It’s hard to believe we are amost halfway through the college football season. In the first half of the season, we saw many surprises including Duke looking like one of the better teams in the ACC, Missouri going undefeated, and Clemson not being in the top 25. We have also seen several NFL Draft prospects performing better than expected including Utah’s Jonah Elliss leading the nation in sacks, Florida State’s Keon Coleman becoming one of the top wide receivers in this class, and Alabama’s Dallas Turner becoming the top edge player.
In this week’s Inside the War Room we take a look at what makes Dallas Turner a top ten prospect in the NFL Draft, highlight ten prospects who shined in week five, give a top five mock draft, and much more.
Dallas Turner Scouting Report
Big things were expected from Dallas Turner when he signed with Alabama, having been named a five-star recruit and the 12th-best player in the 2021 recruiting class by 247sports. It is easy to see why he was so highly regarded, and recruiting experts expected him to one day play in the NFL. The main reason for this was his ability to get after the passer picking up 28 sacks in his last two years at Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Turner wasted no time making an impact for Alabama, being named a Freshman All-American. That year he was able to start three games and came away with ten tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks on the year. In 2022, he saw his production drop despite seeing more time on the playing field finishing with just four sacks on the season.
This season he has already topped his 2022 production total by recording 5.5 sacks. He also became the first player in college football this season to have at least 4.5 sacks and 20 pressures on the season. His best game of the year was likely his effort against Ole Miss when got to the quarterback twice and picked up a total of 3.5 tackles for loss. For his efforts in the game, he was named the Bednarik Player of the Week.
The top NFL trait with Dallas Turner is the same thing that made him a five-star recruit which is his ability to rush the quarterback. In this area, he shows elite agility which allows him to turn the corner on offensive tackles or spin off a block if his initial burst off the ball is stopped. Speaking of his burst off the ball he is one of the quickest edge players in the year’s NFL Draft class which also helps him harass the passer.
There is no doubt Turner can get to the pass, but he also shows the raw ability to hold up in coverage as well. In this area, he has the fluid hips to open up and speed to cover running backs or tight ends. It is also worth noting that Turner was such an impressive athlete that he was used as a safety at times in 7 on 7 tournaments in high school.
The biggest concern about his game is how well he can hold up against the run. Turner is only 242 pounds which is on the light side for a defensive end. He also has trouble disengaging blockers and at times has difficulty setting the edge. While this is a legitimate concern if he is put in the right scheme this liability can be covered up.
While it is still early in the 2024 NFL Draft process there is no doubt Dallas Turner is one of the top players in this year’s class. I currently have Turner rated as the seventh-best player and second-best defensive player in the 2024 NFL Draft behind only his teammate Kool-Aid McKinstry. One team that could make a lot of sense for Turner and will likely be picking in the top ten is the Washington Commanders.
Top NFL Draft Performances of Week Five
The following is a list of pro prospects who shined during week four of college football
1. Ray Davis, RB, Kentucky
Ray Davis easily had the best day of his career against the Florida Gators. In this game, he rushed for 280 yards which was the third most in school history. He also accounted for four touchdowns which ties a school history. In addition to those stats, he displayed impressive playmaking ability averaging 10.8 yards per carry, and had six rushes of at least 16 yards.
2. Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
Georgia tight end Brock Bowers proved why he is the best tight end in the 2024 NFL during the fourth quarter of the Auburn game. In this quarter alone he accounted for 121 receiving yards including the game-winning touchdown for Georgia. He also made several impressive catches in traffic including a ridiculous one-handed catch at the start of the fourth quarter.
3. Jayden Daniels QB LSU
Yet another SEC player who had an impressive week was LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels. Daniels threw for 414 yards, ran for 99 yards, and accounted for five touchdowns in a tough 55-49 loss to Ole Miss. This is just the latest impressive performance from Daniels who has now thrown for over 300 yards in four of his five games, and his second straight one throwing four touchdown passes.
4. Cooper DeJean, CB, Iowa
One of the more eye-opening stats in college football is that Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean has the second most touchdowns on the Hawkeyes since the start of the 2022 season. DeJean accounted for three picks sixs last year, and on Saturday he scored on a 70-yard punt return. He also picked off a pass in the end zone and came away with six tackles.
