Draft Watch: Week Eight


Game of the Week:

#22 Missouri at Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee, Saturday, October 19, 3
p.m. (CT) on SECN


Missouri had one of the better linebackers in the country go down last week with a pectoral
injury in Cale Garrett. He was one player I was hoping to highlight in this game after getting off
to a terrific start to the season. In five games, he had 30 solo tackles and 39 total stops.
Garrett also had three interceptions and returned two for touchdowns, while recovering a
fumble for a score as well. It’s not yet clear whether or not he will be able to apply for a medical
redshirt, and if he doesn’t, hopes are he can be ready to work out at some point next spring.
Another defensive standout that is actually going to play is cornerback DeMarkus Acy. Acy is a
tall, lengthy corner with terrific athleticism, and is coming off his best season as a junior.

In 2018, he had three interceptions and 10 passes defensed, and while he has yet to pick one
off this season, he hasn’t seen a lot of action his way either. I’d love to see him matchup with
Kalija Lipscomb, knowing Riley Neal is going to have to target him.

Neal hasn’t been the most accurate passer after transferring from Ball State, so Acy will have
plenty of chances to get his hands on that first interception of 2019. When Acy is at his best, he
is playing aggressive and breaking on routes, and Neal could also be baited into a bad decision
or two.

On offense, Albert Okwuegbunam is going to be fun to watch. He is one of the most gifted tight
ends in the country, and he’s averaging a career-best 15 yards per catch.

What makes Okwuegbunam such a difficult player to cover is his combination of size and
athleticism. At six feet, five inches and 255 pounds, he moves incredibly well and is one of the
better route runners I’ve seen for a tight end.

Okwuegbunam sinks his hips and plays with very good balance, and he is also an above-average
blocker as well. He’s been building chemistry with transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant and is
coming off his best game of the season against Ole Miss. If that trend continues, we could see
his numbers continue to jump moving forward.

I am also planning to keep an eye on Bryant, as well. I thought he might develop quicker as a
passer once he took over at Clemson, but that all ended when Trevor Lawrence rolled into

Bryant is a gifted athlete, and I believe he has abilities as a passer than can be groomed into
someone that can make a roster in the NFL with work.


If Okwuegbunam is the most complete tight end in this class, Jared Pinkney is the most gifted,
and I am looking forward to getting a look at both in this game. Pinkney has struggled to get the
ball in his hands, thanks to struggles at the quarterback position, but I still expect that staff to
continue to put in the effort to try to get him the football.

He’s a terrific athlete, and I believe he will shine in the pre-draft process with his testing and
ability to dazzle in workouts. Pinkney may not be the blocker that Okwuegbunam is, but he is
not inept in that area either.

He does a decent job as a blocker in space, and also on the move as a lead blocker on traps and
counters. If Vanderbilt wants any chance at pulling off the upset, they have to get him the
football, and unlike Lipscomb, Missouri doesn’t have a player that can matchup on Pinkney.

Whether Acy is following him or not, Neal is also going to have to try to get the ball to
Lipscomb. The senior receiver has good size and is a wonderful route-runner, and is on pace to
push to top his 2018 campaign that saw him bring in 87 passes for 916 yards.
Lipscomb isn’t necessarily a big-play threat, but he does a good job bringing in contested
passes, which make him a threat down the field. He’s dealing with a heel injury, but he should
be on the field this Saturday.

The third player in the fold is senior running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who is also questionable
with an unknown injury. Vaughn is coming off an outstanding junior season in which he
averaged nearly eight yards a carry for a total of 1,244 yards on the ground.

He’s off to a similar start this season with 607 yards through six games and has already set a
career-high in receptions with 17. Vaughn has been one of the most consistent running backs in
the SEC over the last year and a half, meaning he too will be crucial to the Commodores upset

Considering the Tigers’ defensive captain is out in the linebacker Garrett, Vaughn could be in for
a big day if he is healthy enough to compete this Saturday.

My Two Cents:

Missouri started the year with an awful loss to Wyoming but has reeled off five-straight
victories since the opening defeat. They are playing very well right now, and although they lost
Garrett last week and got Bryant banged up as well, I expect them to come out strong in this
one. The only chance Vanderbilt has is for their quarterback play to improve severely. If they

can get the ball in the hands of those playmakers, Vanderbilt can control the pace of this game,
and that is a recipe for an upset. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if their defense is up to the task.

