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Center of attention

Former Mississippi State offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins stood out in college for his versatility. There are not many positions he didn't have a hand in contributing at for the Bulldogs. As he moves on to the next level, we sat down to talk with him about his flexibility, technique and overall mindset heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.

Q&A with Mississippi State OL Elgton Jenkins

DN: With all of the different positions (LG, LT, RT, OC) you've played in school, which one would you say is your favorite? Did you have one that you feel like you're best at?

Jenkins: I think I'm better at center than all of them. I've been playing it for two years and in those two years I've been playing it I've been more wise to the game… having more knowledge. But I think with any position I play at this point right here, with the knowledge I have for the game, I can dominate and play at a high level.

DN: And speaking of playing at a high level, it seemed like one of the things that you do a really good job of is re-anchoring. Even if somebody may get you for a second, you do a good job of hopping back to sink back in the chair. Do you think your tackle experience helps dealing with guys inside trying to use leverage?

During the 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl practices Rankin (No. 74 pictured with player grabbing his jersey) demonstrated very good balance and core strength.

Jenkins: I really think it is a mix of athleticism, being strong and being able to bend. That's what I think it is.

DN: Some of the guys you've played with and have moved on, what type of advice have they given to you? Can you draw experience from your teammate being in this same situation, Rankin (Martinas, 3rd Round, 80th overall, 2018 NFL Draft, Houston Texans)? What has Martinas kind of talked to you about?

Jenkins: Man, he just says come to work every day with a business-mind approach. Treat this as your job and things like that. So every day come to work and every year somebody else is trying to come and take your job. You've got to be a man, step up and keep your job.

DN: In terms of learning a new offense this year under Joe Moorhead (Mississippi State head coach), what was one of the big things you had to pick up in terms of making a quick transition? Certainly a different style than the previous scheme.

Jenkins: Just the scheme and the offense and things like that. I think I pick up offenses really fast man. It is really just the same thing, you've just go to be able to use the verbiage from each offense and you'll pick it up fast.

DN: Do you feel like it was one game that you would want someone to take a look at, what game would that be?

Jenkins: I feel like you can look at the majority of my games, but a game I'd say probably was Auburn. They've got one of the bigger D-tackles and he probably had one tackle that game. Not only me, but my offensive line back at Mississippi State. They had a big part in that. We play as five and then we play as one. Us as a whole O-line had a big part in my success.

DN: Is there one guy at the next level you pattern your game after? Or a guy you've looked up to?

Jenkins: When I was playing tackle, I always looked at tackles. Me playing center right now, it'll probably be somebody like Maurkice (Pouncey, Pittsburgh Steelers) or someone like that.

DN: That's a pretty good one. Thanks a lot for your time man. Good luck in the draft.

Jenkins: Appreciate it.

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Wise beyond his years

DraftNasty's Corey Chavous sat down with former Kansas Jayhawks star defensive lineman Daniel Wise for a Q&A during the week of the 2019 East-West Shrine game to talk about the Wise last name, family lineage and what it meant to be a Jayhawk.

Q&A with Kansas DL Daniel Wise

Corey: What about this week (2019 East-West Shrine Game) and what it represents for you and the Kansas program?

Wise: It's huge for me to be able to just represent the University of Kansas. Throughout everything I'm doing at the Shrine hospital, on the field, having that Jayhawk on my helmet means a lot to me.

Corey: I know the team success wasn't what you may have hoped for during your career but individually you've been very productive the last three seasons. When you think about how you've been able to work the edges of guards and tackles by being slippery. Talk about your technique and what has allowed you to become that type of player.

Wise: My work ethic, my routine in the summer, my workouts, guys I train with, my teammates. Picking up things from them (teammates) and picking up things from my coaches. My dad (former NFL player Deatrich Wise, Sr.), my No. 1 coach, and my older brother (New England Patriots DL Deatrich, Jr.). Always being around football and always watching football.

Daniel's older brother, Deatrich, Jr. (No. 99 pictured), was a participant in the 2017 East-West Shrine Game and has since gone on to post 9.5 quarterback sacks in two seasons with the New England Patriots.

Corey: We actually spent time with your brother here at the East-West Shrine game a couple of years ago. What has his success meant for you in continuing on that family lineage?

