Week 6 of the college football season is upon us, and that brings some change to the weekly NFL Draft watch notes. Instead of just rambling on aimlessly, the watch notes will be more streamlined going forward. Like the change? Hate it? Say so in the comments.
Want to know where the players mentioned are ranked? Cross check with our newly released rankings:
The game of the week, strictly in regard to the NFL Draft, is Washington at Stanford. Look for a preview of that game from Matthew Fairburn.
Maryland at Florida State, noon (ET), ESPN
Top prospect to watch: Christian Jones, OLB, Florida State - Thus far, Florida State outside linebacker Christian Jones isn't quite living up to his lofty preseason status. Jones was suspended for a game and just hasn't made much of an impact. Here's Bud Elliott of Tomahawk Nation summarizing Jones pretty well:
Christian Jones is maybe the most disappointing player on the defense. He seems to loaf, doesn't diagnose well, and sometimes takes on blocks without a lot of intensity.
That's no good. Jones has the physical skills to succeed. Whether or not he mentally wants to hasn't been shown this year. Telvin Smith, Jones' compatriot at linebacker, has looked considerably better this season. Through four games, Smith has 27 tackles, a sack and an interception.
Keep an eye on: James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State - The junior running back with size and power is only third on the Seminoles in rushing. The expectation, at least here, was that Wilder would have a breakout season. But he has just 30 carries for 174 yards. He's stuck behind Devonta Freeman and Karlos Williams, which makes you consider which is the best pro prospect.
More to watch - Deon Long is slowly emerging as an NFL talent at wide receiver for Maryland. The junior college transfer gets overshadowed by star sophomore Stefon Diggs. Maryland linebacker Marcus Whitfield has 5.5 sacks this season and is fourth in the nation in sacks per game. Florida State left tackle Cameron Erving is off to a rocky start to the season. Lamarcus Joyner has performed well transitioning to cornerback. The Seminoles also feature defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, center Bryan Stork and guard Tre Jackson.
Georgia at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m., CBS
Top prospect to watch: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee - Richardson isn't another Eric Fisher or Luke Joeckel. He's more like Cordy Glenn of the Buffalo Bills. Richardson's best asset is his pure power. He has the strength to push any defensive linemen around and enough foot speed to stay outside. Consistency in his technique has been an issue for Richardson.
Keep an eye on: Arthur Lynch, TE, Georgia - Lynch doesn't get the headlines that the top tight end prospects receive. But he's a good all-around tight end teams will covet on their depth chart. He runs solid routes, can catch and is a decent blocker. Tennessee's A.J. Johnson will have his hands full covering Lynch over the middle. Johnson plays the run well, but he doesn't have the lateral movement skills to keep up on routes.
More to watch: Tennessee right tackle Ja'Wuan James has a lot of experience on the outside and the size to line up at guard. He could be a solid depth piece picked in the mid-rounds of the draft. Next to him, guard Zach Fulton will likely get picked as well. Georgia lost a lot of pieces on defense in the offseason, but players are starting to emerge. Namely, linebacker Amarlo Herrera has shown good tackling ability and quickness. Fellow junior linebacker Ramik Wilson has been steady as well. Somehow, it's easy to overlook 6'8, 351-pound Daniel McCullers. Sure, he can occupy multiple blockers, but he doesn't do much else. Georgia guard Chris Burnette is a stocky phone booth blocker who could give McCullers trouble.
Finally, there's Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. He has 1,338 yards and 11 touchdowns after four games. Any smaller quarterback prospect in the nation will get compared to either Russell Wilson or Drew Brees. If you want to pick one of those for Murray, it's Brees. He's a polarizing prospect, but don't expect him to fall too far in the draft. Check out more on Murray here.
Arizona State vs. Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m., NBC
Top prospect to watch: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame - Nix has had a down season, but we still rate him as the No. 6 overall player eligible for the draft. If Nix is to turn around this season and keep his stock up, it has to start today against a speedy Arizona State offense. Nix is a massive body up front and he should be able to get a good push on the pocket. The Sun Devils' Marion Grice will be Nix's top target. Grice hasn't busted 100 yards rushing in a game this season, but he's shown his all-around versatility.
Keep an eye on: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State - Sutton's play this season has been uneven. He's clearly adjusting to the weight he added in the offsesaon. He also got banged up a little against Wisconsin. But Sutton's quick first step still shines through.
More to watch - Notre Dame's Louis Nix is the third-best prospect in this game, so if you dig defensive line play, this is the game for you. If you've followed our stuff here, you should be aware of Arizona State redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jaelen Strong. He'll be tested by Notre Dame cornerback Bennett Jackson. Lastly for the Irish, watch for left tackle Zack Martin. Some think his future is at guard in the NFL, but he has fared well on the outside. Sun Devils linebacker Carl Bradford will test his quickness.
Ohio State at Northwestern, 8 p.m., ABC
Top prospect to watch: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State - He got lit up last week against Wisconsin. Roby struggled to locate the ball and needs a bounce back in a big way. He'll likely have a solid game against Northwestern, a team not known for its passing offense. Roby's likely assignment will be on Northwestern's Rashad Lawrence.
Keep an eye on: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State vs. Venric Mark, RB/WR, Northwestern - Mark has missed the last three games with a leg injury and is expected to play tonight. Shazier could be tasked with following Mark around the field as he lines up at running back and wide receiver. Shazier's best asset is his athleticism and speed. He should matchup well with Mark in the open field.
More to watch - In his first game back from injury last week, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller looked solid. He completed 68 percent of his passes last week for 198 yards while running for 83 more. Practically all of Ohio State's offensive linemen are draftable prospects, led by left tackle Jack Mewhort. Running backs Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde are late-round prospects.
More to watch:
- Perhaps the top one-on-one matchup of the weekend takes place in the Oregon/Colorado game. It's true, Oregon is going to win big. Wide receiver Paul Richardson is the best chance to keep the Buffaloes in the game. Oregon will likely counter by putting cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu on him. The two have similar size and both are good athletes.
- This week is the most important of the season for Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson. The Bulldogs face LSU, which features a pair of talented defensive tackles in Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson. Jackson is near the top of the guard rankings and will help himself with a good game against either Ferguson or Johnson.
- Which Michigan State defender will be up to playing Iowa tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz? Safety Isaiah Lewis may get the first shot, but he may not have the size to handle the 6'6 Fiedorowicz. The same can be said for Spartans outside linebacker Denicos Allen. Middle linebacker Max Bullough could provide a challenge if Fiedorowicz comes over drag routes.
- This week's player who has a chance to make the most money (aka, rise the draft boards) is Andre Hal of Vanderbilt. Hal will be covering Missouri star sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham, who is putting together a good season. Green-Beckham at 6-foot-6 will test Hal's ability to go up and make plays on the ball.