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2021 NFL Draft Watch Week 6

2021 NFL Draft Watch: Week 6 College Football Games to View

While the marquee game of the night (and NFL Draft showcase) in Auburn at Georgia did not quite live up to the hype, there was still plenty of excitement in the college football world last week. In what was an “under-the-radar” matchup, UCF suffered a rare home loss to Tulsa. This year was likely the Knights’ best chance at earning a playoff berth, but this misstep will probably take that off the table for them.

Oklahoma was upset for the second week in a row, dropping them out of the top 25 for the first time since 2016. Meanwhile, Texas succumbed to TCU for the second year in a row, which sets up for an interesting Red River Showdown this Saturday.

Surprisingly, the battle for the Golden Hat missed the cut for this week’s top three matchups, as the ACC should dominate the weekend.

Miami versus Clemson features two top 10 teams and will be the site for College GameDay this week, while traditional powers Florida State and Notre Dame will also have a primetime TV slot. Between those four schools, you could probably fill out a full roster of current and former All-Pros, so we should see some future NFL superstars this weekend in the games below.

 

#7 Miami at #1 Clemson

Miami has been a frequent flyer in this NFL Draft column so far this season and they have answered the bell each time. This begs the question – is ‘The U’ back? A win against the number one team in the country would certainly suggest they are.

A big reason for Miami’s success is the play of quarterback, D’Eriq King. The Houston transfer has always been a dynamic athlete who can make plays with his feet, but he has improved as a passer in 2020, completing 66.7 percent of his passes for 733 yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Tight end and potential first-round pick Brevin Jordan has been one of the biggest benefactors of King’s improved play, catching 15 passes for 212 yards and three touchdowns this season. For comparison, Jordan had 35 catches, 495 yards, and two scores in nine games last year.

Defensively, the Hurricanes have run-stuffing linebacker Zach McCloud manning the middle of its defense. McCloud is a physical downhill run defender who is a sure tackler, but he needs to improve athletically to become more effective in coverage and to increase his current NFL Draft Day 3 draft projection.

Clemson has become a farm system for the NFL over the last few years and 2020 is no different. Trevor Lawrence is a household name and is widely considered a virtual lock to be the first overall pick in late April. There really is not much he can’t do but this Saturday will be his biggest test of the season yet.

Next to Lawrence in the Tigers backfield is running back Travis Etienne, who is also one of, if not the top prospect at his position. Etienne is a dynamic back who is a threat to score every time he touches the ball with his vision, speed, and elusiveness. He has the talent to be a first-round pick, but the diminishing value of the position as a whole might push Etienne into the second round.

Clemson has been known for its stout defensive line in recent years and defensive tackle Nyles Pinckney looks to continue that tradition. Pinckney is best when playing a three-technique and is a good run defender due to his impressive hand usage and block-shedding. However, he needs to improve as a pass rusher to climb out of the sixth- to seventh-round draft projection he is currently slated for.

 

Florida State at #5 Notre Dame

When people think of the blue bloods of college football, Florida State and Notre Dame are two programs that come to mind. Both schools have impressive lists of NFL alumni and those lists should grow after this season.

The majority of Florida State’s prospects are on the defensive side of the ball, headlined by defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. At 6’5” and 305 pounds, the big man certainly has the ideal size and strength to be an effective interior pass rusher in the NFL, but he needs to play with a better base and pad level to hold his ground against double teams at the next level.

Wilson has the potential to be a top-five or top-10 pick in the NFL Draft.

Staying along the defensive line, another Seminole to keep an eye on is Joshua Kaindoh. The edge defender has elite size at 6’7” and 265 pounds, but a lack of athleticism and bend currently puts him at a sixth-round to priority free agent projection.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, Notre Dame has a handful of NFL Draft prospects along its offensive line. This should make for several fun matchups to watch against FSU.

At tackle, the Fighting Irish have Liam Eichenberg who projects as a third- or fourth-rounder. Eichenberg would be best in a gap run blocking scheme at the next level but has the versatility and experience to be effective in a zone-heavy scheme as well. In pass protection, he’s solid at securing the edge but needs to work on his punch timing and placement to hold up as a blind-side protector.

Sliding inside, Aaron Banks is an impressive guard who thrives as a pass blocker, which should make for an interesting battle between him and Wilson. Banks does struggle to get movement in the running game due to some technical flaws and that is currently impacting his draft status, as he is slated to be an early Day 3 pick.

As a redshirt sophomore who is currently projected to be a Day 3 NFL Draft prospect, Jarrett Patterson could return to school at the end of the season, but an impressive performance against a very good Florida State defensive line could change all of that. The center has a strong anchor in pass protection and can get movement in one-on-one blocking situations as a run blocker.

Patterson needs to improve his mobility and second-level blocking to be able to fit into a zone-heavy offense in the NFL, but he has plenty of time to improve in that realm.

 

#4 Florida at #21 Texas A&M

Florida has steamrolled its first two SEC opponents – Ole Miss and South Carolina – but they face their first real test of the season in Texas A&M.

A big reason for the Gators’ success is the play of quarterback Kyle Trask, who has completed 71.8 percent of his passes for 684 yards and 10 touchdowns in just two games this year. The redshirt senior is great at manipulating defenders with his eyes, but it took him four years to win the starting job, which could make NFL GMs hesitant to spend a top pick on him.

However, if Trask can continue to play at a high level this season, he’ll be a lock to go in the first round.

Of course, no quarterback can put up those types of numbers without at least one go-to target, and that is exactly what tight end Kyle Pitts is. With six receiving touchdowns on the year, Pitts is currently tied for the most in the country. He is definitely more of a receiving threat than a blocker, but the Gator will likely be the first tight end off the board during the NFL Draft.

Defensively, Florida cornerback Marco Wilson is someone to keep an eye on. His instincts and athletic ability are good enough to make him a mid-third to fourth-round prospect, but he struggles to cover underneath routes and isn’t much of a factor against the run. With that, he is best suited for a team that runs a lot of man and/or deep zone coverage at the next level.

Texas A&M wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon opted out of the season, so unfortunately we will not get to watch a one-on-one battle between him and Wilson. The Aggies do have some intriguing defensive prospects.

Edge defender Michael Clemons projects as a late Day 3 pick who has the ideal NFL size at 6’5” and 270 pounds. His pass-rush skills – or lack thereof – are what is currently holding him back, but Clemons does have the athleticism to suggest there is some room for growth there. Patience is a must for whichever team drafts him.

At 6’4”, Texas A&M cornerback Myles Jones has rare size for the position and has the ball skills to go along with it. Unfortunately, his height comes back to bite him when covering smaller, shiftier wide receivers as he lacks the quick-twitch change of direction skills to stay in-phase against those types of players.

Jones is a project who will likely be selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft or become a priority free agent, but an NFL defensive coordinator could easily fall in love with his size and take a flier on him.