Wise: It's huge for me to be able to follow his footsteps at the East-West Shrine game and hopefully one day maybe with him or wherever I go. But to be able to enter the league with him, it's been a journey.

Corey: What type of scheme do you think you fit best in? You've been a four-technique, five-technique and three-technique. You can line up in the reduced front over the center. What do you think is your best position to start at?

Wise: Just the experience that I got playing at the University of Kansas in a 4-3 and 3-4, playing all up and down the line. It has given me a lot of experience on the line. Can play just about anywhere on the line confidently. But I think I earn my best money at the three-technique.

Former Kansas defensive lineman Daniel Wise (No. 96 pictured) posted 151 tackles, 18.5 quarterback sacks, 44 tackles for loss (2nd in school history) and blocked three kicks during his time as a Jayhawk.

Corey: It's funny, when your brother was coming out, we asked him the exact same question. Because at Arkansas he was playing up-and-down the defensive front.

Wise: Yes sir, yes sir. That's right.

Corey: So I guess the family lineage spreads to positional versatility. Toughest opponent in school?

Wise: My toughest opponent in school I'd say would have to go to No. 55 at West Virginia.

Corey: Cajuste (Yodny).

Wise: Yeah...Cajuste. He was a good athlete. His ability to adjust. His hands and his feet. He was a nice athlete, nice guy to go against.

Corey: If an NFL scout wanted your best game of your career what would it be? I know one game I watched two years ago against Texas (2016)...in Kansas.

Wise: Yeah, when we beat 'em. I feel like that's one of my best games. Yes sir.

Corey: Give me another one.

Wise: Texas again this year. The West Virginia game (2018). The West Virginia game is kind of what sparked the season for me.

Corey: Best of luck. Enjoyed watching you play and good luck in the NFL.

Wise: Thank you.

The Barton gene

Cody Barton is a Utah Ute through and through.

The Utah linebacker is the son of two former Utes: his mother, Mikki, played basketball and volleyball. In 1993, she was named the WAC Player of the Year in basketball and led the nation in blocks in volleyball to earn all-conference honors. His father, Paul, played football and baseball in Salt Lake City. He went on to spend a year in the minors with the Toronto Blue Jays’ organization.

Paul and Mikki not only passed on the Utes genes to Cody but his older brother, Jackson, and his younger sister, Dani, also donned the red and white.

Cody's brother, Jackson (No. 70 pictured), is an NFL prospect in his own right after starting 29 games at both right and left tackle over a four-year span.

Dani plays volleyball while Jackson played offensive tackle for the last four years. Jackson finished this season as a first team All-Pac-12 performer while Cody was named All-Pac-12 honorable mention.

Despite having a brother on the team and a family of Utes, the person on campus Cody Barton might be closest to is linebacker Chase Hansen.

Last offseason, Barton helped Chase in his transition from safety to fellow linebacker.

“We had a strong bond,” said Barton during the week of the East West Shrine Game. “Me and Chase were very close. He’s one of my best friends on the team besides my brother, I stayed at his house a couple nights during the week.”

Barton said he and Chase would compete in everything from lifting in the weight room to running in the hallways.

Utah All-Pac-12 linebacker Chase Hansen, pictured left, working hand placement with fellow friend and teammate Cody Barton prior to the 2018 Holiday Bowl.

The bond translated from Chase’s studio apartment all the way to the gridiron. The pair finished as the team’s two leading tacklers.

Barton finished with 117 tackles while Hansen added 114. Barton also bested Hansen with four sacks to two. He added another piece of hardware to his trophy case during the week of the 2019 East-West Shrine game, when he won the Pat Tillman Award, which is given to a player who best exemplifies intelligence, sportsmanship and service.

“Throughout his career, Barton has demonstrated a relentless drive and great awareness on the field, frustrating offenses like the man for which the award is named,” stated a press release from the East West Shrine Game.

The Utes finished 13th overall in yards allowed per contest and that mark could be attributed in part to Barton’s work as the commander of the defense.

“Just about every play we’re communicating with (the defensive line),” Barton said. He also on occasion talks with the back end of the defense.

The communication between the three levels of the defense allows the Utes to run various stunts and shades in the front while timing blitzes between the linebackers.

Barton (No. 30 seen rushing Clayton Thorson in the 2018 Holiday Bowl) posted nine career QB sacks and 23.5 tackles for losses.

