Debating NFL draft questions from CFB Week 4: Is Sam Hartman rising?

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Week 4 of the 2022 college football season had a little bit of everything, including some big performances from top 2023 NFL draft prospects.

Clemson edged Wake Forest in double overtime despite a terrific outing from Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman. Ohio State handled Wisconsin behind five touchdown passes from C.J. Stroud. Michigan and USC narrowly avoided upsets, and Texas A&M took down Arkansas. Things got worse this season for Miami as quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was benched in a shocking loss to Middle Tennessee. Oklahoma was also upset as Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez had a big day. And Tennessee took care of business against Florida despite a bounce-back game from Gators signal-caller Anthony Richardson.

NFL draft analysts Mel Kiper Jr., Jordan Reid and Matt Miller answer big draft-related questions coming out of the weekend’s slate, including how the quarterback board is shifting. They also pick out prospects rising up their draft boards and players currently flying under the radar who could get a draft stock boost. Finally, they empty their notebooks with everything they saw and heard over the weekend. Let’s get started with draft-related takeaways from the Buckeyes’ big win.

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Big questions | Risers
Under the radar
Emptying the notebook

Who impressed you most in Ohio State’s win over Wisconsin?

Miller: We wanted a big night from Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud against a well-coached Badgers defense, and we got one, as the Buckeyes won 52-21. Stroud and the Ohio State passing attack were unstoppable, as he threw for five touchdowns (and 281 yards) on just 17 completions to just four receivers. He threw his first interception of the season, but he’s up to 16 touchdown passes now.

Stroud’s accuracy, field vision and ability to throw with such great touch and timing are why he is my QB1 in this class. In just 16 career starts, he has seven games with five touchdown passes, which is the most in Ohio State and Big Ten history.

Kiper: Stroud was impressive, no doubt, but how about his right tackle, Dawand Jones? He was almost flawless Saturday night, outside of one holding penalty. Everyone talks about left tackle Paris Johnson Jr. — a potential first-rounder next April — but Jones looks like he has taken another step since last season.

At 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds, he’s massive and powerful, but he was light on his feet against Wisconsin. His background playing basketball in high school shows up in his footwork. He was solid and consistent in pass protection, and he was physical in the run game. The true senior looked like a starting NFL right tackle against Wisconsin. He was the No. 10 tackle in my latest rankings, but he could rise.

Reid: Ohio State tight end Cade Stover had a standout night, with four catches for 51 yards and two touchdowns — the first scores of his career. The 6-4, 255-pounder was actually recruited to play defense for the Buckeyes but he made the move to tight end in 2020, then played both tight end and backup linebacker in 2021, when he had eight tackles.

After catching five passes last season, Stover has 12 receptions for 188 yards so far in 2022. He has become more and more involved in Ohio State’s game plan each week, and though he’s a Day 3 guy right now because of a limited sample size, he’s a prospect to watch.


How does Sam Hartman stack up in this QB class?

Kiper: Hartman and the Demon Deacons almost pulled off the upset over Clemson, with the signal-caller going 20-of-29 for 337 yards with six touchdowns in a 51-45 double-overtime loss. He made some phenomenal throws, exploiting a below-average Tigers secondary, and he has a great receiving corps around him, including receiver A.T. Perry.

Hartman has made 36 college starts, so we know what he is at the point: He’s a helluva college quarterback. At 6-foot-1, he has a decent arm with nice touch on throws, and he runs the Wake Forest offense so well. But I don’t see an NFL starter when I watch him. I see a late-round pick who could be a solid NFL backup. He’s not in my top 10 at the position for this class, though he could rise if a few guys return to school next year.

Miller: I’m a little higher on Hartman than you are, Mel. Hartman, who missed Week 1 with a blood clot in his left (non-throwing) shoulder, has 13 touchdown passes and two picks this season. Those picks against Liberty were concerning, and Wake Forest barely eked out a win last week, but Hartman has shown the anticipation and touch needed to play at the next level. I have him ranked outside my top 100 prospects, but he could climb with continued high-caliber play.

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Sam Hartman finds A.T. Perry for his sixth touchdown pass and sets the Wake Forest single game school record to give Wake Forest a 45-38 lead.