5. Caleb Williams, QB, USC
If Caleb Williams doesn’t win a second Heisman this year we may never see it happen again. Williams has been absolutely ridiculous this season completing 75 percent of his passes for 1,603 yards and 21 touchdowns with just one interception. In his latest game against Colorado, he went 30-40 for 403 yards and tied his career-best with six touchdowns.
6. Tory Horton, WR, Colorado State
The best Group of Five wide receiver in the 2024 NFL Draft is Tory Horton, and he showed why on Saturday night. Horton became the Rams first 200-yard receiving game since Warren Jackson put up 214 yards at New Mexico on October 11, 2019. In addition to racking up 227 receiving yards on ten catches, he also caught three touchdowns, which makes him only the third player in Colorado State history to have multiple three-touchdown games.
7. Jalen Green, OLB, James Madison
A linebacker who is quietly having a strong season is James Madison’s Jalen Green. Green has already accounted for 6.5 sacks on the year including the two he picked up on Saturday. He also has accounted for 11 tackles for loss and has helped James Maidson become one of the top rushing defenses in college football.
8. Jalen Royals, WR, Utah State
Utah State wide receiver Jalen Royals had the game of his life against UConn. He came away with seven receptions for 185 yards and three touchdowns on the day, with all three of his touchdowns coming in the second half. In this game Royals showed impressive speed, and if he can keep performing at a high level look for NFL teams to give him a look as an undrafted free agent.
9. Jonathon Brooks, RB, Texas
Going into the season Jonathon Brooks was not even the Longhorns starting running back, however after the last three games he has established himself as one of the better backs in college football. Over these three games, he has rushed for 488 yards and is averaging over eight yards per carry. His best game of this stretch came on Saturday when he rushed for 218 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas, who going into the game were only giving up 93 rushing yards a game.
10. Jonah Elliss, DE, Utah
It was another strong week for Utah defensive end Jonah Elliss who last week was named Inside the War Room’s third-best performer of week four. This week he accounted for six tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks against Oregon State.
Top Defensive End
A debated topic among draftnicks currently is how people were so far off when they were debating the issue of which defensive end should go first in the past two NFL Drafts. The first case worth looking at is the one that pitted Aidan Hutchinson against Travon Walker.
The Jaguars made the decision to go with Travon Walker in this battle, and it is a choice they likely regret. The main reason the Jaguars went with Walker with this pick despite never even being named to the All-SEC team was his impressive messuerable. These include his 6-foot-5 272 pound size with a 70 1/4-inch wingspan. He also posted an impressive 4.51 40-yard dash which led all defensive ends.
However, this potential has yet to make a big impact in the NFL having only recorded 5.5 sacks so far in his career. On the other hand, Aidan Hutchinson who was rated as Inside the War Room’s top player in the 2022 NFL Draft has 3.5 sacks in just his last two games. He also has a total of 13 sacks over the past two years.
The type of production Hutchinson is putting up was the same type of impact he made at Michigan. During his time with the Wolverines, he was named to the All-Big Ten team twice and also won the 2021 Lombardi Award after posting 14 sacks as a senior.
The other case that people are looking at involves last year’s draft class and how some people viewed Tyree Wilson as a better prospect than Will Anderson. While it is still very early in both player's careers it is clear that Anderson was the better prospect which is why we had him rated as the second-best player in the 2023 NFL Draft while Tyree Wilson was rated as the 54th-best player and was named our most overrated player in the NFL Draft.
In his first three games of the year, Will Anderson was tied for the sixth most pressures in the NFL and was second in pass rush win rate (33.3 percent). Meanwhile, over the same time period, Tyree Wilson had a 36.2 overall grade from Pro Football Focus which is the lowest grade of any first-round pick.
One lesson that can be taken from both of these cases is that college production should not be overlooked. In the case of both Will Anderson and Aidan Hutchinson both Lombardi Award winners, while neither Travon Walker nor Tyree Wilson were ever even named All-Confernce.
