Every week in lead up to the slate of college football games on Saturday, we will be highlighting several high-profile games as well as several college football prospects in each matchup that project to be sought after in the 2023 NFL Draft and specifically how they may be viewed by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
#7 LSU at Arkansas 11:00AM CST ESPN
The Tigers are flying high after knocking off arch-rival Alabama at home in Baton Rouge last weekend and hope to keep that momentum going this weekend as they travel to Arkansas to take on the Razorbacks.
BJ Ojulari garners most of the headlines on defense for LSU, but EDGE #11 Ali Gaye is an intriguing prospect in his own right. The 6’6, 265lb senior is a physical specimen, having the size, height, and length you look for in edge rushers. Still, while Gaye possesses everything you want from a measurables standpoint, the production has been light thus far in his career, amassing only 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in the least three seasons combined. Regardless, Gaye has the athletic upside paired with the experience and tangible traits to be a potential value selection on Day Three and could play himself into a better draft status with more production down the stretch.
The Razorbacks will look to keep the opposing LSU pass rush at bey while also gashing the defense on the ground with their strong running game. Leading the charge upfront will be C #51 Ricky Stromberg. The 6’4, 318lb senior is about as experienced as the come having started his true freshman season at guard and has been a mainstay at center ever since. Stromberg is a physical blocker at the point of attack, having the strength to displace defenders off the LOS while also having the ability to work in space and climb to the second level. Regarded as one of the better C prospects in this draft class, Stromberg will have a chance to make his case to be C1 with a strong performance on Saturday.
#9 Alabama at #11 Ole Miss 2:30PM CST CBS
The Crimson Tide look to rebound after effectively getting eliminated from the CFP last weekend and get back into the win column against Ole Miss in Oxford Saturday afternoon.
The Tide may be down in terms of NFL talent on the offensive side of the football, but the defense still has plenty of talented prospects to watch with one being EDGE #31 Will Anderson Jr. Anderson is a Heisman-worthy candidate playing on defense and is often regarded as the best overall player in the country, having logged 101 tackles and 17.5 sacks last season and currently stands at seven QB takedowns along with a pick six in 2022. He is a dynamic presence off the edge, defending the run well and being nearly unblockable for college OTs in his pursuit of the QB. Look for him to be his normal game wrecker self Saturday as he attempts to wreak havoc in the Ole Miss backfield.
On the opposite sideline, the Rebels will be relying on OG #64 Nick Broeker to pave wide running lanes and keep the QB clean against a talented Bama defense. After playing left tackle for the Rebels for three seasons, Broeker has moved inside to left guard for his senior season. The former freshman All-American in on the Outland trophy watch list thanks to his impressive blend of strength at the point of attack, flexibility and knee bend, movement skills in the run game and in pass protection, and refined technique. He has become known for his pancake blocks and will look to dish out several of those in this matchup as one of the best senior IOL in the country.
Maryland at #14 Penn State 2:30PM CST FOX
The Terrapins travel to Happy Valley to take on the Nittnay Lions of Penn State Saturday afternoon.
Maryland is off to a strong 6-3 start this season, thanks in-part to the play of their offensive line and OT #71 Jaelyn Duncan. Duncan looks the part of a NFL franchise LT, standing 6’6, 320lb as a senior and has had his play match the measurables so far this season. He has done a good job keeping the QB clean in the pocket while also getting out in space in the running game, pulling from the tackle spot and picking up linebackers and defensive backs in the screen game. Duncan plays with good mirror and footwork, but you would like to see more aggressiveness as a run blocker which hopefully pops on tape this weekend.
The Nittnay Lions have their own left tackle capturing the attention of the scouting community this fall in OT #74 Olumuyiwa Fashanu. The 6’6, 308lb redshirt sophomore has flashed on tape thus far in 2022 after starting only one game last season, rising quickly up the boards as now one of the top draft-eligible tackles. He has the size and length you look for at the blindside position on the offensive line and has the athleticism and footwork to mirror pass rushers in pass protection. He sets the depth of the pocket well and has quick feet to cut rushers off their path. A solid run blocker as well, Fashanu could vault himself near the top of the OT ranking should he decide to declare early after the season.
#25 Washington at #6 Oregon 6:00PM CST FOX
The Huskies head into Eugene Saturday to battle fellow PAC 12 conference foe Oregon in a top 25 showdown.
The Huskies boast one of the best pass rush units in all of college football with DL #3 Jeremiah Martin making up one third of the top rushers on the Washington Defense. The 6’4, 261lb senior currently sits at six sacks and a forced fumble on the year, his best performance in five seasons with the team. Martin has a thick build for an edge rusher but possesses the hand usage to shed blocks and work around the arc of the pocket into the passer’s lap. He has interesting tools along with the measurables you look for but will need to put it all together if Washington hopes to get the upset in this matchup.
For teams looking for secondary help in the draft, CB #0 Christian Gonzalez looks to be one of the top corner prospects in this upcoming draft class. Gonzalez transferred from Colorado and the 6’2, 201lb junior has excelled with the Ducks, using his impressive length in man coverage situations to battle bigger perimeter receivers at the catch point. He is a physical tackler and breaks on the ball well considering his size, having enough twitch and quickness to click and close on the pass. Gonzalez has three INTs this season along with seven PBUs and will look to add to that total as he tries to slow down a dynamic Husky passing attack.
#23 Florida State at Syracuse 7:00PM CST ACC Network
The Seminoles are enjoying their best season since Jameis Winston led the team, sitting at 6-3 and look to get their seventh win Saturday night against the Orange.
Florida State has had several players step up this season including EDGE #5 Jared Verse. Verse is a 6’4, 251lb redshirt sophomore that appeared in 15 games over two seasons at Albany before transferring to FSU. He has 5.5 sacks thus far in 2022 and has quickly gained attention from the draft community for his pro-ready frame as well as the athleticism to win off the edge. He has great burst off the snap and is developing as a pass rusher, using his hands to get off blocks while pursuing the QB. Verse owns one of the highest pressure rates in all of college football and will look to continue to bring the heat Saturday night.
Tucker, but a lot of credit should be given to the OL and OT #60 Matthew Bergeron. Bergeron stands 6’5, 332lb and is an underclassman that has caught the attention of NFL teams thanks to his impressive size and stellar play in the running game. He generates movement quickly at the LOS, displacing defenders with good first-step quickness paired with strength and power. He has also represented himself well against some talented pass rushers and will be tasked with neutralizing Verse across from him in what should be a heavily anticipated matchup of two interesting draft prospects.
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!