NFL Draft Prospects to Watch on CFB Week 6: Utah vs USC

USC's London highlights two Pac-12 Programs on the rise.  

 

 

 

 

It seems like forever since there's been some real hype surrounding USC, and Utah continues to be unable to break through and win its first Pac-12 Championship. Regardless, in the NFL, awards and championships don't matter. Many a player has been drafted by NFL teams from middling college programs, and turned into an All-Pro. This saturday's contest between the Trojans and the Utes will prove to be just another example of that. This should be an exciting contest between these Pac-12 South programs, who are both chasing Arizona State for the Division lead. The stakes are highest for USC, who is currently trailing Utah in the standings and with a loss here would all but take them out of Conference Championship consideration. Playing at home, and led by a quartet of Day 1 and Day 2 picks on both sides of the ball, there should be plenty of big plays for the Cardinal and Gold. However, Utah is just as loaded, and while slightly less heralded, the Utes relish in their still mostly "mid major" brand identity. If USC comes out less than ideal, the Utes could deliver a knockout punch in the 3rd Quarter.

 

 

By the time the Draft comes around Utah will have been estranged from Green Bay for 40 years. Green Bay has only made 10 selections starting in 1947 with DE Ralph Olsen and ending with RB Del "Popcorn" Rodgers in 1982. The most notable selection would be TE Marv Fleming, who the Packers selected 154th Overall in the 11th Round (Christ!) in the 1963 NFL Draft. Fleming would go on to be win 4 Super Bowls; 2 with the Packers, and 2 with the Dolphins, including the immaculate 1972 season where the Dolphins went undefeated. Fleming isn't alone in the championship category however, RB Allen Jacobs went 139th Overall in the 10th Round of the 1964 Draft and was part of the 1965 NFL Championship team. Lastly, WR Steve Odom, who went 116th Overall in the 5th Round back in 1974, is 10th all time in Kick Return Yards for the Packers.

 

 

Compared to Utah, the Packers have had a consistent love affair with USC, totaling 33 selections spanning from 1940 - 2012. The superlatives of those selections would be none other than Clay Matthews and Nick Perry. Matthews and Perry went 26th and 28th Overall respectively in 2009 and 2012. Matthews is #2 all time in sacks with 83.5, while Perry sits right outside the leaders at #16 with 32. 

 

 

But enough about the past, here are the NFL Draft hopefuls for Saturday's Utah vs USC:

 

 

 

 

Devin Lloyd, LB - Utah

 

Lloyd could have came out last year and would have been a solid mid Day 2 pick. He's not pushing for the back end of 1st Round consideration. A converted safety, Lloyd has ideal size (6'3/230) and speed(<4.6) to make an immediate impact in the NFL. He can play every LB position in an even front and would be a plug-and-play ILB in a 3-4. Lloyd wouldn't even have to come off the field in sub-packages as well. In coverage, Lloyd is an asset against either RBs or TEs and has the awareness to get into throwing lanes and take away passes in the middle of the field. He has explosion at the LOS and decent hands to get past blockers and get to the Quarterback. Where he struggles is his run fits and reading the play as it develops. He's more of a "see ball, get ball" kind of LB and that's what stops him from being truly elite. If he can get that part of his game worked up, we're talking about a possible franchise altering player. Current Projection: Top-20 Pick

 

 

Nick Ford, G - Utah

 

Ford has played every position on the offensive line for the Utes, and I can't stress how much of an asset that is. He's currently playing Center, but I'd love him at Guard. I have some questions on his athleticism, as well as his ability to use leverage against a premier pass rusher. I like him more as a swing tackle that aligns at Guard and can move to OT in a pinch or as he gets better. The Trojans sport an adequate defense so a big game Saturday could elevate his draft status. I'm not quite sure if he's on the Packers' draft radar just yet, but again with the flexibilty he has he most likely should be. The Senior Bowl should tell us more. Current Projection: 3rd Round Pick

 

Brant Kuithe, TE - Utah

 

Kuithe is one of the primary receiving threats for the Utes. He's an outstanding route runner, and he plays with great intelligence. Unfortunately, Kuithe is on the smaller side for a TE at only 6'2/230, and his lack of strength has been a major issue at the point of attack. USC has a pretty good defensive line, so it'll be interesting to see if he can hold up and prevent any sacks and blown up run plays. Kuithe will probably project as an H-Back or Fullback, utilized as a downfield blocker and in the screen game.  Don't get be wrong Kuithe is a superb athlete, it'll be up to NFL coaches to find the best way to employ them. Current Projection: 5th Round Pick

