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2021 NFL Draft Watch: Week 7 College Football Games to View

So far this season, the SEC has delivered at least one upset per week, and last Saturday it was Texas A&M’s turn to shock Florida. The Kyles – Trask and Pitts – did their thing for the Gators and NFL Draft stocks, but a lackluster performance by cornerback Marco Wilson led to Aggie’s wideout Caleb Chapman racking up 151 yards and two touchdowns.

As for the other NFL Draft prospects on display this weekend, Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne showed why they are two of the top players at their positions, while D’Eriq King and Brevin Jordan struggled to get much going against Clemson’s defense.

Florida State-Notre Dame was a snooze fest while Marvin Wilson continues to be asleep at the wheel. Wilson is struggling to live up to expectations this season with only one sack and one tackle for loss so far, both of which came against Jacksonville State.

Shifting our attention to this weekend, the slate of games does not look great on paper with only one top 25 matchup, but it is a big one in Georgia at Alabama. Just about every NFL general manager and scout will be tuning into that contest, and it is certainly a must-watch for any NFL Draft fan.

While waiting for the Dogs and the Tide to kickoff, there are a couple of games you are not going to want to miss, including one “under the radar” AAC matchup.

 

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#3 Georgia at #2 Alabama

When talking about the Georgia-Auburn game a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned you cannot ask for much more than that matchup. This week’s Georgia-Alabama game is for all of you NFL Draft fans and greedy people out there.

Patrolling the perimeter for the Bulldogs is cornerback Eric Stokes. At 6’1”, Stokes has the ideal length for the position to go along with a high football IQ and impressive press coverage skills. He does tend to get caught flat-footed in coverage and can improve as a run defender, which he will need to sure up to improve on his draft status as an early Day 2 pick.

At linebacker, Monty Rice currently projects as a late third- to early fourth-round pick due to his good overall athleticism and lateral agility. However, he lacks NFL-level size and has shaky instincts against the run. Rice’s ability to read and react will certainly be tested on Saturday against Alabama’s powerful rushing attack.

Offensively, Georgia has an impressive guard in Ben Cleveland. The senior has a thick build which helps him be a mauler in the run game and to drop the anchor against bull rushers in pass protection. Cleveland will likely be a fourth- or fifth-rounder but has the potential to sneak into the back end of the third round if he can start playing with better knee bend and pad level.

Squaring off against Cleveland will be Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore. As a pass rusher, Barmore has a high motor and a plethora of moves he can win with, but he struggles to hold up against double teams against the run. If he can put it all together, Barmore should have no problem going in the first round and potentially slide into the top 15.

Najee Harris could have been one of the top running backs in last year’s class, but he opted to return to school for his senior season. As a punishing runner who can also make an impact in the passing game, Harris has just about everything NFL teams are looking for in a back.

He does tend to miss obvious cutback lanes, but he’ll still likely be one of the first running backs off the board in April as a Day Two pick. 

 

UCF vs Memphis

Admittedly, there’s probably a Power Five contest that features more draft prospects, but I figured this is a good week to mix it up and give you a Group of Five matchup to keep an eye on.

UCF has helped put the American Athletic Conference on the map over the last few years and they have a few guys who will be playing on Sundays, including safety Richie Grant. The redshirt senior will likely be a free safety or nickel at the next level due to his impressive athletic ability and range.

He does tend to make mental errors and is an inconsistent tackler, which will probably push him out of the first round discussion and into the late-second or early-third round.

Parker Boudreaux, the Knights’ guard, has the ideal mobility and aggressiveness to be an effective puller in a gap-heavy scheme in the NFL. However, he has issues with his punch timing in pass protection, compromising his leverage against better defensive tackles. The Notre Dame transfer currently projects as a mid-to-late Day 3 pick.

Shifting to the outside of Central Florida’s offense, wide receiver Marlon Williams is another late-round pick who is looking to make a name for himself. Williams excels in contested catch situations and has the physicality and toughness to get extra yards after the catch. However, he struggles to create separation on his own, and that is what holds back his draft stock.

Tasked with shutting down Williams will be Memphis corner T.J. Carter. As a potential late-second to early-third round pick, Carter is one of the best prospects from the Group of Five conferences. He has the man coverage skills to be left on an island and still be a shutdown corner, but he does tend to use his hands down the field too much and draw flags.

In recent years Memphis has become the AAC’s version of Running Back U with Darrell Henderson, Tony Pollard, and Antonio Gibson all making their way to the NFL. Kenneth Gainwell will add to that list after this season, as he is an elusive back with some good vision and position versatility.

In the NFL Draft, Gainwell should go in the third round but that can change if he can add some size and power to his game.

On the outside of the Tigers offense is Damonte Coxie, who projects as a Day 3 pick. Coxie is a physical wideout who has a wide catch radius and good body control to make catches along the sideline. His limited route tree is what is hindering his draft stock but the athletic traits are there to help overcome that if he can put it all together.

 

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Louisville at Notre Dame (4)

This game may not jump off the page as a “must watch,” but Louisville’s athleticism versus Notre Dame’s brute strength makes for an interesting battle of who is going to give in first.

Speaking of Louisville’s athleticism, wide receiver Tutu Atwell might be as athletic as they come. Atwell is an absolute burner in the slot who has the mental processing to recognize and attack the voided areas against zone coverage. He does have a tendency to rely on his speed too much to create separation and at 5’9” and 165 pounds, he’ll never be much of a contested-catch guy.

Regardless, Atwell’s speed is something that NFL teams will drool over, giving him a chance to sneak into the end of the first-round or early second.

Often lining up next to Atwell is Dez Fitzpatrick, a third- or fourth-round prospect. Fitzpatrick is a savvy route runner who can manipulate defensive backs with head/shoulder fakes and double moves. He does struggle to make sharp cuts, limiting his route tree, and he does not attack the ball in the air which leads to some struggles on 50/50 balls.

Javian Hawkins is another speed demon for Louisville who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. As a 5’9” and 196 pounds running back, he does leave something to be desired in the power department, however. Hawkins will likely be an early Day 3 pick come April.

One of the people tasked with slowing down Hawkins this weekend will be Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. With high-end speed, coverage ability, and blitz acumen, Owusu-Koramoah has the tools to become the ideal coverage linebacker at the next level.

At 216 pounds, he’ll need to add some size and strength to become a better run defender, but with how important coverage linebackers have become in the NFL, he still projects as a late first- to early second-rounder.

Staying within the Fighting Irish’s front seven, edge defender Daelin Hayes is another name to keep an eye on. Hayes’ strength at the point of attack allows him to be an effective run defender and power rusher, but he has average athleticism and lacks a pass rush plan to be a blue-chip prospect. He will likely fall anywhere between the fifth- and seventh-rounds in the NFL Draft.

Notre Dame offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg made headlines last week by playing with one eye swollen shut like a prizefighter. That story perfectly personifies his playing style as Eichenberg is an absolute mauler as a run blocker who has a powerful punch in pass protection.

If he can shore up his hand placement as a pass blocker, he’ll improve his current late Day 2 to early Day 3 draft projection.