NFL Draft Notebook: Clark Phillips Rising, Scouting Report on Jalen Carter

Dec 19, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes cornerback Clark Phillips III (8) runs back an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Washington State Cougars at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 19, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes cornerback Clark Phillips III (8) runs back an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Washington State Cougars at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

Week five of college football saw several NFL Draft prospects standout including a couple of cornerbacks who came away with multiple interceptions. Along with looking at the top-ten performances of week five, this week’s NFL Draft Notebook also breaks down Jalen Carter’s game, discusses how a few rookie linemen are doing, and much more.

Top Ten Performances of Week Five

1. Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Utah cornerback Clark Phillips had a day to remember vs. Oregon State this past weekend. Phillips came away with three picks including one that he took back for a touchdown. This now gives Phillips four picks in the last two weeks and makes him someone who could hear his name called in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

2. Geno Hess, RB, Southeast Missouri
In last week’s NFL Draft Notebook, we saw FCS product Fotis Kokosioulis put up unbelievable numbers. This week, the FCS player to put up spectacular numbers is Southeast Missouri running back Geno Hess who rushed for 276 yards against Lindenwood. While Hess will likely go undrafted, he is someone who should earn an invite to an NFL training camp.

3. Miyan Williams, RB, Ohio State
Ohio State running back Miyan Williams is making the most of his opportunity to be in the starting lineup. With TreVeyon Henderson held out of the Rutgers game, Williams was able to rush for 189 yards and five touchdowns. His highlight of the day came on a 70-yard touchdown carry in the third quarter.

4. Emmanuel Forbes, CB, Mississippi State
Mississippi State corner Emmanuel Forbes proved yet again on Saturday that he has a nose for the ball. He picked off two passes against Texas A&M, which gives him 11 interceptions over the last three seasons. He also showed he can help out on special teams at the next level by blocking a field goal vs. the Aggies.

5. Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College
One of the more electric playmakers in college football is Boston College wide receiver, Zay Flowers. Flowers showed why he is so dangerous when he caught five passes for 151 yards vs. Louisville. He showcased several skills in this game that should allow him to excel in the NFL. This skillset includes the ability to track the deep ball, catch in traffic prowess, and the agility to pick up yards after the catch.

6. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, Alabama
Speaking of playmakers, another player who fits that role is Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs. Gibbs had by far his best game of the season against Arkansas, rushing for 206 yards, including two touchdowns of over 70 yards. Hopefully, after this impressive performance, Gibbs will see more carries the rest of this year. Saturday was the first time this season he had over 10 carries in a game.

7. Sean Tucker, RB, Syracuse
One of the main reasons Syracuse is off to a 5-0 start — which is their best start since 1987 — is the play of running back Sean Tucker. Against Wagner he had the best day of his career, rushing for 232 yards and averaging 10.1 yards per carry. It will be interesting to see if Tucker can continue to put up these numbers when the level of competition increases over the next few weeks.

8. Karl Brooks, DT, Bowling Green
A sleeper in the 2023 NFL Draft is Bowling Green defensive tackle, Karl Brooks. In his latest game against Akron, he recorded seven tackles and 2.5 sacks, which are very impressive numbers for an interior defensive lineman. This was far from the first time Brooks has stood out in a game either, having already recorded 4.5 sacks this season and 6.5 sacks last year.

9. Jaelyn Duncan, OT, Maryland
Going into the season Maryland offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan was graded as a third-round prospect, and he is seeing his stock rise this year. His latest impressive performance came against Michigan State where he was able to shut down Jacoby Windmon.

10. DJ Schramm, LB, Boise State
A linebacker who is quietly having a great season is Boise State’s, DJ Schramm. In his last two games, he has accounted for 27 tackles, and overall, he has 44 tackles in just five games. He also was a playmaker against San Diego State this last week when he recorded four tackles for loss.

2023 NFL Draft Prospect of the Week

Last season, the Georgia Bulldogs had five defenders drafted in the first round including the No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker. However, the top player on that defense still may be in Athens and that prospect is defensive tackle, Jalen Carter.

Coming out of high school Carter was a highly thought-of prospect after registering 12 sacks as a senior. Carter ended up choosing Georgia over Alabama and Clemson; a choice that turned out to be a wise one for him. As a freshman, he played in all ten games and even earned two starts against Florida and South Carolina.

Carter really started to make a name for himself in 2021. Even though he saw limited playing time since he was stuck behind two first-round picks in Jordan Davis and Devonte Wyatt, he still was able to finish second on the team in quarterback pressures with 33. His play that season was enough to earn him a spot on the All-SEC second team and set him up to be one of the best players in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Going into this season Carter was named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press and was also on the watch list for the Lott Trophy, Outland Trophy, and Bronko Nagurski Trophy. While Carter has not put up eye-popping numbers so far this year and has battled an ankle injury, he has still shown the tools that make him a prospect who carries a high first-round grade.

One of the traits that jump out when watching film of Carter is how athletic he is. He shows an excellent burst off the ball and shows the agility to quickly change directions to make the big play. This quickness and ability to fire off the ball should make him the ideal target for teams needing a one-gap defensive tackle.

While Carter is a feared pass rusher he also holds up well vs. the run. One of the reasons he does well in this area is his strength. He shows the power to hold his ground well and can also overpower the guard blocking him to make a play in the backfield. He has the grip strength you want to see out of an interior lineman as well, which allows him to control the man assigned to block him.

