Happy Saturday, everyone!
And welcome to week five of the college football season. There are games that look promising scheduled throughout the day but here are three that I’d like to highlight as both a fan of the NFL Draft and as a fan of football in general.
Its inescapable at this point that, from a New York Giants perspective, there are certain positions (ie: offensive line) that we need to keep in mind if we’re watching college games with an eye toward the draft.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
Tennessee vs. Georgia
CBS - 3:30 p.m.
The Giants might still be looking for a true “starting” running back come the 2018 draft. Paul Perkins has yet to live up to the lofty expectations he garnered at the end of the 2016 season, Shane Vereen is nearing the end of his contract, Orleans Darkwa still seems to struggle to stay healthy, and we have yet to see what rookie Wayne Gallman can do on the field.
Enter Georgia running back Nick Chubb. Chubb took over for Todd Gurley as a sophomore in 2015, and promptly suffered a potentially devastating knee injury. Now, almost two years after the injury, he is finally returning to form — a powerful, explosive runner with vision, speed, and more agility than you’d expect from a 5’10,” 220 pound running back. At his best, Chubb can find and hit holes and his powerful lower body (he squatted 600 pounds over the summer) makes hims an absolute load to tackle.
The Giants reportedly liked Samaje Perine and Corey Clement leading up to last year’s draft. Chubb’s obvious injury history leaves puts a bright red flag on his draft stock, but he will likely be drafted sometime in the first three rounds. If the Giants are willing and able to spend a high pick on a running back, a player like Chubb could give them the bellcow power back they have lacked.
And while he isn’t yet draft eligible, keep an eye on Tennessee running back John Kelly. the freshman has come from (as far as those outside the organization and fan base are concerned) nowhere to lead the SEC in rushing. He will be a player to keep an eye on.
Auburn vs. Mississippi State
ESPN - 6 p.m.
The Giants have likely picked their quarterback for the future (at least for now) in Davis Webb, but it always pays to keep an eye on signal callers. Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald is being overlooked at large, but is semi-quietly building himself some buzz as a player to watch as the season (and, if the red-shirt junior declares) rolls on.
We’ve talked about his left tackle, Martinas Rankins, before. He is a stout bruiser of a left tackle, but I think he would be a good candidate to move inside to guard at the next level. He might not have the athleticism to hang on the edges in the NFL, but his feet are more than good enough to play inside, and he appears to have a good mentality for the interior.
We’ve also talked about Auburn left tackle Braden Smith before. Smith is getting buzz as a potential first rounder, but there are some who wonder about his athleticism, and he might be another great candidate to transition inside, a la Justin Pugh or Zach Martin. Smith plays with terrific technique and an understanding of angles, has the frame to add weight at 6’5,” 305, and displays “freakish” strength in the weight room.
Alabama vs. Ole Miss
ESPN - 9 p.m.
For those of you with the Pac 12 Network, you might want to tune in to the game between Oregon State and Washington (8 p.m.). Washington has accumulated a wealth of NFL prospects, and offensive tackle Trey Adams is generating some buzz as a potential first rounder and competition for Texas’ Conner Williams at the top of the OT rankings.
For the rest of us, this is a game to watch in this time slot. Alabama is, once again, loaded with future NFL players. It can be tough for individuals to stand out on a team as talented as Alabama’s, so perhaps the best the best way to scout them is to watch, enjoy, and see who leaps off the screen.
That being said, I would like to highlight a pair of guards in this game.
On the Ole Miss side, we have junior guard Javon Patterson. Patterson has decent size at 6’3,” 315, plays with solid technique and a definite nasty streak. He will have his work cut out for him this game, but a good showing against a line featuring DT Da’Ron Payne and DE De’Shawne Hand will give his stock a definite boost.
On the others sideline, Alabama left guard Ross Pierschbacher earned SEC Player Of The Week honors this past week. At 6’4,” 310, he is athletically built and well coached. He didn’t allow pressure to the quarterback last week and helped his team run for 496 yards against Vanderbilt. The red-shirt junior is technically sound with room to add mass, and his game should translate at the next level. Battles between he and defensive tackle Breeland Speaks should be fun to watch.
It should also be noted that the Giants have a credentialed scout in attendance.