The NFL prospect credited Utah Utes defensive coordinator and safeties coach Morgan Scalley for the harmony among the Utes defense.

“We’re always disguising,” Barton said. “Everything we were doing we were always disguising.”

One thing Barton doesn’t disguise is the brotherhood he has with his fellow Utes and the personal competition he has with Chase.

“I hope he sees this and knows I’m faster,” said Barton. It’s worth noting, Barton finished with a 4.64 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, while Hansen didn’t participate due to a hip injury.

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Fresno flanker’s NFL family

Fresno State doesn’t have the name recognition of other West Coast powers like USC or Stanford but one thing can’t be ignored, the Bulldogs have shown a propensity for producing NFL wide receivers.

Henry Ellard, Adam Jennings, Paul Williams, Devon Wylie, Davante Adams, Bernard Berrian, Rodney Wright… the list of receivers drafted from Fresno goes on and on.

Former Bulldog great Stephone Paige set an NFL single-game receiving yardage record in 1985 with 309 yards against the San Diego Chargers. The record stood until it was broken by Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Willie 'Flipper' Anderson in 1989 (336).

Former Fresno State wide receiver KeeSean Johnson caught 275 passes for 3,463 yards (12.6 YPC) and 24 touchdowns in his career.

The next in the lineage could be KeeSean Johnson and he doesn’t need a history lesson, he knows the guys who have come before him.

“I learned about their stats and learned what they did,” Johnson said during the week of the 2019 East-West Shrine Game. “Those type of guys come back to the school and talk to you and you have to take it all in.”

One person Johnson said he models his game after is Davante Adams, who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers before Johnson’s freshman season.

Adams went from Fresno to the NFL and worked his way into a reliable target for Aaron Rodgers, producing two Pro Bowl seasons.

Adams and Johnson also both attended Palo Alto High School, where Johnson played both football and basketball.

The 6-foot-1, 201-pound prospect said Adams' clean release off the line is what stands out to him. Johnson is a good route runner in his own right and says he also likes watching Cooper Kupp (LA Rams) and Keenan Allen (LA Chargers).

“You can learn anything from anybody on the field just by watching them,” Johnson said. “That's how I learned and that’s what helped me.”

Of Johnson's 66 career catches on third down, 47 went for first downs.

The film study has paid off for Johnson, who says he can see himself playing in either the slot or on the outside.

“Whatever team I get a chance to play for hopefully I get a chance to make an impact at wherever (position) they play me,” Johnson said.

He finished his senior season with 95 catches for 1,340 yards and eight touchdowns.

Among his other accomplishments include back-to-back nominations to the All-Mountain West second teams.

Over the last three seasons, Johnson has started all 40 games and has amassed 238 receptions, 3,126 yards and 22 touchdowns.

Three things are certain. Death, taxes and Fresno State will produce an NFL wide receiver. And if Johnson can produce like he did for the Bulldogs at the next level, look for him to return to Fresno and groom the next pup.

Utah PK Matt Gay: From the pitch to the gridiron

A football and soccer ball have striking differences but none of that seems to matter to this NFL hopeful.

Former Utah Utes kicker Matt Gay played just one season of high school football but after being named a consensus FBS All-American in 2017, he is preparing for the NFL Draft.

“It’s just a fitting ending to the hard work and the risk that I took kind of leaving soccer a few years ago.…and showing it’s paying off. It just shows the next step in the journey to go in the NFL,” Gay said during the week of practice at the 2019 East-West Shrine Game. “It’s a testament to hard work and I just really appreciate the opportunity being down here.”

Gay (No. 97 pictured) was 3-of-3 on field goals and hit all three of his extra point attempts in the 2017 Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl.

The former walk-on, who has a 71-percent touchback rate on kickoffs, has been able to translate his strong leg to the gridiron but he does note some technique differences between kicking the different balls.

“Kicking a soccer ball at my position of center forward was about trying to keep the ball low and on goal and now (in football) you have to get the ball up and above blockers,” Gay said.

Another difference Gay noted is most soccer kicks vary depending on the situation but in football every kick should be exactly the same.

According to DraftNasty analysis, Gay keeps an erect upper body on kicks that require power and he keeps his head inside of the football and in-between the plant foot and his kicking platform. 

