Week Eleven of the 2017 college football season is here! Today features a good slate of games and always with good games comes great opportunities for NFL Draft prospects to boost their profile. Who should Eagles fans keep an eye on today?
- Denzel Ward, Cornerback, Ohio State: After sending two first round cornerbacks to the NFL last draft, it looks like Denzel Ward will be the next in line for impressive Ohio State defenses. The 5’10”, junior cornerback has a big task ahead of him today against a Michigan State passing game (12 PM ET on Fox) that has been prolific of late. With 10 PBUs and one interception on the year, it is obvious Ward can be an impact defender, but will his strong play influence an Ohio State win today?
- James Washington, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma State: Everyone should know James Washington by now. The 6’0”, senior pass catcher is on his third season in a row eclipsing 1000 yards receiving and in each of those seasons he averaged over 19 yards per catch (21.8 this year). Today, Washington and the rest of the Cowboys will be taking on an Iowa State team (12 PM ET on ABC) that has played the role of a giant killer this season. The Cyclone defense has some playmakers in the secondary and it will be fun to see Washington against a strong group of players.
- Josey Jewell, Linebacker, Iowa: Besides having a cool name, Josey Jewell is probably most well known by being the leader of a strong Hawkeyes defense. While Jewell is not the prototypical new age linebacker; he is a instinctual, physical player who is not afraid to get downhill and get into it with the run. Today, Jewell will have his hands full against Wisconsin and their star freshman running back, Jonathan Taylor (3:30 PM ET on ESPN). Jewell is likely going to get a lot of questions about if he can run with NFL caliber athletes and a strong game against one of the best offensive players in the country will likely quiet some critics.
- Roquan Smith, Linebacker, Georgia: While Josey Jewell might be a little old school, Roquan Smith represents the new era of NFL linebackers. While his weight hovers somewhere around 230 pounds; he is a missile of a human being and can run with most players on an offense. To make it better; he is a smart, physical player who can make players pay for running on the same field as him. Today, Roquan Smith faces a tough Auburn offense (3:30 PM ET on CBS) that will challenge his discipline and constantly call on him to make a play. Georgia has been dominant this season, in big part due to smith, and another huge game from him will help cement him as one of the draft’s top linebackers.
- Deon Cain, Wide Receiver, Clemson: While Clemson’s offense is still good, it is certainly going through a transition period from Deshaun Watson to Kelly Bryant. However, even in limited opportunities, Deon Cain is shining in the passing game. The 6’1”, junior receiver has only 37 catches this year for 440 yards and four touchdowns, but he has shown that he is a talented player who can make plays down the field and over defenders. Cain will face a tough FSU secondary (3:30 PM ET on ESPN) and will likely need to make big plays when he is eventually called upon. Taking on a group featuring Tavarrus McFadden and Derwin James is always going to be tough, but a strong showing could remind folks that he is still a talent worth watching.
- Christopher Herndon IV, Tight End, Miami: With David Njoku now in the NFL, Christopher Herndon has taken over as Miami’s top tight end. While the 6’4”, 250 pound senior isn’t the same level athlete, he is a tough, solid player with good hands and solid blocking ability. He is not a well known name, but he could have a breakout against a tough Notre Dame defense (8 PM ET on ABC) where he will a safety valve for the Miami passing game.
- Orlando Brown, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma: Oklahoma’s offense has been humming this season and strong year from their junior tackle has been a factor in their success. At 6’8” and 345 pounds, you will be hard pressed to find a bigger man than Orlando Brown. Brown possesses massive size that can erase defenders if he gets his hands on them. Today’s match up against TCU (8 PM ET on Fox) will mean Oklahoma facing as tough as a defense gets in the Big 12, including some strong defensive line play. Thus, Brown’s performance will play a key role in the game’s outcome and he will need to rise to the occasion.