This is the time of the fantasy season in dynasty leagues when the good owners are trying to find ways to fortify their teams. One of the best ways to do that is by looking to the college players that might make the move to the NFL this spring. Here are more of the players that stood out with their bowl game play. This is by no means an exhaustive list, rather a starting point for the 2015 NFL Draft and your own rookie fantasy draft! I listed these players alphabetically:
S-Landon Collins, Alabama
The defensive back made some early mistakes: lost track of the ball on a deep pass and missed a tackle that lead to a long Buckeye run. He responded well to that adversity and settled down after the first quarter. Collins breaks quickly on the ball in the air from the back half of the field or when he lines up against the slot receiver. The safety is solid in run support, tackles low. He crashed into the ball carrier stripped the ball and recovered it. Collins does a good job containing outside runs, forcing them back inside, especially near the end zone. When coming off the edge, the safety is an effective pass rusher. He got banged up a few times, entering and leaving the game in the 2nd and 4th quarter due to a shoulder injury.
WR-Amari Cooper, Alabama
This young receiver is a silky smooth with quick feet, who is great in space making defenders miss. He uses a stutter step to get off the line of scrimmage usually getting separation between himself and his corner within five yards. Cooper is quite versatile by lining up on the outside, in the slot, and occasionally beside the quarterback in the shotgun formation. The best way to disrupt him is to manhandle the wide out with physical coverage. The receiver catches the ball in traffic, tracks the pigskin well in the air, and contorts his body to badly thrown passes using his fantastic catch radius. Cooper always uses his outstretched hands to secure the ball, never using his body. He fully extends to catch the ball, not worrying about being hit by the two defensive backs covering him. The wide out always knows where he is on the field, and is already quite good at toe-tapping both feet in bounds near the sidelines.
TE-Jeff Heurmann, Ohio State
This draft class does not have many options at the tight end. Heurmann is more of an h-back who gets sent in motion, lines up in the backfield, sometimes beside the quarterback in shotgun, and occasionally split out. He does a good job sealing the edge when running sweeps to his side. The h-back is not a very fluid athlete and looking a bit stiff changing directions.
QB-Brent Hundley, UCLA
This mobile quarterback is exciting to watch. He does a good job feeling pressure and steps up in the pocket to avoid the defenders crashing in. Hundley spent most of the game in the shotgun formation in order to see the field more easily and it naturally creates running lanes to pursue when necessary. The quarterback does a good job setting his feet before he throws, but sometimes releases the ball without much of an arch. This caused a few of his passes to get redirected from their intended targets. Hundley was quite accurate within the initial ten yards of the line of scrimmage, but has the arm strength to toss the ball 60 yards down the field.
What makes him the most dangerous is his ability running the read option. Hundley storms towards the line of scrimmage, freezes the defense by faking hand-off, and then full sprints down the sideline with a back right behind him. This gives him the option to pitch the ball back when the signal caller is getting ready to be tackled. When defenses blitz him, Hundley can escape with some wiggle, getting up field in a hurry. That was on display with his 28 yard touchdown run on a 4th and three read option play. The quarterback has a powerful lower body and is willing to dive head first to advance the ball. I feel he has better vision for running lanes, than he does for the passing ones.
LB-Eric Kendricks, UCLA
The younger brother of the Eagles Mychal Kendricks is quite the athletic inside linebacker. It only took one play in the bowl game to see him slice thru the middle of the line of scrimmage on his way to sacking the quarterback. The backer has good vision, recognizing plays quickly, and moving into position to disrupt the offense. He steps up and sheds blockers quickly, while making sure he uses his entire body to wrap up the ball carrier for the tackle. Kendricks even kicked out to line up against the slot receiver on a few occasions. He kept up with them for the first ten yards or so and did a decent job against Tyler Lockett on a few short yardage plays. The linebacker can rush the passer from multiple angles and stole another sack by giving the offensive tackle a stutter step on the way to smashing the Kansas State quarterback.
WR-Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Wow, is this young man quick off the ball. He plays with some reckless abandonment reminding me of a young Steve Smith. Lockett catches the ball at its highest point, usually in stride, and has breakaway speed. I love the way he weaves in and out of his breaks, breaking ankles as he is streaking down the field. The receiver sells double-moves only to adjust his body the other way. Lockett can find a soft spot in the zone and sit down to make sure he secures the first down.
The wide out usually gets behind his coverage within five yards of the line of scrimmage and responded well when he got bracketed. He does a great job of shielding the ball from the defensive backs. Lockett sees the field extremely well and appeared to be his quarterback’s first read in the passing game. This was on display when he followed up his first touchdown of the game with a two-point conversion.
Kansas State used him as a moveable chess piece by setting him in motion, having him run a jet sweep only to throw the ball downfield. Unfortunately for him, Lockett won’t make you think of Aaron Rodgers with his accuracy, but it was enough to give defenses nightmares. He is also an excellent kickoff and punt returner, using his vision, jump cuts, and burst to get the most out of the open field. The wide out is an effective blocker in both the run and passing games too. Lockett does have a few concentration issues when he heard footsteps, but the passion is there.
RB-TJ Yeldon, Alabama
The back did not start the game and only made appearances on third downs in the first half. Judging from other Alabama games I watched in the past two seasons, Yeldon did not look fully healthy to me. There was not a lot of explosion and burst in his runs, especially compared to fellow Crimson Tide back, Derrick Henry. Yeldon got low, ran with power in the short yardage situations he got used on. I thought he looked great in that role. The runner keeps his legs chopping, gets small in the hole, falling forward, and does a good job of following his blockers to gain the most possible yardage. He excels at finding cut back lanes, and isn’t shy about mixing it up smashing defenders with an effective stiff-arm. His efficiency as a pass blocker varies from play to play. If he stood beside the quarterback, Yeldon seemed to step up, square his shoulders and hold his own. However, when the young back came up to assist pass blocking on a defensive end, he did not keep his head on a swivel. This allowed a delayed rusher to sack his quarterback for a huge loss.