However, the draft prospect still has to shake his soccer tendencies. Gay’s soccer background will occasionally show up and he’ll punch at the ball on some of his longer attempts, like he did on Day 2 of practices during the week of the East-West Shrine game, when he pushed a 58-yard field goal low and to his left from the right hash.

“Sometimes I find myself in a soccer mentality where you punch at it because I’ve done it my whole life,” Gay said. “It’s about getting the repetition in your body to change to certain techniques to make sure the kicks look the same.”

Before transitioning to the gridiron, Gay was a three-time all-state soccer player and a team captain at Orem High School.

From there, he played two years of soccer at Utah Valley, where he earned second-team NSCAA All-West Region honors.

It wasn’t until 2017 when he walked on to the Utah football team during preseason camp that he left the round checkered ball behind.

His acclimation to the oblong ball has been swift. Gay says he is comfortable kicking from 60 yards out and is even confident in himself from as far as 65 yards out.

The relative newcomer to the game of football has also proven he can play in all types of weather conditions.

“Sometimes you get a perfect night early on in the season but we’ve had games in Colorado where it’s raining or the ball is cold and flat. You have to be able to handle it because no one is going to give excuses,” Gay said. “You have to make kicks when it’s snowy or rainy or sunny.”

As he gets more and more comfortable, Gay said he has relied on former Utah Utes and Chicago Bears kicker Andy Phillips.

Phillips was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2014 and was a second-team All-American in 2015 before signing with the Chicago Bears during the 2017 offseason.

Despite being waived by the Bears, Phillips enjoyed a successful career at Utah, where he set the school records in makes (23) and attempts (28) in 2014. However, both of those records have been broken twice over by Gay.

“He’s around all the time, I talk to him and he’s good about giving tips and pointers about staying calm,” Gay said.

Gay missed on just nine of his 65 field goals attempts as a Ute.

The former pupil has turned into a master in his own right. Gay made all 85 of his extra point attempts and was 56-of-65 on field goals during his two seasons in Salt Lake City. The 86-percent success rate ranks him ninth all-time in the NCAA and first in the Pac-12 for kickers who have made at least 50 field goals.

The 24-year-old has also established himself as a team leader and was named a captain for the Utes.

Gay wants NFL teams to know that no matter who selects him they will be getting a kicker who is willing to take his lumps and learn from them.

“Failure teaches you more than success,” Gay said. “In those moments when you fail that’s a big learning lesson. Success is great and enjoyable but you learn more when you fail.”

If his transition from high school and collegiate soccer to winning the Lou Groza Award in college football is any indication, Gay is a quick learner and has the potential to be successful at the next level.

2019 NFL Combine, Day 1, Offensive linemen: ‘Who got nasty?’

The 2019 NFL Combine featured a collection of very athletic offensive linemen on Day 1. We take a look at four players from the group who helped their respective stocks.

Joshua Miles 6'5 314 OL Morgan State

The former Western Tech High School star and Baltimore, Maryland native had already won his fair share of bar room brawls during the week of 2019 East-West Shrine practices. Tough to dislodge from inside at guard, he also slid his feet well at times during the week at left tackle.

The last player drafted from Morgan State was back in 2003. Former Bears and New York Giants tight end Visanthe Shiancoe impressed NFL scouts during his own combine performance with an eye-opening 39 1/2-inch vertical leap while weighing in around the 251-pound mark.

While that leap was impressive, the 36-inch vertical jump that Miles - a 2018 All-MEAC performer- turned in on Friday may end up as the most impressive athletic feat of the weekend. Why? He weighs in the 315-pound range. When you couple that with his 9'1" broad jump, it is easy to quantify his lower body explosion on the field. His 4.75-second showing in the 20-yard short shuttle will also open the eyes of NFL teams. He is a near lock to become just the second Bear drafted in the last 37 years.

Max Scharping 6'6 327 OL Northern Illinois

Max Sharping (No. 73 pictured) started 53 consecutive games for the Huskies.

An above average postseason has been icing on the cake so for Scharping, whose game is defined by his patience. On film, he frustrates defensive ends by always keeping his hands up around his numbers in a position ready to punch. He understands angles. The kinesiology graduate and Academic All-American offers teams flexibility. He started at right guard, right tackle and left tackle in school.

