The first weekend of college football in the books after a ton of great individual performances and impressive team efforts colored a great couple of days. It is early in the season, so plenty can change, but with the big time match ups of the opening weekend, there is still a lot to take away going into the rest of the season.
- After a dismantling of Oklahoma's defense, Greg Ward deserves consideration as a quarterback prospect. The athletic senior signal caller has been underrated as a legitimate NFL prospect due to his size and his use a run first option for the Cougars in the past, but his opening week performance offers some hope for him as an NFL passer. Ward has incredibly impressive intelligence, accuracy and ability to move in the pocket, which are all important traits. However, he still has hills to climb as he is very small for a QB (not even 190 pounds) and his arm is average at best. He seems like he would be an excellent mid round addition with the smarts and athletic ability to grow into an impact player if he can add size to his frame.
- Reuben Foster is the best linebacker in the country. After playing second fiddle to 2016 second round pick, Reggie Ragland, the former 5 star recruit will establish himself as a top tier linebacker prospect this season. After a dominate game against USC, it is clear that the speed and physicality in which Foster plays linebacker makes him special. While he needs to work on tempering his aggression as a player, he is an exciting firebrand in the middle of the Alabama defense.
- Speaking of Alabama, while I could just write on and on about how talented the Crimson Tide is, I will stick to one more player with their awesome defensive lineman, Jon Allen. Allen is incredibly versatile, with awesome athletic ability to ensure he is disruptive from wherever he lines up. He has great technique and a nonstop motor. While there are players with higher ceilings, Allen's resume and skill set makes him the safest player in the 2017 NFL draft.
- One of my favorite players a year ago before he went down with a scary neck injury was Clemson wide receiver, Mike Williams. Williams missed a year recovering, but you would be hard pressed to think anything was ever wrong after he dominated Auburn on Saturday. The athletic, 6-3 pass catcher did excellently playing at the catch point and also flashed the awesome athletic ability that makes him such a good prospect. Hopefully he can continue to show his health and skill throughout the season and he will be in contention for the first receiver taken this draft.
- Another elite college player who lost time to injury last year was Nick Chubb, the outstanding Georgia running back. After suffering a truly horrific knee injury, Chubb's long term health was in question... Well I am sure a lot of UNC defenders would probably say he is fine after he gashed them for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. Chubb looked like the athletic, powerful runner that has been kicking ass since his freshman year and he could be the first running back taken if he continues to stay healthy.
- After playing spectacularly his first season, JT Barrett had a down season in 2015 with a new offensive coordinator at Ohio State. Many dismissed Barrett as an NFL prospect, but after a strong showing on saturday (even if it is against a lowly BGSU team), there is hope that Barrett can still work himself into the conversation of being a prospect to be taken seriously. While he does not have great size or anything special for an arm, Barrett has top notch game managing ability, as he is very smart, a quick decision maker and has awesome accuracy. While he may not be in the elite, game changing tier of quarterback prospects, Barrett looks to have a solid junior season at OSU and end up a solid prospect with upside to become a mid tier starter.
- One player who has been "the guy" since he stepped onto the field is Myles Garrett. The junior Texas A&M defender has been a stud since his freshman year and if his dominating game against UCLA is any indicator, he is who we thought he was. Garrett's blend of size and athleticism is eye popping, but he complements it with excellent technique. If it is not a quarterback, Garrett should absolutely be the first pick in the NFL draft.
- Though he has been productive since his freshman year, few players are more divisive in the NFL draft community than Leonard Fournette. The LSU runner has all the size and speed you would want from a back, but questions about his east-west skills and ability to create yardage behind the line of scrimmage have some apprehensive to anoint him. It is doubtful that those questions will be answered any time soon after a mediocre showing against Wisconsin. Fournette's apologists will point to stacked boxes and a good stat line despite adversity, but the reality is that Fournette benefitted in some instances from just plain bad defense and struggled to really take over the game like you would want a supposed elite running back to do. I still like Fournette, but the reality is that there is a signifiant difference between a good running back prospect and a truly special one.
- Eagles fans should have their eyes wide open for playmakers at the receiver position this year and they should direct their attention to WKU's Taywan Taylor and SMU's Courtland Sutton. Both are not big program players, but they are both absolute studs. Sutton is a bigger bodied receiver with speed to burn while Taylor is a bit smaller but is an absolute freak show athlete. After a weekend where Taylor was averaging 30 yards per catch and three out of four of Sutton's catches were touchdowns, these are definitely names to keep an eye on going forward.