Matchup of the Week:

Florida State’s Marvin Wilson against Wake Forest’s Carlos Basham Jr., BB&T Field, Winston-
Salem, North Carolina, Saturday, October 19, 6:30 p.m. (CT) on ACCN

Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State, JR, 6’5″, 311:

I am highlighting two of the more freakish defensive linemen in the country this week. Wilson is
a former five-star recruit, and it’s incredible to see him move at his size. He is having an
outstanding year as he has already set career-highs in tackles for loss, deflected passes, forced
fumbles and fumbles recovered.

Wilson is also a half-sack from the 3.5 he posted as a sophomore, and he is 13 tackles from his
best season as well. All this and we are only six games into the season.

First and foremost, the guy is a massive player in the middle that makes it difficult to run the
ball inside. Wilson doesn’t move, and if he does, it is usually forward. He plays with violent
hands, and his feet are very good for a big man.

As a pass rusher, he can win with his initial explosion, but he also has the power to collapse the
pocket. That may not always result in him getting to the quarterback, but it does force the
passer deeper into the paths of the edge rushers, and scouts don’t discount that.

He was a man among boys in the Louisville game, and quite active last week in a blowout loss to
Clemson. Look for him to be active against a Wake Forest team that plays with terrific balance.
If Wilson can make them one-dimensional by stopping a rushing attack that averages just under
210 yards per game, he has done his job.

Carlos Basham Jr., DE, Wake Forest, Jr, 6’5”, 275:

Another player with incredible size and talent and Basham, too, is off to a hot start this season.
The defensive end has already matched his career-high in sacks with 4.5, and his 9.5 tackles for
loss are two shy of setting a new single-season best.

Like Wilson, watching Basham move is incredible to witness. Guys with his size and length
shouldn’t be able to accelerate as he can, and his nickname “Boogie” is fitting for the fear he
puts into opposing offenses.

Florida State’s new offense is capable of putting up big numbers, but Basham is the kind of
player that can put a halt to a drive on one play. More importantly, Florida State’s offensive line
has been an issue for most of the season, and if Basham can be a consistent presence off the
edge, the Seminoles may struggle to move the ball.

Basham is starting to show up on more and more big boards, and this will be another
opportunity for him to prove just how dominant he can be. He, too, was a monster against
Louisville and has had at least one stop for loss in every game this season.

My Two Cents:

I think both players are going to be active in this one, but the Demon Deacons have been far
more consistent this season. Where I want to see both players step up is forcing turnovers. As
much as these guys are in the backfield, neither has been overly disruptive at jarring the ball
loose, and turnovers can change a game. Both these offenses can put up points, but if one of
these two can give is offense a short field with a turnover, it could turn the momentum in their
favor. Both offenses play with balance as well, and if these guys can make their opponents one-
dimensional, it will also help their respective chances.

Player of the Week:

Tennessee’s Darrell Taylor at #1 Alabama, Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Alabama,
Saturday, October 12, 8 p.m. (CT) on ESPN

Darrell Taylor, OLB, Tennessee, SR, 6’4”, 255:

Taylor jumped on to my radar after an outstanding junior season in which he recorded eight
sacks, 11 tackles for loss, forced three fumbles and recovered two. He’s an athletic outside
linebacker that can get pressure off the edge and should be a perfect fit in a 3-4 scheme.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t gotten to the quarterback as much this season and only has three
sacks in six games. However, he is getting more involved against the run with 24 tackles thus

That is 12 shy of his career-high, and it’s showing us the versatility he possesses at that position.
That versatility will be tested against the Crimson Tide offense that boasts a bevy of talented
running backs and receivers.

I am not expecting Tennessee to put up much of a fight in this one, but I do want to see Taylor
be active. He is going to be lining up against both Alex Leatherwood (one of my top offensive
tackles eligible for the 2020 class) and Jedrick Wills Jr., who is a mountain of a man. If Taylor is
going to get Tua Tagovailoa’s jersey dirty, it’s going to take a heck of an effort.

Also, Alabama may not run the football like they used to, but the quicker this gets out of hand,
the more they will run. Taylor needs to be active on every down, and if he can have can make
some big plays, scouts are going to take notice of his individual effort.

My Two Cents:

If this game gets out of hand before halftime, I won’t be surprised. The Crimson Tide have one
of the most explosive offenses in football, and the Volunteers haven’t been very competitive
since Phillip Fulmer left. It’s only a matter of time before Alabama is sending in their second and

third-string players. I want to see Taylor make plays before that happens. He can compete with
the players that are across from him, with his quick first step and ability to turn the corner. This
is an opportunity for him to show scouts he can do just that. This game will get out of hand, but
Taylor’s draft stock can win.