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Arizona and new head coach Kevin Sumlin traveled to Houston for a homecoming of sorts. Before Sumlin coached at Texas A&M, he could be seen on the University of Houston sideline from 2008-2011. However, only one team enjoyed Saturday’s game, as the Cougars rolled against the Wildcats, dropping Arizona to 0-2.

However, if you can play well, the NFL will find you, no matter how many wins or losses your team has. That being said, Arizona, like most Power-5 teams, have players with NFL potential. Let’s jump right in, check in on the Wildcats’ most NFL-ready prospects, and give some game day grades.

Khalil Tate, QB

Game Stats: 24-45, 341 YDS, 2 INT, 7 CAR, 8 YDS, 1 TD

Arguably no player has been more disappointing through the first two weeks of the season than quarterback Khalil Tate. After entering the season with a considerable amount of Heisman buzz, a new coach in Sumlin who was widely considered a quarterback guru, and a September schedule that featured two group of 5 opponents, an FCS team, and a one-win Oregon State team from a year ago, all Tate and the Wildcats have done is start the year 0-2 after being blown out by Houston.

Tate did show improvement from week one by throwing for 341 yards, but still barely completed half of his passes, could not find the end zone, and ended up throwing a pair of costly interceptions. Tate’s legs and the quarterback running game, both of which were expected to play a big part in the Arizona offense, has been almost taken out of the equation as the signal caller has just 22 yards on the ground this season. However, a winnable game against Southern Utah is up next and could be just the thing to get Tate and the Wildcats rolling.

Gameday Grade: C

Current Draft Stock: 7th Round.

Shawn Poindexter, WR

Game Stats: 7 REC, 134 YDS,

The Wildcats 0-2 start does not look good, but without the 6’5” Shawn Poindexter, it would look so much worse. The senior wideout again had game-highs in yards and receptions, hauling in a season-high seven passes and registering his first 100-yard game of the season.

As expected, Poindexter has been the big-bodied target Khalil Tate has needed, and easily leads the team in receptions and yards. Poindexter has also been Arizona’s most consistent deep threat, stretching the field and averaging a robust 18.4 yards per catch.

With Tate’s sluggish start, there is little doubt that Poindexter is the Wildcats’ most polished, NFL-ready prospect with his combination of size and speed. Over the first two weeks of the season, Poindexter has done nothing but improve his draft stock.

Gameday Grade: A

Current Draft Stock: 2nd Round

Layth Friekh, OL

Game Stats: Did not play

Layth Friekh missed the second of two games to open the season in Saturday’s loss to Houston. An Arizona offense that has averaged only 20.5 ppg and has not had a 100-yard rusher this season desperately needs find a rhythm before conference play starts in two weeks. Hopefully, Friekh, who returns this week against Southern Utah, is the key to a more consistent Wildcat offense.

Gameday Grade: Incomplete

Current Draft Stock: Incomplete

Kylan Wilborn, DL

Game Stats: 1 tackle, 1 solo

Kylan Wilborn notched only a solo tackle in the week two blowout in Houston. After leading Arizona in sacks and forced fumbles a season ago, opening up the first two games with only two tackles and minor impact is not the way Wilbron wanted to start the season, and definitely not what NFL executives are looking for.

Coming from Arizona, a school known for offense and scoring points, Wilborn needs to produce that much more to get noticed. Regardless, two tackles in two losses will not get the job done, and consequently Wilborn’s draft stock has slipped so far this season.

Gameday Grade: D+

Current Draft Stock: Undrafted Free Agent

Dereck Boles, DL

Game Stats: 1 tackle, 1 solo

Like Wilbron, fellow defensive lineman Dereck Boles also was only able to record a single tackle against Houston last weekend, and like Wilborn, his draft stock is sliding as well. Simply put, while it can be harder for an interior lineman to get the elite sack and quarterback hurry numbers than their edge rusher counterparts, Houston running backs absolutely gouged the Wildcat defense for almost 300 yards on the ground.

This comes a week after BYU ran all over Arizona for over 180 yards and three touchdowns. The number of consistent success opponents has had running the ball speaks volumes about the lack of impact and effectiveness the Wildcat defensive line has had over the first two weeks. There is still time to improve, and playing FCS foe Southern Utah could help the Arizona defense flip a switch, but for now, Boles looks like a late round prospect.  

Gameday Grade: C-

Current Draft Stock: 6th Round

Jace Whittaker, CB

Game Stats: Did not play

Cornerback Jace Whitaker missed a second straight week to open the 2018 season. So far, in two losses, the Wildcat defense fell apart in the third quarter against BYU and got demolished against Houston. Whitaker is out with an undisclosed injury, and Kevin Sumlin earlier said that Whitaker would “probably be back” against Houston, so it is a little concerning to see him still out.

It is pretty clear that the Arizona defense needs to change things up, and that Whitaker will provide a huge boost, but until he plays this season, his draft stock and grades are incomplete.

Gameday Grade: Incomplete

Current Draft Stock: Incomplete

Henry Rounds

Author Henry Rounds

23 year-old from Pasadena who is an aspiring sports writer. I am a big football, baseball, basketball fan who loves the Dodgers and spending time outdoors.

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