People that pay attention to college football know the names of most of the top prospects; guys like Josh Rosen, Derwin James and Saquon Barkley. The difficult thing about scouting (especially arm-chair scouting) is identifying the players that are second-tier prospects, and banging the table for them. Players like Kareem Hunt and Stefon Diggs were drafted in the middle rounds but are putting up first-round type numbers. The players to watch this week could follow in their footsteps.
Keep your eyes on
Ronald Jones II, running back (USC)
The popular NFL comparison for Jones has been Jamaal Charles and once you watch him run you can see why. He’s such a smooth strider and really accelerates through the hole. He’s equally effective as a runner and as a pass catcher. This week, he’s going against a tough Utah run defense that won’t not make life easy for him. We’ll see if he truly deserves the Charles comparisons.
Other prospects to watch
Jaleel Scott, wide receiver (New Mexico State)
A small-school playmaker, Scott has very good measurables at 6’6”, 215 lbs and has been getting some buzz from the scouting community. For players like Scott, it’s important to absolutely dominate your level of competition, and he’ll have a chance to do that this week, playing against a bad team in Georgia Southern. He should be targeted early and often.
BJ Hill, defensive tackle (NC State)
NC State’s entire defensive line features NFL-caliber players and Hill is the one that sets the table for the rest of his teammates. Because he demands double teams in the interior, he’s not really able to blow up the stat sheet. This week against Pitt, he’ll have a chance to wreak havoc against an overmatched interior offensive line and hopefully pick up a sack or two.
Baker Mayfield, quarterback (Oklahoma)
Despite what the stats say, Mayfield did not have a good game against Iowa State last week. Several times he pulled the ball down and ran unnecessarily. Will he be able to bounce back against an underrated Texas defense this week? I’ll be looking to see if he can put up more “big boy” throws.
Shaun Dion Hamilton, linebacker (Alabama)
Hamilton is the next great Alabama linebacker. He doesn’t quite have the speed and coverage ability of Reuben Foster, but he shows decent instincts in that area. Against the run, he’s proficient at shooting gaps and sports a nice low center of gravity to take on blockers. He should be all over the field this week against Arkansas.
Brian O’Neil, offensive tackle (Pitt)
O’Neil doesn’t get much credit from #draftmedia, but he’ll be facing defensive end Bradley Chubb this week and if he can stand out, he’ll you’ll hear some more chatter about him. He’s a smaller but athletic tackle who should be a good fit in a zone blocking scheme.