The college football Week 4 slate is upon us, and the team of draft evaluators and CFB analysts at Pro Football Network are here with instant takeaways from the weekend slate. Find our immediate reactions to all the action from start to finish in college football’s Week 4 Saturday games.
Taking into account all of the weekend’s slate of action, our CFB/Draft department will all be on hand for their instant reactions as they come in. For clarity’s sake, each takeaway, reaction, and result will be culminated by the initials of the analyst responsible: TP for Tony Pauline, CM for Cam Mellor, IC for Ian Cummings, OH for Oliver Hodgkinson, and JF for James Fragoza.
Achane developing into a next level specialist
9:15PM- Texas A&M ball carrier Devon Achane is having a terrific game against Arkansas and continues to prove to be a capable replacement for Isaiah Spiller, who departed for the NFL. He’s totaled 107 yards on 11 carries with 1 TD as the third quarter winds under 10 minutes. Achnae has also added 3 receptions and was a catalyst for the Aggies going from 14 points down to a touchdown ahead. He’s shown steady improvement in his game since the start of the season. and Achane is developing into a third down back/situational runner for the next level. TP
49er receiver duo leading the way in a potential surprise
8:40PM- Charlotte has taken the lead over South Carolina by a score of 14-10, much to the dismay of the home crowd. And two of the 49ers best next level prospects are leading the way. Receiver Grant Dubose has 3 receptions for 35 yards while Victor Tucker has compiled 2 receptions for 18 yards including the go ahead touchdown. Dubose is a well built wide out with reliable hands whom I grade as a 7th rounder, much lower than scouts I’ve spoken with who have a 4th round grade on the senior. Tucker is smaller but very quick. Both players lack any semblance of speed or burst in their game, which will hinder their draft stock. TP
UK’s Robinson a legitimate game breaker
8:25PM- Kentucky receiver Tayvion Robinson is showing why I rated him so highly after his sophomore campaign at Virginia Tech. He’s a legitimate game breaker with home run hitting speed. As the first half closes with Kentucky and Northern Illinois knotted at 14-14, Robinson has 4 catches, 92 receiving yards and 1 TD which went for 69 yards. Robinson has a smaller build but possesses big, soft, reliable hands and next level speed. He’ll be a terrific slot receiver/return specialist who could slide into the late part of day two next April. TP
Lot of improvement from CJ Stroud
8:20PM-The Wisconsin-Ohio State game is on the verge of a blowout and I don’t see anyway for the Badgers to claw their way back into this one. I do see a big difference and improvement in CJ Stroud over the past four games since Notre Dame season opener. Stroud is doing a much better job using all his targets, spreading the ball around and delivering the short pass. If he continues the progress in those areas Stroud will be selected before Bryce Young next April. TP
Great match-up in the middle of the line in Columbus
7:55PM- The marquee game of the evening, Wisconsin-Ohio State, includes one of the better next level match ups of the day. Badgers defensive tackle Keeanu Benton, who I handed a 2nd round grade before the season, goes head-to-head with Ohio State center Luke Wypler, who also has a second-round grade on my board. If you stack them I have Benton graded a smidgen ahead of Wypler. Benton has a power advantage but Wypler is explosive and moves incredibly well. In the early going it’s advantage Wypler, who could very well enter the 2023 draft. TP
Transfer LB stands out for Bearcats
7:40PM- What a tremendous game for Cincinnati linebacker Ivan Pace. He had a career contest against Indiana finishing with 15 tackles, 4.5 TFL’s, 2.5 sacks and 3 QBH’s. I wrote glowingly about Pace, who stood out at Miami-Ohio last season. He’s not the tallest linebacker but will be a terrific addition on the inside of a 3-4 alignment. Prior to the season I handed Pace a 5th round grade. TP
Minnesota controlling the game with help of John Michael Schmitz
6:10PM- Minnesota has been in total control of this game versus Michigan State. They now lead 24-0 to start the fourth quarter, and are knocking on the door of yet another touchdown. The equation was simple for Minnesota. They got ahead, and then they stayed ahead with a steady running game, chewing up clock in the process. The entire operation rests on the shoulders of a strong offensive line, and by extension, center John Michael Schmitz. Schmitz has had another stellar outing today, using his combination of strength, hip flexibility, and leverage awareness to pin open lanes left and right. IC
Justin Walley having a day for Golden Gophers defense
5:40PM- The Minnesota Golden Gophers have shut out the Michigan State Spartans to this point. P.J. Fleck’s team is comfortably winning the battle in the trenches, but two turnovers generated by cornerback Justin Walley have also helped weigh the odds in their favor. Walley put up an interception and seven deflections as a true sophomore in 2021, and his playmaking presence has persisted today against the Spartans.
