It’s always reassuring when top-tier players, that have been talked about throughout the entire college football offseason, play like it during the year. So many players get hyped as “the next big thing” or as “future first round locks” that its inevitable that some of them don’t live up to those monikers, which can be surprisingly frustrating as a draft-watcher. So when prospects do live up to the hype, you can sort of breathe a sigh of relief that their tape the previous year wasn’t a lie. Here are six prospects that lived up to their first-round potential during Week four of the college football season.
Josh Allen, ER (Kentucky)
Kentucky was able to upset Mississippi State thanks to the disruptive play of the other Josh Allen. The 6’5”, 260 pound outside linebacker was constantly pestering Nick Fitzgerald around the edge and even made some positive plays in coverage. The senior tallied a sack, 2 tackle-for-loss, a hurry and a pass defensed. After bulking up in the offseason, it’s clear that the Kentucky Wildcat hasn’t lost any of his explosiveness.
Justin Herbert, QB (Oregon)
Although Oregon ended up on the losing end of a close game against Stanford, Herbert’s play was a huge bright spot for the team. Calmly going through his reads, the junior signal-caller patiently chose the correct receiver and delivered the ball with some zip time after time, going 26 of 33 for 346 yards with a touchdown. Although he was rarely pressured, his pocket-presence was on point as well.
Jonah Williams, OT (Alabama)
Analysts frequently decry the play of college offensive linemen, but Jonah Williams is a refreshing change of pace. Against Missouri, Williams was picture-perfect. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa rarely has to worry about pressure coming from his blindside. In the run game, Williams was used on several pulls, showing that the coaching staff trusts his movement skills and ability to block in space.
Karon Higden, RB (Michigan)
Michigan socked Nebraska, 56-10, thanks to Higdon’s big-play ability in the first half of Saturday’s game. With two 40-yard runs in the first quarter alone, the fifth-year senior showed off his ability to quickly accelerate to top speed and hit holes with authority. Higdon’s efforts in pass protection were also noticeable, and might prove helpful in boosting his draft stock in the eyes of scouts.
Noah Fant, TE (Iowa)
Fant almost single-handedly kept the Hawkeyes in the game against Wisconsin. The athletic tight end only had three catches for 29 yards, but two of those went for touchdowns. Both touchdowns showed off the junior’s speed and soft hands. His quickness out of his breaks is rare for a tight end of his size. He continues to build a first round resumè.
Deandre Baker, CB (Georgia)
Missouri wide receiver Emanuel Hall entered the game against Georgia as the SEC’s leading receiver, but Deandre Baker shadowed him and completely shut him down. Baker blanketed the wideout, who did not catch a pass all day. Pro Football Focus had him down for five targets, only allowing five yards after the catch. At this rate, there’s not much doubt that Baker will be a first-round draft pick.