Exploration Notebook: The Best Games To Watch And The Prospects To Look For (Week 3)

Each week leading up to the slate of college football games on Saturday, we’ll be highlighting several high-profile games, as well as several college football prospects in each matchup, that draft to be sought after in the 2023 NFL Draft, and specifically how they can be seen by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

#1 Georgia at South Carolina 11:00 am CST ESPN

The Georgia Bulldogs overtook the Alabama Crimson Tide for the No. 1 spot in the polls and look to prove they are worthy of that ranking as they travel to Columbia to battle the Gamecocks in SEC Conference play.

The Bulldogs are very talented on the defensive end of football, but watch out for LB #4 Nolan Smith. Smith is a bit of a preteen at 6’3, 235lbs and lacks amazing production, but he is a physical specimen as a former five-star recruit who is strong at the point of attack against the run while also having the speed and explosiveness to rush the pin He’s decided to return for his senior season in 2022 and is poised to augment his draft stock in a game that should shine early and often as a disruptor from the rim.

For South Carolina, the top prospect in the draft is CB #9 Cam Smith. The 6-foot-0, 188-pound redshirt junior has been touted as one of the top CB prospects in the 2023 draft class, with the length, ball skills and athleticism that project well in the NFL. as a prototypical corner of boundary coverage. He caught three passes and deflected another 11 last season while also showing a willingness to get in on the action as a running defender. He will be tested against a Georgia offense that has plenty of pass-catching weapons, making Saturday’s game critical for his actions should he represent himself well.

#22 Penn State at Auburn 2:30 p.m. CST CBS

The Nittnay Lions travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the second part of a home series against the Auburn Tigers after an exciting last year in Happy Valley.

Penn State has several names to watch on the defensive end of football, including S #16 Ji’Ayir Brown. The 5-foot-11, 208-pound senior was a huge compliment to Jaquan Brisker last season at back, playing the part of a ballhawk as he intercepted six passes, including one for a call-out. He possesses great instincts and the range to make side-to-side plays as a deep center fielder while also having the size and disposition to support the run. He looks for it to keep the back of the field blocked and capitalize if the offense takes a shot in his direction.

For the Tigers, EDGE #29 Derick Hall is a name that shone last season with 12 ½ tackles for loss and nine sacks. He is an explosive athlete off the rim who can be difficult for most OTs he will face thanks to his good start, speed around the rim and relentless pursuit of the passer. Auburn will line him up on the edge, as well as off the ball and in the gap for advantageous matchups against guards and centers that he can easily beat with speed. He’ll have to prove he can hold his own against the run with Penn State by setting the tone on the field early games to show scouts he’s more than just a pass-rusher.

#12 BYU at #25 Oregon 2:30 pm CST FOX

The BYU Cougars are coming off a thrilling 26-20 win against #9 Baylor last week and now travel to Eugene to take on the Ducks who are still looking to bounce back after being blown out by Georgia in opening week.

For Oregon, most who watch the game will be looking for LB #1 Noah Sewell on the defensive side of football. Sewell is an off-the-ball LB prospect, 6’3, 250 pounds and plays like an old-school downhill hitter against the run. He is a good athlete in his own right, he has the speed and chase to chase down ball carriers but can sometimes have trouble moving laterally or when he is tasked with covering. He will have to make the best of it by playing both downhill against the run and in space against QB Jaren Hall and BYU’s passing attack to help the Ducks secure victory at home.

For BYU, the name you should see is OT #71 Blake Freeland. The 6’8, 305 lb junior has the height and length you’re looking for at the NFL level. He may need to add additional mass to round out his long frame to better handle powerful NFL running backs at the next level, but he has good technique in pass protection as well as good feet and athleticism in space as a shot-blocker. careers. He has no problem getting up to the second level or looking for work in the screen game, getting a body on a defender in a hurry. He played well in Cougar’s upset of Baylor last week and will look to put up another strong performance on top of that against another Power Five ranked team.

#11 Michigan State in Washington 6:30 pm CST ABC

The Spartans are off to a 2-0 start after winning Group of Five competition the past two weeks and now travel to Seattle to battle the Washington Huskies in a Power Five clash.

For the state of Michigan, all eyes must be on OLB #4 Jacoby Windmon to see if he can maintain his hot streak against an improvement in competition. At 6’2, 250 pounds, Windmon has been the most disruptive player in college football thus far with 5.5 sacks, 6.5 TFL and four forced fumbles in two games against Western Michigan and Akron. The UNLV transfer has been shining as a pass-rusher, getting to the quarterback in a variety of ways while he has a knack for forcing the rotation as well. He will face some of the best competition he has seen so far on Saturday and will have a chance to prove that his first two games were no fluke against a more respectable Husky OL.

This game will focus on pass-rushers, as Washington has its own notable stud in DE #58 Zion Tupuola-Fetui. Tupuola-Fetui showed impressive passing rush talent in 2020, racking up seven sacks in three games. However, he suffered a torn Achilles tendon, ending his season abruptly. He returned in 2021 and played seven games, which had less impact than the previous season, but he proved to be on the right track after the injury. He now enters 2022 as a fifth-year junior at 6-foot-4, 260 lbs and looks to recapture his form as an intriguing running back in the class of 2023 with a solid performance against Michigan State, where his strength and explosiveness can shine if he is right. after the terrible injury.

#13 Miami at #25 Texas A&M 8:00PM CST ESPN

The Miami Hurricanes are off to a strong start to the 2022 season and they look to keep it up as they travel to College Station to take on the Texas A&M Aggies who are coming off a big upset at home against Appalachian State.

for hurricanes, OT #60 Sion Nelson it’s a name that should be kept under the microscope against a defense of the caliber of the SEC. The 6-foot-5, 316-pound redshirt junior was eligible for the draft last year, but decided to return to Miami after having an offseason in 2021 because of the publicity he had received as one of the top OT prospects before. of that season. He had been catching up in terms of physique, weighing in at just 240 pounds in 2019 when he reported for spring training and is still looking to maximize the new mass on his frame. He has started 32 games before 2022 and has the athletic traits you look for in OT, but he needs to show more seasoning in his technique and strength of play.

For the Aggies, S #27 Antonio Johnson he needs to step up in this game to prevent A&M from losing two in a row at home. Widely regarded as the No. 1 safety prospect in this year’s draft class before the start of the 2022 season, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior is a versatile defender who mimics the role of a bloated defensive back or backup. thin and explosive. pack supporter. Johnson, a player I compared to Derwin James in summer scouting, packs a punch as a hitter, coming down the hill with bad intentions, and as a blitzer as well. He also breaks the ball well in coverage, has the length and instincts to defend passes and make splash plays that the defense will need to create on Saturday night.

What are your thoughts on the games and perspectives mentioned above? How do you think Saturday will go? Will you be tuning into any of these games specifically? Who else will you be watching this weekend as a potential draft prospect for Pittsburgh? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below and thanks again for reading!

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