NFL Draft Scouting Notes
— Now that we are one-quarter of the way into the NFL season, we are already seeing some teams turning their focus to the 2024 NFL Draft. This includes the teams picking in the top five of the draft, and this is what those five teams could do next April.
1. Chicago Bears- Caleb Williams, QB, USC
2. Chicago Bears- Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State
3. Las Vegas Raiders- Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina
4. Denver Broncos- Dallas Turner, OLB, Alabama
5. Minnesota Vikings- Shedeur Sanders, QB, Colorado
— One of the more intriguing wide receivers in the 2024 NFL Draft is Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk. Despite being the team’s number three wide receiver Polk has put up some impressive numbers including going for over 100 yards in three of his first four games of the season. As a pro prospect, Polk has ideal NFL size coming in at 6-foot-2 and 204 pounds, and has the speed to stretch a defense which has helped him average 18 yards per catch this season. He also shows the strong hands and overall agility to make the tough catch in traffic.
— A player who suffered a devastating injury on Saturday was Tennessee wide receiver Bru McCoy who suffered a fracture-dislocation of his right ankle. This injury will keep him out for the rest of the season, and if he is in the 2024 NFL Draft it will almost certainly cause him to go undrafted. Going into this game McCoy was my 14th-rated wide receiver and I had a fourth-round grade on him.
— After starting the season off slow, Northern Iowa quarterback Theo Day finally had a strong game this week. In his first two games of the year, he had thrown for five interceptions and just two touchdowns. He also was sacked a total of ten times and completed less than 57% of his passes in both contests, However against Youngstown State on Saturday he completed 72% of his passes for 337 yards and accounted for a total of five touchdowns. While this performance was certainly impressive it will be hard seeing Day drafted in the 2024 NFL Draft.
— Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is quietly having a great season and is seeing his NFL Draft stock improve. Over the last two games, he has thrown eight touchdowns and just one interception. In his latest game against Indiana, he was named the Big Ten offensive player of the week after throwing for 352 yards and five touchdowns. While Tagovailoa will likely not be a high draft pick he could be someone teams consider in the sixth or seventh round. One team that could snag him in that part of the draft is the Miami Dolphins, which would allow him to back up his brother Tua Tagovailoa.
NFL Draft Quotes of the Week
“I didn’t make history, our O-Line made history. WE ran for over 300 yards. As a collective unit we made history.”
- Kentucky running back Ray Davis after rushing for 280 yards
"Dallas has always been a really good player for us. A guy who works hard in practice every day, tries to do everything he's coached to do. The team is important to him, he's been a good leader on the team."
- Alabama coach Nick Saban on Dallas Turner
"JP is one of the toughest, strongest kids we have on the football team. That type of mindset, leadership, and ability, we know when a play has to be made and the ball has to come his way, we know JP is going to make the play."
- Washington offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb on wide receiver Ja’Lynn Polk
“That man is crazy. It takes a lot of pressure off everybody else when you have a player like Brock. Anytime he gets the ball in his hands, it's like, 'What's about to happen? What's about to happen?' It's something special every single time.”
- Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey on Brock Bowers
"His leadership, I mean it's constant. He just affects everybody that he comes in contact with in a positive way. I'm sure you see the see same thing that we do. Loved by the players, loved by the coaches, and it's great to see. He's already a Michigan legend, right? To see him continuing to add to that is just a beautiful thing. A wonderful, wonderful thing."
-Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh on cornerback Mike Sainristil
“(Horton) is something different. He’s special, and we can all see that. It’s nice to have a guy where you know he’s going to get open every time. They tried to double-cover him, it didn’t work, so they put three dudes on him. Still nothing.”
-Colorado State quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi on wide receiver Tory Horton
“As long as we're winning, I'm winning. If I'm contributing to my team and our success, I'm good.”
- Penn State cornerback Kalen King
"He always plays that way. "I haven't seen him play badly. He had some throws I'm sure he wants back [but] he is a flat-out baller. He is a difference-maker. It was a pleasure for me to play against him and his head coach. It was fun; it really was.”
- Colorado coach Deion Sanders on USC quarterback Caleb Williams