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2018 NFL Draft: college football prospect preview & live chat, Week twelve

Not many games against ranked teams, but still plenty of college football action this week

NCAA Football: Virginia at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, college football viewers were treated to a bevy of upsets and while this Saturday may not be quite as entertaining, that doesn’t mean their won’t be any intriguing games. If you’re interesting in scouting quarterbacks USC vs. UCLA promises to be a gold mine of tape of the top two prospects. If you like watching defense, the Virginia-Miami game, with prospects like Micah Kizer and RJ McIntosh, will have plenty of it. However, below are the prospects you should be watching this week.

Keep your eyes on

Cameron Smith, linebacker (USC)
Smith is the vocal leader of the USC defense and a solid NFL prospect. He’s been productive since his freshman season and at 6’2” 250 pounds has ideal size at the inside linebacker position. He’s good in coverage but the question is if he is good enough for the NFL. UCLA and Josh Rosen love to sling the ball all over the field and to utilize their tight ends. We’ll see if Smith can hang early on in their game this Saturday.

Other prospects to watch

Kurt Benkert, quarterback (Virginia)
Benkert has been receiving some recent buzz from various draft commentators as a potential riser at the position. Watching his highlights you can see why: he’s got good size, a good-enough arm, and has been productive despite a mediocre supporting cast. This week though, he’s playing the tough, turnover-generating defense of No. 3 Miami. Benkert’s had a problem with interceptions in the past couple games, so his decision making needs to be on point.

Isaiah Wynn, left tackle (Georgia)
Before their most recent game against Auburn, in which they only scored 17 points, Georgia’s offense had been absolutely pounding defenses in the both the run game and the passing game. Wynn, their left tackle, has been a large part of that success. Wynn moved over from left guard and is undersized but gets by with toughness and surprising athleticism for a tackle let alone a guard. The battle between Wynn and Kentucky’s prized pass rusher Josh Allen should be promising.

Nyheim Hines, running back (NC State)
The star of the NC State offense is their quarterback Ryan Finley, but Hines is not far behind. Although small at 5’9”, 197 pounds, he’s a speedster who can take it to the house every time he touches the ball. A versatile back, he’s frequently used in the passing game and has a touchdown on a punt return. Wake Forest’s run defense is among the worst in the country, so he should be able to create some a highlight tape of this game.

Steve Ishmael, wide receiver (Syracuse)
Ishmael has had an ultra-productive year for the Orange. He’s currently third in the nation in receiving yards. He’s not the fastest receiver, but he manages to get by with a combination of strong hands and — let’s call it veteran saavy. Ishmael knows how to use his hands to create the tiniest of separation from defensive backs. He’ll need to be on-point this Saturday as Louisville’s Jaire Alexander is one of the best cornerbacks in college football and can be just as physical as Ishmael.

Ja'Von Rolland-Jones, defensive end (Arkansas State)
Arkansas State doesn’t get to play in front of a national TV audience much but Rolland-Jones is enough of a reason to tune in. He’s undersized (that seems to be the theme this week) but has some athletic twitchiness to him. He is tied for 8th in sacks with nine on the year, and will look to make it into the double digits this week against Texas State.

Lowell Lotulelei, defensive tackle (Utah)
The younger brother of Carolina Panther Star Lotulelei, Lowell is a large and wickedly strong defensive tackle like his brother. Unlike his brother, who has some quickness in the interior, Lowell is used mostly as a run-stopping nose tackle by Utah. If he wants to be drafted any higher than the third round, Lowell needs to show a modicum pass rush ability. He’ll have his chances this week against a Washington team that likes to chuck the ball all over the field.