Dalton Risner, Offensive Tackle, Kansas State (v. Mississippi State, Saturday, 12 EST, ESPN)
Risner is a sure-fire offensive tackle at the NFL level. He looks like an excellent pro prospect. But the Big 12 often doesn’t test you much in terms of pass rush — there are so many 3-man fronts and contain-oriented pass rushes. You don’t see many of the 7-techniques or wider that the NFL will show you.
So this game is a big one for Risner, who faces off against a Round 1 player in Montez Sweat this weekend. Sweat can threaten the edge, work inside counters, and has a hot motor to keep you engaged for long plays through four quarters. Risner’s mental and physical fortitude will be tested. - Solak
Adam Holtorf, Interior Offensive Line, Kansas State (v. Mississippi State, Saturday, 12 EST, ESPN)
And we’re back.
Kansas State v. Mississippi State is the game to watch if you like trench play — over all, it should be a pretty fun one. I like what I saw from Adam Holtorf in summer evaluations, but I do have significant agility questions, especially when he’s immediately threatened off the snap. Enter Jeffery Simmons, the other strong defensive lineman for the Bulldogs, who has great short area explosiveness. They will prove an excellent test for one another. - Solak
Justice Hansen, Quarterback, Arkansas State (v. Alabama, Saturday, 3:30 EST, ESPN2)
Yes hello, I am writing about the *checks notes* Red Wolves quarterback here today. Welcome to Week 2 of the college football season.
Justice Hansen isn’t your average Sun Belt Fun Belt player, however — he was a four-star QB recruit who initially committed to Oklahoma, but after losing the camp competition to Trevor Knight and some dude named Baker Mayfield, Hansen transferred to a community college before landing with HC Blake Anderson at Arkansas State. In their Air Raid-inspired attack, Hansen put up video game numbers en route to a 2017 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year award. His sidearm release gets loopy and he’s highly risk-oriented, but he can sling the pill. Obviously, a ‘Bama game will be a statement game on a quarterback’s resume — if Hansen wants to drum up some draft buzz, this is the game to start it. - Solak
DeAndre Baker, Cornerback, Georgia (v. South Carolina, Saturday, 3:30 EST, CBS)
DeAndre Baker is the leader of the Georgia defense in his senior season. The 5’11” cornerback had an outstanding junior season and looks to continue his success into his final year with the Bulldogs. Baker will take on Deebo Samuel and the South Carolina offense, in what looks like a big test early in the season. Samuel is one of the most electric receivers in the country and Baker will be depended on to lock him down and limit the Gamecocks. - Natan
Delvon Randall, Safety, Temple (v. Buffalo, Saturday, 3:30 EST, ESPN)
Delvon Randall has flown under the radar the last two years, but certainly not for offensive coordinators in the AAC. Randall has picked off eight passes during that span, leading Temple in interceptions both years. Randall also brings a lot of physicality to the safety position as a 6-foot, 210-pound hitter. His playmaking ability will be called on against a robust Buffalo passing game that features star receiver Anthony Johnson. Randall will need to cover, hit and set the tone for the Owls to keep them in the game and a big performance from Randall could get people taking notice of the senior ball-hawk. - Natan
Tariq Cole, Offensive Tackle, Rutgers (v. Ohio State, Saturday 3:30 EST, ESPN)
I don’t need to convince you that facing Nick Bosa is an important resume game for an offensive tackle, right?
Really, Cole will see a bevy of good pass rushers in the Big 10, and will have every opportunity to improve upon his moderate pass-blocking resume from 2017. He’s a great run-blocker with good power, but he disappoints in terms of athleticism on the edge. Improved technical understanding of how he’s being attacked would help him in this regard, and against Bosa, you must be quick of mind and aggressive in your sets to beat him early. Cole is rather unknown as it stands; I think he could be a riser, but he’ll have to survive the Bosa experience, which isn’t an easy task. - Solak
Trayveon Williams, Running Back, Texas A&M (v. Clemson, Saturday, 7:00 EST, ESPN)
All eyes are on Trayveon Williams after the junior ball carrier exploded for 240 yards and two touchdowns in his season debut last week. The 5’9”, 200 pound back has had flashes during his career at Texas A&M, but this year he will likely be the featured player in the offense. Williams has to face a murderer’s row of defenders on Saturday with Clemson coming to town. Clemson has a handful of future NFL players on their defensive line alone and Williams’ success will likely determine the outcome of the game, while also serving as a showcase for how he, a smaller runner, will hold up against elite defenders. - Natan
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford (v. USC, Saturday, 8:30 EST, Fox)
San Diego State sold out to stop Bryce Love last week in order to beat Stanford. It would have worked if not for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside air raiding the Aztecs to the tune of six catches for 223 yards and three touchdowns. The 6’3”, 225-pound receiver is an incredibly impressive athlete who can pop the top off a defense in a cinch. This week’s game against USC will be a huge stage for Arcega-Whiteside to continue his dominance. USC will likely be focused on stopping Stanford’s running game, so Arcega-Whiteside will once again have plenty of one-on-one opportunities to make plays downfield. - Natan
Cameron Smith, LB, USC (v. Stanford, Saturday, 8:30 EST, Fox)
Cameron Smith is such a tricky eval in the year of 2018. Rewind the clock 10 years, and I think he makes a strong case as a top LB in the class — but with the added emphasis on athleticism at the linebacker position, Smith fades into the background. He’s just not a good mover.
If Smith is to project as an NFL starter, he needs to show improvement as a cover man. Athletically, if he’s cut some weight, he may play quicker — which will allow him to deal with the stellar TE duo in Stanford of Colby Parkinson and Kaden Smith. Smith with also be tasked with reading and reacting to Stanford’s power running game, by taking on big offensive linemen and getting paws on Bryce Love before he breaks into the third level. On that note, I expect him to excel. - Solak
N’Keal Harry, WR, Arizona State (v. Michigan State, Saturday, 10:45 EST, ESPN)
After a dominant performance last week that garnered Player of the Week honors, N’Keal Harry is looking to follow up with another big game against a ranked Michigan State team. The Spartan defense will be as stingy as always, so Harry putting up big numbers would be a huge star on an already bright resume. - Natan