On Friday, he put to rest some doubts about his true foot quickness and explosiveness despite not running a 40-yard dash. He went under 4.7 seconds in the 20-yard short shuttle (4.69), posted an impressive 28-inch vertical jump and notched a respectable 7.77 time in the all-important three-cone drill. Perhaps even more impressive was that he did it while weighing in seven pounds heavier than he did at the 2019 Senior Bowl.

Trey Pipkins 6'6 309 OT Sioux Falls

Pipkins (No. 78 pictured) was the first player ever selected to attend the NFL Combine from Sioux Falls.

NFL teams want to see a player dominate his level of play (Division II) and Pipkins obliged, turning in an All-American campaign that routinely saw him finish versus overmatched personnel. Regardless of the personnel, he has shown an element of ‘nasty’ finishing linebackers and defensive ends once he gets his hands inside the numbers (2nd QTR/4:33, Minnesota State Moorhead ’18; Jones, Day 2, East-West Shrine ’19-pancakes him through ground).

Although he underwhelmed in the bench press (16 repetitions at 225 pounds), he made it up for it with a solid on-field workout. He was fluid changing directions and displayed much of the base that has been evident on film. On Friday, he ran a 5.12 40-yard dash, went an eye-opening 33 1/2 inches in the vertical jump and also posted an equally impressive 9-foot-6-inch broad jump. For good measure, he blazed a 7.61-second time in the three-cone drill.

Michael Jordan 6'6 312 OC-OG Ohio State

Ohio State's Michael Jordan (No. 73 pictured) started 41 games for the Buckeyes.

When you hear the name Jordan you immediately think of the ability to sky over the competition. The former Buckeye has the look of a heavy NBA power forward. Despite 34 1/4-inch arms, he still posted a 32 1/2-inch vertical jump. He also recorded a broad jump (9'8") that bested even some of the running backs, including Temple's Ryquell Armstead, who ran a 4.45 40-yard dash.

It could partly explain how he's been able to compensate versus leverage defenders at the center spot, where he can execute his combo-rub blocks with efficiency (see Tulane '18). His pad level is still an issue at times and this was even apparent at the left guard spot in 2017 (see Indiana). His quickness, however, in the 20-yard short shuttle (4.71) helps explain his above average ability to pull in confined areas. Jordan helped his stock on Friday.

OFFENSIVE LINE RESULTS

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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 12-30-18: In-game report

The Steelers squeaked past the Bengals but it wasn’t enough to qualify for the playoffs.  Despite a 16-13 victory, a number of midseason disappointments allowed the Baltimore Ravens to walk away with the AFC North division title. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

Steelers spread attack

The Steelers employed the spread attack as its primary offensive set during the regular season and this included the season finale against the Bengals.  It allowed them to get their playmakers out in space but it did leave quarterback Ben Roethlisberger susceptible to increased pressure from four-man fronts.  Cincinnati only sacked Big Ben once, but they were able to get him off his throwing spot without blitzing while still keeping two safeties high.  With Antonio Brown out, Roethlisberger started the game by throwing seven completions to five different receivers.  A majority of these passes were wide receiver screens and slants.  As was my concern early in the season, Roethlisberger did fall back into a pattern of turning the football over, not only against the Bengals but all season long. For the game, Roethlisberger finished with one passing touchdown, one interception and 287 passing yards on 68-percent passing.  James Conner led the team with 64 rushing yards on 14 carries. As the Steelers assess their 2018 season offensively, look for them to carry over their spread principles into next year while also finding ways to cut down on the turnovers. 

Turnover differential 

Pittsburgh ranked sixth in scoring offense and were in the top ten in passing yards and rushing yards allowed.  The offensive and defensive stats tell a story of a successful season but turnovers doomed the Steelers and almost cost them their game against the Bengals.  In 2018, Pittsburgh finished with a -11 turnover differential, which ranked 28th in the NFL.  The other four teams with a worst differential than the Steelers were Arizona, Jacksonville, San Francisco and Tampa Bay, all teams who finished with losing records.  Against Cincinnati, Roethlisberger threw a pick- six to Shawn Williams, which represented the Bengals’ only touchdown for the game.  Defensively, Pittsburgh was not able to force the Bengals, who were missing wide receiver A.J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton, into any mistakes. 

