Notre Dame at Wisconsin – 11AM CST
The highest profile game of the slate this Saturday features a neutral site contest between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Having been assigned the College Game Day location this week, the national media and coverage of this game will be extremely high as well as the likely presence of many NFL scouting staffs to watch several draft prospects.
One player nearly evert team will have their eyes on in this game is Notre Dame S #14 Kyle Hamilton. Hamilton has taken the college football world by storm through the first few weeks of the season, showcasing impressive range on the backend of the defense in coverage as well as relentless pursuit of the ball as a run-and-chase defender. His size and length make him a unicorn of sorts at the safety position based on the way he plays, and if he continues to put strong play on film, he should expect to hear his name called early in the 2022 NFL Draft.
On the other sideline, people tuning in to watch this game should keep their eyes peeled for LB #57 Jack Sanborn of the Badgers who is also off to a strong start this season. In two games played, the 6’2, 236lb linebacker has recorded six total tackles (six solo), three TFLs, and one sack. The unique thing about Sanborn is that he plays all over the Badgers defensive front, aligning as a standup outside linebacker to rush the passer, in the box as a traditional off-ball inside linebacker, and detached from the LOS in coverage. His pursuit of the football and situational awareness are key traits that lead to success against the run or pass, as he has made his impact all over the field.
Texas A&M at Arkansas – 2:30PM CST
While Notre Dame vs. Wisconsin may have received the College Game Day designation, my personal favorite game of the stale will be the SEC clash between Texas A&M and Arkansas. The Razorbacks appear to be on the upward trend after the shellacking they put on the Texas Longhorns two weeks ago, playing a physical brand of football to the tune of 333 rushing yards while only surrendering 256 total yards to the Longhorn offense.
One play to keep an eye on for the Hogs specifically is OT #76 Myron Cunningham. The redshirt senior originally started out at Western Illinois before transferring out to a school in my backyard in Iowa Western Community College. Standing at 6’6, 325lb, Cunningham has the size, length, and athleticism you look for in a tackle prospect. He still needs some refinement in terms of pass protection technique, but his long reach to stonewall pass rushers and move people consistently in the run game could make him a viable target for Pittsburgh to add talent to the offensive line room.
For the Aggies, my attention will be on fellow OL #55 Kenyon Green who I actually profiled through Steelers Depot’s Summer Scouting Series. Originally starting out at OG, Green has kicked outside to OT for the Aggies this season after the losses they suffered along the OL due to graduations last season, putting their best OL at the bookend spot to protect their QB. Green has impressive strength and explosiveness in a thick 6’4, 325lb frame, having the strength to displace defenders consistently in the run game with the footwork to hold his own in pass protection. He occasionally can get too excited and lunge forward on his blocks, but Green’s talent and position versatility should make him a key target for Pittsburgh this spring.
Clemson at NC State- 2:30PM CST
Clemson has been off to a rocky start thus far in 2021, attempting to adjust to an era without Trevor Lawrence at the helm. While QB D.J. Uiagalelei figures to be one of, if not the top QB prospect in the 2023 draft class, we will have to wait another year before he can even be considered draft-eligible. One current draft-eligible I will have my eyes on is WR #8 Justyn Ross. Ross missed all of the 2020 campaign due to a neck injury that threatened the chances of him ever playing again. However, he received medical clearance this summer and is looking to reestablish his draft stock after a breakout 2018 season. Pittsburgh could need another WR, and Ross could come at a discount.
For the Wolfpack, OL #79 Ikem Ekwonu is one player I want to see more of before official draft prep gets underway. Having played both guard and tackle, Ekwonu has the size at 6’4, 320lb and the physical tools to play either spot. Ekwonu’s M.O. comes as a devastating mauler in the run game, showing nasty intentions for those across from him. He is constantly looking to put defenders on their backs and finish on top of them for the pancake block. Having shown good mobility out in space, my focus will be on how well Ekwonu holds up in pass protection against the Clemson defensive front.
North Carolina at Georgia Tech- 6:30PM CST
There is no denying that the #1 player fans and scouts alike will be tuning in to watch this game for will be QB #7 Sam Howell. Howell has rebounded well since the Tar Heel’s slip up in the season opener at Virginia Tech, having stringed together several impressive performances as a passer as well as a runner on the ground. Georgia presents a tougher test than many would initially assume, as the Yellow Jackets played the Clemson Tigers to the end last weekend, ultimately losing the game 14-8. Given the problems the Georgia Tech defense gave the Clemson offense, I want to see how Howell will handle adversity and respond to pressure. Should he play well, Pittsburgh could move him up their draft board.
What are your thoughts of the games and prospects listed? Are there other prospects in the games listed above are you going to keep an eye on? What other games and player will you be looking out for this weekend? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!