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College Football Week 6 – Too Cold or Too Bold

Each week, fans around the country react to big games and disappointing ones alike. Each week, our writers decide which reactions are legitimate and which aren’t

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)

1. Quentin Johnston is Back in the Round 1 Discussion for the NFL Draft

TCU’s stud WR had a lot of hype as a potential Round 1 pick going into the season. His 12 catches through his first four games had owners massively disappointed. Then, he doubled his year-long production in one game against the 19th-ranked Jayhawks, tallying 14 catches for 206 yards and an excellent TD grab. His massive performance has fans back on the hype train, ready to declare him a Round 1 prospect again. Too Cold, or Too Bold?

Justin – Too cold. I never bought into the idea that Johnston just forgot how to play football this year. He is near the top of the leaderboard in air yards, and it was nice to see that develop into some production against Kansas. He completely took over the game with numerous circus catches on his way to a 14-206-1 performance. Johnston is one of the most physically gifted prospects in the 2023 draft class. The play strength, ball tracking, and YAC ability are scarce. I understand the production concerns, but he has produced in a way you would expect relative to his offense. There will be dynasty managers out on his profile, but that’s not the question. I think he is in the 2023 WR1 conversation, so yes, he is back in the Day 1 discussion.

Matt – Too bold. There is a lot to like in Johnston’s physical profile, which led to the hype coming into the year. He’s always flashed big upside on tape. But his production through his first two seasons was nothing to write home about, and Johnston needed a breakout season this year to enter the first-round discussion, in my opinion. So far this year, he’s done the opposite, and I will not overlook all of that because of one big game. You can blame coaching and QB play if you want, which are certainly factors, but I think he needs to take responsibility for his lack of production. Johnston isn’t a great separator. We’ve seen many tall, fast guys that do not pan out the way we want them to. He will need to show me more before I buy back in.

Sam – Too cold. This was the first TCU game I’ve watched this season, so maybe there’s some sample bias here. Johnston looks just as athletic as I remember and even more shifty with the ball in his hands. His production may be spotty throughout his college career, but at the end of the day, he has elite athleticism and ideal size at the position to go along with multiple high-end traits. The Horned Frogs did everything they could to get the ball in Quentin’s hands against Kansas, and based on the results, expect them to keep doing the same. The production will keep coming, and he’ll seal high draft capital when he tests off the charts at the combine. I won’t say 1st round is a lock, but he’s definitely in the discussion.

The Verdict: Too Bold (2/3)

2. Marvin Harrison Jr. is the Devy WR1

Devy analysts and fans alike had high expectations for Marvin Harrison Jr. going into the year – and he’s SMASHING those expectations. His nine receiving TDs through six games lead the entire country right now, and his 536 yards slot him inside the top 20 despite being an offense with a lot of mouths to feed. His three-touchdown performance Saturday made him the first Buckeye ever with three TDs in three different games. He has only played 11 games. Fans have already seen enough, ranking him as the overall Devy WR1. Too Cold or Too Bold?

Justin – Too cold. In August, I predicted Harrison would be the devy WR1 in 12 months. That timeline has been accelerated a bit, and I am ready to crown him now. Let’s look at the 2024 class for a minute. A case can be made for Xavier Worthy. Many still have Worthy ranked ahead of Harrison, but that will be short-lived. Harrison has a far better physical profile than Worthy and is a unicorn athlete. He has a better shot than any receiver in college football at being a future dynasty WR1.

Matt – Too cold. Harrison has been my Devy WR1 for weeks now. It was hard to have him there coming into the season when we had hardly seen him on the field yet. But with Harrison, you’ve got a prototypical athlete who also happens to be a technically skilled route runner with excellent ball skills. Due to his elite physical profile, his upside has always been higher than the likes of Jaxson Smith-Njigba, Kayshon Boutte, and Xavier Worthy. Now that he’s proving it on the field week in and week out, taking him over those guys is an easy decision for me. Does Ohio State have the top three devy WRs on their team all at the same time?

Sam – Too bold, but barely. I won’t need much more to get on board with this. I want to see Jaxon-Smith Njigba come back healthy and play before I declare Harrison the better prospect. The latter should be ranked no lower than devy WR3 – he’s a beast – but until I see him outperform JSN while they’re on the field at the same time, I’m taking JSN. 

The Verdict: Too Cold (2/3)

3. Israel Abanikanda is a Day 2 Prospect

Against Virginia Tech on Saturday, Pittsburgh RB Israel Abanikanda had what might end up as the best individual performance of the entire CFB season. He carried the ball 36 times for a whopping 320 yards (8.9 YPC) and six TDs. His monster day put him atop the nation in rushing TDs (12) and 2nd in rushing yards (830) on the season. He was already on the draft radar after a solid 2021; people are calling him a potential Day 2 prospect, even in a stacked RB class. Too Cold or Too Bold?

Justin – Too bold for me. I spent the offseason buying up shares of Abanikanda, but Day 2 draft capital feels like the ultimate best-case scenario. I can’t pull the trigger on that quite yet. In the past five drafts, an average of seven running backs were selected in the first four rounds. Ten running backs were taken in that range from the historic 2020 running back class. I think RB10-12 is where Abanikanda can start making his case. He is still behind guys like Devon Achane and Chase Brown for me. Abanikanda vs. Blake Corum is an interesting argument, and that seems to be the range Izzy is in at the moment. 