Even though Carter is a well-rounded player who should be a top-ten pick he does have some areas he can improve on. The first concern with his game is his pad level. He tends to play high at times which can lead to him getting pushed backwards or to the ground.

Which brings up another concern of him being on the ground too often for a player with his draft grade. One more concern with him is his stamina. Last season, he saw limited playing time, and this year has looked fatigued at times.

When it comes to where Carter will go in the 2023 NFL Draft look for him to be a high first-round pick, and possibly be the first defender off the board. One team that would make sense for him is the Houston Texans who, according to our own Hunter Haas, would be the ideal fit for Carter. One of the reasons Haas likes this match so much is that he would be a good fit in Lovie Smith’s defense, which likes quick penetrating defensive tackles.

2022 NFL Draft Rookie Report

Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans
Former Florida running back Dameon Pierce had a breakout performance when he rushed for 131 yards on just 14 carries. His best play of the day came when he broke a 75-yard run in the second quarter against the Chargers. In addition to racking up the rushing yards, Pierce was also able to haul in six passes.

Tyler Linderbaum, C, Baltimore Ravens
While Sunday might not have been the best game for Baltimore center Tyler Linderbaum, he still has to be one of the best value picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. Against the Buffalo Bills, he committed three penalties and also had one bad snap. However, going into this game he was graded as the highest grade offensive lineman by Pro Football Focus.

In the first three games of the season, he showed elite pass-blocking skills only allowing three pressures in 103 passing snaps. He also held up well against the run showing the ability to easily get to the second level and the athletic ability to make some of the toughest reach blocks.

Evan Neal, OT, New York Giants
While Tyler Linderbaum has been impressive this season, the same can’t be said for New York Giants offensive lineman Evan Neal. He has had his share of struggles against some of the top players in the NFL so far including Micah Parsons. In the first three games of the season he allowed four sacks. Then in the fourth game of the season when he was starting to play at a high level, he suffered a game-ending neck injury.

Devin Lloyd, MLB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville linebacker Devin Lloyd is proving that a prospect’s play on the field should mean more than his testing numbers. At the University of Utah, Lloyd was named the AP Defensive Player of the Year and was named All-Pac 12 three times. Unfortunately, Lloyd didn’t have the strongest NFL Combine, highlighted by his 4.66 40-yard dash, which ranked 10th among inside linebackers. However, since joining the Jaguars, Lloyd has played at the same level he did at Utah being named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month in September.

NFL Draft Scouting Notes

— Miami redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Ahkeem Mesidor is a player to watch. Mesidor, who spent his first two seasons at West Virginia, is a good pass rusher who has recorded 11.5 sacks over his career. He shows good explosion off the ball and is one of the more athletic defensive tackles that could be in the 2023 NFL Draft. The biggest negative with him is he is undersized for an interior player coming in at only 280 pounds.

— In his first game of the season, after serving a four-game suspension, Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez looked like his old self. He ran with great power all day long including his one touchdown rush of the day where he ran through several tackles. He also helped out in the passing game by hauling in two passes for 40 yards. If he can continue to play like he did against Ole Miss, and can cut down on the fumble issues he had last year, he should be a high day three draft pick.

— A player who is having a breakout season is Charlie Jones of Purdue. So far this season he has caught 47 passes in just five games, which is 26 more receptions than he had all of last year with Iowa. What stands out with Jones is his consistently strong hands. He does a terrific job of catching the ball in traffic and rarely drops a pass. He has also proven to be a standout special teams player after being named All-Big Ten as a kick returner last year at Iowa. With his strong play this season, Jones is a prospect who went from an undrafted grade to a high day three grade in the 2023 NFL Draft.

— Teams that run a 3-4 defense would be wise to look at SMU’s DeVere Levelston. While SMU lists him as a defensive tackle, he fits best as a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. One of the reasons he would be a good fit in this defense is his size, coming in at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds. He also has the strength to hold up as a five-technique. However, the most positive trait with him is his playmaking ability. Last season, he led SMU in tackles for loss with 10.5 and also registered 6.5 sacks on the year.

— Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez had another strong game rushing the ball last week against Texas Tech. After rushing for 149 yards against Oklahoma last week, Martinez was able to account for 171 yards on the ground against Texas Tech on Saturday. Unfortunately, in both of these games, he has also proven he is not an NFL-caliber passer. This brings up the question of what NFL teams will view him as. It would not be a shock if several teams looked at Martinez as a big wide receiver or even H-back due to his 6-foot-3 225-pound size, and impressive athletic ability. I would look for one of these teams to bring him as an undrafted free agent next year.

— Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec had his best game of the season against Louisville. He completed 86% of his passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. This game shows why Jurkovec is a player who has all the tools to play at the next level, despite seeing his share of struggles this season. He has one of the stronger arms in the 2023 NFL Draft class and can throw when pressure is in his face or when he is off platform. He also moves well for a pocket passer who comes in at 6-foot-5 and 214 pounds. While he does need to improve his decision-making and accuracy, look for some team to take him on day three and hope they can develop his skills into a possible starter in a few years.

Quote of the Week

“I tell people all the time that the audacity for the other people to even step on the field is disrespectful to me. I tell people that all the time. And I think people ask me what motivates me, and I said ‘the audacity for the fans to show up and for the team to come up and step on the field.’”

-Alabama linebacker Will Anderson Jr. on what motivates him