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2024 NFL Draft watch: Players (and games) to watch for the Giants in Week 7

Who should you be watching this Saturday?

NCAA Football: Oregon at Stanford Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, New York Giants fans!

Happy Saturday and welcome to Week 7 of the 2023 college football season.

We have a strong slate of games this week with multiple match-ups between ranked teams. In particular, the game between Oregon and Washington presents a great opportunity to see two west coast teams without having to stay up.

The Giants hold the sixth overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, at least as it stands now. There’s plenty of football yet to be played, but for now we can turn our attention to some of the players expected to go highly in the upcoming draft.

So let’s take a look at some of the more interesting prospects and matchups on the field today.

Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Alabama (11) vs. Arkansas, ESPN, noon

We’ve already focused on one Alabama defender this year in CB Kool-Aid McKinstry, but now I want to move to the front seven and look at edge defender Dallas Turner, who’s inherited the role played by Will Anderson in previous years. Turner is a long, lean edge defender who’s listed at 6-foot-4, 242 pounds, and has enough athleticism to win with speed or play in space, as well as the strength to bully offensive linemen when playing with leverage.

Arkansas has been beat up and hasn’t taken the expected step this year, so Turner should put on a show this game. I’ll also have an eye on Arkansas QB KJ Jefferson. I nicknamed Jefferson “truckstick” while scouting former Arkansas center Ricky Stromberg last year. Jefferson might not be among the best quarterbacks in the upcoming draft class, but he was a ton of fun to watch last year and earned the nickname for a propensity to make like a young Brandon Jacobs at least once a game.

Bo Nix (QB, Oregon), Michael Penix Jr (QB, Washington)

Washington (7) vs. Oregon (8), ABC, 3:30 p.m.

An early matchup between two highly ranked opponents, this should be the best game of the day. And, as you can tell from the rankings, these are two talented teams.

But I’m concentrating on the quarterbacks in this game for a couple reasons. The first is that it’s a good way to get a sense of the offenses as a whole. But also, this week’s SB Nation Reacts question asked whether the Giants should consider drafting a quarterback in the first two rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft.

As it so happens, Nix and Penix have been two of the best quarterbacks in college football this year. And a 3:30 game featuring both is a great opportunity for those of us on the east coast to get a look at two players we don’t often get to see.

Nix (6-foot-2, 217 pounds) started his career as a highly sought-after recruit for Auburn. While he flashed impressive arm talent and athleticism for the Tigers, he never really developed for Auburn. That lead him to transfer to Oregon prior to the 2022 season, and he blossomed in Eugene. Nix still has a strong arm and great athleticism to improvise or gash defenses as a runner, but his decision making, accuracy, and consistency have improved by leaps and bounds over the last two years.

Penix lacks Nix’s arm strength and athleticism, largely thanks to season-ending injuries in 2018 (ACL), 2019 (shoulder), 2020 (ACL), and 2021 (shoulder). However, he makes up for it with processing speed, decision making, an efficient throwing motion, and accuracy. Washington has some very good offensive players, and Penix does a great job of putting them in position to make plays. Injuries are a big concern for Penix, and his medical report will be crucial to his draft stock. But on the flip side, the success of players like Brock Purdy and Tua Tagovailoa could have some NFL evaluators weighing Penix’s intangible traits heavily.

Leonard Taylor III (iDL, Miami), Kamren Kinchens (S, Miami)

North Carolina (12) vs. Miami (25), ABC, 7:30 p.m.

UNC quarterback Drake Maye will be the star and main focus of this game. We’ll talk about him eventually, but not right now. Instead, I want to talk about one of the guys who’s going to try to put Maye on his butt.

I can’t put my finger on it, but there’s just something about a defender with rare athleticism, plays with violence, hunts quarterbacks, wears number 56, and has the last name “Taylor” that just draws the eye of a Giants fan.

Seriously though, Miami’s Taylor is a stout defensive tackle with great lower body strength, a very quick first step, and violent hands. Those traits have made him a disruptive force on the defensive interior and an absolute headache for offensive linemen. He has the strength to be stout at the point of attack, but it’s his ability to penetrate and rush the passer that could get his name called in the first round of April’s draft.

And while I’m here, we might as well look at the back end of The U’s defense as well.

Safety Kamren Kinchens is generally considered the top safety prospect in the country right now. He lacks the size we’ve seen many safety prospects tout in recent years, but he’s an explosive athlete with great instincts and ball skills. He has a reputation as a ballhawk is backed up in the box score, with six interceptions a year ago and another one so far this year despite teams trying to avoid him when they can.

Kinchens is a compact safety at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, but he has a willingness to be violent at the catch point and lay hits coming downhill.

Xavier McKinney has had a tumultuous time under Wink Martindale and could depart via free agency. The Giants could do much, much worse than Kinchens to replace McKinney.