Happy Saturday Big Blue View, and welcome to the first weekend of college football!
Okay, this isn’t technically the first weekend of college football, this is the first week for the major programs and the top prospects for the 2019 NFL Draft. It isn’t too early to start thinking, and talking, about the 2019 draft, but it is too early to start speculating about the New York Giants team needs come draft night in late April.
So, let’s just sit down and enjoy a strong slate of games for opening weekend.
Oregon State at Ohio State (No. 5)
ABC - Noon
Ohio State remains stacked with NFL talent, partiularly on the defensive side of the ball. The Buckeyes will be lead by edge rusher Nick Bosa, who could be in the conversation to be the first pick of the 2019 draft, and should definitely be off the board by the fifth pick. Also, Dre’Mont Jones looks to be a potential first round defensive tackle, while Kendall Sheffield will look to be the fourth Ohio State cornerback to be selected in the first round in four straight years.
On the offensive side of the ball, keep an eye on right tackle Isaiah Prince. He wasn’t able to take the left tackle job following the departure of Jamarco Jones, but the big tackle has been a starter at right tackle for the previous two seasons and has the kind of mentality that coaches love. H-Back Parris Campbell is the offensive Swiss Arm Knife for Ohio State, and with great speed in the open field, he can make plays happen as a runner and a receiver.
Washington (6) at Auburn (9)
ABC, 3:30 p.m.
You don’t have to change the channel to see what is, on paper at least, the best and most talent-packed game of the weekend.
Washington is loaded with future NFL players on both sides of the ball, but the Giants will likely be paying attention to offensive tackle Trey Adams. Adams went down last season to a torn ACL, but is back as the Husky’s starting left tackle. Listed at 6-foot-8, 330 pounds, Adams is big and powerful, with rare athleticism for his size. Had he not been injured and decided to declare for the 2018 draft, he could have been one of the first offensive linemen selected. His health will be worth watching, but Adams will likely be on the Giants’ radar this season.
Also on the Washington offense is running back Myles Gaskin. The Giants are set at running back, but Gaskin is just plain fun to watch. He brings a combines power, agility, speed, and vision, and is one of the best players not getting enough press right now.
On the defensive side of the ball, keep an eye on safety Taylor Rapp. He’s an instinctive player and the Giants might be unsettled at safety behind Landon Collins.
On the Auburn side of the ball, teams will be paying keen attention to quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who is on the watch list to be the top quarterback prospect in the 2019 draft. He isn’t polished in the pro game, but he has the athleticism and arm strength to get scouts excited.
Defensive tackle Derrick Brown is the kind of defensive tackle the Giants love. At 6-5, 320 pounds, he can stuff the run as well as create havoc behind the line of scrimmage.
Michigan (14) at Notre Dame (12)
NBC, 7:30 p.m.
Another matchup that could be loaded with NFL talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Headlining the game is Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary, who could be a top-10 pick in the 2019 draft if he continues to improve and lives up to his potential. A big defensive end at 6-5, 287 pounds, has the size to play inside or as a 5-technique on a 3-man front, but also boasts the fluidity to play base end in a 4-3 front.
On the Notre Dame side of things is linebacker Te’Von Coney. Coney started the 2017 season as a back-up, but the athletic linebacker still racked up 116 tackles. He could give the Giants the speed, athleticism, and instincts they need at the second level to finish off their front seven.
Louisville at (1) Alabama (1)
ABC, 8 p.m.
While Louisville isn’t ranked, this should be a fun game (that Alabama is heavily favored to win).
Unsurprisingly, ‘Bama is once again stacked with NFL talent at every level on both sides of the ball. Giants fans will want to play closest attention to Jonah Williams, Alabama’s left tackle. There are some who think he might be destined to play guard at the NFL level, but he is a powerful blocker who will catch coaches’ eyes. Behind Harris will be RB Damien Harris. Harris is a quick and powerful runner who will likely be the engine that keeps the offense churning.
On the defensive side of the ball, Raekwan Davis is a big, long, 6-7 defensive end who could find himself going in the top half of the first round. His frame will likely appeal to 3-4 teams, though the Giants’ depth along the defensive line might allow their eyes to wander.
Miami (8) at LSU (25)
ABC, 8 p.m. (Monday, 9/3)
Sitting here, writing this, I don’t know whether this will be the best game of opening weekend, but I think it might be the most fun. Monday night’s game will see the fast-playing, turnover-chain wearing Miami Hurricanes against the LSU Tigers and the most aptly-named player in college football, cornerback Greedy Williams.
Williams is a long corner at 6-1, with great recognition and ball skills, notching 6 interceptions as a red shirt freshman. LSU also features linebacker Devin White, who combines fluid movement skills with good strength and power in a 240-pound frame.
College football is just better when the Hurricanes are good, and they’re good again. Wide receiver Ahmmon Richards is a long receiver who uses his long strides to absolutely gobble up yardage in the open field. Before going down with an injury in 2017, Richards was averageing 18.3 yards per catch on 24 catches (19.1 per catch on 49 catches as a freshman). There are some who think he could be a number one receiver at the next level, but even if he isn’t, he certainly has the potential to be a scary deep threat.
Behind Richards is running back Travis Homer, who has the potential to grow into one of the most exciting running backs in the nation. Running much bigger than his listed 5-11, 195-pound frame would suggest, Richards is a tough, one-cut runner who also has the twitchy athleticism to break off chunk yardage at any time. With some more growth in the mental part of the game, he could be an early draft pick.
On the defensive side is Joe Jackson, a powerful edge rusher who uses active, heavy hands to get into the backfield and make problems for the offense. He has had 10.5 tackles for a loss in each of the last two seasons, as well as 7.5 and 6.5 sacks (respectively).
And unsurprisingly, Miami has a pair of defensive backs worth paying attention to. At corner is Michael Jackson, who is a stoutly built 6-1, 200-pound corner with a good ability to read and react. While Jackson can play in press coverage, but might be better in a Cover 3 zone scheme, such as is run by the Seattle Seahawks.
At safety is Jaquan Johnson. Johnson was a highly productive safety from the Hurricanes, racking up 96 tackles, three for a loss, one sack, three forced fumbles, four passes defensed, and four interceptions. As his stats suggest, Johnson was equally at home at free safety and at strong safety, a trait which could intrigue James Bettcher, who values that kind of versatility in his defenders.