While most NFL fans are focused on their teams success and watching the games on Sundays, college football is alive and well, and NFL teams have their scouting departments in full swing preparing for the NFL Draft. Thursday and Friday night this week have 5 games, all being nationally televised, that NFL scouts will undoubtedly be watching. Here is the slate of games going down Thursday and Friday night:
9/26 8PM ET Navy @ Memphis (ESPN)
9/27 7PM ET Duke @ Virginia Tech (ESPN)
9/27 8PM ET (12) Penn State @ Maryland (FS1)
9/27 8PM ET San Jose State @ Air Force (CBSSN)
9/27 10:30PM ET Arizona State @ (15) California (ESPN)
Most of these match-ups are very good. Here are the top 5 (6) NFL Draft prospects to watch in the pre-Saturday slate of college football games:
5. S Reggie Floyd, Virginia Tech
Reggie Floyd is the lone senior starter on this defense, as crazy as that is to see. He’s the leader of the Hokies, one of their best tacklers and smartest defenders. Floyd registered 88 tackles last season, 9.5 for loss. He’s effective in most aspects of the game, and is built more like a linebacker (6’0″ 222 lbs).
Going against Duke will be a challenge, as Duke head coach David Cutcliffe always has some wrinkle that he introduces to his offense. Floyd will be challenged on the back end, and will need to stay disciplined and in his lane to show that he is an elite level safety.
4. RB Eno Benjamin, Arizona State Vs LB Evan Weaver, California
Eno Benjamin entered the 2019 season with a whole lot of hype. Standing at 5’10” and 201 lbs, Benjamin has good size and great speed. His ability to step on the gas pedal and accelerate is among the best in the country. Too add to that, he has the toughness to break through tackles. Last season, he ran for 1642 yards and 16 scores, and was valuable as a receiver out of the backfield – logging 35 catches and another 2 scores.
Benjamin has struggled to get it going this season, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry through the first four games. The Sun Devils run offense was suppose to be much improved with the addition of true freshman quarterback Jaylen Daniels, the #2 DUAL quarterback coming out of high school. That hasn’t been the case so far, as defenses have been able to key in on the Arizona State run/pass option offense.
Evan Weaver is an absolute stud, the heart and soul of the undefeated Cal defense. He led the Golden Bears last season with 159 tackles, and he’s on pace to hit that number again. Weaver has 62 tackles so far this season, and has been everywhere on the field. The thing to watch in this game is how Benjamin runs against this hot Cal defense, a unit that has upset both Ole Miss and Washington so far this season.
3. RB Anthony McFarland, Maryland
Anthony McFarland has looked every part of an NFL Draft prospect. He has incredible big play potential, very rarely being held in check for the entirety of a game. He’s already got six touchdowns this season through three games, coming off of a bye week and a tough loss to Temple the week before.
Maryland struggled tremendously against the Penn State defense last season, rushing for just 74 yards and averaging 2.1 yards per carry. McFarland himself ran for just 12 yards in that game, and I am certain he is looking for revenge. We want to see that explosiveness in McFarland that has made him an intriguing prospect, as well as being able to grind out the tough yards.
2. WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
Back over to Arizona State. Brandon Aiyuk has come on as a potential prospect in the past few weeks, one that Jim Nagy and staff are watching closely for the Senior Bowl. Aiyuk has become the go to target for true freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels, a physical receiver with good speed. So far, Aiyuk is averaging 19.3 yards per catch and has 2 scores this season.
With the Cal defense playing so well, Aiyuk is going to have to be there for Daniels in this game. He can continue to answer questions to scouts about his ability to separate, as well as his hands and catch radius. It’s a very good opportunity for Aiyuk to come out and ball out.
1. EDGE Bryce Huff, Memphis
A pre-season 1st team AAC defensive lineman, Huff comes off of a very productive season where he collected 9.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. So far this season, he has really only seen substantial time in the opening game of the season (against Ole Miss) and collected a sack and 2 TFL.
Good Lord. Watch out for Bryce Huff this season. pic.twitter.com/RSt6Dalers
— Jefferson Steelflex: Fanboy of the Year (@PJGreenTV) June 2, 2019
Huff won’t be seeing a lot of sacks against Navy simply because the team runs the triple option offense. That being said, Huff has a chance to show he’s a very disciplined run defender, and collect more tackles for loss to show he’s an impact on the field. Coming off of a bye week, it’s going to be good to see Memphis compete.