It’s college football season! Even if you’re not a fan, college football season means it’s NFL season, so it’s at least good news by adjacency.
There’s a healthy representative of Draft heads in BGN headquarters. I (Ben Solak) work for The Draft Network, while my fellow Ben (Natan) works for Optimum Scouting. As such, we have our nose in college ball for the entirety of the year, as we evaluate the upcoming upperclassmen who will likely enter the next NFL Draft.
As such, here’s our first of many Top-10 Draft-eligible players to circle for this weekend of your college football viewing experience.
1. LJ Scott, RB, Michigan State (v. Utah State, Thursday, 7:00 PM EST, BTN)
LJ Scott might be one of the more interesting running backs in college football. His whole career he has been oozing with potential but rarely has strung together a series of games to show he produce consistently. The 6’1”, 220 pound athletic marvel starts his season against Utah State. Could this be the season the light bulb goes on? - Natan
2. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford (v. SDSU, Friday, 9:00 PM EST, FS1)
Few offensive players have the buzz around them this season like Bryce Love. The former Heisman finalist decided to forego the NFL draft for chance to carry Stanford to the playoffs. After breaking 2100 rushing yards last year on only 263 carries, Love is poised to keep pounding the rock for the Cardinal.
Stanford’s match against SDSU doesn’t exactly face Love with a tough defense to start the season, but watching him tear through every level of the Aztecs is going to be must-see television. - Natan
3. AJ Brown, WR, Ole Miss (v. Texas Tech, Saturday, 12:00 PM EST, ESPN)
AJ Brown has flown seemingly under the radar for a productive, NFL sized SEC receiver. Brown averaged over 16.5 yards per catch last season, scored 11 TDs and has a well built 6’1”, 220 pound frame. He has an NFL skill set with toughness and speed to boot.
The Rebels have a match up with the Texas Tech Raiders and their classically spongy defense (Saturday, 12 PM ET, ESPN). In all likelihood, Brown should put on a clinic. - Natan
4. Devin Singletary, RB, Florida Atlantic (v. Oklahoma, Saturday, 12:00 PM EST, FOX)
Whooooo-wee! Devin Singletary is a fun watch, lads and lasses. Nicknamed ‘Motor’ by the Owls program, Singletary runs the Kiffin/Briles (and now Weis?) offense with his excellent vision, instincts, and third-level manipulation. Singletary isn’t a stellar athlete, but he has the prototypical mind of an NFL running back, and it shows up everywhere on his film.
This game is huge for his tape. The Oklahoma defense sucks — no two ways about it — but they are undoubtedly more athletic than your average C-USA defense. Singletary, who makes his money slipping through little creases to explode into the third level, must not look outclassed if he’s to be trusted by NFL teams come draft time. - Solak
5. Trey Adams/Kaleb McGary, OTs, Washington (v. Auburn, Saturday, 3:30 PM EST, ESPN)
Even after Jordan Mailata’s christening as the second coming of Jason Peters, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Philadelphia on the market for another offensive tackle in the 2019 Draft. With the threat of suspension always looming above Lane Johnson’s head, he needs a foolproof back-up plan even more when Jason Peters likely retires.
Enter McGary, a graceful mover at his unbelievable size, who brings a lot of power to the contact point. He’ll likely be a Day 2 pick — more Philly’s speed — while Trey Adams, a rock-steady pass protector, gets off the board in Round 1. - Solak
6. Te’von Coney, LB, Notre Dame (v. Michigan, Saturday, 7:30 PM EST, NBC)
Many eyes will be on the Michigan defenders — EDGE Rashan Gary, EDGE Chase Winovich, LB Devin Bush, SAF Khaleke Hudson, CB Lavert Hill — but I’m locked in on a Notre Dame defender by the name of Te’von Coney. He came on in a big way at the end of last season, and I’m excited to see how he’s continued to develop.
Coney is a great tackler who knows how to take downfield angles to secure the ball-carrier, or at least direct him back into the teeth of his defense. He can drop his hips and explode through contact as well — he doesn’t miss many opportunities. I like his instincts and aggressiveness when flowing downhill, and he has the size to play MIKE at the NFL level — something Philadelphia might need, if Jordan Hicks isn’t retained in 2019. - Solak
7. Devin Bush, LB, Michigan (v. Notre Dame, Saturday, 7:30 PM EST, NBC)
Michigan has another speedy linebacker the NFL is bound to fall in love with. Devin Bush is a human cruise missile who can blitz, defend the run and fly around against the pass. While he is inconsistent, he is definitely exciting and undoubtedly a playmaker.
Michigan’s match up with Notre Dame’s ever potent offense will feature a lot of Bush attacking the Irish running game. Bush is bound to be a factor in this game and it will likely say a lot about who he is as a player, especially against the run. - Natan
8. Rashard Lawrence, DT, LSU (v. Miami, Sunday, 7:30 PM EST, ABC)
It’s no secret that the upcoming defensive line class is stacked. It’s a bit quieter, but most folks realize that Philadelphia needs to restock the cupboards of the defensive line, what with contracts expiring and ages ever growing.
And the best kept secret of this opening blurb? That’s Rashard Lawrence, a bonafide stud who may not get the attention he warrants because of how thick the class is. Lawrence has great hands and a good first step to initially win a gap and challenge the pocket as a pass-rusher. His penetrating style would be a great fit opposite Fletcher Cox. - Solak
9. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU (v. Miami, Sunday, 7:30 PM EST, ABC)
Greedy Williams is bound to be one of my favorite prospects this year. He is a physical ball hawk with a nasty streak. If not for the embarrassment of riches College Football has among the defensive line, Williams would be discussed as the premier defender at the college level.
Williams has a stage all to himself against Miami and he will be tested with the Hurricanes’ potent passing game, including their star receiver Ahmmon Richards. In all likelihood, Richards and Williams will be facing off regularly throughout the night. That alone is worth the price of admission.
10. Yosuah Nijman, OT, Virginia Tech (v. Florida State, Monday, 8:00 PM EST, ESPN)
If late-round project tackles are more your speed (they certainly were last year for Philadelphia) then Nijman is a name to watch. He’s a stellar athlete for the position with great explosiveness, which fits the Eagles’ mold, but technically he’s rawer than sushi.
Nijman is one to watch because he goes up against Florida State’s excellent junior EDGE Brian Burns. If you watched any Josh Sweat tape after the Eagles selected him, you likely saw the super long, super bendy young Burns make a splash play or two every game. He’ll prove a great litmus test for Nijman’s development.