Towing the Line: Khari Demos Talks College Football Weeks 6 & 7

Khari Demos joins Matt Waldman’s RSP site this season to profile college football’s trenches while keeping an eye on standout offensive skill players.  This week, UNC RT Spencer Rolland and QB Drake Maye, and Colorado State’s Dumervil-esque DE Mohamed Kamara

Spencer Rolland, RT #75, UNC

Above all, Rolland is an intelligent lineman who seems to always know what he’s doing assignment-wise. A former First-Team All-Ivy League selection at Harvard (so yes, he’s super smart!), the Burnsville, MN native has grown into a strong pass-protecting tackle for stud QB prospect Drake Maye. While his game isn’t perfect, he’s shown flashes and has the profile to become a starting offensive tackle in the NFL.

One skill of Rolland’s that stood out right away was the ability to keep his head on a swivel with twists. I think he sets the tone for the Tar Heels offensive line here and helps create a pocket for Maye that he took advantage of for maybe his best game in Chapel Hill.

But I really love his technique overall in pass pro. He’s got a lot of length, especially with his reach, and he knows how to wall off defenders and widen the pocket to keep Maye clean.

Just look at this rep below with the Tar Heels backed up in the black zone, he’s able to anchor down and ward the rusher off to plant himself and prevent UNC from taking a safety. As a former standout high school basketball player, Holland’s ability to move his feet makes a lot more sense when taking that into consideration.

One thing I’d like to see Rolland improve on is his technique in the run game, like this second-quarter play.

I totally understand how difficult it is, especially for a 6-foot-6, 315-pound man to play with a lower level of leverage, but it is a must if he wants to be in the NFL in the future. That’s an area he must improve in if he is to make his way to the next level.

Even though this isn’t a world-beating rep below, it shows he has the capability to get movement in the run game. Nine times out of 10, a guy of his size really just has to lean on defenders in the run. So if he can do a little more of this, he will be giving himself more of a chance to get to Sunday football.

Rolland truly is a smart player that has shown his mettle on the field. He was recently named a semifinalist for the “academic Heisman,” the William V. Campbell Trophy, his second time being selected as a semifinalist. I like the tools he brings to the field and he’s got the potential to develop under the right tutelage. I think one thing that we should laud Rolland for above all is his consistency. With 28 consecutive starts dating back to his tenure at Harvard, Rolland has seen a lot of football at the college level, and that stat alone is one of the most important you can ask of any player, but especially an offensive lineman. Availability may be the best ability around.

High-Level Prospect Alert: Drake Maye, QB #10, UNC

Man, this kid is becoming one of my favorite players to monitor this season. After winning ACC Player of the Year last fall, Maye is looking even better in 2023 and looks every bit of a top-10 pick heading into the next NFL Draft. Caleb Williams may be viewed as the top QB prospect in the country, but the Huntersville, NC native could be a phenomenal consolation prize for a QB-needy team next year.

The crazy thing about Maye is he may have just played his best game as a Tar Heel this past week. I like that he checks off all the measurable prototypes (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), and really combines that with elite physical abilities as both a passer and a rusher. He reminds me a lot of Justin Herbert in terms of physical frame and skills, but I feel like he brings even a bit more looseness to his game.

Maye is more of a playmaker, which Herbert definitely is too, but the former seems to be more natural when it comes to playing off-script. I think that aspect, combined with being fairly careful with the ball — Maye carries a career mark of 47 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions — also makes him a unique prospect as well. Many of the dual-threat QBs in the league with that all-round skillset are high-risk high-reward players. Yet Maye has maintained a much different level of efficiency there.

One of Maye’s first plays that really drew my eyes was this scramble he had in the first quarter.

His creativity was a common theme for him on the day.

Once he hits the air, he gets into the quick game with this in-breaking route from Bryson Nesbit over the middle for the first down. It seems to be an easy-looking play but, Maye was able to lead his TE on the throw and put it out in front of Nesbit so Alijah Clark could not make a play on it.

He really seems comfortable on those types of throws, like the one he sent here early in the second quarter.

Maye’s maturity as a player is showing too; rather than forcing a ball into harm’s way, which could have been a crucial 3rd-down mistake here, but instead, he checks the ball down to RB British Brooks.

That’s a boring play for some, but ask any coach or evaluator out there, that’s what separates a great quarterback from a good one. Being able to withhold from imploding in high-pressure situations is the separation and we’ve seen how some can tow that line (Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen), while others have not gotten over that hump yet (Zach Wilson, Baker Mayfield). That heady 3rd-down decision led to this beauty on this slot fade, one of the concepts I think a lot of teams are utilizing now. Even on this fadeaway dime, Maye feathers a flawless ball to give Nesbit the ability to run underneath it.

Even on a play like this where Maye takes the sack, he does the right thing with his team backed up in the black zone.

That’s dangerous territory, and rather than potentially throwing a pick-six, Maye knew it’d be better just to eat that play and count his losses. He was able to bounce back on the drive with another route attacking the middle of the field.

I like that he’s able to step up in the pocket, then find the hole in the zone to pick up another first down through the air.

