Every week of college football is filled with big performances and disappointments alike. Here, our writers react to some takes around the CFB world to help distinguish between recency bias and take lock.
Too Cold (agree with the take) or Too Bold (disagree with the take)
1. Anthony Richardson is a Tier 1 QB in the 2023 draft
Going into week 1, CJ Stroud of Ohio State and Bryce Young of Alabama made up a clear tier 1 at QB for the 2023 class. After them was a jumble of guys with some untapped potential, including Florida’s Anthony Richardson. Richardson was tasked with facing seventh-ranked Utah at home, and he delivered. He wasn’t asked to do much with his arm, completing 17 of his 24 passes against a solid defense. But he ran the ball 11 times for 106 yards and three TDs, leading his team to a big Week 1 upset. The athleticism has people talking about Richardson as a tier 1 QB in 2023. Too Cold or Too Bold?
Justin (@FF_Hulsey) – Too cold! Richardson has arrived. Richardson showed off his limitless upside against a team projected by many to reach the College Football Playoff. He attacked through the air and on the ground with relative ease. I thought he looked like the confident, comfortable passer who impressed me so much in Florida’s spring game. Let’s see what he does against the powers of the SEC, but I suspect he will continue to surprise people with how improved he is as a passer. He is Malik Willis but good. He is Vince Young with arm talent. I do not think it is out of the question that Richardson could be the first quarterback off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft and, even more likely, the first quarterback drafted in many dynasty rookie drafts.
Matt (@Devy2DynastyFR) – Too cold. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Richardson is the single most athletic player in college football. He also possesses ideal NFL size at 6’4″ and 232 pounds. He’s not just a dual threat; he’s a game breaker. NFL teams were always going to fall in love with that upside. The only question was whether he would be drafted on the second day as a project or on Day 1 as a franchise QB. On Saturday, Richardson showed massively improved mechanics and decision-making to go along with that otherworldly athleticism. He put the team on his back and elevated them to levels they couldn’t have reached with a normal human at QB.
If he keeps this up, he’ll easily end up as a tier 1 QB in the eyes of NFL decision-makers. In that case, he’ll have a strong argument for being the #1 QB in the class for fantasy purposes.
Andrew (@fakefootballs) – If you can’t get hyped about a guy like Richardson and immediately react to Saturday’s game by shooting him up your rankings, do you even enjoy your life?
As mol$ once so eloquently said, “I get money every day, I’m too cold, like lemonade.” Both the answer to this question and Richardson’s game are too cold.
Neither Young nor Stroud offers the same level of juice with his legs as Richardson. The man looked like prime Mike Vick out there on Saturday. To me, the rushing edge Richardson would bring to fantasy rosters, at the very least, cancels out the perceived advantage that Stroud and Young have in terms of passing accuracy and decision-making in the pocket.
At the very least, I’m putting all three in the same tier, even though I still would take both Young and Stroud over Richardson if I were drafting today.
The Verdict: Too Cold (3/3)
2. The 2023 RB Class Could Rival the 2017 RB Class
The 2023 RB class has been hyped up for a while now in the devy community. They did not disappoint in week 1. Bijan did Bijan things. Sean Tucker had 183 yards and two TDs from scrimmage. Zach Evans and Tank Bigsby each had roughly 150 scrimmage yards, with the latter scoring twice as well. Jahmyr Gibbs averaged over ten yards per carry. Even lower prospects such as Kendall Milton, Zach Charbonnet, Eric Gray, and more played well. Our priors are being confirmed – this class looks like it could produce NFL talents that rival the legendary 2017 RB class. Too Cold or Too Bold?
Bijan Robinson is the definition of a dominant running back prospect.— Luca Sartirana (@SartiranaLuca) September 6, 2022
He looks so effortless cutting and breaking tackles. An NFL team is getting a Saquon Barkley/Jonathan Taylor caliber RB in 2023. pic.twitter.com/cJP67Mysxb
Justin – Could rival? Absolutely, so I will say too cold on this as well. This is quite obviously a uniquely talented running back class. I think there are three elite-level prospects in Robinson, Gibbs, and Evans. Those three all have RB1 upside, in my opinion. Evans is someone I want to highlight individually. Anyone who watched the Ole Miss game on Saturday saw what Evans is capable of. He is an exceptional pro prospect and might be the best all-around running back in college football today. Do not be the manager that trades Evans, or a pick that could potentially become Evans, for a player like Dameon Pierce.
It does not stop there, though. Tucker appears to get better every time we see him, Bigsby is off to a hot start and may prove to be one of this summer’s best values, and Milton has a great NFL skillset. We have also seen standout performances from Blake Corum, Zach Charbonnet, and Chase Brown. Top to bottom, this has the makings of a generational class.
