This should be an awesome week of college football, but it happens to be one of those weeks where I'm going to be out and about and away from the TV. Not to worry, though as you're covered with another slate of draft prospects to watch on Saturday. Order a pizza, turn on the television, and start reading and commenting.
Indiana at Iowa
ESPNU and WatchESPN
Here's a less-heralded matchup for you to watch that nonetheless contains some interesting draft prospects. There are players on both teams I've been meaning to watch for a while now, so this game is a good way to get both teams out of the way in the initial evaluation.
Indiana isn't generally considered a hotbed of football talent, going 10-26 in the last three seasons. They did have a second round selection in this past year's draft with Cody Latimer, although he hasn't seen the field for Denver yet. When you're looking at their prospects on offense, be sure to check out #6, Tevin Coleman. The running back has had seven straight 100 yard rushing games dating back to last season, and is on pace for 2000 yards rushing this year. He's more of an all-or-nothing rusher than a guy who grinds out yards, but has shown aptitude in the receiving game as well.
Throwing him the ball is the quarterback, #7 Nate Sudfeld. The 6 foot 5, 230 pound Sudfeld has been kind of average this season after a strong sophomore campaign, but the size and athletic ability has some scouts envisioning a future Blake Bortles. Whether he's a Bortles, or more of an EJ Manuel, depends on his on-field attitude, his accuracy, and how willing he is to put velocity on the ball and drive it deep downfield.
Another prospect of note is the left tackle, #78 Jason Spriggs. He's 6 foot 6, 300 pounds, and a true junior who has started every game since he got on campus as a freshman. On defense, check out cornerback #24, Tim Bennett. He had a whopping 20 pass breakups last season, and although he's undersized at 5 foot 9, any corner who knocks the ball away that much should catch your eye.
Iowa has its own share of good prospects. The headliner is left tackle #68, Brandon Scherff. A 6'5" 315 pound athletic monster, he's quite strong and has developed his technique well under coach Kirk Ferentz. He's in the running to be the first tackle selected this year. Also worth watching on the offensive line, RG #65 Jordan Walsh, a redshirt junior who might also be able to handle center in the NFL. For the defense, defensive tackles Carl Davis (#71) and Louis Trinca-Pasat (#90) are both worth watching.
No. 2 Auburn at No. 3 Mississippi State
Man, why would they do this to us? The 3:30 slot is absolutely loaded with top-ranked teams playing each other, so take your pick between this game (possibly the best matchup yet this year), No. 9 TCU at No. 5 Baylor, or #12 Oregon at #18 UCLA. Oh yeah, and #6 Notre Dame and #8 Michigan State are also playing other teams during this timeslot.
The Dak Prescott watch continues as the quarterback mounts his Heisman campaign for the undefeated Bulldogs. With running back #34, Josh Robinson, at his side, he's able to rip through defenses on the ground as well as through the air. Their defense is formidable, too. Linebacker #50 Bernardrick McKinney is a fantastic athlete, although he hasn't settled into a position on the defense yet. Safety #9 Justin Cox and defensive end #91 Preston Smith should both be on your radar as potential late-round guys.
Auburn continues to be loaded with talent even after losing guys like Greg Robinson and Dee Ford to the draft last year. The prospect with the best chance to rise to a top pick is probably WR #18, Sammie Coates. He's a 6 foot 2, 200 pound blend of freakish athleticism, but has been limited by injury most of the season so far. He did turn in a 100 yard receiving performance last week against LSU, which has scouts excited for watching him this week.
Looking for a center? You want to watch #50, Reese Dismukes. He's started 42 straight games going back to his freshman year, is a team captain, and gets lots of praise from his coaching staff. Quarterback Nick Marshall is an interesting one. Everything about him screams "athlete without position in the NFL," but he has incredible velocity on his throws, which keeps scouts watching. His likely outcome is as a gadget player a la Brad Smith at the next level.
Auburn's defense has been a big reason why they're undefeated so far. Two names to watch there are defensive tackle #90 Gabe Wright, and cornerback #6 Jonathan Mincy.
Penn State at Michigan
7:00 PM EST
ESPN2 and WatchESPN
Allow me to offer my sympathies to Michigan fans. When studying up on the matchup while writing this article, I had to read some very depressing articles. I have no idea how things got as bad as they did, but at least that means they can only get better, right?
There are only a few reasons we're watching Michigan. One is #87 Devin Funchess. The 6'5" WR/TE is the only worthwhile draft-eligible prospect on their offense, and has a rare combination of size and speed that reminds some of Mike Evans. Unfortunately, the quarterback throwing him the ball, Devin Gardner, has completely collapsed this season, and isn't making opportunities easy for Funchess.
On defense, there's not a whole much worth salvaging from a team that allowed Gary Nova to throw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns. But linebacker #47, Jake Ryan, is the best of the bunch, and should be around the ball often this weekend.
Penn State has had a good start to the season, although sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg's stats are down. Don't be fooled though - he has a rare level of pocket poise and arm talent, and could develop into a future first round pick over the next year or two. Junior left tackle #76 Donovan Smith came into the year with an optimistic projection, but he hasn't been helped by starting alongside 4(!) freshmen on the line. If you're looking at tight ends, you have to watch #18, Jesse James. He's 6 foot 7, 270 pounds, put up 27 bench press reps at a recent cancer fundraising strength competition, and reportedly runs in the 4.6 40 range. He has 15 receptions for 178 yards and 2 touchdowns this season, but against a bad Michigan defense, he could have a big game.
For the Penn State defense, pay attention to LB #43, Mike Hull; FS #4, Adrian Amos; and DE #86 CJ Olaniyan. Olaniyan in particular might be amped up for a big game, since he grew up in Michigan before heading to Penn State.