Reid: Hartman has all the intangibles NFL teams want from a quarterback, but scouts want to see him outside of Wake Forest’s unconventional offense, which uses elongated mesh fakes and running back-delay concepts. He’s doing things here that won’t be asked of him at the next level, even if he has mastered the mechanics of the offense and shown deep touch and accuracy.

Hartman has 101 career touchdowns, including 85 through the air, while averaging 8.1 yards per attempt over five seasons. I see him as a late Day 3 option in the draft, but if he’s able to answer some of those scheme-related questions at a postseason all-star game, he could go higher.


What worries you most about Tyler Van Dyke‘s start?

Reid: With only nine starts for Van Dyke coming into the season, scouts wanted to see how he would handle a full slate knowing he was the unquestioned starting quarterback for Miami. But inconsistency along the offensive line and some questionable decision-making has led to stagnant development. Van Dyke isn’t trusting what he sees right now and seems to be a tick late on a lot of the dropback concepts that the Hurricanes are running. We didn’t see that from him last year, and it’s concerning. Van Dyke was ultimately benched Saturday in the 45-31 loss to Middle Tennessee after completing 16 of 32 passes and throwing a pair of interceptions.

This year’s quarterback class hype hinged a lot on players such as Van Dyke and Florida’s Anthony Richardson taking the next step, but it just hasn’t happened so far this season. We saw similar situations last season, as Spencer Rattler and Sam Howell were possible first-round passers entering the season. UNC’s Howell ended up a fifth-round pick for the Commanders, while Rattler transferred to South Carolina after struggling through his season at Oklahoma.

Miller: To be fair, I think at least some of Van Dyke’s issues are centered around poor offensive line play and a scheme that’s asking him to be an in-the-pocket, dropback quarterback. That said, he is also taking too many risks with his arm talent. We know Van Dyke has great arm strength, but he tries to test defenses way too often rather than taking what’s available.

Mel mentioned last week that Van Dyke could improve his stock by staying in school in 2023 and playing another college season, and right now, that looks like the best play for his development and long-term success.

Kiper: Like Jordan and Matt mentioned, it’s not just on Van Dyke, but NFL scouts really want to see potential first-round picks dominate on Saturdays. They have to flash star potential. And after a stellar finish to the 2021 season, we haven’t seen that from him through four games, throwing four touchdowns and three interceptions while posting a 44.5 QBR. He’s missing open receivers and not taking what has been given to him.

Van Dyke’s arm strength is elite, but he has to get more reps to refine his all-around game. I don’t see a quarterback who is ready for the NFL.


Which prospect are you moving up your board?

Kiper: Devon Achane, RB, Texas A&M. He ran 19 times for 159 yards and a touchdown in the Aggies’ win over Arkansas. He’s explosive, and he made multiple cuts to force defenders to miss on a 63-yard run. At 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, he can get his nose dirty between the tackles, too, and his cut-back ability is so impressive. Achane also has good hands, even though he has been limited by the Aggies’ quarterback play. I haven’t even mentioned his speed — he can fly. Achane is my RB5 at the moment and could be a second- or third-round pick next April.

Miller: Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas. The Razorbacks didn’t get the win, but Sanders was once again a standout player for the Hogs with four tackles and a shared sack. His range at 6-5, 232 pounds is phenomenal, as he runs down ball carriers or gets pressure in the backfield. Sanders is able to impact the passing game with his length and agility in space, but he’s coming into his own as a pass-rusher, too. A linebacker with the size and quickness to bring heat off the edge only adds to their draft value, and Sanders is showing that on a weekly basis. He has 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles so far, and I have Sanders ranked in the early second round. A great test awaits him, as he’ll face his old team (Alabama) this coming Saturday.

Reid: Jaren Hall, QB, BYU. His four touchdown passes in the Cougars’ 38-24 win against Wyoming marked the second time he has accomplished that feat (against Idaho State in 2021). He also became the 20th BYU signal-caller to surpass 4,000 career passing yards in a 26-of-32, 337-yard performance. The 6-1, 205-pound junior has a strong arm and poise under center, and in a quarterback class that has been up and down beyond Stroud and Alabama’s Bryce Young, there’s a strong argument that Hall has been the most consistent of that next tier. He is still a Day 3 prospect right now, but as BYU enters a crucial stretch of games, he is climbing the board fast.