Matt – Too cold for me. The 2017 RB class has dominated the NFL RB landscape for years, so it’s hard to say confidently that this class will outproduce them. However, the phrase was “could rival.” So I’m gonna say that absolutely could happen. You could argue that, as prospects, it’s a stronger class than 2017 was. Hindsight is 20/20, and several guys from that class were not highly ranked as prospects, and their NFL success came out of nowhere. I’m thinking of guys like Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, and Chris Carson. The same could happen in this class, but there’s no way of knowing. So let’s focus on the brand names.
In 2017 you had Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Joe Mixon, who were first-round rookie picks. In this class, you’ve got at least five guys who I see that can match the pedigree of those four. Robinson continues to prove that he is the real deal with every performance. Bigsby bounced back in a big way this week after his stock dipped last year. Evans reminded me how electric he is after missing a chunk of last season. And Tucker continues to rise. He is a stud in every sense of the word and frankly gets slept on too much just because he goes to Syracuse. That’s not even to mention Gibbs, the RB2 for most in this class, and they did well with limited touches on Saturday.
Also, the NFL needs a new generation of RBs, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect for these guys to step into immediate roles. The 2017 class is a high bar to clear, but this 2023 RB class is deep and top-heavy. It could rival the 2017 class when all is said and done.
Andrew – I’m going to say too bold, but I love this 2023 class. In terms of talent, I think 2023 does rival 2017, but I doubt we see the same level of fantasy football impact from the 2023 class as we did from that 2017 class.
Between Kamara, Cook, McCaffrey, Mixon, Kareem Hunt, James Conner, Jones, and Carson, there are a lot of combined seasons of excellence from that group. A large part of that is the raw talent of those players, but landing spots and opportunity for volume played a hand in how productive this 2017 class has been.
Will there be enough RB1 job openings come 2023? Will there be enough coaches who still want to deploy a workhorse running back? For the 2023 running back class to legitimately rival 2017, we would need to see situations arise where a half-dozen NFL teams were willing to give these 2023 running backs big-volume roles in their offenses. I don’t see enough teams in that boat this off-season, especially if Kamara, Cook, McCaffrey, and some of these aging veteran backs still show out in 2022 and remain at their respective depth charts.
The Verdict: Too Cold (2/3)
3. Miyan Williams Will Hold Back Treveyon Henderson and be a Day 2 Pick
This was an insane catch by Miyan Williams 🔥 pic.twitter.com/sJ0BiIwsKo— CleBuckeye (@CleBuckeye23) September 4, 2022
TreVeyon Henderson is widely viewed as the second-best RB in devy. However, backfield mate Miyan Williams led the Buckeyes backfield in production on Saturday. Williams showed off some power and got just one less carry than Henderson, turning some heads with his performance. Williams could sneak into Day 2 by maintaining a similar split in that backfield this year. Too Cold or Too Bold?
Justin – Randy Moss would say, “C’mon man!” Too bold for me. Let’s not overthink this. Ohio State was sputtering on offense, and they played the hot hand with Williams. I just wrote about how particular the 2023 running back class is, but Henderson headlines a 2024 class that is extremely strong. I think Williams can be precisely what Roschon Johnson has been for Bijan Robinson, which could ultimately help Henderson over the next two seasons. If Henderson goes on Day 2, it will not be because of Williams.
Matt – This is way too bold, in my opinion. Let’s start with the first part of this sentence “Miyan Williams will hold back Treveyon Henderson.” I don’t think that Williams playing well diminishes Henderson’s talent. And frankly, I don’t think they planned to give a 50/50 split of the touches. However, the offense struggled, and Williams provided a spark, so they rode the hot hand in a big game. This was likely one of the toughest defensive teams that Ohio State will play all season, and I think there’s plenty of production for both these guys to eat going forward.
And then there’s the second half of the sentence, “Miyan Williams will be a day two pick.” Williams did look excellent on Saturday as a runner between the tackles. However, he didn’t show much in the passing game. There’s obviously a lot of season left for him to showcase more, but for now, this is what we have to go on. A bruising power back has a role in the NFL, but if that’s all that Williams shows in college, I don’t see him being picked before day three.
Andrew – Too bold. Henderson is electric, and Williams performing well doesn’t diminish that. Quite the contrary. NFL teams have shown that they appreciate college running backs who do not have huge collegiate usage. The most recent examples are Dameon Pierce, Brian Robinson, and James Cook. Not that college coaches always care about how much tread a running back has left by the time he reaches the NFL, but in today’s day and age, it’s essential for recruiting.
At any rate, my point is that Henderson will be OK. Williams performing well won’t hurt his NFL Draft stock.
