After a three-week break Inside the War Room returns to look at Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper and why he would make sense for the Buffalo Bills. This week’s article also highlights ten prospects who had outstanding performances last Saturday, led by one of the best quarterback performances in college football history. We also preview three prospects to watch this coming week and much more.
Buffalo Bills Draft Target
This season has been a bit of a disappointing year for the Buffalo Bills as they currently sit at 5-5, and part of the reason for their lack of success this season has been a defense that has batted its share of injuries.
The team also has its top two pass rushers Leonard Floyd, and A.J. Epenesa in the last year of their contract. The team's other edge player Von Miller has had a disappointing year having not recorded a sack, and will be 35 years old next season. This all leads to the Buffalo Bills targeting edge pass rushers in the 2024 NFL Draft.
One player who could fill the Bills' need to get after the passer is Cooper. This season has been a breakout season for Cooper who after only recording 0.5 sacks in his first three seasons, already has seven sacks this year. He has also played elite against some of the toughest teams he has seen this year including picking up three sacks against Alabama and recording seven tackles against Ole Miss.
One of the reasons why Cooper has gone from a late-round pick at the start of the season to a possible late first-round selection is his impressive athletic ability. This flexibility, speed, and fluid hips allow him to make plays sideline-to-sideline. So far this season Cooper is third in the nation with 18 tackles for loss to go along with his seven sacks on the year.
Another reason he has produced at such a high level is how aggressive he plays. He is a player who consistently flies to the ball and does a great job of playing downhill. In addition to these traits he also has good size coming in at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, which should allow Buffalo to use him similarly to how they use Leonard Floyd.
While there are plenty of positives with Cooper a couple of things could make Buffalo hesitant to take him, especially in the first round. One of these is that he gets out of position at times, which hurts his team particularly when it comes to stopping the run. Another issue is that he has had only one great season having only half a sack before this year and also never having more than eight tackles for loss before this year.
While it is impossible to predict what the Buffalo Bills will do in the 2024 NFL Draft, in November a couple of things could make the chances of Buffalo taking him in the first round a better possibility. One of these is if the Bills have a better second half of the season and pick between the 25th and 32nd pick. It is also more likely if they decide to let Leonard Floyd leave after the season, which is a good possibility due to the money he will likely command after the season.
Top Ten NFL Draft Performances of Week 11
1. Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
Jayden Daniels had possibly the best game of any prospect this past year, against Florida. He finished the day throwing for 372 yards and rushing for 234 yards, which makes him the first player in FBS history to throw for at least 350 yards and run for at least 200 yards. He also became the first player in FBS history to eclipse the 12,000 passing yards and the 3,000 rushing yards during his career. If this were not enough he also accounted for five touchdowns on the day which is the third time this year he has accomplished this feat.
2. Dillon Gabriel, QB, Oklahoma
Another quarterback who had an elite performance on Saturday was Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel broke a school record with eight touchdowns including five touchdown passes.
3. Dymere Miller, WR, Monmouth
Another player who set a school record on Saturday was Monmouth wide receiver Dymere Miller whose 333 receiving yards against New Hampshire broke the school record which was set by Miles Austin who played nine years in the NFL. Miller also set school records with 85 catches and 1,243 receiving yards this season. A few of the teams that have shown an interest in Miller are the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, and New York Jets whose wide receiver coach is Miles Austin.
4. Javon Solomon, DE, Troy
While there is a good chance Javon Solomon will return to school next year, he flashed the skillset on Saturday that shows he has the talent to make it in the NFL. In Troy’s win over Louisiana-Monroe, he got to the quarterback four times and picked up eight tackles overall. His strong year which includes ten sacks on the year has drawn the interest of the Senior Bowl which currently has a day-three grade on him.
5. Reggie Brown, WR, James Madison
One of the best stories in college football this season is the undefeated James Madison Dukes. A big reason why this team has had such a great year has been the play of wide receiver Reggie Brown. On the year he is averaging 20.1 yards per catch on 45 receptions. His best game of the year came on Saturday as well catching nine passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns both of which were over 50 yards.
6. Jalen Milroe, QB, Alabama
Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe has made tremendous strides after being benched earlier in the year. In his latest game against Kentucky he set a career-high with six touchdowns. This comes one week after rushing for four touchdowns against LSU. While Milroe is far from an NFL passer, he should get plenty of NFL looks from teams if he returns to Tuscaloosa next year.