In the first half, he had a terrific fourth-down interception, reading and undercutting a quick out. And not long ago, at the tail end of a Spartan drive, he held strong as a support defender on the boundary, and recovered a forced fumble on the opposing goal line. IC
Reggie Pearson Jr. an unheralded standout for Texas Tech
5:30PM- Today’s battle between Texas and Texas Tech has had its share of momentum swings. And while Texas holds a 10-point lead, the Red Raiders’ defense has come swinging. One player in particular who’s played well is senior safety Reggie Pearson Jr. The 5’10”, 200-pound defensive back had a great interception earlier, showing off solid range, ball tracking ability, and body control on a pass that hovered a hair too long. And more recently, in the second half, he was able to come downhill and make a solo tackle with a great angle. IC
Fordham receiver dominating ill-fated MAC foe
5:25PM- There are stories about how the ancient Greeks sacked entire cities under Alexander the Great in ancient times. And soon, there will be stories about how Forham WR Fotis Kokosioulis single-handedly dismantled the Ohio Bobcats’ defense in Week 4 of the college football season. With four minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Kokosioulis has 10 catches for 308 yards and four touchdowns, as Fordham leads Ohio 52-46.
Kokosioulis’ dominant performance hasn’t been without the aid of a few coverage busts, but the 5’9″, 180-pound receiver clearly has the speed to stress defenses deep. And he plays tough after the catch for his size, too. IC
Hendon Hooker passing test without Tillman
5:10PM- Nearing the half, Hooker is 11 of 15 for 235 yards, and he also has 49 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. Losing Tillman ahead of the game was tough, but Hooker has performed admirably even without his top receiver. It helps that playmakers like McCoy and receiver Ramel Keyton have stepped up, but Hooker is playing a very solid game. He’s making quick decisions, adapting well under pressure, and using his traits to create both in the air and on the ground.
At his age, Hooker may never command surefire early-round billing. But in his bid to earn an NFL future as a quality backup, he’s winning today. Hooker has been tough and well-measured, but also has a willingness to test coverages deep, and has the arm to do it. IC
Bijan Robinson weaving through lanes to help Longhorns
5:05PM- You’d be hard-pressed to find an evaluator who doesn’t have Texas RB Bijan Robinson as their RB1 in the 2023 NFL Draft. Little things like Robinson’s eight-yard touchdown run against Texas Tech help reaffirm his standing. On the surface, it looked like a routine carry. But Robinson’s lightning-fast processing, vision, and cutting ability is what truly causes the routine feel. Robinson expertly manages space and has uncanny feel at times, all at 6’0″, 220 pounds. We saw a little bit of that on his scoring play. IC
Josh Downs is back, and college football is better
5:00PM- North Carolina WR Josh Downs has missed most of the 2022 season with an injury. But he’s back today for the Tar Heels, and he’s already reclaiming his place as their top offensive weapon. With his speed and explosiveness, many think of Downs as a deep threat. He certainly has field-stretching ability, but his athleticism is just as dangerous in the short ranges as well.
Today, Downs has four catches for 18 yards and two touchdowns. On his most recent touchdown, Downs broke inside on the goal line, then immediately sunk and exploded outside with impressive quickness and efficiency. He’s a menace on whip routes, and has very easy separation ability even when afforded little space. And it’s why he’s an early-round candidate at WR. IC
Tyler Van Dyke sliding against Mid Tennessee State
4:50PM- The 2023 NFL Draft is, for the moment, wide open after C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young. In the summer, Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke was identified as a potential riser candidate with his arm talent and early-career production. The talent is still very real, but the desired progression has not come in 2022. In fact, so far today against Mid Tennessee State, his Hurricanes are down 24-3. Van Dyke is 9 of 18 for 75 yards and two interceptions.
