NFL Draft Notebook: Pittsburgh’s Israel Abanikanda Has Record-Setting Day; Jahmyr Gibbs Scouting Report

Oct 8, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers running back Israel Abanikanda (2) runs to score his fifth touchdown of the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Pittsburgh won 45-29. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers running back Israel Abanikanda (2) runs to score his fifth touchdown of the game against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Pittsburgh won 45-29. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Week six of the college football season was spectacular for several NFL Draft prospects. We saw record-setting performances from wide receivers, running backs, and several defensive players. However, the best game from any 2023 NFL Draft prospect was from Pittsburgh running back Israel Abanikanda who put up one of the better rushing performances in recent history.

In addition to looking at the top performances from week six, this week’s article also gives a scouting report on Jahmyr Gibbs, names our rookie of the week, and much more.

Top Ten Performances of Week Six

1. Israel Abanikanda, RB, Pittsburgh
Any time you break a school record that was set by Tony Dorsett, you deserve to be named the top-performing draft prospect of the week. Against Virginia Tech, running back Israel Abanikanda set the school record for rushing yards with 320 yards and was also able to account for six touchdowns.

2. Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo
Toldeo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell had the best day of any defensive back this season. He was able to pick off four passes against Northern Illinois and took two of these back for touchdowns. His four interceptions on the day were just one shy of the NCAA record of picks in a game set by Lee Cook all the way back in 1942.

3. Jonathan Mingo, WR, Ole Miss
Another player who set a school record was Ole Miss receiver Jonathan Mingo who accounted for 247 receiving yards on just nine catches. He was a big-play threat all day against Vanderbilt, recording three receptions that went for over 40 yards, including two touchdown receptions that went 70+ yards.

4. Jose Ramirez, DE, Eastern Michigan
While Eastern Michigan’s Jose Ramirez carries a free agent grade, he definitely helped his chances of getting more looks from NFL teams with his play on Saturday. He was able to come away with four sacks and one forced fumble against Western Michigan and overall had an outstanding game.

5. Quentin Johnston TCU WR
To say TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnson had the best game of his season is an understatement. Going into Saturday’s game Johnson only had 12 receptions for 114 yards, but vs. Kansas, he was able to haul in 14 passes for 206 yards. In this game, he showed impressive agility for a 6-foot-4 receiver and showed why he was named a receiver to watch this preseason.

6. Tuli Tuipulotu, DT, USC
A defensive tackle who is quietly having a great season is USC’s Tuli Tuipulotu. In his latest game against Washington State, he was able to sack the quarterback three times, which gives him seven sacks on the season. To go along with his seven sacks, he has also accounted for 12.5 tackles which is already five more than he had last season.

7. C.J Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud showed why I called him the best quarterback in school history with his performance against Michigan State. Against the Spartans, he threw for 361 yards while completing 81% of his passes. However, the most impressive stat of the day was his six touchdown passes, which is the third time in his career he has been able to account for six passing touchdowns in a game.

8. Lindsey Scott Jr., QB, Incarnate Word 
While Incarnate Word quarterback Lindsey Scott Jr. might be on the small side, coming in at only 5-foot-11, he has big-time talent. This weekend he threw for 401 yards and seven touchdowns against Lamar. This is just his latest great game as he has already thrown for over 300 yards in a game five times. He also has 27 touchdowns on the season while only throwing two picks. It would be wise for a game like the East-West Shrine game to look at inviting them to their All-Star game.

9. Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer showed why he is the top tight end in college football and should be a high draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft against BYU. In this game, he caught 11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns. The best play he made on the day is one where he showed the body control to adjust to a poorly thrown ball and come away with a touchdown reception.

10. Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami
Last week, the question was asked if Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was still worth a draft pick. Well, Van Dyke answered that question on Saturday with a resounding yes. Against North Carolina, he completed 42 passes for 496 yards and three touchdowns. While he will need to be more consistent to be a day-two pick, some team will see his raw tools and take him in the 2023 NFL Draft.

2023 NFL Draft Prospect of the Week

While the forgone conclusion most of the season has been that Bijan Robinson will be the first running back taken in the 2023 NFL Draft, one player who is closing the gap is Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs. One of the main reasons Gibbs is such a highly-regarded prospect is his ability to help out in both the run and passing game and even on special teams.

Gibbs has been a dynamic playmaker all the way back to his high school days. As a senior at Dalton High School, he rushed for 2,554 yards and 40 touchdowns. This outstanding season and overall standout high school career allowed Gibbs to draw his share of recruiting attention and he was rated as the 44th player overall in his recruiting class by 247Sports.

Even though some blue chip programs including Alabama, Florida, and LSU made Gibbs think long and hard about his early commitment to Georgia Tech, he decided to stick with the Yellow Jackets. As a freshman Gibbs flashed his multi-dimensional skills by rushing for 460 yards, hauling in 24 passes for 303 yards, and averaging 26 yards on eight kickoff returns.

This was enough for him to be named a second-team freshman All-American by The Athletic. As a sophomore, his production improved in all areas, which earned him a spot on the All-ACC team as an all-purpose back. While Gibbs likely would have been the focal point of Georiga Tech’s offense in 2022, he decided to enter the transfer portal, eventually landing at Alabama.

In his first few games of the season with the Crimson Tide, he saw limited touches, not having more than ten rushing attempts in a game before the fifth game of the season. However, he had a breakout game against Arkansas, rushing for 206 yards, including two rushes for over 70 yards. He then followed that up with another strong performance where he rushed for 154 yards on a season-high 21 carries.

The top positive with Gibbs is his well-rounded game. As a runner, he shows the explosiveness to take any run the distance. This is the main reason he has averaged at least nine yards per carry in half of his games this season.