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BYU quarterback Jaren Hall threw for four scores.


Which under-the-radar prospect are you keeping an eye on after Week 3?

Kiper: Devonnsha Maxwell, DT, Chattanooga. The Mocs were shut out Thursday against Illinois, but Maxwell had two more sacks in the loss, which puts him at 33 for his five-year career. That’s a stellar number for a 296-pound player who is getting most of them from the interior. He had 12 sacks last season, including five in one game. Maxwell has some lateral quickness and short-area burst, and he varies his moves to split double-teams. I was impressed by his arm-over move against the Fighting Illini. NFL teams love players who can generate interior pressure, so Maxwell could be a target on Day 3 of the draft.

Reid: Israel Abanikanda, RB, Pittsburgh. His burst and explosiveness have caught my eye multiple times over the past few weeks. He had 177 rushing yards and four scores on 19 carries in Pitt’s win over Rhode Island on Saturday. It marked his third consecutive game with more than 130 rushing yards. At 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds, Abanikanda has a sturdy build and tremendous burst when accelerating through running lanes.

Miller: Blake Corum, RB, Michigan. The 5-8, 210-pound junior went off for 243 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the Wolverines’ 34-27 win against Maryland on Saturday. That came one week after he cruised to five touchdowns against UConn. Corum’s ability to run away from defenders on the edge and how well he gets small to cut through creases in the middle of the line has him looking like a young Frank Gore. He’s an early-Day 3 prospect to watch.


Let’s empty the notebooks …

Reid: There’s no way that Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. could replicate his astounding sophomore campaign (34.5 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks), right? Wrong. He’s on an even greater sack pace through four games after picking up 2.5 on Saturday in the win over Vanderbilt. In 2021, he recorded 8.5 tackles for loss and two sacks through four games. This season, he has 7.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and a pick-six. There’s no such thing as a can’t-miss prospect, but Anderson is the complete package and will continue to be a strong contender for the No. 1 overall pick.

Miller: USC running back Travis Dye continues to impress me. He strung together another 100-yard rushing game Saturday — his third straight — and powered the USC offense in a tough, close win against Oregon State. The USC defense came up huge with four interceptions, but the Oregon State defense had no answer for Dye with 133 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. A transfer from Oregon, Dye has made the most of his chances in a new offense and continues to beat defenses with breakaway speed and power. The 5-foot-10, 200-pounder has three-down ability as a runner and receiver, and he’s in the top-100 prospect conversation.

Reid: Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer had seven catches, 88 yards and a touchdown against North Carolina on Saturday (45-32 win). He almost hauled in another miraculous catch, but his heel came down out of bounds. Mayer passed Tyler Eifert to move into second on the career TD reception list for a Notre Dame tight end, and he could tie the school record (Ken McAfee, 15) with three more. Everyone talks about the receiving skills — and rightfully so — but his versatility as a run-blocker was also notable Saturday. The Fighting Irish used him in a variety of pre-snap alignments, and he had multiple hole-opening blocks that helped the Irish rush for 287 yards and three scores. Mayer is in contention to be a top-20 pick and the first tight end off the board in 2023.

Miller: Mel mentioned Achane, and I wanted to take it a step further. The Aggies running back is making a strong argument for RB2 in this class behind Texas’ Bijan Robinson. He is picking up right where Isaiah Spiller left off, and Achane might even be better. He ripped off another run of 60-plus yards against Arkansas on Saturday, giving him four for his career. That’s the second-most since 2020 behind Breece Hall. Achane’s speed and burst are eye-opening, and what he’s doing as a three-down back is no doubt boosting his draft stock.

Reid: In a critical conference matchup against Florida, Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker was without his top target, receiver Cedric Tillman (ankle). Since Hooker became the Vols’ starter, Tillman has been his primary target on 28% of his attempts, the highest rate on the team, and the only receiver higher than 20% (per ESPN Stats & Information). But Hooker still managed to finish with 461 total yards (349 passing and 112 rushing) in a 38-33 win. He is making a huge career resurgence since transferring from Virginia Tech in 2021, and if he keeps stacking these kinds of performances, I think Hooker could enter the Day 2 conversation.

Source: ESPN


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