David Montgomery, RB #32, Iowa State (v. Oklahoma, 12:00 PM EST, ABC)
Iowa State rarely has players in the headlines but their junior running back has a chance at stardom at the college and pro level. The 5’11”, 216 pound Montgomery is the catalyst for the Cyclone offense and, to be honest, the only threat they have. The stat sheet hasn’t been kind to him, but Montgomery has been a much better player than his numbers. If Iowa State wants a shot at upsetting the high powered Oklahoma Sooners, Montgomery will need to play the game of his life and carry Iowa State to a victory. - Natan
Blace Brown, CB #18, Troy (v. Nebraska, 12:00 PM EST, BTN)
Brown is a pretty well-kept secret in the Draft world at this juncture — not so in the Sun Belt, as Brown garnered First Team honors in 2017. So let’s break the news.
Brown is an NFL sized corner for the Trojans who has reeled in 11 picks in the past two seasons and broken up another 10. That production profile alone will draw eyes. Brown profiles best, in my viewing, as a zone corner who’s allowed to overlap and play aggressively downhill with his eyes in the backfield. Nebraska’s talented pass-catcher Stanley Morgan Jr. will be Brown’s biggest tape test this season. - Solak
Josh Smith, LB #25, Vanderbilt (v. Notre Dame, 2:30 PM EST, NBC)
Vanderbilt is off to an encouraging 2-0 start due in part to their physical defensive play early in the season. Linebacker Josh Smith has led the Commodores defense, contributing as a playmaker against the run and pass, but he will be tested against Notre Dame’s dangerous offense. Notre Dame has a lot of weapons on the ground and through the air, so Smith will need to be on top of his game and attacking the line of scrimmage. A big game from him will certainly put him on a lot of NFL teams’ radars. - Natan
Justice Hill, RB #5, Oklahoma State (v. Boise State, 3:30 PM EST, ESPN)
The way I see it, Justice Hill is very nicely positioned for a rise up Draft boards. Oklahoma RB Rodney Anderson, a superior prospect, went down for the season last week — so south area scouts for teams in need of a running back have more attention to turn to Hill; and Stanford RB Bryce Love has struggled echo the explosion of his 2017 season. Both Hill and Love are undersized speed backs, so any ground Love loses is ground that Hill can gain.
That Boise State defense can be tough to run on, however — especially for undersized backs. The Broncos are physical and high-motor, so you take a lot of hits. Hill should athletically outclass them on a few explosive runs, however, if he keeps his noise to the grindstone. I’m excited for this one.- Solak
Dontavius Russell, DT #95, Auburn (v. LSU, 3:30 PM EST, CBS)
Arguably the biggest game of the weekend is the SEC showdown between Auburn and LSU. LSU has been rolling on offense with their breakout running back Nick Brossette (who deserves draft buzz as well), so it will be up to the Auburn defense to shut down LSU’s run game. Dontavius Russell and his 6’3”, 320 pound frame have been starring for Auburn’s defense this season. He has been a problem against the run especially and his expertise will be on full display against LSU on Saturday. - Natan
Nathan Rourke, QB #12, Ohio (v. Virginia, 4:30 PM EST, ESPN)
You ever get made to look so stupid that you actually feel it in your bones? I spent a whole offseason — heck, starting at the end of last season — hyping up Nathan Rourke, a gunslinger from Ohio that I thought had an NFL future. And against FCS Howard, he was benched after a 2-8, 44 yard start. Woof.
Rourke will start again for the Bobcats, but on a much bigger stage against an ACC opponent on the road. Look for a bounce-back performance from a potential riser. (I, of course, will boldly proclaim that I never once doubted.) - Solak
Greg Little, OT #74, Ole Miss (v. Alabama, 7:00 PM EST, ESPN)
There are very few ways to beat Alabama, but beating them in the trenches would be the first step. That’s why Greg Little will be under the microscope against the Tide. Little is widely regarded as one of the top offensive line prospects in the country. The tackle will have his hands full with an always-talented Alabama defense. A strong game from Little won’t guarantee a win for the Rebels, but it would give them a huge boost. - Natan
Innis Gaines, S #6, TCU (v. Ohio State, 8:00 PM EST, ABC)
Year to year, TCU has well-coached defensive backs and this season is no different. Innis Gaines stands out at 6’2” and 205 pounds at the safety position. On top of that, he is a fundamentally sound and physical presence at the back end of the Horned Frogs defense. His competence will be needed against Ohio State and their multiple offense. Gaines can put himself on the map by making big plays and keeping TCU in the game against a legit title contender. - Natan
Chuma Edoga, OT #70, USC (v. Texas, 8:00 PM EST, FOX)
Dealing with a nagging injury against the Cardinal last week, Edoga impressed in only his limited snaps. And again — a stomach bug limited his practice time this week, but Edoga should be good to boogie against the Longhorns this weekend.
Edoga has great athleticism at right tackle and looks to have improved his technique this offseason. The Pac-12 isn’t known for its high-octane EDGE rushers, so Edoga’s stiffest test may be Breckyn Hager, the technically sound OLB for Texas. Edoga has a big athletic advantage that he should lean on early in reps to win out. - Solak
Parker Baldwin, S #33, San Diego State (v. Arizona State, 10:30 PM EST, CBS)
Parker Baldwin was a name I had heard whispers about here and there — but nothing conclusive. Then, the Stanford opener — 7 tackles, including 1 for loss, and a generally disruptive presence on a defense that held RB Bryce Love to a 29-yard outing. Baldwin was everywhere. My interest is piqued.
Baldwin was an uber-disruptive pass defender in 2016, but he fell off in that regard in 2017. In his AZTEC role in the Aztec defense (super original, guys), his responsibilities translate to that of a box safety who rocks man coverage reps in the NFL. I need to see that show up when Baldwin’s in the slot against the Sun Devils’ powerful offense. - Solak