atwell to make plays – a playmaker out of the slot. A very good coach would utilize him out of the backfield as well. All of this being said, Atwell ultimately needs to add a little more size to his frame before he goes pro, and I would be concerned that him doing that might lose some of his explosiveness. Durability and availability will be a concern going to the next level.

WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota Golden Gophers

Rashod Bateman (6’1″ 210 lbs) is one of those names that NFL Draft Twitter throws around like a top prospect. He’s very good, but I don’t know if I would consider him a first-round option. Bateman busted onto the scene last season with his big body and nifty route running. Appearing alongside Tyler Johnson last season, a fourth-round pick in 2020, Bateman averaged 20.3 yards per catch and scored 11 touchdowns. He originally opted-out of the 2020 season due to covid-19. When the Big Ten announced his return, Bateman announced that he’d be returning with them.

I like the size that Bateman plays with. There are times that he plays bigger than he is – very similar to DeAndre Hopkins in contested catch situations. That being said, I do have concerns with hand strength and his consistency in catching balls in contested conditions. Bateman doesn’t have the speed to win the route organically and is going to have to win a lot with size and physicality, and that’s why I am reluctant to pull the trigger on him.

Friday Night Prospects Featured: WR Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville Cardinals

Friday Night Prospects: WR Dez Fitzpatrick, Louisville

I got onto Dez Fitzpatrick (6’2″ 210 lbs) last season when Louisville played Florida State. I saw this big, physical target making big plays and incredible catches, but also showing the ability to win with his route running. Fitzpatrick has played well throughout his college career but hasn’t been able to produce or separate himself as the #1 option on the team. He’s averaged about 30 catches a season and scored 20 touchdowns so far. When he connects the big play, though, it’s a highlight on SportsCenter.

The difficult part of his evaluation is the production aspect. Fitzpatrick does almost everything well on tape – he moves very well for a big guy, get’s in and out of his breaks, has good hands, and has what I would estimate as 4.55-range speed. So where is the production? Is he simply a very safe #2 option for a team? Fitzpatrick has an opportunity to show the damage that he can do against a pretty sound secondary in Syracuse Friday night.

OT Daniel Faalele, Minnesota Golden Gophers

It was very difficult not to get so excited about the Minnesota Golden Gophers during the offseason. There were so many NFL Draft prospects on the offense that it was just assumed they would be unstoppable in 2020. It hasn’t been the case at all, as most analysts overlooked the tremendous losses on the defensive side of the ball. Regardless, it’s still easy to get excited about Daniel Faalele (6’8″ 375 lbs), who is one behemoth of a man.

One of the biggest concerns with scouts when watching big offensive linemen like Faalele is seeing if the prospects can get down low enough. “Low man wins” is the mantra that is drilled into every lineman’s brain on both sides of the football from a very young age – because it’s true. However, Faalele shows the ability to not only get down low with people but also bends well as he takes on power. He’s nimble on his feet for his size. The only way to beat him is to get lower than him, and that’s hard to do.

DB Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse Orange

Ifeatu Melifonwu (6’3″ 195 lbs) currently plays cornerback for Syracuse. The redshirt-junior from Grafton, Massachusetts, wasn’t very highly recruited coming out of high school. The majority of the interest came from FCS schools like Maine, Holy Cross, Albany, and Bryant. Even after a late push from Michigan, Melifonwu chose Syracuse and Dino Babers.

Melifonwu is one of those prototype prospects who has the length and the size to be an effective boundary cornerback. He’s probably best suited, however, to move to safety in the NFL. He lacks real speed – something that the NFL will require from the cornerback position. He has the size to be physical, but he really isn’t that style and would be more comfortable playing on the back end in deep zone coverage.

Notable mention: Purdue wide receiver RonDale Moore opted-out with Rashod Bateman before the season started – and although he too has opted back in, he is being held out for undisclosed reasons. It’s a very strange situation. If he was playing, he’d be the perfect feature in a Friday night prospects. Regardless, Moore is a slot playmaker unlike anyone on this list and could be a first-round selection himself. He is not expected to play against Minnesota. 

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