This was one of the few but efficient moments Maye had with his downfield throws, this time connecting with one of his transfer wideouts, Nate McCollum. But you know what you can’t always teach? Creativity. And being able to do this little flip to connect with John Copenhaver for the score is just that, a playmaker making a play off-schedule and finding a way to get into the paint.

He showed off another dime in the middle of the field (which had an even tighter window to connect on) which is in between three defenders once again.

Now I will say, the next play was one of his more dangerous throws, mainly because of the timing of the pass. But it could also be said that Clark just made a great play on the ball as well.

If that is one of Maye’s most turnover-worthy plays, there are much worse decisions to stress over than that. My favorite play of his throughout the game was this tuck and run he had to make to avoid being sacked. This play showcases just how athletic Maye is a QB, but also the will and determination he plays with. I think this continued showing of dual-threat ability is going to earn him many more fans sooner rather than later.

The Maye Day will be coming for an NFL team in 2024. Who knows what team he will join or what system he will play in? All I know is Maye has every tool to be a generational talent in the pros. And this is a guy some believe is only the second-best player at his position? Talk about QB heaven. We really are so fortunate to be at this point in time where there are a dozen of Maye’s peers throughout college football who should get to the NFL and contribute in some facet.

Mohamed Kamara, DL #8, Colorado State

If you didn’t know the nation’s sack leader plays in Fort Collins, CO, it’s time to learn one of the most underrated edge players in the game. Simply put, Kamara is a top-notch pass rusher; not only does he lead the nation with 9.5 sacks, but the Newark, NJ native has recorded 7.5 sacks or more in each of the last three seasons dating back to 2021.

He’s up to 27 career sacks and has a chance at breaking the Rams’ school sack record of 33, held by late former Pittsburgh Steeler Clark Haggans. The CSU defense may have its issues, but Kamara is the furthest thing from being the problem for that unit. He’s coming off a three-sack performance despite the Rams yielding 639 yards to Utah State. He continues to show up, as he’s got home with a sack in each game this season.

Let’s go back a few weeks to his showing against in-state rival Colorado, where he initially caught my eye. He put on another performance that night, tallying five tackles and two sacks in the Rams’ near upset of the Buffaloes.

He dominated Colorado’s o-line, even being considered undersized at 6-foot-1, 250 pounds. He showed he can win from a variety of spots, even standing up as an interior rusher.

His other sack on the night was a traditional bull rush with a little bit of hand work, but he kept sticking with it on the play to bring down Colorado’s star QB Shedeur Sanders.

And even on plays where Kamara didn’t get the sack, he was in Sanders’ face in moments all throughout the night.

Being able to disrupt a QB’s rhythm repeatedly is just like a hockey assist. It may not be a sack for Kamara, but that pressure he put on Sanders was surely felt.

I think one issue with a player with his kind of speed is being a little out of control at times, which you can see here on back-to-back plays. But I think Kamara’s hair-on-fire demeanor is important; high-motor players are ones that tend to find their way onto the field, even if it’s in sub-packages.

One has to be concerned about his lack of length and size compared to other DEs around the country, like on this pass rush here in the Colorado game.

The same is true with this play down in the red zone in the third quarter.

But I think that’s why you have to be creative with how you deploy him. He very much could be a third-down pass-rush specialist at the next level who moves up and down the line like piano keys.

Either way, I like the activity he shows with his rush, even if he doesn’t get home every play. He’s shown enough that he does have the ability to bring QBs down when he needs to do so. He did unfortunately get ejected from the Colorado game for landing on Sanders on this play, which I will let you decide as to how “dirty” of a play it was. I think with defensive players, though, there’s a tough line they have to toe.

Do you let guys off easy and risk them making you look silly a la Kenny Pickett and the fake slide? Or do you go all out with the potential of some personal fouls coming along with it? It’s a tough dynamic for these defensive players, especially guys sacking the quarterback with the 4,763 rules in place for that now.

Ultimately, Kamara is going to be a name we hear now that his star is percolating since the national spotlight was on him and his Rams against their in-state rivals. This is a blast from the past, but he reminds me a lot of former All-Pro DE Elvis Dumervil, with his sawed-off frame at 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds. I think Kamara has a little more length to offer than the former Denver Bronco and Baltimore Raven, which I believe allows him to be able to move inside and out so often.

Kamara seems to be a prime candidate to get the Jim Nagy call for next year’s Senior Bowl. Until then, I’m sure he’ll be coming well-acquainted with a few more QBs along the way.

And of course, if you want to know about the rookies from this draft class, you will find the most in-depth analysis of offensive skill players available (QB, RB, WR, and TE), with the 2023 Rookie Scouting Portfolio for $21.95. 

Matt’s new RSP Dynasty Rankings and Two-Year Projections Package is available for $24.95

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2022 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

If you’re a fantasy owner and interested in purchasing past publications for $9.95 each, the 2012-2022 RSPs also have a Post-Draft Add-on that’s included at no additional charge.  

Best yet, proceeds from sales are set aside for a year-end donation to Darkness to Light to combat the sexual abuse of children. 

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