Virginia Tech upset North Carolina in a game where star 2022 Draft prospect QB Sam Howell struggled under pressure for much of the game. Both teams have some NFL prospects who had to face adversity and overcome it to try and get the win.
Sam Howell, Quarterback
Howell comes into the year competing to be the top QB off the board in the 2021 draft, but it was a rough start all around. The offensive line did him no favors as Howell was constantly under pressure, and he often panicked leading to fumbles, interceptions, and sacks. Howell’s legs became his best asset numerous times to hold the Tech defense back. That being said, there were passing plays when he would rollout (unscripted) almost immediately if the first read wasn’t there, causing problems. Without the strongest arm, Howell’s ball placement has always been his calling card, and that was inconsistent at times. He still had a few wowing throws, and even one of the interceptions was excellent ball placement played incorrectly by the receiver. Those flashes of a top QB are there, but it wasn’t an elite game only scoring ten points, no matter the pressure in the pocket.
Ultimately, this was a better game for Howell than the stat sheet indicates, but nothing near a good one. His hold on the QB2 spot for the 2022 NFL Draft is slipping and there are plenty of others who will try to take it from him.
Ty Chandler, Running Back
The Tennessee transfer had a good game when he got touches including two long runs. Not an elite speedster or mover, Chandler’s experience was on display with good vision and smooth cutting to open holes. He showed good hands on his one reception as well. Chandler doesn’t have the upside to be a high-end pick, but he is a late-round possibility in 2022.
Tomon Fox, EDGE
Fox has some sharpness in his pass-rush ability with a high motor and swim move. He had a nice sack when the pocket broke down on Braxton Burmeister. Good size with nice footspeed, there is a lot to like with Fox and he should be a shining part of this defense moving forward who could find his way into the draft.
Brian Anderson, Center
Anderson, like most of the offensive line, struggled in this game. He played upright and allowed himself to get pushed around a bit throughout the game. He didn’t fully engage in pass protection, leading to a tipped pass interception at one point. There wasn’t much in this one that screamed NFL to me.
Joshua Ezeudu, Guard
Ezeudu struggled in pass protection, especially when there were stunts from the Tech linebackers, but he had a good game run blocking, hitting the second level a few times. Solid player who needs to get better mentally to make it to the next level.
Marcus McKethan, Guard
McKethan also had his struggles and wasn’t quite as strong in the run game as Ezedu. The entire UNC Offensive line was not gelling, and McKethan may have suffered those consequences the most with missed assignments and more. It was not a good game to evaluate anyone on the line really.
Jeremiah Gemmel, Linebacker
Gemmel is a solid tackler with good instincts and technique. He played a bit smaller than he is and got run over once or twice when defending the run. Might be a special teams type in the NFL who could sub in for coverage on 3rd downs.
Jordan Tucker, Offensive Tackle
Tucker had a rough game. He was sluggish blocking the edge and had a lot of his weight in his feet. It led to rushers whipping around the edge or twisting inside to get past him to the quarterback. Run blocking was better, but ultimately his play wasn’t enough for the NFL or the 2022 Draft.
Garrett Walston, Tight End
Watson had to be used mostly as a blocker due to the poor offensive line play, but even he struggled against Virginia Tech’s defenders. He isn’t a super athlete and likely isn’t an NFL player.
Antoine Green, Wide Receiver
Antoine Green didn’t jump off the page, but he has good size and was a solid target for Howell for two catches. Nothing screamed NFL upside athletically, especially in a class as deep as this one.
Raymond Vohasek, Defensive Line
I was expecting more from Vohasek, but he couldn’t get much of a push when pass-rushing, but he did fill his gaps as needed against the run forcing some struggles for Virginia Tech. He can move decently for his size as well, so a name to watch going forward.
Braxton Burmeister, Quarterback
Burmesiter had a solid game, especially running the football, which is his specialty. He had a few nice sideline passes down the field, but overall slashed the Tarheels with his legs. Burmeister fits the current NFL landscape but likely doesn’t have the requisite skills to be more than a camp body.
Raheem Blackshear, Running Back
Blackshear didn’t look great running the football, not cutting back into open holes, and being inefficient. His best plays were catching the football and getting the ball in open space to make plays. The Hokies really didn’t put him in the best position for his skill set. He is likely an undrafted type for the NFL.
James Mitchell, Tight End
Mitchell had a solid game and is an underrated TE. He has the athleticism needed for the NFL and is a solid blocker. He turns into a runner after the catch and can break tackles as well. A good touchdown catch with big hands, Mitchell is a draftable prospect with big upside.
Jordan Williams, Defensive Line
The Clemson transfer didn’t flash much in the game, but had a nice tip of a Sam Howell pass and got penetration at times to collapse the pocket from the middle. A solid athlete with good size, Williams should get more comfortable going forward and make an impact.
Amare Barno, EDGE
Barno had an impressive game using a variety of pass rush moves to get to the quarterback and racked up 1.5 sacks in the game. His way of bending to manipulate the Tackle and spinning inside or ripping outside was impressive. His move to DE seems to be working out and showing early results. If he continues rushing the passer like this, he could be a draft pick in the 2022 Draft.
Lecitus Smith, Guard
Smith was okay in the game. Never truly dominant and moving opposing linemen, but he stood his ground mostly. There were some bad reaching plays where he lost leverage and balance.
Dax Hollifield, Linebacker
Hollifield had a good game. Solid tackle technique and plugged up the middle decently. He also had an interception on a tipped pass. He gave Howell some fits covering the middle of the field and showcased some upside to be a later-round pick in the 2022 Draft.
Tre Turner, Wide Receiver
Turner had a few solid catches, including one down the field where he tracked the ball extremely well. Add in a big jet sweep toward the end of the game to seal it, and Turner made a bit of a name for himself. Not on the NFL Draft radar yet, but could get there.
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