Cincinnati playmakers 

Cincinnati All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green caught 46 passes for 694 yards and six touchdowns despite appearing in just nine games in 2018.

With A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert out, it was evident that the Bengals just didn’t have the firepower to get players open against the Steelers.  Alex Erickson caught all six of his targets for 63 yards and was able to work over the middle but his longest catch was for just 13 yards.  The Bengals next most productive reviewer was Auden Tate, who caught one pass for 15 yards. Joe Mixon ran for 105 yards and finished with 1,168 yards on the season. The 22- year-old running back should be able to be relied upon for the long- term, but look for the Bengals to continue to try and develop their young playmakers like John Ross, a former Top 10 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. 

2018 Valero Alamo Bowl In-game report: Iowa State vs. Washington State, 12-28-18

Washington State emerged victorious in a back-and-forth thriller against Iowa State.  The Cougars defeated the Cyclones 28-26 to win the 2018 Valero Alamo Bowl.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

16 Gardner Minshew (6’2 220) Washington State QB-Senior

Former East Carolina quarterback Gardner Minshew's transition to Pullman culminated with his selection as college football's 2018 Johnny United Golden Arm Award winner.

The East Carolina transfer put together a season that ended with him winning the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award, which is given to the nation’s top senior quarterback.  Minshew impressed in the Valero Alamo Bowl with his short compact delivery and his elusiveness in the pocket.  Iowa State opted to rush just three defensive linemen for the better part of the game and he took his time with patient reads.  When he is at his best, Minshew can power off his back foot and drive the ball in the short and intermediate passing game.  At the next level, the Cougars quarterback will have to answer questions about his deep ball accuracy and ability to run a less quarterback-friendly offense than head coach Mike Leach’s air raid offense.  The former ECU Pirate finished his senior season with 4,779 passing yards, 38 touchdowns and nine interceptions. 

4 Marcus Strong (5’9 185) Washington State CB-Junior

Marcus Strong showed his anticipation and ball skills when he jumped a slant in the first quarter and ran the interception in for a touchdown. The junior cornerback, however, was called for a taunting penalty and had his touchdown negated.  For the game, Strong finished with seven tackles, one sack and one interception.  He impressed this season -and against Iowa State- with his ability to compete and play through the whistle.  Despite giving up nine inches against Iowa State receiver Hakeem Butler, Strong got physical and made life hard on the taller opponent.  The lack of size will concern scouts, but the Cougars cornerback has the right mentality to play on the outside in the NFL. 

18 Hakeem Butler (6’6 225) Iowa State WR-Junior

Butler is physical and not afraid to put his hands on the opposing cornerback to create room in his routes.  He also showed the skills to seal the edge during running plays.  Despite his height, Butler can still get low and get in-and-out of his breaks (see his comeback routes during the first half).  The junior had a productive season, posting 60 catches for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns.  Against Washington State, he caught nine passes for 192 yards.  This included an acrobatic one-handed catch over the middle of the field. 

32 David Montgomery (5’11 216) Iowa State RB-Junior

David Montgomery has the tools to be an every down back at the next level.  He showed soft hands in the receiving game in the Valero Alamo Bowl (4 catches for 55 yards). And like he did all season long, he refused to go down on first contact.  Against Washington State, he ran for 124 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. On the season, the Cincinnati native rushed for 1,216 yards and 13 touchdowns. 

2018 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl, In-game report: Duke vs. Temple, 12-27-18

A dominant second half by the Blue Devils was enough to help them cruise to an Independence Bowl victory. Duke scored 35 unanswered points to defeat Temple, 56-27.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in game report:

17 Daniel Jones (6’5 220) Duke QB-Junior

With Oregon’s Justin Herbert returning to Oregon for another season, Duke’s Daniel Jones should get some attention earlier in next year's draft.  That is if the redshirt junior decides to declare early.  The Blue Devil signal-caller finished with one rushing touchdown, five passing touchdowns and two interceptions against Temple.  A throw that stood out to me was his pump-and-go pass for a touchdown to T.J. Rahming, the slight pump was enough to get the defensive backs attention and clear the way for Rahming.  Jones not only sold the pump with his legs, head and arm moving in sync but he threw a good pass as well.  The game was a microcosm of his season: a mixed bag of good and bad.  Scouts will question his pocket awareness.  Against Temple, he was sacked three times and for his career, he’s been sacked 82 times. I would like to see the internal clock in his head operate a little quicker and if plays aren’t developing, see him throw the ball away.  The positives for Jones is that he has good size, great athleticism for his stature, can throw on the run and has worked with David Cutcliffe, who has enjoyed a myriad of success with young quarterbacks. 

