As the college football season heads into championship weekend, draft season cranks up one notch higher. Underclassmen are officially declaring and beginning their preparation for a long process, joining Nick Bosa who got an early start.
As the month of November had plenty of conference matchups down to the wire, it gave even more opportunity for prospects to shine. I'll break down three that made themselves money in the month of November.
Finally, I'll leave you with the latest buzz I'm hearing around college football and the NFL.
Making The Jump
There were a handful of early draft declarations this week and while none were particularly surprising, this is just the first wave of many on the way.
Wide receivers D.K. Metcalf and N'Keal Harry are officially in. Metcalf's final season at Ole Miss was cut short due to a neck injury, making his combine medicals the biggest lingering question. Harry has made plays above the rim and after the catch, but can he separate at the next level?
Either way, both are expected to go in the top 50 picks of the draft and will receive plenty of attention in a crowded wide receiver class.
Former top recruit Rashan Gary is officially leaving Michigan early after a season of highs and lows. The pass rusher never fully lived up to huge expectations, but the NFL will love his size and athleticism up front. He's expected to have a big combine and come off the board in the top half of round one.
Florida Gators defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is NFL bound as well. He's not nearly in the same conversation of defensive prospects that Gary is in, but should still hear his name called on day two. Multiple NFL teams I've talked to like his ability in coverage as a nickel at the next level.
Three Up From November
Marquise 'Hollywood' Brown, WR, Oklahoma
November stats: four games, 30 receptions, 526 receiving yards (17.5 yards per reception), three touchdowns
Brown established himself as a true deep threat weapon in the Sooners offense from week one, displaying explosiveness and speed to win over the top. After a minor slow stretch in October, he exploded in November where Oklahoma scored at least 48 points in all four of their games.
The knock on Brown is his sub-170 pound frame, but it rarely limits his game. He's a smooth route runner with above average acceleration and plays tough at the catch point with reliable hands.
As discussed on the Wednesday episode of the Stick to Football Podcast this week, he'd be great for a team like the Chicago Bears. Brown projects as an early day two selection, but he could continue to rise throughout the draft process.
Darrell Taylor, EDGE, Tennessee
November stats: four games, 19 tackles, five sacks, one forced fumble
When it rains, it pours and when sacks come for Darrell Taylor, they come in bunches. After a three sack performance (with two forced fumbles) against Georgia in September, he cooled off in October.
November was a bounce back month in the stat sheet for the Volunteers Junior, with a four sack performance against Kentucky while adding another against Vanderbilt.
While he's not going to be in the first round conversation with Nick Bosa, Clelin Ferrell, Jachai Polite, Josh Allen or Brian Burns, Taylor has made a case to be in the middle tier pass rush class. He's quick off the snap, wins from the outside often and shows good closing speed.
Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
November stats: Three games, 34 receptions, 607 receiving yards (17.9 yards per reception), four touchdowns
What Isabella did in just three games during the month of November would be considered a solid season by some wide receivers. Even in a blowout loss, his fifteen catch performance (with 219 yards and two touchdowns) against Georgia put him in the spotlight.
This is not a 'possession slot guy', but rather an explosive athlete that can work all levels of the field as a dynamic threat. Isabella should have a big week at the Senior Bowl, assuming the quarterbacks there can get him the ball.
What's The Buzz?
- Reports surfaced this week that Kliff Kingsbury has agreed in principal to become USC's next offensive coordinator, but nothing has been officially confirmed. This move would surprise me a bit. The former Texas Tech head coach will have multiple NFL offensive coordinator opportunities presented to him this offseason. Unless Kingsbury prefers to stay at the college ranks, he should wait it out for a few months. He'll be a big name on the offseason market.
- There has been a lot of talk about Alabama left tackle Jonah Williams in regards to where he'll play at the next level. While he possesses traits that would make him a high level interior lineman (specifically at center), the demand for tackles in the draft is higher than ever. Williams has been lights out in pass protection this season and is an adequate run blocker. Even if the majority of teams evaluate him to play on the interior, there will be a handful targeting him in the top 12 - as a tackle. That's where he'll begin his NFL career and I'd bet on him holding his own there.
- It's been a relatively uneventful season for the 2019 quarterback class in terms of a sure-fire top prospect. Oregon's Justin Herbert will be the first one selected if he declares, but that's far from certain right now. As for the next tier of signal callers to find their way into the top-50? That would be Ohio State's Dwayne Haskins, West Virginia's Will Grier and Duke's Daniel Jones. Early grades on Jones have been extremely promising, where he has a very real chance of finding his way into the top-40 selections in the Spring.