College football is back!
As the 2022 season rolls along, so will our weekly previews of games and NFL prospects to watch. This will come in addition to our sporadic NFL Draft coverage over the course of the fall and winter. Whether you’re a fan of the draft or just a college football fan, this series looks to give you an idea of what to watch each week.
Windy City Gridiron’s Lead Draft Analyst Jacob Infante will be taking a look at what to expect in Week 6 of this year’s college football campaign.
Game of the Week
Jacob: No. 1 Alabama vs. Texas A&M, Saturday Oct. 8, 7:00 p.m. CST
While there will likely be closer matchups to take place on Week 6, arguably none will have the star power of Alabama vs. Texas A&M.
The Crimson Tide’s talent practically goes without saying. Even if first-round lock Bryce Young doesn’t play at quarterback, their roster is bonkers good. Will Anderson is one of the best pass-rushers to enter the draft in some time, and that’s saying something. Cornerback Eli Ricks is a legitimate ball-hawk with fantastic physical tools. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs is one of the most explosive playmakers in the nation. Defensive backs like nickel Malachi Moore and safeties Brian Branch and Jordan Battle all deserve at least Day 2 consideration. Alabama’s weapons, though, fairly unproven, feature explosive threats like tight end Cameron Latu and wide receivers Jermaine Burton and the potentially-soon-to-return Tyler Harrell. There are several other late-round prospects to break down, and I haven’t even touched on the studs they have who aren’t even 2023 draft-eligible.
Texas A&M has dealt with two major injuries recently in the form of wide receiver Ainias Smith and quarterback Max Johnson, the former of whom seeming to be a likely Day 2 pick before his season-ender. That said, they still have plenty of NFL prospects who could enter the 2023 draft on both sides of the ball. Safety-cornerback hybrid Antonio Johnson is one of the most versatile and physically-gifted defenders in college football. Cornerback Jaylon Jones is a former highly-touted recruit with great length and physicality. Running back Devon Achane has been one of the bigger breakout performers in the SEC, and it helps that he has guys like tenacious right guard Layden Robinson blocking for him.
Big Matchup to Watch
Jacob: BYU QB Jaren Hall @ Notre Dame, Saturday Oct. 8, 6:30 p.m. CST
Were it not for a few glaring red flags, Jaren Hall is the type of quarterback who could be firmly in first-round discussion.
He will be 25 years old next March, falling into the older prospect pool that BYU tends to produce with their players’ LDS mission trips. He has a litany of injuries in his history, including multiple concussions, a hip injury in 2020, and both cracked ribs and a foot injury in 2021. Those things have him falling down my board, but man, is he fun to watch. Hall offers above-average arm talent with the ability to throw off platform and from unusual angles. His release is quick, and he’s a good athlete who can roll out and serve as a serious threat to take off running.
BYU has already faced the likes of Oregon and Baylor this year, so Hall has experience against flashier college football programs. Many wrote off Notre Dame after an 0-2 start, but playing on the road against the Fighting Irish is a tough task for any program. They feature NFL talent like edge rusher Isaiah Foskey, safety Brandon Joseph and cornerback Cam Hart on their defense, so Hall will have his hands full. With a strong road outing, not only could No. 16 BYU rise back into the top 15, but Hall could further propel his draft stock. At 12 touchdowns to one interception with a 70.2 completion percentage and nearly 300 yards per game, he has the production. The question is: can Hall be consistently good enough to overcome his shortcomings?
Jacob: Oregon State TE Luke Musgrave @ Stanford, Saturday Oct. 8, 10:00 p.m. CST
As of this writing, NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus rankings have Luke Musgrave as a seventh-round pick. That’s no fault of the site itself; rather, more experts need to be talking about this stud tight end out in Corvallis, Oregon.
Musgrave, whose name sounds more like a country singer than that of an NFL tight end, is certainly one of the most gifted players at his position in the nation right now. He offers very good size at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds with long limbs that give him a large catch radius and a raw length advantage as a blocker. He’s an explosive athlete with impressive first-step quickness for his size, and he has above-average deep speed for a tight end. Musgrave is versatile from an alignment perspective, as he has thrived as an ‘F’ tight end, an in-line ‘Y’, and out of the slot. Though he’s often high as a blocker and doesn’t have tremendous physicality, his athleticism and length should have him on NFL radars.
As I’m writing this, Musgrave is dealing with a knee injury that hasn’t seen him play since Sept. 10 against Fresno State. Considering the lack of updates on his health, it’s entirely possible he misses this week against Stanford. This would be a shame, but I highly encourage you to watch Musgrave, anyway. Before it’s all said and done, this is the type of tight end who shoots up draft boards as the pre-draft process goes along.