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Arizona Wildcats Prospect Grades – Week 1

After a less-than-ideal start for the Wildcats in week one, let’s check in on the players picked earlier that could make some noise for Arizona this season:

Khalil Tate, Quarterback

Game Stats: (17-34, 197 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 8 att, 14 yards, 1.75 ypc, 1 TD)

Game Day Grade: C

Current Draft Stock: 5th Round.

After a breakout 2017 season that saw Tate eclipse over 1,500 yards through the air and had an additional 1,400 on the ground, the BYU Cougars effectively limited the explosive Arizona quarterback to just 14 rushing yards over the course of a Saturday night 28-23 win.

After Tate ran wild a year ago, defensive coordinators no doubt will want to try to take the legs out of the game and make him beat them from the pocket through the air. While Tate threw for a score, ran for an additional score, and marched the Wildcats down the field to set up a late J.J. Taylor scoring run, the Arizona offense needs Tate to complete more than 50% of his passes and really spread the field for the season to be successful.

BYU showed that controlling the line of scrimmage and limiting Tate’s running ability can neutralize the Arizona offense. NFL execs no doubt want to see a cleaner, more efficient game through the air and a bigger impact on the ground. Through one week Tate is looking like a developmental quarterback, not an instant-impact player, perhaps a later round steal?

Shawn Poindexter, Wide Receiver

Game Stats (4 catches, 68 yards, 0 TD, 17 ypc)

Game Day Grade: B-

Current Draft Stock: 4th Round

Big-bodied receiver Shawn Poindexter notched game-highs in catches and yards, as he paced the receiving corps for both teams. Poindexter added a 33-yard catch in the first quarter to help get Arizona on the board and was a big part of the reason for Tate having a salvageable game through the air.

However, with eight targets, Poindexter needs to haul in more than 50% of balls thrown his way to provide the game-by-game impact Kevin Sumlin needs to find success in a PAC-12 South that is seemingly wide open behind USC. NFL executives no doubt find his combination of size and speed intriguing, but a home loss to BYU never looks good.

Oh, and the first quarter ball that was overturned and ruled a catch looked good, as Poindexter showed that he can go up and snag the 50-50 throws. Poindexter also passed the eye-test, looking good on a catch that was overturned, and the next play drawing a penalty flag on the next throw.

Layth Friekh, Offensive Line

Game Stats: Did not play

Game Day Grade: Incomplete

Current Draft Stock: Incomplete

Friekh must miss the first two games of the 2018 season, which now includes a season-opening loss to BYU and today’s game at Houston. In a game that saw the offensive line get called for holding on the first drive and look sluggish for most of the game, Friekh was sorely missed.

Kylan Wilborn, EDGE

Game Stats (1 tackle, 1 solo)

Game Day Grade: C-

Current Draft Stock: 7th Round.

Overall, Wilbon and the rest of line lost the battle of the trenches, giving up 183 yards on the ground and letting BYU quarterback find time to complete a 24-yard scoring strike, and another big pass to set up a Canada scoring run. Although the Arizona defense shut out the Cougars in the first and fourth quarter, Kylan Wilborn notched only a solo tackle in a losing effort.

After leading Arizona in sacks and forced fumbles a season ago, a one-tackle game and little impact is not the way Wilbron wanted to start the season. Executives simply need to see more of the game impacted, especially in third and long situations for an edge rusher like Wilborn.

Dereck Boles, Defensive Tackle

Game Day Grade: B

Current Draft Stock: 4th Round

Boles was part of an Arizona interior that looked solid but not spectacular in a season-opening loss and allowed BYU running back Squally Canada to rumble for three short touchdowns that were the difference in the game. Boles and co looked good in the first quarter, consistently disrupting the Cougar offense and keeping BYU off the board.

However, in the second and third quarters, the Cougars found a rhythm with a touchdown in the second quarter, and three scores in the third to effectively end the game before a late Arizona touchdown. Boles himself was whistled for a goal-line penalty in the second quarter, which led to a Squally Canada touchdown on the next play.

Boles was able to notch two solo tackles as part of a three-tackle game, so a productive night from the interior of the line. However, down five with over three minutes left, Boles and the defense were unable to get the ball back as BYU ran the clock to end the game. Arizona is a program not known for producing NFL-ready defenders, so Boles needs to excel to improve his draft stock.

Jace Whittaker, Cornerback

Game Stats: Did not play

Game Day Grade: Incomplete

Current Draft Stock: Incomplete

Cornerback Jace Whittaker missed the 2018 season-opener with an undisclosed injury but is expected to be back for a week two game at Houston. Whittaker will be a key playmaker at both the safety and cornerback spots and is expected to provide Arizona with a defensive anchor in the secondary.

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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