Each week, I’ll be previewing two NFL Draft prospect (one from each team) from various major college football games
Ohio State @ Minnesota (Thursday, 8pm FOX)
Master Teague III (RB, Ohio State) – C.J. Stroud will be making his first start as the Buckeyes signal caller, and Minnesota ranked 102nd in college football last season in rushing yards allowed per game. Teague returned from a torn achilles in early 2020 to have 104 carries while sharing duties with Trey Sermon last year, and is expected to lead the Buckeyes rushing attack this season. Teague is a thick, powerful runner that plays with a mean streak. He’ll have to build his stock back up for NFL teams but a good showing this season should put him firmly in the top 5-10 of running back prospects
Daniel Faalele (RT, Minnesota) – One of the more intriguing prospects in the country, Faalele stands at a massive 6’8″ 380 lbs and is a former rugby player back home in Australia, which lends to his nimbleness with footwork. Faalele is gonna have a tough first test going against an Ohio State pass rush that continues to produce top end NFL talent. This will likely be Falele’s biggest test of the season and it comes night one. The good news is that he’s hard to miss on the line.
North Carolina @ Virginia Tech (Friday, 6pm ESPN)
Sam Howell (QB, North Carolina) – I could have probably found a different prospect, but I think this is a big evaluation game for Howell. For as much talk as there is about Justin Fuente and VT, they’re still a competent team capable of upsetting a team like UNC. Howell will open the season in Blacksburg, a tough road trip as is, but will also go about it having to replace two starting running backs and two starting wide receivers. If Howell starts off hot here, its gonna set a tone for both his Draft stock and the Tar Heels season.
Jermaine Waller (CB, Virginia Tech) – After a nearly lost season, Waller looks to pick up where he left off in 2019 when he and Caleb Farley were one of the better corner duos in the ACC. Waller possess good ball skills and a knack for pressing receivers early, and he’ll get a really good test going against Sam Howell in Week 1. Waller has the skill set and size to be a top 100 pick next spring.
Penn State @ Wisconsin (Saturday, 12pm FOX)
Brandon Smith (LB, Penn State) – Smith is a freak linebacker prospect, with a reported 40 that’s timed in the high 4.3’s. A former 5-star prospect for the Nittany Lions, Smith will get a full season to build off a successful and disruptive 2020 campaign. Against a balanced Wisconsin attack, Smith should get some good reps playing both coverage and against the run.
Jack Sanborn (LB, Wisconsin) – The Badgers leading tackler in both 2019 & 2020, Sanborn brings traditional traits of a Big Ten linebacker: Powerful at the point of contact and intelligent. Sanborn will have his hands full against a multi-headed Penn State rushing attack.
Alabama vs. Miami (Saturday, 3:30 ABC)
John Metchie III (WR, Alabama) – Metchie steps into the leads receiver roll for the Tide after the departures of Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. Expect Metchie, one of the top 5 WR prospects, to be the go to guy for new starter Bryce Young, and he’ll open the season against a Miami defensive back group that is talented but hasn’t quite put it together.
Zion Nelson (LT, Miami) – A bit of a project recruit as a 240 pound two-star prospect originally committed to Appalachian State, Nelson looks to continue stacking on his potential. He’ll need to add more strength and forcefulness to his game, but he has plenty of athletic traits that could be molded into a successful starter. The hype on Nelson will quickly be cooled or heated when he goes against the Crimson Tide pass rush.
Louisiana @ Texas (Saturday, 4:30 FOX)
Chris Smith (RB/KR, Louisiana) – Only a redshirt sophomore, Smith steps into the lead role for a rush heavy offense. Smith was a PFF First Team All-American as a return specialist in 2020, totaling 617 yards (fourth nationally) and two kick returns (including a big one in the Cajuns upset of Iowa State). For Louisiana to have a shot at another Big 12 upset, Smith is gonna need to have another electric performance.
DeMarvion Overshown (LB, Texas) – A high level athletic blitzer for the Longhorns, Overshown missed the spring due to a torn labrum but looks primed to go for his senior season. Against a heavy rushing attack, it’s worth watching Overshown’s athleticism and ability to get into backfields to see how disruptive he can be at the point of attack.
Georgia vs. Clemson (Saturday, 7:30 ABC)
Derion Kendrick (CB, Georgia) – Who better than the Clemson transfer Derion Kendrick? A projected early Day 2 corner prospect that’s still somewhat raw (played QB in high school and switched to wide receiver before moving to corner) but has all the athletic tools to play both man or zone in the pros. Kendrick gets his first test against his former teammates and the coach who dismissed him from the program
Justyn Ross (WR, Clemson) – Ross exploded on the scene just two years ago before missing all of 2020 due to spinal issues that some worried would force him out of football for good. With D.J. Uiagalelei stepping into the starting QB role, I think he’ll look to the explosive Ross quite a bit on Saturday night against a Georgia secondary that is very fresh.
LSU @ UCLA (Saturday, 8:30 FOX)
Ali Gaye (EDGE, LSU) – Gaye possesses long arms and a big frame (6’6″ 260 lbs) as an edge rusher for the Tigers, who will go up against a run heavy attack from UCLA. Gaye’s ability to wrap tacklers and play with a high motor off the edge will be critical to the Tigers defense in forcing UCLA into passing situations to open up opportunities for their tremendous corner duo.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson (QB, UCLA) – No doubt about it, DTR will be the key to UCLA getting a defining win against an incoming LSU squad. If he can make correct reads in the running game to maximize the Bruins potent running attack and limit the amount of throws he’ll need to make, the Bruins have a real shot. DTR is considered a bit of a project/backup QB prospect, but a good showing on Saturday night could make more teams a little more intrigued by his overall profile and catapult him into mid-round conversations.
Notre Dame @ Florida State (Sunday, 7:30 ABC)
Kyren Williams (RB, Notre Dame) – With Ian Book gone and incoming transfer Jack Coan (Wisconsin) taking over the starting QB duties, I expect Notre Dame to lean heavy on the run game in the opener. Williams is one of the better all-around backs in the college ranks today, with an ability to brutalize opposing blitzers in the pass game, make catches, and carry the ball more than 20 times. Williams is a true 3-down back and should have an impressive opening game for the Irish.
Jermaine Johnson (EDGE, Florida State) – A transfer from Georgia this past offseason, Johnson will look to have a big impact for the Seminoles as they open against Notre Dame. Johnson is stout off the edge when it comes to defending against the run and that’s gonna be the key if Florida State is going to pull off the Week 1 upset.
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