What we learned from Week 1 of college football season – NFL.com

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Here’s a look at what NFL.com analysts learned about prospects in Week 1 of the college football season.

1. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson is unquestionably the top quarterback in college football, but he didn’t have his A game against Auburn. He finished the night completing 19 of 34 passes for 248 yards with a touchdown and an interception. For most of the night, Watson appeared out of sync with most of his receivers. He missed the mark on a few tosses and his spotty accuracy will raise some concerns about his ability to thrive from the pocket as a pro. However, Watson dropped dimes when it mattered the most, including a 16-yard touchdown to Hunter Renfrow on a corner route and a 20-yard back shoulder fade to Mike Williams to pick up a crucial first down late in the game. In addition, he used his legs to pick up a big first down on the final drive. Overall, Watson didn’t light up the night with a spectacular performance, but he continues to win big games and there is something to be said for that as a potential franchise quarterback. — Bucky Brooks


2. The matchup I was most looking forward to watching in Week 1 turned out to be a mismatch. Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett was very impressive against UCLA OT Conor McDermott. Garrett showed the entire toolbox today. He has elite get off, converts speed to power and has an outstanding inside power move. — Daniel Jeremiah

3. People were surprised when Alabama DL Jonathan Allen bypassed the draft to return for his senior year. I thought he would’ve been a top-20 pick, and as he showed against USC, he’s even better this year. — Daniel Jeremiah

4. Georgia RB Nick Chubb quickly silenced any concerns NFL scouts might have had about his recovery from knee surgery with his 32-carry, 222-yard performance against North Carolina. The 5-foot-10, 228-pounder not only displayed exceptional strength, power and explosiveness hammering the ball between the tackles, but he flashed outstanding speed on a 55-yard run touchdown that sealed the game late in the fourth quarter. Chubb’s performance and workload in his debut will encourage scouts to keep him near the top of the charts when stacking potential runners in the 2017 class. — Bucky Brooks

5. Mike Williams appears to be the next great Clemson receiver. The big-bodied playmaker has the requisite size to dominate on the perimeter, but also flashes the speed and agility to do damage on catch and run plays against man or zone coverage. Against Auburn, Williams snagged 9 passes for 174 yards and a score as Deshaun Watson‘s top target. Most importantly, he reaffirmed his status as one of college football’s top playmakers after spending a year on the sidelines following a serious neck injury. Considering the Tigers’ legacy (Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins and Martavis Bryant), it’s easy to get excited over Williams’ potential. — Bucky Brooks

6. The player that might have gained the most traction with scouts in the Alabama-USC game is outside linebacker Ryan Anderson. Trojans OT Zach Banner could not block him in the passing game or the running game. ‘Bama defenders Allen, OLB Tim Williams, CB Marlon Humphrey and LB Reuben Foster and well-established as top talents at their positions. Scouts are starting to see Anderson is a really well-rounded player. — Daniel Jeremiah

7. It was an ugly night for USC in a 52-6 loss to Alabama, but CB Adoree’ Jackson was one of the few bright spots for the Trojans. He limited Alabama WR Calvin Ridley, and saved two touchdowns on pure effort. He also had a couple nice kickoff returns. — Daniel Jeremiah

8. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield is considered one of the Heisman front-runners, but he looked extremely tentative and unwilling to cut the ball loose despite having receivers open in space on Saturday in the Sooners’ loss to Houston. Sterling Shepard was a tremendous safety blanket for Mayfield last season and that might have haunted him somewhat this afternoon as he failed to find a true rhythm against the well-coached Houston defense. — Lance Zierlein

9. Houston QB Greg Ward has improved as a passer since we last saw him. He showed that in throwing for 321 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cougars to a win over Oklahoma. He has size limitations, though (5-foot-10 3/4) — Gil Brandt

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10. UCLA tackle Conor McDermott has had some buzz around him as tackle prospect to watch, but that train will slow down some now. Keep in mind that it was the first game of the season, the heat was brutal for the Bruins’ game against Texas A&M and this was an incredibly difficult matchup for him against Aggies DE Myles Garrett. While I don’t believe that McDermott is an elite tackle prospect, I do expect him to have much better days this season. — Lance Zierlein

11. UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes came back to college football like a man possessed. He missed most of last season due to a torn ACL, but you couldn’t tell by his effort Saturday. He was active in the middle against the run, consistently made his presence felt as a pass rusher, and hustled downfield to make stops. Think Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams. — Chad Reuter

12. Georgia freshman quarterback Jacob Eason will certainly pique the interest of scouts after showing excellent arm talent and outstanding poise in his college debut. Although Eason didn’t post an impressive stat line (completed 8 of 12 passes for 131 yards and a score), he showed evaluators he can push the ball down the field on vertical throws. Most importantly, he didn’t flinch in key moments and displayed the kind of poise scouts like to see in young players. As a five-star recruit with plenty of buzz and a full toolbox, Eason will stay on the radar of scouts looking for the next big thing at the position. — Bucky Brooks

13. With guys like Myles Garrett, Daeshon Hall, and Armani Watts getting the hype, Texas A&M safety Justin Evans is a bit under the radar. Well, maybe not anymore. He showed his ability to play near the line of scrimmage and in coverage, making eight tackles and two interceptions against UCLA. Evans batted down the final pass to seal the overtime victory over the Bruins. — Chad Reuter

14. Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis gets the hype, and rightfully so. He led the Broncos in receiving in their big win at Northwestern with seven catches for 70 yards … but I had my eye on his right tackle, Taylor Moton. Moton was moving Wildcats off the line in the running game and did not give an inch in pass protection. NFL scouts should have one eye on him as they check out Davis this year. — Chad Reuter

15. Houston cornerback Brandon Wilson played in the shadow of first-round pick William Jackson last season. Though Wilson won’t burn up the track like Jackson, his physicality and athleticism make him an impressive talent. Most will see his shocking 100-yard return of a missed field goal during the Cougars’ big win over Oklahoma. But his 10 tackles led a strong Houston defensive effort, and he also broke up a pass.

16. South Alabama stunned Mississippi State in an upset. Jaguars tight end Gerald Everett helped his team get the 21-20 win by grabbing eight passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. Everett looks like a receiver both in his build as well as his silky smooth release.

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What we learned from Week 1 of college football season – NFL.com.

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