Five NFL Draft prospects to watch in Week 5’s Marquee Games

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Saturday’s are when boys grow up into real men, and we watch it on national television. College football is truly the most exciting time of every year, and I simply can’t get enough of it all. The NFL Draft is looming over the heads of these young players, so the pressure is on these young men to perform. Here are the three marquee games on Saturday that the majority of the nation will be tuning in to watch.

12PM ET FOX Texas Tech @ (6) Oklahoma 
3:30PM ET NBC (18) Virginia @ (10) Notre Dame
7:30PM ET ABC (5) Ohio State @ Nebraska

Here are the top five NFL Draft prospects to watch from that group of games.

5. CB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State

Jeffrey Okudah (one of the coolest names in college football) is coming on as a potential cover corner, mostly because of his size (6’1″ 200 lbs) and his athleticism. He caught his first career interception last week, a diving catch away from his receiver on a grossly overthrown pass.

Okudah has a lot to prove in terms of his coverage ability. While he shows the athleticism and the fluidity that we like to see as scouts, we want to see him ball out against top receivers in the country. Nebraska might not be that, but they are better than anyone he has matched up against yet this season, and have the best quarterback the Buckeyes have seen yet throwing to them (Adrian Martinez).

4. WR TJ Vasher, Texas Tech

I watched TJ Vasher a lot last season as a junior, fully expecting him to declare early and go pro last season. It proved to be a wise choice, as a loaded class of receivers devalued the position and Vasher would not have benefitted from it. He’s a big guy, 6’6″ 200 lbs, and saw his one-handed catch in the season opener last season against Ole Miss be nominated for an ESPY as the best play of the year.

Vasher has all of these intangibles that we like to see in young players. His catch radius is extraordinary, he creates separation with his size, and he has shown good athleticism thus far. However, we want to see Vasher consistently be the number one guy in Tech’s head coach Matt Well’s offense. Vasher can struggle with concentration, drops and sometimes flat out getting open. These are a few things we want  to see him improve on, and a big game against rival Oklahoma could be huge, especially with the look of an improved defense.

3. RB JK Dobbins, Ohio State

JK Dobbins entered the season with first round buzz, and lately he hasn’t been getting as much of it in the recent weeks. Dobbin’s numbers have been fine, he’s averaging over 100 yards per game and 7 yards per carry. I think that Dobbins might have been buried in the NFL Draft hype of Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, Clemson’s Travis Ettiene, and even Georgia’s D’Andre Swift.

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Dobbins has shown all of the tools that we like to see: outstanding field vision, creates space, breaks tackles, and has good burst. However, one thing he is struggling to show, that Taylor or Swift is not, is being a reliable receiving option out of the backfield. Dobbins also allowed the strip on Justin Fields last week that ended up being a safety for Miami (Ohio). He simply was not strong enough to hold off a blitzing linebacker in pass protection. A big game against Nebraska for Dobbins would put his draft stock back on the map, and get him competing with Ettiene, Swift and Taylor for the top running back spot.

2. LB Kenneth Murray, Oklahoma

Texas Tech head coach Matt Well’s said it himself: “Kenneth Murray is a Sunday player.” That’s because Murray plays with a motor, a passion and burning fire in his heart. His play style reminds you of traditional, downhill linebackers that dominated in the NFL for the past century, vicious tacklers that destroyed the ball carrier like a freight train.

Seriously. While Murray is a great leader, NFL Draft scouts are worried a little bit about his range, sometimes being too aggressive and pulling himself out of the play. Murray is also a little susceptible on outside run plays, either getting caught in traffic or not having the quickness to help close down the corner. Murray’s 22 tackle game against Army last season was simply because he was the guy stopping the inside run.

Murray needs to have a big day against Texas Tech and show he can be a legitimate linebacker prospect by being strong in pass coverage. We don’t have much tape that tells us he can pick a running back up over the middle of the field or cover a tight end. Texas Tech runs a serious pass attack, and have weapons, so it’ll be a great opportunity to see Murray play zone over the middle of the field.

1. CB Bryce Hall, Virginia

One of the top cover corners in the NFL Draft class, Bryce Hall could have been a first round pick last season. However, he returns to Virginia for his senior season, an absolute shutdown cornerback prospect. Hall last season intercepted 2 passes and defended a whopping 21 throws, while collecting 63 tackles and 2 sacks. He’s efficient in run defense and is probably the best overall cornerback entering the NFL Draft.

Hall, along with the rest of the Virginia defense, will have their hands full with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish squad. With Chase Claypool on one side and Chris Finke on the other, we will get to see how well Hall is handling bigger, physical targets. I fully expect him to play very well, but if he shuts down Claypool, his draft stock will rise tremendously.

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