Josh Norris, NFL Draft Writer from Rotoworld.com, joins us again this week to talk, not Coastal Carolina (the Chanticleers are pretty thin on NFL talent) but to help me with my AP All-America ballot. Norris and I agree on Mike Davis’ chances of making college football’s most prestigious all star team.
The State: I am interested in your opinion on guys who deserve to be on the team because you watch a lot more of these guys than I do. There are some guys who folks don’t know who probably should be on the list, right? You really like (Texas Tech tight end) Jace Amaro, I understand.
Josh Norris: Amaro is someone who wasn’t really on any watch lists because he’s a glorified wide receiver. He’s 6-5, 245, 250 but this year Kliff Kingsbury has gotten him a lot more in line, but the biggest thing with him are his movements and his agility. I struggle to compare anyone to Jimmy Graham, but if you want someone to Jimmy Graham-like things in the NFL, I think that’s Jace Amaro. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he declares even though he’s kind of said he’s going to come back. To me, he’s the top tight end in the country, the top prospect in the country. He really checks all the boxes in my opinion.
The State: One guy I have heard a lot about is the defensive tackle at Pitt, Aaron Donald. What’s your opinion of him?
Josh Norris: I absolutely love him, and he’s going to get knocked for his size. He’s only about 6-foot, 285, and I think you and I have talked about how some guys don’t fit the height, weight, speed requirement of the NFL. It might be unfair for them in the evaluation process. The way Donald wins is he gets skinny through traffic. He’s got strong hands, quickness to get in the backfield. He plays on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. I absolutely love him, but I won’t be surprised at all if he’s a late second, third or even fourth-round pick just because of those typecast minimums of the position. He’s a name that’s going around NFL draft circles, hopefully for positive reasons. We’ll see.
The State: What about Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde?
Josh Norris: I love Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin. I wish he could carry the whole work load, but he’s got James White there and a sophomore or freshman runner as well. Even though Hyde missed those three games (due to suspension), I think that really turned around his entire game. He is much more ferocious, explosive on contact. Don’t get me wrong, I love your guy Mike Davis, love him. I just think Carlos Hyde, and what he’s doing this year I think Carlos Hyde is the best in college football at winning after contact right now. He is the running back who has impressed me the most this season.
The State: I think Mike Davis might be talked about as an All-American candidate next year but despite leading the SEC in rushing, I don’t think he’s quite at that level right now?
Josh Norris: I agree with you. I wouldn’t be surprised if Davis receives some votes somewhere because I do think he’s the top back in the SEC. I think if there’s a favorite (at running back) it’s Melvin Gordon, Lache Seastrunk out of Baylor, maybe even Bishop Sankey at Washington. But the one who has really surprised me is Carlos Hyde.
The State: At wide receiver, Texas’ Mike Davis has almost got to be a consensus guy, but you’ve got a guy you like almost as much right?
Josh Norris: Yeah, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, to me he reminds me a lot of Victor Cruz in that he’s got a slot receiver’s body, but he wins on the edge as well. I project him as my top receiver in the Pac-12. That’s ahead of Marqise Lee at USC. I think Cooks is outstanding, producing a lot with that passing offense. And you mentioned Evans, obviously he is someone who wins at the catch point probably better than anybody in college football. I would expect this to be his last season, but what has really impressed me with him is how he works back to the quarterback and shows a target to a scrambling quarterback but then he can pick up yards after the catch, which you can’t always say about these lanky receivers. I think he might be a consensus, one of few.