 

Viane Moala, DL - Utah

 

Moala went down early for the season in a gut wrenching triple overtime loss to San Diego State. Moala, transferred to Utah from Hawaii, and was trending upwards prior to his injury. At 6'5/323, Moala is scheme diverse but most likely should expect to be penciled in as a 4T defensive lineman. Moala has strength in loads and is quicker than a man of his size would appear to be. For Utah, it will be a question of "what if" for what Moala could have been for them this year. For NFL talent evaluators however, it's a question of how soon can they get him to possible Pro Bowl form if his limited exploits translate to the pros. With limited tape I'm not sure if Moala gets drafted earlier than Late Day 3 unless he gets to the Combine or plays in the Senior Bowl, but if NFL GMs see what I see, they'd be remiss to let him choose his own team by going undrafted. Current Projection: 5th Round Pick

 

Cole Fotheringham, TE - Utah

 

I had to do some research and dig for some tape on Cole. But he fits what the Packers like to do on offense with their multiple TE sets. Again, no telling when Marcedes Lewis decides to hang it up, but he fits his mold a little bit, but since he's slightly smaller at 6'4/247, he's got some extra "juice" to go with him. While nobody expected much in the way of blocking from Jace Sternberger, I'm still waiting to see Josiah Deguara really step up offensively and give Rodgers another weapon downfield. I'm not saying Cole could challenge him immediately, but due to his size he positions himself as a superior blocker immediately, this is all about who can get downfield and make a play, which in the red zone, would probably lend to Fotheringham due to being 6'4 and Deguara being 6'2. Cole Fotheringham isn't getting alot of hype, and will probably be available very late into the draft should he declare, but he is an intriguing prospect/project to say the least. Current Projection: 6th Round Pick

 

 

Mika Tafua, OLB - Utah

 

Tafua plays at DE for Utah, but I'm not sure if he can do the same at the next level. I'm penciling him at OLB for the NFL, which will probably have a bit of a learning curve for him should he make the leap. Tafua is plays with good burst and leverage, his hands are adequate, and he's a smart player who knows how to get to the QB. But at only 6'2/250, he will have difficulty against the length of NFL-caliber OTs. Tafua has the smarts to acclimate I believe, it just will depend on how NFL teams view him. Current Projection: 6th Round Pick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drake London, WR - USC

 

Drake London fits the mold that Brian Gutekunst likes in a WR....big and physical. London doesn't have much in the way of long speed, he's quicker than fast, but he wins EVERY ball thrown in his area. He's got great hands and once he gets the ball and has a smidge of open field in front of him watch out. The Packers still don't look great for 2022 and beyond at the positon, and I expect a Day 1 or 2 selection depending on how the board falls. Davante Adams still needs a legitimate #2 guy, and London fits that mold of a guy who can keep DBs from doubling Adams while being a verticle threat. If London runs well at the Combine, he could get sneaky 1st Round consideration, if not, I wouldn't mind if the Packers tried to move up on Day 2 to get him. Current Projection: Top-50 Pick

 

 

Drake Jackson, Edge - USC

 

Drake Jackson plays DE for the Trojans, and I'd like to see him continue to project at a 4-3 DE in the NFL, but he also has the ability to play from a 2-down stance so that could lend to some 3-4 OLB. I don't know where I like him best, but for the Packers he'd be a 3-4 OLB most likely. The best part of Jackson's game? His rush plan, it's varied, it's sophisiticated, and he might have some of the best hands for a edge rusher in this year's Draft Class. Against opposing OTs he leaves them guessing on how he gets to the QB. Jackson knows his opponents well, and will find not just 1, but 2 ways to get through and around them to get to the QB. Jackson has good, not great explosion but plenty of twitch to stretch out run plays to minimal gains. Jackson certainly has the ability to play himself into 1st Round consideration on is current path and should find himself as a Pro Bowler sooner than later. Current Projection: Top-50 Pick

 

 

Kedon Slovis, QB - USC

 

