#12 West Virginia at #25 Texas Tech, 12:00 p.m. EST, ESPN2
QB Will Grier, 6-foot-2, 232 pounds (RS Senior)
Grier is having a great start to his senior campaign, currently leading the Big 12 in passing touchdowns (14), completion percentage (74.7), yards per attempt (11.8) and passing efficiency (215.8)—he’s also top-five in the NCAA in all of these categories.
Though he wasn’t much of a household name to start the year, Grier’s hot start is earning him some early Heisman buzz. He has shown the ability to throw accurately in a clean pocket, but also with a defender in his face.
Will Grier with the 82 yard BOMB to Marcus Simms! WVU strikes first and lead K-State 7-0— Barstool Big 12 (@BarstoolBig12) September 22, 2018
Grier is a solid athlete and is able to escape the pocket to make plays with his feet if needed, and he has also been praised for some of his intagibles—his leadership included.
If I were a betting man—and I am—I would put a sizable amount of money on the Lions drafting a QB in the later rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft. They already have professional clipboard holders backing up Matthew Stafford, but what they need is some real, honest to god talent at the backup QB spot. Grier may be available later in the draft, and would be an immediate upgrade at throwing the ball over both Matt Cassel and Jake Rudock.
S Jah’Shawn Johnson, 5-foot-10, 185 pounds (Senior)
Johnson is the heart and soul of the Texas Tech defense and you can see their struggles when they’re missing him. When the Red Raiders got him back for their matchup against Oklahoma State in Week4—after recovering from his shoulder injury—there was a noticeable improvement all across the secondary. Here’s what TTU head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, had to say about his defense following their win over OSU:
“I think that we’re just progressing each week. We weren’t happy the first three weeks with where we were. Getting Jah’Shawn (Johnson) back allowed some calmness to set back in. He’s a four-year starter and one of the best players in the conference. Adding him back added leadership and play-making ability and that helped.”
Although a bit undersized, Johnson is sticky and plays the ball well in man coverage and is quick to close in zone, always making himself one of the first players to the ball on defense. The Lions are going to need help at safety with Quin possibly regressing and Tavon Wilson struggling at times. The front office will love Johnson’s ability to play the pass, the run, and even provide some value as a pass rusher. He’s as versatile as they come and would be a great addition to Patricia’s secondary.
#4 Ohio State at #9 Penn State, 7:30 p.m. EST, ABC
Well, we already highlighted Nick Bosa back in Week 1, and while it’s early, I feel pretty confident right now that Bosa would be long gone by the time the Lions are on the board at the end of the first round—32nd overall pick, obviously. So let’s focus on some other draft-eligible prospects from OSU.
RB Mike Weber, 5-foot-10, 214 pounds (RS Junior)
With the Lions possibly parting ways with Ameer Abdullah after this year and having LeGarrette Blount on a one-year rental—and the slight chance of maybe getting rid of Theo Riddick, who may be seen as a cap casualty to some—there is a possibility the Lions may have a hole at the RB position heading into next year’s draft, despite trading up for Kerryon Johnson in the second round in 2018. I have a hard time believing the Lions would snag another RB in the early rounds, but I wouldn’t be surprised should they look for one a little later on.
Weber’s small stature and injury concerns could push him down into the mid-to-late rounds of the draft, and could be a solid option for the Lions if they’re looking for extra depth. Kerryon has been lights out for the Lions in all phases of the game. Whether it’s running up the middle, getting outside on a toss play, or setting up on a screen to utilize his speed in the open field, Johnson has done it all—including lining up as a receiver and in pass protection.
Weber is a little more one-dimensional and is more of a pure runner. When he’s healthy, he is extremely tough to bring down. He runs with a low center of gravity and has very good contact balance, often maximizing his yardage for the Buckeyes offense.
If the Lions are serious about improving the run game for years to come, and are looking to get younger at the position, Weber would be a nice addition and could possibly be had in the mid-to-later rounds of the draft.
IDL Robert Landers, 6-foot-1, 283 pounds (RS Junior)
Landers isn’t the type of defensive lineman that Bob Quinn or Matt Patricia have been adding recently, per se. He’s more of an explosive pass rusher, and as you can see, not quite as heavy as the types of D-linemen the Lions have been looking for. However, while he is an exciting pass rusher and has an elite first step, Landers is also very strong and difficult to move at the point of attack. His hand usage is above-average, and he does a nice job of staying low to gain leverage.
Landers should be available for Saturday night’s game after dealing with an undisclosed injury and missing last week’s win over Tulane, despite being listed as “probable.”
CB Amani Oruwariye, 6-foot-1, 203 pounds (RS Senior)
Oruwariye has seen plenty of game action for the Nittany Lions, but this is his first year starting and has already made a name for himself notching three turnovers (two interceptions, one forced fumble) in four games. He has great size for the position, decent speed, and doesn’t appear to be lacking as an athlete.
Oruwariye is constantly glued to his receiver. Combine that with his impressive wingspan, superior leaping ability, and magnificent ball skills, he’s got a chance to disrupt nearly every pass thrown his way.
The more I watch @PennStateFball cornerback Amani Oruwariye, the more I believe this is the best press corner in all of #Collegefootball. For the #Steelers fans, this young man has good size, length, ballskills. Keep an eye on him. pic.twitter.com/qQIRWYjw36— Kelly A (@kanozie80) September 20, 2018
Though his calling card appears to be his ability to shut down opposing receivers in man-coverage right now, he’s not a shy tackler by any means, and his willingness and ability to make tackles in the open field is one of Oruwariye’s many strengths.