With more and more midseason opt-outs and now the Pac-12 and MAC in the swing of things, we’re seeing some lesser-known prospects in the spotlight of late. Let’s kick it off with a guy who fits that bill to a T.
1. EDGE Zion Tupuola-Fetui, Washington
Tupuola-Fetui may be the biggest breakout star in the early going of Pac-12 play. After playing all of 151 snaps as a redshirt freshman in 2019 and sitting behind the now opted-out Joe Tryon, Tupuola-Fetui is grading out even better than the former Washington edge rusher. He actually shares a similar power rushing style working a lot of moves off his bull rush. This past week against Utah, he forced multiple fumbles with an initial bull.
Hell of a Stan Hanson lariet by Zion Tupuola-Fetui pic.twitter.com/GcdWvmGO6x
— Brandon Frm NJ (@BrandonfrmNJ) November 29, 2020
And here's another.
Zion Tupuola-Fetui cannot be stopped ???? pic.twitter.com/fAjTHooGIc
— Riley Michel (@rileymichel) November 29, 2020
At 6-foot-3, 280 pounds, Tupuola-Fetui is a power player through and through. His 92.8 pass-rushing grade is one of the best in the country, and he’s done it on over 50 snaps a game for Washington.
2. CB Tyson Campbell, Georgia
Up to this point in his career, Campbell has been more tools than on-field production, but that’s starting to change of late. After he allowed all of 5 yards in his coverage to Mississippi State two weeks ago, Campbell allowed only 4 yards and picked off his first career pass against South Carolina this past weekend.
It’s been a long time coming , but we see you Tyson Campbell ???? pic.twitter.com/MET7QmzQ4I
— ????LEE Ring???? (@HBTFD1) November 29, 2020
It was quite the play coming from the flat in Cover 2. What Campbell can do with his combination of length and athleticism will give zone-heavy teams like the Colts and Bills something to think about at the back of the first round.
3. RB Demetric Felton, UCLA
Felton has transitioned from slot or change-of-pace back behind Joshua Kelly last year to a full-time bell cow this season better than I ever thought he could. On a healthy 32 carries this past week, Felton amassed 206 yards and 14 broken tackles. I was worried about how the 5-foot-10, 200-pound back would fare running in tight spaces between the tackles, but that’s hardly been an issue so far this season.
#UCLA RB Demetric Felton is such a smooth runner, elusive in the open field. The converted WR already has 136 yards and counting tonight.
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) November 29, 2020
His slot experience puts him in the conversation with Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell for the top receiving back in the class. That’s a skill set we’re going to be high on here at PFF.
4. EDGE Rashad Weaver, Pittsburgh
I have a soft spot for long, stout edge rushers. Guys who can collapse the pocket consistently and set an edge can play on my team any day. That’s precisely what Weaver has done, racking up 48 pressures already on the season.
Defense ➡️ Offense
Weaver with the strip sack ????
VD with his first TD catch ????
— Pitt Football (@Pitt_FB) November 28, 2020
He won’t win any style points or impress athletically, but he uses his hands to consistently get to the quarterback. That led to six pressures this past week against Clemson and the notoriously difficult to bring down Trevor Lawrence.
5. WR Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
Tolbert had been quiet without a 100-yard outing over his past eight games. That changed against Arkansas State, however, as he went off for a cool 10-catch, 252-yard performance with three scores.
— South Alabama Football (@WeAreSouth_FB) November 28, 2020
The redshirt junior is a lethal speedster without the normal deep threat body type. He’s long and lean — 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds — in a mold similar to a Robby Anderson. Unfortunately, he hasn't been tested against many legit corners this season.
6. RB Jaret Patterson, Buffalo
The stat line was something out of a video game. After over 300 rushing yards last week, Patterson put up 409 yards against Kent State with eight touchdowns as an encore. While a lot of it came untouched, Patterson still showed he was capable of creating on his own.
Jaret Patterson with 8 rushing TDs ????
The Buffalo RB has tied the FBS record for rushing TDs in a single game
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 28, 2020
The worrisome thing is whether the elusiveness that’s seen the 5-foot-9, 195-pound Patterson break 31 tackles on 106 attempts this season will translate to the NFL. His speed isn’t near the level to where you can see the home runs he’s hitting at Buffalo continue in the league. Still, his production is difficult to ignore at this point.
7. WR Amari Rodgers, Clemson
Rodgers is one of my favorite prospects in the class to make the Ty Montgomery/Antonio Gibson switch from receiver to running back. At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, he just looks like a running back. That becomes even more evident when he has the ball in his hands — he’s broken 16 tackles on 58 receptions this season.
This release with a free rusher in his face ???? really nice adjustment from Amari Rodgers too pic.twitter.com/n3Jw8AGC1x
— Connor Rogers (@ConnorJRogers) November 30, 2020
He’s not a polished route-runner by any means, and he primarily fills the slot role in Clemson's offense. His ball skills are terrific, however, and especially so when compared to other running backs.
8. CB Elijah Molden, Washington
Molden is cementing his status as the top slot cornerback in the draft class with his performance through three games. He has overall game grades of 77.9, 81.1 and now 87.8 on the season.
.@e_mold3n TAKES IT ????????
— Washington Football (@UW_Football) November 29, 2020
This past week, he undercut a route for his first pick of the year and allowed only 10 yards on five targets. While I think he could transition to safety, the nickel spot is a starting role for most defenses — and Molden is outstanding there.
9. LG Aaron Banks, Notre Dame
With a Notre Dame offensive line that’s been quite easily the best in the country, Banks has gotten lost in the shuffle among some bigger names this year. Quietly, he’s allowed only five pressures on the season and no more than one in any single game.
Banks didn’t allow a single pressure this past week against North Carolina. He’s not the most fleet of foot, but he is exceptional in a phone booth and plays under control. While he’s a senior, Banks has another year of eligibility and may opt to return in 2021.
10. ED Mitchell Agude, UCLA
The junior college transfer has been making his presence felt along the UCLA defensive line the past two weeks with overall grades of 92.4 and 92.8. He's produced seven combined stops and forced two fumbles over that span.
Agude is extremely explosive off the ball, which is how he does most of his damage at the moment. He’s likely a name to keep in mind down the road, as it’s unlikely he’ll put enough on tape this year to declare.