When Florida and Miami kick off the college football season on Saturday night, the NFL talent will be lopsided. The game features potentially two first-round players in the 2020 NFL Draft, but both are on Florida.
There are still other draft prospects to keep an eye on in the game and, kinda, in the Arizona-Hawaii game later in the evening.
Florida has two possible first-rounders, but that’s not all
CJ Henderson: Arguably the best pro prospect in the game is Florida cornerback CJ Henderson.
Even in what looks like a loaded 2020 draft class at his position, Henderson stands out. Henderson is a smooth-moving cornerback with good footwork to stick with just about any receiver. At 6’1 and 202 pounds, he has optimal size for the position.
Henderson has six interceptions in two seasons, and might not get targeted much by opposing quarterbacks this year. According to some reports, Henderson didn’t allow a single touchdown reception last season. Like a lot of college cornerbacks, he’s not much against the run, but playing the pass he’s among the best in the country. Regardless, if Henderson stays healthy this season, a spot in the top 32 will be his.
Jabari Zuniga: The other potential first-rounder is Florida pass rusher Jabari Zuniga.
He has more of an outside chance compared to Henderson, though it was slightly surprising when Zuniga decided to return to Gainesville for his senior season. He’s a muscled-up 6’4 and 246 pounds, and is known for his work in the weight room. It shows up on the field, too.
Although Zuniga has some quickness and speed, he shows good strength to drive offensive linemen backward and into the pocket. He’s a much better pass rusher than his 6.5 sacks in 2018 would suggest. Zuniga’s footwork, especially off the snap, was off at times last season. It will be interesting to see if he’s patched that hole in his game.
Jonathan Greenard: Keep an eye on Florida’s other pass rusher, Jonathan Greenard.
The senior transfer from Louisville suffered a wrist injury on the first series of 2018 and missed the rest of the season. In 2017, he had 15.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks for the Cardinals. If he can bounce back, he could vault up draft boards.
Brad Stewart: Junior safety Brad Stewart is another Florida player to watch.
He started seven games last season, but displayed good awareness and the ability to quickly close on the football.
There are a few mid-to-late round picks on Miami
Miami isn’t the football program it once was, especially in terms of producing top-end NFL players. Since 2011, Miami has only had four first-round picks. That’s compared to 26 first-rounders from 2000-09.
Still, even though Miami didn’t have a player taken until Sheldrick Redwine in the fourth round this year, the Hurricanes had the second-most players taken in the ACC, with five drafted. They could have a similar draft class in 2020.
Shaquille Quarterman: Miami’s top NFL prospect going into this college football season is linebacker Shaq Quarterman. He’s going into his fourth year as a starter, and is coming off an all-conference season. Quarterman finished 2018 second on the team in total tackles with 82. He had five sacks, one interception, two pass breakups, six quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
There isn’t a lot of flash to Quarterman’s game. He’s a dependable player, and his experience shows with his instincts to read a play. Unless he has an All-American type of season, Quarterman is currently projecting as a solid middle-round pick.
Zach McCloud and Michael Pinckney: Quarterman considered the NFL after last season, but ultimately returned to Miami. So did the team’s other two starting linebackers: Zach McCloud on the strong side and Michael Pinckney on the weak side. Of the three linebackers, Pinckney might be able to rise the most throughout the season because he’s probably the best athlete of the trio.
Trevon Hill: Miami has had a defensive end taken in each of the last three drafts and Trevon Hill could be the next one. But there’s a big if with Hill. He was at Virginia Tech at the start of last season but only played in three games. In the team’s loss to Old Dominion, Hill had an altercation during halftime and was dismissed from the school.
Hill, who is 6’3 and 245 pounds, had 94 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and 11.5 sacks at Virginia Tech. Hill is fast off the snap, and will get looked at by teams needing a weakside pass rusher.
Trajan Bandy: Cornerback Trajan Bandy would be more regarded as a prospect if he weren’t 5’9 and 190 pounds. His spot in the NFL is likely playing in the slot. Bandy is a quick cornerback who mirrors well, but gets beat on jump-ball situations.
Arizona and Hawaii each has a potential draft prospect
The other Week 0 game, Arizona at Hawaii, is light on NFL prospects. Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate is more of an athlete at the next level who may be forced to find a new position. For Hawaii, wideout Cedric Byrd could get a look as a slot receiver.