7. Drake Stoops, WR, Oklahoma
Later in this week’s article, we highlight why Oklahoma wide receiver Drake Stoops could be a steal in the 2024 NFL Draft, but one look at his stats these past two weeks should be enough to show he has the talent to play in the NFL. Over these two weeks, he has accounted for 298 receiving yards including 164 yards against West Virginia on Saturday. In this game, he also caught three touchdowns passes.
8. RJ Harvey, RB, UCF
The team that had the most impressive victory last week was Central Florida, who upset #15 Oklahoma State 45-3. A big reason why the Knights were able to pull off this upset was the play of running back RJ Harvey who rushed for 206 yards and three touchdowns. His biggest play of the game came in the third quarter when he broke off a 92-yard touchdown run.
9. Richard Jibunor, DE, Troy
It's not very often when a player finishes with 3.5 sacks in a game yet finished his second on the team in sacks on the day. However, that is the case with Richard Jibunor who finished second to Javon Solomon. Overall, on the day Troy was able to sack the quarterback nine times which tied for the second most by an FBS team this season.
10. Isaiah Williams, WR, Illinois
Illinois wide receiver Isaiah Williams has had a very impressive last two weeks. In the team’s win against both Indiana and Minnesota, he came away with the game-winning reception making him the only player in the nation with two game-winning touchdowns in the final minute or overtime. He also has topped the 130-receiving mark in both games with his best performance coming against Indiana this week finishing the day with 200 receiving yards. Overall on the season, Williams currently leads the Big Ten in receptions, and yards after the catch, and is second in total yards.
Three Prospects to Watch in Week Twelve
1. Tyler Van Dyke, QB, Miami
Going into the 2022 season Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was thought of as a possible day-two pick, but now after a horrible season this year he will be lucky to get signed as a priority free agent. This season he has already thrown more interceptions than he did in 2021 and 2022 combined. He has also been benched this year and likely would have finished his career as a backup if Emory Williams had not suffered a season-ending injury. Against Louisville this week he will get the chance to show he still has the tools to play in the NFL.
2. T.J. Tampa, CB, Iowa State
One of the more underrated cornerbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft is Iowa State’s T.J. Tampa. This season he has allowed just one touchdown and has come away with seven pass breakups. For his strong season, he was named a Bednarik Award Semifinalist. However, one of his biggest tests will come on Saturday vs. the seventh-ranked Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns have one of the most dynamic passing games in college football and have two wide receivers Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy who carry second-round grades on my board.
3. Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona
Arizona's offensive tackle Jordan Morgan has been having an impressive season this year and has performed well against the top pass rushers he has seen this season. An example of this is when he faced UCLA and their star pass rusher Laiatu Latu. In this game, Morgan was the highest-rated offensive tackle of the week according to Pro Football Focus, after not giving up a sack. This week he will face another high-caliber pass rusher in Jonah Ellis who currently has 12 sacks.
NFL Draft Scouting Notes
— LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr is having a true breakout season this year. Going into the 2023 season his most receiving yards in a game was 65. This season he has topped that mark seven times, and has 13 touchdowns. He also has the NFL traits to be a day-two pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. His top trait is his size coming in at 6-foot-4 and 205-poiunds. He shows surprising agility for someone his size as well, excelling at getting the jump ball and also adjusts well to the poorly thrown ball. One more positive with him is his speed which allows him to stretch a defense, and also has allowed him to catch an 86-yard touchdown pass vs. Army and a 75-yard reception against Florida State.
— Going into the 2023 season Inside the War Room named Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright the breakout player of the year at his position, and he has lived up to that billing. After posting just one 100-yard game last season he already has six this season. He also has three games with over 120 rushing yards, and going into this weekend's action he led the SEC with 30 runs of 10-yards or more. One of the main reasons he has seen his production increase this year is that he has become a much more patient runner.
— Another player who Inside the War Room was high on going into the year that has exceeded expectations is Texas wide receiver Adonai Mitchell. Going into the year Mitchell was named to our All-Underrated team as he was carrying an undrafted free agent grade according to NFL Mock Draft Database, yet we had a third-round grade on him. This season Mitchell has been one of the bigger playmakers in college football already catching nine touchdown passes on the year and also averaging 15.9 yards per catch. As a pro prospect, a few traits that stand out include his soft hands, impressive agility for someone 6-foot-4, and his ability to make the tough catch.
