2020 NFL Draft prospects to watch in Week 4: Jake Fromm, Jonathan Taylor face stiff competition
Week 4 of the college football season features some must-watch games
Marquee matchups litter the week's slate of college football games. There are multiple games featuring two top-25 teams, and the names deciding the outcomes of those games are some of the same names that fans will recognize joining their favorite NFL teams next spring.
Let's take a deep dive into five FBS games you should be watching this weekend if you care about the 2020 NFL Draft, in addition to shining the spotlight on a less-heralded FCS contest.
Thursday, 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
Houston senior quarterback D'Eriq King has all of the athletic ability in the world. He will be evaluated a little more critically due to his lack of height but the NFL has been more open to shorter quarterbacks with a good arm and great accuracy in recent years. Senior left tackle Josh Jones is critical to King's success. Senior wide receiver Keith Corbin is averaging a remarkable 18 yards per reception on eight catches this season.
Tulane junior defensive end Patrick Johnson is worthy of monitoring after recording 10.5 sacks last season. Senior running back Darius Braswell has 34 carries for 142 yards this season. Senior wide receiver Jalen McCleskey is an interesting prospect. He transferred in from Oklahoma State but has been outplayed by senior wide receiver Darnell Mooney so far.
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET on FOX (stream on fuboTV, try for free)
Michigan has a trio of junior wide receivers that I really like: Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins. Peoples-Jones has missed the first two games with an unspecified injury and it is unclear if he will play this weekend. Peoples-Jones and Collins are currently my No. 6 and No. 7 wide receivers in next year's draft. Senior offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr., son of the legendary NFL lineman, is expected to return this week after missing the first two games. Senior offensive guard Ben Bredeson and junior center Cesar Ruiz are talented prospects. Senior tight end Sean McKeon has also been productive this season.
Wisconsin junior center Tyler Biadasz is the top draft eligible center and a likely first-round selection. Senior offensive tackle David Moorman is another potential draftable lineman leading the way for junior running back Jonathan Taylor. Taylor is my No. 2 rated running back prospect at this time. Senior wide receiver A.J. Taylor had seven receptions in the team's most recent game against Central Michigan. Senior outside linebacker Zack Baun is the lone Badger to know on defense.
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS (stream on CBS All Access)
Auburn senior defensive tackle Derrick Brown would have likely been a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft if he had entered. Junior defensive lineman Nick Coe has also been a difference maker on that Tigers front. The defensive talent does not end there, however. Junior pass rusher Big Kat Bryant, senior defensive end Marlon Davidson, senior defensive back Daniel Thomas, senior defensive back Javaris Davis and senior cornerback Jeremiah Dinson are all draft prospects to watch.
Auburn is an experienced team on both sides of the football with the exception of the quarterback position. Senior offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho has scouts buzzing with his potential. Senior fullback Jay Jay Wilson, senior running back Kam Martin, senior offensive guard Kaleb Kim, senior offensive lineman Mike Horton, senior offensive lineman Marquel Harrell, senior offensive tackle Jack Driscoll and senior wide receiver Sal Cannella could all entice teams on Day 3 or as undrafted free agents.
Texas A&M junior wide receivers Quartney Davis, Jhamon Ausbon and Kendrick Rogers have been making plays for quarterback Kellen Mond this season. The trio has accounted for 41 receptions, 552 receiving yards and three touchdowns this season. Junior offensive lineman Ryan McCollum has been strong up front for the Aggies. Senior defensive back Charles Oliver and junior defensive tackle Justin Madubuike are two key players on Jimbo Fisher's defense.
Saturday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
Oregon senior quarterback Justin Herbert is the engine that gets that Ducks offense going. He is in competition with Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa to become the first quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft. A talented group of offensive linemen are tasked with keeping Herbert upright. Senior offensive tackle Calvin Throckmorton, senior offensive guard Dallas Warmack, senior offensive tackle Jake Hanson, senior offensive guard Shane Lemieux and senior tight end Jacob Breeland have a strong argument as comprising the nation's best offensive line unit. Senior wide receiver Juwan Johnson -- a Penn State transfer -- already has 25 receptions for 352 yards and a touchdown.
Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello does not possess the traits of the elite quarterback prospects but he has a good football IQ. Junior tight end Colby Parkinson is a big target for the Cardinal. Junior cornerback Paulson Adebo has taken a big step forward this offseason. He has positioned himself to be taken in the first round.
No. 7 Notre Dame at No. 3 Georgia
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET on CBS (stream on CBS All Access)
NFL teams looking for offensive line talent have made it a point to stop by South Bend. Few, if any, have done a better job of developing talent at that position. Senior offensive linemen Tommy Kraemer and Liam Eichenberg are the next in line. Senior wide receivers Chase Claypool and Chris Finke are two other notable offensive prospects in Brian Kelly's offense.
The bulk of Notre Dame's talent is found on the defensive side of the ball. Senior pass rusher Julian Okwara has garnered some attention as a potential first-round selection. Senior pass rusher Khalid Kareem, senior cornerback Troy Pride Jr., senior safety Alohi Gilman and senior safety Jalen Elliott could receive consideration on Day 2. Senior cornerback Donte Vaughn, senior defensive lineman Daelin Hayes and senior linebacker Asmar Bilal are additional prospects on that defense.
The Irish defense will be tested by a very gifted Georgia offense Saturday. Junior running back D'Andre Swift has long been considered my top running back. He is the total package. Junior quarterback Jake Fromm is a likely first-round selection. Junior Andrew Thomas is the top-rated offensive lineman regardless of whether teams view him as an offensive tackle or guard. It could be similar to the conversation that surrounded Alabama's Jonah Williams -- who went No. 11 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft to the Bengals -- last year. Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson, junior offensive guard Solomon Kindley and junior offensive guard Ben Cleveland would likely be taken on Day 2. Senior running back Brian Herrien, senior wide receiver Tyler Simmons, senior tight end Eli Wolf, senior wide receiver Lawrence Cager (a Miami transfer) and senior tight end Charlie Woerner add some dynamic ability to that offense.
The Bulldogs' defense has draft talent at all three levels. Senior defensive tackle Tyler Clark, senior defensive tackle Julian Rochester and junior defensive end Malik Herring create pressure at the point of attack. Senior inside linebacker Tae Crowder is there to clean up any tackles that make it through the line. Senior safety J.R. Reed was one of the most entertaining players to watch last season. Junior defensive back Richard Lecounte has versatility to play multiple positions.
FCS Game of the Week: Villanova at Towson
Saturday, 6 p.m. ET
Villanova coaches believed that senior tight end Simon Bingelis would be a player to watch this season. He is a big body that has three receptions for 58 yards this season; not overly impressive. Towson boasts quarterback Tom Flacco, who is the younger brother of Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco. The reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Year also plays baseball for the Tigers. Running back Shane Simpson would be another name to watch but he suffered two torn ligaments last Saturday against Maine.
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