The college football season rolls along into Week 10, and the game that many will be watching in NFL circles involves the top-ranked team in the country. Many of the names called this Saturday will also be called next April in the NFL Draft.
Week 10 of the college football schedule isn’t full of matchups with ranked teams against ranked teams, but the games still have a good feel for them when it comes to attracting NFL fans and fans of the NFL Draft.
The top game this Saturday involves the No. 13 LSU Tigers and the No. 1-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide and this game is full of players that will become names on Sundays. Being that it is a primetime game, fans will have that as a nightcap for a fantastic day of college football.
Even without the greatest of matchups overall, this is an excellent week for NFL fans to continue being on the lookout for potential NFL Draft prospects they will become familiar with sooner rather than later.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide at LSU Tigers (CBS, 8 p.m. ET)
In their most current rankings, CBS Sports has Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen as the No. 1 overall ranked player. Allen is a 6-3, 291-pound senior. Alabama also has the ninth and 12th overall ranked players in the CBS rankings with junior offensive tackle Cam Robinson and senior outside linebacker Tim Williams.
With a closer look at Williams, you’ll see the 6-4, 252-pound linebacker has been pretty solid at sacking the quarterback with 6.5 sacks, including two sacks on Oct. 22 against Texas A&M. Williams is the No. 1 ranked OLB entering Saturday.
The Tigers of LSU have a Top 10 player of their own in junior running back Leonard Fournette. He’s the fourth-overall ranked prospect by CBS. The 6-1, 230-pound running back has 670 yards on 83 carries, which includes a lengthy absence due to injury.
His best game this season was on Oct. 22 against Ole Miss with 16 carries for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Fournette, who is averaging 8.1 yards per carry, has basically been on the NFL radar since he first stepped onto a college football field. He’ll be a top-10 pick, maybe even a top-five pick, with the success another running back is having in the NFL this season after being the fourth overall pick in 1016. If NFL teams start to believe getting a running back early in the draft is the thing to do like the Dallas Cowboys did with Ezekiel Elliott, then Fournette will be the benefactor in 2017.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at North Carolina Tar Heels (12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network/WatchESPN)
The player to keep a very close eye on this Saturday is North Carolina redshirt junior Mitch Trubisky. The UNC quarterback is currently the top-ranked quarterback for the 2017 NFL Draft, per CBS Sports. He’s currently eighth-overall, and the Mentor, OH native has earned that with his play this season for the Tar Heels. He completed 71.2 percent of his passes for 2,378 yards with 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
In five of his past six games, Trubisky has thrown for no less than 299 yards in a game, with his season-high being 453 yards and five touchdowns against Pittsburgh. One fan base of the NFL, the Chicago Bears, should be really watching Trubisky, as Eddie Brown of the San Diego Union-Tribune has him going third overall to Chicago.
If you want your team to wait on drafting a running back on Day 3 of the draft, take note of UNC junior running back Elijah Hood, the 10th-overall running back in the draft rankings. The 6-0 Hood has 96 carries for 476 yards and five touchdowns. Last season against Georgia Tech, he rushed for 60 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns.
Georgia Tech has five players on the CBS Draft Rankings (none projected to be selected), but the player for all NFL fans to watch in this game is Trubisky.
Pittsburgh Panthers at Miami Hurricanes (12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network/Watch ESPN)
This game can bring back memories of the greats who have played for either Pittsburgh or Miami and had great success in the NFL. However, the teams this season aren’t battling for any national championships, but they still have players who can play on Sundays.
One of those players is second-round projection, Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya. A 6-4, 210-pound junior, Kaaya’s play this season hasn’t been what was expected, but being a pro style quarterback on a team with a questionable offensive line isn’t a good mix.
Kaaya’s stats don’t jump off the page with a 61.8-percent completion percentage. He’s thrown for 1,984 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. The quarterback for The U is the fifth-ranked quarterback for the 2017 draft class if he decides to forego his final season.
Pittsburgh brings outside linebacker Ejuan Price to the draft board as a fourth- to fifth-round projected pick entering Week 10 of the season. In two of his past three games, Price has five solo tackles in each game, those coming against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. He’s also had a sack in seven of eight games played, totaling nine sacks for the season.
This game isn’t much for the national rankings, but does have a top-five quarterback prospect and a outside linebacker who will have his name called at some point in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Missouri Tigers at South Carolina Gamecocks (4 p.m. ET, SEC Network)
NFL fans, watch for the fifth-ranked defensive end Charles Harris of Missouri in this mid-afternoon game on the SEC Network. Harris is a 6-3, 260-pound junior who has tallied 3.5 sacks in 2016, but three of those came in the same game against Georgia over a month ago.
Being Harris has a first-round grade, there are many NFL fans who know their teams could use some additional depth on their roster for next season. Last Saturday vs. Kentucky, Harris totaled seven tackles (four solo), a feat he also accomplished in the aforementioned game vs. Georgia.
Alec Lewis of the Kansas City Star wrote about how a scheme change with a new defensive line coach and defensive coordinator has affected the overall play of Harris after he played for Craig Kuligowski last season, a defensive line coach who has sent many players to the NFL.
“Kuligowski’s focus was for players to ‘get up the field.’ The new focus is on reading and reacting to plays with an added emphasis on gap integrity.”
South Carolina’s highest-rated player is senior defensive end Marquavius Lewis. Lewis (6-3, 270 pounds) has two games with five or more tackles with no sacks in 2016.
Syracuse Orange at Clemson Tigers (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN2)
This might not be a competitive game in close scoring, but both the Clemson Tigers and the Syracuse Orange have some players that need to be taken in consideration for NFL Draft prep.
Syracuse wideout Amba Etta-Tawo is a 6-1, 224-pound redshirt senior who is the 24th-ranked wide receiver in the CBS Sports Draft Rankings. This season, he has 66 receptions for 1,074 yards and seven touchdowns.
Etta-Tawo might not hear his name called until Day 3 of the draft, but there is still a lot of football to be played. Most likely, he’ll get a chance to play in the Senior Bowl at the conclusion of the college regular season.
Though there are many players for Clemson we could discuss, let’s stay on a wide receiver theme and talk about Mike Williams, a 6-3, 225-pound redshirt junior. The No. 2 ranked wide receiver, Williams has 46 receptions for 648 yards and four touchdowns.
On Friday, Nicholas Goss of NESN.com projected Williams to be a mid-first-round pick at No. 15-overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. If you want to get to know some players from Clemson who will be in the 2017 NFL Draft, then this should be a game to do so.
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