With the NFL season just hours away from truly starting for Eagles fans, there is little concrete knowledge of what the team is going to be like. Specifically, it will be hard to know exactly what the Eagles will be looking for come the NFL draft in the spring. However, it is always a worthy exercise to watch weekly slates of college football to see a few good games but also look for players who may interest the Eagles in the future. While this week does not have a ton of great match ups, there are a few players who will be tested this week that should interest Eagles fans.
- Allen Lazard, Wide Receiver, Iowa State: The Iowa State Cyclones haven't been pumping out high quality NFL players recently, but Lazard could help change that this season. The 6'5", 225 pound pass catcher had over 1000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns this and then kicked off this season with a 100 yard game. Lazard is a big bodied, jump ball type of player that NFL teams will fall in love with. This weeks matchup with Iowa (12 PM ET on ESPN2) will pose a big challenge for Lazard. Iowa's defense is anything but easy to cut through and Lazard will have to play a physical game to get his numbers and help his team pull off the win.
- MJ Stewart, Cornerback, UNC: UNC suffered an upset loss last week against California but that doesn't mean they should be written off. Specifically eye catching was their junior cornerback, MJ Stewart. The 6' cornerback had 11 pass break ups and two forced fumbles last season and remains one of the Tar Heel's better defenders. He is incredibly well built and plays a physical brand of football. He has a huge task ahead of him today going up against Lamar Jackson and the Louisville Cardinals (12 PM ET on ESPN). The combination of Lamar Jackson and receiver Jaylen Smith looks like it will be deadly this year and Stewart has the tall order of slowing them down today.
- Braden Smith, Offensive Tackle, Auburn: With 27 consecutive start for the Tigers and a feature on Bruce Feldman's annual "Freak List", Braden Smith deserves our attention. The 6'6", 300 pound linemen played most of his career at guard but it seems he will be trying the right tackle position for his final year in school. While he isn't a prototypical lineman in his attitude, he is a great athlete with consistent technique to position himself to block defenders out of plays. This week will be one of his tallest tasks as he takes on Clemson and their monster defensive line (7 PM ET on ESPN). Auburn's offense is their lifeblood and Smith will need a strong game to keep the Auburn running game and passing game unaffected by the likes of Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence.
- Mark Andrews, Tight End, Oklahoma: Oklahoma lost three of their top offensive weapons in the draft this year but luckily for them and Baker Mayfield; Mark Andrews decided to return. Andrews served a sort of hybrid tight end/wide receiver role last year, lining up at receiver very often but playing at 6'5" and 250 pounds. This year Andrews is filling a same sort of role and looks like he will be the primary target in Oklahoma's passing game. He is a fantastic athlete who uses his size very well as a receiver. He is a true match up problem. This week is a huge game with Oklahoma taking on Ohio State (7:30 PM ET on ABC). Andrews will be tasked with separating from Ohio State's athletic linebackers and defensive backfield and he will be called on often to make tough grabs. This will be a big test of how NFL ready this offensive chess piece is.
- Ronald Jones, Running Back, USC: Last week USC ran into a bit of a scare with Western Michigan but they were dug out of a big hole by their junior running back, Ronald Jones. Jones went over 150 rushing yards last week and scored three touchdowns to help the Trojans pull away from a supposedly easy opponent. His contribution was no surprise however, considering he rushed for 1000 yards and 12 touchdowns the year prior, averaging over six yards a touch. Jones is a speed freak running back who can burn in a straight line and make tough cuts without losing steam. He will continue to be a huge weapon for the Trojans and today will be one of his biggest tests of the season. The Stanford Cardinal come to town (8:30 PM ET on Fox) and their stingy defense will be focused on holding Jones in check. Jones is a skinnier back, weighing around 200 pounds and that will raise a lot of questions for NFL teams. However, if Jones can feast on a physical defense and help his team win; it should quiet any doubt that his size will hold him back from being an NFL lead back.