One of Van Dyke’s interceptions came off a deflection at the line, and led to a pick-six. But another was a result of him staring down his target — a problem that was very prevalent on his 2021 tape. Van Dyke is all arm right now, and not much else. He’ll need to start building on his physical foundation if he wants to realize his potential. IC
Bru McCoy delivering in Cedric Tillman’s stead
4:45PM- The Volunteers needed somebody to step up in the receiving core with Tillman out. So far, former five-star recruit Bru McCoy has done that. On Tennessee’s first touchdown drive, McCoy was instrumental, engineering a 70-yard play to get the Volunteers in the red zone. The play came easily enough for the 6’3″ receiver, who got a free release from the slot and used his long-strider acceleration to find space. But he still made a nice adjustment in-stride to haul in Hooker’s pass.
With Richardson dealing so far, Tennessee will undoubtedly call on McCoy again to stick with the Gators. So far, Hooker and McCoy are responding well to the challenge. IC
Anthony Richardson gets first passing TD of 2022 in stellar fashion
4:35PM- No one is asking for Anthony Richardson to be perfect. More than anything, evaluators want to see growth that makes banking on his talent a worthwhile investment. The assumption is that such desired growth will come with experience — and that might be what we’re seeing today. Richardson just threw his first touchdown pass of the 2022 season. We had to wait for it, but it was very much worth the wait.
On a quick drop back, Richardson immediately encountered pressure. He surged up into the pocket and made three quick cuts, each time evading adjacent defenders. All the while, he stayed in the pocket, kept his eyes up, and released a laser to an open receiver when he saw him. That receiver, Keon Zipperer, then ran the rest of the way for a score.
On this snap, talent and execution blended together perfectly for Richardson. Short-area athleticism, arm strength, pocket navigation, poise, and field vision. We’re still waiting for consistency, but this was a step in the right direction. And it shows why, even if he’s imperfect, someone will bet on the tools. IC
Young Texas Tech prospects showing promise on offense
4:25PM- Texas Tech is leading the ranked Texas Longhorns early in this game, and a lot of the credit goes to their talent on offense. While redshirt sophomore Donovan Smith has a live arm, he’s been the epitome of a manager in this one, completing 18 of 21 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. The score went to running back Tahj Brooks, who’s been an emergent star for the Red Raiders this year.
Brooks is a bowling ball of a back at 5’10”, 230 pounds, but he’s surprisingly quick and agile for his size, and he’s shown he can catch out of the backfield and corral passes in stride. It helps that Smith generates easy velocity as a passer — something that provides value even on short timing throws. Texas Tech has future NFL talent in these two. IC
Jahdae Barron making an impact for Texas secondary
4:20PM- The Texas defense looked noticeably improved in the team’s close loss to Alabama a couple of weeks back. They haven’t been without their miscues so far today against Texas Tech, but it’s clear that the Longhorns’ unit has talent worth watching. One of their under-the-radar prospects is defensive back Jahdae Barron. A third-year junior, Barron flashed in 2021, and he’s been a tone-setter today for Texas.
Just a few moments ago, Barron obliterated a designed screen to the left side. He immediately diagnosed the play, flew downhill, swerved around a blocker with explosiveness and flexibility, and wrapped up the ball carrier for a loss. There’s no replacement for solid run support, and Barron brings it. IC
Rashad Torrence making life hard on Tennessee offense
4:15PM- We knew it was going to be tough sledding for Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker without star receiver Cedric Tillman today. But the Florida defense isn’t making it any easier on him. The Volunteers managed to get into the red zone on their last drive, but a third-down bid to reach the end zone was stymied by third-year safety Rashad Torrence. Hooker attempted to hit a man on a quick slant from the slot, but Torrence used his high-end closing speed and physicality to jar the ball loose and render it incomplete.
The pass was already behind its intended target and not secure, but Torrence ensured the end of Tennessee’s drive with his quick recognition, explosiveness, and tenacity at the contact point. Torrence — 6’0″, 202 pounds — has flashed a lot so far this year, and has legitimate NFL Draft potential. IC
Tight ends coming in clutch in the 3:30 window
4:10PM- There are a few talented tight ends seeing action in the 3:30 PM college football window. Brevyn Spann-Ford already has a couple chain-moving receptions for Minnesota. He’s a big-bodied 6’7″ receiving weapon with smooth athleticism and box-out ability. And then of course there’s Michael Mayer at Notre Dame. Already in the first quarter, he’s shown off his quick feet and vice-grip hands with a quick catch on a slant over the middle of the field, securing the pass amidst immediate contact. The depth and solidity of the 2023 NFL Draft TE class is on full display early. IC
Florida vs. Tennessee a must-watch even with Cedric Tillman out
4:00PM- Florida vs. Tennessee kicked off recently. Even with Day 2-worthy receiver prospect Cedric Tillman out with an injury, it’s still a game worth keeping tabs on. On both sides of the ball, there is NFL Draft-worthy talent, and it all centers on the two quarterbacks: Anthony Richardson and Hendon Hooker. Can Richardson bounce back and start to show growth? And can Hooker show some autonomy as a playmaker without his best weapon?
