clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

College Football Saturday: Six NFL Draft prospects to watch in Week 1

New, comments

Here's your Week 1 college football game guide.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It's here. Finally. The first full Saturday of College Football, featuring literally dozens of games that will span from 12 PM Eastern Time all the way into the dark hours of the night (there is a game that doesn't start until 11:59 PM ET). With such a cornucopia of games on today, there is obviously going to be quite a few great NFL prospects on the field as well. Here are some prospects that feature the biggest match ups.

  • Ty Johnson, Running Back, Maryland: It's easy for running backs to fly under the radar given the talent in the country right now, but Ty Johnson broke the thousand yard landmark last season at a mind-blowing rate of 9.1 yards a carry. He is a bit smaller, weighing 200 pounds at 5'10", but he runs behind his pads and has breakaway speed to bust open a defense at any moment. Today, Johnson takes on Malik Jefferson and the 23rd ranked Texas Longhorns (12 PM ET on FS1). Texas theoretically has a lot more talent, but considering their defense has been lacking in the last few years, Johnson has an excellent opportunity to keep Maryland competitive with his playmaking ability. A big game will put him on the national map among top running back prospects.
  • Josey Jewell, Linebacker, Iowa: Iowa lost two defensive playmakers in last year's draft with Jaleel Johnson and Desmond King but they return the leader of their unit in senior linebacker, Jose Jewell. Jewell isn't the biggest backer, but he has great instincts and is a very physical player. Iowa faces Josh Allen and the Wyoming Cowboys (12 PM ET on BTN) and many evaluators expect Josh Allen to ascend as a quarterback prospect this year. It will be up to Jewell to lead the charge in spoiling Allen's first game of his season. Jewell will be tested in coverage and will likely be depended on to limit Allen's mobility. This should be a much more exciting game than your usual unranked game.
  • Cece Jefferson, Edge Defender, Florida: Florida has been producing quality defensive prospects for a long time now and after losing a ton of talent over the last few years to the draft, the question is who steps up next? The answer may be junior pass rusher Cece Jefferson. The former five star recruit has yet to have his breakout, but he has also been playing on a crowded defense. Jefferson is obviously very talented, possessing speed and power as a 6'1", 260 pound player. If this is the year he finally takes the next step, he has a great chance to show out in one of today's few ranked games against Michigan (3:30 PM on ABC). Michigan is always stout in the trenches and this game is going to be a real fist fight so it will be exciting to see how CeCe Jefferson impacts the contest.
  • Mike McGlinchey, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame: Arguably the top offensive linemen in this years draft class is relegated to a Notre Dame team that is trying to recover from a four win campaign last year. McGlinchey has all the talent in the work and has a huge frame at 6'7". Today, McGlicnhey will be depended to help pave the way for the Fighting Irish against Temple (3:30 PM ET on ABC). Temple has consistently been a feisty team over the last few years and this year should be no different, so McGlinchey will have his hands full keeping the Notre Dame offense on track.
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, Defensive Back, Alabama: One of the better defenders in the country, the ballhawking Minkah Fitzpatrick returns to a reloading Crimson Tide defense that is replacing over half the unit due to the draft last year. Luckily, Fitzpatrick is still a playmaker at the back of their defense, able to hold it down at cornerback or safety. In one of the best opening week match ups in recent memory, the #1 ranked Crimson Tide come up against the #3 ranked Florida State Seminoles (8 PM ET on ABC). Even after losing star running back, Dalvin Cook, the Seminoles have one of the most promising young quarterbacks in college football in Deandre Francois and he's throwing the ball downfield to the dynamic Auden Tate. Basically, if there is a team that can challenge Alabama's consistently loaded defense, it should be Florida State. Minkah Fitzpatrick will be counted on to make plays in the passing game and limit Francois' explosive downfield passing ability. In what looks like the most exciting match up of the season, every single play counts and this will be a massive opening week test for one of the best cornerback prospects in the country.
  • Derwin James, Safety, Florida State: There are a handful of players who can be picked from this game in terms of highlighting notable match ups. However, Derwin James is incredibly notable because this is his first football game in a year. After missing most of last season, James comes into his junior year with a ton of hype. The former freshman star has an unbelievable amount of talent and people are under stably excited to see what that translates to. Alabama, like Florida state, has a promising young quarterback with Jalen Hurts. It's not very often a freshman leads his team to a National Championship appearance and within yards of winning it. Hurts is a dynamic mobile threat with a cannon arm. Thus, Derwin James will be heavily depended on to limit Jalen Hurts and his awesome supporting cast. Guys like Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris will challenge James in the run game and Alabama has explosive options in the passing game like Calvin Ridley. James is a multifaceted defensive threat who is used all over the field and his talent will be needed to limit Alabama's arsenal of playmakers.