The Verdict: Too Bold (3/3)
4. Drake Maye is a Tier 1 2024 QB
Drake Maye will probably be top five in a *lot* of 2024 mocks. pic.twitter.com/teKYSD3vPs— Christian Williams (@CWilliamsNFL) September 3, 2022
Drake Maye and the Tar Heels have already played two games this season, and Maye has started HOT. He’s completed 72% of his passes for 646 yards and nine TDs, adding 131 yards and a TD on the ground. The redshirt freshman’s performance so far has fans calling him one of the Tier 1 QBs in the 2024 class. Too Cold or Too Bold?
Justin – I support all Drake Maye propaganda. This is too cold, and I agree with it, not solely because of what we have seen from Maye in two games thus far. I have been the high guy on Maye for several months. In April, I told my Twitter followers that Maye would be the biggest devy riser at his position over the next year. That is currently happening. Maye was an early enrollee last year after being recruited as the Sam Howell replacement, and I believe in the upside. He is a former Alabama commit with a ton of pedigree and the skillset to back it up.
A smooth pocket passer with sneaky athleticism, Maye has the arm talent to all levels. Even against Florida A&M and App State, I trust what I have seen from Maye in these two games, along with my pre-2022 evaluation of him. This is not box score scouting. Upon my second watch of the App State game, at least a dozen pinpoint throws against tight coverage were completed with ease. The top pro quarterback prospects make it look effortless, with easy velocity, quick processing, and the ability to extend a play. That is what we are seeing from Maye in this young season. He has as strong of a case as anyone to be the 2024 QB2.
Matt – Way too bold. Don’t get me wrong, Maye has looked impressive. But he played Florida A&M and Appalachian State. And because their defense has not been able to stop a nosebleed, he’s had to continue to throw, and he hasn’t been taken out of the game early as other top QBs have been against lower-level competition. It’s been the perfect storm for padding stats. He’s put himself on the Devy Radar with these performances, and he’s someone to keep an eye on moving forward, but Tier 1 is just a huge overreaction, in my opinion.
Andrew – Too cold. Maye was a Top 10 quarterback nationally according to 247Sports, so the pedigree for early success was always there. We knew he was a solid pocket passer, but we did not anticipate the production with his legs. If that can continue, his NFL Draft stock will continue to rise.
Maye appears to have the arm and poise to sustain his value through 2024. He hasn’t been relying only on Josh Downs, either. In UNC’s game against Florida A&M, Maye completed passes to ten different receivers.
There is a lot of time between now and the 2024 NFL Draft, but so far, so good for Maye, and an early stock increase is a good thing for prospects in terms of potential NFL Draft capital.
The Verdict: Too Cold (2/3)
5. Emeka Egbuka > Marvin Harrison Jr.
Emeka Egbuka looked 10x better then I could have expected in week 1 pic.twitter.com/bBJYTp7PYK— Brodie (@StroudHEISMAN) September 4, 2022
With Jaxon Smith-Njigba going down early in the game against Notre Dame, it was a good chance for Marvin Harrison Jr. to step up and show what he could do. But former #1 WR recruit Emeka Egbuka outperformed his teammate. Egbuka’s 90 receiving yards paced the team, and he had a nice catch-and-run for a TD. Harrison received a lot of hype during the offseason, but some fans are already questioning whether he will be the next leading receiver on the team behind Smith-Njigba. Too Cold or Too Bold?
Justin – Too bold on this one. Egbuka had a nice touchdown reception, and there appears to be some uncertainty about how this wide receiver room will shake out. I would use that to my advantage and try to buy Harrison this week. Nothing has changed for me, and I still believe that Harrison has the inside track to being the 2024 WR1 by the time the draft rolls around. Harrison should produce at a 900-10 level this season with an outstanding physical profile. I like both prospects, but give me the 6’3 ½” guy who runs a sub-four pro shuttle time.
Matt – Too bold once again. At 6’3″ and 202 pounds, Harrison Jr. has more upside on that simple fact alone. However, he’s also extremely polished and a great route runner, and he made some outstanding plays in this game. Both guys are excellent prospects, and I’m sure week to week, there will be some back and forth in terms of who has the better game. But nothing happened in this one to sway my previous ranking, which is that MHJ > Egbuka.
Andrew – Too cold. Once again, there’s plenty of space for both of these stars to shine, especially if Smith-Njigba is out for any length of time, but I love Egbuka as a prospect from what I’ve seen. Egbuka was a Top ten recruit in the nation according to 247 and the top receiver in the 2021 class.
Egbuka is stylistically more similar to Smith-Njigba than Harrison Jr. is. At 6’0″ and 190 lbs., Egbuka has that modern prototypical size, speed, and quickness combination that NFL teams are looking for. Harrison Jr. is more of a possession receiver at 6’3″ and 202 pounds.
The Buckeye receiver who ultimately produces more behind Smith-Njigba might depend on multiple factors, but I will take the upside of Egbuka at this point of the year. He played every snap for the Buckeyes in Week 1.
The Verdict: Too Bold (2/3)
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