The list of prospects extends beyond the QBs, too. Darnell Wright will be tested against Florida edge rusher Brenton Cox Jr. And on the other side, Tyler Baron and Byron Young will be a big test for the Gators’ offensive line. Watch the trenches and the guys behind them — those positions will be key in this one. IC
Minnesota RB Mohamed Ibrahim running tough vs. Spartans
3:55PM- Mohamed Ibrahim is carrying his elite production into Week 4, after a 23-carry, 202-yard, three-score outing against Colorado in Week 3. The Golden Gophers rusher picked up four quick carries for 20 yards and a score on Minnesota’s first drive. That touchdown gave Ibrahim the school record for career rushing touchdowns. Ibrahim remains a reliable weapon with his decisiveness, vision, and physicality at contact. And for a player coming off an Achilles injury, his burst looks solid coming out of the backfield. IC
ACC quarterbacks putting on a show in close contest
3:45PM- ACC conference play is kicking off with a bang this week. As of now, Wake Forest and Clemson are tied at 45 a piece, heading into second overtime. Demon Deacons signal caller Sam Hartman has been masterful, completed 20 of 27 passes for 337 yards and six touchdown. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ young passer D.J. Uiagalelei has been nearly as prolific on the other side, with 351 yards and four touchdowns on 25-for-39 completion.
Hartman’s toughness and ball placement should earn him a look as a quality backup in the NFL. Uiagalelei has more upside, and has shown terrific trajectory manipulation in this game. He’s also a massive body, and can shed sacks with impressive ease. This game could be a turning point for him. IC
Max Duggan is going to be a steal
3:10PM- TCU quarterback Max Duggan is going to make someone look like a genius at the next level. The occasional starter and sometime running quarterback has all the physical skills to play on Sunday but has never really developed as a passer. Much of that has to do with coaching and offensive systems turnover at TCU. He’s played incredibly well today against SMU, punching the ball in the end zone to give the Horned Frogs at 13 point lead, 34-21. The team that selects him late in the draft than patiently develops Duggan is going to be pleasantly surprised. TP
Small school QB impressing on the big stage
3:05PM- The play of Rhode Island quarterback Kasim Hill has been impressive today as he kept his team in the game against Pittsburgh for the opening three quarters. Hill is a compactly built signal caller with a big time arm and the ability to make plays inside as well as outside the pocket. He won’t get drafted but will definitely compete for a roster spot next summer as a UDFA. TP
Clemson senior receiver stepping up his game
2:55PM- The Clemson-Wake Forest game has been a back-and-forth affair and just a terrific contest. Wake quarterback Sam Hartman is playing lights out while Tigers passer DJ Uiagalelei is also playing well. Clemson receiver Joseph Ngata has also made a lot of important plays during the game’s critical moments. The senior has 4 receptions for 84 yards as of this posting and is playing big boy football. Ngata is a large bodied wide out that has really improved the consistency of his hands. TP
Junior Mizzou corner drawing rave reviews from scouts
2:45PM- As Missouri remains locked in a tight affair at Auburn with the score knotted at 14-14, keep an eye on Tigers cornerback Kris Abrams-Draine down the stretch. Scouts have been raving about the junior all season and they believe he could be a day two pick if he enters the draft. And I’m told that’s a very real possibility. TP
Another Wake Forest center staking his claim
2:30- I spoke about Sam Hartman before halftime and the quarterback has literally carried Wake Forest on his shoulders. The Deacs are now up 28-20 as the third quarter is closing out, and Hartman has 4 TD throws. WF center Michael Jurgens also deserves mention as he’s doe a solid job on the pivot. Tipping the scales under 300 pounds, Jurgens is not the biggest blocker but technically very sound and football smart. TP
Under-the-radar Terps corner looks really good!
