#8 Arkansas at #2 Georgia – 11am CST (Saturday)
When the Razorbacks take on the Bulldogs in a SEC top-ten matchup Saturday, plenty of NFL talent will be taking the field for both teams. One player that has jumped to the forefront of the national spotlight for Georgia is DL Jordan Davis. Davis is a mammoth of a man, standing at 6’6, 340lb with the size and strength to be a one-man wrecking crew on the interior. However, Davis is nimble on his feet for his size, being able to provide pressure as a pass rusher and play chase in the running game. Given the uncertainty of DL Tyson Alualu moving past 2021, Davis next to Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt would create one of the biggest and most disruptive units in the game.
WR Treylon Burks has been on a tear to start the 2021 campaign, setting himself to be one of the first receivers to hear his name called next spring. The physical specimen (6’3, 225lb) had a day in Dallas, TX last week against Texas A&M, notching six receptions, 167 yards (27.8 YPR) and a TD along with 14 yards rushing. Burks had the first big play of the game with an 85-yard touchdown catch on a dime from KJ Jefferson on the Razorbacks’ second possession. He also made an impressive one-handed grab later in the game, showing off his large catch radius and ability to make circus catches outside of his frame.
With the ability to win deep down the field, stacking the outside corner along the sideline and got a step behind the coverage to bring in the deep ball as well as the size to body smaller defenders in the red zone and over the middle of the field, Burks has that alpha WR prototype build much like stud WRs D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown. Pittsburgh needs a true deep threat that can stack corners consistently and will need some physicality over the middle should both James Washington and JuJu Smith-Schuster leave in free agency. Drafting Burks will likely take a higher draft pick investment, but he is a true weapon that if paired with Claypool and Diontae Johnson could put fear in opposing defenses.
#7 Cincinnati at #9 Notre Dame – 1:30pm CST
College football will be gifting us with several top-ten match ups this weekend, one of which being the Bearcats traveling to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish. All eyes will be on QB Desmond Ridder in this matchup, seeing if he can live up to the hype as a potential franchise quarterback against a talented Notre Dame defense. I had the opportunity to break down Ridder’s game in our summer scouting series, and he brings a lot to the table in terms of mobility inside and outside of the pocket as well as a stellar arm.
The Bearcats currently haven’t been challenged in their first three match ups this season with Ridder tallying 54 completions on 84 attempts (65.1%) for 748 yards and seven TDs with two INTs. He also has added 72 yards on the ground and two TDs with his legs in his first three contests. This will be the game that many scouting departments look back on when competing their prospect profile on Ridder before the draft and considering Pittsburgh’s need for a QB of the future, all eyes should be tuning in to see how Ridder fares on the big stage.
Notre Dame sent four offensive linemen to the league last year, leaving only C Jarrett Patterson left from the starting front line in 2020. The now three-year starter is entering his senior season as the leader along the Irish offensive front and is known for being a technically sound blocker that holds his own in pass protection and can create holes in the running game. Given the state of the Steelers offensive line thus far this season, Patterson could be a middle round option that could kick outside to guard or possibly play at center and allow Kendrick Green to move back to his more natural position where he recorded a majority of his college starts.
#12 Ole Miss at #1 Alabama – 2:30pm CST
While this matchup may not be another top-ten clash, it would be fair to say the game between the Ole Miss Rebels and the Alabama Crimson Tide will be the most watched game from a scouting perspective this weekend. The big reason why this will happen is to see how first-round hopeful QB Matt Corral performs against the vaunted Crimson Tide defense. Last season, Corral had a day against the Tide in Oxford, going 21-for-28 (75%) for 365 yards and two TDs through the air along with 13 carries for 40 yards on the ground in a barn burner that the Tide won 63-48. Nick Saben has already come out saying that Corral needs their respect for what he can do with his talent.
Corral is off to a fast start for the Rebels offense, having completed 66-of-96 pass attempts (68.8%) for 997 yards and nine TDs and zero INTs. That last number is key here, as Corral has the arm talent to make the wow throws that jump off of the screen, but also has had an issue with consistently when studying him in summer scouting, often forcing throws where they shouldn’t go and making bad decisions that result in turnovers. It’s great to see Corral has cleaned up his game thus far in 2021, combined with adding the mobility factor outside of the pocket to the tune of 33 rushes for 158 yards (4.8 YPC) and five rushing scores.
It looks like 2021 could be the swan song for QB Ben Roethlisberger, meaning Pittsburgh could be looking for the heir apparent in the 2022 NFL Draft. Given the need for added mobility inside and outside the pocket in today’s game along with the arm talent to make every throw on the field, Corral looks to be that guy that could be the perfect fit in what the Steelers want to do offensively under OC Matt Canada. Should he turn in a solid performance against the top ranked team in the country and limit his turnover-worthy plays, get ready for Corral’s draft stock to skyrocket.
#18 Fresno State at Hawaii – 10:00pm CST
While Fresno State against Hawaii may not have the national draw the other games have, I will want to tune in to this game to see if QB Jake Haener can continue his incredible performance this season. Haener currently leads the FBS in passing yards (1,842) and is tied for second in TD passes (15) in five games played. While he plays in the Mountain West Conference, Haener has performances against ranked teams including #3 Oregon and #20 UCLA, averaging nearly 350 passing yards and recording a 3:1 TD-to-INT ratio in those two contests.
Having watched just a highlight clip of Haener in 2021, the size (6’1, 195lb) isn’t anything impressive, but his play at the QB position does stick out. Haener makes some impressive, tight window throws on film against tough coverage looks and has the mobility to move around in the pocket as well as elude the rush and keep the play alive. He also has the arm talent to throw on the run and make some of the off-platform throws that many NFL QBs have been lauded for in recent years. Should Haener keep his hot streak going, we may see a similar rise to that of Zach Wilson last season, rising from obscurity to become one of the top QB prospects in the draft class.
What are your thoughts of the games and prospects listed above? How do you think they will fare on Saturday? Will you be tuning into any of these games specifically? Who else will you be watching for this weekend as a potential draft prospect for Pittsburgh? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!