During the college football season, Eric Galko, the Shrine Bowl Director of Football Operations and Player Personnel, will give us his breakout performers from the previous week's action -- the names you should know -- because it's never too early to talk NFL Draft. With college football's Week 5 in the books, let's dive in.
Bo Nix, QB, Oregon
Since transferring from Auburn after the 2021 season, Nix has seen his completion percentage improve from 59.4 to 74.3 and his yards per attempt improve from 6.9 to 8.8. He threw 39 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 34 games for the Tigers. In 18 games for the Ducks, Nix has 44 touchdowns and just 8 interceptions. And had he come out after the 2022 season -- his first in Eugene -- he would've been a Day 2 pick. Now Nix is among the group of draft-eligible players making his case to be QB3, and find his way into Round 1.
Eric Galko: "Bo was incredible against Stanford. The offense started a bit slow to start, but he ended the game with a near flawless performance, with an 87% adjusted completion percentage, showing his ability to manage a game, execute play action at an NFL level, and of course display the arm talent that puts him in the early round discussion. His consistency in making the right progression and delivering throws at the right time is now a hallmark of Nix's film, and gives teams confidence he can step into the NFL and be a reliable quarterback with the arm talent and athleticism to develop into much more."
Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU
Like Bo Nix, Daniels transferred after the 2021 season (after three years at Arizona State), and like Nix, Daniels' game took off. In 29 games in Tempe, he 32 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Through 19 games for LSU, he has thrown 33 touchdowns against 5 interceptions and has run for 1,177 yards and 14 scores.
Galko: "Despite the ending result being a loss, Jayden Daniels played one of his best games of his college career. His deep ball, which has steadily improved over the last few years, was on point throughout this game, both in the pocket and on the move. He drove the ball in the midfield on 15+ yard throws with precision and confidence, and used his legs to stretch out plays first and then using it to pick up big chunks of yards. Daniels athleticism and size will always keep teams interested, but he's clearly taken the next step as a quarterback, both mentally and as a thrower, this season."
Ray Davis, RB, Kentucky
Like Bo Nix and Jayden Daniels above, Ray Davis is a transfer who has found a lot of success at his new home. After two years at Temple and two more at Vanderbilt, Davis arrived in Lexington before the '23 campaign and in just five games he's averaging a whopping 7.8 yards per carry (which is 2.8 yards above his college-career average), has 8 rushing touchdowns, and is also an asset in the pass game, where he has 11 receptions for 146 yards (that's a 13.3 yards-per-catch average) and 3 more touchdowns.
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Galko: "Ray Davis has been a breakout running back throughout this season, and his game this weekend highlighted everything that's impressed about him this year. He showcased the burst and second gear after contact. Almost 68% of his yards this week were after contact, and it showed, with elite speed and contact balance as he worked at the second level. Plus, he had a receiving touchdown on a swing pass that highlighted his short-area shiftiness and the toughness to turn a 2 yard gain into an 8-yard touchdown run through multiple defenders. He's shown flashes of 2022 Shrine Bowl alum Isiah Pacheco."
Tre Harris, WR, Ole Miss
Harris has made an immediate impact for Ole Miss. In his debut against Mercer, he had 6 catches for 133 yards and 4 touchdowns. He added another touchdown against Tulane a week later. He missed the Alabama game because of injury but returned in a big way on Saturday against LSU with 8 receptions for 153 yards and a score.
Galko: "The transfer has been a huge focal point of the Ole Miss offense despite being his first year with the team, and his play against LSU showed his confidence within the gameplan. The speed control to work vertically and keeps his defender off balance. The acceleration and contact balance after catch to maximize opportunities in open-space. And the consistent effort to keep multiple defenders focused on his route allowed for others in the Ole Miss offense to thrive. He's emerged as a receiver who could offer starter-value at the next level."
Javon Foster, OT, Missouri
Foster has been mainstay on Mizzou's offensive line, starting 13 games in 2022 and 31 straight starts through 5 games this season. In fact, in 344 snaps in '23, Foster has allowed just one sack and has been a force in both the run game and in pass protection.
Galko: "The Missouri offense has scored 30 or more points in four of their five wins, and Foster's pass protection along with the rest of the Missouri offensive line has been key. This week, Foster's strong hands, kick slide, control on the edge, and his ability to readjust smoothly stood out, and he was near flawless all game long. Foster's experience as a left tackle will get NFL team's attention no matter what, but the growth he's shown not just in perfecting timing/technique but also improved flexibility and movement has really increased his upside as a possible NFL starter."
Rylie Mills, DT, Notre Dame
Mills played outside early in his Irish career but he's found a home on the inside where he's been a force this season. He already has 22 tackles in six games (he had 24 in 13 games a year ago).
Galko: "Notre Dame's defense has made the difference the last two weeks, and defensive tackle Rylie Mills deserves much more national praise and recognition than he's gotten. He's a long, physical interior presence who extends and disengages from blockers as well as any interior defensive linemen in the country. He utilized his strong hands and balance after shedding blocks consistently against Duke in the A-gap, and was able to work through double teams, disrupt zone runs and finish in-space against running backs and the quarterback. NFL draft fans need to get to know Rylie Mills."
McKinnley Jackson, DT, Texas A&M
Jackson has three sacks this season, according to PFF, which is a career-high for him just five games into the schedule. He's also been stout against the run and he's coming off his best outing of '23, racking up 2 tackles for loss and a half-sack in the win over Arkansas.
Galko: "One of the most talented interior defensive linemen in the country, Jackson's been the focus of many offensive gameplans to start the year, but made his presence felt vs. Arkansas. He was consistently penetrating off first step, especially on third downs and in the redzone. He showcased his high-motor impact the run game with his outstanding hand and core strength on the interior. Jackson showed why he has first-round upside against one of the better offensive lines in the country."
Evan Williams, SAF, Oregon
Williams comes downhill in run support like he's shot out of a cannon, he's a wrap-up tackler in space, and he's an effective blitzer. On the back end, he has the versatility to play in coverage from the slot or deep centerfield.
Galko: "Oregon started slow against Stanford, but it was their defense that turned it on as the game went along, led by Evan Williams. He was incredibly explosive in the run game and finishing on underneath receivers, and his strong, reliable tackling technique shined against Stanford. He was efficient in coverage, won in his run fits in the box and on the perimeter, and really showcased his elite burst on a delayed blitz for a sack early in the second quarter that really sparked the Oregon defense."