Another positive with him as a runner is his vision. He does a terrific job of finding running lanes and also shows the patience to set up his blocks.

As a receiver, Gibbs possesses the hands to be a downfield target. His speed also makes him a mismatch with linebackers who try and cover him, especially on plays where he is asked to stretch a defense vertically.

In addition to his ability to challenge a defense in the deep passing game, Gibbs has the ability to turn a short pass into a big gain. In this area his agility allows him to evade tackles and pick up yards after the catch. These traits also help him as a return man which is something he will likely be asked to do at the next level.

When scouting Gibbs two negatives stand out which could concern NFL teams. The first one is he is not the most physical running back and may lack the bulk to be an every down back at the next level.

The other concern with him is his pass blocking. In this area, he doesn’t show much aggression and allows defenders to deliver the contact. This could limit his reps at the next level as coaches may have trouble trusting him to protect the quarterback.

Even though Gibbs does have some concerns about his game, his positives far outweigh them, which is why he carries a second-round grade on my board. His best fit in the NFL would be with a team who loves to get their running back involved in the passing game, and where he can split carries with another running back. One team who could be the ideal fit for him is the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Arizona Cardinals are another team that makes sense.

Rookie Report

Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets
This week’s NFL Draft Notebook’s Rookie of the Week is New York Jets running back Breece Hall. Hall had more all-purpose yards than any rookie this year, accounting for 197 total yards on Sunday. He was able to rush for 97 yards, averaging an impressive 5.4 yards per carry. However, his play of the day came in the passing game when he caught a short pass and turned it into a 79-yard gain.

Tariq Woolen, CB, Seattle Seahawks
While Breece Hall had the best day of any rookie on the offensive side of the ball, Seattle cornerback Tariq Woolen stood out on the defensive side of the ball. He recorded a nice interception against the New Orleans Saints where he did a great job driving on a comeback route. This is the third straight game Woolen has recorded an interception and his playmaking ability is one of the reasons he has a strong chance to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Ryan Stonehouse, P, Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans are getting great value out of undrafted free-agent punter Ryan Stonehouse. He is averaging 56.2 yards per punt which is 5.2 yards more than the NFL record of 51.4 yards. He is also doing a good job of not out-kicking his coverage which was a concern of his coming out of Colorado State. These are just two of the reasons he has been one of the better rookies in the NFL and made the Athletic’s early All-Rookie team.

Dylan Parham, C, Las Vegas Raiders
While the Raiders are impressed with third-round pick Dylan Parham’s versatility, they would be best off keeping him at guard. When he plays this position he tends to grade out much higher than he does when playing center. This makes sense as he played guard and tackle in college and has very little experience playing center before he joined the NFL.

NFL Draft Scouting Notes

— Perhaps no player in the 2023 NFL Draft class has more medical red flags around him than Oregon linebacker Justin Flowe. The former five-star recruit has had a very hard time staying healthy since arriving in Eugene. In 2020 he only played two snaps on the year before tearing his meniscus, and he also suffered a season-ending injury in the first game of 2021. While he has seen more playing time this year, a leg injury has already caused him to miss time. On the positive side, when healthy he shows NFL talent and has recorded at least 10 tackles in two of the six games he has played in.

— Teams that play run a power-scheme running game will take a look at Eastern Michigan offensive guard Sidy Sow. Sow who comes in at 6-foot-5 and 326 is one of the more powerful run blockers in college football. He routinely knocks his man off the ball opening up running lanes for his running back. On the downside, he will need to play in this type of scheme since he lacks the agility and overall athletic ability to fit in a zone-blocking scheme. Even though he is a system-specific player look for him still to gain considerable interest in the sixth or seventh round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

— NFL scouts have been flocking to Princeton this year to watch wide receiver Andrei Iosivas, and in his latest game, he showed why scouts are so high on him. Against Lafayette, he hauled in ten passes for 150 yards, which is the second time in just four games he has accounted for at least 150 receiving yards in a game. In addition to his strong play on the field, Iosivas is an impressive athlete and was Bruce Feldman’s number fifteen freak athlete this year.

— It sounds like Iowa linebacker Jestin Jacobs will not be in the 2023 NFL Draft. This should not be a major surprise as Jacobs suffered a season-ending leg injury this season and has never been a full-time starter. Despite his lack of playing time, he was still receiving a draftable grade by most draft pundits, and according to Mock Draft Database carried a fourth-round grade. One of the reasons he was so highly regarded is his length coming in at 6-foot-4. He is also a good athlete who holds up well in coverage.

— To say the least, this is not the type of year LSU wide receiver Kayshon Boutte was hoping he would have this year. Going into the season he was receiving high first-round grades after leading the Tigers in receiving yards and touchdowns despite missing half the season due to injury. However, this year after five games he only has 130 receiving and just one touchdown reception. His lack of production this year could be enough for him to return to LSU next season, or possibly enter the transfer portal and go to a school that can better utilize his talent.

— One player Texas A&M was without in the Alabama game and will be without the rest of the season is wide receiver Ainias Smith. Smith injured his leg in the third quarter of the Arkansas game. This loss is a big one for the Aggies as Smith was one of the biggest playmakers on the team and was leading the team with 15 receptions. While this is obviously not good news for his NFL Draft stock, he should still get looks early on day three due to his versatility, speed, and ability to help out on special teams.

Quote of the Week

“One hundred percent legit, because he’s covered and he’s making catches. He’s got attitude to him. He knows he’s good, so he wants the ball. He knows you’re double-teaming, he knows you’re rolling guys up, and he don’t care. He’s as advertised.”

– An opposing defensive coordinator told ESPN about Purdue wide receiver Charlie Jones