2PM- During the first half of the Maryland-Michigan game I mentioned the play of Wolverine corner DJ Turner. Praise must also be thrown in the direction of Terps corner Deonte Banks, who’s had a heck of a game. Banks has made several terrific pays in coverage and his recognition and communication with teammates has been just as impressive. Banks is someone who came on my radar late in the summer as scouts coming out of College Park were raving about his potential during August camp. TP
Hartman keeping the Deacons in the game
1:30- You cannot help but love the resilience and grittiness of Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman. Despite the Deacs being over matched and playing from behind, and Hartman being pressured all first half by Clemson’s awesome defensive front, he’s stuck in the pocket and has his team back in the game. Hartman has been very efficient today, completing 9 of 15 passes for 119 yards with 2 TD’s. Hartman is the type of prospect who’ll be under-drafted next April- he should be a day two pick but will end up falling into the final day of the draft. TP
Another Wolverine defender displaying top 32 skills
1:20- Another Wolverine defender who does not get the next level recognition he deserves is cornerback DJ Turner, who I graded as a potential first round pick over the summer. Putting aside the outstanding interception he just made to shut down a Maryland scoring drive, Turner is one of those corners who can be tough to scout because opponents purposely throw away from him. TP
Mazi Smith deserves top 25 talk
1:05-It’s stunning Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith does not get more pub as a first round prospect- something I wrote about over the summer. Smith, who just made a great play on third down to shut down a Maryland drive- possesses the size, power, athleticism and skill to be a mid-first round pick. Don’t be surprised if Smith enters the draft after the 2022 season. TP
Terp OT showing a lot of improvement
1PM- Maryland OT Jaelyn Duncan is doing a solid job against Michigan as the Terps are hanging tough in the early going. What’s surprised me the most is his run blocking as Duncan has always been a real good pass protector that needed to improve his play strength. He’s opened up a number of holes on the left side which Maryland backs have run through for big gains. Duncan has a 4th round grade on my board but has the ability to move into the draft’s second day. TP
Another Big 12 blocker controlling the L.O.S.
12:40- TCU blocker Steve Avila, a week one riser, is again dominating the opposition, this time the SMU defensive line. Avila not only looks powerful but has shown surprising skill blocking in motion or kicking out and removing defenders on the move. If scouts believe Avila can be more than a power gap lineman, as he’s showing today, his draft stock will soar. TP
ISU Center controlling the line of scrimmage
12:20- Iowa State matched scores with Baylor, marching down the field and putting the ball in the end zone to knot things up at 7-7. Center Trevor Downing looked impressive during that first drive containing and even handling the higher rated Siaki Ika. Downing was able to keep Ika from his quarterback and on a few occasions opened up the middle of the field for his ball carriers. Scouts I’ve spoken with are in agreement with me that Downing is a good fit in the middle portion of day three in the draft. TP
Big 12 offers some terrific NFL match-ups
The college schedule is moving into conference match-ups on this final weekend of September. And right off the bat there’s a good one between Baylor and Iowa State, a game between Big 12 contenders with several good head-to-head battles between NFL prospects.
I’ll be watching to see if Baylor left tackle Connor Galvin can slow down ISU edge rusher Will McDonald. Galvin is underrated in my eyes and I’ve stamped him as a 6th round prospect. He’s long with excellent size but not the best of athletes, which makes today’s match-up critical.
McDonald is a tremendous athlete and a top 45 prospect with a great combination of quickness, speed and explosion. What he lacks is size as McDonald is built more like a linebacker at 6-feet-4 and 230 pounds, than defensive end.
Flipping that around you’ll find Baylor defensive tackle Siaki Ika against Iowa State center Trevor Downing another line of scrimmage contest between a pair of next level prospects. Ika, who has a 3rd round grade on my board, is a powerful mauler at 355 pounds. Downing tips the scales under 300 pounds and is a zone blocking lineman who needs a running start. I gave downing a 6th round grade before the season and I like his next level potential, though he needs to add bulk and strength to his game.
There’s an interstate rivalry in Texas between TCU and SMU. Mustangs receiver Rashee Rice was a week two riser after his terrific outing against Maryland. Truth be told Rice has been terrific since the start of the season and holds a 3rd round grade.
Today he battles Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, one of the better cover corners in the nation as far as I’m concerned. Hodges-Tomlinson is tough, instinctive and athletic. He’s also vertically challenged and likely will measure under 5-fee-8 before the draft, which will depress his stock. TP