College football is back (!!!) and that means that the NFL Draft season is in full swing. This week has a loaded slate of games and has a collection of tremendous challenges for different NFL prospects. Thursday and Friday have over 25 games lined up, so here are the games to watch for NFL prospects that should interest Eagles fans.
- TCU v. Minnesota (Thursday, 9 PM, ESPN): The number two team in the county takes on a somewhat unheralded Minnesota team. TCU has one of the most explosive offenses in the country with quarterback Trevone Boykin, wide receivers Kolby Listenbee and Josh Docton, running back, Aaron Green and an offensive line led by center, Joey Hunt. The best of the Horn Frogs offense is senior receiver, Josh Doctson. The 6-3, 205 pound pass catcher has tremendous route running skills and ability to play the ball in the air. Him and his running mate, Listenbee, face a talented duo of Gopher cornerbacks, Eric Murray and Briean Boddy- Calhoun. The two physical corners will challenge both Doctson and Listenbee and how the match ups go will say a lot about the four players involved. Outside of the receivers and corners, Eagles fans should keep an eye on Joey Hunt. The dependable center has good size (6-3, 295) and a tremendous motor. For a team that may need to add depth to their interior offensive line, Hunt could be a potential target.
- UNC v. South Carolina (Thursday, 6 PM, ESPN): While UNC has underperformed recently, they still have a number of NFL prospects on their team. The best player on UNC is guard, Landon Turner. The 6-4, 325 pounder has light feet for his size and is a strong presence inside an offensive line. By far the biggest question on this Eagles team is the interior offensive line and seeing how Turner fairs against an SEC defense could be indicative of what caliber of player he is. Other than Turner, UNC has a talented receiver duo in Ryan Switzer and Quinshad Davis and the Gamecocks have electric receiver, Pharaoh Cooper on offense. The main focus for Eagles fans, however, should be along the UNC offensive line.
- Utah v. Michigan (Thursday, 8:30 PM, FS1): Michigan is on the rebound after Brady Hoke ran it into the ground and Jim Harbaugh is there to lead the renaissance. As for Utah, they are coming off a strong 9 win season in which their offense featured star running back, Devontae Booker. Booker faces a good test in a Big 10 defense that will be keying in on stopping him. Booker is an incredibly reliable back, as he has great vision, burst, leg drive and can impact in the passing game. He does not have good top end speed, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against an expectedly physical defense. As for the Wolverines, their top prospect is cornerback and Stanford transfer, Wayne Lyons. The 6-1, press corner is a bit one dimensional in where he wins, but it will be interesting to see how he fares in his first game in maize and blue.
- Michigan State v. Western Michigan (Friday, 7 PM, ESPU): While the number five team in the country taking on a MAC team does not seem like it will feature an particular challenge for players involved, the Western Michigan Broncs fielded a talented offense in 2014 and will have their playmakers returning. The player to key in on in this game is Spartan pass rusher, Shilique Calhoun. Calhoun has been a bit overhyped by the national media, but he is still an impact player for the Spartans. It will be interesting to see how fares against a run game featuring Jarvion Franklin, who ran for over 1500 yards his freshman year. Calhoun will also need to impact as a pass rusher, as the Broncos have an explosive passing game that features Corey Davis (1400 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2014) and Daniel Braverman (997 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2014). Besides Calhoun, there are no prospects who have as high of a ceiling as he does, so Eagles fans should pay attention to how he plays. After all, this is a team that could be looking for pass rushing depth in April's draft.