FUTURE STARS: THE BEST DRAFT PROSPECTS TO DISCOVER – WEEK 4

FUTURE STARS: THE BEST DRAFT PROSPECTS TO DISCOVER – WEEK 4
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After a short rename we are back. We now bring you our ‘Future Stars’! What a week it promises to be, as week 4 in the College season sees the SEC join the fray. 

To celebrate, week 4’s televised games are an all SEC affair, so there are plenty of future stars on offer.

The 3 games on offer in the UK this weekend are; Florida at Ole Miss (17:00 UK Time), Mississippi State at LSU (20:30) and Alabama at Missouri (00:00). All are available to watch on BT Sport ESPN. 

Here are your Future Stars to watch in week 4.

FUTURE STARS

Kyle Pitts – TE – Florida

Kyle Pitts is among our Future Stars. Image Credit: Sports Illustrated.

Kyle Pitts is the modern NFL tight end. He is a big slot tight end that will be ready to play from day 1 at the next level.

Tight Ends of his size shouldn’t have the movement and ball skills he possesses. He also has the athleticism which you rarely find at the position. Florida uses Pitts in many different ways. Having worked with both the tight ends and wide receivers, he will have the skill set to perform well in the NFL. 

Pitts also has production all over the field. Whether he is positioned inline, flexed out wide to line up against cornerbacks or in the slot. His rare speed and catch radius makes it easy for him to haul in yardage. 

The Tight end should be used as an extra receiver in the NFL because his blocking ability is subpar. His blocking technique needs work and although he has the strength and effort, that’s all that is on offer in the blocking game. 

Pitts is currently projecting as TE2 in most positional rankings behind Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth. With Van Jefferson no longer at Florida, after being drafted by the LA Rams, Pitts is likely to see more targets. With more production Pitts will want to challenge Freiermuth for top TE status.

Jabril Cox – LB – LSU

Jabril Cox could have entered the NFL Draft in 2020. Having played his college career at North Dakota State, Cox chose to enter the Grad transfer portal instead and will be playing his final year in college at LSU

This is what makes Cox so intriguing. His time at NDSU was extremely successful, being named an All-American twice during his time there. Cox clearly feels he has something to prove against much better opposition.

He is a player that we will be watching all year long to see if he can replicate his form at LSU. 

Cox follows the mold of trendy NFL linebackers. Big, quick, imposing and physical. The best word to describe Cox is disruptive. Cox is a ball hunter and is always in pursuit. Playing Cox on the outside where he can be used in blitzes and in pass coverage will only develop his skill set. 

The linebacker will be hoping with the coaching he will receive at LSU he can improve his tackling and balance. This will help him negotiate his way through the field when tracking pass plays or when pressuring the quarterback. He will also need to read the field better than he did at NDSU, where he seemed to be chasing rather than reacting.

If he can improve, then Cox’s draft stock will rocket and he will hope to challenge for the upper echelon of this linebacker class. 

Nick Bolton – LB – Missouri

Another Future Star in Linebacker Nick Bolton. Image Credit: The Athletic.

Nick Bolton has created a lot of excitement among the scouting community over recent months. After going under the radar due to the special talents of Micah Parsons and Dylan Moses, Bolton is starting to generate some hype.

Last season Bolton had 103 tackles,1 sack, 2 interceptions and 8.5 tackles for loss. He also led the SEC for solo tackles with 74. 

Bolton is a physical linebacker. He loves to run over his opposition and makes sure he finishes when he gets there. Bolton does have decent speed to rush the passer when asked to do so and will play aggressive on every down. He has good instincts and can track plays efficiently. He reads the field really well and is a leader on and off the field. 

Bolton should be used as a middle linebacker at the next level but he can line up outside or even on the edge if asked. But, without a doubt his best tape comes from the middle

The linebacker needs to work on adding some quickness to his game. He can struggle to keep up with some routes in man coverage. He needs to work on sticking with his opponents when tracking routes if he wants to challenge the top linebackers in this class. 

In a good linebacker class Bolton has some work to do if he wants to be talked about at the top of this class. He is a 3 down linebacker due to his adaptability and instincts. But, whether he has the ability to play sideline to sideline every down due to his speed remains to be seen.

Jaylen Waddle – WR – Alabama

You need to keep your eye on Jaylen Waddle. If you can that is! He is rapid.

Waddle is a home run receiver and can absolutely fly. He never takes his foot off the gas. Waddle has instant speed off the line of scrimmage and explodes into his routes. It’s not just his speed though, marry it with the fact he has good hands and can catch the ball as high as he can wide. He confuses defenders with his footwork and will be his quarterbacks best friend. 

His instant burst makes him an asset on special teams too, so watch out for his punt and kickoff returns. 

Waddle does have some weaknesses though. It’s clear he isn’t a polished route runner. He can often drift off his route line giving him more to do than is needed. This tends to happen because of how quick he plays and it is clearly difficult for him to slow down his play. But remember, some coaches won’t ask him or want him to.

Waddle’s numbers aren’t as strong as some other receivers in this loaded receiver class. He suffered from being fourth in line in 2019, with Jeudy, Ruggs and Smith ahead of him on the depth chart. This had limited the number of different routes he was running.

The limited number of routes has impacted some of his draft grade. But now, he will have the benefit of being further up the depth chart. Waddle will now have an expanded route tree, to compliment his playmaking ability on RPO’s and slants. 

For obvious reasons Waddle will draw comparisons to Henry Ruggs III, who was drafted by the LV Raiders in the 2020 NFL Draft. Not only do they play for the same college but they have some similar traits. The main one being his speed and run after the catch ability. 

Kylin Hill – RB – Mississippi State

Mississippi State Running Back Kylin Hill. Image Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

Hill has had an eventful down season. After threatening to not play football again for Mississippi ST over protest of the state flag of Mississippi, he is back. 

On tape the running back is a first down finder and seeker. He has the vision to make plays and can bounce outside of the tackles. With his upper body strength and long arms he makes it difficult for opposing defenders to get over the top of him. Hill is always on the move and has good decision making to go with it. 

But, Hill isn’t the strongest back in this class and can’t simply shrug off or run over defenders. He isn’t always able to beat defenders in a foot race. He needs to learn to take the easy yardage instead of trying to run over the opposition at every opportunity.

Hill could benefit from having more patience to wait for plays to develop. He quiet often finds himself in the backside of his blockers because he hasn’t waited for running lanes to appear.

Hill knows what his strengths and weaknesses are and makes up for his faults with good footwork and movement. He currently is in the top 10 of this running back class. But, with a change in the coaching staff at Mississippi State he will be hoping he can force his way up the positional rankings. 

Who will you have your eye on this week? Let us know on Twitter @NinetynineYards.

Feature Image Credit: Alabama Athletics

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