NFL draft prospects can boost their draft stock potential with performances against the best teams in the country. This weekend featured the top four teams in the country competing for a shot at the national championship game. Stars from all four teams shined in these matchups and some have started to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Future NFL draft picks James Cook, Nakobe Dean and Brian Robinson Jr. all had great performances in the most important games of the year which has boosted their draft stock.
Georgia RB James Cook
Throughout the season James Cook had slowly gained momentum and draft buzz as an explosive playmaker. This weekend he showed that he can be considered a weapon and not just a running back in this year’s draft. Cook totaled 131 yards on 9 touches this weekend against a stout Michigan defense. His 99 receiving yards showed that he can be an effective back on 3rd down.
What makes him so unique is his impact in the passing game that will help differentiate him in the eyes of NFL scouting departments. His route running ability out of the back field allows him to be a mismatch against linebackers in coverage. Cook has even shown the savviness to be an effective route runner with reliable hands when split outside in empty sets. Combining this with his quick feet and explosive burst in the run game makes him an extremely talented back that can be versatile at the professional level. This weekend’s performance against Michigan highlighted his strengths and how dangerous he can be in different facets of the game.
Alabama RB Brian Robinson Jr.
Alabama’s convincing victory over Cincinnati was fueled by the performance of running back and draft prospect Brian Robinson Jr. The Crimson Tide offense leaned heavily on Robinson all game to the tune of 204 rushing yards on 26 carries. In these attempts, Robinson forced 12 missed tackles and had an astonishingly high 127 yards after contact.
All season long Robinson has shown he is a bigger back with the combination of speed, balance, and power to punish defenders. Throughout the game Robinson showed explosive cuts and accurate decision making that allowed him to force missed tackles and churn out extra yardage. The ability for Robinson to be this effective carrying the ball 26 times in a game this late in the season showed his longevity and endurance. This performance displayed that he has the ability to be the workhorse of an offense and close out important games on the ground.
Georgia LB Nakobe Dean
Georgia has numerous stars across the roster and is specifically loaded on defensive front seven. This weekend Nakobe Dean showed up big time for the Bulldogs and raised his draft stock in the dominant win against Michigan. He loaded up his stat sheet with a total of 7 tackles, 2 TFL’s, 1 sack and a forced fumble.
Dean’s play this year has solidified him as a top off-ball linebacker in this year’s draft. His speed and physicality on the inside were a big reason for his success this year. Dean has the agility and short area speed to man-up running backs out of the backfield and make tackles in space. His instincts to navigate cluttered boxes is good and shows the block destruction to make plays at the line of scrimmage. Dean showed off these traits against Michigan’s offensive line who won the Joe Moore award that is presented to the best offensive line group in the country. Dean’s performance against a top offense in the country definitely raised his draft stock in the eyes of NFL teams.