Kedon Slovis has come along way at USC, and in a game where USC NEEDS to win, this could be a defining moment for his draft status. He has an NFL arm, he's got accuracy, and he has the intelligence and awareness to hang in the pocket against the rush and make the right throw. That ability right there can often be the difference between a touchdown and an interception. Slovis isn't a premier athlete, so NFL GMs better have an offensive line to protect him or a running game that can keep defenses honest. What continues to plague Slovis is his consistency. He goes from great to sometimes awful in the blink of an eye, particularly in big games or against great defenses. The Utes, if they don't have anything else....will have a defense. I'll be interested to see which Slovis shows up in this one. I know a lot of folks consider Slovis 1st Round, but until he can clean up that black mark he's only Day 2 for me. Current Projection: Top-75 Pick

 

 

Isaiah Pola-Moa, S - USC

 

Pola-Moa is a long safety at 6'4/205, but he's not a turnstile by any means. USC aligns Pola-Moa at safety and nickel. His length makes him hard to throw against, whether it's a WR or a TE, and he has the hips to stay with twitchier guys. Pola-Moa can also play disciplined in the run game, he's a solid tackler, rarely taking bad angles to the ball carrier. The biggest thing for him will be his injury history as he's had multiple shoulder injuries, and the NFL will only complicate that further. NFL teams will need to get him in the weight room and put on more mass. I know somebody's thinking it, so I'm just going to say it....is he another Kevin King? Possibly, but Isaiah plays a far more disciplined style of football if you ask me, and given his extra length, there are plays that he can make down field that King would struggle to do so. I think for the purposes of projection I like him as a big nickel corner or FS in Dime/Quarters style coverage. He will be successful in the NFL, he just has to stay healthy. Current Projection: Top-100 Pick

 

 

Isaac Taylor-Stuart, CB - USC

 

Taylor-Stuart will be one of my darkhorse favorites in this year's class. Taylor-Stuart is rumored to have sub 4.3 speed...probably making him the fastest player on the Packers' roster if selected. He's best when lined up off the ball and letting the WR come to him and sticking to his hip. Taylor-Stuart has routinely shut down his assignments and if beat on a cut or double move, Taylor-Stuart has the recovery speed to catch up and make a play on the ball. I'd like to see him more in the running game making plays, but that's something that can be hopefully coached. I know teams know who Taylor-Stuart is, but I don't think they know just HOW good he is yet. Right now Taylor-Stuart would be a steal on Day 2. Current Projection: Top-100 Pick

 

 

 

 

Utah will play USC at 7pm CST in The Coliseum on FOX. Check your cable provider and/or channel guide for local listings.

Joseph has been an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers since 1997, citing an affinity for dairy products during his childhood and his favorite color, green. Born in Jacksonville, FL, Joseph currently is an Active Duty servicemember in the U.S. Armed Forces. Joseph considers himself a lifelong fan of the game of football, competing since his youth well into adulthood. When it comes to the Pack, Joseph is particularly impassioned about the NFL Draft and collegiate scouting process, and will contribute regularly on CHTV.com leading up to that year's upcoming Draft.

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Comments (5)

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Lphill's picture

October 08, 2021 at 07:03 pm

Speaking of Nick Perry , they resigned him in 2017 and released him after the 2018 season never to be heard from again.

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JosephR's picture

October 11, 2021 at 02:33 am

I've always surmised that Perry never playing in the NFL again after the Packers let him go had something more to do with him than his actual talent level. Roughly 7 years as a starter in the NFL and most likely having to take a backup/rotational role for a new team, I'm thinking he didn't have the humility to do so.

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mnbadger's picture

October 09, 2021 at 01:52 pm

sorry Joseph, I couldn't read the article. Draft review of 2 college teams I care nothing about? Don't we have a game this week? How about some depth about the Bengals? Hopefully the Packers are preparing harder for the Bengals than this. GPG

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JosephR's picture

October 11, 2021 at 02:37 am

While I'm disappointed you didn't read the article, I would be ever so thankful if you read my "About Me" in my signature. I'm hopeful that as the season wears on interest will slowly but surely increase.

I do however have an article that I think you in particular might appreciate, I look forward to your support.

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mnbadger's picture

October 11, 2021 at 02:22 pm

no problem, I just want to focus on the next game during the season. I have all off-season for draft reviews. I'm too old to try to remember this content until next spring. I'll get it while it's fresh. Also, the prospects will have another season of tape or injuries to add to the review. GPG

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