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Three games to watch on this college football Saturday

What games and prospects should you be watching?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning New York Giants fans, and welcome to College Football Saturday!

The SEC’s season starts this week, and considering the NFL talent that conference consistently brings to the field, we’ll obviously be watching them. This week has a solid slate of games featuring draft prospects who could help the Giants pretty immediately in 2021, so without further ado, lets get to it.

Ole Miss vs. (5) Florida

ESPN - Noon

Florida’s squad will be the one to watch today, particularly after Ole Miss starting center Eli Johnson opted out of the 2020 season following his father’s hospitalization with COVID-19.

Florida could have several players who rise in the draft rankings over the coming weeks, starting with quarterback Kyle Trask. There will always be NFL talent evaluators who fall in love with big quarterbacks, and Trask is sure to catch their eye at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds. He will likely be a project, however, as he never started a game (high school or college) until his red-shirt junior season in 2019. He obviously has a lot of learning and development to do, but if he is able to thrive this year, we could see his profile rise come draft season.

Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is already one of the top players at his position. He has a long frame (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) and he knows how to maximize his massive catch radius as a receiver. Pitts has played all over the Florida defensive front, and can be a matchup problem in the hands of a creative offensive coordinator. He also shows the willingness you like to see as a blocker, but needs to improve his technique as well as add some more power to his game.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants will likely be drawn to NT Tedarrell Slayton, who’s listed at an absolutely massive 6-foot-5, 360 pounds — but somehow manages to carry that weight well enough to not look quite that big. A pure power player, Slayton is primarily used as a two down defender who bullies interior linemen around on first and second down, but is taken off the field in passing situations.

While the Giants’ love of massive defensive tackles might draw them to Slayton, they should probably pay more attention to CB Marco Wilson and EDGE Jeremiah Moon. Wilson is a good-sized and quick corner who can play just about any role asked of him. He has experience in the slot as well as outside, in zone and (off) man coverage, and he has a knack for getting after the quarterback as a blitzer. That versatility could play well in Patrick Graham’s defense. Moon is another long, lanky defender, and he’s at his best rushing from a 2-point stance. Listed at 6-foot-6, 230 pounds, he doesn’t have the mass to consistently play the defensive end position, but he shows surprising power as a stand-up rusher. He is a high-motor player who can play in space as an off-ball linebacker as well as using his athleticism coming downhill as a pass rusher.

(15) Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia
ABC - 3:30 p.m.

We’ll start with West Virginia, because when you think of the Big 12 you don’t often think “defense” — unless of course you’re wondering if anybody is going to slow down the opposing offense.

With West Virginia we’re going to talk about Darius Stills and Dante Stills. The Stills brothers are undersized (6-foot-1, 280 pounds and 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, respectively) but athletic interior defensive linemen who can cause problems for opposing offenses. Darius is a very explosive interior rusher who never seems to slow down, while Dante shows surprising power for an undersized interior linemen. Both players are best fit in attacking one-gap defenses and could be very useful for a “multiple” defense which plays both 3 and 4-man fronts.

On the Oklahoma State side of things, we pretty much have to start with running back Chuba Hubbard. Hubbard is a natural runner with a great combination of vision, patience, and movement skills to pick out holes and maximize his blocking. He also has legitimate track speed, reportedly running a 4.3 second 40 yard dash and was once a hopeful for the Canadian (he was born and raised in Alberta before committing to Oklahoma State) Olympic track team. Hubbard is still developing in the passing game, with inconsistent hands and blocking, but if a coach bring those skills up to par, they could find themselves with a three-down weapon.

Oklahoma State also has a receiver worth knowing in Tylan Wallace. Wallace isn’t big at 6-foot, 185 pounds, but he’s a reliable receiver who runs good routes and boasts sticky hands with good hand-eye coordination. He’s also a very physical receiver at both the catch point and when he’s blocking. Wallace does come with injury concerns after tearing an ACL last year and sustaining a groin injury earlier this year.

Missouri vs. (2) Alabama

ESPN - 7 p.m.

Of course we have to talk about Alabama, but before they get to dominating the draft conversation I want to mention a couple Missouri players.

We’ll start with wide receiver Damon Hazelton. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds he is a long, big-bodied, big-play receiver who can create splash plays down the field as well as with the ball in his hands after the catch. Offensive coordinators are going to be intrigued by his size and big-play ability, but teams will want to know why he’s transferred twice (first from Ball State to Virginia Tech, then to Missouri as a graduate transfer).

Linebacker Nick Bolton doesn’t have the elite athleticism and range of some other linebackers in this draft class (namely Dylan Moses or Micah Parsons), but he is a very physical and high-energy defender who has the ability to contribute on all three downs. He has enough ability in coverage to stay with most running backs and tight ends in space, as well as being a threat as a blitzer. He is a bit undersized at 6-foot, 230 pounds, but Bolton is able to play through blockers in run defense and as a pass rusher.

Okay, now on to Alabama: Nick Saban’s has been one of the NFL’s most consistent football factories for years now. Between their recruiting and their coaching, draft boards are consistently littered with prospects from Alabama. I want to highlight a pair of prospects who should be of particular interest to the Giants, but as always, when the question is “which Alabama players should I be watching?”, the answer is “all of them”.

Giants’ fans will want to pay attention to linebacker Dylan Moses and CB Patrick Surtain II. Each is among the best at his position in the nation and would fill a glaring need in the Giants’ defense. Moses is a true “modern” linebacker at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds with three-dimensional athleticism. He is capable of coming downhill with authority while also having elite athleticism and true sideline-to-sideline range in space. Moses is an instinctive player — though he can still get caught overthinking misdirection — and a remarkably physical linebacker at the point of contact.

Surtain II has a prototypical build for a starting NFL cornerback at 6-foot-1, 203 pounds with a good blend of size and speed. He shows solid patience at the line of scrimmage with the feet and hips to stay with most receivers through their breaks and the speed to run with them down the field. Surtain II shows a nuanced understanding of field position and knows how to use the sideline as an extra defender. He is also a competitive, physical corner who is capable of disrupting at the point of attack.

Other Alabama players to watch

  • DeVonta Smith (WR)
  • Jaylen Waddle (WR)
  • Alex Leatherwood (OT)
  • Deonte Brown (G)
  • Landon Dickerson (OL)
  • Najee Harris (RB)
  • Christian Barmore (iDL)
  • Phidarian Mathis (iDL)
  • Josh Jobe (CB)