4 rising NFL draft prospects on our radar
Last week we checked in on a handful of prospects who are off to a good start, so we’ll take a look across the nation and highlight a few more players who have caught the eye through three weeks of play.
For some players, the first few weeks are not the greatest test from a competition standpoint, so while they deserve credit for playing well, there’s still a wait-and-see approach as they head into conference play and take on more difficult challenges.
1. Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
With two years of strong grading under his belt, Awuzie was already on our radar coming into the season and he’s off to a great start in 2016. He splits his time on the outside and in the slot for Colorado providing the triple threat of production you like to see from that position: coverage, run stopping, blitzing. He’s been targeted 15 times on the year, allowing seven catches for 72 yards (4.8 yards per attempt) and he’s knocked away two passes while intercepting another. Those numbers are not far off from last year’s, when he allowed only 4.9 yards per attempt. Awuzie can read and break on the ball extremely well, and it will be important to see him when matched up against some of the top passing offenses littering the Pac-12.
2. Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
We’ve highlighted Ramczyk previously, and while he still has a huge test pending in Week 5 against Michigan, it’s not too early to put him on the radar. Ramczyk has yet to allow a pressure on 100 pass blocking attempts, and he’s done so while displaying the good movement skills necessary to play offensive tackle. That does include a game against LSU, so it’s not as if he hasn’t been challenged yet this season. In the run game, he’s also graded well, moving defenders at the point of attack and making blocks on the move, though there has been the occasional whiff. File Ramczyk under the “want to see more” category, but it’s been a great start to 2016.
3. Chad Hansen, WR, Cal
Ridiculous catch by Chad Hansen pic.twitter.com/Ik20A7Dx7L
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) September 18, 2016
Cal’s wide receiving corps was depleted as top six receivers all departed. The No. 7 receiver last season was Hansen, who has transitioned smoothly into the No. 1 role this year. He leads the nation with 546 receiving yards, 103 more than the next closest receiver, and he’s caught at least 12 passes in each of his three games. It’s more than just the numbers with Hansen, however, as he’s showed the ability to pick up yards after the catch, making forcing five missed tackles and showing well in Cal’s screen game. He’s made the most of his 12 deep targets as well, catching six of them, including three touchdowns. He’s showed good chemistry with new Cal quarterback Davis Webb on the deep ball and even though he ultimately bobbled the ball out of bounds, his “catch” along the sideline against Texas showed impressive body control. Hansen will have plenty of opportunities to show off his skills in Cal’s pass-happy scheme the rest of the way, and he’s on pace to put up ridiculous numbers.
4. Marcus Williams, S, Utah
Few safeties have made an impact quite like Williams who has two interceptions, two passes defensed, and a forced fumble/recovery while chasing down a running play. He’s the nation’s top-graded safety through three weeks and he’s yet to miss a tackle on his 16 attempts, all this after showing well as a run defender his first two years at Utah. Last season he took a step forward in coverage, and that continued development is crucial for his draft stock. Williams is another case of the competition level heating up in the coming weeks, but he’s caught the eye with his playmaking ability through three games.