Jones (No. 17 pictured) connected with Rahming (No. 3 pictured) on a career-long 85-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter of Saturday's Walk-On's Independence Bowl against the Owls.

3 T.J. Rahming (5’10 170) Duke WR-Senior

You can’t help but think of former Duke wide receiver and Redskins current slot receiver, Jamison Crowder, when you see T.J. Rahming. The two have identical builds and are used in similar situations. Rahming is used on jet sweeps as a motion man and works mostly in the slot.  Rahming might be a little faster straight-line than Crowder but he doesn’t have the same agility as his elder.  Like Crowder, Rahming also can help out in the punt return game (5.9 yards per punt career average).  Against Temple, Rahming caught 12 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns. 

9 Michael Dogbe (6’3 280) Temple DL-Senior

Dogbe is a little light for a defensive tackle but his activity and constant movement is never lacking.  In a time where defense is more about reacting than dictating, Dogbe is a throwback see ball/ get ball type of player.  In the Independence Bowl, Dogbe impressed with his ability to attract double teams and follow and stick with the play from behind.  He projects best as a 4-3 defensive tackle or a 3-4 defensive end at the next level.  At Temple, single digit numbers are reserved for tough and hardworking players and Dogbe has earned his stripes.  For the season, Dogbe finished with 12.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and three forced fumbles. 

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2018 Quick Lane Bowl In-game report: Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech, 12-26-18

Two run heavy offenses squared off in Detroit in the Quick Lane Bowl.  However, Minnesota was able to make more plays in the passing game, en route to a 34-10 victory over Georgia Tech. DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

62 Jared Weyler (6’4 300) Minnesota OC/OG- Senior

Weyler has missed time over his career in Minnesota with a torn tricep and a torn ACL but when he is on the field, he provides toughness and leads the heavy run Gophers offense.  The senior can play both guard and center. He is not the most athletic prospect and looks a little stiff when forced to block on screens.  Against Georgia Tech, he did show the ability to call out blocking formations and provide a clean lane for his runners.  Weyler, a captain for the Golden Gophers, projects best at the next level as a center. 

24 Mohamed Ibrahim (5’10 205) Minnesota RB-Freshman

Ibrahim is only a freshman but he impressed all season long with his ability to serve as a workhorse running back. Despite his 31 touches in the Quick Lane Bowl, Ibrahim never looked tired or worn down. He is also a willing blocker in passing formations.  For the season, Ibrahim finished with 1,160 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 202 carries. The running back from Olney, Maryland, didn’t get a chance to show his ability to catch very much this year (four receptions for 26 yards).  In a few years, look for Ibrahim's name to come up as a potential NFL prospect. 

6 Tyler Johnson (6’2 200) Minnesota WR-Junior

Johnson is the best receiving weapon for the Golden Gophers.  His explosiveness off the line of scrimmage is lethal.  He was able to sell a move to the inside in order to get a clean release on the outside for a touchdown in the first quarter.  Against Georgia Tech, Johnson hauled in two touchdowns on four receptions for 57 yards.  For the season, Johnson had 78 catches for 1,169 yards and 12 touchdowns. Johnson projects best as an X-receiver, who has the skills off the line to scare cornerbacks in man-to-man coverage.

Look here at how Johnson uses explosiveness in his routes, high- points the football and makes a play:

3 Tre Swilling (6’0 195) Georgia Tech CB-Freshman

The son of former Saints Pro Bowler Pat Swilling, the younger version stood out in the Quick Lane Bowl because of his clean hips and ability to mirror receivers.   Swilling didn’t see much action to his side against Minnesota and at times it looked as if the Golden Gophers offense was intentionally avoiding him.  For the season, Swilling had one forced fumble, an interception and six pass deflections.  Swilling has the skills and bloodlines to be a next level talent.  As the years go on, his progress will be worth monitoring.