— Some NFL team is going to get a steal when they pick Oklahoma wide receiver Drake Stoops in the sixth or seventh round of the 2024 NFL Draft. The reason he will be one of the better picks late in the draft is his ability to play slot receiver in the NFL. He should be a natural fit in this role due to his high football IQ, which consistently allows him to get open. He also has sure hands which allows him to make the catch in traffic consistently. One more positive with him is that he is an aggressive blocker, which is a major plus for a slot receiver.
— James Madison was dealt a major blow two weeks ago when outside linebacker Jalen Green suffered a season-ending knee injury. Green had been putting up outstanding production this season as he led the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss at the time of the injury. His best game of the year came against Marshall who he picked up five sacks against. This is the second time Green has missed significant time as he also missed the 2021 season due to injury. I currently view him as a mid-day three pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
— An FCS player to keep an eye on Houston Chrisitan outside linebacker Jalyx Hunt who accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl yesterday. Hunt started his career off at Cornell where he played safety. Last season, was his first at Houston Christian and during that season he led the team in tackles for loss with 11.5 and was second on the team with seven sacks. As a pro prospect, his ideal fit may be in a 3-4 defense, but he has the frame to add more weight to his 248-pound frame and play defensive end in a 4-3 defense.
— Texas offensive tackle Christian Jones is one of my favorite day three offensive linemen in the 2024 NFL Draft. The number one thing that sticks out to me is how athletic he is for his 6-foot-6 321-pound size. He shows the quick feet to hold up well in pass protection, and also the agility to block in space. He also has played both right tackle and left tackle while at Texas which gives him the type of versatility NFL coaches love. One more positive with him is that he is still relatively new to the games as he didn’t start playing football until his junior year in high school.
— The NFL made an interesting choice when it was announced that the East-West Shrine Bowl, Senior Bowl and HBCU Legacy Bowl can now invite juniors to their game. This should see the level of competition improve at these games, and could also significantly improve juniors draft performances if they play well at these games. It was interesting to see that the Hula Bowl, Tropical Bowl, and College Gridiron Showcase are still not allowed to invite underclassmen.
NFL Draft Quotes
"I come in here day in and day out, 10 hours in here every day. And for me, there's a lot left to play for. I bust my tail year-round for this, for six years now. So I'm not really listening to what people say... I don't care if we're 0-8 right now. I'm playing ball because I love to play football, I love my teammates, I love my coaches, I love the University of Oklahoma. It's really that simple. I got a lot of pride for this place."
Oklahoma wide receiver Drake Stoops
“Just outstanding. I think that’s the most receiving yards that we’ve had by a single receiver in four years. He’s just tough as all get out. Now people — ‘Oh he’s the coach’s kid. He’s pretty good.’ No, he's a fantastic football player. I think that’s discrediting all the work that Drake’s put into his career. Just his instincts, his consistency, his ability to make plays. Tight windows, comes up with the big plays. He’s special. Players love him. Really, really thankful for what he brings to the locker room every single day.”
Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables on Drake Stoops
“We’re going to find out a lot because we’re playing a really good opponent. I don’t think Carson has much to prove any more. Carson’s a really good football player. His play has spoke for itself. He’s calm, cool, composed. He’s been that way since he got here. So, I’m not saying it’s easy for him. But he understands what our offensive coordinator, what our offensive staff’s trying to do with him, he handles that really well.”
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart on quarterback Carson Beck via the Pat McAfee Show
“Right now the Reggie Bush, Percy Harvin of college football is playing quarterback at Alabama, and they’re running him."
Urban Meyer on Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe
“I view my job and the Shrine Bowl to help as many players as possible in their NFL journey, and allowing all players, not just ‘seniors,’ the opportunity to play in an all-star game and interview with NFL teams only further creates more ways for players to benefit.”
East-West Shrine Bowl Director Eric Galko on juniors being allowed to play in all-star games
“He’s had huge, long runs, but they’ve come because of the growth of him as a football player. It’s not just running toss on the outside and running around everybody. He understands how to press things, understands how the fit, the read, bounce it when he needs to, staying vertical. That one hit right up the pipe. It’s fun to watch a guy become a dynamic football player and understand how to play the game.”
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel on running back Jaylen Wright
"Everybody feels really bad for him. He was having a tremendous season, had a chance to break the sack record: 15 and a half sacks, 21 TFLs, he put a lot into this season. The silver lining would be he attracted the NFL scouts' attention, which I know is his goal, to play in the league. He's had a lot of interest in the NFL the last few weeks."
James Madison head coach Curt Cignetti on outside linebacker Jalen Green