Matt – Too cold. Izzy is a beast. He has the ideal size for the position, excellent vision, and patience. He has very good contact balance and legit breakaway speed on the second level. I know the class is loaded, but he is better than most of last year’s RB class, and RB is a position that teams are always looking for because of how often they get hurt. His biggest knock is probably his lack of involvement in the receiving game. But he already has more on his resume in that regard than Kenneth Walker did last year. 

Sam – Too cold, but with a small caveat. While I think he is in Day 2 caliber in a normal class, this is far from a normal class, so I’m not certain he will get it. If you compare him to recent Day 2 RBs such as Tyrion-Davis Price, Brian Robinson, Trey Sermon, Zack Moss, and more, Abanikanda is just as good a prospect as some of those guys, if not better. His vision, contact balance, and speed are legitimate, and he’s putting together the production to match those traits. He may get unlucky because of how absurdly good the 2023 RB class is, but I think the third round is in the range of outcomes, and his skillset places him in that range in most draft classes.

The Verdict: Too Cold (2/3)

4. Xavier Worthy is No Longer a Top 3 WR in 2024

After one of the best true freshman seasons in recent memory last year, Xavier Worthy was WR1 in the 2024 class for many rankers. He has followed it up with a bit of a letdown in comparison this year, recording 360 yards and four TDs through six games. Meanwhile, other WRs in his class, such as Harrison Jr., Emeka Egbuka, and Mario Williams, has been balling out. Worthy is starting to slip outside the top 3 WRs in his class for some. Too Cold or Too Bold?

Justin – Too bold. Worthy is still sitting comfortably as my WR3 in the 2024 draft class. I am willing to accept the extenuating circumstances surrounding his dip in production this season. He has been more active in his last two games, looking great against West Virginia and finding the endzone in Ewers’ return against Oklahoma. I would bet on Worthy having a strong second half of his 2022 campaign. Analysts will knock his size, but at the receiver position, dynasty managers worry more about size than NFL teams. His concentration and ball tracking is next level. I am still in on Worthy as a really exciting prospect who should benefit from some consistency at the quarterback position.

Matt – Too bold. This is a close one, though. What Worthy did last year was exceptional, and he showed real talent. However, he is listed as 6’1” and 165 pounds. That is razor-thin and poses a real concern for his future NFL stock. Ultimately, NFL stock is what Devy is all about. I honestly expected Worthy to get passed this year for that reason once other guys in the class began to see playing time. Worthy struggling while other guys dominate only makes that an even easier call. Harrison and Egbuka have pretty easily surpassed Worthy at this point, in my opinion. But I’m going with “too bold” because I’m not ready to put Mario Williams above him just yet. Worthy came into the year ahead, and they have had comparable seasons. Worthy has done it without his starting QB for the most part and against better competition.

Sam – Too bold. Worthy is still my WR3 in the class. However, Mario Williams and a few others are nipping at his heels for me. His freshman season was undoubtedly outstanding, and he has an intriguing skillset. But size is still a concern, and he has not been as productive as expected this year. The way Harrison and Emeka Egbuka have performed, combined with their size and athleticism, makes them far and away the #1 and #2 in the class, in my opinion. Worthy has a lot of work to get back into the top two, but #3 is still his to lose.

The Verdict: Too Bold (3/3)

5. Hendon Hooker is the QB3 in 2023 and a First Round Prospect

QB3 in the 2023 class has been a fascinating discussion for quite some time. The consensus QB3 has changed multiple times during the season already. It now seems to be headed toward Tennessee QB Hooker. While he is an old prospect – already 24 – his performance this year has launched him into the Heisman discussion. He has completed 70% of his passes this year with 13 total TDs and just one turnover. The Vols are ranked sixth in the nation as they prepare to face Alabama at home next week, and Round 1 hype for Hendon is growing. Too Cold or Too Bold?

Justin – Too cold. We told readers/listeners this offseason that a 2023 QB3 would emerge, and it looks like we have our guy. Hooker will be a 25-year-old rookie. Should you care? I think the NFL cares less about age and more about maximizing value with two full contracts. With quarterbacks playing into their 30’s nowadays, I can’t knock him on age too much. A more legitimate question would be how this impacts his rushing upside, and I think it does to an extent. However, I am willing to accept that from the QB3 in a class. Hooker is a good game manager with enough arm talent to make him interesting. I am infinitely more excited about him than Will Levis and others discussed in this range. Also, it’s worth noting that I expect Anthony Richardson to return to Florida for the 2023 season.

Matt – Too cold. Again, this is one that I’ve had down for weeks. I was extremely high on Richardson coming into the year but had Hooker as my QB4. When it became apparent to me (and everyone else) that Richardson needed more time to develop, Hooker moved up to third. While most of the class gives reasons to move them down, Hooker keeps performing. He’s got a great arm, dual-threat ability, and top-tier production against SEC competition. The only knock on him is his age, and I’m not sure that the NFL will care as much about that as fantasy players do. He’s put himself in contention for the Heisman, and if he wins that in the SEC, he’s a lock for first-round draft capital. If he was 21 or 22, I don’t think we’d even be having this conversation because it would be a no-brainer.

Sam – Too cold. I’m a little wary of how the NFL will view his age, but if Hendon keeps performing the way he has been, he’ll become impossible to ignore. Will Levis is still battling with him for the QB3 spot, but Hooker has been a little bit better so far, in my opinion. If he has a good performance against Alabama next week, I think the community will start to come to a consensus on him as QB3. He’s big, mobile, accurate, and takes care of the ball. He can hit throws at all levels of the field with touch and precision. He’s productive in the SEC. You cannot ask for much more from a QB prospect. 

The Verdict: Too Cold (3/3)

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